Advice Column

Greetings tasty brains! I’ve finally managed to wrestle this thing off my Necromancers. They put up a hell of a fight. I had to keep biting their fingers & threatening to infect them until they released it. They’ve been hogging it for their ebook. Anyone would think this was their blog. I wouldn’t mind if it was my book they were promoting, but it’s not. It’s some romance trilogy. Or horror romance. There are hearts involved. To be honest, I haven’t been paying attention. Anyhoo, I’ve got some really exciting news – I’ve been featured in Writing Magazine! March issue, page 73 in Margaret James’ Fiction Focus section. I give advice to a guy (we’ll call him Horror Writer from Sheffield) about all my online publicity ideas – my Facebook page, Twitter account & MY blog. Personally I don’t understand why my picture wasn’t printed, but then I don’t want to be mobbed in the street. It’s actually my Necromancers who are quoted, but that’s only because they emailed Margaret before I had a chance. I like Margaret. She’s such a lovely lady and my number one fan. I’ve had to promise not to eat her brain. It’s so unfair. Why do I only want to eat the people I like? I bet Freud would suspect a twisted reason behind this.

It’s given me a taste for this advice giving thing. I think I should have my own column. Nothing too big – just a national newspaper or glossy magazine will do. Say someone wrote in complaining that although they really fancy their boyfriend, he’s inconsiderate, lazy and just doesn’t appreciate her/him; I could suggest she/he remove their boyfriend’s brain and replace it with someone else’s! I could give tasty brain recipes, fashion advice – some colours just don’t work well with grey complexions – advice on how to set the perfect trap, which part of the brain works best for enhancing moods/creativity/language skills. Trust me, some of those Reans could do with enhancing their language skills – groaning is so easily lost in translation. Actually thinking about it, I might need my own magazine. But I’d happily start with an advice column. Let’s face it, if some of these celebrities can write one when their brains are nothing more than puff pastry then I stand a great chance.

Scott x

Book Trailer Woes

Do you want the bad news first? Might as well, stop it spoiling the good news. On Tuesday, we were lamenting the fact we’d had two rejections. Our lovely Facebook friends were rallying around to boost our flagging confidence and encourage us. On Wednesday, we had another one.

That’s the bad news out of the way. Though there isn’t actually any good news to heal the wounds. Sorry about that. But we want to share our mistakes so you don’t make the same. These mistakes concern the book trailer. If you follow us on Twitter, you will have seen all the tweets that end with #booktrailerwoes because this thing is driving us crazy. Well, ok, we were already there, but it’s jabbing us with sharp sticks and taunting us that we’ll never escape. First there was our epic search for the right music. One of the best sites we’ve come across is which is Kevin Macleod’s site. It’s all royalty free, free music. You just have to credit him and if you want to donate, it’s optional. The guys ha literally hundreds of tracks. We know, because we’ve listened to almost all of them. We’ve picked out a couple we think we can use for our book trailer, but have to see if they match our images first. is another that has free sound effects, things like howling wind, crunching snow, screams, etc.

So the music’s sort of done, it’s just the images. The bloody images. We have spent DAYS, if not weeks, scouring websites for royalty free images. has absolutely free ones. So far, the best ones we’ve found are on and 123 is the cheaper of the two and they have thousands of really cool images, for 47p/63p per credit (you need credits to download the photos). But this is where we made our mistake. After days of trawling the sites, marking down the pages of images we liked in our journals, a notebook, whatever paper we had to hand, when it came to narrowing down our selection, some of the images had jumped to a different page, or we hadn’t written down which website the pages for ‘woman with rose’ came from. We trusted our memories, forgetting our memories eloped with our sanity years ago and neither have been seen since. When we finally got round to registering on 123, we discovered the lightbox feature, where if you find an image you like, you add it to the lightbox and all your images are stored there, save you searching for them. We nearly cried when we discovered this. So if you find images you like, register and put them in your lightbox before they do a disappearing act on you. Do it now! NOW!

