Thursday, 11 July 2019

The annual summer sale

What better way to take your mind off Wimbledon and the like than sitting under a tree with your Kindle, an ice-cream and an ice-cold beer/glass of prosecco... Best you fill your Kindle up with reading matter then, eh? And yes, the shameless plug starts here...

The e-book version of my novel, Drawn To The Deep End, will be on a countdown deal from today - that means it starts off reduced as far as it's going to be and then gradually returns to full price. Here it is:

And if that's not good enough for you, some short stories (Turn Around Where Possible and Cold) and non-fiction essay (Tesc-No - living without supermarkets) will all be free from today too. Look...


Last but not least, my 2011 collection of short stories, Dark Steps, is currently available from Smashwords with 50% off, right the way through to the end of July, with coupon code SSW50, as part of their summer sale. Here it is.

Stay cool. And what's cooler than reading?

Friday, 31 May 2019

Minding the gaps

I unearthed an old writing notebook recently. Most of what's inside has either been used already or doesn't deserve to be used, but there are one or two scraps that might be retooled, retold. Here's one such fragment, the start of something, maybe, reproduced here exactly as written, warts 'n' all and very unedited. What do you think?

Daniel Button was obsessed with money, his every waking moment devoted to its pursuit, yet somehow he remained of average means at best. When he invested in shares, the market crashed. When he gambled on a horse, it would fall at the last. Despite years of Premium Bond ownership, Daniel had never won more than £25. And although he'd played the Lottery even week since its launch, he'd never won more than the occasional tenner.
     It didn't stop him though. The Lottery was his grail. He played every new game that launched, spending an increasing amount of money on tickets. Then scratchcards. Every week, every game, Daniel played. And he never won more than a tenth of his outlay.
     When the New Year's Day Millionaire Maker scratchcard was announced, Daniel had a plan, and a budget. Buy ten tickets from each of ten different shops. Surely, finally, wealth beckoned?
     As he queued in the tenth shop, worrying with his last £10 note, he told himself that this was the one - a life that didn't involve standing in line behind malodorous pensioners in mouse-brown overcoats was only moments away.
     And then the malodorous pensioner in the mouse-brown overcoat bought a single Lottery scratchcard, and won a million pounds, right there in front of Daniel's disbelieving eyes.
     Button went to bed believing God was against him.
     Yet when he awoke, he had cause to reconsider, for it seemed to be New Year's Day again, and only he had noticed. At first he thought the DJ had made a mistake but when he turned on the TV and found yesterday's headlines were still breaking news, Daniel could only conclude that somehow he'd been given a second chance. Everything was the same - yet now, one thing could be different.
     Daniel set off at the same time, and visited the same shops, in the same order. His first nine visits yielded exactly the same results as they had yesterday. Or was it today? Daniel wasn't sure, and had stopped trying to figure out his second chance. As he made his way towards the tenth shop, final tenner in hand, Button quickened his pace, determined to be one place further forward in the queue.
     With 100 yards to go, Daniel spotted his opponent waiting patiently for traffic lights to change so that

And that's as far as I got. I suspect this was written for a hot-pen exercise, a ten minute warm-up. Certainly it doesn't feel like something I laboured over. And certainly it is conceptually indebted to Groundhog Day. But it's not terrible, I think.

I also don't know where I was going with this. What would happen to the pensioner in the mouse-brown overcoat? What twist in the tail was brewing? I can't remember. Dated pieces around this snippet suggest it was written in mid-2011, so it's been languishing for eight years. Unless I can think of the outcome, I guess it will carry on languishing...

Friday, 10 May 2019

About Twitter...

Easy to lose words in Twitter. Because yes, the novel sells alright, and so does the charity anthology, but I'm also quite proud of this tweet from last summer; I rediscovered it today during a spot of lunchtime Twitter pruning. In eleven months it received neither a like nor a retweet. Cruel world, eh?

