Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monthly Round-Up: October 2015

Here we are at the end of October, rapidly approaching the Witching Hour. The clocks in the UK went back last weekend and it's now dark by 4:30pm. I really hate the long nights, but there are things about Autumn that I really like. The beautiful colours of the trees. The crunch underfoot as I walk through fallen leaves on my way to the station. The anticipation of bonfire night, and of Hallowe'en. And of course October is my birthday month. This year I happened to spend it at FantasyCon. It's the first time I've spent my birthday at a convention, but it was quite nice to get all the extra birthday wishes. Since the date of FantasyCon 2016 has already been announced and it's in September, it's looking unlikely that will happen again next year.

Anyway, on with the news.


Nothing new to report, but just another reminder that THE WHISPERING DEATH is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon. If you've read it and feel inclined to review it, I would be most grateful. Word of mouth is the best way to promote a book, and reviews really help.  


I've been fairly busy with online promotion over the last month.

14 October - I made an appearance on Theresa Derwin's Terror Tree blog talking about the questions you shouldn't ask a writer.

14 October - on the same day I was part of the Horror Writers' Association's Hallowe'en Haunts feature, with a blog post about what Hallowe'en is like in the UK.

25 October - I appeared on Iva Valentino's blog talking about my lifelong love of reading.

In addition, I did two Cons in October - Bristol Horror Con and FantasyCon - and two book launches.

Waiting for punters at THE WHISPERING DEATH launch on 14 October
The first book launch was locally on 14 October. That went rather well, and we had about 20 people turn up, including two who happened to see my poster and liked the sound of the book. So proper punters, as opposed to people who already know me. I was very pleased about that. It felt like one more small step on the path to notoriety.

The second book launch was at FantasyCon, and didn't go quite so well. I am grateful to the five people who did turn up and show support, but clearly all the promotion, Tweeting and cajoling people at the Con didn't have much effect. I think launches at Cons only work if you're well known enough to have a following. Evidently I'm not there yet.  


I've made some progress with SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH - in fact the end is in sight. This is only a first draft, though, so there's still lots of work to do yet. Not so much progress on the urban explorer horror novel, however.

 I've set a new pledge to write 3,000 words a week between now and the end of the year. Most weeks I've managed to meet my target, and every little helps.

Well that's it for now. I wish you a happy Hallowe'en, and I will see you here next month!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

National Novel Writing Month

I enjoy reading murder mysteries, whether cozy or police procedural. I've taken classes on homicide detectives, forensic science, crime scene investigation -- all geared toward writers. I follow a former LEO's blog, and am a member of a Yahoo site related to writing crime.

But I'd never thought I'd write a crime story, until recently. Well, scratch that. I had written one, a paranormal historical whydunit called The Ripper's Daughter. But that doesn't count, because while there are murders, the reader knows who the killer is, and the question becomes can the hero stop that person?

Okay, confession time. I wrote a screenplay with a homicide detective and his retrocognitive partner investigating a series of murders. In fact, I'm considering submitting it to contests.

Maybe I should have started with I'm trying my hand at writing a possible police procedural series, particularly an occult police procedural. In fact, I'm working on two of them, writing one now and plotting the other for NaNoWriMo next month.

The first one, currently called the Tzadkiel Project is one of the few stories I'm writing off the top of my head. The other, called the Memitim, is being plotted in WriteWay Pro and Dramatica Pro. I'm also using the Tarot for my characters' hero/ine journeys.

Usually, I end up writing NaNo by the seat of my pants. October 1 rolls around, and I think, "I have a whole month to plot, write my characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts, etc." October 15. "Oh, I still have two weeks. It's all good." October 31, 11:59 AM. "Damn! All I have is  name!"

Yeah, even I'm surprised I'm more ready for NaNo than usual. Now if I had Walter B. Gibson's drive to write thirty pages a day. Then again, he didn't have Facebook or YouTube to distract him. *grin*

So yes, I'll be participating in NaNo again this year. If anyone wants to look me up, I go by Sapphyre. To all those who'll be aiming for 50k in November, good luck and happy writing!

For more info about NaNo, click here. And remember, if you've ever wanted to write a novel, but were too afraid to ask, NaNo is a great way to dip your toe in the writing waters.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fright Night Film Fest 2015

This past weekend, I attended Fright Night Film Fest. While not on the guest author list, I participated on two panels, one about the history of horror, and the other on how to write horror, suspense, and thrillers. The audience was engaging, making the panels enjoyable, and I hope they were inspired to maybe check out a movie they'd never thought about before, or to start writing that novel.

