Tuesday, 20 December 2016

End of Year Round-Up 2/2

Just a little note, before we start, on consistency and the artistic mind...

People seem to romanticise, somewhat, this link between being nuts and being creative. It's there, sure. I wrote a novel in a week, once (BLOOD, DRUGS, TEA). The black dog wasn't visiting, but the mania fairies were flitting around annoyingly while I wrote it. Mania's more like a belligerent one-eyed tabby cat, an upside-down tortoise and three llamas, two of whom are drunk and one, the designated driver, really arsey because, well, he's sober. The point here is that you can reach ridiculous heights...but you can't be consistent. If you want a body of work rather than a footnote in a mental health journal, consistent wins every time.

This year I've been boring, haven't created wildly, but I have, actually, done a ton of work. I didn't think I had until I sat to write this two-part round-up...but I have. So...you know. Ner.

Successes and Failures

I can't say I really consider any of this year's work a success or a failure. To me, it's felt like I've been in a holding pattern. Like I'm a plane, circling, waiting for permission to land. Kind of dull, and I'm impatient, but I do have fuel reserves and others needed to land before me.

Jesus, what a shit analogy.

I did some of what I intended from last year's round-up - I wrote Beneath Rythe, although it's only a first draft and still needs probably up to around a fourth draft before I let anyone see it. I finished PIG with Edward.

Some things I hadn't planned on doing - the short stories which I put out. Some were paid, some I gave away, some I donated (I think? You donate to charity anthologies, right?), but none were wasted.

Some projects and jobs I didn't get around to at all. I haven't moved forward with Rain Clowns or The Temple of Art. I began the sequel to Left to Darkness in November and put it on hold until after I finish Red Ice Run with Ryan C. Thomas (which has moved on, but isn't finished at all...), and issued the paperbacks for the Line of Kings. My head won't be clear until I've done those, and I really suck badly at thinking about more than one thing unless those things are conveniently placed, nice and tidy, on a sequential timeline, preferable going from left to right, left being the past.

TMI?

Moving on.

To be fair, a few of those 'failures' are because I was without a PC...some was just me. My fingers also kicked the bucket this year, so it took a while to learn to figure out how to get on with that.*

*Reynaud's. My fingers are not actually dead. Do not send tiny caskets.

One success, though - DarkFuse haven't, as yet, taken me round the back of the shed and put me down. Another success, I guess, it that although it's been a quiet year, I am still writing.

Life

Life's part of my writing, I suppose, and it got in the way a bit this year. The Black Dog's big fat head hit me right in the balls. I got some news pills, and I feel better than I have for a long time, and I've been working regularly again - so, half-and-half.

My PC was blown up by lightning in the summer, and I'm still behind from that - a long way behind. I lost a lot of work, too. On the plus side, I got a PC upgrade. So, half-and-half.

I started playing Fallout 4, and like everything I do, I play obsessively. It cuts in to work time, but I really love it...all together now...half-and-half!

Overall? 50% for the year. Not a fail, not a win...just another year. That's a pass mark, I think. If there's a test for years. Which, frankly, there isn't.

Next Year

Hmm. Red Ice Run will be done in 2017 (I'm giving myself a whole year...hardly a stretch...). Highwayman (from DarkFuse) is out in January, which is very nice (I sent the signature sheets for the 52 limited edition hardbacks last week). The Line of Kings will be done.

Aside from that? Normally, I make some kind of tentative work plans for each year...this year I resolutely have done no such thing. I'm just a god-damned Maverick.


Wait, that's not Maverick...

Conclusion

Did the shelf of boasting grow? Yes...but not as much as me. I mean that in the philosophical sense, of course. I didn't get taller.

Learning and growing, dudes.

Love you.

End of Year Round-Up 1/2

Craig! Craig!

What?

What the hell have you been doing all year?

There's a nice way to ask that, you know. And there's a nice way to answer it...which this ain't. It's the...dum-dum-dum...End of Year Round-Up...PART ONE!

(There's a jingle with that. It's inaudible, though...unlike...segueeeee!)

Audiobooks

Three are out so far - The Dead Boy, A Home by the Sea, and RAIN. I've received Vigil (Lee David Foreman) and The Love of the Dead (Molly King) for approval, so it won't be much longer until those stories are unleashed. It's interesting to see how well audiobooks sell compared to paperbacks...they sell more, for me. Others, maybe not, but it's added revenue that'll buy a bag of coke every now and then. Erm.

Reissues

All stories which reverted to me are out again, with new covers. All the ones I want in paperback are done, too, and all those I want in audio are either done, or contracted to be done. The only paperbacks I still want to issue are the fantasy books, and that's just taking so long it's a downer, man. Let's talk about upbeat stuff instead, shall we?

Covers

This is, I guess, part of 'the craft' now. I'm not an artist, but I'm improving, and I'm happy with the covers I have (apart from the Rythe Quadrilogy, but I'm not ready to release the fourth book yet anyway, and when I do I want everything right - paperbacks, too, so I can draw a line under this saga). If you want to have a look at the covers as they stand (and I ain't changing 'em n'more), they're all updated in the 'sample' section above.

If you don't want to look at my spiffing covers, here's a picture of a squirrel:



New work

I released The Dead Boy at the start of the year. UNIT 731 (a novella) came out from DarkFuse earlier in the year, too, but mostly it's been about short stories, getting older work sorted so I can move onto greener (newer) pastures, and learning some new (boring but essential) skills.

A few people asked me for shorts for anthologies, and I wrote a lot for charity - 'Pigs in Blankets' and 'To Knit a World, to Darn a Life'.

Also published: 'Another Painted Bauble Falling from a Dead Tree' on Meghan Hyden's blog, because she asked and I like her enough to write a story for her.

I've a few more coming out which I can't talk about, because the publisher will announce the line-up nearer the time.

Bad Apples came out, with my story 'October's End'. So, that was nice. Ooh, and 'Those Borrowed Faces' came out in 'What Goes Around'. Ooh, and 'The House of Oak' was published by DarkFuse, online.

