The Risen Dead

Tidying up The Risen Dead, a novella, the first in a series called The Givers Of LifeAt the moment, with the sad demise of Screaming Dreams (who it was placed with), I have no publisher and am having difficulty finding one willing to take on a series of zombie-based novellas. Therefore (and with my children’s permission… read old blogs to find the relevance of that!) I may consider self publishing it.
No absolute final decision yet, and I am still looking at publishers (anyone know any zombie and series friendly ones out there?).
I thought I’d take this unexpected and unfortunate opportunity to go over the novella one final time… it was originally finished over a year ago, and I haven’t read it since then. Fresh eyes will always find things to change.
The novella does stand on its own, but I really wanted to go further into its world, which is why I plan to do a series. And there are some questions deliberately left unanswered, or at least vague. Lots more to write on this.
And if you don’t like zombies? Give it a try anyway, when it comes out from whatever source. I hope I’m bringing a slightly different slant on the genre, rather than retreading the same old themes, but ultimately you, the reader, will decide that.
Thank you.

Two Martial Arts Movies

This may not be about writing, but it is about entertainment.

Disclaimer – I do not claim to know martial arts. However, I do claim to have watched a LOT of martial arts movies, from Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, the lowest budget Hong Kong kung fu movies through to Hollywood blockbusters. I therefore feel it’s ok for me to comment on the fight scenes in the following two recently watched films.

Kill ‘Em All

Watch the trailer here:

My problem is this. The film goes to some lengths at the beginning to show these killers from different places, with different backgrounds and, in theory, different styles of fighting. However, when they actually fight, apart from the most superficial of differences, they all fight in exactly the same way. The choreography is not unique for these people with styles that are meant to be so different from each other. Mind you, at least the fight scenes are shot in a  way that allow you to see, and enjoy, the moves. Unlike my next film.


Watch the trailer here:

This is one of those movies that, in order to try and generate excitement in the fight scenes, insists on shaky camera work and very fast cutting. The end result is that you don’t get to see much of the actual fighting, which I find very frustrating. Especially as they have Gina Carano in the cast. What’s the point of having someone who is more than capable of performing the fight choreography, and then cut it in such a way that it could have been any actor, physically capable or not? Total waste of talent.

Both of the above were films I had some hopes for, and both ended up being disappointing (and not just because of the fight scene issues described above). It was especially disappointing to watch Bruce Willis sleepwalk and mumble his way through his scenes in Extraction. And the criminal underuse of Gina Carano.


Celebrate Spring With The Village Witch

Omnium Gatherum, publishers of Hard Winter:The Novel, The Village Witch and The Last Harpy, have launched a contest to win some goodies for The Village Witch – including ebook and paperback copies. Entering is as simple as sharing the good news.

Take a look at it here… and good luck!
Celebrate Spring with The Village Witch


Award Winning?

Here’s a question. At what point is a writer justified in calling themselves “award winning” or “prize winning”?

It’s a common enough claim on social media. “So and so, award/prize winning writer/author.”

(For the rest of this blog, if I say “award winning”, think of it as “award or prize winning”. It’s less clumsy than stating it every single time!)

Now, I’m not questioning any of those writers’ claims to be award winning. This is not a rant about people claiming to be award winning when they’re not. I’m sure the vast majority of the claims are true – I just wonder what counts as “award winning” in these cases, and where to draw the line? If I won a school award for a story back when I was 9 years old, does that mean I can claim to be “award winning”? Is a “prize” the same as an “award”? Does there need to be a monetary value to the prize or award? Lots and lots of questions that I don’t have the answer to.

In my own case, I could confidently call myself a “prize winning” writer (I don’t think “award winning” would be right in my case) because in 2004 I won the Midnight Hour Halloween Fiction Contest with the story “The Midnight Hour”. Then, in 2006, I won the Writing Prompt Contest, also on, with the story “Conversation”. Both of these contests had cash prizes, and the proof of my winning is still there on the website. But I don’t tag myself as “prize winning” because these prizes were some time ago and I’m not sure they’re relevant to me as a writer now. Am I right to do that? Or am I missing some great marketing potential by not telling everyone?

I personally think that the best way to do this is that all claims of “award winning” or “prize winning” should be accompanied by the particular prize or award won, and its date. That way the visitor/reader can judge for themselves whether the claim is relevant or impressive enough to be taken note of. I know some writers already do this, but I think all such claims should be accompanied by those details. As long as the claim is genuine, where’s the harm?

If you’ve won an award or prize, be proud of it. If it’s relevant enough for you to tell everyone, tell us which particular award or prize you won, and when. Boast about it. Why not? I personally love to know that a writer I’m looking at is a past Stoker or Hugo Award winner (or similar). It’s shows they have some ability as a writer and are worth a closer look.

