Tuesday 30 December 2008

Free PDF Taster from Murky Depths.

If you would like to download a free PDF taster from The House Of Murky Depths - which includes chapter 23 from Killing Kiss, my Demon Lover poem and lots of super goodies from the Murky Depths' quarterley magazine.

Just click on the link below!


Monday 29 December 2008

Christmas & New Year!

This year Christmas has been more about family than ever.

My partner bought me some fantastic stuff - history books, an asbo fairytale book - which is very funny! chocolates (OMG! I'm never going to shed the extra pounds!!!) Clothing (Ok nightwear!). I also got some great DVD's from him and some lovely ones from my daughter.

But as we know it's not about presents (although I'm really impressed with how much thought went into them!); it's about being with people you care about.

Hope you had a good one also!

Happy New Year! Let's hope it is a healthy one...

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Progress on Book 2 & 3

Illness and new job has slowed down the progress of my edit of book 2.

Fortunately my editor has allowed me over Christmas to finish it - and then of course he'll want to read and make suggests. Having said that, we're still on target for EasterCon Launch, Bradford in 2009.

I'm still feeling very satisfied with the progress and I'm already making notes and thinking about book 3 a lot; a trip to Stockholm (for research)and a closer look into the history of the Vikings is on the agenda.

I'm often asked where inspiration comes from. Sometimes I can't be more specific than say, a dream I had (the narrative for Book 2 was conceived that way) or occasionally it's the spoken word - a casual remark a friend makes to me. The main character of 'The King' in book 3 was born of such a comment.

So book 3 will feature King Harold of Sweden - but don't expect a safe and predictable vampire story. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

The genre of 2 & 3 will probably be categorised Horror/Fantasy. Expect more gore, expect more shocks, twists and turns.


I now have three short stories to write for commissions as well as Book 3. So January is going to see me very busy indeed.

Monday 8 December 2008

Last week!

What a disasterous week!

Having spent the weekend in Wales, I drove back to London on Sunday and started to feel ill with a really sore throat about half way back. When driving for 4-5 hours, that's really not fun. We stopped at a services and I grabbed some medication from the shop which made me feel a bit better and I managed to make it all the way back to London.

Monday morning and I was supposed to be starting my new job - but I was too ill to go in! What a start to the week and to the job! My throat was dire for 3 days but by Wednesday evening, and several doses of anti-biotics, I was feeling much better. Thank goodness as there was some serious partying to be done on Wednesday evening with my partner at the SFX Magazine Christmas Party. What a great time that was ... I'll write more on that another time.

By Thursday morning, I was feeling much better and left home early to drive to work. This was a particularly bad move. On this morning the weather was awful and part way there I ended up in the mother of all traffic jams that I later learnt was caused by three separate accidents. I was stuck in a one mile stretch for over an hour. As a result of this my car over-heated and decided in its wisdom to drain the battery completely flat . I was in a middle lane - and so caused more obstruction and delays for the cars around and behind me ... and the battery was so empty that my emergency lights wouldn't even work!!

I got out of the car and stood in the rain looking blonde and helpless until a truck driver and a biker (thanks guys!!!) stopped and pushed my car over to the side of the road. There followed an hour and three quarters of waiting for the AA to arrive so I could get to work. My alternator had given up the ghost, and it cost more than I earned last week to put it right. Very annoying and inconvenient! I suspect that this day may go down in history as one of the worst travel stories in my repetoire.

But enough of disasters! Things have been going well since, and with Christmas now just around the corner - where does the time go?! - I'm now in frantic present-buying and preparing mode for the holidays.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Sam Stone Interviewed by Sandy Auden - SF Site

Learn more about me and my novel Killing Kiss as you click on the link below to SF Site; this shows an interview with Sandy Auden, a summary of the plot of Killing Kiss and a discussion of the development of The Vampire Gene Trilogy.

SF Site

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Signing Frenzy

It was signing day! Waking up in the morning, I was very anxious as we loaded the car with publicity cards and a lovely bowl of sweets (Lips and teeth as we were giving away Killing Kisses). Although this was not my first signing it was my first signing at a major store ... and not just any store, but Waterstones in The Trafford Centre, the largest shopping centre in Europe. I was later told that the bookshop alone gets around 30,000 visitors per week at this time of year.

As I was straightening my hair and fighting with my daughter over who needed to use the mirror most to apply make-up, my partner discovered that we had a flat tyre. Great! I was in a major panic, because this could mean that we wouldn’t make it on time; I hate being late for anything and I was nervous enough as it was!
Fortunately it wasn't a flat, just some mysterious leak had flattened it but it pumped up fine at the local garage and has stayed inflated since.

We set off for the Trafford Centre and the going seemed good until we hit the notorious M60. Here the cars were queueing back off the exit to the Trafford Centre onto the motorway, just an indication of how busy it gets there before Christmas.
We parked up easily enough and the three of us traipsed from the car with our goodies and into The Orient – the food halls at the entrance to the mall. The smell of the various food outlets assailed our senses as we walked through, but I was too tense and excited to even think of eating anything.

Within minutes we arrived at the Waterstones store. I was so buzzed to find a table there, all laid out and displaying copies of my book and with huge Waterstones banners cornering off the area. We were immediately joined by the store’s event organiser and the store manager who made us really welcome.

The shop had only just opened and it was already filled with people: there was a real buzz. Christmas was in the air and there were a few friends already there waiting to see me, which was very much appreciated as I needed to see some friendly faces.

