October’s Deviant News and Books

 

We’ve got a few new books coming in October as well as some cheap Halloween reads and FREEBIES!

First, get ready for C.M. Saunders’ newest release, a reissue of “Dead of Night” on the 1st of October.

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Young lovers, Nick and Maggie, decide to escape the city for a romantic weekend deep in the idyllic countryside. The excursion soon degenerates into a maelstrom of terror when one of them comes face to face with a centuries-old civil war soldier. Together, the couple flee into the wilderness, but soon find themselves engaged in a mortal battle with a group of long-dead Confederate bushwackers.

 

It’s available for pre-order now so get it.

 

 

PJ Blakey-Novis has some exciting news for October as well. First, the October issue of Indie Writers Review will be a special Halloween issue. Keep your eyes on the Facebook page to get more details on that.

_11 October 2018

And he’ll be celebrating 31 Days of Horror, in which he promotes some fantastic horror novels and authors all month. We’ll be sure to share that with you on our Facebook page, but you should also follow Peter’s page for news and future promotions. AND, as part of the celebration, Deviant Dolls be giving away some Halloween reads (ebooks and paperbacks) EVERY SINGLE DAY in October, which include Deviant Dolls authors, as well as a few other horror authors we admire and think you should check out.

As we mentioned in July and August, Renee Miller released Eat the Rich, with Hindered Souls Press. In the coming months, the audio book will also be available. Renee’s story “The Cartel” won Deadman’s Tome’s The Meat Grinder contest in August. You can still read it, so go on over and while you’re there, check out the latest contest entries.

On October 16th, Unnerving will be releasing Renee’s chilling horror novella, “Stranded” and “Licking the Devil’s Horn,” a collection that includes Stranded, as well as Church and Cats Like Cream.

Six contestants pair off into three teams of one man and one woman as part of a pilot season for a new reality show called Stranded. The challenge: Survive thirty days in a hostile and brutal environment for a chance to split a half-million-dollar prize.

Victor, the show’s creator, chooses the northern Arctic as the first location, but after a single day, his mistake is clear: They are not alone.

Their presence awakens a relentless and unforgiving predator that feeds on greed, lust and fear.

In this game, the lucky ones get to die.

“Renee Miller has crafted a brutal tale of monsters and madness, one that will make your blood run cold. Perfect for fans of THE THING, STRANDED is arctic terror at its chillingly scary best.”

—Michael Patrick Hicks, author of BROKEN SHELLS and MASS HYSTERIA

 

And look for her erotic horror story, VIRTUAL HEALING in Lycan Valley Press’s GAME OVER: BLACK BOOK SERIES VOLUME 2 in the very near future.

Finally, we’ve got some sales happening in honor of Halloween, because we all know it’s the best of all of the holidays. First, get Renee’s horror/thriller tales, BAYOU BABY, IN THE BONES, DIRTY TRUTHS, THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY, and SMOLDER for just 99 cents eadh from October 27th to November 1st, and get Steve Wetherell’s SHOOT THE DEAD, as well as selected titles in the Authors and Dragons’ SHINGLES SERIES for 99 cents each as well.

That’s all for now. Keep your eye here and on our Facebook page for your chance to win during 31 Days of Horror. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be offering:

e-books

by C.M. Saunders

X

X2

X3

Sker House

Human Waste

No Man’s Land

Apartment 14F

Out of Time

In the Dead of Night

By Renee Miller

Cats Like Cream

Church

Eat the Rich

Stranded

By PJ Blakey-Novis

Embrace the Darkness

Tunnels and Other Short Stories

The Artist

Paperbacks

Sugar Skulls by Manual Tapia

Syphon by A.A. Medina

The Monkey’s Penis by Steve Wetherell

Licking the Devil’s Horn by Renee Miller

Splish, Slash, Takin a Bloodbath by Eddie Generous, Mark Allan Gunnells, and Renee Miller

 

We’ll be adding more very soon. Stay tuned

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Off Limits

Recently we talked about the one subject we’d never write about. As writers and creative types, it’s nice to think we’re open to almost anything, but most people have a certain subject/theme that’s taboo for them. Here’s where each of us draws a line (or doesn’t).

