Friday, 18 December 2009 Zombie Hotel

A while back I mentioned that one of my delightful children had won a Scary Monster Story competition and, as it’s Christmas, I thought I’d post the story here. It’s also taken months of complex negotiations to broker a deal too, so that’s another reason for it being posted now.

I remember the look of sheer, unadulterated joy on his face when he found out he’d won and I hope the memory of that joy and achievement is something that stays with him forever. I hope he carries on writing too.

By the way, if you’re reading this young Master Bonehill, it doesn’t matter what you say or how well you promise to behave next year, Santa will most definitely not be bringing you Modern Warfare 2 this year.

So, without further preamble, Boneyard Tales proudly presents:

Zombie Hotel

by D. M. Bonehill

One gloomy night in Spooksville, the Martin family went for a walk. The kids ran ahead of their parents.

Suddenly a big green slimy monster appeared from the bushes. It had three eyes filled with deadly zombie powder. The monster threw an eye and it exploded on the parents. The kids were terrified.

They ran to a nearby hotel. They entered and rang the bell on the desk for help… but they didn’t know the hotel was run by zombie monsters. The zombie monster answered, 'Hello, little children... bye bye, little children!' The zombie monster jumped over the desk to attack the kids.

By a tenth of a second the kids escaped and ran to the lift. The lift had floors 1-25. They pressed 25.

While they were going up, they wondered what had happened to their parents. The lift doors opened slowly.

The kids screamed as they were dragged out of the lift by rotten smelly dirty zombies.

The kids realised that they were their parents. The kids became zombie monsters too and they all lived as a zombie family in the hotel.

Thursday, 3 December 2009 Rant Alert

There’s an interesting discussion doing the rounds regarding the small press and (lack of) payment range. Start checking it out here.

This is something that’s been talked about many times before and will, no doubt, be talked about many more times in the future. There was a similar debate a while back between Ken Wood (of Shock Totem) and Brian Keene.

It seems to be a fairly wide-spread opinion in certain circles that anyone who either publishes or writes for the small non-pro-paying press is basically one step away from self-published fan fiction.

Traces of shite on the shoe of worthy, real writers.

That no talented wordsmith would lower themselves to such base and degrading, exploitative shenanigans.

Now, I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone who makes any kind of living (be it full or part time) out of writing fiction. After all, they’ve played the game the right way and they’ve won. It’s where I want to be one day.

But, have these people forgotten how difficult it actually is to break into the right markets?

How many pro-paying markets are there, especially pro-paying horror markets? Not many, and a quick look at Duotrope shows that most of these actually range from either token or semi-pro payment in the first instance.

Cemetery Dance? Well, they’ve been closed to subs for a year and their publication schedule is erratic at best. When they open again in 2010 with an average of 500 subs a month then, what are the chances? They publish around 8 pieces of fiction per issue and most, if not all, of those are (quite rightly) by established writers.

That’s pretty formidable opposition.

I’m not saying that I won’t be banging on a pro-mag’s door, but there’s very little realistic chance of a hearty welcome and a seat by the fire.

Not without stubborn persistence and saint-like patience, at least.

Does that mean I shouldn’t try to get published elsewhere in the meantime? That there aren’t worthy publications out there that can’t pay a great deal, but still want to produce something of value?

In short, are we wasting our time carving our stories as ice sculptures to be seen by few?

In my first year of trying to write seriously, I’ve been treated well by the small press, received some great feedback, made some new friends, shared TOC's with people I admire and respect, and have some publication credits that I’m proud of.

Next year, I’ll see my name in print alongside Peter Straub and Joyce Carol Oates amongst many others. Not bad for an exploited small press amateur.

It’s true that there’s a lot of crap in the small press, but there are also a lot of truly talented writers toting their wares in little seen publications too.

And they deserve better than belittling comments from people further along the road.

Friday, 27 November 2009 Advent

Peter Tennant of TTA Press is running a flash fiction advent calendar during December. A different story will be linked to every day, so it’s a good opportunity for a little additional traffic to one of your online stories, as well as a little bit of fun. Maybe even pick up a lovely comment or two of glorious praise via their forum. Can’t be bad.

Full details available here.

Friday, 20 November 2009 No Peeking

Firstly, apologies for the long post - it didn't start out that way, but somehow grew.

I still remember one long ago Saturday sitting in the dark with my brother, waiting for the horror double-bill to start. I was tired, but alert with anticipation as I always was when allowed to stay up late for the usual scare-fest of an old Universal flick followed by a Hammer or an Amicus.

I loved all that stuff; it was the highlight of the week. It was scary, but it was safe; none of it was real and I knew that. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, monsters – all great fun, but safe fun. I’d go to bed happy, without glancing over my shoulder or jumping at shadows. I’d lie awake and think of the stories I could write.

This particular Saturday night was different; this Saturday night the main feature was Don’t Look Now. From the opening scene with the rain falling on the water I knew this was different and I was set on edge straight away. Something told me this wasn’t going to be safe, this was going to be real.

And it was.

The ball floating on the water, the jacket the boy wears as he repairs his bike on the grass, his long 70’s hair, the little girl in the red rain coat clutching an Action Man (my Action Man) in her hand. All these simple things anchored it in reality, in my reality; in things I saw every day.

Then the little girl dies.

And as she slipped under the water, I was truly, truly terrified.

While the whole film unnerved me, it was the ending that kept me awake that night and for many nights after. The small figure in the red coat standing in the corner, facing the wall. Then she turns...

Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched it back then, but I did and it stayed with me. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I could grasp how devastating it was.

Nothing before or since has had the same kind of impact on me. It’s the one fictional thing I can say has ever instilled me with a real, intense fear and horror and dread.

Looking back it’s easy to see the influence this has had on my writing, especially since I’ve had children. It’s scarred me for life, but for the better.

To this day, it sends a shiver of fear through me. It’s a bright, sunny day here and I’m alone in the office as I write this and I’ve just watched the clip below.

And I’ve felt that familiar fear that’s stayed with me all these years.

It's on TV tonight in my neck of the woods and I'm still not sure if I'll be watching it.

It's on late and it'll be dark.

Friday, 13 November 2009 All Sewn Up

I’m a happy writer again today; my story Lock and Key has wormed its way into the 2010 line-up of 52 Stitches. Huge thanks here to Aaron.

I remember I was thrilled when my stories were accepted for the first volume around this time last year. Now, after seeing the quality of the other stories in the anthology, I’m both thrilled and honoured to be making another appearance.

Here’s to another great year of stitches.

Thursday, 5 November 2009 Whoops Apocalypse

I’ve taken the zombie survival quiz and frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the result. I only have a 65% chance of surviving the impending undead apocalypse.

See how well you'd fare here.

All those years of watching Italian zombie flicks in my youth obviously haven’t paid off as well as I thought.

Still, watching a zombie attack a shark isn’t the best education is it?

Monday, 2 November 2009 Smugglers Cove

For those of you who haven’t seen this yet, there’s a great review of Fifty-Two Stitches over at The Book Smugglers. It comes out as highly recommended and I can second that… obviously.

It was nice to get a personal mention too; being called ‘eerie’ and ‘haunting’ just about made my day. Not in strange way, you understand, but nice all the same.

Submissions for the second year opened, fittingly enough, on Halloween. I wanted to have mine ready for opening day, but that didn’t quite work out. Hopefully, I’ll have it wrapped up and ready to send soon.

I’m sure Aaron will do a fantastic job again this year and best of luck to everyone.

Friday, 23 October 2009 Shock and Awe

I’m just about over the shock of being included in the Hint Fiction anthology, but what I haven’t got over is the calibre of the authors I’ll be published alongside. The full list is available here, but to say I’m awestruck wouldn’t even come close.

There are so many heavy-hitters in here, but a few personal highlights include: Gary A. Braunbeck, Jonathan Carroll, Jack Ketchum, J.A. Konrath, Joe R. Lansdale, Nick Mamatas, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub and F. Paul Wilson. All those and some weird little fellow called Bonehill… it still hasn’t quite sunk in.

There’s been some sort of mistake, surely? I’ve snuck in by the back door while no-one was looking, but for now I’ll keep quiet and hope that no-one rumbles me.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 Hint, Hint

I was so close to not making the submission deadline for the Hint Fiction anthology, and so close to thinking my story didn’t stand a chance that I almost didn’t send it in. Almost.

Then I had problems with my e-mail program which refused to send any messages and again I came close to knocking it on the head. After all, what kind of chance did I really have?

Still, I’m stubborn (we need to be, right?) and I finally managed to get my submission in at 23:58 on the day of the deadline.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Get the hint?

Thursday, 8 October 2009 The Great Pan

Warning: this could easily turn into another teary-eyed, nostalgia-tinged post, but I’ll try my best not to let it get out of hand, so I’ll keep it short.

One thing guaranteed to keep me happy and quiet for hours back in my formative years was being nose deep in one of the Pan Book of Horror Stories. These were yearly anthologies that ran from 1959 to 1989 mixing classic reprints and new tales from the likes of Bram Stoker, HG Wells, WW Jacobs, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Joan Aiken, R. Chetwynd Hayes, Ian McEwan, Stephen King and… well the list goes on.

They were the kind of books you moved on from after reading The Bumper Book of Bothersome Ghosts for Bored Boys. The covers were always lurid and pulpy and most definitely a part of the appeal.

All in all they were a great tradition and are sadly missed.

But now, they’re back.

Happy days.

Friday, 2 October 2009 Durbrain

A lot has been said of the Richard Ridyard fiasco in the past few days, and said a lot more eloquently than I ever could, so I’m not going to get bogged down in the subject. The guy is quite clearly a major durbrain as my eight year old would say.

The sad thing about this whole episode is that it was inevitable and, most likely, will happen (and is happening right now) time and time again.

Assuming his bio is to be believed, he’s a law student from The Wirral in sunny old England. Now, I happen to work in a University in sunny old England and there are times that our law students have a certain reputation.

It’s a reputation for ‘in the field experimentation’ and it wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if that’s what Mr Ridyard was up to when he thought it would be a good idea to plagiarise the work of other writers.

Is there anyone out who is really dumb enough to submit a blatant King rip-off to a publication such as Shock Totem? (Thinking about it, there probably is and that’s scary in itself).

I’m pretty sure the guy wanted to be rumbled, especially as he’d already duped a lot of unsuspecting online zines into publishing ‘his work’.

I’m also pretty sure that the series of events is making its way into in an essay or dissertation regarding the dangers of online copyright issues.

Does that forgive him? Hell no.

Does that mean he deserves any more of our attention? Hell no, other than to say he’s still a major durbrain.

Thursday, 24 September 2009 Out of Reach

One of my favourite contemporary genre writers, Tim Lebbon, won the best novella gong at the British Fantasy Awards over the weekend for The Reach of Children.

Deservedly so too. It’s a tale of love and loss that transcends genre and proves that while ‘horror’ writing is much maligned, there is some truly great work in this field that shouldn’t be ignored or frowned upon by more ‘literary’ circles. At its best, it can touch us in ways no other fiction can and The Reach of Children is a fine example of this.

The sad thing is that the novella was only published in a signed and limited edition of 250 copies by the now defunct Humdrumming Press. Worse still, Humdrumming only printed just over half of those proposed 250 copies before going out of business.

I was lucky enough to get hold of one of those copies, but hopefully it will be available for a wider audience sometime soon. When it is, read it. Simple as that.

Something else that’s worth mentioning here is that Lebbon started out in the small press in the mid 90’s, publishing stories online and in print for little or no recompense.

There’s hope for us all.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 Where People Disappear

There were many things I loved about being a kid in the 70’s. Star Wars; holiday camp cabaret; toys that always looked so much better on the advert; Evel Knievel; lurid orange and brown wallpaper in the kitchen; Barry Manilow… no, really and please don’t mock; I’m fragile and insecure. The list could go well on forever and one blog post it probably will - you’ve been warned.

But some of my fondest memories are of exploring all the books and magazines about the unexplained mysteries of the world. There always seemed to be an abundance of them back then, along with countless TV programmes and films. I’d lap it all up and still be hungry for more.

For me, the Bermuda Triangle was right at the top of that list. I can still remember the sense of awe and wonder I felt reading those accounts of missing aircraft and ships and wondering what really happened to them. The sheer possibilities of the unknown fascinated me.

It was a raw, physical feeling in the gut and in the heart that, as an adult, it’s hard to replicate. Especially when those unknown possibilities are ‘solved’ and turn out to be mundane and, frankly, uninspiring. Check out the news article here for details.

Another piece of my childhood stands in ruins. Still, I’ll always have Barry.

Monday, 7 September 2009 To Each and Every One of You

There’s a tide of love sweeping through the Net just recently and it would be remiss of me not to add my own sprinkling.

So, I just wanted to say a big, big thank you to everyone who took the time to read They Make Great Pets the other day. You’ve certainly proven yourselves to be a bunch of slightly disturbed individuals… that’s a compliment by the way.

And, of course, a big thanks to everyone who just drops by here for the hell of it.

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that I don’t always take myself too seriously in this blog, but I mean this most sincerely: I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that some great, great writers took a little time out of their day to read my sordid tale.

Now, before I go and get all teary and emotional, please rest assured that some fantastic, imaginary gifts are well on their way to you and should be safely nestled wherever it is you want them safely nestled very, very soon.

Unfortunately though, Becca, I couldn’t quite manage world peace wrapped in a big red bow. I tried, I really did, but the negotiators were insistent that it be a big yellow bow… and… well, that was a deal breaker for me to be honest. Sorry.

The good news is, I easily managed the next thing on your list and it’ll be with you before you know it.

Trust me; I’m a writer, I never make things up.

Friday, 4 September 2009 Pet Hates

My cute-as-a-fluffy-little-bunny-in-spring story, They Make Great Pets, is online over at Flashes in the Dark.

When I wrote this story, I thought it was maybe a little ridiculous, but recent events in the news have shown that there’s nothing as far-fetched as the real, banal, mundane evil that we don’t know about today, but will make the headlines tomorrow.

Check it out here.

I’ll send everyone kind enough to drop a comment over at FITD a fantastic, albeit imaginary, prize of their choosing.

Now, that’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009 Change of Decor

I think it’s fair to say that the Boneyard is a dank and miserable place; sad and lonely even. Few linger longer than they need to; those that do receive scant reward for their efforts. The sporadic, inane ramblings of a senseless loon are all that greet visitors here.

But light can be found in even the darkest of places; blogger extraordinaire and all round Aussie gent BT has found that chink of light and graced it with a rather fetching One Lovely Blog award. Cheers, BT.

Here it is, in all its pink and luscious loveliness.

Brightens the old place up a little, don’t you think? Wonder if it will have a similar effect on my writing?

Of course, awards must be passed on and I can think of no-one more deserving of the One Lovely Blog award than the very lovely Rebecca Nazar.

Rebecca, over to you.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 A Stitch in Time

I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but I’m going to anyway: Fifty-Two Stitches is available for pre-order right now.

It’s packed with great stories and has a very creepy cover courtesy of Aaron Polson - is there nothing this guy can’t turn his hand to?

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t waste your time reading this nonsense, head on over and place your order. You know you want to.

As soon as I get my copy, I’m going to sign it, auction it on eBay and buy it back myself at an extortionate headline grabbing fee in the perverted hope that it raises my pitiful profile.

Monday, 17 August 2009 Hobbled

After my whinge-fest in the last post about not having enough time and wanting the world to stop for a while, I experienced a classic case of be careful what you wish for. The world didn’t exactly stop and wait for me to catch up, but it certainly slowed.

All because of what should have been an innocuous little fall, a simple misplaced step as I crossed a ditch. My foot caught in a hole in the dirt; the rest of me fell and my stubborn foot stayed just where it was for a little too long until deciding to follow the rest of my falling body.

I’ve written about intense white-hot pain before, but don’t think I’ve ever actually felt it... until then, that is.

As I struggled to my feet and tried to walk, it felt as if my foot had been ripped off and I was trying to walk on a raw and bloodied stump.

After hours of waiting in Accident and Emergency to see a doctor, then god knows how long waiting for an x-ray and another wait for the doctor, I was told that nothing was broken, but that I’d damaged muscle and torn ligaments and it would take a while to heal.

A week later and I can just about put weight on the thing and manage to get around, albeit with a rather peculiar and ridiculous gait that would easily qualify for the Ministry of Silly Walks. A walk that’s resulted in much mocking and little sympathy from my loving family.

Still, the upside of all this is some unexpected time off work in which I’ve managed to catch up on some of those things I whined about in the last post. Not enough obviously, but I’m not complaining.

On those occasions (few and far between) when I’ve managed to wrestle the lap-top away from an evil family member, I’ve even managed to wrap up a story or two. My internet allowance has been severely limited though; I only pay for it, why should I get to use it?

What I’ve really learned from this though, is that my blog is clearly cursed in a Monkey’s Paw kind of way and I really must be careful what I write here.

Expect a carefully considered, danger-free post next time.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009 Time Management

Where the hell did that week go? I try to keep this pitiful blog updated on a regular (if not frequent) basis, but that last week just flew by and I think I pretty much stood still.

As ever, I’m behind with just about everything.

I have a huge To Read pile that seems to be growing like some sort of nasty rash. I’ve read an awful lot of junk recently and want to get back to some good stuff, some stuff I actually enjoy and look forward to reading. Recommendations welcome, by the way – I’m pretty eclectic.

I don’t watch much TV, but my To Watch pile is increasing and I’m behind on that too. I’ve only just caught up with the recent season of Lost - fantastic, as ever and I really must make an effort to keep up to date with the final season as it happens. The last episode was great and left me desperate for more. Still didn’t top the end of season 3 though – We have to go back to the island, Kate… classic moment.

Yesterday, I finished the first season of Dexter – loved it, and will probably add the books to my To Read pile.

I still have most of The Sopranos to watch, as well as Band of Brothers, two seasons of Dexter, a Twilight Zone box-set and the first season of Night Gallery. Oh, and countless films too.

See, I’m not exactly up to the minute.

My To Listen pile (OK, that’s not actually a pile as such, more a digital mass) is always increasing, and I’m lagging way behind.

Did I mention my writing? Way, way, way behind on that. Lots to write, lots to draft, lots to edit, to polish, submit, cry over when rejected, submit again.

I just need the world to stop for a while and let me catch up. That’s not a lot to ask for, now is it?

Monday, 27 July 2009 Cold Turkey

Home again from an incredibly wet week in the sticks. No TV, no pc, no phone – the silence would have been unnerving were it not for the near constant bickering and squabbling from the kids and the beating of the torrential rain.

Happy days.

It was almost like being back in the 70’s again, except I didn’t have my favourite Spiderman t-shirt. The one that was tight enough even on my (then) skinny frame to make breathing a chore. It was a lovely shade of bile-yellow with lurid green piping and a peeling transfer of Spidey webbing some hapless thug.

There’s a faded Polaroid of me in this infamous shirt, shivering on a Summer beach-front somewhere and sitting astride a rather miserable looking donkey, but, don’t worry, I won’t inflict such rose-tinted 70’s nostalgia on you.

Anyway, I digress, but it was weird to be away from the 24 hour instant access world, even for just a few days. In a good way though… I think.

Of course, that means I have a hell of a lot to catch up with. Hopefully, my inbox will be inundated with acceptances and other glorious things to celebrate. I’m nothing if not optimistic.

First thing the kids did once we got back was turn on the TV (SpongeBob is a God to be worshipped at all times) and ask for the laptop to be booted up to speak to their friends on Live Messenger (u up 2?; nthn mch u?; nthn mch).

Normal service is resumed.

Friday, 17 July 2009 Picture This

The new issue of Morpheus Tales hit the shelves a couple of weeks back. I’m not sure exactly where or in what sort of quantity, but you get the idea. It’s out…now.

My contributor copy made its way past the bio-hazard tape, the high stone walls, the rusted gates and the fearsome Boneyard security system and into my ink-stained hands yesterday. A nice looking thing it is too. What could be nicer than seeing your name on the cover alongside Joe R. Lansdale? I’m pretty sure that’ll never happen again.

Check out one of the illustrations to my story below.

A big thanks here to the artist, Robert Leija, who’s done a great job. I couldn’t be happier with the artwork he’s provided.

Now, if only I’d put as much effort into the story.

Friday, 10 July 2009 Rated and Slated

I’ve always been a little wary of critique services, but I came across one a while back that sounded OK and I was curious. I’d just finished a story that I thought was pretty good, but seemed to be missing something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

It was an 1800 word story, the fee was negligible and they promised a quick turnaround. What did I have to lose? Other than my pride and dignity, that is, but I lost those a long time ago anyway.

So I dipped my toe in the water and sat back, waiting for the words of wisdom to come in.

Two months later, I sent a polite query asking if they could give me an idea of when to expect my critique.

A month after that, I finally got my ‘full service critique.’ It’s presented here in all its glory.

Now, that’s what I call a full critique. I have a cool looking chart showing exactly where the story succeeds and where it fails. What could be better than that?

I scored fairly high in most areas, but my presentation let me down a little. They asked for it to be sent as plain text in the body of an e-mail, not standard manuscript format. I duly obliged, so where I failed in presentation I really don’t know, but I’ll take it on the chin and move on.

Still, money well spent, I think you’ll agree.

But wait, there’s more. Not only did I get this rather fancy looking chart, I also had a bonus comment. Free of charge, no less. Now, that’s what I call a deal.

‘You clearly can write,’ it said.

Yes, I can; I learned at school. They taught me to read too. On a good day I can also clean my teeth, get dressed all by my own and, albeit at a push, I can even do myself a nice little packed lunch. Although it has to be said, I make a mess with the peanut butter.

Never, ever again.

I think I’ve since found the missing element that eluded me for a while with that story, but I still haven’t sold it. Come on editors – it scored 7 out of 10 for originality. That can’t be bad.

Friday, 3 July 2009 How (Not) to Deal with Pesky Kids

I recently caught ‘The Ring’ on TV and was reminded how good it is. Most Hollywood versions of j-horror tend to be pretty lame compared to their original counterparts, but this one really got under my skin the first time I saw it. Second time around, it did exactly the same. There’s a great sense of creeping dread throughout the whole film. Very dark, very disturbing.

Of course, the original is great too, but it’s been a long while since I saw that and I wanted to do a quick compare and contrast. Especially of that scene – you know the one.

Like most things these days, the whole film is on You Tube for your viewing pleasure (albeit in 10 minute chunks) but I also came across this. Dark, disturbing? Or is it just plain cruel?

Gave me a chuckle anyway. Those poor kids.

Monday, 29 June 2009 Trust Me

'Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie.'

All round puppy wrangler and zombie star Samantha Sterner caught me a vicious sideswipe to the head tagging me with this – I wasn’t due to post again until Thursday. Stops me being lazy though, so here goes.

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?

The new James Bond novel – L.R. Bonehill writing as Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming.

Oh, and religion, that was me too. That’s pretty big, I guess.

Envy: What do your co-workers wish they had which is yours?

All the scripts for the final season of Lost.

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?

Dodo fillet. They make great pets too, by the way. Dodos that is, not just the cooked fillets; that would be too weird.

Lust: What really lights your fire?

Not sure I should post that here – I don’t think anyone would ever talk to me again.

If you really want to know, just send me an e-mail, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?

Chewing gum, but I can’t say why.

Greed: Name something you keep from others.

The fact that I know everyone’s secrets – especially yours and, I have to say, I’m shocked. In a good way, though.

Sloth: What's the laziest thing you've ever done?

Left my completed trilogy on the shelf to rot because I can’t be bothered to write a query letter.

So there you have it, and not a word of a lie.

Rebecca, Michael, Benjamin, consider yourself well and truly tagged. If you want to, that is.

Remember though, the fate of the world rests on your decision. No pressure…

Friday, 26 June 2009 Chip off the Old Chopping Block

One of our local museums recently ran a Myths and Monsters exhibition covering things like dragons, sea-beasts, legendary creatures and all sorts of other monstrous fare. They even had huge animatronic models. Good, cool stuff, especially for kids. And my kids loved it, they really did.

The museum was also running a My Scary Monster Story competition which I encouraged them to enter. One of them did and wrote a short story about zombie parents. Not sure what he was trying to get at there…

I was a thorn in his side and made him rewrite and polish it a few times before sending it in. Old habits die hard, I guess.

To cut to the chase, Zombie Hotel came first in its age range and won cold, hard cash and publication in the museum newsletter. Seven years old and he’s already been paid more per word than I have!

He now carries a little notebook around with him, so he can write wherever he is. He’s also reading the Super Book of Ghost Stories and wants to watch Dawn of the Dead (think that’ll be a No). Start them young, I say.

So, after this first taste of success, does he want to be writer when he grows up? Nope – he still wants to be a wrestler.

Friday, 19 June 2009 Podding

This week saw me collect my 4th rejection from Pseudopod – just one more and I get a free wall chart and a set of stickers to track my rejection misery. So, it’s not all bad.

This is a market I would really love to crack; I think I’d sell what’s left of my blackened soul to place a story there. Maybe one day… I’ll keep trying anyway.

Until then, I’ll console myself with the fact that this was my first personal rejection from the head honcho there, so the story can’t have been terrible.

So, to celebrate (tenuous, I know) here’s a link to one of my favourite podcast stories - Under the Bridge Downtown by Gary A. Braunbeck and Matthew Warner.

If you haven’t come across this story before, be warned: it’s not for the easily offended. It’s not extreme or hardcore (my taste doesn’t run that way) but it does deal with a difficult subject matter and it’s emotionally devastating.

To me, this is short horror fiction at its best.

If you’re reading this, Gary (he’s an avid fan of the blog, you know) I fully expect you to link to one my stories too.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 Cover Me… I’m Going In

The new issue of Morpheus Tales is out next month and contains Behind These Eyes - a story from the Boneyard. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover.

If you look really, really closely (you may have more luck if you turn your back and squint) you can just make out my name on the cover. Exciting stuff, I’ve never made the cover before.

OK, so everyone in the line-up made the cover, but that’s not the point.

If you have super-human vision, you can also probably see that there’s a story by Joe R. Lansdale too (never heard of him… wonder if he needs any writing tips?). Now, that really is exciting.

How they managed to get Joe R. Lansdale, I have no idea, but they obviously mean business. In previous issues they’ve had fiction by (the sadly late) Joseph McGee and Michael Laimo. Ray Garton is scheduled for a future edition with hopefully more to follow.

Aaron Polson was in their first issue too, so if nothing else, I’m in good company.

For a PDF preview of the issue itself, go here and click on the cover.

Not sure what that guy on the front has been doing, but he’s certainly built up a sweat.

Friday, 5 June 2009 Tipping the Balance

I’m a good writer (good as in well behaved, that is) and always follow guidelines to the letter. First impressions count, right? If you’re not a stickler for the guidelines, then you’re off on a bad footing straight away.

So, the story is sent off after a gazillion checks and double checks that the formatting is up to scratch (whatever happened to standard formatting, by the way? Why does every editor seem to want something slightly different?) and I sit back and wait for the rejection to come in. Optimistic, I know.

I check Duotrope for the average response time and when it goes over that, I maybe start to get a little excited. They’re holding on to it – could be a good sign.

More waiting and I’m heading away from the response time as stated in the guidelines.

More waiting and I’m steering towards their ‘you should definitely query us’ time. Could be a really good sign, either that or it’s been lost.

This is where I come a little unstuck with the guidelines. I don’t want to be pushy (I could be on to a winner here, after all) so I wait a little more.

Two or three weeks later and still nothing, I decide to finally send a brief, polite query. Don’t forget, this a good long while after they recommend querying.

Within hours, I get the rejection (still smarts every time) with lots of positive things to say about the story and an assurance that it was a close call, but in the end... well, you know the rest.

This has happened a few times, so I guess the question here is: am I doing the right thing? Should I query or should I wait?

Were these stories doomed from the start or did the query process tip the balance in favour of the almighty ‘Thanks, but we’re going to take a pass’?

By the way, I’ve come to truly, truly hate that expression; familiarity breeds contempt.

Thursday, 28 May 2009 The Boneyard goes Global

Or maybe Die Friedhof geht Globalen would be a more appropriate title for this post as it seems one of my stories is reaching out for the international market. All of its own accord too, by the looks of it; it’s certainly nothing to do with me, anyway.

I just happened to stumble across a new, exciting version of my story, Mother’s Love, on someone’s blog. How or why it got posted there, I have no idea. Whatever happened to copyright? Where’s my reprint fee?

The more readers the better though, I guess, so I’m not bitter.

As far as I can gather, it seems to have been translated into German, then back into English. The results are… well… interesting. Highlights include:

He loaded a reticule on the vespers all the habits his four year dear son came correct to croak and left-hand.

Shirt cuffs poked gone of the zipper like hands rising from a importance of autobiography.

Mothers be dressed no best, she mental activity, we be dressed to be Draconian.

The sniffles hooey function knotty.

A pitch-dark, midnight adoption with a gunge drub.

The cell was sniffles and grew colder quiet.

Bone fingers rapped an anile tattoo against the bifocals.

So, if all that nonsense has whetted your appetite for the full version, go here.

This is good stuff; I never knew I could write so well. True, it’s a new direction for me, but I think I like it.

There must be a market for this stuff, surely? It may even pay more.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 Acts of Blatant Plagiarism

Act I: I truly have no shame, none at all, and have no hesitation in saying that I purloined this (the link, that is, not the inane chatter) from Michael Stone. (By the way, do yourself a favour and check out some of his work at Dunesteef).

The Name Decoder cuts to the chase and tells you who you really are. With a choice of Cyborg, Monster or Sexy (oh, yes) there’s something for everyone. No need for over-priced therapy or painful flagellation; simply type in your name and be at one with your inner self. Harmony, understanding and self-actualisation await.

Of course, I had to go for the monster option and think the result pretty much sums me up.

As much as I hate to admit to bad habits, nuns are indeed very tasty. We all have our vices, after all.

Act II: Another purloined link. Most people who read this sorry excuse for a blog are probably already members of the 52 Stitches family and so have most likely seen this trailer already. It’s presented here for those who haven’t and it’s very cool.

I’ll keep it short and sweet: read 52 Stitches now.

Act III: Well, I’ve never bothered with a third act before, so I’m not going to start now.

Friday, 15 May 2009 Measuring Up

I’m not a prolific writer, by any means. I write as much as I can as often as I can, but it’s never enough. I need to write more, pure and simple.

I also need to focus more and decide what it is I really want to write. I love writing short stories and flash – can’t say I love the dejection when they come back with a ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ but that’s all part of the dance.

It’s the potential for impact that I enjoy about writing (and reading) flash. The short, sharp kick in the guts that can really, really hurt. The sudden, unexpected brutality of a blow to the head that leaves you reeling. The tight, concise story you can read in five minutes, but can linger like a shadow at your feet for days.

I’m thinking here of the likes of Richard Christian Matheson, whose Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks collection, is something I’ll happily revisit again and again. All of which are fantastic examples of what flash has to offer (hell, it wasn’t even called flash back then). Of course, his dad told a pretty mean tale too, but that’s a post for another day.

Flash seems so suited to the instant gratification fix of today too. Does anyone really want to read a 5000 word short story on a back-lit computer screen? Well, hopefully...

It seems I’ve digressed a little. What I wanted to say was along of the lines of: I’ll always write flash and short stories, but one day I’ll need to seriously knuckle down to something longer, maybe even that novel I keep thinking about. Radical, I know.

The single longest piece I’ve written so far (at the start of what will hopefully be a long journey in this writing game) clocks in at around 9000 words. What kind of useless length is that? Is that a ridiculously long short story or a ridiculously short novelette? Either way, it’s a tough sell.

Now, I enjoyed writing every one of those 9000 words, but the end result is probably no use to man nor beast.

Maybe I’ll try for a novella (something else I’ve always been keen on) before attempting the big, scary novel. One step at a time.

So, focus Boney, focus.

Friday, 8 May 2009 Same Needle, Different Thread

Assuming I know how to read a publication schedule (that, in itself, is a fairly hefty assumption, believe me) my flash story Mother’s Love is due to go online at the weekend over at Fifty-Two Stitches.

It’s my second and final appearance there (if you haven’t already read In the Garden, please do and I’ll promise to be your bestest friend forever). Fifty-Two Stitches has been consistently entertaining so far and I’ll be sticking around to keep up with the rest of the stories the year has to offer. Looking forward to the book coming out too, obviously.

It’s another fairly dark tale, so I feel the need to point out that I have written light-hearted fluffy stuff too… honest. I just can’t seem to sell it for some reason. Looks like I’m doomed to be a doomsayer forevermore.

The weekend also sees my birthday roll around again (how did that happen so fast?) so it’ll be time for a boneyard birthday bash. At least if no-one likes my story, I’ll still have a reason to be cheerful.

On another note, I had my second rejection from Tweet the Meat this week. With over 120 submissions per week so far and just 7 stories to accept, is it really worth trying a third time? Or is that too defeatist?

Thursday, 30 April 2009 Tweet, but Not Tweet Enough

Let me get one thing in here straight off – I’m really not sure how I feel about the micro-stalking, social-notworking, inanity-feed that is Twitter. I remain open to being convinced, as I’m sure it has its uses, but do we really need to know what Stephen Fry is doing right at this exact moment in time? Maybe we do, I don’t know.

(Apologies here to any Twitter users. Ignore me, I'm just being flippant).

Still, being the shameless word whore that I am (or trying to be, at least) that didn’t stop me from wanting to join the bandwagon when Tweet the Meat reared its head on Duotrope. Writing flash fiction is great, same with micro and drabbles, so how could I resist a 140 characters or less challenge?

I hastily put a tale together and, if I’m honest, was quite pleased with the result. It was grim and bleak, just the way I like it. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the grade, but not to worry, I’ve already got a new piece for the next submission period theme of ‘Wet’. Again, how could I resist?

It wasn’t all bad news though; those 25 rejected words have formed the basis of a new story that’s currently twisting and turning into some sort of shape inside my head.

So, maybe I am a fan of Twitter after all. Expect to see my Tweet feed appear in a sidebar to the right sometime soon. Although, I’m not exactly sure what I’d tweet about; most of what I do doesn’t really interest me that much, let alone the rest of the world.

Assuming there still is a populated world in the next few months, obviously. I sneezed into my face mask 3 times in quick succession this morning and am generally feeling a little funky. No doubt, this time next week I’ll be a gibbering fool chained to a hospital bed and dosed up on Tamiflu.

Thursday, 16 April 2009 Sinful

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been 5 days since my last blog post. I have been a bad, bad (wannabe, struggling, frustrated, you name it) writer. A very bad writer indeed.

I can barely bring myself to say it, but I have committed a cardinal sin. Fed up of form rejections (‘thanks, but we’ll have to take a pass’) I took action. Naive, foolhardy and sinful action. I had the temerity and sheer gall to reply to a form rejection and kindly request a word or two of feedback.

See? Bad, bad writer.

It’s something I’ve never done before and will probably never do again. Rejection is part and parcel of the game; you take it on the chin and move on. Simple.

For some reason, that particular rejection caught me on a bad day, the disappointment hit a little too hard and I typed out a reply (a polite reply, of course) and hit the Send button before giving myself a chance to think.

Naturally, immediate regret and intense shame followed. I waited, cringing in a quiet corner, for the seriously hacked-off reply.

What I actually got was some of the most detailed, helpful and encouraging feedback I could possibly hope for. My sad little story was a ‘regretful reject’ by all accounts. This from a pro-paying market too. It pretty much made my day.

A rejection of course, is still a rejection and I hereby promise never to sin again.

That delightfully brackish tang in the air? Ah… the sweet smell of failure.

Saturday, 11 April 2009 It's All Scrap

The always wonderful Rebecca Nazar has been kind enough to bestow upon me the Honest Scrap Award. It seems she thinks I’m something of an enigma and it’s her way of demanding some honesty. Is that good or bad? I still can’t decide. She asked nicely though, so here goes.

The Award and Rules:
This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

The rules are as follows:

1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

2. Choose a minimum of 5 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have five friends. Show the five random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

As I’m still pretty new to the world of blogging, I’m going to bend the rules a little and pass the honour on to just two poor, unfortunate souls who have been nice enough to comment on one of my stories out there in the land of the web.

My nominations are:

Inkpot – otherwise known as Iseult Murphy. She has a dark mind and I like that. She’s also a member of the Horror Writers Association and that is very cool.

Michael Stone - A great writer, ask anyone.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of Ten Honest Things:

1. When I was a kid there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be a writer when I grew up. No doubt at all; it was fact, pure and simple.

2. I’m obviously still waiting to grow up.

3. I used to think that tall, thin (I mean really tall, really thin) people lived in street lights and turned them on and off every day. What they did the rest of the time was something I never really worked out.

4. I once saw Humpty Dumpty on the roof of my neighbour’s house, sitting there plain as day with a huge grin on his face. I waved, and he waved back (Humpty that is, not the neighbour). Fact.

5. My dad died when I was twelve years old and I can still remember every single detail of that day.

6. When I was fifteen I had a long list of potential pen-names and I practiced a signature for every last one. L.R. Bonehill wasn’t among them.

7. I had a summer job in an undertaker’s. One of the first dead bodies I saw was a forty-something man who had died alone at home and had gone undiscovered for around three or four months. The sight and smell was... well, not very pleasant to say the least.

8. I spent around three weeks sleeping rough on a rail tour of Europe and was routinely kicked out of many a train station for sleeping on a bench or tucking myself away in a nice, comfy alcove. Never, ever again.

9. I’m a Sinatra nut.

10. Without fail, my children go to the bathroom at the same time. They stand either side of the toilet and pay not a jot of attention to what they’re doing. Is this normal?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009 Stitched

This post is a little later than originally anticipated as I’ve been hiding out in the hills for a few days. No e-mail, no net access, no phone, nothing; all adds up to strange times indeed in these increasingly e-dependent days.

Anyway, my flash piece ‘In the Garden’ is now live over at Fifty-Two Stitches. It’s the first of two stories Aaron and Ed (thanks guys) have been good enough to take off my soiled and grubby hands.

Fifty-Two Stitches has been a real treat so far this year, so it’s an honour to be included there. I just hope my grim little tale doesn’t spoil the party.

A big thanks to everyone who has read and commented – to say I’m a little pleased with the response is something of an understatement.

So, if you’re in the mood for a fairly dark tale, check it out here and find out what grows ‘In the Garden’.

Thursday, 2 April 2009 Biting the Dust

It’s a sad day today, a sad day indeed. I’ve just found out that the Well Told Tales pulp podcast has permanently closed its doors. And that’s a hell of a shame.

For my money, podcasts are a great format and without doubt an important part of the future of short fiction. Not only are they a great potential market for those of us trying to carve out a niche (however small) as storytellers, but they can bring a whole new level of insight or drama to a story that a print or web zine simply can’t offer. While we may not have time to read as much as we’d all like, it’s generally easy to jack-in to a fiction podcast and let it take you to a strange new world… and keep working or whatever else it is we need to do in this hectic world.

Well Told Tales was up there with the best and it’s a great shame that it’s no more. Hopefully, there will be something else to come from the good people behind it sometime soon.

Meanwhile, RIP.

Monday, 23 March 2009 Back from the Brink

I was this close the other week (see how close I’m holding my index finger and thumb here? That’s very close, it really is) to calling time on a story and consigning it to the Crematorium forevermore. It’s an old story (not a trunk story, just old) that I’ve recently spruced up with a little spit and polish. Like most stories, it gathered a rejection or two, but I’m happy to say it’s since been picked up by Cindy Rosmus at Yellow Mama.

It’s a pretty dark tale and fittingly enough it’s slated for the Halloween issue. Fantastic acceptance letter too, so I couldn’t have asked for more. A big thanks here to Cindy, by the way.

