Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 - A Year in Review

On January the first this year I woke up with a strong sense of excitement that 2014 was going to be my year. This feeling didn't dispell all through January - in fact it only got stronger.

In January we took a trip with Frazer to Sedgefield Racecourse, where Frazer and his friend, John O'Loan, sponsor a handicap race. Here we met Emily Maguire for the first time, never knowing that she was soon to become Frazer's partner in business and love, and we all had a tremendous day out.

On that same weekend we also found our dream home and began the process of buying.

In February our events kicked off again with the fabulous Gallifrey One in Los Angeles. This is the biggest Doctor Who event I know and it is also a brilliant time for us because we get to see friends old and new. This year, I can honestly say, was the best one so far. The event pulled in a whopping 3500 people - but is always capped because the organisers don't want it to grow beyond a stage that makes the event less fun than the intimate reunion that it has always been. So - we will never see more than this many people fortunately - and for this reason Gallifrey retains this amazing warm feeling of being part of a huge family that stretches out across the pond and involves people from the Europe, USA, Australia and Canada. It is also a brilliant place to meet people. We also launched my short novel The Darkness Within: Final Cut in LA.

Dave Prowse
In March we were at the first ever Em-Con event in Nottingham, which proved to be a really good one for us. I was amazed by the many new faces that came specifically to our table because they had read my books and wanted my new titles. This was a one day event and we sold out. And the reason I was so surprised by this was because I had never been to Nottingham for an event of this sort before. It surprised me that there were so many readers in the area that loved the genre. Also got to hang out with Dave Prowse - who is a total sweetie, the Red Dwarf guys: Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules (who we see regularly at events), our bestie Frazer Hines, the gorgeous Eve Myles, and briefly met Kai Owen.

Caroline Munro, Martine Bestwick
After Em-Con I was a media guest at the fabulous Memorabilia in Birmingham. An event that is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine. It was a really fun day and I got to see some people that are becoming regular friends at these events, like Caroline Munro and Martine Bestwick.

Sci-Fi Weekender in Pwllheli - I helped to organise the author track for the second year running and managed quite a few of the on stage interviews which was great fun as always. Great to see loads of regulars returning to see us and as always we had a tremendous time with all the Telos authors that attended.


With Jonathan Ross

In April it was Wales Comic Con,  another favourite event for us. Terrifically organised and always with great guests. This time I got to meet Jonathan Ross, and catch up with the darling that is Eve Myles, and also got a great hug from Gareth David Lloyd - the Torchwood crowd are so awesome!

In between times the purchase of our new house suffered delays - but we struggled through them and I was commisioned to write a variety of short stories, as well as working on my novel Jinx Town, which is the first part of a sci-fi/fantasy trilogy. The trilogy was purchased by Telos Publishing in March and the release of Jinx Town should be early next year due to delays on cover art. I also sold two Cthulhu stories - the first was called The Vessel and this was published by April Moon in April in their anthology The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, while the second was Keeping the Faith which was sold to Chaosium for their anthology The Summer of Lovecraft. I was also asked to write my first piece of non-fiction for SFX Magazine - and I penned a piece about the Julian May novel The Many Coloured Land for their book club section.

With Gareth David Lloyd at
Wales Comic Con
We had a little time off as the purchase of our new house approached and the organisation of moving our home and David's business and Doctor Who collection - all of which could have been a logistical nightmare but for the super movers we used. Who helped pack, move and relocate us brilliantly.

Tony Head
We attended Geeks Unleashed as guests on 11 May. And a couple of weeks later we exchanged on our new house. That's when the nightmares really began. I don't want to go into that too much, except to say that although the survey came back fine, we ended up needing a new flat roof, a repair to a gully roof, a new conservatory roof, various windows replacing, a new boiler, new shower, and no end of decorating nightmares when wallpaper was removed and plaster fell off walls. Anyway we finally moved in a month later and the work continued a bit around us, but we've slowly tamed the beast and are now delighted with our new home.

In the middle of moving I received an email from Simon Clark, who I knew as an author of many amazing horror novels. Simon asked me to pitch a story to him for an official Sherlock Holmes anthology which would be published by Constable and Robinson in 2015. I was up to my eyes in decorators and we were commuting back and forth to the new house every day, but I told the decorator I wouldn't be in and I sat and wrote out the pitch. This was accepted and Simon then asked me to write the story. I had an early September deadline. Once we were in the new house I set to work on it and The Curse of Guangxu came to life and was finally accepted for the anthology in September. I was delighted! I had never written in any universe but my own before and writing an authentic story for The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad was definitely an exciting, and enjoyable, challenge.This book is due for release in April 2015 and I can't wait to see it!