I was so pleased and surprised to see some folks there who'd bought the original version of the book. Special hugs to Elizabeth, an ex-pupil of mine. She said she'd found out about the event because she reads my blog! And also to Gemma, who brought along the original edition for me to sign, but who also bought the new version - thanks Gem!

We were giving out 'Killing Kisses' to passersby as well as the promotional cards for the signing and I smiled nicely, hoping to attract some incidental sales.
We quickly sold a few books and during this time, Terry, my publisher texted to say he’d had a flat tyre on the way to bring a promotional banner! It was too spooky for words!

A few more Killing Kiss sweeties and cards later we sold more books, and Terry finally arrived – he’d been on the road for 6 hours toiling through snow and rain as well!! What a star!

We finally packed up at 4pm, happy that there had been a lot of interest in the book and that everyone we met seemed very pleased to see us. The shop seemed happy as well and asked me to sign all the remaining books for them ... so if you want a signed copy for Christmas and are near the Trafford Centre ... you know where to go.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Book 2 - Futile Flame & Signing Waterstones

An update for those of you who have been asking when Book 2 of The Vampire Gene will be available.

It's finished.

At least in first draft form. Currently I'm editing it through, and this is the hardest and, I find, the most fun time in the process of bringing a book to fruition. Now I get to analyse the effectiveness of the plot structure, plant seeds where necessary to accomodate any new twists and turns, and to correct any silly punctuation and spelling errors I might have made during the process of writing - when sometimes words spill onto the page in such a hurry to capture mood and pace and excitement that the normal rules of typing don't apply and the most important thing is to preserve the essence of the moment.

It's possible that I may even decide I don't like aspects of it after all and scrap several chapters, rewrite or add characters along the way ... hopefully that's not an issue this time though and the book will remain broadly as drafted.

The plot has changed dramatically from the ideas I originally had in mind several months ago, and as any writer knows, sometimes it becomes impossible to stick to a rigorous plan. Sometimes a book wants to be written in a certain way, and who am I to argue?


I'm at Waterstones, Trafford Centre, Manchester this Sunday from 12 noon.

Killing Kiss will be on sale and I'll be there to sign it for you also.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Greedy Magpies

The industry mourns the loss of another publishing house this week.

Well I hope the big boys are happy. The greedy magpies - large chain book stores, online book sellers and giant supermarket chains - are killing the small press with their greed.

Another excellent small press publishing house - coincidentally run by friends of mine - Humdrumming has been unable to continue and has closed up shop this week.

It's a terrible shame when you see the quality of books produced by the small presses these days. It seems to me that far more love and devotion goes into the production of quality material in both fiction and non-fiction. One only has to look at the stunning publications from my own publishers, The House of Murky Depths, or from Elastic Press, Pendragon, Telos Publishing, NewCon Press, PS Publishing to name but a few.

It's been my observation that the small press produces books with greater accuracy than the large publishing houses; they are often too big and too busy to actually be able to devote enough time to each individual title to make sure they are as perfect as they can be, despite the money the companies have to ensure that a new writer succeeds.

If you spend any time in bookstores looking at book covers, and we're all guilty of buying something because we like the cover, then it's interesting to note that sometimes the covers on the small press books don't 'look' like small press. By which I mean that often, an independently published book just looks like it's independently published. There is a feel to the way the imagery works and the fonts chosen for the lettering and so on. But the UK presses, and in particular the ones I mentioned above, seem to be transcending this and producing fare with ever increasingly commercial cover imagery. I recently examined the cover of a book from a very large publishing house - the first title from a new writer. The cover reminded me of a tv show I watch and to my eye it looked more like an unofficial guide rather than an original work of fiction. (The blurb on the back was no better. It made it sound like every other book I've seen in that genre.) As a discerning reader there's no way I'd pick up a book that seems to be merely a rechurn of something I have seen many times before. Not unless there was something there, some spark in the look of the book, in the description or whatever, to make me look twice.

It's so sad to see Humdrumming go under as they were producing some incredible titles. Likewise, Telos Publishing released some amazing horror fiction, but even they were forced to give up publishing in this line, because they couldn't compete with the money that the big publishing houses pour into promoting their books, and as a result sales were less than needed to keep the books viable. I've touched on this before. The top spot can be bought, it sometimes isn't earned. And that is a real frustration. If you have money to throw behind a book and an author - it's a guaranteed success. Buy the bestseller slot in every big book store - and it will be sold. Success, or the appearance of it, breeds success.

Of course part of the problem is that the political world sold publishers down the river some years ago when they scrapped the Net Book Agreement. The Agreement basically said that the publisher set the rrp for the book, and that was what the bookshops had to sell it for. Scrapping it meant that online retailers, chains and supermarkets could put their own price on the book and sell it at a vast discount - sometimes even less than the amount they themselves paid for it (termed a 'loss leader' in the industry - remember the furore over the Harry Potter books a couple of years back when a small bookstore could buy copies cheaper from Tescos than they could get them from the publisher, Bloomsbury!). In some ways opening the pricing up to competition was a good thing, but it meant, as always, that the author lost out on royalties, and the small press are simply unable to compete as they can't afford to offer the same discount levels as the big boys.

Friday 7 November 2008

SIGNING - Killing Kiss

I received a rather nice phone call today from my editor Terry Martin at Murky Depths asking if I would be available on Sunday 23rd November 2008. When I asked why, he told me to get my sexy ass over to Waterstones, Trafford Centre, Manchester and not to ask blonde questions in future!