I think I might have been paid for those. I might have bought some new socks. I needed socks, so that's possibly true.

Edits

Loads - mostly, it's been a tedious year - one I needed, but nonetheless...zzzzzz.

I hate editing old work, but some needed doing so I could get the paperbacks shipshape. Bookshape. Whatever. Shut up.

And, because of this (learning how to format a paperback) Iain Rob Wright's A-Z of Publishing (an online, subscription-based resource) proved invaluable this year. Good man, and a very useful place to learn what you're doing, even if you've been doing a while (like me) - there's a whole hell of a lot I didn't know I didn't know...

Rejections and Acceptances

I didn't get rejected at all this year. I had an acceptance or two, and a few people asked me for short stories, which is a lovely thing indeed.

Why didn't I get rejected? Because I barely sent anything out...

Good trick, that.

Finished Work

PIG, with Edward Lorn. Moved on a very little with novels, but I did write a shit ton...just not on anything new. Insert squiggly non-committal emoji here.

The Business

I'm out of Kindle Unlimited. I'm making roughly the same amount as I was before, and to be honest, I don't miss farting around with free/99p promotions at all. As I mentioned earlier, Iain Rob Wright's 'A-Z of Publishing' has been a massive boon to me this year, with regard to learning more of the 'back end' of self-publishing (yes, yes, pfnarr pfnarr).

Out and About

Only got to one convention - Horror in the East. A cosy, small affair, but it was nice as I had a good natter with David Moody and met the actual, incomparable Simon Coleby.

The Craft

Don't write 'he thought to himself'...for fuck's sake. Repetition and redundancy are on my mental checklist for second drafts, as is passive voice - but I didn't have a mental checklist when I wrote the earlier fantasy work. Wish I had. Would've saved a ton of time. Also, on my mental checklist for future work, I've added, 'Don't fuck it up.'

In part two, I'll write about successes and failures and my plans for next year. I think. I don't actually know what I'm going to write, or say, until it's too late.

Love you. x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

For Christmas, Craigy gave to me; two short stories and an audiobook...er...*something...rhyme...something.*

Couple of bits and bobs before my yearly 'Yearly Round-up', for which I still have no catchy name.

1.

Audiobook of 'The Dead Boy', read by the wonderful Molly King, is available now on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.


Links: 
US 

2.


I have a short story, 'Pigs in Blankets' in this, the 12 DAYS Anthology. All proceeds from the sale go to Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and all of the authors involved donated their work for the charity. Share if you can, buy if you're flush. Edited and compiled by Matthew Cash. It's a good read, too, and there's a short story and a nice introduction from Graham Masterton, who is a lovely gentleman. I won't put the contents or list all the authors in this blog, because it's a hefty anthology and very reasonably priced. 

Links:

3.

Last, but not in the slightest least, an entirely free read from me, 'Another Painted Bauble Falling from a Dead Tree'. Available on Meghan Shena Hyden's blog, 'The Gal in the Blue Mask'. She asked if I'd write a short for her annual Christmas Takeover, and this is it.


That's all folks. 

Love you. x

Monday, 28 November 2016

Kindle Unlimited Nu-uh.

I've given this a fair bit of thought, now and then, over the past year and more. KU (that's an abbreviation, obviously...) hasn't helped me at all, but in the interest of fair play, some people are quite happy with it. This blog post is about how it worked for me - a long-term project, and one that I'm content enough to draw a line under at the end of this year.

Was it worth it? Short answer - no.

The benefits?

You get to put your books on 'Countdown Deals' and 'Free Promotions'.

I've done both of these. Even with Book Bub promotions neither tool has resulted in a longer term boost. And, the money I've made from various promotions hasn't nearly covered the shortfall since KU's inception. For me, .99p/c promotions don't do much apart from shift a few more books for less money. I'd make roughly the same selling fewer books at $2.99. Free promotions are great for downloads...does anybody read them, or is it just the excitement of getting something free? I think it's more the latter than the former.

Higher Royalties!

Not if you're not selling the books, is it?

Earn 70% Royalties for Japan, Mexico...!

I've made about 100 Yen in Japan in a year. I'm not going to miss it, as much as I love Japan, Japan isn't buying my beer.

Reach a new audience!

My books are available in all those places anyway.

It's a resounded 'meh' on the benefits of KU.

I'm not planning on rolling out the books on another platform. I could, I guess (the price of KU is exclusivity with Amazon), but I just spent about a year and a half on reissues and formatting and covers...I don't want to spend another year doing that. They'll stay where they are, but in December I'm not renewing with KU, because...

Conclusion

People (other writers - they are people, too, yes they are) have been worrying an awful lot lately that the KU payout - which is supposed to pay writers per pages read - is wrong. I can barely count to seven using the fingers on one hand, so I'm not going to attempt mathsing in public, but last month's US royalties were around $100 (a pittance compared to some, yes, more than others, yes, but I'm giving a figure so you can see the difference). This month's earnings, from the US, is around $1. That's $1.

Is it going to hurt me, coming out of KU? Probably not. Will it help? Probably not.

Why bother being in or out, then?

The main reason is that I just don't like it. I like Hugh Jackman. I don't like Sean Penn. I like spaghetti, but fusilli gets on my nerves. I like humanity but most people, I can take 'em or leave 'em.


In the interests of disclosure, here's my historical horror ranking in the US. You'll see a drop in ranking around July 2014 (when KU began), a small resurgence around December 2015, when the program began to settle down. For most of 2016 it's averaging out someplace in the top 1000 (which really isn't a big deal, at all - if it was in all books, great - in horror, a small genre, it's a drop in the ocean). But, looking at this, small genre or not, here's the thing: Up until KU, Amazon royalties with fewer books were regularly and reliably around a hundred, per month. After KU, around ten pounds a month, for a year...

I already work for far below the minimum wage (not crying - my choice, and I'm good with more time and less money)...now?

Look at the chart again. The middle is lower. The two ends, close enough, around the top thousand rank. The first is before KU. The second is after. During the later period, I'm earning around one tenth of what I did in the first period with ten times more books.

