Monday, 14 December 2015

End of Year Round-Up, 2/2

In this, the final part of my 2015 round-up, The Business, Traditional Publishing, and Success and Failures and possibly a couple of plans for 2016 that I've no real intention of worrying about.

The Business

I think nowdays 'The Business' is just another aspect of 'The Craft', but I'm splitting them anyway. This was always my least favourite part of writing, and because of that, it's also the part I'm least likely to study. I enjoy research for novels, I enjoy writing. I don't enjoy chasing money, or sales, or publishers, or editors. I get zero satisfaction from running a successful promotion. I've always wanted someone else to do that bit...but it's not going to happen, not like that. There's no bolt of lightning that's going to make me suddenly wealthy. But I do need to sell more, simply because I need to eat and smoke and drink coffee so that I can write more. So, though I've always approached writing like work, I began, this year, to approach selling like work and not some onerous duty akin to unblocking the toilet.

This whole 'hybrid' author revelation's been kind of helpful, too (I always was a hybrid, just didn't really know it) so promoting my side of my catalogue is a bigger issue. I'm doing that. I'm paying artists where I need to (Chris Taggart's working steadily on the fantasy novels, and Faith Kauwe is working through the edits - and yes, editors are artists) and making my own covers where I can...but not being lazy about it. They're around 500% better than my first efforts, five years ago. Those covers were a bit of wallpaper with some writing on them. They're better now. I'm going to put out some paperbacks in the New Year, too. They won't sell many, but it's CreateSpace and it's free to do. I figure if I sell ten paperbacks in a year, it's worth it even if only to have a proof copy on the Shelf of Boasting.

I used BookBub for the first time, as soon as I decided I'm a hybrid author. It made a difference to books shifted...long term, if it will make a difference to sales...too early to tell. It's been less than a month.

Money's not really increased, but it's reverted to levels it was before the advent of Kindle Unlimited. Amazon tried something new, and maybe it'll work out (maybe it is working out) but for a year, until it settled down, I lost money I couldn't afford to lose. I'm glad it's back where it was, but that's a big chunk out of my apple crumble (what?). Before Kindle Unlimited, sales were growing steadily, and reliably. Honestly, for a year there, I was dead in the water. It's no better than it was before, but at least it's not worse. Meh. It hit everyone in different ways and chasing around after Amazon's about as effective as playing kiss chase with a really quick girl at Primary school with too-small shoes on the wrong feet, like when I were a lad.

Traditional Publishing

I'm with DarkFuse, and will continue to be unless they grow tired of my work and can me. I think everyone's been affected by Kindle Unlimited, not just independent writers, but publishers, too. Things change though, and they're a great outfit - they're adaptable like perhaps those big-biggies don't seem to be. I've two out with them next year, and they continue to grow, as does my work with them. I'll be submitting again in 2016 and we'll see how that goes (as with everything else, nothing's guaranteed).

Successes and Failures (Past and Future...)

Just my thoughts on the year. Here goes...

Did I manage what I'd hoped for in 2015? Same as every year, I think - some successes, some failures, some missed goals, some goals I scored in games I didn't even realise I was playing and a few own goals laughed at by a tough crowd.

I didn't expect to spend nearly two months fixing a 12-year old novel...but I learned from it, and at last I'm comfortable enough to have it under my name (Rythe Awakes). Different goal, different game, but still a win. Then, fail - I thought The Tides of Rythe was sound and found it wasn't. Took three weeks to make that readable. So, I was a tosser, but the best tossers learn from that.

I'm still getting to grips with co-written novels. The two I'm working on are taking longer, but we're still going. Not a fail, I think...but like much of the year figuring out how to do something new.

I wanted to get an agent...didn't happen. Is it the end of the world? You know, after getting close, being told I'm good enough by three nice agents but that horror's a tough sell...I don't mind. I'm going to submit work to Gollancz and Angry Robot and keep a novel back for submissions here and there. It'll work out or it won't. Why would I submit to a larger publisher, when I can do it all on my own? Because as I've said before, I can't do it all on my own. Publishers have skills I don't have. I wouldn't rewire my house because I don't have those skills. They're better (and perhaps more interested) in the things they do well, and yes, it is still nice having a new book on the shelf.

Work I wanted done, I did. I didn't finish or even start some sequels, but I managed plenty besides even though I wrote (a lot) less than would've been ideal.

Flesh and Coin, Masters of Blood and Bone, Left to Darkness were all released by DarkFuse. I released Death by a Mother's Hand and reissued six novels (or more...lost count) that reverted to me. The Dead Boy, and Highwayman and UNIT 731 are already scheduled for 2016 releases. That's good, because it means I'm a year ahead and can concentrate on submissions and working on outstanding projects. Of all the work I intended to finish, I only missed one (The Temple of Art) but though I would have liked to finish more novels this's not like I've been doing nothing, so I'm fine with it.*

*Sort of. Not writing makes me quite grumpy.

Still, that aside, 2015 was a win, if only on points after a judges' decision.

The Future

Yeah! I remembered. In 2016, then, here's what I'm hoping to write:

Masters of Blood and Bone (sequel)
Left to Darkness (sequel)

Here's work I want to finish (work's already underway on these):

Beneath Rythe
Rain Clowns
Temple of Art
Red Ice Run

But, like I said, being a writer isn't just about writing anymore. I want to get a few paperbacks on my own, learn more about making those, and promotion, and try not to be a muppet. But be nice, as well. Being nice is always a worthy goal, I think, whatever your career.

As for anything else...I guess we'll see what crops up. And the following two pictures, for me, rather than you, I guess - just in case 2016 turns out to be a fail and I can look back at this round up, pull my socks up and carry on getting on with it.

Shelf of Boasting, 2012

Shelf of Boasting, 2015. And I ain't dead yet.

