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Andrew's short story, 'Weekend Treat', is accepted for publication!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Writing Review of 2016

As usual, I’m doing what everybody else does and jumping on the bandwagon to do a review of what’s happened in my writing year:

  • One novel, ‘The Door Into War’ was published by Rebel door_cover_bigePublishers.  It’s a time travel science fiction piece about a conspiracy to send undesirables into the trenches of World War One.  Reviews so far have been flattering;
  • An erotic Short, ‘Bank Manager’, was published by Cobblestone Press;
  • Another erotic short, ‘Weekend Treat’, has been accepted for publication, also by Cobblestone Press.  It’s going through the editing process at the moment; BankManager-700x1059
  • A third erotic piece, ‘Eton Mess’, accepted in 2014 by Keith Publications, has been through the editing process and has a cover.  It just awaits publication;
  • Another horror novel accepted by Wild Child Publishing back in 2013, ‘Dana’s Children’, has been edited.  I await a cover and publication date.  It’s a story set in Ireland, about a group of archaeologists who stumble upon some underground passages containing evil creatures from Irish Myth.

So, what is there to look forward to in 2017?

  • Hopefully, ‘Eton Mess’, ‘Weekend Treat’ and ‘DEton Mess Smallana’s Children’ will be published;
  • Two or three novellas and short novels of variable quality which I may or may not persevere with;
  • I’ve finished redrafting of a north Welsh tale about a man who married a fairy.  Like ‘The Footholder’s Tale’, which is also a retelling of a Welsh story, the original is a bit bare and one of the attractions is being able to make up any backstory I like.  It also has the advantage of being set up the road from the family’s usual holiday destination, so I know the setting well.  Sadly, the meadow where fairies danced in the story is now a less-than-picturesque industrial estate and caravan park.  The story is ready to submit;
  • I’ve planned a handful of erotic shorts;
  • I’m half way through a horror about something archaeologists find in a Welsh bog.  I was brought up on 1980’s style horror, and the genre has changed since I picked up my first James Herbert back in the late 1970s.  The story is a throwback to the period in both structure and style which may or may not make it saleable, but it’s been a fun change to write;
  • Tentatively planning the next novel.  I’ve always wanted to write a slasher set in non-modern times, and for this one I’m looking at something set in north-west Ireland during the period (around the beginning of the first century AD) of Celtic myth’s Ulster Cycle, and using the legends as a background.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who helped my writing in 2016, whether by critiquing my work on Critters or offline, or by providing encouragement, or by editing my work, or generally just being there when I’ve needed a shoulder or advice.  Particular mention, as usual, to Carole and Phil.

Friday, 23 December 2016

‘The Door Into War’ - Review

door_cover_bigIt’s always pleasing to receive a review from someone I don’t know, because it means someone likes the look of the book(!).  It’s even more pleasing when the review is four star which is the case with the first Amazon review for ‘The Door into War’.  The story is described as a ‘…rattling good yarn’.

The full review is here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Cobblestone Press

So, contracts have been signed – nice and quickly in these days of e-signatures – so I can announce that the publisher of ‘Weekend Treat’ will be Cobblestone Press.

Cobblestone Press handled my previous erotic short, ‘Bank Manager’, brilliantly so I was hoping Cobblestone would want to take on ‘Weekend Treat’, too.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Acceptance – ‘Weekend Treat’

I’m delighted to announce that a publisher will take on one of my erotic shorts, ‘Weekend Treat’.  As usual, I’ll refrain from naming the publisher until contracts are signed just in case something goes wrong.  However, it’s a house I’ve enjoyed working with before, and I’m delighted to be back in the fold.

The story is about Rachel McKenzie, the main character in my recently-released time travel novel, ‘The Door into War’.  In ‘Door’ Rachel, at thirty-one and still single, is concerned she will be left on the shelf.  In ‘Weekend Treat’ she goes into work one weekend to finish writing a paper.  A couple of plumbers are in the office replacing a radiator, they flirt, and Rachel finds she’s still ‘got it’. 

It was a thread I never got to explore in detail in ‘Door’ so it’s good to be able to go into it in a bit more depth.

My usual erotic ‘stars’, Kerry-Jane and Amy, have minor parts in the story.

An acknowledgement to Phil, who commented on the first draft.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Review - the ‘Wrong Turn’ Series

I don’t generally watch slashers involving psycho killers, mainly because I’m uneasy about films which show mental illness or disability in a bad light.

Having got that out of the way, I bought a multi of the ‘Wrong Turn’ series because my local DVD retailer was selling them at a price I couldn’t refuse.  So, what did I think of the series (which didn’t include the sixth installment)?

For my money I got a succession of films about a family of inbred hillbillies living in a remote area who live by slaughtering and eating wayward travelers – usually sex-crazed college kids, I suppose showing the films’ target audience.

