Sunday, 26 January 2020

Writing Newsies

Just a short post to keep you up to date. I neglected the old bloggy last year and I'm trying to update more regularly.

I said 'newsies' and 'bloggy' already. As you might surmise I'm not feeling it. I'm trying to beat an unwilling novel into submission at the moment, which is a nasty simile, isn't it?

Severed Press will publish the second of my three contracted novels this year - Xenophobia.

I also finally got to making paperbacks for 'Ghost Voices' and 'Hush'. Nobody bought Ghost Voices, which is a shame because I liked that novel, but I still need a paperback because I'm a completionist. People did buy Hush, which I'm chuffed about because I honestly think that's one of the best things I've written.

I re-did the cover for 'Ghost Voices', too.

That's it. That'll do. Otherwise, I've a few submissions out and about. Current job is a novel which will wing its way to Thunderstorm for a yay or nay. After that a rewrite request from a publisher, and then the next thing...which depends on the submissions and the like. 

Terribly written blog post aside...happy new year. x

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Cheer up and Walk it Off - Chronic Illness

Been struggling a little with motivation of late. I thought I'd post an overdue treatise on the joys and sorrows of schizophrenic affective disorder, but this time on chronic pain, too. Because it's not a competition, is it? Equal rights for illness! *Fist pump*

First up, it's always been a bugbear of mine - depression et al are just cameo players in the daytime tv show of your life who you can just write out of the script. No, they are not. They're recurring characters, relations of the producers who in a terrifying display of the power of nepotism force you to let them have roles in your life from walk-ons to major roles.

Mine's a shithead. I don't like the downs, I don't like the (less now) paranoid spells, I don't enjoy the anhedonia...that's kind of the fucking point of anhedonia, isn't it? I don't enjoy the irritable restlessness of spiders crawling beneath my skin, or of their tender little webs brushing my skin.

Chronic pain, though...that shit gets anyone down, doesn't it? I don't think there are many people in the world who enjoy being in pain all day, every day. I find it quite and quietly depressing. I say quietly because we don't grumble, do we? It hurts every day, so it's not like you can walk around all day saying 'ooch', and 'I can't do that because I'm in pain' we try to say things like 'ah, it's not so bad', or we try to be honest with ourselves (I do) as to how bad it is, and if I can manage something.

I have arthritis, which is the major player. My wife's convinced I've got fibromyalgia, too. Fibromyalgia translated to 'muscular and fibrous connective tissue pains'. Bit of a shit definition, isn't it? Whether I've got it or not, some days I can't stand up straight, can't sleep, haven't got the energy to walk five metres from my study to the kitchen. I get restless legs, so can't sleep. It feeds into a low mood, low energy, so it's a cycle.

I don't mind taking my crazy pills. It doesn't worry me. I take anti-psychotics, mood stabilisers, and anti-depressants, the ocassional one for anxiety. Now I take painkillers everyday. I'm not worried about that, either. If you're ill and something helps, take it. Why not? People worry about being addicted to painkillers. Fuck that. I'd rather be addicted to painkillers than a glutton for punishment. Pain's a rubbish addiction.

So, walk it off? Cheer up? No. I won't. I can't. No one can. Sure, you can do things to help yourself, but that's so shallow, isn't it? If you're so low you can't get up off the floor, literally, you're not about to go out for a jog. If you're in so much pain you can't concentrate, you're not about to take up a healthy hobby like painting landscapes.

I haven't got any answers for anyone. I can't fix me, I can't fix you. I write these posts though so that you might understand you are not alone. Others struggle. You're not weak if you're still alive and you have any form of chronic illness. You're a badass, with your walker, your painkillers, your fatigue. The fact you do anything at all is heroic.

Love you. x

Monday, 30 December 2019

On the 12th Day of December My True Love Gave me a Really Shit Present

It's the 30th. BJ has had the PM slot since the 12th December.

