Look, I’ve got another book coming!

What if someone had conquered the Vikings, someone claiming to be their gods?

What if King Arthur’s knights met a very different metal-clad warrior?

What if you were ordered to execute a statue and hanging just didn’t seem to work?

I bet you’ve thought about exactly none of these questions – not unreasonably, all things considered. But I have, and they’re among the stories in my next e-book, From a Foreign Shore, which will be out next Monday, 8 September.

From A Foreign Shore - High Resolution

From a Foreign Shore is a very small collection – five short stories, two of them flash pieces of only a few hundred words. Appropriately enough it also has a small price tag – 99c or your local equivalent, whether that’s 77 English pennies or 53 Venusian bdumric (OK, even Amazon probably aren’t selling books on Venus yet, but I don’t want to miss the purple-skinned market when the time comes).

After I posted the cover on Saturday a couple of people asked for more information. This collection has a loosely historic theme, and I mean very loosely. Here’s a little bit on the stories…

Holy Water – a pair of medieval servants are given the frustrating task of executing a statue, in a story based on a couple of local Cheshire legends.

Farewell to a Foreign Shore – a flash fiction piece about a Viking heading out to sea.

Odin’s Mirror – a Viking chief faces what appears to be his god in an alternative version of dark age Europe.

From the Sea – a messenger is plagued by visions as he runs from the Battle of Marathon.

Sir Cai, the Shining Knight – an oddity of a story involving Arthurian nobles and a mysterious stranger.

This collection is part of my on-going effort to gather lots of my previously published stories into themed collections. I’ve already published Riding the Mainspring, the steampunk collection, and there are currently untitled science fiction and fantasy collections coming over the next couple of months. That left me with a handful of stories with a loosely historic connection, which I’ve bundled together in this mini anthology. Hence its brevity and the presence of the slightly less historic Sir Cai, which I’m very fond of but just didn’t fit with the other collections.

Think of this is a bite-sized release to tide you over until I get the fantasy anthology ready. There’s plenty to look forward to from me over the next few months, and I hope you’ll all be there to read it. In the meantime mark your calendars for next Monday, because there are Viking, peasants, knights and some other oddities coming, all in the space of five short stories.


Competition results!

When I first released Riding the Mainspring and Mud and Brass I said that I’d give away a free copy of the next collection to someone who posted me a link to their Amazon review by the end of August. Two people posted their links in the comments, and so I’m going to declare them both winners – congratulations to Malwen and Sue Archer, I’ll email you about your advanced copies of From a Foreign Shore.

Because those reviews are incredibly useful to me, and because I only had the books on Amazon at the time, I’m going to declare a round two to this competition. So, post a link to your review below, wherever that review is, and I’ll enter you in a draw to receive a free copy of From a Foreign Shore. Deadline is Sunday night, so that I can send you the e-book when it comes out on Monday.

Whether it’s for the sake of the free book or from the goodness of your heart, if you have a chance then please get reviewing!

Writing for themes

Ghosts in the Gaslight, my new story in the Desolation anthology, was written for a theme. Ironically it wasn’t the theme of the anthology it ended up in, though that fitted too. But it’s a great example of why I like writing for themes.

Themed anthologies get advertised all the time. A quick glance at Duotrope‘s upcoming deadlines calendar reveals such wildly divergent  themes as ‘barbarians of the red planet’, ‘dare’ and ‘stories of unwise lesbian desire’. Even when I don’t think I can meet the deadline, these themes often give me inspiration for what to write. They send my brain in directions I didn’t expect. They give me the boundaries and limits that are so crucial to successful creativity.

Steve Snodgrass

I never would have written Ghosts in the Gaslight if I hadn’t seen a call for submissions for a gaslight fantasy collection. That wasn’t where the story ended up, but it got me thinking about how to combine the Victorian era and fantasy. It even inspired the central fantasy element in the story – a spirit who’s actually visible in the gaslight.

So if you’re looking for inspiration for your next story, or for something interesting to read, take a look at themed anthologies. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there.



Picture by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr creative commons