As always, love you, and thank you for reading. x

Friday, 4 December 2015

End of Year Round-Up Part 1/2

I didn't write as much as I usually do. Life kind of got in the way. But that's OK - I think that's what life's supposed to do - remind us it's not just words on paper.

Going to split this post into Reissues, Published Work, Out and About, and The Craft.


Rights to a load of novels and novellas revert to me this year. I'm a hybrid author, which I didn't really get until this year. The publishers, Grand Mal Press, Crowded Quarantine Publications, Evil Jester Press - all of them took a chance on my work and they're brilliant and lovely, still. But that's a ton of back catalogue I can promote on my I'm doing that. I reissued every novella and novel on my own: RAIN, The Estate (renamed to 'Damned to Cold Fire'), The Love of the Dead, A Stranger's Grave, A Home by the Sea, and The Walls of Madness, Spiggot. I also release five doubles packages, as a new line from me, called 'RED LINE HORROR'.

I probably forgot something else. Nevermind.

Published work:

Flesh and Coin, Masters of Blood and Bone, and Left to Darkness all came out with DarkFuse. Spiggot, Too and Death by a Mother's Hand I issued all on my own.

I wrote a short story which is in an anthology put together by Matt Shaw. The anthology's still #1 seller in horror anthologies - that's very nice. Doesn't make me a #1 bestseller. No.

I wrote and submitted some other short stories, too. Some have been accepted, some I decided to publish on my own. The Dead Boy will be out in January, and that's all mine. UNIT 731 will be out from DarkFuse in January, Highwayman will be released (DarkFuse) in December 2016. All cool.

I got rejected a few times this year, which perhaps sucked...but did it? You know those memories from days gone by Facebook offers up from time to time? My wife posted one that reminded me it's not all sunshine and rainbows being a writer, and rejection is part and parcel of it. Here's the photo, and it's a damn good reminded to not be such a whiny plonker about someone turning down a story:

Thinking 'oh woe is me' doesn't cut it. Wrote my first novel around 2004, spent bloody ages submitting that and others and frankly, doing it all wrong. But trying really hard to learn because it was what I wanted to do. I was doing it - just wasn't very good at the writing bit or the submitting bit. I got nowhere, until I got somewhere. This is my first published novel, RAIN. Since this first print, it's on a third edition. And this photo is from 2011. I've got something like thirty novels and novella out now. No, I'm not being a knob. I'm happy about it, yes, but I've a point, and it's this: Don't give up. Also, don't be a whiny baby about rejection. Boo-hoo, nobody loves me. But worms taste shit, so might as well work harder, eh? :P

Still got a few other submissions out and about, but only a couple of short stories and one novel. I'm holding the novel back because I'm ahead on books owed. I'll let you know how they go. Which leads nicely to...

Out and About:

What? How does that lead nicely to FCon? It doesn't. Possibly the worst segue in the history of this blog. Who cares? I don't. Do you? No. Well, here's a short bit and a picture.

FCon was the only convention I attended this year - there's a round up of that already, if you want to glance back over some of the older posts. But here's my favourite picture of the weekend, because friends.

The Craft

Never really wrote about this before. Never really considered it. I always thought writing was kind of like any innate skill - think about it too hard and you'll fuck it up. I know I've got better - that's not a boast - I really have and it was revisiting the first novel I ever wrote that drove it home. I wrote it (Rythe Awakes) around 2003-2004. I've long known it needed sorting out. I didn't know until this year just how much work it needed. Then, it took a year to write. I wrote it lunchtimes and evenings, fitting it around a full-time job and a ton of weed. This year, I lost around two months solid work on it, rewrote it from top to bottom. The story was sound, but 12 years ago I just didn't have the tools, or the skills, for the job. I know more now...but enough?

No. I don't think it's ever going to be enough. I'm learning again, though, and that's a good thing. Feel like I've learned more this year since my first novel acceptance in 2010.

In 2/2 I'll write a bit about successes, failures, the business, publishing and plans for the future and as every year hope not only that these round-ups help people starting out, but me, too. Sometimes it's good to look back.

Love you, as always x

Monday, 23 November 2015

UNIT 731, The Dead Boy: Two new releases in January 2016

UNIT 731 will be released by DarkFuse as in a signed/limited hardcover edition (and eBook) in January 2016. 'The Dead Boy', available for pre-orders now, will be released/delivered on 1st January 2016. I'll write about each separately nearer the time, but for now, here are the covers and descriptions:

Luke Benson is a troubled young man obsessed with the history of Imperial Japan's Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department, later known as “Unit 731,” a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development department that undertook lethal human experimentation.

But is it a veil to mask his more sinister passions? Luke's sole-surviving family members are about to find out. When bad memories surface and deeds long forgotten come to light, Luke's obsession will shake their family to its core. 

The family's only hope is to face the evil within themselves...only then might the good that men do shine from the darkness.

'Saunders manages to weld interesting, true to life characters together with a fantastical plot, a splatter of gore and, as ever, a killer twist at the end. Highly recommended.' 
- Richard Rhys Jones, author of 'The House in Wales' and 'Division of the Damned.'

How can one man end the world? How can a dead boy save it?

Kurt William O'Dell is a dangerous man. He has the power to tell people to do what he wants, and what he wants is for the world to burn.

Alone, O'Dell doesn't possess the strength to control the whole world. To do that, he takes children with powers like his and changes them. Most serve him. One, George Farnham, will not.

Only George is strong enough to stand against O'Dell in a war where the battleground is the endless dark highways of the mind...but other forces, more powerful than man or boy, roam those roads.

They call themselves US.

