All the latest The Suffering news

September News

This has been another crazy month full of exciting things. Here’s my run-down of all the latest happenings and September news as the seasons change and we start to get spooky…

The Books of Horror Brawl

The brawl was incredible! It’s still going strong, with the powerhouses that are Nick Roberts, Gage Greenwood, John Durgin, Duncan Ralston, Andrew Van Wey, Felix Blackwell, and Daniel J. Volpe scrapping it out to get to the top spot.

My round was exhilarating, and I was overwhelmed by the lovely comments and insane amount of votes The Suffering picked up! John’s outstanding The Cursed Among Us took the win of course, but I got a crazy 42% of the votes. This blew me away, so thank you to everyone who voted or left a kind comment about it being a tough decision! Best of luck to John for the rest of the competition (and to all the other competitors!).

Bookstagram Awards 2023

What an honour!

I was scrolling through my phone yesterday morning when I discovered that The Suffering has been nominated in the Bookstagram Awards 2023 for Horror Novel of the Year. I’ve had a lot of lovely bookish surprises this year, but this is definitely up there as one of the best! What an honour.

As you can see, it is very tough competition! If you’d like to vote for The Suffering or any of the other amazing books nominated, please visit Daniel J Barnes Facebook page, or message him via Instagram (@djbwriter).

500 Reviews in the US

On the day The Suffering was tussling it out in the brawl, I hit a huge milestone by reaching 500 reviews in the US. I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to review the book and spread the word. It means the world. We are almost there in the UK, so if you have read the book and haven’t yet left your review, I would appreciate it!

Halloween 10k Run

I am currently in training to run my first ever 10k this Halloween at Lancaster’s Pendle Witches run. So far, I’ve worked my way up to 7k so I’m optimistic I can hit that magic non-stop 10k by the end of October. Best of all…I’ll be running it dressed as Lisa Vaughan! Well, it is Halloween, after all.

Dundee Horror Con

Come and join me on the 7th October at the Dundee Horror Con! This will be my first experience as a vendor, and I am very excited. I’ll be offering up signed books, mugs, T-shirts, postcard packs, stickers, keyrings, and more. Stop by and say hi!

I’ll be the one with the huge ghost banner!

If you can’t make it to Dundee but would like to check out my merch, you can pick up items with your favourite ghost in The Suffering shop! There is more merch to be added soon, including a beautiful new postcard pack that I am very happy to share with you.

I have a feeling my October news is going to be even more exciting than my September news, so watch this space!

All the latest The Suffering news

June News – Reviews, Podcasts, and an Audiobook Deal

It’s been a busy month here in June, but there has been lots of exciting news, including hitting review targets, podcast interviews, and an exciting new deal.

300 Reviews in the US and the UK

My biggest goal for June was to reach 300 reviews for The Suffering in the US, and hopefully the UK, by the end of the month. I’m happy to report that it’s now the final day of June and I have 342 reviews in the US and 317 in the UK, well and truly smashing that goal!

The Suffering reaching 300 reviews in the UK

I’m blown away by the amount of people that are reading the book and taking the time to review, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has done so. My fellow Wicked House author, Blaine Daigle, also let me know about another goal I had no idea about, which is the amount of people who have the book on their “to read” shelf in Goodreads. Blaine was celebrating reaching 1k, which is amazing! As of writing, The Suffering is on 932 people’s Goodreads shelf, so perhaps we can reach the magic 1k in July!

Audiobook Deal

Some more exciting news from June. A deal has been made to turn The Suffering into an audiobook! I have to thank Wicked House Publishing for making these incredible steps to put the book out there and I can’t wait to hear it when it’s complete. These things do take time, and we are in the process of confirming a voice actor so there is no definitive date as of yet.


This month, I had the pleasure of appearing on 3 podcasts. The first was with The HORRORific Podcast, which was a bit of a baptism of fire as it went out on a live stream on YouTube! I had a lot of fun with Colin, and you can check out the interview here. I’m looking forward to doing more with HORRORific soon so watch this space!

Appearing on The HORRORific podcast

I also chatted with Vince Midgard for his The Dark Mind podcast, and this interview is due to be released on the 4th July. Vince had read The Suffering and pre-prepared the most thoughtful and engaging questions that were a pleasure to consider and answer. I am excited to hear how the chat turns out!

It was also lovely to chat with Oaky Tyree on her Tell Me About Your Book show. This will be available on Spotify (as will all of the above mentioned podcasts) soon.

