Tuesday 29 July 2014

Small Stories Guest Post

Really happy to have secured a chat with Nat & Sian of Small Stories. As you know (if you're a regular reader) it's an event I've read at and it's one that has enjoyed great success. I got to ask Nat & Sian a bunch of questions about what, how & why ...

Over to Nat & Sian

Friday 25 July 2014

Guest post by Jamie Shultz

Jamie Schultz has worked as a rocket engine test engineer, an environmental consultant, a technical writer, and a construction worker. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Website: jamieschultz.net
Twitter: @JamieDSchultz

I asked Jamie what he'd learned by writing his latest book, the third in the series that starts with Premonitions

Over to Jamie

Tuesday 22 July 2014

BristolCon Fringe

Last night's BristolCon Fringe was very enjoyable

Andrew Goodman read from his book Tiberius Found a story about a seemingly ordinary boy who discovers his whole life has been a lie on his 16th Birthday.

Ken Shinn read a story called "Hillraiser" which involved Benny Hill as a demon

As usual these readings will be podcasted later.

The Cons are coming!

So August is always a busy month and this year looks no different - 

First up is Nine Worlds, one of my favourite Cons from last year and one I'm really looking forward to this year.

I'm on the program – 

Writing the Inhuman: more yeti than human...
1.30pm - 2.45pm
County A
From Frankenstein's creation to Lady Stoneheart, literature is constantly probing the the boundaries between the human and the inhuman to ask: who is the true monster?
Panel: Pete Sutton, Adrian Tchaikovsky, David Mumford, Laure Eve, Jennifer Williams

And will be doing a reading as part of the "New Voices" sessions - as yet I don't know if that will be Friday or Saturday

The weekend after is LonCon and again I’m on the program there –

Old New Classics: The Off-Beat and Indie Comics of Yore
Saturday 13:30 - 15:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)
When people discuss the Golden Age and Silver Age of Comics the conversation is often dominated by the emergence of the superhero in both DC and Marvel. However, from its inception comics were always a fertile breeding ground for fun, weird, and alternative stories.

What influential, under-appreciated comics from the past deserve a higher profile today? What kind of comics would people like to see more of now, that were plentiful in the past?

Are we more progressive in comics today, or re-learning to embrace the medium?
Scott Edelman (M), Smuzz, Allan J. Sim, Peter Sutton, Barbara G.Tarn
On Sunday 17th I’m off to Edinburgh Fringe – where I’ll be watching plays, comedy and some book stuff (I have tickets for both Jeff VanderMeer & Nik Harkaway) – I’ll be blogging the Fringe this year – more details later.
I get back from the Fringe and have a day or two rest then on Monday 25th Ann & Jeff VanderMeer will be doing an event (tickets here)
Small stories in association with Bristol Festival of Literature, Wizards Tower Press & BristolCon present:
An evening with Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

Calling all short story aficionados, Time Travellers, Steampunkers, Weirdmongers and Purveyors of Rare and Discredited Diseases. Small Stories have teamed up with Bristol Festival of Literature, Wizards Tower Press & BristolCon to bring you an evening with husband and wife publishing powerhouses Ann & Jeff VanderMeer.

Ann & Jeff will be in conversation with Cheryl Morgan and will be answering those short story questions you've always wanted to ask an award winning editor and author. There will also be a chance to get your books signed.
The following day Jeff VanderMeer is being interviewed about his Southern Reach series & novel career at Mr B’s Emporium, tickets here
Then, although not in August, I’ll be at FantasyCon in York – not sure of Program as yet.
& of course in October it is Bristol Festival of Literature and BristolCon at which I’ll be doing “stuff” (details when I get them) – so busy times ahead.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Why isn't there a minister for men?

On Facebook during the latest cabinet reshuffle a friend posted a link about the new minister for Education, who also has the role of Minister for Women and Equalities. One of the comments in the discussion was about how the Minister for Women was a side show for a full time role.

Although this is actually a step up from what it was before this reshuffle where the minister for women wasn't even a cabinet post - http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/new-minister-for-women/#sthash.plALEjCh.dpbs

Commenting on this someone wondered why there wasn't a minister for men? I thought it'd be obvious but luckily the New Statesman ran a piece on this so I posted that link - http://www.newstatesman.com/media-mole/2014/04/why-isnt-there-minister-men

Apparently though having a minister for women and not one for men was a "double standard". This I don't understand at all. I am reminded of my post for Literature Works - http://www.literatureworks.org.uk/Book-Features/Special-Features/Thrillers-are-from-Mars-Romances-are-from-Venus which resulted from a similar argument about gender inequality.

When the default option is "a man does it" and there is institutionalised inequality then an attempt to redress that inequality by using positive discrimination and/or special representation is NOT a double standard. It is an attempt to redress the balance.

