Wednesday 30 April 2014

Freefall writing

Freefall writing workshop

Last night I was at the Freefall writing workshop in Bath, put on by Vala publishing co-op & run by Barbara Turner-Vesseligo.

Friday 25 April 2014

Friday Flash

The doom that came from the sky

The skystone lies in deepest shadow at the heart of the castle that was built around it. The lineage of the finder are its protectors. It is death, it is mayhem and it waits.


The first crashing collision reverberates through the hall. The prince looks at the dust lazily spiralling through the sunbeams contrasting it with the urgency of the sounds coming from outside. There is another resounding boom, drinks jump, plates shed cutlery. The chandeliers swing as more plaster dust rains from the ceiling.

The prince sighs. The third crash is the loudest yet, joined with a giant smashing tinkle as one of the windows gives out.

Medder thinks it is time “Prince Adelbern.  It is time to leave, IF we can get past your brother’s army”

 “I will not run.” The prince is stubborn, he didn’t leave when the army approached, refusing to give up as the siege engines were built, even though it is plain that the castle will fall.

Somewhere above them there is a resounding  thump and the room seems to jump sideways as everyone is covered in debris.

“We stay and we ensure that they don’t take the stone.” The prince repeats, standing and dusting himself off.

“And just how do you propose to do that your highness?” Medder says.

“My brother has surrounded himself with fools. We will use the stone first.”

 “The prophecy!” Medder says

“Sebastian was an idiot.”

“They say he was inspired by the gods.”

“To void his bowels and drool? No, we will use the stone.” The prince rises decisively and goes and puts his hands upon the stone.


The castle is silent. The crows feast. It is death, it is mayhem and for now it is sated.


Tuesday 22 April 2014

The best science fiction and fantasy of the year volume 8

edited by Jonathan Strahan

The celebrated series comes to Solaris
I was lucky enough to get a review copy & get an interview with editor Jonathan Strahan:

Monday 21 April 2014

Guest post by Luca Pesaro

Today's guest is Luca Pesaro who has told me that there are benefits to being foreign

Luca Pesaro was born in Italy in the early seventies but he has spent a lot of his adult life in the US or UK. After long years gaining a degree and masters in the pseudo-science that is Economics he got bored, jumped the gun and became a derivatives trader in financial markets with several investment banks. Now reformed, he is writing full-time.
Zero Alternative is his first novel and he is hard at work on his second thriller.
He lives in London, is married to an awesome Italian lady and has two children who always manage to annoy, surprise and delight beyond any reasonable expectation.
Luca has sent me his book which I look forward to reading and reviewing here soon. Many thanks to Luca for the post & book.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Guest post by Ade Couper

Todays guest is Ade Couper

Ade Couper blames Jon Pertwee for his life-long interest in Science Fiction & Fantasy, having started watching Doctor Who back in the early 70's. An avid reader, he is on the Bristolcon committee, is studying a part-time English degree at Bristol University, and campaigns for Amnesty International. When he's not doing any or all of those, he works as a nursing assistant on a mental health unit.
You can find Ade on Facebook ("Ade Couper"), or on twitter as @bigade1665.
Many thanks to Ade for his post on the work of John Wyndham - A very English Apocalypse....

