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Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Writing Review of the Year

With 2013 drawing to a close, this seems a good time to jump on the bandwagon and summarise what’s happened to my writing during the year.

  • The Torridon Witches’ was published by Damnation Books in September.  ‘Witches’ is a novella about a group of backpackers who find themselves in the middle of witch trials in remote modern-day Scotland;
  • ‘Dana’s Children’ was accepted by Wild Child Publishing back in January.  This is a novella about a group of archaeologists who discover something unpleasant when they venture underground.  I’ve had contact with my editor, so Dana’s Children is going through the process at the moment;
  • Stones’ was published by Burial Day Books (and is still there as a free read).  It’s a short about a honeymoon couple who come across a stone circle.  I don’t write many shorts, but I was pleased with this one and I’m delighted it made its way into print (or rather, onto screen).

So, what is there to look forward to in 2014?  Here’s what I’m working on at the moment:

  • A couple of sequels to ‘Art Class’.  Well, not quite sequels, but stories with the same characters and similar erotic themes;
  • ‘Footholder’ is a novel based on a Welsh medieval myth about a king who will die unless his foot is kept in a maiden’s lap.  It’s a wonderful story and no surprise it has stood the test of time.  It’s also set in northern Snowdonia, an area of stunning beauty I know and love.  I’m very fond of this piece, which is just about finished;
  • ‘Trench’ (working title).  This is dark science fiction, which is a bit of a departure for me.  It features an archaeological dig of a World War One bunker, which reveals skeletons from much more recent times.  The first draft is nearly finished.  It still needs a lot of work to bring it up to standard, but I’m beginning to think the finished article will be worth the effort;
  • ‘Tribute’.  This reverts to my Celtic-themed work and settings.  The inspiration is an almost throwaway episode in the life of the Irish hero Cuchulainn.  He comes across a coastal king whose current oldest child is sacrificed to Sea Demons every seven years.  It’s a theme with a lot of possibilities; I’ve taken just one of them.  The writing is a struggle though, and I’m not sure I’ll persevere with it.
  • ‘The Clootie Tree’.  This is a novel I started a long time ago.  I can’t remember why I put it aside, but I want to resurrect it.  In a throwback to pre-Christian Celtic beliefs, a clootie is a length of cloth often tied to a tree near a sacred well.  They’re supposed to give out healing properties.

So, there we are.  That’s what I’ve been up to this year, and what is likely to take up my writing time in 2014.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: Deathwatch

As I’m writing a World War One story at the moment, and as I’m a sucker for supernatural horror, the 2002 film ‘Deathwatch’ was always going to be a must-watch DVD.

The film is about British soldiers who attack a German position, only to find it near-deserted.  It soon becomes clear something isn’t right, and the group descends into in-fighting fuelled by the pressures of war and the fear of the supernatural evil lurking in the trench. 

The film shows World War One at its worst, with the unrelenting mixture of mud, blood and terror life in the trenches must have consisted of.

‘Deathwatch’ was given a ‘15’ certificate in the UK, which means it doesn’t have excessive ‘in yer face’ violence or gore.  There was enough unpleasantness for it to justify its place in the horror genre, though, especially as much of the horror is in the setting and soldiers’ psychology.  In some ways I was reminded of the descent into barbarism in ‘Lord of the Flies’.

There was enough tension and conflict throughout to keep me interested.

The characters are a little one-dimensional and stereotypical, but I don’t have a problem with that.  In a film where there is a danger all the characters might look the same (all young males, in uniform and covered in mud), making each an extreme helped me tell them apart.  One who stood out was Lawrence Fox as Bramwell Jennings.  He gave a brilliant performance as an upper class officer who was well out of his depth.

The part of the film that disappointed me was the supernatural.  I didn’t really get to grips with what it was, or what it wanted from the soldiers.  I’ve always thought World War One offers great scope for supernatural horror because the setting is a horrific enough starting point.  There are also some supernatural ‘events’ to hang a plot on, such as the disappearance of the Royal Norfolk Regiment at Gallipoli, or the Angels of Mons.  A couple of reviews suggest the film would have worked without the supernatural, and I think I’d agree.

I was, though, impressed with the ending.  It wasn’t a particularly fresh horror finale, but was enough of a surprise and seemed right for the film.

So, ‘Deathwatch’ was well worth watching, but I think fell down in a couple of places.  I’ll give it three out of five.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Bucket List

Most people will be familiar with the term ‘bucket list’; a list of things they want to do before they die.  As a change from a writing-related blog, I thought I’d share mine.

My bucket list isn’t very long (“Hurrah!” I hear you shout), but I do have four ambitions which have grown up with me:

  • Have a novel published.  I achieved that back in 2006 with ‘Andraste’s Blade’.  I’d wanted to have a book published since my teens, but always thought literary success was reserved for ‘clever people’.  I don’t class myself as clever, but I did work hard and being published is something I’m very proud of – even if it hasn’t brought me fame and fortune.  Yet.
  • Seeing Aldershot Town play at Wembley.  There’s not much I can do about this one unless I win the lottery (or write a bestseller) to fund the club.  The club has been close three times: losing in the semi-finals of the Associate Members’ Cup, the Play-offs, and the FA Trophy, are perhaps my greatest disappointments in all my years supporting the team.
  • ‘Spending some time’ with a certain female TV personality.  I’ll mention no names, although family and friends will know who I mean.  It’s unlikely to happen.
  • Climbing Snowdon with my son.  We’ve holidayed in the mountain’s foothills for years, and every year since he was a toddler we’ve looked up to the peak and said, “One day…”.  Various ailments, and my terror of heights, have stopped us so far, but the, “One day…” still stands.  I love the region, which I hope comes across in ‘The Doe and the Dragon,’ much of which was set in Snowdon’s shadow.

So, there’s my bucket list.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Review: ‘The 13th’, by John Everson

John Everson isn’t a writer I’ve come across before.  In fact, I only stumbled across him when I was browsing a list of cheap books for my Kindle.  He’s apparently written half a dozen or so novels and loads of shorts.  He is well regarded, and I can see why.

I don’t want to give away the plot, so as a very brief overview ‘The 13th’ centres around a remote building which has been turned into an asylum.

I prefer my horror supernatural, so this isn’t the sort of story I’d normally choose to pick up (although, in fairness, there is a supernatural element).  However, I was soon drawn in; Everson has an easy way with words and can characterise without description.  He does use a lot of characters, and with most writers there would be a danger they would become indistinguishable.  However, Everson is good enough to give each their own strong and distinctive voice and I found myself caring about each one – even the bad guys.

There is a lot of graphic and sexual violence.  Despite that not really being my thing, this was gripping and the blood was very much in context and part of the plot. 

Perhaps my only major gripe was the plot disappearing into backstory for a chapter there quarters of the way through, which seemed to butt in.  Other than that, I’m trying very hard to think of any negatives, but can’t.  I guess this has to get five out of five, then.

Oh, and I loved the ending.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

Keith Publications: Free Reads

Keith Publications (publishers of ‘Art Class’) have two anthologies available for FREE from Amazon until the end of 26 October.  They are:  A Shot of Love and Persephone's Song.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

How not to do it

I finished reading a novel this week.

