Friday, December 6, 2013

'Tis More Blessed - Giveaways Galore!

Today is the first week of 'Tis More Blessed - a month of glorious giveaways organised by Milo James Fowler!

There's a full list of participants below, and Milo has a list of today's offers on his blog.

I'm giving away a copy of my collection Transient Tales Volume 2 - 12 stories of science fiction, fantasy and horror featuring features a Halloween game with a chilling price, a call-centre at the end of the world, an unconventional quest for a portal to fairyland, a mother dealing with the loss--and the return--of a child, a desperate woman’s letter to her future self, a repentant scientist’s lament, an envious boy who gets more than he bargained for, and a misguided attempt to gain closure on a very dead love affair.

Getting a copy is very easy - all you have to do is drop me a blog/Facebook comment or a tweet recommending one of your favourite short stories. Then feel free to help yourself to an ebook in the format of your choice from Smashwords, with code WZ35H and the compliments of the season!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New story in Bete Noire Magazine - Seeing Red

Issue 13 of Bete Noire is a bumper one - now available, with a wonderfully creepy cover!

Includes my SF story 'Seeing Red'  - 1,059 words

His father had given them their official scientific name, but since it was in Latin and had fifteen syllables, nobody else ever used it. To the rest of the colony they were always bloodflowers.

Monday, November 25, 2013

'Tis More Blessed

Check out Milo's blog for a whole bunch of giveaways coming up for Christmas! I'll be offering a free download of my collection Transient Tales Volume 2, on the 6th December.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New story at Goldfish Grimm - The Portal to a Lost World

My creepy doppelganger story, 'The Portal to a Lost World' is available to read now at Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi - a great venue with the greatest name ever!

'Where are you?' I ask her. I ask that every time, and she never tells me. I'm very much afraid that one year, she will.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New story at Daily Science Fiction

My story of future nostalgia, 'Wolf, or Faith in the Future'- is now free to read at the Daily Science Fiction website. DSF is one of my favourite venues, and it's always a thrill to be featured there!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Story forthcoming at Daily Science Fiction

My SF flash 'Wolf, or Faith in the Future' will be emailed to subscribers to Daily Science Fiction on Monday 4th November. DSF produce a regular supply of AWESOME stories from both big names and new ones--it's well worth signing up for some brilliant free fiction!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Creepy Freebies 4!

The final Creepy Freebies giveaway is here! Novels, flash and short story collections - including the first volume of my Transient Tales series. Head over to Milo's blog for details of how to get yourself some cool Halloween reading material!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You Don't Want What I Get - Audio version

The audio version of my horror/crime story 'You Don't Want What I Get' is now live at Untied Shoelaces of the Mind. Check it out - Geoff Porter does a great job!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New story in Unidentified Funny Objects 2

 Received my contributor's copy of Unidentified Funny Objects 2 - a collection of comic science fiction and fantasy short stories, featuring the likes of Ken Liu, Robert Silverberg, Jim Hines, Jody Lynn Nye... and me!
Very thrilled to hold such a precious object in my hot little hands, and very much looking forward to reading it.

Kindle versions are out now, from Amazon UK and Amazon US


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Creepy Freebies!

I'm thrilled to be joining forces with Milo James Fowler and a bunch of other wonderful writers this October, with some creepy free fiction on offer (much better for you than trick or treating for chocolate!)

Every Friday at Milo's blog (subscribe here) there will be details of the treats available - check it out!

On 25th October, I'll be offering up free downloads of Transient Tales Volume 1 - a collection of 11 short stories of sci fi, fantasy and horror - details to follow on Milo's blog.

There will be other offers to come from  Aaron PolsonAnthony J. RapinoBob EcclesCate CardnerChristine RainsEllie GarrattErin ColeJames Garcia Jr., Jeff ChapmanLyndon Perry,Deborah WalkerRhonda ParrishRoland YeomansSimon Kewin, and Stoney Setzer.

The fun kicks off this Friday, so stop by Milo's blog!

Monday, September 23, 2013

New story at Untied Shoelaces of the Mind

You Don't Want What I Get, a 1,200 word horror/crime story, is out now in Issue 8 of the wonderful Untied Shoelaces of the Mind

'I don't like getting cut out,' he says. 'There's something you got going on, and I want in.'
'No, you don't,' I say. 

You Don't Want What I Get - horror - 1,200 words

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Story at SQ Magazine

My supernatural horror flash The Visiphorical Art is out now in SQ Magazine, Issue 10 - a story about living with ghosts:

There are remnants of lives all over the house, drying out and growing mould like abandoned plates of half-consumed meals. They lie in wait under the surface of reality like landmines, like unexploded bombs.

The Visiphorical Art - 919 words

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New story at The Drabblecast

Strange stories by strange authors for strange readers... Drabblecast presents my horror story 'Sweetie' today, free to read, listen to, or download.

'Admittedly, my little travelling show isn’t what it once was. We’ve been on the road for a long, long time. But I like to think that for the discerning customer, we still provide value for money. An experience you can’t get from the computer screen–-the modern freakshow–-despite all its tricks and special effects…'

*Warning: includes explicit language*

Sunday, June 16, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...


