Today I’m pleased to have on my blog once more British horror writer Luke Walker, to promote his latest release.
SJT: Tell us about the new novel, ‘Hometown’.
LW: A small group of friends who’ve drifted apart since the suicide of another friend come back together after they’re all haunted by her in various ways. When they meet in their hometown to try and work out what’s going on, they’re transported to another version of that town. This side of their city is their friend’s grief, anger and pain made flesh. The group are trapped in this hell and the only way out is to find out why she killed herself. At the same time, the wife of one of the characters is searching for him in this world, unaware that someone else is hunting her.
SJT: Setting is always important to add atmosphere to a novel, and the title of ‘Hometown’ suggests that the town itself is a character. Is the town based on a real-life one, or does it come from the depths of your imagination?
LW: Funny you ask as the town did end up feeling like another character the more time I spent writing the book. Geographically and layout wise, it’s more or less my own hometown. I just amended a few bits to fit the story and obviously made it a nasty, frightening place. For the mood and description of the rundown, burned out wrecked city, I was inspired by the look and feel of the film Escape From New York. Kurt Russell isn’t in my book, of course, but that atmosphere is what I wanted to go for.
SJT: Who’s your favourite character in this novel?
LW: I tried not to have a favourite character as it’s an ensemble piece for the most part. Stu Brennan is the guy who still lives in the hometown and the first of the group to be haunted and realise something is very wrong – he might be the character with the most to lose as his wife is in our world, looking for him, and she has no idea of the threat she and their baby daughter face if Stu can’t get out of the underside of the city.
SJT: Which scene was the most difficult to write?
LW: The reasons for the suicide plotline were obviously deeply unpleasant; I had to go dark for that angle of the story, but I wanted to make sure it was all dealt with as honestly as I could and with the seriousness it deserved. There’s plenty of threat, violence, gore and all that fun stuff but the issue of the suicide dwarfs it all, I think.
SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?
LW: I’m close to finishing the edits on a new book called Winter Graves. Once that’s done and it’s ready to submit, I’m either going to look at an older book that was published a few years ago by a now defunct ebook publisher and see about doing it myself, or starting a new book involving a family of cannibals in the aftermath of an alternate history nuclear war. So I’m keeping it light.
SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
LW: I work full time and write a lot so there’s not a lot of time to do much else. If I’m not doing either, then I’m with my wife or friends, watching crappy horror films or trying to wade through my ever growing pile of new books to read.
Luke Walker has been writing horror and fantasy fiction for most of his life. His novel Hometown will be published by Caffeine Nights in July 2016 while his novella Mirror Of The Nameless is published by DarkFuse. His collection of horror fiction, Die Laughing, is also available. Several of his short stories have been published online and in print.
He is thirty-eight and lives in England with his wife and two cats.
HOMETOWN can be found on Amazon.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
It’s been a while since I posted anything in this series of posts. Part of the reason, if I’m honest, is a crisis of confidence. When you have no faith in your own writing, you feel you have no right to lecture anyone else.
However, that sort of thinking is unhelpful, and I’m going to come back to that a bit later in the series. For now, though, it’s time to pick up where we left off in the Ten Commandments of Writing. So you’ve written your manuscript, you’ve polished it until it shines, and now you’re ready to send it out into the world. So what’s next? You have to submit it.
Things have moved on quite a bit from when I first started submitting to agents and editors, back in the 1990s. In those days the submission instructions were fairly standard – the first three chapters and a synopsis, with a stamped self-addressed envelope, which involved spending my lunch hour standing in line at the post office to get my envelope weighed, buying return postage to include on the return envelope before sealing up the package, only to have it land on my doorstep a couple of days later in an envelope with my own handwriting on it.
Nowadays most submissions are made by email, but the instructions can vary widely. Firstly, you have more options, because there are far more small presses out there who are willing to look at unsolicited manuscripts, so you are not restricted to submitting only to agents. But some publishing houses might not want attachments in emails for fear of viruses. Some might have old machines that can’t deal with certain types of software so they can only accept submissions in a certain format. Some don’t like fancy fonts. In the old days of postal submissions, everything was pretty much written in courier or Times Roman. I still write all my manuscripts in Times Roman. It has a bad press in the business world these days, but I have a fondness for serif fonts that are clear and straightforward and easy to read. None of this sans serif font business where a capital ‘I’ and a lower case ‘l’ are indistinguishable (and the font on this blog rather illustrates my point!)
Anyway, here is Commandment #8, and it is important: read the submission requirements carefully, and follow them to the letter, and this is about a lot more than ensuring that the publishing house you are submitting to deals with the genre you write in. Are the instructions asking for the first three chapters and a synopsis, or the whole manuscript? Do they ask for a blurb and the first chapter that must be embedded in the email, and do not under any circumstances send attachments? Do they want the whole manuscript, in 10-point courier font, single spaced, using paragraph auto indents instead of tabs and no page numbers? Then that’s exactly what you send.
Read the guidelines carefully, prepare your submission equally carefully, and double check everything before you hit ‘send’. And then, if you’re anything like me, you check your email box obsessively every half an hour until you get a response.
But at least your work will be Out There, and that’s what counts. Good luck!
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I am very pleased to be able to reveal the brand new cover for the MuseItUp release of my horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN today, on this blog.
Those of you who have been with me since the beginning of this journey will be aware that this is the third incarnation of this particular novel. It was my first published novel, released as an e-book by Lyrical Press in 2010. When the contract with Lyrical expired in 2013, the rights reverted back to me I self-published it as a Kindle e-book, with a specially commissioned cover designed by artist David Bezzina.
And now, finally, SUFFER THE CHILDREN has found a home with MuseItUp Publishing. The cover for their version has been designed by Charlotte Volnek, who also designed the covers for the two Shara Summers novels. And I have to say that once more I think she’s done an awesome job.
SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be released in e-book format only by MuseItUp on 9 August. More information about promotions and so on will follow. In the meantime, I’m going to look some more at this beautiful cover.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I missed posting the monthly round-up last month, because at the end of May I was driving through the Arizona desert. So this month I am playing catch-up.
I now have a release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN – 9 August. More information will appear very soon, including the cover reveal, so stay tuned.
Next year will see the release of the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH.
I appeared on Chris Mannino’s blog on 19 May, musing about why anyone would want to be a writer.
On 28 June, I did a reading from SUFFER THE CHILDREN for the lovely folks gathered at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club – a real-space meetup for SFF/Horror fans occurring in London on the last Tuesday of the month. It was a lovely crowd and though I was slightly in awe at the company I was keeping – Paul Cornell and Laura Lam were also reading that night – everyone was very friendly and put me at ease.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I’m still working on the urban explorers horror novel, but it has not yet got a name.
That’s it for now and I have to apologise for lack of updates on the blog. I am hoping to be able to make more regular postings from now on.
Technically it’s too late in the week for Monday’s Friend. But I’m on Christopher Mannino’s blog today, and am reciprocating by promoting his Mythic Monday giveaways.
Sign up for Chris’s MythicMondays and you could win a 50 dollar Amazon GiftCard, a signed paperback, or an audiobook!
All entrants receive a free short story.
Who is Christopher Mannino?
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life. His wife, Rachel Mannino, is a romance author at www.RachelMannino.com
The Scythe Wielder’s Secret Trilogyis a YA Fantasy series about a girl forced to become a grim reaper. The trilogy has been hailed as “Too good to put down” a “Must read” and “Perfect for fans of books like Harry Potter.” Learn more at http://www.ChristopherMannino.com
The first two books in the trilogy, SCHOOL OF DEATHS and SWORD OF DEATHS are available now and the third, THE SCYTHE WIELDER’S SECRET, is coming soon.
Watch the trailer for SCHOOL OF DEATHS below!
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I am once more a week late with my monthly round-up. Life is a bit hectic. But there is news to report, so on with it.
Final edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are done! I still have no confirmed release date, or a cover, but I think we’re looking at a summer release.
And in case you missed it last month, the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, has been contracted to MuseItUp and will be out in 2017 – likely Autumn.
I only had one guest appearance this month, but it was a rather interesting one. Susan A Royal interviewed my amateur sleuth Shara Summers on her blog on 11 April.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I’m about 7000 words into the new horror novel, but I’m not happy with what I’ve got so far. I’ve only recently realised how to fix it, and it’s going to need a reboot. Scrap and start over. Oh well. With any luck, some of the words already written will be salvageable.
I’ve also got the muse whispering in my ear at the moment with the plot of the fourth Shara Summers book, demanding to be written. I’m trying to write only one book at a time, so thus far I’ve been attempting to resist the urge to succumb to this one. But the Muse is whispering quite loudly. All I can really say at this stage is that this book will take Shara to New York. I feel another visit there might be required. You know, just for inspiration.
That’s it for now, so go off and enjoy the spring sunshine, and I’ll catch you next month.
We’ve got something a bit different on the blog today. This week’s guest is not an author, but a character. Xander is the protagonist of Susan A Royal’s new novel XANDER’s TANGLED WEB, and I am interviewing him today. Susan and I are doing a blog swap and she’s interviewing Shara Summers on her blog today, so hop on over to there once you’re finished here!
