Book Launch: THE BUG BOOK IS UPON US

There’s one more edition to be sorted out but I thought I’d teased and withheld this for long enough.

As Simple As Hunger is here.

Kindle edition

It’s here on the Kindle on the Amazon.co.uk site.

It’s here on the Kindle on the Amazon.com site.

In fact, if you search most regional Amazon sites, you’ll find it, replete with scorpions and stuffed with intrigue, adventure, massive arthropods, zeppelins, radio celebrities, and the grand knowledge that it is literally the best saxonpunk giant arthropod adventure story with a female protagonist of colour on the entire whole of my blog. Guaranteed.

Don’t have a Kindle or Kindle reading app? We got you covered.

teaser 1
Epub & Paperback

Both here on Lulu.com and here on the iBookstore.

“But Del,” you obligingly call out in a shamelessly P T Barnum hard sell hawker move, because I’m just so bloody excellent at marketing, “I have bookshelves, Del, bookshelves with gaps in them. Bookshelves which do not groan with the modest physical and pregnant metaphorical weight of the finest printed copy of a book which, lest we forget, is the foremost saxonpunk giant arthropod adventure story to feature a fictional version of Durham university.”

Unbelieveable! I am sorry for your bookshelves. The absence of this book is an insult they cannot be expected to endure for long. Happily, they no longer have to as for the price of a standard UK mass market paperback this handsome green jewel emblazoned with the most glorious arachnid the scorpion can shuffle off the bounds of the print-on-demand warehouse, TAKE FLIGHT (probably in a zeppelin) and bound willy-nilly with glee from the arms of the postman onto your loving shelves.

Where, if you feel like it, you can pick it up and read it. Amazing.

It’s real. It’s here. It’s got scorpions on it. And it’s available on Lulu.com for a perfectly normal price.

Other editions are going to be available too.

Get cracking and get reading: Hajar al-Fihri, as portrayed by Twitter's @BigHatDino, would like you to get on that as soon as you can.
Get cracking and get reading: Hajar al-Fihri, as portrayed by Twitter’s @BigHatDino, would like you to get on that as soon as you can.
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Book Launch: As Simple As Hunger (It’s Coming!)

As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve got a new book coming out soon.

Before you get the opportunity to drown out the clamour and sorrow of the world with GIANT BUGS, SARCASTIC ENGINEERS, SPIES, and the SAXONPUNK FANTASY MASTERPIECE to end all saxonpunk fantasy giant arthropod masterpieces (apologies if I have miscalculated and there are other books in this genre, I suggest we settle this like gentlemen – by sulking about it on our blogs!), I’d like to introduce you to some of the characters, as drawn by some very talented and awesome artists in moments of passing fancy.

Unfortunately the headshots were drawn by me, but you’re just going to have to cope with that.

Benjon Silverstein.
Benjon Silverstein.

A non-occult scientist!

What does that mean? You scream impatiently.

WAIT AND SEE.

I'm not the only person to have drawn him...
I’m not the only person to have drawn him…

Kevin has his own take on the character…

hajar al-fihri

While I didn’t do a great job of representing our heroine, non-occult engineer Hajar Al-Fihri, the ever-talented Howl was kind enough to sketch a couple of shots of Hajar and her colleague Benjon:

hajar and benjon hajar and benjon

Which show off a great deal more personality…

saxonpunk

Kevin got to grips with some ideas for the style of fashion in this world and I dug it enormously!

progatonists

Then he took on some of the other protagonists – as you can see, Kevin and Howl both captured Hajar’s cautious, careful approach to situations… and her stubbornness.

Who else is in this picture? Well:

Ferdinand del Cadiz
Ferdinand del Cadiz

A wireless engineer, Ferdinand del Cadiz…

Hana Al-Fihri
Hana Al-Fihri

Hajar’s mother, Hana Al-Fihri, who suffered somewhat from my inability to draw her… poor Hana.

Radigis
Radigis

Radigis, who looks slightly less simian in Kevin’s art, and a good job too… there’s a reason I don’t illustrate my own work!

John Lancaster
John Lancaster

And at last, John Lancaster, who works on an oil rig.

That’s not quite the whole major cast, though:

cast

REMINDER: you too could have a copy of As Simple As Hunger on your bookshelf or on your e-Reader (phone, tablet, whatever). IT’S COMING VERY SOON. VERY, VERY SOON.

