Not Quite Vanished

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote, or did anything much on the whole I wanna be a best-selling author front. 2018 has been a rather tumultuous year in my personal life – I’ve started a new job that isn’t in a call-centre, moved home and taken on caring for my mother. There have been some exceptionally tense times, like the two months I spent working twelve hour shifts and helped my mother move twice. There were a few hospital trips in that period as well. I’ll admit to having been a little short-tempered on occasion.

Things are much more settled now. Mum’s settling into her new home in a sheltered housing complex (it’s right by town and she’s making friends). The new job is going pretty well. I work in a factory where we make perfume and whiskey boxes and it’s reasonably demanding, with all the regular baggage of working for a large company. It isn’t sales, however, and I can walk there so it’s currently my favourite job since I was eighteen and working for Blockbusters. It was the mid-nineties and I was taking Film Studies at sixth-form college.

So, life is going reasonably well, and there are a few months yet before Brexit ruins everything. It seems like a good time to maybe do something on the writing front.

First on the list is my Horror Dungeon Release Party (link below). Mar and Roma have worked incredibly hard on these events over the summer and the couple that I’ve been able to be there for have been a lot of fun. I can’t be there to host my hour myself, which is probably for the best, so Roma is taking point.

I thought it might be nice to write something for the occasion, and to use the opportunity to say I’m planning to get back on the horse. I have an awful lot of stories left to tell, some of them very close to being as finished as I can get them. Chaos Tales III: Infodump is in the final stages and there are a couple of things on the boil at Burdizzo I’m involved with – if you’re not familiar with what we do, pop in at the link below. Most of us are awesome…

I’ve also added a couple of new stories to my site. They were both written for anthologies this year but didn’t quite make the grade. I still think they’re fairly good though. I hope you agree.

So that’s it for now, except for my Nano declaration. I doubt I’ll hit the fifty this year, despite having the second half of November booked off, but I want to get back into writing more days than I don’t and Nano is a brilliant kickstarter.

Enjoy the party if you go and hopefully the next time I pontificate I’ll have Infodump ready.


I keep claiming I’ll start keeping a regular blog – I seem to remember half-promising a post and free story at least once a month. Something like that.

A free story every month was always a pipe dream. If my decks were clear, I’d be able to keep the promise. As it is, I have an enormous backlog of semi-complete stories I want to finish before I start anything new.

(Here is the backlog:

Maria – Novel, ready for submission
Gorgeous: Entrance Part One – Novel, awkwardly ready for submission
Mary’s Child: Entrance Part Two – Novel, waiting a final rinse
Entance: Entrance Part Three – Novel, first full draft. Bloated, confused and ugly in a very bad way.
Chaos Tales III: Infodump – Serial Novel, post-production/last-minute rewrites
Into Thin Air – Novel, two shite drafts, lots of notes and a plot outline
Reconnections – Novel, very bloated shite draft, patially detailed epic plot
Country Lane – Novel, hand-written first draft only, somewhere, but I love it

Plus all the others…)

I want to get at least some of them cleared before starting a whole load of new things. If real life leaves me the time and ease to write a quick story just for fun I still will, but I am very much doing the poverty thing just now, working every hour I can get. I’m a little tired.

So, the story a month was always going to be a bust. I knew that and half-promised to be regular with posts like this. My musings and glibberings for our mutual edification; something like that.

I thought about starting a reviews section. Lots of people do that, and I’m not short on opinions on what I’ve read. I also enjoy talking about the stories I’ve been told, through whatever medium, with other people who have also been told.

It wouldn’t be a good one if I did. Before I read, hear or see a story I want to know as little as possible. Even if it is a retelling of a story I know by heart I want to know as little about the way it is told as possible. Following the logic of that – acting how I want to be treated – I give the vaguest reviews. I also like to know something about the tastes of the person I’m giving largely formless opinions to (some of us like gore and others butterflies; those who like both have cool nightmares).

So, reviews are out.

Doesn’t leave much room for things to do in a blog, except for detailing the places I’ve been and things I’ve done or sharing my opinions on the state of the world.

I live five minutes walk from where I work, but I don’t earn enough on a regular basis to do much of anything. It’s maybe a little selfish, but I’ll keep my descriptions of the shitty estate I live on for my stories. Without the monsters, lunatics and blood, they aren’t much fun.

Which leaves the state of the world.

If I knew where to start, I don’t think I’d know what to say or do. Other than profanities, I don’t even know what to write.

The freeform hate in the world around me isn’t worse than anything I can imagine – I write supernatural horror where the bad guys tend to win, often set in Hell – but it is getting pretty close.

Take your pick – which disgusting, broken and evil part of the world springs to mind first?

I could list all the things but it’s all of them and would take a long time.

They all amount to the same thing. All the racism, greed and misogyny, the attitude that wanting something equates the right to have it, that privilege equates superiority – all the wars, all the fear and hate stirred up for ego and profit. All of it.

It’s shitheads treating people badly, to be understated.

I don’t have any answers, but I hate that I’m in the demographic with the biggest proportion of shitheads and I didn’t have the courage to start objecting to the way my peers were sooner than I did.

I’m still not very brave and could probably do more, on every front.

Which is what tomorrow’s for; if I can get out of bed.

Life threw a couple of curveballs over the last few weeks and my plans got a little derailed. You’d think I’d be used to that by now, and I was – just for the last thing that happened. I did have plans for the release of Chaos Tales III, but the editing has somewhat overrun. It’s still coming soon, and I’m fairly confident you’ll like the new array of monsters and snapshots of Hell.

One thing that has, however, gone to plan is the release of Sparks, my third time out with the Burdizzo Charity Squad – 12 Days and Hymn are the other two. As you may, or may not, know Burdizzo is a group of horror writers who met online and get together, mostly virtually, a couple of times a year and put together a collection of the grotesque, horrific, chilling and laugh out loud funny (sense of humour depending).

Sparks is for autism which, if I’m honest, makes it a little closer to my heart than the others. I’m not breaking out the violins but I have an autistic nephew, currently in his teens, who is going to need a lifetime of help. Personally, on an emotional level, I wouldn’t swap him for the world, and I don’t think anyone who knows him would.

Practically, we all know that his adult life is going to be a challenge. My nephew will need help and support, and that’s going to cost money. We’re not a wealthy family and we’ll not to it on our own.

Okay, I lied. The little violins are still playing.

You can make them stop with either, or both, of the links below. One is to get your own, lovely copy and the other is an online competition for best horror story – the one with most votes gets a bunch of free publicity for their novel.

30 Days 3

30 Song 3

Day Twenty-One – A Song With Someone’s Name

Eloise – The Damned

Again, so many options. I’ve not heard this in quite a while so, here you are.

Day Twenty-Two – Makes Me Move Forward

Time Warp – Original Soundtrack

Did I mention I sometimes think I’m clever?

Day Twenty-Three – Everyone Should Listen To This

Love Is A Mental Suicide – Selofan

I could really go to town on this one and my final selection is essentially a lucky dip. I discovered Selofan a few years ago and I adore them, a statement I could make – with variations – about at least a hundred other bands. I’m having a Selofan phase just now so they got chosen. This is an early track.

Day Twenty-Four – Band I Wish Were Still Together

Disclaimer – I excluded all bands that are lost due to death and specific line-ups of bands that are still going, no matter how Metallica they have become.

Thorn In My Side – Eurythmics

Surprisingly, I prefer the earlier, synthier stuff but I fancied hearing this just now. I’m enjoying this blog, having to think about the songs and reasons is almost as much fun as making an old-school mix-tape.

Day Twenty-Five – A Deceased Artist

Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison

I thought about all of them, except for Elvis. I’ve never cared for his work all that much. It came down to a toss-up between Roy, Johnny, Chuck, Buddy and Ritchie and Roy won today.

Day Twenty-Six – Fall In Love

Let’s Do It – Billie Holiday

I’m not a jazz fan, but you can’t go wrong when Billie’s singing.

Day Twenty-Seven – Breaks My Heart

Two Winters Only – My Dying Bride

It’s been a little light on the metal and goth so far, so a little of the two together seems justified. This song is from The Angel And The Dark River album, which is one of my all time favourites to write to.

Day Twenty-Eight – A Voice I Love

Rainy Days And Mondays – The Carpenters

I’ll get stick for this one, but I’m forty with a ponytail and pot-belly, I don’t give a flying. The music is saccharine shite and the lyrics so banal I think my eyeballs will pop when I read them but Karen’s voice really was all that.

To try and save my street cred, I’ve included a final cheat…

The Witching Hour, Day Twenty-Eight/Nine

Tunic (Song For Karen) – Sonic Youth

Day Twenty-Nine – Childhood Memory

Don’t Leave Me This Way – The Communards ft. Sarah Jane Morris

A top pop tune. I was very happy when this was number one and can remember running inside to hear it on the Sunday countdown. I have an enormous soft spot for unashamed pop that is as large as my other one for proper nasty noise – neither of which have really been covered in these posts.

Day Thirty – Thinking Of Myself

Twenty Years (I’ve Been Smoking All Night) – Virgin Prunes

It’s much closer to twenty-six, but who’s counting?

Thirty Songs Two

Days Eleven To Twenty

I’ll fess up here to having written all three entries on the tenth and scheduling parts two and three.

Day Eleven – A Song I’ll Never Tire Of

Play For Today – The Cure (Live)

This is the version from Paris. I’m pretty much happy with any version of this song but the crowd makes this version that little bit extra special. I was tempted to go for Charlotte Sometimes, it was a close call. Seventeen Seconds/Faith era Cure is, to my mind, the best work Smith has ever and will ever produce.

Day Twelve – From My Preteens

Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

Along with Ultravox’s Vienna, The Specials Ghost town and that one by Madness I can never remember the name of, this song creeped me out when I was wee. It still does, if I’m honest.

Day Thirteen – Something From The Seventies

Leaving Green Sleeves – Leonard Cohen

It’s from the Seventies and I like it. I’m also guessing not many of you have heard it.

Day Fourteen – Play At My Wedding

If You’ll Be Mine – Babybird

I’m terminally single and, to be honest, I’m not sure how well I’d react if someone were to try changing the status quo. I’ve got my issues and now I’ve got my routines, I’m content on my own. Which isn’t to say that I don’t daydream, just that my sudden crushes these days are more abstract than they used to be. Any which way, I love Babybird and this song in particular.

Day Fifteen – A Cover Version

Flesh – …and Oceans covering GGFH

All I was asked for was a cover version I like. This qualifies.

Day Sixteen – Classic Favourite

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

It makes me feel old choosing this one here but it is also a statement of fact. This song is a classic, by any standard, and it is a favourite. Catch me in the pub sometime and I’ll tell you about the first time I heard it – a tale that involves landmines and Martinis. Sounds like bullshit, and I was only fourteen, but both were involved that night in Belgium, February 1992.

Day Seventeen – Karaoke Duet

Wig – The B-52s

It’s an ensemble, not a duet. If you’ve ever heard me sing then you know I need the protection of a group, and this is also an excellent song from one of my all time favourite bands.

Day Eighteen – A Song From 1977

Cantina Band – Ash.

Sometimes I think I’m clever.

Day Nineteen – Make Me Think About Life

PlasterChrist – GGFH

This band are the sonic equivalent of King and Barker when they’re on form, still making my flesh crawl every time. I’m not going to apologise for the fact that, when I think about life, I tend to think about the darker aspects. I’m a chronic depressive, horror writing bratty goth from the nineteen-nineties.

This could have been my choice for the drugs and alcohol entry as well. My advice, based on experience, don’t listen to GGFH on LSD. I don’t regret that I did but…that was an interesting few days.

Day Twenty – Has Many Meanings

Star Spangled Banner – Jimi Hendrix (Woodstock)

Sometimes I’m as subtle as a brick.

I hope you liked some of them, back at the end of the month with the final ten.

