Tag Archives: ghosts

Sker House 2020

Like most other people, I am struggling to take any positives from 2020. One positive, however, is the fact that I’ve had more time to reassess things, and tackle some of those jobs I’ve been putting off. One of those jobs was revising my novel, Sker House, my attempt at the ‘Great Welsh Haunted House Story.’

I worked on it sporadically for five or six years, mainly because there was so much research involved because I wanted it to be as factually accurate as possible. Sker House, and many of the places I talk about in the book, are real, and so are some of the local legends I reference including that of Kenfig Pool and the Maid of Sker. Well, they are at least as ‘real’ as legends can be, anyway. The book also incorporates some documented historical events, like the awful practice of wrecking and the Mumbles Lifeboat Disaster, which didn’t actually happen in Mumbles, but here at Sker Point.

In 2016 I got to a point where I was just done with Sker House. I was so desperate to get it out there, I forewent the process of looking for a traditional publisher, commissioned my old mate Greg Chapman to design a cover (based on an old postcard I found of the original Sker House) and decided to publish it myself. Or more accurately, via a now-defunct writer’s collective I was then part of.

Sker House 3D

Though it became my biggest selling book and picked up some great reviews, truth be told, I’ve never been 100% happy with the version of Sker House I originally put out. The plot was a bit meandering and unfocused in places, and I slipped into using the passive voice a bit too much. The back end of the book felt a bit rushed, and there were a few silly grammatical errors and the odd missing apostrophe or comma. In places I forgot I was writing for an international audience, and referenced things like the Dissolution of the Monastries without actually saying what it was, or what the implications were and how it tied in with the story. From a more practical standpoint, the formatting was also a bit wayward. I was still learning the ropes then and experimenting with different techniques and software.

Some things seem fine the first dozen times you read them, but if you go back and read them a thirteenth time years later you’ll probably find some things you’d like to change. The beauty of self-publishing, apart from maintaining complete creative control, is that you can do just that. During this re-write I also added 4,000 words or so to the original. I’m not sure how that happened because my intention was to do the opposite, but there you go.

Helped largely by a succesful Bookbub promotion, the first edition is my biggest selling book which means a lot of my readers already have it. If you’re one of the few thousand who are in possession of the original (now substandard) version, get in touch and I’ll send you a free copy of the 2020 remaster.

If you still haven’t visited Sker House, why not take advantage of the special relaunch offer I’m running and do so now? It shouldn’t need saying, but THIS INVITATION APPLIES TO THE BOOK ONLY. NOT THE ACTUAL HOUSE.

I said something similar before and got a solicitor’s letter from the house’s current owner. I don’t want that to happen again. 

The revamped, revised, rewritten, and remixed Sker House is available on ebook and paperback.

Onwards and upwards


The Corona Book of Ghost Stories

I am pleased to report that my 6th short story of the year, Where a Town Once Stood, has been included in the Corona Book of Ghost Stories on Corona Books, UK-based independent publishers of the “brilliant, innovative and quirky.”

Corona

 

I’m not sure which category Where a Town Once Stood belongs, probably the third one. It’s a pretty straight-forward ghost story with a dash of social commentary based on a period of my life when I was trying to break into journalism. I was still working full-time in a packing factory, so I did a few voluntary shifts at a local newspaper called the Merthyr Express in my spare time. I just wanted to see what went on behind the scenes at a newspaper. Suffice to say it wasn’t exactly Fleet Street. In fact, it was far more boring than I thought possible, and while I sat in the office fielding phone calls about fetes and community meetings I yearned for something exciting to happen. A real-life ghost story would have been the dream, but there were times when I would have settled for a giant cucumber story.

Reading it now, Where a Town Once Stood would be a perfect addition to my series of stories set in the fictional Welsh village of Wood Forge. For some reason however, I named the village Tref y Meirw which (I think) means ‘Town of the Dead’ in Welsh.

A little private joke there.

By the way, to give credit where it’s due, I appropriated the title Where a Town Once Stood from an Alarm song about the decline of post-industrial Wales from the seminal album Change.

Check out the ToC:

Corona 2

The Corona Book of Ghost Stories is out now.


Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts, oh my!

I am pleased to announce that my short story, Down the Road, is featured in part two of the new twin-volume anthology on Smoking Pen Press entitled Vampires, Zombies & Ghosts.

Here’s a sneak preview of the breathtaking cover art by Elle Rossi.

Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts Volume2

I first wrote Down the Road, an alternate take on the phantom hitchhiker urban legend with one of my customary twists in the tail, several years ago. It was originally accepted by another publisher for a proposed new horror fiction magazine, but financial problems meant that project was put on hold indefinitely. After about two years in limbo, I finally accepted the fact that the project was probably never going to get off the ground, withdrew my story, started submitting it again, and here we are. It’s one of my more subtle, thought-provoking offerings. I am excited that thanks to the good people at SPP, it will finally see the light of day. Or the dark of night.

Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts (Volume 2) is out now on paperback and ebook.


2018 in Review

2018 was a busy writing year, though I feel I didn’t really achieve much. Isn’t that always the way?

In the first quarter, I focused on writing some short stories and flash fiction, thrashing out over a dozen pieces ranging from an apocalyptic 100-word drabble to an 8000-word zombie splatterfest. Then I turned my attention to my Joshua Strange series of YA adventure books and wrote a third installment. That took all summer. I also went back and edited the first two books. I’m happy with the series so far, but still trying to find the right agent to rep them. I’ll be taking a step back from that project and waiting to see how things develop.

I released two books in 2018 – X3, the latest installment in my on-going series of short fiction collections, and a revised version of a novella called Dead of Night, which was first put out by Damnation Books in 2010. As both books were pretty much already written, they weren’t very time-consuming. I just had to polish them a little, format them, and commission some cover art. I also had short fiction published in Crimson Streets, Indie Writer’s Review, TwentyTwoTwentyEight, Deadman’s Tome and The Horror Tree, as well as the anthologies 100 Word Horrors, Digital Horror Fiction, and Terrors Unimagined. Perhaps best of all, from my perspective anyway, on the back of a Bookbub promotion I managed to scrape into the Top 40 of Amazon’s list of horror writers for the first time.

Finally, bringing you right up to date, I just finished my latest novella, Tethered, which explores the phenomena of Internet rituals. More news on that coming soon. Until then, I just want to express a heartfelt THANK YOU for all your support. I truly appreciate every like, comment, share and insult. If you’ve ever read any of my books, please think about leaving a short review on Amazon or Goodreads. It would really mean a lot.

Have a great 2019.

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X for Sale!

Yes, I said X. To help give X3, my third collection of short fiction, a little boost, the first two volumes are 0.99 each for a limited time. That’s less than half price. Or you could say they are two for the price of one. Whichever way you slice it, they are cheap. Links below.

X by CM Saunders (2) - High Res

This is what happens when you ‘wake up’ inside a dream, when the urban myth you heard turns out to be so much more, and when that hottie you pick up in a bar springs a terrible surprise. But what do you do when your wife gives birth to something not entirely human? When your past discretions come back to haunt you? Or when a serial killer moves in next door?

The first collection of horror and dark fiction from the critically acclaimed writer C.M. Saunders, including three previously unpublished stories, plus an introduction and extensive notes. Also features exclusive artwork by Greg Chapman.

US LINK

UK LINK

X2 by CM Saunders

The sequel to 2014’s successful X: A Collection of Horror features ten more slices of dark fiction from the blood-soaked pages of Fantastic Horror, Unspoken Water, Dark Valentine and several anthologies. Also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and original artwork by Greg Chapman.

Meet the teacher who sees dead pupils, the ambulance crew who pick up a casualty who won’t die, and the childhood friends who spend the night in a haunted pub. Along the way you can meet a man who refuses to accept his wife’s death and goes to extreme lengths to keep the flame of love alive, the boy who just likes to watch you sleep, and maybe even pay a visit to an antique shop with a deadly secret. If you dare.

US LINK

UK LINK

I should mention that X SAMPLE is also 0.99. But that was 0.99 anyway, so there’s no big story there.

Finally, don’t forget the latest installment, X3 is available for pre-order now. And it’s 0.99 until release day on Friday 13th April. Then it goes up to £12.5 million.

X3

 


The Paperbacks are Here!

The environment won’t be happy about it, but I’ve finally bowed to pressure and released my indie titles which were previously only available as ebooks on paperback. Benefiting from the treatment and now ready for purchase are Out of Time, Sker House, No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches and my latest offering, Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story (Uncut).

The links will take you to the UK Amazon site, but you should be given the option there to click off it and go to whichever Amazon store is most appropriate to your location.

Take it from me, getting these paperbacks to market wasn’t an easy task. Formatting and getting the covers to fit properly represents a whole new level of fuckery. As you can see, I didn’t succeed every time, and the paperback of Apartment 14F (Uncut) now sports a completely new minimalist look. Ho-hum.

My X Book collections won’t be issued in paperback in their current form. I am still a huge ebook advocate and want to have some e-exclusive stuff in my repertoire. Besides, the plan is to put out book 3 early next year, then combine all three into one bumper volume at some point thereafter. That will represent a much meatier proposition, and better value for money.

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Paranormal TV Shows – Hits & Misses

Paranormal TV shows, eh? There are loads of them. Some good, some bad, some average. Come duck behind the sofa with me as I peruse what the genre has to offer.

863-Ghost-Hunters

The daddy of paranormal TV has been running since 2004. To date there have been ten seasons, not including spin-off’s and specials. It started small, with ghost busting plumbers Jason and Grant of the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) careering around America in a van seeking out and investigating supposedly haunted locations. They emphasise the scientific approach, using various pieces of equipment to either gather or debunk evidence. The early seasons were more ‘docu-soap,’ and featured more material from the investigator’s private lives. This was soon phased out. Thankfully.

