Back in the saddle

With one thing and another, editing Greaveburn and working on my Open University assignments, I’ve not had much time to write lately. The problem, of course, is that my current WIP isn’t going to write itself either. I think there might have been an issue around my character development that I haven’t been confident enough to tackle just yet. My main character (Alan Shaw, see the WIP page for more) has to fall in love with another character; enough to get hurt later. Now, for regular viewers of this particular blog channel, you’ll know that romance isn’t exactly my forte. Creepy beasties from the netherworld, fine. Falling hopelessly in love, not so good.

This is about as Romantic as my work normally gets.

And so I’ve been putting it off, telling myself that I need to think about it more. That I don’t understand how to write simple romance, never mind the complicated love/hate divide necessary for this part of the plot to really work. What’s an author’s favourite word? Procrastinate! So the assignments and Greaveburn work has been a happy distraction. Until last week.

Finding that I hadn’t taken my alloted amount of holidays this year, and that I have to take them by April or lose them, I ended up with Monday through Thursday off last week. Laura was at work all day. I had just finished the latest round of assignments and no more are due for a couple of weeks. Basically, I was in the perfect position to get some serious writing done. All I could think was “shit, I’m going to have to write that romance section”.

So, I set my jaw, opened my notebooks to the copious amount of research and plotting I’d done over the last couple of months when nothing else was forthcoming, and started to type…

And, as always, I was proved wrong by my own lack of confidence.

My fingers couldn’t type fast enough. The images were coming thick and fast, the dialogue made sense. What my main character found compelling about his love interest was the very thing she hated in him, but they have so much in common despite wildly different cultural and social backgrounds. Where was this stuff coming from!?

Suffice to say, by the end of the four days, I hadn’t exactly broken any word count records, but a good chunk of work had been produced. And, when I read it back, it was actually ok! I’ll leave the final decision as to whether it works to you lovely readers when The Adventures of Alan Shaw (working title) is released eventually finished. But for now, I’m happy with it.

The next step…ripping out my main character’s heart. Now that I can do!

Thanks for reading.

Haiku

That’s right, kids, I don’t just write short stories. And, to be honest, I avoid poetry like the plague. But Haiku are nice little snippets that I can get really engrossed in. Sorting them into syllables is like a little creative writing brain-teaser. A  crossword for authors, if you like. And so I can’t get enough of them! Now, I know that traditionally, haiku are supposed to reference a season at some point, and theyre supposed to follow the 5/7/5 syllable rule, but some of these don’t. What can I say, I’m a callous, literary rebel. But anyway, have a look. I hope you enjoy them.

Meteor Shower 
Sparks shed a trail.
Atmospheric Grinder.
Wormwood coming home.
 
 
The Beautician
Above a crest of
plastic breasts and Matalan tan,
not much goes on.
 
 
Guitar
Poor dusty Fender,
Missing a string, out of tune.
I’ll pick you up soon.
 
 
Made-up words
If there is one thing
I absitivley hate,
it’s comboined words.
 
 
Woman on the train
New haircut, old face.
New bagm new shoes, new coat.
Same old face.
 
 
View from a frosted window
Trees expose themselves,
despite Winter’s bitter bite.
Rough, naked skins.
 

That’s enough for now, I reckon. Hope you enjoyed them.

Thanks for reading.

My Writing Timeline

Hi everyone,

With things really starting to spark off with Greaveburn and my next novel underway, I’ve been thinking about how long it’s taken to get here. It’s been a long process with lots of hard work and plenty of setbacks. There’ve been things to jump over, scuttle underneath and generally steamroll through at times, but in the end, I think it’s turned out pretty well. Some of the scars are even starting to heal. But my nostalgia took me back to a simpler time when I first put pen to paper with a vivid image in my head and a character with a story to tell; way back when I was still in school with a haircut like a pineappale and NHS glasses (I’ll show you a photo one day if you’re good). And, since I was bored, I broke out my Photoshop (you know how much I love it), and thought I’d share with you the result. And so here it is, a history of Me, a timeline of how I went from that spotty little toerag to a larger Pseudo-writer toerag you now know:

A real tear-jerker, eh? I’ve decided that Alan Rickman will play me in the movie. He looks nothing like me, but he has such awesome sarcastic delivery. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little forray into my seedy past. There’s a lot left out of this little infographic for the sake of your sanities, but I hope it’s been at least mildly amusing. See you next time!

Thanks for reading.

Book Trailers

As the Indie Publishing Steamroller really gathers speed, we’ve started to see developments in the way books are advertsied. If they’re ever going to compete with movies or tv, for example, they’re going to need proper adverts that move and not just static images in a newspaper or on a website. And that’s where book trailers come in.

This phenomenon is turning into a real franchise with plenty of companies springing up in people’s garages who are willing to produce one for you. Let’s look at a few good ones while we’re here, eh?

Here’s one for LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfield which uses the illustrations in his book for an epic effect:

 

Or what about this one for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,which still gets me howling with laughter:

These two were the exception to the rule with an excellent budget and proper backing, however, for the rest of us, there are some that are simple but effective:

And so the question is, do these things really work? Well, based purely on the amount of hits on Youtube, I’d say yes. We have to bear in mind that the forst two trailers were exceptional and/or very funny which increases the hit-rate. But if you can make yours intriguing enough, or funny or scary or anything else that people want to see (smexy?) then yes, the trailers work.

Now, as I’ve said for those of us with no budget at all such as myself, there’s ALWAYS  a cheap option, and it’s very easy to make your own trailer. This is where I go all Blue Peter on you and tell you to go scrounge some empty toilet rolls, sticky backed plastic, ols washing-up liquid bottles and PVA glue…so go ahead, I’ll wait…

…got it? Good, now throw it away, what do you think this is, the 80’s?

Most of you out there with your brainstem jacked directly into the internet will have free software on your computer such as Windows Movie Maker which will allow you to make your own trailer. Most of you will have a mobile phone which can take video or photographs. And most of you have fingers with which to operate the aforementioned gadgets. Do I have to spell it out for you? Get out there and start taking some pics/videos/voice recordings. Get them on your computer and have a play around. It can take days, hours or minutes, as much or as little as you like, to create your own book trailer. And, just to prove it, I’ve made one of my own to show exactly how terrible the results can be.

I’ve cheated a bit here. I googled a lot of images to make sure they were appropriately creepy. I also downloaded the free sound file for the backing track. The movie maker “skills” are my own, of course. But I think you’ll get the idea of what I’m going for. And so, in celebration of me moving on from my old project, and with my next novel in sight, I’ve created a commemorative trailer for Not Before Bed before I finally stop bashing on about it. Here it is. Don’t have nightmares (yeah, right).

Due to technical issues, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch it here.

…Ok, don’t judge me.

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.