Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Read the End First - Paving the way to The Stokers

Okay, okay! I admit I may have had my foot a little heavy on the exaggerator with the post title, but it got your attention didn't it? And that's no mean feat at times, nasty little hobbitses you lot. So, let's get back to reality shall we?

I'm proud to announce that Read the End First, a collection of 24 stories by 24 authors, set in 24 time zones and 24 apocalyptic events, which contains my story, Hammered and Nail, has made the Bram Stoker 2012 recommended reading list.

I don't know about you lot, but I'm taking that as pretty prestigious! The book has been read and blurbed by some big names, all of whom are blowing the proverbial trumpet about it. So it would only be right of me to advise you to purchase it, and to provide you with a link below where you can do just that. I swear sometimes my generosity knows no bounds.

Here is what some of said big names are saying about it:
"Read The End First is wonderful collection of devious and inventive tales about the end of the world. The apocalypse has never before been this much fun!" - NY Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry, author of DEAD OF NIGHT and ASSASIN'S CODE. 
"Read The End First is a chilling and utterly unique take -- or rather, 24 different takes -- on the end of the world as we know it. These stories present a fractured prism of apocalypse served up every way imaginable. Open it anywhere and be afraid." - Joe Schreiber, author of STAR WARS: DEATH TROOPERS and CHASING THE DEAD.
But enough about that, you can find all these compliments and more on the link above and in the book itself. For now, I'm going to provide a teensie little excerpt of Hammered and Nail just to wet your whistles...

     “Civilians are urged to stay indoors. The disease is aggressively contagious and can be passed via saliva, skin contact, even through the air. The government is trying to contain the infection, but unconfirmed reports from foreign media indicate that this has reached pandemic proportions. Some fear it is too late, that this is The End.”
     The newsreader stopped mid-stride and glanced to her right. At a signal from someone behind the scenes, her head whipped back to the camera. She opened her mouth to continue, but nothing came out. Her terrified eyes stared out into the waiting world. The studio lights picked out a shiny tear that rolled down her cheek.
     The camera panned in a rapid one-eighty to show one of the crew members on the floor, his back arched so sharply that only his feet and his head touched the ground.
Some of the onlookers in the shop gasped and turned to the arms of those beside them for comfort.
     Lars left the building. There was pandemonium on the streets. People ran, people fell, others hunched over fallen comrades. Lars wanted to scream at them to get indoors like the TV had said.
     His injured foot throbbed and weighed heavy on the end of his leg like a guilty secret. As he turned a corner he was hit with a mental image of kissing Kari on the night he had hurt his foot, and the reporter's statement came back to him like a malevolent spirit that refused to let him be. The disease is aggressively contagious and can be passed via saliva, skin contact, even through the air.
     The footpaths were littered with people. It was like a scene from some bloodless battlefield. He stepped around them and hurried on. Not far now. His brain had shut down, refusing to allow any thought filter in and be churned around. But when he glanced down a side alley and saw a scrawny cat feasting on the fingers of one arched infected, his stomach churned and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. This time it was Kari's words that came back to him. I could see. Feel. And hear everything.
     He let out a roar and the foul animal scarpered...

You know where to go if you want more...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep 'em Coming

Hot on the heels of my last post, and I mean literally as I clicked the publish button, I received an email notification of a new review for Red Wine and Words. And whaddyaknow, it was a fiver again. Not only that, but it came 'highly recommended.'

Some of the highlights of the review for me were having the book described as 'subtle horror at its best,' and the fact that the reviewer found himself thinking of some of the stories days after he had read them. This to me, is one of the best compliments I could have received. I have experienced that myself on a few occasions and have always aimed to recreate that effect in my writing because I feel, as does this reviewer, that it is 'a sign of good writing, and fantastic story-telling.'

This is a really well written review, and in-depth. Give it a read at:

And lads, keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stars in the Bag

Red Wine and Words has received it's fifth, yes you heard me, fifth five star review on Amazon. I gotta say, I don't think I'll ever get tired of reading reviews. Therefore I invite one and all and any who have purchased Red Wine and Words and read it to throw up an auld review and tell me what you think. Good reviews will be greatly received, bad reviews will be deleted. (Joke.)

You can read the newest review at:

Or you can read all the current reviews at:

Again, anyone who wants to review my book is more than welcome. The more reviews, the more attention I get, and we all know how I revel in that. So, if you've got something to say, say it ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Horror in 20 Words

I remember back in the days of yore, when I first considered myself a writer despite the drivel I produced, I got back in contact with my old English teacher to get her opinion on a 'novel' I had just finished. Bless the poor woman's soul, but she laboured through it, and tried with the kindest possible hints to tell me it was shite. 

Something she said to me then stuck with me (as much of what she said did, seen in the dedication of Red Wine and Words) even though I rejected it at the time. She asked me if I'd ever considered writing short stories to help learn some discipline. Me, with my unquenchable naivety back then said, nope, nope, I want to be a novelist. Stubborn much?

Well, as you may be aware, I did try my hand at some shorts, but only after long, lonely and uncountable years of rejecting my calling because I was sulking over a string of well deserved rejections. And immediately the acceptances began to roll in. Thirty-odd published short stories and a collection of my own later, I've come to appreciate a strict word count and the lessons it breeds. One must learn to conserve words, to be as minimalist as John Pawson's box room. And oftentimes the less word-heavy a piece of writing, the more quality it holds.

Recently I've taken this a step further. Neck deep in a project that I was struggling to drag into the realms of noveldom, I was getting bogged down by words. My writing was getting stale, the pressure was mounting. And lo, on the horizon, a glorious star in the form of a weirdly titled group on Facebook appeared: 20-Word Horror Fiction.

The rules are simple - write a horror fiction, in no more, no less than 20 words. Says I to myself, there's no way, with my waffling tendancies, that I'm going to be able to write a horror in twenty words. Sure, 'tisn't possible. But, being the stubborn fool I mentioned before, I do love myself a challenge. So, without further ado, I set about to write me a twenty word horror story.

The result was somewhat surprising. I found the more I did, the more I could do. When at first I tended to fall a little short or a little over on the word count, as I continued things would just come to me and when I got the chance to type them out, they were bang on the twenty words.

And that's not all. No Siree! When I wound up a quality day of jotting down twenty word stories and started into the real work of writing my novel, I discovered that my writing had turned to poetry. Whereas before each word was like pulling teeth, now they came freely and without coercion, and they were pretty, they complimented each other, they flowed. There's something about trying to pack a beginning, a middle, and an end into just 20 words that pokes that creative gland and encourages it to secrete masses of pure, shining inspiration.

Granted, I doubt any of these mini-gems will win me a Nobel prize for literature or anything, but they sure were fun, and, as it happens, I'm quite proud of some of them. 

And far be it for me to deprive the world of such genius. Therefore I have decided to add a new page to the blog and share these minute horrors as they come. Watch this space...