An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

Posts tagged “indie author

Not just a Cardboard Cut-out Writer

It seems to me that with the internet being the beast that it is, it’s very easy for people to only show the parts of them that they want to. People I’ve met on Twitter give their 140 character bio, and that’s all you see. People on Facebook only post photos of themselves having a massively good time, drinking and holidaying, so that we think they’re fun people to be around. But are we giving the internet community a true vision of ourselves? Is that even important? Well, to me it is, yes. I think that I want people to get a real feel for who I am, rather than just a Cardboard Cut-out Writer who hits all the artistic marks but has no real depth.

This post started off with me trying to think of something interesting and non-writing related to post so that my regulars (you know who you are! Thanks Guys and Gals!) don;t get bored of listening to me bash on about Greaveburn or the next writing project. And so I thought, “what else can I do?”. That led me in a round about way to the philosophical debate you see above. Let me know what you all think about internet personas and how realistic they are/need to be.

But anyway, in order to show you that I DO HAVE another facet to my personality (or what there is of it :D), let’s talk music.

Recently, I was bought a new guitar by my lovely girlfriend (Yes, geeks and Fuglies do get them sometimes, you know) and I have to say that it’s been hard to put down since. Now let’s not give any false illusions here, I’m no fantastic guitar player. Eric Clapton doesn’t come round my house asking for tips on how to play, neither does Joe Satriani ask me to get him out of a sticky situation with any of his compositions. I can’t read music, and I definitely can’t sing. What I do is find a song I like the sound of and then simplify it to the point that I can play along and it still sounds vaguelly recognisable. See? Honesty on the internet! It can happen! 🙂

Ain't she purdy?

But what kind of things do I like to play? Well, I’m a serious rock music fan. I don’t mean scream-at-your-mic-with-unintelligable-syllables rock. I mean rock that makes you tap your feet, sing along and play air giutar like  a mental.

Foo Fighters are my epitome of awesome. Dave Grohl and the boys have managed to win God-like Genius Award, 5 grammys and the Brit Award’s Best International Band in the last year. Say no more. But I love the old-style rock, too. Give me some Boston (see the vid above), Styx, KISS, Kansas, Whitesnake….dear lord, I could go on forever…and I’d be forever happy. Let’s have another vid to emphasise the point:

 

So, you see, I don’t just write. I Rock, too 😉

Thanks for reading.


The Editor Cometh…

Well, it’s finally that time I’ve been waiting for since November. The stars are aligned. In the dark treeline, the black mass is on the lips of the hooded monks. And on the central dais, hog tied and with fear in her eyes, is the sacrifice. We are about to invoke the spirit of The Editor…

Om Nam Shiva...Om Nam Shiva....

Luckily for me, my Inspired Quill editor, Peter Stewart, doesn’t really need any of this. So, I send the monks back to their day jobs as civil servants, cut the sacrifice free and give her a tin foil blanket before making sure she’s home before 10 pm. The sacrificial athame goes back in the kitchen drawer with the spoons and pizza cutter.

The point of this elaborate introducion is this…

The edits for Greaveburn are finally back!

Air guitar celebration!

The last few months have been a steady stream of flop sweats and half-believed self assurances as my mind flits between ‘they’re going to tear my book apart and salvage its parts for the black market’ and ‘it’ll be fine, they like it enough to edit it, so they won’t be too cruel’. The former has definitely been winning in terms of brain space. In fact, when my inbox pinged, I froze. Do I really want to read this? Can I take the beating if the result is a complete rewrite/cutting of beloved characters/stylistic overhaul? The answer, as I’m sure you’ll guess, was ‘we’re about to find out’.

Email open, file downloaded, hovering of finger over OPEN.

Like some rabbid lipstick merchant had taken slashing across the pages, there was red text. EVERYWHERE. My heart sank. But I decided to read the actual words before checking the tensile strength of the light fittings for noose-application. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. Hell, the comments are GOOD! Useful! I find myself nodding, whisking through the pages focussing on just the comments rather than overthinking what I’ll do about them. They all make perfect sense. Little things I’ve missed with grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, all easily fixed with Peter’s expert suggestions. A few little vocab comments where words could be changed for better effect.

And all of a sudden, I was at the end.

The Doors would be proud.

What the hell had I been worried about? This guy knows what he’s doing. I didn’t find a damned thing that I disagreed with or anything I couldn’t easily fix. There were just as many positive comments as negative (although none were really negative, more like necessary highlights). It may have been preying on my mind for the last few months, being the first and last things I think about on a day to day basis, but it’s all come out ok. To be honest, as I read through the suggestions and comments and tweaks, I realise that with Peter’s help, this novel has the potential to go somewhere!

