Friday, 20 December 2013

End of Year Round-up - Part II 'Life'.

I don't write so much personal stuff on the blog - figure it's more about me as a writer, than as a person. Humans are odd. I am one of the human race. Figure it might be interesting for someone...

This year's been a tough one on my health, in the early part of the year. Had scans, test, etc, for strokes, brain tumours...all the scary stuff.

I looked like this:



Turns out, it was electronic cigarettes - something in them was making me ill. At least, this is my self-diagnosis - the doctors put my funny turns down to migraines - personally, I think they were wrong.

But either way, turns out it was a good kick up the butt.

Started exercising, eating a bit more sensibly. Neither thing to excess, but I'm fitter now, I think, than I was at 30. I'm 41 now...and I'm not dead yet.

So, yeah - health, it turns out, is pretty important. I don't sit at the PC all day anymore. I get up and move around a bit. I feel better for it.

The kids are getting easier as they get older - less stress, more fun. People enjoy the baby stuff...not me!

It's nice to be sleeping all night again. :D

Work (see part one) is going well...next year, it's got to be more about balance. I can't write 16 hours a day anymore. I think at some point I made a decision not to spend all day in the shed, working, and to have a life, too. Good choice, I think. A writer who only ever writes isn't much use to his family, or, in the end, himself.

So, next year, on the personal front? More exercise, less fat. Try and knock the cigarettes on the head (my one remaining vice). Less work, more fresh air.

In short, I'm trying to achieve that fabled, mythical 'Work/Life Balance' shit that people talk about. I'm beginning to think there might be something to it.

Anyway - cholesterol's down, weight's down, no funny turns since summer...I think I'll go have a bacon sandwich.

Love you - hope to see more of you all in the New Year.

x

Saturday, 7 December 2013

End of Year Round Up

My first novel was published in 2011. 2012 was mostly about publishing my backlog of novels and novellas, which, thankfully, I was able to do.

This year, by and large, has been about figuring out the business of being a writer. I've found this more difficult than the writing part, not as difficult as getting that first breakthrough in 2011.

In March, I attended Comic Con and signed for my first book this year - A Home by the Sea.



In October, I attended my second book signing, for my last novel of the year, The Estate. Both of these books were published by Crowded Quarantine Publications, and they've done a stirling job of getting me out there, with some great advice, and with The Estate, also published my first hardback book, with cover art by the brilliant Jethro Lentle.



In between times, I published the short novel The Noose and Gibbet (Anachron Press).


And also the novella The Dead Boy, the first in a series of zombie/apocalyptic novellas (Grand Mal Press).


I received an honourable mention for my short 'Mr. Wobble' in Ellen Datlow's honours list.

A short of mine 'Sleep and the End' was accepted for Bizzaro Bizzaro, from Bizzaro Pulp Press.

My horror hero, author of two of my favourite horror novels, the venerable Bill Hussey, gave my work a wonderful endorsement.

This year also saw the release of Great British Horror, vol. 1, including my novella 'Insulation'. All proceeds for the project go to Centrepoint, a charity for homeless children in the UK. To be among the writers including is both an honour and a pleasure, and it's a great project. I hope it continues.



And, finally, accepted into the ranks of DarkFuse, who I've been aiming for since starting out on the path of the horror writer, with my novella 'Bloodeye'.

I think that's by and large, it. More than enough! I consider this year, on the writing front, to be a resounding success. I think success depends, largely, on your goals. DarkFuse has been my goal for two years, and publishing The Estate, my first horror novel, my goal since I wrote it. This year has been wonderful. I have achieved my dreams...in publishing.

As for my next dream? This is where I come to the 'business' part of writing. The next dream is to make a good living from writing. For this to be my main income. I don't have expensive tastes, nor do I have expensive needs. I'd settle for a bigger shed and maybe a Chinese takeaway once a week.

This is the business side. The vast majority of writers do not make a good living. There is a ton of competition, and the big five publishers, where the bulk of the money (and promotion) is, are notoriously hard to crack. But there are other ways.

For the beginner (and two years in, I still consider myself a beginner) my advice is write, write, write. Get more work out (preferably quality work) and increase your visibility. Go to conventions. Network there, and on FB. Meet people, talk to people, watch the industry. There are other ways to make money from your writing.

Next year, I hope to begin to earn a decent wage from my work, and I hope to do this yearly update (which, it seems, is becoming a kind of tradition) and let you know, finally, that I have a few pennies in my pocket. Also, next year, I'm going to FantasyCon - hopefully I'll meet some of you there.

Which reminds me - I also self-published the final volume of The Line of Kings Trilogy, as Craig R. Saunders, entitled 'The Queen of Thieves'. I'm sure I've forgotten some other stuff...but that's enough to be going on with...

Love you, and thanks for reading! xxx

Sunday, 1 December 2013

DarkFuse acquires Bloodeye...sample here!

Title gives it away a bit. DarkFuse, an absolutely fantastic dark fiction publishing house, has acquired my novella 'Bloodeye', for publication September 2014.

As usual, I've added a sample over on the right side of the blog (under 'Published Novel and Novella Excerpts).

Here's the link: BLOODEYE.

It's in capitals so you can't miss it if you've a shaky mouse hand. ;)

Here's the run-down of Bloodeye:

*** Keane Reid is tired of living. He's bored with his very existence following the suspicious death of his wife seven years earlier. He's not interested in TV, reading, dating or a social life.