That's the lot for this update, but don't forget 'Death by a Mother's Hand' is available now (pre-order) for 99c/77p for just three days, then up to normal price after release on 26th November. And, 'Flesh and Coin' by me, published by DarkFuse, will free for a few days from 26th November, too. One Mulrones' novella dirt cheap, one Mulrones' novella completely free...

Free for a few days from 26th November.

Pre-order for 99c until 26th November.

Or, pre-order this RED LINE double for $1.99 (packaged with 'A Scarecrow to Watch over Her'), until 26th November.

As always, thank you for reading, and love you!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Winding Down 2015...Part 3/4

Well then, here's the new thing. Since I've decided to make an honest go of being a hybrid author, I came up with these. Two novels, or two novellas, discounted (works out at buy one, get one half price). You save money, I make money! 

...something like that. *ahem*

These are the RED LINE DOUBLES available so far:

Each double is on a similar theme, so I've given them labels. For example, 'SUPERNATURAL', includes RAIN and Damned to Cold Fire, both of which concern the supernatural. Cunning, eh? Felt like Moriaty, coming up with that.

I'll add more as I have more content. 'A Stranger's Grave' will be added to a double at some point when I've got a spare novel about ghosts.

There you go, the RED LINE DOUBLES...series tag line: Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Love you. x

Oh, The Love of the Dead is free from today (17th November 2015) for a few days. Flesh and Coin will be free for a few days from 26th November 2015 - get 'em if you want 'em.

Part 4/4, which I'll upload in around a week, features details on 2016's first releases 'The Dead Boy', and UNIT 731 (DarkFuse).

Friday, 13 November 2015

Winding Down 2015...Part 2/4

Part 2/4, where we shall be discussing a little old lady who never seems to get any older...and some news on free stuff from me.

My new novella 'Death by Mother's Hand' is availabe from pre-order, released on 26th November, in two editions. It's a Mulrones' story. The Mulrones, if you've never read any of their tales, are a travelling family with a strange, powerful and seemingly vengeful matriach at their head - Ma Mulrone.

Edition #1 - 99c/77p pre-orders until November 25th. Normal novella price from Nov. 26th (I price mine at $1.99).

Edition two - a RED LINE DOUBLE. Packaged with A Scarecrow to Watch over Her (A Mulrones' Novella) for $1.99 (Pre-order price). The price for this edition will rise to $2.99 from Nov. 26th.

If you are interested, or curious, there are samples of all my current work in the 'sample' section above, along with back cover copy for a quick rundown of what these stories are about.

Free Promotions:

...all of which coincides nicely with a free promotion DarkFuse are running on my novella 'Flesh and Coin'. Flesh and Coin will be free from Nov. 27th for a few days.

All three novellas concern that matriach, known as Ma Mulrone. They're linked to Deadlift, too, and two novels, Hangman and Highwayman, which I've sold to DarkFuse. Highwayman is due December 2016.

Other promotions and freebies this month:

The big one, I guess, will be 'The Love of the Dead', which is free from 17th through 21st, a BookBub featured deal. Hopefully BookBub will push a few downloads, but to be honest, it's my first time...we'll see.

Check on any of the 'Rythe Tales' - for as long as I can manage, Rythe Awakes will be free, as will some of the other Rythe Tales. If you check each weekend, you'll find something.

In Part 3/4, to come, news of 'The Dead Boy', released 1st January 2016, available for pre-orders now in two editions (standard, and as a RED LINE DOUBLE) and my novella UNIT 731 out in January, too, in eBook and Limited Signed Hardcover editions.

In Part 4/4, news and details of the RED LINE novel and novella packages...and that, I think, will be just about it for this year until the 'end of year roundup'.

Love you, and thanks for reading. x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Winding Down 2015...Part 1/4.

Seems a little premature, maybe, to be winding down 2015...but it's not. Not really. This is the first post of around four coming over the next few weeks, and by the end of these it'll be time for the yearly round up. Writing kind of goes in fits and starts, and this, I think, is a fit - there's too much to blog about in one pop.

Today, reissues and cover art news. First, rights reverted to four stories, which I've reissued with new covers and new formatting, but little else. If you've bought these already, they're not new...just all mine...all mine! Wahaha...

Available on Amazon now:

John March is having a good day. He doesn't have many. Then it starts to rain. 
John March runs a struggling bookshop with just one regular customer - Mr. Hill. His life is defined by routine until the day he discovers he is sole beneficiary of a will worth £5 million thanks to the eccentric Mr. Hill's untimely death. But Mr. Hill also leaves behind something else - a lock of hair, a finger bone and a tooth in a jar of water. It's certainly not the worst day of John's life...until the rain comes and the dying starts. There is something in the rain and only John can give it what it wants. And yet, even when people are dying, even in the midst of terror, it's not the hardest thing John's ever faced. He faces horror every day when he locks his shop, drives to August House and opens the door to the room where his wife clings to life. But what he doesn't know could kill her, because if the rain doesn't get what it wants, his wife will serve just as well...

 ('Damned to Cold Fire' - Previously titled 'The Estate'.)

How far would you go to save those you love? Into the house of the damned? Into Hell itself? 
It takes a near death experience to open Sam O'Donnell's eyes to what he is - just another addict on the road to ruin. He knows it's time to make a fresh start, and yet when Sam and his wife move to an estate by the sea, nothing goes as planned. The estate is not what it seems. Something has taken it over and it is cold. It hungers. To save all he loves, Sam must go into the house of the damned...and into Hell itself. When weighed in the balance, a man can only face his demons alone and pray he is not found wanting. 
But Sam is not alone.

In an idyllic home by the sea, a widow heals...but sometimes the dead come back. 
Irene Jacobs always wanted a home by the sea. Pregnant with her dead husband's twins, she comes to the Blue House to heal and raise her babies. She thinks she's found solace from her sorrows, but her nightmare is far from over. Her husband's killer is coming for her and her children...and he's unstoppable.
What will Irene sacrifice to keep the family she has left? 