Thirty Songs For Thirty Days: Part One

I was going to do this on Facebook with a couple of friends, namely Matty-Bob and Em, the pair behind Burdizzo. I’m disorganised at the best of times and the last few weeks have been extra hectic (I’ll share all about Cyril some other time) so I’m going to take part this way – three blogs of ten songs over the course of September. I’ve tried to be mostly honest and opt for the first songs that come to mind for each day, but I also want to try and give a decent representation of my music taste.
First up, surprisingly, it’s days one to ten. If you just want the songs, skip to the bottom where there should be a link to a Spotify playlist.

Day One – A Song With A Colour In The Title.

I Wish I Could Be Your Colour – Einsturzende Neubauten

I’m starting with a cheat, but I reckon it’s allowable . I’ve gone for this one because I really like it and no other reason.

Day Two – A Song With A Number In The Title.

15 Minutes OF Fame – Sheep On Drugs.

Doesn’t require much explanation and is one of my all time favourite songs.

Day Three – Reminds Me Of Summertime.

Black Country Chainsaw Massacre/Candyiosis – Pop Will Eat Itself.

Another cheat, because this is actually two songs, but still less than three minutes. Both songs appear on Now For A Feast, although the other way around. I nearly shared the entire album.

Day Four – Someone To Forget.

Fuck You Up – Telepathe

Depending on a variety of things I have at least as many people I want to forget as you do. This song is great for the ones I want to forget because they deserve my anger. I couldn’t decide on a song for the people I want to forget because I deserve their anger or this would have been another entry with two songs.

I excluded people I want to forget who are still in my life, otherwise this would have been dedicated to Cyril and the song would be by Whitehouse.

Day Five – Play Loud.

Killing In The Name Of – Rage Against The Machine

I like metal, punk, industrial, gabba and a whole lot more. Everything should be played loud if possible, which is why I have tinnitus and can’t really do proper loud any more. After much debate I went for tjhis because it is the only song that my mother ever really lost her temper over when I wouldn’t turn it down. The fact that I was fifteen and shouting – shouting, no attempt at singing – may have had something to do with that.

Day Six – Get Up And Dance.

Vagabonds – New Model Army

Again this could have been any one of a huge number, even more if I include all the stuff I’d like to have danced to but never heard sober enough to trust myself walking (I went to raves, but I mostly sat in corners gouging). I’ve gone for Vagabonds by New Model Army because, way back in the day at the Hatfield Forum, this song came on every week around about nine o’clock and was the cue for our nineties teenage fun to really begin. Except for those of who’d had too much White Lightning and MD 20/20, or whatever else was going cheap.

Day Seven – A Song To Drive To.

Truth, Bitter Truth – Marianne Faithful

I don’t actually drive myself, which is definitely for the good given my ability to walk into walls when I’m sober and the alarming number of different rights and lefts I have. I’m fairly certain I have so many I am technically a trans-dimensional being, a visitor to your three-dimensional version of Flatland.

I have, however, been a passenger a great many times. Truth, Bitter Truth is from Marianne Faithful’s 1981 album Dangerous Acquaintances and was a popular choice for my mother and I back in ’91/92 when she was driving me home from my first girlfriend’s house.

Day Eight – Drugs And Alcohol.

Born Slippy – Underworld

It’s eleven years since I last got properly high, but that is another blog entirely. All I think I need to say is that choosing one for this category has had me more stumped than all the others so far, put together.

Should I go for one about booze or drugs? Herbal or chemical? Good times or bad? Recreational or medicinal? There are an awful lot of variables, and I’ve had a couple of drinks this evening.

After much thought, I could only go for Born Slippy. It’s the only one that kinda covers it all. From the happy side; I also thought about Faith by The Cure from the unhappy but I’m not in a Cure mood this week.

Day Nine – Makes Me Happy.

Lost In Love (Original Mix) – Legend B.

This could have been a drugs and alcohol tune. In the twenty odd years since I first heard this I have not once wanted to be listening to something else. In every state of mind, sober, wasted, happy and sad, I love this tune.

Day Ten – Makes Me Sad

Who Knows Where The Time Goes? -Sandy Denny (John Peel Session, 11/069/73).

It’s an amazing song pretty much regardless of who’s performing but this is the version I always go to.

