Monday, 30 March 2015

Guest post from Stephen Blake

Stephen Blake lives in a small seaside town in Cornwall where he plans, plots, exaggerates and occasionally writes. He’s had his work published in the anthologies ‘Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion’ and ‘Avast, Yes Airships!’ He is a regular contributor to ‘Far Horizons’ e-magazine. This summer he will have a number of stories published in the children’s anthology, ‘The Adventures of Dayton Barnes’.

He can be found on twitter as @UncannyBlake, on his blog and on Facebook
Steve has dropped in to talk about the different words we use...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Interview with Ian Whates & review of Pelquin's Comet

Ian Whates lives in a quiet Cambridgeshire village with his partner, Helen, and Honey, a manic cocker spaniel.  Ian is the author of six novels to date, most recently Pelquin’s Comet, released in April 2015. Also, the  Helen, a manic cocker spaniel, and a tailless black cat.  He City of 100 Rows trilogy (Angry Robot), and the Noise duology (Solaris). Sixty-odd of his short stories have appeared in various venues, two of which were shortlisted for BSFA Awards, and his second collection Growing Pains (PS Publishing) appeared in 2013. Ian has edited some two dozen anthologies and in 2014 one of these, Solaris Rising 2, was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award. He has served a term as Overseas Director of SFWA and spent five years as chairman the BSFA, stepping down in 2013. In his spare time Ian runs multiple award-winning independent publisher NewCon Press, which he founded by accident in 2006. 

Ian dropped by to talk about his latest book - Pelquin's Comet. His interview & a review of the book below:

Monday, 23 March 2015

Dylan Peters - 5 things I learned from self-publishing the Everflame series


Everflame by Dylan Lee Peters

You must figure things out on your own

So, you have a manuscript, now what? Well, the truth is that unless you have a lot of financial backing, then you’d better learn to become a jack-of-all-trades. When I started trying to figure out what I was going to do with the first Everflame book in 2009, I had no money. I was working a minimum-wage job while going to school to get a degree in graphic design. I had to use the resources that were available to me. So, I used a graphic design program, Adobe InDesign, to layout Everflame, and then made it available at, a print-on-demand website. was free to use, and they only charge you once you order a book. (Note from Captain Obvious: ordering one book is monumentally cheaper than paying a publisher to print a run.) Now, I was lucky that I had a great program like InDesign available to me, but I had to learn how to use it. It took long hours and persistence. Most computers have a program you can use to layout text. It’s up to you to master that program, as well as any other program or resource you may need for help. When I wanted to convert Everflame to ebook, I had to learn to do it myself and find a cheap resource to do so. Professional editing of a book costs roughly $2,000. I had to improve my editing skills and resubmit versions of Everflame as I improved. The list continues, and you have to be willing to do research to figure out how to fix your problems and get what you want. Being a self-published author is a fight, and the more you can do, the stronger you will ultimately be. 

Everflame 2: The Burning Man by Dylan Lee…

Getting reviews is the key

The best thing you can have going for your book is a list of good reviews, so spend time figuring out how you can get those reviews. Reviews are the first thing a reader will look for before they will take a chance on your book. If you don’t have any reviews, no one will take that chance. Here is a dirty little secret for you: When I first released Everflame, and had no reviews, I created my own reviews and posted them as other people. I had friends and family post reviews. I created online profiles of people that didn’t exist and used those profiles to review Everflame. Was it underhanded? Yes. Did it work? Absolutely.

 Everflame 3: War Cry by Dylan Lee Peters

You’d better have some thick skin

“This reads like a fourth grader's first creative writing assignment.”
Yup, that is an actual quote from an actual reader. Another reviewer wrote that Everflame was literally the worst book they had ever read. (Isn’t that wonderful?) In the end, you have to remember that you can’t please everyone, and some people are just vicious. You take the criticism, and work to get better. I’m sure those are not the last scathing reviews I’ll receive, but each one makes me all the more grateful for the glowing reviews I do get, as well as grateful for the fact that my good reviews far outweigh my negative reviews.

