Sunday, 28 February 2016

Upcoming Bookfest


On 1st March Helen Treharne will be celebrating the publication of Book 2 in her Sophie Morgan Vampire Series. Death in the Family is set in Cardiff and the fictional town of Bethel. There's an online event on that date and there will be prizes, tasters, teasers and giveaways.

As it's St David's Day - THE day for celebrating all things Welsh - she'll be joined by a few authors and writers with Welsh connections too. As you can see from the evening's timetable above, I'm one of them, and will host the event for an hour (and no doubt be around throughout the evening). Lots of authors and readers, with fun goings on and chatting. I'm sure my fellow authors will be keen to answer those burning questions you have about our books/writing in general/horror and the supernatural, so come along and say hi! It's online so you can take part from the comfort of your armchair, and even your cat/dog/snake can join in. Feel free to invite your friends, and I hope to "meet" many of you online on 1st March! The address for the event is: www.facebook.com/events/122941361426282/

St David's Day is one of the few events I celebrate, probably because St David was a vegan like me. I'll be getting my leek freak on that night, and drinking water to tune in to his spirit, which is totally appropriate with my surname.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

More Turner

Image by restorative, via Morguefile

I'm making minor changes to my existing novels whilst working on my new horror collection. And there's good news for Turner fans! I've just written a bonus scene for Turner, which will go at the end of the book (think of it as a deleted scene in the extras). It's set seven years before the events of the main novel, and is in keeping with the horrible stuff that takes place there. I've also written a story set in the Turner world that will appear in my new collection. Those should tide [sic] you over until I write a proper sequel.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Horror Title Survey Results

Photo credit: The Sea via photopin (license)

Most of the results are in from my survey to gain insights into what I should name my new horror collection. I used a simple scoring system. Any option with a tick in "Good" got 3pts. Ok = 1 pt. Rubbish = -3 points. An option with no tick = no change to the score. The results match my own preferences fairly closely, so that is reassuring! I'll list the options in final score order.

Q1. Name the collection after one of the stories
11 Things Move Below
9 The Scissor Man

6 If That Looking Glass Gets Broken
5 Regression
3 Transmission
2 Bleeding Sunset, Dancing Snowflakes
0 Breaking The Ice
-1 How It Got There
-1 Just Telling Stories
-2 Overload
-3 Web
-5 Claws Truth Forebear
-5 Creeping Jesus
-5 Living In The Present
-5 Sinker
-7 Harvest Festival
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Monday, 22 February 2016

Life's Priorities

Image by Scott Webb, via Unsplash

Life is expansion and contraction, and a re-occurring realisation that it should be filled with things you love, not things which don’t earn their keep. You become more aware of it as you get older. I used to read every book I started, but now I stop once it loses me. Life’s too short. But when we shed things it’s only right to find them a good home. Never throw things out. Someone would want them, or repair them, or upcycle/recycle them. Try and spend some time finding who would appreciate the thing. Add love to other people’s lives. The extra effort required also helps you to avoid acquiring so much next time.

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Stop! Grammar Time! (Or "I Felt Alright While Editing")

I'm finishing off a horror story collection at the same time as revamping my three existing novels. Yep, that's pretty nuts. On the plus side, you can do a single task across all your works, which really hammers home any stylistic lessons. Today I have worked on the words "felt", "all right" and "alright". (I feel like Sesame Street). I'll get to them in a minute, but just wanted to say that these messages on Twitter from the esteemed Julie Cohen made me very happy today!


Right, time to get my hands dirty with words.

Felt
“Do not bloody tell! If you ever need to use the word ‘felt’ you are frankly fucked. Make it happen, do not tell us how it happened or I swear, bad things with felt wings will swoop down and smother you in adverbs.”  
JJ Marsh

We're talking about this kind of thing:

"Johnny McToughburger looked at the nasty letter. He felt very angry. Then he thought about Susie Smoothcheeks and what she meant to him. Then he suddenly felt sad. Then he cried, big fat man tears."

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Book Blurbs

Print books need a description for the back of the cover (which is also used in online bookstores). The aim is to give the potential reader an idea of what the book's about, and to tempt them to buy.

If you click on the links for my three books on the left you can see the description I use for each (Turner, Cold Fusion 2000, 2000 Tunes). If you've read any of those books, can you think of a better way of describing them? Feel free to contact me with improvements or replacements - even a whole new description! (Or use the comments below). I'm going to be revising the books slightly so a new description could be part of that. I'll offer a choice of prizes for any suggestions that I use. Diolch!

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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Help Me Name My New Horror Collection

I'm finishing off a collection of 17 horror stories and need to come up with a name for it.

Option 1 is to name the collection after one of the included stories. As an approach that would lend itself to my future short story collections in any genre, though it only works if one of the stories in the collection has a distinctive name! Dean Koontz used this approach with Strange Highways.

Option 2 is to just come up with a title that reflects the content and genre, but isn't necessarily the title of a particular story. Stephen King used this approach with Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. Some authors then re-use a key word in future collections: for example, Graham Masterton has published four collections of short stories, Fortnight of Fear, Flights of Fear, Faces of Fear and Feelings of Fear.

Please help me out using the form below (or go here if it doesn't display properly). Thanks!

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Editing Tools For Writers

Image via Gratisography


[Article has now been updated - new version here.]

I sometimes use tools to help me with writing. Or rather, re-writing and editing. I try to get a first draft banged out while in the flow of the story, just making up details, and leaving errors in - it's best to keep on going and try to stay within the fictional world for as long as possible. Then I go back and edit and rewrite (and edit some more). Once it's all done I then run it past your editor, proofreader, or whoever else provides the professional human input. But when revising a first draft prior to another human's intervention I use tools to help me spot common errors I make, and fix them myself. And in that process I learn to avoid making those errors so much in the future.

During a discussion with some other writers recently I found out that they didn't know such tools existed, and I decided it would be a good idea to talk about them a bit here. Finding one that helps point out areas where you are weak can be really good, like having someone looking over your shoulder, and it makes a good precursor to a human editor, fixing some mistakes in advance.

Here you go. Hopefully useful to some of you! They may even help with non-fiction writing too. Paste in part of your report/thesis/essay and see what you think. I tested them with samples from my next work, a short story horror collection (provisionally entitled Dark Harvest).

The first ones are all free and don't require an account.

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Monday, 1 February 2016

2000 Tunes Review


"Dialogue that nails the metre and manic exuberance of the Manc tongue. Perfectly realised rudderless 20-somethings stuck in empty jobs and flats. A dash of magic realism [...] Manchester music holds this book together as it holds Mark's life together. But dig deeper into this seeming love letter to the Manchester music scene and starts to read like an obituary. All the good music gone. The Hacienda closed. The Conti faded, captured here before the lights go out for the last time a year later. Mark makes endless connections between the music he loves [...] But these patterns form a web as sticky as that woven by his family that fixes him in the past so he can't see the future. He is 'Lost in music'"

From a lovely and perceptive review of 2000 Tunes. :-)
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