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

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…


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... 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.

New reviews for Not Before Bed

Well, it’s time for my favourite holiday. All Hallows Eve is upon us once again. And it seems only fitting that the new print editon of Not Before Bed with its striking white cover be on the shelves and ready to rock. And, thanks the emminent thriller writer Pete Denton and the lovely Ecowitch, I also have two new reviews! Here they are:

Pete Denton

One scaaaary Hombre

“I don’t usually read speculative fiction but I’m glad that I downloaded Not Before Bed, which is a collection of short stories from the twisted mind of Craig Hallam!

This is the second e-book that I downloaded when I bought my Kindle and there are plenty of great stories to entertain you on a cold, dark night. I enjoyed reading each and every one of them, though my favourites are Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster, Lovecraft and Albert. I like it when you can read a collection of short stories and have so many good ones to try to pick the best from.

Once I had started each story I had to read to the end. One of the longest stories in the collection is – Albert. I thought it was an excellent narrative tale that draws you into his world. Craig’s writing brings each story to life and I have to give this book the 5★ rating.

Well done, Craig. I look forward to reading new stories and, hopefully, your debut novel.”

Thanks Pete! Now on to Ecowitch and what she thought:

Ecowitches love the outdoors!

A superb collection of fourteen chilling tales that you really shouldn’t read before bed (unless you’re like me and you really can’t help yourself).  Hallam has a knack for building the tension and fear slowly with Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster and Albert while giving the reader a short sharp shock with March of the Broken, The Fly Man and the title tale Not Before Bed (which by the way may be the shortest but it packs the biggest punch).  Hallam also takes the more traditional horror genres and gives them his own unique twist with the original viewpoints of Daisy Chained, Hunting Grounds and Sleeping with the Dead.  Each story is very well written and the style changes to suit the story being told with reflections of Poe and Stoker in some and Lovecraft in others.  Hallam uses his words carefully weaving the story and atmosphere together to pull the reader in and keep them there until the very last moment.  I can’t quite bring myself to pick a favourite from these stories but the one that sent the biggest shivers down my spine was the title tale Not Before Bed, which takes your own night fears and gives them a voice, and it’s not one you really want to hear.”

Incredible! I couldn’t have hoped for a better review than that!

And since we’re here talking about it…Not Before Bed is finally ready to buy from Amazon! Own yours today!

I’d like to thank everyone else who’s taken the time to read and review it, I hope I didn’t give you nightmares (Oh, who am I kidding? I hope it did!). Everyone has been extremely supportive, helpful and friendly while I’ve been putting this little project together. Now only if I could get Greaveburn accepted…

Thanks for reading!

I attempt philosophy. Oh no…

I like to keep you all updated with what I’ve been reading. This post was going to be a list of the great stuff I’ve come across lately but, I think there’s an important issue we need to tackle first. Indie e-books can be a bit of a minefield, sometimes. There are a lot of enthusiastic people out there who have found the perfect forum to share their work, but, sometimes, enthusiasm isn’t quite enough. Throwing myself into the Indie market, meeting the people and swapping reviews has had its ups and downs. There’s nothing worse than reading someone’s pride and joy and not enjoying it. And, since it’s Indie, we’re as face-to-face with our readers as we’re likely to get. Comments are personal.

Reading a particular novel recently, I had to give some constructive feedback. The story premise was good. I liked his setting and even the characters he’d created. Unfortunately, the grammar wasn’t great and his description was…well…flat.

“The living room was large and white. There was a red sofa and a flat screen tv.” – No direct quote, but no exaggeration either.

In this instance, told him all of the above and suggested he might want to think about mentioning key things that create atmosphere rather than listing room contents (I’m paraphrasing again). The author asked me how many stars I would award it on Goodreads. I said 2 in its current draft but probably more if he worked on it a little. He asked me not to review it.

Fair enough.

And that’s a problem with the internet. Not only are you toying with people’s dreams, but honesty doesn’t get you very far. I found that out on my recent Uni course, most of it performed by forum and IM. Some people can’t take criticism, and especially not over the net where a lack of body language can make you seem harsh. My primary problem? I don’t know when to lie. And for the first time, I’m seeing it a s a flaw. But, going into a grander, philosophical mode, here. If we’re ever going to raise e-publishing and indie authors to the same heights as hard published, ‘literary’ work, we have to be honest with each other. That’s why literary agents and publishers are harsh. They want you to be as good as you can be, for you, for them, and for the reader. No one wants to buy a washing machine that drops apart and fills your house with suds like a Three Stooges sketch, simply because the engineer’s mum liked his work and no one else dare pull him up on it.
I love getting reviews. They’re like sustenance to me. But the ones I really watch out for are the ones that have a good mix of criticism and compliment. Like the one given for Not Before Bed by Dan Powell (Author of These Strange Worlds). Dan liked what he saw, complimented it, and then pointed out where I could improve next time. Perfect! And I like to think this professional attitude to reviews can be found in others.

Well, this has turned into a rant and, for that, I apologise. In a nutshell, I just want us to be honest with each other. We owe it to our peers as Indie Authors who are striving for success. Why would we want someone to feel crippling disappointment at the hands of an agent or publisher when we can avoid it?

And so, to those people who 5 star everything that graces their Kindle or Nook, and for those who think they’re being nice by bulling up their online friends to impossible heights; just think about the larger picture and the culture we have the privilege to be creating here. because if we cock it up with niceties and little white lies, it’s going to be worth nothing in years to come.

Thus endeth this sermon.

Now here’s a picture of a fat giraffe to lighten the mood 🙂

Thanks for reading!