So, to get back to the point, why was I so close to slamming the door and lighting the fire on this one? The thing is, it’s a weird story, a very weird story, and I really don’t know where it came from. I was starting to think maybe it was a little too weird and that maybe I should retire it, especially as it doesn’t necessarily fit in with my normal style – if I even have one, that is.

That being said, it’s a story I wanted to tell, a story that has its own merits, its own failings and I’m glad it’s found a home.

It would have burned to dust and ash kicking and screaming anyway.

Monday, 16 March 2009 Lazing

OK, I hold my hands up and admit it: I’m obviously a lazy blogger. I think it’s been more or less two weeks since my last post, but then it has been pretty quiet around here and there’s not an awful lot to report.

I’m still writing, still submitting, so it’s not all bad I guess. Not as much as I'd like to though, I must admit and I'm feeling more than a little guilty about that. I think I need one those Twilight Zone stopwatches that really does stop time, but then I guess we all do these days.

I’ve had one or two responses in the past couple of weeks. No good news though, unfortunately. Hopefully the next round of submissions will bring better luck. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and sending out those good vibes, so you never know.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009 Bad Habit

I’m sure I have many (bad habits, that is) but I’m talking here about a bad writing habit I seem to have developed just recently. Pretty common I'm sure, but here goes: I have tendency to be tapping along quite happily with a story, when another idea raises its ugly little roguish head. I think about it for a while and then return to the original tale while the rogue idea recedes harmlessly into the background.

Come the next writing session though, that little rogue has bugged me so much throughout the day with its seedy little whisper and its impish nods of encouragement, that I have to get some of it out of my head and on to the screen. Fair enough; write it while it’s fresh, I guess.

But then, the inevitable happens and another idea ploughs its way to the surface, and another, and another until I’m working on Lord knows how many different versions of how many different tales all vying to be heard. Rogues, I tell you, the lot of them.

So, which little voice do I listen to? Right now, it’s all of them, which probably explains why I haven’t written the words ‘The End’ for a while.

Thursday, 19 February 2009 Silence

There’s an eerie silence around the boneyard just recently. I have a few stories out in the no-man’s land of the submission process that I’m waiting to hear on, but no firm responses as yet. It can be really frustrating during the often long, long wait for a reply. Tomorrow… maybe tomorrow.

I generally try to hold on to the thought that the longer the pieces are out there, the more seriously they are being considered. Sometimes though, it’s the hope that kills and when that rejection finally comes it’s just an awful, shuddering anti-climax to it all. Then the process starts again and the waiting starts again and the hope… well, there’s always hope.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep tapping away at the keyboard; writing, editing or scouring potential markets and hope that some good news comes through the worn and rusted gates of the boneyard soon.

Monday, 9 February 2009 TMI

This new internet-webby thing all the hip kids are talking about is great, it really is. Access to pretty much anything you want is just a search and a click away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Anyone can be an instant expert – just add Google. Nothing is beyond the reach of the mighty search engine and the enquiring mind. But, is it all just too easy?

Take medical sites for example; useful in short doses, but a prolonged spell trawling through a list of symptoms will pretty much convince you that, at best, you really shouldn’t be walking around right now as you died last Tuesday. Comforting.

So, when does information become too much information? That’s the thinking behind Search; read it here.

It’s short, very short, and it won’t bite. Promise.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009 Free-Stylin’

The other night I was doing some editing work on a story I finished a while back (I always think it’s good practice to set a tale aside for a few days before revisiting it with fresh eyes). While I was changing a word here, a phrase there, an exchange of dialogue elsewhere and just generally dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, something popped into my head.

It was a line from a story I’d read earlier in the day, not a particularly original or significant line, or even a memorable line, but there it was nonetheless. And it wouldn’t go away.

In the end I did the only thing I could to banish the stubborn thing; open up a new document and write about it.

I had absolutely no idea where this one was going; no characters in my head, no plot structure or story arc, no metaphor, no reason or rhyme. Nothing at all, just a single line as a launch pad… but it came, and easily too (so far, anyway). And it’s still coming, taking on shape and form more or less at will.

The point here? Well, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to do away with everything you know, or think you know, and... well, don’t think, just write. Let the words come, listen to those whispers that guide you, let that dark muse take you by the hand and lead you wherever it will. Oh, and hope that it’s a good place, a rewarding place.

It may all end in tears, but so far, so good.

Monday, 26 January 2009 Flash News

Some good news from the folks over at Flash Scribe - they have accepted my 100 word drabble ‘Bliss’. It should appear sometime in February or March. More on that as and when.

Also, Nathan Rosen at Micro Horror has accepted ‘So Fast’. Apt really as it was the quickest turnaround of any submission so far; sent and accepted on the same day no less. Cheers Nathan. Read it here.

Rejections aplenty too of course, including ‘thanks, but no thanks’ from Dunesteef, Absent Willow Review, and Arkham Tales. Dunesteef hung on to my story for three months, so it was a close call by all accounts... but not close enough obviously. Who knows, maybe next time.

Monday, 5 January 2009 Welcome to the Boneyard

Come on in, friend; don’t be shy. All are welcome here at the boneyard. The gates are unlocked and will open with just a gentle touch. They may creak and groan in protest, the rust may stain your hand and look like blood in the night, but do come in. Watch your step as the frost upon the ground snaps and crunches underfoot. The shadows between the stones are long, so let the bright skull of the moon be your guide as you edge between long-since neglected tombs and crypts.

Don’t stop; it’s only the wind that whispers in the trees, or long branches that scrabble against granite and marble, that’s all you hear. Dark shadows and darker whispers always gather in these cold, lonely places.

Come closer and I’ll tell you a story, maybe tell you a secret or two as time passes by. Be my friend and I’ll tell even more.

Stay awhile and trust me, help me. Please.