06 July 2013

Playlist for 2013 - part six

June's tracks:

152      Kinks - Lola
153      Oasis - Champagne Supernova
154      Thunderclap Newman - Something in the Air
155      Boo Radleys - Lazarus
156      Moby - Extreme Ways
157      Good, the Bad & the Queen - Good, the Bad & the Queen

158      Clash - Jimmy Jazz
159      Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
160      Bonzo Dog Band - Can Blue Men Sing the Whites
161      Julian Cope - Safesurfer
162      Big Star - Thirteen
163      Traffic - Pearly Queen
164      Chicago - I'm a Man
165      Otway & Barrett - Louisa on a Horse
166      Mothers of Invention - Flower Punk
167      Alt-J - Breezeblocks
168      Skids - Into the Valley
169      Boomtown Rats - Rat Trap
170      Slits - Heard It Through the Grapevine
171      Tripping Daisy - Piranha
172      Veruca Salt - 25
173      Ian Hunter - Bastard

174      Lulu - Shout
175      Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
176      Michael Moorcock - A Song for Marlene
177      Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill
178      Vanilla Fudge - You Keep Me Hanging On
179      Flaming Lips - Waiting for a Superman
180      Bow Wow Wow - Go Wild in the Country
181      Art - What's That Sound?

29 June 2013

Altered Images - 8

One of those updated Daleks that look more like the new Mini, if you ask me.

Photography update

On the photography front, I have a spread of photos in the 2013 World Fantasy Convention Souvenir Book, images taken at a previous WFC. And I shall be exhibiting some photographs in the art show, too.

28 June 2013

Activity at the Alchemy Press

It’s about time I added another post to this blog. Trouble is, even though I am officially retired I seem to be busier than ever. That’s a good thing though, isn’t it? After all, it should help keep the mental processes ticking over nicely. Anyway, I should mention some of the Alchemy Press stuff I’ve been up to of late. In no particular order...

This autumn (or fall, if you prefer) The Alchemy Press is launching three anthologies at The World Fantasy Convention, held in Brighton over the Halloween weekend. These are:

Astrologica: Storiesof the Zodiac edited by Allen Ashley

The Alchemy Press Bookof Pulp Heroes 2 edited by Mike Chinn (a follow up to last year’s volume)

The Alchemy Press Bookof Urban Mythic edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber (a ‘sort of’ follow up to 2012’s Ancient Wonders)

The editors have now selected their stories – for details check out the links.

The Alchemy Press has published another e-novella: “In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair” by Cate Gardner. As soon as I read this novella I knew we had to publish it. If, like me, you prefer your fiction to touch on the weird, the strange, this should be right up your street. Available for the Kindle and other e-readers.

And we’ve announced a new anthology to be published in July 2014: Kneeling in the Silver Light – Stories of the Great War. This book will commemorate the outbreak of the First World War; editor Dean M. Drinkle will open the submission window later this year.

There are a few more items in the pipeline. I don’t believe in jinxes and the like but ... well, I rather not say too much right now.

01 June 2013

Playlist for 2013 -- Part 5

May's tracks:

121      Cat Power – Salty Dog
122      Who – My Generation
123      Loudon Wainwright III – Glad to See You've Got Religion
124      Forest – A Glade Somewhere

125      Walkabouts – The Light Will Stay On
126      Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven
127      Kirsty MacColl – There's a Guy Works Down the Fishshop...
128      Vapours – Turning Japenese
129      Pink Floyd – Astonony Domine
130      Thin Lizzy – Roisin Dubh (Black Rose)
131      Fisher Z – Pretty Paracetamol
132      Motorhead – Ace of Spades (acoustic)
133      Girls – Vomit

134      Creedence Clearwater Revival – Ramble Tamble
135      Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever
136      SAHB – Gambling Bar Room Blues
137      Cream – White Room
138      Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi
139      Supergrass – Caught by the Fuzz
140      Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict a Riot
141      Doors – People Are Strange
142      Sparks – Amateur Hour
143      Joy Division – Transmission
144      dEUS – For the Roses
145      Fall – How I Wrote Elastic Man

146      Dr Feelgood – Roxette
147      Faces – That's All You Need
148      Loving Spoonful – Younger Generation
149      Arlo Guthrie – Alice's Restaurant
150      Seeds – Can't Seem to Make You Mine
151      Ralph McTell – Streets of London

30 May 2013

The World Fantasy Awards

It feels only like yesterday – okay, a few months ago – when I was one of the judges for the World Fantasy Award. In fact, it was in 2008, five years ago. When I agreed to do this I expected to receive a pile of books to read ... but what a pile! In the end, I reckon we (the judges) did a good job. The awards were presented at the World Fantasy Convention held, that year, in Calgary. Alas, I was unable to attend. My fellow judges were Robert Hoge, Dennis L. McKiernan, Mark Morris, and Steve Pasechnick