But when he is called on a routine plumbing job at a local pub, he discovers the corpse of a young girl crucified and nailed to a wall, her eyes torn out and a third eye carved into her forehead. Keane has seen this mark before, and soon his life is thrust between the present and past, reality and fantasy, darkness and light.

As Keane loses his grip on sanity, a long-forgotten shadow begins whispering to him once again, ushering him toward the void, where the ghosts of his past reside, waiting to show him what truly lies behind the veil. ***

I also wanted to put a link in to DarkFuse, so you can see what and who they publish - some great fiction by people I know, people I don't, all of whom are admirable writers and well-established within the darker halls of speculative fiction.

DARKFUSE.

Well worth a look.

Hope you'll have a read of the three chapter sample of Bloodeye, and let me know what you think.

Love you! x



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

I seem to have forgotten to put on pants...

It's all blowing in the wind. Metaphorically speaking, and about writing. Not my wedding bells.

So, here's the story so far...

I sat down to write a story I'd been contracted to write. I enjoyed it in parts, others, I found hard. The second draft, really. I don't like to go over my own work. I like it done, dusted, submitted.

Then, story done (it's called The Setting Sky), I'm sitting on my arse, getting miserable. Because if I don't do two things regularly, I get glum. These two things are: write, and exercise.

And I am getting glum, gloomy, pissy...you get the picture.

Writing's the answer. But, here's the thing: I have no pants on. None at all.

Stage fright, maybe? Is that a metaphor for stage fright? Performance anxiety?

Maybe. Probably. I'm just thinking out loud, as it were.

I think it's stage fright, because suddenly I'm worried about what people want, what they think, what they want to read. I'm not saying I don't usually care (readers are pretty bloody important to a writer...otherwise writing's a purely solitary affair, a bit like having a hand shandy in the bath.), because I do. It's important.

But it's not everything, and nor, I think, should it be. I'm not a writing guru (check out Joe Lansdale's twitter feed if you want a guru - I'm not being flippant - he's awesome). But I do have thoughts on writing, because, well, it's what I do.

I figure in order to keep the gloomies at bay, I need to write...but I need to write what I want. Selfish, yes, but essential. I can write to order. I do, from time to time. But I don't enjoy it.

I started writing because I enjoy it. I want that feeling back.

So, anyway, turns out the pants thing was kind of irrelevant, because all I wanted to say was that I started a new book a couple of days ago. Hoping it's a keeper.

Love you. Thanks for listening, dear (two) readers, and the Internet - my psychologist.

x

Ooh...picture?


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Epic Construction (a few notes on the world of Rythe)

This post is largely for readers of Rythe, but maybe be of interest for anyone currently building, or reading, epic fiction.

A reader (super reader John C. Hoddy) expressed and interest in the process behind writing epic fiction. Plus, it'll probably help me remember how to do it - it's been a while.

So, here's a few thoughts how I go about it.

1.

When I'm working on the Rythe books, I plot. I don't for the horror (or anything else) because I try to keep those small, personal, and pacey.

Epic fiction is a little more languid in the writing and reading thereof. So, plot. My plots run to something like 20 pages. On top of that, notes, glossaries etc... Other fantasy writers might have storyboards, maps, etc...anything to help keep track really. It's kind of de rigueur to have a billion characters in big fantasy, so keeping track is half the battle. Not forgetting invented religions, society, geography, factions...you get the picture. At least, I hope you do...because I don't!

2.

While I think of it, here's two things I'd like to do should the books earn enough to warrant it - artwork and editing. Both, I think, are essential. I'd probably sell more of the books with decent covers - Catch 22. I might write about that a little later down the line.

3.

Procrastinate. I do this a lot. I do it less when I write horror, because frankly, I enjoy writing horror a hell of a lot more than fantasy. When I began writing, it was fantasy. I never did consider myself a 'fantasy writer', but, same as always, if I've an idea, and the idea takes shape, I *have* to write it.

4.

Something else I wouldn't recommend - taking a long break between books. I find sequels easier when they're written soon after. Refreshing your memory is fine with short books. When they run 100K plus, not quite so easy.

5.

Anyway, back to what I actually do, rather than my failings ;) - write. I don't, like some, write every day. I have fallow periods where I do very little. But when I begin a book, I write every day until I finish the book. Mostly I enjoy it - sometimes it's a slog. But I think finishing is half the battle. If you can do that, you can tidy with edits on second and third drafts.

6.

Speaking of which - horror, I generally write no more than three drafts. Fantasy? A lot more. And it takes a lot longer. I'm writing longer books and they're far more complicated.

7.

I'm trying to keep this short, because who can be bothered to read a long blog post? But if anyone has anything specific they want to talk about - post below, and I'll answer. I'll probably blog a little more on the process as I go, too, so look out for the posts if you're a Rythe reader. Cheers!

Love you x


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bacon?

So, I wake up. Good start. Not dead, not quite alive, maybe. Some kind of netherworld of 5am. I think bacon's the trick for this, the cure. Hmm, cured bacon. Smokey, tasty, crispy. With an egg. Maybe two. I'll go to the shop and get some bacon, I think, no, I decide. I'm decisive. Manly. Gonna eat bacon. Me, man.

It'll taste like Babe, Pig in the City, in my belly.

Kids are in the car and I'm happy enough, trundling off to the shop. It's raining a fair bit, but I'm in the car so I get a little wet going from the house to the car, the car to the shop. No big deal. The kids don't grumble because we're taking an early trip in the car to the shop to buy bacon and they're happy. Kids like early trips to the shops in the dark, especially when there's bacon.

