Published Gamebooks I've worked on:

Some writing communities I'm involved with:

The Dark Horde release Debut Single ‘Mask’

'Mask' by The Dark Horde, track two from The Calling album

Artwork by Aldo 'Valgorth' Requena

On this day, The Dark Horde – the collective of world-class musicians, vocalists and actors from Melbourne, Australia that I have formed – are pleased to announce the release of their debut single ‘Mask’ from their forthcoming album The Calling due October 2021

The Calling, a heavy metal horror concept album written and directed by me, is a musical narrative experience featuring a supernatural horror story set to an "eighties heavy metal" soundtrack. It is the prequel to my award-winning horror novel The Dark Horde, set in south-eastern Australia in 1989.

Here in this track ‘Mask’, the second track of twelve on a fifty-minute album, the main character Henry tells of the horrible burden of knowledge and gives a portent of the horror to come. A captivating narrative journey set to a powerful cinematic sound driven by dominating riffs and compelling vocals awaits the listener…



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Of Trials, Tribulations and Long Journeys

(Vale Konrad, little buddy 1/4/2000 – 21/10/2016)

Journeys never end the way you imagined they might when they began. Journeys never really end anyway, they simply change through their various trials and tribulations, their experiences, learnings and joys.

I kinda knew at the time of my last post (a few days after the photo above) that it would be a long time before I would post here again… I faced a challenging period in this journey we call “life”, perhaps the most challenging I’d face, and I knew that had to be my focus. But part of me wanted to dream that I’d manage to keep the posts going here too, but it wasn’t to be.

My mother faced terminal cancer (with grace, wisdom and a determination to make the most of every moment left I might add) and I was her primary carer in that last period of her life, though supported by our (large!) family too. She passed late 2017, and this combined with working long hours as a developer/analyst and then taking care of her partner in the months to follow, and then also losing my father to terminal cancer in mid 2018, meant that I simply didn’t have the time or mental/emotional resources to maintain things here for a while…

But as I said back in my last post, barring death myself, I’ll always be back here to tell you about creative projects I’m working on… Creating stuff is what I do ?

And now, during this time of challenges different to those before, yet still challenging in their own way (as we all face), I’m coming to the end of another creative journey that began back in 2000. I think it’s fair to say it’s my biggest, most ambitious and complicated project to be released yet. A grand collaboration with world-renown musicians, vocalists, actors, artists and sound engineers, coming together to create a story set to music told over the course of an album…

The Dark Horde shall return!

So yes, you can expect to hear from me again with details very soon...

One long journey is about to end and new journey to begin.


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Express Yourself and Be the Star You Are!

Nice view huh?

(Here’s a random picture I took a while back, cos I like blog posts better with pictures)

Yes, it’s been a while… In fact it’s been almost exactly two years since my own blog post here.

It’s certainly not by intention, it’s just “stuff” comes up and directs my attention elsewhere (as it does for us all). And the longer I leave it to post back here, the less-pressing the urge becomes… But barring death haha, I’ll always be back here at some point to tell you about creative projects I’m working on, which I’ll always be doing too... Creating stuff is just what I’ve always done and always will.

And yes, occasionally I’ll even get around to publishing something from the shelves and drawers filling my room too ;)

So my plan now I’m back here is to share some of the things I’ve been doing and working on over the coming weeks and months, to finish some of the blog serials I’ve started here, and to share some other things of news and interest. (It sounds all great in theory!)

You may be wondering at the title of this post, since I haven’t actually addressed that yet… Sure it’s a great statement, and certainly something I believe in and (try to) demonstrate at all times, but the reason for such a title is that I wanted to share two radio interviews I’ve just recently done with the Voice America talk radio network, on their Express Yourself! Teen radio show, and their Be the Star You Are! show.

From the links below you can hear almost an hour of me talking about my writing, about Tin Man Games and gamebooks, about The Dark Horde, and even about Halloween. There’s a few too many ums and ahs haha, but hopefully it’s interesting for you nonetheless. I had a lot of fun doing the interviews, and the hosts, Cynthia Brian, Asya Gonzalez and Brigitte Jia were fantastic!


(My interview starts about 30:45 in, and runs to the end of the episode)


(My interview starts about 38:35 in, and runs to the end of the episode)



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Visions of Madness

Artwork for The Calling - illustration by Bobby Mcglone

Today I’m giving you a sneak peek at some of the (pre-final) artwork for The Calling – a musical prequel to The Dark Horde

What you see isn’t the front cover (that’ll be revealed in due course!) but I love it. Bobby Mcglone, renowned Melbourne “heavy metal” artist, has done an amazing job I think, in capturing so many aspects of what The Calling is about: the final recording of Henry before the events in The Dark Horde begin.



I wrote about what The Calling project was in more detail HERE (where you’ll notice I’m talking about things for “2013” but let’s just pretend I said “2014” haha), and even better you can actually hear some of the music and narration from The Calling on the promo trailer that can be seen below:



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Announcing the winners of the Coffin Hop 2013 giveaway!

Coffin Hop 2013

Well Coffin Hop is over for another year, where once again I teamed up with a collection of stellar horror artists from around the world to celebrate all things horror and host some great giveaways in the week leading up to Halloween… An event which also raised money for the non-profit charity organisation LitWorld that promotes the important cause of child literacy!


Looking back over my post from this time last year, I still made reference to how busy I was, and although I should probably stop mentioning that, I think it’s fair to say I was even busier this around (a major deadline was met just yesterday / this morning for my day job, struggling to meet publisher’s deadlines – and not succeeding, a writer’s conference, a packed social (and family) schedule I couldn’t really decline, the launch of the promo video for my The Calling project and the pipe-dream of managing to enter the Windhammer 2013 short gamebook competition, or at least being able to review all the entries and vote – neither of which I achieved).