Here are the winners:

Life Achievement: Leo & Diane Dillon and Patricia McKillip

Novel: Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada/Penguin Roc)

Novella: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing)

Short Story: "Singing of Mount Abora" by Theodora Goss (Logorrhea, Bantam Spectra)

Anthology: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)

Collection: Tiny Deaths by Robert Shearman (Comma Press)

Artist: Edward Miller

Special Award – Professional: Peter Crowther for PS Publishing

Special Award – Non-professional: Midori Snyder and Terri Windling for Endicott Studios Website

The runners-up can be found on the WFA website.

29 May 2013

Blue Horses

Lizzie Prendergast of the Blue Horses
Photo taken at The Robin 2 in Bilston, in the West Midlands

27 May 2013

Small presses

I run the small press The Alchemy Press. It’s a small “small press”: we only publish a few titles per year. This is because of time constraints and, importantly, trying to keep the costs to a manageable level. Last year we published two anthologies, The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders and The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. This year we will be publishing three anthologies:

Astrologica: Storiesof the Zodiac edited by Allen Ashley
The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic edited by Jan Edwards & Jenny Barber

The line up for these three books is amazing ... and doubly so, because we – The Alchemy Press – only pay a nominal fee. But we do pay something. We also supply a copy of the book (print and ebook editions) to all contributors.

It surprises me when I see other small presses that take stories without offering payment and, worse, without offering contributors’ copies. The small press I've seen – I won’t mention its name here – looks to be, in fact, much bigger than The Alchemy Press. (Apparently there are no royalties, either).

I just checked on Amazon. One of their paperback books will cost you and me and the contributors over £10 to buy. I have to ask: Who gets to keep all the profit? No wonder they are bigger if they have hardly any expenses.

I accept that there are many markets for short stories that do not offer payment in terms of £ or $, but at the very least they provide contributors’ copies. By not offering money or copies I feel that they let down the small presses that attempt to do it properly.

In the Broken Birdcage...

As you may know, I wear the publisher’s / editor-in-chief’s hat for The Alchemy Press. And if you didn’t know before, you do now.

The Alchemy Press began in the late 1990s, was active for a few years, and then went into hibernation. We started publishing again in 2011 with Rumours of the Marvellous by Peter Atkins. 2013 saw two anthologies and a novel. Our first item for 2013 is a brand new novella, initially only available as an ebook. Once we’ve published a number of these we’ll collate them into a print anthology.

In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair by Cate Gardner

When the mirror released Kathleen into the unknown, for the briefest of moments she giggled and realised that she’d never laughed before. She had been a blank canvas, sitting and waiting in a room and occasionally bouncing from wall to wall desperate for freedom - and now she was out. White walls no longer surrounded her. In this new place, a thousand mirrors spun reflecting worlds.

Available in Kindle format via Amazon. Only £1.35

For the ePub version contact The Alchemy Press

alchemypress [at] gmail.com

16 May 2013

Altered Images - 7

Here's another Photoshop-enhanced photo. The dragon was made by Sue Burns out of bits of copper and other scraps. Very fine piece, it was.

If people are interested in acquiring hi-res versions of these pictures please get in touch.

07 May 2013

Playlist for 2013 -- part 4

Here are my selected tracks for April:

91        Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
92        Donovan - Universal Soldier
93        Tindersticks - Drunk Tank
94        Radiohead - Creep
95        Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction
96        Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen in Love

97        Luxuria - Redneck
98        Love Sculpture - Sabre Dance
99        Camper Van Beethoven - Take the Skinheads Bowling
100      Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge
101      Undertones - Teenage Kicks
102      VCs - Residual Energy of the Broken Hearted
103      Locomotive - Mr Armageddon
104      Ten Benson - The Claw

105      Specials - Gangsters
106      Members - Flying Again
107      Robert Wyatt - Ship Building
108      Drugstore - The Funereal
109      Hawkwind - Silver Machine
110      Free - Mr Big
111      Family - Weaver's Answer
112      Comsat Angels - Total War
113      Richie Havens - Here Comes the Sun
114      Leyton Buzzards - Saturday Night under the Plastic Palm Trees
115      Hazel O'Connor - Will You?
116      Procol Harum - A Salty Dog

117      Simon Dupree & the Big Sound - Kites
118      T Rex - Elemental Child
119      Echo & The Bunnymen - All My Colours (Zimbo)
120      Cure - Primary

04 April 2013

Basil Copper RIP

Sad news. I've just learned that another member of the Fantasy Family has died. Basil Copper died in hospital yesterday. He was 89. Although we were not close friends I always found him the perfect gentleman. He also seemed to possess a sense of the mischievousness, as evidenced by the photo I took of him in 2008 at one of the BFS's Open Nights.

[Photo (c) Peter Coleborn]

31 March 2013

Playlist for 2013 -- part 3

Here are the tracks selected for March.

60        Thalia Zedek – Dance Me to the End of Love
61        Moriaty – Jimmy
62        Magazine – Shot by Both Sides
63        Band – Long Black Veil
64        David Bowie – Five Years
65        Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

66        New York Dolls – Personality Crisis
67        Can – Yoo Doo Right
68        Rich Kids – Ghosts of Princes in Towers
69        Television – Marquee Moon
70        John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth
71        Ministry – Jesus Built My Hotrod
72        Steeleye Span – Rave On
73        Cranberries – Zombie
74        Easybeast – Friday on My Mind
75        David McWilliams – Days of Pearly Spencer
76        Ice T – The Tower
77        Nirvana – Penny Royal Tea
78        Placebo – Pure Morning
79        Robyn Hitchcock – Trash

80        Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Chile
81        Roxy Music – Mother of Pearl
82        Crocodiles – Jet Boy, Jet Girl
83        Gang of Four – At Home He's a Tourist
84        Byrds – Ballard of Easyrider
85        Pretty Things – Good Mr Square/She Was Tall
86        Sonic Youth – Sugar Kane
87        Cracker – Big Dipper
88        Libertines – The Man Who Would be King
89        Rasputina – Bad Moon Rising
90        Yardbirds – Shapes of Things

18 March 2013


Last Saturday I was on the panel at a Writers’ Networking meeting, run by Writing West Midlands. I was accompanied by Kate Long (The Bad Mother’s Handbook) and Jan Edwards (The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders).

Kate talked about her writing career – how she became a successful published author. It was an interesting tale, one that involved all the usual: perseverance, thick skin, talent, and luck, etc. I then discussed the small press – focussing on The Alchemy Press, obviously – and mainly in the SF, fantasy and horror field. Jan then had to finish off and made a lot of valuable points about submitting one’s work to an anthology (most important of which was ‘read the guidelines’). Judging by the feedback after the formal part of the meeting, our words were well received.

I was glad to see that several members of our writers’ group – Renegade Writers – turned up. Fortunately they didn’t heckle, as they had promised to do so. Thanks, guys.

28 February 2013

Altered Images - 3

Here's another of my Altered Images.

Playlist for 2013 - Part 2

In an earlier post I listed the first 31 tracks on my 2013 playlist. Here are numbers 32 to 59 – in other words, February’s five–star songs.

32    Rheostatics – Legal Age Life at the Variety Store
33    Special Needs – Francesca
34    Theatre of Hate – Do You Believe in the Westworld?
35    Quatermass – Black Sheep of the Family
36    Belle & Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap
37    Ultravox – Vienna
38    Two Gallant – Las Cruces Jail
39    Hapshash and the Coloured Coat – The Wall
40    Python Lee Jackson – In a Broken Dream
41    Small Faces – Lazy Sunday
42    Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man

43    Saints – This Perfect Day
44    Tim Rose – Morning Dew
45    Neil Young – Like a Hurricane
46    Juicy Lucy – Who Do You Love?
47    Panama Ltd Jug Band – Round and Round
48    Groundhogs – Garden
49    Patti Smith – Because the Night
50    Janis Jopin – Cry Baby
51    Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed

52    Kevin Ayers – The Oyster and the Flying Fish
53    Adverts – Gary Gilmore's Eyes
54    Clint Eastwood & General Saint – I Can't Face Another World War
55    Strawbs – New World
56    TV on the Radio – Poppy
57    Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
58    Bob Dylan – Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
59    Remy Zero – Save Me

26 February 2013

Altered Images - 2

The original photo was taken at one of the Tolkien weekends, a few years ago. Edited to remove the background kids eating ice cream cones.

20 February 2013

Altered Images - 1

I've had another go at drawing, using charcoal pencils and oil pastels. Then I scanned them into Photoshop and had a little play with them.

Then I had a go at drawing a monster -- you'll probably guess the inspiration for this beast. I did the Photoshop jig on this picture, too. But I'm not sure it quite works.

10 February 2013

Easy Reads?

