Cover reveal tease and newsletter news!

Cover reveal for Jack’s Game!

Next weekend I’ll be revealing the cover. This is my vain attempt to build buzz.

It finally has a release date! My debut horror novel, the one I’ve been working on for two years, will finally be published this Halloween!

If you want to see the cover before everyone else, and get a FREE horror story right NOW, all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter. The link is in my bio.

http://www.subscribepage.com/gnome

When you subscribe you will get my horror retelling of the Brother’s Grimm story, Gnome for free. It is a homage to the creature features of my childhood. This is my Gremlins, my Critters, my Ghoulies!

Melody and Faith just wanted to pick fruit, but a cursed nursery rhyme could kill them both…

When you’re playing by the tree

Eat the fruit and then you’ll see

Eyes like marbles, black and small

Teeth like razors, sharp and cruel

If they find you feed them bread

Or you’ll end up dead, dead, dead!

Eat my flesh and break my bones

All should fear the twisted gnomes

– Playground rhyme*

*WARNING: DO NOT SING THIS RHYME IN THE WOODS AT NIGHT

His Name Was Shane

I’ve been going back and reading the classics of the western genre. The cornerstones of gunslinging pulp.

(The following contains spoilers. So if you just want my reaction, I loved it. I recommend you read it).

Shane by Jack Schaefer was first published in three parts in Argosy magazine in 1946. Pulp to the core. It came out as a novel in 1949 and has never been out of print. Literature with a capital W.

It’s a small book that takes its time. A slow burn. Told from the viewpoint of a boy, Bob Starrett, who watches this mythic rider come into town. The man on the horse stops at his farm house and asks for water for him and his horse. His name is Shane. The boy becomes infatuated with him. His father, Joe Starrett, offers the stranger a bed for the night and he ends up staying for much longer.

They spend time on the land. Shane helps Joe remove a tree stump. It takes a long time and Schaefer keeps with it. Showing each swing of the axe.

Shane doesn’t talk about his past and much speculation is made of him.

Soon that past, or knowledge of who he is, catches up to him. A man flees town upon merely setting eyes on Shane.

Bob and his parents are being run out of town by a rancher who needs their land back. They are homesteaders who staked their land on Luke Fletcher’s ranch. Land Fletcher had never claimed himself.

Shane stands up and defends his new home.

At first I wasn’t sure about the book. You’re spending time with these characters without a lot happening. But the writing won me over. There is something about the farm and the people that pulls you in. I liked spending time with Shane, and Bob, and Joe.

It rewards you for your patience with a great final act.

I would read it again. If you love westerns and haven’t read this one yet it’s well worth it.

The Wild West Is Coming Back…

Who loves westerns? Everybody? Great. Come and join the Elwood Flynn group. I will be releasing four westerns next year and if you want an early insight into the world of Robin Castle, as he travels a path of vengeance and violence, this is the place to be. Get in early.

I will be releasing a short story soon. A taster of what is to come.

All my stories come with Elwood Flynn’s Solemn Promise – This book will contain scenes of extreme violence and themes of loss and vengeance.

Be warned. Be thrilled.

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Countdown of the Macabre – Number 10

Join me as I count down to Halloween with a new video each day. Every morning we open our advent calendar of the weird and discover an author who died in a particularly mysterious or unusual manner ending on the 31st October when we learn about the strangest death of them all. But who will it be?

In today’s video, number ten on our list… the bizarre life and curious death of Jack London.

Author Research and Weird Ostrich Feet

When you’re writing a novel sometimes you have to do a bit of research, and sometimes that research brings up incredibly interesting and surprising things.

In this video, my beard (which I’ve been growing for a year and a half) gets the scissors! And then I talk about a new “Mandela Effect” that I have discovered while researching ostriches. Can you describe an ostrich’s foot without Googling it? Answers below!

