It’s Here! It’s Queer! It’s all smoke and mirrors, I fear!

Step right this way, step inside, and see the greatest show ever to amaze your senses and baffle your mind. Watch! As a budding friendship is slowly but completely transformed before your very eyes! Marvel! At how stupid four very intelligent young people can actually be when confronted with life’s mysteries! Gasp! With indignation at the skullduggery and bad manners brought in the pursuits of love, fame, wealth, and let’s be honest, a lot more wealth. Blush! At some of the language! Laugh! Primarily at some of those waistcoats! Tremble! At the revelation of worlds beyond worlds and compacts most rare and Faustian!

Buy! This! Book!

Buy it:

On Amazon Kindle (US | UK), on Lulu (print | eBook), on iBooks, on Nook, on Kobo…

What’s it about? What’s it about? You’ve heard all this and you still need to know more? Allow me:

The year is 1900. An Earl, an engineer, a suburban philosopher, and an enigma meet at University and make a pact to learn the art of conjuring.

But nothing among the friends is quite as it seems, and soon the happy four are plunged into worlds of political activism, crime, despair, sordid trysts, and a Faustian compact which seems set to threaten their very lives, one by one…

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Grotesque self-pimping!

Hello! I just got an email from my lovely editors at New Smut Project letting me know the anthology I’m featured in (as Melissa Snowdon) got a really nice review from Adriana Ravenlust at Of Sex and Love! And in fact got singled out for attention (okay, okay, she singles most of the stories out for attention because it’s a great anthology full of inventive fiction and such but let me have my moment).

Which I hope stands as further encouragement to, if you haven’t already, grab yourself a copy of Between the Shores and enjoy; and/or pick up Heart, Body, Soul which I didn’t write anything for but which does feature a story by a friend of mine.

New Book Cover: The Breaking of M

I enjoyed making the cover for Saint Grimbald’s Men so much that I decided to take another of Ms Reilly’s photographs and make a similar one for The Breaking of MAs the latter is also an eBook only, it’s easier to change covers on a whim. Do you think this one is better? Or was the old one more suitable to the story?

new breaking of m cover

No change to the actual book itself, although I took the opportunity to make the listing on Amazon a little clearer about the book’s content (because I do read my reviews, and when people are commenting that they got a different book to the one they expected, even when they downloaded it on one of the free offer days, I listen).

Confluence of events

On the 2nd of July two things happened which affect my sewing progress on the million projects I have laid out for myself (including the accidental production of a pair of red snakeskin trousers).

  1. A friend and patron bought me about an acre of really beautiful burgundy taffeta with gold foil patterns on it, and another friend instructed me that I’m making myself a dress out of it.
  2. Which might be a little hard to do, as while I was trying to finish off the aforementioned red snakeskin trousers (made from an adapted leggings pattern), my sewing machine had a tantrum. I fixed it, it promptly threw another. This continued until the whole thing was completely locked up, at which point my partner in crime and cohabiting and I took the thing as much to pieces as we could (it’s been out of warranty for about 5 years, probably longer, given that I got it in late 2005). It was pretty much fucked, and I was faced with a choice between getting a service on it and potentially paying for new parts, or just ordering a slightly less decrepit sewing machine.

I opted for the latter, but even scraping the “special buy” section at John Lewis has set me back more than I can really handle, so…

… I am doing what I’ve just been told is a “buy my shit post”, or more accurately the less humiliating version of begging for Paypal donations (I don’t think I’m down to that yet).

If none of it appeals to you personally, remember that having a box of “gifts for emergencies” is super useful and makes you look like you’re thoughtful and on the ball. Also that I will definitely thank you for it.

Kindle Books Summary

Kindle Direct Publishing have done a thing with their payment systems that conceivably leads to me actually getting the money I’ve earned from them, so I thought now might be as good a time as any to talk everyone through the works of mine that are available via the Kindle store (most of the publications, in fact).

As Delilah Des Anges

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The Other Daughter is a revenge tragedy with comedic elements. It’s set in a fictional Midwest town in the United States and begins with a female soldier returning from a (fictional) second US war against Korea – in this case North Korea. It involves magic, bloodshed, and a heroine whose motivation is highly questionable and whose moral compass has been somewhat distorted both my the events she’s come to avenge herself over and by the events which have led her back home. I wrote the mainstay of this book in 2006 and I think it’s probably the darkest of my novels. And it’s $1.99 on the Kindle Store. [Price given in dollars because that’s the constant: the link goes to the UK store, but the US store has it too, as do the German, French, Italian, etc.]. I made a more fulsome post about this one when I launched it.

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Protect Me From What I Want, written in 2010, uses the 2008 Haut de la Garenne case on Jersey as a jumping-off point for a first-person reported narrative which is less about police work than it is about the detective in question failing to notice that he’s having a breakdown. I’d wanted to write this story for a while, in part because there are thorny questions of morality involved: what makes something unacceptable and something else acceptable? Since writing this there has been the catastrofuck that is the unfolding Jimmy Savile case (if you’re not from the UK and haven’t heard about this I don’t advise Googling as it was pretty grim), the central questions of consent and morality have become retroactively even more complicated. It’s also $1.99 on the Kindle Store, and despite the subject matter is probably a little less dark than The Other Daughter.

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How Not To Write By Someone Who Doesn’t is the most popular thing I have put on the Kindle Store under my own name. I’d like to say that it’s because it’s a vital and accessible work dealing with the realities of writing but I’m pretty sure the fact that it’s cheap and reasonably no-nonsense probably has more to do with it. It’s a selection of essays and exercises filtering everything I was taught at university while studying creative writing and everything I’ve learnt since into some bossy directions on, mostly, sitting the fuck down and writing. If that’s the kind of writing advice you think you or someone in your life needs, do get it, because I’m fantastic at motivating people to work by, uh, yelling at them until they do. Also it’s cheap: $0.99 USD on the Kindle Store, and the Kindle version has a couple of pieces which aren’t in the print version so you’re getting more bang for less buck.

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Year of the Ghost: Collect Poems 2011 is as it says on the cover, a year’s worth of poetry. It covers a lot of topics, and a lot of death, because 2011 was a year of prominent deaths and upheavals, which means it’s less something you’d want to read for light and uplifting amusement (although there are some uplifting poems within), and more something for expressing bigger emotions. I posted at greater length about this when it was launched last year. It’s available only for eReaders (as an ePub and for the Kindle), and on the Kindle Store cost the princely sum of $1.55 USD.

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Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, a short fable on on the importance of achieving things under your own steam without taking any shortcuts, is also about rollerderby, which means it is at least nine times more awesome than it would otherwise be. More here. This little tidbit of fiction is also a Kindle exclusive, which means if you’re an Amazon prime member and don’t fancy paying $0.99 like everyone else, you can borrow it for free.

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Pass the Parcel, set in alternate London and dealing with a complex and interlocking selection of lives linked by the passage of a small blue statue, took about eight years from first idea to final draft, maybe slightly longer. It’s a labour of love and of tendinitis, filled with enough different and striking characters that you’re almost certain to find one you like, and failing that if you don’t fall in love with this version of London I have failed in my mission. Print costs for something this long are exorbitant, so by buying it for the Kindle at $1.99 you are saving a lot of money.

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Tiny Fictions 2011 is the combined might of four miniature books of short stories, which despite the title have come from across the reaches of writerly time and not just 2011 (the original instalments were all published in 2011, hence the title). There is an infinite of variety of genres, characters, endings, and matter in these stories, from romance to crime to horror to fairytales to fantasy to lurid dreamscapes: some of the stories are so short you can devour them in a minute or two, and some are long enough to last a whole train journey. This galaxy of variable stars costs $1.99 on the Kindle Store and enriches your life.

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Know Your Words, the first book I published, is an anthology of poetry by three writers. Myself, House to Astonish‘s very own Al Kennedy, and Bostonian burlesque queen and performance poet Amy. We have different, complementary styles: Al’s is conversational, friendly, and often upbeat, riven with good humour; Amy’s is incisive, personal, and cutting, drawing comparisons with Denise Duhamel; mine is rambling and broad, taking in a number of styles and subjects, including SCIENCE. This sweet collection is also only $1.99 on the Kindle Store.

As Melissa Snowdon

Why a separate name for these books? Branding, pure and simple. Don’t screw your face up in disgust: it’s just a convenient way of putting the fluffy romance/erotica books in a different category to the more serious work. If you see Melissa Snowdon on the cover you know you’re getting something different to what you’re getting if you pick up a Delilah Des Anges book. They’re generally a lot less heavy on the plot and a lot more heavy on the gentlemen having sexy funtimes with other gentlemen, for one, and can usually be relied upon for a happy ending.

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The Breaking of M is a first-person meandering erotica/romance novel set in the 1600s and spanning the world from Venice to Mexico in the age of colonialism. It follows some of the fortunes of inveterate liar, former pirate and current spy, dandy, and hedonistic bisexual Matimeo Calvisia: Matimeo meets his match in arrogant, bossy and youthful Padre Vito Alessandro Bonifatigo, and finds himself at the mercy of an altogether more frightening prospect in the New World. This story contains lashings of BDSM and ridiculous happenstance, and is best suited for scratching very specific itches. A Kindle exclusive, it’s $1.99 or free if you’re an Amazon Prime member: there’s a slightly longer post about it here.

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The Curious Case of the Firecrotch: This is why we don’t write our memoirs while drunk, Wil is a cheesy, tongue-in cheek tribute to and pastiche of both the traditional noir detective and 70s trash pulp gay erotica. It’s also my first collaboration with a deeply irreverent friend, who is writing under the name Dionysia Hill because she doesn’t take this “writing” business very seriously (a salutatory lesson for us all). It’s the story of perpetually broke and perpetually drunk private eye Wil Kemp and his reluctantly-taken caseload, trying to pay his rent, avoid being shot for poking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, and find the missing boyfriend of a cute redhead that he’d rather be sleeping with himself. Ms Hill’s contribution to this work is that it’s snappy, sharp, and has a genuinely heart-warming ending. Also, at a wallet-bendingly low price of $0.99 USD it’s probably a worthwhile investment: more details on the launch post.