Far North, by Marcel Theroux. Loved this. I don't think I've ever met a post-apoc story I didn't like, and this was a great one. Reminded me of The Road, but less soul-crushing.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. An intriguing, page-turning central mystery that's satisfyingly solved, with fascinatingly damaged characters. Flynn is now officially going on my list of auto-buy authors.

Short stories: 198 - 237 of 500. Faves:

Water Finds Its Level by Matthew Bernardo at Lightspeed. Great story of merging universes, told as a personal love story that's neat, plausible and affecting.

Mongoose by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear at Clarkesworld. Fabulous horror romp about a monster-hunter and his monster partner. Loved the rich worldbuilding, the Lovecraftian descriptions and the wonderful relationship between Irizarry and Mongoose.

WRITING:  A post-apoc short, 'Jessica's Theory of Yak Herding,' an SF short, 'Personally Energised by Jaclyn Castleton,' and another 10.5k on the WIPs.

WATCHING:  Hannibal. I was very much looking forward to this, but 2 eps in I am... unexpectedly unengaged. Something isn't quite doing it for me, but I'm not sure what that is. Possibly some of it is baggage: I think Silence of the Lambs is a masterpiece, and Red Dragon is both one of my favourite books and favourite film adaptations--and features Ed Norton, one of my favourite actors. So there's a lot of 'still in love with the ex' going on, which could be a factor.

I'm also finding that this portrayal of Will Graham reminds me of the 'eccentric psychological genius calmed down by female shrink' in Perception, a show I didn't like. And the 'psychopath playing at being a good-guy crime-fighter' is being thoroughly and gloriously explored in Dexter, a show I adore. Mikkelsen's Lecter has the same kind of cool, opaque quality--which works, and makes sense in character terms, but without Dexter's intimate POV, it feels remote and hard to care about.  And the guy from Perception just got on my nerves, so neither comparison is helping me. I'm left with the feeling that it's all just been done already.

It's a good-looking show, but... maybe that's not helping, either. There's a sleekness and glossiness to it that takes away from the realism for me. The films had striking imagery too, but they felt grounded--and frightening--in a way that the show doesn't manage, somehow. The antler room, the mushroom-covered bodies--again, very memorable and very good-looking, but not as... something. Visceral? Personal? Affecting? Was it different in the films because we 'knew' the victims? I'm not sure.

Perhaps another factor is (making allowances for the fact that I have only seen 2 eps: this could be a premature judgement) that there seems to be no sniff of an arc story--other than the general Lecter one, which doesn't count because we all know what happens and it's about as exciting as watching the Star Wars prequels and wondering how it turns out for for Anakin Skywalker.

There's enough to like that I'll stick with it, but I was certainly hoping to like it *more*. So far, watching it is making me want to watch the films again, rather than Ep 3.

LOVING: The Spock v Spock Audi commercial. Hilarious, inspired, and better than some films I've seen lately.

PUBLISHING: Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings, a crime/horror short, at Black Treacle Magazine.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New story at Black Treacle - Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings

My crime/horror story Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings is now available to read is Issue 3 of Black Treacle:

Dominic thinks he's got enough trouble trying to deal with his crime-boss brother Marc, but that's before he meets Elena...

'You must really have a death wish,' Marc says, and she laughs like that's the funniest thing she's ever heard.

Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings 

Also available in epub, mobi & other formats at the Black Treacle site

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New story at The Journal of Unlikely Entomology

My 4k horror story 'Jeanette's Feast' is available now at The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, along with some brilliantly disturbing artwork by Justin Aerni. I have to say, I think Bert the Cockroach is one of my favourite characters :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane. Wonderful, charming romp about books, secret societies and Google. Loved it.

Currently about 25% into The Wine of Angels (Merrily Watkins 1) by Phil Rickman. This sounded like it would be right up my alley, but I'm struggling a bit to connect with it. Not quite sure why. Something about the voice, or the rotating POV, maybe? My last two favourite reads, Penumbra and City of the Dead, both had distinctive first-person narrators. It's also rather slow-paced, with not much sign of a compelling story problem so far. Stuff's happening, but at the minute I'm not sure how to answer the 'And why do we care?' question.

Short stories: 174 - 188 of 500. Faves:

A Perfect Possession from Now That You're Back by A.L. Kennedy: Gorgeously creepy and excellently-paced. The developing sense of 'something isn't right here' is wonderfully done, and the first person plural POV is a great choice, adding to the off-kilter feel.

A Man and His Parasite by Cat Rambo at SQ Magazine: Wonderfully complex story that manages to be chilling, sweet, dark and life-affirming, all at once.

Always, They Whisper by Damien Walters Grintalis at Lightspeed: Brilliant twist on an old myth.

An SF flash, an SF short and a horror short, plus another 3k on the rewrite of a novelette and the first chapter of a novel. Not sure where it all came from, but I like it!

Blitz: Jason Statham is always good value, Aiden Gillen gives great crazy, and I do like a bit of vigilante justice. Fun stuff.

