Wednesday, 30 June 2010

E-Books - An Update

I've left this update a week since my last as it really has gone a bit flat regarding downloads from FifoBooks. The sales so far are:

The Worst of All Possible Places 19 downloads
Their Own Mad Demons 19 downloads
Sendings has increased by 2 to 5 downloads. It's nice to see that this has actually increased, albeit only slightly.

If anyone, who has read either The Worst of All Possible Places or Sendings, would like to put a review of them on Amazon I would be eternally grateful. The links to Amazon are:

The Worst of All Possible Places

Sendings

Saturday, 26 June 2010

After Nightfall - reprinted in The Zombie Archives

I mentioned earlier that I was contacted by editor, Otto Penzler, who wanted to reprint After Nightfall in The Zombie Archives (Vintage Books/Random House). I was very pleased a couple of weeks ago to receive back, not only a copy of my contract, but payment in full ($250) even though the book isn't out till next year. That's a unique experience for me over the past few years. Too often, even though I have been promised payment, that somehow has never seemed to arrive. I suppose I should get tougher about this. Steve Tem, on the HWA members board, complained openly about one publisher who failed to live up to their obligations. It happens. It shouldn't, but it does. I could understand if a publisher was going under, but when they're not, when they are bringing out further books or further issues of their magazine, there is no excuse for this.
I think from now on I'll just have to have a policy of nil tolerance on this issue.

Into the Dark - novel

Now that I have finished what I think is the final rewrite on this novel I am left with the problem of what to do with it. Should I try sending it off to publishers, even though past experience has shown I can expect to wait up to 12 months or more for an answer, usually no thanks. Or go the quicker but, perhaps, ultimately less satisfying route of putting it online as another ebook, like Goblin Mire or Sendings - except I think this is a much better novel than either of them. It's a problem. The trouble with me is that I would much rather get on with whatever else I get stuck into writing next than go around trying to market what I have already finished, especially when it is so frustrating - and can sometimes impair my ability to get on with writing new stuff. It would be great if I had an agent to do all that for me, but getting an agent these days is, from what I can gather, even more difficult than getting a publisher. I suppose there is no need to make a hasty decision, I have still to finish either George and Glenda or Lucilla. And do a final rewrite on The Return.
One of the worst things about trying to get stuff published are the long delays. I have had a collection of short stories, The Lurkers in the Abyss, in the pipeline with Midnight House for years now, yet that seems little nearer actualling getting published than ever. I have had interest expressed in a second collection of my stories from a British small press publisher - a very good one, too - but the final decision over that seems to have come to a halt and months have gone by since I last had any emails about it.
The funny thing is that for a good few years I have been increasingly more convinced that the only printed collections/novels of mine to appear will be postumous. Call this a stupid, illogical conviction if you like, but it's been there a while - and is growing in validity as time goes by. It happens, though, and to much greater writers than me. Take Lovecraft for example.
Oh well, that's that bit of depression off my chest. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Girl Next Door - Film

Watched a DVD of The Girl Next Door last night. It was probably one of the most disturbing films I have ever watched. It was based on a novel by the American horror writer, Jack Ketchum, which was itself based on true events. It's the latter that most disturbs me. It's a sickeningly horrific account of a teenage girl's degradation, torture, rape and ultimately her death at the hands of her aunt, her sons and a group of local boys who the aunt seduces into being her accomplices. What perhaps disturbed me most was the worrying suspicion that the film-makers sometimes veered dangerously close to voyeurism, though perhaps that was unavoidable given the subject matter. It's not a film I would care to watch twice.

One of the worst aspects was that the one sympathetic character (other than the victim herself and her crippled younger sister), the film's narrator and one of the boy accomplices (albeit increasingly more unwilling) is helpless much of the time to help the victim.

I have never seen a film like this before. It is true life horror that affected me far more than anything fictitious.

I doubt I will ever wish to read the book it's based on, though this probably does a disservice to Jack Ketchum, I don't know. It's certainly not a film you can watch and forget afterwards.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

E-Books - Another Update

I've left this update even longer than the last as it really does seem to have gone a bit flat regarding downloads from FifoBooks. The sales so far are:

The Worst of All Possible Places 19 downloads
Their Own Mad Demons 18 downloads
Sendings is the same as before at 3 downloads

If anyone who has read either The Worst of All Possible Places or Sendings would like to put a review of them on Amazon I would be eternally grateful. The links to Amazon are:

The Worst of All Possible Places

Sendings

Prism - June Issue

It's finally been posted out by the BFS. Seems ages since I sent it to the printers, but at least it'll reach all the members before the end of June! Now I can look forward to getting the September issue put together, which I'll start at the beginning of August, though I already have the cover (a beauty by Bryan Talbot). And John Probert's column. The man is nothing if not eager! And a crazy piece of work it is too about an even crazier film than last time. I really don't know where he gets the energy to watch some of these stinkers not only once but often enough to write an in depth piece about them.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Double Standards?