The Manuscript Thief

So there I was. It was Christmas Eve. Two days earlier I had finally finished my second book. The first draft had been printed off. The plan was to leave it, to forget about, to not even look at it, for a few months. Then, on one lonesome evening, I would pick up the manuscript and go through it with a red pen. But something dreadful would happen before I got the chance.

It is important that no one sees a freshly finished novel, you see, you get so close to the material that after a while all the mistakes become invisible to you. You know the story so well that it doesn’t matter how much you concentrate your mind fills in the blanks. If I write probable instead of probably I won’t notice it. My brain knows what word to expect and my eyes will pass over it without seeing the mistake. This is why you need a few months after finishing the book before you start proof reading it. And that was my intention with A Scoundrel for Love (the first in a series of humorous books based at the stately Rochdale Manor).

As I was saying, it was Christmas Eve. Some of my parent’s friends were round for drinks. One of them, a man named Steve, asked me how my writing was going.

“It’s going well,” I said, “In fact I’ve just finished a novel.”

“Oh, I would love to have a look at it.”

“Sure, why not.” I said, and scurried off to fetch it. That was my mistake. I blame the booze.

He read the first paragraph aloud (at least this much was error free);

“It’s strange being killed. I never thought I’d say it but it is. It’s annoying. Especially when you have no idea why you are being killed. Here I am, standing at the toilet with my pyjamas around my ankles and in walks a man with the intent to do harm. Perhaps I’m somehow to blame? Who knows? Either way, whether I am to be blamed or not, adjustments to my situation must clearly be made. Being drowned in a toilet is not something I take pleasure in. And it is certainly not the way I wish to uncoil my mortal spring, as they say. In the throes of death the automatic instincts of self-preservation set forth a plan of retaliation. My limbs reacted accordingly on my behalf.”

Everyone chuckled. There were positive murmurs.

“Oh, hold on, there’s a disclaimer before the first chapter,” he said, and then read on;

As a result of lazy research the descriptions of the Whyte and Mackay distillery are entirely made up and so any attempt to carry out the heist described in these pages would be completely idiotic and utterly fruitless.”

More laughs. Things were going well.

Steve put the manuscript down and said he would have a proper look later. After all, the night was early and this was a Christmas gathering not a reading circle. I snuck away and left them to it.

When I went back to my parents lounge a few hours later (having spent some quality time being drunk with my brother) I discover my parents sitting alone watching TV.

“Have they gone?” I said.

“Yes, they left about ten minutes ago.”

“Oh, is my book in here somewhere?”

They frowned. “No, Steve took it with him to read on the train.”

“What?”

“What?”

“It hasn’t been edited. He’s going to think I’m an illiterate idiot!”

I rushed off and switched on my laptop just to read the first few chapters. And there they were, the glaringly obvious mistakes you become blind to. The word Authorities where it should have said authoritative. And for some reason (unfathomably! A relic from an early change perhaps) the word bucket instead of cave (how can that even be!). I had also written the word to instead of the. And, oh no, at some point, when I was just getting started with this book one of the characters was called Uncle Henry. It soon changed to Uncle Harry. But it looks like I missed a mention of him early on and within a few pages his name suddenly changes from Harry, to Henry, and back again!

For New Year’s Eve my parents met Steve and his wife for dinner. He mentioned it. He asked my dad if he thought I would mind if he went through it with a red pen and pick out the mistakes.

And actually I don’t mind that. I did have a friend of mine who teaches English to proof read it for me anyway. At least now when I do send it to him he will think I’m capable of producing a far more polished piece of writing than I actually am.

Still, it is a lesson learned. And if Steve turns out to be a good proof reader at least I might be able to rely on him for that in the future. All published authors have an editor and a proof reader. It must be accepted that a writer can’t write tens of thousands of words without the occasional error (there may be one or two exceptions out of the millions of published authors but they will be an extreme minority).

I’m glad in a way that my unfinished manuscript was accidently stolen from me. It will mean that when I send it out to agents and publishers it will be the best it can be.

I’ll let you know when I get the manuscript back exactly how bad the damage is.