Thursday, 8 December 2011

New cover art for Dark Steps

Dark Steps has new cover art!

The third edition of Dark Steps features the new design, shown right, which hopefully will help the book stand out a bit more.

To ensure a bit of continuity from the artwork from previous editions (which you can see here), I've stuck with a broadly similar palette of colours, and have used the same story from within the book (Waiting Room) as inspiration for the picture, specifically the EARN YOUR PLACE slogan.

So what do you think? Better? Worse? Hopefully the former, as the new cover will start filtering through to various outlets from today, and is already live on Lulu. Experience suggests Amazon will be next, and then all the channels that are fed by Smashwords.

P.S. In case you were wondering about the second edition... it fixed a solitary typo.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dark Steps reviewed at Sabotage (or, 'on being reviewed')

My collection of short fiction, Dark Steps, has been reviewed by Ian Chung for Sabotage. Like all the best reviews, it isn't a breathless love song to the book, neither is it a hatchet job. Ian has written a balanced, fair review in which he, knowingly or otherwise, adheres to the 'feedback sandwich' approach of couching constructive criticism within praise.

Of course all such critiques are subjective. I don't necessarily agree with everything Ian says, but equally he does raise some interesting and valid points. And no, I'm not just talking about the discussion of things in the book that he likes.

Now being the author (and, for Dark Steps, editor, cover artist, agent, promoter, manager, chief cook and bottle-washer), I am naturally going to cherry-pick the best bits out of the review, and use them whenever and wherever I can. Things like:
When the techniques [narrator-reader gap and ending with a twist] succeed, the outcome is masterful.
...the surprise reveal ... forces the reader to rethink the significance of everything that has just been read.
And I'm going to ignore some bits too. You can cherry-pick those for yourself.

All in all though, Ian's review makes for very interesting reading, and I am grateful to him and Sabotage for its publication. Have you read Dark Steps yet? How does the review equate to your impression of the book? I'd love to know. You can comment below or after the review itself, which you can find here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The thing about writing is...

I know not all writers will agree with this view, but sharing something you've written with the world is hard. No, not brain surgery hard, or rocket science hard, but emotionally hard. You invest time, effort, energy and yourself into something, struggle to find the time and words to get it down on paper, and then have to sit back while others decide whether it's any good.

There's a line in the excellent Black Swan Green by David Mitchell that captures it perfectly. Our protagonist, Jason, has just shown the eccentric Madame Crommelnyck some of his poetry. And this is his reaction.
I felt giddy with importance that my words had captured the attention of this exotic woman. Fear, too. If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, "When you're ready."
And that's exactly how it feels, for me at least. Sticking your head up above the parapet in the full expectation of being knocked down.

Publishing Dark Steps was therefore a big thing for me, a literal dark step into uncomfortable and scary territory. So far, the reviews have been kind. And I'm actively searching for book review websites and blogs that will publish a review of my little book. It's hard though - lots won't take what is, effectively, a self-published book. Others are so swamped with submissions that they've temporarily closed their doors. Others will write reviews for money, and I'm definitely not going there. I have a couple of irons in the fire though, so hopefully something will come good. I need publicity, and reviews can only help!

But back to the Black Swan Green quote. I am a one-man band. I don't have someone to prepare artwork, or edit, or proof-read for me. I don't have an intern tweeting on my behalf. I don't have an agent or a publisher or even someone doing my marketing and publicity. I have to do it all myself. This is difficult, and actually impacts on writing time, but more than that, if showing someone something you've written is handing them a stake and lying prone for them, then trying to do your own publicity is forcing a mallet into their free hand. Go on, world, knock yourself out!

The point of this post? I don't know, really. I do know that Black Swan Green is an excellent read, and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you were twelve or thirteen around the time of the Falklands War - you'll love the cultural references. Beyond that... well, I've tried all kinds of things to promote Dark Steps, really forcing the mallet and stake into your hands. I haven't had the success yet that I'd hoped for (and I had very modest expectations)... but then I haven't been staked through the heart either. Yet.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Platform podcast now available

I promise this'll be the last time I mention that I was on the radio recently. But just so you don't miss it, I was talking about Dark Steps on Future Radio's Plaform arts programme last Sunday. The podcast of that show is now available here - I think my interview starts at about 17:45 in. And don't think I don't cringe every time I hear myself say hello in that "I am on the radio" voice....

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 we've got Martin Pond in the studio...

Following on from my recent phone interview with Future Radio's Kate Roma, last Sunday I went into the studio to do a longer interview with David Eastaugh as part of Future's arts programme, Platform. David is pictured left, holding a preview copy of Dark Steps. I was very nervous but David put me at ease and we had a nice chat about writing, the book and more besides. You can have a listen below - sorry if the sound quality is a bit tinny, but I had to really compress it to beat my host's 5MB file size limit.

Future Radio interview, 23-Oct-2011

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Si vous habitez en France...

Si vous habitez en France, maintenant vous pouvez acheter Dark Steps (ça c'est-a-dire Étapes sombres) chez (et je suis désolé pour mon Français écolier...)

Friday, 7 October 2011

More radio!

