SFerics 2017

I have a short story, Positive Falsehoods, in the SFerics 2017 collection, which is now out.

It was organised by Rosie Oliver, edited by Roz Clarke, with cover art by Andy Bigwood. So thanks to them, and the other contributors.

Here’s the description:

What will the future hold for us, our children and our grandchildren? How will developing technology change the way we live? Will we keep our humanity or become more like robots?

Six Stories – Six Possible Futures

An anthology developed from the BristolCon 2015 science fiction and fantasy convention workshop – about the future of the latest technologies coming onto the market.

Amazon

Newsletter, Pre-Order, and New Cover

Newsletter

I now have a newsletter. At least in theory. I haven’t actually sent any out, since no one’s actually subscribed yet, so it’d be kind of pointless. I’ll probably, initially, use it just for notifications of books out, sales, and any other sundry announcements. I’ll also provide progress reports on stuff I’m working on at the time, but will otherwise not clog it up.

This is mainly because a popular piece of advice from many authors is to have a newsletter, so I may as well try it. I can see it’s more useful for basic notifications than twitter, where tweets can easily be missed, and is less passive than hoping readers visit your blog or website soon after you announce stuff. It’s the kind of thing I really hate doing though, since writing in my own voice is a painful process (hence this blog’s slow death).

Signing up gets you a free novella, Contractual Obligations. It’s one that after finishing I happened to read another novel with fairly similar elements, so I’m reluctant to try selling it. But it was in a releasable state, so it’d be a shame to let it waste.

If you’re interested, you can subscribe to it here.

 

The Book of a Thousand and One Destinies Pre-Order

This novella will be out of it’s Amazon exclusivity period next month, and available more widely from the 3rd of August. It’s 99c for it’s pre-order period, rising to the regular price of $1.99 thereafter.

As it has been free on Amazon (and will be again on the 29th-30th of this month) you can get it for free on Smashwords using the coupon code GM96U (valid until the end of August). I don’t know whether the coupon works on pre-orders, or whether you’ll need to wait until publication day.

 

 

New Cover for To Hunt Monsters

While fiddling with other covers, I produced a new one for To Hunt Monsters. It had the oldest remaining novel cover of my stuff, and while the general design was okay, I’m less happy with the execution as time goes on. So I reworked it, coming up with this. I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with it, but it’s an improvement, and something to work from in the future.

The Book of a Thousand and One Destinies

I noticed a few months back that Amazon UK had a competition for stories to be published between Feb and May 19th on KDP Select (which I dislike because of it’s exclusivity, but as a one-off I’ll see if it does me any good). I didn’t have anything ready to go at the time, and I think I thought it was only for novels. Also a lot of it sounds like a popularity contest, and getting readers is a problem to begin with.

Noticing a couple of days ago it’s for anything over 5000 words, and having a novella that I probably won’t find anywhere else to try submitting, I decided I’ll try it. Since it needs to gain some popularity by the end of the month, I doubt it’ll get anywhere.

It’s something to try anyway, and I’ll be doing a free giveaway of it next weekend (12th -14th), giving me time to submit to a few of the places that promote such giveaways, hopefully getting some attention.

It’s a shameless homage of the Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night (Tales of the Arabian Nights), with the language aping it in being slightly archaic. it probably won’t be for everyone. Or, likely, anyone. But it was fun to write.

 

The Book of a Thousand and One Destinies

A paranoid Sultan, an Assassin found only in stories, and a Storyteller caught up in their battle.

Once upon a time, a great Sultan was plagued by an Assassin who struck at him with stories and lies. A young Storyteller is gathered with her colleagues, and forced to share her stories with the Sultan before their voices are stilled forever.
In a war of destinies, enslaved jinn, and comparative truths, the Storyteller must tread dangerous ground in what may be her final recital.
A fantasy novella.

 

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Soul Food

Soul Food is available today. I’ve done an interview about it on the wonderful Darcia Helle’s site (try her books).

 

Soul Food

A woman dead in a derelict hotel. Hardly an unusual sight working homicide.

Already under IA scrutiny, Blake must hunt the killer through a maze of cults, criminals, fake mediums, and things whose existence makes him question his sanity. All the while trying to shoot as few people as possible. Fatally, at least.

And there’s the very unreal possibility of his soul becoming food for things that shouldn’t exist.

A paranormal suspense story.

 

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords

Soul Food Pre-order, & Print Edition Problems

Soul Food will be on sale on the 26th of January. It can be pre-ordered now at $1.99, going to regular price of $2.99 after publication.

Soul Food

A woman dead in a derelict hotel. Hardly an unusual sight working homicide.

Already under IA scrutiny, Blake must hunt the killer through a maze of cults, criminals, fake mediums, and things whose existence makes him question his sanity. All the while trying to shoot as few people as possible. Fatally, at least.