Negative Space 2: A Return to Survival Horror

One of my favourite editing experiences has been working with Aric Sundquist at Dark Peninsula Press for the first Negative Space anthology, which featured my story, Six Weeks. I’m thrilled to announce that my short horror, Monastery Blood Moon, appears in Dark Peninsula’s latest release, Negative Space 2: A Return to Survival Horror. This was a fun story to write, and with Aric’s invaluable input it became one of my absolute favourites. The band Piss on a Gremlin are used to playing sleazy venues and that’s just how they like it. But when they are hired at the last minute to play at an art installation at the local abandoned monastery, they can’t really turn the money down. With a new look, a tamed-down setlist, and definitely a temporary new band name, Tidy Angela and the gang are on their best behaviour. That is until the installation of mirrors catches the red light during that night’s blood moon and opens a portal that releases nightmarish creatures into the monastery. It’s time for them to get back to being punk rock and use their instruments as weapons in order to survive the onslaught…

Books of Horror Brawl T-shirt

I’ve spoken before about my absolute shock at being chosen in the top 32 books to appear in this year’s Books of Horror brawl. This amazing group has been incredible, and I’m blown away by the support and encouragement all of the readers, authors, and admins have given me in this last few months. It all became even more exciting this week when I received my brawl T-shirt! Tiffany worked tirelessly with the design, manufacture, and posting of the shirts, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s like a band T-shirt, but with our books and names on the back:

It’s an honour to have my name amongst the greats that are featured in the brawl this year. It officially takes place in September, and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun. If you love horror books, don’t hesitate to join Books of Horror and come and say hi!

All the latest The Suffering news

May News

I never thought I’d be saying this so soon after The Suffering being released but…my little shop is officially open! This is mainly due to the incredible folks in the Books of Horror Group who have made requests for signed books to add to their spooky collections. Unfortunately, international postage costs are a little out of hand from the UK right now. But there is a solution for my friends in the US and other countries in the form of a signed bookplate. This is a matte sticker that fits inside the cover of the book, and costs a fraction of the price to post out to you.

Signed bookplates are available in the store now!

If you’d like a signed book or bookplate, you can find the shop here. I’m happy to add any inscription you like. There will be more exciting stock coming in the future, so watch this space!

May has brought with it another huge goal in the form of 200 reviews on Amazon US. This is another milestone I didn’t think I’d be seeing for while (if at all!). Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and review the book. Reviews make a huge difference in terms of exposure, and getting the book into the hands of the right people, so they are all welcome and gratefully received. Reviews in the UK are hot on the heels of my US friends also, currently standing at 187, with a 4.3 average. I will also be celebrating when we hit the 200 mark here as well, so lucky me – I get to celebrate twice!

200 reviews in the US! Thank you all

Another moment of excitement was seeing The Suffering on the table at a Barnes & Noble store. It’s incredible to think that people will be browsing the horror section, as I love to do, and might pick up my book and consider adding it to their pile! Unfortunately, we don’t have Barnes & Noble stores here in the UK, and the process of getting books from independent publishers stocked in major stores is tricky. This means until I travel to the US I probably won’t get to see it in “the wild”, so thank you to the people in the US who are sharing these images in the horror groups so I can see them.

The Suffering on the horror table in a Barnes & Noble store

Finally (and this one’s a little cheeky), you may have seen that the fantastic Grady Hendrix broke the news that How to Sell a Haunted House is to be made into a major motion picture with Sam Raimi as producer. Talk about goals! I was gobsmacked to check Amazon US later that same week his amazing news broke and see us sitting side-by-side in the chart. Obviously, Grady is HUGE and the book has done some major heavy lifting in the last couple of months (wow, I just checked and it was released on my birthday – how funny!). But being in the chart lurking around incredible writers like Grady is utterly thrilling.

The Suffering keeping insanely good company in the US charts!

This time last year I was still struggling to get any interest in the book whatsoever so, if you are in the process of querying agents and publishing houses, don’t you dare give up! I almost did. I was so disheartened about the lack of interest in the book I was all set to scrap it and write something new this year and start all over again. Good job I didn’t, right?! Keep pushing for it and perhaps in a year you’ll be seeing your book side-by-side with Grady and others like him, too!

I think that’s all the May news so far. I do have a #vaguepost about something potentially huge coming up, so June News may be just as exciting! I certainly hope so…

All the latest The Suffering news

An Unexpected Turn of Events

We are only halfway through April, but I am thrilled to say we have some news worth shouting about already!

The Suffering is #1!

Last Thursday, following a US promotion of the book, I was astonished to see The Suffering reach #1 in British Horror Fiction, Occult Horror, and Horror Suspense in the US Kindle chart. This was without doubt the stuff that dreams are made of! While I had hoped the promotion would give sales a boost, I never dreamed I’d see such an incredible result.