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Always nice to get a review

It's (nearly) always nice to get a review, in my experience, so whilst I promise I won't do this every time The Petrified World and other tales gets a write-up, I am going to reproduce this one, the first review to appear on Amazon for the various-authors charity anthology I put together and edited. Here it is:

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories. Whilst they loosely share a general theme of things unknown or unspoken there is great variety in the settings and approach, which really adds to the interest and had me looking forward to each new experience unfolding in the pages. Every one of the stories deals with something unsettling, something dark, with some rooted in contemporary reality, while others explore futuristic scenarios, many of them posing more questions than they deliver answers. All are thought-provoking for different reasons. A great book to pick up and put down at one's leisure – none of the stories are more than 12 pages long - and one which will have me looking out for more work by all the talented authors within it. Plus it’s for a good cause – and one which seems fitting to the book. Very happy to recommend this.

That's nice, isn't it?

You can read the review in situ here or, you know, just just buy the book straight off. What can I say, it's affordable, offers you eleven great short stories by new and emerging authors and benefits the Population Matters charity too - what's not to like?

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Have a sneak preview

I might have mentioned, I'm quietly pleased with this book. Here's a little preview, to convince you of the need to buy it... As ever, with Amazon embeds, the formatting isn't perfect, but rest assured it is in the actual book. No go, buy, read, review, all that good stuff...

Monday, 3 December 2018

Post-launch analysis

Remembering that time when The Petrified World and other tales paperback edition was ranked 9,449 on Amazon, out of more than six million books...

You can read more about this book here or cut to the chase and just buy it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Petrified World and other tales

Well, it's taken me most of the year to get it together but finally, here it is. The Petrified World and other tales is a collection of short stories by new and emerging writers that I have been very proud to collate. Profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the charity Population Matters, and I'm quietly proud of that too.

This collection of eleven short stories takes the idea of taboos, of hidden subjects, of unspoken truths, as its loose theme. Some of the stories address potential problems for a near-future Earth, some do not, but all are linked by the idea of what is not being talked about, whether that's between families, colleagues, in the news or on a wider scale. Here's a list of the stories, with links to author websites for those that have them:

The Petrified World - Mark Kilner
Pig Hunting - Ian Nettleton
The Transistor - Andrea Holland
We Need You To Show Us What Happy Looks Like - Katy Carr
The Swimming Pool - Sandy Greenard
On The Air - Rol Hirst
Retrograde Amnesia - Simon Poore
About The Dog - Sarah Dobbs
The Crossing - Martin Pond
At Malham Cove - Ada Carter
Compensating For Einstein - Arnold Pettibone

The ebook version is available right here, as is the paperback edition. Prices are £1.99 and £3.99 respectively... so it makes a great stocking-filler.

If you want to get on board and help promote the book (it's for a good cause, after all), please use the cover image above left and these URLs: for the ebook and for the paperback - thanks.

Go on now, shop, and don't forget to read about Population Matters ... ta.

Friday, 2 November 2018

New cover image?

I'm thinking of a new cover for the second edition of Drawn To The Deep End, and expect it might be based on one of these two images. You know the synopsis by now, so which of these do you think would fit best? Or neither? Let me know in the comments, cheers.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Post mortem

You might remember how, back in May, I wrote about the 100 days of writing initiative? And how I hoped it might spur me on a bit? Well the 100 days finished a couple of weeks ago, so I should probably admit to how well (or otherwise) I got on with it.

My primary intention was to complete Nudge, the novella I first posted about two and a half years ago. And I certainly moved things on a good deal. Writing every day helped regain the momentum I had lost with it, until I had a real head of steam built up. But then... then came a particularly tricky, transitional passage that I struggled with. Struggled and struggled... and am still struggling. And since I am very much a linear author - I write it in pretty much the order you read it - I'm stuck on this story for now. Still hoping I can unstick myself at some point before the year is out, but hey.

Whilst stuck, other projects started. I wrote a completely new short story called The Crossing - more about that before the year is out too, I hope. That was fun to write, not least because it's almost in the second person. Intrigued? You'll see what I mean when you read it. And I've been doing some light-touch editing too, for a project that will also hopefully see the light of day before the year is out. Fingers crossed.