But that’s the price of productivity hey? (What productivity Brewin!? you ask, you haven’t realised anything this year!) So I guess I better shut up and get used to it… I can’t see my schedule slowing down any time soon (2016 looks quite open at the moment though haha).


So part of the onus I felt in mentioning the above, was to express remorse (and a little guilt) that I didn’t manage to visit many, er most, of the other authors’ sites taking part in this year’s Coffin Hop. So I’m in their debt I guess that they made time to view my posts (and even comment) when I hardly returned the favour. Furthermore, over the course of Coffin Hop 2013 I had 178 visits (circa 1000 hits) from 98 unique visitors, of which about half were new visitors to the Land of the Brewin, so I thank you all for coming and hope you enjoyed your stay! –This is roughly about the same activity as I generated for last year’s Coffin Hop, but considering I essentially was offering a smaller amount of the same prizes then as I was this year (minus the awesome Coffin Hop Anthology), I have to be pretty pleased about that. I’ll try to ensure I actually have something new to giveaway next year!


So aaanyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough. It’s time to announce…


GRAND PRIZE: Signed paperback copy of The Dark Horde, ebook copy of Death by Drive-in: the Coffin Hop anthology, and (if you want it) my last t-shirt on hand for The Dark Horde (size L) – goes to Anita Stewart!

RUNNER-UP PRIZES: PDF copies of The Dark Horde – go to Amy Marshall and Ash Krafton!



Thanks to all those who participated and hope you had a great Halloween!

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Coffin Hop Post 2: The Origin of The Dark Horde.

Coffin Hop 2013
A Unit, Timbertop 1989
Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In Anthology

“Some things can lie dormant and hidden, festering for an apparent eternity, before eventually manifesting into reality… Such has certainly been the case with The Dark Horde!”

This is how I begin the acknowledgements section of my horror novel The Dark Horde, published for the first time in 2012. And it’s no exaggeration… It is with good reason that the book is set in 1989, for that is when I first began to write it.

A (dodgy) scan of my Dormitory photo from Timbertop, 1989

If I can pinpoint the beginnings of the story to a particular event, it was the writing of a short story for an English class exercise where our teacher, Russell Allthorpe (or “Mr. Allthorpe” as the students addressed him), asked us to write something on theme of “There’s something you should know about me.”

My writing has always inclined to horror, fantasy and science fiction in particular (even my first short story I wrote at the age of six or seven in 1980 or 1981 was horror!) and so I took that theme and created a horror short story. But what happened as a result of that story was unexpected. Mr. Allthorpe didn’t just give it top marks, he used my piece to set an English exercise on mood and pacing for the entire year. He cut my story up into individual paragraphs and set students an assignment where they had to work out the order that the paragraphs went in based on the building mood and tension. It was something of a revelation to me that my story should be considered an appropriate example for such an exercise, and began to foster in me a sense of self-belief that I was capable of writing fiction that others would respect and enjoy.

I present you now with this short story (unaltered save for typos). You may only catch the faintest glimpse of what would evolve into the story of The Dark Horde within this work, and indeed it wasn’t until 1991 that I actually began to write a novel under such a name, but nonetheless I still think it holds up *reasonably* well to this day… Well at least considering I was only fourteen at the time (and had yet to master certain concepts such as “less is more” and “show don’t tell”). Anyway, good enough to share I think, even if just for interest’s sake. J


The dark was cool, the air was sharp. All was fresh and crisp on a summer’s night. Two shadowy figures stood alone in the gloomy classroom. Only one would leave alive…

One of them spoke, “There’s something you should know about me,” he paused for a brief moment, gazing deeply into Mr. Allthorpe’s eyes and making his teacher feel a little unnerved, “Mr. Allthorpe.”

The taller of the two smiled and replied, “Oh yes, I know Andrew that you’ve got a little bit of an organisation problem and you need a little help.”

Andrew only grinned and took a step closer, shaking his head.

“You’re an asthmatic or… Or a loud snorer… You wet your bed at night perhaps?”

Andrew only answered with a firm no, shown by the movement of his head.

At this point Andrew shifted his iron gaze from Mr. Allthorpe and peered out through the panelled window. He stared for long moments at the mysterious, drifting clouds, as if anticipating something or waiting for something to happen.

“Is there anything wrong?” suggested Mr. Allthorpe, his lungs beginning to feel heavy and his hands slippery.

It grew darker.

“No, nothing wrong,” returned Andrew, his eyes once again firmly fixed on Mr. Allthorpe’s as if nothing on Earth could move them. Andrew took a further pace towards Mr. Allthorpe. Now only a mere metre and a half lay between them. The moon by now had half-appeared over the grey crest of one of the shimmering clouds…

“Please tell me,” Mr. Allthorpe said, almost begging. He was getting very anxious now.

The fluorescent moon, like a glowing dish, was unveiled. Andrew began to laugh a deep, mocking boom. Mr. Allthorpe’s eyes increased dramatically in size, opening up to the grisly horror that was now before him. His dry mouth opened up to a silent scream…

*               *               *

Crunch! Splat!

-Was all that could be heard from outside. Soon after, the classroom door was suddenly torn bodily off its metal hinges and a huge, hairy wolf bounded through it and away, out into the translucent moonlight…



As you (hopefully!) observed, I’ve gotten better at writing. But I see many of my tendencies, particularly when writing horror, in this early work. And more importantly I think, I kept going with it and eventually did publish my horror novel, even if it did take another twenty-four years! (But that’s a story I’ll elaborate on another time).

The Dark Horde has won a number of major international indie awards and the ebook version is currently available on Amazon for only $0.99 and the UK paperback version dis available (with free delivery) for only £2.99. 

As part of COFFIN HOP 2013, I am having a giveaway where you can win either one of three pdf copies of my horror novel The Dark Horde, or if you win the grand prize, I’ll mail you a signed copy of the paperback version completely free. (And if you already have a copy, I’ll send you a copy of my other published novel Evermore: An Introduction instead). The grand prize winner will also get a free t-shirt of The Dark Horde (if you want it that is - I only have a single L size one left).

Not only this, the grand prize winner will also win an ebook copy of the Coffin Hop Anthology DEATH BY DRIVE-IN featuring some of the best work of several of the Coffin Hop authors, released especially for this very event! (This competition ends when midnight strikes on Halloween - EST time in the US)

*** Click here to enter Brewin’s 2013 Coffin Hop Giveaway ***


The COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN anthology is available for sale here and the best part about this is that all profits will be donated to to help encourage children’s literacy throughout the world. The COFFIN HOP store is also selling a range of COFFIN HOP merchandise and the proceeds of these sales too, are being donated to charity J


To coincide with this special event, I have also released a promo video for my forthcoming project The Calling, which is a musical prequel to The Dark Horde. You can view the video on You Tube HERE. 

Lastly don't forget that the full list of all the other awesome horror maestros taking part. Happy Hopping!

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Coffin Hop 2013 is here!

Coffin Hop 2013
Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In Anthology


It’s that time of year again… The time of COFFIN HOP when the veil between here and the other side wanes and those sinister forces that dwell there make their presence felt. The time when horror authors and artists from around this frail globe we call Earth come together to venerate all that is dark and horrifying. The time to revel in the darkness and to partake in the celebrations, revelations and cooperations. And the time to “blog hop” between the many many sites taking part and be in the chance to win stacks of awesome prizes!

So once again, dear visitors, I have a special giveaway for you. For just a few mouse clicks you can win either one of three pdf copies of my horror novel The Dark Horde, or if you win the grand prize, I’ll mail you a signed copy of the paperback version completely free. (And if it happens that you already have a copy, don’t despair! I’ll send you a copy of my other published novel Evermore: An Introduction instead). Not only this, but if you win the grand prize, you’ll also get a free t-shirt of The Dark Horde (if you want it!) bearing in mind that I’ve only got a single L size one left to give away…

Want more? Well how about this, the grand prize winner will also win an ebook copy of the Coffin Hop Anthology DEATH BY DRIVE-IN featuring some of the best work of several of the Coffin Hop authors, released especially for this very event! (This competition ends when midnight strikes on Halloween - EST time in the US)

*** Click here to enter Brewin’s 2013 Coffin Hop Giveaway ***


The COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN anthology is available for sale here and the best part about this is that all profits will be donated to to help encourage children’s literacy throughout the world. The COFFIN HOP store is also selling a range of COFFIN HOP merchandise and the proceeds of these sales too, are being donated to charity J


To coincide with this special event, I have also released a promo video for my forthcoming project The Calling, which is a musical prequel to The Dark Horde. You can view the video on You Tube here and also know that The Dark Horde ebook version is currently on sale on Amazon for only $0.99 and if you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, you can get the UK paperback version delivered free for only £2.99 !

Lastly, in closing, here’s the full list of all the other awesome horror maestros taking part. Happy Hopping!

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The Calling - Promo Video





Can you hear...


Can you hear The Calling?


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The Dark Horde wins Global Ebook Award for Horror

Aussie Gold!

Winners are grinners J


Just received the news that The Dark Horde has just won the GOLD MEDAL for Horror in Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards!


So gotta be happy about that right? ;)


(Review and judges' commentary are forthcoming in the next couple of weeks or so...)

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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 8: A Parting Poem...

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013


Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.


These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…



Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry


So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.


*    *    *





Today is the last day of the Kintsugi Poets Society Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, have posted dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

There'll be more dark poetry to come from the Kintsugi Poets of course, but I'll leave you today with a poem that hasn't really made it into my forthcoming musical story/album The Calling (which forms the back-story to my supernatural horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde). You see there's already been three versions of the album produced over the years, with different tracks and musical composers, and some tracks have seen six or more versions... But the final (i.e. released) version won't include the following words, once again those of Henry Wilcox as he records his final words and tells of what is to come... 


*    *    *




To know the future

Is to know the horror to come

To know what stalks us

Calling from the darkness inside


How do I explain

The forces that words can’t describe?

Who can believe me

And stop them before it’s too late?


These words I speak, these things I feel

I want you to understand, and see it is real

My will grows weary, strained is my breath

All that’s left now is to wait for…

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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 5: Who's Your Master?

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013


Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.


These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…



Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry


So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.


*    *    *





Once again we are here in darkness, as the Kintsugi Poets Society continues this Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

And once more, I reveal some of the darkness that is to come in the form of the musical story/album The Calling, the back-story to my supernatural horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde. In The Calling, Henry Wilcox records his final words that not only tell of his past but of the things to come... The return of unstoppable things of ancient evil that are beyond our comprehension. Things he calls "The Dark Horde".

What follows are their words: 


*    *    *





Your puppet strings I pull like reins

I suck the life that flows through your veins

I poison your mind with confusion and hate

Ever-present, I alone control your fate


Open your eyes and see that I am master

Running from me will only bring you faster

With lies, I drug you, deceive you and taunt you

You’ll not find truth for only I know what is true


You think you know me, when you don't even know yourself

You try to hide from me behind your science, religion and wealth

Yet these are my weapons, and mine alone to deploy

Using hate of race, hate of place, hate of face, I only destroy


For at the end of it all, at a time you will not see

 There will be nothing left, only death, only me!


