Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A print version is coming.

Thanks to the lovely Yeoung for helping sort this out, Createspace better be happy.

Oh, how pretty.

Make sure you sign up to the mailing list on the top right of this page.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Blood Mother is out now on Kindle

Amazon - $2.99

The average American encounters eight supernatural beings in a given week. 98% of these occurrences go unnoticed. One in fifty paranormal happenings is aggressive in nature, and of these, only 5% are ever reported. As an Analyst for the Department of Paranormal Study and Defense, Tom Bell's job is to respond to that 5%.

When a botched encounter leads to aggression from the barbaric Dry Ones of Louisiana, Tom heads to New Orleans to plead his case. There he finds himself embroiled in a brutal power struggle between the colony’s two leaders: pragmatic Judge Berenger, and bloodthirsty Archbishop Hatcher. With Keda growing increasingly unstable, old threats from Tokyo rearing their heads, and the mounting tension between the Dry Ones, Agent Bell will have to pull out all the stops to get out of here in one recognizable piece.

The nightmares are back, and they're telling of a terrible power growing deep in the swamp…

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Regarding Amtrak

(I sent this letter to Amtrak back in late October after an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles. It occurred to me that I hadn't posted it on my blog, and some of you might get a laugh. Enjoy.)

To whom it may concern at the Amtrak transportation company.
I am writing to inform you that I will not be using your atrocious company again under any circumstances.
I told myself once earlier this year that I would be withholding my business from Amtrak after an issue with payment caused me to be charged $400 (that’s twice for a $200 purchase) on my credit card for tickets that I never received. Through some massive lapse of judgment on my part I decided to book a train and then bus connection to Los Angeles from Modesto anyway as it seemed like the cheapest and most hassle-free option. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I’ve decided to write down a few helpful suggestions for you to consider implementing at your bus and train stations so that in the future, you don’t find yourself massively inconveniencing somebody with more money and less patience than myself.
  1. I intended to pay for my tickets with a debit card (i.e. fluid capital). It seems however that your company has some sort of vehement religious opposition to debit card payments and only wants to accept in-person payments via credit card. Perhaps you should spring for some ATMs in your stations, so that a customer does not need to sprint to the nearest 7-11 to avoid missing the last bus to his destination.
  2. It could be argued that I should have booked online in advance. This, however, is exactly what led to me being charged $400 plus tax for thin air two months previous. Additionally, from my previous run-in with your company, I’ve learned that your online booking service—which doubles as your schedule— is frequently out of commission, and was down over this entire weekend. As such it was both impossible and unwise to rely on it.
  3. I understand that bus and train delays are just a reality of life and that not every individual customer can be considered when dealing with them. However, to leave from Modesto at 3pm and arrive in Los Angeles at 1am the following day for what is ostensibly a seven-hour journey is pushing it, and some hotels are less forgiving about what constitutes a no-show. Granted UCLA is not exactly Compton and there was a hospital with a phone quite close by, but being dropped in the middle of a strange city at one in the morning with no taxi stands or other human beings in sight is one of those scenarios that will give anyone at least a moment of distress.
  4. Due to whatever payment error your computers managed to come up with at our point of origin, we were told that our return tickets were reserved and that we could pay for them at the UCLA Westwood station (our destination) upon our return. What your agent failed to make clear was that the UCLA Westwood Amtrak station is a metal pole, and that your drivers don’t carry the necessary equipment to make monetary transactions. This is a grave failure in judgment and at the very least some sort of voucher or receipt signifying the return reservation would not go amiss. Just to be safe.
  5. With regards to the above-- while I don’t expect each and every agent to be intimately familiar with every Amtrak station in the state, at the very least your bus drivers could speak fluent English.
  6. Once we got past the language barrier your driver had me call your 1-800 number to confirm my reservation while en route. First things first—please tell your automated cockatrice-woman “Julie” that when I say I’d like to speak to an agent, my working relationship with her has concluded. I applaud her earnestness and prerogative, but the phrase “Maybe there’s something else I can help you with” seems like it was mathematically crafted to make the customer as angry as possible at that particular moment. It also makes it look as though you are avoiding me.
  7. The point of playing music while a customer is on hold is to ensure the connection to your answering system is still active while being as unobtrusive as possible, and a period of easy listening between one’s original grievance and the moment an agent picks up the line can tend to at least somewhat defuse a customer’s anger, and give them a chance to rationally articulate their issue. Unfortunately you seem to have opted for a tape deck playing what I assume was some sort of lost Beck album, which you interrupted every ten seconds to have Julie urge me to hang up and call back so that she could help me instead, like a well-spoken Medusa of an ex-girlfriend. At this point I really did begin to think you were avoiding me.
  8. Given that I was on hold for the entire journey from UCLA Westwood to the Amtrak station in Van Nuys (with Julie clucking in my ear between intermittent bursts of static-drenched acoustic guitar), I didn’t get to personally deal with your phone agents as I have in the past and thus have no fresh complaints about them. Good job!
  9. A reminder about installing ATMs at your stations if you insist on only taking CASH or CREDIT, as I’m going to assume that not EVERY Amtrak station is within 100-Meter Dash distance of a convenience store, though I suppose this time I lucked out. You may argue that I should’ve gotten my cash out ahead of time, and I did—it’s just that the taxi fare trying to find your UCLA stop ate into my allotted bus fare, given as your metal pole with a picture of a bus on it is indistinguishable from any other in the greater Los Angeles area.
  10. Finally, this may seem petty, but your employees should keep the doors unlocked during broad daylight if not during all business hours. After everything else I’d dealt with on this excursion, to have the bus driver direct me to the ticket desk in broken English, only to have to ask an overweight redneck to come and get the door for me after he’d concluded his own ticket purchase, makes it seem like you’re turning inconvenience into a fucking art form.
Thank you for taking the time to read my complaint. It will be some inconvenience to take my business to SFO anytime I need to get to Los Angeles in the future, and I’m sure American Airlines has their own issues—it’s just the nature of commercial travel, and I consider myself a reasonably patient man. I’m willing to bear it, however, as I am pretty sure I would rather feast on my own shit than give money to your ridiculous flea circus of a company ever again.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Dead Roots now 99 cents