That wouldn’t normally be the cause for a blog post, but this book has been a struggle.  I must have taken me four months to get through.  I brought it ‘blind’ after reading the blurb on Amazon, with the promise of Celtic gods, supernatural horror, Scottish scenery and, to be honest, the prospect of a bit of blood.

I’ve been fortunate to meet a few self-published authors recently.  While I’ve decided self-publishing isn’t for me, I’ve come to respect indie authors for their drive and self-confidence.

Having said that, independent publishing is also a way poorly written books can find their way into print.  The novel I inflicted on my Kindle was one a traditional publisher would surely never touch.

It was, though, an eye-opener to read something so badly written.  I could certainly see why some things are frowned on in writing:

  • ‘Head hopping’ (or switching viewpoints).  Viewpoint seemed to change several times a page.  I found it hard to focus on a character, or to relate to a character;
  • Style.  After having dangling participles thrust at me time after time I can see why editors dislike them and why they’re technically incorrect anyway.  That’s only the tip of the iceberg of my technical gripes;
  • I got fed up with spelling mistakes and simple errors in grammar.  Normally these would be taken care of by an editor.  I appreciate now how distracting they can be;
  • Characterisation.  I couldn’t tell the characters apart, or understand who they were or what drove them.  That meant I couldn’t build any empathy toward them.  I certainly didn’t care when a couple got killed;
  • Plot.  There wasn’t one, really, apart from people dodging random monsters all the time.  That made it monotonous.

So, it was an education to read a book that had a lot of the flaws writers are told to avoid.  I’ve not always grasped why some things are considered bad writing, and this book helped educate me!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Back in the Saddle

I’m emerging from a few weeks where my online presence and my productivity have both been limited.  That’s been due to a (wonderful) holiday, a busy period with the day job, and helping my in-laws move.

Hopefully I’m back to normal now, and here’s a brief rundown of what I’m doing at the moment.

1.  ‘The Torridon Witches’ was published while I was on holiday.  It was a fun but surreal experience having the launch chat in a remote Welsh inn with gammon and chips followed by a gooey pudding – and of course a Welsh Ale.

2.  I’ve submitted ‘Footholder’.  (This is a novel retelling a Welsh story about a king who will die unless either he is at war, or his foot is in a maiden’s lap.  Despite the strange premise it’s a wonderful story, and I can only hope I’ve done it the justice it deserves.)

3.  I’m wring a new novel based around a World War One archaeological dig.  It’s more science fiction than fantasy/horror, and I’m enjoying both the change of genre and time period.

4.  A tentative start on a novel based on Irish myth. 

So, there we are.  I may not have been online, but I’ve been busy, honest!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Take an Autumn Train Ride Blog Hop


Do you have a favorite fall memory linked to a train? What do you imagine you would see if you were riding a train in the fall? Join the authors of Wild CHild publishing and Freyas Bower as we Take an Autumn Train Ride through our blogs.
Prizes will include
  • Four $50 gift certificates (two for Wild Child and two Freya's Bower)
  • An awesome swag package that includes:
    • Bookmarks
    • Books
    • Wild Child T-shirt and mug
    • Wild Child and Freya's Bower bags
    • Four handmade, crochet coasters by Kit Wylde
    • An autographed copy of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
    • A rare DVD copy of the Matheson/Furst classic "Up The Creek" (lovingly used)
    • One ebook copy of Nita Wick's short story, The Dream (previously published as part of a Freya's Bower anthology.)
    • Book trading cards
    • Signed Dangerous Waters poster
    • of "Battle for Blood: The Blood Feud"
    • winner's name as a character in Kissa Starling's next sweet romance story.
    • A Yankee Candle
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I fell in love with football (or should that be soccer?) when I was very young, back in the days of tribalism and hooliganism. Here in the UK the season runs from August to May, and it was one autumn that I decided to take in my first away match, a local ‘derby’ in one of the rougher areas of London.

I didn’t have a car, so I went by train. The team I follow had a notoriously violent hooligan element at the time, but I reckoned as a fellow-supporter I should be safe.

I reached London and changed trains. In those days some train carriages were small and enclosed, and I found myself alone in a six-seat carriage.

At the next station five football fans got in. I didn’t really like the look of any of them, with their sneers and closely shaven heads. All five were bigger than me. “Who d’you support?” Yob Number One demanded.

I swallowed. They weren’t wearing colours, so I had no idea who they supported. I decided to guess.

“Chelsea?” I stammered.

“Ah. That’s okay,” Yob Number One said. “You’re one of us.”

I don’t think so, I thought but didn’t say.

“D’you want to help us vandalise the carriage?” Yob Number Two asked me.

“Er, no. I think I’ll just watch,” I said.

The yobs started to smash lightbulbs, slash seats with penknives, and write obscenities on the walls. While I was relieved the lads weren’t slashing and smashing me, there was a slight concern at the back of my mind that I might end up getting the blame for the damage.

At last, the train pulled in at the station.

“You know, mate,” Yob Number One told me as he and his mates leaped from the train. He waved his penknife. “If you didn’t support Chelsea, we’d have spent the journey kicking your head in and cutting you up.”

I believed him. As I wiped shards of lightbulb-glass and foam seat stuffing from my clothes I decided that, on the way back, I would get in a bigger, fuller carriage.

Please visit these sites for more chances to win, the more you visit the more chances you have to win. We have 46 participating authors. You can stop at as many or as little blogs as you wish. At each stop, you will find either two chances to enter per blog to win some awesome prizes. If you visit all, that's 92 chances to win! There will be five, lucky winners.

Take the Blog Train and Visit These Blogs for more chances to win

Marci Baun/Kit Wylde
Critters at the Keyboard
Teresa D'Amario
Judith Leger, Fantasy and Comtemporary Romance Author
The Fictional World of Jaime Samms
Follow Where the Path will Take You
The Wandering Mind of Lizzy P. Bellows
Where Love and Magic Meet
Kissa Starling
Marianna Heusler
Hell's Ambrosia
C.M. Michaels
The Shadow Portal
The Blog Zone
Blog By iMagine
Ardyth DeBruyn Author Blog
Shadows of the Past
Dear Reader
Cassie Exline -- Mystery and Romance
Sarcastic Rambling & Writing
That's What I Think
Sue's Random Ramblings
Make Old Bones
Elements of Mystery
Molly Dean's Blog
Kenzie's Place
The Forbidden Blog
David Huffstetler
Cassandra Ulrich
Carol Marvell
Andrew Richardson
Nick Lloyd
Fiddleeebod -- land of stories
Nita Wick's Blog
Ruth G. Zavitsanos
Too Poor for Texas
Jenn Nixon
City of Thieves
Musings and Doodles
The Western Writer
Bike Cop Blog
The Character Depot
Allen Currier
Tracy Holohan
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Sunday, 22 September 2013

J. Joseph Vuono: Oceanfront Dining

Oceanfront%20DiningAll published novelists will, by definition, have their first novel published.  J.Joseph Vuono’s horror release from Rogue Phoenix Press, ‘Oceanfront Dining’, is one such debut novel.  

