Archive for the ‘British Fantasy Society’ Tag

Monthly Round-Up: September 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Well it’s been a busy old month since the last update. End of September? How did that happen? Before you know it, it’ll be time to think about the dreaded Festive Season…

But for now, on with the news.

the-whispering-death-new-master-website-2OUT NOW

I am pleased to announce that THE WHISPERING DEATH has been re-released with a new cover, hand drawn by the uber-talented Erin Kelso. I include it to the right. Nice and spooky, yes?

The story itself is unchanged, and remains available in print and Kindle version from Amazon.

And of course SUFFER THE CHILDREN is available in all e-book formats.

PROMOTION

I’ve had a few guest appearances online in the past month.

On 5 September I did a blog swap with Chuck Bowie, with a post about the importance of rewriting appearing on his blog. Then on 16 September I appeared on Diane Dooley’s blog, with a post about being a woman of horror.

My interview for the British Fantasy Society’s journal appeared in issue #16, which was released this month. The British Fantasy Society exists to supports British writers and publishers of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and the journal is free to members. If you’re not a member but want to be, check out membership options on their website.

And, speaking of the BFS, I attended FantasyCon, the SF/F/H convention run by the BFS which this year was in the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough. It was a great weekend, catching up with old friends and making new ones, and I had a panel and a reading as well. I read from SUFFER THE CHILDREN. Reading slots were organised this year with two authors sharing a half-hour slot. A very good idea, to my mind – it meant the audience was bigger. And my reading partner, Priya Sharma, is a fantastic short story writer and a lovely person.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I am making good progress with the fourth Shara Summers novel, which is currently titled DEADLY SUMMER. Still first draft, though, so a long way to go yet.

That’s it to report for now. See you next month!

Monthly Round-Up: November 2014

(Cross posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s the end of November already. Lots of stuff going on at the moment, and I don’t just mean writing-wise. Sometimes Real Life gets in the way as well.

COMING SOON/OUT NOW

Quite a lot to report in this category!

DEATH SCENE is part of a promotional bundle pack organised by MuseItUp, which includes four mysteries by five authors for the bargain price of $1.99. This is a limited-time deal, so get it now. And, of course, DEATH SCENE is available on its own, too.

DEAD COOL, the second Shara Summers book, is out now!  Yay!!

I am also pleased to be able to announce that a story of mine is included in the forthcoming anthology THE DARK HEART OF PEEPING TOM, by Exaggerated Press. The anthology features stories that appeared in the 1990s horror fanzine PEEPING TOM, which included early work from a lot of now well-known British horror writers. And me…

The story of mine that features is “Jim Hendrix Eyes” which is now my most-published story – this is its fourth appearance. The anthology will be launched at the British Fantasy Society open night on 5 December.  Everyone is welcome at open nights, whether you are a member of the BFS or not.  If you happen to be in London that night, do come along.

If you can’t, well you can still buy the book – just click on the link above.

PROMOTIONAL STUFF

This month I’ve been interviewed by Stuart West, and I was a guest on the Red River Radio blog talk radio show, the recording of which is still available to listen to.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Let’s not go there.  Really.  My WIP is not co-operating.  When I get it behaving itself again, I will report.

My next update will be at the end of 2014 – where has this year gone??

2012 Writing Goals in Review

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s time to revisit the writing goals I set for myself this time last year, and see how I did with them.

2012 has been a very good year, writing-wise. Not only did it seen publication of my first short story collection SOUL SCREAMS (and a launch at the BFS Open Night in June), but I also contributed to the anthology SIBLINGS, which was launched at FantasyCon. So two publications and two launches – not too shabby.

How did I do on the goals I set for myself last December? I wanted to finish DEAD COOL – the second book in the Shara Summers series – and get it out on submission. I failed dismally on this one. I had a critique session for this manuscript at the end of December 2012, and I got somewhat discouraged by the feedback. So much so, in fact, I haven’t touched it since. But on reflection I’m not yet ready to abandon this manuscript. I enjoy writing about Shara, and I’d like to finish this book.

