News, Fiction Updates & General Musings

Infection Z 4 Now Available

After what seems like forever, the fourth (and penultimate) book in the Infection Z series is now available to purchase/KU read over at Amazon.

In the latest book, we jump in on Hayden’s life a while after the conclusion of IZ3. He’s beaten, battered, and doesn’t have much hope in the world. He’s not keen on the dead (naturally), and he isn’t so keen on the living either.

But, naturally, shit happens, and Hayden is forced to respond.

This instalment is perhaps different to the prior books in that I wrote it with a solid theme in mind. I wanted to explore some of the problems of the world we live in today and re-imagine it on a post-apocalyptic canvas. I found the experience very rewarding and a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ve balanced the two sides of the spectrum, too.

Here’s the cover. You can pick the book up below for just $4.99. So treat yourself to a cheery, uplifting… nah. Sorry. That’s just not the way it is.

But treat yourself anyway.

Infection Z 4

CLICK HERE to purchase.

Don’t get so busy making a life that you forget to make a living

Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

And so the quote goes. Nice advice, I’ve always found. Life should have a balance to it. At least, that’s what I always took from the quote.

But I feel the quote is much mis-used. Especially when directed at the self-employed, or at someone in traditional employment who clearly has a love and passion for their work, for what they do.

It’s a quote I often hear when I’ve spent the week pretty much in solitude battling to get the latest manuscript turned in for edits, or knee-deep in revisions. “You want to be careful,” X person says. “You’re doing so much work that you’re forgetting about your life.”

In the early days, I found it strange. After all, what I’m doing — a career in writing — is something many people do in their spare time. Something many people do as a hobby. So, something they do in their… yes, you guessed it. Lives.

But now, I kind of shrug and smile as I think I understand the reasons this quote is so oft-used, and so badly interpreted.

Take myself for example. Cause why the hell not? I work full time as a writer. When I’m not writing, I’m doing business related writing tasks. Or I’m editing. Or I’m networking. I wake up at 8 in the morning and I finish at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. In the evening, I chill out, or see a friend, or go to a football match, or whatever. I don’t work weekends. I hang out with friends, family, etc.

So basically… I do the exact same thing someone in a “normal job” does. Only I do it in the comfort of my home. Or a cafe. Or a library.

Oh. And I happen to love what I’m doing.

So how the hell is that not “making a life”? How is chasing dreams, following passions, albeit in an unconventional approach, not living?

Another reason I find this quote is so often misused is because of the habits many of us self-employed freelancers form. I’m a single guy (that’s not a cry for attention, I swear). My bills aren’t sky high. I don’t spend a lot. I don’t see myself married or with kids in the next decade…

…And I’m completely okay with that. Means I get more time to spend with my passion. More time to spend living my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hermit. Many of us self-employed, work-from-home types are just as social as the rest of the world. I get ratty if I don’t do something social for a day or two. Just the nature of the game.

But that rattiness is a small price to pay to be able to do something I enjoy. Every day. In my room. Wearing noth… I jest. I wear something. Apologies in hindsight for the mental image that may or may not have formed in your mind just then, but definitely has formed right now.

The reason the “don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” quote is so often used–incorrectly, in my eyes?

Because there’s different lives to live. We all have different things that make us tick. We don’t all want to follow the same life path. We don’t all want to be carbon copies of one another. We don’t all have to fit into that narrow window of expectation.

So the next time somebody tells you “don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life,” think about what they’re saying at first. Do you need to get a life? Do you need to start doing more things that make you happy? Are you giving up on the things that make you tick at the expense of a job that you also enjoy? Then go find some balance.

If you’re already completely happy with your life–whether it’s happily married with kids, or single-as-hell and totally satisfied with your life, both from a work and a social perspective–then just brush off those comments. Because you are living your life.

You’re just not living the life the rest of the world wants you to live.

And usually, that’s a ridiculously good thing.

Chloe: The Journey Now Available!

It’s officially autumn, which means my promise of a post-apocalyptic end to the year (fictionally) is well and truly in full swing, continuing right now with the launch of Chloe: The Journey!

It’s the sequel to the first Chloe book, which I launched to great sales, reviews and feedback last month. It was a daunting book to launch, mostly because it’s the first time I’ve ever tried this “series within a series” business. But it’s definitely paid off, and everyone who has read it understands now why I had to split it up from the main Dead Days storyline. Just way too much story for one book!

Chloe: The Journey picks up right where Chloe left off, leading a group of survivors across a barren landscape in search of some kind of meaning in life. But as divisions split the group and the zombies grow even more terrifying, Chloe’s leadership is put straight to the test. Overall, it was an absolute joy to write, and I particularly loved writing the villain in this one. I wanted to make them as human as possible, holding up a mirror to the protagonist and showing how they might turn out if they follow a certain path. I’ve worked hard at getting that right, and I’d love to think I’ve nailed it.

Well, I enjoyed writing it. And that’s always a good sign, anyway.

Here’s the cover. If you click, you’ll be taken right to Amazon, where you can download to your Kindle. Links to the other stores below.

And yes, I know. I really need to get all my books done in paper and audio. I’m working on it.

Okay, maybe not working on it just yet. But working on working on it…

Enjoy. Leave a review if you do, and let your friends know about it.


Buy here:


Barnes and Noble



Google Play

Writing Tip 1: Planning For Pantsers

Figured I’d not done many posts on the actual process of writing for a long, long time. A good solution? Some bite-sized (possible, if I keep the waffle down, unlike now) blogs on some of the most important things I’ve learned in my three(!) years as a professional writer.

I’m basing this series of six posts on the majority of questions I’m asked via email. First up is one of the most common — whether I plan or “pants”.

I’ve done a few posts on the topic in the past. But to be honest, my process has changed over time. I used to be a full-blown pantser (pantser = make it up as you go). Then I shifted more to the middle. Nowadays? I’m a full-blown planner.

I’m living proof that people who think they are pantsers can plan if they put some advance time and effort into it. And I’m definitely of the school of thought that a well-planned book can make the entire writing process a hell of a lot easier.

Yes, Stephen King isn’t a fan of planning. But he’s an absolute master of the craft. Not planning is fine, but an understanding of what underpins the craft of fiction is pretty important if you’re going to make it up as you go — which is not to discredit the process of pantsing, btw.

My process usually goes something like this:

1.) Study the market. Read books. Figure out what I enjoy (a harder process than it should be). Figure out what readers are enjoying. Find a happy medium between what stimulates me creatively and individually, and what books/genres are resonating with readers. I think of this not as writing to market, not at all. Rather, using the market as translation software for the untamed beast that is my writing voice.

I’m also not condoning writing in any genre just because it sells. I’m talking about a balance between creative desires and commercial potential. For example, I don’t like writing in the romance genre. That’s no fault of the genre — I just don’t think I write good romance novels. So I don’t write/publish in that genre, even though it’s the most marketable kind of fiction.

On the other hand, I love writing and reading post apocalyptic horror. I add my own unique suspensey spin on the genre, with a literary depth to the morally ambiguous characters, and challenging themes that aren’t usually present in similar stories. And that’s as key a thing as anything — individuality. Don’t copy stuff. Take inspiration from what you enjoy reading, from what many readers enjoy reading, sure. But then add your own spin on things. Set yourself aside from the crowd. Do this, and you’ve already got a headstart.

2.) I boil this down into an idea. The idea might come first, or perhaps it’ll spawn as a result of my research. An idea is just a grain. The initial spark of life. The flame of inspiration. But it’s nothing. Not until it becomes…

3.) A concept. A concept is an idea on a questionable substance. It’s an idea with ‘what if?’ attached to it. What if aliens invade earth? What if rabbits breed with tarantulas and form a new species of post apocalyptic super villain? What if? provides dramatic potential. That’s exactly the job of the concept — creating a vehicle for dramatic experience. The spark of the idea becomes a full blown flame.

4.) I think about character next. What’s my character’s problem? And I don’t mean “they only have one arm” or that kind of problem. I mean their inner demon. Their flaw. Their issue. I want to know what my character has wrong with them, so I know how to fix it (or how to make it defeat my character depending on the story) at the end of the book. I want to know how to prepare that vehicle of dramatic experience for a journey.

Character is the fuel to the engine of dramatic experience. It’s the stakes. It’s the care package. And it’s where the emotion kicks in. You think about your character, give them something to care about, give them a flaw, and you work from there.

But the whole process is a lot more enriching if you combine it with…

5.) Theme. Yep, that dirty word. When I was at school, I always had theme down as “world peace” or “racism” — that kind of thing. And that’s where a lot of fiction writers get it wrong.

Theme is the issue at the heart of your story. It’s the thing you’re exploring. It goes hand in hand with character. If your character has a drink problem, maybe the theme of the story is investigating addiction from different angles. Or maybe it’s the solidity of marriage in the face of opposition.

Theme is the heart of your story. You can leave it out if you want, but it’ll sneak in there subconsciously anyway, so you might as well spend a few hours thinking about it and getting it spot on.

6.) Now, I work on structure. I throw all the ingredients above into a pot and write out a brief summary of the key plot points. I flesh that out, split it up into acts, figure out what goes where. Every time I write a one-sentence summary of a scene, I ask “what’s the mission?” By that I mean: what is this scene achieving in the wider context of the story?

If it’s achieving nothing, it goes.

This approach is perhaps my favourite reason for planning over pantsing. It allows me to see my story from a macro level, allows me to fix potential lulls before I’ve even written them. And it doesn’t take the energy out of my book. That used to be my old excuse for not planning. If anything, with mission-driven scene planning, it just makes me all the more eager to get started.

7.) I write the thing. More on that process in the coming weeks.

Overall, this might seem a long-winded process. Another reason many people don’t plan. Sure, it might take a week on first try. But now, I’ve got my planning process down to a couple of days. A couple of days hard work thinking about the beats and plot points in my story, the thematic journey, the character arc.

All that makes for a better story.

I’ve just now realised this post isn’t so bite-sized anymore. My bad.

ChloeIf you’re a pantser, think about planning. If you’re a planner, think about pantsing. The intention of this post isn’t to discourage you from your method, just to open your eyes to another way of doing things.

Speaking of which, I planned the heck out of my latest novel, Chloe, using the methods above. It’s gone on to be one of my most successful launches ever. Check it out if you want a more in-depth, real world look at how I go about structuring things.

Hope it helps. Maybe I’ll keep this series of posts up!


Chloe, a new Dead Days novel, now available

Chloe, the brand new novel in my Dead Days post apocalyptic saga, is now available to purchase.

The Dead Days series was my first foray into post apocalyptic fiction, and one of the first releases of mine to achieve any notable kind of success. Today, it continues to sell strongly, and for that I’m very grateful.

Chloe is a standalone series set in the Dead Days world. Set after Season Five, to be precise. You do not have to read Dead Days in order to enjoy Chloe — as several reviewers have kindly noted. But I’d recommend it for maximum enjoyment.

Not a lot to say without giving it away. If you’re a Dead Days fan, you know to expect twists, turns and plenty of zombie and human action. If you’re not a Dead Days fan… well, hopefully you will be after reading Chloe.

Click here to buy Chloe. And here’s the cover.




Brian McDone Books Now In Kindle Unlimited


kindle unlimitedFirst of all, I’d like to apologise.

Several months ago, I promised that the Brian McDone Mystery books would forever be available across all platforms. I don’t like bringing up old promises, especially on the rare occasion I break them. But I feel I owe it to everyone to explain why the Brian McDone books are now available at Amazon. Exclusively.

In case you aren’t aware, Amazon released an ebook subscription service back in 2014 called Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99/£7.99, readers could access millions of books at no extra charge. Initially, there was scepticism amongst the ranks of authors, mostly due to the price of entry: exclusivity.

Back in 2014, I threw my books into Kindle Unlimited as a test run. All of them except for Dead Days. I had mixed results. Mostly, not that great. I accepted that Kindle Unlimited’s old payout system — a flat rate of $1.30ish for all books, whether short fiction or longer epics — didn’t really benefit the kind of fiction I wrote. I packed it in, put all books wide again, and pushed forward free of Amazon exclusivity.

That was the old system.

The new system is much, much fairer to long form authors. I cannot proclaim it is “fairer” to everyone because I know some short fiction authors are upset about the changes, and I’m not here to upset anyone. I’ll simply state the facts: Kindle Unlimited now pays out based on pages read. So 600 page books earn more than 300 page books. 300 page books earn more than 150 page books. 150 page books earn more than 20 page shorts. As opposed to just a flat $1.30 for every book.

Now Amazon pay authors roughly $0.0058 per page read. Doesn’t seem much. But if you add it up, writers of longer fiction end up making more through the new system than the old one. You can see why shorter fiction writers aren’t happy with the changes. But I can only speak as a long-form author and say this: the new system is fairer for novelists.

I heard a lot of initial backlash amongst some circles about the potential for “padding”. How 150 page books may suddenly become 1500 page books simply to make more money.

This simply doesn’t add up, logically. Bear in mind, Amazon pays based on pages read. What do you do if you notice some clear padding? You put the book down. What do you do if you get bored? You put the book down.

The new system rewards engaging fiction. Both short form and long form. And I commend Amazon for that.

There’s been a lot of bad press surrounding Amazon’s working conditions over the last few days. I can’t speak for the people working directly for Amazon, but I can say, as a freelancer using Amazon’s services, the company have made it possible for me to make a living doing something I love. I thank them for that.

In case you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been gradually putting my works back into Kindle Unlimited. The new system has put the Infection Z series into the top 20,000 overall for the last few months, and I’ve been a mainstay on the overall Horror Top 100 popularity list over at for a good while now. Amazon’s platform–also boughts, a wonderful recommendation engine, KU–have given me a platform.

My job? Write good books.

And that sums up my thoughts on the new KU. Instead of encouraging manipulation, instead of spearheading the end of fiction, Kindle Unlimited promotes authors who do one thing, and do it well: write engaging stories.

My job is to write engaging stories. My job is to constantly improve my craft. And right now, the best place to showcase my work is via Amazon and particularly, Kindle Unlimited.

I love my Kindle. I never thought I would, but I do. It’s economical. It’s efficient. It’s changed my reading habits completely.

And I love Kindle Unlimited. I love unlimited access to books I would never have read beforehand. I love it as a reader, and I love it as an author.

So I have to put my money where my mouth is and show Kindle my utmost support.

There’s always talk about what Amazon may one day do. Lowering royalties, pulling the rug from under indies’ feet, eating us alive, etc. But I stopped thinking about the “maybe one day…” a year or so ago. Since then, I’ve started earning a living doing what I love.

Amazon, right now, in my opinion, offers the best reading and publishing experience. Barnes & Noble’s storefront is still heavily biased towards the big published books. Its author hub is slow and freezes a lot. Kobo is good, and I hope it goes places. Google Play has also been good to me, but I’ve heard some horror stories from other authors. Apple is getting there.

But right now, Amazon has it right. As a reader, it offers the best, most seamless experience, whether reading on the Kindle itself, or via a phone in awkward situations. Instead of promoting the books with the biggest advertising budget, it tailors recommendations to the individual. A human touch.

As a writer, it offers me a clean system, fantastic promotional opportunities, and a fair living.

In light of this, I’m adding my Brian McDone books to Kindle Unlimited. Dying Eyes is still available everywhere for free, but the following books are now Amazon exclusive. It’s a test. A three month test. We’ll see how it goes.

As for Dead Days – my only series still available outside of Kindle – I can’t promise it won’t be a Kindle exclusive in future. I’m sorry. I hate going back on my word. But right now, Amazon is offering readers the best experience, and I have to stay privy to that; to what the majority of my readers demand.

But for now, Dead Days stays wide.

I’d really recommend checking out Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. It is, in my reader opinion, the best reading experience on the market right now. I haven’t been paid to say this. I’m not obliged to say it. I’m just being honest.

I can’t foresee what may happen in three months time. But I will of course keep you updated.

What can you do if you’re already reading via another store/device?

Well, first off, Amazon has a Kindle app available for practically every device ( That’s probably the simplest way. So really, exclusivity isn’t to the Kindle. It’s to the Kindle app. You can use any device you desire.

Option two: anyone using a computer can get an ebook file onto their device of choice, whether it’s Nook, Kobo, etc. I make sure my works are DRM free, so you are totally entitled to buy one of my books on Amazon, then throw it into a program like Calibre ( and convert it to an EPUB/format of your choice. A quick Google of “how to convert a mobi to an ePub” has all the answers you need, and probably more.

If you’re still struggling with any of those technicalities, don’t hesitate to email me at

Things change quickly in publishing. Right now, Amazon provides the finest reading experience for readers, and the best publishing service for authors. Give Kindle Unlimited a spin. Check out all the stories on offer.

Or grill me in the comments. Your call.

Have a wonderful evening.

PS: all of my books are available at Amazon. Click here to check them out..


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Season One (Free!)


Chloe (A Dead Days Novel)

Chloe 2: The Journey

Chloe 3: A New World


Dying Eyes (FREE!)

Buried Slaughter

Nameless Kill

Eye Snatcher