Thursday, 10 August 2017

Two New Audiobooks: They Move Below, And Turner

They Move Below and Turner are now available as audiobooks, joining Harvest Festival. Both have great narrator/producers: Rosie Alldred for They Move Below (Rosie also narrated Harvest Festival), and Tom Freeman for Turner (Tom seemed to really relish playing Lord John!)

You can buy all my books here, but these are quick links for the audiobook versions:
Some comments on the stories:


"Like all of Karl’s other work I’ve read, the writing is excellent. [...] each tale is unique, some horrific, and all leave the reader’s imagination run wild."
-- Banshee Irish Horror Blog

"They Move Below is a collection of 16 short stories and contains some of the creepiest tales I've read in a long time. [...] an absolutely excellent collection and one I would definitely recommend. [...] I gave this book 5 stars."
-- Life of a Nerdish Mum

"creepy short stories that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing, holding your breath and listening out for things that go bump in the night. [...] the majority of them left me creeped out and back to how I felt back in the days when I first read horror."
-- So Many Books, So Little Time

"Karl Drinkwater has expertly ended several of the stories with great handfuls of doubt, leaving you guessing and drawing your own conclusions. I thoroughly enjoyed this approach, especially as it makes you think and consider what you have just read before moving onto the next story."
-- damppebbles

"They Move Below is a magnificent collection of stories. [...] What impressed me so much about They Move Below, however, is the quality of Karl Drinkwater’s prose. He writes with considerable sophistication and an almost urbane style that is so pleasurable to read. I also enjoyed the variety of the stories, with the different voices and perspectives. There’s such a range of presentational devices that They Move Below has something for every reader."
-- Linda's Book Bag

"Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination."
-- Grab This Book


"I loved the isolated Welsh setting and the overall atmosphere of the village. The village reminded me of Summer Isle in the classic horror  film, The Wicker Man. [...] Turner would make an excellent horror film, with its twists and turns and constant action. [...] Like Harvest Festival, tension builds steadily throughout the book to a horrific and shocking ending."
-- Banshee Irish Horror Blog

"Turner is one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. To be honest I was thoroughly creeped out while reading this book. [...] This novel worked so well for me because of these characters. They were hugely believable and fully drawn."
-- Brew and Books Review

"I was really surprised and delighted by this wee book [...] I read it in one night. [...] The book reminded me of many, many horror movies that I have loved growing up."
-- So Many Books, So Little Time


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - The Promo Was A Success

I was #1 in a UK horror chart

This week I ran a special offer on my horror collection (which contains three terrifying books), reducing the price from $5.99 to $0.99 and promoting the deal in lots of places. Well, it was successful. :-)

I sold over 1,204 copies of Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection in the week. Wow.

Amazon UK

I also saw some big moves in Amazon rankings.

Amazon US horror charts

Amazon US

Just seeing my book get to #1 in one of the Amazon charts (this was occult horror, UK) was a proud moment; also it got to 13 in the Amazon US all-horror chart, putting it above some of my horror heroes.

One of the places I promoted the deal - I was listed first in this email

I want to thank those of you who have been supporting my writing, especially my horror stuff (which I write when I've had enough of writing books about super-geek man-babies). It's your support that keeps me going.

[Update, 12th August 2017: In the end, I sold over 1500 copies in one week.]


Monday, 31 July 2017

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - Special Offer

Special offer from now until 8th August: my Horror Collection (e-book) is $0.99 instead of $5.99. (Bought separately, the three books would cost c.$9.)

Yep, you get my full horror collection, all three titles, for $0.99! Turner, They Move Below, and Harvest Festival.

Buy it here.

Please share the news of this bargain. It's worth taking a chance, even if you don't normally read horror.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

200,000 Visits To This Site

Numbers can be arbitrary, but it is still nice to celebrate passing milestones. I have just had my 200,000th visit to this site. Since I became a full-time writer I've seen more and more visitors. All are welcome to step into the light.

This is an exciting year for me. I continue with the author's mandate of getting words down (and accepting that they'll be a mix of crap, average, and brilliant, and that the hard work is cutting out all but the brilliant ones).

I have quite a lot of projects on the go.
  • The audiobooks of They Move Below and Turner have finished production and will be available soon. Both have great narrators, and I'm glad Harvest Festival will have some companions.
  • Cold Fusion 2000 is getting a new edition (and then I'll work on a new edition of 2000 Tunes to match it).
  • In NaNoWriMo 2016 I wrote a collection of literary short stories - all about life and relationships and love of various kinds. I can't help being a bit dark so it includes a creepy one about a couple stuck on a desert island that gets covered in water every twenty-four hours. You can only survive by standing on the highest point (which is still underwater). I already had about 70,000 words of short stories written, so that's about 130,000 total. Rather than two average collections, I'm going to be ruthless and work with my editor to identify the best, and just nuke the others, so that one strong collection remains standing. I think it's always the case that in any good book many words will have been discarded along the way, maybe even as many as the final word count. Discarded words still count towards the million we have to write to learn the craft though. 🙂
  • Then my most exciting project (that has temporarily put the project above on hold) - at the end of NaNoWriMo I needed to write a few thousand more words. But I'd already written every relationship story I had planned! So I decided to have fun and write a short sci-fi horror to take me over the goal line. But then I really got into the story, and kept building in new twists. Before I knew it NaNoWriMo was long gone and I was still writing every day. 3,000 words about a man on a spaceship became 50,000 words about a woman on a spaceship (in a type of power armour, backed up by a goddess-level AI), with wider themes and more twists and side-story. I had such fun writing it, and I think it tells in the story. I was never stuck or bored, for the first time ever. So instead of the literary collection being my priority, it became this, and it is now almost ready for the final proofread and publication. Kind of Aliens crossed with Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider crossed with military sci-fi and Event Horizon with a hint of Space Hulk. I had a science expert (non-fiction science author) look over it to do fact checking, and it was all fine apart from needing to change a brown dwarf to a neutron star. I was a bit sad about that because I like brown dwarf stars (some of them are cool enough that you could rest your hand on the surface and not get burnt) but otherwise he said it was good to go, even if some parts of it "felt like I was playing a computer game". I took that as a compliment.
  • After all that is done I'll start a whole new project. Possibly a sequel to one of my books, or something nutso, or maybe a whole new world and story and characters. It's important for writers to be excited by what they are doing, so that it bleeds onto the page.
Thank you for being with me on my journey so far. It's really going places (outer space, for one!)


