Posts Tagged ‘literature’

through the darkest door

This week I decided it was about time that I got my backside into gear and started doing something more productive with my writing. I was inspired by Brendan’s Gisby’s recent blog on self publishing which sent me rifling through my story folder looking for some new work to submit to McStorytellers.  I always have a couple of stories in reserve that I’ve been “saving” for …well actually I don’t know what really. It used to be the annual slog of literary competitions until i realised the chances of someone like me winning the Bridport was a pipe dream and I’d be better off spending the entrance fee on some new music or something. Ditto most of the other well known and lesser known comps that draw in thousands of aspiring authors every year. I’d dabbled with self publishing mainly as a way of playing about with the technology and figuring out how it worked. I’d put out a wee themed collection and then a couple of Christmas stories (which I’d published as a nice wee gift for family and friends – giving them away for free over the holidays and then being presently surprised when a few folk actually forked over 99p to buy one!)

Anyway, I looked at all the stories I’d accumulated and thought to myself – “why send a couple of stories when I have enough here to do something a bit more substantial?” I got in touch with Brendan and pitched him the idea of putting out an anthology under the McStorytellers banner. Emails were exchanged and in no time at all Brendan had prepped a forty story collection fully formatted and ready to be published.

If you come here often you are no doubt aware of the developing paradigm shift in the world of publishing. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the idea of putting out your own work without the aid of one of the big boys was tainted with the label of “Vanity publishing” which nobody really took seriously. The name carried with it the stench of hubris and self delusion and images of faux-leather bound books gathering dust in garages and attics.

Computers have changed all that. Social Media, E-Books and Print on Demand technology have levelled the playing field to some extent and the power has started to be wrenched from the hands of publishing conglomerates and given to the thousands of would-be writers struggling to make it out of the slush piles.

In a lot of ways it reminds me of the music scene in the early 70s, dominated by major labels and stadium filling rock bands and then …pow! Punk arrives with the instructions: “This is chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.” Bands like the Buzzcocks started bypassing the major labels completely to put their own singles out and inadvertantly started “Independent” labels dedicated to doing the same thing for other bands. These new labels were run on a shoestring but the limitations only forced them to be more creative and unafraid to take risks. They were run by people for the love of seeing the music get out there rather than for profit.

So the way I see it McStorytellers could be the literary equivalent of Factory, Mute, Postcard, Creation and all the others, leading a vanguard of literary renegades across the new frontiers of digital publishing and I’m proud to be part of it.

This week then those forty stories were launched upon an unsuspecting world when “Through The Darkest Door” was published. I don’t expect to set the world on fire. I don’t expect to trade my Ford Focus for a stretch limo or to be able to give up my day job, but I will be able to stand up proud and point to that book and say: “I did it my way.”

You can decide for yourself by following one of the links below. If you like what you’ve read afterwards please don’t forget to leave a review for future readers who might decide to check out my work for themselves based on your words.

UK Kindle version

US Kindle version

UK paperback version

US paperback version


Well it’s been a busy old time since Christmas meaning there have been very few opportunities to get any writing done of late.  Thankfully the tide seems to have turned a bit and last week I was finally able to get some new writing done on a story a started a while back.

Since Christmas I’ve also entered another 10K run just up the road in Inverurie so I’m also busy training for that at the moment. The last time I entered a race I also got the inspiration for a story so maybe I’ll get some more writing off the back of this one.

As some of you might recall, I was scheduled to appear on SHMU.FM’s Literature show at the end of last year but had to cancel at the last minute. Yesterday I was finally able to put in an appearance and read three of my stories: “Once Upon a Crime”, “The Last Mile” and “The Rabbit” as well as answer questions about what makes me tick as a writer. For the moment at least, you can listen to the show HERE.

ebook chart2Well friends and neighbours, Christmas Night of the Living Dead has finished it’s launch period. After five days I have been astonished to see how well it did considering it was mostly written as a fun thing to share with friends and seperate from my “proper” writing.

