Monthly Archives: April 2013

Dead of Night


Maggie and Nick, two suburbanites who long for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, drive out to the rural Deep South for a camping trip. Everything goes smoothly, until they come face-to-face with a renegade band of long-dead Civil War confederate bushwhackers and are plunged headlong into a ruthless battle for survival.

(Click on the cover for more information)




“The surrealism within this story is something I haven’t personally experienced in literature since H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. If you like being frightened by the bump in the night or the monsters that may lie in wait in the darkness then I wouldn’t read this story. For this story will only leave you believing they surely exist…”



(Review from The Monsters Next Door)

Dead of Night is out now on Damnation Books, available as trade paperback and ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online retailers.

Lift Me Up



Let’s talk about being in a lift. Or an elevator, depending on your penchant for American or English English. Or as I prefer to say, ‘correct’ English. Calling it English English just sounds plain stupid. Anyway, just to clarify matters, lift, elevator, same damn thing. What I want to talk about is the sheer comic awkwardness of it all. Even if you manage to overcome the fact that you are in a metal box being manipulated by a system of ropes and pulleys, how weird is that environment?

If you take the journey alone, there’s that perpetual fear, ‘What if it gets stuck and nobody knows I’m here?’

It’s a false environment, like a submarine or a plane. You know, even on a subliminal level, that you are just not supposed to be there. You don’t belong

It’s slightly better if you are able to grab a journey in a lift with a friend or acquaintance, you can just chat about the kind of things you would normally chat about, which takes your mind off it. But even then there is a creeping awkwardness. Besides, those days are few and far between. I work in a building containing around 1200 people, most of whom don’t know each other. Or even want to know each other, if the truth be told. The thirty seconds or so you pass in a confined space with a handful of strangers crawls by agonizingly slowly. The uncomfortable silence envelopes you as everyone shuffles nervously and tries to avoid making eye contact, just like they do on the subway.

It doesn’t help that the general unease I experience in lifts is compounded by an almost pathological desire to break wind. If you burp loudly, it wouldn’t be as much fun because everyone would know it was you. No mischief to be had there.

But if you let a stinky fart slip out undetected, you could just step back and enjoy the devastation. The accusing glances and wrinkling noses. Odds are most people would just pretend not to notice, such are the cultural restraints we’ve imposed on ourselves and each other, but everyone present (except you) would be involved in the same guessing game.

Who did that?

Was it this person?

That person?

Was it you?

Was it… me?

Finding the Time

During Spring Festival 2012, which ran through January into February in China, I was an ESL teacher, which meant an extended break from class. One of the best things about being a teacher, especially at a university, is all the holidays.

Being a frustrated writer, I made it my first mission to submit everything I had lying gathering dust on my hard drive. Novels, novellas, short stories, articles, everything. As it turned out, it was a worth-while exercise. My love life might have been a perpetual mess, but writing-wise, 2012 was the most successful year of my career by far with a novel, a novella and eight short stories published in different places, along with a couple of articles and a bunch of reviews. Paradoxically, I didn’t actually write much more new material other than a new novella set in World War I called No Man’s Land, and a few short stories.

What I did do, apart from submit everything I had, was re-write the first book in my Joshua Wyrdd teenage adventure series for a publisher, who then rejected it anyway. Great start. After that I edited and re-edited the two books that did end up coming out last year, Devil’s Island (on Rainstorm Press) and Rainbow’s End (Flarefont Publishing). At the same time I worked on a screenplay for a client and a book I ghosted for a friend who recently had a stroke. I also kept up a steady stream of reviews for Morpheus Tales magazine.

I set up this blog in the summer of 2012 and set about trying to get a following, then I concentrated on trying to promote Devil’s Island. I sent out around a dozen review copies, and emailed around 50 horror magazines and websites offering review copies and/or a guest blogs, profiles, or interviews. In the interests of shameless self-promotion, I also updated my Amazon Author Central and Author’s Den pages, and did a lot of marketing on Facebook, etc. No sooner was the Devil’s Island promo stint over, then the whole thing began again with Rainbow’s End, only this time it was even harder as I was trying to break a new market, the subject matter not being what I usually write about.

No matter what else I’m doing, I always try to keep an eye open for any new markets and maintain my submission rate. That takes up a fair chunk of time. I keep other things up to date; my Duotrope tracker (when it was a free service), my professional log, where I keep notes on all my submissions, successes and failures, and various other things I have going at any one time, like my ‘Strange Communications’ file where I record some of the funnier or more bizarre verbal exchanges I have with (usually Chinese) people. Some weeks, that expands at an alarming rate. In addition, I read as widely as time allows.

I’m not complaining. I know nothing worthwhile is easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Also, I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that generally speaking, people are selfish bastards and do what they want most of the time. Meaning that if I didn’t really want to do these things, I wouldn’t. I’d watch TV or get drunk instead. I don’t know what drives me, that’s a whole other blog – one I intend to write after the intensive therapy sessions. Joke. I just know that wherever possible, I do what makes me happy. In the words of the great Bruce Springsteen… It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive!

But damn it, I wish there were more hours in a day. I never feel satisfied, I always feel like I could have done more. I get the feeling I’m racing against the clock. Which is exactly what I’m doing, every day, in a sense.

And so are you.

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