The cheek of editors today!!

Anyway, YOU get your sexy or otherwise ass over there too, and come and talk to me! The event starts at 12pm. (I'll expect you there on time!)

Killing Kiss will be on sale and I'll be happy to sign it for you.

Now, what should I wear ...?

Thursday 6 November 2008


Why is it we think about the most stupid and unsolvable problems in the middle of the night?

I'm not sure whether I'm on a different time zone - I can't really blame jet lag though ... I haven't been to another country for several months - but sometimes it feels like I'm awake at the wrong time. Do any of you feel that way? It's a strange sensation being wide awake in the middle of the night, knowing you have to get some sleep or you won't be fit for work the next day.

Me, Solvar, Adele at Chicago Airport, the last time I went abroadThere's another thing too ... I shouldn't have read to the end of Del Stone Jr's rather good novella Black Tide before bed. After all, who wants to turn the lights off when you've just been reading about a particularly scary and malevolent world full of zombies who can only come out in the dark? It's a great book, but reading it just before lights-out? I'm not doing that again!

Sometimes I'm just a big girl. Okay, I admit it. And Zombies are about the only subject matter that really scares me. (Well that and the famed House of Horrors at Universal Studios in LA - but that's another tale yet to be told ...)

But now I look across at my bedside clock and see it click to 4.13 am. I really must try again to sleep. I have to be up and at 'em in 2 hours!

Wish me sweet dreams ... and I hope you sleep well also, and can ignore all the things that go bump in the night ... Zombies or not!

Saturday 1 November 2008

London Transport & Londoners

I've just returned from a week long visit to South West London and I feel I have to say a few words on the transport system there and Londoners in general.

A lot of negative things are said about the big city, most of it I've yet to experience. Whenever I've spent time in London I've always found it to be pleasant and the people very nice.

This week I felt like I learnt more about surburban London. I stayed on the outskirts and because I was staying so long I had to abandon my lazy ways and use the public transport. As a general rule I use taxis a lot. This is partly because the underground is somewhat scary to people who aren't used to it (like me) and it can be very confusing which line goes where and what branch and direction to take. But not this time.

Arriving on Saturday, I needed to get a tube to Waterloo but found that the service was down. Doing my usual scaredy cat routine, I didn't let the information lady tell me the alternative route but rushed off for a taxi. Easy enough then, I arrived at Waterloo and found that trains to my destination run very regularly and within minutes I was on a train heading the right way. (So, so easy.)

Because I was staying a week, taxis really weren't an option and so the friend I was staying with introduced me to the bus service. (Fortunately he'd already told me to get an oyster card, so bus travel was as easy as touching a card to a sensor.) On Monday, all alone and feeling brave, I jumped buses, found places and really started to enjoy the freedom of public transport. I've driven since I was 23 and I don't think I've actually been on a bus since then. But I can so see the appeal of the system down south. Why bother taking your car - it might be hard to park - when getting the bus is so simple, takes you directly where you want to go and is cheap? The bus service was also profilic and regular with buses arriving every few minutes, and the train service was likewise very frequent.

On Tuesday I went to meet my friend Alison for lunch at Waterloo and we hit the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf - yep I saw the dome - and the train service is again so frequent and so easy, that basically when you step off one train, the next one you want always seems to be there and ready to go.

And as far as Londoners are concerned ... I have never been smiled at so much in my life! On the said trains and buses, in the streets, the people are really lovely and friendly (even the cats seem friendlier) - so what's this rubbish about everyone being too rushed and too busy to smile and be nice? It is definitely not so! In fact, as a Mancunian girl, I'd say the big city has the edge on smiles.

On Thursday I had to find my way to Victoria Station for a meeting nearby. Once again, transport was very easy and I didn't feel intimidated at all to be out there on my own. In fact the return train was heading to Brighton, as well as my stop and the thought of seeing the sea was very tempting (maybe next time). And people always seem to want to chat to you on the train too!

If you've had the opposite experience I'd love to know, but remember this, try smiling and maybe you'll be greeted nicely. And maybe you'll be making a visitor to your own city/town/village feel that little bit more welcome.

Monday 27 October 2008

What New Writers Need to Know - Part 3 - Blogging.

I'm not going to give away all of my secrets, but one that I feel all new writers need to know is ... learn the art of blogging.

Blogging helps you connect with your readers. It's a valuable tool to help you build your online presence which will hopefully lead to book sales - and if not, then it will definitely lead to making some new and interesting friends who may have the same take on the world as you.

What should you blog about?

Well, that's the interesting part. You can blog about anything at all. It doesn't have to be about your writing all the time, or your latest book/story/poetry collection release - although you certainly should keep your readers informed of those things. It can be about a disasterous day, thoughts as you do the work/school run. Interesting people you've met. People you'd like to meet (Richard Gere springs to my mind ...). Places you've visited. Holidays. Sports events. Buying shoes! Get the picture?

One thing you should do of course is look at some of the more successful blogs out there. Like Neil Gaiman for example. Neil writes about all sorts of things and his narrative is very engaging. Or if you are looking for an example of a specific topic or theme, then try David J Howe's, Howeswho blog on the Doctor Who TV series (as well as writing and horror films and other subjects).

So what are you waiting for?

Get to work and keep in touch with loyal fans, friends and anyone else who comes across your page! You never know, they might all be waiting for you to speak your mind.

Friday 24 October 2008

Sex Sells Recording - NewCon 4 Panel.

Reading before the panel Well here's a nice surprise. Derrick Lakin-Smith sent me a link to his live recording of the 'Sex Sells' panel at Newcon 4.

This features Storm Constantine, Ken Macleod, Ian Watson (moderating), Roberto Quaglia, Allyson Bird and myself.

Apologies in advance for my terrible poetry recital at the beginning. It was freezing in there and I was just shivering the whole time. Partly the problem was that I had a touch of food poisoning and didn't know it; I was out of sorts all day and ended up in bed at 9pm that night because I felt so very ill by then. (But that's enough whining from me about that - and enough excuses).

The panel was very well received and a lot of intelligent and articulate comments were made throughout.

Here's the link if you want to listen.

Sex Sells: But Should We Buy

Tuesday 21 October 2008

What New Writers Need to Know - Part 2

Have you ever wondered how a book or writer gets a publishing deal?

How many times have you picked up a book and thought - How the heck did that ever get in print?

Not all literature out there is good unfortunately. And the discerning reader will know when they've been had. But for writers who have genuine talent and original ideas, then this is a real bug bear.

Writing is very hard work. And the pay is poor unless you are one of the lucky few - for example J K Rowling or Stephen King. I was once told that 90% of the money paid by publishers to authors in the UK goes to 10% of said authors ... leaving just 10% of the money to be shared among 90% of the authors!

But success in the writing world is not determined soley by talent. What? You look surprised. It's partly about what and who you know. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Ms Rowling had to attend conventions and network like crazy, working her way up the ladder with each book forming part of a long rise to success - she's quite the exception. But its an open secret in the industry that often books listed in the 'Best Sellers' are not in fact that at all. It often just means that the publishing house has bought the placement from the bookshop as part of a marketing deal.

I often ponder on this. How the small presses are struggling to even get one of their very high quality fiction novels into the shops when the shelves are crammed with so-called 'celebrity' books of all shapes. It's a real dilemma. The top stores and online book sales sites are writing their own paychecks. All publishers are held over a barrel. Amazon, Waterstones, Borders - you name it - all the big boys these days expect to be paid for everything. You want a book in a 3 for 2 promotion, then that apparently costs the publisher around £1000 per week per book. You want your book in the window of the shop, then that costs. You want it up front in the store, on a table near the door, then pay up please. You want it face out on the shelf? Pay please. You want it in the 'Bookshop Recommends' catalogue, then send your money here ... Heck, they can even demand a 60% or more reduction on the rrp of a book, with full sale or return. When you consider the costs of producing the book and promoting it, there isn't a lot left in the pot for the author, especially when you then factor high volume discount clauses into their contracts (which basically say that the bigger the discount the publisher gives on the book, the less of a percentage of the money received the author gets).

Don't get me wrong, the top publishers are being stiffed too. I heard it said that for any book to make any sort of impact in the bookshops these days, the publisher must be prepared to spend £50,000 on marketing to back it up. But ... what if they stopped pandering to the bookshops? Refused the demands and took a stand - were united for once, then would the stores have to back off and revert to publishing based on quality and true saleability rather than the depth of the publishers' pockets? Of course that will never happen. Simply because there will always be one publishing house who will pay to ensure that their latest writer is a best seller. Given that the bookshops only tend to stock and promote a limited range, then what is available in them is all that the general public can therefore buy, hence it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that what is on the shelves and is promoted by them sells, and therefore becomes a bestseller, whether that be top-notch fiction or celebrity endorsed, ghost-written pap.

These days the industry is about publicity and manufacturing success and not quality. Celebrity sells and so those are the books which cram the shelves. As they are the only ones there, then the public buy them, perhaps thinking that they are in some way good because lots of other people have bought them ... and so the cycle continues.

Of course there are some publishers who constantly champion new talent, bring new names to the fore in the hope that they might be tomorrows best-seller. These are the books which really deserve support and acclaim, which should be reviewed and promoted in the newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately I feel that so long as the bookshops have this commercial stranglehold, and the publishers feel there is no choice but to pay for the success of their titles, then we will continue to see a steady stream of books by the likes of Jordan, Jade Goodie and Geri Halliwell stacking the shelves for some time to come.

As a final coda, it occurs to me that of course some of these celebrity tomes do sell very well indeed, and make a lot of money for the publishers, money that they can then use to publish - if they so wish - original fiction from original voices.

So if you are reading this and are a published writer, then your next book may just have been funded by Jade! What a thought.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

NewCon 4

Arriving at the Park Inn Hotel on Friday afernoon it looked as though Sharna and I were the only people there! It was like entering the old hotel in Silent Hill - you knew something was going to happen but you weren't sure if the anticipation was for something good or bad.

Me reading poetryAround 4 we were joined by Literary Agent John Jarrold in the bar and there ensued a very good start to an exciting evening. Ken MacLeod came in, rapidly followed by Paul Cornell. (Name dropping to continue shortly ...) I'd never met either of these guests before, but I had seen Paul in the Green Room at Orbital EasterCon, where we had passed like the proverbial two ships on our way to do panels. I can truly say that both Ken and Paul are really fun and extremely interesting to talk to - and yes, I did ask Paul about Doctor Who ...

The evening rapidly descended on us and arriving guests streamed into the venue. These included, Iain M Banks, Storm Constantine, Chaz Brenchley, John Clute, Cardinal Cox, Donna Scott, Neil M Bond, Roberto Quaglia - to name but a few. Also arriving were organisers Ian Whates (NewCon Press) and his lovely partner Helen, as well as Ian Watson.David J Howe reads some of my poems

We - 32 people in total - all decided to go for a Chinese Banquet. And at this time Terry and Liz Martin from Murky Depths arrived and also joined us. Absolutely great fun! The wine and conversation flowed easily.

In the true style of these things, we all spilled back to the hotel bar. I met Iain M Banks properly for the first time and spent a fair portion of the evening talking to him and his lovely lady. And then Paul Cornell introduced me to John Clute who is working on updates to his fabulous encylopeadia on all things science fiction. (And what a delightful man he was too!!) Alison Kershaw appeared and ... well the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur ...

Saturday brought us to the beginning of the convention and the opening ceremony at 10.30 was great fun, aided by Kevin the Jester of Northampton, who was a very effective Master of Ceremonies. Panels began. My first duty was to read extracts from Killing Kiss with Storm Constantine (Reading from her collection Mythopedia) and Allyson Bird reading from Bull Running for Girls. I'd met Storm once before at FantasyCon 2007 and it was nice to catch up. She and Allyson both read beautifully from their books and I was the last to read - It all went well - but boy was it cold in that Workshop room!!!

I was then free to attend panels, chat to people and take a look at the dealers tables over the afternoon until 5 - when I was appearing on the 'Sex, Sells. Should we Buy it?' panel. This was moderated by Ian Watson and the participants were myself, Ken Macleod, Storm Constantine, Allyson Bird and Roberto Quaglia. I read two of my erotic poems to start the discussion - which was really challenging because I was freezing to death and then Ian kicked off the discussion by changing the focus and the title - He asked - sex sells, but should we SELL it?

What followed was a very detailed discussion on sex and eroticism in literature. In which everyone on the panel gave a very clear view of their opinions. I particularly enjoyed the excellent comments made by Storm. And some of the questions the audience asked like: 'What is the difference between Erotica and Pornography?' Thankfully everyone on the panel had a lot to say on the subject.

Saturday evening I got sick. Don't know what was wrong but I felt weak and fluey and ended up in bed at 9pm. Unfortunately I then missed out on the Bar-B-Que and evening socialising. :~(

Me and Cardinal Cox at the poetry readingSunday was a great day. At 12 noon I read some of my poetry with Cardinal Cox (Poet Laureate of Peterborough 2003), aided by David J Howe, who read Demon Lover and Phoenix beautifully for me as he does on the Demon Lover CD. I also met up once more with Rob (Author of The BLack Flame) and Will Mackellar and their friend Katherine Branton (who is also a poet).

Unfortunately the whole convention just went by way too quickly.

Memorable moments: Paul Cornell's discussion spot. He was very witty and entertaining when he told us about all the work he's doing currently (I don't know how he manages it!); The Sex Sells panel, when a sex therapist stood up and asked a series of complicated questions and Ian Watson looked at me to answer ... but I'd forgotten what the man asked in the first place! Lol! So I said 'I'll have to think about that for a moment ...' Fortunately Storm took up the challenge - you rock girl! Friday night when Paul Cornell asked me to rescue Iain M Banks from a rather intense fan. And finally, seeing my friends and loved ones at the event as always. ;)

Congratulations to Ian Whates, Ian Watson and the committee of NewCon 4, for doing such a tremendous job of the convention! Here's to NewCon 5!!!!

Oh, and Ian, you still owe me a drink for selling raffle tickets!! But, I'm sure I'll catch up with you at the next event ... :)

Monday 6 October 2008

Being in Birmingham ... And NewCon 4

I have considered the fact that I am becoming a bit of a convention geek - before you say it.

I made a flying visit to the Birmingham International Comic Show on Sunday. I went along for 4 1/2 hours to Birmingham because my publishers Murky Depths were there promoting my book as well as their fantastic quarterly magazine (for more info on that, check out www.murkydepths.com).

The bottom line, and this is a very brief update (sorry I have no pics), is that I again met up with some interesting people. And for that no trip is ever wasted. Top comic writer Tony Lee gave me a fab signed book for my daughter Linzi - owe you one Tony! It's called Midnight Kiss and she's delighted with it I have to say. (Terry Martin said: 'Bet you charmed it out of him.' Hmmm... No idea what he's suggesting at all. I smiled and was very polite though, good manners go a long way.) I bought The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga featuring manga from my Facebook friend Jay Eales, and his partner Selina Dean, who are regulars at conventions. Wandering round I also met Grant Perkins who is a new artist and writer on the scene, with his fiancee Eva.

It was brilliant to see people making the effort and dressing up. I saw many very authentic looking costumes, including Lara Croft, Batman, Superman and a brilliant Joker - dressed in the nurse's uniform from the latest film.

And, yay! We even sold some books - which always helps!

So a worthwhile and fun trip as always.

Looking forward to next weekend ...

NEXT EVENT - NewCon 4 - 11th/12th October.

I'll be there from Friday evening, and will be reading an extract from Killing Kiss on Saturday at 12 noon, with the lovely Storm Constantine and equally delightful Ally Bird (who I met this year at FantasyCon). At 5pm I'll be on a panel with the topic of 'Sex sells' - I'll be kicking this panel off with a reading of two pieces of my erotic poetry. Also on this panel, Ken Macleod, Ally Bird, Roberto Quaglia and Ian Watson.

Sunday lunchtime I'll be reading some of my poetry with the charming Donna Scott, and Cardinal Cox (Poet Laurette 2002) - this will take place from the stage (and I'm hoping to have a surprise male reader join me to read at least one of my poems). Time permitting this will feature a selection of poems from the Demon Lover CD and some of my love poetry.

The House of Murky Depths will be there selling Killing Kiss, along with bargain subscriptions for the Murky Depths quarterly magazine. (Oh, and the latest on MD's continuing success - the magazine is now available in Forbidden Planet and several other stores. Killing Kiss has been accepted by Waterstones and Barnes and Noble in America - where it will not only appear on their website but in selected stores as well. More on this another time ... hopefully including some in store signing dates.) The image here is the cover of the latest edition which I can assure you is well worth a look-see.

The rest of the time at NewCon I hope to be attending some of the fantastic panels they have listed. And - obviously - in the bar as well!

With any luck I'll exchange a few words with the guests of honour which this year include Paul Cornell, Storm Constantine, Iain M Banks and Ken MacLeod. What a fantastic line up!

If you are coming along though, please check the times on your itinery, just in case any last minute changes have been made that I don't know about ...

So catch up with me at NewCon 4 this weekend and please come and say hello! I don't bite - I just look scary.

Sunday 5 October 2008

What New Writers Need to Know...

Driving from Manchester yesterday in the pouring rain, I was crawling along in traffic on the M6 and my mind was wandering to the questions I've been frequently asked in the last two weeks. There are many new and aspiring writers out there. It wasn't that long ago when I was 'aspiring' myself. I'm still a newbie by the industry standards having only been around since January 2007.

Reflecting on the past year I have learnt quite a bit about the industry. Been on the receiving end of some bigotry (nothing new there) and I've made some amazing friends that have the same interests as me.

The world of a writer no longer belongs in an ivory tower. It's not just about writing that masterpiece, but you have to be prepared to follow through with promotion. Promo takes many forms. Online networking is an excellent way of establishing a presence. And all writers should have an online presence because we cannot any longer rely on book sales always occuring in shops. (Partly because the shops are fleecing the publishers and it's always the writer who ends up not getting paid - but that's another blog entirely!). So. First step - get your book in print (gosh, that makes it sound easy doesn't it). Second step - make friends on Myspace, Facebook, Bebo ... wherever you want. And before you sigh and say 'I don't have time for all that, I'm too busy writing...' then consider this - One hour a day checking them all instead of watching TV will be boosting your career (I borrowed that from Darren Turpin (Orbit Books) at the self-promotion panel at FantasyCon - but it's not plagiarism because I'm telling you he said it). It's good advice.

I spend more time online than that though, perhaps several times a day - because it isn't enough to go and make thousands of friends, you need to be nice to people too - and believe me they can tell if you're fake and are just promoting. The bottom line is - as a writer you should be interested in people - especially those who like your work. One, you get feedback from them, which I like to receive personally, even if it isn't always what you want to hear. Two, you make some interesting and diverse friends from all over the world. Three, if you're loyal to them, they will be loyal to you.

My latest online site is http://www.goodreads.com - this is fantastic because it is all about reading. People on there are looking for new books to enjoy and you get some really interesting and intelligent emails from them. I'm forging some nice friendships and enjoying receiving some great recommendations to add to my reading list too.

And for those writers who have books on shelves already you can develop a writer's profile. So people immediately begin to associate your books with you - that nice person who replies to their emails. (The marriage proposals were, however, ignored for obvious reasons :)).

More on this subject to follow ...

Saturday 4 October 2008

Birmingham International Comic Show

Well this weekend sees the Birmingham International Comic show which runs for 4th & 5th October. My publisher Terry Martin will be there selling copies of the Murky Depths quarterly magazine and of course Killing Kiss. Therefore I've decided to drive down there on Sunday for the day and be around his stall to sign copies of the book!

So, if you're anywhere near and want to drop by and say 'hello', then I'll be happy to sign a book for you. And I'll also post a brief blog and pictures covering the event.

Here's the link: http://www.thecomicsshow.co.uk/

I wonder what to wear for tomorrow ...?

Saturday 27 September 2008

FantasyCon 2008 - A Brief Diary

Me at the launch for Killing Kiss Thursday

I arrived with my sister Sharna at the Britannia Hotel, Nottingham on Thursday evening after a somewhat traumatic journey. The traffic was murder on the M6, as usual, and this made a 21/2 hour drive stretch into nearly 4 hours. So it was a relief to hit the bar and just relax for the evening FantasyCon started for me right then. Especially when Marie O'Regan and husband Paul Kane, Me and Sharnachairs of the committee arrived. We were soon joined by Vicky Cook, Helen Hopley, Martin Roberts and Paul Campbell. Convention fun began. Three bottles of wine later ...


The next day I got up early and went down to the dealer's room to see if I could help out with the prep for the afternoon. Gorgeous ladies of the Banquet. L to R: Marie O'Regan, Me, Helen Hopley, Sharna Connor This still remains one of the highlights for me, because it was tremendous fun preparing, chatting with committee members, ripping open boxes to see what goodies the publishing houses had sent for the gift bags and in particular really getting to know everyone better.

At the launch for Killing Kiss. L to R: Me, Sharna, Rob Shearman, Terry MartinIn the afternoon we packed the bags and at this point I knew that we were nearly done. So I soon rushed upstairs to get ready for the evening. Once dressed we loitered in the bar and waited for the arrival of Terry and Liz Martin from The House of Murky Depths, publishers of Killing Kiss.

More socialising ensued. And very soon the bar became packed with conventioneers. Appearing as always - the inscrutable Stephen Jones and his lovely lady Mandy, swiftly followed by charming editor Jo Fletcher (Gollancz). Amongst other interesting bodies were, David J Howe (Telos Publishing), Adam Nevill (Virgin Books), Ian Whates (Newcon Press), Peter Crowther (PS Publishing), Lee Thompson, Guy Adams & Trudi Topham (Humdrumming), Darren Turpin (Orbit), Lee Harris (Prism) and many, many more people, all set for a weekend of furious drinking and socialising.

A thorn between two roses: Tony Lee and Chaz Brenchley at the launch for Killing KissWe ate an early dinner and then attended the Quiz which was hosted superbly by David J Howe, whose pirate speaking (well, it was International Talk Like A Pirate Day) had everyone in stitches - I don't even think our table was that bothered about winning (which is just as well because we lost) - we were just enjoying the laughs and atmosphere, which was brilliant. The word of the evening - 'Arrrrrr' Afterwards, a return to the bar and more mingling.

Being fitted with a mike by the Lurid TV boysAmong the surprises was a film crew from an internet channel called Lurid TV. They came up and asked if they could film my launch the following morning, and interview me. Of course I said yes!

I spotted Conrad Williams who asked if I would attend his reading that evening - I think he was worried that no-one might turn up! But the room was packed to hear a segment from a new novel which was really inspiring and entertaining. I went to bed soon after because unfortunately I needed to have an early night - Telos and Murky Depths were hosting a joint launch in the morning and I had to be fresh.

Being interviewed by Andy from Lurid TVSaturday

Killing Kiss was launched at 9.30 am in the Dealer's Room Bar along with the superb non-fiction of Telos Publishing: books on Torchwood, Till Death Us Do Part and Taboo Breakers (Films). The launch was very well attended and great fun. (We treated everyone there to tea/coffee and chocolate biscuits!).

The film crew from Lurid TV turned up as promised and filmed the whole event, and interviewed me afterwards. I hope I gave them what they wanted. While I was doing that, Murky Depths and Telos were selling books like hotcakes.

Peter Mark May and meSome lovely and revered people attended. I chatted to fellow vampire writer Raven Dane, and the charming Doctor Who and fiction writer Rob Shearman. Among the others I spotted in the whirl were Paul Finch, Chaz Brenchley, Peter Mark May (Demon) and Alison Kershaw (Didikai Witch) as well as publisher Tony Lee. Me and Alison Kershaw at the launch(Conrad Williams didn't show, despite his promise - but he's forgiven because he actually had a very late night for the sake of the convention the previous night!) Also among the guests were Tim Lebbon, Guy Adams, Simon Clark and many, many more.

I've never been photographed so much in my life.

Reading from Killing KissFollowing the launch I went upstairs to the tenth floor and delivered a reading from Killing Kiss which seemed extremely well attended. Lurid TV also came and recorded it all - so I'm sure it will turn up online at some point. I was so delighted that several attendees bought the book afterwards and I was told by one very nice fellow writer that the reading had 'wetted' his appetite and he really wanted to read the book now. (I felt very not worthy and thrilled all at the same time).

It was over! I could relax, and naturally more socialising ensued - and some alcohol - which I was very much in need of by then.

That afternoon I attended a super panel discussing how different publishers manage the editing and publication processes with Jo Fletcher (Gollancz), Adam Nevill (Virgin), Peter Crowther (PS) and Jonathan Oliver (Abaddon) which was extremely well attended and very informative as usual. The Doctor Who Panel: L to R: Rob Shearman, David J Howe, Mark Morris, Simon Guerrier, Simon ClarkAnd a brilliant panel on Writing for Doctor Who - the guests being Rob Shearman, David J Howe, Mark Morris, Simon Guerrier and Simon Clark. What a line up!!! This panel finished way too quickly, one hour definitely wasn't enough as all the speakers had years of experience as writers between them and clearly the large audience wanted to ask more questions.

Me and Sharna in our Banquet outfitsIn the evening we attended the banquet - food was good I thought - the wine wasn't bad either and the company of friends was excellent. On our table, David and Rosemary Howe, Sharna Connor (my sister), Brendan Vaughan, Simon R Green, Roy Gray from Interzone, Simon Morden and more people I didn't know (sorry!). But we all had a fab time anyway!

David J Howe and me at the BanquetThe BFS Awards were announced after the banquet. I won't list them in full here but there were some nice surprises. See the BFS website for details http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/news/?p=361.

There followed the Raffle - carried out with a great deal of fun and frolic by Guy Adams and Sarah Pinborough. These things can be a bit dull - but this year wasn't at all. I won a James Barclay book with one of my friend's tickets - unfortunately I'm too honest and I am going to have to give it to him! James kindly signed it as well. Maybe I should remind my friend that it's my birthday next month ...?

Guy Adams and Sarah Pinborough raffle off one of my corsets that I had donatedFinally we all retired to the bar, where I crashed onto a sofa with my sister Sharna and was rapidly joined by Raven Dane, Rob Shearman, Simon Guerrier, Adam Nevill, Brendan Vaughan and Paul Campbell. There followed some intellectual discussions on Doctor Who with Rob and Simon, which as a fan, was absolutely brilliant.

I eventually went to bed at 3.30am (haven't done that since I was 20 - some 70 odd years ago) but was so excited that I didn't get to sleep till around 5am.