I'm going to maths...hang on. Ten times less, ten times more...does that mean I'm earning 100 times less?

There's a reason I don't maths.

It was never about the money, but you know...coffee, cigarettes, beer...I can't work without 'em.

There are plenty of reasons I don't like Kindle Unlimited, and reasons I never liked it. I don't particularly like free promotions, or cheap promotions. I don't like capitalism as such, either. I don't like the whole trying, and trying, and trying to sell all the time. That's always been my problem. It depends on growth, and growth cannot be endless. There's always entropy, and we're saturated already. Everyone's trying to sell something to everyone, and when that doesn't work we give them freebies until they're so full up they just don't want anymore. There are people with thousands of books on a Kindle which will never be read. Someone like me spent a month or more writing a novel and that novel now has no value at all - I'm not talking financial value, but worth.

I think this saturation, this drive to make everything in the world a business, isn't just killing art, but our reason to create at all, our will to create, and as a result originality suffers. If a book does well, there will be a thousand knock-offs of that book...because everyone wants their piece of the pie.

Well, I'm stuffed, and I'd rather eat one really good pie than lots of shit pies.

Love you. x

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Audible titles available now:

The following two titles are now available on Audible:


Read by Lee David Foreman.

Link: RAIN


Read by Molly King.


I'll post more as I know more. 

Love you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Line of Kings Trilogy Paperbacks

Next thing, possibly the final thing out from me this year:




The Line of Kings Trilogy.
Cover art Chris Taggart.
Out in paperback 2016.

Love you. x



Saturday, 22 October 2016

Titles coming to Audible soon

The following seven titles will be coming to Audible soon. All are available for Kindle for 99p or 99c for the rest of October as part of my Halloween sale. Prices will return to normal on November 1st ($2.99 for novels).

Titles:








That's it for today. More news tomorrow or Monday on other projects.

Love you x










Saturday, 15 October 2016

Are you responsible for what you write, or are your characters?

I always thought the answer to this was simple; both. But I'm not a politician, and I'm not responsible for what I, or the characters, think or say within the pages of a book. In real life, I'm moderately nice. Sometimes (often?) I write characters who are nasty buggers. But it's not the story which concerns me, it's the subtext and the meaning and the message within the story.

Clive Barker, a writer I like quite a bit, said (paraphrased) a writer shouldn't censor themselves. I agreed for a long, long time. I still do, for the most part.

We're not politicians, no. We don't need party members. We're not divine and we don't need followers. We're not obligated to sell a message, or a belief...but we do have some tiny influence, don't we? An awful lot of the things I hold dear - ways to strive to be a better man than I was yesterday - come from reading, and thinking about the things I read. There's an impact. You can't tell me that hugely human, and humane, words have no effect. Terry Pratchett's view of mankind, Stan Lee's view of heroism, Dr. Seuss' sensibility, Carl Sagan's wonder...the list is very long indeed.

A silly book made me question not what a writer should or shouldn't write (that's up to them) but about the underlying thoughts a reader might take from your tale. It was Lawrence Block's 'Matt Scudder' (#2 - title's not really relevant). The protagonist is dirty, sullied, corrupt...all things that don't bother me in the slightest. It's a story, fiction, and doesn't matter a hill of beans. What did trouble me was the assertion that nothing short of murder affected the protagonist. He didn't care if you were a thief, a blackmailer, a pornographer, a drug dealer...but when faced with a paedophile he largely let it slide - the abuse of young boys (11 years old, here) and he only intervened when the guy killed a man.

Now, Lawrence Block's a writer and Scudder's a character, and there's a distinction between the two, just as an actor isn't the character they play. But it made me question where I'd draw the line. I'm not going to cross out passages, go back, boycott Block (I won't read Matt Scudder stories again more because one's enough). Made me question not what a writer should put in, or where a writer should go...but if good sense should move a writer somewhere. People will still say your characters do it, but you write it. You figure out what's sensible, what's not. King's Under the Dome, for me, overstepped a writer trying to put across a message dear to them - it was heavy handed. Subtext, meaning, implications, these things sit beneath a story and give it a foundation, not on top. The story's the star, the characters tell it, but what happens underneath is something else entirely.


Me. Yoda'ing.

We're not politicians, and that's important because people might actually take something away from a book that will last. Thoughts, words that come out of our mouths, but more - the actions we take upon them - are formed by those things which sit beneath, and that's the subtext of a book, and more; the subtext of us.

That's important, isn't it?

Fucked if I know. It's just a blog.

Yoda's done for the day. Later.

Love you.

x

Thursday, 13 October 2016

How much is a book worth?

I'm sure I've pondered this before. Art vs. Lord Business. Artists need to eat, right? If you answered 'no' to that, you're wrong. Piracy isn't an art unless you're really dapper while you're doing it.

How much? Is it what people are willing to pay? Or what they're able to pay? Does it matter? You're trying to assign a numerical value to an unquantifiable portion of someone's heart and soul. Sure, you can be passionate about other things - you can, for example, really, really love dishwashers. But it has measurable parts, weight, diameter...and I guess there's a value to the labour included, generally paid in hours in small sums to those who assemble the thing. Should we be paid in hours put in? Amazon pays per number of pages read. It's a reasonable system, as far as it goes. Isn't it?

I don't know. That's the answer. Still the answer, and it's been the answer as long as I've been writing.

Still, there's a load of my stuff up for .99c/p!

HA!

Good gag, that. Like pretending you're alive at your funeral.

Wait what?



Love you.

x



Saturday, 1 October 2016

Halloween FIRE SALE! Everything must GO!

Every independent novel, novella, and short story collection published by me will be priced at 99p/c for the whole month of October. Fifteen books from my back catalogue - any one you want, or you can get the whole lot for less that $15/£15.

That's it. Seven novels, four novellas, four short story collections. 99p/c per book.

