Thursday, 27 October 2011

MANCHESTER 6... E-book out now...

A heads up to let you know that my first collection of gritty crime stories in the 'MANCHESTER' series is out on Amazon.  UK readers click here (for a the price of a cheap brew!).  If in doubt, you can read the product description there too.  Non-UK readers click here.

Publisher, Trestle Press, reliably informs me: "Readers can purchase in whatever country they live.  It can be read on any e-reading device and whatever platform, smart-phone, tablet, e-reader."

Haven't got a Kindle? No sweat, as you can download 'Kindle for PC' free! :-)

Any issues, please use the comments section below.  

I sincerely hope you enjoy MANCHESTER 6...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

LIVERPOOL 5... MANCHESTER 6... now THAT'S entertainment!

What a game that was!

Yep, the secret's out (unbeknown to me, all over Facebook, while I was still editing the bloody stories - and, yeah, they're bloody alright!). So, after dragging my feet on the ebook lark, I've finally succumbed and am so proud to say, my own collection is imminent... MANCHESTER 6 will be out in the next couple of days.

I've been thinking about it for a while, after seeing a lot of my good buds bringing out ebooks.  My issue was simply not wanting to disrespect my agent, Nat Sobel, who I'm still working with on a prospective crime novel series.  So, I asked for Nat's blessing and, he said, "Go for it". Things moved fast then...

Thursday afternoon I emailed my proposal (for a series) to Trestle Press. An hour later their head honcho, Giovanni Gelati accepted, and by the evening 'Gio' (he's me mate now, innit!) designed the snazzy looking cover.  I was up all night editing, tweaking, cutting, tightening the six stories, and, after doing a blurb and bio, by the early hours of Saturday morning, it's all been sent to Trestle.

As us Mancs, say, "Am well chuffed".

I felt Trestle would be a good choice as many of my trusty writer buds are already with them. Which brings me to LIVERPOOL 5.

This developed for Luca just hours after I posted the interview with him below.  So to update his rapid rise to 'Authordom'... his collection is available to buy, for the price of a bag of chips, over at Amazon... here.
I love chips, so have already bought mine. What? You didn't know Amazon sold chips? They're doing everything now... e-chips are amazing... eat all you want 'n' yer don't get fat!  No? Okay, good night.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

You're havin' a laugh... well you soon will be at THE LAUGHTER SHACK!!!

The Laughter Shack is a fun new webzine that's now open for business. According to esteemed Editor, BJ Titzengolf, and his 'buxom' assistant, Joanne Kallot, "We'll be showcasing some well written, funny stories of up to 500 words". 

They also have a 'general dogsbody' about the place, so if there are any issues just shout, "Mike Oxlong!", and things should get sorted pronto.

In my humble opinion, this will be a breath of fresh air blowing through the blogosphere; something to lift your spirits, and give you a break from reality.

So, what are you waiting for...?  Get writing, reading, following and get yerselves over there! It's gonna be a right good laugh! :-)

Full submissions guidelines are here.  
Follow the Laughter Shack on Twitter @LaughterShack

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Interview with reviewer-cum-writer, Luca Veste...

Italian football's latest star!
Luca's popularity around the blogosphere is no surprise to me. It's testament to him being an all round (or oval) good egg, family man, friend, honest reviewer, and talented writer. We 'chewed the fat' about stuff, including - Manchester (Mancs) v Liverpool (Scousers), OFF THE RECORD (e-book for charity), being published, reviewing and, of course, the FTSE 100 index (I lied about the last bit)...  

1) The Beatles or Oasis?

Have to say The Beatles, otherwise they will revoke my Scouser card. 'A Day in the Life' is one of the finest songs ever written, so Oasis don't even come close to be fair.

2) Manchester and Liverpool are both major cities in the Northwest of England, and only 35 miles apart. What are the similarities and differences?

I don't really know Manchester all that well, but from what I hear from various Mancunian friends, there are lot of similarities in the poorer areas. A sense of community, that sort of thing. I think our sense of humour differs greatly though. I suppose Liverpool's history as a Port, Football and The Beatles stuff has given us an edge on Manchester, which we never really took advantage of. I think Manchester grasps any opportunities that comes their way a lot more than Liverpool ever has. Which means you get Olympic stadiums which become fantastic Football grounds, and Liverpool gets a nice new concrete shopping paradise instead.

3) There's a myth that Mancs 'n' Scousers simply don't get on. Do you think that this stems purely from football rivalry, or is it more deep-rooted than that? And, have we blown that myth out of the water with our friendship?

I think it's definitely a Football thing. Before the 90s, and Manchester United's rise to dominance, I don't remember any real anonymity between the two cities, well, not to the level it can get to now. I think it's a jealousy (ugh, as a Red, I hated typing that) thing for Liverpool fans, Everton fans don't really have the same anger towards Man Utd as Liverpool fans do. Plus, we're two big Northern cities, there's always a sense of competition between the two.

And you're a Man City fan, so we'll never know how it will have been if you'd of been Man Utd fan. Mind you, you'd be from down South if that was the case!

4) You bounced onto the blog scene, as a reviewer of crime/horror novels, in June this year, and have made quite an impact. Do you think that famous 'Scouse sense of humour' (he-he) played its part? Where was Luca Veste before June, and what was he up to?

I was reading. A lot. I lost my job a couple of years back, and it turned out to be the best thing that could've happened in a strange way. I started an access course at University of Liverpool (I came top of the class...after marrying above my station and having two beautiful daughters, it's my proudest achievement) and began looking at DOING rather than THINKING. It was something I was considering doing for quite a while. I was always reading reviews and stuff online, and wanted to have a go at it. It came from wanting to give something back to writers I enjoyed. If you look at some of my early reviews, they are all of my favourite writers...Steve Mosby, Neil White, Charlie Williams, Sean Cregan etc. I write how I talk really, and I think that comes through in the reviews. If I loved a book, you're able to tell from my review. It really took off when Lawrence Block put out a call for anyone wanting a guest blogger, and I threw my hat in the ring and he accepted. That was a cool day. 

5) I had the honour of publishing your first short story, TIME, over at Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers. The story was/is a cracker, proving you're actually a bloody good writer who also reviews.  Did this help give you the confidence to write your forthcoming short story collection, TEN LITTLE FINGERS?

Most definitely. I wasn't expecting the reaction I received for that. It was the second story I'd written. You can thank Charlie Williams (author of the Mangel trilogy of four books) for it really. During a Facebook discussion about something I can't remember, which degenerated into ridiculous ideas, I made the point that Vampires always have cool names, you never see 'Jeff, The Uninspired Vampire'. He sort of dared me to write Jeff's story, so I did on the spur of the moment, fired off 800 words and sent it to him. After that, I got the bug. Wrote 'TIME' next and thinking 'Nothing Ventured...' sent it off to TK'n'C. As soon as that was accepted, and the reactions I got, I started to believe it was something I could actually do. Receiving that email acceptance for TIME was another proud moment. So if anyone wonders who's to blame for the infliction of Luca Veste fiction on the world, blame Col Bury!

6) OFF THE RECORD is an inspired idea. 35 writers from all over the world, and charities will benefit. Tell us more about this and how it came about.

I was reading PULP INK, a fantastic collection of stories based on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and really, that inspired it. After TIME was published, I started reading short stories a lot. They're a forgotten artform in wider circles, but there are some great sites out the showcasing these beauties. So, I was getting in touch with these writers, talking about their stories etc, and had the idea of putting a collection together, incorporating all of these excellent writers. I started sounding people out about it, deciding we needed a prompt, or a hook I should say, for the collection and was deciding between Film titles or classic Song titles, and went for songs. Everyone I asked said yes. Even when I shot high and emailed Ray Banks, who came back instantly with "What kind of an egregious c**t would I be if I turned this down for charity" which is still my favourite reply. I emailed so many of my favourite short story writers, and it just grew and grew. Now we have 35 writers involved, and some astounding names within. The charity aspect came from seeing Thomas Pluck and Fiona Johnson on Flash Fiction Friday donating money for each story they received that week. I thought, if they can donate they're own money, 35 writers can do the same sort of thing. And it got us Ray Banks, with instantly raises the credibility of the collection!

7) Do you have any plans to write more shorts, or a novel, perhaps, since you read so many?  I've always wished for more time to read, so where do you find the time?

I'm writing shorts all the time. I have quite a few I'm hoping to publish soon, and see how that for a novel, well there's a certain character called 'Shooter' who I've been working hard on making a longer novel work with. That's the dream, but 1500 words is easy...100,000 is a different thing altogether!

I smoke, so every hour or so, I go out in the back (never smoke in front of or around the kids!) so there's 10 minutes of reading. And there's always evenings where I'm up until 3AM reading to the end of a book. I love reading, so it's not something I have ever had to put aside time for, I just always read.

8) Do you think Liverpool FC stand any chance of beating Manchester United to that elusive 20th Premiership title, or will it be down to my beloved Manchester City to shut those spoilt brats up (not that I'm bitter!)?

I think LFC will be up there next season. This season was always going to be about getting back in top four, something that with the emergence of City and Spurs, is getting harder each year. King Kenny is rebuilding a squad at the moment and needs time. So, I'm desperately hoping City win the title this year, just to make sure they don't hit 20 before us!

9) The Manchester Ship Canal links Manchester to Liverpool (yet another historical link between the cities). Are Scousers envious that it was named the MANCHESTER Ship Canal?

We couldn't care less to be honest! You can have the Canal, we have a whole River!

10) So, now we all know what an accomplished scribe you actually are, do you think the reviews will continue?  Oh, and I nearly forgot... I've just read 'n' accepted your second short for TKnC... SCOUSE GRIT, intoducing you protag', 'Shooter' to the world. He sounds like a proper wrong-un. :-) 

That's great news! I love the TK'n'C site, it's a fantastic way of getting your stories out there, and there are always great stories featured. I'm honoured to get a second story on there.

Shooter is a character I've been playing around with for a while. He's based, in a small part, on my Grandad actually. He's nicknamed Shooter, and that always fascinated me, because he's never even seen a gun in his life! So, it came from there, and also life in Liverpool. I wrote a story about Shooter, and shared it with Nick Quantrill (someone I always go to first for writing advice, as he's a great writer and always nails it when it comes to talking about the process) he loved the character, so I'm hoping he gets out of my head and onto paper/screen a lot more now!

They will, just not at the rate I was getting them out in the first few months! I was doing one a day at one point, I was reading that quick. But, I'm in Uni full time now, so that cuts down on spare time a lot! I enjoy reviewing, especially if I love a book. 

Good stuff, Luca. Been a pleasure, mate. If you've enjoyed this interview, then let Luca know below. All comments are welcome (except Chinese porn!).
Read Luca's brilliant short story, TIME... and his latest short, SCOUSE GRIT.