I’ve always been told (as have you, for that matter, fellow Writer) that Editors are essential. They know their shit, if you’ll excuse the French. You should take their comments seriously and take them without offence or that horrible knee-jerk reaction that makes us scream “WHAT DO YOU KNOW!?” and stomp off to sulk. But you don’t really believe it until you’re on the receiving end of a bloody good Editor.

The point of this blog, dear friends, as well as to throw on the net whatever oddments cross my mind, is to teach. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll see all the mistakes I’ve made. All the assumptions and diversions that have led me not only down the wrong path but into the soul-sucking quicksands of Indie Writer Hell. And I want you to make these experiences your own. Learn from what I’ve done wrong and don’t bloody do it yourself (using Createspace if you’re not from America, for example. Waste of time and money, folks). But sometimes, just sometimes, I get to tell you about something I’ve done RIGHT. Not very often, mind. But here’s one of those times. Submitting my work for a proper read-through and commenting may just be the scariest and best damn thing I’ve ever done. INDISPENSIBLE is the word I’m looking for.

And now the hard work really starts. The revision stage. I’ve never hit this part before. Taking someone else’s thoughts on my work and moulding them not only as they suggest, but keeping with my own style and intention toward the novel. This is going to be a lot like a collaboration. I’m out of my depth again, folks. But I’m actually looking forward to it! Stay tuned for how well/badly this next bit goes 🙂 And when all’s said and done, this has made me realise something which, at the back of my mind, I’ve still doubted; that Greaveburn is going to be a reality. These edits are going to sharpen it up, make it really rock, make it a book that YOU might read soemtime soon. With discussions on potential cover art going on (more on that in a later post), things are rattling along at an alarming rate. Sometime this year, my book, my words, my characters and plot twists and dark descriptions are going to hit the public. It’s fantastic, and I’m suddenly petrified all over again, with a big old grin on my face 😀

 

Thanks for reading.


My fifteen minutes…

It’s been one of those weeks, faithful Blog-Readers. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s been a week full of interviews!

Thanks to Magda at the Bulletfilms blog, you can read one of them HERE. Telling you all about Not Before Bed, the upcoming release of Greaveburn and…oh yes, there’s an AND…little tidbits about my WIP and other random information that I’ve never put into interviews before.

But the interview, I’ve been REALLY excited about is my spot on my hometown’s local radio station, Sine FM. What I was expecting to be a quick “fifteen minutes of fame” turned into an hour long grilling about everything from where I was born to what my (estranged) father used to do for a living. Awkwaaaaard! Then, on to the principles of Flash Fiction and eventually back round to a brief mention of Not Before Bed. It was extremely fun, extremely nerve racking, and you can listen to the whole thing right here:

http://www.sinefm.com/a_z_of_shows/doncaster_is_great

Tip: Listen to part 1, and skip the first ten minutes 🙂

But before you listen, I’ll give you a little context to some of the things you’ll be hearing. I wasn’t the only person on the show, of course. In the small 10ftx6ft room, there were 9 people. That’s right. Here’s a run down of who else was there:

  1. Craig McCann – Local lad and Olympic level fencer.
  2. Steve – Mortage Broker
  3. Another guy who’s name I forget – Tasked with finding Louis Tomlinson (another local lad and one fifth of One Direction) and getting him to come on the show.
  4. Andrew Isaacs – The show’s presenter
  5. “Negative Nigel” – Andrew’s co-host and apparently a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
  6. And two “Private Investigators” who’s real names we weren’t allowed to use on the show.

A summary: A sword expert, a martial artist, two detectives, a solicitor (Andrew), a man who stalks Louis Tomlinson and a writer of Speculative Fiction. Does that sound like the set up for a Miss Marple adventure to anyone else? It was a bloody dangerous room to be in, I’ll tell you!

Now, this is where the pressure started 🙂 The “P.I.s” didn’t want to use their real names. And, since Andy thought that Writers have an inbuilt name-generator in their cerebral cortex, he gave me the task of coming up with a name for the female PI seconds before the show started. Asking her quickly what she was after, I got an unhelpful shrug and so I was heavily in the shit and expected to think of a name while balancing a ball on my head and riding a unicycle (or that’s how it felt). With nothing forthcoming from my nerve-paralysed brain, I went for the code-name Stiletto. I thought it was pretty funny. She, however, was not impressed hahaha. If you listen to the show, you’ll hear my explanation to the crowd of why I chose stiletto (double meaning, anyone?), and the awed silence afterward that I think proves that no one got it. Never mind 🙂

Anyways, since I’d already done my part, and Andrew had got me to mention my lovely partner, Laura, on the show as one of my prime supports to my publishing, it comes about that he chose her name to give to the female PI. So, if you listen to the podcast above, you’ll all understand the conotations of every time he calls her Laura Hall. Suffice to say, Laura herself (the real Laura) was highly amused that her name was used over and over again. She was pretty giddy about it when I got home and kept chuckling to herself.