Liam: Is this a trick question? Seriously, anything I put down here, no matter how bizarre, I’ll just end up cursed to write about someday. Once, I would have said “I’ll never write about a physic with a chipped tea cup on Key West…” We all know how that ended up.

Katrina: I don’t think there are any subjects off-limits for me. I could probably write about anything, given the right context.

Peter: I haven’t found anything that I wouldn’t write about…yet. I think if it’s well enough written, and an essential part of the story, then no subject is taboo. After all, writers shouldn’t be afraid to push boundaries. But there is no merit in writing just for shock value.

Christian: Animal or child abuse. Some writers consciously tackle taboo topics others shy away from. They think they are being brave or edgy. But you know what? There’s a reason most people stay away from certain topics, even in the horror world. And that’s because there are some things nobody wants to read about.

Renee: I used to say I’d never write about child abuse or about a child or animal abuse/murder, but that was kind of naive. I wouldn’t write a graphic play-by-play of the actual event, because it would be purely for shock value in most situations, which does nothing to enhance the story, but I don’t shy away from having my characters deal with these things. So, I don’t think anything is off limits for me. Not yet anyway…

Michael: Paedophilia because I couldn’t /wouldn’t enter their headspace.

Steve: I’m a scab picking son of a bitch and I’d write about anything. Whether I’d let anyone read it, though, is another question.

August’s Deviant News and Books

In July, we had all kinds of things happening, and it looks like the Dolls won’t be slowing down in August.

First, C.M. Saunders is having a sale! Out of Time, Apartment 14F, No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, and Human Waste are all 0.99 for a very limited time. Grab ‘em quick.

 

Find these and the rest of his books here:

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Saunders’s latest short story, Lakeside Park, is included in the anthology Terrors Unimagined out now on Left Hand Publishing.

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Lakeside Park is an old-fashioned creature tale about a down-on-his-luck, ex-alcoholic custodian who agrees to take a job looking after a remote caravan park deep in the Welsh valleys during the winter. Suffice to say he doesn’t get the anticipated peace and quiet.

 

 

Also, check out the super snazzy trailer!

https://youtu.be/ow4XfWt2q7w

You’ll also be able to find one of his drabbles, My Tormentor, on the Horror Tree on July 29th.

Meanwhile, on his blog, he takes an introspective look at Ringu, the original Japanese version of the seminal movie Ring. Next up for the RetView treatment is the Hammer Horror classic The Witchfinder General. Finally, , if you’re a non-fiction reader with a taste for the paranormal, he has an article on the Nelson Mandela Effect (false memory syndrome) in the latest issue of Fortean Times (FT368).

And we’ll never forget Steve Wetherell’s debut installment in the Authors and Dragons “Shingles” series, The Monkey’s Penis. In August, Steve’s second Shingles tale, “Put Your Hand in My Ass” will be available. Pre-order it now!

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Will Monroe wants to be a famous entertainer more than anything, and he knows the high school talent show is the first step. Unfortunately he has no talent.

What he needs is a mentor. What he gets is Sloppy- an enchanted puppet with weird sexual proclivities and an extremely problematic approach to comedy.

Does Will have what it takes to make it in the cut-throat world of showbiz? And how deep is he willing to stick his hand to find out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In July, Steve also had a story included in Beyond Midnight: Volume One.

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Magic. Mystery. Mayhem.

Dive into the pages of this alluring anthology and enter a world of mystery and adventure. Stalk the streets of sprawling metropolis’ and hunt terrifying creatures. Explore towering cities where the supernatural is everyday and magic is as common as coffee.

Devour 13 all-new urban fantasy stories from debut and best selling authors.

Pick up your copy of Beyond Midnight today and join the adventure.

 

 

 

In July, Renee Miller released Eat the Rich, with Hindered Souls Press (audio and paperback coming very soon).

Eat-The-Rich-Front-Cover

Some fantastic reviews are already in from Book Review Village, Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, Hellnotes, and more. Renee’s also been visiting a few blogs, including Kam’s Place, Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, and Kendall Reviews. Renee also wrote a little thing called The Women We Should Be Writing over at Inkheist.

And if you missed it, check out her Eat the Rich podcast over at Deadman’s Tome. Lots of shits and giggles happening there. Also at Deadman’s Tome, look for Renee’s story BITER in The Meat Grinder contest. Stories should be up the first of August, so if you want her to win, you should go on over, read the story, like it (unless you hate it) and comment.

On August 14th, look for Renee’s dark comedy, Contractual Obligations, in Books and Boos Press’s “A Sharp Stick in the Eye” anthology.A Sharp Stick in the Eye—Front Cover

 

Renee will also be releasing Howl, an erotic horror novella, with Grinning Skull Press later this summer, as part of GSP’s Grave Marker series.

And finally, we missed it in July’s announcements, but it’s not too late to take advantage of the sale. So, Katrina Monroe’s Sacrificial Lamb Cake is just 99 cents from July 26th to 30th. Definitely take advantage of this awesome deal.

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And that’s all for August (so far.) We’ll try to keep the excitement at this fever pitch in the fall as well.

 

 

Flame Wars

By C.M. Saunders

I’ve had a few interesting experiences recently. My life is full of interesting experiences. I seem to attract them. But these particular interesting experiences involved social media. Wow. What a strange world we’ve created. Sometimes, it’s a free-for-all. Other times it’s worse.

A couple of weeks ago, a guy sent me a friend request on Facebook, closely followed by a copy-and-pasted ‘Please fund my Kickstarter’ message. He was trying to raise funds to make a horror movie. I replied, saying I would be happy to support him, if he would support me in return. If he would be so kind as to buy one of my books, I would make a donation to his Kickstarter scheme. Seems like a fair deal, right?

You know what he did? He blocked me.

Even Kickstarter guy couldn’t match another dude I ran into recently for pure assholery This guy claimed to be a ‘Hollywood Celebrity.’ I messaged him, out of genuine interest, and asked how he won this celebrity status. In all fairness, he took time out of his busy superstar schedule to respond with a chirpy, ‘Hard work, motherfucker!’

I replied with, ‘What work is that?’ Quite reasonable, I thought. I wanted to get to know my new celebrity friend. Yup, that sucker blocked me, too.

I HATE it when people block me. I rarely feel strongly enough to block others. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a universal rule. Some blockings are completely justified. Like the fake profiles fronted up by stolen pics of babes in bikinis that just want to spam your page with ads for sunglasses, or the ridiculously attractive Filipino girls who want you to send them money for a new phone. You can also add angry exes, potential sex offenders, terrorists, asylum seekers, and assorted gold diggers and career criminals to that list. But the truth is, it’s rarely so dramatic. Most blockings result from trivial online disagreements.

For example, you might be involved in one of those ridiculous group chats at two in the morning discussing the merits (or not) of Metallica’s new album, when someone disagrees with something you say and instantly hits the block button. That really gets my goat. It’s the equivalent of farting and leaving the room. What would happen if we all just blocked everyone who had a different opinion to us? Our narrow online world would soon be populated by a bunch of people who all think the same way we do. Our online world would become an echo chamber. And how boring would that be?

It’s a sad indictment of the human condition that most people just want to hear empty platitudes. They want their ego stroked. They want you to agree with them.

They want validation.

What they DON’T want is to be challenged. Some do, obviously. That’s why they actively seek out controversial topics and discussions and say ridiculous things, just to get a reaction. But the vast majority just want people to agree with them. Say how they are right, and everyone else is wrong.

Well, here’s an idea. How about us, as a race, manning the fuck up? If someone doesn’t agree with you, stand and fight your ground, put your ideas and opinion across in a calm, rational manner. Help the other person see things the way you do. Don’t just go crying off like a little gutless little prick. That’s weak.

