Category: Social Media


Where is this year going? April already. Anyway, been working hard on short stories and also the new Wraeththu story collection, ‘Para Kindred’. I’m really happy with my stories in this one, and also love the contributions I’ve had in from the other writers. There is a Goodreads Giveaway for this book, URL here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/88603-para-kindred-enigmas-of-wraeththu

I know I have to get into social media promotion a lot more than I do. I see horrendously poor novels, self published as ebooks, but whose authors have dozens of 5 star reviews on Amazon, presumably from friends. This is what serious writers are up against, sadly. The whole ‘recommendation’ thing is a sham on these sites. It can be abused so easily, as I see often when I download a book to read on Kindle before I sleep. Atrociously rotten books have gushing reviews. It must be orchestrated. I have simple hopes the reading public have more sense.

I’ve read a couple more of Susan Hill’s ghost stories recently – ‘Mist in the Mirror’ and ‘The Man in the Picture’. Ms Hill really knows how to set a ghost story up, and I adored ‘Mist in the Mirror’ until the end. I don’t know why, but as with ‘The Small Hand’, this superb writer really can’t finish a book satisfactorily. There were so many story threads left unresolved. It was almost as if she said to her publishers, ‘ok, hit word limit, here’s the book and my invoice’. Really disappointing and more so because I love Susan Hill’s writing. Why does she short change her readers so clunkily with these ghost stories? Only ‘The Woman in Black’ is fully-rounded. The others, while great reads for the most part, are let down by the endings. I read there’s to be a TV adaptation of ‘The Small Hand’, so hope the adaptors do more with it than in the novella. Wasted opportunities. I look back at Sarah Waters’ ‘The Little Stranger’ and that’s how a novel of this type should be crafted. Also Diane Setterfield’s ‘The Thirteenth Tale’. Why on earth hasn’t ‘The Little Stranger’ been televised? That’s now one of my favourite novels of all time.

It galls me, but work on my novel ‘The Moonshawl’ has foundered recently, not least because of the shorts I’m writing. Plus I’m trying to do more with publicity and promotion for ‘Para Kindred’. ‘The Moonshawl’ is still very much in my thoughts, and I play out scenes in my mind as I’m doing housework. Would really like to finish it soon, though.

On a more personal note, we lost one of our veteran cats recently – Uriel. What we thought was bad teeth turned out to be a malignant tumour in his jaw. Uri had lived to a ripe old age, so we have to expect this to happen, but what’s been most upsetting is the effect on our young Siamese, Grimley, known also as Stringy Bob (that’s Jim’s name for him). From the moment Grim set foot in our house, he decided Uri was his mate. Uri could not fight against Grim’s determination to love him. They were inseparable. After Uri’s death, Grim wandered around the house looking for him, and at night simply howled. He and Uri always slept with me when Jim was at work (he works most nights) and it was pitiful to see Grim’s sadness. Whoever says cats don’t have feelings can just sod off, in my humble opinion. So we made the choice to get a companion for Grim (seeing as the other cats sort of blank him a lot for his ‘in your faceness’). We’re hopefully going to pick up a girl Oriental cat companion for him next week. Superstition forbids me from saying more than that, but if she comes home with us I’ll post pics on Facebook.

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One of the main problems with social media has always been – for me – the time commitment for keeping up with all of them. I also found a lot of it trivial – such as making small posts about what I was having for lunch or something. What was the point and who would want to read that anyway? Snowed under with work, I couldn’t see the benefit of joining the chattering, tweeting masses. I did and do use Facebook, but only sporadically. However, one thing has become clear to me and that is that social media are now essential for any author wishing to remain noticed (or to get noticed) – unless they are one of the privileged 5% who are the best-sellers of this world. Also, it’s good to talk to about books.

So I decided it’s time to interact with the world a bit more. I’ve become something of a recluse over the years – far different to the party animal I used to be – and I want to get out of this habit, at least on the internet. (No, I don’t want any real life party invitations, thank you!) I’m grateful to Sharon Sant and Louise Coquio who’ve been helping me in this regard, not least in how to use the different media properly. Half the time I was put off because it seemed like too much effort to learn how things worked and I have to confess I’m not the most patient of people in that respect. Still, we had an evening ‘Educating Storm’ so now I’m better equipped to chat, tweet, squawk or whatever.

Anyway, to news. I’m still hoping wistfully that I get time soon to do more work on my Wraeththu ghost story novel – the progress has been slow, because as usual Immanion Press, its accounts, and all the admin tasks just devour my time. However, I have found time to complete some short stories, which will be appearing in print soon. One which I’ve mentioned before is for Allen Ashley’s ‘Astrologica’ collection, coming out through Alchemy Press this autumn, and another is for Ian Whates’ ‘Looking Landwards’, again appearing this autumn through Ian’s Newcon Press. I’ve done another for Ian, for a collection due out next year and hope to find time to write a story for his Femme Fatale anthology, again for next year. Shorts are far easier to fit in between other work. I also want to write two for the ‘Para Kindred’ Wraeththu anthology, which will be published by Immanion Press. I’ve started work on the stories – one of which will be a completion of a piece I’ve had lying around for years, the other will be completely new. I’ve pushed deadlines and publication for this collection forward to next year, as some of the contributors are – like me – extremely pushed for time. We’ve had some great stories in already, so it’s looking good – it just needs an extension on deadlines. So it’s the end of February now for story submissions, with the idea of getting the book out before the summer.

