Love Kills

Today we have TWO treats for you. And people think the run up to Valentine’s Day brings out our…unpleasant sides 😀 First up, the cover reveal for Romance is Dead. We’re very excited about it. Ryan from Love Your Covers has done an incredible job as always. We told him exactly what we wanted and he delivered 🙂 So feast your eyes! *claps for the spotlight to come on. Glares. Claps harder. Stomps over and switches the damn thing on ourselves.*

Romance is Dead C L Raven

And now for your second treat 🙂

Bad Romance C L RavenTo continue our Bloody Valentine’s celebration in the run up to Romance Is Dead’s release on Feb 14th, the second book in the trilogy, Bad Romance will be FREE from today until Friday. You can get it here:

Amazon US Amazon UK

When we first started writing the second story, Still Life, the main character was originally an unnamed character called The Artist. But as we redrafted it, we found the narration very similar to Trey’s from ‘Til Us do Part in Gunning Down Romance. Then we realised it was Trey, trying to force his way into the second book. The more we thought about it, the more we realised it made sense – the models were Trey’s evolution. We surrendered and rewrote parts of the story to accommodate Trey and Sol. We’re glad we did. It seemed we couldn’t let go of Trey any more than he could let go of his former lovers.

Watch the trailer here 

Here’s the blurb:

Three disturbing stories about the dangers of falling in love – an incompetent Cupid prepares for Valentine’s Day, but his arrows melt faces, not hearts; a man’s art exhibition conceals a macabre secret; and a betrayed bride makes unfaithful lovers regret their vow of ’til death us do part’. All their victims are bound by an unsettling truth – too much love can kill you.

Bloody Valentine

Gunning Down RomanceTo celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on January 25th, Gunning Down Romance is free all week! We started writing anti Valentine’s stories a few years ago, after being sick to death of hearts and teddies and gushing soppy Valentine’s crap that gets shoved in your face every February. Then in 2012 we decided to take the plunge and start self-publishing. We thought what better way to do it than put together our anti-Valentine’s stories and release them as a collection to help those who are sick of the holiday as we are. We only had 2 stories  – The Black Kiss and Til Death Us Do Part, both of which had been previously published. We just needed one more. And so Kiss of Death was written.

St Dwynwen’s Day is the Welsh Valentine’s Day. Dwynwen was the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog in the 5th century. She fell in love with Maelon but her father had already arranged for her to marry someone else. Maelon raped her then left her. She prayed to God for help to forget Maelon. An angel appeared and gave her a potion that would help her forget him and turn him to ice. God then granted her three wishes. She prayed that Maelon be thawed, that true lovers find happiness together and that she never falls in love again. So we’re not exactly far out when we decided to turn Valentine’s Day into a horror celebration. After all, St Valentine was beaten with clubs and then beheaded.

Also in celebration, GDR’s sequel, Bad Romance will be free Feb 3-7th and the final in the trilogy, Romance is Dead will be released Feb 14th. Because real love is worth killing for.

Watch GDR’s trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8BYiu3PRTE

Ghost Hunting

We’re thrilled to welcome L K Jay back to Ravens Retreat. Well, we say welcome back, we never actually let her out the last time 😀 But this time, she’s bearing gifts! Her sequel to The brilliant Ghost Hunters Club, The Ghost Hunters Return is FREE on Amazon this weekend. So if you’ve ever wanted to spend the weekend ghost hunting with three fun, feisty ladies, this is the book for you. And it’s FREE! We’ve had the privilege of visiting a couple of places that are featured in the book, with L K, so now you get to enjoy them too. Here’s L K to tell you more about it.

L K JayThe Ghost Hunters Return

Have you seen the new Star Trek film?  How about Iron Man 3?  What have they got in common with my novel The Ghost Hunters Return?  They’re all sequels only mine’s better.  Ok, so my Ghost Hunters Club stories don’t have Benedict Cumberbatch in them, or Robert Downy Jr but for this weekend, it is free.  And it’ll last longer than even The Hobbit, and that’s saying something.

Anyway, after the first novel in the sequence, The Ghost Hunters’ Club, I left my heroines all with something they needed but not necessarily wanted.  A new job, a new man and lots of money, each had something but it had a twist.  This time, in The Ghost Hunters Return, two months have passed and they are planning on going ghost hunting again.  Only this time, instead of the elusive spook, there are too many!

