Tag Archives: short fiction love

Waxing Lyrical at Fox Spirit

Fox-Spirit-Logo-BFS-293x300Proving that you don’t need to be at a convention to be inspired by it, you’ll find me talking about the wonderful world of SFF online fiction over at the Fox Spirit Books blog. Yes, there are lists. Because how could there not.  And links aplenty! Hop on over!

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Mixtape Mayhem

skele crewUp today on the very lovely Mark West’s site, is the American Horror Mixtape – in which a selection of fine and funky folks pontificate on their favourite horror shorts from US-ian and Canadian authors.  My pick is a classic Stephen King thing – ‘Mrs Todd’s Shortcut’ from Skeleton Crew.  Not that it was easy to pick just the one King short, mind, but ‘Mrs Todd’s Shortcut’ is a particular favourite.

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Not only, but also!  A couple of months back our man West hosted The Brit Horror Mixtape – in which a bunch of us babbled about our favourite horror shorts from Brit authors.  Another tough pick, that, but Sarah Pinborough’s ‘Do You See?’ won out as my contribution.

Pop over to see who picked what else, and stand by for future mixtapes!

State of the Jen: May 2016

pocketssml.pngAs you can see from the lovely picture, I’ve got my contributor copies of the latest Fox Spirit goodness!  (Fab foxy mug not included!)

So, published in December 2015 in the very cool Fox Pockets Vol. 6: Things in the Dark, was my flash fic ‘In Darkness Dreaming’ – with a trainee mermaid-pirate, monsters of the deep and underwater ruins.  Three of my favourite things!

Then in February 2016, in the very fabulous Fox Pockets Vol. 7: In An Unknown Country, ‘The Strongest Conjuration’ was published.  This one’s a tale of a haunted city, portal hopping refugees, with the odd mermaid-pirate for good measure.  Because, of course there is. 😉

And coming up next Tuesday will be Fox Pockets Vol.8: Piercing the Vale, with my story ‘Dead Women’s Tales’ – this one continues with the refugees in the haunted city and gives voice to the restless dead.  (The mermaid-pirates are having the night off!)

In other news!  This week I was the guest blogger on Sarah Ash’s Nobody Knew She Was There blog series – check out Get Shorty for babbling about short fiction and lisssssssts, precious!  So many lists!  And don’t forget to peruse the rest of the blogs in the series as there’s been some awesome genre gals talking all manner of intriguing things.

Interview with Jan Edwards

Jan in Hat 001Jan Edwards is a woman of many talents – writer, editor, publisher, bookseller, Reiki master, tarot reader, quilter, motorbike chick, Britain’s first female master locksmith, gardener, cook, potter and sculptor…

So, first let’s talk about Jan the writer. When did you first start writing and what genres draw you.
It always sounds like such a cliché to say I have always written, for as long as I can remember, but I suspect this is quite true with the majority of writers. I amused the family no end by talking in the third person for a week or more when I was around seven years old, because I wanted to see what I would sound like as a book and at secondary school I filled many school notebooks with fiction (mostly during lesson times). I wrote primarily for myself for years and only really started thinking about writing for publication in my late thirties when the family and business needed less of my time.

What draws me? I have always been fascinated by folklore, myths and legends, especially those that give rise to local customs, so fantasy was a natural path. A great deal of my short fiction has been dark fantasy, urban fantasy and horror and many of those stories have been drawn directly from those sources. Sussex Tales, my mainstream novel, also has a lean toward those local customs with the added bonus of country wine recipes and rural herb lore.  Currently I am writing a crime novel set in WW2 which is more historical than mythical –though I still find myself caught up in the same levels of research. As you can see there is no one genre that draws me; except for a recurring love of those old legends.

Which authors have inspired you in these genres?
This is the kind of question I always hate answering mainly because my influences and inspirations are so wide. Jane Austen and Daphne Du Maurier have always been huge influences, as have Arthur Conan Doyle, Joan Aitken, Michael Moorcock, Robert Holdstock and so many more. Ask me tomorrow and I will find a half dozen others.