Mark Samuels recently complained on the Ramsey Campbell Message Board that he was being deliberately excluded from an anthology edited by Joel Lane and Allyson Bird because of a well known clash between Mark and Allyson some time ago over her award-winning collection, Bull Running for Girls. The replies Mark got on the board certainly strike me as strange from someone editing a book against racism (ie discrimination). A certain set of double standards strikes me there.

For the record, I wasn't invited to contribute to this anthology either, though I was asked to mention it in Prism, which I have.

Into the Dark - novel

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

E-Books - Update

I've left this a few days as it seems to have gone a bit flat regarding downloads from FifoBooks. The sales so far are:
The Worst of All Possible Places now 16 downloads
Their Own Mad Demons now 15 downloads
Sendings is the same as before at 3 downloads

If anyone who has read either The Worst of All Possible Places or Sendings would like to put a review of them on Amazon I would be eternally grateful. The links to Amazon are:

The Worst of All Possible Places

Sendings

Monday, 14 June 2010

E-Books - Update

Yet again, only small increases on two of the books I have on FifoBooks, only the free downloads:

The Worst of All Possible Places now has had 15

Their Own Mad Demons has had 13

Sendings still stands at 3

Hardly dramatic. It will be interesting to compare eventually with the figures I get from Amazon - if, that is, they are any better. At least, though, it costs me nothing.

Beyond - In the Vault of Evil

Kev Demant (demonik), the host of Vault of Evil, one of the very best sites on the web for horror related discussions, etc., has just published an article on The Curse of Beyond. See Beyond Article

E-Books - Update

Some small increases on two of the books I have on FifoBooks, though only the free downloads:

The Worst of All Possible Places now has had 14
Their Own Mad Demons has had 12
Sendings still stands at 3

Still, it's nice to see the first two gradually increasing. At least someone is interested.

I have no idea how things are on Amazon. I think I'll have to wait for them  to send me their report as and when.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

E-Books - Update

A bit disappointing today. Only one change: one additional upload for The Worst of All Possible Places, that's all.

Going to watch The Plague of the Zombies to cheer me up. That should do the trick.

British Fantasy Awards - Shortlist

Stephen Theaker just posted up the BFA shortlist on the society's forum. This is it:

Best Novel
BEST SERVED COLD, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
FUTILE FLAME, Sam Stone (House of Murky Depths)
ONE, Conrad Williams (Virgin)
THE NAMING OF THE BEASTS, Mike Carey (Orbit)
UNDER THE DOME, Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

Best Novella

OLD MAN SCRATCH, Rio Youers (PS)
ROADKILL, Rob Shearman, from Roadkill/Siren Beat (Twelfth Planet) and Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Big Finish)
THE LANGUAGE OF DYING, Sarah Pinborough (PS)
THE WITNESSES ARE GONE, Joel Lane (PS)
VARDOGER, Stephen Volk (Gray Friar)

Best Short Story

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, Justin Carroll, in Dragontales: Short Stories of Flame, Tooth and Scale, ed. Holly Stacey (Wyvern)
GEORGE CLOONEY’S MOUSTACHE, Rob Shearman, in The BFS Yearbook 2009, ed. Guy Adams (BFS)
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, Nina Allan, Black Static #12
THE CONFESSOR’S TALE, Sarah Pinborough, in Hellbound Hearts, ed. Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Pocket)
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE NIGHT, Michael Marshall Smith (Nightjar)

Best Anthology

CERN ZOO: NEMONYMOUS 9, ed. D.F. Lewis (Megazanthus)
DRAGONTALES: SHORT STORIES OF FLAME, TOOTH AND SCALE, ed. Holly Stacey (Wyvern)
HELLBOUND HEARTS, ed. Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane (Pocket)
SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH: STORIES IN HONOUR OF JACK VANCE, ed. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (HarperVoyager)
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR 20, ed. Stephen Jones (Constable and Robinson)

Best Collection

CYBERABAD DAYS, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
JUST BEHIND YOU, Ramsey Campbell (PS)
LOVE SONGS FOR THE SHY AND CYNICAL, Robert Shearman (Big Finish)
ONCE & FUTURE CITIES, Allen Ashley (Eibonvale)
THE TERRIBLE CHANGES, Joel Lane (Ex Occidente)

