New England Gothic: A hopeless kickstarter…

Other girls believed there were monsters in the woods. If that were true, they paid Annamarie no attention. Sometimes she felt disappointed by this.

hopless 1

This is going to be an odd review, because I am reviewing something i haven’t finished reading, what I have read is only one part of a whole, and even that is only part of the greater whole. I would never normally do a review for something I haven’t fully read, but every rule has it exceptions and this is one of them. There is a reason, which should be self explanatory, but mainly it comes down to this, I thought I would write this review now, to give everyone who fancies it the opportunity to be flung into a mass grave…

Okay I know how that sounds… But bear with me.

New England Gothic is one of the pair of Illustrated novels currently on offer on a kick-starter form those wonderful people behind the Hopeless Maine graphic novels, Nimue and Tom Brown. The Second of these The Oddatsea is written by Kieth Errington and also illustrated by Tom. Nimue was kind enough to send me a review copy of the text of the first of these. Which I was utter delighted to read, and still am reading.

hopeless 2

The reason i am writing this mini review now rather than when I have finished reading it is multi-fold.

Firstly, because my to read pile is as huge as ever, and I find reading word document versions of novels less engaging than I would an ebook or a paperback simple because I have to read it at the desktop. (yes I know I could port it to my kindle, but kindles don’t scroll word documents as well as they might.)

Secondly because there is an on going kick-starter and some of my readers may want to get involved, so better to do this now while they still have a chance… (not to mention the opportunity to get thrown in a mass grave..)

And finally because I am about to die…

Okay don’t panic, melodramatic as that sounds I am not actually about to die, I am however, as an early adopter of this kick-starter going to die in Hopeless Maine and have an obituary written about my ‘probably sad but who knows it maybe joyous’ passing, by Nimue herself… An opportunity that was on offer to one hundred early adopters. These delightful deaths, currently being serialised on the Hopeless Vendetta website, are all taken, but there is still an opportunity to get thrown in a mass grave on Hopeless, who could resist such an opportunity …

As I said this is going to be an odd review, I am currently about a third of the way through New England Gothic and utterly entranced by the style, the writing, the brooding grim beauty of the island itself, the fabulous turn of phase and twisting weaving plot, to say this is well written is an understatement. Not that I expected anything else, but I had not read any long form prose from Nimue before, and so there was a mild trepidation that her wonderful writing in the hopeless graphic novels may not translate into wonderful prose, though frankly I would have been surprised had that been the case.

I need not have worried, not even for a moment. Nimue’s writing is just as engrossing in a prose novel as it is when surrounded by speech bubbles. The sense of place, the vivid descriptions, the turn of phrase, the atmosphere, and indeed the essence of Hopeless Mine itself, is all here in her words. It is just as dark, just as beautiful, just as gorgeous to read and utterly captivating along the way.

So while I am reading it now, I will be reading it again once the kick-start ends and the books arrive on my doorstep, and looking forward to it, because not only will all these wonderful words be there, but there will be illustrations from Tom as well…

So I am not saying you should hop over to the kick-starter, and become a backer and look forward to a dying in some horribly complex way that leads to you being thrown in a mass grave by Nimue’s keyboard… I not saying you should… I am just saying you will regret not doing so if you don’t.

Life is often full of regrets, not being thrown into a mass grave, then getting to read these wonder books, should not be one of them… but don’t take my word for it, I mean I could be dead any day now… But do go have a look for yourself. Juts click on the picture below to get taken to the kick-starter, a large hole in the ground full of fellow corpses awaits you there…

hopeless 3

After all, death comes to us all, seldom are we around afterwards to enjoy reading about it…



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The Occasional Bout of Self Publicity…


coming soon

No really it is , I know I said it would be out in late June, then I said early July, I may have even said ‘definitely by august’ but it is genuinely close now… It in the hands of my awesome editor, and been fully edited, so it will be in my grubby mittens for final drafting, final final drafting , read through a printed copy , redrafting a little more and then finally in a fit of desperate exhaustion it will be flung in a corner while I had a paddy, and decide its all utter garbage and I hate it, before I recover form this dark angst and realise its actually ready to release out into the world…

(writing is a process, this is mine…)

So as I say, coming soon…


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This is where we are now…

I generally avoid talking politics on this blog. There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is my desire not to enter into the kind of pointless ‘debates‘ on politics which are so common in these days of social media. A place where reason, facts and on occasion just actually considering the other point of view for a fraction of a second, seems to be beyond so many people on both sides of the political divide.

Which is not to say I shy away from political discussions elsewhere. I have firm opinions on almost everything and no compunction against expressing my views. I just don’t want my blog to be one of the places where I do this, at least not directly, though I am sure regular blog readers will have picked up on my green liberalism libertarianism.

For clarity, my liberalism is not the American definition of liberalism, and yes it is possible to be a left-leaning liberal and a libertarian… (that’s one of those debates I have gotten into way too often on the internet with people who equate MAKING A POINT IN UPPER CASE, with being irrefutably correct. The Upper Case brigade also seem to be the ones least likely to actually consider any opinion other than their own for a fraction of a second. Funny that…).