The Suffering at number 1 in 3 horror categories on Kindle US

What’s more, it peaked at #238 in the Kindle store rankings overall. I’m told that this is quite something for a debut novel, particularly when it comes to horror. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who picked up and read the book during the last week and helped to make this incredible moment happen. I’m also sending gratitude to the members of the Facebook group Books of Horror, who tirelessly shouted about the promotion and helped the book to become the success it has been. It’s a wonderful group, so if you enjoy writing or reading horror books (or both!), I recommend you head over to the BoH page and join today.

As of right now, The Suffering is still #1 British Horror Kindle book across the pond. I can’t believe my eyes every time I open the page and see that little orange banner with “Best Seller” written across it! I keep expecting it to drop away any moment, but it’s still holding strong. I’m hoping that it’s still clinging onto the top spot when I hit 100 reviews (it’s currently at 88 in the US) as that will be a screenshot I treasure forever!

The Suffering is #1 British Horror book in the US!

I’m loving every moment of this crazy turn of events, and can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Suffering Short Reading

To celebrate the promotion, Wicked House Publishing posted a short reading on the Facebook page. This was a lot of fun to do, and it was interesting polling my friends to see which scene they recommended I read! For those who have read the book, I decided to record the scene where Lisa Vaughan’s horde of sailors appears to Cassie in the swimming pool. This is a moment that seems to capture a lot of imaginations, and I had fun reading it out (the word “barnacles” is surprisingly fun to say!)

A reading from The Suffering is available to watch on Wicked House Publishing’s Facebook page

Wicked House Publishing have been extremely supportive during this time, and have been the true driving force behind the book’s success. I’ve had a few writers sliding into my DMs lately to ask if Wicked House is really as good as it seems. My answer every time is a resounding “YES!” If you have a completed manuscript in the horror, thriller, or young person horror genres, don’t hesitate to give the WH team a shot. They’ve literally made my dreams come true. And you can’t get better than that!

All the latest The Suffering news

March Book News

A month after publication of The Suffering, I have four bits of great news to share with you.

Beyond Radio

Last Friday, I was invited to Beyond Radio to chat about the book, my inspirations, and what started me on my path to all things horror. It was unreal to head down to the studio, settle myself behind the microphone, and start chatting to the lovely DJ, all while live on the radio! When I got the email from Greg Lambert asking if I’d like to come in and give an interview, I foolishly expected it to be pre-recorded. I mean, I am quite sweary in general, as all my friends can attest to! So I didn’t think there was any way I’d be unleashed on the general public without the chance to cut and edit accidental F-bombs. Thankfully, I managed to rein it in and, apart from a pause where my mouth almost said “then the shit hits the fan” when I was describing the ghost attacks, I got through it without even a hint of a cuss word. Phew!

Visiting Beyond Radio to chat about The Suffering

It was an incredible experience, and one in which I experienced the feeling of, “Yep. I could get used to this!” Hopefully the interview will be the first of many, as I had an absolute blast.

Books of Horror Author Smackdown

One of the main challenges I’m facing as a brand new author is swallowing down Imposter Syndrome. I think the more you put yourself out there, the more the “what if it doesn’t work out?” voice quietens. Because, if it doesn’t work out, who cares? At least you’ve thrown your hat in the ring. I’m trying to keep the phrase, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” at the forefront of my mind, to remind me that everything is worth a try, and there is nothing to lose. Thankfully, I had a burst of this mantra on Sunday night, when I was scrolling through one of my favourite Facebook groups, Books of Horror.

Last week, the admins announced that there would be an author showdown, where 32 books voted for by the group members will go head-to-head in a battle in September, giving everybody 6 months to read all the winning entrants in order to narrow it down to a winner. I knew what an incredible opportunity it would be to make it into the top 32 and have all participants read The Suffering. But, at first, the nagging voice was screaming in my subconscious: “As if you’d stand a chance! Don’t add your book to the potential list – people will laugh at you. Who do you think you are? You’ll not make it, then you’ll be disappointed, so why put yourself through it?” etc etc. But last Sunday, lying in bed and idling scrolling, I had a rush of the “Take a shot, who cares if you miss!” mentality. I added The Suffering to the list, with an apologetic disclaimer (“I know it’s only a month old so I don’t think many of you will know it, but what the hell!”).

I was blown away to see that I got 70 votes, and ended up making it into the ‘ring’ at number 31 of 32, out of 138 entries! So, no matter what that voice tells you, ignore it and take that shot. Making it into the Smackdown is huge exposure to horror-loving readers, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Bring on September! Virtual boxing gloves at the ready…

The Suffering Giveaway!

Another fun thing this month is a competition I’m running on Instagram, to win a paperback copy of the book. I love entering book giveaways, and it’s been fun seeing likeminded people entering and hoping to win. The competition is open now and will run until this Friday (31st March 2023) at 4pm GMT. So, if you would like a shot at winning a paperback copy of The Suffering, head over to Instagram now! Just follow my page (mjmarsauthor), like the competition post, and tag a friend who loves to read horror. Good luck!