I’ll do the next ten days sometime in the next week or so…

It’s been a little while since I did anything with this site – coincidentally, the exact amount of time it has been since I last home internet. Wierd that, huh?

A very quick update then, before I get to the point. In the eighteenmonths or so since my last post I’ve been doing the starving artist thing – either not working or not earning enough to live on but still getting words written. It’s not been great, and I’ve been stitched a couple of times – which is great when I need someone to think about for a slice’n’dice scene.

On top of the precarious financial situation I’ve also been having a year of emotional fun. laugh if you want, but the death of my cat last summer triggered a genuine and prolonged grieving period. Those are never fun, which is why everyone I know and love has to immortal – at least until the day I die.

It’s all cool now, though. I’ve reasonably stable employment and really want to get some kittens.

More importantly, for those of you who aren’t still thinking of kittens, I’ve a bunch of stories getting ready for sharing. Chaos Tales III: Infodump is nearly ready and there’s another Burdizzo charity anthology coming soon, plus a bunch of other, vaguer projects.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of the stories I’ve written this year. It’s a little overblown in places, but it is about Lucifer. I wrote it mostly because it is a major part of the backstory for most of what I write (a statement that will make more sense when/if I manage to get Entrance out) and I needed to get some bits down in hardcopy.

Anyway, it’s called The First Fall, and I hope you like it.

I Did Stuff!

This is as much a status update as a blog entry but I want to share, because I’m quite pleased with the last few days. It’s also nearly four o’clock in the morning and I don’t want to go to bed because, if I do, the next time I open my eyes it will be time to go to work. The logic is counter-productive, but I am rather tired.

Any which way, onto the news. I’ve notched up my third anthology appearance. Death By Chocolate is available through the link below. It’s on my to-be-read pile, I know some of my companions and I’m looking forward to what they’ve done. I would take a break from my other reading to jump straight in but I’m wading into the Gormengast trilogy for the second time and I don’t want to break the flow. Which also means when I get round to editing what I’m writing at the moment I’ll have to extract the really blatant rip-offs that are going to seep through.

In other news on the I Did Stuff front, I’m going to have to be vague. Negotiations are under way and I’m not allowed to reveal anything but I’m rather excited about the prospect. One of the group projects I’m in has started attracting some attention – Nathan, our troop leader, has been working his socks off for a long time. I really hope it all comes together. When it does I’ll undoubtedly write something more detailed about it but for now can I get away with just revealing that, without this particular project and the encouragement of the others, I don’t think I’d have gotten as far as I have. Which isn’t all that far but I’m in print – lifetime goal achieved!

Even if you only dip in and out occasionally I’d advise joining a few writing groups. Support and geeky in-jokes are always good and, every once in a while, you’ll be treated to a juicy flamewar when egos take over. Good, clean and wholesome fun.

ps – if you do pick up a copy of Death By Chocolate, let me know what you think. Feedback nourishes my ego.

Hooray! It’s Spring!

It’s been a wee while since my last post. I’m not sure if I should apologise for being silent or for starting up again. I do want to avoid this becoming whiny, so I’ll just say that my real life is really getting in the way at the moment. I think I’m turning a corner, and life always gets a little better when I’m not moping because it’s dark and cold. Onward and, if not upwards, at least not down.

In the writing life, however, I’m feeling fairly good. I didn’t get the deal from Gollancz’s open call and also didn’t make the shortlist for The Guardian’s Stephen King competition. I’ll stick Echo – my honourably unnoticed effort – up as a page. I don’t think it’s my best outing ever but I quite like the story. There is an earlier version that has a little more bite and nastiness in the writing, but it also has an unintentional subtext I’m a little ashamed about not spotting as I was writing.

Beta readers, and family members with doctorates in philosophy, are wonderfully good at making sure I’m somewhere close to writing what I mean. If you do read it, I hope you like it.

Now, saving the real look-at-me moment for last, onto the Big Announcement.

Death By Chocolate, the new Knightwatch anthology I’m in is available from this weekend – March 6th. I haven’t received my contributor’s copy yet so I honestly don’t know who I’m being overshadowed by. I’m pretty excited to find out.