Editor at Virgin Books Adam Neville and meDespite the late night (early morning), I had to make sure I was up and at them bright and early - Sharna wanted to kill me by this stage (we haven't slept in the same room since we were kids and she thinks I'm way too perky in the morning). An eventful last day was planned - FantasyCon was far from over.

So my first port of call - I wanted to hear my lovely new friend Rob Shearman read from his short story collection and it was definitely a reading to remember. Fantastically presented and a brilliantly moving story, all delivered with a dose of really dry humour.

Rob Shearman and meFollowing Rob in the reading room was Raven Dane who presented extracts from all three of her books (Series Legacy of the Dark Kind) - including the current one which is as yet not released. Raven said later that she hadn't read live before and yet she was so calm and professional I'd never have guessed, and the reading, like Rob's, was inspiring.

Raven Dane and me Then in the afternoon I was on a panel called 'How to Promote yourself' with Darren Turpin and Lee Harris moderated by Allen Ashley - I learnt such a lot from Darren and Lee's comments about promoting effectively. And was modestly able to put my penny's worth in about my usage of social networking sites.

The convention concluded with a massive small press book launch in the main bar - which was Terry's final chance to sell copies of the book, and attendee's final chance to buy.

Exhausted but happy at the final Small Press Launch partyAfter that, we crashed in the bar with friends relaxing. Saying sad farewells to friends old and new as they left. Luckily some other folk were also staying until Monday and so we had people to chat with into the evening.

With FantasyCon officially over for another year, I say: well done team! You excelled yourselves.

Here's to 2009!

Friday 12 September 2008

Reading at FantasyCon

Just a little note to say, I'll be reading an extract of Killing Kiss at FantasyCon at 11am on Saturday 20th September 2008. This takes place on the 10th floor, so I'm told. If you are attending, please come along and give me some support. If I'm good then clap, if I'm not then bring your own tomatoes.

Thursday 4 September 2008

Killing Kiss Launch at FantasyCon

I've just had word from my publishers that Killing Kiss will be launched in 2 weeks at FantasyCon.

The launch will be a joint with Telos Publishing and will take place in the DEALERS ROOM BAR on Saturday 20th September at 9.30-10.30am, with free coffee/tea/biscuits with every purchase. This will be a great opportunity to meet up with me and if you buy the book as well, I will happily sign it for you.

There will also be some fantastic non-fiction books by Telos. These include Torchwood, Till Death Us Do Part and Taboo Breakers (film). All of which look fantastic reads. (So bring your wallets!!)

Needless to say, copies of Killing Kiss will be there and available prior to the official release which is at the end of September. (It's only £7.99)

There is however, one drawback, the event is only available to Convention attendees - but you can still sign up and attend on the day. Go to www.fantasycon.org.uk for further information.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Recording 'Demon Lover'

Over the summer I've been recording a CD called Demon Lover & Other Eroticisms . This was done with a friend, Singer/Songwriter/Composer Penny Nicholls, whose musical talent helped to create what we think might be a new genre.

Penny Nicholls and I breaking down one of the poems, exploring the meaning, tone and mood prior to the creation of the music.

We call them Mohemes. A Moheme is a poem that is, not just set to music, but is reformed to work with the music. It was a very collaborative and creative process. Yes, the poem came first. Yes the poem can stand alone on the page or be read as it is, but, when we added the music in this unique way - and I don't mean just for ambience, it was CRAFTED to suit the words and the mood - then something very unique happened. The emotion, the tone, the mood and the words all became enhanced.

This was the birth of the Moheme.

One problem I came across, however, is that some of my poems are written in a male voice. So I asked my friend David J Howe to record a couple of these for me. So we had a great deal of fun on that day! Lol!

Here's David recording the CD title poem Demon Lover.

You can hear some of these on my Myspace page (see links on the right). So listen and enjoy. But remember, if you are attending FantasyCon, you'll get a free copy in your membership goodie bag.

Sunday 31 August 2008

My Book!!!

I've finally received my copy of Killing Kiss and as you can see I'm feeling very proud. The cover, layout, and overall publishing quality is fantastic, thanks to Terry Martin and Murky Depths. Copies will be on sale at FantasyCon where I'll be available to sign it. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Killing Kiss

The copies of Killing Kiss have finally arrived at the publishing house. So if you want to be among the first to receive a copy, order now by clicking the link at the side of my blog. Needless to say, I can't wait to see it myself!!

This version is my preferred copy, although I know that some of you will miss the Prologue; there is an added bonus Epilogue so you might forgive me when you read it.

As you'll notice I have an endorsement from the wonderful Tanith Lee, you can visit her online at www.tanithlee.com. I've been a big fan of her work for a long time so I was delighted that she liked the book so much.

Onwards and upwards - must crack on now, as Futile Flame awaits and must be finished by December ...

Monday 25 August 2008


My next appearance will be at FantasyCon in Nottingham this September. Look out for the launch of Killing Kiss at the conference and also for a freebie CD of my dark fantasy poetry readings, Demon Lover and Other Eroticisms, which should be in all the delegate bags. If anyone would like to hear some of the poems, then please hop over to my Myspace page (link on the right) where they are available to listen to.


Welcome to a new blog for me ... Sam's Lair. Here you'll find news of my publishing projects, thoughts and feelings on all manner of things gothic, horror, vampire and dark, photos from events and appearances ... and anything else which takes my fancy.

So visit often ...