Category Archives: Book

Of The Night by Mark Simmons

Hello all,

It’s been a while.

Time for a shameless plug of my debut novel: Of The Night.

Available from:


Whitfield Creed had never been one to believe in such things as luck. Yet when he wakes to find he’s hung from a meat hook, in a warehouse, he can’t help but feel his luck may have run out.

A chance meeting with the wrong people immerses Whitfield in an underworld that he had presumed to be no more than folklore. Yet these creatures exist and with eternal life have manipulated mankind from the shadows through the millennia’s.

Trying to come to terms with the way these creatures occupy their eternity Whitfield must live amongst their ranks. With the elders of this ancient society bickering with one another and the constant threat of execution hanging over his head he must try to survive. Whilst also accepting his own immortality.

Of The Night is the debut horror novel by Mark Simmons and is a Tour De force of thrills and scares that will leave the reader breathless and begging for the morning.

Hope you enjoy.



Censoring a Book Cover?

So what are the grounds for censoring a book cover according to Amazon?

A question that is asked by Rayne Hall in the below guest article.

Please read and share this information.


Amazon’s censors find this book cover offensive.


Yes, you’ve read this right. I was as astonished as you when I received the email. I had to read it several times before I grasped that they meant it. A quick glance at the calendar assured me that the first of April was well past.

Amazon gave no explanation beyond a vague reference to guidelines, and when I asked for one, I received only silence.


The book has been published since 2013. with this cover, and been part of several promotions and advertising campaigns on Amazon. The censors didn’t voice an objection when I submitted to book for publication, and they accepted it for promotion and advertising campaigns… until now.

Suddenly, they’ve clamped down and refused.

I read and re-read the guidelines for covers Amazon deems acceptable. I see no rule against pictures of dolls, or against the colours orange and blue, or against the Oregon font. So what rule could this possibly offend against?

When I tweeted about this, everyone responded with the same bafflement.


So what triggered the censors? It must be one of these.

1. Perhaps the cover is not “high quality, professional, and visually appealing”? I think the painting by artist Xteve Abanto meets all three criteria, but perhaps I’m mistaken – what do you think?

2. Maybe the text is not “easily understandable to the average customer”? It doesn’t strike me as difficult to understand the words “Thirty Scary Tales”. but maybe Amazon rates its customers’ intelligence lower than I do?

3. The fact that the cover depicts a doll may have triggered a censor’s dirty imagination, conjuring up fantasies of adult toys. The doll’s parted lips might qualify as “poses that may be suggestive of sexual behavior”.

4. Perhaps Amazon uses robots to censor books?

The automated scan may identified the doll’s head as a human face with the high forehead, small nose and large eyes of a child and flagged it up as “Images of human or animal abuse, mistreatment, or distress”. But would Amazon allow a robot to censor a book without a human taking a closer look first?

5. Maybe it was an honest mistake by a human censor who was over-tired, barely able to keep his or her eyes open that day, whose exhausted brain saw something that wasn’t there. But if that was the case, surely Amazon would have replied to my query with an apology and corrected the error at once… at least I would hope so.

6. “Foul, vulgar, or obscene language” – perhaps the word “tales” is vulgar? Or maybe “thirty” has an obscene meaning that I’m not aware of?

7. The rules forbid “excessive blood, injuries, mutilations, guts, corpses, and weapons being used in a violent or threatening manner” – maybe the cracks in the doll’s head are so much more gruesome than the axe-split human skulls on thousands of other covers?

8. Images hinting at “sensitive topics such as hormonal development or changes” are forbidden. Could it be that the censor thinks the crack in the doll’s face and the open eye are caused by hormones?


So far, Amazon hasn’t banned my book, only refused to advertise it. Readers can still buy it on Amazon for 99c.

But I’m concerned that this may only be the first step. Amazon may remove the book from sale next – and after that, those of other indie authors.

I’m hoping that if we protest loudly enough, and spread the word in the social media, Amazon will reconsider not only this particular book cover, but its approach to censorship.

What do you think is the reason for Amazon’s censorship of this cover – one of the eight possibilities I’ve thought of, or something else altogether? Do you personally find it offensive?

I’ll be grateful if you could share this post on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.




Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series (Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic and more) and editor of the Ten Tales short story anthologies.

She is a trained publishing manager, holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.

You can follow here on Twitter where she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.

To see her books on Amazon, go to .



At last, someone at Amazon responded. Three weeks of trying to get a statement from the advertising department or any other part of Amazon had brought only silence. After three weeks, an email addressed to Jeff Bezos finally brought a reply from the Executive Customer Department:

> In this case, your ad was not approved because a general audience may find the cover image for “Thirty Scary Tales” to be violent or disturbing.<

Huh? A doll’s head is too violent or disturbing? For readers of horror fiction?

