Merry Christmas

It’s that time of year when we wish peace and goodwill to others. When our cups of joy overflow, often in direct proportion to the flow of alcohol. When we give each other presents and spend precious time with our loved ones. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated each other as well throughout the year as we do in late December.

Despite the rampant commercialism and the pressures of shopping (I’m a bloke; I hate shopping), it’s my favourite time of year. Imagine winter without Christmas. What a bleak few months they would be.

It’s dreary here in Wales as I write this. The sky had been grey and drizzly for days. The ground is permanently wet—whenever we step in from outside, we bring in mud. Yet we don’t allow it to dampen our festive spirits. My daughters, both now in their twenties, and my wife still grow excited as the big day draws near. So do I. In fact, I’m probably the biggest kid of us all.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you a peaceful and happy time. As we say in Wales, Iechyd da!—Good health!

Christmas Party 2017

The third Sam Kates office party took place on Friday. I took my brother, elder daughter and wife to Cardiff to treat them to some posh nosh as a way of expressing my gratitiude for all the help they give me throughout the year, or simply for putting up with me.

There was beer.




Later, we braved the cold and headed for Winter Wonderland.

Some of us took a ride on this rather tall ferris wheel.

There was a—not sure what you’d call it—turbocharged merry-go-round? My brother and I, full of bravado and beer, decided to give it a whirl. Rather, we allowed it to fling us around at what felt like something approaching warp speed, while we swore, yelled and clung on for dear life.

There was time for more beer—there’s always time for more beer—and a snap amidst the decorations on St Mary Street, before we called it a night and headed for home.

Thanks for all the help, folks!

Let It Snow

Okay, so I enrolled my Christmas collection of dark tales—Ghosts of Christmas Past—into a promotion of Christmas-themed books, without really knowing (or considering) what sort of books the others would be. Turns out, the others are mostly romances. My cover of snarling skull reflecting in a glinting bauble stands out like a eunuch at an orgy amidst the rippling torsos, adoring couples and flowing ballgowns. It’s doing the equivalent of sidling to the corner of the room, wondering whether to sneak out when no one’s looking, or brazen it out with a beer in hand and a confident expression that says, “Gatecrasher? I’ve not heard about any gatecrashers.” Yeah, I know—it’s okay to snigger.

Anyway, if you visit the promotion page—here—you can enter for a chance to win an Echo Dot, one of those voice activated thingies. And there look to be plenty of good books to browse, especially if you like romance or cosy stories.

And, hey, you could always click on my trying-to-blend-in-against-the-odds cover and pick youself up a dark read. No ripped torsos or bodices, I’m afraid, but you will encounter the odd ghost, vampire and a host of walking corpses.

Christmas Cometh.

December is, as usual, going to be busy. There’s the office party for my regular job (and at least a morning’s recovery period—coping with hangovers doesn’t get easier with age) and the third annual Sam Kates ‘office’ party, where I treat a few close family members to steak and wine and beer to thank them for the help they give me throughout the year. There are the usual festive commitments, like present buying and grocery shopping and cooking and visiting and making merry. And that’s just the Christmas-related stuff.

I have two novels—the sequels to The Elevator—to edit, proofread and format in readiness for January release. My efforts to build my mailing list (see Marketing for Muppets – Parts 2 & 3) are gaining momentum, with a couple of promotions planned for which I’ll need to be hands-on. There’s the new WIP to embark upon. It’s set in 1950 so will require some background research before I start and as I go along.

In short, I’m struggling to fit everything in. Something has to give. Fun though it has been to write weekly blog posts, I’ve decided to suspend them for December. I’ll resume in January, but on a two-weekly basis, rather than weekly. That will ease some of the pressure.

Hmm, that sounds a little whiny, as though I’m bemoaning my lot, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been part-time in my regular job since late July and am absolutely loving the time and freedom it gives me to write and try to develop my marketing skills. It’s just that trying to produce a blog post each week, on top of spending two or three days in the office, writing, editing, marketing, blah blah blah, was becoming a bind, and I don’t want to turn something that’s so pleasurable into a chore.

So tune back in in January for more posts about favourite books (there are plenty of genres still to cover, including a couple of my favourites: post-apocalyptic and dystopian), the occasional discussion of points of grammar, some more book and film tie-ins (cos they’re fun), and more Marketing for Muppets (hopefully with news that something’s actually working—wouldn’t that be a novelty?).

And if you fancy some dark festive reading, check out Ghosts of Christmas Past, available in e-book format on most major retailers.

Google Play
Other online stores

In the meantime, I’ll probably post some promotional stuff and perhaps a few snaps of the office party—hard to believe it’s been a year since the last one. Tempus fugit, as those ancient Romans used to say.

If I don’t see you before, here’s something the ancient Romans didn’t say: have a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you’d prefer).

Ho ho ho.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

On 20th October 2017, I am releasing a new collection of short stories: Ghosts of Christmas Past and Other Dark Festive Tales. As the title suggests, each story has a Christmas theme and each is from the dark side. It will only be available in e-book format, but can be purchased from most mainstream online retailers (see links below).

Here is the cover:

Within you might encounter the occasional ghost, perhaps a vampire or two. Oh, and zombies. One tale is set in the Earth Haven universe, at the time of the start of The Cleansing. And there’s a bonus story, one which has previously been published in a Christmas anthology, also set in the Earth Haven universe.

Here’s the blurb:

‘Four festive tales of the supernatural, apocalyptic and blood-sucking variety—an antidote for anyone who occasionally finds Christmas overly sentimental or commercialised and likes to escape to somewhere darker.

In Ghosts of Christmas Past, a newly-wed couple spend every Christmas in the same remote country cottage. It’s their ‘thing’ and they’re not about to let tragedy get in the way.

In I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, a small boy creeps downstairs to see his mother in the embrace of a crimson-robed stranger. But Jake’s not convinced: since when did Santa have long teeth and red, glinting eyes?

In Rottin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Nia decorates the tree while her parents look on. But this is not just another Christmas—it is the time of The Cleansing, the time when family life and the world as we know it are ending.

In Christmas ‘Midst the Zombie Apocalypse, two survivors sit out winter on the edge of an overrun city. Their efforts to enjoy Christmas Day as normally as possible turn out to be a mistake; a potentially fatal one.’

Finally, here are the links to purchase:




Barnes & Noble

Ho, ho, ho!