An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

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Distractions

This should start with an apology. I’ve not been around of late, and for that I am deeply sorry. This poor blog has been neglected and, by extension, so have you. Since I’ve been slacking off I figure you all deserve an explanation as to what it is that’s keeping me from your loving embrace.

Every aspiring author, and probably some established ones, will know exactly how distractions can have an effect on your productivity. And they can be anything at all. Family responsibilities, the day job, and any number of variables. But we’re talking about what has kept me from you specifically. Here are my greatest distractions over the last month:

Reading

I’m a major Book-geek. And it’s one of the many factors in my geekdom that I’m particularly proud of (Unlike my hatred of people spelling Spider-man without the hyphen).  And apart from my enjoyment of a good, engaging book, there’s a deeper philosophy to this one. I firmly believe that in order to be a good writer, you have to be an avid reader. Anything will do. Not just in your favourite genre, but outside of it, too. The best novels you will ever read won’t fit into a genre at all, but straddle several. How can we, as writers, do the same thing if we don’t assimilate all the books we can?

Can't wait to see the movie!

Exactly, you can’t. And recently, I’ve been reading all kinds of stuff. My fellow Inspired Quill author, Matthew Munson has released his debut novel called Fall from Grace. Read it. The increasingly-popular Hunger Games. Read it. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Read that too. And it’s been great to give myself time to read again. I’ve missed it with all the work I’ve been doing lately.

What’s next..?

Learning

As some of you will know, I’m curenty taking two Open University courses with a view to getting my English Literature degree (to accompany my Nursing degree. I know, I’m mad right?). And since I’m doing two courses at once, and we’re getting toward the end of the year, the ante has been appropriately upped. this month alone I have three assignments due in. One hs just been submitted. two more to go. Bad times. Or good times, depending on your perspective. Learning more about Literature and the Arts in general has caused some great flashes of inspiration. New stories, characters, places and scenarios. All kinds of juicy stuff. The ideas are coming faster than I can scribble. And I love it. But it still keeps me away from the blog. And so does…

Gaming

I’m not a massive gamer. I avoid TV as a rule (although I watch loads of movies). Things like this just seem to be  waste of my brain, which is very easy to overpower and needs regular oiling and periods of rest for cooling before it overheats. But now and again I need something nice and brainless to give myself a break. Something to help switch off. And MMORPGs are the way to do that. This may be controversial, but I dont like WoW. There’s too much of a hard-core people-without-priorities or eyes that can withstand sunlight feel to it all. And so I play Runescape. Sure, the graphics are shoddy, but it’s huge, diverse, and easy to play with only half a brain. You can also dipp in and out of it as you see fit. The fact that it’s a fantasy world like the ones I love to create is just a bonus 🙂

And then there’s the worst distraction of them all. That essential evil…

Social Networking

Twitter is my choice of poison here. I love it. Short, punchy, regularly hilarious, and everyone on there has been so good to me since I hit it with my writing presence, I can never let it go. Unfortunately, it can also be so immersing, and the sense that you’ll miss something so strong, that it can eat your day in a single swallow.

And somewhere in between all these things, I’m supposed to write the next novel…

and blog…

and eat, presumably.

Such is the curse of the modern writer, I suppose. But I wouldn’t sacrifice any one of these for another so I’ll just have to learn to juggle. Anyone have their own distractions that they can’t/dont want to avoid?

Thanks for reading


New Project Alert!

I mentioned this a while ago, but it was a whiiiiiile ago and so I’ll recap. While doing my Creative Writing courses with the Open University, I met some great people with a real passion for writing which rivalled my own. Since then we’ve met up every month or so to chat, share ideas and encouragement, and drink too much coffee. In the course of these meetings we decided that we should form a writing group and get an ebook compiled with our short stories in. Hence was born…

Does that look cool, or what?

Of course, I’d already released Not Before Bed, then re-released it and hit every hurdle it’s possible to hit along the way. So it seemed like a good idea to use that experience for the good of mankind (see the gravitas I’m trying to instill in this project?), and it would be much easier than doing it all myself this time. Apart from that, it was an opportunity to sandwich my own work between some great pieces of fiction by other people. And so, the project began.

The Brief: Two short stories and a poem from each member of the group.

And so, without any more of a preamble, I would like to declare that our short story collection is now available absolutely FREE from Smashwords…

Simple, effective. Just like me 🙂

 

That’s right, kids! The first collaborative work from the Steel City Writers is finally here!

Now it’s a very different beast to what you’re used to from me. There are some twists, some thrillers, some humour, and…some poems. I’ve even avoided going too dark with my own entries (yeah, I can do that if I want to. I just never want to :D). But it really is worth a read. We’ve even started a blog so you can find out more about each of us and drop us some feedback if that floats your boat. It’s HERE. And don’t forget that Goodreads is great place to share your reviews!

 

Thanks for reading.


Not Before Bed update!

Thanks to the very kind H. Conrad Miller, Not Before Bed has had another great review! Take a look:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great collection of horror short stories ranging from Lovecraftian to werewolves to that thing that goes bump under your bed. Each story is finely crafted by Craig Hallam in an enjoyable and easy to read way while still having each story have it’s own voice and feel. I think that is one of the most remarkable things about this collection. While it is easy to see how all of the stories came from one author, each story was told with a voice all it’s own that was perfect for that specific sub-genre of horror.

Craig out did himself with his variety of stories. The dark sci-fi in Mandy in the Jar-O have an alien abductee’s horrific realization that her wildest dreams of being wanted are not so wonderful. The Lovercraftian tale of Albert that has little dialogue but such gripping description that every pool of water larger than the size of a drop suspect from harboring tentacled elder gods. These stories have the ability to catch and hold a reader’s attention. After every story I was left asking “When can I read a full story about this?”

I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror. But I especially recommend it to anyone who wants to look into horror for the first time. It will give you a great primer for the genre and help you find a niche inside of it you will like.

 

Good job Craig
Cheers!

Well, I could hardly have asked for a better review than that! Let’s hope that it hitting Goodreads and the web in general gives Not Before Bed another little jolt of downloads. I think this is probably the appropriate time for me to give you some updates on the collection itself, too.

Since moving the collection from Smashwords to Kindle Direct Publishing, I’ve forced myself to NOT constantly check how many downloads I’ve been getting every month. And, because of that, I actually forgot to check altogether. Until today. And so, I can now inform you all that in the last year Not Before Bed, Amazon and Smashwords combined, has had a staggering…

13,426 downloads!

I have no idea how this happened, but July last year showed a massive surge which then frittered out to just a few a month. And since I’ve only been looking at the last few months, I almost missed the huge 12,000ish downloads from middle of last year.

While it may be like this...

 

...it feels more like this.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this causes for a huge thank you to everyone, whether they’re reading this or not, who has taken the time to download Not Before Bed. I never thought my shoddy little short story collection would be such a (relative) hit. I have no idea WHY this happened, but I’m not going to argue. If I can get but a portion of those downloads for Greaveburn, I’ll be a very happy camper. Special thanks, of course, go to those who went the extra mile to review it, too; you’ve all been extremely supportive and helpful in your feedback.

And with that, I think it’s time to put Not Before Bed to….well, to bed. It’ll still be out there to download for all those people who still manage to stumble onto it. But for me, it’s been a great experience that’s over now. I’m going home to concentrate on the next project. From here on in, it’s all about Greaveburn’s release later this year. And so, I’d like to bid a final thank you to everyone who made Not Before Bed a huge personal success. Stick around, there’s more writing to come!

Thanks for reading.


The Quest continues…

No, Greaveburn hasn’t been accepted, published and raised  to international acclaim. But in the pile of rejection letters, I’ve found some little nuggets of hope for the future. The latest letter, which I got this morning, has reinforced my belief that there is such a thing as a good rejection. The people at PFD are not only quick to respond, but generally nice people too. Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? They offered me this lovely compliment (even if they didnt want me. Boo-hoo-hoo):

Thank you for sending us Greaveburn. We very much enjoyed reading your work and think that you do have a talent for writing. However, in the current publishing climate it is increasingly difficult to sell publications and as a result we will not be able to offer you representation at this time.

However, every agency feels differently so please don’t let this discourage you from sending out your work, and we would strongly advise you to keep pursuing your writing.

We wish you the best of luck with Greaveburn,

(Insert nice person’s unreadable signature here).

Isn’t that nice? What more encouragement could I ask for? Jeez, I don’t get those kind of comments when my Mum reads it! If anyone’s interested, she generally ‘doesn’t understand’ what she just read but she’s ‘sure that it’s good’. Brilliant. Cheers, Ma!