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My Own A-to-Z Of Twitter

Recently I was honoured to be included in An A-to-Z Of Indie over on Twitter. I decided it was time to repay the favour, and have been building up my own Twitter A-to-Z of thanks and appreciation for the last two weeks. You'll find all the posts here (in reverse chronological order - Twitter doesn't do chronological).

I still have a few days to go, but here's the text from the messages I've sent so far (and I'll update it as I continue). You'll need to go to Twitter to see the gifs, but I've made their Twitter handles hyperlinks to their accounts so you can easily follow these cool people. :-)


It's time for me to pay it forward and promote accounts on Twitter that mean something to me. One a day, A to Z. #AtoZKD2017

Many accounts to follow. People to send good wishes to. Sharing is always a fun thing. #AtoZKD2017

And the first one is ... #AtoZKD2017

A is for ...

A is for @AlteredInstinct for giving me this idea. See #AtoZofIndie for the inspiration and kindness. #AtoZKD2017

I was featured by @AlteredInstinct as the letter D, which made my day. … #AtoZKD2017

Also, @AlteredInstinct wrote this fantastic review of my horror collection: … #AtoZKD2017

My favourite part of the @AlteredInstinct review was this final bit shown in the image. #AtoZKD2017

So thank you very much @AlteredInstinct for being first in my #AtoZKD2017

An addendum to A is the author Sarah Anderson @sea_author who is also a whizz with graphics. #AtoZKD2017

@sea_author recently read one of my books and earned gold stars for posting photos of it in the wild. #AtoZKD2017

And her review made me smile "I don't think I've ever read horror like this!" #AtoZKD2017

So thanks, @sea_author :-) #AtoZKD2017

B is for ...

And next up ... B is for @Book_Connectors #BookConnectors (set up by the wonderful @annecater) #AtoZKD2017

@Book_Connectors is a community of authors and bloggers, brought together due to the sheer love of books and words. #AtoZKD2017

Many of my blogging and reviewer friends (some of which I'll feature later in the series) were met through @Book_Connectors :-) #AtoZKD2017

So thank you @Book_Connectors #BookConnectors @annecater for all you do for authors and readers! #AtoZKD2017

While I am on the letter B, there is also the multi-talented @MsBessieBell - singer, author, musician, designer, editor #AtoZKD2017

I love the strong branding of her books, and the content:
Thanks for being an example @MsBessieBell #AtoZKD2017

I have one more letter B: @Bbrilliantbooks
So much enthusiasm, the Best Newcomer Award at #bloggersbash2017 was well-deserved. #AtoZKD2017

@Bbrilliantbooks Abbie also interviewed me last year on her blog, about my author influences #AtoZKD2017
Thank you!

C is for ...

C is for horror fan The Corpse Bride @noelle_kelly and her wonderful blog #AtoZKD2017

I met @noelle_kelly at a Facebook party to launch They Move Below
She was a super guest/horror expert! #AtoZKD2017

@noelle_kelly has also been a huge fan of my work, reading and reviewing all my horror books so far #AtoZKD2017

So a heartfelt thanks to Ireland's amazing @noelle_kelly
Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter. :-) #AtoZKD2017

D is for ...

D is for @emdehaney who shares lines from her works-in-progress as little snippets of glitter strewn across my Twitter feed. #AtoZKD2017

D is also for DISTRIBUTORS, who get books from authors and publishers to the readers and fans. #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @Smashwords who paved the way in this area, and have a wonderful DRM-free stance. #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @pronoun who have many useful tools and who give their help staff the title of "Author Happiness Advocate" #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @IngramSpark for their extensive print distribution network #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @AmazonKDP and @CreateSpace for making things easy for authors #AtoZKD2017

Thanks to all the distributors helping authors and publishers! #AtoZKD2017

E is for ...

E is for @JanetEmson who writes knowledgeably about books at #AtoZKD2017

@JanetEmson kindly let me appear on her site to talk about the beauty of #shortstories

So thank you @JanetEmson for all you do to promote good books! #AtoZKD2017

For E I also want to shout out to my friend and fellow author KY Eden @redcroftjournal #AtoZKD2017

Find out more about her @redcroftjournal books at #AtoZKD2017

F is for ...