And finally, I've been considering new cover designs for the second edition of Drawn to the Deep End, for potential release to mark the first anniversary of its publication. Watch this space.

Now, to unstick!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Summer sale

Hot, isn't it? Damn hot. What you need is something new to read as you sit under a tree with your Kindle and an ice-cold beer/glass of prosecco... so lucky for you I'm running a bit of a sale, right now.

The e-book version of my novel, Drawn To The Deep End, is on a countdown deal - that means it starts off reduced as far as it's going to be and then gradually returns to full price. Here it is:

And if that's not good enough for you, some short stories (Turn Around Where Possible and Cold) and non-fiction essay (Tesc-No - living without supermarkets) are all free from Wednesday. Look...


Stay cool. And what's cooler than reading?

Saturday, 26 May 2018

On the high street

So I've just delivered some copies of Drawn To The Deep End to the excellent Kett's Books in Wymondham, Norfolk so if you wanted to buy a physical copy from a physical (and lovely!) book shop, you now can.

More about Kett's Books:

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Breaking radio silence... for exciting news

A very quick note to say I have been in discussions with a local bookshop regarding them stocking Drawn To The Deep End. And it looks like it's going to happen!

More details to follow as soon as I am actually on their shelves...

Friday, 4 May 2018

100 days starts here

I've been slack of late. Very slack. I haven't written very much at all, and have disguised the fact by recycling old words and by trying to launch another project that will require me to edit but not write.

But writers write, right?

So, inspired by an excellent writer of my acquaintance, I'm going to try the whole #100DaysOfWriting thing. You know, where you try and write something (anything!) for 100 days in a row, and post about your progress, or lack thereof, on that there Twitter (hence the hashtagging).

Today is about to be #Day1 for me, which will make August 11th #Day100. Let's see how this goes.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Another review I'm quite proud of. Sorry.

Again, I crave your indulgence.

JC is a long-time and respected blogger, author of the excellent New Vinyl Villain blog, where he writes predominantly about music. There are few finer music blogs out there, in my view, so imagine my delight on discovering that, not only has he just read Drawn To The Deep End, he's reviewed it too; here's an extract:

Peter is a brilliantly drawn character, someone who will run the full gamut of your emotions and catch you off-guard every now and again; you will have empathy and sympathy one moment but it won’t be too long before you want to grab him by the throat and shout ‘what the fuck??’ into his face to get him to see sense. The book is also populated by a cast of wonderful co-stars, especially from the world of work where the sheer one-dimensional aspect of so many of them struck a chord, given my own experiences in different offices over the past 30+ years with colleagues who have displayed many of the traits on show across the 230-odd pages – I might even admit, with a sense of shame, of seeing something of my younger cocky and arrogant self in parts of the minor characters. It is a book that also contains some of the most moving passages anyone will ever read on just how difficult, draining, frustrating and ultimately heart-breaking it is to be responsible for a demented and elderly parent.

I'm a bit humbled by reviews like this, if truth be told.

You can read the full review on JC's always-excellent blog, right here. And, of course, Drawn To The Deep End is here. Cheers.

Friday, 19 January 2018

A Drawn To The Deep End preview

It's not perfect, in that some of the format is a little out of whack (why oh why does this display the first paragraph of a chapter with a hanging indent, for example?), but Amazon offer an embeddable preview of the e-books they sell. So ... here's an embedded preview of Drawn To The Deep End. Enjoy. Then buy. Then review (like this... or these). Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask, right?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I won't do this every time, but...

...I just wanted to draw attention to a review that I'm particularly proud of. Indulge me, please.

Rol Hirst is a long-time and respected blogger, part-time writer, comic-book author and all-round good guy. He's just read and reviewed Drawn To The Deep End; here's an extract from his review:

Drawn To The Deep End is an intense character study of Peter, a man driven to the verge of depression by the death of his girlfriend, trying desperately to claw his way out, grasping at any straw (often straw women) that bends his way. It's a book that has a lot to say about being a lonely 30-something man in this day and age... and as someone who was just that ten or so years ago (and maybe only my age has changed, in some ways), I related to it very much. It's also very funny - shot through with dark observational humour that makes you wince and nod and wish you'd written it yourself. You may end up screaming at Peter. He does make some very unwise decisions. But you'll understand why, every step of the way. What is "happiness", anyway?