Anyhoo, what a great letter. However, it does raise a few more questions for those of us who are striving for Publication Nirvana. If we’re writing for an industry where it’s ‘increasingly difficult’ for professional agents to get people published, how the hell are we supposed to fair in this dog-eat-dog world of literature? Surely Yeti-eats-chinchilla would be a more accurate analogy. It certainly encourages self-publication and e-publications. Especially when even someone as unheard of as myself can get approx 250 Twitter followers from all over the world. It MUST be easy.

These rejections have been helpful and encouraging. If nothing else, it’s proved that I can interest an agent, even if I can’t  seal the deal. Maybe Greaveburn won’t make it this time around. So what if Abrasia and Darrant and the insane Professor Loosestrife don’t cut the mustard. At the end of the day, they’re like old friends to me and I love them more than most family members. Maybe this book is just for me to enjoy. That said, there’s no way I’m stopping trying just yet. As my motto goes:

Expect the worst, and hope for the best.

Yes, you can quote me.

Until the next rejection letter, thanks for reading.


A good week!

Well, it started off with the suspension dropping off my car, tearing a brake hose when all I wanted was an MOT. That cost £300 of my New York fund (have to stop typing so the tears won’t short my keyboard…)

*sniff* That’s better.

But, this week has also been kind. Thanks to a rather enthusiastic reader of Not Before Bed, I have a new review on Smashwords and Goodreads. Here it is:

“I absolutely love this book. Craig has a unique way of telling stories that leaves the reader hooked from the beginning. I haven’t read that much of spec fiction, but enjoyed immensely every tale that was included in this collection.

Some of the stories don’t have dialogue, but in all honesty, they don’t really need it. He’s able to weave a tale in such a way that you find yourself so immersed, so focused that you lose track of what you’re doing. At least, I did. I found myself imagining every scene of each story as I read it and in some cases, wanted to read more of these short stories.

This book is a definite must-read. Truly recommend it.”

by Lisette Manning

Bloody hell! What a great review! And the 5 stars she awarded is making  my average look fantastic. Also, I’ve also been inititated into Goodreads’ Best Indie Books/Authors list. Ok, I’m placing 105th, but it’s a great start!

And now, off to work on Emi.

 

Thanks for reading.


Upgrade…complete

Welcome to the new, improved, and working version of Pseudo-writer!

Hopefully, you’ll remember the old version on Blogger and be revelling in the juicy shiny-ness of the new blog. If you’re new: Hello! Come on in! Take a seat, it’s all-new IKEA furniture and an abundance of soft furnishings.

For those of you who dont know, and haven’t clicked the ‘about’ tab yet, I’m Craig. Nice to meet you. Full-time Nurse and aspiring writer. I’ve just finished two years of Creative Writing with the Open University, and I’ll be working another three toward a degree in English Literature (I already have one in Nursing, obviously). I write dark speculative fiction, mostly. All of the short stories I’ve had published have been horror-based, which makes me feel like I should be slightly worried about my state of mind. You can find those wonderful magazines on the ‘Publicationment’ page above.

There are some short stories for you to check out on the ‘Here Be Stories’ page, too. And my Works-In-Progress are up there along with the two books I’ve finished. Just have a dig around, see what you can find, and let me know what you think!

Old friends and new…

Thanks for reading.


>A bit of everything

>Hi guys.

I’ve just been over reading Aaron Polson’s blog and it’s struck a vital chord. The question of e-publishing versus retro publishing. Kindle is everywhere at the minute. Hell, I have it on my phone. So why not exploit it for my own ends?

Then there comes the other argument that says I’m helping with the downfall of hardcopy literature, something that would be akin to extinction of super-tasty cows and sheep in my opinion. Will my little raindrop add to the torrent? Of course it will. So am I an impatient sell-out? Probably, yes.

The thing is, I have three novels sat in my harddrive. Greaveburn, is pestering agents as we speak. But what of the other two? I always say that Beyond Tor and Haven will never see the light of day. They come from a time before I’d honed myself to the degree I have now. And I’m still far from perfect, so you can imagaine how bad they are. But, god bless them, I love those novels. I can’t help thinking that with a little tweaking, updating, a few minor changes, they could be ready for human consumption. And if not through the regular channels, why not epublishing?

If I ever get an agent (emphasis on IF), will I feel like an idiot for letting these books go to an electronic source? Or am I raising awareness of my work, capitalising on a new market?

I’m afraid I just dont know. We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings…

Thanks for reading.