But anyway, as I say, I avoid politics on my blog for the most part. I tend to consider Humanity one big dysfunctional family which occasionally needs a counselling session, so while I may make posts about ecology, the environment and other interest of mine, such as the continuation of life on earth… I seldom make these posts actually political, save in the broadest of terms… But then I read this on the BBC this morning…


So to clarify, we have reached the point in human history, and in politics, where the BBC, which is one of the most reputable news agencies on the planet, (yes you can disagree with this statement, but you’re missing the point if that’s what you focus on… ). The BBC decides it needs to run a news story stating that dropping atomic bombs on hurricanes is perhaps not altogether a good idea…

And why are they doing this? Why indeed does the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration feel this is something that needs to be clarified? Because the current president of the United States of America, reportedly, inquired if it was a possible solution to the problem of hurricanes… (An idea that originated in the 1950’s when atomic power was both less understood and considered to be nothing short of wonderous.)

Now, I should point out here that the President has since denied making such inquiries… But then again he would, considering the reaction to the original story. But that’s only to be expected and beside the point.

The point here is this. Whether the president denies this or not. If in fact, it is not even true in the slightest, and his denial is entirely genuine. The fact is, due to what seems like an ever spiralling list of crazy things to come out of the white house, the first reaction to the news that Trump inquired about using nukes to deal with hurricanes wasn’t a feeling of shock, or disbelief. No one, even for a second, thought it was some form of satire, no one thought it was a joke, no one even thought it could be a politically motivated smear or a misrepresentation of the truth…

No, the first reaction was, ‘Yep, sounds about right…’

So this is where we are now. Living in a world where the amazon is on fire, the ice caps are melting, and no one, but no one, is surprised that the ‘leader’ of the free world was considering chucking a nuke into a hurricane…

And somewhere, out there on the internet, right now, at this very moment, someone is defending this situation and the president, and doing so IN UPPER CASE!!!!

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Fiscal realities of publishing… and the pursuit of happiness…

‘If everything you do and everything you are is in pursuit of money, then you are already bankrupt.’       ~ Cake, Ink, Collective.

Several things have happened in the last few days to inspire this post. It is a post or at least the idea behind doing it, that has also been inspired by an oft-asked question. Indeed, probably the question that seems to crop up the most whenever I talk to people who want to be writers, or I mention I and a writer. Or to be clear, it tied with that other question every author dreads ‘Where do you get your idea’s from?’. Its the question wannabe writers seem to ask the most… ‘How much money do you make?’

So, here is a little fiscal reality. My first novel Cider lane was published back in July 2015, which a little over four years ago. Since then I have published Passing Place on September 2016, the novella A Scar of Avarice in June 2018, and A Spider in The Eye in January this year. Not including this month, with all four books in print, these are my amazon earnings since January 1st this year:


sales t up to and including july

Earnings on Amazon 1st Jan to 31 July 2019


To be clear here, I am having a damn good year… I am in fact over the moon with how well it has been going. On top of amazon, I have done remarkably well, selling books at conventions, which I have done all of twice (really I must do this more often). And I can add a reasonable amount in direct sales because of this. But this is all gross, not net. Buying in books for direct sales, and in other things like business cards to hand out, hotel costs and other things. Cut into that, so if I have actually made £50 in direct sales after all that is taken into account, I have done well.

Also with the amazon figures, there are costs, advertising on Amazon and Goodreads cuts into those profits, and remarkably if that doesn’t eat profit away to nothing I have to give the taxman his share… So, all in all, I have not earned enough through writing to cover the cost of a one-month mortgage payment, and if we are cynical, the electricity it cost to run the PC to do all the writing in the first place…

And again, I am having a damn good year… I have never sold so many books per month, I feel I am really getting somewhere and really looking forward to publishing the next Hannibal novel soon. I could in fact not be happier, at least in terms of books sales… In case your wondering, the amount I have made in book sales this year is roughly the same as I made in the previous 3 years combined. So yes, it’s been a damn good year so far…


total earnings

Total earnings on Amazon from July 2015 to July 2019


On top of all my own stuff, I am also privileged to be part of the Harvey Duckman Anthologies, which has been wonderful from my perspective and has brought me a great deal of joy working with the 6E team, and the other Harvey writers. Even if I have occasionally wondered at the nativity of some of the first time writers in those anthologies when it comes to making money from books. Was I ever that naive? Probably before I published Cider Lane, and after I published Cider Lane come to that. But all the same, I always find it slightly remarkable how many people seem to want to get into writing for ‘the money’. There is no money in books, there isn’t a great deal of money in publishing full stop and there is very little money in anthologies. Indeed,  if 6E did the Harvey Duckman books for ‘the money’ then they wouldn’t do them in the first place. Luckily for me, and a whole bunch of other writers both first-timers and ‘old hands’ with their own novels out there in the big wide world, and indeed for the growing readership of these anthologies, they don’t do Harvey for the money. They do it for the joy of it, and a damn fine joy it is too…

I don’t write to make money. Oh sure that was the dream, and still is the dream. I would love to make my living through my art. But the reality is that writing is a full-time vocation, but a part-time job. I need to do little things like buy food, pay the mortgage, pay the bills and keep the lights on and so I have a full-time job. And do you know what? I am fine with that. I love writing, I love my novels and I love hearing from happy readers ( most of which say ‘When is the next one out?’ so I must be doing something right.) But will I ever make a living out of it? I doubt that somehow. There is no money in books, as I say, but then writing books has never been about the pursuit of money for me. Book are and have always been about the pursuit of happiness.