But it's bacon we're talking about here, not the kids.

Bacon's on special. Best day ever!

I get home and stick the bacon under the grill. Mooch a while. Maybe I make a cup of tea, or smoke a cigarette while I wait.

Something stinks. Stinks bad, like a dead dirty pig's hairy fucking arse.

It's the bacon. The bacon doesn't just smell bad. Smells like Babe decomposed a lot before making it to my grill. I check the date on the bacon. It's in date. It's dead, yes, but not decomposed at least.

Something's rotten in Denmark. Shitty Danish bacon, right? Pigs in cages, treated like their carrots or potatoes, unfeeling beasts farmed for meat and nothing else. I don't fucking care, but think, should've bought British. Bought meat with a decent standard of living...before someone killed it so I could eat it.

Nope. It is British. Says so on the pack.

Also, the pack says, 'UNSMOKED'.

Cunt, I think, and throw the bacon in the bin.

*



After a while, I wonder if I mean the pig, or me.

Love you. x

Monday, 14 October 2013

Short Fiction HARDCORE HUNTER!!!

Three exclamation marks - you know I mean business.

Nah, not really. Just said I'd post a kind of addendum to the previous free short (below this post).

If you're a nutter, here's some stuff for you to go hunt down. I'd be very, very surprised if you manage to find anything from the really early stuff, the obscure and the downright daft. American Drivel Review (now bust), for example, featured illustrations to go with my co-authored story 'The Amphibimen'. The pictures were of penises. That's a collector's item for sure. :D

Here's what and where (there are more, but I've either forgotten or lost them):

Anthologies

Mummy’s Ickle Shoalja – Satan’s Toybox: Toy Soldiers (Angelic Knight Press)
The Last Cold Day – Tales of Terror and Mayhem from Deep within the Box (Wicked East Press) – Accepted 2011
Red – Read the End First (Wicked East Press)
Playing Blackjack with Mr. Paws – Help! Wanted/Edited Peter Giglio (Evil Jester Press)
The Dancing Car – Box of Delights/Edited John Kenny (Aeon Press)
Caterpillar – D.O.A. Anthology/Edited David C. Hayes and Jack Burton (Blood Bound Books)
The Hole in the Fence – Night Terrors: An Anthology of Horror/Edited Theresa Dillon (Blood Bound Books)
Recollection – Best of Anthology - published by Ginosko

Non-Fiction

A Man to Walk the Mountains With – Hidden Thoughts Press – Accepted 2011

Magazines

Set Above Mortals – Morpheus Tales
Mr. Wobble – Albedo One
Happiness – Open Minds Quarterly (Fall Edition/2010)
Rapture – Conceit Magazine (Volume 3 Issue #34)
The House of Dreams – Nth Degree Magazine (2009 Online)
Slate – Ginosko (Issue #5)
The Cigarette Butt World – Barbaric Yawp (Volume 11 No. 2)
The Amphibimen (with James Goves) – The American Drivel Review (Volume 4 No. 1)
Grass Can Be Weeds, Too – Albedo One (Issue #36)
Recollection – Ginosko (Issue #4)
Love is Like That – Samsara Magazine (Issue #13)
The Witch’s Cauldron – The Nth Degree Magazine (2006 Online)
The Martyr’s Tale – Impressions Publishing (Online)

Flash Fiction

The Dream – Daily Flash 2012 (Pill Hill Press)
A Short History of Time, Please – Daily Flash 2012 (Pill Hill Press)
Playing Favourites – Daily Flash 2012 (Pill Hill Press)

Shakira’s Bum and Stephen Hawkins’ Wheelchair – Daily Flash 2012 (Pill Hill Press)


Exhibit A: Some of my contributor's copies for publications featuring my short fiction - I don't have copies of everything. 

Many of the stories can be found in my short collections 'Dead in the Trunk' and 'The Black and White Box' - they're on Amazon, should you fancy it - also further reading in the samples on the blog here, off over there, on the right of the blog. Mudman and The Dude in the Hat, if I remember rightly...

Love you. :D

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Giant Inside by Craig Saunders (With Afterword) FREE!

The Giant Inside
by
Craig Saunders

When the doctor asked Greg Swain if he was coughing anything up, he replied, 'Nothing important.'
            It wasn't strictly true.
            That morning, before coming to see the doctor about an entirely unrelated matter (his piles, it was. Or maybe something to do with his prostate. Either way, something round the back end of him) Greg Swain had coughed up a fingernail. The fingernail alone would have been enough to disturb a man, perhaps, but the tip of an actual human finger to which the nail was attached made him feel queasy. It was at this point in the morning that Greg thought perhaps he might be in a bit more trouble that would be covered in a ten minute appointment with the doctor to check out his prostate. Or piles.
            Who knows? You don't ask, do you? Not that kind of thing, and not to a man. Nope. Certain things men don't talk about often. Rear ends, bereavements, ladies' football.
            Lady footballers' rear ends...well, then, maybe.
            There's usual a caveat around somewhere.
            Greg Swain's problems were in the earlier stages when he first went to the doctor back in August. By late September he had lost his puff.
            Short of breath. He wondered if perhaps he had COPD, or maybe even CANCER. He weighed himself, though, and found that he wasn't losing weight, but putting it on.
            His appetite, if anything, was on the up. He ate like a teenager again, even though he was in his late fifties (his sixtieth birthday would be in October). He became a midnight snack artist. He'd munch on magnificent creations in the dark hours when sleep was fitful. Peanut butter and salad cream sandwiches. Marmite salad. Sugared sausage rolls (the little cocktail ones). It didn't seem to matter what he ate, as long as he got fed.
            Appetite didn't increase with CANCER. Couldn't be cancer. Must be some kind of illness that wasn't, in fact, cancer.
            October came around. The leaves were falling and the wind was picking up. One big autumn gust and the last of the leaves would probably be gone. Early autumn's last effort to hold onto summer was pretty much over. The sun still shone on Greg's sixtieth birthday, but the warmth was gone.
            He lived alone. Had done since the death of his wife on his fiftieth birthday. It had spoiled the day for him ever since, but for some reason he didn't feel maudlin on the morning of his big 6-0. A strange sense of expectation, perhaps. Like something amazing waited just over the horizon. Or, maybe, it was just the fever that woke him up on his last birthday.
            Fever or not, he got up and ate, because he was always hungry.
            His illness progressed quickly in the days running up to his birthday. He continued to put on weight. His appetite became legendary. He coughed up no more important parts, but he ate them. Indeed he did. He began on his own fingertips one day. Out of a morbid kind of interest, driven by his insatiable new hunger. Just a little nibble, he thought. Just a fingernail, perhaps - but before he knew it he was munching away on not just a tip of a finger, but three fingers at once, chomping down hard on the reluctant bone at first, until he gave up and worked on the sinew and cartilage at the joint. His approach to dissecting himself for consumption became more refined the more he ate.
            On his birthday, he had but a leg, his torso, and of course his head, remaining. And still he was putting on weight.
            Like Ouroboros, he ate himself. The worm at the end of the world, perhaps.
            He ate himself nearly all up. All that remained would be his birthday feast.
            Sixty years old, sixty candles. No desire for cake, though. Just flesh. His own.
            He put his candles on the rest of his body, using his teeth and his immense mouth (his mouth had become as large as his appetite over the last two or three months). His maw was now fit for purpose, at last. He was still short on breath, but it wasn't cancer. No, of course it wasn't.
            It was the giant inside.
            If you eat yourself, you have two options, and two options only.
            The first is to disappear. To eat and eat and eat until there is nothing at all left, and your mouth goes last, turning in on itself with nothing more than a satisfied 'pop', or perhaps a burp.
            The second is that you become twice as large as when you began.
            And Greg Swain, it seemed, was feeding a giant.
            Candles burning merrily away, Greg sent out a great huff, extinguishing sixty bright candles in one go. He was short on breath, yes, but he had a big, big mouth.
            With a strange kind of gusto, Greg began his last meal. Breakfast on his birthday was himself. It was the only food he needed or wanted. The cupboards had been barren for nearly a month. Since he'd had that first meal, really.
            Bit difficult to push a trolley around the supermarket when you've eaten all of your arms.
            Greg's massive teeth, grey like graveyard headstones and just as blunt, made short work of his remaining leg. He crunched up the bone with ease, the flesh burst and blood popped but his clever tongue slurped greedily at the threadbare carpet on his living room floor until every last drop of Greggy goodness was gone, down into the belly of the beast.
            He barely paused for the second course. He began, as man might, faced with the prospect of eating himself, with the most undesirable of his parts. He feasted on his genitals and buttocks and anus and all the detritus and dust (it had been ten years to the day since he'd last had his oats, as old folk used to say) from those nether parts.
            His gall rose as he ate, but then he got his second wind. The good parts came next. His kidneys, liver...giblets, if you will. All popped into his mouth and squished satisfyingly. He even gave a happy burp when he ate his heart. His neck, full of cartilage at the throat, proved absolutely delicious...the cartilage similar in texture to pickled pig's feet.
            And, at the last, his own head.
            His mouth, massive and preposterous now, unhinged at the jaw, swung over the top of his pate (threadbare as his carpet) and with a final sigh, Greg Swain was gone. Utterly, completely gone.
            But in that space where his mouth had been, as though stepping through thin air, a foot appeared. A great big fat foot that smelled of baby. As it should, because it was a baby's foot, followed, soon after, by a baby's chubby fatty leg (with a small birthmark shaped like a bird in flight on the back of his knee), chubby baby bum...well, you get the picture. Babies are, by and large, fatties. This one was no different to an ordinary baby. Except for its stature. In all dimensions a baby, except for size. A giant baby.
            By the time the baby emerged from the space where Greg Swain's mouth had once been, coming out breach - feet first - from the birth canal, and landed with a slightly wobbly thump on that old carpet, it was a fully seven feet from toe to crown.
            The baby's pulse could be observed easily through both posterior and anterior fontanelles.
            In fact, in the quiet living room of Greg Swain's old and slightly neglected house, with little traffic on the street, its heart could be heard, beating fast and heavy through its back and reverberating against the old floorboards.
            And, as the baby began to grow, having taken all its nourishment in its unnatural womb, the heartbeat slowed, as any child's would. It did not cry, or defecate, or pass water. It had no need of such functions, because it was not a natural child.
            The baby grew fast.
            In the moments immediately after birth, it already filled the room. Soon, the walls cracked and bowed and burst, showering the child with brick and plaster, but its skin was like a rhino's hide and the splintered bricks caused it no discomfort.
            Ceiling gave way as it grew taller and tried to stand. Floorboards beneath cracked with a soft, worm-ridden sigh of old wood, under the child's weight.
            Soon after, the child was no longer a child but a teenage giant and the walls and ceiling and roof and assorted pipes and wires that make a house could no longer hold him.
            He stepped, naked, immense, powerful, into that quiet street. Three minutes or thereabouts had passed since Greg had ceased and the giant had become.
            It had no words, because there wasn't a school built that could house a giant.
            It didn't understand the world it was born into. The crunchy things underfoot (cars), the tasty things that filled his belly and made fuel for his long stride (people) or the warm tickles from the strands of hair that ran close to the ground (electricity wires).
            It howled. The world was wrong. When giants strode the earth, they played with dragons. When a giant cried, it made a river. When a giant finally died, after a thousand or more years, its body became an island, a mountain.
            It roared and screamed. Tears poured from the child-giant's deep eyes onto his cheeks (plump and full of people bits) and down to the ground where they soon filled the street and overwhelmed the drains.
            The last of its kind, or the first, it did not understand. It was wrong. Wrong.
            With a massive foot it stomped and thumped itself on the thighs with hands that were becoming larger and stronger with each passing moment. It grew, of course, and it strode across the land. It left destruction, terror, fear, horror, awe.
            Footprints, too. Great footprints strewn with the carcasses of crushed cars and gnawed people. The giant trailed electricity pylons. His feet were dusty with crushed brickwork and there was a girder from an old warehouse between his toes.
            Greg Swain's angry giant child sat down on the city of London, entirely crushing the grand old buildings and the gaudy glass phallus of the Gherkin, sending debris flying as far as the home counties. Something pointed and very large actually cause the giant some discomfort, unlike the bullets and missiles that peppered its flesh sporadically. Sporadically, because it would swat the annoying stinging things from the earth or the sky. It would be still for a time, and then more would amass.
            And still he grew. Naked and shining like a child in the morning light, then darker with October's slow sun and pubescent hair upon his body. By the time night fell and all was dark except the moon and some small fires about the ruins of London, someone, somewhere in the world, decided it would be a good idea to fire a bigger missile, because the little ones weren't working.
            Competition gets out of hand. That's what it does. Bigger, then bigger still, then, when they didn't have any larger bombs, they sent more. Pretty much all of them.
            And, at the end, a giant, big as England had once been, skinned burned black but otherwise unscathed, remained. He towered over a ruined world. Black clouds pregnant with poisoned rain and dead vegetation drifted in the dark hot air.
            Life, small and insignificant, skittered about beneath the giant's notice. Unimportant and largely forgotten.
            In the ashes, dragons rose. The giant smiled and chased them across a dead Europe like a child might chase a beautiful butterfly.
            Anger was forgotten, confusion didn't matter. Just a giant on a spinning planet, chasing dragons. The seasons went on. The sun shone above the black clouds until the clouds, too, cleared.
            The giant grew older and slower. When he passed - no longer a child, but ancient, bowed under his own weight, with aching joints and the numerous pains of the old - trees grew up in the shallow impressions left by his feet. Life emerged from the shadows when he moved on. Birds, cats, rodents lived in the thick hair upon his slow moving feet.
            Nothing but the world and a giant turning into a mountain. Dragons roosted in that mountain's highest places. Dogs on a master's grave.
            And the sun shone on, the world turned, and mountains pushed their way toward the sky. Seas rose and sank. Creatures both deep and shallow died and birthed and ate.
            Ouroboros, eating his own tail. Greg Swain eating his own entrails on the threadbare carpet of an old neglected house. Giants, chasing dragons in the light of a dying sun.


The End

Afterword

I don't know if anyone will make it to the end of the story, or bother to read this, but this, like the story above, is a kind of therapy. Same as the blog. Same as most (not all) of my writing. 

I think the story is about depression and the anger that can come with it. It might, however, be about inner peace. I kind of wanted to leave it with the reader. I think I still do. So I'm going to say no more about the story, but talk a little while about short stories.

I've had a fair few short stories published by now. I began writing shorts, and still do. I like the form. The thing is, for a writer starting out on the 'traditional' publishing route, it's a great way to get out there, get a publishing history, and hopefully, if you wish, open some doors. I don't think I'd have a novel published now (let alone double figures) if I hadn't paid my dues by writing shorts. 

I don't get my shorts published in the pro markets - it's a terribly hard market to crack, and I haven't managed so far. But I do generally get some form of payment, whether it's shared royalties, or a contributor's copy with a couple of quid on the side. The thing is, the shorts aren't money makers - the novels do that. To start, they were a way to break into publishing. Now, I write them for fun. I've probably written over 50 shorts, not as many as 100. So, I figure I can spare this one. 

Shortly, I'll do a second post on short stories, and where you can find mine. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the story. 

Oh, and, love you! 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Rythe Awakes. The Tides of Rythe. Book Three, you say?

Kind of feeling like an arse tonight.

Not, you know, full on 'I'm an arse' mode. Just mini-arse.

A long time ago, in a galaxy...

Oh.

Anyway. Once upon a time, or thereabouts, I began a big old fantasy epic. I never sold it, which is nuts, because, on the whole, the series set on the world of Rythe has earned me more than most of my horror novels, bar a few (Vigil's my best seller...).

I forget, sometimes, that I write fantasy, too. I like writing fantasy, even though it's a little overwhelming.

