I have a new book out.
Anyway, it's called NO FIRE WITHOUT SMOKE (see what I did there?), and is one of the last titles to have been accepted and edited and printed and all the rest by Robert Hale Ltd. Hale had been going since the 1930s, and in that time published some names that the reader(s) of this blog will no doubt recognise, from Robert Heinlein, through Elmore Leonard, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, to David Stuart Davies.
With increasingly difficult market conditions (not helped by widespread library closures in the UK), they decided to cease trading last year. I don't think I was to blame for them shutting shop. . .though I certainly can't claim to have produced work of the quality of the aforementioned big hitters.
It's been an honour to have had my books put out by them and I thank all involved in bringing my little fictions into the wider world.
The Crowood Press have taken on distribution of the Hale titles and contracts that were intact at the end of Hale's trading. We wish Ken Hathaway and his team luck and hope they can step up to meet the standards Hale set and by which they had come to be highly regarded.
So my final book with Hale starts like this:
This is the story of the lady sharpshooter Smoke Winters, and how she went to Inferno, fought and died there, and then went back and fought all over again to save a child that was no blood relation to her and who held her to no promise that I ever knew about.
It ain't a ghost story, and it ain't nothing to do with ressurection either, at least not as it's written about in the Bible. It's not even about revenge. Or not in the way you might think.
The reasons Smoke did what she did ... well, I guess they're complicated, and you'll have to work them out yourself in the end. I have my own ideas, but the truth is I can only tell you what she did and just a little bit about why she did it.
Settle in and give me some of your time. This is what happened.
The book can be bought in its hardcover format online from Amazon Uk here and the Book Depository here. You can find it online in most stores around the world. You have been warned.
Those of you -- I say this as if more than one person is reading, but what the hell, let's carry on with the unfounded optimism, it is the New Year after all -- who read my last blog entry may remember I promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view) that if you signed up to the Unsung Stories free subscription service one of my short stories would be deliverered in handly little html to your chosen recepticle. I also said it would be before Christmas.
Well, as they say, a funny thing happened on the way to the Internet . . .
Quite rightly, Gary Budden and the guys from Unsung decided that my tale wasn't exactly in the Christmas spirit, didn't want to be responsible for making people depressed for the holidays, and held the tale over to the New Year. Possibly they did this as a service, you might think, so that folk who were still hung over from the festive season and facing the cruel months of winter would realise things couldn't get any worse and that, having read my piece, could face the future with optimism and a driving sense of purpose. Whatever the reason, I'm glad the tale is with them. They're a young but quality brand. As I said in my last entry (or should have done if I didn't), Unsung have put up some really good stories, and the backlist of tales is well worth checking out on their website.
I'm flattered to have been included in their line-up.
If you haven't signed up for the free tale once every two weeks, then you can do so now by clicking here and filling in your details.
So. My tale. My story for Unsung is called "Fashioning Trees." It's an odd little thing, and I don't really know where it came from. I just had an image in my head one morning of someone looking out of a window and seeing someone tending to a garden . . . or something horticultural anyway. The rest followed on from that. Apply fingers to keyboard, rattle keyboard a while, see what happens. I can't say that it's the most effective and intellectual way of writing a story. But, you know, sometimes it works.
Want to read my tale online, rather than in your email window? Sure, you can. Click here.
Hope you like it.
And Happy New Year.
As Mr Lennon said, Let's hope it's a good one.
There's a trend of which I approve. I know - surprising, isn't it? I'm not much of a one for trends. If people walk down a flight of stairs something perverse in me tends to want to walk up them. But I like this trend. Short stories, free of charge, emailed to your home . . . or phone or tablet or whatever.
Mostly they're short shorts, nothing much more than 1500 words long. Which is just about right for reading on a phone, I feel.
Over at Daily Science Fiction, they've really got it down to a fine art, and have stories ranging from a hundred words or so to maybe a thousand. And they do it daily. (Well, almost; they don't work weekends.) They took one of my pieces a few moons ago, which can be read free of charge still, on their site here. It's called "In the White of the Snow," and is, I seem to recall, exactly 1000 words long.
Now, the lovely folk at Unsung Stories have taken one of my pieces. It's a longer tale, edging over a couple of thousand words. Sometimes more is more. Unsung Stories don't send a tale out daily; they send you something every couple of weeks. Sometimes less is more. If you'd like to read my tale - or frankly just want some stories delivered free into your inbox - then you can subscribe by clicking through to here.
If I have got the scheduling right, sometime this month my piece will arrive . . . like Santa.
Mince pie and a tumbler of sherry at the ready for it please, even though it's not a Christmas story.
Did I mention it's free?