To prepare for the launch of Blood Mother - The Analyst volume 2 on 13/12, I’ve reduced the price of Dead Roots, the first book in the series, to 99 cents. Pick yourself up a scary read on the cheap, and support an independent author.

Get it on Amazon

Praise for Dead Roots:

Silent Hill meets The X-Files.
“A fantastic first novel.”
“Simply visceral.”
“Hauntingly beautiful.”
“A rare achievement in its genre. Balances the graphic and the human with a delicate touch.”

Friday, 23 November 2012

Regarding NaNoWriMo

In theory, I’m in favor of NaNo. A shared creative project is great and while obviously a very small percentage of the results will ever be published or even seen by the general public, that’s not a reason to deter somebody from writing.

However, the NaNo forums and community in general not only abide, but actively encourage absolutely appalling habits and techniques that butcher the spirit of writing in the first place. Threads such as “Dirty tricks to reaching 50k” are particular goldmines where people brainstorm ways to artificially stretch your word count such as by giving people long, superfluous names and titles, and by deliberately repeating lines of dialogue. I really could not encapsulate how toxic that thread in particular is so I just suggest going to read it.

In addition to that, the community is a hugbox of the highest order. People with genuine critiques who don’t put on the kid gloves for everybody are often banned.  Many people use the nano forums to do 100% of their research, asking asinine, broad questions such as “what was life like in Salem?” or “what might two friends argue about?” that show a total dearth of both creativity and prerogative.

The vast majority of nano participants have no business writing, as they are totally uninterested in the actual craft or in producing anything even vaguely readable. They simply want the bragging rights. Some of them even entertain notions of being published while spending more time talking about their book on the NaNo forums than just writing it.

You might argue that I’m damning the prospect of writing as a hobby rather than a legitimate pursuit; I’m not. You can play guitar without expecting to become a rockstar. But if you’re going to ask people to help you cheat at playing guitar, why even bother?

If you’re only writing for the ego rush and you think that crapping out 50,000 words of dreck somehow makes you a ‘novelist’, you need to stop.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Sample chapter of Blood Mother.