Some people jealously guard their Facebook page, as if anyone actually cares what they say on it. They keep their ‘friends’ to a minimum and have rules like, ‘If I don’t know you in real life, I don’t want to know you on FB.’

That’s understandable. But it’s not how I roll. My Facebook page is a free-for-all. An open window into my life. Being a struggling indie writer (we’re all struggling) I need the exposure, so the more ‘friends’ I have and the more interaction I can promote, the better. It’s an integral part of my platform. I also move around a lot. I’ve lived in eight cities in three countries over the past decade or so. Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch with people who would otherwise disappear from my life. So yeah, my Facebook page is utter carnage.

One of my pet hates is people coming on to one of my social media profiles and telling me off. My pages are my domain, you may as well run in my house and yell at me. Not cool. The Brexit debacle of 2016, closely followed by the American election, prompted a whole new level of Internet assholery. One acquaintance wrote ‘Get a better brain, get better friends,’ on my wall then promptly unfriended me. I messaged him to ask what his problem was, and apparently my crime was ‘liking’ something he didn’t approve of. I shit you not.

In the resultant fallout from Brexit, I was called things I’d never been called before. Right wing thug, fascist, Nazi sympathiser.

The problem stemmed from the fact that at the time I had a red dragon as my cover picture on my Facebook page, because Wales were doing well at the Euros (it’s a football tournament). Some people decided that because I had a dragon on my page, I must be a racist. What’s gone so wrong with society that people confuse national pride with racism? When you take these accusers to task, they try to show their superior intellect by nit-picking. In one conversation I misplaced an apostrophe, in another I used the common abbreviation ‘U’ instead of ‘you.’ Both were jumped upon with great delight, as if that was the only thing that could justify their argument. MISPLACED APOSTROPHE? HA! YOU MUST BE A THICK RACIST!!

Not really, mate.

Block.

The saddest and most ironic thing of all was that these ‘Remainers’ who supposedly pride themselves on a liberal attitude and racial tolerance made a snap judgement based on a picture. That isn’t very tolerant. They believed what they WANTED to believe. They wanted to assume the moral high ground and label me a ‘Leaver’ and, by extension, right-wing fascist scum. The truth is, I didn’t even vote to leave. Okay, I didn’t vote to remain, either. I was one of the apathetic 27.3% who couldn’t be arsed to vote at all.

More recently, I made a tongue-in-cheek comment on a friend’s status, about him posting too many statuses, and one of his friends told me to go and kill myself.

Harsh.

And another block. I don’t need the hostility.

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Use social networks as tools, not weapons, and don’t be dicks.

That is all.

 

61yusXRXjwLX3, the third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies, is available now. X3 also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman. 

Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.

 

The Green Monster

We don’t like to admit that we’re jealous of other writers’ success, talent, or any of that, but let’s be honest, the green monster invades our hearts from time to time. Even the Dolls struggle with envy, but it’s a good thing. Makes you work harder so you can be the object of someone else’s envy right?

So, we decided to share the books we wish we’d written, for whatever reason.

Katrina: A recent book I wish I’d written was The Hazelwood. It incorporates original fairy tales into the narrative, it’s dark and twisty and original.

Liam: I wish I had written my idea of an historical fiction book about the prisoners of Dunbar (1650.) The research involved is just so daunting, I will probably never start it… and just wish it was behind me.

Steve: It’s tempting here to steal the success of other authors, but often books capture the zeitgeist for reasons not just connected to their quality or ideas, but by being the right book at the right time. My taking them could leave them languishing in obscurity. So too, it’d be tempting to claim a work I dearly love for my own, but would it then be as magical? Would I lose something by not discovering it? Best to go for utility here, so I’d wish I’d written Donald Trump’s biography. I mean, it’d make a lot of money, and it’s not as if he’d ever actually read it.

Michael: Boneland by Alan Garner. The dialogue crackles and there’s an economy of language that hints rather than spell everything out. It demands more from the reader because each word is loaded and no word is wasted. Flabby books you can skim.