If you don’t have a Kindle

Never fear: the majority of these are available in print too. In fact there are a few titles (For the Love of a CityKissing Carrion #1, and Shots in the Dark) which are only available in print/PDF format.

New Year, New Offer

I’m not sure it’s really an “offer” so much as a “permanent price drop”, but: as of now, all the Kindle versions of books I’ve put out (with the exception of the charity anthology) are now $1.99 or less.

In keeping with this, the eBooks on the Lulu.com site (PDFs) have been dropped to a maximum of £1.45, which depending on fluctuations on the exchange rate may or may not be the same price. Amazon insists that everything is index-linked to the US dollar, while Lulu allows me to set prices originally in GB sterling. Confusing!

Unfortunately due to the costs of print-on-demand publishing I can’t lower the price on the print books, but you will get the warm glow of knowing you have a big hunk of dead tree in your hands which can’t be arbitrarily deleted from your eReader (as a Kindle owner-and-user I am more than a little wary of the tendency of said eReaders to go bananas and suddenly decide I can’t read books that I’ve paid for: as a consequence of this there is NO DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT applied to the things I’ve published where that’s an option). You’ll also get the fuzzy feeling of me getting slightly more of my own royalties!

… We will pretend that constitutes a reward. But! Some of my books are very heavy so if you don’t like them you can put them in a bag and use them to knock out burglars.

If you’ve already read basically everything I’ve ever published ever, my mate Lee “Budgie” Barnett has his 12 Days of Fast Fiction available FREE in .ePub and .mobi formats, and m’colleague Melanie Clegg as ever has her fabulous historical novels at a very affordable price.

Kindle | Lulu

(Cross your fingers that my next post is something more interesting than throwing a tantrum about how annoying writing plot outlines is).

Kindle Launch: Protect Me From What I Want

When a 40-year-old cold case opens unexpectedly on a sleepy island, John Hennessey (perpetually-on-the-brink-of-being-fired) finds his past comes back to haunt him, too. This unconventional tale is told in the first person to an unseen reporter, and through the eyes of a not-wholly honest observer.

Already available in print and EPUB format, now that I’ve got the hang of Kindle Direct Publishing a little better this unusual mystery story (that isn’t really a mystery) is also available for Kindle for £2.64; I promise it doesn’t contain as many Bergerac references as the Lulu.com tags may make it look like.

Book launch: Collected Poems 2011 (eBook only)

This does exactly what it says on the tin: collects up every single poem I wrote in 2011 and puts it online as an EPUB available from Lulu.com (and also I believe the iBook store and Barnes & Noble or something). Some of them are exceptionally silly (I mean, some of them are about the X-men, I wasn’t po-facedly composing pastoral literature here), some of them are very personal, some of them are good, some of them are … less wonderful.

Stand-out poems that I recall include the title poem year of the ghost, reflecting on quite how many people had died already when I wrote it in early 2011; it is a sestina, and it was unfortunately more prophetic than I realised. Another was thule, related to the horrific shootings in Utoya, and Pyrexia as revolutionary fever seemed to grip large segments of the world. I’m not usually given to writing political poetry as I’m always worried about coming off sounding like Rik from the Young Ones (BBC), but it’s hard not to want to process real-life events through art; the year closed with Stop, You’re Killing Me, which linked together all of the protests of the year under one banner.

I’ve also written more about science in the last year than is usual, and after watching Wonders with the delightful Brian Cox embarked on an ambitious attempt to mimic structurally the lifecycle of a universe in poetic form, imaginatively titled Life Cycle; I spent a while learning about sound technology and the related physics, which came through in poems like FM and wave.table; I learnt about Victorian London in more depth and produced This Pestilent City.

London, along with fairytale and mythological imagery, and viscera, is a constant source of inspiration and a good number of poems have been devoted to it this year as in previous years.

The cover is a departure from the usual Gothic masterpieces or piles of papers that make up my poetry book covers, but I think there’s something quite bold about the minimalism of it. What do you think?


Collected Poems 2011 by Delilah Des Anges is available for £2.99.

Kindle launch: How Not To Write

Click through to Amazon.co.uk

How Not to Write by Someone Who Doesn’t is a collection of essays and exercises designed to help you suck less at writing, or feel like you suck less at writing after having read about the awful mess that I perpetually make of it.

It is already available in print and PDF formats, but I’ve now got around to making sense of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (in part thanks to Melanie Clegg‘s helpful guide) and have put up a Kindle special addition with two further essays included by way of enticement.

The Kindle edition is a humongous and bank-breaking 77p or $0.99 if you’re American (I can’t quite recall what the price is on various EU Amazon sites but “less than 1 Euro” is likely).