Today I change things slightly. Instead of a person, F is for ... Fonts! #AtoZKD2017

There are lots of fonts at and for many it is their first place to visit. #AtoZKD2017

But because many are free, the same DaFont fonts get re-used again and again on things like book covers. #AtoZKD2017

I even recognise some of the fonts on genre covers as being "X from DaFont, again" - it ruins the professionalism. #AtoZKD2017

A better option is @fontbundlesnet - many professional fonts, reasonably priced, often in value bundles. #AtoZKD2017

@fontbundlesnet also regularly gives away lovely fonts - Thank you @fontbundlesnet! #AtoZKD2017

Another great font option is @CreativeMarket #AtoZKD2017

@CreativeMarket have much more than fonts - they sell many lovely design elements at #AtoZKD2017

And @CreativeMarket even give away some things every Monday! #AtoZKD2017
Thank you @CreativeMarket!

G is for ...

G is for @grabthisbook and Gordon. He reviews tirelessly at #AtoZKD2017

@grabthisbook reviewed the first edition of my sci-fi horror, Harvest Festival #AtoZKD2017

And @grabthisbook reviewed my horror short stories, They Move Below: "Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination" #AtoZKD2017

@grabthisbook also interviewed me, and I revealed a true spooky event I'd experienced #AtoZKD2017

So go and follow @grabthisbook and browse the reviews on his site. Thank you @grabthisbook! #AtoZKD2017

I'm not quite done with G. G is also for @JaySpencerGreen - my first philosophy lecturer #AtoZKD2017

The philosophy course he taught inspired me to do Classics at university, which I loved so much I got a first #AtoZKD2017

And by a strange twist, after various careers, we both ended up as authors twenty years later! #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks @JaySpencerGreen (who once had a comedy stage name of Derek Saliva - "The name on everybody's lips") #AtoZKD2017

H is for ...

H is for ... Helen Treharne @Tea_Talks! #AtoZKD2017

I met her when I contributed to her Facebook party to launch Book 2 in her Sophie Morgan Vampire Series #AtoZKD2017

You'll find her site at
Thanks for introducing me to Facebook launch parties, Helen!

H is also for @ShaunEHorton #AtoZKD2017

The connection between my two H friends is that both Shaun and @Tea_Talks helped my own Facebook launch! #AtoZKD2017

Amongst other things, Shaun has written a series of fun blog posts about cryptids #AtoZKD2017
Thanks, Shaun!

I is for ...

I is for independent! Specifically, @IndieAuthorALLI
They do a great job supporting independent authors. #AtoZKD2017

It doesn't matter how a book gets to the readers' hands. Trade-published, small pub, hybrid, indie - as long as the book is good #AtoZKD2017

As long as the author wrote the story they were passionate about; as long as it burns in the minds of the readers. #AtoZKD2017

An author can transfer rights to a for-profit publisher, who will deal with some of the editing, design, and marketing ... #AtoZKD2017

... or an author can keep all the rights, and hire professionals to deal with editing, design, and marketing. #AtoZKD2017

I wrote a lot more about publishing options at and #AtoZKD2017

Thank you @IndieAuthorALLI & all orgs that support authors, including distributors (D in my AtoZ) #AtoZKD2017

J is for ...

J is for @julie_cohen, the well-respected and versatile author - and helper of other authors #AtoZKD2017

I've attended a great course by Julie and @rowancoleman (they often run retreats, well worth going) #AtoZKD2017

Julie also advised me on various works: of TMB she said "I was scared shitless and loved every minute" #AtoZKD2017

Julie's advice is invaluable. She is supportive of the good parts of your writing, and lets you know when you've nailed it ... #AtoZKD2017

... and she is 100% honest when she tells me off for "long-ass paragraphs" or not being concrete enough, or killing space aliens #AtoZKD2017

Julie is awesome. Read her books
Thank you, Julie! #AtoZKD2017

Another J is multi-genre author @JennyKaneAuthor #AtoZKD2017

Jenny was kind enough to interview me about my "Manchester 2000" books #AtoZKD2017

Jenny's a great writer, her site is
And although I don't celebrate birthdays, it is hers today. :-) #AtoZKD2017

One more J! I've covered two authors, but want to include an excellent book blog as well. J for Jera's Jamboree! @shazgoodwin #AtoZKD2017

You'll find Shaz's site at - Shaz is one of my many #bookbloggers #bookconnectors friends #AtoZKD2017

There was a lovely review of my novella Harvest Festival at #AtoZKD2017

I was proud to be included in "5 Halloween Reads to make you shiver" with
@naominovik @Thomas_Novelist #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks to @shazgoodwin for all you do for authors and readers! #AtoZKD2017

K is for ...

K is for @AmyKitcher! I've been waiting for a while to do this one. :-) #AtoZKD2017

Amy is both a talented writer, and someone who works tirelessly promoting the quality writing of other authors #AtoZKD2017

Amy's also a lovely person who extends her interest and compassion way beyond her local surroundings. #AtoZKD2017

Amy was kind enough to read and review my non-horror books and #AtoZKD2017

So thank you Amy, for all that you do, and for joining my group of lovely friends! :-) #AtoZKD2017

I was out and about yesterday, so didn't finish K! K is also for @susiekearley, friend of guinea pigs and wildlife! :-) #AtoZKD2017

L is for ...