PS Publishing Award for Best Small Press

NEWCON PRESS (Ian Whates)
SCREAMING DREAMS (Steve Upham)
SUBTERRANEAN PRESS (William Schafer)
TELOS PUBLISHING (David Howe)
TTA PRESS (Andy Cox)

Best Comic/Graphic Novel

FABLES, Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
FREAKANGELS, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield (Avatar & warrenellis.com)
LOCKE AND KEY, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
THE GIRLY COMIC, ed. Selina Lock (Factor Fiction)
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER? Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (DC)

Best Artist

CHARLES VESS, for work including Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl
LES EDWARDS, for work including the cover of Cemetery Dance #62
SHAUN TAN
STEVE UPHAM, for work including the Estronomicon Sketchbook Special
VINCENT CHONG, for work including covers for The Witnesses are Gone (PS) and Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20 (Constable and Robinson)

Best Non-Fiction

ANSIBLE LINK, David Langford (http://news.ansible.co.uk)
CASE NOTES, Peter Tennant, Black Static
IT LIVES AGAIN! HORROR MOVIES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM, Axelle Carolyn (Telos)
JOHN SCALZI, WHATEVER (http://scalzi.com/whatever)
KNOWING DARKNESS: ARTISTS INSPIRED BY STEPHEN KING, George Beahm and various artists (Centipede Press)

Best Magazine

BLACK STATIC, ed. Andy Cox (TTA)
CEMETERY DANCE, ed. Richard Chizmar (Cemetery Dance)
INTERZONE, ed. Andy Cox (TTA)
MIDNIGHT STREET, ed. Trevor Denyer (Immediate Direction)
MURKY DEPTHS, ed. Terry Martin (The House of Murky Depths)
THEAKER’S QUARTERLY FICTION, ed. Stephen Theaker and John Greenwood (Silver Age)

Best Television

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi/Sky 1)
BEING HUMAN (BBC3)
DOCTOR WHO (BBC1)
LOST (ABC/Sky 1)
TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH (BBC1)

Best Film

AVATAR, dir. James Cameron (Twentieth Century Fox)
CORALINE, dir. Henry Selick (Focus)
DISTRICT 9, dir. Neill Blomkamp (Tristar)
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, dir. Tomas Alfredson (EFTI)
WATCHMEN, dir. Zack Snyder (Warner)

I have a terrible confession to make: I haven't read any of the nominees in any of the fiction categories. Nor have I had any of the magazines listed under that category either. It's not till we get to Best Artist that I could legitimately vote for anyone. As for Best Television, I have never watched Lost apart from one episode a couple of years ago, I can't stand Torchwood, while Doctor Who, though occassionally good, is far from what I would class as "Best" TV. Which leaves Being Human and Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately for BG, I thought the finale weak compared to the rest of the series. If this had been before I watched the final series I would have voted for it straight away. While Being Human, though it has its moments, I would hate to say represents the "Best". I suppose it is the best of what choices I have to vote for, but that's all. As for films, that's for once much easier. Without a doubt, though I loved District 9 and Watchmen, it has to be Let the Right One In. No question about it. One of the very best vampire films ever, let alone over the past twelve months. And is the very type of vampire film I was bemoaning for when I wrote about watching Daybreakers yesterday.

So that's my voting revealed to you, what there is of it!

Friday, 11 June 2010

E-Books on Amazon

My two books uploaded to Amazon are now online.

The Worst of All Possible Places

Sendings

If anyone would like to put a review on Amazon for either of them, that would be great. (Hopefully)

My earlier fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, is also there.

E-Books - Update

Since yesterday:

The Worst of All Possible Places from 11 to 12 uploads
Their Own Mad Demons from 3 to 6 uploads
Sendings remains at 2 uploads, no change

I did download The Worst of All Possible Places and Sendings to Amazon last night but they haven't gone online yet. Possibly another day to wait till that happens. It will be interesting to see how the two markets compare, bearing in mind how much bigger Amazon is, though of course The Worst of All Possible Places won't be a free upload there, but £0.99. Will that make a difference?

Daybreakers

Watched this on DVD last night. It was slick, entertaining and done well enough, but I did get a sense of having been there and done that. Is the whole vampire trope getting played out at last at the cinema? It still seems pretty popular, but it is starting to look like a well rehearsed dance. You can see the moves coming.

Still, with the likes of Sam Neill, you can't go far wrong - and his face is perfect for a sinister vampire of the old school. Even so, at times it reminded me of a zombie movie, especially the mass vampire attacks and one particular person's demise. Some neat touches with the cars that vampires can drive during the day, protected against the killing rays of the sun. And the way they died was spectacular enough - though I am getting a little bit tired of seeing exploding vampires. What are they filled with? TNT? A good old disintegration into decaying flesh, bones and dust would be nice to see now and again instead of these pyrotechnics.

