Friday, December 21, 2012

Underwood and Flinch, the novel: progress

So, how's it coming along?

Recent months have had the focus of getting not only U&F edited, but also the Hall of Mirrors stories edited and made available for the fundraiser reward perks. There's also been work on U&F 2, which is coming along slowly when I get time. Obviously there's other stuff going on in my life too. My father is very unwell at the moment and I've been away from my desk at times to help out with family matters.

But the final novel is coming on gradually.

For U&F (1) I've been mostly matching the audio of the podcast to the original manuscript of the written novel. The reason for this is, when reading / performing the text, I often deviated wildly from the manuscript. As I read my dialogue, I often ad-lib changes, because when you inhabit a character and perform him, you become him; his words come from not from the pen of the writer, but from the heart of the character himself. I also wrote many revisions to the narrative, and because I was writing "for podcast" and not for publication, a lot of these revisions were on scraps of paper, in notebooks or just random docs or txt pages on the computer. Once the podcast recording stage was done, I became so focused on editing the audio (and again, making re-writes and multiple re-takes of the audio) most of the changes to the original text simply got mislaid or inadvertently deleted. At one stage I had a file on my computer that was so big with all the .wav files in it, I had to junk it just so as I could get the computer to run smoothly again. In doing so, I unwittingly threw out the entire text of the episode I'd just finished (not so much a face-palm moment as a head-wall-repeatedly moment). So I then had to wholly transcribe the text from the audio back onto paper. Arg!

So, as I say, much of what I'm doing now is audio-text matching, but I'm also re-writing and editing too. Cutting, re-writing, re-punctuating (with the audio manuscripts, I use a lot of semicolons as signals to myself to pause in the delivery, but to the reader, these curly-dot fests look like ant ant farm exploded over the page, so I'm removing a lot of those). But there are also re-inclusions. Some bits of the original text were cut from the audio version. On revising the work, I find that, having written these scenes, I'd always taken them for granted as facts of the U&F world, I remember them as facts and think you know them too, but of course, you don't. So on learning I'd cut them, I'm now jiggling things around so I can put them back in again.

So far, about 85% of the novel has been audio-matched and re-edited. When this process finishes, my wife will read my revised version and flag all the mistakes and typos in it, and let me know if all this editing has made it tighter, or less so. I'll re-write accordingly, making the necessary changes and getting to what will hopefully be a first final draft. Then I'll seek volunteer test readers to read through it for mistakes and typos that we've missed (always happens, just always, you can never see all the mistakes, you get text-blindness). And then, when that's all done. I'll set about getting the Amazon Createspace people to help turn it into a book - or books, yes, it may end up being two volumes, not just one (and if you're one of the U&F fundraisers expecting a copy of the novel, don't worry, if it becomes two volumes, you'll get both).

And then, once the fundraisers have got their copies, it'll be released to world.

And then, I'll be able to turn all my attention to U&F 2. And this time, I'll write it not as a podcast, but as a novel. No microphones, no .wav files, no podcast, just text. When that's done, we'll see about an audio version. I'm sure there'll be changes to the text as a result of the audio recordings, but now I know from experience how to handle them. I hope. (Head-wall-repeatedly).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Quiz

Think you know about Christmas?

Back in 2010, for the Christmas Sometimes podcast, I pitted certain cast members from Underwood and Flinch against cast members of One Among the Sleepless. They fought it out fiercely, answering - or trying to answer - questions about Christmas facts old and new (if the Eighties can be called "new"). Test your festive wits today, and play Quiztimes Christmas Special!

Grab your copy of One Among the Sleepless from one of these online stores:

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Among the Sleepless Ebook Launches

One Among the Sleepless, my first novel, is now available to buy from Amazon (for Kindle) and Smashwords (all other e-reader devices) in all its spank-tastic, asphyxiation-happy gory, I mean glory. And to support the launch, I've put out a festive Sometimes podcast that should be in your itunes inboxes very shortly (if not already). 


M.J. Hahn has redesigned the Sleepless cover using its original elements, the idea is to optimise the image for the Amazon store's tiny shop window. As a result, you can now see the larger sunglasses lens with the view of Peter Reynolds' apartment reflected in it.
The original cover and photography are the work of Peter from Surface Impression. In the image below, you can see me wearing the sunglasses and looking up at the building we used on the cover.


In the Sometimes podcast, which you can get by clicking this link, I mention the fact that after 6 years, One Among the Sleepless is no longer available as a free podcast. I decided it's had a good long run in that medium, and now I want it to be available as an ebook-only title for the next year or so. I plan to re-record it and re-release it sometime in 2014. The same is true of the Hall of Mirrors Volume 2 podcast. So Salvation, Night Crossing etc, will only available as ebooks for 2013.
To grab your copy of One Among the Sleepless at its launch price of $2.99 cick on one of the links below ...

Enjoy the podcast - it contains the Wayne and Lucy in the love dungeon scene - and enjoy One Among the Sleepless as an ebook!!

Music on the Sometimes Xmas Podcast
Bing Crosby ChristmasBing Crosby
"White Christmas" (mp3)
from "Bing Crosby Christmas"
(Spectra Records)

Buy at Napster
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at Amazon MP3
Buy at mTraks
More On This Album

This Christmas EPThe Elves of Heaven
"This Christmas" (mp3)
from "This Christmas EP"
(Seaport Music Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Books are Returning to Amazon.

Books are coming back to Amazon one at a time. One Among the Sleepless should be functional on Amazon and Smashwords in a few hours. Plans for a big podcast launch have been put on hold due to a situation that means I have to leave home base for an indefinite period. My blogs and bulletins will be less frequent as a result, but I'll check in with news when I can.
Until then, enjoy Sleepless!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

HoMs Offline for 12 Hours

Ak! The Hall of Mirrors series is offline for a while because I updated them. I wanted them to have snappier titles: instead of just saying Volume One, Volume Two, etc, they now carry the main story as their title. They should be through the Amazon publishing process in about 12 hours from now.

Massive thanks to everyone who responded to the call for reviews. You are, as you know, the wind beneath my thin, veinous wings!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reviews Needed at The Hall of Mirrors

My Amazon ebook releases need your reviews. With no reviews, a book on Amazon is dead, simple as that. I'm asking you to help me and support my work by adding a review and 5 stars to any of the titles listed below in either the US or UK stores.

Doesn't matter whether you bought the book on Amazon, whether you received it as a fundraiser perk, whether you amassed the stories in bits and pieces from other sources like Smashwords, or even if you've only heard the podcast, you can still add a review to Amazon and share some positive feedback.

I thank you in advance for your help :-)
The Collected Edition
Salvation and Other Stories

Poacher's Cottage and Other Stories

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Artwork for Sleepless

In preparation for the release of One Among the Sleepless as an Ebook, MJ Hahn has taken the original 2002 artwork and redesigned it so as to optimise its efficiency on Amazon. As you we all know, book covers on Amazon are tiny - and even tinier when seen in a list of other titles. This new version of the cover focuses on just one lens of the sunglasses. In the lens, you can see the window of the top flat with its window ablaze and, no doubt, Peter Reynolds, hopping mad behind it. But how did the image come about? Read on ...

The photography and original cover were by Surface Impression in Brighton. Peter, my designer friend, who created the original cover (below), took photographs of various buildings in the neighbourhood in which the novel is set - including the building in which I was living at the time. This building (you can see it on the back cover below), was the inspiration and model for the Peter, Wayne, and Lucy's building in the story. In fiction, it was 13 Wellington Street, in reality, it was 13 Waterloo Street, Hove.

I changed the name of the street, but you don't need to be a detective to figure out the connection between the names: Wellington / Waterloo. 

So if ever you’re in Brighton and Hove, take a stroll down Waterloo Street, stop outside number 13. That’s the house that inspired the book, and the place in which we were living when I wrote it.

We didn't have a dominatrix in the building, but there were a few in our neighbourhood (I'm told). There was no Peter, no Lucy, and certainly no Wayne.

Here's me in 2002, looking up at local buildings to try and get that "building in the lens" effect. The shades are mine - a pair of 1963 Bausch and Lomb Balorama wraparound sunglasses, as worn by The Velvet Underground, Dirty Harry, Bob Dylan ... and Dusty.

Looking up on Waterloo Street, trying to get that elusive building for the cover. Many pics were taken, but it wasn't until the one below that we struck paydirt. Look closely and you can see the building that made the cover.

