Review of Infernal by Cheryl Low


Infernal opens with a motley group of people sharing a boat and preparing to do some filming. One group will film the sharks, another will investigate nearby wrecks, and the third will land on the nearby island, to investigate its flora and fauna. As in all good stories of this kind, they have been warned about the mythology and scare stories associated with the island, but if that stopped people we wouldn’t have half the good horror stories we have. But they really should have listened. There is evil on the island, and in the waters surrounding it.

What lifts this story above many others of its kind are the characters. These are real people, and, on the whole, people I came to care about very quickly in the book. In particular, the main protagonist of the book, Val, is very believable and likeable, and as she is put through the ringer as the story progresses, I really did care about her. Even the evil in the story has a personality, a character of its own.

The other major factor this book has in its favour is the writing. It is very very nicely written, the characters (already mentioned), the description, the action and the horror are all handled impeccably. There are some truly creepy moments later in the book, and I don’t read many stories that evoke that creepiness these days. Immerse yourself in this book, and prepare to be creeped out and scared.

Infernal is published by Grinning Skull Press (the same people who published The Demon Guardian, so you know they have good taste!). A highly recommended book. Read it.

Buy from Amazon here

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First post of 2017

I know that, obviously, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my first post of 2017… well wait no longer. This is it! (pauses to allow tumbleweed to blow across scene in total silence).

One of the reasons for the delay is simply that there’s not much different going on than at the end of 2016. But, that having been said, let’s lay out what’s ahead for the first months (at least) of 2017.

My current work in progress is The Offspring, the final book in The Szuiltan Trilogy. While sales and response to the first two books has not exactly been overwhelming, I have a story to finish telling so I’m going to tell it! If I was writing to make money, I’d have given up a long time ago. My reasons for writing go far deeper than that.

All drafts of the two novels, Eyes Of The Raven and The Demon Guardian are finished and both are now looking for homes. More news on this as I have it. Keep your fingers (and everything else) crossed.

I have still to make a final decision on whether to self publish The Risen(Book #1 in The Givers Of Life). As it’s a novella I do have that option (see earlier posts and interviews about my children’s despotic ruling on my self publishing activities) but I also keep edging towards the idea of shopping it around. The problem, as I see it, is that, #1, it’s a zombie tale, and there’s a surprising number of publishers (including ones I’ve previously worked with) who won’t even look at anything to do with zombies, and, #2, it’s the first novella in a series that’s not yet written. That’s a lot for a publisher to take on from a small-time author like me.

The situation is similar with Vampire Worms, although as it’s a short story I have put it out there and am currently awaiting a decision. What makes it similar is that, although it is self contained, it certainly has the possibility of being the first in a series. If I do eventually decide to go down that route, and it’s not already been published by that time, I may well look, again, to self publishing for very much the same reasons as with The Risen, although in this case vampires, rather than zombies (they’re not actually vampires as such… you’d need to read the story).

The Offspring marks a return to science fiction, after pretty much a whole year of writing horror. Should I decide to remain in this genre following The Offspring, I do have several ideas with beginnings and basic stories sketched out to choose from. I also have a completed pulp novel, The Frihet Rebellion, to shop around. This was held back almost 18 months by a publisher who, after all that time, decided to reject it, albeit with some positive and nice comments along the way. Now that’s over, I can get on with approaching other publishers and hope to generate some interest. News as it happens, as always.

After releasing the complete novel, A World Of Assassins, for free on Wattpad last year, I will be looking at possibly doing something similar this year. Nothing concrete yet, and I’m partly waiting to see the kind of response A World Of Assassins gets, but it’s a different way of getting some of my older work out there – and possibly newer stuff too. If people enjoy it, they might decide to read more of my work.

In news other than writing – The 1850 Project (the musical collaboration between my son, Jonathan, and myself) remains on hiatus due mainly to recording and financial issues. There’s also an issue with increasing arthritis in my fingers, making prolonged playing of the guitar stupidly painful. Nevertheless, we have songs, we have ideas, and we will return! Talking of songs, I have a large back catalogue of poorly recorded stuff which I would really like to cherry pick from and re-record in good quality, before I’m unable to play anymore. We already have demos of some of the those, and they could be released either under The 1850 Project or as solo projects – that depends on whether Jonathan likes them or not!

