Sunday 30 May 2010

Blog review of The True Spirit

There's a nice review of my story - and Johnny's anthology Back from the Dead - by Paul Magrs: review


I have posted the opening chapters of a novel I am working on at the moment. It's called Lucilla, and is a different kind of story for me - and one I am enjoying very much.

Don't worry, though - it is horror, with supernatural elements.

Friday 28 May 2010

The Zombie Archives

Received my cheque for $250 and my completed contract for Otto Penzler's forthcoming mass market anthology, The Zombie Archives, due out in the US next year.

Nice to get a very decent payment for this 40-year-old 4,000 word story, After Nightfall, so soon. Impressed by Mr Penzler's professionalism.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Sendings - latest update

Well, I have finally finished rewriting this early, unpublished novel, reducing it from 81,000 words to 76,000. It's a bit of a mad story, the bastard child of the influences at the time I originally wrote it of two great if totally different writers: H. P. Lovecraft and Dennis Wheatley. Which is about as mad as you can get, I suppose.

I don't claim any literary merits for the novel, (any what?) but I hope at least it proves entertaining for anyone who cares to look at it.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Novel - Sendings

As a result of posting the earlier chapters on this blog I have received some verfy useful feedback, and, as a result of that, I have decided to delete what I posted and do a thorough rewrite of the novel. It was originally written some years ago and lay untouched for a long time. Its writing style is not what I use today and it does need some work doing on it.

I'll post sections of the novel again as and when I complete this rewrite.

Thanks again all those who emailed me comments about this story. It is really appreciated.

Friday 21 May 2010

The Pan Book of Horror Stories

My friend Johnny Mains has had an incredible amount of success in reviving interest in the old Pan Book of Horror Stories, not only with his own tribute anthology, Back from the Dead, but in persuading Pan to reissue the very first volume this year, just after the 50th anniversary of its first publication.

Not only has he achieved this, though, but Pan have commissioned him to do an introduction to it. An accolade indeed!

If sales of this reissue are good enough, there is the possibility that Pan will restart the series with brand new stories. Which, after the dirth of anthologies from mainstream publishers for the last few years, is about as important a development for the horror genre that there has been for quite some time. Who knows - if sales are really good, we may yet see a revival of the kind of horror anthologies that were once so commonplace. And so much taken for granted by us.

Pan Book of Horror

Thursday 20 May 2010

Sendings - further chapters added

I have added several more chapters to the Sendings pages. As I work through the manuscript I will add more.

Now that Prism is off at the printers I am concentrating on getting Sendings sorted for online availability.

Self Publishing and Ebooks - Update

I experimented last night with some of the free software I was given links to by Fifobooks to convert a standard manuscript into an ebook format. And, after a bit of tweaking about on my computer, I found it quite easy to use.

So far so good.

The next step is to go through the manuscript I am considering to use and give it a thorough proof read. It shouldn't be too bad, but you can never proof read enough. It's so easy for something to slip through.

The novel I am thinking about using is Sendings. I have made the Prologue available on this blog. Sendings

More later.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Self Publishing and E-Books - Further

Since posting my previous comments on this issue I have been emailed by Joubert Nel, co-founder of Fifobooks, who specialise in ebooks. Link to Fifobooks

The interesting details about this site are that it is an ebook marketplace where the authors:
  • retain all the rights to their work
  • maintain full editorial control
  • set the price at which their ebooks are sold, and keep the majority of the revenue
  • there is no fee to publish
The author also gets 80% of the sale price.

Anyway, I am looking into this with regard, perhaps, to an older unpublished horror novel I wrote some years ago. It could be a worthwhile experiment. Certainly, there would be nothing to lose, though first I'll have to go through the manuscript very carefully to ferret out any typos, etc.

I have also posted comments about this on the BFS Forum: Link to BFS Forum

Self Publishing and E-Books

Shawn Jeffrey posted an interesting link on the BFS Forum about self publishing and e-books. Link

Publishing is changing so much these days with the rising popularity of e-books and the ease and cheapness with which someone can get a book self published. Combine these with the decline of independent bookshops and the rise of Amazon as the biggest seller of books in the country, and it's anyone's guess as to what the future holds for writers.