The road to publication is long and winding – as I know myself – and Joe has written a touching story of his own journey and his feelings on having his name on a book.

When my first novel, Oceanfront Dining, is published and available to the public it will be the culmination of a long time dream.

I have been telling stories for a long as I can remember. As far back as kindergarten, I can recall telling stories into a tape recorder and playing them back for myself to listen to. The first short story that I can vividly remember writing was as an eight year old fourth grader. The story itself revolved around a chicken running for its life from a robot that diced chickens into bite sized nuggets. This was in the early eighties and the fast food nugget craze was just starting to sweep the United States so I don’t think I need to look too deeply for the inspiration behind that one. As the years passed I’d write short stories every chance I’d get, be it after school during study hall and occasionally in the midst of classes that didn’t quite hold my attention. I’d pen the tales and almost immediately share them with my classmates. Often times I’d attach a comments page to the back so that I could get a little feedback on my efforts. I enjoyed the positive reinforcements as well as the constructive criticisms that I believe helped shape me as a young author. By the time I’d graduated high school I’d won multiple creative writing and literature awards. I just knew that I was destined to become a bestselling novelist.

After high school, I joined the working world. My first few jobs were in warehousing and allowed me the opportunity to meet a myriad of people from all walks of life and covering a wide variety of ages. Merely talking to folks expanded my view of the world and kept my creative juices flowing. I learned that within every man, woman and child, there are dozens of characters looking to be explored. After eighteen months in the real world I decided to go back to school, starting my journey at a local community college and focusing on writing and composition classes. I spent a semester as an editor for the school’s literary magazine. By the time my third semester started I’d be offered employment with a telecommunications company and again joined the working world.

The job that I’d taken to pay a few bills quickly morphed into a career that is now closing in on seventeen years. Along the way, I married the most supportive, wonderful woman I’ve ever known and became the father of two fantastic children. As my life continued to unfold before me, my writing slipped and I found myself spending less time expressing my creativity. I’d still write occasionally, short stories here and there and even trying to kick start a few novels, but the passion that had once fueled my creativity was gone. It wasn’t that I no longer enjoyed the craft, but the hours just seemed to slip away.

As life would have it, I ended up having dinner with an old friend from high school while traveling for my current profession. When the subject of writing came up, she scoffed at my answer of not having the time anymore. She gave me a mild scolding about wasting my God given talents, and a reminder the only real reason I didn’t seem to have the time for writing these days was because I wasn’t allowing myself to. I pondered her comments for my entire return trip home, taking them to heart. Within a few days of that conversation, I found myself dusting off an old story idea and finding the time that I’d previously lost.

That forgotten old story would become, Oceanfront Dining, and I found myself more driven to tell this tale than any I had previously encountered. Even on the nights where heavy eyelids battled internal motivations for control and needed sleep beckoned, I’d sit in front of my laptop and press on. Writing almost nightly, the story and the characters evolved every time I sat at my desk until the final chapters filled my computer screen.

Though I was thrilled to have completed my first novel, there was a certain sadness in knowing that this particular story had come to a close. Until, at least, I realized that my own story was just beginning. Over the next few months I face the joy of query publishers and the sting of multiple rejection letters, often dejected, yet never willing to surrender. It was a cold December afternoon when I opened the e-mail from RPP requesting a full copy of my manuscript. Everything from that moment on has been surreal and a fantastic learning experiencing. From the initial acceptance of my novel to the seeing the first draft of my cover art, which is phenomenal by the way, each step in the process has brought a smile to my face. I hope that you’ll take the time to read Oceanfront Dining and that you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

After all of these years, I stand on the precipice of seeing a dream realized. Though I may never be the next great bestselling author, I am, at last, a published novelist.

And I’m awfully proud of that.

Oceanfront Dining is available at from Rogue Phoenix Press at:

or from Amazon at:

Joe can be contacted on Facebook, or on twitter at @JoeVuono

Friday, 13 September 2013

Torridon Witches: Release

Picnic, fire, peopleAfter the short delay, ‘The Torridon Witches’ will be released by Damnation Books this Sunday. 

To celebrate, there will be a live chat in Damnation Books’ chatroom.  I’ll be there for the early session (7pm UK time).  I’ll have to miss the midnight chat as I’ll be on holiday in the deepest Welsh mountains (near where ‘The Doe and the Dragon’ was set).  Our cottage doesn’t have wi-fi, but the inn down the road does, although it’ll be closed for the second session.

Friday, 30 August 2013

‘The Torridon Witches’: Release Delayed

Damnation Books have let me know that release of ‘The Torridon Witches’ will be delayed.  It’s not just me – all the September 1st  releases will be effected.

The delay given is a fortnight: I’ll be on holiday.  I’ll have the surreal pleasure of experiencing the 7pm (UK time) release day chat in the middle of the mountains, in a Welsh inn, supping bear amid olde worlde surroundings.  The cottage we’re staying in, sadly, doesn’t have wi-fi (the inn up the road does), so I’ll miss the second chat session.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Torridon Witches: ‘Coming Soon’

The Torridon Witches’ is now listed under ‘Upcoming Releases’ on Damnation Books’ website!

Picnic, fire, peopleThere are loads of other ‘Upcoming Releases’ due to be published on Sunday, so the section is well worth a look.  I’ve got to know some of the other authors a little in the build up to release, and found some of the stories behind the stories fascinating.

Damnation Books offers new books at ‘Variable Prices’ on release day – 25cents for the first person to buy a title, 50 cents for the second purchaser, and so on.  Someone could get hold of all sixteen titles for four dollars!

The ‘Meet the Author’ chat sessions will be at Damnation Books’ chatroom at 2pm and 7pm USA Eastern Time (7pm and midnight UK time).

Here’s the blurb:

They don’t burn witches any more…do they?

Fiona MacLeod returns to Dunmorgan to gain revenge for Gran’s burning as a witch a decade ago. Friends accompanying Fiona have a row and in their tempers use the word ‘witch’. The villagers’ attitudes are ancient, and the friends are soon on trial for witchcraft. To avoid the stake Fiona must confront the charismatic but brutal Blue Eyed Man. She must also take on the sadistic villagers who were responsible for Gran’s death, and who are desperate for another burning.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Torridon Witches Release Date: 1 September

Picnic, fire, people

My horror novella, ‘The Torridon Witches’, will be released by Damnation Books on 1 September.

There will be live ‘Meet the Author’ chat sessions at the Damnation Books site, and some Damnation Books giveaways. 

I’ll post more information here when I have it.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

eTreasures Publishing Facebook Page

Well SmalleTreasures Publishing (publishers of ‘The Well’) now have their own Facebook page

The page already has a lot of stuff on it and there is a promise of regular giveaways, so it should be well worth liking.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Works in Progress

It’s been a while since I gave any sort of update.  There’s a lot going on in my writing world at the moment, with several projects in various stages of happening.  Here’s a summary:

1.  ‘The Torridon Witches’ was accepted by Damnation Books earlier this year.  I’ve already shown off the cover.  It’s a novella about four backpackers who are accused of witchcraft in remote Scotland.  I’m waiting to receive amendments from my editor.