But it's not all about me, is it?

Tonight, I had a review on Tides of Rythe. Got me thinking about finishing what I started.

This blog post is, I guess, a statement of intent. To do just that - finish what I started. Rythe, book three. It's about time. It is, in fact, overdue. Been busy with the horror side of things. Now? Now it's time to delve into the world of Rythe once more.

To the pain!

*cough*

Fuck it, you know I'm sincere really. Sometimes.

But yeah - got a couple of horrors I'm under contract to get done. Then, I PROMISE with a capital 'P', to finish this bloody mega-bugger-of-a-story.

Thanks, everyone who read my fantasy, for being patient.

x

I really love you.


As you can probably guess, because this image is awesome and I'm totally not an artist, I don't own this dude....

Click here for original artist's details!!!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Setting Sky by Craig Saunders - R.I.P.

The Setting Sky by Craig Saunders.

Born 23rd August 2013 - Died 25th September 2013.

R.I.P.

The Setting Sky, my eighteenth full-length novel, done and gone into the dust today.

It goes a bit like this:

Brian Keene, Joe Abercrombie, Clive Barker walk into a bar, summon up Conrad William's One, with a side order of King's The Stand. Swirl it around in a big pot full of roofies and acid, rub it on their hair, get Dante's ghost-barber to shave them bald, and knit a story-jumper from the cuttings.

It is, of course, very little like that. Nothing, to be honest...but it's a sales pitch and a half, ain't it? :D

The Setting Sky, coming soon to all good booksellers.

Love you! x


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Quiet Man

I've got something to say...better to burn out, than fade away...

Anyway, got to thinking. Thinking about those influences that shape who we are, who we aspire to be.

I grew up on cowboy flicks. John Wayne and, later, Clint Eastwood. Big men, portraying a kind of dignified gunfighter. Maybe a little dirty around the edges, but doing it right when they could, against the odds. Sure, they were misogynists, or rumoured to be. I didn't know what a misogynist was back then. But they were faded, jaded heroes. They weren't perfect, but they tried, God damn it...they tried.

I grew up on knights. Knights of the Crusaders, Knights of the Roundtable. Rapists and murderers and thieves, probably. But fuck it, they gave it a pretty good shot.

I grew up on American Ninjas, and Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee tore off a man's balls with his bare hands.

I don't have an addendum to that.

But...hang on, I didn't grow up at all. I write fiction for a living, right? I believe in the fiction of heroes and men's men, I believe in the fiction of Druss and a man living by a code despite the world trying to tear him down.

Is that growing up? Is it a fantasy?

You know what I think? I want my children to live in that fantasy world, like I, and so many others do. I want them to strive, to aim for the unachievable, to live by a code and fight for those that cannot fight for themselves. Fighting's not all about fists and guns, either. We all fight the good fight in whatever way we're able.

If they aspire to be Druss or Aragorn, or Josey Whales, or The Quiet Man, I don't believe I'll be unhappy.

I think I'll be proud.

All the heroes aren't gone. They're here. I think, sometimes, we just let our eyes wander in the wrong direction, toward the man, the woman, who makes the most noise...

Watch them, sure. Watch them fall, then remember what it means to stand tall.

Ah, fuck it. I'm all misty eyed.

Love you. x





Sunday, 15 September 2013

Guest Post from Robert Essig!

Something a little different today - Robert Essig's taking over with an informative piece on working the Small Presses, his new novel, 'People of the Ethereal Realm', and being awesome...so, here he is!


The Genesis of People of the Ethereal Realm
Part One

There are a variety of ways to begin writing a book, but from where I stand there are basically two viable methods. Some writers plot their novels meticulously with flash cards, notes, character backgrounds and whatnot. We’ll call them Plotters. Then there are writers who sit down with an idea and a few characters. With a vague sense of where they want to go and what kind of tale they want to tell, they sit down before their computer and type, weaving a story by the seat of their pants. I don’t know what we’ll call them, but I am a member, and as much as I’ve tried plotting my stories, I can’t. Maybe some day.

People of the Ethereal Realm began one day while I was lying on the couch in that phantasmagoric moment just as sleep washes over, a moment when, in the company of others, I may mumble nonsensical words. I felt a presence, and I attempted to remain in that thin stream of consciousness. The presence was female, though I am reluctant to even entertain the idea that she was spiritual. Probably just one of the random thoughts caught in the filter of my mind, a distortion of a memory. I abruptly leapt off the couch and wondered about jealousy. Could someone become jealous of an apparition, ghost, spirit, something from beyond, something that couldn’t be seen by others?

When I began writing People of the Ethereal Realm I had three characters, the beginnings of a plot, and a scene that would set the stage for what the book would become, but I had no idea where it would go or how things would turn out for Adam, my protagonist. I knew he was in for a world of change, a struggle worse than his dissolving marriage, but I couldn’t, at that time, even speculate at where he would end up and what he would have to go through to get there.

I began writing toward the scene that burned in my mind, a scene I felt would direct my muse and shape the path of the story hidden beneath the water. I just had to dip my psyche into the frigid current, witness the whole of the story, the iceberg, and lay it down on paper (well, a computer document).
But there was a problem. I developed Adam and his wife Justine and their crumbling life together. Adam began having visitations in the night, perhaps a product of his desperation or maybe sexual frustration, and then I wrote that brilliant scene that I had been working toward, and it turned out just as I had intended. I thought getting to that point would fuel my muse but I was mistaken. I sat there in front of my computer and I was lost.