Urged on by our friend, Lisa Dee, who’s also learning about ebook publication with us, we’ve set up a fan page for Gunning Down Romance on Facebook there’s also going to be a launch on Facebook for it. We’ll probably post anti-love songs, links to buy the book and have the book trailer on there. If the damn thing ever gets made. Oh we also have to write a synopsis, finish redrafting the stories, do a proper front cover then format it. With just over two weeks to go. Might need some more Red Bull…

Love Kills

Ok, a few days have passed since we announced our challenge to have an ebook out there for Valentine’s Day. We’ve been regretting it ever since. We knew it would be a lot of work and we only gave ourselves a month’s deadline, but we didn’t realise how many precious brain cells we would lose in the process. We can’t afford to lose any more! They’re too little and confused to be let out alone. After several more sleepless nights and frustrating days, we might actually be getting somewhere. By that we mean we haven’t checked in to the mental hospital. Yet. The Black Kiss is done and polished. Til Death Us Do Part is probably done. Kiss of Death has been extensively worked on, rewritten in parts and slaved over so much we’re sick of the sight of it. Can’t bear to look at it for a few days. So we’ve been working on our promo trailer. We thought we could have it done in a day and set about excitedly collecting royalty free images and music. We started that on Monday. Thousands of images and hundreds of songs later, our eyes and ears are bleeding from the effort and our trailer is still locked inside our heads. We don’t do anything small. We don’t just think big, we think EPIC. If we had Hollywood’s budget and talent, we would be dangerous. Instead we’ve got writers’ budget and zero talent. Just a lot of fantastic ideas that would be more beneficial in someone else’s head.

We now have three covers for Gunning Down Romance mocked up with the same graphic but different fonts. One of our FB friends gave us a link to a free font site and we spent the day hyped up on excitement. Is it weird that we get just as excited over fonts as we do over ghost tours? Simple things…Seeing the book cover keeps us focused on our task when we all want to do is run outside and scream. But that would probably bring the chuckle wagon straight to us. We’re pretty sure our mum has them on speed dial. It’s our birthday three days after Valentine’s Day so we might book a room as a present to ourselves. We have nothing else planned, we’ve been too busy with the book.

We plan to hold a book launch on Facebook on Valentine’s Day to celebrate it’s release. Might even take our laptop to the pub so we can enjoy the release of a bloody romance collection surrounded by happy couples presenting each other with wilting red roses bought from the petrol forecourt and fluffy teddies holding hearts. Since when did teddy bears become the gods of romance? They’ll be staring all googly eyed at each other, we’ll be playing anti Valentine’s songs and reading gory scenes where lovers meet a grisly end. So come Valentine’s Day, if no-one has bought their lover a cheesy cliché and wants something different, download our book. There’s romance (sort of), sex, humour, blood and scenes some readers may find disturbing.

Give your lover a Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget…

Valentine’s Slay

We’ve been so caught up in all things ebook we’ve forgotten to blog. Yes, we are that unprofessional 😀 We’ve spent so long reading up on formatting and e self publishing that our brains have reached full capacity and are now on standby preparing to hibernate. They’re also divorcing us for cruel and unusual punishment. We’re not going to contest it. We’ll just go our separate ways and look back on our fond memories of the past 28 years. *Tumbleweed blows past* They’re so full we haven’t slept properly for days and are now purely powered by Red Bull. If you put your ear against our veins, you can hear them fizzing.

We’ve discarded the idea of releasing Death’s Cold Kiss and hit upon another idea. Releasing a trilogy of bloody Valentine’s tales on Valentine’s Day. Which gives us a month. We work better when there’s a deadline because it stops us wandering off and getting distracted by shiny things. Anyhoo, the trilogy will be made up of Til Death Us Do Part (previously published in Dark Fire’s ezine), The Black Kiss, (previously published on Draven Ames’ blog) and a new story, Kiss of Death. We’ve redrafted Til Death Us Do Part and added 500 words to The Black Kiss but because their original versions are available to read for free, we’re going to price the whole trilogy at 99 cents (Smashwords are American so we presume we’ll have to price it for the American market). We feel it would be unfair to price it higher for that reason.

And we are so close to being done the tingles have started. And that’s not because we’ve only had one small Red Bull this morning. The Black Kiss is polished so much we can see our faces in it *shrieking and running behind the settee.* Til Death Us Do Part needs to be printed and checked for hidden errors and Kiss of Death is being redrafted and redrafted and redrafted and having its ending changed. We’ve done the copyright notice, the licencing agreement, the acknowledgements page, the author page and the table of contents. Just got to put everything together and format it. Our mate Ryan mocked up a cover for us last night and it looks fantastic! He’s doing another version today. At least he said he is. If he hasn’t…*fetching jump leads and car battery* we know where he lives 😉 And today we’re going to start working on our book trailer. We’re currently downloading images of hearts from Morguefile. Though most of the hearts are all lovely and Valentiney. We want images of wounded hearts, burning hearts, the type of hearts that will never feature on Valentine’s card because the image of a shattered, bloody heart just doesn’t say ‘I love you’ in a commercially acceptable way.