I had real fun writing this novel.  It was my first sequel and as soon as I started, it was like meeting old friends again.  I found having conversations with them in my head much more natural, I knew how they’d react and what they wanted and I knew where they were going.  The comedy, and the drama, came much more naturally, and so did the villains.  I had real fun with those!

Then there was the ghost hunting and I couldn’t have done that without my ghost hunting heroes, C L Raven.  We visited Nottingham and Peterborough, and I’ve been to all of the venues mentioned in the novel, including Paris.  Peterborough, possibly one of the most exciting cities in the UK, alongside Milton Keynes and Grantham (I am being ironic, for those reading this who are not from the UK) has a surprising amount of ghosts.  The museum is riddled with them, it’s been on Most Haunted, so it must be true!  The cathedral is stunning, and we have some EMF activity there – the closest we’ve been so far to ectoplasm.

The thing is, can I write another Ghost Hunters and make it a trilogy.  I don’t know, when you read it you’ll see why but I can’t help but think that we haven’t seen the last of the ladies.  I planned The Ghost Hunters Return while in a dull meeting, who knows where the ideas will flood next!  Perhaps a particularly boring bus journey, or stuck in traffic, those ladies will come back – I just hope I have a pad and paper (and I’m not driving on a motorway!) when they do.

So, for this weekend, you can download The Ghost Hunters Return for free.  I hope you’ve downloaded Soul Asylum as well – it’s a cracking read and scary to boot.  And then you can read mine and lighten the mood with a golly good giggle!

GHR

click on the picture to download your free copy

World Goth Day

Soul Asylum C L RavenIn case you don’t know, today is World Goth Day! */* and time to appreciate all things dark and Gothic. What could be more Gothic than a haunted asylum? Soul Asylum has plenty of the Gothic elements – a spooky location, madness, ghosts, despair, etc, so to celebrate, Soul Asylum is FREE on Amazon until Friday. But in order to make it free on Amazon, we had to pull it off the other retailers. We weren’t happy about this, as it means people who don’t have Kindles would miss out. So we’ve decided that to keep things fair, anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle, let us know and we’ll email Soul Asylum to you in a different format.

BLURB –

The blood wanted to prick a conscience that couldn’t bleed.

Poe could keep his telltale heart.

I couldn’t hear it beating.

Ravens Retreat harbours a sinister secret. Inside its blackened heart lurk the ghosts of patients and staff who died when the asylum was burned down in 1904. Over a hundred years later, the West wing survives and now the patients want revenge.

Their eternal repose is disturbed by a malevolent poltergeist and the ghost tours led by the asylum’s resident, Phineas Soul, which attract the attention of journalist Mason Strider. His attempts to expose Phineas as a fraud have catastrophic consequences when it is Ravens Retreat’s dark heart that’s exposed as it awakens to claim the lives of those who dare to enter its brutal past.

Some things should never be disturbed.

If that hasn’t convinced you to download it, why not watch the trailer  Fireclaw Films made for us?

We have also created a newsletter where you’ll be the first to know of new releases and we’ll have some exclusive content in there. If you’d like sign up, click here. We promise we won’t spam you, or share your email with anyone else 🙂

If that’s not enough ghosts for you, L K Jay‘s fabulous novel, The Ghost Hunters Club will be free on Friday. We’d love to go ghost hunting with Anna, Karen and Linda, so download the book to find out why.

The Evening News

This is basically a news report and we feel each announcement should come with gong, but we don’t have one, so we’ll have to write it in. It might lessen the impact, but it’s the best we’ve got.

GONG! We are now on Authorgraph! Thanks to the fabulous author Margaret James, we signed our books up, so if you have a ebook version of our books, you can now request an autograph here. We’ll handwrite them using a graphics tablet so they’ll look like the ones in our printed books. Well, not quite the same. The last time we used the tablet it looked like we’d handed the pen to one of our cats. But we’ll practise until it looks like our handwriting and we’ll personalise each one, just like we do with the printed books.

GONG! In other news, we’ve made a start on a new collection of short stories based on nursery rhymes. The stories behind nursery rhymes are sometimes pretty creepy, but we won’t be using their stories, we’ll be inventing our own. We’ve already written the Mary, Mary story (untitled at the moment) and we’ve drafted Lizzie Rose to do the cover for us, as it’s in the same vein as Disenchanted. Check out her work here. We were inspired when Matty Baker from the fantastic band She Loves Seven sent us a link to horror figurines based on fairytales and nursery rhymes, so thanks Matty! We owe you.

GONG! Our final story of the night is to remind you that our debut novel Soul Asylum will be FREE one week from today. Yes, from May 20th – 24th, it will be free on Amazon to celebrate World Goth Day, which is on May 22nd. We’d like to say we’ve got a whole load of fun events and promos planned, but that would be a lie. We’re writing a Trauma Llama post for Anya Breton, but that’s about it.

Back to you in the studio 😉

No Surrender

Last Sunday, after an amazing week in Edinburgh, we crashed. We don’t mean a car crash but a crash that will be recognised by everyone who’s ever suffered from a mental illness. One moment you’re euphoric, happier than you’ve ever been, the next you’re locking yourself away, ranting, screaming and sobbing until your eyes swell up and you resemble a hideous creature only found in the depths of Lovecraft’s imagination.

The day before leaving for Edinburgh we’d received 2 rejections. One was for a ghost story set in an asylum and one was our take on The Slender Man. The Slender Man one hurt more because the editor had emailed us asking if we’d be interested in writing a story for the anthology, so for it to then be rejected…it wasn’t just a kick in the teeth, it was being strapped to a rack and having each nerve shredded with a cheese grater. But then we went to Edinburgh and forgot about it. Until we came home and checked sales figures. 1 book in 4 days. And that’s good for us. Amazon don’t like you disclosing sales figures but the likelihood of them reading this blog post are slim, so screw it. They didn’t read the one where we likened them to a protection racket, so we think we’re safe. We sold 5 books in March. April wasn’t much better. We made £160 in our first year of Indie writing and that gets split between us. We probably spend more than that on Red Bull alone. Everything we submit gets rejected. We can go for weeks without selling a single book and we have 4 out there. We’re failing. And we don’t like failing. Especially when we’re failing at the only thing we’ve ever truly loved, the only thing we’ve ever wanted to do. The only thing that dragged us through the dark times and gave us a reason for living when we couldn’t face it any more.

These crashes we call The Darkshines. They’re pretty normal for us and 99% of the time we hide them. No one but us knows when they’ve pounced. After a while you get good at putting on a mask. On Sunday we got sick of fighting them and unleashed that ugliness that dwells inside us. *Note to selves – NEVER let anyone see that inner ugliness. Just because you have to live with it, doesn’t mean others should.* Basically, we spent all of Sunday in tears and seriously considered the possibility of quitting. We know what some people are thinking ‘why don’t you then?’ At least 90% of writing is rejection. Most of time we can deal with it. We shrug, remove the smiley face from the short story list and look for somewhere else to submit. But quitting writing would be like quitting breathing.

So a couple of days later, after the demons were captured and shackled back in the dungeons of our minds, we got productive. Last time this happened, we signed up for library readings. (Considering only friends and family came to the Cathays one, that was a failure. We’ll probably cancel the Roath one.) We set up a website for formatting ebook and print books – Pink Cow Formatting. We can’t make money from writing but we might from formatting; we enlisted our books on Indie Book Bargains and we enrolled Soul Asylum into KDP Select.

We’ve never enrolled our books into KDP Select – Gunning Down Romance and Bad Romance were too cheap. People aren’t going to borrow books that only cost 77p. Mind you, they don’t buy them either. Plus we don’t like the way Amazon forces you to be exclusive to them for three months. So even thinking about it felt like we were selling our souls. But the main incentive was being able to make it free on Amazon. When we’ve done free promos before, Smashwords let us make it free but Amazon won’t. People tell tales of having thousands of downloads when their book was free, propelling them up the Amazon rankings to the coveted #1 slot, regardless of how good their book is. The point is, when it’s up there, people see it. Our books are currently languishing so far down they’re on the Pity Graph. But Amazon wouldn’t play ball with our promo. GDR had 25 downloads in a week of being on Smashwords. That’s terrible. Soul Asylum had 14 on the one day it was free. That’s a little better.

May 22nd is World Goth Day and we thought we could make Soul Asylum free to celebrate. What could be better than spending World Goth Day with a gothic novel in a haunted asylum? But for this to truly work, it had to be free on Amazon. And there’s only one way that will happen.

KDP Select.

So from May 20th-24th, Soul Asylum will be FREE. Hell, we can’t sell it, we might as well give it away. Though people don’t usually want our free books either…If you want signed print copies, we still have loads left. Yes we ship worldwide. They make great door stops, coasters, draught excluders and can also be used to brain burglars. Failing that, they’ll keep your fire going in winter.

So come May 20th, we’ll be opening the doors to Ravens Retreat and releasing the ghosts of the patients and staff still trapped inside. If you listen carefully, you might just hear them scream…

St. David’s Day

St. David's Day, Soul AsylumHappy St. David’s Day! To celebrate, Soul Asylum is FREE! A gothic novel set in North Wales, by Welsh authors and a Welsh cover designer. There’s so much Welshness sheep are magically appearing everywhere and dragons are perching on rooftops. So get Soul Asylum exclusively from Smashwords here and enjoy a free entry into a Welsh asylum. If that hasn’t enticed you, watch the trailer here done for us by Fireclaw Films. Still not convinced? Join us at the launch in Cathays Cemetery here.

To be Free or not to be Free

Last week (12th -18th November) was National Short Story Week so to celebrate, we decided to make our short horror collection, Gunning Down Romance, free. There are certain advantages to making your book free, the most important one being finding new readers, who don’t want to risk 77p/99c on an unknown author. All those people download your book and it catapults you up Amazon’s rankings, usually to the top spot, if not number one then certainly in the top 10. It doesn’t matter if your book isn’t very good, the point is, it’s FREE. Whilst your book is rubbing shoulders with Stephen King and E L James, other people who are browsing, sees your book and thinks ‘wow, that unknown author is number one? They must be great!’ So they also download your book. It’s all psychological, see. You don’t need to be Derren Brown to use mind control on people. All you have to do is make your book free.

We’d been thinking of making GDR free for a while but wanted to tie it to something. National Short Story Week seemed like a great tie-in. So we made it free on Smashwords with little effort. The problem was Amazon. Amazon is basically like a sulky mafia member who as long as you’re paying up, they will keep those  pesky vandals off your property. The problem comes when you don’t want to play their game. The game being KDP Select.

KDP Select is basically Amazon’s library. You put your book in there and people can borrow it. There’s a pot of money $600,000 that is shared out between the authors. Except as more authors join, the money DOESN’T go up. So your share of the pot goes down. Whilst in Select, your book is made free across Amazon at certain times. You can choose when. Correct us if we’re wrong on this. However, when we published GDR, we opted out of Select. We’d read up on it and a lot of authors who had enrolled their cheap books, didn’t find any benefit to being in Select – people didn’t think they were getting much of a bargain. But our biggest reason for not joining, was that Amazon demand you make your book exclusive to them for 3 months.

We don’t think so.

To us, this is like that kid at school who ‘allowed’ you to be their friend, only if you ditched your less cool friends. It feels a lot like peer pressure – ‘join us! All the cool authors are in Select. You don’t want to be the only ones NOT in it, do you?’ Sorry Amazon, but one thing we’ve always excelled at, is resisting peer pressure. We don’t WANT to join the masses. And we are the most stubbornest people ever. So your offer of money won’t work on us. We don’t like being told to do, especially by a faceless corporation. At the time GDR was published, the only way a UK author could get their book onto Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo, was through Smashwords. This has changed slightly now the Nook and Kobo have arrived in the UK. So giving up Smashwords for 3 months and missing out on their vast distribution, seemed stupid. Plus the royalties on Smashwords for a 99c book, was higher than Amazon’s ‘generous’ 35%

So this was the downfall of our plan. Because we wouldn’t play Amazon’s game, they refused to play ours. You can’t make your book free unless you’re in Select. The only thing you can do, is tell them your book is free elsewhere and hope they price match. But this is Amazon. They’re not going to let a couple of nobodies tell them when to put the price down. THEY decide if and when they lower the price and THEY decide when they put it back up. So they refused. And our plan to shoot up the rankings failed. We didn’t receive thousands of downloads, we didn’t get to number one and we didn’t knock Stephen King off his podium and take a screen shot of the glorious moment.

Has Amazon made us see the error of our ways and convinced us to join the cool authors in Select? Yeah, right. What they’ve shown us is that Smashwords is more author friendly. We’ve never given in to society’s pressure to conform and we’re not about to start now. In future, all our promotions will be on Smashwords. So we’ll never shoot up the rankings, see our books at the number one spot and be able to showboat at Stephen King.

But we’re cool with that.

You see, Amazon is like this big puppet master, dangling authors off its fingertips because it knows we all need it. However, that doesn’t mean we’re going to play by its rules. So sorry, Amazon – you can pull our strings but you’ll never make us dance.