Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back from Indie Gathering

Indie Gathering 2016 went out in a spectacular fashion, with a friend winning something like 11 trophies and plaques and myself coming home with a first place trophy.

Saw some great films, including a documentary and a short crime drama by a Polish filmmaker. We briefly discussed two of my favorite film directors, Andrjez Wajda and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Met some people I'd met last year and missed those who were there last year, but not this year.

While winning first place was certainly a highlight, it was participating in a cold reading, with actors reading a scene from my script before an audience that proved to be an interesting and educational experience. During the Q&A, the actors and audience members made suggestions, asked questions, and otherwise interacted. The critiques were positive and some of the suggestions I'd consider.

Anyway, I've entered Final Curtain in another contest and am working on a couple of screenplay ideas.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Monthly Round-Up: July 2016

It's the end of another month already. Where is this year going?

SUFFER THE CHILDREN is being released (well- re-released) by MuseItUp Publishing on 9 August. It's available for pre-order now.

SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers novel, will be released some time in 2017.

I made a guest appearance on Barbara Ehrentreu's blog on 24 July debating the merits of e-books v print books. Barbara wants to do a poll on this topic, and it's not too late to stop by and post your views.

The WIP is really not going well. I am hoping to have something more positive to say next month.

And that's about it for this month. Enjoy your summer, and I'll catch up with you at the end of August.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Final Curtain

Award Laurel
Next month is the Indie Gathering International Film Festival. Back in May, I entered my crime drama feature screenplay Final Curtain in their screenplay contest. (I'd won honorable mentions last year with my adaptations of Death Sword and Exterminating Angel.)

To be honest, I hoped Final Curtain would at least get an honorable mention. I'd entered it pretty late, a few days shy of the final deadline. So I was surprised and delighted to get an email at the beginning of July telling me the screenplay had won first place in the Feature: Crime-Drama category. I reread that email several times, a part of me convinced I'd read it wrong. But no. I had won. And the screenplay is listed on Indie Gathering's website. It may also be a contender for another award, but I won't know til August or September. Meanwhile, I've entered Final Curtain in another contest.

Winning a screenplay contest is a great ego booster, but I'm not naive to think my screenplay writing career is about to take off, and I need to start planning my Oscar speech. I have another screenplay in a contest that I'm not expecting to win, and that's okay. Screenplay contests are subjective. A first place winner in one might only garner an honorable mention in another.

Remember that homicide detective? The one who, when I told him probably nothing would happen with this screenplay, said, "You never know."

I think I'll make that my motto. And if I ever meet him again, I'll tell him he was right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Writing #8: Thou Shalt Heed the Submission Guidelines

It's been a while since I posted anything in this series of posts. Part of the reason, if I'm honest, is a crisis of confidence. When you have no faith in your own writing, you feel you have no right to lecture anyone else.
However, that sort of thinking is unhelpful, and I'm going to come back to that a bit later in the series. For now, though, it's time to pick up where we left off in the Ten Commandments of Writing. So you've written your manuscript, you've polished it until it shines, and now you're ready to send it out into the world. So what's next? You have to submit it.
Things have moved on quite a bit from when I first started submitting to agents and editors, back in the 1990s. In those days the submission instructions were fairly standard - the first three chapters and a synopsis, with a stamped self-addressed envelope, which involved spending my lunch hour standing in line at the post office to get my envelope weighed, buying return postage to include on the return envelope before sealing up the package, only to have it land on my doorstep a couple of days later in an envelope with my own handwriting on it.
Nowadays most submissions are made by email, but the instructions can vary widely. Firstly, you have more options, because there are far more small presses out there who are willing to look at unsolicited manuscripts, so you are not restricted to submitting only to agents. But some publishing houses might not want attachments in emails for fear of viruses. Some might have old machines that can't deal with certain types of software so they can only accept submissions in a certain format. Some don't like fancy fonts. In the old days of postal submissions, everything was pretty much written in courier or Times Roman. I still write all my manuscripts in Times Roman. It has a bad press in the business world these days, but I have a fondness for serif fonts that are clear and straightforward and easy to read. None of this sans serif font business where a capital 'I' and a lower case 'l' are indistinguishable.
Anyway, here is Commandment #8, and it is important: read the submission requirements carefully, and follow them to the letter, and this is about a lot more than ensuring that the publishing house you are submitting to deals with the genre you write in. Are the instructions asking for the first three chapters and a synopsis, or the whole manuscript? Do they ask for a blurb and the first chapter that must be embedded in the email, and do not under any circumstances send attachments? Do they want the whole manuscript, in 10-point courier font, single spaced, using paragraph auto indents instead of tabs and no page numbers? Then that's exactly what you send. 
Read the guidelines carefully, prepare your submission equally carefully, and double check everything before you hit 'send'. And then, if you're anything like me, you check your email box obsessively every half an hour until you get a response.
But at least your work will be Out There, and that's what counts. Good luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I am very pleased to be able to reveal the brand new cover for the MuseItUp release of my horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN today, on this blog.

Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of this journey will be aware that this is the third incarnation of this particular novel. It was my first published novel, released as an e-book by Lyrical Press in 2010. When the contract with Lyrical expired in 2013, the rights reverted back to me I self-published it as a Kindle e-book, with a specially commissioned cover designed by artist David Bezzina.

And now, finally, SUFFER THE CHILDREN has found a home with MuseItUp Publishing. The cover for their version has been designed by Charlotte Volnek, who also designed the covers for the two Shara Summers novels. And I have to say that once more I think she's done an awesome job.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be released in e-book format only by MuseItUp Publishing on 9 August. More information about promotions and so on will follow. In the meantime, I'm going to look some more at this beautiful cover.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monthly Round-up: June 2016

I missed posting the monthly round-up last month, because at the end of May I was driving through the Arizona desert. So this month I am playing catch-up.


I now have a release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN - 9 August. More information will appear very soon, including the cover reveal, so stay tuned.

Next year will see the release of the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH.


I appeared on Chris Mannino's blog on 19 May, musing about why anyone would want to be a writer.

On 28 June, I did a reading from SUFFER THE CHILDREN for the lovely folks gathered at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club - a real-space meetup for SFF/Horror fans occurring in London on the last Tuesday of the month. It was a lovely crowd and though I was slightly in awe at the company I was keeping - Paul Cornell and Laura Lam were also reading that night - everyone was very friendly and put me at ease.


I'm still working on the urban explorers horror novel, but it has not yet got a name.

That's it for now and I have to apologise for lack of updates on the blog. I am hoping to be able to make more regular postings from now on.