The things that so many vampire films lack today are any sense of mystery and dread and of something supernaturally evil. And don't get me started on romantic vampires!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

E-Books - Further Update

After reading some of the comments on the Shocklines thread on this issue I decided to have a go at uploading a couple of items onto Amazon. The process is quite different to FifoBooks and I had a few problems to start with. But I soon sorted them out and managed it. There's a review period of 48 hours before new items appear on Amazon. 

I uploaded Sendings. I had to price this at $2.99. I couldn't price it lower than this. Likewise, I couldn't upload The Worst of All Possible Places as free, so that's $0.99, the cheapest I could set it for. 
Anyway, that's something else for me to keep an eye on now. It could be a good comparison with the earlier uploads.

E-Books - Update

Since yesterday these are the new stats for the books on FifoBooks:

The Worst of All Possible Places has risen from 6 to 11 downloads
Their Own Mad Demons, which hadn't sold any yesterday, has had 3 downloads
Sendings has risen from 1 to 2 downloads.

Other than Sendings, all of these, of course, are free downloads.

A new thread has started on Shocklines on this subject, which is very interesting. Keith Goeveia, in particular, seems to have done well on Amazon, which is a company I think I'll take a look at next. It could be good to get some comparisons.

British Fantasy Society

The latest good news from the BFS is that membership is up and growing nicely, which will mean that the next issue of Prism will probably have to have a print run of between 350 and 400 copies. Let's hope the society can keep up the good work and this continues.

Sex and the City 2

Okay, I confess it. I went to see this at the cinema in Accrington last night, along with Linden and two of our girls, Cassie and Christy. Regular sized coke and popcorn too.

And, daft though it was, I enjoyed it.

 That's whatever street cred I still had left well and truly in tatters now.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

E-books - update

No change since yesterday apart from Shaun's very kind download of Sendings.

That's 6 free downloads of The Worst of All Possible Places

No free downloads of Their Own Mad Demons

1 $1.99 download of Sendings 

I think I'll have to put my early retirement plans on the back burner for a while.

So far I have given links to FifoBooks on the BFS Forum, Shocklines and Twitter, as well as here and on Rileybooks' shop website. The thread on Shocklines has already had 202 visits. There have probably been as many again on the BFS site.

Again, it's possibly early days yet. But I'll keep a regular update going just to see.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

E-Books - update

I've had a couple of e-books on FifoBooks for three days now, (The Worst of All Possible Places and Sendings) with a new one (Their Own Mad Demons) uploaded last night.

So far there have been 6 downloads, all for The Worst of All Possible Places. No interest yet in Sendings, which is the only one to be paid for ($1.99). Still, it's early days and, hopefully, the two free downloads might encourage someone to chance $1.99 on the novel.

 Whatever happens, I'll publish the information here.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Prism - June 2010

Received my copies of the new issue of Prism from the printers today. The cover is by the illustrator, Howard Molloy. This issue sees the return of Mark Morris's regular column, The Mark of Fear, and a new column by John Llewellyn Probert, Profundo Probert. There's also an interview with horror writer Shaun Jeffrey, whose novel The Kult starts filming in the States in September.





Their Own Mad Demons

I have now put this onto FifoBooks as a free download. The story was originally published in The Fifth Black Book of Horror.



Their Own Mad Demons

I am working on putting this long story (novella), published in the Fifth Black Book of Horror, online on FifoBooks as another free download.

ReAct Academy of Theatre Arts

My daughter, Cassandra, will be opening her own academy in September, based at the Civic Theatre, Union Road, Oswaldtwistle.

Cassie received her final training (and her degree) at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, one of the most prestigious theatrical schools in the world.

I'll be filling in more details in the next few days.

ReAct Academy of Theatre Arts

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Worst of All Possible Places - novella

I've managed, not only to put this on FifoBooks as a free download, but changed the cover for Sendings too! Not a bad day's toil.




I have put The Worst of All Possible Places on as a free download. As I mentioned earlier, the theory is that, if anyone reads and like this enough, they'll possibly go on and download Sendings for $1.99. Well, that's the theory anyway!

And here's a widget to take anyone interested direct to FifoBooks:






Twitter

I have just opened a Twitter account. Not really sure about all this messaging stuff - and I'm even less sure about just how useful such short messages are or who even reads them. Time will tell, I suppose. I wasn't too sure about starting a blog and now I am really enjoying it - probably a lot more than those of you who log into it!