2.  ‘Dana’s Children’ was also accepted earlier this year, this time by Wild Child Publishing.  It’s a violent horror novella about archaeologists who uncover a mythical tribe.  Like ‘The Torridion Witches’, I’m waiting for edits.

3.  I’m polishing another novella about archaeologists making an unpleasant discovery.  This one is a tongue-in-cheek undead story based on a remote Scottish island.  It’s great fun to write and definitely not serious.

4.  I’m writing a science fiction/horror novel based around World War One.  I don’t usually touch science fiction (I don’t ‘get’ it), but there’s enough horror for me to feel within my comfort zone, and I’m enjoying doing something different, too.

5.  A historical fantasy a novel based on a medieval Welsh legend is just about complete.  The story is about a king who needs to keep his foot in a maiden’s lap.  Despite that unusual summary it’s a wonderful story of love, power and war.  I can’t claim any credit for the plot but I hope my retelling does justice to one of my favourite Welsh tales.

6.  An erotic piece featuring Kerry-Jane and Amy, who ‘starred’ in one of my other erotic works, ‘Art Class’.

7.  Now Dark Realm Press is no longer with us, ‘Andraste’s Blade’ has reverted to me.  It was the first novel I had published and is a bit ropey in places.  A longer-term plan is to improve it and self-publish.

8.  ‘Snuff’ is a violent horror I wrote some years ago which hasn’t got picked up.  I think I’ve had weaker published, so I’ve dusted it off, reedited, and will be trying again.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

On Being Critiqued

I’m fortunate to have very good writing buddies who give me solid and honest feedback.

I’ve also been a member of large and small critique groups over the years.  I can show my age by admitting I was even a member of a postal critique group before the internet took off.

A lot has been written on how to write a good critique.  Having been on the receiving end of ‘crits’ as well, I think there’s also a skill in having your work critted, particularly in interpreting some of the crits.  Here are some tips I’ve taught myself over the years:

1.  Ignore the most positive critique.  Yes, honestly!  Online critique groups often insist on a certain number or ratio of critiques.  Sadly, some members simply play the system by writing positive, generic critiques, usually saying how good the work is.  That boosts the ego for a few seconds, but isn’t useful.

2.  Ignore the the least positive critique.  Some critiquers give consistently poor reviews.  I don’t know whether it’s a power thing, or insecurity, but a proportion of reviews will be destructive, or choose not to ‘get it’, just for the sake of it.  That’s not to be confused with constructive criticism – the best reviews can be from people who genuinely don’t like the piece.  This point is more to point out that some critiquers decide to give a bad review before even reading. 

(As an aside, when I do receive a destructive review bluntly telling me I can’t write, I add to my over-polite thank you E-Mail a signature linking to my publications.  It’s childish, but gives me some satisfaction.)

3.  Don’t engage in correspondence.  A short thanks for a critique, or a request for brief clarification, is fine is fine.  I don’t think sending a lengthy E-Mail explaining why the critiquer didn’t do a good job, or explaining the story, serves any purpose.  If someone doesn’t grasp my story it’s my fault for writing it badly, not the reader’s fault for not getting it.  I delete long explanations of what the writer was trying to do unread.

4.  If everyone tells me the same thing, they’re probably right, even if I disagree.  Or, even if I know I’m right, I’ll still consider going along with the majority as the chances are a publisher will disagree with me too!

5.  Some people have strange ideas.  I have occasionally had criticisms that may been been well meant, but are so way out they are easily ignoreable.  (Like the reader who told me my work wasn’t valid because writers should always state their character’s species in the first line of a story.  I think he genuinely meant it.)

6.  Use your own judgement.  Critiquers usually do a damn good job, but aren’t infallible.  This is usually a judgement call and ‘gut feel’.  In particular, where critiquers are split on something I tend to go with my opinion as a deciding vote.

So, there we go with a few things I’ve learned from being critted.  Despite some of my points, I strongly recommend having work critiqued.  Critiquers have given me so much invaluable help during my writing career.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Moment of Personal Pride

Picnic, fire, people

When I had ‘Andraste’s Blade’ published back in 2005, I took great delight in printing a copy of the cover and hanging it at the bottom of the stairs.

I wasn’t really expecting any more successes, so when I told my wife that one day I’d have book covers running all the way up the stairs we both treated it as a throwaway, tongue-in-cheek remark.

As I’ve had more publications, the wall running up our stairway has become more crowded.  I’m not sure what some visitors make of the scantily-clad models on the front of ‘The Shoot’ or ‘Art Class’!

Now, six years later, I’ve received a finalised cover for ‘The Torridon Witches’ from Damnation Books.  I printed a copy and went to hang it along the stairs with the others, and…no room!  And I’ve still got artwork for ‘Dana’s Children’ to come from Wild Child Publishing.

I may not have made a fortune from my writing.  I may not be a household name.  I may not be as prolific as some of my writing friends.  My works may not all be novel length.

However, realising that I’ve written enough books that editors have thought good enough to be published, for their covers not to fit on my wall, is a moment of personal pride.  I hope readers will forgive me the indulgence of mentioning it.

I wouldn’t have reached the landmark without the support of my writing buddies (you know who you are) and especially my wife and son, who tolerate (or celebrate?!) me disappearing to the computer to indulge in my passion.  Thank you.

My publications (together with their cover art) are listed here:

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Any Idiot Can Write a Novel…

“Having a novel published doesn’t mean you can write,” so I’ve been told.  That may or may not be true – in fact, it is probably both true and untrue at the same time.

Anyone with a keyboard, a few days, and a modest amount of literacy can turf out a novel.  It may not be any good, but it will be a novel.  I’ve read plenty of novels that weren’t any good (including one or two of my early efforts), but at least they were novels.  I agree - it doesn’t mean you can write.

But, can anyone write a publishable novel?  By that, I mean one good enough to be accepted by a publisher.

Yes, I think most people who can read and write will be capable of turning out a decent enough manuscript. 

I don’t class myself as a natural, or gifted, but I’ve managed to persuade three Acquisitions Editors to publish my novels (not mentioning the novellas, novelettes, and shorts).  So, what does anyone who wants to write a credible novel need?  Well, three things, in my opinion…

1.  Time.  Yes, it takes time to write a novel.  A lot of time.  I work on a novel most days, and from start to finish takes about eighteen months.  That includes the planning and self-editing as well as the actual writing.

2.  Willingness to learn.  Unless you’re gifted or lucky, there are a lot of things to discover.  Head hopping?  Passive voice?  Telling?  If you don’t know what these mean and why they’re among the writer’s cardinal sins, you will by the time you’ve finished.  Not to mention plotting, characterisation, theme, and of course grammar, etc, etc.  None of these is difficult, but putting them all together well takes a top professional writer.  One day, maybe, that’ll be me.