Old habits die hard. For the eighth time that morning Tom checked to make sure his gun was still in its holster where it belonged. He adjusted his sweater back over the gun, hoping the folds would help conceal its presence. It would do well enough; it wasn’t as if the average passerby would jump to ‘ghost-hunting spook’ as their first conclusion.
Tom took in an eyeful of the dingy public bathroom. It had that indoor pool smell of wet concrete and cleaning product, with graffiti on just about every viable surface. He fidgeted in place, remembering what he came for, and flipped open his cellphone to text Margaret.
No sign of anything here. Moving to next site.
He was on his way out when his guts signaled for his attention. While I’m here, he thought. Tom headed into a stall.
Locking the flimsy door behind him, he dropped his pants and settled in, fishing his cellphone out of his fallen jeans. There he sat, opening his social networking profile and chortling to himself as he entered a pithy status update.
Fourth day on nicotine gum. Excessive consumption may result in a laxative effect.
He'd barely taken a moment to check his private messages before Artie had left a response.
Gross! Artie's gap-toothed grin mugged back at him next to the text’s teal backdrop.
Bet you wish I'd kept smoking, Tom punched in with a smirk. He waited a moment; Artie was always prompt with this stuff. Poor guy was behind a desk all day, logged into three different messengers and tabbed onto at least two social pages.
There's no need to inflict your suffering on others, Artie posted. Tom sniggered to himself. A message from Margaret popped up.
Children, she had added.
 Tom was drawn to her thumbnail photo. The Director’s headshot employed what he and Artie privately referred to as ‘the angles’. You could only see her lips and neck, making her appear thinner than she actually was. Tom knew she was self-conscious about her weight, but he didn’t see the need for it. He’d call her voluptuous, or curvaceous.
Tom heard another person enter the bathroom. He finished his business and stood. The photo got him thinking at length about Margaret's body. He thought it might be good to give her a call in a few. Better yet, he'd text her. He pulled his jeans up, holding them in one hand while texting with the other.
What are you doing tonight? He wrote. He sent it to her personal entry, rather than the work number from before. He slipped the phone back into his pocket and started fumbling with his zipper.
He was stopped in mid-motion by a wet sound from outside the stall. His ears perked up. There it was again, a slurping sound. Something wet and squishy, dragging across the tile of the bathroom.
“Everything okay?” he called out. There was no response, but the sound stopped. Then there was a ferocious hiss, like an angered snake.
Tom swore under his breath, feeling exposed and trapped at the same time. His fingers played over the handle of his pistol. He unhooked the clasp to let the weighty firearm come free.
“I'm off-duty,” he said. “Fuck off back where you came from.”
He heard the hiss again. He didn't jump-- he'd long since been trained not to-- but a cold wave of dread washed over his chest. He looked around to assess the environment. Nothing in the stall, or the rest of the tiny bathroom world, was shifting. Whatever it was out there, it was Visible. The phone buzzed in his pocket.
A raspy woman's voice sounded from beyond the door of the stall.
The door shifted on its frame. That wet sound started up again. He pulled the pistol out of its holster, leveling it at the door and pulling back the hammer.
“I'm packing,” he said, not letting his voice waver.
Fresh,” a second voice repeated, another woman's voice. Tom was finding himself glad he'd just used the toilet.
Fresh. Fresh. Fresh,” the first one insisted. Whatever they were, they were pressed up against the door of the stall, making damp slithering sounds. Tom prepared to fire, expecting them to try and break it down.
The voice came from above, making his heart skip. He looked up at two faces with dark hair strewn across their features. They had no skin, only the bare facial muscles. Wet, fat tongues lapped out of their mouths as they slavered with hunger. Tom raised his gun.
“You have to the count of three.”
One of them hissed at him and bared deep yellow teeth. The other lashed out its tongue to several feet in length and wrapped it around his gun. The weapon was wrenched from his grip, and his stomach turned. The creature flung the weapon backwards out of the stall with its whip of a tongue. Outside the stall the gun hit a mirror and shattered it.
Tom stumbled backwards against the toilet bowl, and looked up with his hands raised to guard his face. The heads had climbed on top of the stall door, a feat possible because they had no necks or bodies. Instead they slithered along like slugs, on what Tom was horrified to recognize as their organs. Lungs, hanging hearts, stomachs, and esophagi; the innards of a person with no body or bones. The creatures wormed across the walls of the toilet stall like snails on a garage door, their human heads hissing at him all the way with long tongues flapping hungrily.
Tom balled up onto the ground, defenseless. Killed in action in a toilet stall, pants around his ankles. This would be the legacy of Thomas Bell. Tom closed his eyes, and the world spun as though he were drunk, as he waited for the end.
Nothing happened.