For anyone writing in the horror genre the problems are even more acute. Since its heyday in the 1980s, the popularity of horror with mainstream publishers has all but collapsed, and the only way for most writers in the genre to get collections of short stories published is through the small press - or by self publishing. Is it much easier for horror novels, especially those that don't fit the popular models? 

The only thing against self publishing is quality control, especially proof reading. I have come across only a few self published horror novels and must admit to having found proof reading particularly bad. On the other hand, some small presses aren't too good on proof reading either.

Still, failing all else, so long as a writer knows their work is good, what alternative is there if a suitable mainstream or reliable small press outlet isn't available?

What does a writer need, other than a few hundred pounds to splash out on some decent cover artwork? And to get a decent number of copies run off to send to potential reviewers? And, of course, the ability to publicise their work. That is obviously essential. Unless a writer can get their book known well enough, it will never sell. And be read. Which, after all, is the main reason for writing to start with.

Food for thought.

Prism - June 2010

The finished copy of the next issue of Prism is going off in the post to the printers today. This is the second one I have done now and, I must admit, it's getting easier. And is still fun to do. This issue sees the return of Mark Morris's regular column, The Mark of Fear, and the start of a new column from John Llewellyn Probert. It also features an author interview with Shaun Jeffrey.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Dramas from the Depths - Reggie Oliver

I picked this up yesterday from the shipping company - and was immediately impressed by the care with which Centipede Press had packaged it. Though not nearly half so impressed as I was by the book itself, which is large, lavishly illustrated and even more lavishly bound. I had thought his previous collections of stories from Haunted River, Ash-Tree Press and Ex-Occidente looked brilliant, but Centipede Press have done him proud. Definitely a collector's edition - like all the others but more so.

I am not sure which I would have been better pleased with myself - something as impressive as this volume, in a limited edition only collectors of Reggie Oliver's stories would buy - or a more widely accessible and much cheaper mass market paperback. Not that there is any danger of either alternative coming my way, I think I would certainly have chosen the paperback - as well may Reggie Oliver - but it is still a beautiful book, which at just over 900 pages contains nearly all of his output so far. So, if you want the definitive Reggie Oliver collection, and can afford it, this is the one to go for. (I would add that prices for Reggie's first two collections from Haunted River now fetch incredibly high prices on the used book market)

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Frank Frazetta - RIP

I was sad to hear yesterday that the fantasy artist Frank Frazetta had died at the age of 82.

He was the first great fantasy artist who inspired me to buy certain books years ago, mainly the Conan volumes published by Lancer Books - which I still have, although they are in a delicate condition after all this time.

I have a cast metal model of one of his most famous paintings, the Death Dealer.

Monday 10 May 2010

Stupid Broadcasters

Well, I had an item earlier about Stupid Politicians, so it's only fair, when it happens, to include one on stupid broadcasters, especially when they are as bad as this:

Prism June 2010

Yesterday most of the reviews for the next issue arrived by email and I was able to get almost all of it set up on my computer, ready for a disc to be burned off later this week and sent to the printer.

It proved a lot easier than the last issue, though of course that was the first I'd done and I had to set everything up from scratch.

I am pleased with the results so far. I'm just awaiting now for an updated news section and that should be it.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Proportional Representation

Like many people, I suppose, I was impressed and surprised at the demonstration in London today outside the Liberal Party meeting, calling for electoral reform.

PR is something our country could really do with, in my view, though I never expected calls for it to surface quite like this. I just hope it isn't a flash in the pan but the start of a growing upsurge of support for it. If any time was right for electoral reform to a system as close as possible to PR that time is now.

If you agree, sign this petition: Petition for Electoral Reform

Friday 7 May 2010

Election Night

I told myself beforehand that I wasn't going to stay up late to watch the election results on TV - but I still ended up dragging myself to bed at three in the morning!

