The year so far

We’re over half way through 2017, so I thought I’d do a small run through of what’s been going on publishing-wise for me so far.

supernatural tales 34

The year began well with the inclusion of my short story, Castle Ruins, in Supernatural Tales 34 (30 January 2017)

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Then, on 1st March, and after it was held for over a year by a publisher before they finally decided to reject it, I self published the fast moving space opera, The Frihet Rebellion (1 March 2017).

The Risen Dead Cover Painting With Text_500px

Staying with self publishing, I released The Risen Dead (13 April 2017), the first in The Givers Of Life series of linked novellas, and my first foray into the world of zombies.

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In June, The Society Of Misfit Stories published my lengthy short story, Emily In The Wall (7 June 2017), as a standalone publication. I knew this would be a difficult story to place, but The Society Of Misfit Stories is the perfect home for it.

Best of British Science Fiction 2016 cover

This month, my short story, The Lightship, is included in the anthology Best of British Science Fiction 2016 (10 July 2017), something of which I am very proud. It’s a fantastic collection of science fiction short stories and I highly recommend it to any sci fi fan.

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Not yet published, although available for pre-order on Amazon, is my novel, Eyes of the Raven (21 August 2017), published by World Castle Publishing. This is a story of murder and witchcraft, and introduces my current favourite character, Detective Chief Inspector Emily Sanders. I think there’s a very good chance you will hear more of Emily Sanders in the future.

Wonder why I’ve used the name “Emily” twice already this year? I think I just like it!

Also accepted for publication, but with no release date yet, are a horror novel, The Demon Guardian, and a science fiction short story, Signal. I’ll let you know more the moment I’m able to.

In terms of published work, it’s been a good year for me so far (we’ll ignore everything else going on in my life and in the world for the moment). But now, with only two short stories out looking for a home, I need to write more… a lot more… got to keep the dream going!

Thank you for reading.

The Givers Of Life

The Givers Of Life

Slightly late (as usual) the novella, The Risen Dead, has been added to the bibliography and its own page is live.

With The Risen Dead, a new series of linked novellas is launched under the overall heading of The Givers Of Life. To quote from the blurb:

When the end came for most of humanity, it was sudden, violent and unexpected. In the aftermath, the dead began to rise, reanimated by someone, or something, they knew only as The Givers Of Life. Their memories of life were gone, their identities erased. They were reborn for one reason only, to kill all survivors.

I describe them as a series of linked novellas because, although they will be set in the same apocalyptic world, with some returning characters and criss-crossing of storylines, they will not be direct sequels to each other.

The exact number of novellas in the series is currently fluid. However, this is not an open-ended series, there will be a definite conclusion. If humanity is to survive, The Givers Of Life must be unmasked, and the dead sent back to their graves!

Before I finish, a brief note about the cover.

As you may have noticed from many of my previous books, my favourite and preferred cover artist is the very talented artist and photographer, Steve Upham. Unfortunately, his current workload meant he was not available for this book and so, for better or worse, I decided to paint my own cover! The painting was done in acrylics, with the lettering added later via photoshop. It may not be as stunning as a Steve Upham original, but I hope you will feel, as I do, that it is suitable for the novella. No decision has yet been made as to whether the other novellas in the series will have covers painted by myself. This is my first painted cover and I need to wait and see if there’s any reaction (good or bad), and whether my confidence in attempting cover art can grow.

If you should choose to read the book, I hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, you might post a review on Amazon.

Any comments on anything covered in this post, just add them below.

Thank you for reading.

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.

Too many vampires and zombies?

I have an occasional habit of trawling through the kindle horror books that are available for free (I do the same for science fiction, but let’s stick to horror for this one). I do it because I’m a cheapskate looking for bargains by authors I know and like, and also because it’s a great way to try out new authors (new to me at least) and see if I’m going to be adding them to be “must be read” list. Now, having laid the ground, so to speak, let me state that I’m NOT going to be making any comments about quality of writing or layout etc. Both of those things go up and down more than a pervert’s zipper at a Justin Bieber concert, but that’s not what I want to talk about here.

What I find depressing in the freebie horror list is the vast number of vampire and zombie books. It can be a battle to find a horror story that isn’t about one of these two creatures.

Now, I am not without sin myself… yes I have a vampire novelette out there, The Evil Incantation, and yes I have a zombie novella sitting with a publisher waiting for release, but in my (weak) defence I want to say I have tried to give them a slightly different angle – not saying I’ve succeeded, but I’ve tried. The vast majority of the books I’ve looked at this morning seem to be very much in the traditional zombie/zombie holocaust mode or star romanticised vampires (somewhere between the erotic humour of Kim Harrison and the sickly sweetness of the Twilight books and movies). Where there are more vicious vampires (which I personally prefer) they are generally of the classic type with little originality about them.

Originality, that’s what it comes down to. Zombies can be done with a nice twist (my personal favourites being the zombie books by Brian Keene) and vampires can be entertaining (Kim Harrison, again, succeeded in her Hollows books to make them amusing, erotic and vicious all rolled in together). In fact all those traditional monsters can be done well and, personally, I love the old werewolves, demons and yes, even vampires and zombies. But they have to be done with some originality!

Disclaimer: I haven’t read all the vampire and zombie books available for free on the kindle, I’ve only read synopses and looked at covers, so I can’t comment on individual titles and I could even be way off the mark.

But my comments here aren’t just about free books on the kindle, they apply to the horror genre in general – books and movies. By all means use the old creatures, I’d hate to see them disappear, but please bring something new to them. I know it’s difficult, VERY difficult, but at least try. I will applaud the effort and, in all likelihood, enjoy the end result. And while we’re at it, drag out some other old friends – Greek and Egyptian Mythology are full of them for a start. And then there’s folklore from all over the world. There’s so much to choose from, and that’s before we include new creatures, created by the author just for their book.

I love horror, fiction and film, and I love creature features and monsters. The old Hammer movies are among my favourites (Dracula, Plague Of Zombies, The Reptile, The Gorgon and so on) as are some of the classic books (Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf In Paris, The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde and others) but if we’re going to continue using these much loved figures we need to bring something new to them to keep the interest alive, and to draw in new readers/viewers.

I hate the way genre fiction in general is looked down on by the “literary” world, and often they are unable or unwilling to see past the numerous variations-on-a-theme to the hundreds of amazing, original and well-written books that are out there. I don’t think that’ll change any time soon, but we could at least make sure our variations are attempts at original variations and not the same old themes and characterisations that have been done thousands of times before.

Before the personal attacks on my own books begin, can I at least claim to have tried to take a different view on things in my stories. I’m not saying I’ve always succeeded, but I have tried. At least be good enough to acknowledge that.

And to my horror writing co-workers around the world I would say, keep writing and turning out so many fantastic and wonderful works, but let’s use the old themes sparingly and with some kind of different twist that’s all your own (at least, as far as you know because, as they say, ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’).

We should at least be trying.

 

WIP going slowly but still going…

My current WIP is a short zombie novel, mainly because I’ve never written a zombie story before and, as is often the case, wanted to try something new. While I am not claiming to have a new twist or angle on the zombie story (I’m not that arrogant, honest) it will be my zombie story and, as such, is likely to be somewhat different to many others for that reason alone. Needless to say, plot and even some main characters have already changed since writing began… but that’s par for the course I’m afraid. Never been very good at sticking to a plan! Writing is going slowly (largely because of the alternating numbness and intense pain I’ve been getting in my left thumb and forefinger – combination of arthritis and some dubious nerve connection to my neck apparently) but it is, at least, going. Just need lots of Zapain, anti-inflammatory gel, pepsi-max, tea and frequent breaks. Just another day at the office… if I had an office that is… ok, just another day in the corner of the bedroom 🙂