However, I have been more successful with the horror WIP, which I wanted to completed to beta reader stage. Ordinarily beta reader stage, for me, is draft 2. For this MS I’ve added an extra draft, but draft 3 is almost finished and I expect to have it out to beta readers early in the New Year.

My third goal was to step up promotion and increase sales of the published work. Well, I did my best to boost my internet presence, but it still feels like at this stage I’m a very small fish in a very large and crowded pond. Let’s just say I’m still a long way from being able to give up the day job.

As for my goals for 2013, it may be being a tad ambitious, but I’d like to get both WIPs done. So these are my writing goals for 2013.

1. Complete DEAD COOL and have it out on submission by the end of the year.
2. Complete the horror WIP and have it out on submission by the end of the year.

I wish you a happy and successful 2013, and may you all reach your own writing goals, whatever they may be.

On Being Weird

When I was a child, I was very girlie – into dolls and dresses and such things. I didn’t climb trees, and I didn’t like getting dirty (this is still true, and one reason why I never got into gardening). I never really thought I was ‘different’. Then when I was 10 I was displaced from my home and moved to Canada, and suddenly everything was different. My new classmates talked differently, dressed differently, watched different TV shows, had different cultural references. When I moved back to England eight years later I was still the odd one out, because things had moved on in that time and I had become, to a certain extent, ‘Canadianised’.

I’ve been the odd one out ever since. It took me a while to accept it, but I’m OK with that now. My colleagues have always thought I was weird. I don’t like football, I don’t like curry (going out for curry is a Great British Pastime), and I don’t watch the same TV shows they do. The other week I joined my colleagues at the pub for someone’s birthday lunch, and they were talking about some reality show – which I don’t watch. The conversation went on for 20 minutes without me being able to contribute a word, because I had no clue who any of the people they were talking about were.

My social circle consists of people who I have met through common interests – writing; love of horror and crime books; amateur dramatics; D&D and live action role playing. But even amongst my friends I often feel I am still the ‘odd one out’. Most of my writing group are fans of fantasy and science fiction. They all read the same novels growing up. I didn’t. If you’ve been following the ‘My Life in Books’ posts, you may have noticed that THE LORD OF THE RINGS has not been mentioned. That’s because I’ve never read it. My tastes in books were fairly mainstream until I discovered Stephen King, age 14, and then discovered VI Warshawski at age 19 which triggered my love of crime featuring kick-ass women. I like fantasy and science fiction films, but I don’t really read books in these genres. I dabbled in SF for a while in my teenage years, but I never got into fantasy.

Whenever I meet with fellow members of the British Fantasy Society and we talk about TV shows such as Warehouse 13, The Walking Dead, and Grimm, and they all know what I’m on about. The BFS social nights are always fabulous evenings, and I meet an array of interesting people. I will emphasise that when the BFS was started in the 70s, ‘fantasy’ was a term that embraced anything containing supernatural or other wordly beings. It still promotes British horror, fantasy and SF writers and film makers, even though ‘fantasy’ is no longer a generic term to cover all these genres. I joined initially because of its support for horror writers.

Friday night was the BFS Christmas social gathering. As ever, when you put a bunch of writers into a room with a bar they drink a lot. It was fairly late in the evening and the booze had been flowing, I was sitting with a couple of fellow T Party writers when a lady asked to sit in the vacant chair at our table. She looked vaguely familar, and I assumed I’d seen her before at previous BFS events – you often see the same faces there. She joined us, introduced herself as Pat, and started the conversation by asking if we were all writers. We said we were. She was an actress, she told us. When we asked her what she’d done, she said that her most well known film was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Then I suddenly realised why I recognised her. She was Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta.

I’ve never ‘got’ his particular film. I’ve started watching it on numerous occasions. I even tried watching it late one night whilst drunk, having come back from a party. It didn’t help. Every time, I get about half an hour in, decide it’s just too weird, and switch off. I just don’t get it. It’s not scary, and I wouldn’t classify it as horror. I don’t find it particularly funny, so it’s not a comedy. It’s just weird.

