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.

College of Knowledge

As the sweet woody scent of burned heather seeps through the house, we realise that of all the things we’ve tried in our pursuit of knowledge, this one is actually one of the least craziest.

burning heatherPerhaps we should explain. We’re redrafting our plague doctor novella, The Malignant Dead, which we hope to release sometime in 2014. One of the methods the clengers used to cleanse a house after the occupants had found new homes in Greyfriars Kirkyard, was to burn heather. They believed the plague was airborne, so burning plants, herbs and brimstone were believed to prevent the plague. So we wanted to know what burned heather smelled like. We turned to Google. Google was about as helpful as an invisible map. All it came up with was ‘burned heater‘ and some woman called Heather who was burnt on a cookery show. And not because she was the main course. Technically, we didn’t have to describe the smell, but we wanted to add flavour to the scene. There was only one thing for it: we collected some dead heather from our garden, set it alight, dropped it into a bowl and stood over it like Macbeth’s witches.burning heather

That got us thinking of all the other things we have done for writing. See the funny thing with fiction is that although you can convince people to believe in things like aliens, vampires and happily ever afters, if you get a fact wrong, your readers will let you know and you’ll lose credibility. When we were teenagers, we read a lot of crime fiction, so we wrote crime fiction. We had a detective each and both wrote 7 novels with them. They were about serial killers (shock horror) and the murders were all wildly creative and gory. Don’t worry, they’ve been given life sentences and will remain imprisoned on our hard drives forever. But we wanted to know about crime. So we enrolled on adult learning courses. We have 50 credits for Law and 50 for Psychology, a Psychology A level and a self-taught Law AS level. We also took a ten week forensic science course. It was a little too sciency for us, but 2 weeks of it were dedicated to forensic pathology. We were so enraptured by the lecturer, Stephen Leadbeater, that we didn’t take a single note. Needless to say, we described the post mortems in our books in every gloriously graphic detail.

Boys Village

exploring Boys Village in East Aberthaw

A few years later, we wrote a novel about 3 ghost hunters – fraternal male & female twins and their geeky friend who have their own internet ghost hunting show, The Other Side. The novel was called Raising the Dead and the characters actually feature in one of the short stories in Deadly Reflections.  So we bought a book on haunted places in Cardiff and started visiting the places in the book. We even convinced our mum to drive out to an abandoned petrol station miles away because this book said it was haunted. She also joined us in a pitch black country lane somewhere between Caerphilly and Rudry. Then three years ago we met Ryan and Calamityville Horror was born. An internet ghost hunting show where the 3 hunters are twins and their geeky friend. We probably will never release that novel now, in case we’re accused of basing it on ourselves when the novel actually came first.

Then there are the usual things like scouring for good places to dump a body and visiting those places to see how accessible they are and how plausible it would be, taking into account whether vehicles could gain access. We always take our mum on these excursions because she is very logical and can point out errors we haven’t considered. Trust us, it’s far more fun than taking your mum shopping. Apart from that one time when we went to Garth Woods on New Year’s Day and it was 1 degree C.

Denbigh Asylum

original photo of Denbigh Asylum

Soul Asylum was the next novel to inspire us on a crazy adventure. Soul Asylum book cover by Fireclaw FilmsAfter writing the novel and doing several redrafts, we actually decided to see if there was an asylum set in north Wales. There was – Denbigh. Full of excitement, we wanted to visit it. Then we heard there were plans to demolish it. So we decided the sane thing to do was to take an 8 hour road trip to see it. You can read the full adventure here. Basically, we left at 3 a.m., got there at 8 a.m., the gates were locked so we took a photo of it from the gates then drove to Denbigh Castle. That was closed. We drove to Ruthin Gaol. That was also closed. So we drove home. But we did have a photo for the front cover of the novel.

So setting fire to some heather is definitely not the craziest thing we’ve done for writing. If anyone has any stories of the peculiar things they’ve done in their quest for knowledge, let us know. There are bound to be great stories out there.

Halloween Treats

As Halloween is galloping towards us like the headless horsemen, it’s time to go trick or treating. Except the only trick you have to do is find the answers to the following questions then protect your sweet bucket from any ghouls who may try to steal it and run down the long, dark path to Ravens Retreat (here) to leave your answers at the door. As it’s Halloweek, we’ll also be giving away a copy of our ghost story collection, Deadly Reflections. So you get to win four books!