Christian: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s fantastic. I learned more about the mind of a woman from that one book than I did from half a dozen failed relationships. Also, it sold about a gazillion copies and the movie ripped up Hollywood. I’d never have to work again.

Renee: I was going to say Gone Girl, because it’s one of those books you just can’t get out of your head, but even more haunting was The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. I think I wish I’d written almost everything I’ve read by her. She’s brilliant.

Also, kind of wish I wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, but better, and only for the money.

What about you? Any book you’ve read recently (or long ago) that you wish you’d written?

 

June’s Deviant News and Books

What’s up with the Dolls this month? Well, it’s pretty quiet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have something for you.

Last month, Michael Keyton released Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980

31154185_10156148952966777_2708272631576002560_nTrollope was no deviant. He was though a writer and describes a world long gone. As such, there is much to learn from him. And if you don’t feel the urge to read all of his forty-seven books, you can read just this one. It may even persuade you to give him a go. Failing that, check out Alan Rickman’s first starring role as Obadiah Slope in The Warden – key snippets available on YouTube.

One of Trollope’s last books, The Fixed Period reveals his vision of the 1980’s; one still dominated by steam and landed power. The British Empire remains intact, ruling unchallenged in lieu of America, which has fragmented. It explains the title of this book. For Trollope, landed power and its politics controlled the future. He could not foresee—or didn’t want to—any alternative. The sci-fi aspects of The Fixed Period are risible. His exploration of Euthanasia is, on the other hand, profound.

Books on Anthony Trollope have tended to emphasise the biographical, social convention or else offer analyses of Trollope’s moral code. There has been little, if anything, written about Trollope as the literary expression of a landed society during a period of flux.

Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980 makes the argument that Trollope’s canon constitutes a profound exploration of Nineteenth Century landed society, providing insights into the cultural and political mores of great and small landowners, as well as the economic opportunities and problems they faced during a period of transformation; his characters, too, subtly illustrate the dilemmas, moral and social that so many Victorians encountered as economic circumstances changed.

Get it here.

He’s also been busy spiffing up another new release THE GIFT, which will be available on Amazon and such VERY soon.

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Born in a Liverpool slum, Lizzie McBride is the daughter of an Irish seer who dies when Lizzie is barely twelve, leaving her in charge of two younger sisters and a grieving father. When her father commits suicide, Lizzie is caught between two worlds: An aunt and uncle who decide the three orphans would be better off with them in America, and her mother, who appears in a dream and urges her to stay. Just as they are about to board ship, Lizzie runs away and her life changes forever.

Pursued by her aunt, Lizzie cannonades into the young and charismatic magician, Aleister Crowley who takes her under his wing. He introduces her to Lady Gwyneth Morgan, daughter of the richest family in Wales and sister to the flamboyant occultist, Evan Morgan. At this point Lizzie doesn’t realise she has a gift; the ability to open Hell and control its greatest demons. When the occult world discovers this, governments and powerful individuals seek her out. Only one man can protect her: the magician John Grey.

Also new this month, Tony Bertauski will be releasing The Roots of Drayton: A Drayton Chronicles Novel on June 12. Pre-order now!

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Drayton can’t leave the Lowcountry.

He once believed he was a vampire when he terrorized villages and slaughtered for blood. Now he absorbs essence from the dying’s final breath and rarely stays in one place. He has been in the Lowcountry far too long.

Everything is about to change.

After witnessing an elderly man’s death, Drayton vows to protect his wife. He assumes the job of her gardener in Charleston’s historic district. But when a young woman named Amber enters the garden, he soon questions who he is protecting.

And from whom.

Drayton will finally discover why he has roamed the planet for so long. He will learn the purpose of his existence and why he has absorbed human essence all of his life. Before he uncovers his roots, he will return to his blood-thirsty days of old.

For the first time, Drayton will become the prey.

 

And in case you missed it, last month, P.J. Blakey-Novis announced the launch of Boxes of blood.