For whatever reason, I found myself staring into the fuzz on my television and then looking at a blank wall. Asinine and childish, I know, but the afterimage was glorious to behold: a bold green rectangle wherever I looked, even when I closed my eyes, glowing and growing perpetually yet remaining the same until it finally faded away. I tempted myself with the television again, wondering if I could be potentially damaging my retinas.

One more time wouldn’t hurt, right?

The second time I could swear I saw someone. Jesus Christ on Tuesday I saw someone!  Continued seeing them because that damn afterimage, the green one that a moment ago seemed quite interesting, wouldn’t fucking go away.  And damn-it there was someone in there.

The idea for a short story about a man who sees things in afterimages had been developed and the more I thought about it and prepared myself to write it (I suppose I did some plotting in my mind), I realized that Gerald, the probable protagonist for this new story, would fit right in with my novel-in-progress. By weaving Gerald into the developing plot, the pieces fell into place. I wrote the rest of the book by the seat of my pants, but really it wrote itself.

And that’s the way I like it.

Adam and Gerald, two men from different sides of the tracks, took me on quite a ride. I had no idea where we were going, but we went there together, and I am quite pleased with how it all turned out.

I would like to thank Craig Saunders for allowing me the use of his blog.  Thanks a bunch, man!  Part two of the Genesis of People of the Ethereal Realm, where I discuss the process of getting the book published in the small press, is featured on Kenneth Cain’s blog. Don’t miss it!

Follow Robert's journey over on Kenneth Cain's blog, and don't forget to take a look at Robert's blog while you're at it :D 

Links below...this:

The Genesis of People of the Ethereal Realm, Part Two (Live from Tuesday 17th September)




That's what he looks like!

That's it, take over done. One last note from me - 

Love you! x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Optimus Blog

Ever feel like a robot? A god-damn machine, typing away, day after day. A mere extension of the PC, tethered by finger, eye and ear to the great overmind?

I don't. 

I like what I do. I feel like Optimus fucking Prime this last week. Been sucking up a bit of an ongoing illness and hitting the keyboard. Properly hitting it. Typing like I mean it. And loving it. 

This job is amazing. It's a wonderful thing, I think, to be able to do what you want to do. 

I follow writers on Twitter, FB. Tenuously, I'm friends with a few. They moan an awful lot. I'm not immune to the odd rant about my chosen profession, either. But I do love it. Sometimes it just takes a good week of bashing the hell out of keys to remember it. 

Also, got offered a book deal, hit number one in free downloads with Great British Horror Vol. 1, saw my copies of The Estate in hardcover, finished a novella which I loved writing (The Hardest Dark), and began work on a new project. 

So, anyway...just wanted to share a little passion. Too often we (writers) bemoan our lot - crap sales, crap reviews, crap contracts, crap schedules...all can be true. 

But damn, if it's not the finest thing on earth when it's working. :D

Love you. x



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Estate - Pre-orders.



The Estate, my favourite novel, is available to pre-order, in hardback, from the publisher's website. 

That's it! There's a sample over on the right of the blog if you want to read the first few chapters. 

Love you!

x



Monday, 12 August 2013

The Estate by Craig Saunders - Hardcover Pre-Orders



http://crowdedquarantine.com/2013/08/12/the-estate-hardcover-edition-available-to-pre-order/

The Estate, my favourite novel, is getting the hardcover treatment.

There is a sample (on the right) if you want to read a little. The link (above) will take you to the publisher's website for pre-orders.

Artwork Jethro Lentle.

Words by Craig Saunders.

Love you!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Mulled Whine/Five Writers I Love

Good title, eh? Took me years to come up with that.

I ain't complaining tonight, though. I'm just sharing a little love. Been a while since I've shared the love. Here's some new stuff for you.

#1. Robert Essig


Robert's one of the nicest guys I've never met. We worked together on Scarecrow and The Madness for Blood Bound Books. He was one of the first 'new' writers I discovered when I decided to give the whole writing thing a decent bash. Have a look at his blog/follow/hunt him down on Amazon. He is really very good.

#2. Gregory L. Norris



Another lovely man, hence the blog post. A mentor in many ways back in the 'early' days (well, about two years ago!) An absolute gentleman, amazingly talented (and prolific) author, and a first and foremost a friend.

#3. Adam Millard


*The* man...not only for his work on my books, but one of the few authors I've actually met. Writes the 'Dead' series of novels, among many other works. Also Head Honcho at Crowded Quarantine. Check out his website. Not sure if he's 'bestselling' author...but he will be. Top 100 on Amazon, and rising. 



Suzanne's pretty cool. Writer, editor, badass and dog owner. She edited 'Read the End First' and wrote the amazing Z-Boat. Keep an eye on her - she's going in the right direction. She's wicked nice, too. 



Awesome author, all-round decent chap. Author of the Unwashed Dead series, among God-knows how many other brilliant books - down and dirty horror of the first order. 

That's it...as is customary in these situations, a last word to follow.

Love you! x



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Running Man

It's me!

That's what I've been up to. Nothing but running. It's good, though, and I'm enjoying it. Don't know about work. I'm not enjoying that at the moment. I've a glut of stories I'm thinking about writing, and hence not writing anything at all.

Which is pretty stupid, but on the plus side, I'm running!

Here's a picture of a nice lady running, because, you've got to have a picture.


