Bad Seeds Preview

Coming out soon on Amazon, the first volume in my continuing science fiction/supernatural thriller series, Bad Seeds.

Here’s the opening section of the first novella, Hack 1: Enter Sandman. Each volume will be self-contained but with continuing back stories. Comments welcome, even at this stage.

Hack-1-coverMr. Sandman
Bring me a dream
Make her complexion
Like peaches and cream
Give her two lips
Like roses in clover
Then tell me that my lonesome nights are over
– 
The Chordettes

THE DAY I DIED it was sunny and the birds were singing. Typical. I’d been hoping for a minimum of some gloomy stormclouds and a dramatic drumroll of thunder. Not too much to expect since that’s my city’s default weather pattern. Still, once you’ve decided to off yourself you’ve forfeited the right to be choosy.

On the upside there was one thing I could be choosy about: my exit strategy. Suicidal or not, I’m no masochist. Pain not being my thing, I had to figure out the best way to shuffle off my mortal coil so that it wouldn’t sting too much.

I considered the following options:

Gunshot to the head.

Poison.

Jumping off a tall building.

Slashing my wrists.

Hanging myself.

All of the above have more cons than pros, though. Gunshhot; a chance of not hitting the relevant vital organ straight away. Poison; could take too long and the potential for a futile change of mind. Jumping: like they say, it’s not the fall that kills you but hitting the ground — and the falling would be a little too scary. Blade to the wrists; again, too much thinking time. Hanging — a snapped neck is okay, but slow suffocation isn’t.

It took weeks to hit upon the final method. It was a stroke of genius, too. Not that my damned guardian angel thought so.

Evolution of a book jacket

One of the most challenging aspects of being an indie author is creating a book cover. I’m fortunate in one respect, in that I worked for a number of years as a graphic designer. But I am not an artist. My line was mainly typography, layout, logo design, publication design and so on. Along the way I learned to use PhotoShop, Illustrator and other graphics programs. So I feel relatively comfortable doing a layout.

To some extent, it’s possible to use freeware images, or combine images to create something original. But, in an ideal world, if you can afford it, there are plenty of excellent artists and photographers out there who offer their skills at a modest price (or some form of bartering).

Recently, I found a very talented artist on Deviant Art - Ted-Mx (Fyodor Ananiev). He and I are working together on a cover for the first volume in a novella series called Bad Seeds. I’ve used one of his existing images to create the draft cover below.

I found a free font, called Xirod, which I used for the branding and subtitle. The other text is simply a standard font. I reversed the first E on the word Seeds to visually suggest what the word means (black sheep, or people who dysfunctional in some way, or with criminal tendencies – all of the above describe my slightly warped “heroes”). I’ll tell you more about the series itself later, but meantime I’d value comments and feedback on this initial cover idea.

Hack-1-cover

New on Adventures in SciFi Publishing

A double whammy (as we say in the UK): a review I did of Mike Resnick’s book, The Doctor and the Dinosaurs, and a podcast interview with me, both on Adventures in SciFi Publishing.

The podcast mentions that the audiobook download version of Bone Machines is $1.99 – sorry, but that offer has now been closed. However, the new price, still discounted, is $14.96.

In the interview, show host, Timothy C. Ward, and I talk about the craft of writing. We cover a range of topics, including:

  • How to ensure your dialect is accurate when writing in a non-native culture
  • What idioms can we use when making up worlds and civilizations?
  • “The rhythm of the language is more important than the words that you use.”
  • How religion affected early censorship as well as in modern books, but also the surprising openness to sex that non-religious people react to.

A big thanks to Tim for the interview. Though, to be fair,  I thought I was online to interview Kay Kenyon, but Tim snagged some of our informal chat beforehand to put into the podcast.  You’re so sneaky, Tim!

 

Who is Insane?

jakk54:

Ragged Soul’s excellent blog about her personal journey with bipolar disorder.