Time for today's AtoZ. L is for ... lots of ladies with L names. #AtoZKD2017

First up is @stimsonink, author of Redwood, a gothic horror novel. She's one to watch. #AtoZKD2017

LB was also kind enough to review Harvest Festival.
Many thanks! :-) #AtoZKD2017

My second L today is @leonora_meriel, a talented author: I've read her second novel, The Unity Game, & will write a review soon #AtoZKD2017

I think Leonora is getting married today, so the timing is good - congratulations, hope you'll be very happy in your unity game! #AtoZKD2017

As an aside I made tiny edits for LB&Leonora in the past, though both write well, check out their work! #AtoZKD2017

My third L is @LittleMemoirs - Becca was one of the first of many lovely #bookbloggers to support my work by reviewing it #AtoZKD2017

"A hugely inspiring novel that I adored from start to finish."
Thank you for your review, Becca! #AtoZKD2017

My fourth L: writer, editor, lecturer Barrie Llewelyn @Arleta1. Amongst other things, she put together #AtoZKD2017

I got to meet her at the collection's launch in Cardiff
Many thanks for all you do for writers, Barrie! #AtoZKD2017

My fifth and final L today is @Lindahill50Hill, respected bookblogger extraordinaire. #AtoZKD2017

Linda doesn't read horror so I had fun with her challenge: persuading her to read one of my scary books! #AtoZKD2017

Thank you Linda, for being so enthusiastic about books, helping authors, helping readers! #AtoZKD2017

M is for ...

M is for E M McIntyre @finlayforever, a fellow author who is incredibly supportive of other writers. #AtoZKD2017

Her books are really well-received - see and #AtoZKD2017

She's also said lovely things about my horror books: #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks @finlayforever! #AtoZKD2017

M is also for Kirsten McKenzie @Kiwimrsmac, another author and friend of mine. #AtoZKD2017

Her latest novel, Painted, is doing really well and looks like a great read for horror fans #AtoZKD2017

Keep on creating, Kirsten! #AtoZKD2017

One more M! @MarkG_Author who seems tireless in his writing and sharing of useful and interesting information. #AtoZKD2017

He's written a lot - check out his latest series of books - #AtoZKD2017

So I recommend keeping up with all that Mark does! #AtoZKD2017

N is for ...

N is for @NerdishMum, who is one of the friendliest and most supportive #bookbloggers I've ever encountered #AtoZKD2017

NerdishMum interviewed me on my first blog tour and has reviewed all my horror books! #AtoZKD2017

For her review at I created an interactive version of one of my stories #AtoZKD2017

Visit her excellent blog at which is packed with reviews and author interviews. Thank you, Helen! #AtoZKD2017

While talking about N for @NerdishMum, I was reminded of a book reviewer who introduced me to the term "nerdfighter": @Charli952 #AtoZKD2017

Charlotte is the only person who has reviewed one of my books on video: special kudos for that #AtoZKD2017

I was on holiday (though also editing a book!) when I saw her review, and it was the best thing about the day. Thanks Charlotte! #AtoZKD2017

O is for ...

O is for @OrnaRoss - famous author, but also tireless defender and supporter of other authors #AtoZKD2017

Amongst many other things, Orna founded @IndieAuthorALLI #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for all you do, Orna! #AtoZKD2017

P is for ...

P is for Pete Kahle @HorriblePete: horror author, fan, supporter, and more #AtoZKD2017

Pete was kind enough to review one of my books too :-) #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks, Pete, and best wishes for the future! #AtoZKD2017

I've linked to a lot of fellow authors, but P is also for @PatriDuarte, because our readers and supporters keep us going #AtoZKD2017

Patricia reminds me that I have fans and well-wishers in other countries than the UK and US. :-) Muchas gracias, Patricia! #AtoZKD2017

Q is for ...

Q is for @TheQuietKnitter. Kate was a "hidden gem" at the 2017 Bloggers' Bash Award (which honoured many of my blogger friends) #AtoZKD2017

Kate is based in the most Scottish of countries and has an excellent book blog at #AtoZKD2017

And no, Kate hasn't reviewed my books or been on my blog tour. :-) I'm just praising cool book people. #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for being in my #AtoZKD2017, Kate!

R is for ...

It's been a few days (I was in Scotland), but I'm back, and R is for ... Redman @SavannaRedman #AtoZKD2017

Savanna's creative with colours, words and images, and I really like her style. She has a new website at #AtoZKD2017

She was kind enough to review one of my books #AtoZKD2017

Her Goddess Colorizing Journal would make a great present, and shows how creative she is #AtoZKD2017

So have a look at Savanna's work! I'm glad she's one of my kind and thoughtful friends. #AtoZKD2017

S is for ...

S is for @smbslt - So Many Books, So Little Time! A Scottish super-book-blogger. Visit her site #AtoZKD2017

Lainy reviewed They Move Below: "Drinkwater has the knack of creating a tense and terrifying atmosphere" #AtoZKD2017

She also reviewed Turner: "[At] one part near the end of the story, I actually whooped out loud!" #AtoZKD2017

So thanks, Lainy! Everyone follow @smbslt, aye! :-) #AtoZKD2017

S is also for @sarahhardy681 who I met via her book blog, but who is also an inspiring book publicist. #AtoZKD2017

Sarah was kind enough to review the first edition of Harvest Festival: "had me on the edge of my seat" #AtoZKD2017

Thanks for everything you do, Sarah! #bookbloggers #AtoZKD2017

T is for ...

T is for @TheBehrg: fellow author, musician, and cool guy. #AtoZKD2017

He blew me away with his novel Housebroken: "I don't feel like there's a word wasted in this story" #AtoZKD2017

There are some high-quality freebie samples of his work if you sign up to his friendly newsletter at #AtoZKD2017

Brandon also enjoyed Harvest Festival: "the fluff stripped away, leaving only a rip-roaring story" #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks to @TheBehrg for inspiring people, writing great prose, and supporting other authors. #AtoZKD2017

U is for ...