Best Novella, Solstice List 2012. 
Billy Hunter sees things other people only imagine; he sees the low beasts and the dark man, too - a man called Marlin. People call Billy crazy, but sometimes nightmares are real and the walls are thin, and sometimes in the dead of night that man, that Marlin, comes through...

The following are just updated covers:

In Part 2/4:

Sometime in the week when the dust settles after my uploading spree on Amazon, I'll blog about upcoming offers, promotions and freebies and the new release 'Death by a Mother's Hand'. I'll do it before the promotions run, because some novellas and novels will be going free - pointless running a free promotion only for you to have to pay for stuff, eh? Pfft...what would I do with all the money?

In Part 3/4:

Something new I've been up to - first of which will be ready and up by this point...SECRET SPECIAL PROJECT (TA-DA)!

In Part 4/4:

News about the forthcoming novel 'THE DEAD BOY' (pre-orders are up, and on 1st January it will be released, officially my first novel of 2016).

And, just signed a contract for more work with DarkFuse, so as soon as the ink's dry I'll let you know about that, too.

Love you x

Monday, 2 November 2015

Reissues and Original Fiction - and a few thoughts on paths to publication...

After a lot of soul searching I'm going to be issuing some novellas and novels on my own. Soul searching sounds a bit knobby, but it's true in this case. For a few years now, I've been striving and chasing for a 'big' deal, and working with publishers to that end, to build up a publication history with a view to submitting, when I can, to agents and the larger publishers. I'm still doing that. It's always been the ultimate goal.

But, I think, goals and reality are two different beasts. Do I want a big publishing deal? Yes, of course. Will I get one? I have no idea. Is it worth sacrificing income in the meantime?

No. It's that last question that's the kicker. I can, and do, make money on self-published titles. I want them with publishers, in paperbacks and hardbacks...but why? If I'm honest? Largely, because they look good on my shelf. I think, at this stage in my career, certainly, ebooks are going to far outsell paperbacks. If I had books in ASDA, maybe that would be different. Simple fact is, though...I don't.

I've been watching a lot of writers over the last few years, some I know, some I don't. People I think know what they're doing and who are much better at self-promotion than me. Matt Shaw and Iain Rob Wright have been doing this very well for a few years. Edward Lorn and Brian Keene, J.A. Konrath...but lots and lots of people are either independently publishing work, or at least dabbling. Tim Lebbon, Keith Deininger, even Stephen King. Stephen King could probably do whatever he wanted and manage just fine. I can't.

Self-publishing no longer excludes writers from a traditional publishing deal. In fact, many people I know have been offered 'traditional' routes after proving successful in what people think of as 'indie' publishing. Scott Nicholson, Colin F. Barnes spring to mind. Indie novels aren't the weird uncle nobody wants to talk about any longer. It's more than possible to make money, to sell books, on your own. I still have a traditional publisher (DarkFuse) who are brilliant. Other publishers who've taken chances on my novels (Crowded Quarantine Publications, Grand Mal Press, Evil Jester Press) have been wonderful for me, too...but I write more than five books a year...they can't publish all of those...and nobody (nobody) wants a reissue originally out from a small or independent publisher.

I have novels going through the submission process with publishers at the moment, and that's fine. But I've finally come to think it's high time I embraced this 'hybrid' approach fully - no greater weight to either route to publication, but equal. Both are good for me, but there's something about the indie side that appeals to me. Control over the product from top to tail is a big bonus when writing is your main income.

I'm a pretty slow thinker, when it comes down to it, but this is how things are going. For the few years (five or so) I've been watching, learning (or trying to) and seeing which way the wind's blowing. I don't think it's entirely decided yet, but you can guess stuff like that, and passing up earnings when you're trying to make a living...I can't do that any longer.

So, Death by a Mother's Hand - I'm issuing that myself, without going through a publisher first.

I've already reissued some novels that have reverted to me this year, and I'm doing the same for one novella and three novels when I get the covers and formatting done. The novella is 'The Walls of Madness'. The novels are 'A Home by the Sea', 'Rain', and 'The Estate'. And, in the future, when I feel it's appropriate, some horror will go to publishers, but some, I'll issue as originals directly to Kindles.

For the first time (first time I've ever done it with a horror novel, at least) I'm going to put an original horror straight on the Kindle, too. It's called 'The Dead Boy'. It will be something new for me, trying to promote a horror entirely on my own...but I think it'll work out just fine. I'll post updates on here, from time to time, about progress, and this new direction. Probably more detail, as always, in the end of year round up. If you're interested, look out for it. If you're not...fair enough. We've all got our own thing going on...

As always, love you. But, in a new, weird my books! I think I'm gonna be hungry.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Keith Deininger Interview

Keith Deininger writes some of the most wonderful imaginative and dark fiction I've read. He wrote Marrow's Pit, which, for me had shades of China Mieville, and Within, as sweet a story as any classic Barker tale. Keith's latest project is the Godgame Series...and I've got him here to talk about that, and what makes him. He's pretty cool, and it's a genuine pleasure to get to ask him a few questions on here.

Q: Hi Keith. That's not a question. This is - the Godgame series, four books in (if that's right!)...will there be more? Is this a long running project?

The Godgame series is one I’ve been trying to write for years. I’ve started books set in the world of Meridian before, but they never went anywhere. One of the first novels I wrote was a fantasy novel that I abandoned at 200k words or so. It was a muddled mess. I wasn’t ready to write it. I had to write a lot of other things before I could write these books, so to finally see them unleashed on the world is pretty amazing. I’ve come a long way. According to my notes, there should be 4 more books in this series, but other than a vague outline, I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of planning. It’s just that I always, no matter what, let my characters make their own decisions, so even I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I can’t wait.