Wednesday 16 April 2014

My writing process -blog hop

My Writing Process – Blog Hop
I was tagged by Joanne Hall -– for the My Writing Process Blog Hop.
What am I working on?
Trying to take over the world. I’m currently working on several projects, all on spec: I’m working on my first novel, tentatively called “Seven Deadly Swords” (You heard it here first folks), I’m working on editing an anthology for the North Bristol Creative Writing Group (stories are due in soon) & writing my own stories to go in that anthology, I’ve been doing some editing and writing for Far Horizons e-mag (coming soon -!/farhorizonsemag) and working on an anthology of my own short stories, tentatively called “Thunder and Magpies” (that I’ll probably put on Smashwords, Amazon etc for a nominal fee perhaps), last, but by no means least, I entered into a pact with several other authors at the beginning of the year to produce, and submit to market, one short story a month. I’ve just sent my April one to the crit group and am nervously awaiting their feedback.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Genre schmenre! Genre is a marketing macguffin. OK my stories tend to be on the darker side of speculative but does that make them Horror SF?, Dark Fantasy? Slipstream? New Weird? Or just plain old SF&F? I don’t know. I started out saying that my stuff was “the real world but with a twist of the speculative”, now I’ve written a bit more and have a Steampunk story published I reckon I’m now a bit more “eclectic”, some of my tales have little to no genre signifiers within them, others are full blown SF. It may be too early to say what my style is, although I’m beginning to notice recurring themes and a voice (& I hope readers are too). I may try to work this question out - what genre am I? how do I fit within that genre? when (if?) I start approaching publishers and agents and all that industry stuff.
Why do I write what I do?
I write the kind of stories I like to read. Many of my stories have started out with a prompt from a competition or an anthology. Recently though more are just happening as my brain regurgitates lost dreams, semi-crushed ideas and the hangnail thoughts that whizz through my brain inconveniently late at night. I write some of this stuff down and some of it actually makes it onto the page nowadays.
How does your writing process work?
“Process” is a bit of grand word for how I write I reckon! I’m not one of these people who can write every day, despite the many people who say that that’s important. I tend to work in intense bursts of activity between periods of such inactivity, writing wise, you may wonder if the torpor is a permanent vegetative state. But the brain never sleeps, well yes of course it does I’m not sufferring with a sleep disorder but go with the flow here; the unconscious mind is always wandering hither and thither in the land of stories picking story seeds and getting snagged by story thorns.
When I do actually sit down to write I use a laptop and Word – I downloaded yWriter but haven’t got my head round it yet. I actually have three separate notebooks that I scribble stuff down in too. Everything related to the novel goes in a nice lined red journal I got as a present. Ideas go into a separate, cheap, blank page notebook where I feel free to doodle and dream and I have another, reporter style, notebook that goes with me to events and where I jot things down in. That last one also inevitably has stuff that should properly go in one of the other notebooks as things occur to me. Now I’ve written that down it seems terribly convoluted!
When I’m actually writing I’ll do it all on screen and I also edit on screen, I tend to have three or four (or more) saved versions of each story. When I think it’s ready (it’s not) I’ll print it out and then read it out loud, making marks on the paper that are pretty mysterious, sometimes even to me (my handwriting seems to have atrophied terribly in the electronic age). I’ll make a final edit then pass it on to a reader for feedback (long suffering partner mostly, crit group, or random people in the street).
OK that all sounded great, perhaps I should do that a little more, as I said process is a grand word for what I do. Sometimes I hack at a keyboard in a white hot frenzy and other times I add a sentence or two in a day. I’m moving towards what I describe above (printing out, reading out loud etc.) but that’s fairly new, but seems to be working OK for me so far. Next week/month/time I write I may do something different…..
And the last part of the blog tour is where I nominate new victims for the beast, er a few other authors. I have chosen to tag :
Gaie Sebold – writer of the marvellous Babylon Steel & Shanghai Sparrow books -
David Gullen – Wordsmith extraordinaire, author of Shopocalypse and many cool short stories -
Jim King – Astute political commentator and gnome wrangler -
Meg Kingston – Steampunkstress and writing guru -
Andrew Goodman – Writer of the fantastic YA adventure “The Emperor Initiative” series  -

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Shock of the fall - review

The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer


Matthew has a mental illness that “sounds like a snake” and this is his story. Filer is a mental health nurse and now a Costa book winner and what a book, a well-deserved win. Filer obviously understands Schizophrenia and this neither mythologises or demonises the illness but gives Matthew space to tell his own story, in his own way. At the end of the book there is a Q&A and Filer says that his vision for the book would be a pile of untidy, different sized, papers, held together with string, paperclips and staples. The book is in a variety of fonts, to represent computer, letters, and typewritten parts and the few pictures as Matthew tells his story, in his own time, with constant interruptions. This is also a story about grief and family.:

I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that

I will say no more about the plot. This is a very affecting, thought-provoking, emotional, intelligent and brilliantly written book. Filer’s style grabs you and won’t let go. I read this in a single day. It is one of those books where you may find that there is something in your eye in parts so bring a hankie to your favourite reading chair, snuggle up and dive right in.