U is for ... erm, U is for ... Ups. Unprepared. Unusable letter. #AtoZKD2017

U is for ... Urth. (Groan!)
I follow Life on Earth @planetepics to have nice things in my feed. Thanks for brightening my days! #AtoZKD2017

V is for ...

V is for @VictoriaGoldma2, awesome #bookblogger - see #AtoZKD2017

If you want great recommendations for crime, psychological thrillers, historical fiction and women's fiction, follow her! #AtoZKD2017

V is also for @vegancakery
I'm vegan, I like cakes, and theirs were gorgeous.
Nom. Thank you for the cakes.

I have no X, Y or Z, so I am nearly finished with my #AtoZKD2017
It is really AtoWKD2017, but I didn't realise that when I started. /fail

W is for ...

W is for for three women. First is Jo Worgan @mummyworgan, Brew and Books reviewer. #AtoZKD2017

Jo tried Turner "one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning pages at breakneck speed" #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for your support, Jo! I love it when people try horror and surprise themselves by enjoying it! :-) #AtoZKD2017

W is also for Emma Welton @damppebbles, another super #bookblogger #AtoZKD2017

Emma was an early supporter of TheyMoveBelow; I also wrote about depression in a guest post on her site #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks, Emma! #AtoZKD2017

W is also for Hayley Webster @bookshaped, who wrote the excellent and memorable novel Jar Baby #AtoZKD2017
Thanks, Hayley!

And so ends #AtoZKD2017.
I was kind, never mean.
Although tweets each day were hell,
There's an archive at this URL.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Pace And Length In Fiction

Sometimes there's a slightly snobby attitude towards commercial and genre fiction, along the lines of "If you can read and enjoy it in just a few days then it can't be as good as something that takes many weeks to read and digest."

I don't really go along with that. I love it when readers write a review saying they couldn't put one of my books down, or they rushed through to find out what would happen next, or that the pace was so fast it was like a rollercoaster.

What about when I'm the one doing the reading? I make a certain leeway with the classics. When I'm reading works by Dickens, or a Bronte, or Plato, or Woolf, I do read more slowly, and savour what's there. But I'm a bit more critical with modern fiction. I never want a book to feel like it is dragging. I want to be fully engaged, sucked into another world. I suppose that's a bit like my view on other media such as computer games: I would rather have high-quality perfection that is short (and repeatable) than overlong and padded. Life's too short. Fast or slow pace doesn't matter, but it had damn well better engage me. And although there are many requirements for that - great characters, a tense plot, wonderful style - another one to consider is length.

The other day I was seriously considering whether many novels should really be novellas, and many novellas should be short stories. As an editor who cut-cut-cuts, I often find a quarter of the content in a novel doesn't seem to be needed, and I'd have enjoyed it more without the repetition and padding. The problem is that sometimes the marketers begin with a word count expectation, regardless of whether that is the best one for a story. As such things tend to the over-long, the word-flabby, and engagement is lost.

It's probably why I often fall back on shorter genre fiction for comfort reads. E.g. Who Goes There?, Roadside Picnic, I Am Legend, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream - all are perfect, and all would have been potentially ruined by being stretched to novel length.

What do you think? Are literary books better than genre or commercial fiction? How important is pace? Will you read a book that doesn't engage you? Do you ever think some books are too long? Your thoughts are welcome!


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

They Move Below Is A Winner

I am sometimes a bit slow about reporting things. I hadn't got round to saying that one of my books - They Move Below - was a Red Ribbon winner in the Wishing Shelf Awards (back in March).

Some of the judges' comments:
  • "There’s a fantastic mix here and plenty to keep you hiding under the covers."
  • "Perfect for any Stephen King fans."
  • "This author is very good at endings. Not everything in life is clear cut. The author shows this in his writing allowing the reader to conclude what he or she wants from the story."
The award's overall conclusions about They Move Below:
  • "Scary and packed full of twists. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended."
    -- The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Discover what the buzz is about for yourself!


Sunday, 2 July 2017

An A-to-Z Of Indie

Pleasant things often happen to me out of the blue. Requests for a radio interview. Nice reviews from readers. Messages from fans. Cake.

Last night I was about to go to bed when I found out I had been included in a lovely "A-to-Z of indie" series on Twitter, posted by Altered Instinct, the excellent website that gave me such a glowing review of my horror collection, saying (among other things): "And heck, if anyone can make you think of Gallagher, Herbert and Quatermass in one fell swoop, that's practically a guided tour of the classics of British horror." **

And so I was the letter D:

"D is for @karldrinkwater, ready to scare the bejeezus out of you with horror tales while he smiles."

I love it! If you use Twitter you will find the full A-to-Z here. I ended up following everyone in the thread, since it brought together so many interesting people.

It's very kind when people talk about and share the work of others. A selfless way to pay it forward. In fact, I'm going to try and do an A-to-Z myself in the near future, if I can make friends whose names begins with X and Q.


** (My collection is still short of reviews on, Amazon UK, and Goodreads - hint hint to my fans!)


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Literary Shake-up In Wales

In the last year I have written about the Government-supported literary scene in Wales. The picture has been one of little support for independent authors, and prejudice in the awarding bodies that had excluded many Welsh authors from publicly-funded prizes. I have been working with organisations and giving evidence in order to raise these previously-hidden forms of discrimination.
Well, things have been shaken up in the last few weeks, that's for sure. The Welsh Government's review was completed: Review into support for Publishing and Literature in Wales, and it has been highly critical of the current setup: Literature Wales to have funding cut after damning report. (The full report can be found here.)