The slithering stopped. Now there was gentle splashing, and a voracious, almost erotic groaning. Tom hazarded to open one eye, and then swiftly wished he hadn't.
The creatures were embracing each other, at least as best as things like them could. They were poised over the toilet bowl, their tongues interlocked and lips playing sensuously against one another’s. The heads groaned with content. There were brown smudges across their teeth and mouths. Whip-like tongues unraveled and plunged into the toilet bowl.
“Are... you...”
Fresh,” the creatures moaned with delight, taking famished slurps from the grimy toilet.
“Fucking Christ.
Tom wanted to vomit. He scrambled to his feet and unlocked the stall door, stumbling out into the bathroom. He fumbled to pull up his pants, and looked around for any sign of his firearm in the debris from the shattered mirror. The gun had landed in one of the dirty washbasins. He snatched it up, turned around and shakily pulled the hammer back again.
Tom gave an incoherent scream of disgust and fired the gun blindly into the stall. The shit-eating head-creatures dropped dead with a couple of wet splats, their blood and brains splattered against the wall and toilet. Shiny worms of tongues flopped to the ground, dead.
Tom fumbled the gun back into its holster. He struggled to do up his jeans on his way out, pausing to fish around in the pocket for a piece of nicotine gum.
Outside, a chocolate-skinned man holding a mop bumped into him, shaggy head hidden under a cap. Soapy water sloshed on the concrete from a wheeled bucket.
“Whoa. Watch it, man.”
“Can't go in there,” Tom grunted.
“Were those gunshots?”
“Yes. Out of order, occupado. Don't go in.”
“I'm the janitor,” the man said, and shook his mop—the one in his hand, not on his head. “What just happened?”
“Don't go in,” said Tom. He angrily drew his wallet and flipped it open. His Federal Agency of Domestic Investigation badge caught sunlight and glared in the janitor’s eyes.
“Did you just shoot somebody?” the janitor insisted.
“Don't call the police,” Tom ordered. “I am the police. Nobody goes in there.”
“Jesus, they don't pay me enough for this.” The custodian hobbled off, grumbling to himself. Tom took several deep breaths.
Another man approached the bathroom. He was overweight, dressed in khaki shorts and an ill-fitting button-up, and he also sported a patchy neck-beard and a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses. To Tom’s eyes, he looked like a lost cause. He was carrying a clipboard under one arm and too preoccupied with muttering to himself to notice the agent in front of him. Tom put up a hand to stop him.
“Can't go in there,” said Tom. The overweight man paused, giving Tom a long, awkward look.
“Gotta use the bathroom,” the man replied. He had a deep voice and spoke like there was peanut butter on the roof of his mouth. He tried to walk around Tom, who stopped him again.
“Crime scene,” Tom said, flashing his badge again. The bearded man eyed the wallet with disdain, but a moment later, he took a sharp inward breath.
“FADI?” he said. It was not the bewildered tone of someone who had never heard the name before, but instead the shock of somebody who was all too familiar with it. Tom raised an apprehensive eyebrow.
“Yeah,” he said skeptically. “What's the matter?”
The fat man didn't respond. He stood glued to the spot, eyes hidden under his designer shades. Tom got the feeling that they were angry little dots, darting around, looking for a means of escape. Tom gave the guy another once-over. Fat, poorly groomed, badly dressed. A greasy ponytail. Someone who didn't get out much.
“What've you got there?” said Tom. He motioned at the clipboard under the man's arm. Tom put his wallet away, and his fingers drummed against the holster of his handgun.
“Let me see it,” said Tom. He thrust out his hand.
“Excuse me? I said let me look at it,” Tom demanded. He brushed aside the hem of his jacket to reveal his holstered pistol. The fat guy eyed the weapon, not with panic or surprise, but quiet concern. He was silent again. Tom snapped his fingers.
The guy reluctantly handed over the clipboard, fidgeting. It was a folded street map, with various locations circled in red permanent ink. Many of them had rough crosses put through them with the same marker. Tom ran a finger over the map, noting that a red circle marked their current location.
“What're these?”
“Looking for something,” said the man.
“For what?”
No response. Tom perused the map in silence, and came to a puzzling conclusion.
“These are all toilets,” he said carefully.
It didn't take long for the pieces in the agent’s head to click. Tom swallowed, and looked up from the map at the bearded man.
Their eyes met for a solid half-second. It was enough to spook the guy. Before Tom had time to react, the man was off like an overweight missile, sneakers clapping on the pavement. Tom dropped the clipboard and grabbed his gun.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
The title for the next book being released is Blood Mother.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is always an impossible question to answer. A million different influences and images get distilled into what finally emerges as the 'idea' for a new story; even the initial spark is usually very difficult to pin down. The first volume of this series, Dead Roots, emerged from boredom at two in the morning and I fully did not expect to finish it. I had the idea to combine Splinter Cell with Silent Hill and see what came out, and what I wound up with was much closer to The X-Files. At least in my opinion.