Da Vinci's Demons: Really enjoyed the first ep, although the second didn't sustain my interest as much. Will have to see how it pans out.

Defiance: Liking this one a lot, even if it's not exactly overburdened with originality. This might be familiar ground, but the show's treading it well. You can't go wrong with having Julie Benz in anything, Jamie Murray as Stahma Tarr is wonderfully Cersei Lannister-esqe, and the sarcastic town doctor steals every ep with about two lines.

Dexter S7 finale: OMG. That's kind of all I've got. OMG

The new series of 24. After being teased with the film for so long, it's nice to know we're finally going to get some more Jack. Because as we know, Superman wears Jack Bauer pyjamas.

Watching Hannibal and The Fall, both of which we've got recorded but not seen yet. They look like they could be pretty decent.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Story sale to Black Treacle

Just signed contract for the sale of my 3,800 word horror/crime story 'Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings' to Black Treacle. Issue 3 is due out on 4th June 2013.

*does happydance*

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The World According to Me - interview & guest post

I have been out and about lately: my comic horror Not the Pizza Girl was Every Day Fiction's top story for March, and Aliza T Greenblatt interviewed me about it for Flash Fiction Chronicles. It was my first interview, and a lot of fun.

I also have a guest post about using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet for short stories, using my dark fantasy Never Leave Me as an example, at Dianna's Writing Den - many thanks to Dianna for inviting me!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Story - Destiny Fell in Love at Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction is one of my favourite sites, and I'm always thrilled to have a story there. My 754-word  fantasy story Destiny Fell in Love is available to read now.

Destiny craved stillness, but it was the one thing she could never have. She had to move on. How could she not?

Monday, April 22, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: Nocturnes by John Connolly. I love Connolly's Charlie Parker series, and the Parker novella 'The Reflecting Eye' is easily my favourite of the collection. A beautifully written and gorgeously creepy as ever. I also really enjoyed the other long story, 'The Cancer Cowboy Rides' - another creepy piece that reminded me of Stephen King. The rest of the short stories I didn't find up to be at the same level. There's some nice descriptive writing, but the majority are fairly basic 'man meets monster' stories--literally: the few female characters tended to BE the monster.

Also 'City of the Dead' by Sara Gran. This, I absolutely loved. Claire DeWitt is an unconventional but brilliant PI investigated a missing man in post-Katrina New Orleans, and her story grips from the off and never lets go. I adored the mix of hardboiled noir and mysticism, the devastated world is fantastically drawn, Claire is fascinating and easy to relate to, and there's an intriguing backstory/arc plot. The first time in a long while that I've finished a book and rushed straight off to buy the next one--only to find that it's not out yet :(

Short stories: 161 - 173 of 500. Fave this week was 'The Meat Forest' by John Haggerty in Shock Totem 3. A great horror that has a plot, interesting characters, brilliantly creepy worldbuilding and an affecting psychological punch.

WRITING: 'Variations on a Theme,' a horror flash, and another 8k on the novella.

WATCHING: Elementary, and deciding that, against all expectations, I like Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal of Sherlock better than Benedict Cumberbatch's. The superiority, detachment and ruthlessness are all still there, but the Miller Sherlock shows appealing flashes of vulnerability, and doesn't have the nasty, vicious streak the Cumberbatch version has. I still love the style and flair of the BBC show, but that Sherlock's behaviour towards people (particularly Molly) is sometimes hard to watch.  I *like* the Miller Sherlock as a person, which I could never say about the Cumberbatch. I've been quite surprised at how much difference that's made. I also love the way Lucy Liu's Watson is so much more her own person--so much more than just a sidekick or adjunct to Sherlock--and the way that neither she, nor their relationship, is sexualised.

PUBLISHING: A lit flash, 'Gravity Doesn't Love You,' in issue 6 of Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

ARRANGING: My first-ever guest post. I'm going to be writing about using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet in short stories, using my DSF story 'Never Leave Me' as an example, over at Dianna L Gunn's blog. In return, Dianna's going to do a rec piece for me. I feel all legitimate now :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: Grayson Manor Haunting by Cheryl Bradshaw. Quick, breezy paranormal mystery.

Short Stories: 143 - 160 of 500. Faves this week:

The Cry Room by Ted Kosmatka at Nightmare
Eerie story that works beautifully on both the literal and metaphorical levels.

The Coffin-Maker's Daughter by Angela Slatter at Nightmare
Fabulous ghost story with great writing and wonderfully nasty characterisation.

Leave Me the Way I was Found  by Christian A Dumais in Shock Totem #2
Very creepy, 'found-document' style flash about a fatal video. Nice modern-Lovecraftian vibe.

WRITING: 'The Visitors,' a SF flash, and 6,400 words on a new SF novella. Very much enjoying the long-form process so far.

WATCHING: A marathon of Whitechapel, one of my favourite shows. Season 3, however, is goddamn scary. So it's late at night, I'm alone in the house and I'm watching  episode 3.1, which ends with a shot of a family watching TV on the sofa, until the power goes out and they all get brutally murdered. I get up to change the DVD... and the power goes out. Ten minutes and one heart attack later it came back on, but, yeah. UNIVERSE WTF ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME?

IMPRESSED BY THE PRESCIENCE OF: This. So very, very accurate :)

HYPERVENTILATING WITH NERVOUS EXCITEMENT ABOUT:  The Syfy remake of Blake's 7. Words do not exist that can adequately describe how much I adored this show when I was a kid. Captain Kirk might have been my first love, but I soon threw him over for Avon--starting a life-long love of the snarky, ruthless, morally ambiguous and self-serving anti-hero. Preferably in black leather. OMG who are they going to cast? (Guys, if you need tips, may I humbly suggest Damien Molony? Thanks). They made this for about £7.50 an episode and it showed, but Merciful Zeus, was it glorious. Another upside is that I now get to rewatch the DVDs with the hubby, who's never seen it. And, somehow, managed to avoid hearing how it ends. Oh, this is going to be fun.

SELLING: Two stories this week! Gotta love a twofer: Coming Soon will be:

  • Jeanette's Feast, horror, in the next issue of The Journal of Unlikely Entomology 
  • Seeing Red, SF, in the October issue of Bete Noire. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Story sale - Bete Noire

April is proving productive so far! Very pleased to report that my SF short 'Seeing Red' will be appearing in the Special Double Anniversary issue of Bete Noire Magazine in October. Yay!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Story sale - The Journal of Unlikely Entomology

Very pleased that my cockroaches-and-cannibals story 'Jeanette's Feast' will be appearing in the upcoming issue of The Journal of Unlikely Entomology. Who doesn't love bugs?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Story News - Daily Science Fiction

My dark trad-fantasy story 'Never Leave Me' (W1S1 2012, week 44) will be emailed out to Daily Science Fiction's subscribers on Monday 15th April, and appear on the website a week later. This is my second appearance at DSF, which publishes some of my favourite stories. 'Thrilled' doesn't do it justice :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: 'Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking' by Susan Cain. This is an absolutely fascinating book. As an introvert myself, it was full of 'well, that explains a lot' moment.

Short Stories: 123 - 142 of 500. Faves this week:

Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson at Clarkesworld
Justifiably famous, this is gorgeously written with darkly creepy imagery and emotion. I'd imagine this hits people in different ways--it hit me as a meditation on the desire for pain and loss of self within relationships. Very powerful.

No Breather in the World but Thee by Jeff Vandermeer at Nightmare
Interesting take on the Lovecraftian 'unspeakable horror' that speaks to my love of aftermath stories. The fast-moving, multiple-POV style is rare in short stories, but it really works here, adding to the deep sense of dream-like paranoia.

WRITING: 'The Visiphorical Art,' a literary paranormal flash, and 2k words on a new SF story that's on schedule to become a novellette.

WATCHING: The finale of Being Human. Oh, show. Why did you wait until the very last episode ever to make me fall in love with Hal? I need the DVD boxset and someone to cast Damien Molony in something everything immediately. I need this man back on my telly. Also the first ep on the new season of Touch. Despite a deep and abiding twenty-five-year love of Kiefer Sutherland, I found this show unwatchable. Too many coincidences and too much cheese for my blood. But having heard that S2 was a bit of a reboot, I decided to try again - and so far, I'm very glad I did. This was a massive improvement, seeming almost like the pilot for a totally new show. No nicey-nicey, a proper story arc, interesting and engaging characters and Martin being proactive, resourceful and badass. Fingers crossed this continues!

ADMIRING: These. Both the sentiment and the pictures.

LAUGHING LIKE A LOON AT: This April Fool's submission received at Shimmer. Made me nostalgic for fanfic :)

RECORDING: One-Eyed Monster. From the synopsis, this is about Tara from Buffy battling the possessed-by-aliens detached penis of porn star Ron Jeremy. It may take a while to get up the courage to actually watch this.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New release: Shallow Cuts

SHALLOW CUTS is a collection of crime flash fiction: 20 bite-sized stories of murder and mayhem. Featuring a would-be comedienne who'll do anything to get a laugh, a fatal case of sibling rivalry, a newly-promoted gang boss who finds that life at the top isn't quite what he imagined, a young boy trying hard to live up to his father's expectations, and many more.

Full story listing:
Stop Me if You've Heard This Before
Speeding Towards Enlightenment
Today, the Part of Hannah Will Be Played by Summer Glau
Bring it On
Communication Skills
Like a Boss
Sacred Space
Based on a True Story
Full Service Package
The Rehabilitating Power of Conversation
They Do Things Better in Albuquerque
The Sacred Rule
To Show Him a Kindness
Damnable Behavior
Safe Place

Now available at Amazon UK / Amazon US / Smashwords

Monday, April 1, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: Moxyland, Lauren Beukes. A smart, gripping and disturbingly-plausible SF thriller. Enjoyed this one a lot.

Short stories: 110 - 122 of 500. Faves this week:

Memories of the Knacker's Yard  by Ian Creasey at Lamplight
Interesting mix of ghost story and police procedural that makes good use of one of my favourite elements, transfer of memory.