Proper links will follow when I have them. I’ll try to make sure I don’t forget.

2015 And All That…

I’m not great at blogs, probably because I’ve never bothered keeping a diary or journal – unless you count the teenage pretension that my poetry was my diary, which you really don’t want to do because then you might want to read some – but it’s been a fairly big year for me and I have more things I want to say than will fit in a Facebook post.

Should I start with the good or the bad? There’s been a fair bit of both this year, but I think I’ll start with the bad. I’ve less to say about that than I have the good. In fact, I can bulletpoint the bad:

  1. Cluster headaches and migraines are a part of my life now, which flat-out sucks.
  2.  This is 1a, really. I lost my job thanks to the time off for headaches and money is now painfully tight. So tight, I’ll be offline for at least the whole of January.
  3. The best cure/treatment for the headaches – given that the doctors are certain I haven’t got a brain tumor – is to quit smoking and reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption. This does not sit well with my long standing ambition to party until I die. Parties are no fun when you just feel tired and your head hurts.
  4. I’ve had to start giving up smoking. I’m vaping as I type and, whilst the nicotine is there, it just isn’t the same. Yes, this is part of point three but I’m really unhappy about it. I don’t care if I stink, I’ve smoked for a quarter century and I still like it.

That pretty much sums up the bad. Not too bad in the great scheme of things but the cranial pain and lack of funds are both real pissers. They really get in the way.

On to the good. I’ll bulletpoint this as well because it’s fair, and if I don’t this will turn into an essay.

  1. The cluster headaches and migraines that got me fired also got me out of a job that I loathed. I wish the timing had been better – I was planning to find something new in January – but I’m no longer tied to ‘that’ place. At some point I’m going to write Chaos Tales III and it is going to be about office work in Hell. I miss the money, I do not miss the job or the people.
  2. I appeared in my second anthology – I’m incredibly proud of both volumes of Chaos Tales but also aware of the fact that self-publishing is open to all and largely dominated by people who either just shouldn’t or need to spend a little more time on their product. Having someone I’d never met or heard of before choose one of my scribbles for a proper, official book was an immense ego-boost.
  3. The quality of the other stories in Wild Things. I don’t love all of them – no-one loves every story in an anthology – but the quality of the other writers I was chosen to be amongst is something that still makes my ego purr and always will.
    I wish I was the standout star of the collection but I’m not – and, no, I will not reveal my personal ratings of the other stories and where I fit in. That would be incredibly rude. Also, none of them are bad. There are two I wish I’d written myself, no matter how differently. The rest of us are all in equal third place.
    (I’m not just saying that to be nice or diplomatic. It’s just true.)
  4. I polished, finished and released Hell TV on Kindle – it’s had good feedback.
  5. I got both volumes of Chaos Tales out in paperback, via Createspace. The covers look so much better in hardcopy.
  6. I’ve had another two stories accepted for anthologies, one of which I was invited to contribute to. I can’t say much more about those, I’ve been asked not to until the details are confirmed. I’m excited about both, although one a little more than the other. Chuffed to bits with both stories.

Enough bulletpoints, I guess. I’ve not mentioned a few things – like how happy I am to have become an uncle for the sixth time – but lists get boring and this is already too long for a blog post. If you’ve read this far, you probably know me well enough to be aware of the fact that I could rival King for word-processor diarrhoea.

So, 2016…

If I don’t die, and World War Three doesn’t start (genuinely scared it will, but that’s another post), I plan to get Entrance finished. I’m finally working on the last part of the trilogy and I’m extremely confident, despite my decision over Christmas to scrap what I’ve written so far (eighty thousand words or so) and start again. I made some serious mistakes right at the start and not even harsh editing can save the version I have now. It’s a bummer, but that’s how I work – my record for a discarded draft is a little under two hundred and seventy thousand.

Did I mention the typed diarrhoea I suffer from?

Anyway, enough from me. Thank you all for reading – this post or any of my stories. Whatever happens to me or in my life, I wish you all the best that I can. Unhappy endings, like general nastiness, belong in stories and nowhere else.

Be good, take care and have fun – you deserve it.