Tell A Fairytale Day

Competition time! February 26th is Tell A Fairytale Day, so to celebrate, we’re giving away these stunning Grimm Fairytale necklaces by Restyle. They even open, with a script inside which reads: ‘magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?’ We have two to give away, and all you have to do, is write an alternative ending to a fairytale. There’s no word count limit and you can enter as many times as you like. It’s not a writing contest, it’s an imagination contest. The deadline is February 26th. Post your entries on Disenchanted’s facebook page hereDisenchanted C L Raven

It’s A Bug’s Life

Hollywood has bugged our house. Not only our house, but our minds too.

That might sound a tad paranoid, but we can back it up with irrefutable evidence, plus our mum’s witnessed the atrocious crime in action. She laughs every time it happens, but we’re beyond the stage of laughter now. We’re ready to break out the voodoo dolls and stick pins in Hollywood’s unmentionables. We might have to start communicating in code. The trouble with that is that our memories are so bad, we’d forget our own code. Maybe we could trade ideas through the medium of interpretive dance. Though we’re not quite sure what the moves for ‘mermaids butchering sailors’ would be.

Most writers are slightly paranoid – many won’t talk about their ideas for fear of them being stolen. In our case, it happens. Not just once. But many times. And they always release theirs before us, so it looks like we’re copying. We shall now put forth our damning evidence that has been recovered. There may be other example lost in storage somewhere. Evidence has a tendency to go missing. Hollywood has declined to offer a defence.

Exhibit A: Years ago, we wrote a novel called Director’s Cut, about a man, Phoenix, who films every moment of his life and decides to liven it up by killing people. A couple of years after that, we stumbled across a film called Peeping Tom. It’s about a man who films his life and decides to kill people. The film was actually released in 1960, but the point is, we’d never even heard of it until we’d written Director’s Cut.

Exhibit B: When we were teenagers, we wrote a lot of crime fiction, always with serial killers and gruesome, creative murders. One of these books was called Caesar’s Blood, about a killer whose murders imitate deaths in Shakespeare plays, and write passages from the plays on their bodies. Again, some time after finishing the novel, we then discovered a 1973 film called Theatre of Blood, starring Vincent Price. It’s about an embittered Shakespearian actor who kills critics in the same way as characters in Shakespeare plays.

Exhibit C: Last year we released Disenchanted, our collection of horror comedy fairytale retellings. What did Hollywood do? Release three films of fairytale retellings. Then there were the TV series, Grimm and Once Upon A Time. Perhaps they thought the same as us – that the 200 year anniversary of the Grimm fairytales being released was a great opportunity. Whilst they bear no similarities to Disenchanted, it was still annoying.

Exhibit D: Soul Asylum is a gothic ghost novel set in a haunted asylum. The TV series, Bedlam, is about residents who live in a haunted asylum, although Bedlam has been converted into flats. The actual stories are very different, but that’s not the point. Should we go on, or do you want to return your guilty verdict now? Hollywood, have you changed your mind about not entering a defence?

Exhibit E: In Gunning Down Romance, the first story, Kiss of Death, is about a woman who decides to build her own lover out of her favourite body parts of other lovers then resurrects him. In American Horror Story: The Coven, two of the witches rebuild a dead teenage boy out of the best bits of his dead friends then resurrect him. The ONLY saving grace with this tale of woe, is that Gunning Down Romance was released first, in 2012. However, not many people have read that, whereas thousands have watched American Horror Story and if they were to magically find GDR, they would think we plagiarised it.

Exhibit F: As many of you know, we wrote a novel, Bleeding Empire, based on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s actually been longlisted for the Exeter Novel Award, which we forgot to mention on here. Anyhoo, the TV series, Sleepy Hollow (which we LOVE) has who as Ichabod Crane’s enemies? You’ve guessed it. The goddamn friggin’ horsemen.

Exhibit G: In Romance Is Dead (which is being released on February 14th) our returning killer, Trey, has upgraded from mannequins and living dolls to puppets. Specifically human marionettes. And he makes them perform a play. Last night, we were watching Criminal Minds. The bad guy made human marionettes and forced them to perform a play. We were just about ready to Hulk-smash our way through  Cardiff. And of course, that episode has been out a while, (we’re a bit behind on our viewing) so to everyone else, it looks like we’ve copied it. It’s even more irritating because we’d been trying to come up with the final Trey & Sol story for months, and trying to think of his evolution as a killer, yet it’s already been done and we can’t change ours.

And there, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is our evidence. We suggest you examine each piece and return a verdict of guilty and sentence Hollywood to a lifetime of servitude, turning everything we write into films or epic TV series. We’ll be in our chambers, making foil hats.