Link to my Amazon US page here: https://www.amazon.com/Craig-Saunders/e/B003TYAKFO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1474983188&sr=8-1-spell

Link to my Amazon UK page here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Craig-Saunders/e/B003TYAKFO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1474983188&sr=8-1-spell


If you're in any other country, just change the country part of your link to suit you, or search on Amazon where you are.

Books discounted for October:

A Stranger's Grave
The Dead Boy
RAIN
The Love of the Dead
A Home by the Sea
Vigil
Cold Fire
The Cold Inside
Dead in the Trunk
Angels in Black and White
Dark Words
A Scarecrow to Watch over Her
Death by a Mother's Hand
Insulation
Walls of Madness

Pricing will revert to normal ($2.99) on 1st November.

Love you.

PS...no right to ask (it's your dime/tuppence) but leave a review, eh?

x

Friday, 30 September 2016

'The House of Oak' available for free from Darkfusemagazine.com

The House of Oak

'People say a witch was once buried beneath the old oak. The kids who played in the woods, back when kids still played in the woods, used to talk about digging under that fat and gnarly tree to look for her bones.

This isn't the story of the death of Wayne, or Neil, or their mother. This is my story. A story about the house I built them in the branches of an oak tree back in 1976 or '77. A story about a witch, about evil, but about idle hands, too, and these old man's hands that planted two acorns in the soft dirt above their graves.'


My story 'The House of Oak' is available over on http://www.darkfusemagazine.com/subscribe/ and it is entirely free - all you have to do is subscribe to the newsletter.

It's set within the same universe as the novels: Highwayman, forthcoming from Darkfuse in 2017 and Hangman (forthcoming from Darkfuse). Also, the novellas: Deadlift (Darkfuse), Flesh and Coin (Darkfuse), Death by a Mother's Hand, A Scarecrow to Watch over Her (Previously titled 'Scarecrow' from Blood Bound Books). 

And the following short stories: The House of Oak (available at Darkfusemagazine.com with a free subscription), Pigs in Blankets (forthcoming in the '12 Days' anthology, all proceeds to Cystic Fibrosis UK).

They are all stories of the Green Man, the White Hart, and all the Lords and Ladies of Old England...and of an old lady named Ma Mulrone...

Love you, and thanks for reading. 

x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

My Summer Reading List

Thought I'd share some of the books I read this summer. I don't read as much as other people think I should, but I read just enough for me. My favourite read of the bunch is at the end of this little run-down. Here are the ones I've anything (possibly) worth saying about:

Neal Asher's Shadow of the Scorpion...I wanted to like it. In principle, sci fi action, giant laser shooting scorpion on the cover...but it lost me with plasticrete. Stupid thing to lose a reader over, and more me than Neal's book, probably. It's like gum, or flies, or noisy exhausts...shunting words together just gets on my tits. That isn't exactly fair to Asher...otherwise, in another reader's hand, no doubt a perfectly enjoyable read. Of the action sci-fi I've read, I think Andy Remic is more my speed, and I like Stephen North's vibe very much, too. Also, I'm sure Asher and Mr. Child (below) could give a shit what I think...

Lee Child's latest, as the last few, felt irrelevant. I generally enjoy Child's Reacher stories, but like so many 'big' books, I think it's become a victim of its own success. Three or fifteen chapters about figuring out a phone number, or a place, is taking the piss. Perhaps it's the publishers, rather than Child - I suspect he could tell a cracking tale in half as many words, and if he did, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. While not especially a devotee of the Warhammer universe, I always enjoy Dan Abnett. Horus Rising, though it felt restricted by the Black Library's sometime heavy hand, was very enjoyable.

My first Sven Hassel proved a good, easy to digest breath of air. Bloody Death! Or something, I think it was called. I don't think the title really mattered...

Assassin’s Creed something-something by Oliver Bowden - I always try to read an adaptation, or a book set in a shared universe, on holiday. I read this out of curiosity. Bowden was fine. Fifteen pages of stabbing got a bit boring. I didn't finish it.

Shaw’s Rotten Dead Fucks - always enjoy a bit of Shaw, and more and more these days I'm finding myself drawn to the Indie side of publishing than the biggies - just more inventive, fresher, and less restrictive. Obviously, that doesn't always stand true; Indie or Trad - they're both as good, and both as bad, as each other.

Ken Eulo's Brownstone - if King, McCammon and their contemporaries were the pickles of the eighties horror boom, this was the pickle juice. I didn't finish it – not because it was awful, but because there was no need to.

Alison Littlewood's 'Cold Season' - enjoyable small village, claustrophobic, horror.

Also read/also rans:

Butcher's Furies of Calderon...great if you've got three hundred hours for the series. One was enough to sate my curiosity, as Gardens of the Moon did for Steven Erikson. A slower, confused start with Erikson, but both very worthy for fans of books large enough to injure hornets.

An older title by George C. Chesbro, The Beasts of Valhalla, concerning a circus trained acrobat/karate master/professor of criminology and dwarf named Mongo...well, can't beat that.

Re-read Herbert's Sepulchre...much the same as I remembered it, and very much a reflection of the era. Like Laymon, very readable but never quite for me.

Re-read Abercrombie's 'Best Served Cold' - I like him more than most these days, and one of the few I actively seek out.

Mieville's Iron Council...hmm...good. lyrical, pretty, like Banks...but lacking warmth. I've read some of Keith Deininger's (like Marrow's Pit) which I've enjoyed more.

Haldeman's Peace and War - I read the first. I won't read more because I just haven't got the time of life left to read every book and I'm not going to stress about it. Apparently Peter F. Hamilton liked it. I prefer Hamilton, and Reynolds.

King's Revival? Reliable, solid storytelling, King's style just as personal and warm as ever. Didn't blow my sock off, but I don't honestly think I've fallen for a King book for over a decade. I enjoyed 11.22.63 very much, but the last King which really did it for me was Duma Key. Unpopular with other King fans, maybe, but up my street. But then one of my favourite King stories was Tommyknockers. It was unwieldy, sure, but damn it was full of heart. I'll take heart over perfection every time.