BookBub Deal

Finally, some more fantastic news for the book. I was accepted for a BookBub deal! This was insanely fortunate, as less than 20% of applicants manage to secure a deal. I nearly fell off my chair when I opened the email stating the offer. BookBub deals can lead to huge boosts in sales and exposure, so I couldn’t be happier about it. The deal will begin on 13th April, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it in my April news update!

As you can see, March has been a whirlwind of fantastic news. But I’m only able to write about each thing because I managed to shut up the negative voice for a few minutes to make applications, blow my own tiny trumpet, and ask others to believe in The Suffering. If, like me, you’re plagued with self-doubt when it comes to your writing, I hope this news roundup has given you a bit of a nudge to take some of your own shots in the coming months. If you miss some, who cares? But the ones that actually land could change everything.

If you haven’t yet checked out The Suffering and would like to, it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, Kindle, and paperback from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and other international online book retailers.

All the latest The Suffering news

A Hell of A Week

You guys, I did a grown-up thing.

I am now a fully-fledged member of the Horror Writer’s Association as an affiliate writer! It may sound silly, but it really does feel like the most grown-up thing I’ve ever done.

As well as celebrating this monumental happening, The Suffering is now released for pre-order on Kindle. It became the #1 new release in the LGBTQ+ category in Amazon, which made me exceptionally proud. Having a queer lead character wasn’t planned when I first started writing the book but, as my characters seem to have free will, Kyle let me know along the way! In a week of dark controversy in regards to representation and diversity in the horror writing world, it’s great to be able to share this positive news.

The book also did great in the categories of New Release in British Horror Fiction and Ghost Suspense, hitting #5 and #3 respectively. This is mind-blowing to me, and I thank everybody who has made the choice already to pre-order the book.

I’ve also received my first reviews from ARC readers on Goodreads. The first was a 4* review, saying they enjoyed the story and that Cassie was their favourite character. This was so great to hear! It was amazing to have a total stranger react positively, and to name a character that resonated with them. I’m also glad it was Cassie – she’s a badass, and I’m thrilled someone else feels the same way.

The second review was a 3* but the reader helpfully listed the reasons why it wasn’t for her, and I guess my style definitely isn’t what she enjoys! I’m grateful they took the time to explain the reasons why they didn’t love it: it has a 2000’s goofy horror kind of feel (excellent! That’s exactly the style I love!). I feel as though lovers of Thirteen Ghosts, which is the ultimate 2000’s goofy horror, will be more my audience. If you’re looking for a slow-burn, suspenseful chiller, this isn’t the book for you! It’s more of a fast-paced, horror romp. Just the way I like it.

Potentially the most exciting thing of all for me was seeing the book unexpectedly feature in 2 publications. You’ll find it in The Horror Maven‘s Comprehensive List of 2023 Horror Book Releases, and The Line Up‘s 4 Terrifying New Releases from Indie and Small Presses.

It’s been a whirlwind few days, the book having only been on pre-release for less than a week. There is so much happening, and a lot more to come! Thank you to everyone joining me for the ride.


The Suffering Cover Reveal!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but on this occasion, I’m happy if you do!

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal the cover of The Suffering, which was created by the extremely talented Covers by Christian, after consultation with my fantastic team at Wicked House Publishing. Here it is:

It feels a lot more “real” now that I can show the world what my little book is going to look like. My neurotic brain has been convinced somewhere in the dark recesses that something would go wrong. That somewhere along the way plans would change, or that the book would be randomly dropped for no reason. Something deep inside me has been holding a little reservation, not getting too excited just in case.

But, now that I can shout it from the rooftops, I am going to embrace it as fully as I can! I already have a print order for 2 different sets of flyers and some bookmarks ready for promotion. It’s time to pluck up the courage to head into every shop and establishment I can think of and ask if they would like one for their staffroom. Better yet, a noticeboard. In public. Eek!

I think this quote from Zadie Smith sums it up:

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself. This is hard to do alone.

Zadie Smith

Having such a beautiful cover and such a great team behind me is definitely going to make this next part easier, the part my introvert ass has spent a lot of time dreading (promotion). But, you know what? Now I’m getting kind of excited about that part, too.

It’s really happening, guys. This is not a drill.

This time last year, I didn’t have a publishing deal. I’d been querying but getting nowhere – not even a hint of a bite. Looking back through my posts from around that time it’s easy to tell how disheartened I was getting. I’m going to elaborate a little more on this in an upcoming post later this month, but for now I just wanted to remind anyone who is querying or facing a lot of rejections that it really only takes that one hit to change everything. The only way you can be sure you’ll never get there is if you stop. So keep going.

The Suffering is coming in February 2023! Which ghost will haunt you?