Celebrating a Year in Print!

Jack Hansard book with birthday cake

Today is Jack Hansard’s book birthday!

A year ago today I hit publish on The Jack Hansard Series: Season One, the genre-bending episodic fantasy I’d first conceptualised five years before. The exploits of this occult salesman and his cantankerous coblyn sidekick have become very close to my heart.

It has taken considerably less time to produce the book’s sequel, bolstered in no small part by the confidence I gained in finally getting the first one ‘out there’. So it’s with a great deal of pleasure that I can announce The Jack Hansard Series: Season Two is now available for pre-order everywhere ebooks are sold!

The paperback version will become available for pre-order some time in December, once the book cover design has been finalised. Follow me on social media or my newsletter to receive updates and sneak previews of the cover art as it develops.

I’m also running a flash sale to celebrate this milestone

For a limited time only you can pick up The Jack Hansard Series: Season One for just 99p. Grab your copy here!

My short story The Hub is also FREE to download from most retailers for a very short time. Find it here.

Thank you for your support over the past twelve months, and here’s to more exciting times ahead!

Book Birthday! The Jack Hansard Series: Season One ebook cover

The Hub: a supernatural sci-fi story

Photo by Phil Goulson on Pexels.com

When an app developer accidentally creates a maliciously benevolent social media network, only her girlfriend can save her from what she’s brought to life…


Happy days! I was incredibly pleased to release my short story The Hub as an ebook last week. This story was first published by the wonderful folks at Thunderbird Studios in their anthology The San Cicaro Experience – a weird and dark anthology exploring the titular urban fantasy location.

The Hub ended up straddling the line between sci-fi and urban fantasy with its technological menace, but ultimately it’s a story about love and compromise.

It’s now available for just $0.99 from all the main retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple, etc. Universal shop link below. 😄

The Hub: a speculative short story

In sunny San Cicaro, a new app is dominating the city’s streets – and its people.

Max loves her city, and believes everyone deserves to enjoy its hidden treasures. So when she launches the SC Hub, a new social app to connect people and places, she couldn’t be happier with its blazing overnight success. But her reclusive girlfriend, Ellie, can’t help but worry about the magnetic pull the app is having on its creator, and the strange occurrences in town that seem linked to it.

Are people driving the app… or the other way round?

2021 Submissions: Halfway Checkpoint!

SHORT STORY SUBMISSIONS

Stats & Stuff


Story submissions to magazines, anthologies, and competitions

Number of Submissions: 23

Submissions Declined: 15

Submissions Accepted: 1

Still under review: 7


Wheeeeeee! We’re only halfway through the year, and I’ve already bested last year’s results (which, let’s face it, were pretty abysmal anyway). I expect to slow down on submissions towards the end of this year, but only because I hope to be extra-focused on handling edits and the publishing process for Season Two of The Jack Hansard Series.

The Accepted story on this list is a flash triptych called ‘Denizens of the Deep Dark’. It will feature in the upcoming July issue of Copperfield Review Quarterly.

Why are my submissions going better this year?

Having been at this for a while now, I’ve built up a larger catalogue of short stories to send out. This means I can have several different pieces out at the same time, rather than waiting for just one to be assessed by a publisher before being able to submit it again. I’m also quite proud of some of my newer works (tangible evidence of improvement in my writing) and this confidence keeps me eager to edit and resubmit after every rejection.

I’ve also been helped by some very fast turnarounds from a few journals. While it can be disheartening to receive a rejection in less than 48 hours (24 hours, in one instance!) this does then immediately free up the story for submission elsewhere, as many of these publishers don’t allow you to submit to multiple markets at once.

An extra note is that I’ve broadened my horizons this year by making a return to poetry, which I’ve dabbled in on-and-off over the years. There are just two poems of which I’m proud enough to have included in the above submissions list, and one which I’ve entered into a humour competition that will announce winners in August. Let’s see how we go!

How are your submissions going?

Do you keep track of your submission stats like this? How’s this year shaping up compared to last year? Tell me all about it, I’d love to know! We can celebrate our wins and commiserate our rejections together. And if you’re yet to submit anything, then I’m here to shout you some friendly words of encouragement.

If you need ideas for where to submit your stories, check out this list I made of my own favourite haunts for scouring short story markets.

Happy submitting!

Author Spotlight at Inkwell Spills

I’d like to thank Nicole over at InkWell Spills for hosting me in an Author Spotlight this week. We covered how I ended up writing The Jack Hansard Series, my turning point in becoming a ‘professional’ author, and a few tips on how to see the value in your work and to make that crucial step towards a professional writing career. You’ll also find a wealth of free writing resources on her website.

Read the full post here.

My 2020 Submissions Round-Up

Last year (2019, that is) I started tracking my short story submission stats – and now it’s time to compare how I did in 2020. So without any faff, here are my numbers!


Story submissions to magazines, anthologies, and competitions.

Number of Submissions: 14

Submissions Declined: 12

Submissions Accepted: 0

Still under review: 2


Dang. I was hoping to beat my previous score, but unfortunately I made 3 fewer submissions in 2020 than in 2019. But, global pandemic aside, at least I have some good reasons for not being on top of my short story game – and some reasons to celebrate, as well! The biggest one being:

2020 is the year I finally published my book debut, The Jack Hansard Series: Season One. HURRAY!

I also had a short story published in an anthology, set myself up to take on some freelance gigs, and am currently knee-deep in writing my next book. Back in March I released a free lockdown-themed Jack Hansard story (you can read it here); in the summer I launched my email newsletter; and in November I had a lot of fun writing up a Virtual Bookshop Tour to support independent bookshops.

So on a purely personal level, it’s been a good year. My family has remained happy and healthy, and we know how lucky we’ve been throughout everything that’s happened over the last twelve months.

I’m going to try to give my blog a bit more attention in 2021. I’m not a natural blogger, so I tend to only post when I have newsworthy updates or some advice which I think others may find useful. I really enjoyed doing the Virtual Bookshop Tour, so I might aim for more pieces like that in the future.

If you want to receive more regular updates from me, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. I email once a fortnite with a short update about what I’m working on – sometimes with links to free books and recommendations from other indie authors. (Subscribers also receive a copy of Deus Ex Machina, another fun little story set in Hansard’s occult world.)

My goals for 2021? Keep submitting stories; publish Book 2; enjoy more time with my family.

I hope the new year has found you well, and that it brings us all a little more joy than the previous one. Remember to take care of yourself, and the people around you.

Happy New Year, folks.

Little Stitch Eyes and The Glimmerfish

Yesterday I shared five poems inspired by E. J. Ikin’s recent Inktober artworks based around his newest creation, Little Stitch Eyes. Here are five more uncanny poems inspired by this uncanny character.


“She called out on the radio for help, but no one answered.”

* * *

Stuttering static patters
Like fizz-ng raindr-ps in your ears
Sending flutt-r-ngly erratic spats -f music
Echoing down the y–rs

Eventually the metre peters ou-
The baseline th-ds no more
You are left with noisy st-tic sil-nce
As your m-mory l-ses score.


“Little stitch eyes liked to fish. She wasn’t fussed about catching anything. She just liked to stand by the water.”

* * *

Standing still on blackened sand
Little Stitch Eyes waits with rod in hand
Despite the sunlight glimmer-fish that glitter underwater
Her stitch eyes cast a net away to some far distant quarter

Her hook, a thing to catch thoughts on
Her mind, a lure where daydreams shone
Careful, now
The sound of ripples could pull you in
Leave you dreaming, world a-spin

So if you see her standing lonesome, like an empty fisherman’s daughter
Leave her peaceful with the glimmer-fish
Silent at the water.


“Little Stitch Eyes struggles sometimes with direction.”

* * *

The box appears upside-down
But only if you look at it from a certain angle.
If you change perspective: turn around

Step sideways into an Escher painting
And remember that your feet weren’t on the ground.


“She held the rat aloft by its tail. For once, she was in control of the situation.”

* * *

Sniffle-Whiskers sniffs the cheese
Little risks are worth the tease
Nudge it gentle, tug with ease—

The trap claps
Tail snaps
Rat yaps

Sniffle-Whiskers sniffs the cheese
Wagging stump of tail with new unease
Missed his death by mere degrees.


“She wrapped her arms around her to keep herself safe. We don’t all wear armour like hoodies.

* * *

We wear our expressions like a carapace
Emotions crawl like beetles underneath
Buzzing at the cracks of eyes and mouth
Where overspill might split the sheath

Ignore my smiling exo-shell
Displaying dried-out sun-fractured happiness
Note the flash of fluorescent husk
Before I crush the tell-tale beetle abscess.


E. J. Ikin is a British artist known for his eerie urban art. ‘Little Stitch Eyes’ is the latest creation in his surreal character series. Follow him on Instagram here.


Little Stitch Eyes – Inktober Poems

It’s Halloween! The perfect time to share eerie art and weird poetry. Earlier this month I teamed up with an artist friend to assign poems to some of his Inktober artworks. (If you haven’t heard, Inktober is an art challenge to draw a new creation every day through October based on daily prompts. You can find the rest of @ejikin’s Inktober drawings over on Instagram.)

I don’t dabble in poetry often, but I enjoyed the excuse to flex my writing muscles and have some fun. So here are five poems inspired by E. J. Ikin’s newest oddball character, ‘Little Stitch Eyes’.


“Little Stitch Eyes knew the way home. But perhaps the path less travelled offered her more?”

* * *

Soft steps leave stitched footprints sewn into the fabric of the ground
Each cracked twig a patch in need of darning
The soil lovingly embroiders the path most trodden
with seams of sweet-scented leafmould
and silent earthworms.

A glowing light sends shadows flickering
Bounding away like scared rabbits over the bracken
It carries a promise, a mere wisp
of hope, or something more

If you follow it, you might end up on the path least trodden
and leave your stitched-up footprints scattered over flawless forest floor.


“She held the skull in her hand. Was this what people were meant to look like? Eyes? Nose? Teeth?!

* * *

I wanted to make friends with my skull
I poked sociable thumbs into eye sockets
Invaded nostrils with odorous friendship
Shouted greetings into wide-open jaw
Got nothing back but echoes in cavities.


“Eyes??? Ewww. Who’d want one of those?”

* * *

I prefer my stitch-eyes anyway

They see the world in greater shades

Of black and white and black and white…

… and sometimes, even grey.


“You can trust Little Stitch Eyes – said no one ever.”

* * *

Smiling, pigtails
Laughter lines
These things that make you
Seem benign

Pinprick pupils
Greasy hair
These things reveal you in the
Mirror’s glare

Gentle eyes and
Manic mouth
These things betray what you’re
About

Ageless smile
Withered soul
God help us if you
Lose control.


“She prayed, down on her knees, hoping for redemption.”

* * *

Some people sew words into prayers
Weaving tapestries of disgrace and desire and desperation
Disguised as redemption, pleas, and mindless adulation

I like to sew prayers into people
Lacing strands of fear and hope and dreams
With love, like a frayed but sturdy central thread

I cradle these new personalities like psalms in the palm of my hand
And sing them to life on the eve of an Eden
Picked out in cross-stitch on a brand-new band of cotton
Placed in their eternal, perfect, needlepoint motherland.


E. J. Ikin is a British artist known for his eerie urban art. ‘Little Stitch Eyes’ is the latest creation in his surreal character series. Follow him on Instagram here.


Join the Launch Party!

IT’S RELEASE DAY and the book launch party is now in full swing! There’s still time to join in with the event and enter the competition to win a free ebook. Check it out here!


Here’s the event schedule so you can see what’s in store:

  • 10:00 Welcome to the Party!

  • 11:00 Competition Opens. Submit your entry to win a copy of the ebook.

  • 12:00 Join me for a chat and a peak inside the paperback.

  • 13:00 Game time!

  • 14:00 SNEAK-PEAK. Read an excerpt of the brand new ‘Episode 8: Informant’ from Season One.

  • 15:00 Quiz time! Find out which Jack Hansard character you are…

  • 16:00 Author Q&A Session – ask me anything! I’ll be at my computer for the full hour trying to keep up.

  • 18:00 FIRST LOOK at Season 2! Be the first to read the opening to S2 Ep1

  • 19:00 Competition Closes. Entries after this time won’t be included.

  • 20:00 SECOND LOOK at Season 2! Another special snippet from what I’ve been working on

  • 21:00 Competition winners will be announced.

  • 22:00 Time to wind down. Thanks for coming to the Launch Party!

Yes, that is a full 12 hours! I wanted to make sure that our friends across the pond would have chance to join in as well. All timings are GMT+1.


Here are some of the major stores where you can order a copy of The Jack Hansard Series: Season One

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Kobo

Apple Books

Waterstones

Jack Hansard Book Launch Announced!

Cover illustration by Dominique Lane.

Save The Date: 27th September 2020

Put it in your diaries folks, we’re less than two weeks out! The Jack Hansard Series: Season One will be available in ebook and paperback from online retailers – and in fact, the ebook is already available for preorder at a number of stores! Grab it from the links below:

Amazon

Everywhere Else

UK price on release:

Paperback: £7.99
Ebook: £2.99


Launch Party

What is a book launch without a Launch Party? I’m celebrating with a full 12 hour virtual event on Sunday 27th September – and everyone is invited!

Where?
Find the Facebook Event page here.

What?
There will be sneak peaks, author Q&A, games, and a competition to win free copies of the ebook and a special cameo spot in Season 2!

How?
Sign up on the Facebook Event to attend. We’ll keep all activity on the event page so it’s easy to find throughout the day. Drop in for just a few minutes or stay to hang out for a couple hours – whatever works for you!


Don’t do Facebook?

No worries! I won’t be able to spread myself too thinly over social media on the 27th, but I will aim to check in with my other channels during the day. Come and say hi over on Twitter or Instagram!


In the meantime

Gosh, I’ve spent so long gearing up to this point I almost don’t know what to do with myself any more. Mostly I’m just working hard to get the word out, so I’m approaching other bloggers and reviewers at the moment for more exposure. (Incidentally, if you are one and are interested in receiving an Advance Reader Copy or a guest post, hit me up.)

Otherwise, I’d love if you could share my Facebook Launch Party event with your friends, or share this post to help spread the word!

And don’t forget, if you’re hankering for a Jack Hansard fix in the run-up to launch, there’s an exclusive story up for grabs when you join my newsletter (and another little freebie featuring Edric Mercer will be delivered as well).

If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to get in touch.

Twelve days to go and lots still to do. See you at the Launch Party!

=D


Jack Hansard is the man who can sell you anything.

Luck in a bottle, fame in a box, dreams on a leash: anything is possible when you’re a trader on the occult Black Market.

Jack is used to a life of handling dangerous goods, dodging disgruntled customers, and sometimes running away very fast. But when Ang – two-and-a-half feet of furious Welsh coblyn – buys his help to find her missing kin, Jack suddenly finds the goods are riskier, the customers more treacherous, and escape is anything but guaranteed.

The Jack Hansard Series is an episodic contemporary fantasy with a wide streak of humour and just a dash of horror. Season One contains the first fifteen episodes in the series.

Did Somebody Say Free Stuff? New Story Available!

Would you trust this guy?

Lurking at the edge of a mundane fleamarket, a merchant of impossibilities stands next to a trunk full of bizarre and otherwordly goods.

Are Jack Hansard’s uncanny wares for real? Is the magic past its sell-by-date? And what exactly do you DO with a deus ex machina, anyhow?


Gosh, there’s been a lot going on lately. If you’re a regular visitor you may notice that I’ve got a shiny new website and I’ve just launched my newsletter. My latest job has been setting up the download for this exclusive Jack Hansard story, which is now available for free to new subscribers!

If you’re not already familiar with The Jack Hansard Series, you can find the free beta episodes here.

Deus Ex Machina is a standalone short story which features our favourite occult merchant, told from the viewpoint of one of his unwitting customers. I wrote the original version of this for a humour competition way back in 2012 (it came second, which was rather nice) and decided to revamp the whole thing into a longer, better story for you guys to enjoy.

Click the button above to go directly to the download page at StoryOrigin, or get it by signing up to my newsletter here. It’s available in ePUB, Mobi, and PDF formats for all your reading devices. Hope it makes you smile!

Once you’re a subscriber you’ll also receive updates from me along with other exclusive sneak-peeks – including another story snippet called Pandora’s Box which features Jack’s least favourite business rival: the treasure-hunting, god-wrestling, myth-defying and all-round flash bastard Edric Mercer. It’ll arrive a day or two after signing up. Keep an eye on your inbox to make sure you don’t miss it! 😉


Urban fantasy with a sense of humour

Thanks to @EJIkinArt for the awesome cover illustration.