First, go knock on Reece’s door and search his crypt for these answers:

Reece’s blog

  1. What is the final book in the Buan trilogy called?
  2. What is Reece’s secondary career outside of writing?
  3. How old was Reece when he started writing?

Now creep over to Jeremy’s and rummage around in his creepy basement to find these answers:

Jeremy’s blog

  1. What are Razorbacks?
  2. What does Jeremy have in common with Orion?
  3. What is the name of the board game in The Orion Chronicles?

Time to brave the dank corridors of Ravens Retreat (don’t mind the patients; they’re already dead) and search for these answers:

C L Raven’s blog

  1. Which company did C L Raven threaten to invade with glitter guns and make them sparkle like a Twilight vampire?
  2. In Soul Asylum, in what year did the East Wing burn down?
  3. What did Calamityville Horror do when they were meant to be doing a vigil in the Skirrid Inn?

Did you survive? Post the answers in the comments and the first 3 correct answers will win. Happy hunting!

Treasure Seekers

Welcome to week 4 of the treasure hunt! This time there is shiny new booty added to the buried treasure – $10 Amazon voucher! Here are the answers you need to find:

The answers to the following questions can be found on www.TheOrionChronicles.com

  1. What are the names of Orion’s parents?
  2. What is the name of the Card Game Jeremy created for The Orion Chronicles: Curse of the Phantom Brotherhood? (You can LEARN THE GAMES if you want).
  3. What does Francine make Orion in the 3rd chapter of The Orion Chronicles: The Journal of Forgotten Secrets?

The answers to these questions will be found on www.CLRaven.wordpress.com

  1. What is the name of C L Raven’s newest book? (Out now on Amazon by the way)
  2. What’s the name of the movie considered to be the twins’ favorite?
  3. The twins stayed in “the Mecca for Ghost Hunters.” Name it.

These answers will located on the pages of www.ReeceBridger.com

  1. Why does Reece write what he does?
  2. What is Reece’s Twitter handle? (Great way to contact him by the way.)
  3. What is the name of the main villain for Reece’s newest work, Company of Heroes?

Don’t forget to ready yer crew and sail to Jeremy’s blog to be the first to deposit the treasure.

Treasure Island

Have ye repaired your ships from the canon attacks from the other treasure hunters? Are ye ready to set sail to be the first to claim the treasure? Here be the map ye need:

From the darkened corridors of Ravens Retreat, ye must find the answers to these questions:

  1. What album do the twins think would be their ‘Death Row album’?
  2. Which debut novelist visited the twins on the 1st of August last year?
  3. What kind of car does the main character in Soul Asylum drive?

Time to turn your ships to face the Atlantic and sail to the shores of the Orion Chronicles for the booty of Jeremy Shory:

  1. What is a grouping of Fangtooths known as?
  2. What is Jeremy’s birth year?
  3. What organisation do Leslie and the ‘mysterious man’ discuss in the prologue of ‘Curse of the Phantom Brotherhood’?

Now race the other ships back across the Atlantic and invade the shores of Reece Bridger:

  1. What sport does Reece engage in besides scuba diving and kayaking?
  2. What is Reece’s favourite genre of music?
  3. In Reece’s opinion, what is the worst job to have during the Apocalypse?

Found all the treasure? Be amongst the first three to stake your claim on Reece’s blog to win.

Treasure Hunting

Avast all ye villainous knaves and scurvy biscuit eaters! Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day and we have some booty to share with you. But the way to the hidden treasure will be filled with quests and only when the quests have been completed, shall ye gain the treasure ye seek. But fear not land lubbers, although ye must travel into unfamiliar waters, the Raven flag will protect you from marauding pirates.  We are not alone on this treasure hunt, for we shall sail with two other pirates. And the treasure? Free ebooks from the good ships Raven, Jeremy Shory and Reece Bridger. Here be portraits of the treasure to be claimed by only the bravest pirates:

Soul Asylum C L RavenThe 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.

 

The Onion ChroniclesFate guides him. Magic controls him. Evil awaits him.

