Pulpy Pulchritude!

Extricate Throw the Bones Dual Cover

How about that? That’s the wraparound cover by Sarah Anne Langton for the Fox Spirit print edition of Extricate which will be joined by another novella Throw the Bones, plus a dozen short stories of various lengths and vintages. Yes, more titles inspired by The Fall. You can bet I will be posting the news everywhere when it’s available. In the meantime I’ll just keep stroking the shiny cover on my computer screen.

Tony Lane interviewed me about all the craziness of impersonating Graham Wynd and other personas, editing, the fate of short stories and more. Drop by and say hi to Tony.

Chuffed to find more five star reviews of Rook Chant, thanks to Gareth Spark mentioning he was enjoying reading it. I just love seeing stars!

I’ll leave you with some inspirational music while I get back to opening boxes and figuring out where things go —

Cover Reveal: White Rabbit

Cover art by S. L. Johnson

I was going to wait until Monday because that’s the best day to post things but but THE SHINY! Here’s the fab new cover image for my novel WHITE RABBIT coming out from Fox Spirit books — wait for it! — this Easter. More work by the fabulous S. L. Johnson, AKA Queen of Everything, and wow has she got more styles up her sleeve than a magician! I love it, of course.

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the shadows that haunt us 
           are what lead us back to the light

Disgraced former police detective James Draygo has sunk as low as his habit allows, working as a fake psychic despite his very real talents. When a media mogul’s trashy trophy wife gets gunned down at his tapping table he has to decide whether he can straighten up long enough to save his own skin. He may not have a choice with Essex’s loudest ghost bawling in his ear about cults, conspiracies and cut-rate drugs. Oblivion sounds better all the time…

Best Selling Crime Writer, Richard & Judy Summer Read Winner James Oswald on White Rabbit
‘Being a fan of mashing up genres myself, I was of course delighted to see someone else playing fast and loose with things. The central idea of the story – a real psychic pretending to be a fake – is delicious, too. The mystery was deftly played with just the right balance of action and character interplay to keep me turning the pages. The seedy side of London is nicely worked as well – not too threatening, as befits the style of book, but still gritty enough. The cast of supporting characters are nicely drawn, too. Kate writes with a fluid, easy to read style.’

Friday Fun: Soap Opera Digest & New Cover

Here’s a golden oldie that folks might have missed, my comic write up of non-existent soap operas that appeared in Dragnet Magazine. Click to embiggen.

Photo 01-09-2013 12 49 14 Photo 01-09-2013 12 49 21 Photo 01-09-2013 12 49 27

Also I’m delighted to reveal the brand-spankin’-new cover for the third CHASTITY FLAME novel, A Cut Throat Business, crafted by the superb S. L. Johnson. Find the hidden owl! Out next month from Tirgearr!

Chastity 3

Be sure to drop by A Knife & A Quill to see my latest review, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard.

Noir Carnival: Cover Artist, SL Johnson

noir-carnival-web-finalHow I Created This Book Cover, or Adventures Inside an Artist’s Mind

SL Johnson

I was delighted to be asked to create another book cover for Fox Spirit books – not only is Adele a doll to work with (she gives me freedom!) but my ace pal Kate is editing it and some very fabulous authors are part of the anthology.

It is generally known that I don’t like to talk about my “creative process.” To me, the “process” part is the boring technical stuff, of not much interest to anyone. Do you really want to know how much time I spend going through fonts? No. [Ed: Yes!]  The “creative” part is the magick – that is the ‘back of the head’ creative well that gives me the flashes of inspiration I need to start a project and also is hard to explain.

When I first read the words “Noir Carnival”, instantly an image for some creepy dead clown head thing popped into my mind, as it would for anyone. At first I rejected it, as it was similar to the “Weird Noir” cover I had just finished, but then I do like to create variations on a theme – it stretches the mind a bit more. Plus, the opportunity to create something ghastly and disturbing but with my own weird humor snuck in is irresistible, so I pursued the idea.

I had another idea that was far more complicated, not as striking, and more difficult to see as a thumbnail online.  Oh, see, here’s where “process” creeps in….the image ought to to be eye-catching, speak to the work, hopefully make everyone happy (including me!) and look super cool as a thumbnail or printed on a cover. Or on a wine mug. [Ed: It looks awesome on all kinds of products!]

So, as I was drawing the skull, the image shifted a bit in my head- it was originally going to be more circus-y, perhaps something that looked really benign until you got a second look. Nope, not a great idea. Blood spatter as clown hair? Oh, yeah. Bullet hole in head? Keeping it! Garish clown make-up? Well, let me tell you, THAT was freaky enough to give me the creeps. Off the red mouth makeup went. Off went the black band around the eyes. Off went the cheek paint. Keep the top hat and bow tie? Oh, indeed. And let’s take out some of the teeth, shall we?

By this point, I had four decent-looking possibilities, but after asking some folks, artists and non-artists, to look at it, I narrowed it down to two, then let it sit for a couple of days and made my final decision. Sent it off and was rewarded with the comments that the publisher was finding the image to be really freaky. Success!