So if you are a prospective writer, here is my advice, don’t even think about the money you might make, and certainly don’t ever write for the money you might make out of doing so. Write for the joy it brings you, and for the joy of the journey. Because money, hell, it’s not even a blip on the radar.

Oh and never ask a writer how much money they make. That’s just asking to be written into a novel and then have the character gruesomely slaughtered, probably with a ballpoint pen…

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Hopeless Maine extras

Art, be it literary, graphical or pillow box cosy’s doesn’t pay. The disposable society of shiny barbarism beats down the creative’s within it, under the premise that great art can only be produced by those who suffer and sustaining any kind of lifestyle on creative output is next to impossible for around 99% of writers and artists. Indeed, subsistence level, cheese on toast six days a week funded by art would be a major achievement for most artists of any kind.
Which always makes me wonder, just how much really fabulous art/writing has never happened because the artist/writer needed to earn enough money to eat/ pay rent/ pay bills etc. first…
Which is why I am a great supporter of Patreon as a concept (unfortunately as I need to eat etc. I can’t fund ever patreon I would like to. I can, however, do this and spread the word a little)
It’s not all hopeless after all…

The Hopeless Vendetta

Let’s start with some technical details. It takes about six months of Tom working full time to draw a Hopeless Maine graphic novel. On top of this, I do about 2 hours of work on each page, plus the writing time, so let’s call that 200 hours on each book at least. Now consider how much you think a person needs to earn in a six month period.

If a comic print run is 2000 books, at £10 a pop, the entire run is worth £20,000. Half of this will disappear into the hands of distributors, and bookshops. In the case of direct sales at events, those also have costs. So let’s say that half the money does indeed make it back to the publisher – that’s 10k. The publisher has to pay for the printing, the warehouse storage and the other costs of being a publisher. What remains, pays…

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Editing Wisdom…

Soon I will be on with the final, final edit of ‘From Russia With Tassels.’ Once I get a working copy back from my editor. As such editing is a different skill set to normal writing I have been doing a lot of editing of other part-works over the last few weeks to ‘get my eye in’ for want of a better term. I both love and loathe editing in equal measure, and occasionally find myself in need of a little inspiration from the worthy and the wise. So here is another collection of snippets of wisdom for anyone setting out on that strange journey of self-flagellation that is a final edit…

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings. ~ Stephen King

I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it. ~ Don Roff

I edit my own stories to death. They eventually run and hide from me. ~ Jeanne Voelker

A good editor doesn’t rewrite words, she rewires synapses. ~ S. Kelley Harrell


The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color. ~ Emma Hill

Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Only the blank page needs no editing. ~ Marty Rubin

If you don’t hate your darlings a little by the time they go to press, you haven’t edited them enough. ~ S. Kelley Harrell

to write is

When reading I pretend I’m an editor, though when writing I realize I’m not. ~ Fierce Dolan

Editing fiction is like using your fingers to untangle the hair of someone you love. ~ Stephanie Roberts

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. ~ Patricia Fuller

When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split…. ~ Raymond Chandler

And finally, Because its a quote I am much fond of and occasionally in the midst of procrastination feel I should hang on the wall beside my desk…

You can always fix crap. You can’t fix a blank page. ~ Christina Dodd


Previous posts on writing, publish, editing, anything else to do with the craft and a whole lot of quotes…

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Book Lovers Day 2019

As I said last year,  normally hate overly twee things like this…

Image result for book lovers day

But I make an exception when it comes to books. So on the off chance, anyone doesn’t have a book to love here are a few recommendations from last years post, with additional ones added from this year…

Anything ( and indeed everything) by the fabulous C G Hatton

The Alan Shaw novels By mildy scary Craig Hallam

The Sim Cavalier Novels by intimidating interlect of  K.R.Baucherel

Hopeless: Maine and Tantamount by The Brown Debonair collective

Harvey Duckman by many a fine writer and me

Boston Metaphysics’s society by the marvelous Madeleine Holly Roslyn

Smugglers in goggles by Nils earl of Sussex

God is a bedlamite by the mysterious Katie Salvo

War of the worlds by some bloke called Wells

The Oswald Bastable novels of Micheal Moorcock

Anything in my Sunday reviews 1 2 and 3

Quite a lot of Lovecraft 

And the entire contents of the IndieO’macron  for anyone I missed off my list

And a lot of other stuff hidden down the recesses of my blog

Oh and there are any written by that notable self-publicist Mark Hayes but one feels reticent about self-promotion

Anyway, Happy book lovers day, go read something… do it now, or else I will unleash the cat upon you…



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