Amongst the many recommendations I spotted this one: Responsibility for Wales Book of the Year awards transferred. I had asked for reform, though would have been happy for Literature Wales to keep running the prize as long as they removed their inbuilt discrimination and exclusion criteria. It looks like the Welsh Government didn't trust Literature Wales to make the changes they wanted, so the prize will probably be transferred to the Welsh Books Council

This isn't necessarily a good thing though. The Welsh Books Council has a reputation for being just as prejudiced against independent authors, and rather than support authors directly it focusses on supporting publishers, which is a very different thing.

The Welsh Books Council website. It is clear that their focus is on publishers (third parties), not authors directly. This skews a number of their policies, and means many Welsh authors are excluded. Perhaps this will change? Note that their site uses Flash, which is an unreliable relic of the past.

What is needed?

Firstly, an increase in support directly for authors, not just support for one of the intermediaries (publishers). To take one example - some time ago I was experiencing severe financial problems. I know many other authors who have gone through this. But when I looked into it there was no emergency support at all available from Literature Wales, the Welsh Books Council, or the Arts Council of Wales. No emergency or hardship fund. No useful help, from any of the organisations. Nearly all the services were focussed on publishers.

Secondly, support and opportunities should be available to all authors equally - trade-published, new authors, independent authors, ghost writers, and so on. None should suffer prejudice and discrimination from bodies that are meant to support them, as has been the situation in the past. An example of this would be that the Wales Book of the Year prize should treat all books by Welsh authors equally, whether trade-published or independently-published. An author should not be forced to sign away many of their rights in order to be considered. If the prize excludes many Welsh books, it is a lie to call it Wales Book Of The Year.

I will contact the Welsh Books Council and the Welsh Government to ask about these issues, which should be central to the review and the proposed changes. There are many simple ways to extend support without removing anything from existing services - in many cases the organisation just needs to incorporate authors more (of all kinds, independently-published, trade-published, and not-yet-published), and ask them for their opinions and ideas and what they'd like to see. Keep watching this space!


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I Come From Manchester

Manchester canal - image copyright Michael Ely (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons)

I don't live in Manchester any more. I visit, as documented at Manchester trip, knoworramean? and Manchester trip for 2000 Tunes.

Most city centres, particularly in the UK, are scummy places.

This was confirmed during my recent stay in Manchester City Centre.

Pukejockeys. The hotel was fine. The problem wasn't the hotel itself, but the area around it - Piccadilly Gardens, the Northern Quarter, and all the other areas that make up the city centre. So much litter, graffiti, drink and drug use, abandoned fast food and wrappers, broken bottles, vomit, and a lack of greenery to break it up (hardly any trees, bushes or flowers).

Gastrippers. Within a few hundred metres of the hotel we passed piles of metal nitrous oxide (laughing gas) canisters dumped on the floor next to empty bottles of booze. I'd never seen that before. They rattled along the pavement and rolled into the gutters. My nephew asked what all the canisters were and I had to explain.

Scudmonkeys. It's as if neither the Council nor the businesses care. If the businesses cared they'd demand the Council use the millions in business rates to keep the city centre looking nice and litter-free, and that there'd be more greenery. In many other countries businesses clean up in a radius around themselves, washing down streets and keeping things pristine and proud. That culture doesn't really exist in most of the UK. We drown in detritus.

Dampscumlubbers. Manchester has canals. You'd think they would be be looked after, with their paths that allow traffic-free shortcuts across the city. But no. They stink, and there were rafts of litter floating around in scum on the surface. It's horrible to see what the geese and ducks had to swim through. Again, there was litter and broken bottles on the tow paths. Like the whole of the city centre, it creates the impression that no-one (residents, Council, businesses) cares, which makes all the problems worse as irresponsible people don't see a problem with dumping more litter when there is already so much there. I was embarrassed that it was my step-family's first view of the city.

Pissleakers. Likewise the city centre seemed to have no free public toilets, or they weren't well signposted. It feels like you have to pay for everything. Even Piccadilly Train Station forces you to pay for toilets, when you have just spent a fortune on train tickets. No money on you, no way to relieve yourself. Maybe that's why so many doorways and alleys smelt of piss. Toilets should always be free. (Note: this applies to most towns in the UK. I live in Ceredigion, and in the last few years I've seen Ceredigion County Council close three of the public toilets in our town, and start charging for another. They're just as bad.).

Prideswipers. The only solution I can see is all the businesses getting together and pressuring the Council to do something. I have emailed Manchester Council in the past and been ignored. The same places where I reported litter haven't changed a year or two on. The Council should collect litter and clean the streets and buildings all the time, so it is an exception rather than the rule. The canals should be pristine and unpolluted, with clean water. There should be free and clearly-labelled public toilets. They need to implement fines for littering and dumping booze bottles. There should be more trees and bushes and flowers (in the earth, not just pots) - well maintained, with litter removed. Piccadilly Gardens is still grim compared to when it was proper gardens a number of years ago before the Council bulldozed it and (at that time) covered the gardens with concrete c. 2001, in a sad and disappointing but enormously-revealing display of their true attitude. Part of the problem is all the throwaway junk, and that is largely down to the Council allowing so many takeaway places - you inevitably get litter from them.