Work Reads:

Ryan C. Thomas' third Roger Huntington book. He can share the blurb when it's out, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I read Edward Lorn's latest tale of Bay's End - I'm coming to look forward to these stories, which remind me of King's Castle Rock/Maine phase, and invoke the same kind of glee. He can share his blurb, too - great stuff.

My Favourite:

Shadowland, Peter Straub - from the delightful introduction to the edition I have by the man himself, painting a picture of a bygone era when stories were written on typewriters in wood-panelled rooms, to the story itself - a story about stories, but entirely magical - language, but more than that - this is a book written when narrative structure was exciting, creative. I find narrative structure of many books these days...staid. Perhaps people could be more inventive then. I don't know. Perhaps Big Publishing stifles some of that creativity...I don't know. But while so many stories are two up, two down, this book was motherfucking architecture. Wonderful.


That's it. Love you!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What I Did on my Summer Holidays

New term starting, so I'm handing in my homework. At the start of the summer holiday (the kids', not mine...but they're pretty much the same thing as I'm home-dad) it all went a bit pear-shaped. I've been working on getting my old books out in paperback and audio and wanted to get that job done by September, when I usually start working again. The kids go back to school, I work again. Since school started, it's been that way. Summer, edit. September, write.

But noooo. Uh-huh. Had an actual, bone fide, act of God. Lightning. It knocked out everything, killed the Internet, the television, the PC.


Dead PC. Hard to work with a dead PC. I mourned for a while. I got sad. I lost not only all my work in progress, but the ability to work as I had nothing to work on. I wrote a little longhand, but I hate doing that. It's just doing the same job twice. Insurance takes a while, as does building a PC. The TV is replaced now. The PC is pending, so I'm writing this on a borrowed laptop.

What the hell do you do when you're a writer and you can't write? Go back to what you know.

Carpentry. I built things.

Yep. I spent the summer sawing and screwing. Screws. Putting screws in things. Forget it.

Decorating. Mowing the lawn. The house looks like one of those homes on TV where nice builders come round and clear it all up in a day, and the owners come home and cry because they've had a tough time of it, but also because someone did everything and it didn't cost a penny. It cost us, though, and my wife and I did all of the work and no bugger helped.

Summer holidays suck.

The actual holiday was camping in the Peak District. It rained, then it was hot, then it rained. Like my moods. I like the rain, I hate the heat, because I'm contrary. And it's called the Peak District. Lots of hills. Up a hill, down a hill. I didn't like it. I like wood. I don't get stone.

I did do some work, but only ticking over stuff - emails, short stories, arranging contracts and narrators for audiobooks. Not entirely wasted...just not what I like doing.

Molly King will be reading 'The Dead Boy', Lee David Foreman will be reading 'RAIN', and Chris Barnes will be reading 'A Stranger's Grave'. I'll upload samples of each when I figure out how to do it...

In short, I did all the things I needed to do that I wouldn't have done unless lightning struck. Will it help progress my writing 'career'? Maybe. Probably not. But it's like jobs you put off - they play on your mind until you do them. Now I have less playing on my mind. I'm clear to finish off a big editing job (all the Rythe books). Clear to write again when that's done, too, which I really like the sound of.

I haven't progressed in writing (the measure of this, for me, is earnings. I think). But that lightning forced a line through a lot of old stuff hanging over me, and paved the way for some kind of fresh start. While I knew I needed that for a long time, being forced into it was probably the neatest and best way for it to happen.

Summer holidays still suck. I thought getting hit by lightning sucked, too, at first. Turned out it was just what I needed.

Anyway, that's my homework done. Back to school.

Love you.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Bad Apples 3


Released: Sept 6th 2016

A teaser for this, Bad Apples 3. I'm proud to be part of this, with a group of writers I like an awful lot. It's nice to be asked. 

Here's a snippet of my story, 'October's End':

Harvey cleared his throat. He didn't want to speak, but it was a ritual they had every year.
            'It's Halloween tomorrow, grandmother.'
            'Is it, dear?'
            'Yes. I was thinking I might go out.'
            'Trick or treating, dear? Aren't you a little old for that?'
            I wasn't always old for that, he thought. But this was one of the many things he would never say. Not any longer.
            'I would like to. To see the leaves fall. Play with my...friends.'
            They're all dead now. Can you play with dead friends?
            'Oh, Harvey. But it is Halloween. I'm so very old. When the children come, you'll need to answer the door for me. I might have a fall myself.'
            Every year, grandmother had a reason. Perhaps for the first ten years Harvey argued, but he truthfully did not remember how long ago that was. Now, he was a far meeker boy. One with grey wisps of hair and thin, fragile bones.
            'Yes, grandmother,' he said.
            There might be a reason the house was called October's End, but he knew it never did, and never would, and names and houses and old ladies all lied...

That's your lot. I remember Halloween. Not the day, or trick or treating, but the spirit of it. I remember Creep Show, and Elvira, but mostly that vibe - horror that made you smile. I think that's why I wrote this. I hope you like it, and the rest of these slices of horror. 

Love you,
Craig
The Shed.



Sunday, 31 July 2016

Stephen A North's 'The Drifter'

I try to share things around by other writers I like - things I read from the library, things I buy on Kindle, or paperback. It's not often I add them to the blog, but Stephen A North asked me if I'd endorse 'The Drifter'. I did. I've known Stephen a good few years, and I love his style. If you haven't read anything by him, give him a go. He reminds me of Dan Abnett, or maybe Andy Remic - fast-paced, flowing, violent and exciting.



Here's my endorsement, and a few others: 

'A fresh and welcoming take on interstellar colonization fiction. Raw, gritty and detailed.'
- Brian Parker, author of the 'Washington, Dead City' series.

'Stephen A. North proves he's got the goods with this unrelenting, violent sci-fi thriller. Like The Drifter himself, the novel never lets up, and never backs down.' - Craig Saunders, author of 'Masters of Blood and Bone' and 'Left to Darkness'.