Q: Your fiction tends toward the fantastic and the dark you write other genres, or mix and match at all?

Ugh, genres… I wish I could write in a couple of nice, marketable genres. It’d be a lot easier to sell books, that’s for sure. I’m always playing around with attempting to write something more marketable, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I write what I can write, and it’s some crazy shit. I try to be intuitive. I’m always sitting back, reading over what I’ve written, and thinking, “Damn, what the fuck is this shit?” Sorry, I have a dirty mouth. And now I have a baby daughter at home, so I guess I gotta clean that up. But, yeah, anyway, I like to call myself a “dark fantasy” writer. That’s a genre, right?

Q: Are there any particular writers you feel have influenced or inspired your writing?

Peter Straub has been a huge influence, for sure. And Clive Barker is one of my all time favourites. I’ve read everything Clive Barker has written. In college I read a lot of postmodernist stuff like Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. I used to love Chuck Palahniuk, but I grew out of him. I used to read Dungeons and Dragons fantasy books in middle school and then a ton of Stephen King. I think it’s all had an influence on my own development. I know the Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis I read when I was a kid has.

Q: How do you cope with four dogs? That seems like a lot. We've got two African snails and they're kind of a chore.

The wife and I have kind of a soft spot for animals. I used to have ferrets too. And I’ve gone through a bevy of guinea pigs. I’m a little awkward in social situations (I drink), and I’m more comfortable around animals than people, so I guess that’s why we have so many. Oh, and we have a cat too. He’s an ass.

Q: Do you have a routine, or something approaching a strenuous work schedule for your writing?

I get up early and write for an hour every morning. I go to the day job and I use my lunch hour to write on my laptop. And then, every Saturday and Sunday, I carve out a few solid hours to do the heavy creative stuff that takes a lot of concentration. I’ve also learned to snatch moments when I can. So far, I’ve been able to produce a consistent flow of work. I’m always going over things in my head and I take constant notes in notebooks, on my phone and computer, and on little scraps of paper at work. It’s a bit of an obsession really.

Q: Do you get out and about much, to signings, or conventions? If you do, do you have any you want to share so people can come and stalk you?

Well, no. I don’t get out much. I’ve done a couple of small signings and I’ve been to some cons, but not all that often. Without hopping on a plane, I don’t have many opportunities like that out where I live. The travel is too expensive. That, and I’m so focused on using my precious time to write. The next con I’m planning to do is Bubonicon here in Albuquerque next August. George R. R. Martin lives around here and goes every year, so maybe I’ll get a chance to shove a book in his hands and run away screaming, “You’re welcome.” Yeah, that’s going to work out for me.

Exhibit A: George R.R. Martin stalker-wannabe Keith Deininger.

Q: You live in New Mexico (I read your I'm tired from all the research that went into this interview), right? Is it better than Old Mexico? Do you think Mexico actually needed a reboot? I only ask because it segues nicely into the real question, which is: what's your feeling on all the reboots in film, in the horror genre in particular?

Here in the States, when I tell people who aren’t from this area that I’m from New Mexico they often think I’m actually from the country of Mexico. It happens way more often than it should. I’m also very pale and I get my nose from my French great grandmother, so I’m not sure what they’re thinking. That being said, I hate reboots. Especially with horror movies. Is there a single one you can think of that’s better than the original movie? The same goes for sequels and more superhero movies. Aren’t people tired of this shit by now? It’s the same thing over and over again. Where’s the original content, people? I think moviemakers need to read more. There are a lot of really excellent books that could be made into awesome movies, horror and otherwise.

Q: Anything in particular you're passionate about other than making up stories?

Besides reading and writing, I really like games. I don’t play a lot of them these days, but I’d love to design a couple eventually. I also like to cook, believe it or not, and the wife leaves dinner up to me in the evenings. I love movies too, and actually hold a minor in film theory, but I can be very critical. I’m kind of an ass that way.

Q: What's best for you - the awards you've won, the sales of your books, or to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women?

Oh, I love to crush my enemies. I once told my arch nemesis in college that when I was big and successful I’d dedicate my first book to him as a proverbial slap to the face, but then I didn’t. Come to think of it, I still need to do that with one of my books. Problem is, I can’t remember why I hated him so much anymore. Damn, I have to work on that.

Q: Is writing a novel a long process for you, or do you just sit down and get on with it?

I’m a slow writer because I often comb through what I’ve written so far and edit and tweak before moving on to the next chapter. I also take a lot of notes on characters and tangents that don’t end up being used in the actual manuscript, so it’s kind of a process for me. I have to “feel” a chapter is good before I move on to the next one.

Q: Are you reading anything at the moment?

I just started Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, so we’ll see how that goes. I read Philip K. Dick’s Ubik recently. I’m not a big fan of PKD’s work because his characters are all so one-dimensional, but I still appreciate it. I also started re-reading Clive Barker’s Imajica once again because I love it so much.  So much.

Q: Anywhere people can find out more?

I have a website, I’m on social media and I’m told I’m a nice guy.

Q: What's the latest, too? Anything you want to pimp? You might as well while you're here - seems rude not to...

The first two books and the novella prologue to the Godgame series have just come out. I’m very proud of these books the reviews have been very good so far.

Q: What's your latest project/next project? If you want to talk about it!

There are several projects I’d like to tackle, including an idea I can’t get out of my head about a drunken warrior-poet wandering around at the end of the world, but for now I’ll be working on the Godgame books. I’m finally writing Marrow’s story in the book I’m working on now, which is something I’ve been building up to for a long time.

Q: And, penultimate question - do you have any plans for the future...not just your stories and series, but for you, as a writer? Where would you like to go with your writing?