Reading Festival

We had our first ever library on Saturday in Cathays Library. Yes, we should have blogged about this on Sunday, but we’ve been busy formatting and this is the first chance we’ve had to blog about it. We were incredibly nervous and part of us hoped the rain that day would cause a freak flash flood and the reading would be cancelled. Even though the library isn’t by the Taff, so that wouldn’t have happened. This was one day we wished we were back on the Propranolol.

Disenchanted Soul Asylum C L RavenAs it was our first reading, we had no idea what to expect. We’d only started rehearsing the week before. We were memorising our bits between the readings because we didn’t want to read from a script. It never sounds natural doing it that way. Our sister, Sarah, made a lovely display of our books (the postcards were arranged neatly, but our niece had got to them by the time this photo was taken).

Luckily nobody noticed our shaking hands or the shaking Red Bull can whenever we took a drink. Ryan filmed the whole thing so as soon as it’s edited, we’ll put the link up so you can watch it for yourselves.

The reading itself seemed to go down well. Soul Asylum, C L RavenPeople laughed when they were supposed to, nobody fell asleep and our grampy even put his hearing aid in so he could hear it. He never gets to see us in a professional capacity, so it was nice for him to see what we actually do all day. As we’re the only unemployed ones in the family, he’s got to see the rest of our family be successful with jobs, families etc., but we’re the ones who don’t have ‘a proper job’ and still live with our mum, so we were pleased he came and that he enjoyed it.

We read chapter 1 of Soul Asylum then a short extracts from chapters 2 and 26. After that, we read a short extract from all 10 stories in Disenchanted. We even played their trailers, though the lack of whiteboard & TV meant we had to hold our laptop up. We probably wouldn’t do this in the future, but we had an hour to fill.

So the reading was fine. There was only one problem – only our family and friends showed up. We are massively grateful for their support and know we can count on them to be our rent-a-crowd, but the whole point of this was to promote ourselves and our books, and possibly sell some if we’re lucky. But if the only people who come have already bought our books and know who we are, it defeats the object. We have another reading in June and part of us is tempted to cancel it. Not because we didn’t enjoy it, because we did, but because it’s a lot of effort and stress to go through if the only people who will turn up are our own people. We might as well hold a reading in our living room.P1040770

There was plenty of publicity surrounding the reading – Cathays Library made posters and flyers, the Cardiff Libraries Twitter and Facebook accounts were publicising it, we were publicising it, but still, nothing. This does seem to be a problem for us – it doesn’t matter how many blogs we guest on, or act on marketing advice, we still can’t sell books. Even winning the Get More Exposure book trailer competition only sold 4 copies and that was promoted to 30,000 people.

But there was definite highlight for us (apart from having our wonderful friends and family there) – we got to meet our Twitter friend, Cheyenne and her husband, Dugald, who travelled from Bristol to come to our reading.  We took them to a pub afterwards and hung out for a couple of hours, which we really enjoyed.

So would we do it again? Probably. But maybe we should wait until people actually know who we are. Or we could go to Plan B. Kidnapping people for a reading isn’t illegal, is it? Oh. Only if we let them go…


Burn After Reading

We know we only blogged two days ago, so apologies for another bombardment, but we keep forgetting to mention we’ll be doing a library reading in Cathays Library in Cardiff, and as it is in a week, we thought we ought to announce it. Our terrible memories are legendary so PLEASE remind us to show up! 😀

Cathays Library, C L RavenFirst, check out the cool poster Cathays Library made for us. Isn’t it lovely? As the poster says, we will be in Cathays Library next Saturday at 4 p.m. We will be reading from Soul Asylum and Disenchanted, plus talking about the books and taking questions. We’ll also bring along copies of our books for anyone who wants to buy a signed copy. They’ve scheduled us to talk for an hour so be prepared for awkward silences, uncomfortable coughing and maybe random dance routines to break the tension.

Weirdly, we do have an actual tie to Cathays. The library is next door to one of our favourite graveyards – Cathays Cemetery. It’s where we filmed the book launch video for Soul Asylum. For those of you who have a print copy, you’ll know there are gravestones on the back cover. Those photos (it’s more than one) were also taken at Cathays Cemetery. When our story, Field of Screams, won Writing Magazine’s ghost story competition, the author photo we sent them, was taken in Cathays Cemetery after we’d got horribly lost in it.