When fourteen year old Orion Martins ventures deep into the forest behind his New Hampshire home, he’s quickly lured into a sadistic game of life and death where the prize is the fate of two worlds. After uncovering a hidden land ruled by enchantment and magic, wicked schemes and dark family secrets begin to expose a perilous trail of deception he’s been destined to travel. Can the mysteries trapped inside an ancient journal unlock the enigmas of his past, assuring his victory over an ancient mastermind long believed to have vanished? The board is set and the pieces are ready to be played.

Three weeks ago, Orion knew he would avenge his father’s murder. Three days ago, he knew there was nothing beyond our own unforgiving world. Three hours ago, he knew magic only existed within the depths of his imagination. Three minutes from now, he’ll discover just how wrong he’s been.

The first move has been made. Will Orion risk his own life to save all of ours?

 

 

reeceDuring a ceasefire of a war that has taken more lives than could be considered just, there are shadows of betrayal and deceit lurking in the rays of the morning sun. Something is lingering on the horizon, and it’s hell-bent on destruction, despair and death.

Whatever it may be, it’s driven the Goddess to some very desperate measures.

Life for the Harmon siblings has been hard enough, but now they face responsibilities that they never asked for. They never asked for power. They never asked for a world of monsters. They never asked to come face-to-face with demons, the corrupted of their own people, or their own mortality.

But that is just what they will have to do. They are the chosen heroes of Cornelia, the final hope for order and sanity, the last line of defence against the darkness.

They are the Buan.

 

 

It may be Talk Like  Pirate Day, but we’s be breaking the pirate’s code to tell tales of the rules in English:

The scavenger hunt starts on October 1st and will run for 6 weeks, with a new hunt starting every Tuesday.

Each week there will be 9 questions for you to answer (3 per website) and the answers will be somewhere in our blogs. That’s why it’s a treasure hunt – have to dig for the booty ye scurvy bilge rats!

Once you have discovered the treasure ye seek, reply to whichever blog is hosting the hunt for that week. The first 3 correct replies will win the bundle of 3 ebooks (one from each of us). Once you’ve won, you’re not eligible to win again. We don’t passing ships firing their cannons to steal your booty!

Jeremy and us will also have extra treasure. Somewhere on our blogs will be a hidden link, which when clicked will reward you. On Jeremy’s blog it will be with a free advanced copy of The Orion Chronicles: Curse of the Phantom Brotherhood, which is due out later this year. On our blog, it will be a copy of Deadly Reflections. The link could be hidden in a picture, a word or it could be a particular blog post.

So go forth, prepare your ships, polish your telescopes and tell yer crew you’ll be setting sail soon. Thar be treasure on these shores.

 

A List

SA awardWe always look forward to Writing Magazine slapping onto our hall floor once a month but today it was even more exciting. A headline on the front read ‘Self-Publishing Award Winners’. Our spirits deflated like punctured lungs. In December we’d submitted Soul Asylum and Disenchanted to the David St John Thomas Self-Publishing Awards, which Writing Magazine are part of.  We’d heard nothing back so when we saw this headline we knew instantly that we hadn’t won. But we opened up the page anyway, if just to shake our tiny pixie fists in fury at the winners and clutch the magazine while our eyes twitch in a way favoured by maniacs.

And there was Soul Asylum amongst the Fiction Shortlist. We were so shocked that we completely forgot about the fist shaking and eye twitching. Even more surprising was that there were only 5 books in that shortlist. This award attracts hundreds of entries, possibly even thousands and Soul Asylum was in the top 5. We couldn’t believe it. We’re still in shock. And this is on the back of its successful free run. Well, we count it as successful. In the 5 days it was free to celebrate World Goth Day, we had 1214 downloads. The most surprising thing was someone downloaded it in Japan! We never thought it would appeal to Japan. We’ve seen their game shows. We’d worked hard to promote it and while we heard that less than 1000 in the first day meant it wasn’t successful, to us, 1214 was a massive achievement. And sales have increased following it. In March and April we sold a total of 10 books. May was doing better with 11 but Soul Asylum hadn’t sold ANY in May. Then we made it free. And suddenly after the price has gone back up, people are buying it. Granted it’s only 9 copies sold but to us, that’s huge. We’ll never make enough to keep our Red Bull supplies stocked but this is great for us and Red Bull is on offer at the moment.

It seems busting zumba moves inside the cursed witches’ circle in Edinburgh didn’t bring us bad luck after all. In fact, we haven’t been this lucky for years. Might need to find some other curses to shake our booties at…

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…