I would like, eventually, after I’ve built up enough consistent sales to feel comfortable writing fulltime, write some epic literary works. I’d like to try my hand at something big and obsessive like Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But, for now, I’m content doing what I’m doing.

Q: Last question! When are you coming to the UK? I owe you a beer.

I’d love to make it out there. And it just so happens I love beer too. Someday. It’ll happen someday.

And that was Keith Deininger. He's one of the best I've read, without doubt. Inventive and imaginative fiction - horror/steampunk, dark fantasy, or just plain fiction, whatever the genre. If you haven't read anything by Keith, he's well worth a go and I'm a fan.

Thank you, Keith, for being on, and thank you, reader.

Love you, same as it ever was. x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sharing and Caring - Horror Double Bill! The Horrible Axe/Halloween

Talking at FCon about how some share others work, supporting where they can...some don't. I think it's important to encourage and nurture talent. It's an honour to be in a position to do it, as a mega-famous author! (shh!). With that in mind, I'm showcasing two new, free-to-read, stories by authors just starting out.

In the red corner of BLOOD...let me introduce the first tale...a terrifying story by Harry J. Saunders...THE HORRIBLE AXE!

Here...straight into the action, we find the horrible axe, bloodied and used...but what is its awful power? 

Our hero finds out when he cuts off his hand and...

And it turns him into a ZOMBIE!

Take a quick breather, guys and ghouls (Tales from the Crypt, baby)...before our next tale in the true holiday of love...of HORROR! 

Buckle up for Jack W. Saunders monstermash 'HALLOWEEN'! (Kindly illustrated by none other than Tim Burton!)

In town, a creepy song grew louder. The buildings were really rough. Sometimes the town got bored, but on Saturday 5th 2001, April, a leader was made. Although he was really smart...although he was a humanoid LLAMA some people made science to make the leader a SKELETON. In 2002 he was turned into a skeleton...though he was on FIRE!!!

After became 2003. Things were looking good until on New Year's Eve a monster came to town. He was too scare, but he came anyway and found a house to let. He murdered a human!

After a year it was 2004. Guess what? You're right! The monster was seven years old. It was monster years. 

And on the celebration of his birthday, they ate cobwebs, worms, dead, bones.

And there you have it, ghouls and zombies and witches and all you dead folks...the true spirit of Halloween.


But only for dinner! 

(Need ketchup, mind.)

Love you!
The Shed

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What I've been doing...and some news.

Normally, I try to update the blog no more than once a week, but I figure with no breaking publisher/publishing news, it kind of looks like all I've been doing is working on Rythe. I haven't, and I don't want you to think I'm getting all lazy and wotnot, hanging out with all the cool people at FCon. I have a job, too, you know...

So, in the spirit of sharing and caring, I've uploaded what I've worked on above.

Beneath Rythe, as mentioned, is underway. 2016 will see the completion of the series, and a boxed set of the quadrilogy sometime after that.

I've also begun work on a stand alone Rythe novel, The Warrior Soul. Cover art is already in, from Chris Taggart, who is rather brilliant.

But I've completed some novels, too, which I'm submitting currently. They'll be accepted or they won't. Either way, they'll be out. Hope you like them if you take a look (all linked above in the 'sample' section).

They are: Highwayman, Ghost Voices, Death by a Mother's Hand, and The Dead Boy. 

Three horrors, one straight thriller. With a bit of horror.

I like horror, what you gonna do?

Oh, and the news? I'm posting Keith Deininger's interview at the end of the week. I love Keith's stuff, and I'm really chuffed to get him on the blog. This is his website, if you don't already know: That'll be ready for the weekend. Hope you'll come and take a look at the interview, because he's one of my favourites. :D

Love you. x

Monday, 26 October 2015

British Fantasy Society Convention 2015 - roundup/travelog.

Friday 23rd October

My first FCon. It's a big deal, I guess. Famous people, tons of panels, readings back-to-back, coffeeklatsch things (which I think is some sort of coffee morning where they raise money for the Pan Macmillan charity). I thought I wanted to go to one or two (maybe Brandon Sanderson's)...but turned out I didn't. I figured people would pretty much ask the same things. Much as I was interested in saying hi to the 'big' authors, I said hi to the two I wanted to (Tim Lebbon - generous, friendly, and my fanboy moment, and Adam Nevill - so calm he seemed like some kind of crazy-serene Buddha horror guru...very cool, both of them). After the first five minutes I felt like I was at an all-you-could meet buffet (chortle - more puns! Whoo). I didn't want to get full up on famous people. So I didn't. They'll still be famous enough, popular enough, whether they've met me or not. Alison Littlewood was there, who seems lovely online. She's about the only person I would've liked to speak to that I didn't. Out of two hundred attendees or so, I can live with that. The actor who played the guy who chopped off Jamie Lannister's hand was there. I didn't talk to him, either. I need my hands.

Joe Hill, John Connelly, Sarah Pinborough, Juliet E McKenna (who I know of largely through her column for Albedo One), those authors I've already mentioned. All cool, and by all accounts lovely and personable. But I did my thing. The panel I sat on was fine - Frances Hardinge won the best fantasy novel award on the Sunday - but I got the impression of a kind of two-tier heirarchy there. My friends and I talk bollocks. Others talk bollocks, too, but they're slightly posher about it and mostly do the same thing in wine bars rather than the Railway Tavern. And the two tier system often revolves around indies and small press thinking the traditional guys look down on them, the traditional guys assuming the indie don't make any money...or just their perception...I don't think anyone really knows what it's like for anyone else, and we're all in largely the same boat. To be honest, some people seem a little irritated by the whole thing. Personally, I really don't give a shit. We're all still people, whether we turn our noses up at someone else or not. Case in point, in the panel, one lady blanched at the mention of poo. I think the Railway Tavern's more me. I've no delusions of grandeur but if that's their thing, then that's fine, too, isn't it?