Here's what's happening:

Tory supporters who have done nothing useful have been given seats in Lords, cementing Tory strength there.

Britain First have joined the Tory party. Britain first threaten violence to any who speak out against the Conservative government.

Priti Patel will end free movement of people. Could be granted sentencing powers under proposals drawn up by advisor to the Kings and Queens Dominic Cummings.

Iain Duncan Smith to receive a knighthood. The politician responsible for 'Universal Credit', which is putting millions in further poverty and killing people.

The government 'accidentally' publishes the addresses of 1,000 New Year's honours recipients. Says it will investigate itself.

Priti Patel blames poverty on poor people. Again.

Anti-Semitic signs seen around London.


Widespread flooding, during which the PM goes on holiday to the Caribbean.

Johnson bans his ministers from taking part in some interviews and press meetings.

The government realises we don't have enough qualified people to do our jobs after making higher education to the elite. Offers fast track process to professionals, so that they can be demonised, shunned, and face slurs and violence as hate crimes against immigrants rise.

Hate speech, far right groups and presence on social media increases with attacks and threats against PoC, Muslims, Jews, and LGBTQ+ people.

The NHS is clearly for sale. Documents released show the NHS is available in trade negotiations with the US.

The UK looks to the US for trade partnership in failing European relations.

'We must make immigrants know that the UK is not their home' - the Tory party, paraphrased, from various statements.

Protections for children of immigrants separated from their parents removed.

Talk of banning the ability to strike. Public assembly (protests) already regulated.

Police use batons and beat anti-facist protestors bloody in London.

Tory's promise new nurses, promises to keep old nurses, admit it won't happen.

The Sun and other right leaning news sources ramp up rhetoric blaming the left for anti-semitism, racism, poverty, crime, in a continue assault on impartiality. Evidenced further by the Telegraph, otherwise called the Tory-graph, reporting only that BJ got a bike for Christmas.

In positive news, a large movement to identify bias news sources is on the rise. Control of the sources of information is paramount to the ruling party, as seen by the massive bias in the lead-up to the general election.

I'm not impartial, obviously. I don't have to be. I'm not the 'news'.

Love you.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

A Decade as a Writer in Review

A decade is quite a long time, isn't it? A bit different to a yearly progress update. I'll try to keep it short. I never feel like I've done enough, but looked at over a longer period...I don't know. We'll see.

'Til 2010 I'd been writing for about four or five years at this point. Printing out thousands of pages to send to agents, posting them. I don't know how much I spent on that process, but I got nowhere until I finally put myself out there (figuratively - I have Always Lived in the Shed).


In 2011, my first novel, 'Rain', was published. It's third edition now.

I wrote this in a freezing cold shed, no heater, power run from the back of the house. I lost all my old acceptance and rejection letters to damp in that shed.

In a further attempt to get out and about (I am actually mostly a shut in, so I don't get to very many conventions or signings) I started this blog in 2012, joined FB, and later I joined Twitter (when I was feeling a little braver). The things that have made a difference, for me? A publication history, definitely. Being polite, without doubt. Being 'out and about', i.e. having some form of presence in the world - I think so. Otherwise, nobody knows you, nobody knows your work. You're writing in a vacuum, which is what I was doing before 2011. Only allowing myself to take a chance and face rejection turned it around from 'unpublished' author to 'published'.

Since then I've published 50 novels or so as a 'hybrid' author, which is what I've settled on being, and what I'm comfortable being - it basically means I self-publish some, and traditionally/legacy publish some. I'm happy with that situation. Anything I feel would best go out on my own I don't submit to agents or publishers in the first place. I don't submit anywhere near as often as I used to, either, and that suits me, too. The process is time consuming and the writing has long been the reason I do this, not the money...thankfully.

Financially? It's not a winner. It's pocket money, or as an accountant called it 'hobby money'. I make maybe 1/100th of a living doing this. I'm fine with that, thought obviously I'd be a little more fine if that were a slightly higher fraction!

