Free ebook

This free ebook is a collection of horror short stories. The latest chapter of my journey in self publishing ebooks. It is available at Smashwords and is titled The Seventh Sense. I love writing supernatural stories because they can be set anywhere, in any time and place. If you write horror or fantasy you can write it like a thriller, a science fiction epic, crime fiction, ghost story, set it in the past, present or future. There are no limits. Writing horror fiction helps me get all the disparate ideas for stories out of my head.

Below are brief descriptions of each story. Get yourself a copy from Smashwords.

The Seventh Sense.

Eleven stories. Eleven journeys along dark paths.

Number Four.

An ex-con returns to his former town supported by his probabtion officer and the manager of a halfway house. He will learn that coming home is not always the wisest choice.

Connie.

A young boy comes of age in an old and unusual family.

Strong.

April lives in fear of her boyfriend David. His obsession with serial killers and a long dead girl leads to her escape from his abuses. David wants her back and will do anything to accomplish this, but April, trying to slot back into normal life with her mum and brother, is not the meek woman she was. She is changing. A transformation that will bring them back together for the final time.

The Hand Dryer King.

A homeless man in the early 1990′s lives in a world of drink, crime and a struggle for survival. Two strangers come to his town and he finds himself caught between a battle of good and evil.

The White Glaistig.

A would be writer of non fiction books receives a dream offer from a super rich businessman. He is sent to a remote loch in Scotland to research a local legend. A legend that means more to the businessman than all the money in the world.

Imaginary Solid.

Farrow is a junior solicitor called to the bedside of his firm’s most important client. The old man is dying and has one very strange request.

The Yellow Parchment.

A hardened enforcer has lost the love of his life, the daughter of his boss, Jack Waring. He is determined to discover her killer and exact revenge. His bloody investigation leads him to an old colleaugue of Waring’s, a child pornographer that Waring has protected for decades.

The Stranger, the Pipe and the Prayer.

An old tale retold how it really happened.

The smallest god.

Cranitch is a low level journalist about to cover the strangest story of his career.

Life Sentence.

In the far future society punishes it’s most extreme criminals in the most extreme of ways.

The Seventh Sense.

Lacey is a waitress in a small village tea room. An ordinary girl with little ambition other than to keep out of her nagging mother’s way. Her day off, spent doing overtime, sees her meet two very special customers. The kind of customers the village can do without.

Horror Art

This is the horror art I created as the cover of my first horror novel, published on Amazon Kindle, Dark Trinity. I wanted to do this myself partly because I didn’t want to pay a professional cover artist and also because I had something very specific in mind. In all honesty I will probably pay for cover art when my books start making decent money, except for my children’s books where the cover art is an important part of the overall look and feel of the book.

I started by making several sketches of a female face, all dark gothic drawings. I wanted the girl to look down on the viewer and not make her conventionally threatening or unattractive. I was trying to capture a moment from Dark Trinity when a character (Mary-Jo Clough) is looking down on another character (Harold McHale). She should look creepy more than anything else.

horror art pencil sketch

I went onto make this drawing.

horror covert art pencil drawing

I traced this onto a sheet of Bristol Board and then painted over it, fairly quickly.

horror art

I scanned it into my computer and adjusted the colours in corel painter, a digital art studio. I ended up with this.

horror cover art

I used the blend tool to make the image flatter and do away with the brush strokes. Not that there is anything wrong with brush strokes but that wasn’t the effect I had in mind. Then I used digital ink to add stark shadows to the face. This made the face appear like it was emerging from darkness. An important point in the story and how I had imagined her from my character’s viewpoint.

I flipped the image because it looked better beneath the lettering. then I added texture with one of corel painter’s nifty tools. After adding the lettering I ended up with this.

Dark Trinity Novel COver

On the whole I was pleased with the cover and it looked good as a thumbnail. Making my own cover wasn’t a part of writing horror fiction but I think the marriage of the cover and the story is very important.

what is horror

What is horror?

Is it vampiric creatures taking blood from unwilling victims? Is it the spirits of the dead who haunt old houses driving out the inhabitants who have found this great house at a bargain price?

Slashers? Psychopaths in masks killing teenagers?

It can be all of the above but these things do not scare me in and of themselves. What can is the thought that the family who bought that great house at a knockdown price are a real family. I know their names. I see how funny the kids are and the warm relationship the parents share. The horror isn’t the demonic presence in the cellar. It is the breakdown of the loving relationship. The heavy handed punishment handed out to the trusting child who has committed some misdemeanour. The parent who discovers her beloved child has died at the hand of some unknown maniac she wasn’t there to protect.

This is where the writer wins over the film maker almost every time. Create that horror in the mind of a reader and you’ve executed a special effect the best film studio in the world cannot match.

For me horror is shattered communities. Relationships ruined. The inability of society to protect the innocent and punish the criminal.

If I can get anywhere near that kind of despair as a writer I’ll be a happy man. In my novel Dark Trinity there are supernatural entities that do terrible things but they are really only incidental characters. Catalysts. Things that follow their own natures. The horror is perpetrated by the humans. Betrayal. Molestation. Bullying and extortion. Murder without the guiding hand of the unknown. In my writing I want to convey this without sensationalizing or exploiting these acts or titillating my readers. I want a balance between the theme, the reality of what these things can do to people and the entertainment value.

I’ll be chasing this for as long as I write.

horror novel extract.

This is the prologue of my novel Dark Trinity. A full length horror story.

ebook cover horror novel Dark Trinity

Dark Trinity Ebook Cover

Sarah folded her arms and refused to look at him. He turned the ignition key for the fifth time. “I knew it!”

She continued to stare out of the window; her body turned away. He touched her leg with his fingertips.

“How long are you going to keep this up?”

She knocked his hand away.

“Sarah, I’m getting tired of this, I mean it.”

“You said we’d get a house.”

He couldn’t help but smile. Was this what it was all about? A two-day sulk over a wild promise made in desperation. “We will but I can’t create one out of thin air. You’ll have to trust me.”

“I’m cold.”

“Listen, I’ll walk into the next village and see if I can find a mechanic. When the car’s fixed we’ll find a hotel.”

She shifted in her seat, glanced at him, and began to toy with a strand of hair that had fallen over her eyes. He sucked air and put his hand on her leg again. It was little mannerisms like that that had brought her to his attention in the first place. He reached her upper thigh and grunted when she opened her legs. This was better; she was playing the game fairly. He could feel the heat between her legs. He put his tongue in her ear and grabbed at her breasts. She giggled and pushed at his chest.

“What now?”

“I told you, I’m cold.”

“And I’ve told you, you can’t get me all worked up and not do it! You’ll make me ill. Is that what you want?”

Her only reply was a loud, ‘tut.’

His face purpled. “Right, fine I’ll go and do what you want. Never mind that I have feelings and needs.” He paused watching for any response. She remained still. He opened the door and got out slamming it hard enough to rock the car.

He pounded his anger out on the tarmac. He would not even turn and wave, that would show her. She ought to remember who he was and more importantly who and what she was. She was nothing.

He walked quickly until he knew the car would be out of sight then slowed. He had begun to pant. Too many takeaways and reliance on four wheels.

A sign pointed to a village a mile and a half away. “Chantry? Never heard of it.”

He checked his watch, an Italian natural granite piece that had cost far more than he could really afford. It was hours until sunset. The early nights were his ally, the time he should be out in the open instead of walking abroad inviting discovery.

He had no intention of wasting money on a hotel. They could both do with a hot bath but another night or two in a lay-by wouldn’t kill either of them. If she didn’t like it so what! What could she do?

Turn him in

He pushed the thought away. No, she’d never betray him, he was sure. Wasn’t he an expert in reading them? She had been wilful but that was half the fun. Changing their behaviour. Thanks to his skill she was now beautifully passive. Most of the time.

His anger began to build again when he recalled last night’s incident. She had actually, for the first time, tried to refuse. He was having none of it of course. That was not a road he travelled and she had better get used to it.

Where the hell was he? He had been trying to get to Leeds avoiding the motorway. Why would anyone live like this? Tiny hamlets separated by narrow lanes barely wide enough for a single car. No wonder the countryside was full of inbreds. They probably couldn’t find a way out.

Sarah was right. It was cold. The air hurt his chest if he breathed it too deeply.

All around were dead looking fields bordered by equally dead trees. Graves couldn’t imagine them in leaf. The whole area was alien. A landscape he had to escape.

He wondered what they were doing now. Frantically searching for them? Interviewing his colleagues, her friends, their families? Idiots!

This time he would not give her up. Never!

Oh, the first time he knew she was his! She had lingered, she had hung back and when he had smiled at her she had melted. He had listened to her problems- soothed her. He had promised her that they would always be friends and that he understood. By the time Sarah left the classroom Mark Graves had made her promise she would meet him that evening.

They had met in a car park near her home. Her parents knew nothing and with a little probing it became clear that no one amongst her friends knew either. She had looked at him with clear eyes and solemnly swore she would never breathe a word about their friendship.

They had done little more than kiss that time. He had given her a small amount of money to spend on herself.  Within a fortnight she had given herself to him. She had been frightened but he had guided her. After all he was a man. He knew what to do.

A chill wind brought him back to the present. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, wishing he had a pair of gloves and a scarf. The sky was overcast but bright. He doubted there would be any rainfall.

The road was pitted and crumbling at the edges. The verges grew steep and Graves found he could no longer see into the fields.

He took out a leather wallet and rifled through it without slowing pace. He had a little over fifty pounds. The chances of getting his car fixed for that were slim, he was sure. He’d have to chance using his cash card again. He cursed his lack of foresight and impetuosity. Years of care shot to hell over one girl.

The laughter was high pitched. He turned his head in the direction he judged it came from. He heard it again. He looked over one wall and saw a narrow stream meandering across land that showed little sign of cultivation. Behind it sprawled a sparse and unhealthy wood. Three children sat in a circle at the edge of the water. They giggled and threw mud at one another.

Graves watched them for several minutes straining his eyes for detail. One girl looked about eleven. A knitted hat hid her hair and she wore a thick muffler. To her right sat a younger boy with a baseball cap covering his dark head, the third was a girl with her back to him.

The eldest picked up a handful of wet earth and spattered it over the other girl. The laughter continued. Graves recalled similar activities from his own childhood. Making mud pies and trying to get his sister to eat them. Fun days.

He made up his mind to approach.

The gate was slimed with some growth. He unlatched it with fingertips and walked across the field. He had a smile and a story as bright as summer ready. They carried on with their giggles and muck hurling.

Graves had forgotten all about Sarah and her whining. He felt clean. A familiar excitement filled his belly; his head swam with possibilities.

The small girl’s hair was red. He liked the way it cascaded down her straight back. She plunged her tiny hands into the puddle of mud and threw fistfuls into the air. Some landed at his feet. He broke stride. His shoe was splashed.

He stared at the child’s streaked face and then his shoe. She held up one hand, inviting inspection and pointed at the puddle in the midst of her playmates.

The dog was tied securely with plastic wire. Its muzzle was bound and it lay on its back. The body was twisted, the back legs at an angle with the forelegs, one attached by a thin rope of sinew. The middle was a tangle of intestines. Graves saw something pumping and imagined it to be the heart. The animal raised its small head and regarded him with one eye. The other was missing, presumably mixed in with the bed of dark mud made from its spreading innards.

The dog was beyond struggle and lowered its head.

Graves put a hand to his mouth and watched the children rise.

The beginning.

I love to write. I always have but haven’t ever been able to decide what kind of writer I am. I’m attracted to darker fiction. Horror and supernatural stories but also humour and children’s books. Humour tends to figure in all my stories if they are over a certain length.

I don’t know why my brain works this way.

I never really tried to get published despite a few abortive attempts to send out a few manuscripts and thumb the agents section in the writer’s yearbook once in a while. I think I only did that because someone would remind me from time to time. Parent, colleague, girlfriend etc.

When self publishing on the net began to take off I decided to put one of my books up on Amazon kindle. I liked the idea of not listening to a publisher’s wants and opinions and putting the stories directly to readers in raw versions straight from my heart.

The process at KDP was remarkably simple, I found but sales are still slow. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t care but there is something about writing that makes the process of crafting the story far more interesting than publishing and marketing.

Once it is out it loses a lot of the hold it has had over me.

This is a link to the ebook, Dark Trinity.

I’ve also published a few children’s book through Smashwords and you can see my profile here

I have other stories to tell and many finished and half finished pieces that I will get around to uploading.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Nick Warren

There’s a Frog in my Tummy.

When I was a little boy and refused to eat, my mum and nan used to tell me there was a frog in my tummy that needed feeding. I fell for this everytime and years later as a parent I’ve told my kids the same story with varying sucess.

It has got more and more elaborate over time and I recently decided to turn it into a bedtime story for my youngest daughter.

There’s a Frog in my Tummy is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Illustrations.

cover image there's a frog in my tummyThere's a Frog in my Tummy ebook illustration.There's a Frog in my Tummy ebook illustration.

Ebook for Kids

This is my second ebook for kids and after my experience of uploading my first ebook for children, Come Home Moon, on Amazon Kindle I found this a snap.

Sweet and Sour is about a little angel and a little devil. Right and Wrong in easy language and a non preachy manner.

Sweet and Sour ebook illustration

An uncomplicated layout while not satisfying the designer in me certainly made the process easy. It’s about letting go of my pre conceptions and understanding how kindles really put the reader in charge where text is concerned.

It won’t always be like this though I’m sure. Fixed layouts are essential to some stories and from now on I’ll be designing my pages to take advantage of kindle 8 features.

My journey into self publishing kids ebooks is one of the most enjoyable creatively I’ve ever embarked upon. I think it’s the completeness of the process, how I am in control of everything that appeals to me.

The illustrations were completed with corel painter. I started with pencil sketches building up to a finished drawing which I scanned in and then inked and coloured in layers.

The design always takes me far longer than the execution of the artwork. I break this down into:

Character design, where every individual is drawn over and over until I am satisfied.pencil sketches for sour catoon character

Page design, where I put all the elements in place as below. This includes backgrounds and any artifacts I need to draw.

Overall design, where I try to ensure consistency between the images and relevance to the story. Which moment in time I am bringing to life.children's book illustration. Sweet and Sour

It’s essential to me that the images add a little more to the narrative without extraneous detail. And, of course, the illustrations have to be understood by the viewer/reader.

View on Amazon

View on Smashwords