SJT: Tell us a bit about yourself, Xander. Where do you come from?
X: My wife, Suse, and I are both descended from a race of little people called Mipins. While she’s a pretty little thing, I’m not much to look at, that’s for sure. Honestly, I don’t know what she sees in me. I tend to squint a lot when I’m pondering over things. She says it makes me look like there’s a woolly caterpillar crossing my forehead.
I’ve lived in Battington my whole life. It’s located in Seren Valley in the Kingdom of Regal, cradled on three sides by the Heliotrope Mountains and to the south by the Azure Sea. The picturesque township boasts fine buildings of red or blue brick and streets paved with smooth stones, bordered on either side with willow trees.
However, it’s best known for its marketplace. People came from far and wide to shop for the merchandise offered. Sellers of exotic spices and exquisite cloth do business next to apothecaries and goldsmiths. Food courts offer tasty delights like funnel cakes or hot sausage on a stick while actors’ troupes entertain with impromptu performances.
SJT: What do you do for a living?
X: For the past year I’ve been trying my hand at farming. Without much success I might add. Before that I was constable for the township of Battington, a job I dearly loved. That is until Cymon, the mayor, and I had some differences which led to a parting of the ways. That’s how I got into farming…and found out it wasn’t for me.
A few days ago I rod into town for supplies, and along came Cymon with an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s only temporary, but he wants me to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. At double my former wages. With any luck I should be able to locate her, collect my wages along with the reward, and be home before harvest. Easy peasy…
SJT: What’s your favourite food and drink?
X: I’m fond of ale, particularly the ale at Ardley’s tavern. And it’s a good thing, because the food he offers is enough to turn even the strongest man’s stomach. Then again I’m biased. When it comes to cooking, no one can hold a candle to my Suse. She could boil shoe leather and it would taste like roast. A good thing too. She hasn’t had much to work with lately.
SJT: I gather you are currently seeking a member of royalty.
X: As I said, I’ve been hired to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. She vanished without a trace from the Marketplace a few nights ago. The whole town is in an uproar. King Leander has called for an early curfew and there is talk about postponing the Spring Festival.
SJT: Battington’s marketplace seems an unlikely place for a princess to be hanging about. What was she doing there?
X: My thoughts exactly. According to everyone I’ve spoken to, she went to see Mercury, the apothecary. Not just for some ordinary, run of the mill spell, either. She wanted a love potion. That complicates things.
SJT: Do you think the gypsies have anything to do with her disappearance?
X: When Emil’s bunch is in the vicinity, they tend to get the blame for any sign of trouble. While they’re no doubt responsible for things like freshly baked pies vanishing from the windowsill, a missing chicken or clothing off the line, they’re generally harmless. They are a secretive bunch, though.
SJT: When you’re not out investigating, what do you like to do to relax?
X: I’ve always loved making rounds, seeing Battington’s streets are safe and secure for its inhabitants. Especially on a crisp night with the moon shining down out of a clear sky, its light bright enough to cast shadows. While the town is sleeping, I can relax and unwind.
SJT: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Xander. Now I’d better let you get back to your investigations.
Blurb for XANDER’S TANGLED WEB
When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.
After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal.
But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.
Mother to three children and their spouses, she has five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned about growing up during the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager in WWII through her mother’s eyes.
Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of exciting adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.
Learn more about Susan’s books here:
All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I’m a week late posting the round-up for March. But life keeps getting away from me, and I was also in the midst of confirming some news I wanted to report on.
Edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are more or less done, and we’re on track for a late spring release. I’m hoping to be able to confirm a release date soon. I’m expecting late May.
And now on to the Big News. I’ve just signed the contract for the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, and am pleased to be able to say that this novel has moved from the WIP section to ‘coming soon’. Although ‘coming soon’ is a bit of a relative term. Publication is estimated at Summer/Autumn 2017. So about 18 months away. I am looking forward to working with my editor at MuseItUp on this one. I have a feeling there’ll be lots of edits on this one, but between the two of us I am confident we can get it into shape.
I appeared on Eric Price‘s blog on 7 March as part of a blog swap sharing writing tips. I was talking about what I learned during the process of writing my first published novel.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I am now working in earnest on the new horror novel, which still doesn’t have a title. I’m referring to it as the ‘urban explorers novel’ because this is who it features as main characters.
There’s plenty to keep me busy here for a while. Catch you at the end of April!
Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Muser Barbara Ehrentreu to the blog, who’s going to offer us a view of writing from the pantser’s perspective.