Best for me, though, wasn't the panel, or seeing those authors I've heard about over the years, but the ones I love - friends from FB I've known for years and never met, and friends I've known for years and have met. And twenty or more people stayed 'til midnight to come to my reading of 'Left to Darkness', which was a really nice surprise.

Having a quiet beer with Matt Shaw, who I've known for years now, was a highlight, too. Awesome, humble, and taller than he looks online.

Saturday 24th October

Friday, I did what I came to do. Saturday was always going to be about having a mooch and hanging out with friends. Pictured below, Paul Feeney, Andrew Freudenberg, Rich Hawkins (nominated in the best horror category - lost out to Adam Nevill, but Adam's a worthy winner so all good) and Adam Millard. Hung out with some new friends on the Sinister Horror Company table, too, a relatively new press run by Justin Park, Daniel Chant, and Duncan Bradshaw - passionate, professional, and I think well worth their salt. Nice fellas. All in all, Saturday turned out to be a win. A ton of people went out for a curry earlier in the evening, came back and had a disco. Yes...rather like a school reunion. I poked my head in at the disco once, for maybe ten seconds. Thirty-odd people doing the Macarena. Not my bag. Went back to the bar.

Much of the convention did feel like a school reunion, or a business meeting. It's a little more...salubrious...than I'm used to. Fine, nice, brilliantly organised and well worth the price of the ticket. Will I go every year? I don't think so, but I'd certainly do another. All told this weekend cost something more than £400 for three days. For a guy who lives in a shed, that's a big wad of money. For others, with money to burn, probably a drop in the ocean. Something smaller, more intimate next year, though. Probably go along to HorrorCon, rather than FCon, for preference. If you're a reader, fan, writer, in the bookish business at all - FCon's very worthwhile and there's something for everyone.

Met Kit Power, too, and Vix Kirkpatrick, and Jim Mcleod, and Graeme Reynolds and Chris Barnes and Emma Audsley, and...a lot of other people. Kit's reading, which a bunch of people stayed 'til midnight for, was a cracker.

But here, this, was what it was about for me - hanging out with old friends and some other old friends I met for the first time over the weekend:

Sunday 25th October

I was tired, I guess. The only thing I was particularly interested in was watching Rich Hawkins at the awards' ceremony. But I'd walked twenty miles (really) over the two days and my feet hurt and I missed my family. So, I left.

General thoughts on travel? I guess I didn't think it worth it, or enjoyable, or particularly pleasant. I'm only six feet two inches high...but the outside world must be designed for hobbits. The proportions of almost everything seem mean, calculated to save space, or money...which leads to the next point. I feel like a time traveller, in a way. I'm out of touch, yes, but after a trip to a city outside the county (I like Norwich just fine) I remembered why I don't much enjoy travelling. Mostly, because I feel it's a bit shit.

Cities are the same everywhere, and many English cities almost identical. On the train routes, or near the airport, everything is drab, dire, rundown. Broken windows, tiny homes, dirty and littered streets. Urban regeneration seems to mean turning waterfront warehouses into tiny apartments and expensive pubs. On the whole, just worn out. Maybe once these places felt vibrant and interesting. Not to me. They're choke points, designed to wring the sustenance from travellers, like a sphincter in a digestive system and one that survives on money and souls. Vampiric. I found Nottingham unrelentingly grey. Perhaps the locals do, too, because many seem to paint themselves orange, maybe so they see some colour when they look in the mirror at least, or perhaps just to plaster over the look of horror in their faces.

The cashpoints/ATMs charge you to withdraw your own money. A coffee costs three pounds. One pint of beer is four pounds. To take taxis to and from the venue would have added another forty or fifty pounds to the tally. You have to pay to get through a turnstile to take a piss. An awful lot like being cattle, herded to slaughter and you have to pay for it yourself.

Maybe overstating the case, but all told, £150 for two nights sleeping in a hotel (just a bed really - you wanted anything else you had to pay for that, too...even wi-fi, like it's not floating in the air anyway). £70 odd quid for a train with no seats that I couldn't stand up straight in. Uncomfortable. Three hour wait for a train (read Shaw's 'The Big Blue' while I waited, though, so not a complete bust). Cancelled train on the way back, so two hours on a bus. I got a seat...couldn't fit in it. Even the hotel bed, my feet hung over the edge. I'm not a giant, but I felt like one. I sit in my shed. The rare times I go out, I feel like everywhere else has shrunk.

I suppose some sort of conclusion's in order. The convention - a good event, yes. The outside world doesn't interest me much. Friends...always, always worth the price of admission.

Love you. x

The Shed :D

Monday, 19 October 2015

October Promotions - Rythe Awakes, The Outlaw King, Vigil, Spiggot, Too.

I said, by way of apology for Rythe Awakes, that I'd make it free every Saturday I'm able. So, entirely updated, rewritten, it will be. The next five Saturdays (October 24th being the first) Rythe Awakes Version 2.0 will be free. Thank you for putting up with this, the smelly weird uncle in the corner at the better uncle's wake. Something like that...

I hope you'll give it a go.

The same deal applies to The Outlaw King, which I've set as free for the next five Saturdays.

Vigil (time travelling vampires, innit?) will be up for 99p/c from October 24th, for one week.

Spiggot, Too will be on offer for 99p/c for the first time. One week, starting October 31st. (The follow up to 'Spiggot'...obviously...)

Lastly, I always seem to set these things up and forget to let anyone know. From now on I'll write a blog with details of any upcoming promos - look out for these around the end of each month.

As always, thanks for reading, and love you. x

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Rythe - Covers and news -

I've finally had some time (about twenty hours, I guess, but I'm not bitter...) to update the covers for the Rythe books. The final ones (by a professional, not me) will be done at some point. Until then, these will serve.

