Giveaway results

winner-winner-chicken-dinnerWell, the Goodreads giveaways that spanned most of January and February are over.

Following half a day of printing and signing letters, personalising title pages and stuffing envelopes, all the prizes are now in the post.

*pats self on back*

I gave away: Continue reading

Behind The Veil

The Veil contains two linked novellas, both previously published and now collected for the first time in a single volume by the good people at Horrific Tales Publishing.

The first story – The Kill Crew – initially appeared in 2009 as a POD paperback published by Continue reading

How to make a real book. (Hint: don’t ever do it this way.)

2016-08-31 09.12.06I’m delighted to see this novel make it into print after such a long time. We wouldn’t have planned it this way but steep learning curves aren’t such a bad thing. Besides, getting everything wrong is a defining clown trait and we’re proud to posses it in spades.

What underpins this post, though, on the day that Clown Wars finally becomes a real book, is a feeling of gratitude to my co-author, Jeremy Drysdale. This whole nonsensical shebang was his idea. More ridiculous still, I actually agreed to help him turn it from a spec script treatment into a novel.

This resulted in a cascade of preposterous absurdities, all of which revolved around one central irony:

Commissioning editors loved it but not one of them had any idea who the readership might be or how to market such a galactic genre anomaly. We came tantalisingly close to that ‘traditional’ publishing route several times, yet the final answer was always no.

But as all keen circus-goers understand, ‘no’ isn’t a word that clowns take very seriously.2016-08-31 09.12.42

Not everyone loved the book, of course. A few had a fear of clowns and couldn’t stand it. Frustratingly, they were all industry gatekeepers – among them, the producer at Aardman who first saw the idea and politely told Jeremy to get lost. A few agents and editors had similar feelings.

We had to accept the facts: if we didn’t publish it ourselves, the readership would remain steady at zero and all marketing would remain hypothetical, a realisation that took five years to sink in (clowns don’t take hints too well, either).

I know I speak for Jeremy when I say that believing in a book this…leftfield…has been trying, especially after so many extremely positive knockbacks. But that’s another thing about clowns; every time you knock ’em down, they bounce back up again. Kinda creepy, actually.

So, back to that feeling of gratitude:

Jeremy Drysdale brought me this curiosity. We’ve had no end of fun and heartache developing it but a worthwhile existence is full of fun and heartache, I think – it lets you know you’ve lived. Bringing Clown Wars into the world has informed us, loud and clear, that we’re very much not quite dead yet.

2016-08-31 09.12.57You can help!

If you feel any of the same kind of gratitude after reading the book, you can help us.

Tell someone about the book. Tell your therapist; you never know. If you can’t think what to get for a weird relative this Christmas, buy them a copy of Clown Wars – it’s a steal at £7.99 and guaranteed to be unique. Get on Amazon and leave us a rating and review – it really does make a difference – and do something similar on Goodreads and Librarything or your blog.

And here’s why we need your help:

We have no marketing budget. We have no publicist. We’ll never have a poster campaign or be in a well-known book club. We won’t be reviewed in papers or magazines. There’s only you, our readers, and what you say about the book. So, if you love it, we hope you’ll share that love.

And maybe it will come back to you…

There’s been an overwhelming response to yesterday’s post, in which I talked about releasing my next novel for free, chapter by chapter, right here on the blog.

I had emails, tweets, DMs, Facebook and blog comments. A lot of them suggested I charge something for each chapter. Others thought I ought to self-publish the novel as an eBook. I also received many offers of help. It was lovely to suddenly have so much input from people who are clearly very keen on my fiction.

The most profound contact came from my old agent, Brie Burkeman, who closed her agency a year ago for family reasons. After speaking to her on the phone, it was very clear that she was opposed to me giving my work away for nothing.

The combination of her pep-talk and all the comments and messages of support that I’ve had have convinced me to hold off just for a little longer.

I do have several ‘live’ submissions with editors and agents but these are people  who are, often-times, too busy to respond – or, if they do, it’s months and months later. I wanted to make something happen fast and I thought I’d come up with a good way of breaking the deadlock. On reflection, however, perhaps I was a little hasty.

So, I hope you’ll keep waiting – as I keep waiting – to hear from the gatekeepers who can make or break careers with their decisions. Tentacles crossed, there’ll be some big yeses from them this time.

Some of you have also asked me what the novel is about, so I’ll do a post with some teasers for you soon…

If you love it, let it go…

At the end of the day, all I really want is for people to read what I write and be entertained. It’s a simple wish; something heartfelt.

Would I like to be paid for that? Of course.

The reality is, however, that in fifteen years of pursuing that simple, heartfelt wish, only one year of writing fiction brought me a living wage. If I’d given up my day job, I’d have starved years ago!

I have no agent. I have no publisher. What I do have, though, is what I’ve always had: a story to tell. Something that will transport you to another world, just as I was transported in the writing of it.

And, seeing as I have nothing tangible to look forward to in publishing at the moment, I have nothing to lose by giving something away – the one thing of value that I posses; my work.

So, if you’re interested in seeing my latest novel, released chapter by chapter right here on the blog or if you want to know more about the story, let me know.


The Hairy Faerie – Cover Reveal and More!

It’s already a year and half since my daughter and I wrote The Hairy Faerie.

Since then I’ve read it for Year 1 & 2 children to rapturous appreciation. It turns out that children are the best audiences I’ve ever had!

This year, I was invited to do a story-writing workshop for World Book Day. I enjoyed working with Year 2 children so much that I’m now taking my workshops into other schools. I wanted to take The Hairy Faerie with me, not as a manuscript but as a real book.

After the usual slew of rejections, I decided, after fifteen years of avoiding it, that this was the tine to self-publish.

With the help of my agent, Meg Davis at Ki, we’ve now arrived at the moment when we’re poised to hit ‘print’.

The final cover art arrived at 5 a.m. this morning from the extraordinarily talented John Allen of Induna Art & Design Inc.

Fancy a butcher’s?

Continue reading

Sad days as I wait for the end of winter

shut happensMy literary representative, Brie Burkeman, who’s effect on my career and profile has been tremendous, is closing her agency for family reasons.

You can see the full story here.

Brie has looked after me with great care for two and a half years, streamlining my productivity and securing a number of rights deals I could never have manifested on my own.

She made it possible for me to get on with writing while she handled everything else. In addition, Brie taught me a lot more about the publishing business and, by example alone, how a ‘good’ agent should behave. She’s been the perfect combination of rock and Rottweiler: always there when I needed support and utterly uncompromising if anyone stepped out of line contractually.

When Brie emailed me a couple of weeks ago, attaching the letter which outlined her plans to shut up shop, I completely understood her reasoning and her decision. Nevertheless, I was floored.

That sensation of solid ground liquescing beneath my feet – a feeling I’ve come to know well in what has always been an uncertain career – returned with knobs on. I’d hoped such uncertainty was forever behind me but perhaps that’s unrealistic, especially given the state of utter flux that publishing as a whole is in right now.

As with all Good News/Bad News stories, though, there is a positive aspect; a new chapter, no less. I’ve been taken on by Meg Davis at Ki. I met her for the first time a few days ago and was very impressed – not to mention relieved – by how focused and experienced she is. She was also surprisingly open to all my hair-brained ideas.

So, the journey is far from over.

After fifteen years or so of turbulence, I’ve finally bought myself a gravity belt and strapped myself in. Wherever the ride takes me next, I’m ready.