I wouldn't care but it was completely boring, with not much drama and inconclusive results, that seemed to be all over the place. Worse still, the BBC seemed to think it was a good idea to use licence payers' money to host a big party for so-called celebrities - like I really want to hear what Bruce Forsyth has to say about the elections!

The biggest drama will be to see what horse trading takes place over the next few days and which parties take on the poisoned chalice of running the next government. Whoever that is, I'm sure we'll be facing another election later this year, with whoever's in charge of our faltering economy having to bear the brunt of the electorate's anger at how bad things will be by then. That's my forecast anyway, for what it's worth.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

E-Books Again

Further to my last entry there has been quite a bit of discussion of this issue on the BFS Forum.

Coincidentally, someone posted a link to this article on Shocklines: link

Will the increased popularity of e-books make normal print publishing collapse in the next two years? If so, I doubt this will affect the small independent presses, which already work off much smaller numbers than the mainstream publishers, especially those who largely make use of print-on-demand - which may itself be the next change with mainstream publishers too. Of course this will be one more devastating blow to bookshops as such. The future of book distribution looks more and more as if it will be online.

It's an uncertain future for writers - though it has always been a hazardous profession for those who have wanted to make a living out of it (almost as bad as wanting to be a professional actor!)  For those of us to whom writing is more of a hobby, things could in fact become easier with the rise in popularity of e-books and smaller print runs, with probably more independent publishers. Maybe.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

E-Books - Goblin Mire

It's quite a while now since Renaissance e-books "published" my fantasy novel Goblin Mire and so far it has earned zilch. Whether this is because it's a crap novel or because it has never been promoted enough, I don't know. It is available quite widely, including on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and on Renaissance e-books' own site, but without much success.

This makes me wonder whether e-books are any kind of answer, certainly without the backup of a printed version as well.

Or is it simply because I have been too lazy in promoting the book and have left it all to the publisher?

Interviewing Shaun Jeffrey

I spent quite a bit of time last night interviewing the writer Shaun Jeffrey via email for the next issue of Prism.

It was an interesting experience, and Shaun was very cooperative, even though it went on till quite late!  The beauty of this form of interviewing is it doesn't involve travel, phone bills and you have an accurate record of exactly what was "said". It also gives the interviewee time in which to consider their responses.

Monday 3 May 2010

Prism June 2010

I started work today on the next issue of Prism, which is due out in June.

I have the cover artwork - a splendid piece of work from an artist new to me called Howard Molloy. And Craig Lockley has sent me most of the book reviews he has available at the moment.

It should be a lot easier this time than the first I edited as I have the setup formatted.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Iron Man 2

Went last night with my son Dharamn to watch Iron Man 2. I've been looking forward to this for months - ever since watching trailers for it - and must say I wasn't at all disappointed. Robert Downey Jnr was again superb as Tony Stark. I can't imagine anyone being able to play that role to such perfection. Michael Rourke was a brilliant and menacing villain. And there was enough action to satisfy anyone. I also liked how they blended it all in with another story arc that has been going on in a few other Marvel films - and especially the clip at the very end for those who were dedicated enough to sit through the credits to catch it.

The humour in this film - as in the first Iron Man movie - works very well, thanks to Downey, who can make his character arrogant, irreverent and likeable at one and the same time. No mean feat. The special effects were excellent, and the story kept moving at a good pace, with no dull moments. And there were plenty of other interesting characters in the cast as well as the main ones.

I was always a fan of the original Iron Man comics years and years ago. In fact, I can remember when he first started as a very much different Iron Man in a dull grey, tubular iron suit, almost like a metal version of the Thing. It was a big move when he went from this to a yellow one, never mind the much more sophistifcated red and yellow one he was to get much later. Those were the days when American comics cost 6d - then 9d - in the UK and were shipped over in weekly batches as ballast, when they were available in every normal backstreet newsagents (I used to call them papershops then) and any kid could afford them.


And good to see another packed cinema too.