Ghost Hunters International

As above, only in more exotic locales. Like Australia, Germany and, er, Wales. Premiered in 2008 and ran for three seasons before being canned, presumably because of the expense incurred in sending a bunch of people all over the world looking for ghosts. Plus, there was a really annoying Irish bloke in it called Barry “Can you give me a sign?” Fitzgerald. Was the show being canned enough of a sign for you, Barry?

He is second only to the even more despicable Andy Andrews, who struts around like a smug, know-it-all little prick the whole time. If I was ever in a dark, confined space with him, I’d punch him in the face repeatedly.

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This is one of my favourites, and one of the longest running. Season 11 started in August. Zac Bagans is one of the most confrontational dudes ever. He has the physique of an NFL player and charges around deserted mental hospitals and jails at night with a couple of mates frightening the shit out of the poor resident spooks. Then, if anything remotely paranormal happens, the bunch of them usually run screaming out of the place. They also pick on the chubby shaven-haired dude with a goatee who gets all the worst assignments. “Aaron! Go lie in that festering haunted crypt and don’t come out until we tell you!”

Most Haunted

The British answer to Ghost Hunters. Never been a fan. It all seems a bit contrived and over-dramatic to me. Yvette Fielding is decent, I used to have a crush on her when she was in Blue Peter. But the resident psychics spoil it all, especially Derek Acorah when he was exposed as being a massive fraud shortly before being booted off the show in 2005. To date MH has run for no fewer than 17 seasons and amassed almost 200 episodes, which makes you wonder how many supposedly haunted locations there can be.

Fact or Faked

I dislike this show immensely. What a pointless exercise. A bunch of patronising bellends who choose something like, say, the Loch Ness Monster, then spend the entire show trying to make something that looks like the Loch Ness Monster but isn’t. I could make something that looks like melted chocolate ice cream, that doesn’t mean it is melted chocolate ice cream. It proves nothing.

A Haunting

This features dramatic re-enactments of hauntings, demonic possession, time slips, and all kinds of other weird shit. It ran for four seasons on Discovery Channel, and then took a five-year hiatus before being revitalized on Destination America in 2012. Most episodes follow the same format so it can get a bit repetitive after a while, but it is exceptionally well-made. For the most part, it has also managed to escape controversy and accusations of over-dramatization which gives it an air of credibility sadly lacking in most of its contemporaries. Season eight premiered on Halloween.

Ghost Stalkers

This show, featuring two blokes who both claim to have had near-death experience driving around looking for ‘portals,’ is so over the top and unashamedly dramatic, often it’s LOL time. Produced by Nick Groff of the Ghost Adventures team, who really should know better, it was a dismal failure and I’d be surprised if it is ever renewed for a second season. Instead of stalking ghosts, the two protagonists spend all their time huddled in dark corners talking about their feelings. My favourite line of the entire show was when Chad the wimpy wannabe-surfer dude suddenly started openly grieving for his dead pooch and dropped the immortal line, “It’s weird being human.”

Bahahahahahahaha!

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My Haunted House

Rather than using the investigation format, this show used a mixture of interviews and dramatic re-enactments. It’s basically common knowledge that it’s all made up. Even the interviewees are actors, and they are reading scripts. You know what, though? Once you acknowledge that, and accept that My Haunted House is basically a collection of some excellent horror stories, the show gets a whole lot better. If you are looking for serious investigations into the paranormal, best look elsewhere, but this isn’t such a bad way to while away a few hours.

My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera

Another show mixing ‘eyewitness’ testimony in the shape of interviews interspersed with dramatic re-enactments and video footage this one syndicated through the Biography channel, which at least offered a veneer of legitimacy. Six seasons and 75 episodes after it premiered in 2010 it was shelved. A sad loss.

The Haunting of…

A famous person. Any famous person. I love American TV. Whatever they do, they do it well. Sporting events, chat shows, drama. How can you not appreciate Breaking Bad? I remember when I was a kid watching Miami Vice, then coming back down to earth with a bump with The Bill. The trouble is, after a while most American shows revert to a tried-and-tested formula. It’s fine at first, but then it gets predictable. In this case, a celebrity who claims to have had a paranormal experience revisits the scene of the occurrence with a psychic in tow. There is usually some personal trauma they have to confront and conquer along the way, they invariably cry about it, then everyone goes home better people. Boring.

Haunted Highway

Featuring Jack Osbourne in his goth phase as a spoiled rich kid who goes out looking for thrills with his friends. Give credit where it’s due, Jack always seemed to be able to manufacture a situation where he would be left alone somewhere dark and scary with a hot chick. Not even that could disguise the fact that this show was shit.

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