I recently acquired a Kindle Fire and am loving it. I was a bit Luddite before, thinking nothing should replace the feel and smell of a real book, but I’ve absolutely run out of space for storing more books. Now it’s great being able to download whatever I want to read. I’ve found the device easy on the eye and – best of all – perfect for when I snuggle down on my sofa in the workroom for a sneaky half hour’s reading. (Who am I kidding? Erm… slightly more than half an hour.) The lack of light in that corner of the room makes it difficult to read with my cranky eyes (with my lenses in, I’m not short-sighted but long-sighted, yay), but of course a Kindle lights itself. Marvellous! I started downloading the works of old horror writers like Oliver Onions, E. F. Benson, Sheridan Le Fanu and so on, having found masses of cheap collections. I have to share one priceless little snippet – unfortunately not exactly word for word as I can’t remember which story it was in, but it made me laugh so much it stuck in my mind, so here’s the gist of it.
‘James, did you ride over on Grey Boy today?’
‘I did indeed, Anne.’
‘Splendid. I have some sugar for him in my muff.’

How times and the use of language have changed! I adore coming across these little gems that during their travel down the years have somewhat changed in meaning. Reading the ghost stories has been great for inspiration for my novel. One thing I love about the Victorian and Edwardian horror writers is that they didn’t rely on the shock value of gore and violence. The stories are genuinely creepy without a spilled gut in sight. Yes, nearly every one of them involves people living in vast, spooky mansions that hide terrible secrets, so generally the characters are affluent and privileged, but to me nothing can beat a massive haunted house with endless corridors and hidden locked rooms, and all those gruesome secrets from the past.

These are the collections I’ve read so far, which I can recommend:

Hauntings and Horrors, E. F. Benson
The Dead of Night, Oliver Onions
The Lady Chillers: Classic Ghost and Horror Stories by Women Writers

I’ve tried, but I’m really struggling with the concept of social media. I know this is hypocritical since I bang on how writers should use these things for promotion to my authors at Immanion Press, but some part of me finds the whole shenanigans distasteful. I can remember when having a noticeboard on the Internet was cutting edge, and this was fine for me. Interested readers could post comments or questions about my work and I could reply. Twitter and Facebook don’t tend to be like this. It seems to me everyone is into spilling their guts wholesale on these media, and really that isn’t me. It’s no one’s business than mine what happens in my personal life and I have absolutely no desire to ‘tweet’ about it. To me, these media are for work and work only. I’ll post links to blogs or interviews, but I’ve nothing else to say on Twitter I want anyone else to know. If I’m going to divulge the slightest thing about my personal life it will be on Facebook or this blog, where I at least get more words to say something meaningful.

I realise these sentiments boot me squarely into the category of ‘old git’, but I’m unrepentant about it. I can’t help but feel our modern world is too accepting of emotional incontinence, not backed up at all by intellectual awareness. For example, whatever my personal thoughts on Margaret Thatcher, and believe me I will not divulge them on a social media site, I’m disgusted by the hot, bubbling outpourings of uninformed people, who for the most part weren’t even alive when her policies made an impact on our country. I have no axe to grind about whether her impact was good or bad, that’s my business, and I really don’t care to argue my politics on sites such as these, but I’m just weary of the more negative human reaction as usual. Have these spontaneously evacuating people no sense of measure or decency for the fact someone just died? Whatever the deceased might or might not have done, is there no compassionate thought for her relatives left alive? What difference does dancing in the street make to any real consequences of political decisions made years ago, possibly before you were even born? The legacy of those times might have left a scar across many people’s lives, but that’s still no reason to throw street parties because one salient political figure of those times has died. That legacy, ultimately, was not down to a single person but a combination of factors, relevant to that era. No one of those times can come out of that bathed in silver light, whatever politically-biased accounts might attest. These reactions we read of now are as much of a human bowel explosion as was the over-wrought reaction to Princess Diana’s death. Mercifully, we didn’t have Twitter when Diana died. Really, social media just allow incontinent humans to spray their motions all over the place. I couldn’t jump up and down in glee, protest, or post obnoxious messages about anyone who died, whether they were a bone-gobbling dictator or a saint. Urgh, reading about this stuff, I need a bath.

Still, all this in itself is grist for the mill in a creative sense. I’m aware that in some ways the world is speeding ahead of me as I grow older, and people killing themselves because of cruelties uttered on a social media site, which ultimately is less worthy than what they might throw out in the trash, is just another symptom of the decline of the world I once knew. Perhaps, in some future scenario all this will somehow be positive, but I just can’t see it at the moment. All I see is a massive open mouth, raw with obscenities, spewing foulness across the ethers. It’s unfair I know. Lots of people just tweet and post about their kittens and babies. They might share wry insights into their life that make good reading (as do many of my friends), but beyond the safe scope of my friends lists I know what goes on out there and it’s often repulsive.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of one of my cats. Love to you all. *Smiley face*.

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