The hard truth about a tough 2017 and what comes next.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for the best part of this last year. One reason is that I tend to keep things to myself for the most part, and second because I was embarrassed to admit that despite on the surface coming towards the end of what looked like a good year, if anything this has been possibly the toughest year I’ve had on both a personal and professional level since I started writing.  Of course, you don’t have to read it, but its here if you want to! With that out of the way, let’s get to it.

2017 has been the year I almost quit writing.

Not for a while, but for good. Done. Finished.

The reasons for this have been many, all of which I was looking to blame on other situations until I realised they all stemmed from me and how I was trying to run my career. As a result of this (which I will go into in just  second) my mental health has also suffered, leading to a big melting pot of self-doubt and negativity culminating just a couple of weeks ago with the decision that I was going to quit because, frankly, I had become utterly miserable in every aspect of my life. Allow me to explain.

As with the independent publishing business as a whole, this year has been tough for most independent authors. Lots of brilliant small presses have sadly folded this last year due to this difficult period, and I myself have been affected by this too. Call it an oversaturated market or changes to various distribution outlets and their policies, but whatever the reason, sales have dropped since 2016.

If I was a hobbyist author this wouldn’t be so bad, but as a full-time writer who relies on my book income to make a living, it has been a much bigger problem. I tried various things, of course, to find a way to get back to the level I was at before. Everything from promotion tools, following the example of other successful authors, and towards the end even burying my head in the sand and convincing myself there was nothing wrong and that things would just ‘pick up’ eventually.

With each passing month, I desperately tried something different, jumping from idea to idea, changing my book covers, obsessing over every detail, checking sales every half hour then fretting when the numbers were low. This led to self-doubt as it seemed everything I tried had little to no effect. As you can imagine, this led me to question if it was possible to sustain writing as a career. This also had an effect on my personal life. I stopped wanting to leave the house, I cancelled several convention appearances all because I felt like a fraud and couldn’t risk facing people for fear they would see straight through me as someone who didn’t deserve to be there. For most of the last year, I have barely left the house, becoming a virtual recluse I gained weight and stopped interacting with anyone outside of my immediate household. I don’t blame anyone for this, incidentally. Everything I am saying is all my fault entirely, I just want to be upfront and honest with you my readers about how the year has gone.

This dark period has also affected those around me which is the thing I am most sorry for. Allowing this self-doubt to grow and spiral out of control has been completely unfair to those around me. And so with this came missed deadlines, missed opportunities with some superb anthologies which I couldn’t raise my game to submit work to as I had already convinced myself it would be no good. My output suffered, slowing to at best a crawl, at its worst, a complete stop. I took every opportunity to do anything but write as I was convinced everything I committed to paper was worthless.

As you can see, I was in a frankly shitty place where I felt I had let everyone in my life down and had made the decision in early December to quit and try to find a way to get myself back on track before it had too drastic an effect on my health.

The saving grace and the reason this didn’t happen is because of my family and my readers.

After spending most of the year pushing on in silence and struggling to control what I felt was a life rapidly spiralling out of control, I sat down and talked to my wife, Vikki (This is a big deal for me as I’m not much of a talker) and explained everything I was feeling. We talked it out and realised that things needed to change but quitting wasn’t the answer. I needed to change the way I do things and break the routine that had (by my own design) led to a life of almost total isolation.

It was pointed out that I have some amazing readers. Nothing picks up the spirits like a review from someone saying they loved a specific book or story, or a message on social media saying the same. Those seem like minor things, but you have no idea how much they have helped me and picked up my spirits during those particularly dark times.

I also talked to other family members, getting everything out in the open and feeling immediately better for it. I never believed that talking about problems helped but I’m glad to have been proven wrong. The support and help I have been given has been truly amazing which is why this is a looking forward to 2018 post and not a goodbye I quit post.

So, what does this mean going forward?

In truth, lots of changes. It’s clear to me that I can no longer sustain my current lifestyle. It is affecting both my mental and physical health. In order to fix this, a healthy diet along with exercise is going into immediate action in order to get myself healthy and shed some of this excess weight I have gained. I will be making a point of getting out of the house and making an effort to overcome my social anxiety and get out into the world rather than watch it passing by.

From a work point of view, this also means massive changes. It seems over the last couple of years I have lost track of my goals. I always wanted to go down the traditional publishing route. However after getting caught up in the self-publishing boom of a few years ago perused that instead. The problem now is, that self-publishing just isn’t bringing me any kind of satisfaction or if I’m being honest (and that is the entire purpose of this post) the income it used to.

So, the decision has been made that 2017 has been my final year both as a self-published author and also as primarily a horror author. My future works will first be submitted to agents in the first instance and from there we will see what happens. I have actually been working on a novel between projects this last few months which is a really dark thriller which I am really excited about and hope to get out to agents in the first quarter of 2018. I also have other tentative novel outlines all outside of the horror genre which will follow the same route to hopeful publication.  I will still submit to anthologies etc., but there will be no more titles that I release myself apart from the exclusive content I will be posting to Patreon. I’ll also be scaling back my social media presence in generalas I focus entirely on getting myself into a better place from a personal point of view and hitting the reset button on my career and getting back to basics. I figure now is the time to really take the big test and see if my work is good enough to make it in the wider world or if this career just wasn’t meant to be. Either way, I figure I’ll have the answer by roughly this time next year, whatever it may be which both excites and terrifies me in equal measure.

I just want to end by saying a massive thank you to my family and my readers for their continued support. Each and every person who has supported me by buying a book, leaving a review, supporting me on Patreon or even recommending one of my titles to a friend or even listening to me vent and moan about various things has been key in my decision not to quit when I felt at my lowest point but to instead fight on. This is a hard business to crack and the kind of support I have from you all means the world to me.

 

Thank you so much for being there and here’s to the future! It won’t be easy and I may not succeed but I’m prepared to give it my all and see what happens. Hopefully, you’ll stick with me for the duration and we can see what happens together.

 

Michael.

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Dark Corners Redux – How it all connects

I recently re released my first book – Dark Corners.  The book is a non chronological collection of stories each interconnected and linked. Since release, people have been asking for a guide as to how each story is linked to the next to make sure they found all the connections. Finally, i have put together a little article about each story and how it connects to the others in the book. Obviously, there are spoilers here so don’t read this if you haven’t already read the book and don’t want to have it spoiled for you! The article picks up after the cover art image so you have been warned. 🙂

If you haven’t read the book yet and want to do so, you can click the cover image below and be whisked away to amazon to purchase it. 🙂

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Still here? Alright! Here we go!

 

OBSERVATION ROOM 5:

 James is the broker from ‘THE LAST MAN’ and is a colleague of Mark Fife from ‘A STRANGE AFFAIR’ & ‘THE BOX’ Also the old man on the train later appears in THE BOX.

 

NO REST FOR THE WICKED:

Roberts becomes Monde, who later appears in TINA. Roberts is also pen-pal to Freddy from ‘YURPLE’S LAST DAY.’ Detective Petrov is responsible for catching Maggie in ‘A STRANGE AFFAIR.’

 

THE PRANK:

The Narrator is the older brother of TINA.

 

YURPLE’S LAST DAY:

Freddy is pen-pal to Roberts from ‘NO REST FOR THE WICKED’.

 

TINA:

 Monde is what becomes of Roberts in ‘NO REST FOR THE WICKED’. Tina is also the younger sister of the un-named Narrator in ‘THE PRANK’

 

THAT GNAWING FEELING:

Zombie serum purchased from ‘VICTOR’. Danny is also in Rio during the events of ‘A STRANGE AFFAIR’

 

NO. 5 SYCAMORE STREET:

Alex appears in VICTOR. Mrs Bendtner is neighbours with Steve & Frank from ‘EVERY LITTLE HELPS’.

 

THE BOX:

Terri’s Ex-Boyfriend mark is Mark fife who appears in both ‘A STRANGE AFFAIR’ & ‘THE LAST MAN’. The old man from ‘OBSERVATION ROOM 5’ also appears. Terri presses the button at the exact same that Rick’s illusion goes wrong in ‘THE LAST MAN’. Who is responsible for the events that follow?

 

EVERY LITTLE HELPS:

The story takes place on Sycamore Street, and Steve by living at no 7, is neighbours with Mrs Bendtner from ‘NO 5. SYCAMORE STREET.