And there’s the very unreal possibility of his soul becoming food for things that shouldn’t exist.

A paranormal suspense story.

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords

 

Print Edition

I’m not yet sure whether there’ll be a print edition available, since the updated cover has arrived with the background again looking vague, and not like the image they show on their digital previews. This seems to be a constant problem with Createspace lately, and has contributed to my considerations of abandoning print.

It’s not as though I sell in print anyway. So it only adds time to the writing process. Formatting for print; reformatting because it never seems to come out right; waiting a month for the proof copy to arrive; having to redo the cover because it looks different.

I can barely see the streaks in the background. They look like some kind of dodgy printing artifact down just the left hand side. I ordered the print copy mainly to do a Goodreads giveaway before publication, but if it looks like this I have to wonder if it’ll do more damage, looking amateurish. I’ll wait a couple of days and see how much it irritates me then.

 

Publication, and Musings on Lovecraft, Horror and Religion

Monstrum Ex Machina, the third novella in the Grey Revolutions series, is released today.

Inspiration for stories come from numerous directions, and there’s usually more than one needed to construct a decent tale. One of the elements from this story came from considering Lovecraft’s cosmic horror, and how it differs from more traditional horror.

Disclaimers: I don’t have a deep knowledge of Lovecraft’s work, and less of horror in general, but have no intention of letting ignorance hold me back from giving an uneducated opinion. That’s what blogs are for. Also, this might result in some waffling, and anyone of a religious disposition may take offence. So better to stop here if this is you. Unless you want to be offended, in which case don’t blame me.

 

Lovecraft, Horror, and Religion

From the little research I bothered to do, I’m not sure there is a clear definition of cosmic horror. A good part of it is the terror at realising how small and insignificant you are. But associated with this is that the vast horrors to fear are usually indifferent to the harm they cause on something as small as us.

As opposed to a malevolent evil actively intent on doing us harm, so archetypal of a casual view of horror. This malevolent evil often has ties, either explicit or casual, to religious concepts of evil.

I see religion as starting out as folk tales used to explain the otherwise inexplicable world. Over time they’ve come to be considered more than mere stories, and held to tightly as a safety blanket. Of course they can’t be allowed to change over time, or it could disturb the illusion of authority they demand. So they still reflect the times in which they developed.

Times during which there were creatures out in the dark that meant us harm (besides each other). Even if only animals, they were threats. And the stories that built up around them shifted to less known terrors as familiarity grew.

Stories gave the fears form, and by doing so the promise that they could be survived, maybe even bested. But they also maintained the idea of the malevolent force outside our view, to keep the faithful from straying.

By Lovecraft’s time, the dangers in the dark (besides each other) had become less of a true concern. Settlements had grown so vast that a danger lurking outside it was well away from the beds of most in the settlement.

What was within the settlement became more of a cause for anxiety. The vast horde of strangers, feeding feelings of insignificance and isolation in this expanding worldview.

Lovecraft followed scientific discoveries, often using or referencing them. The growing understanding of the vastness of existence, and our smallness within that almost infinite scale, is obvious in his work. His horror was that of recognising one’s insignificance in an indifferent universe. The horror of being at the mercy of mechanisms that may not even register our existence.

Yet religion still seeks to engage people’s fears of malevolent forces, retaining that as the prism through which to interpret the world. Reinforcing divisions of us versus them. Cosmic horror is more about us versus it. Life. Vast and uncaring.

In part that may be why I see religion as archaic. It may once have offered comfort against the things people feared, but now seems to conjure its own boogeymen, oblivious to the true horrors of modern life.

Which can sound dark, but this worldview can also inspire awe (awe in the sense of wonder tinged with fear). And that’s where I feel it’s most interesting. It can raise all kinds of questions, and suggest further stories.

 

Moving On

This became only a minor element in the story, serving as motivation for one character’s agenda. So this shouldn’t spoil much. The spirit probably runs through many of my stories though, especially the one I’m currently working on.

The working title is Soul Food. It’s a contemporary, stand-alone story. I’m not sure if it’s horror or urban fantasy. It starts out as a detective story. I suppose I should try and get better at aiming for a particular genre if I want to get any kind of a proper writing career. Maybe someday.

 

Monstrum Ex Machina

Monstrum Ex Machina smallThe world is changing, in ways it shouldn’t.

Even on the mindscape, things don’t just happen. Someone must think them. So monsters of fable, and haunted houses, must be thought into being.

Theresa wants to arrest those responsible, for whatever their crime is. Alex is happy to have a mystery.

Then things get violent.

Can they solve it before the nightmare plague becomes uncontrollable?

A 34,000 word sf novella.

 

Smashwords

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk