Diary of a 1st time father: 18 months of Heavenly Hell

Day 1

Thursday 26th June 2014, 78 hours into that great biological magic trick, natural labour. That’s right: 78 hours and counting.

For my wife and I, the process of getting our son into the world began at 34 weeks. The pregnancy had been textbook up until that point. Strong heartbeat, steady growth, and a — relatively — happy and healthy mother. But that all changed one night when Sal, in bed beside me, complained of itchy hands and feet. Being a ‘high-maintenance’ sort of wife with a talent for things ‘hurting’, I assumed it was nothing but, to her credit, she knew something was wrong. The next morning we went to the hospital for some checks. The midwife chastised us for not coming right away, but assured us that it would likely be nothing. Sal was a healthy mother and the baby’s vitals were all fine. No problem, just a quick bloodtest and we’ll give you a call later, Mrs Wright.

We went home. Continue Reading →

How to build a Mailing List

How to build a mailing list – a guide.

Hi everybody. I’ve been a full-time writer for over four years now (and heck don’t I pinch myself every day for that), but recently something has gotten me more excited than ever before–my mailing list. I’ve been working on it since September after taking part in the Self Publishing Formula, which is an online course run by Mark J Dawson. The course taught me many effective ways to build a mailing list and also pointed out some fairly obvious realities that had thus far eluded me. Such as: why do we put our entire careers in the hands of Amazon/Publishers and why do we, as authors, see the massive power that marketing sites such as Bookbub have but do nothing to gain some of that power for ourselves? My mailing list currently has 5k members and about half of those are what I would call ‘warm’ subscribers or fans. That means, if I released a new book today, I can be fairly confident that around 1500 people would buy a copy in the first few days. That’s pretty much guaranteed to shove my new release right up the charts where it will then find its own feet and sell on its own via the chart exposure. The part that has me excited really excited, though, is that 3k members is just my total today. In a year’s time I fully expect to be nearing 10k. Even if only 30% of that list is ‘warm’ (i.e. a fan who is actively seeking my work as soon as it is available) then that would be 3k sales every time I have a new release. In ten years time I could have 100k subscribers (very doable at my current sign up rate), and by that point who needs Bookbub? The best part about it all is that I am not using my readers or taking advantage of them in any way–my mailing list is a great way to keep in touch, and reward, the readers who actively support me. I can offer prizes, exclusive discounts, and freebies. In fact, the whole process of building a mailing list hinges on giving people a reason to join. FREE BOOKS. This has to work both ways or it won’t gather momentum.

e0e2846f1431c5fbfd03cebdd020f82eb7ce5242226500e918e063b004c25724I started my career by quickly becoming known as an ‘author who helps’. I aspired to follow the likes of J.A. Konrath and Hugh Howey by offering advice on what I had found successful and trying to nurture authors struggling lower down the ladder of success. It feels like a while since I really did that, so this post is intended to share with you what I have come to believe is the number 1 most important tool an author can possess. A healthy mailing list. Here’s why you need one: Continue Reading →

Wayne Simmons – Voodoo Child

Wayne Simmons – Voodoo Child is here

Hope you had a great Halloween!

I’d just like to begin November by thanking all of the people who bought a copy of Wings of Sorrow and The Gates over the last few months. They both launched very successfully and that’s down to your support!

I don’t have any new books coming out this month, other than some new entries in the A-Z of Horror (P is for Peeling is coming soon), but I can tell you that paperbacks for both Wings of Sorrow and The Gates have just gone on sale. The links to buy are posted at the bottom of this email.

The main intent of today’s newsletter is to let you know about a horror author called Wayne Simmons. Many of you will already know him (he wrote a great zombie novel called FLU), but for those who don’t he has given me some info about his latest release to pass on to you. I have a copy of my own and read the first several chapters yesterday. It’s good!


Assuming my readers don’t know you, Wayne (although I’m sure they do), how would you like to introduce yourself?
I’m Wayne Simmons, a genre fiction writer and journo, probably best known for my 2010 zombie horror novel, FLU.

And your latest book is Voodoo Child, an homage to Seventies horror. Could you give us a taster of what the book is about?
Like a lot of folks reading this newsletter, I’m a child if the 80s. Back then, I used to go into the local video store with a mate and head straight for the horror section. There, we’d scan the shelves for the goriest looking cover we could find, usually a 70s or 80s slasher film, and take it up to the counter. They didn’t care that we were a couple of twelve year olds with a Certificate 18 film in our hands: as long as you had your dad’s card, everything was fine and dandy. Voodoo Child is really a homage to all those films we watched back then; the Fridays and the Nightmares and the Halloweens; and the colourful characters that populated them.

Anything else you would like to add?
Just a big shout-out to me co-author on this one, Andre Duza (Dead Bitch Army, Son of a Bitch) as well as Steve Johnson (SFX legend – An American Werewolf in London) and Harry Manfredini (Film Composer – Friday the 13th films) for the very humbling cover endorsements. Those guys are literally responsible for both Andre and I being into this stuff.

Finally, big thanks to your good self, Iain, for your kind support!

Continue Reading →

A Christmas Horror Story: A Review

A-CHRISTMAS-HORROR-STORY_THEATRICAL_HICA Christmas Horror Story is a horror movie set during Christmas. This isn’t always a recipe for disaster: Satan’s Little Helper was pretty cool, and how about those Gremlins? But then there’s that one with Goldberg in (I forget the name). Christmas is a time ripe with atmosphere, which makes it ideal for a horror story if you can get it right. I think, for the most part, A Christmas Horror Story gets things right.

So, this is my first movie review for the new website. I have chosen this movie, mainly because I watched it a few days ago. When I work I often have a horror movie playing in the background as it puts me in the right frame of mind for creating my own terror. The problem is, if a movie is interesting, it can distract me. A Christmas Horror Story distracted me quite a bit.

It’s an anthology story, in the style of Creepshow and Tales From The Darkside, and the wraparound segments feature William Shatner, who is a lone DJ running the Christmas radio cast. I’m not a Shatner fan (apparently he’s an arse), so the bits with him in weren’t of particular interest to me. The parts that were entertaining, though, were the stories themselves, most notably the two threads containing Santa and Krampus (two separate stories, although they meet at the end). The stories are not self-contained, they run in parallel, so the conclusion of them happens all together at the end of the film. For this reason, the movie has a little more pay off than the likes of Creepshow, VHS, etc. And it is this payoff that made me want to recommend A Christmas Horror Story to y’all. The ending is a doozy.

Anyway, in a nutshell, the stories are:

  • A family go see an elderly relative to get some money but run into Krampus along the way – Krampus is the anti-Santa who punishes the wicked. The monster in this story is pretty cool.
  • A couple take their son to cut down a real Christmas tree. Their son disappears and comes back ‘different.
  • Santa’s workshop is attacked by a zombie plague that infects his elfs. Santa is a badass!
  • A group of students investigate a grizzly murder at a school and get more than they bargained for (don’t they always?).


 The stories don’t really tie together all that much, but the movie is a fun watch with a worthy ending. It’s worth checking out, or owning if you are a horror DVD collector, so follow the links and grab your copy of The Christmas Horror Story.