I did vocalise these thoughts (perhaps unwisely, but I’ve never been one to hold back), and Pat looked a bit taken aback. At gatherings of SF/fantasy/horror fans, she probably doesn’t meet too many people who don’t like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. A conversation ensued about why geeks love this film, and I started to understand its appeal. Those who grow up feeling like the odd ones out, go to see the Rocky Horror show and suddenly find an audience full of like-minded weirdos. And they realise they’ve found their tribe. They belong.

This hasn’t happened to me. The geeks and weirdos find me a bit too mainstream to fit in with this particular tribe. But the mainstream crowd think I’m a weirdo.

What do I conclude from this? Maybe I don’t have a ‘tribe’. Even the people I have things in common with find me a bit of an oddball. Perhaps I’m just a lone wolf. A unique brand of weirdo.

And that’s OK. I am me. I am comfortable with who I am. If it means I am forever destined to walk out of step with absolutely everyone else, I’m OK with that, too.

And incidentally I had a fabulous night at the BFS open night, Patricia Quinn was lovely, and we all had a very interesting chat. I do hope she wasn’t too offended by my not liking the film that made her famous. Tact has never been my strong point…

Launch – A Report

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

There are many writing-related things on my “things to do before I die” list, and most of them have been on there a very long time.  Some I have been fortunate enough to achieve.  The first time I got a story published I was able to cross that one off.    Getting the first novel contract was another.  The final file of my first published e-book arriving in my ‘in’ box was a momentous event.  The proof of the first print copy of SOUL SCREAMS was a thrill that surpassed even that.

And being able to have a ‘proper’ launch, with books I could sell and sign, was another big moment.  This I achieved this past weekend, when SOUL SCREAMS launched at the BFS social event.

All this preamble is to give you an inkling of how big a deal this event was to me.  I’d been anticipating it for weeks.  I had the books.  I’d been stockpiling change.  I’d got promotional post cards and posters printed.  I’d been pimping the event all over the Internet.  I’d thought about what to wear.

And so the day arrived.  I’d decided on my new antique rose hankerchief hem dress from Joe Brown’s.  I put it on and went to ask Hubby’s opinion on what footwear would go with it.  I will qualify here that for a straight man, Hubby has an unusually keen sense of women’s fashion.  His mother is a talented dressmaker, and I think some of this flair has been inherited.  When the stylist came to give me a wardrobe detox a few years ago, everything he’d picked out for me I got to keep.  All the clothes I’d picked out myself went in the discard pile.  So when he gives style advice I do tend to take heed.  He scrutinised the outfit and said, “I like the dress but I think you should wear something more formal.”

So I went running back to my wardrobe.  Within minutes every dress I owned was laid out on the bed.  Eventually, with his help, we decided on the versatile purple wraparound number that I’ve always been very fond of.  With outfit decided, I went to finish packing my bag.  It already had all the books in it.  And it was very heavy. As I’d elected to take a backpack, I picked it up and realised that if I hefted this through London I was likely to get backache at best – at worst, it would keep pulling me over backwards.  So I thought about the small wheeled suitcase that we take as hand baggage on trips.  That could be pulled along and was probably a better bet.  Unfortunately retrieving it meant a trip into the attic.  In hindsight, it would have been better to think about this before putting on the dress and tights.

Fortunately, the bag was retrieved without damage to the outfit, and once my books had been transferred to the new case, I was ready to set off for the train station, happily trundling my case of books behind me.  Luck was on my side that day – no delays, engineering works or cancellations to hinder my journey, and I arrived at the Mug House ahead of schedule, about 3pm.