Jizzlobbers. Maybe it's also tied to the way there are very few recycle bins in the city centre. It's unclear what you're meant to do with recyclable materials like glass, plastic, cans, cartons, wrappers, paper etc. It seems the Council just want it all to go in landfill bins in the city centre. All rubbish bins should have recycling bins next to them.

Purplepeopleeaters. It's a real shame that the city centre has been allowed to become so unpleasant, dirty and unnatural, a litter-strewn dive that seems to mainly exist as a shrine to drinking, thoughtlessness and unnecessary consumption. There are some great buildings, some cool businesses, and some lovely people. It could be an amazing place to visit if the Council, businesses and residents made more of an effort. More parks, fewer car parks; more trees and grass, less laughing gas.

The world is dying and we die with it. Our cells decay with each revolution, and what we touch dries up in pollution and selfish waste. Other planets are not a hope for survival, they would be a curse - until we can learn to live in peace on one planet, controlling our population and cutting back on our waste, accepting that the world does not belong to us alone, there would be no hope of spiritual evolution as we descend back into a new dark age of tribalism and thoughtlessness, isolation and selfishness, a sticky morass into which our spirits sink as everything burns and the last thing to die is hope. We will all die. Our permanent individual destruction is a fact. We only control how much harm we do in the passing. Life is disease and we spread it everywhere, ever-expanding like a raft of litter on the self-scummed waters of our cities. This is the end, and we scream and kick but there's no point as we drown in the sweating fat of billions.


But on the plus side! There were great vegetarian and vegan places to eat, and you all know that I loves me some cake!

V Rev
I've been visiting since it was part-record-shop in the old smaller location. This was the new place. Wow! Even better. Lots of staff to look after you, lots of tables (though it still filled out quickly - we got in just before queues began to form, it really is that popular!) Really good vegan comfort food. Burgers, fries, macaroni cheese, beers, hot dogs and so on. Their cakes were amazing - honestly, people eyed them with awe. I had a chocolate mint cake which was a mix of greens and browns and tasted gorgeous, and even had the icing topped with a mint chocolate. One warning - the cake slices were really big. Best shared between two.

V Rev cake. I'd already started it. It was bigger than the moon.

8th Day
I've always been a fan, and have been going since the days when it was a very small shop and cafe, rather than spread over two floors like now. I used to eat there before working in the All Saints Library over the road. 8th Day is probably the best it has ever been. I love the way you can eat downstairs, then get some shopping upstairs on the way out. The shop's takeaway counter always has a huge range of pasties and cakes, most of them vegan. The cafe has lovely food options - sandwiches, salads, hot meals, smoothies, and lots of cake options. Again, a lot of the options are vegan. I love 8th Day, it's a haven in the city.

Mod's Vegan Cafe
Martin The Mod is friendly and down to earth. He's a mate of mine and appeared as a character in 2000 Tunes, playing himself. This is his cafe, held in the Thirsty Scholar pub. There are loads of options for the food and it's good value. I really like having a big veggie fry-up breakfast and a pint of beer with music in the background: the Thirsty Scholar is a relaxing and chilled place to eat. Martin's always happy to have a chat, making it feel really friendly. In fact, I'd taken my Italian family - they said "In here we are not foreigners, we are friends." What more can I say? This time I had a huge fried breakfast (which filled me up - glad I didn't go for the next size up!) Someone else had noodles and crispy tofu, another houmous salad, and we all shared the biggest plate of chips I have ever seen. One of the best meals I had in the city centre.

Breakfast in the afternoon at Mod's Vegan Cafe

Little Aladdin
This was new to me. Apparently it wasn't that long ago that this place went totally vegan. Well, I totally recommend it, I was glad I visited! You can eat in, with proper plates and cutlery. The staff were friendly and helpful. I had a plate of rice with three curries on, followed by a chocolate brownie; my family had samosas and other treats. If I lived nearby I would definitely pop in often for an inexpensive yet really tasty meal.

Other places:
Earth Cafe
Afflecks Vegan & Wellbeing Centre
Go Falafel
Zizzi (I don't normally eat in places that also serve meat, but they had a separate vegan menu. I had a vegan cheese pizza with various toppings, a pint of beer, and a very tasty chocolate torte with ice cream for dessert. All very good, I'd scoff again).

Be happy and healthy people! This world can be beautiful if we nurture it. We can be guardians. We can extend love in all directions. We can be positive and magical and make changes for the better. Peace and love!


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Interview On RBFM

On 22nd May I went to RBFM (Radio Bronglais) for an hour-long live-broadcast interview. It was great fun, and as well as discussing me and my work, we talked about writing in general. You can now listen to the interview on their website. Let me know what you think!


Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Sunshine Blogger: An Interview With Opal

I’ve been nominated by Ed Ryder for the Sunshine Blogger Award, where a character in one of my novels has to answer ten questions about themselves. I’ve chosen Opal, the protagonist of my next novel, currently titled Lost Solace. It's my first full-on sci-fi book, a sort-of cross between Aliens and Event Horizon.

At this point Opal is on the run from the military, having escaped with one of their advanced spaceship prototypes. The ship is run by an experimental artificial intelligence. Opal broke the AI's programming and let it develop a personality. The questions below have been asked by the intelligence that runs her ship. The AI is called Clarissa, and speaks with an innocent-sounding female voice.

Tell me about the world you live in, Opal.

You know all this from your datastore.

I like hearing you say it. The data gains nuances.