Compare and contrast, the reality of running, for me:


Love you! x


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Keeping up appearances...chortle.

Yeah! Shit pun to start...can't go wrong.

I'm working on a few personal appearances and thought I'd start early. I'm *hoping* a book signing in Norwich Waterstones is going to come off. I'm also on the radio (online) twice in October - I'll post more on these events as the time approaches.

All gearing toward the launch of The Estate.

In other news (he says, making something up because he's been pretty flipping lazy), I'm going to be running a short series of interviews on my blog. Keep an eye out for them!

Love you.

Craig

The requisite picture:


I did a post a while back about self-promotion. This is me, doing that. Try it - you might be surprised. 
x

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Estate by Craig Saunders Coming Soon...in hardback.


Coming this October from Crowded Quarantine Publications in hardback, trade paperback and digital formats.

Thank you, Crowded Quarantine, and Jethro Lentle for the absolutely astounding cover art.

Love you! 

x

Sunday, 30 June 2013

What is a man's life (work) worth?

$2.99.

That's about the long and short of it. I've self-pubbed some work for a while, and this seems to be the golden price for my work.

What is a book worth? What people are willing to pay for it. Same as ever.

Simple post for a simple thought.

Love you.

x


My Neighbour Totoro: Reimagined.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Fighting the Good Fight

Once upon a time...

All the best stories begin with 'Once upon a time...'

Except this one. I think I want to talk about why we write, but maybe lighten my poor brain. We'll see...

So, I'm wondering, here at 5am, why we write. It's not a simple question, and, I suspect, it differs for each writer. I don't know about each writer, but I got to wondering because I remember what writing used to be like, when I first started haphazardly bashing keys.

Here's some thoughts, then. Just because, you know, I got to wondering what I'm doing all this for.

Firstly, it's a selfish need. A drive. It's something that can't be denied. If you have ideas, you get them out however you can. You draw, paint, sing...so I suppose it's about passion.

My passion, I think, comes from a few different things. Depression and mania drive me to write, often. I haven't been manic for a while. I've been low, and writing can lift that. Cathartic, but ultimately palliative.

You can't cure depression, but you can rage against it.

I've written before about the BLACK DOG. Mine's an evil bitch, but when she goes back into the pit, there's a time of stability when I'm pretty productive. But sometimes she drags me right down there with her.

So, it's about me? Of course it is. Writing is, by and large, a narcissistic calling.

I fight my illness with words. Sometimes my brand of bi-polar disorder is hungry, and I feed it with words.

But it isn't all about me. It's about fighting the good fight. Fiction can be about something larger than self, too. Mine isn't only about me, coping. It's about the fight. I think my favourite fiction is.

It's about black and white, light and dark, good and evil. It's about men and women rising up and being better than they can be, about people in adversity discovering their strength.

High falluting for genre fiction? I don't think so. We're losing luminaries in genre fiction. Bleeding out. One day, these giants will all be gone. Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson spring to mind, but of course there are more. People die but writers leave their words, their thoughts, and their contribution to the good fight behind.

Not sure I said what I wanted to say. Just that, for me, the best fiction is about something that transcends the words that form the thought. Terry Pratchett's fiction, for example, is astonishingly humane.

I don't know if the light wins in the end everytime. I hope Iain Banks travels beyond the stars and Carl Sagan teaches compassion in heaven. I do know that when the good ones pass, they leave the world a little brighter for being here.

Love you.

x

R.I.P.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Three Acts of Dying - Progress Report (beep beep beep)

I started this bugger two months ago. In normal circumstances I'd have finished by now. But things have been...mental. It's a good excuse. Honest. Involves my old noggin.

And so, this update is going old school - like the old days, when my blog was an outlet for my rambles, so it shall be today.

First up, little progress on the novel - 4K in two months, plus 4K in the last two days. Feels good to be writing again. It's a fun book to write. Thankfully, I'm comfortable with mix-and-match novels. Yes, it's horror, and yes, it's a sequel to The Love of the Dead, featuring Coleridge and Beth Willis again.

Yes, as you'd suspect, there's a few murders, ghosts, supernatural beings, chubby coppers...and a wizard.

Yep. Fuck it. I want a wizard, I'll have a wizard.

But as to why it's taken me two months to write 8K...there's the rub.

To be honest, I was halfway convinced I was going to kick the bucket at the tender age of 40...me a virgin and all.

Went to the TIA clinic, referred, the doc thinking I was having ministrokes (which isn't the same as masturbating with a small penis), or Transient Ischaemic Attacks.

Here's a picture of a mythical beast which makes a kind of short-lived appearance in The Three Acts of Dying:


Pictured: Manticore. 

Anyway, next up...it's not TIA. So, next check is MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Big tube, me, whoowhoowhoo...checking right side of my brain because, well, you know, brain tumour. 

Dramatic, eh? It's not a brain tumour, though. MRI came back normal. 

Next check is EEG. Electronencephalography. Basically, the nice people at the hospital are going to try to make me have a fit. To rule out epilepsy and migraines (there are plenty of type of both, and they can monitor each area of the brain). 

Fun times, eh?

Why all the tests? Because the left side of my body keeps going a bit dippy. Numb and rather clumsy, I suppose. 

Hence the tardiness in writing the latest novel. 

There, told you I had a good excuse. 

Love you! 

P.S. Good news is, I ain't even nearly dead, not even a little bit where it doesn't show. 

Cheers for reading!