The story came out on Tuesday. I duly posted links on my facebook wall and in the Kindle forums letting everyone know that there was a free Christmas story going a begging. I sat back expecting a bit of a rush as my friends and family dutifully downloaded it and then a dribble of downloads from curious passer’s by…

As Tuesday turned into Wendesday it was clear something different was happening. Every time I checked the sales reports more copies had gone. I’d put my other e-books on promotion as well and a few of those were shifting as well but the new story was flying! I checked in and found that I’d made it up to number 30 in the top 100 free e-books on in the Humour and Horror categories and was ranked at number 474 overall out of all the free ebooks! B y today I was number 14 – one place above the kindle edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! In total 1167 copies of the story were downloaded.

Of course, now the free promotion has ended the downloads have come to a complete halt, but out there in the digitial domain there are now over 1000 potential readers for the next thing I publish. From little acorns…

cover concept version 2

After a bit of faffing around converting it to a Kindle Friendly format I am pleased to announce that this year’s Christmas story is here for you all to enjoy.

The plan has been to write a Christmas themed short story every year to give away to friends and family. Last year I put out Reindeer Dust which was my first foray into the world of electronic publishing. As usual I’ve opted for a non-traditional Christmas story – this time we have Elves and Zombies running amuck at the North Pole with typically gruesome consequences. Don’t worry though, it’s all a bit tongue in cheek – think more Shaun of the Dead than Walking Dead.

As usua, in keeping in the spirit of the season, I am giving it away for free. The story went live in the Kindle Store today but from tomorrow you will be able to download it for zilch. The promotion will last until Saturday the 22nd as I can only give it awy for a maximum of five days. If you don’t have a Kindle (and who knows, maybe Santa is bringing you one) you can always download the free Kindle Viewer app from Amazon which will allow you to still read it on your computer, ipad etc.

To keep you going until then I have also made all of my other e-books free from today until Friday.

Get them here:

Christmas Night of the Living Dead (UK)

Christmas Night of the Living Dead (USA)

Reindeer Dust (UK)

Reindeer Dust (USA)

When the Revolution Comes (UK)

When the Revolution Comes (USA)

Himself by the Seaside (UK)

Himself by the Seaside (USA)

If you like what you read, please, please, please leave a review telling people what you thought.

Cover of "The Running Man"

Cover of The Running Man

James stumbles a little bit this week by spending alltogether too much time talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s film version and hardly any talking about King’s (or in this case Bachman’s) book. I was about the same age as James when the film came out and even then I could see it was shite. It succeeded in taking a pitch black dystopian vision of a not too distant future where extreme reality shows like “Swim the Crocodiles” and “Treadmill To Bucks” (in which patients with heart conditions have to answer questions on a treadmill that increases in pace every time they get one wrong) have become the vehicle to keep the masses docile and turning it into a cheesy action movie stuffed with lycra-clad characters and piss-poor Arnie quips. I saw it again recently on late night TV and it was even worse than I remembered.

King claims that he wrote the complete first draft in one long 72 hour writing session and that very little was changed by the time it was published. It rips along at a furious pace from the get go and refuses to let you stop until the bleak climax. King tended to keep the chapters short in his earlier books so that I would find myself checking ahead and counting how many pages there were in the next one in the hope that I could squeeze just one more in and The Running Man uses this technique superbly with its countdown structure as you follow anti-hero, Ben Richards from his selection to his inevitable destruction. The ending of the book has become infamous in the post 9-11 world due to it’s portrayal of Richards crashing a passenger jet into the TV Network HQ (Tom Clancy was probably nearer the mark when he had a jet crash into the Capitol building at the end of his book “Debt of Honor”) – hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. At least in this instance King hasn’t withdrawn the book the way he has “Rage” with it’s echoes of the Columbine shootings.

Anyway, you can check out what James has to say here: Rereading Stephen King, week 12.