Giggles by Jeremy C Shipp in Attic Clowns
Surreal, creepy story about apocalypse-by-clown.

WRITING: A new 1,600 word ghost story.

WATCHING: In the Flesh, the new BBC3 zombie drama. The premise is the same as Joy Kennedy-O'Neill's Aftermath (Strange Horizons), one of my absolute favourite stories ever--there's a cure, and the ex-zombies are trying to go back to normal life. The world appears slightly less broken here--the vibe is more of a civil war or military invasion than an apocalypse--but the issues of responsibility, adjustment and guilt are still very much forefront. The situation for Kieran and his family is doubly fascinating, given that he was a suicide. It also looks like they're going to make good use of 'it's different when it's MY family,' which is a trope I love. So far, I like it a lot.

Also Being Human season 5. I think I was too far into Mitchell-withdrawal to appreciate season 4, but I've come round to Hal a lot, and I love his relationship with Tom. Will be interesting with the US version starts, to compare another set of characters.

LISTENING TO: Trivium and Slipknot. Very loudly. These boys going RAAARRR! on the stereo is about the only thing that drowns out my next-door neighbour going RAAARRR! at her kids.

Also Heaven, by Depeche Mode, which I love. Seems very strange to think of these boys as elder statesmen now, but I suppose they are. I think my inner body clock stopped somewhere around age 23, so I always imagine that the 80s was just last decade. It regularly shocks me when I realise just how long ago it really was.

SELLING: 'Destiny Fell in Love,' a fantasy flash, to Every Day Fiction. This is one of my favourite sites, so it's always a thrill to have a story there. I expect it to run in May.

The Write 1, Sub 1 March Monster Blogfest! 
Stats this month
Written new: 
1.  Re: Corrections to Consciousness Module 14.6 (Memories: Age 31-60) - SF - 692 words
2. Can't See a Good Thing - Near-future SF - 2,564 words
3. Game Over - SF - 2,699 words
4. Sweetie - Horror - 1,662 words
5. Something Worth Hearing - Horror - 1,581 words

20 in total - 6 new, 14 resubs/reprints

19 in total - 7 personal, 12 form

'Destiny Fell in Love', from Every Day Fiction. Also had stories advanced to the 2nd round at Daily Science Fiction, Waylines, Apex, Andromeda Spaceways, Bete Noire and the Journal of Unlikely Entomology.

Not the Pizza Girl, a comic horror, at Every Day Fiction

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: The King of Lies by John Hart. I love Hart's writing style, deluded narrators and dysfunctional families, so this was always going to be right up my alley.

Short stories: 98 - 109 of 500. Faves this week:

Sun Dogs by Brooke Bolander at Lightspeed
Gorgeous story about Laika, the dog sent into space in 1957. I have a weakness for unusual POVs, and this is a great one, managing to describe both a familiar environment and an imagined one through the filter of what is effectively an alien consciousness. The dog's experiences and memories are heartbreaking, tempered by an unexpected but highly satisfying happy ending.

In Metal, In Bone by An Owomoyela at Eclipse Online
Quietly emotional story describing the tragedy of war that's both bleak and beautiful.

The Life and Deaths of Rachel Long by Kristine Kathryn Rusch - self-pubbed
Atmospheric and evocative piece about the power of music, idealism and obsession. Manages neatly to be uplifting and unsettling at the same time.

WRITING: Revising 'Can't See a Good Thing,' a 2,537 word near-future SF, and writing 'Sweetie,' a new 1,600 word horror about a man and his tarantula.

WATCHING: The Following. Still loving it, but every ep I have to work all over again to believe the central premise that Carroll's cult exists at all. 'We all want somewhere to belong,' says Parker, and yes, that's probably true--except, surely, for sociopathic serial killers, who are not usually known for team spirit and playing well with others? Putting this lot together should be like herding cats--surely the wheels have got to start coming off this well-oiled machine soon?

LISTENING TO: All You Need is Now by Duran Duran. One of my favourite albums of theirs, this makes  great exercise music. Repeated plays of 'Being Followed' definitely influenced the paranoid vibe of the SF story.

CHECKING OUT: Wattpad. Anyone have any experience, either as writer or reader? On my first browse around, I saw a lot of nifty cover art but... maybe not so much nifty writing?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

Whiskey Sour by JA Konrath. I do like a good female tough-guy, and this fast-moving pulp detective novel has a great one in Lt. Jack Daniels.

Short stories: 87 - 97 of 500. Faves this week are both from Apex:

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky 
Not a new core plot (is there such a thing?) but a fresh execution - beautiful, in a whimsically melancholic way.

Death Comes Sideways to the Mall by William Alexander
Fun story with darker undertones, in an absurdist mundane way that reminded me of Kelly Link.

WRITING: A 2,700 word SF horror.