So if you’ve got nothing better to do on a Saturday, come along and say hi. And stay for the reading 😀 We would offer you a bribe, but we lack the skills to rob a bank and health and safety vetoed us bringing along shortbread. (N.B Health and safety have also vetoed the random dance routines). We can’t promise you good times, no wait, we CAN promise you good times and you’ll get to hang out in a beautiful library, right next to a Victorian cemetery.  And if it all goes horribly wrong, that’s where we will be hiding. It’s a BIG cemetery, so you’ll never find us 😉 But please keep heckling, booing and bottle throwing until AFTER we’ve finished reading the extracts. Joining in will just distract us 😀

The Price Isn’t Right

We were going to do a blog post about how it feels to be published novelists, now Soul Asylum’s been out a week, but something else has cropped up, so we’ll just sum up the feelings now. Nothing’s changed. The paper spread hasn’t increased sales AT ALL and we were in two papers with a combined circulation of 50,000 and online. So that hasn’t worked. We’ve had fun doing a mini blog tour that stretched from England to America to Spain. You can read them all in our shiny new section, Visiting Times. Has our life changed? Not at all. Have we been stopped in Tescos? No. We usually are – old ladies love us and always stop us to tell us how fantastic we look 😀 Have we been given star treatment? No. In fact, we received rather shoddy treatment in Cardiff Library by one member of staff who felt the genealogy she was helping a woman with, was more important than helping us. She didn’t even ask us what we wanted and we were standing in front of her for a good few minutes. At one point, she looked up then went back to her project. We were brought up not to interrupt, so we waited. In the end, a guy from another desk at the other end of the floor, saw us and came to help. All we wanted was some newspapers which were only four feet away from the woman. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to get up, fetch the papers and hand them to us. Then when we had the nerve to ask for another one, she made us wait then summoned the guy to fetch it for us. Thank god she wasn’t wearing a ‘happy to help’ badge, or we could’ve sued her under the Trades Description Act.

On to the real topic – Createspace. On Thursday, we received our proof print copy of Disenchanted. We were so excited, we immediately photographed it and texted it to our lovely cover artist, Lizzie Rose. We couldn’t stop hugging it all day. We read it to check for mistakes then approved the proof. But our issue is with the pricing. Createspace tell you the least you’re allowed to sell it for, which for Disenchanted was £4 odd then they calculate your royalties depending on the price you set – the list price. If you sell directly through the Createspace store, they only take a 20% cut off your list price. Amazon takes 40%. If you opt for Extended Distribution, which is some bookshops and libraries in the USA, they take 60% and you have to pay $25/£15 for the privilege. We opted out. Especially after the announcement that Barnes and Noble won’t stock books by Amazon and we would’ve only received 8 cents. We’ve set the price for £5.99, which is higher than we wanted to charge, but it only gives us a royalty of 60p per copy. We weren’t too bothered, as we figured if we were with a traditional publisher, that’s the price it would be in bookshops and that’s the royalty we’d receive.

The problem is Soul Asylum. In bookshops, novels are £7.99. However, Createspace say the least we can sell it for is £7.77. Setting the price for £7.99 earns us the princely sum of 13p per copy. That’s not even 10%. Quite frankly, it’s insulting. However to get a royalty of 73p per copy, we’d have to set the price at £8.99. Which is higher than you’d pay in a bookshop. We don’t feel comfortable about charging this much.

Createspace work out your royalties like this: list price – cost to produce book + their share = your royalties. Their share includes a fixed charge + a price per page charge, which varies according to book size. Obviously they have to make money too, but really, where’s the harm in splitting it as list price – cost to produce book then split the remainder 50/50? After all, we’re the ones who’ve done all the work. They’ve done nothing except provide the templates. Ryan and Lizzie have done the covers and we’ve typeset the interior. Soul Asylum’s was a pain. They only provide you with ten chapters. Soul Asylum has 50. So it screwed up all the page numbers and took us hours to correct it. We deserve more than 13p for that stress alone.

But we have a way around this. Most of our readers/Facebook & Twitter friends are in America and several have said they want signed copies.  So we’ve ordered a batch of Disenchanted that we can sign and ship over. As authors, if we buy direct from Createspace, we only pay the cost of producing the book, plus shipping fees. The more you order, the cheaper per copy it is to ship. So we figured if we do this then sell the books ourselves, we can then sell it cheaper than the list price, yet earn more than the royalty we’d receive from Createspace. Is this making sense? Also the bigger royalties are in ebooks, providing you set your price above $2.99 then you earn 70%. There’s no reason why Createspace can’t do this. After all, we’re basically just using them to print the books and sell them on Amazon.