It was a complete mind-f**k of an evening, and an absolute blast, too. I’m hoping I’ll get to do it all again when Greaveburn is ready to be released later this year. Who knows who I’ll end up int he roo with this time!?

Thanks for reading!


Steampunked!

As you can see, my little blog has had a make-over. I’ve retro-fitted the whole thing with a slightly Steampunky edge in a homage to the recent acceptance of Greaveburn to Inspired Quill (IQ) publishing. In the true Steampunk tradition, I’ll no doubt be tinkering away at it for quite some time but the rivets and stanchions are there for now.

Speaking of Steampunk and Greaveburn, I’ve recently bought tickets to the Asylum Weekend Convention 2012 in Lincoln’s historic city. A whole weekend of ‘punkery with loads of great exhibitions, entertainments and of course the fabled Bazaar Eclectica where ‘punks fence their wares. I’ve been in touch with Tinker, the convention’s organiser, and he’s been kind enough to offer me a spot in the exhibition area. So there’ll be me (in my neo-victorian gear, by Jove!) and copies of Greaveburn for sale and even signing if you’re that way inclined.

But there’s more…the enthusiastic and very helpful Tinker has also offered me a spot on a panel, potentially alongside the likes of Robert Rankin, Toby Frost, Sam Stone and others! Of course, I accepted, but I’m PETRIFIFED.

It strikes me that the good thing about going nowhere with my writing is that I always know what to do. All of a sudden I’m very far from home with no map and the nagging sensation that I’m going to make an ass out of myself! Still…I’m excited enough that I’ve completely forgone sleep since signing to IQ.

 

In other news…I’ve re-released Not Before Bed in print (only from the american Amazon, I’m afraid) but it’s also now available for your Kindle (all over the globe). I know, the sensibility isn’t very Steampunk but than again neither is Not Before Bed. I think those short stories deserved one last flourish of attention before I pass it into the hands of fate entirely. While my Horror writing has served me well with some great publications that I’m very proud of  and practice with submissions etc. I think I’ve moved on, now. Not Before Bed was an earlier me, one who was still finding his feet. Greaveburn is the next step in the journey, not away from those much-loved old stories and everything they taught me, but moving a little down the road to where there are whole new set of things to learn.

And I can’t wait to start!

 

Thanks for reading.


HUZZAH!

Hi everyone, and welcome to the blog post I never thought I’d write.

Those of you who’ve been reading my blogs for a while now (even since the beginning?) will know exactly how long I’ve waited for this moment. It’s been a year and a half of hard work, trawling through the literary agencies online and off, making my submissions fit their precise and often wildly different criteria. The hardest part, as always, has been the waiting. Then there’s the mountain of rejection slips, most very nice, that came without fail every time. That’s a whole lot of envelopes and whole lot of stamps. I think I’ve kept Royal Mail in business all by myself! 🙂

But the time has come. The time when I can make this announcement. Something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a teenager, and working towards with bleeding fingers for the last five years.

Milking it? Me? Oh, ok. I’ll get to the point.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, after much searching and sweating, Craig Hallam (slipping to third person for effect) has found himself a publisher!

 

Yeah, you heard right. My debut novel, Greaveburn, has been read, liked and accepted to the loving embrace of Inspired Quill publishing house! I’ve put off writing this post for almost a week now, mostly because I’ve been making little squee noises in the back of my throat and wandering around dazed since I got the email. But now I think it’s time to share my fantastic news!

As I’m sure you can all imagine (writers and readers alike) I’m over the moon. I’ve had to choke it back a little, letting Laura do most of the celebrating on my behalf, and letting my professional self take the reins. I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself.  I’m trying not to think about who will be the first person to buy it. Nor my first bad review or (hopefully) my first good one. No signings or promotions ahead of me. I’m definitely not imagining what the cover will look like…although I could draw you a picture if you like 😀

It’s hard to stay in the moment but I’m doing ok. I want to enjoy this little nibblet of a win but don’t want to throw it around until there’s nothing left to play with. There’s a lot of work to do from here on in. Thinking about the first round of edits, for example, is making little brown cakes in my undercrackers. But it’s also going to be fun. And the IQ team all seem fantastic, so far. My alloted editor, Pete Stewart, is a Steampunk fan so Greaveburn will hopefully go down well.

Mini-celebration time!