 

A STRANGE AFFAIR:

Fife is Mark Fife who also appears in both ‘ THE LAST MAN’ & ‘ THE BOX’. Maggie will later be caught by Detective Petrov from ‘ NO REST FOR THE WICKED’

 

VICTOR:

 Former boss to Alex, and killer of Mrs Bendtners son from ‘ NO. 5 SYCAMORE STREET.’ Also sells the Zombie Serum to Jim & Sarah in ‘ THAT GNAWING FEELING’.

 

THE LAST MAN:

Rick chronicles his story from Monde’s penthouse from ‘ TINA’. The deal to allow the illusion to take place in China is brokered by Fife ( THE BOX / A STRANGE AFFAIR) & Robinson ( OBSERVATION ROOM 5). The illusion that causes the world to end is performed simultaneously with Terri pressing the button in ‘ THE BOX’.

New Free to download anthology released.

Happy to announce that Burger Van, the free to download anthology in support of International Animal Rescue is available now. The idea is that if you download it, you donate the money you would have paid directly to the charity via the just giving page instead. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated their work to this project and hope it raises a ton of cash for a much needed charity. Download and donation links are below. Enjoy and spread the word!

Download at Smashwords (EPUB, MOBI, PDF): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/678390

Other Retailers: (Barnes & Noble, Nook, Scribd etc): https://books2read.com/u/bw819O

And most importantly, the link to the fundraising page. Let’s see how much we can raise!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/read-then-donate

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My top 10 films to watch this Halloween

Summer is gone, and that means the beast called winter is fast approaching. First though, Halloween is thrust upon us. Although here in the U.K it’s not as huge as it stateside, we still embrace it, and so i decided to put together a list of my favourite movies to watch this Halloween ranked in reverse order from 10 to 1. This is a list of my personal choices and the reasons why i love them. Disagree or want to list your own top 10? Leave a comment and let me know! So, Let’s kick things off with no 10 on my list of Halloween movies:

 

10: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

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Say what you like about the so so sequels, but for me the first in this franchise was surprisingly effective at using the whole found footage idea. Tense and filled with suspense, it came at a time when found footage films were relatively new and, dare i say, original. If you haven’t seen it already, there was also an alternate ending shot for the film which i think is better than the one used in the theatrical cut, but even now a few years on, this is still well worthy of a watch this Halloween.

BUY PARANORMAL ACTIVITY FROM AMAZON U.S

BUY PARANORMAL ACTIVITY FROM AMAZON U.K

 

 

9: SHAUN OF THE DEAD

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Cornetto! Shaun of the Dead is still one of my favourite ever movies. If i happen to catch it on TV, I’ll still watch it. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost steal the show as a couple of hapless working class people caught up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. This is a funny film, and in my opinion the best of the Pegg/Frost Cornetto trilogy of movies (the others being HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD’S END). A great supporting cast help drive the film along as Pegg and Frost go from one blunder to another. It has comedy, zombies, blood and a couple of surprisingly touching moments. If you want something a bit lighter amid the horror this Halloween, this one is for you.

BUY SHAUN OF THE DEAD AT AMAZON U.S

BUY SHAUN OF THE DEAD AT AMAZON U.K

 

8: CABIN IN THE WOODS

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Another one which has more laughs than scares. This film takes every cliché in horror and puts a clever twist on it that makes it an incredibly fun watch. This is mindless fun but fun nonetheless. Another one to disengage the brain and watch without taking it too seriously.

 

 

BUY CABIN IN THE WOODS AT AMAZON U.S

BUY CABIN IN THE WOODS AT AMAZON U.K

 

7: JAWS

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Still one my favourite movies of all time, Jaws in a masterclass in building drama and tension. Showing how sometimes less is more, the film still stands up well today, particularly the recent Blu Ray restoration which looks stunning. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one multiple times, and Halloween is as good a time as any to dust off the DVD (or aforementioned Blu Ray) and give it another watch.  Also consider checking out the book. there are some key differences between the two versions which give a very different experience.

BUY JAWS AT AMAZON U.S

BUY JAWS AT AMAZON U.K

 

 

6: POLTERGEIST

poltergeistForget the recent awful remake. I’m talking about the original film which scared me to death as a kid. There is one particular scene with a toy clown which, after seeing as a child scarred me for life and made me afraid of them ever since. If you’ve only seen the recent remake, you NEED to check out this original version. It succeeds everywhere the new one fails and still delivers a creepy experience years later. Perfect Halloween viewing.

 

BUY POLTERGEIST AT AMAZON U.S

BUY POLTERGEIST AT AMAZON U.K

 

 

5: 28 DAYS LATER

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Halfway through the list and we come to one of my favourite zombie films. 28 Days Later was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released, and with its fast moving zombies and stellar british cast, you won’t go far wrong with this one. not only is this the story of the apocalypse, but also has a lot to say about the brutality of man and how even in the face of disaster there are worse things out there than the undead.

BUY 28 DAYS LATER AT AMAZON U.S

BUY 28 DAYS LATER AT AMAZON U.K

 

 

 

4: THE SHINING

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Number four on the list is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. This is another film that i remember watching when i was younger and it scaring me. I recently watched it again when it was remastered for Blu Ray (like Jaws, with breathtaking results) and found it to be just as creepy now as it was then. The sense of foreboding and isolation is captured perfectly as the overlook hotel slowly begins to change Jack Torrance from loving husband and father to something much worse. another perfect Halloween watch.

BUY THE SHINING ON AMAZON U.S

BUY THE SHINING ON AMAZON U.K

 

 

3: CREEPSHOW

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Anyone who knows me knows i LOVE a good horror anthology, both in written form or visual, and Creepshow is one of my favourites. it was a close call between this and the Twilight Zone movie, but i still have a soft spot for this one so it got the nod (just). I remember having a grainy VHS copy of this back in the day and having no clue that Stephen King not only wrote it, but starred in it too. (check out his super hammy performance in The lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill). Every story in this is a hit for fans of the genre.

BUY CREEPSHOW AT AMAZON U.S

BUY CREEPSHOW AT AMAZON U.K

 

2: TRICK R TREAT

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I couldn’t decide for a long time between the number one and two spot. In the end, i placed Trick R Treat at number two. Another anthology of individual stories told non chronologically (Cheap plug: much like the coming reissue of my story collection, Dark Corners available on Halloween and available now to pre order HERE). Each story is brilliantly clever in their own right. You will see scenes from other tales from different perspectives and angles as we jump around the timeline of Halloween night revealing horror after horror. GO BUY IT!

BUY TRICK R TREAT AT AMAZON U.S

BUY TRICK R TREAT AT AMAZON U.K

 

1: HALLOWEEN

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What else could top the list but the john Carpenter classic? Shot on a miniscule budget, Halloween is a masterclass in horror. The fact that our monster (the iconic Michael Myers) stalks around in daylight instead of solely jumping out of the shadows like many other films of the era gives it an edge. Then of course there is the musical score. Everyone gets goosebumps at that, surely? The sign of a good film is in how well it ages and Halloween is just as frightening today no matter how many times you may have already seen it.

BUY HALLOWEEN AT AMAZON U.S

BUY HALLOWEEN AT AMAZON U.K

 

And so that’s my list. Not strictly the best films, but my favourites. Think something is wrong or have a different opinion? Leave a comment and let me know. List your favourites and why, I’d love to see what you recommend.

 

Graphic novel review: Sick B*stards issue #1

Sick B*stards was the first black cover Matt Shaw book I ever read and I always thought it would translate well to other mediums. Now, a couple of years and a ton of success later, we have the graphic novel adaptation just about ready to release and I am excited to say I have read it and want to share my review of it here. As you know, Matt and I have worked together on and off over the years and chat daily about mostly pointless things, I and I know trying to get this off the ground has been both stressful and expensive, so I want to say how happy I am for him that not only has he done it, the results are spectacularly good. So, to the (Spoiler free) review.

First up, as a word of warning, the black cover range of books carry a warning on the front and, as readers of Matt’s work will know, he pushes beyond the boundaries of taste and makes no apologies for it here. The opening pages of Sick B*stards  follow that theme and are both graphic and shocking, setting the scene for what is to come.  The book has a certain tone. It is dark, claustrophobic, the story essentially a post-apocalyptic tale of survival but grounded in reality a world away from the bigger scale books and movies. Issue one introduces us to a family learning to survive in the aftermath of some global catastrophe, yet there are no wastelands here which helps sell the immersion. Instead, we focus on the family who, as the story progresses reveal that dysfunctional would be too kind a word, especially when we learn how they have learned to exist in a savage new world.

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The artwork in this graphic novel is phenomenal, and embodies the bleak nature of the story and is reminiscent of Alan Moore’s sublime From Hell but with use of colour, the world is shown to us in shades of green and brown, the details in the linework subtle and yet intricate at the same time. Long story short, this is a gorgeous looking product and all involved should be incredibly proud of the end result.

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As with a lot of Matt Shaw’s works, the story told here jumps to different time periods, giving is a deeper look at the characters before the events set in the modern day. There is a certain sympathy, particularly for the son of the family, as we see his struggles to adapt to the new world and find his place within it amid the backdrop of depravity and horror that is never far away. The fact that we manage to feel sympathy for characters who should disgust us is a real strength of the story and one which I hope carries through into future issues.

All in all, Issue one of Sick B*stards is a triumph. The introduction to the story is paced just so that we learn enough to want to move forward and see what comes next. Matt and his team are currently raising funds to produce issue two, which I sincerely hope happens as it would be a shame to see this project die. If you want to support their efforts, you can do so by clicking HERE.

If you haven’t read the original book, you can pick it up via Amazon by clicking on the links below. Get it. Read it. And revel in the slightly dirty feeling it gives you.We all know you’ll enjoy it.

A rock solid 9/10 score for this one.

GET THE NOVEL THAT STARTED IT ALL, SICK B’STARDS BY MATT SHAW AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

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AMAZON UK CUSTOMERS CLICK HERE

AMAZON US CUSTOMERS CLICK HERE

Movie review: Suicide Squad 

After a ton of unfavourable reviews from the critics I was curious to see just how this would play out and if I agreed with the general consensus that this was a ‘bad’ or ‘mess’ of a film. 

I didn’t. In fact, I enjoyed watching this for what it was. A fun popcorn film which fit nicely after the also slammed by critics Batman vs Superman (which incidentally I also quite enjoyed). A few minor niggles stopped this from being a must see for me, but there was still plenty to enjoy. 

Make no mistake, this is the DC version of the Avengers. The first half hour of the film introduces us to our core characters and sets the scene for what is to come. This is a great way to get to know about each character especially for those who may be unfamiliar with the comics or only vaguely aware of the history of the DC universe. When I first watched the trailer there were certain casting choices that I had doubts about, primarily Will Smith as Deadshot & Jared Leto  as The Joker. To my surprise, both played their roles well. It was good to see Smith play the villain, although he still manages to pull off the hero vibe with ease as his character is easy to like. 

Leto’s Joker was a similar story, his spin on the character wildly different from Heath Ledger’s take in the iconic The Dark Knight and all in a good way. Leto’s incarnation is a snarling beast, a dangerous yet mesmerising psychopath who pushes the crazy button harder than any other screen version of the character before. With his Tattoos, gold rings, flashy cars and garish suits, The Joker steals every scene he features in which in part is one of my niggles with the film. There just isn’t enough of him. Apart from the occasional brief appearance, most of the Joker storyline are small flashback scenes about his relationship with Harley Quinn (played superbly by Margot Robbie) and have little impact on the main storyline which itself is another thing I’m going to have a little moan about. 

The plot is thin to say the least, a basic setup to get the squad working together for the greater good to stop the evil Enchantress from destroying earth by making some kind of superweapon which is never seen or fully explained. Our heroes (or are they still villains?) dutifully go on a world saving mission and learn along the way that even bad guys have morals. 

Does any of that matter as far as enjoying the film goes? Not one bit. This is a fun, loud, action packed,  switch off the brain and enjoy kind of film which is clearly designed to set up more movies in the franchise (speaking of which, it’s advisable to watch Batman vs Superman before seeing this as there is a little plot crossover. I’ve added a link at the bottom of this review). If you are looking for a fun summer film that dosen’t require too much thinking, give this a go. Seen it already?  Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. 

Final score: 8/10

Definitely better than the poor reviews give it credit for. Go give it a watch. 

Get Batman vs Superman:Dawn of Justice from Amazon now

Amazon US customers click HERE 

Amazon UK customers click HERE 

Project Apex audiobook released! 

As some may know, I recently signed a deal with Beacon Audiobooks to distribute my titles going forward. I’m excited to announce that the first release, Project Apex is out now from all digital audiobook stockists. You can read the press release here:

https://www.prlog.org/12577454-beacon-audiobooks-releases-project-apex-by-author-michael-bray.html
If you happen to pick it up or have read the book, let me know what you think of it. I’d love to hear some feedback. 

TV REVIEW: The Walking Dead Season 6

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Please note there are Season 5 spoilers in this review and minor spoilers for season 6. please don’t read on if you haven’t seen the 5th series or don’t want to know the storyline for season 6. you have been warned! 🙂

 

The sixth season of the AMC hit show carried on it’s bleak journey as our survivors struggle to come to terms with living in the nearest thing to safety any of them have ever experienced. Rick and his people struggle to adapt from the savage lifestyle they had been forced to live, which came to a head in the season 5 finale when under instruction from Dianne, Rick kills habitual drunk, Pete.

The fallout from Rick’s actions and the cold brutality in which he went about them causes mistrust against the Alexandria community who are conflicted as to if Rick and his people belong there or on the other side of the wall. This struggle between Rick and his people trying to convince the people of Alexandria that such brutality is needed in the world as it is now and their lack of understanding due to being sheltered from the zombie apocalypse is a prevailing theme throughout the series.

Season six also introduces us to some new villains in the shape of a certain barbed wire wrapped baseball bat wielding maniac who will be familiar to those who have read the comics and we’ll get to shortly, and another group called the wolves. The wolves are essentially everything the people of Alexandria are not. They have lived in the conflict, desperate and clawing to survive, resorting to inhumane tactics in order to survive.

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The people of Alexandria find out first hand when the Wolves attack the town, army of walkers in tow and cause chaos, almost destroying everything the people had worked to build. These scenes are particularly brutal, and test Rick and his group in ways they had started to forget,  causing them to revert back to their savage nature from their time on the road. It is around this time, with the group once again split and in disarray that Daryl, Abraham and Sascha encounter a group in the road who call themselves the Saviors. The saviors tell the group that everything they own now belongs to Negan. Reluctant to hand over their possessions, Daryl and co dispatch the threat and return to Alexandria just in time to help.

The second half of the season picks up in the aftermath of the Alexandria attack as the town (now under the leadership of Rick) trying to repair the damage done by the wolves. During a supply run, rick and Daryl encounter a man called Jesus, who initially seems friendly then steals their supplies. Daryl and Rick track him down and learn that the man comes form a community called the Hilltop. he claims they have supplies and food, both of which are running low in the Alexandria community. Rick agrees to go with Jesus to  the Hilltop to negotiate a trade deal.

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When they arrive at the hilltop, Rick and co find out that Jesus was telling the truth, and the Hilltop is well stocked with food and provisions. Rick learns that the Hilltop community are being extorted for food and supplies by the saviours, who threaten to attack if their demands are not met. Rick and his group agree to eliminate the saviours in exchange for a trade deal with the hilltop where they will share supplies going forward. This leads to an assault on a saviour compound, where Rick and his group brutally kill several people, sure that they have eliminated the threat until they learn that two of their own have been captured. This in turn leads towards the grand finale, where the saviours lead rick and his people towards a face to face confrontation with Negan himself (along with aforementioned barbed wire wrapped baseball bat) who tells them someone has to be punished for what they have done in what has to go down as one of the greatest and most intense end scenes for this show to date.

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There is a lot to like about this season of The Walking Dead. We get to see Carl coming of age after surviving a horrific and life threatening injury. We also get a superb episode dedicated to Morgan’s backstory titled ‘Here’s not Here,’ Which fills in the gap between what happened when Rick first met Morgan in series one to finding him delirious and insane back in the third season. Carol decides that she has seen enough of death and goes off alone, isolating herself from the group as she gives in to the chaos of the world around her. By far the most interesting aspect of season 6 is the start of the upcoming Negan story arc. In a series where Rick and his group have been the alpha, to see him at the end of season six broken, afraid and in tears shows that things have definitely changed. And then of course there is that final scene of the last episode which will no doubt infuriate as much as it captivates.

FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10: Everything changes in this season and I can’t recommend it enough. go buy it!

The Walking Dead season 6 comes to DVD /  Blu ray on September 26th. You can pre order it now from Amazon below:

Amazon U.K: Pre order season 6 now (UK CUSTOMERS)

Amazon U.S: Pre order season 6 now (U.S Customers)

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Voting for the first retro review is now open!

Every month i’ll be reviewing an old horror classic to see just how well (or not) certain movies have aged. This will be a fun, tongue firmly in cheek series of reviews designed to revisit some of those films horror fans knew and loved back in the day. The first selection is up in the poll above, so get voting for your favourites!

If you are unfamiliar with the films or just want to revisit them before making your choice, i have included the Amazon links for each title below. Just click the relevant cover to be whisked away to the amazon page where you can read the synopsis etc. Happy voting!

Writing tips 1: Pre orders and how they can work for you

 

Last year, Amazon introduced the ability to set a title up for pre order. At first glance this may look like a pointless addition, however, used the right way, pre orders can help you to get a strong head start in the rankings and, more importantly, a good chart position on day one. Used correctly, pre orders can be a valuable tool in the author arsenal and give you the advantage to make your book a best seller.

pre order image

The image above shows the pre order numbers for my novel, Project Apex. The pre order went live on March 18th and with a minimal amount of promotion achieved 115 pre orders by the day of release. Those numbers helped the book to achieve a strong chart position on its release.

The good news is that anyone with a KDP account on Amazon can access these tools, and if combined with the lessons included in the A to Z of self-publishing course, can give very strong sales numbers early in the shelf life of the book, which as you know, is when the most sales tend to occur for a new title.

Before I get to the details of how pre orders can work for you, there are a few things to note. Firstly, you can only set up a pre order for a specific title for a maximum of three months ahead of its release date. The flip side to this is that you can set up a pre order without having a final version of the manuscript, so you can get this all set up ahead of time as you finish the manuscript and generate sales before the book is even finished! One thing to be aware of with pre orders, is that if you set up a release then don’t upload the final version of the manuscript by the given deadline, then you will lose access to the pre order service for a full year, so be sure that you can get the finished product uploaded in time.To set up a pre order for those who have never done one, it’s as simple as choosing it during the creation of a new title on Amazon. When you are going through the creation process, on option 4 you simply select ‘make my title available for pre order.’

pre order selection

When you have selected your date (within the three month window) you will have to upload a manuscript of some kind to amazon to use as a placeholder file. This can either be an unfinished draft of the book you are working on or something as simple as a blank document with any random text on it. The Amazon uploader will accept anything here at this stage as it knows you will be returning at a later date to upload the final manuscript. One thing you do need to have ready at this stage is book cover and blurb. If you have this, you can then fill out the rest of your listing as if you were releasing the book there and then. When it’s done, you will have to wait for amazon to approve the pre order. Once it’s done, you will have a listing just like any other book you would release, only with a pre order link instead. This is where you can use the service to your advantage, especially if you set up with the full three month lead time. It gives you the opportunity to share the link and get guaranteed day one sales in advance. I offered a special pre order price to my readers of just .99 which would then revert to its full retail price the day of the book release which built a lot of early anticipation for the release and gave people a reason to commit to buying the book ahead of time. I also did a little bit of Facebook / Twitter promotion to advertise the limited time low pre order price.  With careful planning and promotion, you can almost guarantee a solid number of pre order sales and a massive day one boost to your income, allowing you to plan ahead and get a good estimate of projected sales. If you then combine this process with the other lessons included in the A to Z of self-publishing course around marketing a new release via your mailing list etc., the impact pre orders can have can be even further increased, making them a powerful and valuable tool for you the author. I hope this short blog was useful to you, and that you get some benefit from using this tool to further boost your sales and give that much needed day one spike.

 

 

Michael Bray is a bestselling horror / thriller author of several novels. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert & Brian Lumley, along with TV shows like Tales from the Crypt & The Twilight Zone, his work touches on the psychological side of horror, teasing the reader’s nerves and willing them to keep turning the pages. Several of his titles are currently being translated into multiple languages and with options for movie and Television adaptations under negotiation for others.

Where to find Michael Bray online

Official website: www.michaelbrayauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/michaelbrayauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelbrayauth

Instagram: www.instagram.com/michaelbrayauthor

Google +: www.plus.goggle.com/michaelbrayauthor

Where to find my books

 

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/