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Boxes of Blood, a new service, offers ‘mystery boxes’ of hand-picked horror books delivered to your door. Available in a variety of sizes, and including exclusive tote bags and bookmarks, Boxes of Blood is an essential service for horror readers everywhere. And with a library of almost one hundred books, and counting, no two boxes will be the same!

 

Stay informed about this awesomeness at;

www.facebook.com/horrortoyou

www.twitter.com/redcapepublish

www.instagram.com/boxesofblood

And looking forward to July, keep your eyes peeled for Renee’s weird horror novel, EAT THE RICH, which will be released by the awesome Hindered Souls Press.

Eat-The-Rich-Front-Cover

When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:

KILL EVERYONE.

And if you’ve been under a rock, you might not know that Steve Wetherell has re-released THE LAST VOLUNTEER with Falstaff Books, AND he was at ConCarolinas with his Authors and Dragons besties. For more details, and a few good laughs, check out the podcasts and the book.

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Fans of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – your long wait for a successor is over!

The fate of the world lies with one man: Bip Plunkerton.

Talentless psyentist and frequent drinker at The Empty Goat, young Bip Plunkerton will follow in his father’s footsteps as a Volunteer…footsteps that have yet to return from the wilds of the wide world outside.

Traverse the harsh weather of the formidable Ice Plains, navigate the Boiling Sea, and suffer the ravaging heat of the Bone Desert. Bip’s impossible task, continually thwarted by the semi-corporeal Mr. Random, is to warn the rest of the world of the coming doom of the Massive Ball of Death hurtling through space.

Will the last volunteer be any more successful than the first? Will Bip save planet Bersch from a fate set into motion millennia before?

Probably not, but we can likely drag this question out for a couple more books, though. Right?

Finally, Renee and Christian were both included in Digital Horror Fiction’s new collection, DIGITAL HORROR FICTION VOLUME 1.

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Inside you’ll find Renee’s horror story, WHERE THERE IS LIFE and Christian’s bloody tale, ROADKILL, along with a few other pretty awesome horror authors.

And that’s all for now. Stay tuned for next month’s news, and keep an eye on our Books pages for anything we may have missed here.

Internet Etiquette

By C.M. Saunders

I know what you’re thinking. Internet etiquette? It’s the internet, there is no etiquette.

But see, you would be wrong.

So wrong.

Because everything you post online, every snide comment, scathing retort, and misguided or misunderstood witticism, is there for all the world to see and it stays there until you delete it.

And even then there are ways to get it back, or so I’m told.

This means that past, present and future friends, colleagues, partners and employers can all see how you interact with people, and what kind of person lurks behind that cool exterior. Oh, and you can add the government to that list. Not just yours, but more than likely several, and even your great aunty Zelda. You didn’t think she used Facebook? Best think again. Even regular Joe’s who you don’t notice lurking online and don’t give much of a shit about anyway can pose a threat.

The DO’s are quite simple: DO use the Internet however you see fit, DO surf to your heart’s content, DO find some of its hidden corners, DO look up those old friends and flames, and DO find new ones. In short, have a blast. Just be aware of a few DON’T’s.

By the way, this (non-exhaustive) list is aimed primarily at indie writers and other internet marketers, but with a little improvisation, can be applied to just about anyone’s daily life. It is designed to help, not hinder.

DON’T post book links, or any promotional material, direct to people’s Facebook wall.

DON’T send book links, or any other promotional material, in the form of direct messages. This topic is particularly prickly amongst the Twitteratti. They fucking hate it.

DON’T tag people in political posts or rants about Lady Gaga, football, the environment, the refugee crisis, veganism, or anything else that could be construed as even vaguely divisive or controversial. The post likely reflects YOUR opinion, not that of the people you are tagging, and by tagging them you are associating them with your views against their will.

DON’T add people to groups without their permission, even if you think you’re doing them a favour. Just don’t.

When commenting on other people’s threads, DON’T see that as an opportunity to drop your book link. That, my friend, is spam, and it tastes like shit.

