Listen to Dragonmeet’s Achtung! Cthulhu: Dark Tales From the Secret War panel in its entirety

This year marks the release of my second short story, a horror piece appearing in Achtung! Cthulhu: Dark Tales from the Secret War in the coming months.

Modiphius arranged a panel to promote the book at Dragonmeet in London just before Christmas. I was unable to attend, unfortunately, but fellow authors David J Rodger, Jonnie Bryant, Paul Cunliffe, Martin Korda, Jake Webb and John Houlihan all read from their stories and answered audience questions. You can, and should, listen to the entire thing below.

We should have some pre-order information for you soon.

00:00 – Introduction: John Houlihan
02.08 – David J Rodger: Shadow of the Black Sun
09:00 – Jonnie Bryant: Der Alptraum
14:32 – Paul Cunliffe: Hess, Mr Buckle and the Book
21:00 – Martin Korda: Terror of Tribec
25:34 – Jake Webb: The Curse of Cthulhu
31:05 – John Houlihan: Servant of the Dark
36:03 – Roundtable discussion and Q&A

Achtung! Cthulhu: Dark Tales from the Secret War panel at Dragonmeet this Saturday

Dark Tales Promo Image

If you’re in London this weekend, you should go along to the Achtung! Cthulhu: Dark Tales from the Secret War panel at Dragonmeet on Saturday. It starts at midday. Dark Tales from the Secret War is an anthology of short stories – including one of mine – based on P&P RPG Achtung! Cthulhu.

Everyone in the audience gets a free gift, immediately making attendance mandatory. You won’t get the free stuff if you don’t go.

I’m incredibly pissed off at not being able to attend (living in France is sometimes a barrier), but fellow authors John Houlihan, David J Rodger, Martin Korda, Paul Cunliffe, Jake Webb and Jonnie Bryant will all be on hand for readings, chat and questions.

Dark Tales from the Secret War will release in early 2015. We don’t have pre-order information as yet, but we’ll know more in the New Year. This is only my second piece of published fiction, and I’m excited and proud to be working with such a talented group.

So go along. You’ll enjoy it. Make up the shortfall caused by my ridiculous absence.

Still going – my next book’s gone into editing

Still going.

I haven’t updated this for a while, but things are happening. Should blog more regularly, I guess.

I’m now working on the second draft of my next book. The novel I completed in January is currently at agents. I’m sending it to the “everyone” list as my first choices all came back with rejections. I’ve been encouraged by several people to self-publish, but I’m undecided. I know it’s the twenty-first century, but I can’t help feel there’s still a stigma attached to going it alone. An agent would pick it up if it were good (commercial) enough, right?

After several conversations with published authors, the advice seems to be that the book’s probably in my “old voice” (there’s some truth to this) and could therefore be self-published without fear of ruining any future aspirations. That’s logical, but it’s no easy decision. The novel’s content, in my opinion, is going to make it difficult for any agent to say yes, but that doesn’t mean one won’t. Even though it’s about as noncommercial as burning a bin-full of money, it could still get picked up by a rogue agent (amazing) or a (very) small press.

I did get a personal note from one agent with her rejection, saying she didn’t believe she was “brave” enough to take it on. Fairly sure that’s a polite way of saying, “Both you and your book are completely mental,” but that’s certainly better than, “You’re a talentless cretin.” It may well mean it’s terrible, but it could mean anything. It may mean what it says, which is probably what it means. I should just let it go.

I’m going to keep pitching and getting rejected, and that’s fine. It’s supposed to be this way. I’m wary of self-pub. Certainly doesn’t feel like something I should be rushing at.

The new novel’s more lucid than the current pitch, so maybe it’ll be an easier sell. I actually doubt it, but I write what I write. Pointless pretending otherwise.

I’ve only just started working on the new book again after completing the first draft in the spring. I wrote it immediately after editing the previous one, which itself ran to eight drafts, and that came after binning The Ooning following a total rewrite and months of editing. All this is a side project to my VG247 job, and when I came to the end of the latest draft I was quite ill. This book is the longest I’ve written at 72,000 words (the novel I’m currently pitching is 57,000 and The Ooning was just over 50,000). I had to stop awhile. I took the entire summer away from books (I stopped reading, also), but I’ve worked through the opening pages this week and I’m feeling confident about entering the editing process proper.

More positively, my second short story is to be published later this year by Modiphius. Old games press acquaintance John Houlihan approached me with the opportunity to contribute to an anthology based on the pen-and-paper RPG Achtung! Cthulhu, and it was great to write some straight horror again. It seems as though there’s going to be some “author” activity around the launch, which will be a first for me, and I’m excited for that. Based on the fact my short fiction appears to be gaining more traction than the books, Fiona keeps politely suggesting I should switch from modernism to genre with my novel-writing. Maybe I will in the future, but a diversion seems folly based on a few rejections. I have a vision in which I believe. Someone, somewhere will eventually get it.