Everflame 4: As The Darkness Waits by Dylan…

Get comfortable with promotion

When I was starting out, I advertised Everflame on Craigslist, under the “free” section. It was completely against the policy of the website, and the ad was taken down soon after, but I received a lot of downloads from it. In fact, I spent a lot of time that year finding places that I could post about Everflame online. I joined online fantasy communities just to talk about Everflame, and I filled out every free book listing I could find. I sent bookmarks to local bookstores. I did anything and everything I could think of that was within my meager budget. To this day, promotion is something I’m constantly looking to improve upon.  My most recent ideas have been contests to promote fan interaction and I’ve also tried creating Everflame-themed internet memes. (You never know what might end up going viral).

Everflame: The Complete Series by Dylan Lee…

Never give up and never stop improving

All told, the number one thing that self-publishing has taught me is that you can never give up. You never know when or where your break might come, but you’d better be ready for it, and willing to fight for it. I love writing, and because I have that love I know I will continue to work at and improve my craft. If you love writing, and have considered self-publishing your work, I’ll leave you with words from Densa at the end of Everflame 4: As the Darkness Waits:

I go forth with my love, knowing nothing can stop me now.

Find out more about Dylan Lee Peters at his webiste, or download Everflame from kindle,

The world is old and full of lies,
But also full of truth,
And here between the earth and sky the questions fall to you.

  Long ago, when the earth was young, four ancient beings created man to be the bastion of the earth and its creatures, but when the Great Tyrant came and chased the Ancients away, the world was transformed into a place of fear and isolation. Over time, humans lost their connection with a world they had been created to protect, they forgot the ways of their ancient creators, and accepted the Tyrant’s lies as truths from the mouth of a god.
  Now, deep in the forests that surround Gray Mountain, two bears find a small child that is abandoned and left for dead. The bears name him Evercloud, raise him as a member of their kingdom, and teach the boy of the Ancients, all underneath the light of the Everflame, the flame that burns atop Gray Mountain as a monument to the integrity and spirit of the bears.
  As Evercloud grows, rumors reach the bear kingdom of the Ancients’ return, and now the young man must leave his home to find them, and help save the world he holds dear.
  Will Evercloud lose himself in the darkness of the Great Tyrant’s lies, or will he have the courage to judge his own heart, the strength to master the darkness, and the faith to follow his purpose until it burns within his heart like the Everflame?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Interview with Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge was brought up in a sequence of small, sinister English villages, and spent a number of formative years living in a Gothic-looking, mouse-infested hilltop house in Kent. She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford, fell in love with the city's crazed archaic beauty, and lived there for many years.

Whilst working full time as a technical author for a software company she started writing her first children's novel, Fly by Night, and was with difficulty persuaded by a good friend to submit the manuscript to Macmillan. Fly by Night went on to win the Branford Boase Award, and was also shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award. Her subsequent books, Verdigris Deep, Gullstruck Island, Twilight Robbery, A Face Like Glass and Cuckoo Song are also aimed at children and young adults. Her seventh book, The Lie Tree, is coming out in May.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Far Horizons - Call for submissions

Far Horizons turns 1 year old in April & we want you to help us celebrate by submitting a story. Far Horizons started as a way for self-pub, non-pub & thinly published writers to get their stories a readership. We seldom turn stories down, rather working with the writer (sometimes over a couple of months) to turn their work into something publishable. We run book extracts of self-published books and we are happy to take reprints, book reviews, film reviews, essays and interviews too.

If you are published in the pages of the magazine we are also happy to run an advert for your work.

So get scribbling - we want art and fiction and non-fiction for our celebration issue. We want a bumper issue!

Please send us your art and words at BRSBKBLOG at GMAIL dot COM by the 1st April to get into our April issue. If you miss the April deadline still send us a submission as we do publish monthly! Our submission guidelines below. The April issue is a special issue so shorts up to 4000 will be considered. If you have a longer story we do occasionally split them across issues so worth querying us.

If you've come across this blog post in your travels please do share it far and wide.

**Submission Guidelines**
We accept 
*Fast Fiction (500-1200 words)
*Short Stories (!200-2500 MAX)
*Special issue shorts (4000 max)
* Novel extracts (5,000 max)

Submissions should follow basic formatting:
Times New Roman 12 point font
Indent of 1.25
Standard paragraphing (New paragraphs for dialogue)
UK English spelling is preferred

Please take note. We are looking for as many subs for April as possible. We can't pay you but if we publish your words we will add art and we will run an advert for you for free to publicise any book, your writing platform or you. Reprints are fine. Novel extracts are fine. If we publish your art we will similarly also post an advert for your work.