Did you know that DC Thompson & Co publishes a series of slim books under the Bridges & Knight imprint? Every month they publish four short novels, two crime and two romance, at £1.99 each. The one I bought was 140 pages – so that’s pretty good value for money. I came across the range quite by chance on the magazine rack in a local supermarket – and that should’ve been a clue. I bought Stolen Sister by Maria (or Marie) Maher from the Crime: Suspense line. Well, you have to give these things a go, don’t you. Here are the first few lines:

‘“No, no, you will not convince me, Adora!” said Mrs Fleetwood forcefully. “There is something not right with Angelika, I know it! […] I had such a horrid nightmare last night. Angelika was trapped in a tiny room just like a cell! […] Please, go down to Barcelona and look for her, or I won’t rest […] your sister is in trouble. I can feel it – here!”’

I won’t inflict further on you. All I’ll say is that the narrative doesn’t improve from there. Or at least it didn’t by the time I gave up reading it. I did glance at the last page and the final few lines made me groan – with relief that I didn’t persevere.  

DC Thompson missed a great trick. These slim volumes should’ve opened up the market for many for our more-talented friends and thus provide readers with well-written *suspense* stories. Instead, this particular one is weak and feels as if it was written by someone who predominantly writes romantic tales – and hence Stolen Sister didn’t engage with this reader. And – oh dear – I’ve just noticed that on an inside page these books are called “easy reads”: that says it all.

Maybe the line has ended: the DC Thompson website doesn’t seem to mention Bridges & Knight. It does remind me, though, that I forgot to buy the last ever print issue of The Dandy.

01 February 2013

Playlist for 2013 - Part 1

It seems that entertainment programs (such as Spotify, the last time I looked) and hardware (MP3 players) all include the facility to create playlists of your favourite music. Usually, I can’t be bothered; I just take pot luck at whatever turns up next. However, what if I had to form a favourites list … what would I include? So I’ve decided to create my own playlist for 2013, choosing one track per day, everyday. That means, by the end of the year I will have picked 365 songs. I am posting these daily on my Facebook page with links to YouTube videos. The tracks are in no particular order – just as the fancy takes me.

I decided to follow a few simple rules:

[a] All must be music I can listen to over and over again without becoming bored with it. In other words, all would be five-star tracks.

[b] I may pick only one track per band or performer. This ‘rule’ will be relatively easy to obey for the first few months. But if it becomes more difficult to select five-star songs I may relent and re-use favourite performers.

Anyway, for the record, here are the first 31 tracks, selected during January.

1          Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well
2          Black Sabbath – Paranoid
3          Capt Beefheart – Autumn's Child
4          Jethro Tull – A Song for Jeffrey
5          Inspiral Carpets – Beast Inside
6          Melanie – Leftover Wine
7          Animals – When I was Young
8          Finbar & Eddie Furey – Her Father Didn't Like Me, Anyway
9          Jefferson Airplane – Lather
10        Nirvana – Rainbow Chaser
11        Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt
12        Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs
13        Lightning Hopkins – You're Gonna Miss Me...
14        Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

15        Ronnie Lane – How Come
16        Psychedelic Furs – Flowers
17        Ed Banger – Kinnel Tommy
18        Snow Patrol – Run
19        Tom Lewis – Fairwinds
20        Gallon Drunk – In the Long Still Night
21        Wedding Present – Brassneck
22        Cerys Matthews – Oxygen
23        Manfred Mann – I Got My Mojo Working
24        Canned Heat – On the Road Again
25        Grant Lee Buffalo – Teardrop and Jupiter
26        Siouxsie & The Banshees – Helter Skelter
27        Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High
28        Sparklehorse – Beautiful Widow
29        Kristin Hersh – Listerine
30        Joe Cocker and the Grease Band – With a Little Help From my Friends
31        Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot out the Lights

06 January 2013


Don’t you just love local newspapers, the way their reporters write their pieces and then have them edited – or not? Here are a couple of sentences from last week’s paper about a proposed market upgrade in the town:

… the owner of the High Street site … said the current market would carry on as normal at the present site.

And in the very next sentence:

He said: “We will be carrying on as normal…”

One thing’s for sure: we know that the current market will carry on as normal. But why is this fact repeated, especially in the following line? Do they (the reporters and editors) really think that the readers are dumb and need things explained twice? This is something I see time and time again in the local press.

While on the topic of smart writing, I posted a few lines about using common courtesy when writing to an editor of an anthology to which you hope to contribute. You can read them on The AlchemyPress website.

01 January 2013

New Year resolutions?

No, I am not going to promise anything that I will all too easily break. Therefore I will not resolve to post a regular daily/ weekly/ monthly blog. But I will try to be here more often -- here and on the sister blogs, The Alchemy Press and Piper at the Gates of Fantasy. In the meantime, I wish you all a very successful and happy 2013. Heaven knows, we need a good year.