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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 3: Henry's Inner Demons

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013


Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.


These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…



Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry


So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.


*    *    *





So join me in darkness once more, as the Kintsugi Poets Society continues this Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

Today, continuing the Bloghop's theme of darkness, I reveal some more "poetry" from the forthcoming musical story/album The Calling, which tells the back-story to my horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde via the final words of one of the central characters, Henry Wilcox.

Henry is haunted by inner demons... literally.

More to come soon! Enjoy!


*    *    *




It isn’t me nor what I planned

I’m victim to a force that takes command

They rule my thoughts and force my hand

Why does no one understand?


Save me I pray, from this fate

I did not want and did not create

My prayers go unanswered, what can I do?

They will destroy me and destroy you


Nobody sees, nobody knows

Where anger feeds and malice grows

Hate in my heart, fire in my brain

What is fantasy and what is sane?


They will destroy me and destroy you

How can I live, when this is true?

All hope is lost, I want to die

To end it all, but fear to try


Helpless, abandoned, victim am I

Night has fallen, dark is the sky

Darkness through which I cannot see

Darkness corrupts inside of me


Malignant, eternal, a hidden blight

Casting life into deepest night

Black in mind, black in heart

Slowly tearing our souls apart


There’s no escape that I can see

The Dark Horde are, will always be

They come for me, they come for you

 The Dark Horde are, their time is due


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Grand Launch Bloghop of Kintsugi Poets Society - 21st to 28th of July

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013


Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.


These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…



Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry


So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.


*    *    *





To celebrate the launch of this Society we’re having a Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets siteThe theme for the Bloghop is Darkness, so be sure to check the main site and our linked blogs over this week to read lots of mesmerising poetical darkness J

This Bloghop launch of Kintsugi Poets is the perfect time I think, for me to show you some of the poetry I’ve written around the theme of the Dark Horde: from the already-published book of the same name and from the forthcoming musical story/album The Calling.

The Calling tells of the story leading up to the events in the novel The Dark Horde:  a recording of Henry Wilcox’s final words where he reveals all. It’s not going to be out for a while yet, but if you basically imagine something like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds musical, but instead a supernatural horror story and set to a “dark and epic heavy metal” soundtrack, with a narrator, guest characters and sung sections, then you’ll have the idea of what’s to come J

So here’s a taste of the madness to follow, with more to come over this week ….


*    *    *





Take my hand, render me blind

Hide from me the fear that grips my mind

I want to live, I want to be

No longer want to know nor want to see


For now my world's a dark void where no hope exists

And despite my efforts, only the dark persists

The Dark Horde will soon be victorious, that I clearly see

And then these words shall be all, all that's left of me


I wish to erase from my mind all I now know

Delude myself and forever dwell in truth's shadow

But I know it's useless, for our souls they've already won

So let these words be a warning of what's to come…


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The Dark Horde... Now for just a dollar!

Do you reckon you will?


So in my crazy scheme to kick the number of downloads along more, I've made The Dark Horde ebook available to download on Amazon for only $0.99! This won't be forever, so if you haven't got a copy yet you may wish to...

You're already here so you can read plenty about The Dark Horde by browsing the blog or by going to the Works page, but there's great page here put together by HERE which neatly summarises everything you need to know; links, trailers, reviews, awards, it's got it all! :)

...That's all I wanted to say for today. But tomorrow I think? I'll be back to share some more big news (and not to do with The Dark Horde either) !


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It’s over…

The five day sale of The Dark Horde that is, where I had the ebook available free on Amazon.

It really is too early to draw much in the way of any conclusions from this (so why the hell am I doing this? you may ask), but I thought I’d share some observations and thoughts… It may be of use to others considering doing a similar thing, or otherwise be of interest to others J

The thing is, for me at least, promotion/marketing/getting attention is easily the hardest aspect of the “writing journey”. Writing itself can be challenging at times, even tedious, but ultimately it’s something I enjoy doing and am driven to do (and have always done, regardless of whether I shared it or not: it becomes its own reward in that sense). Editing and polishing a work tends to be harder to push through and get done as I’ve found: by the time you’ve gone over and over something a few times, you’re really not that excited about it anymore, so much as what you’re working on next. But it has to be done. Finding a publisher (whether that be a publisher in the traditional sense, or just someone to manage your self-publication) need not be as hard as you can make it: it depends on what your goals are (if your goal is simply to “get it out there” then it’s unbelievably easy to do this these days, scoring a publishing contract with one of the big publishing houses is a much more elusive goal). Finding a distributor is easy for ebooks (Amazon, Smashwords etc), and around the time of a paperback release, it’s not sooo hard to find a small distributor either (however if the book’s been out too long, or if you’re seeking a large distributor to get you into large bookstore chains, that’s harder). But all of these challenges to me are dwarfed by the challenge of getting publicity. And ultimately, publicity (which in turn affects how many sales and how much money you make) I think is all that really counts.

Perhaps I’m preaching to the converted by saying this, but the “best” written book (just like the “best” designed game, the “best” composed album or the “best” drawn artwork) really won’t do much; in terms of others experiencing it and your sales; if others don’t know about it in the first place. Conversely even mediocre works can be best-selling juggernauts with highly successful marketing: I for one, would put 50 Shades of Grey (which took years of constant marketing before it took off mind you) and Twilight in this category (although admittedly I haven’t read either of them, so I’m not really justified to say that). Meanwhile most awards (short of major international awards like the Booker prize) won’t really turn works into best-sellers. Yes they’ll help establish credibility and increase exposure, but the rest depends more on marketing/publicity than anything else I think. I tried to find a recent article I read in the Age on this about the (relatively small) impact on sales that comes from even winning the Miles Franklin award, but it’s eluded me. Suffice to say there’s plenty of articles out there about this (which I’ll skip for sake of brevity).

