Friday, 20 October 2017

Forename Capitalisation

Which is correct?
  • K.D. Wordman?
  • K. D. Wordman?
  • KD Wordman?
It's a tricky one. Basically, style guides differ on this. Especially because, technically, all the variants are correct.

According to Hart’s Rules (chapter six: Names) it would be K. D. Wordman with a space. BUT! They admit spaces and points are not always used, and they also make a mistake: they use J. K. Rowling as an example, when it is really J.K. Rowling with no space (see her Website/Twitter - it's something Wikipedia gets wrong too).

Incorrect, Wikipedia

According to newspaper styles such as Guardian Style (p160) it would be KD Wordman. Personally, I think that looks weird outside of newspapers.

For an author choosing how they wish to appear, and using multiple initials for their forenames, my general advice is to either pick a style guide and stick to it for consistency; or look at what other authors who write in your genre do, especially well-known ones. Hence using J.K. Rowling as an example.

No space between J. and K.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Lost Solace Print Copies

"We women must stick together. I'm going to paw through the book on Halloween."
-- Dolly The Cat

The Lost Solace paperback is available! It was released for sale on 15th October.

Blurb and details here. Early review here.

Where Can I Get Lost Solace?

It's available from the Buy My Books links, including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

You could request a copy in your nearest bookshop if it isn't already in stock. Another option is to ask your local library to order a copy, which won't cost you anything, and means other local readers will get a chance to see the book. In both cases the details below will be useful:

Title: Lost Solace
Author: Karl Drinkwater
Publisher: Organic Apocalypse
Book Length: 273 pages
Print ISBN: 978-1-911278-11-5

The RRP is £7.50.

E-book Availability

The e-book will be available some time after Halloween. More info here (and please vote for it here - that could lead to you receiving a free copy!) For now, if you want to read it for Halloween, you will need a print copy.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Karl Is Now A Member Of The Horror Writers Association

My post-celebration face

Good news: I am the newest member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA)!

I'm an "active" voting member, too: this professional category of membership has an eligibility requirement to have sold thousands of copies of a title in a space of time; my application was based on the success of my recent horror collection.

Even though horror is only one of the genres I write in, it's the one I am best known for, so it's a big deal to be recognised in this way - especially in the month of Halloween!

The HWA is a global organisation, and was formed in 1985 with the help of many great horror writers, including Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz.

The HWA also run the Bram Stoker Awards, and I was proud to be on the preliminary ballot for the award earlier this year.

One of HWA's missions is to encourage interest in and appreciation of quality horror, and I'm glad to be involved in the same enterprise.

[If you'd like to congratulate me, I am still begging for votes over on Kindle Scout!]


Thursday, 12 October 2017

I Shudder At Restrictions And Film Companies - DRM Strikes Again

I Like Horror

A friend recently suggested I'd like the film service Shudder. And they were right, in that it got my interest straight away, with its wide range and curated collections. It seemed like such a good option. I love horror! Most of the films I watch are horror films. I don't have a TV - never have - so on the rare times I watch stuff it is films, or old series like Hammer Horror, played on a laptop connected to a projector. So I thought - Shudder will be great! I could picture myself subscribing permanently.

Sadly, much as I love horror, I hate DRM and restrictions (as my many posts on the subject illustrate). And like all the mainstream film streaming services I've looked at, Shudder is also rife with DRM and restrictions to the point that it is unusable for me. It doesn't work with my setup, my viewing preferences, or my devices and hardware. It should do - all my gadgets are capable of displaying films in pretty much any format - but the problems with Shudder and the like are all to do with DRM and arbitrary restrictions from film companies and services.

Normal Film Viewing Scenarios

First, let me clarify the two main scenarios where I would have watched the films.

1. On the sofa, laptop hooked up to the projector. The films could be via the browser (I prefer Firefox) or a special program, that doesn't bother me. But ideally they can be downloaded in advance of watching. Why? Because my broadband speed is merely okay. Sometimes I can watch streamed HD films without many problems. But if neighbours start big downloads then it affects the contention rate, and the speeds slow down. Ditto if someone else in my house starts using the Internet, or if Windows decides to force software updates on me. Then films stutter badly, pause, need buffering. It really ruins the immersion when that happens. Almost as bad as watching a film at the cinema when someone in the row in front keeps talking. If the film can be downloaded in advance it gets round this common problem.