The interview on Future Radio's drivetime show, with Kate Roma, must have gone well. They've invited me into the studio on the 23rd October to do a longer interview, live, for their arts programme, Platform, with David Eastaugh. Naturally I've said yes - watch this space, and I'll tell you how it goes. You'll be able to listen live online here and, of course, if you're in the Norwich area you'll be able to tune in on 107.8 FM. The programme will start at 5pm.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Radio ga-ga (or, the Future's bright)

I've been trying all manner of ways to promote Dark Steps lately, some more successful than others. I've been tweeting relentlessly, for example, and it was by the miracle of Twitter that I discovered Kate Roma, a director and drivetime DJ at nearby Future Radio. Turns out we have mutual friends at Unthank Books.

I emailed Kate explaining that I'm a local author promoting his first collection of short stories and would Future be interested in giving me, or it, a mention. As it happens, Kate suggested a little more than that. She emailed me this afternoon asking if I would do a five-minute telephone interview, to go out live on her drivetime show at 4.30pm today. Yes, today! My first reaction was "blimey" but luckily my second was "yes please". Although I've been interviewed for radio once before, when I was involved in the (unsuccessful) campaign to get The Who a number one single, I was still a bit nervous.

I needn't have been; the interview has just happened. The entirely lovely Kate phoned and explained how she would introduce me. I sat listening to the end of The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen down the phone and then suddenly Kate was saying hello and we were on the air. And apart from one moment when I had a complete mental blank and couldn't think of the word "consideration" (as in "I submitted a story for consideration...") it went pretty well, I think. We talked a little about my writing history; we talked about the case for e-readers; we talked about Dark Steps (obviously), particularly which genre the stores therein might fall into (not horror, just unsettling - tales of the unexpected, perhaps); we mentioned this website a couple of times; and then, all too quickly. it was time to go.

Kate tells me I can get a recording of the interview from them in a couple of days time - if I can I'll try to post it here for your listening pleasure.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Another nice review

One of the hardest things about getting publicity for a new book, especially if you are an undiscovered writer doing his own PR, is having your work reviewed. I mean properly reviewed too, where the reviewer actually takes the time to read the whole book and construct their own opinion about the contents, rather than just cobble together a 50-word summary based on the Amazon synopsis.

Imagine my delight, then, at having Dark Steps reviewed by well-read (in both senses of the phrase) blogger and professional word wrestler Rol Hirst at Sunset Over Slawit.

Not only was Rol very complimentary, he also offers interesting perspectives on some of the stories in Dark Steps that are perhaps different from those you'd get from me. And that's one of many beauties of story telling - each reader adds their own layer of meaning to those intended by the author.

Rol has also added the nuts and bolts of his review to Dark Steps on and given it four stars - result!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Interview on Kindle Author

Kindle Author is an excellent endeavour by one David Wisehart, its aim being to help you discover new writers. To that end, David conducts interviews by email with Kindle authors, and blogs the results. And he's interviewed me!

You can read the terrible truth (don't worry, it's not so terrible) here at Kindle Author... and observe the fact that I suddenly realised I didn't have an author photo to go with my bio. Oh well.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Dark Steps gets its first review on Amazon

The great thing about buying and selling on Amazon is that people can, and do, leave reviews.

For someone who's published a book on Amazon, this could be a double-edged sword though. Okay, so nothing is going to appeal to everybody, but what if you get lots of negative reviews? Unhappy days...

Having said all that, I'm pleased to report that Dark Steps has got it's first review on Amazon (here) and it's a good one - four stars and lots of nice comments ("an excellent collection of short fiction", "didn't want to put it down", and so on). Happy days...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Dark Steps published

Dark Steps, my collection of eight short stories, is published as a Kindle ebook on Amazon today. Take a look if you don't believe me.

The eight stories included therein are Waiting Room, Dream Feed, Egg, Near-Death Experience, A Bit Christmassy, Resolution, The Inheritance and an extract from the forthcoming novel Drawn To The Deep End.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Near-Death Experience is published in Alliterati magazine

Another short story, Near-Death Experience, made it into Issue 4 of Alliterati magazine.

In case you wondered, it's here.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Unthology reviewed again - Waiting Room gets a mention

Unthology No.1 has been reviewed by Ian Chung at Sabotage Reviews. In a paragraph that begins "there are many other points at which Unthology 1 rises to a level that has earned my profound respect", my story, Waiting Room, gets a mention, as follows:
Martin Pond conjures up a near-futuristic world in which a boy is about to take a test, except no one will tell him what it is about, which has disastrous consequences for him.
Which is a neat summary without being explicit praise, but I take it to be an example of something that earned Ian's profound respect. Cheers Ian!

Read the full review at Sabotage, and see if you agree with my interpretation.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Big Smoke

Tonight sees the London launch of Unthology No.1 - it takes places in the rather fantastic Old Bank Of England pub, right where Fleet Street joins The Strand.

Proceedings kick off around 7pm. I'll be reading, as will Deborah Arnander, Karen Whiteson, Sarah Dobbs and Ashley Stokes.

See you there?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dream Feed is published in Streetcake magazine

Another little short story of mine, Dream Feed, is published in Issue 15 of the always-interesting Streetcake magazine.

I'll save you Googling - you can find it here.