I'm quietly chuffed with that, especially the bit in bold.

You can read the full review on Rol's always-excellent blog, right here.

If you're interested in Rol's own novel (and you should be, it's terrific), you'll be wanting this link to I Wish, Wish, Wish You Were Dead, Dead, Dead. And, of course, Drawn To The Deep End is here.

Friday, 12 January 2018

This just in... first reviews!

Reviews (and, gratifyingly, lots of stars) are starting to appear on Amazon for Drawn To The Deep End - you can hover over each review quote in the image below for a bit more info, and click the quote to read the review in full.

★★★★★ from 'Sunny Sparrow' ★★★★ from Mark Kilner ★★★★★ from 'Suzyjerve' ★★★★★ from 'Ossie13' ★★★★★ from C. Taylor

Read Drawn To The Deep End? Care to leave a review?

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Sale now on...

Get a new device for Christmas? An e-reader or a new tablet/phone with e-book reading software on? Then you'll be wanting to fill it up, right? So lucky for you I'm running a bit of a sale, right now.

The e-book version of my novel, Drawn To The Deep End, is on a countdown deal - that means it starts off reduced as far as it's going to be and then gradually returns to full price. Here it is:

And if that's not good enough for you, some short stories (Turn Around Where Possible and Cold) and non-fiction essay (Tesc-No - living without supermarkets) are all free for a limited time. Look...


And, if Amazon isn't your thing, you can currently pick up a half-price e-book of my first collection of short fiction, Dark Steps, by buying it from Smashwords and using the promo code SEY50. That's five-zero, not five-o. Or, the paperback version is currently running with 15% off at Lulu.

Belated happy Christmas to you all.

Friday, 3 November 2017

These things I have learned

Don't get any big ideas

So, two months ago I self-published my debut novel, Drawn To The Deep End. That followed ten months of hawking it around agents and publishers, which in turn followed nearly a year of editing and five years of writing.

At the time of writing this, that novel has sold two dozen copies. Subtract the copies bought by family and close friends and you can probably halve that number. Subtract those bought by former colleagues and schoolmates who are curious, and you can probably reduce that number to zero.

So what have I learned from the whole, painful process?

  • If, like me, you take five years to write 80,000 words of novel, you've been prevaricating and, as Harold Bishop once said, prevarication is the enemy of achievement. I know it can be hard to find the time, but make time. There will always be other things to do, so prioritise. Writers write, right?
  • Don't edit alone. Yes, do the first and second pass edits yourself but then you need to bring other people in. Not only will they spot things you don't, they're also not biased about your precious words and will have no issue with ripping up that para you think is the best thing since sliced bread (but really isn't).
  • Target your submissions. There are only so many publishers that accept unagented works... so focus on agents. And revise. If your novel is a space-opera, don't waste the time of agents looking for historical fiction. And if the agency has more than one agent, take the time to read their profiles online, and then pick the one (i.e. don't carpet-bomb them all) whose interests align closest with what you've written.
  • Be realistic when you get feedback. It's easy to be flattered by phrases like "whilst your story stood out" or "whilst this shows promise", but they still begin with a "whilst" get-out clause; you're still being rejected, as in that other phrase "I'm afraid this isn't for me". Realise that agents receive untold submissions and there's a good chance that the response you get will incorporate some boilerplate text.
  • And now something specific to my attempted submissions: if you write a novel about a grief-ridden 30-something slacker who wants to die but can't kill himself, so instead sets off on a destructive path of increasingly erratic and reprehensible behaviour, surrounded by unlikeable characters, all doing unpleasant things, you might have to accept that this novel is not widely marketable and will not be for most people. And that most people includes agents and publishers.
  • When you self-publish a novel and it sells two dozen copies in its first seven weeks, don't get too excited. That's your family, friends, and social media acquaintances being polite and/or curious. You can't give up the day job just yet...

What did I miss?