More Artwork

Having started to rummage through some old papers, I've come across a few more pieces of artwork I did decades ago. Here are a couple of the better ones. If anyone thinks the face of the undead king looks familiar, I copied it off a picture by Albrecht Durer, one of my favourite artists. Call it homage. The second picture is supposed to be based on Pickman's Model by the one and only H P Lovecraft.


The Worst of All Possible Places - novella

This novella was first published in the BFS anthology, Houses on the Borderland, edited by Dave Sutton. I am seriously considering adding this to FifoBooks as a free download as a way to get anyone browsing that site to take a look at my stuff - and, perhaps, as a result be tempted to download Sendings too at $1.99. Is that a realistic strategy? It would be interesting to see what happens. And, since I can see at a glance how many, if any (!) downloads there have been, I'll at least get some kind of idea if it works.

All I need now is some appropriate artwork for the cover.

Dark Horizons - early covers

While rummaging through some magazines, I came across copies of the 2nd and 3rd issues of the BFS fiction journal, Dark Horizons, from way back in 1972, and for which I did the cover artwork. It's years since I last did anything like this. (Of course, there could be a reason!)


Sendings

Here's a copy of an alternative cover I was working on: 


I did consider changing it for the one I used, but it doesn't look as if I can. Shame.  I think...

Friday, 4 June 2010

Sendings

FifoBooks have emailed me with advice to:

Tell your friends on Facebook

Post a tweet on Twitter


Both should be interesting experiences as I've never used either. My wife has a Facebook account, and even though she rarely uses it I suppose I could get some advice off her, but as for Twitter?  Still, it is the 21st Century and, if I'm prepared to take the plunge with this e-book, I suppose I may as well go all the way. After all, what's to lose?

Apart from valuable time perhaps better spent writing.

Ahem!

I'm still working on Lucilla, which I'm finding much more fascinating for me than anything I've previously written at this length. I've also got to find time to take another look at the last novel I managed to complete, The Return, and make whatever changes it needs before submitting it somewhere. I like this novel, though it is dark - perhaps one of the bleakest stories I have ever written, apart from The Worst of All Possible Places in Houses on the Borderland. I don't suppose I could get much bleaker than that. But they're horror stories, and you don't get many rays of sunshine in them.

Anyway, I'll be taking a look at Twitter some time today, though the name doesn't particularly appeal to me. Perhaps it's the "twit" part.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Sendings



I have managed to put Sendings for sale on FifoBooks, complete with a cover. It will be interesting to see how this does. Link

Many thanks, Shaun, for putting me on to the software I needed to download to dabble with the photograph and put some writing on it. It's not a particularly gripping cover, I suppose, but I have seen worse (check out the cover someone made for Goblin Mire). It's a photo of one of a couple of semi-derelict properties we bought in Bulgaria for a song a few years ago.The house beyond the gate - or, at least, the front of it - has gone now, stolen by gypsies. Or so we were told by a local pig farmer, George, a Bulgarian. Though I wouldn't be surprised if some of his pigs hadn't had some improvements to their homes! Anyway, it was no great loss, since the house was tumbling down, even though it was lived in up until the time we bought it!

E-Books and Self Publishing

Further to what I have written about this issue so far, there is an interesting article about it in The Wall Street Journal: link

There are some good points raised in this pretty impartial article. Things are changing, and e-books look to be here for good, whether we like them or not.

Prism - June 2010

Just had an email from the printers. Prism is now ready and will be with Martin Roberts, who distributes everything to the BFS's membership, by Monday.

I'm pleased that I have managed a nice chunky 56 pages again.

And that I have got it ready on schedule - which is even more important.

Lucilla

I am pressing on with Lucilla, though I don't intend posting any more of the novel here. (I mustn't endanger its chances of being published elsewhere by publishing it here first.)

The writing seems to be coming along okay and I am pleased with what I have managed so far. This is definitely going to be a strange story. I am glad, too, that I decided to scrap the last 5,000 words. It was going in what was definitely the wrong direction. Sometimes you just have to be savage with what you have written.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sendings - update

Spent some time last night converting the text of Sendings so that I can eventually post it on FifoBooks as an ebook. I need to work on the cover next. Unfortunately, all the software I have that could do this for me is years old and won't work on Windows XP Professional. I have a suitable photograph but not the means to put the title lettering on it. Annoying. It looks as if I'll have to spend money on getting some suitable software, unless I can find a free download that will do the job for me. Which is what I'll look for first. After all, I don't exactly need anything particularly sophisticated for the job.