Anyway, I thought you should all know, being true believers and wonderful supports throughout my struggle. When it eventually hits the shelves, shiny and awesome and without a single spelling mistake (unlike these posts), be assured that you’re all invited to the party and, by God, there’ll be hangovers the next day!

 

Thanks for reading!


In the Zone.

*Feel free to play Dangerzone by Kenny Loggins as you read this post*

I feel juiced! I’m not sure why. I’ve just mashed out two assignments for my OU literature courses (Ingesting unhealthy amounts of info about John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi in the process). That left me pretty mentally exhausted. Then I’ve been on the good old night shifts which, during winter, means I don’t see daylight for five days. When I got up this afternoon, I clutched my hands to my face like Christopher Lee and hissed! I need Vitamin D!

Despite that, I feel good.

Submitting Greaveburn to Independent authors has thrown up some lovely (rejection) comments. More along the line of “good, but we’re not buying”. My shoulders have become so sloped with the weight of these flooding replies that they slide right off. No harm, no foul, thanks for your time. And so when I found (or was found) by Inspired Quill Publishing via my Twitter feed, I didn’t think anything of it. I reciprocate follows with quit a few publishing types, but not for any backdoor attempts to get noticed (which is good, because it wouldn’t work). But in my hour of need, when I tweeted for the assistance of my loverly (sp. intended) followers, for any indie publishing houses that might be looking for new authors, it was Inspired Quill who answered. Unlike most indie’s at the minute, they were open for submissions.

Why the hell not, thought I. So I did.

With only the first two chapters of Greaveburn (IQ’s sub policy) to make it stand out, I’ll admit I was worried. We all hope that the vital intro is awesome, and Greaveburn has just had a major overhaul, but would it be enough?

Apparently, yes.

Enough, at least, to warrant my first EVER callback. IQ liked the intro and wanted to read THE WHOLE THING!

Queue me dancing around the room making WHOOP WHOOP noises like a lunatic. Then the sobering thought…this would be the first time that anyone other than Laura (my very encouraging partner and earnest critic) had read the novel. Holy Schmoly! All my little characters were going to get the treeatment in the confines of a stranger’s head for the first time. How would they hold up? Professor Loosestrife could hold his own. In fact, I pity the poor reader who lets him loose in their cranium. But Abrasia, Darrant and Steadfast? Could they take it?

But, like all good cliffhangers, I’ll have to leave you dangling. It’s only been a few days since I sent the full manuscript and I’m not expecting a reply for quite some time yet. I imagine vetting a novel to be a much harder and time consuming process than we authors would like to think. But I have patience…oh yes…lots…Ok, not that much.

This minor step forward has also spurred me out of a little writer’s rut I’d got into. I’m back in the saddle after an extended absence and writing the Alan Shaw Adventures again. While on the night shift, I’ve finished the third adventure (the novel being a series of adventures spanning the eponymous character’s life) and really starting to enjoy it again. Let’s hope this spurt continues!

And so, now that I’ve kept you for far too long, I’ll leave you be. As soon as I hear something, so will you. In fact, you’ll probably the hear the sobs or cheers from wherever you are in the world. Keep your ears peeled. It comes on the wind!

As always, thanks for reading.


Publicationment!

I’ve had two large thuds on my doormat this week, and for once it isn’t the neighbour’s kid posting frozen poop.

The first package, I cracked open to find this inside:

Creepier and creepiest

 

If you like werewolves and creature features, you’ll love this collection. I’ve only got throgh the first few stories, but I’m so impressed with the quality that Misanthrope Press have injected into their book. I’m very proud to say that my short story ‘Hunting Grounds’ is nestled in those dark pages. And more than that, Paul Anderson gave my story an honourable mention in the Introduction. I could just wee!

The second thud came much later as it was originally delivered to the wrong address; ironically to the house on my street which I have long suspected of harbouring vampires (more on that in a future post). But once I scraped off the dried virgin blood and native soil encrusted on the package from next door, I found this inside:

What fantastic artwork!

What a cover! Where Misanthrope Press went creepy, Pill Hill Press have gone for a full-on awesomeness. This one is taking pride of place on my shelf from now on. In this anthology is my own tale ‘The Fly Man’ (page 105 if you want to skip that way :D). But the other stories are absolutely immense in their scope and diversity. This one will keep you up at night, for sure. If you want to invest in something for Halloween this year, then I’d suggest the hardcopy version. Worth every cent!

I couldn’t be more pleased. In one month, I’ve had two stories printed in two fantastic anthologies. This has given me a real spur to submit to more anthologies in the future. Remember guys, if you’ve read the stories, I’d love to hear what you think!

Thanks for reading.