We planned to take off a couple of months from events while we organised ourselves (best laid plans
Peter Davison
...) and one of the things we had to do was ensure that Telos Publishing, was back up and running as soon as possible. We managed to do this, within the first couple of weeks and have been working full steam ever since. A week after our move we attended a Steampunk event called Doncaster Steampunk on the Saturday - which was fun and helped to take our mind off some of the stress we'd been under. On the Sunday we went to Nottingham Book Festival.

June and we were invited to SFX Magazine's 250th publication celebration in London. It was amazing night and we caught up with some friends we hadn't seen for ages there.

David J Howe with Katy Manning
In July David and I drove to Birmingham to give a talk to the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. It was a really fun evening and we were treated very well. There was also really good attendence at the event.

We had a couple of months rest for events and then got ourselves back into proper work mode, and started to live and work properly in the new house. In between times I wrote a new short novel in my Kat Lightfoot Series.

This was What's Dead PussyKat and it was published just in time for the Asylum weekend.
 
Our calendar for Autumn began with KnightCon in Doncaster at the beginning of September and was then followed by the Asylum Steampunk Weekend in Lincoln - which was superb as always. Here we hosted the official launch of the new book and I also ran a writing workshop at the event, ending with a writing competition for those who had participated. There is some really great writing talent amongst the Steampunks and I hope to see some of their great ideas in print one day.

We hosted a book launch for What's Dead PussyKat and for one of the Telos Moonrise novels, Captains Stupendous by Rhys Hughes. A superb read - it was great to work with Rhys on the book and to meet him in person the first time at a signing event at Forbidden Planet in London.


In September I received an exciting email and phone call and was invited to Pinewood Studios for a meeting. Things are still up in the air as a result of that meeting but am hopeful that something will develop from it.

Also in September we took in a beautiful little cat called Jinx who we found at Sleaford Cat Rescue. She's now become a very big part of our life.

Welsh Celebrity Ghost Stories was published by Bradwell Books in September. This contained a non-fiction memory piece about a real-life ghostly experience I had as a child. It was a charity anthology for Cystic Fibrosis.

I received another exciting email asking me to pitch for an audio. I did pitch and my idea was accepted. We are currently in the drafting stages of this audio, but as this hasn't been announced yet I can't say more.

Other stories sold in this time period was my Cthulhu tale The Book of the Gods to Fox Spirit for the anthology Wicked Women and my phobia story Achluaphobia: The Promise, with Western Legends and the anthology Phobophobias both of which are now available in print and ebook formats.

On October 15th - my birthday - David proposed to me. And I said yes. We are now very, very happily planning our wedding for next year. It was a massive surprise, totally unexpected, and I couldn't be happier with the lovely ring he bought me as well.

David and I also collaborated on a story called Survival of the Fittest which has been chosen by Brian Sammons for the April Moon anthology Flesh Like Smoke. 

A flurry of Doctor Who events happened in October and November, starting with Dimensions in Newcastle. This was a really fun and full on weekend. We were placed next to Michael Troughton and his lovely lady Roxy, and the four of us hit it off which really made the weekend even better. We also met up with Frazer Hines and made friends with Kai Owen. Much laughter ensued as Kai has a brilliant sense of humour and really cracks us up!


One day after Dimensions we flew into Orlando for the fabulous Hurricane Who event. This is a
With Paul McGann
small, intimate gathering, and we always go a little earlier so that we can spend time with Jennifer and Ed Comstock who are really good friends in Florida. We got to hang out with them for a couple of days, joined by Steven Sigal, and then went onto the hotel on Thursday to begin our work for the convention. This was super fun, joined by Kai Owen, Terry Molloy and Peter Davison, we all went out to Joe's Crabshack on the second night at the hotel. Great food and much laughter. David did all of Peter's interviews and I did a reading from my new book as well as judging the masquerade on Saturday night. At the end of the weekend we felt like we'd made some more friends.

Julie Holmes, Emma Campbell-Jones,
Daphne Ashbrook
On the Monday we flew on to New York and headed for the hotel for Long Island Who - wow!

Here we met up early with our friends Frazer Hines, Daphne Ashbrook, Joshua Lou Friedman, Julie Holmes, Amy Windham and Colin Spaull. There was a massive guest list at Long Island and by Wednesday we had also been joined by Colin Baker, Paul McGann, Wendy Padbury, Debbie Watling, Nev Fountain, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Nicola Bryant, Emma Campbell-Jones, Terrance Dicks and many more ... Because we had started the week there early a few of us went on the train into Manhattan on one day. This was a bit of an experience - and we had a walking tour, taking in the sights, and even saw the 9/11 memorial which was heartbreaking and beautifully thought out.

Terry Molloy, Howard Hayes,
David and Josh Lou Friedman
We went on the Staten Island Ferry and got some great shots of Liberty Island. After that the week was one of socialising. A trip to a winery and the Brewster house was arranged for the guests - a fantastic day! And a super evening meal was also arranged as a treat for us all by Howard Hayes and the convention. We were spoiled rotten before the event even started!!

As per last year L.I. WHO was a massive success. We took part in the guest dinner, panels, the hilarious Saturday night Match Game, did readings, met and chatted to loads of wonderful people that we hadn't seen for a year. Then, after many Long Island Iced Teas, and late night parties, sadly, it ended.

On Sunday night the organisers had arranged for us to have a Thanksgiving Dinner. It was wonderful. But they had also sorted out one more surprise. They put out champagne, and then produced an engagement cake and specially signed card for David and I. I cried my eyes out. What lovely, amazing, wonderful, caring and thoughtful people!

Next year L.I. Who - already a tremendous success in just its second year - will most definitely be bigger and better and we can't wait to be there again at a new hotel - a Hilton no less!

We came home feeling such a massive high. I'm still not over it yet!

Linzi, Cary Elwes and Me
A few weeks later and we drove to Birmingham and another Memorabilia event, where we were joined by my
lovely helper Hazel Prosser who had organised everything beautifully for us. My daughter Linzi also came and it was a terrific event for her because she got to meet one of her favourite movie stars in the green room - Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Lady Jane, Bram Stoker's Dracula). We also caught up with Ayshea Brough, Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro, the guys from 'Allo 'Allo and Mark Lester (Oliver) as well as many more! This was also David's first Memorabilia and he had lots of people come to see him to sign their books. A very successful event!


Tim Dry
It was also brilliant to meet Tim Dry who is a well known actor (The Return of the Jedi) and a writer - we've shared cover space in a couple of anthologies. The most recent being Phobophobias. He is a truly lovely man and I'm looking forward to reading his story.

The last event for the year went with a terrific bang as we joined the line-up for Wales Comic Con's second show this year. This was fab. Terrific guests again, including Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd - both of whom I've already said I love! There was also Shane Ritchie (who seemed really nice) and one of my favourite people, Tony Head. It was brilliant to see Ian McNeice, Simon Fisher-Becker and some of the stars from Atlantis - including Mark Addy - who is such a nice chap. And also Mark Sheppard, who we last saw at Gallifrey in February. Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules where there representing Red Dwarf - and I really do like these guys so much that it was lovely to briefly catch up with them.

But the year didn't end there and just this week I've had a flurry of work offers - some of which I'll be very excited to tell you about in the new year but can't say more at this point. I can tell you this though, the next Kat Lightfoot Mysteries Kat of Green Tentacles has now been commissioned by Stephen James Walker at Telos Publishing and so Kat's adventures will continue hopefully next August!

Writing successes in summary:

The Darkness Within: Final Cut (Telos Publishing)
Jinx Town: Part One The Jinx Chronicles (Telos Publishing)
What's Dead PussyKat: Kat Lightfoot Mysteries #3 (Telos Publishing)
Audio - to be announced in 2015!
The Curse of Guangxu, (Constable and Robinson) The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad
The Vessel (April Moon) The Dark Rites of Cthulhu
Keeping the Faith (Chaosium) The Summer of Lovecraft
The Promise: Acluaphobia (Western Legends) Phobophobias
The Book of the Gods (Fox Spirit) Wicked Women
Survival of the Fittest With David J Howe (April Moon) Flesh Like Smoke
Kat of Green Tentacles: Kat Lightfoot Mysteries #4 (Telos Publishing)  
Book Club The Many Colored Land, (SFX Magazine, Issue No 253) Autumn 2014
The Boxes, (Childhood Memory Piece) Welsh Celebrity Ghost Stories (Bradwell Books, Sep 2014)

And I also received an 'Honorable Mention' in Ellen Datlow's Best of 2014 list for my short story The Jealous Sea which was published last year by Grey Friar Press in Terror Tales of The Seaside. I'm obviously very thrilled about this as I highly respect Ellen and believe her to be one of the most decerning editors in the business.

For life, work and definitely love, this year hasn't disappointed at all.

Happy New Year all - I'm hoping that 2015 will be even better - but it will be hard to top this one for me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

CHRISTMAS DEAL ON KAT LIGHTFOOT MYSTERIES

Hi All,

It's that time of year and if you are thinking of getting your loved one something different then why not consider buying books?

The following titles from Telos Publishing - when purchased direct from their website - ALL COME SIGNED.

First off - A DEAL FOR CHRISTMAS

BUY ALL THREE KAT LIGHTFOOT MYSTERIES AND SAVE £5.97!! 

To buy these books merely add all three titles to your shopping cart - then use the following code at checkout :christmaskat



Zombies At Tiffany's : Kat Lightfoot Mysteries # 1

Kat Lightfoot thought that getting a job at the famed Tiffany’s store in New York would be the end to her problems … She has money, new friends, and there’s even an inventor working there who develops new weapons from clockwork, and who cuts diamonds with a strange powered light. This is 1862, after all, and such things are the wonder of the age.

But then events take a turn for the worse: men and women wander the streets talking of ‘the darkness’; bodies vanish from morgues across town; and random, bloody attacks on innocent people take place in broad daylight.

Soon Kat and her friends are fighting for their lives against a horde of infected people, with only their wits and ingenuity to help them.

A steampunked story of diamonds, chutzpah, death and horror from the blood-drenched pen of Sam Stone.


BUY HERE £9.99


Kat on a Hot Tin Airship : Kat Lightfoot Mysteries # 2

It is 1865 and the American Civil War has come to an end. Now Kat Lightfoot finds herself in the middle of another kind of war: a family feud involving her brother Henry and his new wife. But what is behind the strange behaviour of this affluent Southern family?

Caught in the crossfire of an implacable spirit’s attempt to wreak vengeance on the Pollitt family, Kat must once again enlist the help of journalist George Pepper and the inventor Martin Crewe to find out what really haunts the family’s past.

In order to learn what devastating secrets the Pollitts are hiding she must first explore her own feelings for Maggie’s brother Orlando, who is one of the seductive Nephilim.

A ghostly steampunked tale of family secrets, voodoo and vengeance from the author of Zombies at Tiffany’s – to which this book is a sequel.


BUY HERE £12.99


What's Dead PussyKat : Kat Lightfoot Mysteries #3

Nothing ever seems to go Kat Lightfoot’s way. If she’s not in the middle of battling a plague of gargoyle-like monsters in 1865 New York, she’s falling head over heels in love with her friend George Pepper … which wouldn’t be so bad, except that every other female is doing the same.

When Kat is caught in a passionate cinch with Pepper, a wedding is afoot, but no-one expected a gaggle of vampire women to be staying at the Chateau Chantel at the same time … nor for them to take such an interest in poor Pepper themselves.

Kat has her work cut out …

A tale of vampires, gargoyles, faith and farce from the author of Zombies at Tiffany’s and Kat on a Hot Tin Airship.

BUY HERE £12.99

ALSO AVAILABLE ... ALL COME SIGNED.

The Darkness Within: Final Cut

Chief Engineer Madison Whitehawk suspects foul play when a series of small anomalies occur aboard the ark ship Freedom. But Madison’s fears are nothing compared to the impending disaster heading their way.

As the team of scientists, engineers and crew take their precious cargo of colonists towards New Earth a deadly parasite has found its way onboard.

Soon Madison, Second Officer Crichton and colonist Syra Connor are fighting for their lives against trusted friends and former lovers.

What is the parasite that changes the minds and behaviour of those it infects? And how can the crew of the Freedom destroy the darkness within?

A thrilling sci-fi/horror novel from award-winning author Sam Stone.

BUY HERE £10.99

Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings

Something is sapping the energy of the usually robust dancers of the Moulin Rouge … Zombies roam the streets of New York City … Clowns die in mysteriously humorous ways … Jack the Ripper’s crimes are investigated by a vampire …

Welcome to the horrific and poetic world of Sam Stone, where angels are stalking the undead and a vampire becomes obsessed with a centuries-old werewolf. Terror and lust go hand in hand in the disturbing world of the Toymaker, and the haunting Siren’s call draws the hapless further into a waking nightmare.

Thirteen stories of horror and passion, and six mythological and erotic poems from the new queen of vampire fiction.

Chick-slash has never been so entertaining

Contains the 2011 British Fantasy Award Winning short story ‘Fool’s Gold’.

BUY HERE £12.99

Friday, 5 December 2014

What kind of writer are you?

There are many different writers in the world. Which one are you?

THE 'HOBBY' WRITER

The hobby writer really writes for themselves. They may have some vague aspiration that one day they could do this for a living but they don't necessarily have the time to devote to making their words as good as they can be. Or they don't really want to achieve more than this. They may not know how to submit to publishers, or they may not wish to. They may also write really amazing, beautiful and emotive words that if given the opportunity could be successful. What they lack is motivation but they don't mind as they just enjoy what they do!

What they need: Nothing at all if they are happy. Writing should be fun. It is also cathartic. And the hobby writer is usually happy just writing for nothing more than writing's sake.

THE 'HACK' WRITER

This writer doesn't really care too much about the art of writing though they may have some modicum of skill in the field. They will understand structure and be able to shape words into a semblance of order that seems professional. Unfortunately though, they only care about being paid. They take on as much work as possible, with unattainable deadlines and the work that they produce is often below par because they spread themselves too thin. However the hack is approaching this as a business, and so as long as they get the words mostly in the right order, and the plot is okay, then they're happy. Generally though, the writing they produce is not particularly emotive or thought provoking.

What they need: A slap upside the head wouldn't hurt or rather a reality check that ALL writing should be done to the BEST of your ability. Money, fame, success should never have a bearing on it. A reminder that some of the most talented writers in the literary world barely make a living, if at all. To remember why they started to write in the first place. To write something that they WANT to write not what they HAVE to write. To write from the heart.

THE 'WANNABEANOVERNIGHTSUCCESS' WRITER

This writer wants fame. They don't necessarily want to write the best words in the best order, or to tell an emotive, shocking, wonderful, meaningful story. They have no knowledge at all of how to properly structure a story for the best emotional engagement with the reader but throw in as many clich├ęs as possible in the hope on hitting the right tone.They want to be a success and have the money that J K Rowling has but they do not want to work for it and have not earned their stripes by selling short fiction, poems, joining writers groups, getting an education or by any other means. They are potentially the reality TV star of the writing industry. This writer thinks they are above being edited. They believe they are better than their ability or don't mind taking the bows for the work that others put in to make them look good.

What they need: To learn how to write first and seek fame later. To be taught that success has to earned and that you don't deserve the title of 'celebrity' unless you have actually done something that deserves to be celebrated. That writing is about hard work and dedication, and above all passion for the written word and story telling. That writing is about talent not fame, success or money.

THE 'UP AND COMING - BUT SERIOUS' WRITER

Wants a career in writing. They love writing and story telling. They may have raw enthusiasm, talent and loads of potential.They always want to write - it's in their blood. They are optimistic about their talent but not arrogant about it. They follow routes that take them to self improvement. This could be joining writer's groups, taking writing classes etc.

What they need: To read everything they can in the genre they want to write in. To practice writing. To write at least 1000 words a day. To take on board well-meaning criticism and use it to improve. To challenge themselves to write better with each new piece. Submit. Submit. Submit.

THE 'PROFESSIONAL' WRITER

The professional writer spends hours writing, planning, thinking and above all submitting their work and ideas to publishers and editors because they are serious about what they are doing. This person may still have another full time job. They may not be able to afford the luxury of writing full time. Or they may be one of the lucky few who can live by their writing. What makes the professional writer different to the others is that they believe that they deserve to be paid for their work and at the same time want it to be the best it can be. This is a job to them but they still love what they do. They still feel the same passion they always did for writing. The professional believes in their ability because people buy their words, but they still want to write something which is better than the last piece they wrote. They have pride in their work, but not arrogance.

What they need: A publishing industry that pays good writers what they deserve to be paid. A publishing industry that promotes and nurtures them. A publishing industry that challenges them to keep achieving their very professional best. A publishing industry that doesn't throw aside these hard-working people who have honed their craft in favour of the 'next big thing' or transient writings from television 'celebrities'.