Why I am a “Pantser”
By Barbara Ehretreu
People like James Patterson tell us that novels can be written according to a set outline and he makes a lot of money doing this kind of thing. Many people use outlines for their writing and for them it works. For me an outline is like a straight jacket. I only know the first sentence of my novel and then I write from there.
To some people that would be a frightening experience. Imagine getting to the page and having no idea of what you are going to write. Well, I don’t quite have a blank mind about it. Before I have decided to write my novel I have an idea of my characters and I have developed them to the point where I pretty much know them. Of course as I am writing I get to know my characters better and better. Also from my characters I can pretty much get the plot of my novel.
So I sit down and write the first sentence and develop my characters and then write. Every time I sit down to write I never know what is going to happen. That is unless it is a complicated scene. I have had to stop and plot these scenes out so I won’t make a mistake. However, that is rare and usually I have the book at least halfway done before that happens.
I don’t know the ending to any of the books I write. For some this would put them in an anxious state the whole time they are writing. I know writers who write the ending before the book starts. For me the ending will come naturally and I’ll know it when it occurs. How do I know it? I just stop writing. The scene ends and I realize that is the ending. I do get a little nervous as the ending is getting closer. I can sense it and I want it to end, but I need to have accomplished all I wanted before the end. The characters need to have found some way to deal with plot complications and the ending needs to solve most of the major problems for them. For both of my published novels I cried for one and I was deliriously happy for the other.
I’m not saying all writers should try this method, but if you are feeling like you are not writing in a fluid way and you want to have more freedom you might try it. It’s not for the faint of heart and you might need a lifejacket of an outline nearby for your first time. But if you are writing the second book in a series as I did, your characters know you so well they talk to you. Or rather, you know your characters so well it is like having a conversation with them. They whisper in your ear and oh, yeah, they add characters you had never thought would be there.
To sum it all up, writing as a pantser is something that you should do if you don’t care what your ending is going to be and you have a good set of characters developed. The characters will move your plot and you will find you will write more and be happier with what you write. But as I said it is not for those who are worried without an outline. To all the pantsers who are reading this, there are more of us than you think.
Blurb for AFTER:
After is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of PEN Letters and SCBWI.
Today I’m delighted to be doing a blog swap with fellow MuseItUp author Eric Price. When you’ve finished reading his post here, hop on over to his blog, where I’m talking about the learning curve I experienced with my first published novel.
WELL, I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
By Eric Price
When I set out to write my first novel, all I had written were some short stories, a couple newspaper articles, a few lesson plans, and some failed attempts at poetry. I wanted to try my hand at something longer, so I wrote a stand alone novel with the potential for developing it into a series. After several revisions, and a few rejection letters, I did a major rewrite and introduced a secondary character I intended to write as a main character in a future book.
Well, MuseItUp Publishing gave me a contract for the first one, which eventually became UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD. My intent was to take some time off from the world of Wittatun and develop some of the other story ideas first, but my new character, Yara, kept calling to me, and I had no choice but to proceed with her book. After taking much longer than anticipated, it finally became THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER, also with MuseItUp Publishing. Now, as I struggle with the third and (I’m almost positive) final volume of The Saga of the Wizards, A Wizard Reborn, I think I know what I’ve done wrong, and hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
Anyone who hasn’t written a book would probably think after writing a first draft, revising it countless times, rewriting it, working through it three times with the content editor, another two times with the line editor, and reading over it one last time for formatting before it finally gets published, that the author would have every word of the book memorized. I can’t say I know how it works for other authors, but for me…no, there are so many details about my own book I don’t know. I constantly had to refer to Unveiling while writing Squire, and now I’m find myself checking back with both of them while I write A Wizard Reborn. What did we last see this character doing? How did this character die? What is this character’s brother’s name?
Even if I had one of those photographic memories, a second issue that frequents my pages is some minor detail in the earlier book(s) that really throws the proverbial monkey wrench in the works of my current work in progress. I’m constantly saying, “Why’d I do this?” or “Why didn’t I do that?” If this were a major movie franchise, I suppose I could ignore what happened in the previous volumes and move on with the story I want to write. (*Ahem* Yes, X-Men, you’re one of the franchises I’m talking about.) But since they’re books, I feel the need to make them as accurate as possible. A little planning could have saved me a lot of headaches and time.
Speaking of time, this brings me to my final issue. I never seem to have enough time. In my ideal world, I would have had each book of the series release about a year apart. Two years separated books one and two. Time will tell how long it take book three to see the light of eReaders.
About the Author:
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.