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Tales of Horror, mixed with the Nightmares of a Writer, with a final spattering of Dark Fantasy for Children added to the cauldron. The work of Catherine J Gardner & Phoenix Rendell. One Soul. Two identities.
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1. The Bureau of Them

I am delighted to announce that my novella The Bureau of Them is to be published by Snowbooks later this year. Many thanks to Emma Barnes for all her hard work in bringing this about and for being generally awesome. Look out for more excitement announcements from other folk across the coming days. I won't reveal who from but there are some fantastic authors bringing out horror novellas through Snowbooks new series.

Isn't the cover beautiful? It fills my heart with dark things.

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2. Hell's Ditch Book Launch

So last Friday, at Waterstone's in Liverpool One, this happened. Simon Bestwick (my Bestwick) achieved a dream and his book Hell's Ditch launched at a major UK bookstore.

Not only was the venue terrific (with a zillion thanks to Glyn Morgan who helped organise the event) but Simon was joined by Ramsey Campbell and Conrad Williams. There were readings and a lively question and answer session with the audience. Then afterwards a group of us headed off to a Chinese restaurant.

I am so proud of him. The book is a terrific read and it's dedicated to my little mum.

This time next year he'll be buying me a swimming pool*

*or paddling pool.

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3. Important Announcement: The Bureau of Them

As many of you know, Spectral Press, who published my novella The Bureau of Them last July, are having financial difficulties.

Spectral Press is to become an imprint of Tickety Boo Press who will take over its management while allowing Simon Marshall Jones to continue as editor. Spectral's existing authors will be offered new contracts, for various reasons I've chosen not to go with the new imprint, so the rights to The Bureau of Them have reverted to me.

The book is in the process of being removed from Amazon. To date, I have received no royalties for the book. I have informed Gary Compton of Tickety Boo Press that I would be willing to accept The Bureau of Them paperbacks (up to the amount I'm owned) if any exist in stock. I apologise to anyone who has pre-ordered the hardback - which Spectral Press never got around to printing - and if I do get any paperback copies I will try to send them to those folk who have been let down by this situation.

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4. Hyde Hotel

The Hyde Hotel, edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth, opened its doors yesterday and it contains my story The Coyote Corporation's Misplaced Song alongside stories by authors such as Simon Bestwick, Alison Littlewood, Ray Cluley, S P Miskowski, Mark West, V H Leslie and others.

Many thanks to James and Dan for inviting me to write for the anthology. You can find it on Amazon.

In other news, there is an interview with one of the contributors, Ray Cluley, over at The Haunted Omnibus.

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5. A bit of Masochism for the New Year

Today I discovered I'm a masochist.

It's January and we are all poor (and by we I mean you are too). Of course, some of you might be doing just fine thank you very much, but as my blog readers are mainly writers I'm assuming you're poor too or at least vowing not to spend so much at Christmas again. I've vowed that several times since Boxing Day, but I won't stick to it. I never stick to it.

Anyhow, onto the masochism business. My Bestwick is always spouting advising that we should write a list before we go shopping and stick to a budget per day. Having worked out how much money I had left for January after buying and eating all of the things in December, I figured I had £8 a day to live on. My frown line furrowed so deep that our neighbour parked his car there.

Having built up a massive nest egg of £25, we headed to the supermarket. But I want to pretend I'm playing Supermarket Sweep, my subconscious cried. Then, because I have super powers, I pulled out my list and a pen to mark the price of everything and began to have fun. I appreciate that this makes me a very sad person. Supermarket saver brands were bought (of which there will possibly be forthcoming rants about or exclamations of 'it tastes just the same') and I was eventually unglued from the pricey Eve's Pudding, only to find we returned home with money in our pockets.

I am totally rocking this. Next month I think I'll try £5 a day.

This time next year we'll be millionaires.

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6. Favourite Fiction 2015

As stated in my previous post, while my to read pile grew and grew, I failed to read even a quarter of what I should (especially with regards to short fiction).

