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A few months back, I set up a Patreon, on the off-chance people might like to just, I dunno, give me money. I just let it site there for a while with some vague promises of exclusive content and Q&A’s and that, and figured if anyone bothered to show up I’d do all those things.
But the more I thought about it, the more I really like the idea, so i’m revamping the damn thing, and realised it might not the the worst damn idea in the world to actually let people know about it.
So, I have a Patreon!
That’s all well and good, you might be saying, but why the hell would you want to give me money every month? Well, for the not-exactly-princely sum of $2 a month, you will get access to the following:
A new short story, every single Thursday. So far there are already six stories available for members, so you’ll already be getting great value for money. So far there’s a tale of a mysteriously missing gas tanker, a gluten-intolerant vampire, a psychic kid, and a zombie story with a real kick in the tail.
You'll also get exclusive access to WIP, character and world profiles, member-only blog posts, exclusive content, discounts on merchandise, and a monthly Q&A with me. That’s all for roughly £1.54 a month in British Pounds, or £3756.59 in post-Brexit money.
If you want to really support me, you can opt for the higher tiers. $5 a month will get you all the above, plus every single book I release a week before it comes out, and $10 will get you signed print copies, as well as everything else.
So, if you want to show your support, or you just want some cool short stories that you won’t read anywhere else, check out the button below!
Something happened to me back in November that I can’t seem to shake. A simple interaction over on my weekly mailing list (sent every Tuesday to an elite group of my readers). It was back on the day of the American Midterm elections.
Those of you who know me will know just how obsessive I can get about American politics. It’s a compulsion. It’s like watching sports, except there are no clear winners and somehow we all lose. But I’m very invested in it. I blame Martin Sheen.
Anyway, as America went to the polls, I couldn’t help but reach out to my predominantly American mailing list with a small request. As I wrote in my mail:
“I love the States. The culture of your land runs through me like candy corn. You know how so many Americans consider themselves Anglophiles? Well, consider me the opposite. My favourite bands are American. My favourite authors. Most of my favourite films and tv shows. Hell, I even studied American Politics at University. I consider Aaron Sorkin to be almost at deity level.
So, and please do take this with the greatest of respect (and with the full knowledge this might earn me a few angry responses), as someone who loves your country so much, please can I implore all of you who are Stateside to go and do your best to go out today and vote to save it? It feels increasingly like you guys are standing at some kind of last chance saloon, and I’ll be staying up most of the night tonight to see if you make it through. Hell, if you mail me back to tell me you’ve done so, I’ll even send you a free ebook.”
I sent it. My initial fears that I had opened up a can of American brand gammon on my own arse were swiftly quashed. I had a number of quite lovely responses from readers excited to get out to the polls, some even taking me up on that free book. As the results came in and were not too shabby, there were even a few elated and relieved readers mailing me their stories. And my unsubscribe rate from that particular mail remained fairly low. All told, a good thing.
But, of course, I did get one.
“Guess I’m on the other side and now you've brought this to the fiction I read. You have literally lost me.”
I sent a cordial response, but the tone of that reply, it’s something that’s gotten under my skin in the weeks since. In particular, it’s that one line – “now you've brought this to the fiction I read” – that grabbed me. It brought to mind a lyric from an old Skunk Anansie song I perhaps didn’t understand fully at the time, but which I do now – ‘Yes, it’s fucking political. Everything’s political.’
I consider myself to be a pretty political person, even if I’ve long ago given up on the notion of online debate as a means to resolve the stark differences in our society. But I’m a writer. A writer of genre fiction about killer storms, space monsters and telepaths, yes, but a writer nonetheless. It might not be right out there, front and centre, but politics is key to the stories that I write, and to the characters who live them.
Then yesterday, I had a quick check of my books to see if there were any new reviews, and WOWSERS. This is from the UK Amazon listing for Sleepwalk City.
Apparently I need to brush up on my concept of Western European Identity. I love this review, more than I can say. It's hard to choose a favourite part, but I'm going to go for the errant comma in the third sentence. I’m going to go ahead and assume that for the most part, it’s not going to cost me any sales, and those it might would probably not end up as part of ‘my tribe.’
The Blood on the Motorway trilogy is, at its heart, a story about the battle between good and evil. Not based on any mythological gods or great powers, but on people. It’s about the decisions we make, and the way we approach things. We choose, every day. A thousand small choices, and each of those speaks to who we are as people. Do you approach the world with empathy, or with concern only for yourself? For characters like Tom, Leon, Mira, Burnett, Jen, and the others, it’s these choices that inform who they are, and which rebuild or destroy the fragile world around them. It’s that, personal choice, which decides the balance between good and evil in those stories.
As I’m editing Sunrise, my next novel, I’m seeing the same question play out, albeit on a bigger canvas. But at its heart, I’m still trying to work out that chasm between empathy and its hollow opposite. It’s a story about where we might be heading, about the consequences of the terrible mistakes we seem to be making right now, and how it’ll be choices that get us out of it, in the end. But with space monsters. And telepaths.
I’m not saying that you can’t sit at the opposite end of the spectrum to me and enjoy my books. I welcome everyone. You might disagree with me on, well, everything, and still like my books. That’s great, because my books are not me, and I’m not my books. But I’m not going to entertain for one second the notion of ‘not bringing politics into it’. Because politics is there, in every choice we make. It all goes back to empathy. It’s not ‘keep your politics out of it’, it’s ‘don’t challenge my politics because I’m not comfortable with that.’ And that’s a whole other thing. It’s a choice.
Incidentally, if you’d like to join the mailing list and get weekly updates, a free copy of my first novel, Blood on the Motorway, a free short story, and much more, you can sign up below. Go on, you know you want to.
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon. Sign up for free books, a free weekly short story, and much more
Hey there, a very Happy New Year to you. 2019, eh? Nearly at the end of the second decade of what could charitably be called ‘that difficult third millennium.’ Only 98 more decades to go!
I know, I know, looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses is a fool’s game, or at least one best left to the Brexiteering Gammons sneering at Vegan Sausage Rolls and Halal Toblerones. But it’s hard not to think back to those first few months of the year 2000 – before those planes flew into a building, when the internet didn’t look like a piss-filled boil, when the Backstreet boys looked like music’s nadir – and wonder how much more of an inexorable decline we’re in for, as a species.
On which note, how would you like some free Apocalyptic books?! I mean, am I king of the segue, or what? I should be on Radio 2 or something. Anyway, Blood on the Motorway is one of over twenty novels and novellas with a decidedly end-of-the-world slant available on Bookfunnel’s ‘In the Dead of Winter’ promotion, which is running throughout January. The price? Absolutely free!
There’s some cracking authors involved in this one, too, including the excellent Steve Turnbull. I can thoroughly recommend you pick up his book Purity, but there’s a load of others in there, too. And, of course, if you’ve not yet picked up Blood on the Motorway, the first book in my apocalyptic thriller trilogy, now’s as good a time as any.
The best part is, Bookfunnel will deliver your free books anywhere you’d like, digitally speaking. Send it to the Kindle App on your phone, send it to Apple Books, Kobo, or just download it straight to your phone. The choice is yours. And what better way to pull yourself away from the fear and loathing of your social media feed than to have a prime slice of apocalyptic fiction to read on your lunch break?
So hit the button now, grab yourself a free book or three, and get your fill of the world’s end before the real thing comes along.
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon, where subscribers get a free short story every single week, along with a range of other goodies.
Finally, the feral beast known only as the Bastard Year of Twenty Eighteen is drawing to a close. Its successor, the enigmatically titled Twenty Nineteen, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born, its hour come round at last.
Ignoring all the vaguely apocalyptic rumblings this year has delivered, the arrival of December on our calendars is a pretty good arbitrary marker in the sand with which to reflect, drink stock -- no, wait, ew. Take stock, that’s the thing, right?
One of the best things about having a blog that’s been running for eleventy billion years is that I’ve gotten into a pretty good habit of marking down my aims and goals for the year, and revisiting them twelve months later. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do right…
The first thing to note, before I bring up the bullet-pointed list, is that 2018 has been a year of tremendous upheaval in my life. This time last year we had moved to Whitby, aka the most loveliest place on Earth, and were looking at moving to Switzerland with my job. Then the world got flip-turned upside down like I’m the Fresh Prince of somewhere, and I had to find a completely new job, and a new place to live. I managed both, and now live at the opposite end of the country, in the quite lovely Cotswolds, with a brand new job. Thankfully the move has gone really well, but it was roughly akin to someone carving a giant chunk out of the year and throwing it in the bin. So, with that caveat in place, let’s look at the list.