Let me tell you a story Jack

So last week I finally got round to going to "Let me tell you a story Jack" at the Crofter's Rights in Stokes Croft (a pub I last went to around 15 years ago!)

I was reading, a short entitled "I, Butler" and very short "Not Alone" (last performed at NFFD).

There's a picture of me performing it over here -

Really liked the format of having Will singing songs and the "Lies & Deceit" post-it notes livening up things in-between the readings.

Most of the stories were light-hearted so perhaps my dark tales didn't really gel with the tone of the evening, but it was nice to perform something new.

Shonette and Tom Parker both told true stories which is impressive - I'd ramble without notes!


Kevlin Henney read his very entertaining "So you think you can cook?"


Other notable performances were by Christie Cluett


Mark Rutterford (with nice Kazoo work)


and Nathan Williams


Will also displayed a Simon Munnery level of headwear to demonstrate how lies work.


Congrats to the medal winners. I'll definitely try and get back there next time & hope to see you there!

Guest Post - John Forelli

John Forelli is 24 years old and lives in Philadelphia. He worked a stuffy corporate job out of college before quitting to write this novel. He enjoys drinking with friends at Fado and Tavern on Broad in Philly and boring them with existential ramblings. John's ideal day would be spent eating pizza and watching Game of Thrones down the Jersey Shore. Find out more at his website and find him on Twitter @JOHNFORELLI

John has dropped in to talk about simulations

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Call for submissions

Image result for writers

What if it was accepted that there really were ghosts? That mediums could actually talk to the dead. That your dearly departed continued to exist on a spiritual plane adjacent to ours and that at certain places, or in certain people they could manifest? 
What if those that disbelieved, that advanced a scientific explanation, are the kooks, freaks and loonies? 
What if neither model of reality were actually true and there was a third group, of conspiracy theorists, that were right?
But which conspiracy? Is it aliens? Are the government spiking the water supply with experimental drugs? Are the military testing new subsonic weapons?
Someone, somewhere knows the truth.
This is the set up for Sick City Syndrome -my second novel & if you're a writer I want your help. So I'm asking for submissions.  

Lauren Beukes got her writer friends to write blog posts, news articles and the like for one of her books to help with the worldbuilding and that's what I'm looking for.

I'd like news reports, blog posts, twitter conversations, other social networking, TV, radio, internet, academic article abstracts etc The novel will be set in the modern day, in "the City" (which will be closely modelled on Bristol of course) but there's no reason the articles need to be set in the modern day (but shouldn't be set in the future).

I'd like a mix from all three viewpoints, choose one and give me a maximum of 750 words.

If I use your piece (in any way - Some will be published on this website -, some will go in the book itself) you will be credited and I'll pay you 5p/word (upon publication) 

Send your pieces to BRSBKBLOG (at) by the 1st of June 2015.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Kitschies

Fallen London
Last night was the award ceremony for the Kitschies & I was lucky to attend. The Kitschies celebrate  - well I'll let Glen Mehn point to what they celebrate:

Embedded image permalink

There were almost 200 books submitted to the award and the judges this year included Adam Roberts & Frances Hardinge. There were drinks consumed and friends greeted, new and old. All in all an excellent night. Many congratulations to all the winners & everyone on the shortlists.

There are 5 awards -

Red Tentacle

The Red Tentacle is awarded annually to the novel containing speculative or fantastic elements that best fulfills the criteria of intelligent, progressive and entertaining.

The winner of the Kitschies Red Tentacle for 2014 was Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith (Electric Monkey). Judge Kim Curran said, “We loved all the shortlist, and Grasshopper Jungle was, in the end, the novel with the biggest chance to actually blow a young person’s mind.”

The rest of the shortlist included:

  • Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Peripheral, by William Gibson (Viking)
  • The Way Inn, by Will Wiles (4th Estate)
  • The Race, by Nina Allan (NewCon Press)
  • The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne (Blackfriars)
  • Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta (HarperCollins)
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers (Self-Published)
  • The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara (Atlantic Books)

Golden Tentacle

The Golden Tentacle is awarded annually to the debut novel that best fits the criteria of progressive, intelligent and entertaining. The book must be the author’s first published work of novel-length fiction in any genre.