The gore is laid on thick, but in a more tongue in cheek way than in a lot of slashers, a sign that the films take themselves less than seriously.  After watching the first two the formula became predictable but enjoyable, although by the last film I was ready for the series to finish.  It became a bit like listening to an AC/DC or Status Quo album for the first time, you know what you’re going to get which is generally young people being cut up and eaten (in the films, not the albums!), although each of the films had a clever twist at the end.

The series’ strong points are:

  • Not having to indulge in backstory, which is straightforward;
  • Simple, easy to follow plots;
  • Fun twists at the end;
  • Not taking itself seriously which allows for some black humour.

The weak points are:

  • Little variety in the characters;
  • Little imagination in the plotting;
  • Some highly implausible deaths.

My favourite in the series was the second, which was genuinely a fun watch.  It had a good mix of characters and tongue in cheek, over the top gore, while maintaining tension.

The weakest in my opinion was three, which involved escaped prisoners and a list of obnoxious characters whose fate I was largely ambivalent to.

Overall this is an entertaining if not groundbreaking series and I’d give it 3/5.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

‘The Door into War’– Release

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I’ve been told by Rebel ePublishers that ‘The Door into War’ will be published on 11 November 2016.  As it deals with World War One, publication on 11 November – Armistice Day – seems appropriate.

The kindle version is already up for pre-order on Amazon – here’s the buy link.

The story is a science fiction tale of time travel, about how modern politicians arrange for social undesirables to be sent back in time to the First World War to help resolve the allies’ manpower crisis.

Here’s the blurb:

Archaeologist Rachel McKenzie expects the excavation of a World War One bunker to yield routine results – until she uncovers modern artefacts among a handful of skeletons in British uniforms. DNA testing provides evidence of a government scheme to address Britain’s shortage of soldiers in 1918 by abducting 21st century citizens and sending them back in time to fight the Germans. The authorities from both eras are desperate to keep ‘Operation Trench’ secret, and ruthlessly stamp down on anyone who might expose them.

Despite her scepticism about time travel, Rachel needs to persuade the public that ‘Operation Trench’ is much more than a conspiracy theory dreamed up by cranks. Battling against ever increasing odds to expose the plot, Rachel endangers herself and her colleagues as the government ruthlessly culls those they suspect are privy to their plan.

Can Rachel make the truth public before she and her colleagues become victims of the very scheme they are trying to stop? Or will those in power take brutal revenge against her?

As always, a big thank you to everyone who made the book happen: too many to list here, but I must mention Jayne for both taking the book on and for a thorough editing job.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

‘The Shee’ - Review

(Contains spoilers)

I read ‘The Shee’ by Joe Donnelly because it was recommended and sent to me by a friend (thanks Phil!). In terms of premise, it’s the sort of story I’d write, and indeed my first novel, Andraste’s Blade, isn’t a million miles away in terms of broad theme.

The story is about an evil ancient Irish goddess (The Morrigan) who was imprisoned during the Celtic period. She is freed by archaeologists and the force of nature to do her evil and spread chaos in the modern day.

The novel has a 1980’s ‘feel’ to it, which isn’t surprising as it was published in 1992. There are a lot of viewpoint characters each having their own mini-story which was common thirty years ago, while now the trend is to focus more deeply on a very small number of individuals. The date made it seem almost historical fiction, without internet or mobile phones and with outdated archaeological techniques. Rather than detract from the story, that made it a refreshing read. From an author’s viewpoint, it was good to read about an isolated group of characters where the writer didn’t have to come up with convoluted ideas for everyone losing access to mobile phones – because there weren’t any.

I liked the characterisation. Considering there were so many people to keep track of, Donnelly managed to make each strong, memorable and individual, and I had no problem remembering who was who. The characterisation was a highlight.

Another highlight was the setting. I don’t know western Ireland, but Donnelly convinced me he does and I was able to imagine myself in the picturesque coastal village of Kilgallan. Combined together, the exquisite characterisation and setting made the story one that was easy to slip into.

There were, though, a couple of things that didn’t work for me. Firstly, in a book of over five hundred pages it took a long time for the story to reach a climax. That’s not a massive problem because the build-up, getting to know the characters, sub-plots and growing inter-relationships, were enjoyable.  Despite that it could have been paced a little quicker, especially as the climax was relatively short.

Secondly, the outcome hung on one of the characters being the same as a Celtic Irish Celtic hero, and this wasn’t explained or justified anywhere. As part of a plot it was fine and worked, but I felt I needed to be told how and why. For me, that was too big a problem for the novel to carry, and at the end it did take my enjoyment and made it a good read rather than a great one.

So, this is a book with some drawbacks.  Despite that, it’s a fun romp through horror and well worth authors reading it for the lessons in characterisation and maintaining interest.