Similarly, when people ask for book recommendations, DON’T recommend your own book. Show some humility, you pretentious asshole.

Listen, I get that some people just aren’t very savvy. They might mean well, and just don’t know what they are doing is annoying the shit out of people. But the vast majority of social network users know exactly what they are doing. They know they are taking liberties and being annoying. They just don’t care. That’s just disrespectful.

Do yourself a favour, follow these unwritten rules, and make social networking less painful and awkward for the people who know you.

61yusXRXjwL X3, the third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies, is available now. X3 also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman. 

Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.

 

 

Plotting or Pantsing?

This is a debate every writing group from forever has had, but I think we can all agree neither is right or wrong. Both are acceptable ways of crafting a story and it really depends on how the author works best. We decided to discuss it anyway.

Steve: Pants it, then plot it! Plotting requires a beginning a middle and an end, and they all turn up eventually. Ideas are what require thought. I’m not a clever man, so my higher mind rarely steers the ship in creative endeavours. A lot of books use my characters to explore and articulate the dark suspicions of my gut, the worrying questions of my dreams and the reflexive chauvinism of my drunken snarling. As such, sometimes I don’t know what I’m trying to say until I’ve said it. Then I have to edit it before people find out how terrible I am. Maybe replace it with a joke. That’s what people paid for, after all.

Renee: I do both. Some of my stories require research, and for those, I tend to make at least a rough outline of what’s going to happen. Sometimes I outline characters only, so I guess that’s not really plotting. I pants most of my short fiction, and some of my best work has resulted from that. However, I also have a handful of “novels” that aren’t finished because I wrote myself into a corner I can’t get out of, thanks to a lack of planning before I started.

Liam: Pantsing all the way. Why would I put limitations on my writing? Besides, I’d lose interest if I knew how it ended…

Katrina: Both? I plot the major events and then pants my way through connecting them. Knowing too much of the story ahead of time stunts the growth of the narrative for me. I have to let my subconscious do the heavy lifting.

Christian: I fully understand why some people prefer to have a plan when they start writing something. They are probably more organised than me in every other aspect of their lives, too. Me, I start off with a vague idea, or even just a single scene, and then let the story tell itself. I always found that when I plotted too much in the past, I would end up feeling restricted. Half-way through a story you might have a great idea for a plot twist, but you’ll be reluctant to go with it because you think it’s going to fuck up your grand plan.

It often shows if a book has been meticulously plotted. Things can become very stilted and emotionless.

Michael: I write the first chapter blind with little idea. That for me is the kindling wood. If it takes off and I want to know more, then I make a ‘misty’ plan, stopping every now and again to make more ‘misty’ plans. Bit like water divining. The thing is, I like to write books I want to read, and if I were to over-plan I would, in a sense, have read it and so lose interest in actually writing it. The exception is nonfiction – for example, ‘Cheyney Behave’ and my new book on Anthony Trollope. But here the fun lies in the research.

Peter: Pantsing, largely. This was certainly the case with my first book, (the sequel required a little planning but still pulled me in unexpected directions). Aside from these, I have two collections of short stories, none of which were planned out in any depth. One of my current projects has been planned out in detail, but I’ve drifted away from the plan quite far so I’m not convinced much plotting can save me from myself and where the story ends up.

Where the M Comes From

By C.M. Saunders

 

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and you may have noticed I use different names for different kinds of writing. For academic writing and more formal or serious stuff, I use my full given name. It looks more official. For sport, lifestyle and comedy writing, I use the slightly snappier moniker Chris Saunders. And for fiction, I usually use the name C.M. Saunders. There are practical reasons for doing this. I like to keep different facets of my writing career separate because it’s easier to get my head around. Besides that, the people who read my horror fiction would probably be deeply disappointed if they accidentally picked up one of my travel books, or the one I wrote about Cardiff City FC, and vice versa.