No new books. Relatively straightforward one, this. After two years in which I’d released three novels, this was giving myself a pass from feeling the pressure to release any new ones. In which case, mission achieved. Well done me! That’s not to say I’ve been resting on my laurels, or any other part of my anatomy, but more on that in the next exciting bullet-point.
Break even with my writing career. Slightly tricky this one. I had decided, with this being the third year of my being an indie author, that I would try and break even, which is to say make as much back as I’ve put in. On that score, I missed the target by some considerable margin. However, I have made a profit within the year, and that’s despite making quite substantial further investments on courses, software and loads more besides. I also feel like that I’ve taken some huge strides forward this year, redesigning my own covers, branching out to Wattpad and Patreon, and understanding a great deal more about this business we call writing. So, while I’ve failed to hit that metric, I have realised it was a pretty meaningless one in the long run, and I’m in a pretty decent place now, with a foundation that I can hopefully use to springboard to future success much more easily.
Engage with the blog and my mailing list more. I did this one! I’ve been emailing my mailing list every week since about halfway through the year, and that list has grown from a few hundred to over three thousand readers. If you’re one of those, thank you so much for your engagement and support over the year, even though I’ve not had any new books out.
Retire music writing. Another tick. I miss music writing (and my next post will include my top twenty albums of the year), to the point where I’ve had to restrain myself on several occasions from trying to restart it, but it’s not what I want to be doing, long term. I still might redesign the cover to Welcome to Discovery Park, though, that little sucker deserves better.
Increase my writing productivity. This is a constant battle, one which I’m sure all creatives trying to keep a work/life/art balance struggle with. But I’ve done pretty well, I think. I’ve completed NaNoWriMo once more, completed a few hundred thousand words, and knocked my once-incoherent next novel into some semblance of shape. But it’s a difficult balance to strike, and one that plays directly into the next item on the list.
Get healthy, both mentally and physically. Given the year I’ve had -- full of stress, travelling, moving house, changing career, shepherding children through a second relocation in a single year – it’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve not had the healthiest of years. I’m basically at the point where the only thing between me and post-gum Violet Beauregarde cosplay is a shave and a tub of blue paint. On the plus side, this time last year I was feeling quite fragile, beaten up by the world while also feeling that I was getting off far too easily from its harshness. I was addicted the to the news, and I was tired. Run down. I don’t feel that way now. Okay, I don’t feel like that all the time. I still look at the news far too much to be healthy. But I’m feeling much more positive and determined. I’ve got a lot of plans not just for the next year, but for the next few years, and I’m struck through with positive energy toward reaching those goals. Which is progress, no matter what my slightly (*ahem*) expanded waistline says.
So there you have it. Not a bad year, all told, even though I feel a little more battle scarred now than I did before. As always, the only reason I’m able to keep going on so many fronts is my wonderful wife. She’s an absolute ace, and has not only taken this whole year in far more elegant stride than I, but has also become my first Beta reader, and she’s currently reading through my next book and giving me a thousand notes to make it infinitely better. She’s the best, and I’m lucky to have her.
So there goes 2018. Fare thee well, you unscrupulous bastard.
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon.
As we near the period of holiday joy, the nights are closing in around us like a terrible curtain of grim and cold, and everything is going up in price like you’ve just told a florist you’re buying something for a wedding. Dark times, indeed, and that’s before you turn on the news.
I mean, Stan Lee. Fuck. Excelsior, good man, wherever you are.
Anyway, who wouldn’t want a little something for the princely sum of zero down, with zero additional to pay? That might sound too good to be true, but that’s precisely what I stand before you in my snakeskin boots and pearly white smile to offer you. A whopping 42 books, all sci-fi and other genre delights, and they’re all completely free. Hey, 42, that’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything! Maybe if you grab every single one, you might be let into some kind of crazy cosmic secret.
Blood on the Motorway, the first book in the apocalyptic thriller trilogy that readers have called ‘a totally compelling story’ which ‘made my jaw drop’ is one of the books on offer, so if you haven’t already, why not go and grab a copy of that.
Read it already? Well, why not try out the likes of Chased by Fire by DK Holmberg, or City of Shades by PJ Whittlesea? Hell, there’s even something there called Rocket Fuel Pee. Now, a lot of these books do seem to have a lot of topless men on them and titles like ‘Penetrated by a Monster’, so I will just add that I didn’t put this giveaway together myself. But, hey, maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for. No judgements. Even if it’s not. there’s plenty to be going at.
The offer runs until the end of the week (Nov 18th), so be sure not to miss out.