3.  Thick skin.  I think all writers should belong to a critique group.  I do, and I’m also very lucky with my writing friends who offer invaluable advice and opinions and have the confidence to tell me when I’m going wrong.  But, among critique groups – particularly online where anonymity is possible – I’ve seen some newbie writers given a very rough ride.  Heck, even after three novels I’ve been told I can’t write, and I stand no chance of ever being published.  I can take it, but a newer writer might be put off which is a great pity. 

So, it doesn’t take genius to right a book.  It does take hard work and guts, but is so rewarding I’d encourage anyone who wants to, to try it.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Dark Realm Press

A while ago I reported that Dark Press have taken up their option to cancel the publishing contract for ‘Andraste’s Blade’. 

The publisher’s web site has now disappeared, so I assume Dark Realm Press is no longer with us.  As no electronic version of ‘Andraste’s Blade’ seems to be freely available I also assume the book is now out of print – although I do have a pdf and several hardcopies.  Maybe one day they’ll be so rare they’ll be worth a fortune.

Blade SmallI want to say another big thanks to Ann at Dark Realm Press for taking a chance on a first time novelist.

A long term plan is to tidy the novel, get it re-edited, and try a self-publishing experiment with it.  It’ll be a lot of work and I’ve got more exciting projects in the pipeline, so it’ll be low priority and isn’t going to happen soon.

‘Andraste’s Blade’ was the first novel I wrote.  I was pleased with the plot, but I think the writing suffered from my lack of experience.  One of my readers, though, has told me the storyline makes it his favourite ‘Richardson’.  I hope tightening and re-editing the book will make it a better read.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Rock and Writing

I think it’s about time for a non-serious post.  Most writers I know listen to background music when they’re producing, and some blog about playlists.  I don’t have anything specific I listen to; I generally tend to just get the PC to play some generic medium rock or metal.  Iron Maiden, AC/DC and especially Queen are long-term favourites, while Alice Cooper is a more recent discovery.

Some tracks mean something to me as a writer.  Maybe the lyrics, tone or video are in tune with what I produce.  Other songs have influenced me.  So, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, here are my ‘Top Ten Richardson-Relevant Writing’ songs.

10.  The March of the Black Queen (Queen).  An epic from the exceptional ‘Queen II’, my all time favourite album.  This track is from Queen’s progressive/fantasy early years.  The lyrics are tongue in cheek, but point to a dark side of the Black Queen.  I think of the Black Queen as a caricature of The Morrigan (who I equate with Andraste) who appears in my first novel, ‘Andraste’s Blade’.  The Morrigan was a feared Irish goddess of war and death.

9.  Wild West Hero (Electric Light Orchestra).  I’m fortunate that I often get to see Phil’s work before it’s released.  Phil is best known for his westerns and I’ve always thought this song is the closest I’ve heard to the spirit of the Old West.

8.  I Would do Anything for Love (But I Won’t do That) (Meat Loaf).  A typically massive-scale song from a performer who specialises in epics.  Despite being a wonderful song this makes it into the list due to the video, which is based on the dark fantasies ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (according to Wikipedia).  The video contains fantasy and mild horror elements I like to combine to tell a story – and Dana Patrick looks gorgeous!

7.  Highway to Hell (AC/DC).  Perhaps less serious than most of my work, but still a great romp describing how to reach the infernal regions.  I like to let my characters of the leash for a bit of fun, and this track is in that spirit.  Probably the group’s trademark song, even after all these years.

6.  Newgrange (Clannad).  A typically haunting piece from the Irish group.  You can almost see the druids performing their ceremonies at the ‘magical ring of stones’.  The ballad reflects the gentler, Celtic fantasy element of my writing.  It’s a feel I aimed for in much of ‘The Doe and the Dragon’.

5.  The Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden).  Arguably the group’s most famous track, and often voted one of the greatest metal songs of all time.  The music and lyrics are serious, but, strangely, the video has a very light-hearted style.  The lyrics contain a lot of horror staples such as devil worship, demonic possession, sacrifice and nightmares.  Which horror writer hasn’t touched on these themes?  I know I have, in too many stories to list.

4.  Vengeance (Dream Evil).  Revenge horror is notoriously difficult to write well because it runs the risk of turning into near-pointless ‘torture porn’.  The nearest I’ve come to doing a revenge story is ‘The Well’.  It can be done well, though – some films in the ‘Saw’ franchise are a superb telling of a man getting revenge on society.  Anyway, ‘Vengeance’ gets inside the mind of a man driven to murder by years of unfair treatment.  The lyrics are virtually required listening for anyone wanting to try writing from the bad guy’s viewpoint.

3.  Bite Your Face Off (Alice Cooper).  No list of horror music would be complete without a contribution from the king of shock rock.  Several of his songs fit the bill, but as ‘Andraste’s Blade’ and my current work both feature a head-eating evil goddess, ‘Bite Your Face Off’ will more than do.

2.  Space Oddity (David Bowie).  This one, of course, is about an astronaut who is marooned in space and waiting to die.  I first heard it as a child.  With the character’s certain death and haunting style, I was chilled.  That’s a trademark of genuine horror.  This isn’t a theme I’ve deliberately used in my stories, but the feeling I still get from listening to ‘Space Oddity’ is one every horror writer surely aims to instil in his or her reader.

1.  Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden).  Well done to Maiden for being the only group to make my top ten twice!  They could have probably had two or three more entries (‘Hallowed by thy Name’ and ‘Bring Your Daughter…’ might have crept in on another day).  In my view ‘Fear of the Dark’ is the ultimate horror song; like ‘Space Oddity’ it has genuinely chilled me.  It brilliantly captures the feeling of being alone at night; always looking over your shoulder for the bogeyman who you know isn’t really there (is he…?).  Sure, the song is helped by Bruce Dickinson’s voice and the haunting music which are tools an author can’t use, but the words are ones I would have been proud to have come up with.  The song’s atmosphere is one I tried to match in ‘The Wood’, particularly the outside, night time chapters.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Torridon and Wester Ross

So, ‘The Torridon Witches’ is due to be published by Damnation BooksTorridon is an area of north-west Scotland. 

Although I didn’t actually set the novella in Torridon – it’s somewhere vaguely along the coast with the stunning Torridon Mountains as a distant backdrop – the name stuck.  This post gives some description of the region which I hope readers will find useful background.

Torridon isn’t a place with defined boundaries.  Different maps include different places as part of Torridon.  However, all agree that it is an area of mountainous wilderness centred around the village that gives the area its name.  It is anything up to thirty kilometres across – from the mouth of Loch Torridon in the west, to the village of Kinlochewe at Glen Torridon’s eastern end.

North to south, Torridon might be up to twenty kilometres across.

The area is dominated by its mountains and upland moors which produce some of the most stunning and difficult scenery in Britain.  The whole region of Wester Ross – where Torridon sits - is remote, with transport being either by boat, or often by narrow, twisting roads with passing places often being the only means vehicles can pass.

I needed to set the story somewhere particularly isolated, so my (fictional) village is only reachable by sea or by a very long, rough walk.  The community needed to be isolated, and Wester Ross is one of the few places in Britain where it is plausible.  Most towns and villages – Torridon, Shieldaig, Lochcarron; Gairloch and the like - are too well populated by tourists and outsiders who have made their homes there for a tale about modern witchcraft to be believable.  Not to mention the always friendly locals.

So, I had to make up somewhere really isolated - a little like Summerisle, the remote fictional Hebridean island in ‘The Wicker Man’, or the New Forest setting for James Herbert’s ‘The Magic Cottage’, or even Dartmoor’s Baskerville Hall in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.  I came up with Dunmorgan, which can only be reached by boat, or via a long, tortuous trek. 

And witches?

Well, there are tales of witchcraft from around Wester Ross.  I’ve found historical references to witchcraft on Skye, Gairloch and Kinlochewe.  The Torridon region sits almost in the middle of these places to provide a ‘plausible’ location for the story.

And, my final reason for choosing the area around Torridon and Wester Ross for a setting?  Well, that’s simple – I wanted to set a story there.  I’m in love with the place.  It’s gorgeous.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

‘The Torridon Witches’– Cover

At last, I can reveal the cover for ‘The Torridon Witches’.  It’s another stunning one by Dawné Dominique, who also did the covers for ‘The Wood’ and ‘The Shoot’.  I think the picture catches ‘Witches’ feel brilliantly.  Thank you Dawné!

‘The Torridon Witches’ will be published by Damnation Books.  The release date is to be confirmed.

Picnic, fire, people

Sunday, 19 May 2013

‘Stones’ published!

My short story, ‘Stones’ has been published by Burial Day Books.  My thanks to the publisher for taking it, and for the wonderfully atmospheric picture that’s gone with it.  (I’ve got a feeling I’ve been to the stone circle in the picture, but I can’t put my finger on which circle it is.)

‘Stones’ is about a newlywed couple who come across a stone circle while on honeymoon. I think of it as atmospheric rather than gory, and I hope readers will agree.

The story has a lot of elements I try to put into my writing – horror; supernatural; humour; suspense and the like. The story is available for free, so I hope anyone who hasn’t read my work before will give it a try.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Damnation Books

Contracts have been signed so I can confirm that ‘The Torridon Witches’ will be published by Damnation Books.

Although this is my first Damnation Books release, I’m familiar with the house as sister publisher Eternal Press published ‘The Wood’ and ‘The Shoot’ back in 2009.  I’m delighted to be back in the fold!

I don’t have a release date yet, but I have already been sent the relevant author’s forms and been contacted about cover art.

‘The Torridon Witches’ is a horror novella about a group of friends who come across superstitious locals while backpacking in remote Scotland.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

‘Stones’: Burial Day Books

After an E-Mail exchange with the publisher, I can confirm that my short, ‘Stones’, will be published online by Burial Day Books on 15 May.

‘Stones’ has a lot of elements I try to put into my stories – horror; supernatural; humour; suspense and the like.  The story will be available for free, so I hope anyone who hasn’t read any of my work before will give it a try.  It's about a newlywed couple who come across a stone circle on their honeymoon.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Acceptance! Stones

I’m chuffed to have had a short story accepted.  It’s a horror called ‘Stones’, and should be published in May.

‘Stones’ is about a newlywed couple who come across a stone circle while on honeymoon.  I think of it as atmospheric rather than gory, and I hope readers will agree.

As usual I’ll refrain from naming the publication until it’s released, but I will post a link as soon as ‘Stones’ is out.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Wales in Winter

A few weekends ago my wife and I went to North Wales for one of our semi-regular long weekends.  As usual, we had a great time.

Not as usual, we fell victim to the unseasonal cold weather and were semi-snowed in.  We were able to get out for walks from our hotel and had some really fun and stunning yomps across moor and through forest in several inches of snow.  Going anywhere by car, though, carried too great a risk for us to chance it until we went home (and had to detour an extra twenty miles, but that’s a different story).

So, what have our holiday woes got to do with writing?

Well, it made me think about the hardships some of my characters living in North Wales must have faced.  Even in the modern age we saw the difficulties of farming in unseasonal cold weather, with the lambing season underway in deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.  It’s difficult to keep animals alive in these conditions with barns and heaters and the like; it must have been horrendous in centuries gone by.

And travelling is near-impossible.  We needed walking boots just to get out of the hotel, and our thick coats were no insulation against the wind whistling down the Llanberis Pass.  Such luxuries weren’t available in years gone by; wet shoes and near-useless cloaks would have been the order of the day.

All that surely breeds a special type of person; hard working and resilient.  It’s made me realise that my ancient Welsh characters need to have these sort of characteristics as well as the frivolous, Devil-may-care attitude to life I tend to give them.  They can still be fun, though.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Acceptance! The Torridon Witches

I’m delighted to be able to say that I’ve had a horror novella, The Torridon Witches, accepted.  As usual, I’ll refrain from naming the publisher until contracts are signed, just in case anything goes wrong.  It’s a publisher I’ve enjoyed working with before though, so I’ve no reason to expect problems.

The Torridon Witches is a story set in the Torridon region of remote modern Scotland, against the backdrop of seventeenth century witch trials and burnings.  It tells the tale of four friends who go backpacking in the area and get caught up in witchcraft.

The idea came to me in holiday in western Scotland a couple of years ago.  The place is stunningly beautiful and rugged, and I decided I wanted to write a story set there. 

On the same holiday I bought a paperback about Scottish witch trials, and that book gave me the germ of an idea which eventually became The Torridon Witches.

Although the story is set in the present day, I had to do quite a bit of research into historical witches and witch trials.  It’s not something I’m an expert in, but as my background is in history I enjoyed the research as much as the writing.

I am grateful to Phil who, as always, read my first draft and provided invaluable comment and advice.

Friday, 29 March 2013

James Herbert R.I.P.

I was very sad to read that James Herbert passed away earlier this month. 

I always had a soft spot for Herbert, not least because his novel, ‘The Rats’, was the first horror book I ever read, and the sheer brilliance – particularly for a debut novel - opened my eyes to a whole new genre.

Herbert’s books were my required reading when I was in my teens, and he helped influence my love for the horror genre.  It was inevitable that his style would influence some of my work.

James Herbert will be sorely missed.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


I’ve always thought myself fortunate to study the Celts at university.  I was lucky to study a subject that fascinated me in a wonderful city (Bangor) with enthusiastic tutors and Snowdonia’s beauty on my doorstep.

As a writer who often uses the Celts as a background I have an additional reason to thank my degree.  Although I wouldn’t claim to have been an outstanding student, immersing myself in the Celtic way of life for three years has given me a ‘feel’ for their period.  I’ve been able to incorporate this into my writing without having to resort to research, except to look up very specific facts and events. 

This background knowledge has made writing historical fiction so much more straightforward.

The work I’m planning at the moment is different as it’s based around the First World War.  I’ve read a little about the ‘Great War’, but planning the novel has made me realise how much research is needed to make sense of a period I’m not particularly knowledgeable about. 