But to return to my own sale (yeah yeah I know that’s what this post is supposed to be about), my situation prior to this, with regards to my horror novel The Dark Horde could be summed up as thus:

  • On a whim to see what happened, I sent it off to the annual Writer’s Digest Competition for Self-Published works. The contest had over 3000 entries, and only two fiction categories: Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction. They gave my work a score of 92% and it was one of eight Honorable Mentions awarded in the Genre Fiction category. I also submitted a chapter on it to a short story competition around the same time (and then forgot I’d even entered) only to discover that it won. –After this success, I figured it was deemed good enough by others (as you never really know: your own judgements or that of friends and family is far too subjective) to merit entering in more competitions. So I entered a handful more and thus far have been a finalist in at least half of them J
  • Most reviews I’ve had commissioned (typically bloggers with no prior experience of me or my work) have raved about it, I mean like really raved about it. And even those who didn’t rave, still supported it and praised it for the quality of writing and horror.
  • Meanwhile I have boxes and boxes of the printed book sitting in a UK warehouse due to get pulped soon because they’re not selling: even after reducing the price to the lowest possible - £2.99 (with free delivery in the UK)

So I thought I’d try something else: A free sale on Amazon for five days, to see if that can make an impact. At the same time I contacted a bunch of blogger and promo sites to either do posts about the giveaway, or feature the book/me on their site. I also then spammed, I mean posted, a lot on Facebook (including various interest groups) and Twitter. Something had to work J

It’s hard to estimate exact numbers of downloads I got over the free period as a result, but my estimate (based on a tool to estimate sales based on overall Kindle rank) is somewhere in the range of 1000-1500 downloads. Within about 12 hours of the sale commencing, The Dark Horde had climbed to a rank of #6 in Horror (it might have got higher I dunno) and #17 in Thriller. It stayed in the top ten Horror for another day and a half, and got no lower than #26 in Horror (as far as I saw and I checked maybe thirty times) until the sale ended.

EDIT 18/06/2013: It turns out that I can get exact figures for the number of downloads, and not only that, I got about twice as many downloads as I'd estimated! (Not a bad mistake to make haha). The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • 2413 total downloads for the five days
  • Of these, 2224 came from (i.e. primarily the US, but also Australia)
  • 140 came from (i.e. United Kingdom)
  • 26 came from (Germany: Wunderbar!)
  • 13 came from (Canada)
  • 4 came from (Japan)
  • 3 came from (India)
  • 2 came from (Italy)
  • 1 came from (Spain)


Is this good? Honestly I don’t really know, and I have no idea what impact will be on the longer term, but I do know that it’s gotten the work noticed by A LOT more people: aside from downloads, it’s seen it featured on a number of sites (and not just the ones I contacted), shared around Facebook and is still being constantly mentioned on Twitter right now. All that has to do something right? –And all up I maybe spent $200 total on marketing (I’ve spent thousands before for arguably less impact) and some of the best promotion I got here and here, was free or close to it.

(I should also add that there was a number of other great posts: here, here, herehereherehereherehere and here, all of which helped too of course)

So as Neil Gaiman would say, I’m really just “making this up as I go along” and seeing what works and what doesn’t… I don’t know how much my experiences will translate to someone else, as I think what works/doesn’t work for one person, doesn’t at all mean that the next person will have a similar experience: factors such as timing, the personalities of the people involved (including whether they personally like you/your work or not), your genre, “brand strategy” and luck all play a part… But I’m learning from my own experiences (and yes making mistakes) as I go along, to hopefully do better next time…

I think that’s what the “journey” is all about J


I’ll leave you with a “motivational speech” Neil Gaiman gave last year, that I only happened to stumble onto yesterday, that resonates very strongly with me (I made up my IT qualifications and bluffed my way through my interview to get my first job in IT fourteen years ago for instance; an industry I’ve worked in ever since), and I think serves as inspirational words of wisdom to anyone following the “creative path”:

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The Dark Horde FREE on Amazon June 10-14 2013

The Dark Horde by Brewin

It brings me great pleasure to announce that for the first time ever, my multiple award-winning horror/thriller The Dark Horde will be available FREE on Amazon for five days starting today and ending June 14th 2013!

If you’ve yet to get a copy or even hear of this book, now is the ideal time J

It’s only the ebook version that’s free during this time, but if you’re in or near the UK, you should also know that the paperback version is also currently on sale there for the ridiculously low price of £2.99! Why so cheap? Because if I can’t sell the remaining stock soon it’ll need to get pulped, so grab a copy while you still can as this madness cannot last!


So if you need any more reason to act now, here’s a few:



  • Indie Excellence Awards 2013 - Finalist (Horror)


  • Indie Excellence Awards 2013 - Finalist (Thriller)


  • Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2012 - Honorable Mention (Genre Fiction)


  • Coffin Hop Flash Fiction Contest 2012 – First Place


(Currently also finalist in the Global eBook Awards for Best Horror and Best Trailer, with winners scheduled to be announced August 2013)



The Dark Horde is a wild, foul-mouthed, bloody, creative, demented, scary, and hilarious thrill-ride of a horror novel.” – Writer’s Digest


“Horror tales often run the risk of following genre conventions too closely, but The Dark Horde has plenty of genuine surprises. Highly recommended!” – Indie Bookspot


“This book managed to hit me where it hurts at every single point. Not only was it just scary it was creepy and at certain points it made me feel uncomfortable ... Brewin shows extreme potential and I hope to read more of his work.” – Fiction Love


“The meticulous effort and detail that Brewin' has put into this book is outstanding on all fronts and is evident from start to finish.” – Metal Obsession 









Paperback (UK)


Paperback (US)



…And if you’d like to read an excerpt or the other reviews, it’s all listed for you HERE



Enjoy! (mwhuahahaha)

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My Next Big Thing(s)...

The Dark Horde - The Calling
Grail Quest by J.H.Brennan
My Grail Quest collection!
(Some of) my Fighting Fantasy collection!
Sagas of the Demonspawn by J.H.Brennan
Illustration by Joshua Wright

“The Next Big Thing” is a chain-blogging event where authors and artists write about their “next big thing” before tagging another five people to do the same thing the following week or so.

My exceptionally talented writer friend Anita Bell (author of numerous best-selling and award-winning books) tagged me (and four others) and wrote up her blog HERE, so now it’s my turn!

There’s been a few things happening in “the land of Brewin” lately, and although I’m not in the habit of talking about things I’m doing (or even have done!) yet, I’ll try to give you a taste of what’s to come… Oh and whilst this is meant to be done in question and answer format (five questions I think it is), I’ve kinda just done this my own way…


 Photography by Jake Lowe, Dodgy MS Paint mock-up cover by Brewin’ …And yes, these are actually Manna Gums.


To know the future, is to know the horror to come

To know what stalks us, calling from the darkness inside…


“The Calling”, otherwise known as “The Dark Horde album”, is an album-length musical that tells of the events leading up to the beginning of my associated horror novel The Dark Horde. The story is told through both narration and sung lyrics, and is set to atmospheric music. The idea is that you can sit back and listen to the whole album and absorb the story: regardless of whether you have read the book or not. Making the album possible are a number of expert vocalists and musicians, including Liam “Wagener” who did the music and video for The Dark Horde book trailer, and Hanny Mohamed who did the music for the Infinite Universe gamebook. “The Calling” is a project that’s been around at least 13 years, and like the The Dark Horde novel, has already gone through many iterations, but has yet to be released. I’ll refrain from showing you old versions for now, but you’ll get to hear some of the new stuff (i.e. the stuff we are aiming to release) soon enough… In the meantime just imagine it’s something like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds musical, but more horror-based and with an atmospheric “metal” soundtrack.

“The Calling” is just one of the many things I’ll be doing in 2013 though… In fact I’m involved in a lot bigger goings at Tin Man Games, and some of this work I can say a little about, starting with the biggest ever news to rock the land of the Brewin:


 Grail Quest is without a doubt, my favourite gamebook series of all time…

 As you probably know by now, gamebooks were a HUGE part of my childhood and along with role-playing games (particularly Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu) have influenced my life ever since… Fighting Fantasy may have been the most well-known of “dice-based gamebooks”, but as soon as I discovered Grail Quest in what year was it? 1985 perhaps? they quickly became my all-time favourites… I proudly own the whole series to this day, and from the looks of the Imprint details, I have the original UK printings too:


Neil tells me that these are worth quite a bit now… Not that that matters since I’ll never be selling them ;)

I remember I used to spend quite a lot of time reading these in grade six (1986 was the year), including in class. My grade six teacher became quite intrigued by these gamebooks that I was reading, so much so that he began to use them to set class exercises. He’d take pictures from them (mostly the first two as I recall) and have a whole class write stories using one of the pictures as a prompt.

Anyway so where I’m going with this, is that Tin Man Games (that I’ve worked with since just after their first gamebook by S.P. Osbourne, An Assassin in Orlandes, was released) is now bringing the series to a digital platform, and Neil Rennison, director of Tin Man Games, knowing my love for the Grail Quest series, and my background in statistics, editing and game design, has put me in charge of figuring out the conversion: i.e. suggesting how it can be implemented (it remains to be seen how much of the actual implementation I do owing to my own time constraints). To be in such a position now, working on the conversion of a series and author I idolised, along with the works of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy series from the same era, is surreal to say the least! You can read all about the announcement, including some special words from the author, J.H. “Herbie” Brennan, himself HERE.


A few of my friends take pride in their rare vinyls from the eighties… But I have gamebooks which are way cooler!

Yes I still have the first versions of the Fighting Fantasy books too, with their original covers before the green spines came in (which I must admit, I’ve never really been a fan of though they did certainly reinforce “the brand” which I guess was the point). –By 1987 I’d collected over a hundred gamebooks, before stupidly selling off most of my collection save for the Fighting Fantasies, Grail Quests and Lone Wolfs, plus a handful of others like Duel Master and Falcon. (Choose-your-own Adventure, Endless Quest and Tunnels and Trolls were just some of those that got sold off: but the ones I miss the most are my Interplanetary Spy gamebooks – I had the whole series dammit!)

But back to Tin Man Games again, they certainly seem to have established themselves as the “go to place for gamebooks” in the current era, and have been announcing an incredible line-up of gamebook releases HERE, concluding with the “grand daddy” of them all: Fighting Fantasy. It was a strange twist of circumstance (you could even say “fate”) that I became involved with Tin Man Games in the first place, and having now edited, rebalanced (and to a significant degree rewritten) the first four titles, plus written one of my own, Infinite Universe, I take some credit in the success that Gamebook Adventures have had, and for what they’ve done to “bring gamebooks back” J

But that’s not all I’m working on… In fact far from it:


I was lazy and just grabbed this from Tin Man Games blog post on the same topic…

Among other things, Tin Man Games have also announced that they’ll be bringing Herbie Brennan's other classic gamebook series, Sagas of the Demonspawn, to digital format. Like the Grail Quest series, these were exceptionally well-written epic fantasy stories that were targeted towards the “older reader” owing to their adult content at times (which was quite unusual for the era). One thing that (IMHO) they didn’t succeed with so much was the combat system used. I notice I’m not alone in the opinion that not only was the system unnecessarily convoluted but the combats are nigh impossible at times. And having compiled my own gamebook simulator which you can download HERE, I have the stats to back these perceptions up (note that the simulator I’ve made available for download only includes the Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Adventures systems at this point).

So like Grail Quest, I’ll be working on the conversion of Sagas of the Demonspawn to a digital format, and I’m almost as excited about this as I am about Grail Quest. In many ways I imagine that this conversion will make Sagas of the Demonspawn better than it ever was: You keep the fantastic world and story, but streamline the system and ensure it is properly balanced, to end up with one of the greatest gamebook experiences you can have! Everyone wins! J (And to be honest, it doesn’t actually take many tweaks to achieve this: but you’ll see that for yourself soon enough!) Anyway, Neil of Tin Man Games talks more about this release HERE.


Amin al Joddah, “the jewel of the desert”, capital of the United Emirates of Akbir

Those Tin Men have certainly been keeping me busy lately, as I’ve also been working on the editing/implementation of another two Gamebook Adventures titles: Sultans of Rema (an illustration from which can be seen above by Joshua Wright) and Shadow over Rema.

Sultans of Rema (which Neil announced HERE) is written by Gaetano Abbondanza, and is the sequel to his first Gamebook Adventures title Slaves of Rema. This title, together with Ashton Saylor’s Shadow over Rema, will form the “Rema trilogy” if you will. Sultans of Rema is an "Arabian Nights" style of adventure, whereas Shadow over Rema has more of a dark fantasy flavour... I guess I was best placed to take on the implementation of these since I not only created (most of) the map and history for the Reman continent (with Neil’s direction of course: being the world he created for his Dungeons and Dragons campaign from childhood), but I wrote much of the content in Slaves of Rema too, in order to fill it out with world details etc. Anyway Sultans of Rema isn’t far from release, with Shadow over Rema to follow sometime later… Sultans also contains a handful of references to things in Shadow over Rema, but you’ll probably only be able to spot those once both are out ;)

I also get asked about sequels to my other works: Infinite Universe, The Dark Hordeand Evermore: An Introduction. The short answer is yes there will be sequels at some point, but no I cannot say when. I work a “day job” as an analyst/programmer for the market research company Nielsen as well (my hours varying from one to five days a week depending on demand) and somewhere around that try to maintain a semblance of a social life too… Time is ever the enemy! Hmm I’d like to do a movie-adaption of The Dark Horde too, but such things are well beyond my current focus.

Then there’s the other things I’d like to do (given time, I’m not making any promises yet): An expanded version of Trial of the Battle God, something for the Adventurer solo roleplaying system, and other collaborative works such as Operation: Time Bomb. But the biggest (and greatest I think) of all these by a long way is a game system known to many of my friends as Creator. Creator fills over four drawers in my room, comprises many thousands of pages, close to thirty years of work and the collected input of about a hundred playtesters over the years… I haven’t come back to this for a while (Trial of the Battle God includes some elements though), but is certainly something I aim to get to sooner or later: It’s my “life work” if you will, and still to this day, there’s nothing out there like it (at least to my knowledge). Time will tell when I can start to talk about that more as it becomes a more concrete release reality.

Okay so enough about me, it’s time to pass the baton to those up next. (And apologies if I’ve made it seem like a hard act to follow: I had a lot to cover haha).

I’ve tagged the following eclectic bunch of individuals from around the globe, whose exceptional talents range across vastly different creative disciplines:


                                        David Walters - Book/Gamebook Author and Eastern expert, hailing from Scotland.

                                        Kevin Powe - Villainous voice over artist and gamer, hailing from Australia.

                                        Kimberly Kinrade - Novelist and Publicity/Marketing guru, hailing from the US.

                                        Joshua Wright - Illustrator and Designer, hailing from Australia.

                                        Stuart Lloyd - Gamebook guru and Designer, hailing from England.



And finally, given the day it is now (I meant to have posted this earlier but oh well):



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Kickstart My Heart!

Kickstarter - Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories
Goblin's Bounty: A Gamebook with Collectable Cards

I must admit I've never been a big fan of "glam metal" (I was more a fan of "thrash metal" growing up in the 80's and 90's) but I did like this song. I used to play Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue (with the "metal-dots" that is) before going to school...

Not that any of that has anything to do with this blog post! No, this is meant to be a post on some of the great Kickstarter campaigns around at the moment, and why you should back them if you're into gamebooks or role-playing games. Like anything creative I guess, the success of these things depends on publicity more than anything else, so here's my effort to help others out there... Not that I can say I'm very good at publicity: I think I've won more awards and nominations for my novels in the last month or two than I've actually sold haha, but hey let's stay on topic for the moment:


Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories

This is the Kickstarter campaign that comes to mind most at the moment, as not only does it look awesome, but it's currently short of its target with only a couple of days left to find funding. So here's why you should fund it:

  • It's to be a two hundred page gamebook printed in hardback in full colour!
  • Story features a team of paranormal investigators in New York in the 1930's! The same setting as featured in classic "Lovecraftian / Cthulhu Mythos" fiction if you like (I certainly do!) in the dark times of The Depression and under brooding clouds leading up to the second World War. 
  • The way the narrative is structured, you actually play the whole investigative team, actively solving a mystery and making decisions with repercussions for the rest of the story. 
  • It's written by Paul Gresty, who also wrote Ookle of the Broken Finger, which was IMHO the best written entry in the recent Windhammer Prize for short Gamebook Fiction.
  • I've read the free demo, and it's awesome. I can definitely see how fully fleshed out, this would be an intriguing detective adventure where you actually come to know and love the characters you play. You can get the demo as a free PDF file (some 13.7 MB due to the abundance of pictures!) HERE
  • It's being produced by Megara Entertainment who've previously produced iOS adaptions of the classic Fabled Lands gamebooks among other great things.
  • If it doesn't get enough money pledged in the next two or so days, it won't happen, so it needs your help to succeed!


 Goblin's Bounty: Gamebook / Collectable Card Game


A gamebook crossed with a CCG game. Brilliant! Here's another project that's short of its target and with only a few more days to go. Here's why you should back it:

  • It's a collectable card game: a genre made famous with the Magic: The Gathering card game, mixed with the story and decision-making of a gamebook. Being a big fan of Magic: The Gathering (I still have stacks of the cards, and though I haven't played for a while, I've been collecting those cards since the week they arrived in Australia) and quest-based PC adaptions of CCG games such as the PC version of MTG Duels of the Planeswalkers from 1997 and the 2003 PC game Etherlords II which was a more recent adaption (and better so I thought), Goblin's Bounty has to be good!
  • It's being written by Stuart Lloyd with assistance by Ashton Saylor, both well-known active gamebook writers and bloggers, not to mention great blokes, and who are also both writing forthcoming gamebook titles for Gamebook Adventures (and in fact I'm working with Ashton on his title).
  • You play as a goblin. Fighting for goblin glory against those "do-good" humans with their knights, mages and castles. (I do like atypical stories where you play the underdog!)
  • Strategic elements of card collecting, deck building and card playing, plus choices you make in the narrative itself, make for a highly playable (and replayable) awesome adventure!
  • It'll be all digital as an Android release, so you play it for a few minutes here and there on public transport or wherever and whenever you have time. (I look forward to the iOS version!)
  • It's being put together and released by Attic Squad Games who previously released Warlock's Bounty (which was a similar gamebook/CCG hybrid written by legendary Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green).
  • It too needs your help to make it happen in the next few days!



If you know anything about gamebooks, you'll what Fighting Fantasy is. Fighting Fantasy catalysed the gamebook genre more than any other, and filled many a childhood throughout the eighties including mine. Without Fighting Fantasy you may not have had most other gamebooks, you wouldn't have had Games Workshop (therefore the Warhammer games including Blood Bowl that I still play), and even role-playing games themselves (such as Dungeons and Dragons) wouldn't have been successful: in the UK, Europe and Australia at least where gamebooks were often "the gateway drug" to role-playing games.

So I basically this Kickstarter is for a "coffee table" thirty year anniversary book of Fighting Fantasy, written by the Legendary Jonathan Green who's not only written a number of Fighting Fantasy titles but a Gamebook Adventures title and at least another 30 books as well (and many of these award-winning). It too needs your support if it's to happen!

There's been some other great Kickstarter projects lately, some of which have been successful, such as the epic gamebook Maelorum, and others such as Turn to 400 - The Fighting Fantasy Documentary and Cthulhu World Combat by the iconic Sandy Petersen, which haven't. Sadly dreams can only be realised with time, money and publicity (and I personally don't have much of any of those!)

I'd like to fund my own dreams through something like Kickstarter one day too, but I consider I need a much better publicity platform than I have now for that to succeed (I'm getting there, but have a long way to go!) -But there's one more campaign I'd like to draw your attention to, that doesn't even need funding to make it happen, cos it already has:




I need to flog this some more for a few reasons. Aside from it being my own self-financed work, and it just having received an Honorable Mention in the Genre Fiction category for the Writer's Digest Annual Self Published Awards, I currently have about 1000 paperback copies sitting in a UK warehouse that'll get pulped soon if I don't start selling them. So if you're in the UK you can pick a copy, mailed to you FREE for only £2.99 which is about as cheap as I can sell them for and pretty much for less than it cost me to even produce them. (And if you're in Europe, you can probably order cheap paperback copies through your nearest Amazon store for about the same cost).

Sometimes I indulge myself in the fantasy of one day being able to make a living from writing, and of even being able to make a movie based on The Dark Horde (there's at least an album in the works) but for now, I just have to sell these bloody books... Who knows? Maybe this limited edition print-run will be worth something one day as a collector's item haha

Aside from this, there's been many other exciting things happening in the Land of Brewin, but I'll have to tell you some more about that another day :)

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Somethin's Brewin'!

...Actually over on another blog, rather than here ;)

Laura Thomas has been kind enough to interview me over at her fuonlyknew blog and host a giveaway! It may well be my biggest interview yet, and I talk about all sorts of things such as the history behind the writing of The Dark Horde (spanning over twenty years), the forthcoming musical based on it, and hints at some of the other things I've been working on. The contest (to win signed paperback copies of my award-winning horror novel) ends December 14th.

You can read the full article HERE.



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(Brewin’s) Wrap-up of the Freeplay, Windhammer, Writer’s Digest and Coffin Hop Awards

Writer's Digest 20th Annual Self-Published Book Awards
Freeplay 2012 Independent Game Awards
2012 Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction
Wrestling the Muse Horror Flash Fiction contest
You Know What ;)

I really should start entering more competitions: sometimes you win! Haha. I’ve only entered my writing into four competitions this year, and in the last week I’ve received the results for three of them and got the result of the fourth about six weeks ago… Winning awards in three out of four isn’t bad hey?

So whilst each of these could be a blog article in themselves (and for some already have) I’m going to try to pull it all together as concisely as possible so that I can quickly communicate a lot of things at once… Cos I’m kinda firing on a lot of guns at the moment and time’s not exactly in abundance ;)

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