Rythe Awakes mk.II is around three days over schedule. I will get it uploaded, all done, before FCon, and blog about free dates for all books then.

Beneath Rythe, the final book of the Rythe Quadrilogy, is underway. As is a series of standalone novels, the first being 'The Warrior Soul'.

Here are the eight covers (I'll do the Rythe Quadrilogy Boxed Set Cover soon, but it's not urgent). Bye, and love you!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Rythe Awakes - Update

In the previous post I wrote about how duff 'Rythe Awakes' was. I'm completely amazed anyone ever read this novel, let alone came back for more and read the follow-ups, too.

What I've done to Rythe Awakes isn't anything like editing. I've rewritten the entire novel. If an edit is a paint job, this is knocking down an entire house and building it again from nothing but the foundations. I've cut 20,000 words and rewritten pretty much every sentence remaining. Everything is different - except the story.

And, with that in mind, it's taken me as long to do this as it would for me to write an entire novel from scratch. A month, every hour available between children and family. Like the old days, I've worked on this from first thing in the morning 'til last thing at night and then kept going when I should be sleeping. It's driven me nuts, I've hated it, swore at it. Much like a builder.

But it was worth it.

Anyway, by way of recompense to those (frankly odd - sorry!) readers who made it though the entire novel, it will be free every weekend I can manage it, as will The Tides of Rythe and Rythe Falls. I'm going to read through one more time, then upload everything needed, and I'll blog and tweet etc when its done.

I did think about renaming it, but it's still Rythe Awakes. I guess this is Rythe Awakes 2.0. Like games released with bugs, it shouldn't ever have been released, and I'm sorry. So, there you go. I have forgotten the face of my father.

Hopefully this will remedy it to some degree.

Here's the new cover, which will be up during the week (this post is live 10/10/2015) and free every weekend I can manage. The Tides of Rythe and Rythe Falls only need a jolly good format - I'll upload those with the new covers, set up free weekends, and that will be done sometimes in the next fortnight - before FCon, certainly. After FCon, with a clean conscience and a clean slate, I can move on with Beneath Rythe.

Thanks, and I still love you. x

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Rythe Quadrilogy Update

OK, this is rather painful to admit and I don't really want to; Rythe Awakes is utter shite.

There. That's not exactly selling it, is it? Not the sort of admission that sells books at all, in fact. But I'm going to explain and talk about it a little while, because I think it's a pretty good lesson and one that might stand writers new to 'indie' publishing a novel in good stead. I've made plenty of mistakes with my self-published books...doesn't mean you have to.

I did it wrong. I know that now, and I should have fixed it years ago. I'm going through 'Rythe Awakes' for the first time in twelve years. I never, ever wanted to revisit the story. I wrote when I was very poorly. I'd had what is cosily described by old folk as a 'breakdown'. I'd been made redundant, homeless, bankrupt. I wrote this I guess as an attempt to regain some semblance of sanity.

I think the reason it sucks are twofold - I was mental when I wrote it. And I wasn't very good.

The reason it still sucks is because I couldn't really face going back to the novel and doing what needed doing. Not just a new cover, but a complete overhaul. It's confused. The writing is dreadful (objectively awful...passive voice, repetition, mistakes...). It went on Amazon when the book wasn't ready and I was even less ready. I put pointless covers on it...those covers are still on the Internet. The cock-ups you make with indie publishing last.

It's only this year, with 'Beneath Rythe' coming soon, that I've pushed myself to finally read it - a story I haven't looked at for twelve years. For twelve years, too, I've known it needed an overhaul. Probably, I think, the only novel that's been really desperate for it. The other Rythe novels are fine - good, even, I think (though I try desperately not to be a boasty-twat about my work). Rythe Awakes isn't good.

Anyway, on to my advice for those new to self-publishing a novel. I put this up a long time ago and assumed that no one would ever read it. I assumed it didn't matter. I could put it up and just leave it forever, never bother with it again. But I fucked it up because I didn't think of the future. Twelve years ago absolutely no one read anything I wrote. Twelve years later, that's not the case. My advice? If you're hoping to be a writer, to have a career...think long term. Don't jump the gun. Get it right, then release it.

Is it too late to mend 'Rythe Awakes'? I don't think so but it certainly has hurt the series. Hurt me, my sales...and what a huge pain in the arse it's been to fix it. I've reformated the thing (down to each single paragraph) and I'm around 80 pages short of a rewrite through what was a 125,000 word book. I've cut nearly ten thousand words so far, and rewritten nearly every single line to some degree. I'm basically writing a new book. Why? Because the story's worth it. If the story, structure, the world I built wasn't worth the effort, I'd shoot it behind my shed like a bad dog. I've shot bad-dog stories before - 'The Seven Point Star' and 'Evolution' will never see the light of day again. These three stories were written at my lowest point, and they show it. Towering ideas, flights of wonderful fantasy, and absolutely no idea of how to get that across. I hope I've learned and improved in those years. How to write, certainly, but also how not to write. Of those three novels, Rythe Awakes (the first novel I wrote) is the only one worth a reprieve.

But the story is there. The bones are there. In a week the new (pretty much entirely new...) story will be live on Amazon and at last, after twelve years, I'll know it deserves to be. Then I can move on. I need to move on, too. Beneath Rythe's been looming. Seven or eight hundred thousand words so far, over six novels, and only one to go.


Anyway - long and short of it, new writer friends - plan long term, not short.

And, as a small measure to mollify those who stuck with the series despite the faults in the opening story, I'll put all three 'Rythe' novels free and post where I can to let you know. Thank you for putting up with this novel and as always, thank you for reading.

When you see this cover go live on 

Love you. x