Friday, 27 July 2012

Feels a little drafty in here.

Well, it's getting closer!  The first draft is done, and I'm just giving it a first purge before handing it over to my two proof readers (two!  Thanks to Coral and Ben for volunteering).  There are are few redundant plot devices cropping up, a few things I forgot about which add a little juice later on (the "forgotten service revolver" being the biggest so far) but I think it's reading quite well, certainly better than The Binary Man, which was more of a setting with the character's story in it.  In this book the setting is almost another character.  Sorry, I just released a bit of pretension, I'll open a window and let some air in!
I will be looking for more proof readers and reviewers prior to the books launch at the end of August, so if anyone is interested, please comment at the bottom or email me at the jake.prytherch google address!  Everyone with a nice contribution will get a dedication in the book.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Binary Man, now available in paperback!

Here it is, The Binary Man in paperback!  £8.99 in the UK and $10.99 in the US.  Find it at amazon!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Start small, think big!

A few different points on today's post...

After talking with a couple of good friends last night I have decided to take my first baby steps towards the horrific soul crushing mincer of rejection!  I have submitted The Binary Man to both an agency and a small independant publisher, one of each, just to start with.
The fact that The Binary Man is such a convoluted mess that I could barely write a synopsis does not fill me with confidence, but it will be an honour to have my first rejection notices.  I will wear them as badges of honour. 

On the paperback front, my new proof will arrive within the next five days or so, and I will hopefully be delighted and skipping around the house with glee.  I may end up cursing it and throwing it on top of the other textbook-esque monstrosity, but lets hope not.  Cream paper, people, cream paper.  Ahhh yeah.

Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead is pottering along, though the end of the first draft is proving a tough cookie, although I had a nice idea this morning which I will hopefully be able to do justice to.  I am still considering writing two or three last chapters and getting opinions on which works best.  People may say that shows bad planning.  They are right.  But I don't care.  HA!

Anyway, have a good weekend!  It looks sunny from here..

Thursday, 19 July 2012


For anyone who doesn't follow my facebook page (search Jacob Prytherch!) here is a link to a preview of the first chapter of Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead, in it's raw, un proof read form!  All opinions welcome.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The problem with ambiguity

As I hurtle towards the end of my first draft I now find myself with the sticky question of how much to answer and how much to leave unanswered.  Obviously mystery is a key factor in drawing readers in, but if I leave things unanswered when situations arise that should answer them, I'll annoy people.  I am using an unreliable narrator, which I think helps to add to the mystery, as there is only so much he can see, only so much he can understand.  By the middle of the book it is more and more obvious what certain parts of the book refer to and I'm hoping that the reader's knowledge of this will add a sense of power and interest in how differently the protagonist views the world.  But if the reader is too far ahead of him in working out what is truly going on, will they get sick of him?  I am now in the position where I could conceivably answer all, some, or none of the questions in the book in the ending... I may have to do all three and see which works best.  To the people who have been reading my book so far and giving your opinion, I may soon be asking for your feeback on this point.  Gird your loins.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The proof is in the dustbin...

What's this oversized, text book looking jive turkey that seems to be sitting on top of some perfectly respectable books?  It's my proof, and I'm damn glad I took the site's advice before I approved it for shipping, getting one for myself to check. 
It was my own fault really, not double checking the size (is this really the most popular size of book in the US?  Are they all huge print?), going for the cheaper option of white paper as opposed to cream (enabling me to get over a dollar in royalties, as opposed to 53 cents which is what I will take when I do get cream paper).  But my biggest mistake of all?  Not justifying my text!  What a plum duff.
Also, somehow the margin got obliterated when I moved my text over to my master file, so the text lies dangerously close to the edge, looking lame.
But I still love it!  It's one of a kind!  Believe me, there will not be another one made like this.
The new proof with be classic 5x8, cream paper, new page count of 410 pages (instead of the bit too thin 290 in the bigger book), and even the title looks a bit more pleasant!  It will be £8.99 though, as otherwise I lose money on each book.
I also decided to check again to see if I could embed fonts using, and lo and behold I found by exporting it as a PDF first I could do just that!  Consequently my next proof will be very, very tasty.
Just another two and a half weeks to wait for the new proof... oh my lord.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Releasing the grim!

(This is not my mum, but you get the idea)

This morning was a good morning for my new book.  I got about 2,000 words down before the day of fatherhood began and have also managed to rewrite a large chunk that was both reducing the urgency and horror of the book and also undermining the ending.  But it was also a tough morning because of what I have been writing about.
My book is not simply about gore, blood and guts, as books with these things as a selling point by themselves simply don't interest me.  Torture porn movies are in my eyes the soap opera of the horror world - shallow, lazy and detrimental to the genre.  They are more of a "disgust" genre than horror.  Horror should be about fear, with the unknown being the greatest weapon.  Yet I have found it necessary to insert one or two violent scenes, to drive the story forwards and show the very real threat of some very human antagonists and also to provide a moral contrast.  I feel myself becoming disgusted as I write the words, which hopefully shows they are having the right effect, but it's not easy.  The worst part is... my mum will want to read this.  I've already told her, time and time again that it's going to be a lot darker than The Binary Man, but still she want's to read everything I write.  Part of me is considering writing a fake "vanilla" version especially for her, with comedy fisticuffs in place of raw, visceral combat.  I know that would be pointless, as it always is when writing with self imposed restrictions.  I just have to push through, write the best book I can and hope it holds together.
It's only the first draft and there is still scope for change, but I have a feeling there will still be a lot that makes the cut.  I just have to hope that it works.  A candle always looks brighter in total darkness.
I'm still not writing about sex though... not yet.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Calling all reviewers!

I need words!
First of all, a big thanks to everyone who has bought The Binary Man and those who intend to, you are helping a large and balding waif (I still consider myself a bit waify.  Waifer?) into a career as a writer.  You've done me a huge service, but you can do more!  How, I hear you cry?  Well, three little words... review my shizzle.
Thats right, for every review my book gets a little more visible to the world, which in turn leads to more sales.  I don't want any shill reviews either, I want good honest wholehearted critical analysis.  How else am I going to get better?  And I do need to get better... (see, I just started a sentence with "and"!)
Bring out the views, give it to me straight and I will love you for it.
But only if you've read the book.  If you can't even finish it, feel free to come round to my house and slap my bad knee.  I will give you my address on request.
For those of you who bought the book when it had a lovely cat's eye nebula on the front, please bear in mind that I've completely re-edited it since then, cleaning up the grammar like no-one's business.  I even removed the infamous "Lord Mint double paragraph" that was such a glaring error it could be seen from the top of Quarry Bank high street (and you know that s**t is high).
That's all!  Oh and I must give a big shout out to whoever is checking this blog in Russia.  Cheers!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Avoiding the Z word.

The stand-in cover.

Ah, the living dead, walking corpses, rotting sacks of putrescence on shambling feet.  But not zombies, oh no, not in my story.  Why not?  It's obvious that's what they are... they're hardly a new occurrence in our pop culture, having grown hugely in popularity in the last ten years, virtually entering the mainstream.  Every week at HMV a new schlocky zombie film is released.  Every week they sell, dead this, dead that, whatsit of the dead.  By now everyone knows what to do when the dead walk.  Get a weapon.  Get high.  Cardio.  Etc, etc, etc.  It's the same as preparing for war.  It's the same as preparing for a terrorist attack.  A few little details that defuse and deflate all of the gut wrenching horror of seeing someone that you knew or loved return from a horrific, slow and painful death before trying to consume you.  With a label comes a separation, like referring to those in the axis as simply Nazis rather than "humans who perpetrated horrific unspeakable acts that all humans may be capable of", which is a lot more terrifying.  Call them zombies and you get rid of everything they were, slotting them into a genre, with all the burdens and constraints that come with it.  There are so many rules for every form of genre threat - sunlight for vampires, silver for werewolves, gravity for giant worms in tremors (love that film, motherhumpers) - that it's becoming dull, expected, mundane.  That being said, I do have one rule that I don't mind abiding by.
My walking dead are exactly that, walking. 
This is not because I consider running dead to be "wrong", but simply so I can ground the book a little more into the small amount of science I actually know.  The bodies are rotting, liquefying as the break down, leading to weakening muscles, tendons snapping.  These are not ideal conditions for sprinting after prey.  As it happens, I do actually consider running dead to be wrong, but that is by the by.  It just feels too demonic, too mystical, too angry.  I like my dead to be hungry, unceasingly famished, but that is all.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe they crave the air in our blood.  Maybe they skipped breakfast.  Anyway, I digress.
I will not refer to my threat as zombies, simply because it leads to expectations that defuse the mystery of the unknown, which is the greatest weapon in a horror writer's arsenal.
Ah, with all this bitching you may then wonder why I'm even writing a book about the dead.  Put simply, they terrify me, ever since I first saw a program on tv when I was about five.  It was about a house by a swamp with some slow moving dead creatures walking out of the mire and terrorising the owners (I have no idea if this exists or was just a dream, but I'm sure I saw it!  If anyone has an idea what it might be, please let me know!).  I do not for one second think they will ever exist, but their unceasing pursuit, their inevitability, their single minded hunger is somehow more plausible to me as a threat to humanity than a group of blood sucking emo gimps who dress as toffs and are sexy because they don't die.  Where are the fatty boombatty vampires?  Just saying.
The dead have no need to hide.  They take over, slowly but surely.  They are just like us, slowly spreading out to cover the world.  They are the dark side of humanity.  And they want us for lunch.  It's enough to make your balls shrink.  Just don't call them zombies.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

From the old school...

Here is a very short story I wrote a while ago.  I thought it would provide an interesting contrast to how I write nowadays.  Is there a difference?  I have no idea.  This will be the general tone of my third book which will hopefully be written and finished by next March, entitled Carnival.
PS... Any close minded racial profiling is intentional as it was a study at university to write in the style of a favourite writer.  Having chosen H.P. Lovecraft I had to include his constant fear of the "other", which influences the idea of some great unknown horrors in our universe.

From Afar 

Must we go over this again, Doctor? I have lost count of the times I have explained the events that led to my being committed and since I know I am not mad, then recounting my experiences is hardly going to relieve my fictitious mania! These words are the truth, though I fail to swear it on God, as I now cannot believe in any deity save the malignant presence that Marcus awakened with his ill-conceived actions.
So, to begin, once again…
I remember that day clearly, a miserable day in March, where the sheets of rain arced down from the darkly overcast heavens, soaking every part of my clothing within a minute of my stepping outside the shipping office. I pulled my coat close around me and carefully jogged to where Marcus was standing, gaunt and pale against the dark shape of the commercial liner H.M.S. Majestic, with the rain breaking off his characteristic top hat and long traveller’s coat.
Marcus could never have been called “average”, even before his fateful trip to the darkest reaches of Egypt to uncover some tomb or other, but when he returned there was an even more shadowy facet to his character, though at the time I could not readily identify what it was. His brooding eyes were perhaps a little darker, his voice a touch more measured and that merest twinkle that had occasionally lit his stoic features was now completely absent.
I gave him a nervous smile and enquired as to whether I could help him with his bags, but he brushed my query aside with a curt shake of his head.
“My companions have it all taken care of. But thank you for your concern Joshua.”
His reply had a strange stilted quality to it, but I put it down to the long journey and the fatigue that it must have caused. Clearly he was in no mood to talk and I must admit, neither was I, as the rain was chilling me to the bone. Just then the companions that Marcus spoke of appeared on the gangplank, each carrying one end of a strange metal container, perhaps a burial casket of some kind.
They both wore the primitive but decorative clothing of the Arabs of the Middle East, voluminous robes with less practical value in the weather of Boston than in the desert where they had no doubt hailed from. Blue silk covered most of their heads and faces, so that only their dark and vacuous eyes were visible. Their clothes were soon as sodden as both Marcus’s and my own and when the silk started to cling to their limbs it revealed severely undernourished bodies, no doubt due to the sparse diet that one had to endure in the poorer regions of the East.
I wondered briefly why Marcus had taken to socialising with men so obviously different to him and his standing, but the rain pushed those thoughts aside, and I briefly greeted the Egyptians, introduced to me as Mohamed and Sayed, both hailing from Cairo.
We walked for the rest of the journey to the carriage in silence, with the only sound being the rain slapping on the cobblestones and tapping the lid of the small and exquisite gold sarcophagus, delicately inlaid with veins of silver, and the startling image of a huge staring eye in darkest amethyst.
It was not until I later reached my home that I realised that Marcus had brought back no other belongings from his three-month trip…

Marcus, who had been almost a recluse before his trip, keeping himself to his books and a small but close circle of friends, was now if anything even more of an outsider, allowing only me out of his other companions an occasional visit to his quarters deep in the heart of the poor quarter.
From the outside, his apartment looked like any other in the area. It was placed at the top of a crumbling and run down tenement, with broken guttering channelling water directly outside the only window and roof tiles patched over holes in a decidedly haphazard fashion, but inside… oh, if only you could have seen it Doctor, the beauty of the place, filled with the wondrous items of a lifetime’s fevered discovery!
With the wealth that he had inherited after his parent’s tragic death on a dig in the Persian gulf, he could have bought a lavish house anywhere in New England, but instead he chose to place his wealth in artefacts, whilst keeping his housing to the bare minimum necessary to keep such relics safe.
The floors were covered with carpets and rugs coloured in lush reds and blues, interwoven with mesmeric winding patterns of gold and green. On the walls hung tapestries, portraits, landscapes, and framed scrolls recovered from the furthest reaches of the world. On the many shelves were statues, urns, ancient pieces of masonry emblazoned with glyphs and all manner of sculpted objects from both the heights of civilisation to the depths of primitive cultures. And the books… piled high on shelves, loose in stacks, interposed with notebooks and loose pages of scrawled notes and thoughts, hundreds of volumes chronicling every nation under the sun. Stepping into Marcus’s home was like stepping into a museum… no, to use a more accurate simile; it was like stepping into his very mind. Truly, he was an intellectual giant, a true great, and his thoughts were as varied and numerous as his possessions.
But something began to change over the next few weeks, as his outside journeys ceased altogether. He started to become more pallid as time went on and grew even more skeletal than previously, which was a feat in itself.  he no longer seemed to change his clothes. He even wore his hat at all hours of the day, even when the sun was at it’s brightest.
The two Egyptians had taken up residence with him, and constantly kept him company. They never revealed their faces, preferring to keep their silk scarves close around their features. They chose to sit quietly in the shadows whenever I visited, sometimes playing chess with delicately crafted figures of ebony and ivory as Marcus and I talked. Slowly, his apartments started to gain a semblance of order that had previously seemed impossible. Books were now almost geometrically in line with their counterparts. The previously loose notes were neatly filed away, and once I even checked through them when Marcus had left the room to fetch a bottle of brandy and found them meticulously placed in alphabetical order according to their subject. And that sarcophagus… it now took pride of place in the most prominent corner of the room, replacing the delicately crafted suit of samurai armour that had previously stood there,  which I found neatly packed away behind the new addition.
It was late one Sunday evening, after the horizon had obscured the sun’s blood red luminescence, when I decided to broach the subject of the ancient relic and what it held.
Both Egyptians looked up from their chessboard, with a curious look in their jet black eyes. A smile played across Marcus’s withered features.
“So, finally he asks.”
I sat back in my chair, and tried to keep the strange uncomfortable feeling that had crept over me absent from my features.
“Marcus, if you don’t wish to speak about it, then…”
“No, it is quite alright Joshua. You are, after all, my oldest and dearest friend. I was going to show you sooner or later anyway, and now is as good as any time. Mohamed, Sayed, if you would…”
Before I could act, both Arabs had leapt from their chairs, scattering the chess pieces across the carpet and had lunged for my arms and legs, holding me fast to the leather armchair in which I sat.
“Marcus! What in God’s name? Have your men unhand me!”
Marcus merely smiled, and crossed over to the curtains, closing them slowly to obscure us from the outside world.
“Please Joshua, don’t struggle. We bring to you a gift.”
As he moved behind me towards the trunk, I continued to writhe in vain against the inhumanly strong Arabs, as a sense of terror started to overwhelm me. What spell had these creatures laid upon my dearest friend, and what were they driving him to do?
I heard the casket open with a creak, before the room was filled with the sound of clicking and scratching, a frenzied sound that had been muffled by the trunk’s lid. It sounded like a multitude of cockroaches, and try as I might, I couldn’t move my head enough to see what unnameable horrors were trapped in that container.
When Marcus spoke, he was behind my head, and I heard a clicking separate from the others, close, very close, to my head…
“My dear Joshua, you cannot imagine what marvels I found in that dark tomb, the ancient burial site, lost for centuries beneath the sand of the Egyptian desert… there are some things that can survive far longer than our own species, and some things which can bless such gifts…”
Something brushed my hair, and I yelled out in desperation. One of the Arabs slapped his hand across my mouth and stifled any sound I wanted to make.
“No one can hear you my friend. No one can see you. And no one, soon, will even know you…”
Tears of fear ran down my cheeks in torrents. My body started to shake with the amount of adrenalin coursing through it.
“I found them, and they found me… the children of C’Nathk!”
I felt knife-sharp fingers clutching at my scalp, desperately clawing at my flesh and sending rivulets of blood down my face. With a last effort I managed to pull my right arm free and throw my fist into the face of the Arab holding my legs. He tumbled backwards as I struggled free of the second Arab, whilst desperately grabbing for the only source of light… the oil lamp on the table nearby. Blood started to obscure my vision and I blindly hurled the lamp towards what I hoped would be a significant target.
There was a blinding eruption of flame and I staggered away from it, luckily coming in contact with the door to the hallway. I could hear an accursed screeching from behind me as I opened the door,and I glanced over my shoulder, witnessing a sight which chilled my soul.
Marcus flailed his arms desperately, trying to extinguish the flames that engulfed him, all the time emitting that obscene howling.  His hat for once was absent… and I swear Doctor, on the crown of his head… there sat a hideous spider-like creature, covered in purple and blue veins, with sharpened claws sunk deep into his skull, and one sole eye, staring at me with vicious and eternal hatred…
I turned my back and ran, down the long and winding staircase and out into the street, from where I watched the building burn, a towering and purifying inferno! I do not know what evil Marcus released from that tomb in Egypt, but it is gone, gone before it could spread, gone before it could reign! I know that many people died that night, but they were a necessary sacrifice! I am glad I saved us! I saved us! I saved us!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Hoax blokes.

Yesterday I got a message from a friend who I used to live with, Jody Whittle.  He is a creative, beautiful, exuberant man who is involved with another ex housemate (dynamic musician Danny Rowe) and others in an artistic collective known as Hoax and he has offered to design the cover for my next book Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead.  He's offered to do it for free, which I feel bad about as their skills are beyond excellent.  Everyone should check out their site here!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Genre pains.

I recently decided to gather all my ideas for books together from half written pages to twenty thousand word abandoned projects to try and come up with a three year plan for my writing.  I did this in order to give myself a concrete plan for the time ahead but also to push myself to keep writing every day.  I have found that even if I miss out one day I lose the flow of the story and need to go back and do a copious amount of re-reading, which eats into my scant available writing time (to and from work, lunch breaks).
This plan revealed that I will never be a genre writer.  Every book has a different core set of aspects (one is horror, one is a romance, one is a comedy noir thriller, one is a set of multi-themed short stories).  I am quite worried that the wide and varied spread of my ideas will lead to my continued struggling with enjoying writing as a career.  If my books are too different, then surely people who liked one may dislike another, which will affect my ability to get the knock on sales of back catalogue when I release a new book.  And will Lovecraftian horrors set in Venice in the 1930's ever get into the top 100 on kindle?  I doubt it.
Why couldn't I have written mother porn like seven shades of s**t?  I mean, heh, fifty shades of skank.
Well, that's it for my thoughts today.  I've got a roast to eat.  I guess I'll just stay the course and hope for the best!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

I'm going slightly mad...

It's strange how life turns out.  Although I always wanted it to happen, I never thought I'd be an author (I still don't count myself as one, not until that first royalty check), but now I'm heart palpitatingly close.  I've got a proof of The Binary Man coming in paperback from the US (I paid an extra $3 to get it four weeks earlier), I've submitted my new edit to several review sites, I'm waiting to see when my first author interview will be published on Jeanzbookreadnreview and my new book is coming along nicely.  And yet I feel like an absolute failure.
The reason for this?  The power of watching those ebook sales.
I'd imagine it's the same feeling as gambling (though I've never got into that due to limited funds and preferring to spend the money on bags of chips.  Chippy chips!).  On the good days, the sales keep coming, some in the the morning, some in the day and some in the evening.  Each sale makes me give a little fist pump to myself (oh yeah).  On the bad days, nothing.  Usually that only lasts for a day, but it's these days of zero that slowly crush my soul.  I check and recheck, watching as my bestseller ranking goes down and down, further and further into nowhereville.  The further I am from the top, the less people buy, so my chances of getting back up are reduced minute by minute by minute...
I don't think The Binary Man will set the world on fire.  I have enjoyed re-reading it for editing and would have liked it if I'd bought it from somewhere instead of writing it, but I don't think it's going to be a massive money maker.  I just wanted a foot in the door and I feel it's doing that, so why do I feel like a failed 80's child star only eight weeks after I released it?
I suppose it's a good lesson, I'm going to be rejected a lot as I try and work on my writing style.  I need to prepare myself for my first bad review (which will definately come due to the monstrous grammar in the first edition).  I'll just try not to sweat it and just wait and see.  Maybe I'll stop checking the ebook sales the four or five times I do already, maybe just going for it once a week.
I just looked and found out I sold another.  I gave the air a little fist pump.  There is no helping an addict.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Paperback writer

Well, I did it.  After finding out I could print my book and put it on amazon for free (the internet is amazing! Thanks Ethan), only paying if I want a proof copy or extras, I submitted the second draft of The Binary Man and here is the result...

This will be the cover of my first ever bonafide book!  The files are just being checked for fidelity but I hope to be able to order a copy in the next couple of days.  Three hundred pages of fun will be available to print on demand from (not sure about but I think so), so if you are really desperate you can get a copy for the market average price of £7.99.  Though if you want to help my kids get new shoes, the kindle version at £1.99 actually nets me more royalties...

The Binary Man second edition now available!

This morning I finally finished re-editing The Binary Man.  What a relief!  I'm now going to look into the free print options at and see what I can do with it.  I had no idea there would be so many glaring faults with the book, but feel a lot better for having purged them.  I think the grammar now flows a lot better and I will make sure that Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead is as near to perfect as it can be before I put it on amazon.  Anyone who bought the first edition can update to the second by getting in touch with the kindle help section on the net (you can't automatically update it annoyingly), or I can send you the .mobi file directly if you send me an email.
Also, I am happy to give out free copies of my book to anyone who wishes to review it.  Come one come all!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A little help!

I've been in contact with another indie author named Ethan Spier who is currently riding high in the science fiction top hundred at number one.  He's given me some great advice for promoting The Binary Man which I will put into effect as soon as I can and will also be using for Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead. 
You can buy his book Kinesis here...