'The Drifter reminded me of the classic Science fiction that I grew up reading, with a new modern twist that leaves you wanting more.'
- W.J. Lundy, author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and the Invasion Trilogy.

'North writes with the urgency of a sniper's bullet homing in on target. Highly recommended.'
- Jamie Mason, author of The Book of Ashes.

'North has taken Clint Eastwood’s man with no name and thrown him into the world of Total Recall.  The result is an action-packed, yet strangely nostalgic adventure.'
- Sue Edgerly, author of Dead Tropics.

'Action, grit, suspense, and outer space. An explosive combination.'
- Suzanne Robb author of Z-BOAT. 

There you go - sharing and caring.

Love you x

Friday, 22 July 2016

Spot of Bother Round the Back End

Been a bit quite on here of late because I've been working on the ass end...of my books. My back catalogue, you see. I was (chortle) being disingenuous with my cheeky title.

Meh. Enough of that.

I've thirty odd books out, and I can't really say what I've achieved over the last year, except that I have stopped and feel like I've very little to show for it. Probably won't have until around Christmas time. I'm sorting out my entire back catalogue and trying to make it work better for me (i.e. make more than a shilling a month in royalties). I've reissued nearly all books which have reverted to me on Kindle and in paperback, and I'm working on getting all of these into audio format through ACX, too. In order to do this, everything needs to be in good shape.

That's what I'm working on, anyway. I'm not dead or anything.

In case you were wondering, the next novel (at present) from me is Highwayman, out with Darkfuse, in 2017. I have three finished novels I'm sitting on, and once I'm up to speed with the back catalogue, I'll work on getting these out either on my own, or through a publisher.

In short, I'm trying to make better books, and how to be far, far, better at the business side of things.

I am LORD BUSINESS! Bow. Or, kneel. Sit down if you like. I'm not really that fussy.

Learning and growing.

Love you. x


Coming soon (again) to paperback.


For the first time, this will be in paperback and audio (Waiting on a proof, audio will be a while longer...)


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

'Left to Darkness' Kindle Daily Deal June 30th


'Left to Darkness' 
Published by Darkfuse.

My novel 'Left to Darkness' is Amazon's Kindle Daily Deal, June 30th, one day only. Get it if you want it. 

'Craig Saunders writes with a style that is wickedly humorous yet dark and brutal, something to make you sit up and take note, danger, shock, then a laugh stifled. His stories literally snap, crackle and then burst from the page to slap you about the face, a true master of dark fiction who just cracks me up time after time. His characters are real, people you could imagine meeting, maybe having a drink with if you mixed in those circles, then maybe punching your lights out in a drunken argument, just because they could.' - Scream.

'A style reminiscent of a combination of early Simon Clark and Brian Keene. His dialogue crackles and his characters leap from the page. An apocalyptic tour de force!' - Michael McBride, author of Sunblind and Fearful Symmetry.

'A big, bad take on the apocalypse. Saunders brings the book to the edge of gratuitous violence in its lingering scenes on the violence and terror that is erupting along with the meteor strikes yet he never crosses the line and strays from the story. The characters are very real in their flaws as well as their virtues and this brings the story to life in a way that few authors are able to accomplish. "Left to Darkness" brings the despair and destruction to life and puts a permanent stamp on the reader's minds as one of the best apocalyptic novels in recent years.' - Examiner.

'Left to Darkness is a desperate journey through a land without hope. Harrowing." - Iain Rob Wright, author of The Gates and Final Winter.

Cheers!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

New Anthology out now, 'What Goes Around'


Available on Amazon.

Cover Art: Kevin Enhart

This is out today. David Owain Hughes kindly asked me for a story for this, so I wrote 'Those Borrowed Faces' for 'What Goes Around', edited by David himself and Jonathan Ondrashek.

Table of Contents:

Introduction – Ty Schwamberger
Conquistador – Jack Rollins
Tiddlers – Rhys Milsom
Route 66 – Dawn Cano
Rose Above – Stuart Keane
Taming the Tongue – Chad Lutzke
A Hitman’s Death – Peter Oliver Wonder
Where the Monsters Live – Duncan Ralston
The Killing Floor – Alice J. Black
Revenge Exactly – Tamara Fey Turner
Under Cursed Moonlight – Jonathan Moon
Something Old, Something New, Something Cursed, Something Blue – Sarah Dale
Queen B – Rose Garnett
Those Borrowed Faces – Craig Saunders
Knackered – Skip Novak
Wretched Annie – Rich Hawkins

Published by Great British Horror.

That's it!

Love you. x

Friday, 27 May 2016

An Ode to Skyrim

Today, I put Skyrim in my 'hidden' folder in Steam, for the first time in three years. Not dead, not forgotten...more of an Elder (Scroll) relative in a retirement home.

A passion so long, I think, deserves an obituary.

I began Skyrim in 2013, or thereabouts. Three years. Three thousand hours, on and off. A game (like all the other Elder Scrolls I've played - Daggerfall, Morrowind...) which I never even finished.

Why would I? Like life, I don't need to know how it turns out. It's the journey, the people you meet, the sights...and yes, also crafting armour and weapons, and sneaking up behind people to slit their throats with Mehrunes' Razor. Just like life.


I loved a ton of games over many years now. Baldur's Gate, Deus Ex, Doom, Starcraft. These are worlds I've loved longer than girlfriends. Skyrim is, perhaps, the longest of these flings. Imperfect, sometimes, but endlessly surprising, fascinating, and yes, beautiful. My penchant for creating busty characters in entirely impractical armour aside, it's been a blast. I'm not sad to put it away. I'm not sad I spent such a long time in the world, either. I've been a badass, heavily-muscled warrior with a two-handed blade, a very tall high-elf lesbian Agent of Dibella, I've made lots of coffee while my various characters have spent a eon at the stone quarry to build all of my unnecessary homes across the length and breadth of a world which could, almost, be endless. I've called dragons from the sky, rode ghost horses, chased a headless horseman for miles across tundra to find that no, actually, I can't do anything to him anyway.