When it comes to more recent authors it is even harder to choose because we all read so many new titles by so many people that to name one or two above the rest would be unfair to the dozens of other equally spiffing writers. I could list all of the recent and forthcoming Alchemy Press authors such as Pete Atkins, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Bryn Fortey, Mike Chinn, Anne Nichols, Adrian Cole, Pauline Dungate, James Brogden, Paul Kane, Marion Pitman, David Sutton,  John Grant et al – or the Penkhull Press writers; Misha Herwin, Jem Shaw and Malcolm Havard – but that would be unfair to all of the other writers that not yet published by either press!

Recently read books that I’ve enjoyed most especially (who are not Alchemy Press writers – all of whom are fab!) have been by (in no special order) Jo Walton, Joanne Harris, Jim Butcher, Lou Morgan and Paul Finch. There are others of course but these are the ones that have stuck with me, which is always a good sign.

Have you ever been tempted to retell Pride and Prejudice with a genre slant? 😉
It has crossed my mind, though it has been done so many times already that I am not sure it would be a project people would want to see. A regency urban fantasy might be quite fun to do if I got my act together. Elizabeth Bennett is one of the greatest characters in literature. She could be parachuted into almost any setting and still work. I suspect she has been paid homage (and occasionally pastiched) by many, many, writers – albeit under different names.

leinster coverYou’ve just had your supernatural fiction collection Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties published with The Alchemy Press. Tell us a little more about that.
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties  (to paraphrase) is exactly what it says on the cover. A collection of supernatural fiction (in paper and kindle formats). All but one of the stories included have been previously published, and some of the stories had a limited audience on first publication it seemed like a good idea to give them a second airing. The single original story in there is not strictly speaking new as it was accepted for Twisted Tongue magazine which folded before my story was published. They are all supernatural in origin, either traditional ghost stories or tales that revolve around a spirit of a kind. I am not a writer of visceral horror, but rather (I hope) the sort that raises an uneasy sensation in the back of the neck when you are walking home in the dark!

You’ve got another collection – Fables and Fabulations – coming out soon. When, with whom and is there a particular theme to it?
Fables and Fabulations is coming out very soon as a ‘Penkhull Slim’ volume with the Penkhull Press. Again these are all previously published stories gathered together in a single volume, but unlike Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties there is no particular theme beyond fantasy in its broadest sense. Fables and Fabulations opens with the vampire tale ‘A Taste of Culture, (first published in the Mammoth Book of Dracula and ends with ‘Winter Eve’, (from Ethereal Tales #9) which is an urban fantasy on Halloween and the water horses of legend galloping across Pontypridd common.  There is also are SF and horror tales in the mix so hopefully something for everyone.

Next, Jan the editor. You’ve edited multiple publications for the BFS, and co-edited for both The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Books. What’s the appeal of this side of publishing for you?
I do love the process of putting an anthology together. Sifting through the submissions and coming across those gems of short fiction is hard work but infinitely rewarding. The downside is in having to reject some really good stuff, either because it doesn’t fit or there is a similar story that you like just that little bit better. It is also a great way to network with other writers!

Do you have a dream anthology project you’d like to do or authors you’d like to work with in the future?
There are so many projects that would be fun to do. Something with a pagan theme perhaps – ‘Quarters and Cross Quarters’ (a working title) or maybe as an retired locksmith something like ‘Picking Over Locks’. That said I prefer not to have my themes too narrowly set. By the time you have read the sixth story about one-legged zombie hunters or Unicorns at Halloween even the best of fiction can lack originality.

Who would I like to work with? Hmm. Well the Alchemy Press books of Urban Mythic 1 &2 and Alchemy Press book of Ancient Wonders as well as the Fox Spirit book of Wicked Women all have some stellar line-ups. Top notch established writers and talented new arrivals. And of course with Alchemy Press I have worked with some fabulous writers already mentioned. So who left? I would love to get stories from Charles de Lint or Jim Butcher, Joanne Harris or Sarah Pinborough. But there are dozens, maybe hundreds of writers I could name and would hate to make a list and forget to include folks I admire but who slipped my mind just for a moment.