I read fifteen novels this year. These were my favourites (in no particular order):

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Invasion by Willie Meikle
The Wolves of London by Mark Morris

I read three novellas and loved them all:

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
The Night Just Got Darker by Gary McMahon

I read one collection and loved it:

Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley

I'm not certain how many short stories I read, but these were my favourites:

The Grey Men by Laura Mauro (Black Static)
Hungry Ghosts by Emily B Cataneo (Black Static)
Funeral Rites by Helen Marshall (Spectral Book of Horror)
Outside Heavenly by Rio Youers (Spectral Book of Horror)
The Life Inspector by John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Book of Horror)
This Video Does not Exist by Nicholas Royle (Spectral Book of Horror)
The Cork won't Stay by Nate Southard (Nightmare)
To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth by Kristi DeMeester (Shimmer)

On a brighter note, I still have so many wonderful stories to read and to discover.

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7. End of Year Review

Having allowed life to bite me during 2015 (and the previous year) I neither wrote very much nor read much. I think I'm coming out of the slump now, but I've thought that before. I should glue my fingers to the keyboard during 2016 although that could prove a challenge as my alphabet would be reduced to nine letters if I kept a thumb for the space bar.

Anyhow, here is what I had published in 2015:

The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark in Black Static #45
When the Moon Man Knocks in Black Static #48
The Bureau of Them (a novella) by Spectral Press

And here is what is forthcoming (so far) in 2016:

*Secret Short Story in Secret Pro Anthology
A Silent Comedy in Coulrophobia (anthology) 
The Coyote Corporation's Misplaced Song in Hyde Hotel (anthology) 
In the Macabre Theatre of Nightshade Place in Postscripts 
Shadow Moths - an e-chapbook from Frightful Horrors

I also currently have two stories out in the wilds and one that I need to submit. The cupboard is a little bare, Deirdre. And, I'm working on my novel only I'm also not working on my novel--we're on a break. 

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8. Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

Today, we have a guest blog from Simon Bestwick to celebrate the launch of his novel Hell's Ditch, which is available either from Amazon or direct from the publisher Snowbooks. For the next seven days you can get the hardback or the ebook at a discounted price over at the Snowbooks website.

Anyway, here be the Bestwick's post:

Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

As a writer your work’s the sum of your experiences: all you’ve seen and done, and the stories that have reached you. One that reached me, and shaped my novel Hell’s Ditch, was Peter Watkins’ The War Game, a film made for the BBC in 1965.
The War Gamewas Watkins’ second British film, and his last. Its original broadcast was cancelled by the BBC under pressure from the Ministry of Defence. Watkins, disgusted, left the UK, first for America – where he made the equally unsparingPunishment Park – before settling in Sweden. Despite winning the 1966 Best Documentary Oscar, the film wasn’t shown on British TV until 1985, when it was finally screened as part of a season commemorating the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So what was so shocking?
Like Watkins’ first film, Culloden, (1964) The War Game is shot in a documentary style, narrated mostly by Michael Aspel, a TV presenter who became notable hosting game shows and This Is Your Life but was, at that time, best known as a newsreader. Its topic was nuclear war.
The film depicts the possible consequences of a nuclear attack on Britain. There are vox pops from men and women in the street, statements from churchmen, philosophers, politicians, doctors and nuclear strategists on the morality, nature and effects of nuclear war, all of this intercut with the film’s ‘live’ action: dramatisations of the events that precipitate the attack, followed by an unflinching portrayal of the attack itself and its effects.
The narration is cool and clinical, never emotive. At this distance, Aspel’s voice calmly tells us, the heat wave is sufficient to cause melting of the upturned eyeball, third degree burning of the skin and ignition of furniture.
In contrast, Watkins depicts the holocaust that follows in graphic detail: firestorms sweep the bombed cities, rendering firefighters’ attempts to combat the devastation futile. The attack’s victims suffer horrendous body burns. With doctors unable to treat more than a fraction of cases, the worst-injured patients are placed in a ‘holding section’ to die untreated; later, armed police officers end their suffering with a gunshot. A glassy-eyed civil servant explains how they’re keeping the wedding rings of the dead to identify them, showing the camera a bucket half-full of jewellery. A doctor calmly describes the symptoms of radiation sickness, and then those of scurvy (since most survivors, he points out, will be unable to obtain Vitamin C.)
And it doesn’t end there. The narration cites the aftermath of the bombings not only of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but of Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo. Many survivors are listless, apathetic zombies. Thousands more will suffer PTSD (as we’d call it now) from what they’ve gone through; vastly exceeding any resources available to treat them, most will be permanently traumatised.
But the child survivors, staring emptily into the camera to say “I don’t want to be nothing,” in dead, lifeless monotones, are the most chilling prospect of all: subject to such trauma in their formative years, many may go on to develop terrible character disorders. These are the inheritors of the world the nuclear bomb has left.
If the conclusion of The War Game reminds us that what we have seen has not been real, it’s scant reassurance: It is now possible that what you have seen happen in this film may already have taken place before the year 1980. Even knowing, as we do now, that it didn’t, is limited comfort when you remember that those weapons – and the possibility of their use – still exists.
Watkins set out to show that Britain was both hopelessly ill-informed on nuclear war’s nature, and hopelessly unprepared to cope with its effects – indeed, that its effects would be so devastating that no preparation would prevent the slaughter, devastation and eventual social collapse that the film shows. The official reaction to the film showed he’d touched a real nerve.
The War Game is up there with the similar-themed Threads as one of the most terrifying, dread-making films I’ve seen. It probably helps if you were born before 1980 and can remember the grim Mexican stand-off of the Cold War, but I defy anyone to watch it without a chill seeping into their bones.
The fear of nuclear war haunted my childhood; it fed into Hell’s Ditch and the world it’s set in. In particular, with The War Game, Watkins’ vision of the psychological trauma wrought by the conflict helped shape the book. The world of Regional Command Zone 7, Attack Plus Twenty Years, is a haunted one. All those who remember the time before are surrounded with its ruins, unable to forget, dogged by the ghosts of those they’ve lost; those who’ve grown up in the devastation have been made cruel and pitiless by it. And there’s no way back.
Forget Sawor Hostel, Insidious or Sinister: if you really want to be terrified, watch The War Game.
Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned. His new novel, Hell’s Ditch, is out on 1st December.

       You Tube clip from The War Game

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9. Going Nuts and Ginger

Over at Ginger Nuts of Horror, Jim McLeod has started listing his best of the year and he's included my novella The Bureau of Them, which was published by Spectral Press in July.

This make me happy.

The Ginger Nuts of Horror folk are very supportive of the horror community and it's a great honour to appear on the list alongside Simon Bestwick, Adam Nevill, Willie Miekle, Simon Kurt Unsworth, and others.

You can purchase The Bureau of Them in ebook from Amazon or the paperback from Spectral Press.

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10. The Goldfish and Fantasycon 2015

The above photograph is my favourite photo from the handful I took last weekend at Fantasycon. It is also the only non-blurry photo. Maybe I was especially nervous or I'm just really crap at taking photographs. Will try better next year. I apologise if I forget to mention you here but the weekend is descending into blur and I'm a bit of a goldfish at times.

Priya Sharma (who is all of the awesome) gave the Bestwick and me a lift up to the convention this year. We stopped off for a sneaky McDonald's on the way. When we got to the convention the first people we saw where Alison Littlewood & Fergus (totally love those guys)... I should add I love everyone else too but I reserved an extra pocket for them. Other wonderful folk in the lobby where James Everington, Phil Sloman and Dean Drinkel (all of whom I got to sign the first book I purchased at the convention), Steve Shaw, Neil Williams, the Marshall-Jones', Sarah Pinborough, and I am certain there were loads more folk. Fret. Fret.

We hurried to the convention centre because they had all off the books. Seriously ALL of the books. I've never had so many freebies. I think the Bestwick only picked up one free book because I snagged all the others and we don't need two of each - well except for Adam Nevill's novel but that's a special case. Then we attended the opening ceremony. After that I had a message from Priya to say she was in the lobby and we found her gabbing to Andrew Hook, Sophie Essex, and Roseanne Rabinowitz (hence the above photo).

And, the above is about as linear as I get with this tale as the rest is a jumble. Attended four panels (which is three more than at my first convention) and was a panel member for one - thank goodness for the gabbiness of my fellow panellists Adam Nevill, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Stephen Jones, Alison Littlewood and Nina Allan and our moderator James Everington.His first time moderating and he did awesome. Also caught a number of readings, the first being Lynda Rucker's and the last James Everington's, and in between my Bestwick's, Ray Cluley, Victoria Leslie, Priya Sharma, Joe Hill, Paul Kane, Ramsey Campbell, Marion Pittman. Attended book launches - Adam Nevill, Mark Morris, Spectral, just caught the end of the Undertow Publications launch.