WATCHING: Avengers Assemble. Before I saw it, I expected I would like it a lot more than I actually did. And on rewatching, I realised I'd remembered liking it a lot more than I actually did. Hmm. I'm not sure why. I love Mark Ruffalo's Hulk and Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, and I like all the others, so I'm not quite sure why it always ends up feeling like less than the sum of its parts. Maybe because I never read the comics so don't bring any history/resonance to it?  I'm sure people who never watched Firefly probably think Serenity is a good film, but if you're already a fan then it makes it better?

VOTING ON: The Pseudopod Flash Fiction Contest. You need to join the Escape Artist forum to view the stories and comments, but it's easily done and well worth it-- it's fascinating to see people's comments on not only the stories themselves, but how they decided which ones to vote for, & how it's not always the ones they expect.

PUBLISHING:  Comic fantasy 'Not the Pizza Girl' at one of my very favourite story sites, Every Day Fiction. Since I used to be a mobile beautician, and on many occasions drove miles to a client's house only to find they'd completely forgotten having booked me, I completely share Lisa's frustration here :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

New story at Every Day Fiction - Not the Pizza Girl

My W1S1 from Week 15 last year: a comic fantasy about an accidental demonic infestation in Essex. Because, you know, that happens :)

Not the Pizza Girl

Sunday, March 10, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

Blade Trinity: Damn, but I love this film. Wesley Snipes is fabulously badass, Ryan Reynolds lets rip with some of the most amusing profanity since Dexter's Debra Morgan, and Dominic Purcell is the most glorious Dracula ever. His face when he's in the goth shop (vampire vibrators!) is priceless. Also love the moment when they give Blade the Dracula comic--very Lost Boys. 

Supernatural Season 6: In the 'what's your favourite show ever' stakes, the answer would have to be Buffy. There are also very special places in my heart for Prison Break and Life on Mars. But although I was never in the fandom, the show I probably rewatch the most is Supernatural. If shows are like relationships, this is the friend I hung out with for a few years before realising I'd fallen in love. One of my favourite things about Season 6 is Soulless!Sam--I like the way that they didn't make him into a different character altogether--an evil Hyde, or Angelus. Instead, he's recognisably still Sam, just a super-pragmatic and  ruthless version. And frequently hilarious, too. The scene in the UFO-abduction ep, where Dean is fleeing for his life through a cornfield, yelling about anal probes, and Sam is listening to him on the phone while sitting in the bar, going, 'Yeah, another beer, please,' is hysterical.

WRITING: A 3.5k SF thriller.

SHUDDERING AT: Tarantula growing antlers. Sometimes, Nature totally does horror writers' jobs for them.

LOOKING FOR: Kurt Vonnegut recs. What's the next best one to read, after Slaughterhouse Five?

CREATING: Cover art for my crime flash fiction collection, Shallow Cuts. Coming soon!

Monday, March 4, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: The English Monster, by Lloyd Shepherd. From the first 50 pages, I think I'm going to like it. Nicely described, atmospheric, intriguing setup.

Short stories: 80-86 of 500. Faves this week are:

The Infill Trait by CC Finlay at Lightspeed.
A really interesting Military Experiment Gone Wrong story with a wonderful, fracturing, freewheeling voice perfectly suited to the increasingly lost and paranoid narrator.

The Finite Canvas by Brit Mandelo at
Beautifully-judged story of murder, betrayal and (possible) redemption with both a gripping plot and complex, layered characterisation.

WRITING: A horror short about an empathic child and a humour SF flash about memory and blackmail.

  • Nashville. From the first two eps, I like it a lot. Good characters, interesting situation, murky backstory, hints of nefarious deeds in the offing. And I like the music, too, which I didn't expect to.
  • The original Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes TV series. I never saw this show, saw any of the films or read any of the Conan Doyle stories, until after I'd already seen the Cumberbatch reboot and Elementary--both of which I love. It led to the strange effect of watching this and having my first reaction be, 'Ooh, a version where Sherlock and Watson are both Victorian gentlemen! How radical.' And then I facepalm because, yeah. 

WISHING I HADN'T CLICKED ON: This. Why did I do it? I really, really, did not need to see this.

SELLING: 'Not the Pizza Girl,' a comic fantasy about an uninvited party guest to Every Day Fiction (it's due to run on March 11th) and 'You Don't Want What I Get,' a horror about monsters and gangsters, to Untied Shoelaces of the Mind (it'll run when Issue #8 is filled). I like getting too use this category!

WEEKENDING: in Edinburgh, since my husband had to go up anyway, for work. Touristing, whisky-sampling and taking plenty of photos of spooky alleys and graveyards, to be used as future book covers :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: The Harlequin by Laurell K Hamilton. I can't seem to quit this series, although I'm not entirely sure why. Possibly it's two parts nostalgia, one part car-crash voyeurism and one part instruction of the 'what not to do' variety. This one has Edward, which is always good value, and it also has more talking than sex, which hasn't been the case for a while. I just wish so much of the talking wasn't slut-shaming.

Short Stories: 69-80 of 500. Faves this week:

The Wanderers, by Bonnie Jo Shufflebeam at Clarkesworld 
The voice is wonderful, with just the right amount of 'offness' to be credible and intriguing without becoming incomprehensible. There's a dark sense of glee in the narrator's anticipation of violence, and an unexpected pathos when it doesn't pan out--like a little boy crying because the flies he was going to pull the wings off are already dead.