In my Celtic work I’m familiar with beliefs, medicine, weapons, transport and the like.  I’ve always taken this aspect for granted.  Now, I find myself having to refer to reference books and the internet at almost every phase of my planning. 

I often hear about writers who say they find researching a period takes almost as long as writing the book.  I’ve never really believed that – until now.  The next work is likely to be a slow, laborious process as I immerse myself in the trenches of Flanders!

Is that a complaint?  No.  I’ve always enjoyed historical research, irrespective of the period or reason.  I’ve never appreciated how much it can slow down the writing process, though.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Review: New Chance by Z.J. McBeattie

New ChanceThis is a short, thought provoking read set in the near future.  Eric is the product of a world where fortunate children spend their first five years in an environmentally protected world.  As an adult, he wants to get return to its simpler life.

The story is well structured and well written.  The author’s knowledge of the subject comes through and gives the prose an obvious confidence. 

I thought the story’s strength, though, was in the way Eric’s character unfolded as I read.  My thoughts went from sympathy to unease and worse as we were shown the lengths he was willing to go to, to return to his childhood’s world.

I didn’t see the ending coming; it raised a skilful and thought-provoking story to ‘memorable’ status and 5/5 from me.

‘New Chance’ is available from Amazon.

Here’s the author’s Amazon page.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Blog Revamp

Since I started this blog back in 2009, I’ve been maintaining it as a sort of web site rather than a blog.

That means it’s probably got a bit cluttered. 

I don’t want to switch over to having a ‘specialist’ web site because this blog’s address is in all my literature, and is known to my publishers, fellow authors and the like.  So, I’ve decided to still use this blog as my main web presence but I’ll be restructuring some of the supporting pages to minimise the links, make the information easier to find, etc, etc.  Probably most importantly, I think it will make it easier for people to find out about me, my work, and my publishers.

It’s not going to happen overnight, but will be an ongoing task.

Thank you for bearing with this, probably highly uninteresting, post!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Connie Straker: Character Interview

Well SmallI wanted to write something about my eTreasures Publishing release, ‘The Well’.  Instead of the standard blurb and the like I thought I’d have a bit of fun and interview the book’s main character.

I find Constance Straker in her college dormitory. Although she’s alone at the moment, as soon as I step through the door I’m struck by the plethora of empty mugs and pictures of her with friends. She finishes stirring two coffees, and I take the opportunity to look around. Everything provides an indication of a popular young woman. Connie is easily the most attractive woman – stunning, even – in any of the photos, with her classic blond hair and blue eyes.

“They’re a decent bunch,” she says as she looks down at the group picture I had picked up.

I put the photo down. “You’ve got a lot of friends.”

“Yeah.” Connie hands me a mug and sits on a settee. She waves me toward an armchair on the far side of the coffee table and clasps something in her other fist. “If they’re genuine friends, of course.”

“Money,” I say.

“Yeah.” Connie blows on her drink and takes a tentative sip. “With dad bein’ loaded, you never can tell who is a genuine friend. I’ve met some real goddam freeloaders out there.” She unclasps her fist, and holds up a key ring. It’s in the shape of an Indian woman. “Pocahontas,” she says.


She avoids my eyes. “My best friend.”

I take a sip and lean back in the chair while I wait for her to explain.

She takes a deep breath and a long sip of coffee. Two clear blue eyes regard me all the time, and I think she’s trying to think if something that sounds sensible. “My family went through an upheaval when I was six or seven. We moved a couple of times, and mum was findin’ it a struggle making friends while dad was always away buildin’ up the business. We all got a bit lonely.” Her eyes soften as she looks down at the Indian. “We went out to the mall one day, and I guess I just fell in love with this little lady. I treated her like the friends I couldn’t make when we were movin’ around. I guess even all these years later I never stopped thinkin’ of her as my best friend. Ain’t you, Pocca?”

The Indian didn’t reply.

“Pocca can be a bit quiet. But at least she doesn’t answer back.”

“Ah,” I say. “I see. But I suppose the upheavals were worth if for your family – financially, I mean.” I grin. “And I suppose you get to eat burgers whenever you want one!”

“And I don’t even like goddam StrakerBurgers! I’d never tell dad, after all the years he’s spent buildin’ up his business and now bein’ worth millions, but I’d prefer a Big Mac any day!” She bit a lip. “Do you think that’s wrong of me?”

I shrug.

“I mean, dad’s a multi millionaire big shot, and I can’t stand the stuff that made his fortunes. He even named a goddam burger after me!”

“I like ConnieBurgers.”

“I don’t.” She pokes a finger into her mouth and gives a mock gag. “I don’t like ConnieBurgers, or any of the burgers in the StrakerBurger range. And I can’t stand StrakerShakes.” She manages to keep the anger under control, and her grin is genuine. A shake of her head tosses a stray strand of blond hair back over a shoulder. “I guess I won’t be growin’ up to run the family business.”

I put my coffee on the table so I can spread my arms. “So, what will you do?”

Connie gives a deep sigh, and those blue eyes regard me. “I don’t know. But I’ve always said I won’t rely on dad’s millions. I reckon I can make my own way in the world. But I don’t know whether I can cope with getting’ an ordinary, low paid job.” She touches her ear studs and laughs, then looks down at her key ring. “I’m too fond of diamonds and designer clothes, ain’t I, Pocca? Maybe I’ll be one of those spoiled rich kids who says the money ain’t important and then squeals if it dries up.”

“So what will you do, if you’re not going to run StrakerBurgers?”

“At the moment I don’t have any ambition other than getting’ my degree, and havin’ a bit of fun in the process. And to be brave enough to run naked through campus, but I reckon I’ll need a whole lot of bourbon inside me before I pluck up the courage.” She shrugs, and nearly spills her coffee in the process. “My main ambition is to stand on my own two feet. And to be bought flowers.”


She looks away. “They say I’m decent lookin’, but I ain’t never been bought flowers.”

My brows rise.

“And I don’t want you buyin’ me a bunch of roses out of sympathy.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Why won’t you buy me flowers? D’you think I’m ugly?”

I withdraw from the verbal sparring by laughing. “No, you’re not ugly. You’re blessed with looks. As I should think you well know.”

“Blessed? If you could see some of the goddam jerks I get letchin’ at me, you’d not call it a blessin’.”

Her shudder is genuine, and its intensity surprises me. She tightens her grip on her key ring.

“Tell me about it.”

Her face hardens. “There was this one guy at school, in the year below. The college nerd. I can’t remember his name, but everyone called him ‘Spongehead’ on account of his thick curly hair. He were always lookin’ through his glasses at me, and followin’ me through the school, and hangin’ out in the corridors he knew I’d have to pass through.” She shudders again. “There’s somethin’ wrong with the lad. He was real creepy.”

This Spongehead character obviously unnerved her, so I don’t press the point. “I’m sorry,” I say after a difficult silence. “I didn’t mean to push it.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve left him behind. Now the only things that give me the creeps are enclosed spaces and heights.” She shudders again. “Ugh. I can’t think of anyithn’ worse than a big, black drop into nuthin’ness.” Two eyes fix me. “Unless it’s a big black drop into nuthin’ness with Spongehead letchin’ at me.”