However seemingly the role should be called Minister for Gender Equality because, you know, think of the poor men! With their privilege, their unequally higher pay, their over-representation in positions of power, their facing of everyday sexism Of course the Ministry for Equality should also really ensure that White & Straight people are fully represented, wouldn't want them to be discriminated against would we?

Mind you, if the person who was making the point, was trying to say that the problem was similar to the point I made in the Lit Works post, that by saying women's issues were ONLY of interest to women (and therefore, by implication, 'beneath' men's consideration) then I may have been in agreement. But it was difficult to believe this as he made his point by using a sexist joke, which, by the way is never OK. I would also say that the fact there is a "Women's Fiction" and not a "Men's fiction" comes from a different place & marginalises women rather than seeking to provide parity.

I am a white man and understand that I therefore have a privileged position because the world is generally run by white men. What I can do, the least I can do, is not to sit by and be a polite bystander and call people out about it when they are being sexist, racist or homophobic.

Like I said in my review of Invisible. Stories make the world, if representation is important in our fiction it is doubly important in our political system.

The Time Machine play - a review

HG Wells's The Time Machine - adapted for the stage by Robert Lloyd Parry performed at The Brewery Theatre Bristol.

(Photo: Kevin Jamieson - http://www.nunkie.co.uk/photos_machine.html)

This was a pretty last minute decision on my behalf, to go and see a play but I'm glad I did. Parry tells the story of the Time Machine from the garden of a suburban villa in 1895 at night. The Time Traveller has returned from his adventures with the Eloi and Morlocks and is recounting them to the audience.

Parry has kept the essence of the book, as well as Wellsian turns of phrase and has spun it into a surprisingly physical performance (considering he is recounting the tale) that works effectively. Even if you know the plot well Parry's performance brings it fully alive and there are few places where attention slips.

The brewery theatre is an interesting building, next to a rather splendid cafe. Shame that they got a torturer to design the seats though, the most uncomfortable I've ever been in any theatre in my life, which sadly distracted me from the play. If the play had been at all dull I doubt I would have endured the discomfort for the entire thing. Luckily Parry is never less than entertaining.

If you're a fan of Wells then I'd recommend you to go and see this play before it disappears off the circuit. More details of where & when are here: http://www.nunkie.co.uk/schedule.html

Picture & Photograph taken from the Nunkie Theatre's website

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Mind Seed - 7 tips for a new publisher

Today's guest post comes from Dave Gullen:

Dave is the author of the fantastic Shopocalypse & Open Waters. He's launching a new anthology called Mind Seed and dropped in to have a chat about publishing anthologies. Something that I'll be paying close attention to as NBCWG prepares to make its first anthology (more on that later).

Over to Dave

Happy St Pinnock's day!

St Pinnock of Liskeard (also known as St Pinnock the
Flamboyant, St Pinnock the Pungent and St Pinnock the
Trouserless) is the patron saint of Milton Keynes,
Heligoland and headlice. He is also patron of nuisance
callers, PERL developers and the worried well. St Pinnock
is noted for the so-called Miracle of the Unwanted Cheese,
wherein he succeeded in making an entire village’s cheese
surplus disappear on a regular basis. He was canonised a
few years after his martyrdom at the hands of a group of
local dairy farmers following a dramatic fall in sales to
neighbouring communities. His feast day is July 15th

Monday 14 July 2014

New Book Giveaway

New Book giveaway!

Solaris Rising 3

Edited by Ian Whates

Available in paperback & ebook in UK September 2014 & US August 2014

Whates has gathered together some of the most exciting talents in SF to put together this latest bumper anthology. Whates's mission statement is to prove that SF is the most exciting and inspiring of all the genres. With contributions from Gareth L Powell, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Chris Beckett & Ian Watson this is an essential addition to your SF bookshelf. And you can win one of two copies here by answering this very simple question. How many Solaris Rising anthologies have there been before this one?

as always - answers to BRSBKBLOG@GMAIL.COM

Winners will be announced on July 31st - Good luck!

Book giveaway winner

Nomad cover

Lat month I ran a giveaway for the second book in the Art of Forgetting series by Joanne Hall. contestants were asked to name the first book. Many people got the right answer - The Art of Forgetting: Rider. But there can be only one winner. Congratulations to Saffron Gardenchild from Manchester. The book will be winging its way on to you very soon!

Monday 7 July 2014

Review of Prison Noir

Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates


Prison Noir (Akashic Noir) by Joyce Carol…



Akashic books have a large catalogue of Noir books set in a variety of cities around the world. This one is a little bit different. It is stories by convicts, from within prison. There are writing programs in various prisons but as the editor says in the introduction We discovered along the way, for example, that some institutions don’t allow prisoners to write, but in others they are allowed to write but not, perversely, about crime or prisons!  She also notes that it was hard to spread the call for submissions within the prison service. However the stories that they managed to collect together are, on the whole, excellent. There are of course, as in most anthologies, ones that failed to hit the spot for me, but I read them all and was never bored, a sign of a good anthology.


The anthology is split into three parts - “ghosts in the machine”, “caged birds sing” & “I saw the whole thing, it was horrible”  no explanations are given as to what divides these themes but you can guess from the titles. The stories are widely diverse in tone, POV, style, language, mood and theme and yet all are recognisably similar because of the setting. Many of the stories are lyrical, soulful and introspective, as you’d expect. Prison is painted as no soft touch luxury alternative to “real” punishment (except perhaps in 3 Block from Hell by Bryan K Palmer which is about a serial killer who kills inmates). My favourites in here are: The opening story, Shuffle by Christopher M Stephen which is a delightfully twisted tale of prison overcrowding; Milk and Tea by Linda Michelle Marquadat (one of only two women writers in the collection) and There will be seeds for next year< by Zeke Caliguri which is about an inmate who has tried and failed to commit suicide. Suicide is a common theme, as is mental illness, respect, truth and of course guilt are also common themes.


This is a powerful collection made more so by the simple, short bios of the contributors such as  - Ali F Sareini – was born in Kharbit Selim (Valley of Peace) Lebanon. He left the Lebanese civil war in 1985, was a political prisoner in Berlin, joined the US Army’s 82nd Airborne division and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Campbell University and Spring Arbor University. He has just completed his twenty fifth year of incarceration for second degree murder.  His story, A message in the Breath of Allah is also one that sticks in your mind, as do many of them.


In the front of the book is a map of where the prisons are that the stories are set in and the introduction notes the fact that the United States incarcerates 2.2 million individuals, a far higher rate per capita than any other nation (On the same list with the USA as number 1, the UK is 104 and China is 127)


Overall – I’m not sure the stories count as “noir” by the strictest definition, but what they are is affecting, powerfully written and arresting literature. Well worth seeking out.


Today's guest post is by David Rodger


David J. Rodger is a British author of science fiction dark fantasy with eight novels under his belt. He is also the creator of Yellow Dawn- The Age of Hastur, an RPG that blends Cthulhu Mythos and Cyberpunk themes into a post-apocalyptic setting. His books cross many boundaries to deliver a new and exciting fusion of ideas and genres. Critics describe his work as character driven, richly plotted, delivering tension and drama with a quick narrative style, and punching far above his weight as an indie author. Each book is stand-alone and can be read in any order, but occupy a shared universe allowing you to build a deeper knowledge with every story. He has written for SFX and had short stories published in the UK, US and Canada. Represented by Floyd Hayes.

"Atmospheric and Creepy" - Alison Flood, The Guardian (UK)

Official Website: http://www.davidjrodger.com/
David stopped by to chat about writing the Cthulhu mythos
Over to David

Friday 4 July 2014

Today's guest post is by Emma Russell

profile photo tumblr

Emma dropped in to tell me what she learned about writing by writing her novel

Emma Russell is a twenty three year old freelance writer, blogger and book enthusiast. She graduated in 2011 with a degree in English Literature from the University of Ireland, Maynooth and after a year teaching English in Greece has since returned to complete an MA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University. She is a member of London Writer’s Circle and Freehand Writers, Oxford. Emma’s first novella ‘The Stolen Rose’, will be released as a free ebook in August. You can read a preview on her website http://emmarussellwriting.com/ and can follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/emmarussellauthor and Twitter https://twitter.com/TheStolenRose  

Over to Emma:

Friday Flash

Overdue book

I checked the Necronomicon out of the library and now I can’t find it, and it’s overdue.

I’ve probably mislaid it in my non-Euclidean bedroom.

Perhaps it has been eaten by some rugose, squamous, tentacular horror?

Perhaps someone else picked it up? Elsie from my mum’s book club did go mad last week after all, although she wasn’t all there to begin with so shouldn’t have been reading forbidden lore.

I’ll have to go in and explain. I’m worried about the fine. Those librarians are really scary and there is that unspeakably shaped funny coloured stain on the library ceiling. 

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Review of Your deceptive mind by Steven Novella

Your deceptive mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills by Professor Steven Novella

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills & Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills(Set)

This is part of the Great courses series and includes 24 lectures that I listened to, so not strictly a book!

Novella’s assertion is that at no time in human history have we had access to so much information and so much misinformation. He covers the neuroscience of thinking, the need for critical thinking, a quick course on logical fallacies, biases, critical thinking, science and pseudoscience, conspiracy thinking and so much more. This is a marathon at Twelve and a half hours but very much worth it. Even as someone who is interested in the scientific method, critical thinking, scepticism and logical fallacies I learned some new things. I would say that every single student in our schools should be taught this course as well as media studies (for the understanding of propaganda and political bias). If they were I bet the world would be a better place. I have only scored it as “Good” as it repeated a lot of information I already know but I would recommend this course to everyone.

Overall – Great course of lectures that present critical thinking in easily digestible chunks

More information here: http://www.thegreatcourses.co.uk/tgc/Courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=9344

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