I Heard You Got a Cat, I Heart You Named Him Charles by M. Bennardo at Daily Science Fiction.
A perfect flash, with so much story told in so few words.  Plus, this is creepy with a capital CREEP.

WRITING: A 4k contemporary fantasy about a goddess who goes for life coaching.

  • Django Unchained, which I thought was tremendous: some absolutely wonderful performances. 
  • The first Black Mirror, 'Be Right Back'. The central idea was almost identical to that used in Caprica, but--possibly because this was so much more 'right around the corner'-- it was far, far creepier here. I spent most of it cowering, yelling 'haven't you ever seen any piece of science fiction EVER? This stuff Does Not End Well.' The actual ending, although still very unsettling, came as kind of a relief. 
  • The Losers, which was a very generic action film but really made me miss John Winchester. 

  • When you hear a cover version of a song before the original, do you tend to prefer the cover?
  • What percentage, roughly, of the stories in any given issue of a magazine would you buy for your own, if you had one?

BEING GRATEFUL FOR: the fact that beginners can benefit from the wisdom of those who came before us, like this by Helena Bell on cover letters. Gotta love the Internet!

PUBLISHING: What Doesn't Kill You, a 4,500 dark fantasy from Transient Tales Vol 1, as a standalone e-short. It's great that we can now release stories individually, like singles, as a taster. Gotta love the Internet part 2! (Link goes to Smashwords: Amazon in progress)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. I found this easy to appreciate and admire, but a little less easy to love.

Short stories:  63 - 68 of 500. Faves this week both come from Daily Science Fiction:

The Needs of Hollow Men by K A Rundell: I love empath stories, and this is a good one. Excellent internal descriptions and an unexpectedly sweet finish.

For the People by Ronald D Ferguson: If you can buy the premise (and in the increasingly-virtual world, it gets easier each day) this is a satisfying story.

WRITING: a 3.5k cannibal horror story, plus 2k of a lightly-comic superhero story.

WATCHING: The Following, with Kevin Back and James Purefoy. Some of my top narrative kinks are charismatic sociopaths, manipulative puppetmasters, broken obsessives and people who go to insane lengths. This show was MADE for me. Also Rizzoli and Isles, which I love more and more each ep. It's so nice to see a female bromance (is there a word for this?) for a change.

LISTENING TO: Battle Born, by The Killers. Great album, IMO their best since Hot Fuss.

SHOPPING FOR: my holiday: Muse, The Killers, Slipknot and Rammstein t-shirts. Roll on New York!

WORRYING ABOUT: having a money spider lay eggs in my brain after I tried to lift it out of my hair and accidentally snorted it up my nose instead.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

READING: Locke & Key Vol 4, Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Love, love LOVE this series. Fantastic artwork, brilliant story. Wonderful sense of menace throughout. Highly recommended.

Short stories: 51 - 62 of 500. Favourite this week was
Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love, by Merrie Haskell at Apex
Sweet robot love story in an interesting setting. How can you not love a character called Robot!Ophelia?

WRITING: A 2.5k horror-y, slipstream-y story with an unreliable, secretive narrator. Could be too oblique? We'll see.

WATCHING: 'Ricochet,' Dude, that was not a good film. Julie Benz and Gary Cole are always good value, but that was the only upside. Normally this kind of twisty-suspense story relies a lot on misdirection, but this was so badly put together that I had no idea where it was trying to direct me in the first place. Out of many, many issues, what bugged me the most was (!!SPOILER WARNING!!) that when Elise fakes her own death, a body is fished out of the river wearing her dress, and identified as her. And this poor woman, who was presumably murdered to make this possible (unless Elise keeps a stash of dead clones on ice, in case they come in handy?) is never mentioned again, by anybody--not even the supposed-good-guy cops. I just kept thinking, doesn't anyone care about her? Was she just the wrong lookalike in the wrong place? Maybe there's a companion-piece story in there, telling her side.

QUOTING: Dean Wesley Smith: 'The truth is that the best way to sell books is to write a lot, work on learning how to be a better storyteller constantly, get your work in front of editors, readers or both, and plan for the long haul.' You can't argue with that.

TAKING: Dean Wesley Smith's advice to Think Like A Publisher and set my production schedule & deadlines for the rest of the year. Publisher-Me is happy. Writer-Me is gibbering in terror. If I'd known I was going to be such a hard-ass boss, I might  have re-thought this gig.

LISTENING TO: my favourite TV theme music, from Romanzo Criminale - you can hear it from 3.30 to 6.00 on  this clip

WISHING: that this was real. If someone could just nip through a wormhole into the parallel universe where it exists and pick me up the boxset, that'd be awesome. Ta.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly

READING: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. Privilege subtext, where the reader knows more than the character, is a great storytelling technique, but it's slightly overdone here -- rather than me feel superior and creating tension, it made Dex come across as a little obtuse. But that said, I do love this series and it's fun to see characters, such as Doakes, that aren't in the TV show any more.