After returning to painting at the end of 2016, I am working on a second picture. I’m not rushing these, there’s no need, and tend to do painting in small bursts as a way of relaxing from other things, but I intend to continue precisely because I do find it relaxing and, other than Cathy constantly telling me how she would do it, no pressure.

My real job, of course, is looking after my daughter (whose myriad of conditions and issues are not for this post) but I still have time for creative pursuits – and both things are equally satisfying, in different ways. Both can also lead to serious lack of sleep.

So, that’s it. Hopefully there will be plenty of writing, music and painting ahead for me. Most of all, however, I hope my daughter gets the therapy she needs (we’ve been waiting a long time) and that she improves to the point where she can have a life outside of the safe zone of her bedroom.

Whatever else happens (and despite horrors such as Trump, Brexit, and more Conservative destruction of our society) it has to be better than 2016, doesn’t it? Come on 2017, surely you can manage that!

2016 – Not The Best Of Years

So, 2106 is coming to an end – and good riddance too. It has not been a great year for all sorts of reasons. For a start, we lost a lot of great performers across the arts – people like Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Greg Lake, Prince and too many others. Hollywood continues to grind out the retreads and remakes (although Deadpool was good). In politics we had the twin disasters of Brexit and Donald Trump. Far too many wars and acts of terrorism continue to plague the world in general. Religion and political ideology continue to be used as justification for hate, prejudice and bigotry. I could go on (really, I could!), but enough is enough.

Not everything was bad. There was some great music released (including albums from Dream Theater, Babymetal, Ana Popovic, Roxette, The Monkeys, Epica and Green Day), small publishers continued to release the books that the traditional publishers are too afraid to, there were a few good tv shows starting or continuing (The Good Place, No Tomorrow, People Of Earth, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Crazyhead, Frequency, Sweet Vicious, Lucifer) among the almost overwhelming mass of mediocre and just plain bad, and my wife finally dumped her too stressful job for an altogether pleasanter one.

But the main reason for this blog is to look at what I’ve been up to this year, in terms of writing anyway.

I have had no books published in 2016. This is a depressing but true statistic. However, this does not mean I’ve been doing nothing.

My short stories Assassin On The Seventy-Fourth Floor (Crimson Streets), The Light Ship (Electric Spec) and Young At Heart (reprint in Red Fez) made an appearance, and two more (Castle Ruins and The Great Prophecy) have been accepted but not yet released. I also had a story, Locusts – The Return, included in a special tribute book for Guy N Smith (Hell Of A Guy) which is not on general sale. Permission has been given for the story to appear elsewhere, but I haven’t decided whether I want to do that just yet.

I wrote a novelette (Vampire Worms), a novel (Eyes Of The Raven) and am currently finishing off the final draft of another novel that still doesn’t have a title! And as soon as this draft is done, I’m finally starting on the third and final novel in The Szuiltan Trilogy, The Offspring.

In terms of works that are out there waiting for responses, I have three short stories, a novelette, a novella, and two novels. This is not a lot compared to some writers, but it’s pretty good for me.

The other thing I’ve done in writing is sign up (again) to Wattpad, and this time I’m determined to make use of it. There are already several short stories, the whole of The Ant Man, and samples of currently unpublished work up there. My main project on it is to, gradually, put the whole of my science fiction thriller novel A World Of Assassins on there. Everything is free to read, and it seems a good place to spread the word 🙂

As far as my other creative outlets are concerned…

The 1850 Project (the collaboration between my son and me) is far from dead, it’s just resting. Mainly because our home studio (or Jonathan’s bedroom as it’s sometimes known) is in complete disarray, and we can’t afford the studio time we would need in our regular place (Whitby Studios) or anywhere else at the moment.

Art. It’s a very long time since I attempted any serious drawing or painting, but my wife was determined to get me to paint something for her. It’s taken her a long time, but she finally won, and I have taken up the brush and the acrylics again, after many years, to produce the painting you see below, which she seems to like (thankfully). I suspect that, now that I’ve started, I will probably continue in 2017. It was fun and quite relaxing to do.

painting-2016

That’s about it. I won’t be sorry to see 2016 go, and can only hope that 2017 will be a better year for all of us. The one thing I can promise is that I’ll continue to write, successfully or otherwise. I hope some of you will continue to read, too.

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…

Beautiful, peaceful Devon…

 

Beautiful, peaceful Devon

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The English Riviera

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Home to many places of interest and splendor…

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…and the village of Byre

 

Home of The Village Witch!

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Coming your way on June 8 2015

 

Pre-order the kindle version now

Published by Omnium Gatherum

Getting going again

It’s been a strange difficult time for my writing, but I’m proud that I never actually stopped putting words into the computer… even if I might go back and change most of them at a later date 🙂

Then the other day I realised I had four short stories just sitting there doing nothing! This is not allowed. I’d just got forgetful and, well, lazy I guess. So, some research on the excellent ralan.com (if you’re a genre writer and you don’t go to Ralan for potential markets… well, why not? You should.) and all four stories are back out there in the world looking for an editor who likes them. Rejections will no doubt follow, but that’s the way the game goes – accept the rejection in good grace and turn the story round and send it right back out again to someone else. Don’t stop. Never give in. Just keep them out there, circulating, until they find the right home.

It feels good to be getting going again with this whole thing. After all, if I don’t push my own writing, why should anyone else?

I’ll let you know if and when any of the stories find a friendly and interested editor.

Keep sticking with me. I’ll come out of this slump and get the words working again. More stories and books are on the way, they’re all lining up in my mind, waiting their turn!

Gratitude

I’m feeling in a grateful sort of mood, so I wanted to say thank you to those people who have taken the risk and bought one or more of my books over the last few years. There’s not that many of you but I am very grateful to you all. It’s a great feeling to know someone is reading your work, and if they enjoy it then the feeling is magnified untold times. Those of you who have put reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or anywhere else, they are much appreciated whether good or bad. And if you’ve read something of mine and haven’t reviewed it, perhaps you would consider doing so? The reviews not only provide wonderful feedback for me but also help other readers decide whether to buy or not.

Thank you also to those Editors who have taken a chance on me – whether in book, magazine or anthology format. As much as I dread waiting for the reply about a submission, it feels great when a story is actually accepted (we won’t talk about the rejections here!).

While I’m busy gushing (!) a quick mention of two “real world” friends, Steve Upham and Tony Longworth. As well as being consistently supportive of my efforts, Steve (publisher with Screaming Dreams and an amazing artist) has both published me and provided fantastic covers for many of my books.  Tony (musician, film music composer and “scary Uncle Tony” to my kids) has known me even longer than Steve and yet still says nice things about both my writing and my music. He has also provided the amazing video trailers for several of my books. Without these two people my books and my marketing efforts (such as they are) would not look anywhere near as good as they do.

I can’t leave this post without a quick mention of my family.

My wife, Cathy, who may not always find my obsession with writing easy to live with but continues to love me and care for me (and no one is more puzzled by this than me!). She’s also a very tough editor when she takes an interest, and my writing is always better afterwards.

My son, Jonathan, who not only uses the fact he’s studying for an English Literature degree to sometimes pick apart my writing, but is also responsible for persuading me out of “retirement” to play guitar again as half of The 1850 Project. We’re still writing and recording almost five years after the original “one-off” project! Recently he has also been putting his design skills to good use as a book cover designer for The Noose Is Waiting. I’m hoping he’ll do more covers in the future.

My daughter, Rhianne, the “baby” of the family who, nevertheless, manages to provide me with more emotional support and understanding than anyone else (I’m sure it’s meant to be the other way round). She also has a natural ability on keyboards that I desperately want her to push on with. She’s already better on them than either me or Jonathan and needs to become part of The 1850 Project as soon as possible.

And so I bring to a close this most sickeningly sweet and emotional post. I will probably regret it in a day or so and it may even be deleted… but for the moment I’ll let it stand.

Thank you.

(Leaves the auditorium to stunned silence from the audience, broken only by an occasional wet explosion as someone with a weaker stomach than most throws up in a bucket helpfully provided by the organisers).