2. The second scenario is watching films on my Kindle Fire HD in bed in the dark with headphones. There's something creepy about it, up close to the small screen surrounded by blackness. Great for horror. Again, downloading in advance is better, for the reasons given, plus because I turn off the wi-fi router downstairs at night before locking up. No point wasting electricity and resources, or risking fires - I know someone whose house burned down, a fire caused by a radio that was left plugged in with the socket turned on, even though the device wasn't in use. I'll avoid that (unlikely-but-possible) risk, thanks.

Neither viewing scenario is bizarre or uncommon. Still, I decided to contact Shudder and just make sure that at least one of these two scenarios was possible - but ideally both.

Shudder Won't Work With Them

Guess what? Neither will work with Shudder.

With regards to the living room laptop they told me: "We do not support HDMI compatibilities at this time, so a computer connected to a projector will unfortunately not work with our service." "HDMI nor VGA is supported at this time." So they even restrict what cables you use and what you watch the films on.

Also "we do not allow for movies to be downloaded and watched without a connection." That's pretty useless then for anyone in a rural area with slow broadband speeds.

No joy with my Kindle Fire HD either. As well as there being no offline option: "We do not support mobile browsers on phones or tablets (android or iOS)" and "we are not compatible with Kindle Fire". I only found the latter out after trying to install the Shudder App from the Amazon Store and getting a raft of error messages.

This is why you can't believe the marketing when you look at a service. Always look into the detail of how you would use it, because behind the lists of promising features, there are usually hidden lists of restrictions. Although this kind of thing should be clear from their website, it isn't, and required multiple Twitter messages and emails to find out.

Let me emphasise: there's nothing broken or non-standard about my hardware. It is fully capable of displaying video. The projector and Kindle screen will display whatever is sent to it without any problem, from browsers or software. Distributors don't have to do anything to make that magic work, that's the beauty of it. For it not to work it means the service itself is adding problems where they shouldn't exist.

DRM And Restrictions Piss Me Off

Honestly, DRM and arbitrary restrictions really piss me off. They are based on the tacit assumption that customers are all potential criminals and can't be trusted. And the people who suffer are the legitimate customers, not the pirates. I once had to return a brand new projector. It wasn't broken - it worked fine. But the Macrovision signal film companies added to many DVDs degraded the signals so much that the films became unwatchable. It's the usual false positive DRM creates. I owned the DVDs, I owned the hardware, and I was just trying to watch them, but DRM kicked in and prevented it. It took months of aggravation to pinpoint the cause and argue my case for a replacement projector even though, technically, it worked fine. I almost lost £1,000 on that one, with no comebacks against the people adding DRM to purposefully break things.

Other Industries Are Slowly Ditching DRM

The music industry gave up the battle years ago, and have benefited ever since. I buy more MP3s now than I ever did. I love music. And the music industry saves a fortune on ineffective DRM systems. Now people who want to buy music but avoid DRM restrictions can do that. Fantastic, we all win!

In the games industry GOG sells games that are DRM-free, none of that broken Denuvo crap (thankfully the publishers of Inside and Doom later removed Denuvo, so I could go and buy their games - I loved Inside). I buy loads of games from GOG. More than I'll ever get round to playing, I imagine. Great games like Witcher 3, Soma, Observer, Outlast 2, Hellblade, The Solus Project, and Little Nightmares. GOG even sell some DRM-free films such as The Frame, Ink etc.

In the book industry the smart players avoid adding DRM. It only annoys and inconveniences legitimate customers, not the pirates. Even when books have DRM it can be easily bypassed. Heck, even print copies can be ripped. I remember when JK Rowling didn't want the Harry Potter books to be available as e-books. It didn't stop it happening, it just meant one person scanned then OCR'd the books and distributed them as pirate copies, and millions of people read those instead of buying the e-books as they would have done if they'd been able to. Open up, don't close down.

But Film Companies Love DRM

But the film companies are stupid. They waste millions on DRM technologies and tying it in to hardware, with the end result that things often break; they can't be ported from one device to another; they can't be backed up; all sorts of technical problems occur that can't be easily resolved. And the most stupid thing of all - people can get a better experience and more reliable outcome from ripped versions of the film. Then the film companies get no money at all. Film companies should let go of their ridiculous obsession with DRM. Even with all this DRM, it would be easy to display the film then rip it to my hard drive.

And So They Lose Custom

And so I save my money. Instead of people like me taking out subs to film services, or buying films, it just isn't worth the bother. I spend most of that money on other media instead: books and music and games. The film industry puts off the very people who would have been their most loyal customers, and instead of adding to the profits, they get nothing, yet continue to spend millions on their ongoing tech war and legal cases. Their war is against shadows, and they are so frightened that they lash out and don't realise they are sometimes punching their friends. You wonder why films are so expensive? Because of this, plus the lost revenue and frustration that DRM creates.

I don't know how much of Shudder's restrictions are down to some of the film companies, directors or distributors being dicks, and how much is down to companies like Shudder pro-actively implementing DRM restrictions rather than arguing against them, but the end result sucks. I'm sure some directors would be happy with DRM-free. It may be like with books, where many authors prefer to remove the restrictions, but some distribution platforms add it even though you don't want them to.

Seriously, I'm throwing money at the screen for films and it just keeps landing in my lap.

I'll keep my eye on services like Shudder. If they ever remove some of the stupid restrictions they'll gain a lot more customers and fans, rather than creating annoyance and bad feeling among people who would have been their best and most loyal customers.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Recent Promo Images

They Move Below - enter if you dare

A selection of promotional images I've used since the last posts (which you can find here, here and here).

Turner - things get messy

Turner - it takes place during a terrible storm

Harvest Festival - the world can burn down in one night

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - the horror exhibition

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - a gallery of modern horror

And, moving away from horror (even though it is difficult to do that in the Halloween month!) ...

2000 Tunes - words for the soul

Cold Fusion 2000 - celebrating the relaunch

 Cold Fusion 2000 - the beauty in small things

Cold Fusion 2000 - the first edition

And a video to finish:


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Lost Solace - My Next Book!

Lost Solace, my new book, is complete! The paperback is in process (and may be available for Halloween if the spirits prevail). The e-book should be available around then too. Fans of my horror and suspense books will love it, but it may also appeal to fans of my character-based literary stories. And, finally, I hope to gain new fans who love sci-fi.

Your Help Is Needed!

I decided to give Kindle Scout a try as a publisher, because that would enable the book to reach many more new readers. Kindle Scout allows people to nominate books they'd like to read, and the more votes a book gets, the more seriously they consider it. So every vote helps me.

Voting is free, and it also benefits the voter - if Kindle Scout publish the book, everyone who nominated it gets a free copy!

If you'd be kind enough to help, all you need to do is go to my book's Kindle Scout page and click on the blue "Nominate me" button:

You need an Amazon account to do that. Feel free to vote for any other books you like the look of too (you can vote for up to three). Whether you vote or not, I'd also be grateful if you could pass on that link to anyone who might be interested in sci-fi, horror, suspense, or literary action! Thank you! There's even a shorter and more memorable URL you can share:

"But is the book any good?"

I'm glad you asked. Have a look at this review from a book blogger that received an advance copy. In short:

"The story is excellent and there is a perfect balance of sci-fi and horror. Lost Solace is absolutely compulsive reading. It's punchy and fast paced. The technology and armoured suit are incredibly thought out and intelligent. The armoured suit is definitely the kind of thing I would want if I was in that kind of situation. I honestly cannot emphasise how much I loved this book. When I finished it my initial notes were as follows - Omgoodness ALL OF THE STARS! 5/5! It's creepy, it's action packed, it's awesome!"

What's It About?

Here's the back cover blurb.

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Can she face her demons and survive?


Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇

I am honoured! Turner has been included in The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇. I'm a huge fan of Noelle and her Banshee Irish Horror Blog, so this means a lot. Even more so because the list also includes some of my favourite books, such as Stephen King's IT, along with books by Owen King, Anne Rice, James Herbert, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Richard Laymon, Richard Matheson, and many other writers I respect and have been terrified by over the years. If you are looking for some brilliant scary books then try anything from Noelle's list - I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A With Karl Drinkwater

A couple of days ago I answered a Q&A on Rachel's Random Reads. Here's a backup of the post.

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Karl Drinkwater

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 
If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 
I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, going to aim to read books that have been out for at least 6 months, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for half his life. He's a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn't writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

Chronology in a writer’s mind can be a fluid thing. My first released book was the horror thriller Turner; but before that I had written a long literary novel that wasn’t working, so I put it in a drawer to ferment. After Turner I went back to my first book, worked with various editors, chopped it up, rewrote it about three times, changed from first person to third person, and eventually split it into two books – Cold Fusion 2000, and 2000 Tunes.

Or, if you wanted to go back further, my first book was a choose-your-own adventure I wrote when I was sixteen and falling in love for the first time.

I have always written because I have to. Mental steam escapes as squiggles on a page. I fall through it into other worlds of escapism. Stories nag and demand to be told. Who am I to resist?

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

Five books published, another two written and almost complete.