Also launching that day were ALT-ZOMBIE, the latest book from Hersham Press, and a new collection of MR James stories, published by Jo Fletcher books and edited by Steve Jones. With these luminaries of the British genre publishing industry present, I couldn’t help but feel a bit intimidated.  I put up my posters, scattered the promotional postcards over all the tables, unpacked my books and set up shop next to Peter Mark May, publisher of Hersham Press.  And for a while, the two of us watched everyone flock to buy the M.R. James (which was lovely, I have to say).  But Steve and Jo, who were the headline act, so to speak, did make a point of telling the enraptured audience that the BFS had always supported emerging writers and new publishers, and so they should go buy our books, too.

By and by people did come to see me, and they came to buy copies of SOUL SCREAMS.  Some of them were friends, not members of the BFS, who were there specifically to show moral support.  That was nice.  Others were BFS members who’d heard about my launch, and might have come to the event anyway, but wanted to buy my book as well.  But there were also a couple of people I didn’t know – BFS members who’d come to the event, picked up the postcard, and come over to investigate.  I also sold a copy to Michael Marshall Smith.  That was, I admit, a bit of a fan girl moment.

Then there were the lovely members of the T Party Writers’ Group.  There was a meeting going on that day – one I’d given apologies to, since I was at the launch instead.  After the meeting finished, they came to the pub en mass and most of them bought a copy of the book.

In the end, I sold all the copies I’d brought with me, and I left a very happy bunny indeed.  It’s nice to know SOUL SCREAMS has begun its publishing life with such a flourish.  And with the launch over with, that’s one more thing to cross off the ‘bucket list’.

It’s Away!

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Exciting things are happening on the SOUL SCREAMS front. First of all, the book is now published, and both print and e-book versions are available to order. See Stumar Press’s website for buy links.

Second, the print version will officially launch at the British Fantasy Society’s open day on Saturday 16 June. The British Fantasy Society exists to promote British fantasy, horror and science fiction writers and publishers. As both my publisher and I are members, we were able to arrange to launch the book at their next social event, which is to be held at the Mug House tavern, Tooley Street, London (see link for map and further information).

Everyone is welcome to BFS open events – you don’t have to be a member.

I will be there from 4pm and the event will go on until late in the evening. So if you’re in London on that day, why not stop in and get your signed copy of SOUL SCREAMS?

If you’re not able to make the physical launch, you can join in the fun virtually, at the online launch on 13 June. A competition will be running all day, on this blog and my Imaginary Friends Facebook group. If you’re not a member of the group yet and would like to join, please send me a request and I will add you.

So there’s lots going on over the next couple of weeks regarding the launch of SOUL SCREAMS. Lots of ways to get your hands on a copy, so get yours now!

Two Sleeps Until FantasyCon

(Cross posted on the WriteClub blog)

I’ve been rather quieter than I would prefer to be on this blog, because other life stuff keeps getting in the way. This is due in no small part to my being manically busy in the day job at present. In the middle of a horrendous week, the only thing that’s keeping me going is the knowledge that it ends with FantasyCon.

FantasyCon was the first Con I started going to, and as such it holds a special place in my heart. Contrary to the title it’s not just for fantasy writers. FantasyCon is the official convention of the British Fantasy Society, which embraces horror, science fiction and fantasy and all of their sub-genres. And indeed, it was through joining the BFS, through my love of horror, that led me to discover FantasyCon in the first place.

It’s also the Con where I run into the most people I know outside of the Convention world, as a significant proportion of the writers’ group go. This year’s FantasyCon is at Brighton, and the weather forecast is unseasonably balmy this weekend, with temperatures forecast for the high 20s. So if we want a break from the panels, the schmoozing and the boozing, a walk by the sea front in the fresh air will be an attractive option.

The Con is offering a reading programme, which is rather being hijacked by the T Party, since no fewer than eight of us are reading over the course of the weekend. My reading is at 3:30pm on Friday, and I will be giving my audience a sneak preview of my forthcoming short story collection SOUL SCREAMS, reading a story from the collection. At least, I hope there will be an audience. If you’re at FantasyCon this weekend, please stop by Room 134 at 3:30 on Friday to offer some moral support!

This is the last Con I’m booked for this year, which is all the more reason to relish it. Next years’ Con schedule is uncertain at this stage – not on the part of the Cons, as they’re all confirmed and taking bookings. But I have yet to make up my mind which ones to go to. If only I had the funds – and the leave allocation – to go to all of them…

I’m counting down the hours now until I depart for Brighton, but in the meantime I have a great deal of work to do for the day job, not to mention the Con-related things such as practising my reading and that all important decision of What To Pack. If you’re attending FantasyCon I hope to see you there – if you’re not, I’ll give a full low down next week!

Writing Processes – Part 14: The Importance of Cons

In thinking about the subject of this post, I was trying to remember what the first writing-related convention I attended was. I think it was probably FantasyCon, but I’m having trouble remembering because I realise that my regular attendance at conventions has evolved as a very organic process.

Some time back in the early 1990s, possibly when I was involved in my first writing group, I found out about a monthly pub social involving other writers and started to attend. Most of the attendees at these gatherings were members of the British Fantasy Society. It seemed to be a good idea to join this organisation, which existed to promote horror, sci fi and fantasy fiction.

Anyway, from there I learned of the existence of FantasyCon. I think the first one I attended might have been a day conference, held at Champagne Charlie’s on Villiers Street underneath Charing Cross station. As it was a conference that just required day attendance, it didn’t seem too intimidating. When I started attending FantasyCon as a weekend event, again it wasn’t too intimidating – my husband reads fantasy, sci fi and horror so he was happy to come along, and a lot of fellow T Party members are also long-standing FantasyCon attendees.

I joined Mystery Women in the mid-1990s, as at that point I was really getting into crime, and through that organisation I learned about the crime conventions. I had no one to go with me at that point – in those days there wasn’t anyone else writing crime in the T Party. But although I lacked confidence in other areas of life, strangely the concept of going alone to a convention I did not find daunting. I figured it was the best way to network, and how else was I going to meet writers, agents and publishers in the industry unless I made a point of going to these conventions?

I can’t remember which year I first attended the St Hilda’s Crime & Mystery Conference in Oxford, but it has to be a good 10 years ago. This was another conference I found about through Mystery Women. The first year I went, I didn’t actually know anyone – I’d attended a few Mystery Women events but hadn’t spend a great deal of time talking to anyone. But, undaunted, I booked in the conference, and arrived on the Friday night in time for the drinks reception.

I got myself a drink and for a few minutes stood alone in the room, trying to work out a plan of action. Everyone seemed to be engaged in conversation. Would it be rude to just march up to a group and introduce myself? While I was mulling this over, a group of women approached and said, “we noticed you were on your own, so we thought we’d come and talk to you”. And so I met Carol, Jane and Christine, and I was no longer alone for the rest of the weekend.

After many years of attending Cons, I am finding I am no longer left with no one to talk to. I run into the same people – people to whom I can say, “nice to see you again”. And there are always new people to meet – someone who had something interesting to say on a panel, or someone whose last book I really enjoyed.

My advice on Cons to anyone who’s starting out in their writing career is this: don’t be afraid to attend. Don’t worry you won’t know anyone. You might not know anyone when you arrive, but you’ll have some new friends by the time you leave.

Cons are valuable networking opportunities for writers. They are the best places to meet new people in the field: publishers, agents and writers alike. And to get the best out of them, you have to be a regular Con-goer. You only feel like the ‘newbie’ for the first one. And the most important thing is, Cons are great fun. Even the crawling out of bed with a hangover after four hours’ sleep to attend the first panel of the day because you were drinking in the bar till 4am with a group of writers is a cherished part of the Con experience (because the night before was such a good night it was worth the suffering).

Now I look forward to planning my yearly calendar of Con attendance and each one is a highlight. I get to catch up with old friends and make new ones. This year’s Con experiences will include St Hilda’s Crime & Mystery Conference, BoucherCon and FantasyCon.

What a fabulous year it’s going to be.