Do you have any recommendations for short fiction or anthologies by others?
Other than Alchemy Press authors you mean? See above. There are a zillion great writers out there I could name! The Terror Tales series of anthologies from Gray Friar Press are always worth reading. Sadly the Mammoth imprint is being phased out – I was thrilled to get a story accepted for one of their last titles Mammoth book of The Adventures of Moriarty. PS publishing put out some cracking anthologies. As a writer I enjoy an anthology that has variety. As an editor, though I use my e-reader as everyone else does, I still feel that books should be a thing of beauty, and I place a lot of value on production values. Layouts should please the eye and typos be few and far between. Most of all, with both hats on, they should entertain. I suspect only the editors like every story in a given anthology, but the good thing about them for a reader is that if there is one story in a volume that doesn’t grab you there is a good chance the next one will.

What are you up to next?
I have Fables and Fabulations coming soon, there are short stories due out in three anthologies in The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis, Tales From The Lake: vol 2 and Terror Tales of the Ocean, and one other yet to be announced. I have a main stream novel due out with Penkhull Press in the spring and a crime novel and urban fantasy series in edit.

On ‘fun stuff’,  you can catch me in a panel at Fantasycon 2015 in Nottingham, where Alchemy Press will be selling books and launching Music in the Bone, a collection by Marion Pitman.   We shall also be at Novacon in Nottingham selling books, I shall be on  panel about editing and  we will be launching Anne Nicholls’s collection Music From the Fifth Planet; and then there is Sledgelit In Derby where we are selling books and hopefully soft launching the collection The Complete Weird Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Collector  by US writer Jessica Amanda Salmonson .

On other stuff Alchemy Press have multiple short listings in the British Fantasy Awards. Best Anthology: The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber;  Best Collection: Nick Nightmare Investigates, by Adrian Cole (co-published with Airgedlámh Publications);  Best Non-Fiction: Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic, by John Howard and Best Independent Press: The Alchemy Press itself. (we won this award last year.

Fox Spirit are also in the running for multiple in the BFA shortlists with:  Best Anthology  with Tales of Eve; Best Fantasy Novel Breed by K.T. Davies; Best Short Story with ‘Change of Heart by Gaie Sebold which appears in our Wicked Women anthology (edited by Jenny Barber and Jan Edwards ) and finally for Best Independent Press

Penkhull Press and Renegade Writers have a story café at the Gladstone Museum in Stoke for Halloween.

I have no doubt other things will be slotted into the calendar before the new year. You can always catch up with what I am doing on my blog site.

Jan Edwards, thank you very much for joining us!

Jan Edwards was born in Sussex and now lives in the Staffs Moorlands with 3 cats and husband Peter Coleborn.  Jan is a writer of fiction, freelance editor, Master Practitioner in both Usui and Celtic Reiki and Meditational Healer and founder member of the Renegade Writers group.  You can find her at her website https://janedwardsblog.wordpress.com or on twitter at: @jancoledwards.

Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties can be found in paperback or ebook editions from Amazon.

In “Writing Magazine”

The Alchemy Press

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The Alchemy Press received a nice little write-up in the September issue of Writing Magazine — on page 93 in the news section. The piece was accompanied by a few cover reproductions; we certainly do publish some lovely books!

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Brain Reboot

And did I mention the degree is finally done? (hurrah! Results in mid July! Hoping to pull off a 2:1 overall)  And with that clear from my brain, and the drain that is holiday cover for the family business also done with, I’m finally getting my head around everything that’s been put on hold.

Most notably, the writing of fiction stuff.  It feels like a small age since I last wrote anything fictional (a quick check suggests the last was just before the last degree module started up, which makes sense) and the little writing cells, they be so rusty.  So I went digging through my old writing to get back in the groove and discovered things I’d completely forgotten I’d written.  Most of which are unpublishable, but teenage/early twenties me did have some surprisingly interesting ideas! (Also some truly terrible and slightly problematic ones, but, we evolve…)  And there’s a ton of unfinished shorts from the last couple of years that need sorting out.