What do you think? Can the general audience browsing horror books on Amazon cope with seeing cracks in the head of a doll?

Whaling in the 19th Century.

And Ahab stands alone among the millions of the peopled earth, nor gods nor men his neighbours!


Whaling in the 19th Century

About seven weeks ago I signed up to become a member of a Nantucket Whaling vessel called the Pequod with the intention of sailing about a little and seeing the watery part of the world. A man from Toulouse whom I had befriended a few months before I set sail had taken a similar voyage and had recommended that if I had nothing else to do with my time I should take up a comparable trip. Previous conversations I had held with companions over taking on such a challenge had swayed me away from the idea as they called it a most tedious of vacations. Now this decision was not made on a whim. I had looked into the matter a number of years before but bad press and the advice of others had kept my temptation at bay. The first hand opinions of this same said Frenchman changed that decision and before long I was sailing out of Massachusetts into the Atlantic Ocean.

I knew that it was going to be a long and sometimes laborious journey but instead of struggling through my time on board I embraced the adventure and before I had had a chance to reconsider my actions I had already completed one fifth of my charter. My time was spent at within this period in the company of a fellow called Ishmael who was also signing up for his first Whaling trip but by no means his maiden voyage as he would gale me with stories of how he had himself come to be afloat. The highlight of his tales being how he befriended a Harpooner from one of the South Pacific Islands despite their differences on deities and military victory celebrations. Queequeg was the man’s name a fine specimen and a greater swimmer I never be met, in the prime of his life and of a tall athletic build his dark skin covered in the tattoos of his people. Yet the words on everyone’s lips were of the whereabouts of our Captain as his appearance from below deck had yet to happen.

Once we reached the deep oceans though all talk and speculation was disregarded as constant tasks presented themselves and required my complete attention, mainly the studying of the various types of prey that we would be hunting all over this blue carpet of the world. Soon I was up to speed with the many variations of these leviathans that rise to the surface and share the same air as us inferiorly sized apes. Not just their appearance and levels of aggression were taught to me but also the value of their bodies after our crew had successfully hunted and farmed them. The one species that held the highest price above all others and due to this had become the most hunted was the mighty Sperm Whale. Spermaceti is found in the head cavity of Cachalot and it is this substance that has become big business as it is used to fuel the lamps that illuminate our growing society.

I am not a squeamish man but even my strong stomach could not prepare me for the first time I saw the methods for removing the highly valued substance from these majestic creatures. Even now I cannot go into the details of it as the systematic slaughter and butchery haunts me still.

When the call came and the hunting began we finally met our leader as Captain Ahab stepped out onto his deck. He was a man lost in his own cause and by no means someone who would be call approachable, but his intentions were made very clear to everyone that he was hunting a very specific whale, one that had taken his leg and almost his life on his last voyage. The White Whale named Moby Dick.

The crew gave the old Captain little regard at first but once he nailed a Gold Doubloon to the mast and announced that the first man to raise the aforementioned Whale would receive the affixed 8 Ecuadorian Escudos they paired more attention to what he had to say.

We hunted and hunted and then hunted again.

Supply and demand of Spermaceti has flooded the oceans with ships and judging by my experience of how many our crew alone slaughtered the animal may soon be in trouble of sharing the same fate as other creatures of similar size. To see such an amazing creature taken from us completely would be a travesty but inevitability if they are hunted with this continued intensity.

Adverse weather greeted us in the Pacific Ocean as a Typhoon nearly tore us apart and we lost a man amongst the maelstrom. This was treated as a bad omen by the crew but a storm could not quench Ahab’s thirst for revenge, neither could the faces of men who had fought and lost to the white beast passing by in other ships. We met two vessels that had been defeated by the monster and both painted a sullen picture. Until finally the day came and the object of Ahab’s obsession rose from the depths to finish what it had started with his leg to which the crews manned their boats, descended into the water and the chase was on.

For three days we gave chase to Moby Dick and in that time there was a series of failures, including the wrecking of a boat and the death of a shipmate but a harpoon was landed into the hulk of the creature landed by Ahab himself but his rage now became all-consuming as more than ever his hatred for the whale forced him to act blindly without regard to his crew.

Finally the chase came to its conclusion as Moby Dick drew Ahab and all his forces in close before he smote the starboard side of the Pequod with the buttress of his giant forehead. My own ears heard the waters pour in through the breach and my eyes soon saw the damage as the ship quickly sunk down towards its aquatic end and as the cold swept in around me the vessel’s bulk pulled me down into a final descent.

Yet now I look up through the murk towards the great shroud of the sea rolling on as it has for thousands of years.