I’ve been writing a lot more on VG247 recently, and I’ve also completed a new short story, titled Call Them. I put it together as an application for The Word Factory’s 2014 apprenticeship, only to get a polite return email mail pointing out that only UK residents are applicable. Well done, me. This  does, however, mean I have a fresh piece to pitch. I’ll start next week.

Still going.

I completed a novel

I finished editing my novel today after completing a first draft in mid-October. This is the first time I’ve reached this point with a book. It’s final at 58,000 words. Agent queries will start in the next few weeks.

The Ooning is no more. I made the decision to stop working on it in November after some pretty desperate soul-searching. Eventually, I had to be honest: I didn’t believe in it as a piece of work representative of my ambition or ability. I completely rewrote it over two major edits in 2012 and 2013, but it was “no good.” Some of the characterisation needed serious work and, regardless, I felt uncomfortable about trying to push a story for publication. I wrote the first draft ten years ago. I’m not that person. I don’t write narrative anymore. The Ooning wasn’t something I’d ever read. Logic, therefore, dictated that I needed to move on. It was a hard decision, but I just didn’t like it and nor would I ever. I invested many hundreds of hours in that book, but I had some good advice on how to deal with it mentally; none of it was wasted in terms of experience.

While it was tough at the time, I have no regrets about concentrating on the new project. The first draft flowed out in a way I’ve never experienced before with fiction, and I never felt a strong struggle with the editing process. The work reminded me of photo processing, especially on film. Any photographer will tell you how much easier it is to post-produce a properly exposed negative. Editing rough shots can be a nightmare and the end result will nearly always be compromised. I put down 60,000 words in three months late last year and it felt like walking. Editing, similarly, was enjoyable. Working on The Ooning was arduous, and in the end I realised I just didn’t want to do it. A valuable lesson, even if learning it produced some unpleasant head-in-hands moments.

I’m very pleased. The new book, I feel, represents a significant personal milestone. I wrote it, I edited it, I completed it and I’m happy with it, and now I can move directly onto prep for the third novel. I started notes over Christmas. My ideas are continuing to coagulate but the trend’s visible and I should have no problem putting it out this year.

I will not stop.

Book two: first draft complete at 60,000 words

It just sort of came out. I don’t have a name for it yet, but the first draft’s done. Finished it today. Little of the drama I experienced with The Ooning, which is a traditionally structured story; this latest is modern and abstract. Now to finish The Ooning – edits which will likely involve a name-change – before coming back to the new draft in 2014. So. I wrote another book.


It’s like this. I have two current book projects and I need to make some decisions I’ve already made them. The Ooning has been through its beta got feedback from three people and I have enough to create the final rewrite. I know what’s wrong with it now. Beta was interesting as you’re always looking for correlation there’s a wow moment (two of the testers, the two that finished the entire thing, both said “wow” at the same point), and that’s fine. There’s a part which clearly doesn’t work and there’s some serious character stuff I need to address. And I need to redraft a bunch of shit. It’s going to take months.

The second project is the first draft of the second novel I started it because I was waiting for the beta to come through and it takes a while, you know. People have to read it, think about it, write about it. Books take so long. I’m thirty kay into this and I don’t want to stop the kids have been on holiday for two months and doing anything properly constructive’s been virtually impossible Dave’s gone and got himself an external desk I may do the same the summer holidays in France can last up to nine weeks. That’s a lot of can you play with me, daddy.

I don’t want to stop the draft but I have to finish The Ooning this year. I have four months left. As I said, I’ve already decided what to do but I’m not sure actually I am sure and this is it. I’m going to power through the draft, smack it up to wordcount as quickly as possible reckon I can get it done in three weeks if I beat out fifteen thousand a week. I know what I’m doing with it and I have flow even though I haven’t put any down for about two weeks I won’t have any problem picking up all planned out can get the draft bagged by the end of September. Then back to Ooning while I let that rest read it through again match to notes and push into the final version. I’d have three months to do it, polish it and actually finish the fucking thing over October, November and December. Then return to the second book in the New Year while I query Ooning. This is what I want to do.

Mouse was published. You can order Ficta Fabula here. It still says pre-order there, but Tim Smith got a copy in the post from Canada the other day. Because he bought it. Because he’s awesome. Look.


First short story published “very soon”: pre-order or die

Probably not die, but pre-order anyway. A final proof of Ficta Fabula, the magazine carrying my first published short story, arrived this morning. I’m on page 63. The best page. My writing’s been illustrated. And I got paid. Serious business.

There’s no specific date as yet, but I’m assured it’ll release “very soon”. There are thirteen other stories in the issue, so I’m sure you’ll get value for you six Canadian dollars. You can buy it here: