All 5 books in Christmas series “The East Pudding Chronicles” are available to buy from Amazon

Find out where Christmas really came from... All 5 books in Roald Dahl and Tim Burton-inspired Christmas series "The East Pudding Chronicles" are now available!

Find out where Christmas really came from… All 5 books in Roald Dahl and Tim Burton-inspired Christmas series “The East Pudding Chronicles” are now available!

Warning: shameless book plug ahead. (Hey, it’s Christmas!)

Now that December’s here and sleigh bells are jingling, I wanted to tell my loyal readers (including my lovely new followers) about my Christmas-centric book seriesThe East Pudding Chronicles — in case you’re looking for some quirky Christmas reading for your kids!

These books, which are beautifully illustrated by Emily Harper, have two main influences: Tim Burton and Roald Dahl. Neither of these creative geniuses have ever shied away from darker elements in their children’s stories.

Specifically, it was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (a story once considered so dark and risky that Disney wouldn’t put their name on it; now it’s one of the Mouse House’s most popular films) that served as an influence for the mood, style and Christmas setting of The East Pudding Chronicles. The rest came from my own love of the season, and in particular, my curiosity about all the different traditions that are such a crucial part of it.

I therefore came up with my own slightly weird, occasionally wacky, often heartfelt origin stories for why Santa Claus visits us, why we kiss under the mistletoe, pull Christmas crackers and put up Christmas trees, and what Christmas ‘really’ means.

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My short story “Paul” has now been published by Storgy Magazine

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My short story Paul is now available to read! It was published today by online magazine Storgy.

The story is based on a famous pop culture conspiracy theory. The image above (used by Storgy for the publication) is a rather obvious clue as to what that might be, but if you’ve not heard of it, read the story first and then have a read of this blog article about the conspiracy. (I also wrote a follow-up article that you might find interesting.)

Click to read the story! And if you enjoy it, please do like and share it on social media! 🙂

Paul was originally shortlisted in the Aeon Award 2015 and reportedly very close to making the top six. It’s the fourth Million Eyes Short Story to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz? (Scribble Issue 68), The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller (Tigershark Issue 11) and Rachel Can See (Metamorphose V2).

Just like those other stories, Paul is set in the Million Eyes universe.

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Tomorrow: is Osama bin Laden really dead?

 

My short story “Paul” will be published by Storgy Magazine on 23rd November

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Hello readers!

Just thought I’d drop by and let you know that Storgy Magazine will be publishing my short story Paul on November 23rd !

Paul was originally shortlisted in the Aeon Award 2015 and very close to making the top six (so said the editor). It will be the fourth Million Eyes Short Story to be published, after Who is Rudolph Fentz?The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller and Rachel Can See. Just like those others, it is set in the Million Eyes universe.

Paul is based on a famous pop culture conspiracy theory and urban legend. It concerns a car accident, a much-loved musician, and some rather unexpected implications for the space-time continuum…

Storgy is an online publisher of literary short fiction that tinkers with genre and stylistic conventions. They previously accepted Rachel Can See but I was unable to offer them that one due to its recent publication in Metamorphose.

I actually talked about literary fiction in last week’s blog, because I wouldn’t generally consider the Million Eyes Short Stories to be ‘literary’. However, the definitions of commercial and literary fiction are not carved in stone, and it may be that Storgy were drawn to Paul and Rachel Can See because they have thriller, conspiracy, mystery and sci-fi elements, as does Million Eyes.

Anyway, keep an eye out for Paul on Wednesday 23rd November!

In the meantime, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller is available to read for free in Tigershark Issue 11 and Rachel Can See can be purchased as one of 10 stories in Metamorphose V2 (a sneak peek is available here).

Happy Monday!

This week: Is Osama bin Laden really dead?

Commercial fiction vs literary fiction + story updates

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Good evening Earth. This week I’m talking about a popular conspiracy theory that President-elect Trump was assassinated by a coalition of Western governments before he could destroy Mexico’s economy, give guns to toddlers, and nuke the Middle East.

Wait—what? There’s no such conspiracy theory, you say? President-elect Trump hasn’t been assassinated?

Ah, okay. Sorry, must’ve been a premonition/dream/desperate hope I had.

Instead, I’ll give you a round-up of story updates and some tips for writers on understanding the differences between literary and commercial fiction.

Rachel Can Still See wins the Hyde Cup 2016

hyde-cupYesterday I received a nice little boost for my recently completed short story, Rachel Can Still See. It won the Hyde Cup 2016, an internal Rushmoor Writers competition, organised and judged each year by the members. The story got great feedback, so my plan is to start submitting it immediately to publishers and short story competitions.

This story is one of the Million Eyes Short Stories and a sequel to Rachel Can See (though it can sensibly stand alone). Rachel Can See has just been published in Metamorphose V2 (more details below).

I won £25 and a little cup for my mantelpiece. Whoop! 😀

Million Eyes

I’m down to the last couple of chapters of my novel, Million Eyes. My copywriting busyness has skyrocketed, so I’m getting through it slowly. Planning a good old sesh over Christmas, so my hope is that I’ll have reached the end by the time we draw the curtains on 2016. Then I’ll be ready to start the final edit next year.

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Sneak peek of my story “Rachel Can See” now available to read!

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Happy Halloween!

You can now read a sneak peek of my new short story and honourable mention winner, Rachel Can See, the latest of the Million Eyes Short Stories, published in Metamorphose Volume 2. A Facebook user has already given the story a positive review: “Good story about a woman who is convinced she is not crazy.”

Here’s the link to read the excerpt!

By the way, today’s the last day you can pre-order Metamorphose V2 and get 50% off. It features 10 stories from upcoming science fiction and fantasy authors (including yours truly). Current price is only $7.50.

You can purchase a print copy of the journal here, and an e-book version here. The e-book is currently only $2.99.

Remember, once Metamorphose have sold 1,000 copies, they’re donating 50% of all profits to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) to help people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Enjoy!

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“Show, don’t tell” advice for writers + story updates

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Good evening readers!

Tonight I bring a round-up of Million Eyes updates and some advice on a literary rule that’s habitually banged on about by editors, agents and publishers: “show, don’t tell”.

Million Eyes and Hodderscape

No, no, it’s nothing exciting like a book deal from a publisher (I wish). However, it’s a mini endorsement for Million Eyes.

Hodderscape are sci-fi, fantasy and horror publishers. One of the authors on their list is a man some of you may have heard of called Stephen King.

Now, I’ve not really been submitting Million Eyes to publishers or agents because the book is incomplete. However, Hodderscape were having an open submission period in August 2015 (which means they were accepting subs from unagented authors). So I tidied up the first 15,000 words of Million Eyes and submitted it, expecting to hear back by the end of September. I didn’t. I knew there were some delays, but I didn’t end up hearing back till April 2016 (yes, I’ve been meaning to mention this for months and keep forgetting!).

It was a form rejection, but said that “all the readers were very impressed with your work”, which I thought was unusual. They also mentioned that 1,500 authors submitted during the open subs period, and signed off by saying, “thank you for your patience while we worked through the second reads!”

Second reads? Well, that was news to me. Basically, Million Eyes got through some kind of first round, which is no doubt why it took so long to hear back, and why their form rejection included a compliment about my work.

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How to write flashbacks in fiction + story updates


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Hello hello! Welcome, on this stifingly hot and sticky September day, to my monthly round-up of news, including the latest on Million Eyes and the Million Eyes Short Stories. And this month I also come bearing tips for writing flashback sequences in fiction—not as easy as it sounds!

I’m being interviewed on Spaced Out Radio!

Last month I was contacted by Spaced Out Radio in Canada, who want to interview me live on one of their shows and get my take on conspiracy theories and the paranormal! It’s currently scheduled for 25th October, and as soon as I know more re times and topics, I’ll announce it here.

New story published – The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller

Last week I announced the publication of the second Million Eyes Short Story, after Who is Rudolph Fentz? was published in Scribble, Issue 68 last winter. The story is called The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller and appears in Tigershark Magazine, Issue 11, which can be downloaded for free here.

The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller was actually written in early 2015 and entered into the Rushmoor Writers Fullbrook Competition. It received good feedback and was subsequently submitted to a number of short story magazines and competitions. It was retained by Mystery Weekly magazine as a very close contender for publication. The editor of Mystery Weekly asked me to flesh it out a bit, but ultimately rejected the newer version. She said it was far superior to the previous version but wasn’t right for their readers at that time (which could mean anything—perhaps they already had a story that was similar).

So, at long last, The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller has found a home at Tigershark. As mentioned in my previous blog, the story’s main character is a real person—Irish filmmaker George Clarke, who specialises in horror and zombie movies. It follows his discovery of something out of place in a bonus feature on a Charlie Chaplin DVD, which sparked a media storm and 21st-century urban legend.

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Writers who try to write masterpieces + story updates

man-1454744_960_720Evening all! So I’m totally going to steal Alan Carr’s catchphrase: What a week it’s been!

I climbed the O2 in London on Tuesday night and got to see the sun setting behind Canary Wharf. Yesterday I did mountain biking, high rope obstacles in the trees, climbing, canoeing, assault courses and a bit of free-falling on a giant swing. Oh, and I got to pretend to be Jon Snow for a bit and do some archery.

Today I’m back at my computer, exercising nothing but my typing fingers so I can tell you about some story updates and a fiction writing bad habit: trying to write a masterpiece.

The Million Eyes Trilogy

I’ve been extremely busy with copywriting commitments since January, but now things have quietened down a bit, giving me more time for my novel and short stories. I’m editing the last third of the first novel in The Million Eyes Trilogy as we speak. I’m now thinking I’ll probably finish reading it to my writers’ group and getting their feedback by early next year, if not before.

I said in my last story updates blog that I’d be ready to start the final edit by June of next year, but I reckon I’ll be starting much earlier than that. In the past, I’ve found that January and February are good months to go on long writers’ retreats, so that’s when I’m planning to book a two-week retreat and hopefully get the bulk of the final edit done.

Million Eyes has gone down particularly well with my writers’ group of late, and the fact that increasingly the feedback tends to be minor nitpicks is quite telling about how much my writing has improved over the last year. It’s really exciting to see it all starting to come together.

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