Short stories: up to 50 of 500. Faves include:

Child-Empress of Mars by Theodora Goss reprinted at Lightspeed
I've never read the 'Mars adventure' stories that this is riffing off (note to self: you should rectify that) but it was still interesting to see this kind of thing done from the aliens' perspective, and I liked the themes of performance and storytelling. The world-building initially seemed random and overwhelming, but quickly became charming.

Dysphonia in D Minor by Damien Walters Grintalis at Strange Horizons
Sweetly melancholy story of love and destruction, using an interesting song-creates-buildings metaphor as backdrop. It's a shame we don't find out more about Lucia's motivations, but it's still an effective story.

WRITING: a short SF tale set on a red planet and featuring the theme of 'wherever you go, there you are'. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

WATCHING: Utopia, on Channel 4. Only seen the pilot, but what a pilot it was. Interesting, diverse characters, an involved plot, great bad guys and a nightmarish, creepy vibe. Definitely coming back for more.

LEARNING: how to create epub and mobi files by hand, without using conversion software. It takes a while to get your head round it, and it's fiddly, but once you've got the basic structure (and templates) down, it's not that hard. And you know you're getting nice, clean, stable ebooks that a) do what you want them to do and b) are easily updated with new links etc. It takes time, but it's worth it. Which leads on to:

PUBLISHING: Transient Tales Volumes 1 and 2 - 20k collections of short SF, fantasy & horror stories.

Volume 1: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Smashwords / Kobo

Volume 2: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Smashwords

FINDING USEFUL: The Submission Grinder by Diabolical Plots. I always kept my subs on a spreadsheet (because, spreadsheets!) so I didn't feel the loss of Duotrope that much, but I did miss that sense of being in a Rejections Submissions Gang. It's nice to see all the reports coming in -- makes it feel that much less lonely.

WORKING WITH:  the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night, which gives surprisingly upbeat, positive, self-help style readings. It creates a bit of cognitive dissonance to get a 'Woo, yeah, you can do it!' pep talk from vampires, but I like it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Transient Tales Volume 2 now available

From  Amazon UK / Amazon US Smashwords  (Kobo pending)

Learning to do all this stuff by hand has been a challenge, but one I've thoroughly enjoyed. I once did one of those 'Are you right or left brained?' tests and came out squarely in the middle, so my brain loves both the unrestrained wildness of writing the stories and the ordered, logical process of making them look pretty. Which is quite handy for a self-publisher :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

This Week, I Have Been Mostly...

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Nice to see a book live up to the hype for once. Loved every calculating, misdirecting, manipulative line.

Short stories: Up to 40 of my 500 target for the year. Faves:

Final Corrections, Pittsburgh Times-Dispatch by M Bennardo  at Daily Science Fiction
This is great fun, with a tremendous dry sense of humour. Original format, and a lovely example of what flash does best: telling you the story without actually telling you the story.

The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairytale of Economics by Daniel Abraham, reprinted at Lightspeed
This kind of reminded me of a serious Discworld story. Thoughtful and entertaining, and just goes to show what you can do with Word of the Day-style prompts.

Luna e Volk by Mercedes Yardley in Beautiful Sorrows
Not everything in this collection  has worked for me so far, but this was gorgeous--a poetically violent and tragic love story.

A 5k horror story about two sisters and an ill-judged deal with a demon. Just Say No, kids.

American Horror Story: Asylum. When you find yourself watching from behind a cushion, muttering, 'Please don't let the deranged Nazi rape the dead nun,' this is the only show it can be. It's a mad mix of every horror trope there's ever been, and I love it to death.

That it looks like JJ Abrams is going to direct the new Star Wars films, and a fair few people seem to think this is not good because he fucked up the Star Trek reboot. Yikes, did he? I thought that film was brilliant! It always worries me when that kind of thing happens, because I think, what did I miss?

How to code html, and build epub & mobi files by hand. It's been a hell of a learning curve, but I think I just about climbed it.

One of these: zombie teddy bear How awesome?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Transient Tales series - cover art

Covers for the first two volumes in my Transient Tales series of short stories. They're due to be available at Amazon etc by the end of the month.

This is all very exciting! As Dean Wesley Smith says, I love this new world of publishing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New story at Every Day Fiction

I love EDF, and it's always a thrill to have a story there.

Out Shopping in Hyperspace - 594 words - SF
'Space vegetables?' Joe shook his head. 'You're such a baby, Mia.'

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Stats

Total pieces written: 95 (63 flash, 30 short stories, 1 novelette)

Rewritten or scrapped: 30
Published: 22
Awaiting publication: 1
Banked for collections: 26
In Revision: 4

Submissions: 124
Acceptances: 23
Rejections: 96
Pending responses: 12 (3 at 2nd round stage)
Sales: 5 (1 pro, 1 semi-pro, 3 token)

W1S1: 42 weeks out of 52

I don't think that's too shabby, but it can (of course) always be better! I want to write more shorts than flash next year, a couple of novelettes and at least one novella. And make 200 subs.