Spent until way after one gabbing in the corridor by the bar on the first night chatting to Ali & Fergus, Ray Cluley & Jess Jordan, James Everington, Stephen Volk, Steve Shaw, Rosie & Jim (to mere mortals that's Simon Kurt Unsworth), Rob Shearman.

Over the weekend chatted at various times with Carole Johnstone, Laura Mauro, Mark West, Tom Johnstone, Paul Feeney, Victoria Leslie, Adam Nevill, Simon Clark, Trevor Denyer, Lynda Rucker & Shaun Hogan, Rob Shearman, Roy Gray, Pete Coleborn, Gary Couzens, Ellen Gallagher, Deborah Walker, all of the folk listed above. Good to see Nina Allan, Stephen Bacon, Fiona Ni Ealaighthe, to meet Jim McLeod for the first time (such a soppy bugger), Graeme Reynolds (and his new better half), Shaun Hamilton, Marie O'Regan, Paul Kane, Rio Youers, Selina Lock, Jay Eales (who warned against the convention centre noodles), Adele Wearing, Paul Meloy (whose book we forgot to get but that is easily rectified), Chris Teague, Ren Warrom... All of you beautiful people that I've forgotten.

Oh, and thank you to everyone who said they enjoyed my novelette in Black Static (with a special hug to Trevor Denyer).

On the Friday night we had a meal in the con hotel with Priya, Carole Johnstone, and Ali & Fergus. As to Saturday, we had breakfast and then didn't eat again until late evening. On the Saturday night, after running into Jon Oliver of Solaris Books in the lobby we arranged to go for a meal in town - and, as it turned out, the meal was on the Solaris Books tab. A gazillion thanks. So off we went for a Thai meal with a bunch of folk including the insanity that is Robert Shearman. His next book is going to be fecking awesome.

We ended the weekend with the banquet and the awards ceremony and with some awesome nominees at our table. I wouldn't be surprised if they were up for awards again next year.

And have just bought Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, which won Best Fantasy Novel at the awards this year thanks to Jenny Campbell who turned around to us mid ceremony and said the book was brilliant and that she and Ramsey had bought the author's backlist.

Can I go back now please?

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11. A Word from our Sponsors

For those delightful people who have ordered the hardback edition of The Bureau of Them, the publisher of Spectral Press, Simon Marshall Jones, has informed me that, due to unforeseen circumstances* printing has been delayed but it should be with you by the end of November.

Apologies for the delay.

In the meantime, for those who haven't ordered the hardback, The Bureau of Them is available on Kindle over at Amazon or as a paperback from the publisher.

*When holidaying in a caravan park in the 1980's the pool was closed every other day due to unforeseen circumstances and usually when the weather was actually dry. This has absolutely nothing to do with the book, that I am aware of, although perhaps the manager of said holiday park is now disrupting things from a wee corner of Hell.

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12. In Real Time

Black Static #48, which contains my story, When the Moon Man Knocks, has received a real-time review by the unique Des Lewis. You can check it out here and also here be a snippet...

Humorous, maybe, but essentially heart-rending for the woman who is in denial about her partner's death from cancer.

I should send Des a paper-bird saying thank you.

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13. Of Cranes and Precious Things

So this arrived last week. The latest issue of Black Static and what a thing of beauty it is with fiction by Jeffrey Thomas, Steven J Dines, Andrew Hook and Stephen Bacon, and an interview with Simon Kurt Unsworth.

Oh, and a novelette, When the Moon Man Knocks, by Me.

This publication means so much to me - firstly because it's in Black Static, one of the top horror fiction magazines and secondly, it's a story that deals with grief and was written just after mum died. Many thanks to Andy Cox for taking a chance on the story.

Inside the issue there is also a review by Peter Tennant of my novella, The Bureau of Them. Here be a snippet from the review:

...a surreal variation on the traditional ghost story that is powerful and affecting...

Also reviewed are Stephen Volk's Leytonstone, and Mark Morris' Albion Fay. Both get stonking reviews. you should buy them.