I shall leave the final word with a tiny, teasing close-up of more from wildly talented artist B L Becotte

The full image would, alas, constitute a fairly major spoiler.
The full image would, alas, constitute a fairly major spoiler.

Book Launch: As Simple As Hunger

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and people who do not identify as any of the above! Bug enthusiasts, fantasy fans, people who just want to read something new and different and before everyone else – I have great news for YOU. You have the chance to pounce on a novel of ferocious novelty, an epic of epic quality, the fantasy fiction saxonpunk universe with giant bugs and zeppelin cities to end all fantasy fiction saxonpunk universes with giant bugs and zeppelin cities. You will quake with terror at the vastness of the spider citadel! You will gasp in awe at the aforementioned zeppelin city! You will make a series of conflicted faces about a number of locations and scenes in which all kinds of dastardliness and arthropods dwell!

teaser 1 teaser 2

As Simple As Hunger is poised to crawl among us, spreading fascination, wonder, tears, laughter, and some REALLY BIG INVERTEBRATES wherever it goes.

‘Well we’re not going to sit around and wait for you to write it’, I hear you cry, as a rhetorical device. Not to worry! The manuscript is already written. It is edited. It is ready to fly! It is sitting on the runway awaiting clearance to swoop into your personal library and change either your life or at least a couple of days where you might have succumbed to some other, lesser book.

WHEN? When is this happening?

Soon. So soon. Hold on. It’s coming.

Book Launch: Brown Bread Boys, A Tragedy

The time has come to let this particular manuscript into the wild! I’m very fond of this one (I’m fond of all my books, but don’t tell anyone – I hear that kind of thing comes off as arrogance in the wrong circles), and it was pretty much incredibly good fun to write from start to finish.

Hopefully it’ll be good fun to read from start to finish, too: a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar without the politics but with a chilling, ancient blood magic and feuding London gangs, replete with a diverse cast of characters and familiar places.

Cover photo by J Reilly

The King is dead: long live the King. Or so the echoes suggest. But Craig Williamson has barely murdered his way to total dominance of his London crime family when already his lieutenants are plotting against him: not greedy, just concerned. Or so they say.

One thing is for sure: whoever wins, it’s bad news for the police, who still don’t know how to prosecute or even properly investigate the gruesome, ancient blood magic used by the gun…

…even the gang themselves don’t fully understand it.

Brown Bread, Boys is available to buy in print from Amazon or Lulu, as a variety of eBook formats from Lulu (and a few other places), and as a Kindle .mobi from Amazon (UK | US) – there’s almost no end of ways you can pick up and devour this story. Except by literally picking it up and eating it, because that is a bad way to read a book.


Other books I’ve written are listed here.

My 16 Year Old Self can rest easy.

I have finally made it into The Guardian in some form:

Readers’ recommended self-published authors

  • Pass the Parcel by Delilah des Anges recommended by many readers including nkkingston: ‘Her morally-compromised characters feel real for their flaws and you sympathise with them’

Another familiar face on the list is L. S. Baird:

  •  Evensong’s Heir by L.S. Baird, recommended by Eider: ‘She has such a way with words that I find myself remembering passages and wanting to read scenes over and over again! […] A marvelous author; one of my very, very favorites.’

I’m desperately pleased not only to be featured but to be in so good company! What a fantastic early Christmas present! (And much thanks to Laura for letting me know about it).

Book Release: Vessel 151-B (Short Story)

Previous short stories I’ve put up for eReader purchase have fallen under modern parable/sports fairytale and body horror/historical lgbt horror, because I like to give genre boundaries a run for their money, and one of the stories I’ve put up on this blog probably comes under the heading of literary fiction, which (as mentioned) is not actually a dirty set of words. The latest offering I have is helpfully far more easily-categorised under classic sci-fi. If you want to get technical there are elements of classical parable and body horror in there, but it is more or less a straight-forward sci-fi story.

It’s also somewhat longer than the others, coming in at about 10,000 words, making it ideal for a train journey rather than a Tube journey.

After a terrible accident Calvin Owusu-Baah wakes to a silent ship and a strange, nagging sense that something is not right. As he begins to investigate he finds that things are far, far worse than he could have imagined, and that his efforts to improve the situation are only going to make things wrong.(short story)Available for Amazon Kindle (UK | US), and most other eReaders (here).
Cover taken from a photograph by J. Reilly.

