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

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.

Master of Puppets

On Friday, we finished editing one of our older novels, Legion of the Damned. We wrote it in 2008 (we think) but after writing Bleeding Empire, thought it would be a good idea to release it as Bleeding Empire’s sequel. Legion features demons that have escaped from Hell and have cool powers. Think evil superheroes but without the capes and their own action figures. The problem was, it was 162,000 words. It needed to go on a major diet. So we starved it, forced it into a gym and cracked the whip until it broke into sweat and begged for mercy. When we were close to the end, we realised the document was missing 6 chapters. The novel was in fact 185,000 words. After a brief swearing fit, we carried on hacking through it with our machete. Also known as the delete button. In the end we managed to cut 63,000 words. So it’s still too long and still needs a lot of work. Probably a major rewrite in some parts. We used to like this book.

Most people, after finishing a novel edit would probably take a few days off. On Saturday, we were at a loss of what to do. So we wrote the final story for Romance Is Dead, the final part of the anti-Valentine’s trilogy. This story (unnamed) will conclude the Trey and Sol story. If you haven’t read Gunning Down Romance and Bad Romance, you have until February 14th. They’re only 77p/99c. The title Master of Puppets would’ve been perfect but that’s a story in Disenchanted, so like most of our stuff, it will probably remain title-less until near publication. They are our nemesis.

We were discussing Trey’s progression from mannequins to paralysed models and wanted to continue the trend. We both said “puppets” at the same time. When the Twin Power is switched on, it really is useful. Today we read through ‘Til Death us do Part and Still Life, which feature Trey and Sol, to make sure we had Trey’s narrative voice right. Turns out, puppets are mentioned in both stories. It’s like past us planted Easter Eggs to hint at things to come. It would’ve been nice if past us had told future us about this. We’ve been trying to think up a plot since August. But still, it makes us look clever. Even if it was by accident.

Gunning Down Bad Romance

We promised you a competition and now it’s time for its grand unveiling.

St. Dwynwen’s Day (the Welsh Valentine’s Day) is on January 25th. Instead of the Valentine’s tradition of giving such uninspired gifts like roses, chocolates and teddy bears, which quite frankly have NOTHING to do with beheading a saint, on St. Dwynwen’s Day, the tradition is to give love spoons. The handles of the spoons are carved with different things, each with a different meaning. In the olden days, guys would carve them for their partner. Nowadays you just buy them from a shop.

love spoons Gunning Down RomanceAnyhoo, to celebrate this and the forthcoming release of Bad Romance, we’re giving away 3 love spoons. For those of you who’ve read Gunning Down Romance, these feature in the final story, The Black Kiss and they’re not used for stirring soup. We’ll also be giving away copies of Bad Romance when it’s released.

In Bad Romance, one of the protagonists from Gunning Down Romance makes a return. To win a love spoon, you have to guess who. Comment below with your answer and if you’d like to give a reason why you think it’s your chosen one, feel free.

If you haven’t read Gunning Down Romance, here are the links. You have a week!
Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com 

Smashwords 

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.

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.

The best things in life are free

We’ll let you be the judge of that. Next week will be Gunning Down Romance’s three month anniversary. So we’re giving away some free copies on our Facebook fan club https://www.facebook.com/pages/CL-Raven-Fanclub/117592995008142 and the Gunning Down Romance fan page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gunning-Down-Romance/234554763292573 but we know that not everyone is on Facebook, so here’s how you win one.

Competition 1 – In Kiss of Death, Jaimie goes to extreme lengths to get what she wants (the perfect man). Have you ever gone to extreme lengths to get what you want?

Competition 2 – In ‘Til Death us do Part, mannequins feature heavily. So we want stories of things that have happened to you involving mannequins OR photos of you posing with mannequins. The funnier the better. But please don’t break the mannequins, we can’t afford to pay for breakages.

Competition 3 – In The Black Kiss, D exacts a gory revenge on guys who cheat on their girlfriends. Have you ever taken revenge and was it worth it?

So comment to enter, or like the fan pages and enter that way. Deadline is the 13th of May for the winner to be announced on the 14th.