What genre does your book fall under?
Horror/thriller. It's been called a cross between Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, this was fun. (An extended answer to this question can be found on my tumblr)
Thomas Bell - Michael Fassbender
Artie - Seth Rogen
Shinichiro Keda - Justin Chon
Margaret Redding - Gillian Anderson
Oscar Tippler - Zach Galafianakis
Evey - Mila Kunis
Harold Saldana - Woody Harrelson
Cristophe -Common
Rodham - Will Smith
Berenger  - Martin Sheen
Jethro - Ethan Suplee
Hatcher - Daniel Day Lewis
Madame Theroux - Tonye Patano
Cody - Michael Madsen
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Thomas Bell, emotionally scarred paranormal government analyst, travels to New Orleans to clear his name, in the eyes of a coven of barbaric near-human monsters.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'll be self-publishing my book on Amazon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took about six months. The bulk of the work occurred during the final two months, as during the first four I was also editing, publishing and promoting the first in the series.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
American Gods, Ring, 1408, The Call of Cthulhu

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
There's actually a fairly long post about this on my blog, but I've always dabbled around with fiction and this was just one of those ideas that I put a few pages into and didn't really think I'd finish; what inspired me to really dig my heels in and try to make a proper series out of it was the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. I felt that if people would pay in the millions for what I considered to be ill-conceived wish-fulfillment dross, then I had no excuse not to try and make a living writing.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
 The setting is an expansive and original world drawing much inspiration from Japanese horror and mythology, populated by flawed and neurotic characters.

Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Lee Laughead, a fiercely smart writer who blogs about video games and has a novel out called Anchored to the Flesh.  http://www.leelaughead.com/

Steve Flavin, a dear friend who blogs on any medium you can think of about film, fashion, celebrities, art and literature.  http://steveflavin.tv 

Josh Loomis, author of Cold Iron and professional coder/blogger. http://about.me/blueinkalchemist 

Tom Sims, another good friend who is currently working on his own graphic novel. http://defilerwyrm.tumblr.com/ 

Jesse Summerson. I wish this guy had a blog I could link to, but currently a short story of his can be found in the anthology Explorers: Beyond the Horizon. http://www.amazon.com/Explorers-Beyond-The-Horizon-ebook/dp/B008E97SHW 

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged. 
I was tagged by Lisa Bouchard. http://LisaBouchard.com

Monday, 1 October 2012

Blood Mother - The Analyst vol. 2

The average American encounters eight supernatural beings in a given week. 98% of these occurrences go unnoticed. One in fifty paranormal happenings is aggressive in nature, and of these, only 5% are ever reported. As an Analyst for the Department of Paranormal Study and Defense, Tom Bell's job is to respond to that 5%.

When a botched encounter leads to aggression from the barbaric Dry Ones of Louisiana, Tom heads to New Orleans to plead his case. There he finds himself embroiled in a brutal power struggle between the colony’s two leaders: pragmatic Judge Berenger, and bloodthirsty Archbishop Hatcher. With Keda growing increasingly unstable, old threats from Tokyo rearing their heads, and the mounting tension between the Dry Ones, Agent Bell will have to pull out all the stops to get out of here in one recognizable piece.

The nightmares are back, and they're telling of a terrible power growing deep in the swamp…

Blood Mother will be available on Amazon within the next few months. Stay tuned for an official release date.