Overall, it was a quiet but fun weekend. Great to see fellow horror authors I only see a few times a year at other cons. Looking forward to next year.

Fright Night Film Fest banner

James Chakan and horror author L. Andrew Cooper

Stephen Zimmer, author and publisher of Seventh Star Press, with Frank Hall

Urban fantasy and suspense-thriller author Amy McCorkle

Horror author Michael West

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Top Five Horror Manga/Anime

(Cross-posted from Darkling Delights)

It's October. You know what that means. A celebration of all things horror. People are listing their favorite horror movies and books, but I decided to be a bit different. I'm listing my top five favorite horror anime/manga.

In no particular order:

5. Hellsing
A manga by Kouta Hirano, Hellsing is the story of Alucard (get it?) who works with the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, led by Integra Hellsing, descendant of Abraham Van Helsing. The manga and anime don't shy away from the violence and bloodshed, and Alucard revels in attacking and defeating his enemies. That's what makes this manga and anime such a guilty pleasure.

4. Tokyo Ghoul
I've only started watching the anime version of this, but it's an interesting and disturbing premise. A young man is attacked by a ghoul and becomes one himself. His struggle to deal with his impending change, while trying to retain his human qualities, is complicated by society's belief that all ghouls are dangerous. I'm interested to see where this anime goes and to check out the manga.

3. Tomie 
A manga by Junji Ito. I've read a few of his collections, and he's very effective as a horror manga-ka. Tomie is a disturbing story of a young woman who will not die, even after being hacked to pieces. She's the quintessential undead character, a woman whose beauty and desire drive people to murder her, but who always comes back. Always. Always.

2. Vampire Princess Miyu
At first glance, this beautiful, ethereal young vampire doesn't seem at all disturbing. Until you find out that eternal happiness is a horrible alternative from reality. Narumi Kakinouchi's vampire/guardian is an interesting anti-heroine. She returns the Shinma (god-demons) to the dark, but the impact her and these beings have on human life beg the question of who might be more dangerous.

1. Mermaid Saga
If only Rumiko Takahashi would continue and/or finish her saga of the 500-year old immortal Yuta and his equally immortal companion, Mana. A fisherman in ages past, Yuta ate the flesh of a mermaid. Not only did he survive the encounter, he watched his friends either die a horrifying death, or turn into monsters when they consumed the same flesh. The stories that comprise the Mermaid Saga (Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Scar, Mermaid's Gaze, etc.spin a cautionary tale of immortality and the horrifying results that can manifest from people desperate to attain eternal life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Was I Thinking?!

Most authors recognize these feelings when beginning a new work in progress: excitement, determination, even a bit of trepidation...

Which can lead to that moment when, fingers frozen to the keyboard (figuratively, depending on where you live), the mind literally shifts gears from "Yes!" to "Huh?" to "What the hell was I thinking?" That so-called perfect idea has finally reared its ugly head. Why couldn't we see it coming?

Now what? I mean, by this time, we've invested ourselves in our story, and the thought of quitting seems so defeatist. We believe we can fix it, once we know what the problem is.

This happened to me recently. I'd started out to write a short story about an angel homicide detective. Put an excerpt up on my Facebook page, and people actually liked it. Someone asked if this were a novel, and I said not at first, but the way things were going, it seemed to be that way.

So what's the problem? I've never written a police procedural before. I've read them, even taken classes on homicide detectives and crime scene investigations. And while I've always thought I'd write one, part of me flinched at the idea. What if I got something wrong?

The irony? I'd written a screenplay with a homicide detective. In fact, I'm thinking of dusting it off, revising it, and submitting it to contests.

So why does a novel seem so daunting? Screenplays are easier to write: action, scene description, and dialogue. No inner thoughts or long, languid descriptions.

But with both novel and screenplay, I need to make sure I get each one right. And that means research. In this case, not only about homicide detectives but also angels.

It also meant I needed to know where my plot was going. See, I started this book on October 1. Every April and October, I join a group of fellow authors for BIAM-Writathon, a Book in a Month type of event. Sort of like an unofficial NaNoWriMo. Which reminds me, I need to start plotting November's book.

Anyway, I basically started this book by the seat of my pants, and I'm a plotter. So this means that I'm going to have to start plotting this book in order to map the scenes out. Then, go back and revise areas that need it, such as the crime scene investigation at the beginning. To help me, I'm trying Scrivener.

My goal is for my angel homicide detective to become a series character. Need to finish this book first. Wish me luck!