I fought Draugr with nothing but a fork, searched for Void Salts obsessively so I could upgrade my Nightingale armour, thrown myself from stupid heights and died to avoid Sabre Cats while wearing nothing but fur pants. I shouted butterflies from the very air.


Hours. That's how long the drudgery might take to get a hood to wear which goes with an outfit you've invested just as much time in. It's ridiculous. Yes. Yes it is. But lookit, ain't I gorgeous!?

Until the next new character, because, now I want to be a mage...


From time to time, like a true tourist, I'd simply stop to take a picture. 

Was Skyrim the perfect game? No. Not really. Sometimes, it would prove frustrating. Sometimes, there was grind, yes - but only if you chose it. You could play however you wanted - you could, feasibly, be a beggar and do nothing more. There is a mod which lets you do just that. There are mods for everything, almost - posh mudcrabs. That's it. Posh MUDCRABS! I'm sold. Take my money.

And, to those who are about to mod, I salute you. Personally, I think they are a wonderful thing. So much so that I installed mods until my PC fell over and screamed, 'NO MORE!'

...and still, I would not relented because I AM THE MOTHERFUCKING DRAGONBORN!


Is it insane to spend such a long time on one game? Probably. But, as I watch Ulfric's head roll across the flagstones, I get to walk away while the world burns behind me. I get to move on...because like any other life, real or virtual, they all end somewhere.

Goodbye, you cruel, fascinating and beautifully drawn world.

Hello Fallout 4.

Love you. x

Sunday, 10 April 2016

April FREE Promotions

The following will be FREE for a period of five days from 22nd April (Fri) 2016 until 26th April (Tuesday).

A Home by the Sea (Horror) - FREE


Damned to Cold Fire (Horror) - FREE


Spiggot, Too (Comedy) - FREE


Spiggot (Comedy)  - FREE


The Gold Ring (Comedy) - FREE



I'm also running just one 99c/p promotion for a newer title:

The Dead Boy (Apocalyptic/Horror) - 99c/p


These books are ALWAYS 99c/p:

Rythe Awakes (Heroic Fantasy)
The Outlaw King (Heroic Fantasy)
Days of Christmas (Noir/Comedy)
A Scarecrow to Watch over Her (Horror/Crime)
Spiggot (Comedy)
Death by a Mother's Hand (Horror)
Insulation (Horror)
The Walls of Madness (Horror)

Sorry about all the bold and italics...trying to make it stand out. Not sure it worked, but there you go. A load of free stuff, and some cheap stuff.

Anyway, if you do get something from free, and you can, I'm only doing it hoping for a review or two (not especially because I'm just really nice) so leave a review, eh? Or, just click 'follow' on my Amazon page if you visit.

Reviews probably help sales, as do 'follows'. Probably. I don't really know. I could find out, but what does it matter?

Love you. x

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Cold Inside Released 1st May

This is available for pre-order, and will be delivered to your Kindle on 1st May by the marvel of technology. $1.99/£1.50 or whatever currency you pay in. 


And, not strictly related, but I finally got round to making a half-decent cover for 'Angels in Black and White', as I was doing the above one anyway. So here it is:


That's your lot for today. 

Love you!




Saturday, 2 April 2016

Beneath Rythe - the conclusion of the Rythe Quadrilogy.

Nearly there...


It's been thirteen years to reach the conclusion of this septology - the stories of Rythe. It won't be out until Faith Kauwe's run her expert eye over it. Probably release it in five or six months. I haven't written 'The End' yet and won't until I'm happy with it. There's an awful lot to do yet - drafts, updated covers, glossaries, maps, boxed sets, and paperback editions for 'The Line of Kings' trilogy when Chris Taggart has finished the final cover for 'The Thief King'. But, nearly there. 

And, I just checked and this is my 26th completed novel. I'm quietly pleased about that.

Here's the prologue for those interested: 

Prologue

The time of gods pass. Suns' light fades. Men die and darkness rises and then it is demons who rule the night and the shade and men fear demons more than gods - because it is those blackest souls which men understand. 

Worlds, too, are half dark, half light. One needs the other, just as men need demons.

With the darkness which fell over Rythe came the cold. The seas in the temperate lands were chilled, and where once the waters were calm, ice floated by. Waves tugged and shoved at the shore, sluggish but insistent. The creatures of the seas knew death, too. The leviathans stirred. Kraken and whale, seawolf and gransald, and all the tentacled and long-toothed things of the depths moved across the wide seas, searching for surcease from the doom that came from shifting ocean floors and tidal waves. 

Winter came to a whole world, and with its bounty of snow and ice so too came famine.  Land once lush plains, or untamed forest, or fertile farmland froze and crackled with cold. Trees snapped as they froze inside and fruit could not grow from ice. 

War raged far and wide until those white lands turned red. Fallen warriors, bodies and blood frozen in battles of steel and fire became lost beneath the snow or joined the nameless among the mounds of dead across every land. 

Cities which once flourished in the light cowered in the day's gloom, and the weight of the night's dark. The suns no longer shone, but glimmered, faint and near-forgotten. Sunlight became just a sputtering candle and the Elethyn the hungry wind that blew like the frosted breath of death's dread hounds themselves...

But these hounds did not flee the day; they devoured it. 

Carious and Dow dimmed and weakened and watched the land below, unable to warm it, or keep it alive, powerless before the Sun Destroyers.

THEY WILL EAT ALL THE WORLDS. 

Their words, thoughts - the souls and feelings of the suns themselves, were unutterable sad. 

Suns do not fear their own death. They are suns. Suns fear the death of their children, and they fear those children that turn against them - those like the Naum, so long forsaken...but the Naum were of the dark, and no longer under the sway of the suns. 

The Elethyn were children of Carious and Dow, too. They had grown strong. 

WE DIE, said Carious in the majestic voice that belonged to stars. 

As suns die, even the moonlit nights seemed harder on the souls of those creatures under the twin suns' sad, watchful gaze. Beings born of light need the light to see, yes...but they need it to feel, too. 