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me why I use C.M. Saunders, especially since I don’t actually have a middle name, and so no middle initial. It’s kind of a happy coincidence that my boyhood nickname was Moony. Because I have a round face, apparently. I guess it could have been a lot worse. There was a boy in my street called Dickhead. Anyway, no. That’s not where the M comes from. It’s not as straightforward as that. But there is a very good reason for it and for the first time in public, I’m going to reveal what that reason is.

It’s for my grandfather on my mother’s side. Firstly, he’s probably part of the reason I grew up to be so into the whole horror thing. He was a big reader, and would go to the local library a couple of times a week. This was back when libraries had books. Whenever I went to visit him and my grandmother in his bungalow at the top of the village when I was a kid, he would always have the latest horror novels lying on the table next to his reading chair. I was too young to read them, or even remember much, I just loved looking at those covers. Stephen King, James Herbert, Graham Masterton.

A little word about my granddad, or Pop as we called him. His name was Stanley Martin. Like my other granddad on my father’s side, he was a coal miner almost all his life. Proper old school Welsh. Being a miner was a hard life. He would delight in telling me, my sister, and cousins horror stories. Some were things that really happened to him or his friends, some were local myths or legends, and he probably made the rest up just to entertain us. The man was covered in little blue scars where coal dust had got into his cuts when he was underground, and he was still coughing up black shit twenty years after he retired. He met and married a Welsh woman called Lillian and they had three daughters, including my mother. All three daughters grew up and got married. As per tradition, when they got married they took the names of their husbands so pretty soon, the Martin name vanished. I always thought that was a bit sad, and when I started taking fiction a bit more seriously and was looking around for a pseudonym to distinguish it from my journalism, I thought using the ‘M’ initial might be a cool way to keep the name ‘Martin’ alive. He died a long time ago, and when he did his surname died with him. Now, every time I have something published under the name C.M. Saunders, it’s a silent nod to the man who introduced me to horror. If there’s a heaven, I know he’s up there looking down with pride in his eyes. Cheers, Pops.

 

61yusXRXjwLX3, the third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies, is available now. X3 also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman. 

Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.

 

Why Dark Fiction?

So, I get curious from time to time, and I force the other dolls to play along and answer my many questions. This week, we’re all going to share why we choose to write dark fiction. (By dark fiction, I mean speculative, dark comedy, etc.)

Michael: I don’t limit myself to dark fiction, though there is darkness in all of my books. I have three ‘historicals’ in the pipeline – two set in the twilight years of Roman Britain, and one in early colonial America. In these, as with the Gift Trilogy coming out this year, the speculative part lies in the interstices of historical fact. But to answer the question why do I like dark in the first place – in my case it might be a very traditional Catholic education where there was no light without dark and Hell was a real place.

Steve: Dying is easy and comedy is hard, or so it goes. I’ve never died, so I can’t really attest to it. But, of all the many jobs comedy and fantasy has, one of them is trying to make sense of the dark. And in doing so, perhaps see the funny side.

Katrina: Because realism is too hard to write and reality is boring anyway. Some people call speculative fiction “escapist” like an insult, but I think it’s the best part about it. Why wouldn’t you want to escape?

Christian: I wouldn’t know what else to write. At least ‘dark fiction’ is a big playground big enough to get lost in. When you think about it, it can encompass almost every other genre, from crime noir to sci-fi. It overlaps a lot. I used to call myself a horror writer, then I asked myself what horror was and I couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer. It means different things to different people. Besides, I wrote a love story once and nobody liked it.

Renee: I write in multiple genres, but “darkness” is a constant element in all of them. I enjoy writing dark fiction/speculative fiction, because it’s such a broad category. You can delve into almost every genre and writing it is like an escape that allows me to go to those places we all avoid, because we’re not maniacs.  Also, I find the best characters in the dark.

Peter: I write in a range of genres, but there is certainly a darkness to each of my stories (with the exception of my children’s book, of course!), and that darkness comes in different forms. I find there is a certain freedom that comes with writing speculative fiction; an opportunity to be more imaginative with events, giving greater range to the topics that can be covered.

Liam: Because it’s there.

What about you guys? Writers and readers, why do you write/read dark fiction?