The Golden Tentacle went to Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre (Jonathan Cape). The judges noted the audacity and craft of the novel.
The rest of the shortlist included:
  • The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne (Blackfriars)
  • Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta (HarperCollins)
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers (Self-Published)
  • The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara (Atlantic Books)
The Inky Tentacle

The Inky Tentacle is awarded to the year’s finest cover art, as selected by a panel of visual arts experts from wide range of disciplines.

The Inky Tentacle for cover art went to Tigerman, cover by Glenn O’Neill (William Heinemann)
The rest of the shortlist included:
  • The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, design by Steve Marking, lettering by Kimberly Glyder (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
  • A Man Lies Dreaming, cover by Ben Summers (Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Through the Woods, cover by Emily Carroll and Sonja Chaghatzbanian (Faber and Faber)
  • The Book of Strange New Things, cover by Rafaela Romaya and Yehring Tong (Canongate)
The Invisible Tentacle

The Invisible Tentacle is for progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction that is natively digital.

The first-ever Invisible Tentacle went to Kentucky Route Zero, Act III, by Cardboard Computer.

The rest of the shortlist included:
  • echovirus12, created/curated by Jeff Noon @jeffnoon, Ed @3dgriffiths, James Knight @badbadpoet, violet sprite @gadgetgreen, Richard Biddle @littledeaths68, Mina Polen @polen, Uel Aramchek @ThePatanoiac, Graham Walsh @t_i_s_u, Vapour Vox @Wrong_Triangle
  • 80 Days, by Inkle Studios
  • Sailor’s Dream, by Simogo
The Black Tentacle

The Black Tentacle is a special achievement award. It is handed out at the discretion of The Kitschies’ board, which is comprised of editors, authors, marketers and entrepreneurs.

The Black tentacle was won by Sarah Macintyre who sported a trademark hat as you can see in the photograph of Glen!

The award seems to go from strength to strength, looking forward to the 2015 runners already!

Review of Dark Star by Oliver Langmead

Dark Star by Oliver Langmead

This is a debut from Langmead and wow what a debut. Dark Star combines hard boiled noir with sci fi in an epic poem. The Dark Star of the title burns black and the people of the city of Vox rely on 3 Hearts for power and to bring light. Virgil and Dante are cops out to find the killer of Vivian North whose body turns up shining brightly with un-natural light. They think it’s related to Prometheus, a street drug of liquid light, that Virgil himself is in thrall to but they are pulled ever further into a case that has deep and lasting ramifications for Vox and the world.

In school they try to teach you how to cope
With the constant dark, to tell you to find light
And avoid being immersed in blackness
They fairly know what it does to a man

This is an unusual book, being, as it is, poetry, but that shouldn’t put you off, it is a remarkable read, and an easy one. Virgil is a hero for bringing in a serial killer, but he is scarred, both in body and deep inside by the experience. Dante is a cop with grit. The dark city is an eerie backdrop, filled with ghosts (literally) and shadow, a compelling setting richly invoked by the writing. There is a deft worldbuilding at work in here and a riveting story. Unsung Stories (the publisher of this and The Beauty - which I previously reviewed) are rapidly becoming a small press to watch.

Overall - Down these shadowed streets a flawed knight must seek to bring the light

Monday, 2 March 2015

Candyfloss Guitar - Review

Candyfloss Guitar by Stephen Marriott

Stephen Marriott is a writer from Bristol, although he no longer lives here, so we at the Book Blog looked forward to this book's release. We managed to snag a copy ahead of the launch tonight -

"Candyfloss Guitar is a story about taking the first steps on a journey towards shrouded dreams and searching for meaning."

Eduardo is a candyfloss seller who laments the death of his wife and despairs that his son, Diego, will ever make anything of himself. When he hears Diego playing guitar in a bar he offers him a choice - go to work on a farm or make something from his dream of creating music. Eduardo gives his son his guitar and sets him on his way. Through a chance meeting Diego's footsteps take him on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James), a major Christian pilgrimage route. Of course the journey changes him through the people he meets.

This book can be read in an hour or so, it has a very engaging style and a cast of very memorable characters. Well worth checking out. I'd like to read more by Marriott.

Overall - It's a short book with a big heart.

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