Just got to find creepy copyright free music for the trailer. This is so scary. It’s so different from print publication in anthologies or magazines. Once they’re published our involvement is over, except for some promotion. We don’t get feedback on it. But this is all us. If the format’s wrong, that’s our fault. If people hate the stories, that’s down to us. If it fails it’s because we haven’t worked hard enough at promoting it. We’re preparing ourselves for bad reviews. There will be bad reviews, our writing isn’t to everyone’s tastes. It kinda feels like standing in front of a giant target on a shooting range and waiting for hotty soldiers to pull the trigger. Mmmm, hotty soldiers. If it all goes horribly wrong, we’ll go and live in a cave. And you’ve never heard of C L Raven. Then if anyone asks about us, shrug, mumble, look really embarrassed and create such an air of awkwardness they’ll stop asking. At least, that’s how we do it 😉

Voyage of Self Publishery

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been seriously considering self-publishing. We downloaded David Gaughran’s excellent book Let’s Get Digital (we can’t recommend it enough) and it really inspired us to bring something out as an ebook. We love printed books. We don’t have enough shelf space in our room for any more books and our floor stacking now has a couple of layers. Our dream is to hold our own book. With the short stories we’ve had published, we prefer the ones in actual magazines or books because we can hold them. It makes it more real. But print self-publishing is more expensive and unless we fire up our back-up plan of becoming guinea pigs for scientists, we can’t afford it. When we were younger we always printed out our stories and designed our own covers for them, including cover art and blurbs. Our own cheap way of self publishing, so doing this professionally appeals to us.

We always used to think that self-publishing was in a way, a failure. Someone wasn’t good enough to be taken on by a publisher so had to do it themselves. Then we learned how tough the publishing industry is and changed our minds. We then thought if one of our novels received a lot of rave rejections (‘we really liked it but it’s not right for us’) then we’d self-publish because we would know it was good enough. But hearing back from publishers/agents, takes time and we’re not patient people. Anyone who’s seen us in a supermarket queue knows this. We’re the kind of people who will drive several miles out of our way to avoid a traffic queue, even a short one because we hate waiting. Our Renault 4s feel the same way and one just had to look at a queue and he’d overheat. Then we read David’s guide and the success stories and thought ‘if they could do it, so could we’.

So we sent one novel, Soul Asylum to be edited, made a front cover with GIMP and tried to learn about formatting. Then we thought, maybe we wouldn’t risk a novel first, we’ll write a collection of rewritten fairytales. We’ve got 3 versions of Snow White, finished writing Sleeping Beauty and done a few redrafts and are now writing Cinderella. But this is going to take some time to get them all up to publishing standard. Our friend, Lisa, is joining us on the self-publishing adventure and she’s way ahead of us. Did we mention we’re highly competitive? We have to catch up. So instead, we’ve decided to release a single short story first. We’ve chosen one of the first we ever wrote, Death’s Cold Kiss. It’s one we really like and doesn’t really fit a genre, so we’ve struggled to find a magazine to take it.

Now to learn formatting. Those of you who follow us on Twitter, or are friends with us on Facebook, will know all about the epic battle we had with GIMP. If it was a wrestling match, GIMP had us pinned in a full nelson, mushing our faces into the canvas. But we fought back and victory was ours. Sort of ours. We still haven’t figured out how to make our font bold, but the only experience we had with photo software is Picture It, which is ten years old. Now we’ve fallen victim to Movie Live Maker’s cruel games and it has broken our spirit. So the thought of formatting leaves us cold inside. Going to read up on it now. So if you hear hysterical sobbing, the gods cowering in fright from our swearing outburst and the sounds of a laptop smashing coming from the Cardiff area, you know formatting has defeated us. Might just book a room in the nearest institution in advance.

We see a Dark Moon Rising

Issue 6 of Dark Moon Digest is out now. And we’re in it! 🙂 We’ve been waiting since June for it to be released and finally the wait is over. We’re so excited. It’s our first American publication. Hopefully the first of many as long as we behave ourselves and don’t get our names black listed 😀 The Ferryman is an updated version of Chiron but set on a train driven by Chiron’s son, who was forced into the job and is now stuck there. The hero, Hayden, misses his train and ends up on The Ferryman, where he discovers the end destination is quite possibly Hell on earth.

We’re also editing a short story, The Darkshines, a dark story set in a town that is the physical manifestation of the horror of depression. It took us ages to write because we stopped to work on our NaNo novel but it’s now finally shaping up into the atmospheric tale we imagined in our heads.  Once we’re done with that we’ll submit it then continue working on our Twisted Fairytales collection which we’re hoping to epublish this year. We’ve done 3 versions of Snow White and are redrafting our version of Sleeping Beauty. Just have to decide which other fairytales we’re going to twist. Though not sure we can make them more twisted than the original versions 😀

Blog Off 2011

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.