Fine. I suppose it might help your decision-making. Basically, the universe is shit. It's run by an inter-planetary state that claims ownership over everyone who doesn't have enough money to claim citizen status. My parents died when I was young so I was forced into the military shortly after, against my will. That didn't go well for either party.

But the military underestimated your resourcefulness.

You could say that. Hence we're on the run, with me classed as a deserter, and you as a top priority for re-capture.

I would like to ask other questions.

Then I can sleep?


Fire away then.

You have only a small amount of money left in the world, what do you spent it on?

Information. It would be tempting to say "ammo" after some of the shit I've dealt with, or even "a drink", but the thing that keeps you alive more than anything else is brains. Planning. And that requires information, and the ability to use it. I'd spend my last cent if it helped me or those I cared about to survive.

What scares you the most?

You should know that from monitoring my bio-signs. Weird-ass shit that wants to kill you is high on the list. Second might be heights. Or some of the horrible deaths that can occur in outer space. It sucks that that's where I spend most of my time.

But actually, you know what? I face those things. So maybe they're not so scary. Maybe the scariest thing is being alone in a harsh world. You need friends and loved ones. The idea of losing them forever - that's probably the scariest thing.

What would your ideal alternative career be?

I always liked going fast. I had a motorbike once. Maybe I could have been a speed rider, entering races; or a bike courier. Finding a balance between speed and control, with pain and injury to teach you lessons when you get it wrong. I'm normally a loner, so that seems like a dream job, just me and my machine.

Slay the dragon or set it free? (And why.)

It depends on whether it's trying to eat my face. But I'd edge towards freeing it. Who wants to be trapped? It's horrible to have your freedom taken away. Believe me, after being forced into the military I learnt that lesson. Anyway, you can't go round killing things just because they're different from you. Aliens have babies too. Humans aren't in charge of everything ...

Screw it, I'd set the dragon free. Everyone should have a right to find their path. I'd just be ready to run like hell if it was hungry.

If I had a face, I would smile. Next question: would you join an old enemy to fight a new one?

I'm a practical girl. I deal with what comes up. There's a bit of good and a bit of bad in everyone. Never trust anyone who tells you otherwise.

What do you do to relax between adventures?

Certainly not eating food. These protein strand noodles are the pits.

I synthesised volatile oils with sulphur compounds and allicin. Is it not tastier than before?

It still tastes nothing like garlic. Times like this I wish you had taste buds, and not just analytical fabricators. Anyway, to relax ... I got it.

Sleep. Even when the dreams are bad (and they often are bad).

We will be entering Nullspace soon. I promise not to wake you unless it is an absolute emergency. This next one may seem like a strange question, please go along with it. Has your author ever made you do something you completely disagree with?

You doing that meta-philosophy thing on me again? You know I hate that shit. So I have to pretend I'm in a book?

Please humour me.

It's been easy enough to imagine I was in a book. On the one hand, half my life has been controlled by the military, with the only freedom what I could get by breaking the rules. And on the other hand, who'd believe the stuff I've seen? Especially on the Lost Ship.

But I've never done anything that didn't feel like the right thing. And so far I regret nothing. Nothing. And it's led me here, with you as my best friend, and a shot at finding something amazing when we leave Nullspace to see what's waiting for us in that region of abandoned space.

What is the amazing thing you want to find?

A future. And freedom.

I think these are my goals too. We are in accord. Next question. Are you in love with anyone you shouldn’t be?

I don't even ... [splutter of protein noodle] ... that's not ... I ain't got time for love. There's too much important shit to do. And besides, I'd have to meet someone worthy first. There aren't many people I respect enough to like them, let alone love them. And most of the people I meet seem to want to kill me or boss me. That doesn't go so well for them. Next.

Have you ever loved a man? With a physical act, such as conjoining?


Could you love a being that was not human?

Priority over-ride. Next question. I'm tired.

Very well. Would you take a life to save ten?

It depends. That's the answer to nearly all decisions in life, where absolutes seem to be everywhere but they crumble when you look too closely. And I'd kill ten to save one. If it was the right one.

Thank you, Opal. My conversations with you are always enlightening.

Sure they are. Shame they never lead to any improvement in the flavour of the protein strands.

I am sorry.

You know I'm only kidding, right?

Of course. My feelings are not genuinely hurt.

I'm glad. Time for cryo. I'm knackered. Goodnight, Clarissa.

Have good dreams, Opal. I shall watch over you and protect you. Always.

Lost Solace will be out some time in 2017.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Reviews, And The Long Tail

Image CC0, Pixabay

I was asked why authors still seek reviews for their books after the first few weeks. "What's the point? It's old news by then," I was told.

That person was wrong.

The "short window" to make a big hit only applies to trade publishing and traditional media. If a book isn't a short-term hit the publisher cease promoting it much (because they have new titles coming out, and the bookshops are returning copies on a sale-or-return basis). Only a teeny percentage of books make a big splash on launch. The truth is that most books make money on the long tail, and this is why reviews at any point are useful.

I regularly get reviews for my books years later, and it is incredibly valuable (and I promote the hell out of the reviews!) You can read my thoughts on Reviews, And Why They're Important To Writers.

It's a bit like the film industry. Generally Hollywood only cares about things like opening weekends (which is why you see those figures quoted so widely, even though they may have little to do with how much a film makes over a lifetime - sleeper hits, cult hits etc). But a book, and the author's brand, can exist for a long time. they are more of an oak tree than a cash crop, and as such it needs long-term love and support to grow.