In the horror/thriller genres (also available as audiobooks):

Turner – “Stuck on a Welsh island where the locals turn to murder – will any of the visitors survive the night? The Wicker Man in Wales.”
Harvest Festival – “Woken in the night by terrifying visitors. They’ve come for your family. Welcome to the Harvest Festival.”
They Move Below – “Fifteen horror tales. Horror lives in the shadows: in caves, the sea, the forest, even in our bodies. No-one is safe.”

In the contemporary/literary genres (my “Manchester 2000” novels):

Cold Fusion 2000 – this got a new edition this week! “A science nerd meets the girl who dumped him, and who he blames for ruining his life – and falls in love with her again.”
2000 Tunes – “A nerd obsessed with Manchester music. A chaotic Welsh woman who rocks his world. Can sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lead to love and a new life?”

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I’ll pick Cold Fusion 2000. My reasoning is that it was one of the first long things I wrote; and although early versions didn’t work, I never gave up on it. I honed, I polished, I replaced, and I eventually made it work. Fixing a broken thing teaches you more than throwing it away and buying a new one. Plus the book has a lot of heart, and a deceptive depth that has made a number of readers get to the end, have an “Aha!” moment, then start reading it again.

Having said that, when Harvest Festival was placed on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award last year, I was practically buzzing and glowing with pride, and saw it as one of my career highlights so far.

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

Ah, that has to be my next book, Lost Solace. It wasn't a fully planned project. I’d just finished a literary collection of relationship stories in NaNoWriMo 2016 but had a few thousands words more to write. So I started this sci-fi story, just thinking it would pass the time but be nothing special ... but I couldn’t stop! Another month on and it was finished at over 55,000 words. I've never had such fun writing before, or been so excited by a project. I really couldn’t wait to get started on it each day, and find out what was going on in Opal’s life. I think part of the reason is that I was writing exactly the kind of book I love to read, and tried to trigger a number of emotional responses. Fear, sadness, humour, suspense, compassion – I’m proud of it.

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I love the two protagonist nerds from Cold Fusion 2000 and 2000 Tunes. Alex is the “hero” of Cold Fusion, a physics geek, and I sympathised with how difficult he made his life, and how he gradually learned that life is more than your obsessions. Whereas in 2000 Tunes I could feel for Mark – he is obsessed with music, and wants a better life, but is being ground down by family and circumstance. But that novel also introduced one of my favourite female characters, the Welsh woman Samantha Rees. She is so feisty yet also vulnerable; tough yet loving; emotionally confused yet also strong … huh, I couldn’t help falling in love with her.

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

I revisit my books fairly regularly, hence the new edition of Cold Fusion 2000 which has just been released. I see creation as iteration. Nothing is ever perfect, and over time we can polish things further. As such there is no single thing I’d change; in reality, I have changed hundreds of things. 2000 Tunes is getting a new edition, probably in early 2018. Even after that, a few years down the line, I’ll probably find other small issues I’d like to change. After all, life is ever-changing.

7) Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

Probably the cover to my collection They Move Below. It is difficult for a cover to represent a whole collection of short stories, but I feel that one does it, since it hints at corpses and being buried alive; dreaming; alien lights from the sky; the depths of the ocean; and many more motifs from the stories within.

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I am already a multi-genre author, because my primary focus is telling a good story – genre becomes irrelevant to me. I write horror, thriller, literary, contemporary, and now sci-fi. I also mix elements in to each other. Some of the horrors are also literary; some of the contemporary stories have elements of romance, and so on.

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

After Lost Solace is published I’ll be working with my editor on a literary collections of short stories I am really proud of. Some of them were emotionally difficult to write, but it’s important for a writer to be able to tap in to deep veins in order to give depth to the work.

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

It may seem like a cliché, but Stephen King. He doesn’t just write horror – Last Rung On The Ladder is one of my favourite short stories of all time. I grew up reading his books, and they shaped a lot of my interests.

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

I really like the idea of this feature because so often there is a pressure for NEW NEW NOW NOW UPDATED CONTENT which totally misses out on the best of the past. When I read, the only factor I care about is whether it is a good book and a good story. When it was published is irrelevant to me. Half of the books I read last year were 10-100 years old. The main criteria should be related to quality, not chronology.

Thank you so Karl for this lovely interview. I must say I'm loving the new cover for Cold Fusion 2000 and do agree that the most important thing about a book is that its a good story, as opposed to how new it is.

Karl Drinkwater's all important links so you can find him! 
Or just visit my Pronoun page and pick a book!
social media links