I've published 100 or so short stories and four short story collection. I got paid varying amounts for around 40 of those, professional rates for some of the horror, and sold my first science fiction story at a professional rate only this year. For those who think short stories are a waste of time - I don't. I love short stories, and novellas, and between novellas and short stories I've probably earned roughly what I have from novels. (Well, excluding one novel, 'Vigil', from which I earned a fair amount and got an Amazon #1 bestseller, but that was honestly a fluke I haven't repeated).


Life, of course, happens in between. At the start of the decade two of my children were only babies, and honestly, babies were hard work. In the middle I lost my father after his long battle with frontal lobe dementia. Toward the end my wife and I home schooled our children for two years. I constantly battle with the ebb and flow of schizophrenic affective disorder. The one constant I keep coming back to, though, and the thing that's always helped me get through, is writing.

I started out the decade writing fantasy and horror. I've drawn a line under fantasy and finished a septology. I've no intention of writing any more fantasy. I started writing some science fiction toward the end of the decade and I've published three so far, with more written and on the way under my sci-fi psuedonym 'Craig Robert Saunders'. I still write horror, and still enjoy it. I don't write comedy anymore. I wrote a few funny books, but that's not me, either. I've settled on horror and science fiction and I'm happy doing that. Hush, one I independently published, actually sold quite well.

I've been published traditionally by some publishers I really wanted (DarkFuse and Thunderstorm Books) and seen off a few publishers too (DarkFuse...). I've met other writers whose company I've enjoyed at the rare conventions I have been to. I've had some wonderful endorsements from writers whose work I admire, notable Andy Remic (my favourite), Bill Hussey, Allan Leverone, Michael McBride, William Meikle, and many more who were kind enough to give up their time for a novel of mine.


I'm not fancy. I still write in a shed. I've got brick walls now but it's still a bare wooden roof. It's a damn sight warmer, though, and more comfortable. I'm happy in my shed. No sense in having a million-dollar view for someone who stares at a computer screen all day. In 2020, I'm going to StokerCon. Hopefully I'll see some people I met at F-Con for a tipple. That's something to look forward (also, to panic about for a few months...).

Next year, and decade should I make it (that's further than I usually plan ahead) I just hope to keep writing, and keep finishing stories to put out. I'm not a big city author. Firmly small time, but some people do buy my stories, and read them which is kind of the point, isn't it? Looked at over ten years, it's good enough for now.

Thanks for being around. Love you.

End of Year Round-up 2019

I have to look back over what I've done/not done this year. I can't really remember. I've been a little obsessed with Nazis (oh, okay, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, whatever). It's how I'm built - firstly, hating Nazis. Secondly, I've always been a man who needs an obsession. I can't sit around and do nothing. It doesn't suit.

So, work? Hmm...

I got my first professional short story sale - 'Taking the Nine to the Last Shop' with the podcast/online publisher Cast of Wonders. That was nice.

I put out two science fiction novels as Craig Robert Saunders - 'Hush' and 'Field of Heroes' (with Severed Press). The mighty Andy Remic wrote a lovely endorsement for that one, 'A powerhouse of action and war reminiscent of Iain M.Banks.' That's my two happies.

'Red Ice Run' came out from Grand Mal Press, a viking/gangster mash-up that Ryan C. Thomas and I wrote. It's a second edition, too. The first edition was from Thunderstorm Books.

I nearly finished 'It Always Rains when the Circus Comes to Town' which will go to Thunderstorm for a yeah or a nay early in the new year.

I wrote 'Black Planet' and 'Battle Station Ruin'. Both are at a publishers under consideration at the moment. They're science fiction.

I did some more, but honestly I've left this a little late in the year for me and I'm worn thin, so I'm going to read some stories and put my feet up 'til I've got a little more energy again.

I'm not a spring chicken you know.

Love you.