And there’s new fiction things I’ve been noodling over the last few months – after sitting down and plotting out things, have discovered that novel-wise I’ve got 3 secondary world/portal fantasies, 2 urban fantasies, a paranormal romance, a horror, 2 historic fantasies, 2 SF and a supernatural crime thing all begging attention. And that’s before we get to the short fiction.  Do not even get me started on the short fiction. It’s a looooooong list.

And then there’s non fiction – there’s a ton of blog posts I need to write so there may be the vague chance of weekly blog posts at some point (don’t faint!), plus I want to get back to the short fiction reviewing again.

Am also plotting future anthologies, o’course, because I do love doing the anthologies and hope at some point to eventually edit one that pays pro rates to our lovely authors.  Though where and with who is going to take a bit of creativity.  Possibly a kickstarter may happen next year.  Watch this space…. 🙂

Getting Your Fix #1 – Online Magazines

From time to time it is said that short fiction is a dying form and that publishers just aren’t publishing it any more. To that I say: bollocks! Short fiction has never been healthier and more available than it is now. There are more anthologies than you can shake a stick at, e-book shorts are sold for the device of your choice via assorted retailers, authors post free online fiction on their websites and then there’s the crown jewel of the short fiction world – online magazines.

To the surprise of no-one who knows me, I love online magazines. (Check out the Shiny Stuff section on my other site for links to my favourite stories!) And really, what’s not to love. So long as you have an internet connection and some kind of tech to read on, you have easy access to a vast quantity of free fiction. If you don’t like reading on a computer screen, then you can throw a few quid the magazine’s way and subscribe to get the e-book versions delivered to your preferred reading device, and many magazines do podcast versions of their stories and dead-tree versions as either individual issues or end of year anthologies.

But me, I read on screens. (Laptops, unlimited broadband and wifi – the three best inventions in the universe, I tell you true. Kindles and iPads come a close second.) I slush for Lightspeed, so would, of course, highly recommend anyone taking a shuftie at it. They publish some awesome fantasy and science fiction, along with author interviews (and they’re reopening for subs on 20th June, if you’re that way inclined!) Lightspeed also has a sister magazine – Nightmare – for the horror aficionados, though I’ll confess to not having read much of that as yet. (Bad Jen, no cookie.)

Strange Horizons is another firm favourite and has my highest stories-I-like hit rate of all the magazines I read, and always gives fascinating non-fiction. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is another top one, and is great for thoughtful secondary world fiction, as well as some gorgeous cover artwork. Clarkesworld completes the top tier online magazine roster, and another one with gorgeous cover artwork, however I find them a little bit highbrow at times so can be something of an acquired taste. Always worth a read though.

Crossed Genres can always be counted on for fiction that pushes at the traditional boundaries and has a specific interest for stories about under-represented people. (They also do some cracking anthologies, but anthologies are for another post!) Expanded Horizons is another great magazine pushing for more diversity in the field and publishes some truly breathtaking stuff.

In the department of ‘does what it says on the tin’, there’s Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and Alt Hist, which, no surprise, do heroic fantasy and historical/alternate historical stories, so if that’s your thing, that’s where you want to go. If you like longer short fiction, then may I point you at GigaNotoSaurus for all your novella pleasures. If you prefer much shorter short fiction, than Daily Science Fiction does flash fiction five days a week (and free subscription if you want the stories delivered via email.)

Other fab free online mags include Abyss & Apex, Indian SF, Subterranean Magazine, Apex Magazine, Philippine Genre Stories and Ideomancer, and if you get a taste for any of them, don’t forget to donate a couple of quid to show your appreciation and generally keep them going.

Lastly we have the hybrid online magazines – those that exist in both dead-tree and electronic formats and include, but are not limited to, things like: Albedo One, who sell PDF versions of their magazines, Something Wicked has moved to an annual anthology but back issues are still free on their site, Shimmer has some of their content free online while selling the full issues in print and multiple digital formats, and fans of the TTA Press range of mags can easily buy DRM-free digital copies of Crimewave, Interzone and Black Static from Smashwords.

So, yeah, no-one’s publishing short fiction at all. 😉