You can find out more about Connie, Spongehead and Pocahontas in ‘The Well’.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Andraste’s Blade

Blade SmallI’ve been given notice by Dark Realm Press that the publisher will be cancelling our contract for ‘Andraste’s Blade’ at the end of February. 

The book was published in 2005, and given that publishers come and go and like to concentrate on newer books – which is where the sales lie – I think I’ve been lucky Dark Realm Press have chosen to keep it available for so long.

‘Andraste’s Blade’ was the first novel I had published.  I’d like to put on record my thanks to Ann Velentin for taking a chance on a first novel by an unknown author, and then helping me through the editing and publication processes. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wild Child Publishing

Contracts have been signed and exchanged, so I can announce that Wild Child Publishing will be publishing ‘Dana’s Children’. 

I’d like to thank WCP for taking the story on, and I’m excited about being a Wild Child author.  I look forward to seeing ‘Dana’s Children’ listed among the publisher’s impressive horror titles.

I don’t have a release date yet, but as soon as I know more I’ll announce it here.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Writing Update

I’ve tried to keep this blog updated regularly over the last few months, and I think I’ve generally succeeded.  However, I don’t think recent posts have provided an update on what I’m doing.  So, here goes:
  • Art Class’ and ‘The Well’ were both published last year.  eTreasures Publishing are going to be making ‘The Well’ available for Kindle, so I assume it’ll turn up on Amazon soon.
  • Dana’s Children’ was accepted for publication in January.  It’s a violent horror based around Irish invasion myths.  Contracts still haven’t been signed and I’m reluctant to name the publisher until they are, just in case something goes wrong.  I have sent back the cover art form, though.
  • I’ve written what isn’t quite a sequel to ‘Art Class’, although it does feature the same main characters.  It’s very nearly ready to submit.
  • A Celtic fantasy will go through Critters this week.  It’s got a similar sort of feel to ‘The Doe and the Dragon’ and is a story I’m very fond of.  I hope Critters – and in due course a publisher - are as keen!  And a mention to Phil who read an early draft and gave loads of advice, and in particular encouragement when the going got tough.
  • I’ve started another horror novel, based again around Celtic myth.  I’ve only drafted a handful of chapters and I’m not fully convinced it’ll be a strong one, although it’s likely to be fun to write.  It’s got very much a 1960s/1970s Hammer feel.
  • I’m putting the final touches to a horror novella about Scottish witch trials.
  • I’ve reviewed a 150,000-word novel on Critters in around two weeks(!).  It was fun, and I have to admit gave me something writing-related to focus on during a period of writer's block, so the timing was perfect.
  • I’ve written a short, called ‘Stones’.  I don’t do many shorts because I don’t think they suit my style, so it’s a bit of a milestone.  (To be honest I wrote ‘Stones’ years ago but I’m quite pleased with it so I’ve revived and polished it.)  It’s about a honeymoon couple who come across a stone circle.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Coffee Time Romance

Thank you to Gianna Bruno for inviting me to join Gianna on her Coffee Time Romance forum this Saturday, along with erotic romance author Alice Gaines .
Gianna's writing is usually romantic, often wicked, sometimes mainstream, and always experimental.
Alice writes historical erotic and erotic romance.
I nominated Gianna for The Next Big Thing a while ago, and I’m looking forward to seeing her answers to the questions.
There’ll be general chatting and some giveaways.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Next Big Thing: Philip McCormac

A big welcome to Philip McCormac, who I nominated for ‘The Next Big Thing’.  Phil has the dubious ‘privilege’ of reading early drafts of all my work and making suggestions for improvement, as well as being a prolific and talented writer himself.

Over the years we’ve known each other Phil has also become a family friend; his enthusiasm for ice cream has raised Phil to almost legendary status as far as my son is concerned!

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         

Thank you to Andrew for inviting me to take part in The Next Big Thing. 

What is the working title of your next book?
BEHOWLS THE MOON. The title is taken from Shakespeare.
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Wolf is the clue to the content of the book which is about werewolves.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
For many years I have been fascinated by the upheaval in Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century and have wanted to write a novel set during this period. I didn't think a thriller or adventure would have been accepted by publishers so I compromised and wrote a horror instead.

What genre does your book fall under?
Horror, fantasy, thriller, historical. I find it difficult to classify my books. For a number of years I have been writing Black Horse Westerns so that is easy. I also have a crime thriller MACLEAN published and a historical adventure LEAVES OF BLOOD so they fit into a neat category.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m not very good at this sort of thing so I asked a teenage friend to answer this one for me. She came up with Channing Tatum. When looking for him I happened upon a female actor who seemed to be linked to him - Amanda Seyfried. That looked the perfect combination.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Young werewolves ensnarled in the Irish War of Independence.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
An agency! Are you in the real world? Have you ever tried to get and agent interested in representing you? They're too busy chasing big names. No, I will offer it to the appropriate publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your masterpiece?
You know, that is a question I am frequently asked. I can't answer that. I keep telling myself the next time I start a book I'll note my starting and finishing date. Yeah, I know what you are thinking!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oops! That's a hard one. I can't think of any. The background to the story is historically accurate. I use real people and events and the story revolves around the war that erupted at that time. I can't think of anyone that does that: mingles history and horror/fantasy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was born in Ulster though I have lived the greater part of my life in England. My last book BRIDGE OF BLOOD, a supernatural horror, was set in modern Ireland. Up until the Good Friday Agreement we had thirty years of the Ulster Wars when Irishmen fought to end British occupation of Ireland - a conflict that has been going on for centuries. During this time my English friends questioned me endlessly to explain a war which to them was completely baffling. I found it difficult myself to understand so I undertook an ongoing study of the causes and effects of the Irish wars. I had to go back six hundred years to examine the roots of the conflict. To me the most interesting period was the early 20th century during which the Easter Rebellion took place followed by the Irish War of Independence and after that came the Civil War. These events are just crying out to be exploited and/or explained.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
All my books have plenty of action with fights and gun battles etc. There is also a romantic thread running through which my readers like. My publisher was intrigued by the setting of my last book which he said would be an exotic location for readers. I never thought of Ireland as exotic but then if you have never been there it might appear to be so.  (And, I may add, it’s a damn good book – Andrew)

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Philip began writing fiction as a break from his business activities and had short horror published in various magazines. He even wrote New Age Philosophy which was published in Burning Issues now defunct. One day he came across an article on writing westerns and wrote HOT SPUR using the pseudonym Elliot James which was his grandson’s name.

Black Horse Westerns accepted the book and since then Philip has had 13 westerns published under P.McCormac and various pen-names.

In December 2010 his first crime thriller MacLean was published by Robert Hale, London.

In 2012 he published a teen fantasy LANCE OF LIGHT on Kindle and is quite proud of the front cover which he designed. LEAVES OF BLOOD, a novel set during the American Civil War is also published on Kindle.

THE RATTLESNAKE KID - a western was published by and BRIDGE OF BLOOD a supernatural thriller is published by Greyhart.