After a terrible accident Calvin Owusu-Baah wakes to a silent ship and a strange, nagging sense that something is not right. As he begins to investigate he finds that things are far, far worse than he could have imagined, and that his efforts to improve the situation are only going to make things wrong.

Available for Amazon Kindle (UK | US), and most other eReaders (here); Vessel 151-B conforms to the most basic tenets of science fiction in asking questions about how humanity relates to technology, and where the limits of both human nature and responsibility lie.

Book Release: Tame

Melissa Snowdon, my romance-and-erotica-writing alter-ego, has just dropped another book out of her slathering maw. Why is it slathering? Who knows, but who has ever seen any other kind of maw? Exactly.

The book in question is Tame, a lesbian chick-lit retelling of Little Red Riding Hood – in the loosest possible sense – with werewolves. Or a werewolf. The point is, it’s totally paranormal romance and I heard that was hot. Or at least readable. Anyway,

Julie Holms has it all, if “all” means living in the shadow of her beautiful best friend, her obnoxious sister, and her bewilderingly-obsessed-with-wheatgerm Mummy. She’s got an eBay habit, a wardrobe that occupies dimensions bigger than her flat, and a coat everyone in Marketing thinks is very Last Year, but her life is about to become far too exciting by way of mysterious strangers on rooftops, That Cute One From Marketing, and possibly one or two things she thought only happened in the movies.

… like werewolves.

Quoth the blurb, and:

“Tame pleases and satisfies like diet-breaking chocolate,” quoth Mina Kelly.

“Snappy, honest, funny and touching. [Tame] turns the chick lit genre on its head then gives it a proper kicking while it’s down. A brilliant read,” quoth Melanie Clegg.

This time the photographer is the model, ooh la la.
This time the photographer is the model, ooh la la.

Tame is available in print, for the Kindle (US, UK), and in ePub format.

Book Release: Saint Grimbald’s Men

After the fashion of Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, I’m letting this little story go on the Kindle for a pittance. At some point when I’ve amassed enough of these little stories I’ll put them together in a print collection, like I did with Tiny Fictions, so if you’re all about the dead tree format (and I don’t blame you, there is great satisfaction in being able to throw a book you don’t like across the room, and deleting something from your Kindle just isn’t the same!) don’t worry, it will eventually come to pass in a throwable, self-fillable format as well.

Unlike Hannah Matchmaker’s New Skates, this is also available as a PDF, without fussing about with Amazon’s interface (and profit margin); just pop me an email at [myname] at gmail dot com and ask about Paypal (it’ll be the same price as it’s listed on Amazon).

A grim tale.
A grim tale.

Unlike the roller derby story, this is very much not a sweet tale about overcoming the odds and learning to believe in yourself; instead it’s about the terrible consequences of repression, as expressed by body horror in a monastery. Or at least, I decided it was about the terrible consequences of repression: it’s actually about two monks who fall in love.

The Kindle edition is available from here ( .com instead of .co.uk if you’re not in the UK, obviously) , for a cover price of $0.99 USD or whatever that is in your local currency (in mine it usually works out at about 77p). For a sample of some of my fiction that you don’t have to pay for (besides the free previews on Lulu etc), there’s this.

And if you enjoyed the cover photograph, it is the work of one J. Reilly, and you can find more of her photography here.

Our Main Query Now Is “Why Not Self-Publish?”

It’s that time again. Another manuscript has reached “final draft” stage, and is sitting in relative completion on my hard-drive. Ordinarily I would be in the finnicky stretch near publication, sorting out type-setting and punctuation, and labouring with a kind of soothing intensity over the cover design. When not in a hurry, designing book covers is the best part of publishing after the actual writing part. I ought to be, at present, making sure that 133,500-ish words of alternative fantasy with a political bent and some giant bugs and a heavy science-vs-superstition message has all the smart quotes facing the right way and all the em-dashes are em-dashes and not en-dashes. Making use of a hectic six months of typesetting training which would otherwise have had no use.

Instead, I’m procrastinating on opening a tab for QueryTracker and getting down to looking for suitable agents to query. I haven’t queried an agent since I was 17.