One Among the Sleepless will be released for Amazon Kindle and all other ebook formats shortly.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yesterday on Amazon + Extended Freebie Period

Good morning! Well, yesterday was an incredible day on both sides of the Atlantic. Just look at these terrific reviews for Hall of Mirrors: Tales of Horror and the Grotesque, Volume One ...

star star star star star Mike Bennett is a genius who rivals both the horror, comedy and story telling greats in the literature world. Mrs. M.C. Edwards "Manderloo"
star star star star star Simply brilliant! Deborah Kaufman
star star star star star Gruesome horror with a comic twist. Lori Y

star star star star star A superb appetizer for his novel length works. Mary Laura
star star star star star Engrossing Storyteller. Jeana L Smith

star star star star star Simply The Creepiest Horror Since Stephen King! Douglas Lawson
star star star star star Great compilation of creepy short stories. Jason Stubbs

star star star star star Great Horror Fiction. C Griffin

star star star star star Genuis. Scary and funny as hell. Horrorman
star star star star star He writes the best kind of horror Wintermute670
star star star star star Mike Bennett is a wonderful author, this is a great well written collection. t
star star star star star Genius, Roxy J

Fantastic! Huge thanks to all the above for taking the time to leave a review. The value of these on Amazon simpply cannot be understated! And also, my thanks to everyone around the world who went to Amazon yesterday to download their FREE copy of Hall of Mirrors Vol 1. How did it fare in the charts? Very well! Here's what I woke up to this morning. I thought that after a night's sleep, the book would have slid somewhat, but no! This was the chartscape an hour ago ...
As you can see, I'm rubbing shoulders with some very exalted company, here. I'm under Bram!

And below is the US Short Story chart:
Look at all those Christmas-themed titles! There's loads of them. This is clearly a very good time to release a Christmasy romance. One Among the Sleepless is going to fit in here like a meat pie on a shelf of quiche - and the Christmas market seems to be ravenous for quiche! But hey, that doesn't mean that people don't want meat pie; it's just that quiche is the dish of the season. So, writers take note: Christmas sees a big rise in titles that at other times of the year wouldn't be an obstacle.

Anyway, moving on. In the UK, Hall of Mirrors: Volume One has been holding its own as well, reaching 11 in Horror:

Look at James Herbert there in the paid chart! Obviously the current TV adaptation of The Secret of Crickley Hall is doing wonders for Mr Herbert's sales (it's number one, unsurprisingly). I read Haunted, the first book in the Ash series, years ago, and loved it. And as a kid in the seventies, I devoured James Herbert's books like no one else's. Did you ever read, The Rats trilogy? Every kid in my school read The Rats. Dog-eared copies were passed around from chum to chum with frenzied interest. I enjoyed the first sequel, Lair, but for me, the masterpiece was the third book, Domain. Giant rats preying on the survivors of a post-nuclear holocaust London? What's not to like? I read it once, then read it again. In fact, I should read it a third time. You can never get enough of giant rats, especially at Christmas.

Sorry, I digress. 

In UK Short Stories, HoM1 reached No 5:

Again, here we can see a couple of Christmas-themed titles above me in the freebies. And there to my left, my opposite in the paid charts, we see the perennial literary love affair with books about abused children continuing with the cannily-titled (and jacketed) Abused - a Daughter's Story. That wouldn't be my cup of tea, but I remember when I was working in a bookshop in the late nineties, books like this were HUGE. Remember, A Child Called, "It" and it's sequels? Apparently, the trade term for the genre is Misery Lit. Nothing like a book full of misery, especially at Christmas.

Sorry, slipping off on another digression there. 

The main thing is, what's going to happen with Hall of Mirrors: Tales of Horror and the Grotesque - Volume One next?

Well, the period of its FREE status (can't write that word big enough) runs for today - AND - into tomorrow. Yes, I've extended it a day. I figure, why not? If there's a buzz, why kill it? So if you haven't yet got your FREE copy of Hall of Mirrors Vol 1, get it NOW! And tell a friend at work today so they can get it TOMORROW. The push is far from over, and I would LOVE the book to get into the Amazon free top 100 (obviously). 

Can you help it get there? 

The psychological effect of this on me - let's be honest - is wonderful! It inspires me. It tells me that you support me. It makes me want to write - and what I'm writing, when I can - is Underwood and Flinch 2. So, it follows that if you support me in this, you encourage me to write Underwood and Flinch 2. So come on, inspire me! Download Hall of Mirrors Volume 1 now! It's FREE! And the long-term results will be Fang-Tastic!!

Hall of Mirrors: Tales of Horror and the Grotesque - Volume One at
Hall of Mirrors: Tales of Horror and the Grotesque - Volume One  at