Romance is Dead

Gunning Down Romance has now been out a week */* are we bestsellers? No. Are we charging up the rankings? Er, no. But we’re tobogganing down them at Olympic Gold winning speed. Are you surprised? Hell no. We didn’t go into this with rosy dreams of becoming the next JK Rowling, because we know her level of success and fortune is incredibly rare in the writing world. She’s just the one you hear about. For the rest of us, we’re lucky if we can make enough to live on. Though we’re not even doing that. Hell, we haven’t even made enough to pay off the £15 we spent on images for the book trailer! Do we care? Not especially. We’ve been making our own books since we were 12. We did it then for the love of writing. 17 years later, nothing’s changed. Well, our writing has improved tremendously (we hope) and our books are no longer bound with plastic rings with childish drawings on the cover (mainly ‘cos we didn’t draw the cover :D)

The book is still pending approval to Smashwords’ Premium Catalogue. We’re beginning to think they took one look at us and escaped out the toilet window. *looking around* guess we’re paying the bill then. Things have quietened down now and we’re back to doing the edits on Soul Asylum. We’ve currently cut a further 8000 words from it. The learning curve for Gunning Down Romance was stressful and a little complicated. At times it felt like our brains would actually explode because they were so full. And now that it’s all over, we can’t wait to do it again. We’re desperate to release Soul Asylum and our fairytale collection. We’ve been working on those stories for a while now, we take a break and suddenly, there’s fairytale adaptations everywhere! TV series, films, books. They stole our idea! We really need to find those chips the government implanted in our minds. They’re just downloading everything we think of and making it into films. Aw crap. *Hurriedly buying Men in Black mind wiping device* really do NOT want to see THAT on the big screen 😉

 

The hilarious Julie Lindsey will be coming on this blog on Thursday and the amazing Indie author L K Jay will soon be making a guest appearance. We’ll make sure to have the biscuits ready

Failure to Launch

*Cue creepy astronaut’s voice* “Smashwords, we have a problem.” Yesterday Smashwords was down. All day. So we couldn’t publish Gunning Down Romance. Amazon released it a day early, Smashwords a day late. So our big Valentine’s launch did not happen on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the link https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/132849

New users to the site will have an adult filter automatically on so go to the bottom of the page and switch it off or you won’t be able to find our book without the direct link *pointing above* it’s pending approval for the premium catalogue so expect a ranting blog if it doesn’t get in 😉

Gunning Down Romance

Gunning Down Romance is out today! Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8BYiu3PRTE then buy the book here if you’re from the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunning-Down-Romance-ebook/dp/B0078KYG3W/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329228772&sr=1-2 or here if you’re from America, Canada or Australia http://www.amazon.com/Gunning-Down-Romance-ebook/dp/B0078KYG3W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329232210&sr=8-1

The run up to launch day has not gone smoothly. Last week, we uploaded it to Smashwords for a trial run, to see if the formatting was correct. While we were busy with our veggie dinner, it completed the upload, went live & 2 people downloaded the free sample. We were sorely tempted to send golems after them to get it back, but in the end, we quickly unpublished it. Then there was that ugly incident at the bank. Yesterday, we decided to upload the book to Amazon. According to Amazon, it can take between 24 & 48 hours to be available for sale. So we uploaded it at 10a.m. Four hours later, it was on sale. A DAY EARLY! We desperately looked for an unpublish or hide button, but it would take 24 hours to unpublish, which would be launch day. Cursing Amazon and trying to resist the urge to crumple into sobbing balls, we kept quiet. It was the equivalent of a major dock party to wave off the Titanic only for all the guests to gather on the jetty to find the ship has already set sail and hit the iceberg.

On to launch day. We uploaded a book launch video to YouTube, ready for our big launch event on Facebook at 10a.m. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=687ChQmUP0I Except it took an hour to upload and we were late to our own launch. (The video itself took three hours to shoot because we had to keep changing the zoom and in one of the shoots all you could hear was one of our cats, Ebony, arguing with next door’s cat. It was -1C and our mum forbade us to wear our hoodies in our summerhouse outside because they ruined the effect of our outfits. So we spent the entire shoot trying not to shiver.) Back to today – after cleaning out the animals (the lives of writers are very glamorous) we headed to the pub with our mum, sister and niece, with the intention of uploading to Smashwords. Except Smashwords is DOWN! It has crashed on our big launch day. Is this the most disastrous launch in history? What else could possibly go wrong? At least a meteor hasn’t hit the Earth & wiped us out on launch day. *Peering up at the sky* no that is NOT an invitation.