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14. Fly 777

The delightfully wonderful Priya Sharma tagged me in the 777 challenge.

Priya's story Lebkuchen is out next year in Paula Guran's anthology Beyond the Woods amongst writers such as Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Gardner Dozois, Peter Straub, Jeff Vandermeer, Angela Slatter...

Here be the rules:

“Take a current WIP and go to the 7th page, and then go down 7 lines, and then post the next 7 lines."

This snippet is from my novel, These Eyes are Blind, of which I am currently working on the second draft:

Marjorie watched Keira as if she expected something more of her. Keira dropped the locket into her pocket and picked up the grabber. 
“What was that, dear?”
“What was what?” 
Marjorie meant the necklace, of course. She’d had her nose pressed to the window throughout but didn’t want to admit to it. The steam from her breath would still fog the window.

I am going to cheat and tag my Bestwick (who interviewed Priya last month).

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15. Well that was August

August was a kind month.

She offered me 38,000 words on my new novel, which looks to be heading towards actual novel length. Over the past few years I seem to have stalled at novella length (and been happy with that) but it's good to get back into something longer. For someone who hasn't written much over the past few years, the words have been flying.

Angela Slatter interviewed me over at her blog. Angela is such a generous writer and incredibly talented - but then you all knew that.

There was a review for The Bureau of Them over at Ginger Nuts of Horror. Here be an extract:

The Bureau of Them is a book about mourning and coming to terms with loss, it will tug at your emotional core, without ever straying into schmaltzy territory. A modern ghost story that continues the great tradition of well written spooky stories that this country has such a great history of doing well.

Laura Mauro also reviewed it over at her blog.

...a vivid nightmare of a tale in which the world of the living and the world of the dead begin to bleed at the edges, merging into one but only for those who seek out the blurred lines.

Many thanks to the Ginger Nuts crew and to Laura.

Things I read that you should read:

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma. A wonderful novelette inhabited by human monsters and snakes.
Blow the Moon Out by E. Catherine Tobler. A beautiful weaving of childhood, of growing up and of circuses. As tasty as lemon cake.

Over at his blog, my Bestwick has been interviewing fellow writers including Laura Mauro, Conrad Williams, Alison Littlewood, Jonathan Green, Jonathan Oliver and others.

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16. Where the Artwork Rocks

My story When the Moon Man Knocks will appear in issue 48 of Black Static, due out this September. The artwork is by the awesome Richard Wagner and is perfect.

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17. All the things she read - July

For a while now, I've not been reading as much as I should and my to read pile is seriously dusty (or would be if I didn't dust the shelves). My attempt with posts like this is to encourage me to stop faffing about on Facebook and get back to reading all of the things...

New entries to my 'to read pile' for this month':
Albion Fay by Mark Morris
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
The Last Bus by Paul M Feeney
Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley (which came with a mini story on a postcard)
Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
Shimmer - issue 26
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

What I have read this month:
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk

Short Stories:
Wolves and Witches and Bears by Alison Littlewood (Nightmare)*
The Ghost of you Lingers by Kevin McNeil (The Dark)*
An Ocean of Eyes by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark)
End Game by Barry Charman (Daily SF)
The Cork won't Stay by Nate Southard (Nightmare)*
Things to do after they're gone by Mimi Mondal (Daily SF)

*Favourite short stories this month

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18. Fearful Fathoms

Found this interesting submission call while trawling the internet.

Fearful Fathoms: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror
Looking for stories set in or around water that are dark, atmospheric and chilling.
Submission Period: August 1st to August 31st
Word Count: 2000 to 5000 words
Payment: 1 cent per word with a maximum payment of $50

Full details (including some very specific formatting) can be found at Scarlet Galleon Publications.

And if you're stuck for watery inspiration, you could read this British Fantasy Award nominated novella, Water for Drowning by the awesome Ray Cluley. See how I slid that in there. I am so tricky.

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19. Hunting Finches

Paul Finch's latest Heck novel, Hunted, is released this week and you can meet Paul in Waterstones Liverpool One store on Wednesday 6th May 2015 at 18:30 where he'll be in conversation with Luca Veste.