So do we set Soul Asylum at £7.99 to gain readers, yet only earn 13p? Or do we overcharge at £8.99 to earn 73p? If the jump in royalties wasn’t so great, we’d happily set it at £7.99. But it’s a hell of a leap. After all, as much as we love writing, we want to make a living from it. Yet we also want readers. We think we’re going to have to go with pricing it at £7.99. We don’t want to apologise to our buyers for pricing it higher than a bookshop would. We can make up the difference by selling the books ourselves. As for making a living…does anyone need seating arrangements for meetings? We also do buffets, parties and funerals.


In all the excitement, we’ve forgotten to write a post. Our collection of broken fairytales, is out today! Look at our beautiful cover, painted by the very talented Lizzie Rose.

Once upon a time, in lands far, far away, everyone lived happily ever after. Until now. If you thought you knew the fairytales well, think again. In a modern world without morals, where beauty does not always equal goodness and evil sometimes wins, the heroes of the legends learn the hard way that survival will take more than just a pretty face, and a handsome prince does not mean salvation. Ten broken fairytales that are definitely not for children’s bedtime.

Long Live the Queen – the Queen talks exclusively to C L Raven about her side of the Snow White story and why attempted murder is perfectly justified.

Midnight Kiss – Casey and Alex explore the Sleeping Castle, awakening a nightmare.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge – Georgie and Jazz have to prove themselves worthy of being in the Jolly Rogers. Jazz has to steal three items from the notorious Judge while Georgie must spend the night in the serial killers’ cottage.

Master of Puppets – Aidan is adopted by Mephistopheles and seeks revenge on his brothers.

Disenchanted – when Ythan is captured by the Snow Queen, Syra embarks on a treacherous quest to rescue him.

Operation: Midnight – Ella is an undercover MI5 agent, recruited to bring down the infamous terrorist, Prince Charming.

Sleeping Beauties – as a child, the Prince was read Sleeping Beauty and fell in love with the princess. When he discovers Snow White in her coffin, his fantasy becomes a disturbing reality.

Girl All the Bad Guys Want – when the Queen orders her execution, Bandit joins forces with seven vampires living in the woods.

Tempting Fate – Gypsy and Harper are abandoned in the woods. But the gingerbread house they find is more dangerous than the creatures in the dark.

Once Upon a Nightmare – the woods surrounding Red’s cottage aren’t plagued by a villager-eating wolf, but by things more twisted than any imagination.

It’s available on Amazon, and Smashwords

If that’s not enough to tempt you, watch the launch here – and the trailer here – Both were done by the awesome Ryan Ashcroft.

And if you can’t get enough of clicking links, we’re on L K Jay’s blog today! Hence the rather crappy one here. The better version’s on her blog

Not the Ten o’clock News

Ok, we don’t really have anything interesting to say and are only writing this because it’s been over a week since we’ve blogged. Some of you have probably been glad for the break, some of you probably haven’t even noticed 😀 So this is just a clairvoyant post about what we can see in the crystal ball.

Our fairytale collection, Disenchanted will not be out this month as promised, but will hopefully be out in July – just in time for the summer sales slump. For some reason, books don’t sell as well over the summer months and we will be launching Disenchanted into the heart of the sales desert. BUT we think this may be a good thing. While other authors will be experiencing poor sales, our loyal army of friends (we need a collective noun for them so if you can think of one, let us know) will hopefully be buying Disenchanted. So we will be shooting up the rankings like rats up a drainpipe. Of course by the time the slump picks up, we will plummet from the great height and break our butt bones on landing. But at least we would’ve seen the view from a high chart position, if only for a short while.

Our debut novel, Soul Asylum, has a definite release date. October 1st. We originally wanted to release it on Halloween but then figured if we want the sales to pick up round the best time of the year, we’d have to release it earlier. So forget Halloweek, we’re declaring October Hallowmonth. Hmm, that doesn’t sound quite right. OcSoulber? Soulaween? Maybe it’s just as well we weren’t in charge of naming the months. We sent it back to our editor yesterday and it should be back with us for the final time in mid July. We’ve been working on the cover and are planning the trailer. We’re also looking to get it into print. Mostly so we can go round stroking it in a really creepy way.

Oh and Gunning Down Romance will now be the first book in a trilogy, hereby known as the Romance is Dead trilogy. The second book, which will be released Feb 2013, will be called Bad Romance and the final book, Romance is Dead, will be released Feb 2014. We wanted GDR to be part of a series but didn’t want to commit to it in case we were busy at that time – Valentine’s is so hectic when you have no cards to buy/receive. So for the next two years, beware, because Valentine’s is going to be bloody.