Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Well, I've been busy working on my new novel Fangtooth, but now it's time for a couple of days break. Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Shooting of the film, Bleach will begin in January on the UK’s Isle of Wight, with writer/director Jason Bradbury heading up a filmmaking team that is almost entirely in their late teens.

BLEACH is set at an abandoned factory where a group of youths decide to hold an illegal rave—little knowing that the building serves as home to a deformed maniac (Matthew Fuller) who is obsessed with cleanliness and hates anything dirty—including sex.

To show your support for independent films, or if just interested as it does look cool, check it out at:

Saturday, December 03, 2005

AA Independent Press Guide

For anyone in need of markets for illustrations, short stories or poetry to send their work to, then check out the awesome AA Independent Press Guide. A free online guide to 2000+ lit mags and publishers.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dark Tales

On the news front, my story The Flibbertigibbet is now available to read in Dark Tales, a free to download online anthology available in PDF format from SpecFicWorld. My story originally appeared in the limited print run Hellbound Books anthology, Deathgrip: Legacy of Terror in 2003, so I'm glad to see it now available for a wider audience.

Dark Tales features fiction by James S Dorr, Angeline Hawkes-Craig, Karen Sandler, Rebecca M. Senese, James R. Cain, Mark Justice, Rob Hunter, K.G. McAbee, Shaun Jeffrey, and Carol Hightshoe.

Follow this link to download a copy:

Dark Tales

Friday, November 25, 2005

Christmas Prize Draw

As the first flurries of snow drift upon the shores of this country, it puts me in the Christmas spirit, which is of course a time for giving. Therefore, to celebrate, I will be posting a simple question through my newsletter, and everyone who answers correctly will be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of my novel, Evilution. The question will be emailed on Thursday, December 1st, and the draw will take place on Sunday, December 11th. There will be two copies available, so if you want the chance to win one of them, and you aren’t already signed up, do it now, and good luck.

Click here

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tasty snacks

At first sight, this picture looks like a macabre slaughterhouse; mangled body parts strewn about a room; arms, legs and heads resting on shelves and dangling from meat hooks - but it might surprise you to know that it's actually bread sculptures made by Kittiwat Unarrom, a 28-year-old art student.

Using anatomy books and his vivid memories from visits to forensics museums help him to create this edible art.

He says, “When people see the bread, they don’t want to eat it. But when they taste it, it’s just normal bread. The lesson is ‘don’t judge just by outer appearances.’”

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Flash Mind Reader

The flash mind reader seems to have been puzzling a lot of people. Anyone who wants to know how it works, click the reply to this message and I'll tell you. But like many tricks, sometimes you're better of just not knowing so the magic never dies.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

Here's one for the scrapbook: A four-year-old girl was stopped from taking her teeth home from hospital for the tooth fairy because doctors classed them as "body parts". Kimberley Cumming's mother Lorraine was told the teeth had to be disposed of by Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Mrs Cumming had explained the tooth fairy story to make her daughter less anxious about the procedure, during which four teeth were taken out.

Kimberley had made a special box and was upset about not getting her teeth.

The girl, from Inverness, had gone in to have one tooth out but the dental surgeon removed three others to stop the rot from spreading.

But doctors said the teeth were now classed as body parts and had to be disposed of by the hospital.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Website redesigned and a FREE serialised novel

To celebrate the launch of my redesigned website, and to showcase my work, I'm offering a FREE serialised copy my novel Dark Seduction to anyone who signs up to the newsletter. The first chapter will be emailed out on Halloween, and the other chapters will follow around every one to two weeks. Previous chapters will be available in the archives for those who sign up later. Go on, I know you want to. ;-)Feel free to post any comments about the story here on my blog.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Website redesign underway

I'm just starting to redesign my website, and hopefully when it's up and running, I'll have some freebies to give away to celebrate its launch. Watch this space.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

2 for 1 offer

Just a quick mention that until Xmas, whenever someone orders an Invisible College Press book via the ICP site, they'll receive a 2nd ICP book of the publisher's choice thrown in for free. So fill up them sacks, because Santa's sled won't deliver after Christmas. And remember, postage in the US and Canada is free for books ordered from the site.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I've just received word from Darren Smith, the editor of Tales from the Transdimensional Horror Express, a magazine for which I am helping write the back story. The magazine was initially a dual language magazine, printed in German and English, but now it's going to be all in English. I am currently plotting the back story out, and it should be an interesting development. On the novel front, I'm still typing away on Fangtooth. When that's finished, I'm not short of ideas. I've got a novel to rewrite that I wrote a few years ago, another idea partially mapped out that I'm really excited about (not that I'm not excited about all my ideas, but some spark the imagination more than others), and another story that needs developing. All I need now is for my agent to secure a publisher.

I'll be away at the coast for the next week, so hopefully I'll have even more ideas upon my return.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Latest news

I've been a bit slack posting lately as I've been busy working on my new novel, Fangtooth (and you all thought I'd abandoned it;-)). It's going great at the moment. I got a little sidetracked with work and suchlike, but things are now back on track. In other news, I've been interviewed for Gold Dust Magazine, which will appear in print at some point in the not too distant future.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Echo

I was emailed by Chuck Gutierrez, webmaster for the new film, The Echo (Sigaw), and in the wake of the other Asian films, thought it sounded interesting enough to mention it here. This is a Filipino ghost movie directed by Yam Laranas. It’s about a haunted apartment building that exists both in the present and the past.

To escape his overbearing mother, Marvin (Richard Gutierrez), moves into a cheap apartment building, and is helped in decorating it by his girlfriend, Pinky. Initially, the unit Marvin has moved into appears like any ordinary apartment building -- there are occasional spats between a couple, Anna and Bert (Jomari Yllano), down the hallway -- but paying them no heed, his life continues. Then things start getting worse, and he moves back home for a few days until he can figure out his next plan of action.

In his absence, Pinky visits his unit unaware that he is no longer there. She falls victim to the abusive element within the building and Marvin can take no more. He goes back in for one final battle with the evil memories that have taken hold of the house.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Inspired by all the autograph requests I've been receiving, I've written a quick, quirky short story in the form of message posts, which I've put on my website for anyone who wants to read it. Autograph_Collectors

Friday, September 09, 2005

For the right price, you can be a character in a King novel.

Some people might be interested to know that there is an auction on Ebay involving Stephen King: If you’ve ever wanted to be a character in a Stephen King novel, here’s your chance! From September 1-25, 2005, Auction Cause will be conducting an auction through eBay Giving Works in which 17 authors are auctioning the opportunity to be a character in an upcoming novel, with the proceeds being donated to the First Amendment Project, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. The auction for the Stephen King character will be from September 8th-18th.

The latest bid stands at: US $11,100.00, so it's only for those with a large wallet or purse.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sin-Jin Smyth

For anyone who remembers The Cult, it's been announced that BILLY DUFFY will contribute original guitar work to the Score of Sin-Jin Smyth. To show my age, I remember when The Cult were Southern Death Cult, one of my favourite bands of the time along with Theatre of Hate (which Duffy also played in) and Bauhaus. Those were the days ...

The film (Written and Directed by Ethan Dettenmaier)--- follows two federal marshals who man an isolated Federal Outpost in the American Midwest. One night they receive an emergency message (over Halloween weekend) to blitz across the border into the Kansas Badlands (moments after a tornado warning) for the midnight prisoner transfer of a man with no identity (and set against a Kansas legend about a Midnight appearance of the Devil every Halloween in a quiet, local cemetery).

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Dark Discoveries

I received my contributor copy of Dark Discoveries today. I've had a quick glimpse through, and it seems like a magazine that's well worth purchasing. The contents include interviews with Brian Keene, Craig Spector, Michael Laimo, Michael Arnzen, and Shane Ryan Staley. Fiction by Michael Laimo, Steve Vernon, Paul Finch,Josh Rountree and yours truly.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Photograph requests

I've been receiving a number of emails asking for signed photographs of me. While I know I'm good looking ;-), I'm confused. As a small press author who has yet to achieve greatness, I'm wondering why all the sudden requests have started to arrive. Is there something I don't know? Have I suddenly become desirable? (in the photographic sense). Being a small press author, I don't have signed photos as there’s no demand for them (sits here wondering whether people just want something to throw darts at). If anyone knows why there's the sudden interest, please let me know.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Amazon Shorts

I noticed that Amazon are starting something new by offering short stories from their main page for 49 cents a pop. They list the benefits as:

*Access a powerful marketing tool to promote an author's backlist in a new and meaningful way
*Create an author profile page with biography, photo, and complete backlist
*Maintain author's visibility between published projects
*Establish a more direct and frequent communication with readers
*Introduce readers to unfamiliar writers
*Provide a new outlet to sell short fiction and nonfiction

In short, Amazon Shorts are never-before-seen short works from a wide variety of well-known authors, available only on I have emailed my interest in the program and received an automatic response that says they'll be in contact in a few days. I imagine they will be selective with their authors, but it's worth a try.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Porn can make you go blind

I've been away on a course all week, and will be away again next week, but upon my return I did find this interesting article in New Scientist:

Researchers have finally found evidence that erotic images make you go blind. The effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, but the research has added to road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban sexy billboard-advertising near busy roads, in the hope of preventing accidents.

The new study by US psychologists found that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. And the researchers say some personality types appear to be affected more than others by the phenomenon, known as “emotion-induced blindness”.

So that means I'll have to stop reading top rack magazines while driving;-)

On other news, I'm keeping a watchful eye out for Sin-Jin Smyth which is filming at the moment. The story concerns a pair of federal marshals (played by Jason Hildebrandt and Richard Tyson, both from BLACK HAWK DOWN) who arrive in a town called Shin Bone on November 2 (the Day of the Dead) to transport a prisoner with no past and no identity ... he is known only as Sin-Jin Smyth.

On my own news front, my agent is hard at work trying to sell my novel The Kult, so watch this space ...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Daily Grammar

A useful online site for those who want to learn about grammar is Daily Grammar. They no longer send out daily grammar tips, but they are all available online to read.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Google Earth

For those who have never seen it, and those with the necessary computer specs, check out Google Earth, a 3D interface to the planet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Online radio drama

I've discovered a good online source of listening material from BBC 7. Called 7th Dimension, you can listen to radio plays such as 'Doctor Who', Terry Pratchett's 'Guards! Guards!' and a whole host of other sci-fi programs. There's also a section for drama, crime and thrillers and bestsellers to listen to, and if you miss a show, each broadcast is saved for 7 days.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A new writing gig

I heard yesterday (but was too busy getting ready to go out and celebrate my 40th birthday to mention it) that I've got a gig helping write the back story to a new magazine, Tales from the Transdimensional Horror Express. It's an illustrated, quarterly, dual language (English-German) horror fiction publication with nostalgic style and content - somewhere between a 1930’s weird fiction pulp and a Victorian periodical.

The back story is an ongoing story, not unlike a TV soap, that will involve all of the regulars onboard the Trans-Horror Express. It will unfold through comments, hints and observations made by each passenger whilst introducing a featured story or article.

The reader finds themselves onboard a phantom express train in the company of an elderly and rather eccentric band of revenant dead travellers all of whom, naturally, have their own weird, macabre and chilling tales to tell…

I'm excited about this as I feel it will stretch me as a writer.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The art of rejection

I read what I thought was a useful bit of advice somewhere the other day, which basically said don't mention story rejections on blogs or websites as you never know who's reading. In effect, any prospective publisher or agent who's interested in your work could find the posts with a simple search, and where they once wanted to publish/accept the work, they see it's been rejected x amount of times and change their mind.

Also on the matter of rejection, I doubt there's an author alive or dead who's not been rejected hundreds of times. It's something you have to learn to accept. Some rejections are helpful, others come in the shape of form letters. It doesn't always mean the story's no good, just that it wasn't suitable this time. Like countless authors, I've got loads of short stories and 3 novels sitting in a drawer that are no good, or which I abandoned. The interesting thing with them is going back years later and rereading to see how much you have improved. In 1997 I submitted one of the novels that's now basking in a drawer to an agent who represented Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon. He interestingly wrote: 'My feeling is that one day you will have a novel published - GIMOKODAN [which was the title for it then]is very much a borderline case.'

Although the above agent's comment inspired me, not long after that I ceased writing for a number of years due to work commitments. But that manuscript with the crap title - Gimokodan is the underworld of the Bagobo people of the Philippines - still gnaws away at me to rewrite it. One day I will. As with most things, too many projects, too little time.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Land of the Dead

I've just returned from visiting my brother in the Lake District, and on the way home the family and I called in at Morecambe 'holiday' resort. Now I've visited many such resorts in the past, and as a kid I loved them, but I've noticed that lately, most of them are abysmal. In this instance, the attractions hunched empty and unused on the sea front. A few forlorn chip shops, gaudily painted signs and boarded up buildings are now what constitute a holiday destination on the west coast.

It's no wonder bookings at such resorts are down - I wouldn't fancy spending a week in one, that's for sure. The worst resorts seem to be in the North of the country, as down south and around Cornwall, the towns and villages seem to be maintained - perhaps it's a money thing, something to do with the north/south divide. Even the small funfair in this resort was terrible, with half the attractions looking liable to collapse. The people strolling around looked like zombies, and the people running the ‘attractions’ didn't look old enough to be out of school.

This particular resort once had Frontierland Western Theme Park - now closed and abandoned, which I took a couple of photographs of, mainly because it inspired me. I know there have been numerous books on abandoned funfairs before, but the same could easily be said of vampires (which up until yet I have not penned a tale of), so it's another story on the back burner. It's a shame such places are left to rot; now the only cries are when someone cuts themselves on the glass that litters the floor after they've broken in to smooch around. What was once a popular holiday destination is now the fodder of a horror writer.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Evilution Sale Now On

I've sorted out a deal with the publisher of my novel, and if people order Evilution via the Invisible College Press web site, and type the word SALE into the coupon code, they'll get $5.00 off their order. Also postage within the US and Canada is free (to all other countries it's £2.99 - $5.00). So people can purchase a copy for only $9.95.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Planet of the Apes

A team of neuro-scientists on the Caribbean island of St Kitts have created primates with partially human brains. They injected human brain cells into monkey foetuses, giving them up to eight million human brain cells each. The modified monkeys have been called 'chimeras', which in Greek literature are mythical monsters combined of lion, goat and snake.

The reported reason for this experiment is to assist with medical research into neurological illnesses, but this never sits comfortably with me. By altering the genetic makeup of a species, scientists are playing at God. This case puts me in mind of the film, Planet of the Apes. They [scientists] say that incorporating eight million human brain cells into a primate is not that significant as the brain has 20 to 40 billion cells, so is unlikely to do anything to change the characteristics of that brain. I'm not convinced. Anything that alters a species, no matter how small, must have an impact. What would be the result if one of these animals escaped and bred? And then there's the ethical issue of these experiments.

It ultimately poses the question, when man becomes the creator, what use have we for gods? To whom should the faithful bow down? Some people say that science is the new religion; perhaps they are closer to the truth than they realise.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Horror

I work on the railways here in the UK, but I'm based about 150 miles away from London. After todays horrific events, we are on amber alert at the moment, so having to be extra vigilant. I've been 'out in the field' all day at a specific hotspot in our area, making sure the trains being rerouted and diverted from London can run without delay. It's frightening stuff, and another case of the reality being worse than the fiction when it's real life.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A reprint

I've just had a reprint acceptance (The Flibbertigibbet) for an as yet untitled subscribers anthology at SpecFicWorld, which will be a free download when it appears. Although this venue doesn't pay, the previous anthologies they published had over 30,000 downloads, which is a lot of potential readers. The editor accepted the story within 1 day. I always liked The Flibbertigibbet, and it was previously published in Hellbound Book's anthology, Deathgrip: Legacy of Terror, which is now out of print, so it'll be good to let a wider audience have the opportunity to read the story.

Dark Discoveries magazine is now at the printers, so it shouldn't be long before it's available with my story, The Watchers.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Value of Awards

I notice from the many venues I visit that it's award time again. I do vote for work that I liked, and there are numerous awards being presented around this time, and not to detract from any winners’ success, but I do question the value of certain awards. The main problem (as I see it) is that they (awards) depend on people reading said work and then voting for it if they like it enough. So if writer 'A' has published a story/book etc in an obscure little 'zine with a low readership, and writer 'B' has published a story in a 'zine with a large readership, then it's statistically more likely writer 'B' will have more people vote for his story (assuming both stories are of equal calibre). That's not to say writer 'A' had written a worse story, just that not many people read it.

I know if I was ever lucky enough to win an award, I would appreciate it, but I do feel the awards process in many instances is flawed, and I wonder if there could be a fairer system of voting.

When I look down the lists of final recommendations for an award, I know that I will only vote for those that I read and enjoyed, but it doesn't mean it was the best. And this is the problem. Without reading everything on the list, how do I really know that story 'A' was not as good as story 'B'?

I suppose the only way around this is an unbiased panel of readers whose job it is to read through everything submitted, but I imagine this would be a time consuming and expensive way of doing things. Although it works for some film festivals, such as Cannes, where I believe (although I may be wrong) films are submitted for consideration and then voted on by a panel in a secret ballot. The Booker Prize (and perhaps others) works along similar lines: UK publishers may enter up to two full-length novels for a specific year. In addition, any title by an author who has won the Booker Prize and any title by an author who has been shortlisted in the last ten years may be submitted. Publishers may also submit a list of up to five further titles for the judges' consideration. The judges are required to call in no less than eight and no more than twelve of these titles. One thing that distinguishes the Man Booker Prize from other literary awards is that the judges read all of the submitted books. The list of submitted titles is strictly confidential.

Oh well, perhaps I shouldn't think so much. Congratulations to those who have won, and to those who are yet to win any award, no matter how it comes to be.

B.C. Book Awards:

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
VanCity Book Prize

Canadian Book Awards: in Canada
Giller Prize
Governor General's Awards
Marian Engel
Matt Cohen Prize
Stephen Leacock Prize for Humour
Timothy Findley Award
Trillium Awards
W.O. Mitchell Prize
Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

American Book Awards:

National Book Awards
National Book Critic's Circle
PEN/Faulkner Prize (Fiction)
Pulizter Prize

British Book Awards:

Whitbread awards - First Novel
Whitbread - Book of the Year
Whitbread Literary Prize (Fiction)

International Book Awards:

Betty Trask Prize
Booker Prize
Commonweath Writer's Prize
International IMPAC Dublin Literary awards
Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
Nobel Prize in Literature
Orange Prize for Fiction

Fantasy Book Awards:

World Fantasy Award

Science Fiction Book Awards:

Aurthur C. Clarke Awards
Hugo Awards
Nebula Awards
Prix Aurora Prize

Mystery Book Awards:

Agatha Awards
Anthony Awards
Arthur Ellis Awards
CWA Dagger Awards
CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Hammett Prize
John Creasey Memorial Awards
Macavity Awards
Shamus Awards
Spotted Owl

Horror Book Awards:

Bram Stoker Awards
International Horror Guild

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Dig the Dead competition

For those who love the undead, here's a trio of competitions running at The Horror Channel that may be of interest.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Urban Gaming

'Uncle Roy All Around You' was an elaborate experimental game across the streets of London. The scenario: You're abandoned on Tower Bridge, London, with nothing except your clothes and a mobile phone when a woman dressed in black walks past, and you receive a text message to follow her. You don't know who she is, or where she is going. All you know is that you must follow her if you are to find Uncle Roy.

Urban gamers are harnessing the power of global positioning systems (GPS), high-resolution screens and cameras and the latest mobile phones to play games across our towns and cities, where they become spies, vampire slayers, celebrities and even Pac-Man.

And in Uncle Roy, for example, not only does the game involve innocent bystanders - the woman dressed in black had no knowledge she was taking part in the exercise - but it culminates in the street player climbing into a stranger's car, which means the player has to trust the organisers.

These real-world games sound interesting, but they also sound dangerous. How far will a gamer go when ordered to do something? And eventually, how will they know if it's just a game, or if it's real life?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Doctor Who freebie

For those who like Doctor Who and something for nothing, the BBC has made rare and acclaimed Doctor Who novels available to read for free!Doctor Who

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Active and agented

Well, today I achieved active status in the Horror Writers Association (which puts me in the ranks of HWA's professional writer members) and it looks like I've acquired the services of an agent on the same day. Now I only hope events in the future continue in the same way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Latest story

Another story of mine entitled, Venetian Kiss has now appeared in the Monsters Ink anthology, which makes one story a month published for the last three months.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Upon my return ...

I've just returned from Majorca, where I've been recharging the batteries. Upon my return, I found my contributors copy of Surreal Magazine on the mat. It looks an interesting publication, but it was annoying to see they had misspelled my name on the contents page (spelling it Shawn, instead of Shaun), although it was spelt correctly on the actual story page!

The story I sold to Dark Discoveries will appear in issue 5, which will be published in late June. Contents: INTERVIEWS WITH: BRIAN KEENE, MICHAEL LAIMO, CRAIG SPECTOR, MICHAEL A. ARNZEN and SHANE RYAN STALEY (DELIRIUM BOOKS).



Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

Here's another story from my scrapbook concerning the little town of Ringaskiddy on Ireland's south coast, and home to the local Viagra factory, the fumes from which are reported to have sent the locals sex crazy.

"One sniff and they're stiff," one wife smiled.

The plant makes something called sildenafil citrate, which just happens to be the active ingredient in Viagra.

In three local pubs, regulars ages 18 to 80 bragged about their capacity for loving, rather than supping Guinness.

A spokesman for the company said, "As far as we are concerned there isn't any Viagra dust in the air."

But the locals swear something is escaping from the plant. The local infant population, they say, has soared.

Plant officials say emissions are strictly controlled by Irish environmental laws. No chance of a leak.

I think they're perhaps taking too hard a stance.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Latest short story

My latest story, a flash fiction piece, has gone online at Shadowed Realms

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Common sense

A report in New Scientist states that at a cost of $24 million and with the help of 1300 scientists in 95 countries, they have published the first ever global inventory, the overwhelming conclusion of which is: we are living way beyond our means.

"According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), approximately 60 per cent of the planet's "ecosystem services" - natural products and processes that support life, such as water purification - are being degraded or used unsustainably. What is more, this degradation increases the risk of abrupt and drastic changes, such as climate shifts and the collapse of fisheries."

And they needed to spend all that money and employ the services of all those people to tell them that! Just look around and use a bit of commonsense and you come to the same conclusion for substantially less money. I think I should offer my services next time if they want to throw money away (which when you think about it only exacerbated the problem - more trees chopped down to make the notes, more deposits mined to mint the coins.)

On another note, I have withdrawn a short story that was previously accepted for an anthology. I didn't enjoy taking it out, but after what I felt was less than helpful co-operation by the editor, I decided to withdraw my submission.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The day my computer died

Well, for the last few days I've been incommunicado - a result of a broken computer. Not only had my power pack packed up, but the motherboard was fried as well. Because of this, I've been unable to write. The loss of the computer left me twiddling my thumbs, and I felt like a part of myself was missing. Am I becoming as one with my insentient machine? Is my interaction through the keyboard more than just a play of words? It's quite scary to see how dependant one becomes on technology. How would I or others like me cope with the loss of our gadgets. In this modern world we have become soft. It's a life of convenience, of frozen meals and machinery, of cars and aeroplanes. It would be an interesting scenario to see (at least for a short while) our modern age grind to a halt.

There was a program on not long ago where a man travelled to the Amazon to live with the indigenous people. One of the most surprising things about the program was when he revealed that they had forgotten how to light a fire without the use of matches or a lighter. To give something back, he showed them how to start a fire from scratch, reinstalling a forgotten art. How many other arts have we as a race already lost? And how many more may we yet lose?

I watched the second part of Doctor Who, and found myself disappointed. After the promise I felt at the first episode, I felt the second episode was too light-hearted and Eccleston's Doctor character became a little too smug. Time will tell if the program can redeem itself as I wait for the return of the Daleks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Short story sale

Don't know any details yet, but I've had confirmation of a short story sale to Dark Discoveries

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Doctor Who

Well, the new series of Doctor Who aired last night (although some people have already seen it as episodes have been available for download from some nefarious sites). On the whole, I enjoyed the first episode. Christopher Eccleston played the Doctor character tongue in cheek with a slightly frenetic pace, but it worked. And Billie Piper was surprisingly engaging as his new assistant, Rose Tyler. The first episode was a self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end, but I'm hoping that the other stories in the series will be multiple chapters, and that the first episode was just an opener to introduce the characters. The old style cliff-hangers used to be one of the things I liked about the series, so I hope they continue with that scenario. So it'll be cushions at the ready as I wait for next weeks episiode.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Signed copies of Evilution

I have some copies of my book, Evilution available at the moment that can be signed if anyone would like one. I can only accept payment by paypal, and the cost including p+p is:

Destination: UK second class = £7.50 Takes about 3 days to arrive.

Destination: US using Airmail= $19.50 (£10.50) Takes about 5 days to arrive.

Destination: US using Surface mail= $17.50 (£9.50) Takes about 8 weeks to arrive.

Please query for other destinations, and to check the above prices are still correct.

I would sign the copy of the book, but if you wanted a personal inscription with your name included (or anyone else's name if it's for a gift), make sure you let me know in advance. The only other thing I would need from you is the mailing address, which you can include with the payment info on paypal (specifying whether you require surface or airmail - you could also put on the notes there whether you would like an inscription, or just a signature). I hope all that makes sense. If anyone is interested, please email me to make sure copies are still available, and I'll supply the paypal email address to make payment to.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A pause in the writing

Yet again, I've had to stop work on Fangtooth. For some time now, I've been in talks with a movie tie-in publisher who contacted me for ideas. The original proposal that I submitted was well received by the editors, but the publishers themselves thought it too gory. I reworked the proposal, and the editors emailed me today with their views, stating they think it's an even tighter story line with a better ending. I've been asked to expand on it slightly, add a one sentence selling point, and then it will be resubmitted to the publishers. I'm loathe to say much more about it until it gets the green light, but I'm confident that it will eventually be accepted. So for the next few days I'll be busy revising my proposal.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The power of a good book

I have to admit, my writing has suffered over the past few days, and for that, I blame The Cheltenham Festival. Not adverse to the odd flutter, I've been waylaid by one of the greatest horse racing events in the calendar. During the meeting, I recalled one of the earliest books I remember buying from the school book shop, 'Mylor, The Most Powerful Horse In The World' by Michael Maguire. The book concerned a group of inventors racing to create a robot horse that could win the Grand National without being detected as being a robot. The story has stuck with me to this day, and it reminds me how powerful and long-lasting fiction can be, especially to a young, impressionable mind.

I still have the book, tucked away in a box somewhere (our house grows more like a bookshop by the day). When my my two-year-old son's old enough to read books on his own, I will open my treasure-chest, and I hope that he too will be as enchanted as I was when I discovered the power of a good book.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

I came across the following website about designing rings with bioengineered bone tissue, which I thought was perfect scrapbook material that offers countless story opportunities:


Some will think it a romantic gesture, others will find it grisly. But one willing couple in the UK is about to get the chance, thanks to a government-funded project intended to promote awareness of the issues surrounding tissue engineering, to have bone rings grown from their own cells. The rough bone circles will then be given to the designers, who will consult with the couple and shape the bone into customised rings. Each partner will give the other the ring grown from their cells.

"It's for people who want to give a bit of their body to each other," says Nikki Stott, a jewellery designer at the Royal College of Art in London.

On another note, I was informed of a review of a new magazine featuring one of my stories. Usually people misspell my surname, in this review, it's my forename. I've yet to see a copy of the magazine myself, but I hope my name's spelt correctly.


Saturday, March 12, 2005


I love incorporating cliff-hangers into my books (the word alone conjures up an image of people hanging by the tips of their fingers as they wait to be rescued.) A good cliff-hanger makes the reader want to turn the page to see what happens next. The celluloid equivalent was the old Flash Gordon series, where you had to tune in the following week to see if Flash and Dale survived.

The cliff-hanger is another way of maintaining suspense, but it can become jaded if overused.

Fangtooth is going well at the moment. I've started reading my research books, and have already picked up a few tips that can be incorporated into the story. The hard part is making the factual pieces flow, and not seem as though they were copied straight from a book. But then that's what writing is all about.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The horror

Work on Fangtooth is going slower than I planned, mainly due to needing to do more research than I thought.

There's a saying: 'Write about what you know', which is all fine and dandy, but it's a very narrow way of looking at things. If that was the case, how would a horror writer be able to describe a murder in gruesome detail (assuming they've never gone out and committed the crime), or how would anyone who's never left the planet be able to describe such alien landscapes. In my own novel, I've got to research the life of a trawlerman, and also life on board a submarine. In both instances, I've had to order books that I've now got to read through and take notes. I love researching as it imparts completely new ways of life, new ideas, and new knowledge, but I love writing the story more, which is why I'll keep skipping chapters that need too much study. By concentrating on chapters that don't require a lot of research, I can keep the story flowing. If I stop, I have difficulty taking up the reins again for a particular project. Obviously, this will mean a lot of back-tracking when I've got the information that I need, but as long as I keep note of what's missing/required (which I note in capitals on the manuscript as I write to remind me), it shouldn't be too difficult.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Show, don't tell

What does the above saying mean? "Telling" is a way of delivering facts to the reader—the wrong way. "Showing" involves the reader, giving them information through the use of action, dialogue, and the five senses.

Here are a couple of examples:
Telling: Jim was so angry that Susan was afraid.
Showing: Jim flexed his fists and his face flushed. He grabbed the front of Susan's blouse and slammed her into the wall. Susan fought to breathe, her heart hammering.

Telling: Jack was scared.
Showing: The footsteps tapped closer and closer. Jack felt his stomach muscles go taut. He flattened himself against the wall, the bricks cold and sharp against his body. Sweat trickled down his brow. He started to shake.

In the first example we see Jim's anger. In the second example, we live Jack's fear, rather than merely being told of it.

By showing and not telling, we show the characters experiencing events rather than telling about what happened to them. When we tell something, the reader isn't involved.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

Urban and underground exploration is a subject that fires my imagination. If you have never heard of it, the practitioners want to explore abandoned buildings, they want to know what's behind all those funny little doors that you may have seen in canal bridges, railway bridges, public parkland, private walls, public places, road bridges - they want to know what's behind the doors marked private.

One such place they have 'discovered' is a buried street in Bristol in the Laurence Hill area. Supposedly you lift a man-hole cover, and in you go. There you'll find old victorian shops with intact gas-lights. Unfortunatelty, the man-hole cover is outside a pub, on a fast main-road, so access is not supposed to be easy. Other reports say the access is from inside the pub itself.

But there are lots of these types of hidden/forgotten places. One story that intrigued me was when Police in Paris recently discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement.

Members of the force's sports squad, responsible - among other tasks - for policing the 170 miles of tunnels, caves, galleries and catacombs that underlie large parts of Paris, stumbled on the complex while on a training exercise beneath the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

After entering the network through a drain next to the Trocadero, the officers came across a tarpaulin marked: Building site, No access.

Behind that, a tunnel held a desk and a closed-circuit TV camera set to automatically record images of anyone passing. The mechanism also triggered a tape of dogs barking, "clearly designed to frighten people off," the spokesman said.

Further along, the tunnel opened into a vast 400 sq metre cave some 18m underground, like an underground amphitheatre, with terraces cut into the rock and chairs.

There the police found a full-sized cinema screen, projection equipment, and tapes of a wide variety of films, including 1950s film noir classics and more recent thrillers. None of the films were banned or even offensive, the spokesman said.

A smaller cave next door had been turned into an informal restaurant and bar.

The whole thing ran off a professionally installed electricity system and there were at least three phone lines down there.

Three days later, when the police returned accompanied by experts from the French electricity board to see where the power was coming from, the phone and electricity lines had been cut and a note was lying in the middle of the floor: "Do not," it said, "try to find us."

There's a wealth of material in this subject, and I've got an idea for another novel brewing away.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Words paint a picture

The saying goes: 'A picture paints a thousand words', but my palette is words, so I have to paint a cerebral picture. The key is finding the right combination of words. When you read something that's well written, you hardly notice the words. Instead, everything comes alive in the mental cinema. You can actually smell the coffee percolating in that old log cabin; you can see the four young teens, can almost feel that you are in the room with them, joking and throwing sexual innuendo around like confetti. There's a sharp knock at the door - you can sense their unease (it's night time, the sky's blanketed by thick cloud, the cabin's miles from anywhere); you can literally taste their fear as they pluck up the courage to answer the door ... So a picture may paint a thousand words, but words can also paint a picture.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Conflict 1. a struggle between opposing forces; battle. 2 opposition between ideas, interests, etc.; controversy. 3 Psychol. opposition between two simultaneous but incompatible wishes or drives, sometimes leading to emotional tension.

In real life, most people try to avoid conflict, but in fiction it's vitally important if the story is to progress and keep the readers interest. The need to overcome the conflict is often the focus of the hero. If nothing in the story forces the character to see something in a new light, to confront their worst fear or greatest personal challenges, then there is no conflict and no character growth.

Whether it be through internal conflict: guilt at cheating at a test or on a partner, a phobia etc., or external conflict: arguments, a fight, being pursued, being ditched at the altar, create conflict.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Plotting and saving a story

Because the novel, Fangtooth that I'm working on has quite a few subplots, I'm having to spend a while plotting it out. Some of the subplots didn't appear until I was already writing it, so to stop me losing track of them, I'm having to work out the scenes first. Some people write novels off the cuff without plotting; others plot. My first novel, Evilution was written off the cuff, which is like flying by the seat of your pants because you don't know what to expect next. Now, I prefer to plot a story. Fangtooth started out with a basic plot, but now as it's becoming more diverse, I'm having to spend more time plotting the various threads. For me, plotting a story consists of a brainstorming session, imaginging a lot of 'what ifs', and then seeing which ones work best or seem more appealing. Eventually, an uncanny sort of rhythm seems to take over and things fall into place.

On another point, it's always a good idea to regularly save your work. As well as saving to a seperate disk, I have found it useful and reassuring to save my work to a hotmail account (made all the easier now they offer 250mb of space.) Now there's no worry about losing everything if the worst case scenario happened.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Point of view is an important consideration when telling a story.

There are basically three points of view you can use:

First person, in which the main character experiences everything directly, using the words 'I' and 'me'. 'When I walked into the bar, all hell broke loose.' etc. What makes this difficult is that you can only see everything through that one person's eyes.

Second person is hardly ever used when writing a story or book (except when quoting a character). When writing in second person it gives the reader a certain 'feeling' in which they are put into the actual situation. The reader then responds more openly about the situation. Second person point of view is something most writers have a hard time dealing with. It is used by the word 'you.'

The last point of view is third person. There are actually two separate third person points of view. The 'regular' type and the omnipotent. The regular type is when the writer uses 'he' or 'she' or directs the question/statement to a particular thing or person. This is one of the most popular styles of writing.

Omnipotent is like a 'god.' The narrator knows everything about the circumstance and knows exactly what everyone is thinking at any given point of time. Using this style gives you the chance as the narrator to fill the story with ominous foreshadowing: They had no idea that by the end, only two of them would live.

The choice of viewpoint is an important one to the tone and style of the story. In third person POV, the choice of which character's viewpoint to use is important too. There may be a whole stage of characters, but which one is going to have the best viewpoint to tell a particular scene? It's like imagining each character has a camera on their shoulder, and you can only see what they see.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Back to the grindstone

Today was my first day back at my full-time job after a week off following the nightshift. In my job we do four shift patterns: 6-2, 2-10, 10-6 and 7-3 or on occasion 3.30. Today I was on 7-3, which means I was woken up at 6a.m. by the incessant wail of the alarm clock, a device surely created in the bowls of hell.

Early shifts are when I find I have the least time to write. Today's output will probably total about 500 words as I also went the gym after work, but every little helps. With regard the gym, it's an excellent place to people watch and is populated by all manner of characters. There's the sporty type, the overweight type, the show-off type, the 'I'm attractive and don't I just know it' type, the quiet type, the determined type, the 'I'm only here to spot the talent' type, the social type, the 'I don't know what I'm doing but I'm too afraid to ask' type. The list goes on and on. I could probably fill a notebook with characters from the gym alone. But it's these social interactions that help build a mental library when creating fictional characters, which is why I believe having interests outside writing can be most beneficial.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Scrapbook snippet

While reading the newspapers this morning, I came across a story about plans to recover artificial joints from the ashes of cremated bodies to sell them. Macabre indeed. The article continued as to whether such an act would be legal, posing the question: If hip joints or orthopaedic implants are placed in there, who owns them?

This is the sort of thing I look out for, as I'm sure there's a story here. All it needs is a bit of imagination to see where it leads.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Train of thought - or where ideas originate

So where do ideas come from? In my experience, ideas come from what's going on around me. The things I see, the things I hear and the things that plain just pop into my head at the oddest of times. An example of where ideas come from is where my novel, Evilution originated: I used to drive past a village on a hillside, and for some reason I started wondering what would happen if the village was cut off from the rest of the world. When this idea had seeded itself, I started coming up with ways to cut it off from society, and then as the seeds of my imagination began to germinate, I needed a reason why the village would be cut off. The answer to ‘why’ came during a conversation with a client at the gym where I used to work at weekends, and the ‘how’ came one foggy morning on the way to work when I could hardly see the road in front of the car.

I actually had the title for the book long before the book was written, but I didn’t have the right story to pin it to. Then when the ideas mentioned above started to come together, the title seemed to slot itself in like the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Quality v Quantity

Although it's quality not quantity that's important, first drafts don't have to be perfect so it's OK to write them quicker. Quality comes with the rewrites. Up to today, I've written 4160 words of Fangtooth. Not bad (for me) in 3 days. Yesterday I realised that chapter 3 was going to be another one that needed information I didn't have to hand, so I've skipped it until later. I believe it's okay to skip chapters as long as you know that if something important is going to occur in said chapter that will reflect in another chapter, you make note of it. If you spent the time trying to find the information, you stop writing. I think it's better to keep writing. Unless vital to the story, any facts can be gleaned later.

With regard writing in general, if you're anything like me, you left school thinking you knew everything there was to know about stringing a few words together. How wrong I was. It's only in the last few years my shortcomings have been made evident. By reading books such as 'The Elements of Style' by William Strunk and E.B. White, and 'Self Editing for Fiction Writers' by Renni Browne and Dave King, I've learned a lot. I cannot recommend these books enough for anyone who wants to improve their writing. Like any other job, you only improve if you learn how to use the tools of the trade. In this case the tools are words. It's also useful to read a lot. See how other people construct a sentence. How they can make the words come alive, how they make a character or place seem real.

Other books I would recommend reading are: 'Writing Horror Fiction' by Guy N. Smith, 'Writing Horror' by Edo Van Belkom, 'The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel' by Tom Monteleone and 'On Writing' by Stephen King. If nothing else, it's good to see how other authors work.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Time to write

Yesterday, I wrote 1990 words in about 3 hours. When the characters are established, I'll probably be able to write more at each session. With regard finding time to write, some people find myriad excuses to keep putting it off. They'll read a newspaper, watch the television, browse the internet, walk the dog - anything to delay the writing. Then they'll say 'I just don't have the time'. To that remark I say, rubbish. I have a full-time job and a family, but I can always find time to write. If you put down that paper, forget about what the rest of the world is doing, don't subscribe to that forum (where you do manage to write in reply to numerous posts), then you'll find there's plenty of time. Even if you can devote only half an hour a day, make it count. Most books are between 300-500 pages. If you manage to write a page a day, in a year you have a book. Obviously there are days when you can't write, but make the most of those times when you can. Every successful author has served his/her time in the trenches. Now it's up to the new recruits to take up arms (pens), go over the top and make that final push for victory.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Horror

Today I have started writing a new novel. It's tentatively titled Fangtooth.

Although everyone goes about writing in a different way, I'll go through the steps I'll be using.

Step 1

I started plotting the story a couple of days ago. I haven't written a complete plot, just the bare bones including possible subplots. I've also skipped the first chapter and started writing the second chapter first. This is because my first chapter will need more technical information, so rather than wait until I've got the information to hand, I thought it best to crack on (also it stops me keep putting it off and spurs me to continue).

As I introduce a character into the story, I'll write a profile for my own notes. That way, I only have to refer to the notes when I want to know what that character's like. In this way, they won't step out of character so to speak. I'll give them quirks; phobias etc, to flesh them out and try to make them seem real. I give them a brief history, making (up) note of anything that might have happened to them that has shaped who they are now.

So far in the story, I have introduced a father called Bruce: After finding drugs in his teenage son's bedroom, Bruce decided to move away from the city to the coast. Through this action alone, I've got a feel for the character. I know that Bruce is family orientated and will do anything to protect his family (this probably stems from having lost his wife to cancer where he could do nothing to help).

Having written a couple of pages of the story, I sat down and fleshed out the character of Bruce, creating a short character profile to get me started. Now I can use this as a guide whenever Bruce is involved. Now that I know more about Bruce, I'll also go over what I have already written and add bits if required. The profile so far is like this:

Bruce Golden is 37 years old (although he looks younger) with a 16 year old son, Jack. Bruce likes to keep fit as best he can. He jogs and does a bit of weight training. Of medium build with short, choppy brown hair and blue eyes, he has a long face, and can be said to have a hangdog expression. After losing his wife to cancer, he will do anything to protect his son. He is organised and pleasant, but he is also slightly superstitious and carries good luck charms in his wallet. He can be slightly rash but will shy away from heated arguments as he doesn’t mix too well with other people. He runs a web design company from home.

It's only rough and will be added to, but it gives me guidelines to keep to at the moment, such as if Bruce came across a ladder, he would walk around it; if there are cracks in the pavement, he may decide to jump over them rather than chance his luck.

In this way, I can try to give Bruce a character of his own.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Writer's Tale

As a writer, I love books about writing, and I was more than pleased to receive through the post this morning a copy of 'A Writer's Tale', an autobiographical tour through the life and work of Richard Laymon. Laymon is one of my favourite authors, and it was a sad day when he died. To coin a phrase, 'A Writer's Tale' is as rare as rocking horse shit. The copy I purchased was an ex-library copy that was never read, and it is number 497 of the 500 published. It makes me sad to think the book was never even opened. Books are for reading, and you can be sure that's just what I'm going to do.

Monday, February 21, 2005


One of the worst things about submitting work is waiting to hear back. The link above is a useful resource which gives times taken for various markets to reply. It only works well when people continue to update it with their response times, but it does give a good idea of how long you'll be chewing your fingernails for.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Time to write

Finding a compromise between finding time to write and spending time with my family is probably one of the hardest things. Writing itself is an obsession; it's something I have to do, but weeks like this where I'm working nights at my full-time job make it difficult. If anyone's ever worked nights, they'll know what I mean when I say how hard it is to sleep during the day. The waking hours are then spent in a fugue where you feel disconnected, so anything I do write probably reflects this.

I received a short story rejection this morning from Strange Horizons. But like with any other rejection, I reread the story (it's funny how after having read it so many times before submitting it in the first place, errors can be spotted when rereading it weeks later), then resubmitted it somewhere else. If a story's good enough, someone will accept it. I also received a rejection the other day from the Borderlands 6 anthology. If anyone's ever read this series of books, they'll know the stories chosen are top notch and very surreal. The editor Elizabeth provided some very useful points, and ended with: 'You have talent...but this one is not right for us.' So even though the story wasn't accepted, it's nice to know that people appreciate what I write.

To sleep, perchance to dream

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Scrapbook snippets

To help with my writing, I keep a scrap book, and from time to time I'll post snippets here that I find worth mentioning for one reason or another, such as the story of the ganster in Suriname who asked a witch doctor to make him bulletproof - then ordered him to test the magic by shooting him. The task of pulling the trigger was delagated to an assistant. After the death, both men denied murder, claiming the gangster died because he lacked faith in the spell.

In keeping with the doctor theme, it's rumoured that the new series of Doctor Who will air on Saturday March 26th. It'll be interesting to see how the series pans out.

Putting a face to the name ... Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

In the beginning

First, the introduction: Hello, my name's Shaun Jeffrey and I write horror stories. There, I've said it. Not that I'm ashamed, but I wanted to let you know who I am right from the start, so there's no secrets so to speak.

To some people horror stories conjure up images of poor writing, slashed bodies, the undead and the walking dead, but there's so much more. Horror can be quiet; it can be extreme, hell it can be funny. Despite the genre label, horror has crept stealthily into many forms of literature. To divert attention away from what may be an out and out horror book, publishers pigeonhole it as dark fantasy, thriller or some other form deemed more acceptable, but in the end it's all the same thing.

A little about me: I was born in 1965 and live in Cheshire, England with my partner, Debra and our son, Callum. My dark roots were sown from an early age, as I grew up in a house in a cemetery, my playground the graveyard where my early reading experience came from headstones- perfect grounding for writing dark fiction. I have a number of published short stories to my credit, and my first published novel, Evilution has received a number of glowing reviews.

That's about it for now, and any comments are welcome.