A literary vacation

On Sunday I go off to Spain for 13 days of sun. I have a house to myself, along with plenty of time, and although I’ll be doing my day job during the days, what I’ll be doing for the most part will be writing – lots and lots of writing.

I’ve set myself an adequate daily word count of 2,500 words a day (after which I’ll allow myself to call it a day and hit the local town for tapas and Spanish beer). I’m hoping that the 30,000 plus words that I’ll create will be enough to finish off The Glasgow Grin, which is already 11k in.

A few people have been wondering where the sequel to The Hunters is. Well, in all honesty, it has been delayed by issues I have had with my short story collection The Greatest Show in Town. I occasionally go through periods where if I look at something for too long I start to see nothing but flaws. This is what has happened with my short story collection. Stories that I liked when I first wrote them have been deconstructed and put back together and, in some cases, expunged from the collection altogether. I’m ‘just about there’ with TGSIT but I’m still fiddling, which means that ‘just about there’ is probably a synonym for ‘nowhere near being finished yet’!

My tendency to sometimes fiddle and fuss and fret had affected my writing rather badly in this case. It stressed me out to such a degree that I stopped writing for a while and concentrated on reading and reviewing on my blog. It then took a while to get back into the flow of things, and get my creative juices flowing again.

However I recently started and finished a first draft of a Stanton brothers’ novella, Bone Breakers. It is set before the events in The Hunters and is third person rather than first person. Once I’ve got the first draft of The Glasgow Grin out of the way, I will edit Bone Breakers and have it on sale before the end of the year. It doesn’t need much rewriting – considering that IMO it’s the tightest thing I’ve ever written, and is as lean as they come.

I figured it was only polite to let my three readers know that I’m still writing and haven’t forgotten about the fact that they might wish to see The Hunters’ sequel sometime in the near future!

Happy Kindle birthday, The Gamblers

This slipped past me almost unnoticed (partly because The Gamblers was first released on paperback in November 2011), but I thought I’d say a few words to mark the occasion.

This last year has been an interesting ride on Kindle. Sales were marginally better than I hoped upon release, though it’s never troubled the best-seller charts (not counting the occasional chart place in the hard-boiled hit parade). And in that time I’ve managed to release another book, making me almost prolific, haha! I’ve learned a lot about this indie-publishing business too during the last year and I thought I’d share these thoughts with you (feel free to click away when you get bored):

1) There’s a vibrant hard-boiled crime and noir community out there. I didn’t realise just how vibrant it was until I joined Twitter and noticed that not only are there lots of people doing what I’m doing, but they’re doing it a lot better too. What this means is I know I have a lot more to learn. It also means that it’s not a lonely place, and there are a lot of great writers to chat with online. That feeling alone is marvellous.

2) I’ll never make my living as a full-time writer. This isn’t some whiny point declaring woe is me, it’s more a simple statement of the facts as I see them. Getting noticed is incredibly difficult and involves more effort than I can manage if I’m to keep earning a living as a graphic designer and pay my rent. I can only do it to a minor degree, far less than I would like, which means minor returns. But I’m cool with that. Sales might take off to a degree over time, given a more substantial back catalogue, but I’m pretty certain the best I can hope for is something that can supplement my full-time job income rather than replace it. Regardless of this, I’ll keep writing. I love doing it, because it’s not about the money, it’s more than that… I don’t want to sound all poncy and pretentious, but it fulfils me in a way that I can’t quite explain – whether that’s spiritual or what have you, I don’t know, but there’s a sense of contentment I feel when I’ve finished a project that I don’t get from any other aspect of my professional life.

3) The Gamblers wasn’t a one-off. I was worried that I might return to my pre-Gamblers routine of starting projects that remained unfinished, but this hasn’t been the case. The Hunters, the first of a series of hard-boiled and blackly comic crime thrillers featuring two dysfunctional criminal brothers, made an appearance and will be quickly followed by three other books later this year and into 2013. Also, I have another noir that is on schedule for late 2013! The floodgates are well and truly open.

4) I’m going to stop trying to sell my wares all the time on Twitter. I’ve been scaling this back, but unless I have a specific deal going (two-for-one deals, a price drop etc.) I’m going to cease with the Twitterbombs. To be honest, Twitter is an abysmal selling tool and I find that I get more sales through providing interesting content on this blog, or links to interesting content on Twitter, than I do by saying, ‘Oi! Buy my books’. If I slip with this promise at any point, feel free to pull me up about it 😉

5) I won’t be doing any more KDP Select giveaways. Initially, KDP Select kickstarted sales of The Gamblers again after they went dormant for a while, and it’s given The Hunters an initial boost, but repeated freebies have done nothing more for me in terms of sales and are probably detrimental in the long run. And what’s the point of giving away my work to hoarders who don’t read it? It’s a waste of my time and theirs – they’ll only end up deleting it unread anyway. Better a tiny audience of devoted readers than a larger audience of those who couldn’t care less. So, I have a few ideas of my own to boost sales in the summer months, involving a slightly more structured giveaway of my own devising (I’ll reveal more another time).

6) It’s been fun, thus far. I’ve enjoyed having all three of you visit my blog from time to time and read my work, and I hope to keep you entertained for many years to come. And if the standard slips do let me know. I’ll come back stronger and better for it.

Adios!

The Hunters now in paperback

That’s right, folks. For those of you who prefer your crime fiction in Tree-Book as opposed to E-book format (and statistics say there are still plenty of you out there), I’m proud to present The Hunters as a paperback for the really rather decent price of $7.99 (just over £5 in sterling).

I wanted to make sure it was available to as wide a selection of people as possible. So using my graphic design and layout powers, I’ve ensured that you folks who prefer reading off paper can also enjoy the first of the Stanton brothers series in a nice looking paperback.

It’s currently only available on Amazon US, but if it sells enough copies I will seriously consider forking out for an extended distribution package, which ensures availability to traditional bricks and mortar bookshops.

Back cover blurb for The Hunters – due soon

Here’s the back cover blurb for The Hunters, which is due in January. Hopefully it’ll give you some indication of what’s going to go down between the covers, when it arrives on your Kindle and doorstep in 2012

The Stanton brothers have their lives well mapped out. They steal money from villains and give it to… Well, themselves. They have it easy. Or they would if it wasn’t for the various scumbags who come at them with fists, knives, guns…

So when a disgruntled woman tells them about a half-million of undeclared cash in her ex-husband’s safe they think they’ve got it made. And when she tells them he runs a regular high-stakes poker game with some of Teesside’s most colourful villains they think they’ve died and gone to Heaven.

But when the job goes wrong, it turns out it’s not Heaven they’re in, but Hell. They’re left hunting the underworld for the money armed only with some well-aimed quips… and knuckledusters… and nailed-spiked baseball bats… oh, and some guns.

It’s time to get back what doesn’t belong to them…

The Hunters mixes bone-crunching action with a motley crew of Teesside villains, adds in some healthy doses of bleak black humour and serves it up at a furious pace. It would be criminal to miss it…