Overall – This very much deserves all the praise and hype, go and get a copy, now!

BristolCon Fringe

Last night was BristolCon Fringe. It was a notable one for two reasons - there were 8 readers and one of those readers was me. Link to the audio will be provided when I get it.

As always it was a game of two halves. We were kicked off with two great stories from Pauline Masurel whose astronomical stories had us all laughing. She was followed by Jonathan Pinnock with a very short Satanic story and a salutory tale of what to do with strange meat, or rather what not to do. Jonathan was followed by Jonathan L Howard with an extract from one of his Goon Squad stories which was highly entertaining, more stories should have the words "wolf junk" in them! Our final reader of the first half was organiser Kevlin Henney who had herded us writers, a much harder job than herding cats it seems. He had two stories the second of which featured computer viruses and sex dolls....

The second half was kicked off by Louise Gethin with a lovely story about gnomes. She was followed by Cheryl Morgan who told us a rather clever tale of Ishtar and Tiamat and the end of all things. Next up was Justin Newland whose story heavily featured chains and rocks. Finally there was yours truly with a story about roadkill. This is the second story of mine to feature roadkill and the third to include the counting birds trope (one for sorrow...) so maybe I should make that a thing? <scribbles a half legible note about self-anthologising>

It was a fun and varied evening that I'd do again in a shot, but next time I'll try to convince Kevlin not to put me on last!

Friday 11 April 2014

Guest post - Jonathan Pinnock - Flexible Ficton

Today's guest post comes from Jonathan Pinnock a fictioneer of some repute.

Jonathan Pinnock is the author of the novel MRS DARCY VERSUS THE ALIENS (Proxima, 2011), the Scott Prize-winning short story collection DOT DASH (Salt, 2012) and the forthcoming bio-historico-musicological-memoir thing TAKE IT COOL (Two Ravens Press, 2014). He blogs at and tweets as @jonpinnock.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Flash Finish

Todays guest is Kevlin Henney who is going to talk all about Flash....


Kevlin Henney writes shorts and flashes and drabbles of fiction and articles and books on software development. His fiction has appeared online and on tree, including with Litro, New Scientist, Physics World, The Pygmy Giant and Kazka Press, and has been included in The Salt Anthology of New Writing 2013, The Kraken Rises!, Flash Me! The Sinthology, Scraps, Jawbreakers and Kissing Frankenstein & Other Stories anthologies. He helps organise the Bristol-based events on National Flash-Fiction Day and is a judge in the NFFD micro-fiction competition. He lives in Bristol and online (tweeting here, blogging here and posting links to some of his stories here).

Friday 4 April 2014

Outlining your novel by K M Weiland - a review

Outlining your novel by  K M Weiland

As with most things, if I need to learn how to do something I’ll turn to text. This is a how to book on, as the title says, outlining your novel. Weiland discusses the pros and cons of planning versing flying by the seat of your pants (or pantsing as it's known to writers)and misconceptions on outlining. Is an advocate on the benefits of outling, as you’d expect and gives a really thorough guide on how to do it. Along the way she ads inter-chapter interviews with a whole host of writers, gives practical examples using her own writing and makes sure that there are checklists that you can refer easily to.

Overall -  If you want to learn how to outline then you won’t go wrong if you use this book.

London Book Fair

Very quick post to say that next week I'll be at the London Book Fair under a number of different guises - festival organiser, event organiser, writer etc.

I've never been before, but have attended large conferences in the industry I work in (Telecoms) so think I know a little of what to expect.

On Friday 11th I'll be attending the London Writers fair

So busy book week ahead!

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Alison Morton - Guest post

Very happy to welcome Alison Morton to the blog today to talk about alternate history.

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

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