And if you’ve never won an award? Don’t worry, there’s lots of us out here. Doesn’t mean we’re any less as writers, just that we don’t tick certain boxes or simply haven’t been “discovered” yet by the people who vote in these things. Show how good you are through your writing. Ultimately, that’s where it counts.

As for tagging myself a “prize winning writer”? I don’t think I’ll bother. Doesn’t mean I won’t mention it somewhere in my profile or in interviews though 🙂

Sequels Vs Something New

With writing still being an uphill struggle through loose sand in a sandstorm while the worms of Arrakis close in on all sides and I’ve forgotten my thumper… basically, it’s not coming easy at the moment… I find thoughts turning on what I should be expending my ineffectual efforts on. Sequels or something new.

There are several sequels I could be thinking about:

I still have the 3rd book in The Szuiltan Trilogy to write (The Offspring) – this is the only novel my children will allow me to self publish because the first two books in the trilogy were self published.

The Szuiltan Alliance

Liberation Of Worlds

I know there is interest in a sequel to Hard Winter: The Novel, and there is certainly scope for one where I left it.

Hard Winter: The Novel Cover

Similarly there is some interest (and scope) for a sequel to The Village Witch. In fact, there is scope for a whole series of novels around these characters if I want to write them.


… there’s already been a short prequel!

Last HarpyWS

For that matter, I always had, in the back of my mind, the idea of doing a sequel to A World Of Assassins

A World Of Assassins

And finally (on the sequels) I have an accepted for publication but not yet published novella which has been designed as the first in a series.

Then there’s the new stuff, either my current work in progress (which I am struggling with) or something completely new. There are certainly ideas floating around.

Trouble is, both have their appeal. Sequels can be nice because characters and backgrounds are already set and it can be comfortable to return to people you liked to write about. On the other hand, I love creating new characters and backgrounds and finding new people to write about. I have not yet come to any kind of decision on this, and in the meanwhile nothing moves forward, neither sequel nor new. The stalemate must and will be broken soon.

Writers and readers who may see this blog – which do you prefer (from either angle), sequels or brand new stories? Let me know if you want – you should be able to leave comments below (or on facebook or twitter).

Thank you for reading.


Still writing… slowly

Long time since my last blog post I think.

Despite the lack of contact, I am still writing, albeit very slowly. My main WIP is fighting me every step of the way, and my complete mastery of procrastination isn’t helping. But I know if I keep working at it, and accept that a lot of what I’ve written might need to be thrown away and the plot rethought, I will reach the breakthrough it needs.

It’s not the first time a book has proved difficult. In fact, most of my books hit that wall at some point – The Village Witch (published last year by Omnium Gatherum) hit the wall numerous times during its creation. Plot lines changed, characters came and went, thousands of words were written, dumped and then rewritten. It’s all par for the course. The one exception was Hard Winter: The Novel (also from Omnium Gatherum) – that one just flowed. But it’s unusual for it to be that easy.

I still write the occasional short story, because it’s nice to see something completed in a relatively short time. I’ve about 10 or 11 out at the moment, waiting for acceptance or rejection (mostly rejection based on experience) and I keep an eye on upcoming themed anthologies in case one just catches my interest. But I can’t deny that my main focus is on the longer pieces of fiction – novellas and novels. That’s where I get the chance to develop characters and more complex storylines. It’s the type of writing I enjoy the most.

In a potentially soul destroying decision, I’ve engaged the services of my son and his English Literature degree to rip my writing apart – which is something he takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in doing. The hope is it will improve my overall writing, if my ego allows me to survive it! Through working with the excellent editing skills of Omnium Gatherum’s Kate Jonez, I have become completely convinced in the usefulness of having someone who knows what they’re talking about look at my writing. A good editor, and I’ve been mostly fortunate, can really help improve the writing and the flow of a story (I’ll ignore the bad ones who think editing means rewriting – they can crawl away and die). Both my wife and my son are very good at improving the readability of a story, finding those lines that are clumsy or just suck! But my son currently has the time, and can bring the skills he picked up doing his degree to the task. If nothing else, it should be interesting.

If you’ve liked some of the books I’ve written so far, stick with me. More are on the way. It just takes time…

Late for the release party

Well, that didn’t work out right did it? So much for promising to let you know when The Last Harpy was released. Posted everywhere but here, on my own blog!

In case you didn’t know, my short story The Last Harpy was released a short time ago by the wonderful people at Omnium Gatherum. It’s historical, it’s horrific, it was fun to write and, I hope, fun to read.

Sorry to arrive so late for the release party… typical!

The Last Harpy at Amazon

Last HarpyWS