The Elethyn needed no such thing. 

Few though the Elethyn may have been, they tore a vibrant, living world asunder. They turned wood to ash, bodies to bone and stone walls to rivers of molten rock. Men and women - humanity - hid in the darkest, deepest places they could find as fire rained from volcanoes and lands quaked and even the dirt and rock shifted. 

The Elethyn did not feel. They did not hate, nor love, nor fear. They bathed, and they fed, and humanity weakened under their black embrace. Yet there is no choice but to fight the void's uncaring gaze - whether evil or good fights, or dark, or light, or dead or living, or man or monster...it matters not who fights, only that the foe is met with a cry, and a headlong rush toward it. 

The foe is oblivion. The battle...eternal.
  
*

Cold can always grow. 

Forests and fields, deserts and mountains, rivers and seas...these can grow colder still, until they too are as cold as those places where the warmth of a sun will never reach. As cold as the caverns and caves, or in the graves and barrows. Cold as the drowned dead who mouldered in the pits of the seas. 
  
The coldest were the cursed ones, and the Naum, and the undying and those buried in graves of yew or iron. All those beings denied the light until the death of the world itself were still there. All those dead remained, whether bone or mere spirit, beneath Rythe. 

One who still remembered the languages the dead and dark things spoke softly, but in a voice that even death would not deny.

'The time to rise has come,' said the Queen. 

And they rose. 

*

Monday, 29 February 2016

How do you talk to your kids about the hardest things?

Sex, death, mean people, bullies, tax, drugs...all these things are difficult to explain to your children, and sometimes uncomfortable for a parent to speak about. Hard to get it right, and I wonder if many get it spot on. But how do you tell your children about the hardest thing of all? Politics.

Analogies work, sometimes.

This is want I want to say:

Dad: People say the freedom to vote is a double-edged sword, boys, but it's not. Not really. Imagine, instead, that the public...

Children: Public?

Dad: People, boys. Human people, people of a nation.

Children: But aren't we all people? 

Dad: Yes, well...but we're our people, so we don't have to worry about all the 'other' people. The Government tells us this over and over again - 'the other people aren't our problem'. But we don't listen. We think they mean not our countries' people, but the lesson is that anyone who is not you doesn't matter.

Children: Dad, are you rambling a bit? What about politics? 

Dad: Oh, yes. Right. Politics. OK...remember the talk we had about sex shows in Amsterdam? Uh-huh. Well, imagine the public - people - are in the sex show. The Government, which is vast beyond comprehension, an uncaring void which encompasses the police, media, the bin men, VAT, taxation, what we see on the news, what we are permitted to watch on national television, where we walk on a pavement shared by people with bicycles who think they will save this world with a bike...

Children: Dad, are you a Nihilist?

Dad: So, this vast machine isn't a sword, right? It's like a double-ended dildo. We're the public, life is a sex show, and politics is that dildo. Supposed to please everyone, but like that Brian Yuzna film we watched, 'Society', our faces are all full of horror. We're on roofies (remember that talk?) and we don't want to be there. But we can't get out. It's too big. The dildo has become the master. We're strung out, jonesing, seeing shit like in Burrough's Naked Lunch...

Anyway. I don't want to have that conversation with the children. All the other stuff? We'll cover it when and if it comes up. Anything. Just not that. Some things are just too dark for children, some images too awful.

Love you.
x



Friday, 19 February 2016

Libraries, or how to read books free and have the government pay for them...

Whichever way you look at it, libraries are brilliant. A resource too few people take advantage of. It doesn't cost you anything, because the library is funded by the marvellous government...and authors and publishers still get their money.

If a book isn't in stock, ask, and the library will either order it from another library, or if no libraries have a copy, it might cost you fifty pence or so to order it.

If you have libraries in your country, there is no reason for you to not read (if you want to read, of course). I'm not going to ramble about why reading is important for a nation, or why people with a broader view benefit a country as a whole, but the library is there - you might have to be born into money to afford to eat lobster, but you don't have to be rich (in England, at least) to read a book, or as many books as you want.

You can get my books in paperback from the library. You can read on your kindle from the library - there is an app for that, too.

For free.

Why am I touting the library here, not my books? Because if you read my books, everyone gets paid and it doesn't cost you anything. The government pays for it.

Isn't that wonderful? I think that's wonderful.

Thought about writing a short blog about libraries for a while, but had an email stating 'Masters of Blood and Bone' is in the library system, and this is my blog, so I'm going to stick that here, too. (Sticky out tongue emoticon...)


'Shocking and gripping from the get-go, this tightly wound tale of gods and monsters had me hooked from the opening pages. The writing veers from slick, Tarantino-style dialogue and rapid narrative to surreal, bewildering sequences, which gradually coalesce into an ambitious plot involving ancient deities, their appalling servants, demons of the abyss and the apocalypse itself. In the midst of all this we meet a father and daughter; no ordinary parent and child. They see dead people… among other things, and they’re more than capable of standing up to an insane god.

Yet ‘Blood and Bone’ tells more than a simple tale of confrontation and magical battle. These aren’t flimsy, stereotypical tropes of fantasy fiction; they have the feel of real (if extremely weird) people. We’re not weighed down by acres of exposition or establishing back-story, we simply join the cast of characters at a pivotal point in their mutual life stories.
Amid the scenes of brutal, blood soaked carnage and sexual rampage (if books had rating then this would definitely be an R/X), there’s a truly inventive story-teller at work, weaving a new mythology from strands of age-old stories. The writing is razor-sharp and wielded like a deadly weapon; there’s no hackneyed clich├ęs in these pages, but plenty of wince-inducing visualisations of abominations.
There's more thoughts on the plot and characters at murdermayhemandmore.net

The final payoff is a treat. Ditto the epilogue. And the special guest appearance by Charon was a rare delight, too. ‘Blood and Bone’ is a near-note-perfect adult fable; a squealing, squirming blood-black nightmare with a solid core of potential redemption. Not for the squeamish, but oh-so satisfying.'

- Murder, Mayhem & More.