There was a time when the idea of sending manuscripts to agents and editors was an automatic extension of the process of writing: when I was a teenager, still plugging away with my first (unremittingly awful) novel, I read a lot of guides on getting your book published and submitting work. This was the 1990s, and stern advice from agents and editors alike about how to submit and what to submit and how not to address people put the fear of God – or at least the fear of Commissioning Editor – into me, until I had no courage to submit anything other than short stories to competitions. It took winning one such competition to get me worked up to send my manuscript to the editor of the publishing house which ran the contest, and even that was specifically after I’d talked to the editor about it in person and she’d told me to send it.

(I should note: this was a book I wrote when I was 15/16. It was the wrong genre for the publisher and nowhere near good enough, but they were good enough to give me a lot of very valuable feedback about pacing and voice and a suggestion of other places who might take it).

In the intervening years I’ve met quite a few people who write books, some for publishers, and some self-published. There was one author who wrote for publishers, but set up his own printing press (and solicited me for a short story for the inaugural anthology, which ended up never happening due to a lack of funds); there is the very successful Melanie Clegg, who self-published four novels and was finally queried by agents, and has now been commissioned to write a book in one of her many areas of expertise; there is another friend who wrote erotica novels for a publishing house and has since moved on to self-publishing non-erotica work; a friend who has written for national radio and major comics companies and has a selection of contacts which would make most beginners green with envy and yet still chose to self-publish his prose; and one friend who is just beginning, and opted to self-publish her dystopian Young Adult novel. In the press, too, there have been examples of people who self-published and were eventually picked up by larger publishers, the most well-known of which is of course E L James and her Fifty Shades books.

Their reasons are many: dissatisfaction with the strictures of traditional publishing houses, dislike of operating through agents, fear of rejection, a disinclination to remove sections of their work to make it more “marketable” (acceptable to the lowest common denominator), an interest in retaining a specific literary style which isn’t in vogue with publishing houses, work in a format or length which is incompatible with mass markets, or the apparently insurmountable difficulty of breaking the market without prior fame (or indeed with prior form but in the “wrong” genre). There are obstacles to publication: agents or editors who don’t believe the public are interested in a book about Marie Antoinette are proven wrong by Melanie’s success with her first novel; the idea that women aren’t interested in BDSM in fiction are proven wrong by the astronomical sales of the Fifty Shades books (apologies to Melanie for mentioning her in the same breath as E L James!) and then we have books which don’t fit neatly into a marketing profile/genre; books which have niche appeal; books which feature scenes or themes distasteful to a publishing company’s core target demographic (Poppy Z Brite’s Exquisite Corpse, which was very influential for me as an older teenager, was bounced from pillar to post around the UK before Orion was prepared to take it); books aimed at younger readers featuring gender variant or non-straight characters often find it hard to find a publisher, etc.

With all this in mind, it’s almost surprising that I’m even considering “proper” publishing at all. My books typically don’t fit well into one genre at a time (“alternate urban sci fi literary fiction”, “cold case murder mystery litfic”, “revenge tragedy horror”, “political steampunk with bugs”), they usually feature uneasy morals and non-straight characters in major or leading roles whose narrative isn’t a coming out story or a poignant AIDS death, and happy endings tend to be like hen’s teeth.

But I promised a very indignant friend that this book would at least see some agents, and she went to the trouble of drafting a query letter for me so that the inevitable brain meltdown in the face of trying to say something about my book. So, for the sake of not having an angry editor/author/kindergarten teacher beating me across the Atlantic with a sharp stick for letting all her good work go to waste, at some point I have to open that damn tab.


Footnotes:

  1. I have made some progress in addressing Vincent’s Problem, by changing the parameters. The goal is not to get my work published or even read, but rather to keep the short stories in continual circulation of editors: all I have to do is keep the ball in the air, send the stories back out the same day I get my rejection notices through, and I’m “succeeding”. Turning failure into a game is an easier way to deal with it.
  2. This blog post came about as a result of a discussion on Twitter with some of the people mentioned in the body, one of whom made the worrying observation that some of the public Twitter accounts of agents and their mentions of books had made her go for self-publishing. I don’t know what to say about this precisely, but it suggests to me that my paranoia about being publicly humiliated and ridiculed for sending in a manuscript to an agent may not be as paranoid as I’d hoped. Part of me thinks that sounds really unprofessional on the part of said agents, but I know that as an unpublished jobbing author I have not even a hint of a hope of complaining about that.