Paul and his wife Cathy are awesome folk so if you're in the local area, come give Paul your support. The Bestwick and I will either be cheering from the front row (him) or the back row (me).

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20. This...

Forthcoming from Spectral Press
Astounding artwork by David Chatton-Barker

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21. Hiss, Crackle & Making Sounds Only Dogs Will Hear

Gather your pooches around the radio this Saturday (6 June) between 4pm and 6pm and tune in to North Manchester FM (106.6FM), where I'll be talking to Hannah Kate about books and possibly gabbling that fast and that high that only dogs will hear my squeaks.

Don't worry if your dog seems temporarily possessed he/she will regain full use of their legs once they have processed what they've just been subjected to. All humans should remain unaffected.

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22. Ear Plugs

So this is me on the radio last Saturday in sunny Manchester. Well, it was Sunny when we arrived in Manchester, and raining by the time we left. I think the sky was weeping because I'd blathered on for nearly two hours. I hear it's still crying somewhere.

Anyhow, here is me being interviewed by the lovely Hannah Kate.

If the above doesn't work for you (my internet is wonky so I can't test it properly), you can find links here and here.

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23. Edge-Lit

This weekend I will be at Edge-Lit in Derby where my novella, The Bureau of Them, will be released alongside Stephen Volk's Leytonstone and Mark Morris' Albion Fay. The paperbacks are usually £10 each, but you can get all three from Spectral Press (or at the event) for £25. The event runs from 3:15 to 4:05 on Saturday and is taking place in The Box (sounds ominous). If you get there early, we'll each be reading from our respective novellas - cue desperate laughter.

Hope to see you there.

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24. Where I Moon Dance

At the beginning of the year, I announced that after three hundred and seventy-four years, I had finally sold a story to Black Static. We all have goals as writers and this was one of mine. I did it, mum. Seeing a story of mine within its pages was phenomenal.

Today, Andy Cox accepted my novelette, When the Moon Man Knocks, for Black Static. I opened, read and closed the email about six times before the words made sense - my brain automatically read it as a rejection. I did it again, mum. Maybe I should read the email one more time just to be sure.

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25. Mental Health Day

Over the past ten days, I have written three stories and sent them out into the world, completed the first drafts of a further two, and am in the process of writing the first draft of a further story. Getting back to what I love doing after a very dry period has meant that his week I have felt happier and more confident (an acceptance from Black Static may also have helped) than I have in some time. I really thought I couldn't do this any more.

In the good old days, when I wrote all of the things, I rarely gave myself any time off and if I did slack, I admonished myself. In theory, I could have closeted myself away today and written until I felt so tired that I couldn't think, and at one point I was very tempted to do that. Instead, this is how today went, and it was excellent therapy for my poor, often broken, head. 

First, I slipped off the rocky route of my diet when we went to lunch at the frankly amazing Sawasdee Thai Restaurant in Birkenhead - if you're in the area and I know you, we have to eat there. I allowed myself this slip as it was a healthy lets have a lovely lunch together rather than my usual, lets hide under my desk and consume all of the chocolate. 

Then we went to Bidston Hill, which is a five minute and then a ten minute bus ride from our new home on the Wirral. My Bestwick had told me of the windmill on top of a hill, and I, despite living in the Merseyside area for my entire life didn't know of it. He is a get on a bus and see what you can find person. He's turning me into one of those people too. We climbed over rocks and up the not-very-steep hill and sat on a bench that overlooked my magnificent city...

... having temporarily run out of books to read for the British Fantasy Awards (I'm one of the Horror Novel judges) and waiting for more to be delivered, I picked up Stephen Volk's Leytonstone on the way out and the magnificent prose drew me from this awesome view. I've been very lax with reading lately and my to read pile is overflowing and my to buy pile is dragging at my heart. I'm going to break soon and buy all of the things.

We got lost on the way back because this is us and ended up walking through a very nice housing estate that we will never move to because it is very much in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we found our way to a main road and a bus route, which was five minutes walk from the exit, but we managed to turn it into a half-hour walk - we  need the exercise. 

We're having a barbecue tonight because obviously when you slip from a diet you have to do it in style. It's the first barbecue either of us have done so if you're in the area expect fire engines, scorched plants and soot-faced writers. 

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