Monthly Archives: July 2013

It’s all go around here!

Busy as a...errr, Barbary macaque.

Busy as a…errr, Barbary macaque. Photo my me, during my visit to Trentham Monkey Forest on July 29th 2013.

It’s been fantastic in the two and a half weeks since Darke Times and Other Stories hit the virtual shelves. I’m beginning to get reviews, and what’s most awesome is that they are ALL five star reviews! My thanks to all who have not only had the good judgement to buy my book, but to have taken the time to write wonderful, glowing reviews. It is so good to know that my work is being read, enjoyed and truly appreciated.

On the back of this, Ive had the good fortune to guest blog for the wonderful John F.D. Taff, a man who writes the most amazing horror stories, and if you’ve not read anything by him, you must remedy that immediately!

Next on the list for me is a guest blog on Royal Manaball, the blog of the author M.C. O’Neill, writer of the YA saga, The Ancients and the Angels. That will be appearing later this evening, mainly because he’s in Illinois and I’m in the UK. It’s a great, informative read, and you’ll definitely learn a few things about me that you didn’t already know.

After that, in a few weeks’ time, I’ll be revisiting the blog of Editor and author Colleen M. Albert at C.M. Albert Writes for a follow-up interview to the Q and A I had with her in March, so look out for that, won’t you?

And then there’s more writing to do, of course! My head is filled with lots of disturbing stuff at the moment, so you can expect some really dark fare from me in the future. Stay tuned, folks!

 

It makes me want to scream

Scream. Photo by Christopher Macsurak

Scream. Photo by Christopher Macsurak

I’m talking about incorrect grammar, of course. It’s not only that which bothers the hell out of me;  incorrect spelling annoys me too! I overlook the use of single “L” words and other American English irregularities, and I know for a fact that Americans have a good chuckle about the British way of spelling words with “OU” like colour instead of color, as they normally spell it. No, it’s the glaringly obvious things that seem to stand out and hit you in the face with a huge wet fish that bother me most.

I read a lot of stories online, mainly in guest posts by writers on other writers’ blogs and websites, and I can honestly say that in about 75% of those stories there are grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, words missing, words or phrases repeated, errors in punctuation, and an inconsistency in the spaces between sentences–often in the same paragraph!

Writing is an art, a craft, and we should do all that we can to ensure that we put out our best work. I’d be mortified if I saw that any of the work I’ve written was displayed for the world to see with loads of such errors. It is accepted practice to use lower-case “i” on a website or blog sometimes (I’ve done it myself, lol), but for printed works and such, it doesn’t look good. We should do our very best constantly and know with certainty that we have indeed done our best to produce a polished, finished product.

The thing that sparked this blog entry was something which I witnessed on Facebook yesterday. Ah, it’s only Facebook, you may think to yourself, but what I witnessed was posted in a Facebook group for authors.

Someone (I won’t give away even their gender) posted something to the group offering their editing services at a rate lower than their standard fee. All was well…until I saw the most glaring error in that person’s post which, considering that this person is offering their professional services as an Editor, deterred me from ever using this individual.

The error was just one word in a sentence, but an error which should not have occurred, and here is that error:

“If your interested” (sic).

WHAT THE…? IT’S YOU’RE, NOT YOUR!

And that was coming from an Editor! A person asking for your business; someone who wants you to pay them money in exchange for a service that one can plainly see might possibly not be of the standard one would expect.

Call me picky if you like, but when I pay for a job, I want to know that the job is done right. If it had been a bricklayer who had shown you a wonky wall that they had built, would you employ them? I think not!

Rant over. Have a nice day!

 

Guest post: The Next Day, by Sheila Hall

A short while ago, I wrote what is as yet my only piece of erotic fiction, and I had the good fortune to have that story featured on TheDarkerhalf.com, a marvellous website run by Sheila Hall and Christopher Liccardi. Sheila and Chris showcase fantastic short stories by some amazing writers, and I consider it an honor that they chose to feature my work.

Sheila and myself were talking recently, and I thought it would be great if I could reciprocate and have her write a piece of flash fiction for me. Although Sheila is normally known for her naughty, cheeky side, she writes beautiful poetry too. I originally said jokingly that she should write a piece of horror erotica, to which she replied, “Challenge accepted!”

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you on that score, because the story you’re about to read is anything other than erotic! I guess we’ll all just have to wait a while longer for that little gem!

As this is the first time I have featured a story by another author on my blog, I wanted things to go sweetly, so I donned my Editor’s cap for this big occasion. I read far too many stories by guests on other peoples’ blogs where there are glaring errors in both grammar and spelling, and on the odd occasion I have known there to be words repeated, or even missing! I hope that Sheila approves of my slight oiling and tweaking to her wonderful story.

This tale is a short story of sudden and shocking realization, and it’s one I know you’ll enjoy.

Stream

The Next Day

by Sheila Hall

It still feels like the middle of the night, but I know it isn’t. Instead of the moon hanging low, I see rays of sunlight filtering through the leafy canopy overhead. The forest around me is teeming with life. Songbirds are sharing gossip, and various other animals are engaging in their morning routines. All these signs start to focus my thoughts on the really important questions: where the hell am I, and why am I here instead of in my bed?

The ground is wet and cold under my cheek. It’s natural, and yet it feels so wrong. I raise my head, and the pounding that accompanies that small movement shatters all thoughts of continuing that motion. Squinting, I become more aware of my surroundings, and the lack of modern conveniences that I would normally expect to see upon waking convinces me that wherever it is that I am, this is not my bedroom. I venture a guess that I’m in the woods bordering my home. I always loved the stark contrast between urban dwelling and ancient shelter. That’s why I chose to live here.

The longing for the familiar motivates me to get up to my knees. Stomach heaving, I lurch up and stagger over to the stream a few yards in front of me. The water should be clear and sparkling, but it isn’t. Instead it’s littered with flesh and bone; the remains of some animal another creature had consumed as prey. Rotting chunks not yet fully rendered down by acid float lazily away, carried along with all the other debris sharing the same journey downstream.

The copper taste of old pennies is in my mouth, making me gag, and I gulp greedily at the tainted water to try and rinse it away. It’s then that I notice the unusual discoloration staining my skin. Looking down I see that my clothing is tainted by the red and brown hues of drying blood spatter and mud. Grabbing at myself, I look for the cuts on my skin that would account for the amount of blood I see. Please, let the blood be mine. Yet no matter how hard I look the jagged tears in my flesh I expect to see are nowhere to be found. I have no apparent injuries.

Not again. Dear God, no. Not again.

***

 The little stream flows on, uncaring. Its waters wash over the small, huddled form that is half immersed, dry heaving and tearing at its own skin. Blood, bile, and sanity travel onward towards the sea.

#

Follow Sheila on Twitter

 

5-star reviews and a guest blogger invitation!

In the 8 days that my book, Darke Times and Other Stories has been available, I have had the good fortune to sell books (though I have no idea just how many), receive glowing 5-star reviews, and on the back of one of the reviews the reviewer invited me to be a guest blogger on his blog!

M.C. O’Neill, author of The Ancients and the Angels series of YA novels, Celestials and Archons awarded my book 5 stars on Amazon.com and had this to say:

I love anthologies and collections because they introduce me to new authors. “Darke Times” is no exception. When you delve into this collection’s pages, you really get what you pay for: a wonderful variety show of the bizarre. David Eccles can handle any genre thrown at him with hilarious skill. Some of the stories range from horror, fantasy, sci-fi, erotica – you get it all but his dry (and sometimes wet) wit will guarantee laughter.

I enjoy how his short stories are punctuated with flash-fiction treasures that operate almost like a commercial, but one that you would actually want to watch. “Teeth” sticks out in my mind. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

Although I’m a yank, Eccles’ language is decisively British, and think Terry Pratchett more so than Neil Gaiman, but a Pratchett that goes to places he would normally not dare. LOVE IT!

It looks great on the Kindle with sharp formatting and beautiful cover design and you get everything the package advertises plus more.

I can’t wait to see what kind of full-length novels are going to come out of this guy’s brain in the future. I’m guessing horror or even Bizarro – and these stories are ALL bizarre – but whatever they may be, I am now a fan.

John F.D. Taff, the horror author and a man responsible for over 65 short stories and 7 novels was the very first person to review my book, and if I know John, he was probably the first to buy it too! He too awarded my book 5 stars on Amazon.com and said:

David Eccles’ first published book of short stories, Darke Times and Other Stories, is a wide-ranging look at this new author’s range of work. From flash fiction pieces like “The Teeth Police”–a short, funny and horrifying little jab of a story–to “Jack & Jill (and Steve!)”–a funny little riff on Jack the Ripper and time travel–to the titular “Darke Times”–a tale of a Rastafarian pixie who really, really wants to get to the football match–Eccles imbues his stories with a rakish wit and a firm hand. Even when they’re quite clearly horror, there’s an edge of comedy to them which makes the tales stand out. Grab it now and give it a try, because Eccles’s name is one you’ll be hearing.

To have two fantastic authors, each respected in their own genres heap praise on me like that was just the most amazing feeling, and still the 5-star reviews keep on coming! But wait! It gets better!

As I mentioned earlier, one of my reviewers invited me to do a guest blog on their website. That reviewer was none other than John F.D. Taff. John wanted to know more about  me, and about how and why I write and, of course, he gave me the opportunity to mention Darke Times and Other Stories. What a wonderful way to show his appreciation of my book and my writing talents! How could I refuse such a generous gesture! It’s guys like John and James Roy Daley and James Ward Kirk who have seen something in me and in the way that I write and have given me the chance to show what I can do, and I am eternally grateful to them and anyone who is gracious enough to show their support.

Show John your support and visit johnfdtaff.com

To see the blog that I wrote for John on July 18th, click here.

“Darke Times and Other Stories” is LIVE!

Kindle cover for "Darke Times and Other Stories"

Kindle cover for “Darke Times and Other Stories”

I know I’m a day late, but I’m catching up!

Yes, folks, it’s finally happened! My first book, a collection of fourteen pieces of flash fiction and short stories entitled Darke Times and Other Stories was published yesterday, the 14th of July, and I really am happy and proud to say that I did it all by myself, after a lot of time spent reading tutorials about formatting the manuscript correctly.

I even created the cover too! I’m no professional graphics wizard, but I do love to play around with software, and I think that the final cover is rather good. It’s certainly visually interesting with regard to the mixed subject matter!

I thought I’d mix it up a little and have representations of a few of the characters from some of the stories in the book, which is a mixed bag  of goodies in itself!

There’s a little bit of general fiction, some science fiction, a bizarro fantasy, a piece of humorous fiction, a zombie story, a good dash of horror and horror erotica, and a full-blown erotica story too!

The original title of this debut collection was to have been Brick Up the Pigeonhole, my way of saying that you can’t pigeonhole me with this eclectic mix, but I really struggled with a cover that I could be satisfied with, so I changed the title and, hey presto!–Darke Times and Other Stories was born!

I really wanted to get it published before my father died, but it was not to be, so I did my best to get it out there as soon as I could after his funeral, and to my parents, who are both no longer with us, I can now say, “I did it! I’m an author, just like I told you I would be!”

I hope that you’ll buy and enjoy this 76-page volume of stories, and that you’ll love reading it as much as I loved writing it, and that you’ll review it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Darke Times and Other Stories on Amazon.com

Darke Times and Other Stories on Amazon.co.uk

 

 

Cover reveal for “Darke Times and Other Stories”

Kindle cover for "Darke Times and Other Stories"

Kindle cover for “Darke Times and Other Stories”

Yes, I know the book is out now, but I thought I’d show you a pic in case you didn’t know that it’s available, and a lot of you won’t know, because i haven’t blogged about it, until now!

I just LOVE the font, by the way, which is Friz Quadrata OS regular.

In my next blog, i’ll officially announce the book launch!

 

Anyway, as I was saying…

White Rose of York

White Rose of York, rendered by Sodacan

…It was no surprise to my immediate family that my father passed away recently. He had been ill for some time and had deteriorated rapidly, and we had all reached the conclusion that this most recent stay in hospital would be his last. And it was. He went peacefully in his sleep, and it was a blessing that his suffering was finally over.

We were prepared for his passing, and my brother handled the funeral arrangements and all of the normal tasks that take up so much time and yet still need to be done, and as we are not religious, we chose to have a Humanist Celebrant perform the funeral service. The man we chose for the service was the wonderful Michael Vernon, who, with his background in theatre delivered the best celebration of a person’s life that I have ever witnessed. It was a true celebration, and nobody came dressed all in black. We all wore at least one brightly coloured item of clothing, and some of the ladies wore their best summer dresses, which my father would have appreciated! Certainly, there were a few tears, but for the most part, all in attendance had a good chuckle at the tales that Mike orated, guided by the small speeches that myself, my brother and my sister had prepared. The final piece of music played just as we were about to depart the crematorium saw every single person there beaming and laughing, just as my father would have wanted. It was the theme tune to “Rawhide”, sung by Frankie Laine! It was just wonderful!

Goodbye, Dad. We love you.

For details of what a Humanist funeral entails, please click here.

It’s shameful that I haven’t blogged lately, I know, but…

The shame!

 

…I’ll make it up to you all. Things got a little complicated on the home front for a while, and I haven’t really had time to blog or even to write until just recently.

The first traumatic incident was that I turned 50 on the 26th of June. No, i’m joking, of course! Becoming half a century old was just another normal birthday to me. I don’t feel any different from year to year, apart from an increase in the usual joint aches and pains, but that is to be expected.

I didn’t have a party, though my brother did buy me a cake (which remained untouched until my daughter’s 30th birthday exactly a week later, where it was duly demolished by myself, the grand-kids and all at her party). Instead, I sat in my bedroom eating a Chinese take-away that my brother also bought for me and watched Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. I was surprised that nobody came round to have a drink with me to celebrate, though!

To tell you the truth, i’ve not really celebrated my birthday in the manner one would expect since my mother died 23 years ago. She had a stroke on my brother’s 21st birthday, she died 2 days later, and we buried her on my birthday, a week before her 51st birthday, which she shares with my daughter, by the way.

The actual traumatic event was that my father died on the 28th of June, 2 days after my 50th birthday, so both of my parents died 2 days after one of their sons’ birthdays.

Needless to say, I didn’t get any writing done at all during this period.

I really wanted my father to be here when I published my first book, but it was not to be. More on the book front in my next blog, which will follow very shortly. I’m knocking out a few of them today, to give you all something to read, because I feel that i’ve been ignoring you all, though in reality, I haven’t.

I thank all of you who read my blog. I appreciate every single like and comment. Especially your comments!