Originally posted on Musings From a Ragged Soul:

I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder almost a year ago. I was hospitalized for nearly a month in the psych ward. I had a complete psychotic break. I had hallucinations and grandiose thoughts – a classic manic episode. I started a blog just before my episode went into full swing.  My writings  in the days leading up to my hospitalization reveal a bit of what was going on in my head at the time. I think a lot of what I had to say was real, it was true. I still believe most of what I had to say. So, what does it all mean?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mental illness. Thinking about what it means to be bipolar. Thinking about the emotions I go through. Thinking about what’s wrong with me. And what’s right. How I don’t believe there is anything wrong with anyone who…

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Felted pod aspiring to become a handbag

jakk54:

My wife, Carole, is producing some amazing textile work. Lately, a lot with felting. Why not drop over to her blog and check out her projects, and you’ll also see how some of them are created. You’ll also find more about her work, including lots of beautiful work for sale, through her Bagsalicious Facebook page.

Originally posted on craftywoman:

All those gorgeous, rich, jewel-like, dyed fibres came together to create this 12″ high felted pod, but it is calling out to me to become a handbag. I hope I did the fibres justice and kept their beauty.

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Radio GB Is Back

My singer-songwriter friend, Jonathan Taylor, whom I interviewed on the blog a while back, is reviving the radio station he originally produced in England. While Radio GB is principally aimed at people from the UK now living in Bulgaria, there will certainly be plenty of good stuff on the show to appeal to a much wider audience.

You can catch the pilot episode on youtube right now, or just click on the play button on the embedded video.

 

Bone Machines audiobook now only $1.99

Bone Machines audiobook coverThose wonderful people at Downpour.Com, have put the audiobook version of my novel, Bone Machines, on sale for a mere $1.99. You can listen to a sample of Robin Sachs’ wonderful narration, to whet your appetite. I hope you’ll consider picking up, or rather loading down, a copy, and sharing this news with your friends.

Robin Sachs’ acting credits include appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as Ethan Rayne), Babylon 5 (as Hedron, N’Kal and Na’Tok), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (as Paul Bowman) and as a professor in the British science fiction drama, Torchwood: Miracle Day. Robin did wonderful voice work, too, ranging from cartoons (Spongebob SquarePants) and the console game, Mass Effect 3 (Zaeed Massani).

Free steampunk superhero novel

Book jacket for The MechanikalsMy YA steampunk superhero novel, The Mechanikals, is now free, on Wattpad. Although written with a teen audience in mind I hope that adult readers will enjoy it also.

News of the week

Books and Blogs

Some news for the week, a couple of things about what I’ve been up to and some noteworthy stuff from others.

First, my latest blog on Amazing Stories is called Cyberpunk’d and is up now.

Second, my YA steampunk superhero novel, The Mechanikals, is being released episodically , for free, over at Wattpad. I plan to put all the chapters in as fast as I can, time permitting. I hope you’d consider giving it a read, leaving comments or voting.

Podcasts of Note

Writing Excuses is an excellent podcast show  for aspiring authors. It’s presented in useful, bite-sized chunks of around 15 minutes an episode. The show hosts  leading lights in science fiction, fantasy and horror in  both  narrative and comic book format, Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler  and Dan Wells.

Tales to Terrify - the horror podcast on which I have had stories and for whom I have narrated work by others a couple of times – has been named 2013 Podcast of the Year by This Is Horror. Very well done, chaps and chapesses!

Crux jacketNeuromancer jacketBook jacket for The Mechanikals

Three books giveaway

Year's Best SF coverLinked to my review of Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R.Martin and Gardener Dozois, there’s a fabulous giveaway of three books over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing. Log in to the site via the entry button to put yourself in the running to win three anthologies from those lovely people at Tor: Dangerous Women, Twenty First Century Science Fiction and Year’s best SF 18.

Surely you don’t want to pass up a chance to snag all three?

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