I’m so sorry – you look sleepy – can I get you some coffee….?


[Ed: Despite the artist’s self-deprecations, I find this fascinating and do check out the faboo images you can get on all manner of merch — I’m especially fond of my book covers, but also the PUNK ROCK JUKEBOX!]

Weird Noir

Cover Reveal: Noir Carnival


Here’s the fantastic cover for the upcoming Fox Spirit Books anthology Noir Carnival: no surprise, Stephanie came through with the awesome yet again. Wow! And you thought Weird Noir was going to be a tough act to follow. If that cover doesn’t give you nightmares, you might need to fill your bed with spiders. I’ve made the final choices of the stories — and was it tough! I had no idea what the book would look like before I started reading them, but slowly the shape emerged. Some good stories I had to turn down because they just didn’t quite fit. Another reason to remember that rejection may not be the end of the line.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Caravan ~ K. A. Laity

Family Blessings ~ Jan Kozlowski

In the Mouth of the Beast ~ Li Huijia

Idle Hands ~ Hannah Kate

The Things We Leave Behind ~ Christopher L. Irvin

She’s My Witch ~ Paul D. Brazill

The Mermaid Illusion ~ Carol Borden

Natural Flavouring ~ Rebecca Snow

Madam Mafoutee’s Bad Glass Eye ~ Chloë Yates

Buffalo Brendan and the Big Top Ballot ~ Allan Watson

Carne Levare ~ Emma Teichmann

Leave No Trace ~ A. J. Sikes

Fair ~ Robin Wyatt Dunn

Things Happen Here After Dark ~ Sheri White

Mister Know-It-All ~ Richard Godwin

Trapped ~ Joan De La Haye

The Price of Admission ~ Neal Litherland

Take Your Chances ~ Michael S. Chong

Young Mooncalf ~ Katie Young

The Teeth Behind the Beard ~ James Bennett

Fleeting Fame

The artist with her book

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays: even if it’s not a time you celebrate, with luck you have some time off from your usual duties or a more slack period in which to do them, seeing as a lot of other people are taking time off.

Doesn’t Stephanie look fab with the wonderful cover she designed? It is nice to have tangible evidence of your work, much as I love the portability of ebooks. And her design came off so well in print, too.

I’ve been tagged in ‘The Next Big Thing‘ meme again, this time by the fabulous Mollie Cox Bryan, who is just a delightful writer. Very kind of her to point to me.

I am flattered that so many friends want to share the meme with me, though I admit to feeling more than a little doubtful of becoming ‘big’ in any meaningful way — or that it’s much of a likelihood for anyone, for that matter. The current state of publishing is not proving a lucrative one for any but a few.

As the man says, check the record, check the record.

We create because it’s our nature to do so. Who is happier than a child bent over a drawing, telling a story from her own imagination? If you’re lucky, you never lose touch with that well of inspiration. If you’re smart, you remember to replenish it regularly, too. Fill your head with new stories (and old), music, pictures, and play. Be friends with your head, as Mr Hoban told us.

I wrote a new piece for the Short Humour Site: ‘The Stages of Fame’ which I apparently started many months ago, somewhere, and emailed to myself and then immediately (as I do) forgot about it. But happening upon it yesterday with the right thoughts in my head, I wrote it and sent it off and — they being kind friends now — they put it up almost at once.

I have some reviews to write, a novel to work on and a couple of other projects to chip away at as well as enjoying fully the time with my sweetie. As Calvin would say, the days are just packed. May they ever be so.

And waiting for me back in New York…

Break the Code: Get a Date with Chas

Cover art by the fabulous S. L. Johnson

Want a free book for your Kindle or other reading device? You can win a copy of Chastity Flame this week with a little bit of ingenuity. If you examine the fabulous cover art by S. L. Johnson you’ll notice something interesting: there’s a pattern of number in the background, the ones and zeros of computer coding. It’s so ingenious! I marvel at the cleverness of the QoE and her amazing design sense. It’s just the perfect thing.
But what does the code mean?

If you want to figure it out you can have a chance to win a copy of Chastity Flame: Book 1! Just remember the adult content klaxon: her wild adventures are not for everyone so genteel readers beware. How can you win?

1. Take a close look at the full size art over at Stephanie’s blog.

2. Figure out what the background coding means.

3. Post your response at Stephanie’s blog. The first five people with correct answers get a copy of Chas in the format of their choice:

Format Full Book
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser) View
Online Reading (JavaScript, experimental, buggy) View
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Download
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing) Download
RTF (readable on most word processors) Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub) Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices) Download
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting) Download
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page) View

I’ll announce the winners here on Friday! Get puzzling puzzlers!

☞ But wait, there’s more! (Yes, I grew up watching Ron Popeil advertisements)

This week only my play Con-Eire is also free over at Amazon (.com, .co.uk and more). I’m hoping I can get some reviews, likes and ratings for the book if I give a bunch away. At present it seems to be paying off at least in downloads:

Amazon rankings!