Friday 28 January 2011

Give a writer of objectionable stuff a break

Here's a message from my fellow Tynesider Stone Franks:

For Sale: 19th century mask of sanity with veneer of respectability x2. I have two short/flash fiction stories: One is 1146 words; The other 2088. Both are Victorian slasher/crime horror, exploring late 19th century do-as-I-say-not-do-as-I-get-high-on-drugs-and-kill-prostitutes attitudes to morality. The shorter one is a dark parody in a Sherlock Holmes-style, the longer one is more serious with a speculative/conspiracy theory twist. Both have highly objectionable content and have been vilified by prospective publishers and lauded by fellow writers.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Proof Positive

Need a professional proofreader? A nice chap volunteered to proof stories for ST in return for the massive publicity blitz I routinely offer my pals. So, let the media barrage begin!

The stories in this edition of Supernatural Tales were proofread by
·    Stories
·    Dissertations and theses
·    Books
Details at
or email scash@

 That's what you will read in ST19, out in May, or maybe early June. If you have proofological needs, give Stephen a try. He's very quick and very thorough.

Monday 24 January 2011

Never Mind the Ballads...

What do 1676 and 1976 have in common? Both years, yes. Similar digits, okay. But they are in fact the time-twins linked in a new poetry pamphlet by the redoubtable Bard of Peterborough, Cardinal Cox.

'Never Mind the Ballads, Here's a Blast of Broadsides' was produced for the Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival (16th to 18th Jan). If you want to know what England is about, it's about straw bears. And beer. And poetry. Anyway, the festival was revived in 1976 and more recently the Cardinal has graced it with his presence. In his festival he draws parallels between the turmoil and creativity of the late 17th century with that we all (well, some of us) remember from the Dawn of Punk.

Of course, being rude about a Labour government that now looks almost Utopian in its outlook is slightly different from the ups and downs of the Restoration era. There poems here have an almost ammoniac tang of fanaticism, a distinct whiff of gunpowder and a few (metaphorical) bloodstains. Here's an extract from 'Guy Fawkes':

And after Parliament gone
The King and his son dead
They aimed then to take over
To become the nation's head
Protestant priests would once again
In Spitalfields burn
If these pious Catholic Lords
Had had their faith return

Wanted to being back burning times
Guy Fawkes is no hero of mine.

He's quite firm, but fair, on Cromwell, too. But there's plenty of folklore, fantasy and humour here, not least in the little 'Street Cries of the City' that serve as footnotes.

'Seditious books
Seditious books
You know you wants
To take a look'

If you wants to take a look, and why wouldn't 'ee, you can get a copy of these broadside/sheet ballads by sending a C5 SAE to:

58 Pennington
Orton Goldhay

or email the poet himself:

Friday 14 January 2011

What's the plan, Stan?

Well, my redundancy looms ever closer (31st March) and I wonder what the hell I'm going to be doing as of April 1st? Apart from avoid joy buzzers, whoopee cushions etc? One possibility is that I will get drunk for a month. Another is that I will try to set up a small (emphasis on the small) one-man publishing outfit.

My thinking, such as it is, goes as follows.

Supernatural Tales is reasonably well-known and has a fair reputation for the quality of its fiction. This means I'm a fair judge of a good story.

I could parlay my editorial experience and general knowledge of the genre to start publishing new or neglected authors. Nothing fancy, nothing wildly ambitious - just an extension of ST to include collections and perhaps short novels by individual authors.

I would run this putative publishing business as an online affair, availing myself of That is, I would not be having books printed and sent to me at my 'office' (aka my flat), and then take orders from people and post the books out. This is expensive and constitutes a waste of the time I could be spending on editing etc.

So people would have to order their own books from Lulu, as a print-on-demand service. This would of course exclude people who don't have internet access. I don't feel good about this, but so far as I can see the cost of postage is a big obstacle to me actually making a living, or half a living (i.e. a 'part-time' income).

It's obviously not a get-rich-quick scheme. I think for a year or perhaps two I couldn't hope to make any money at all, and would live off my savings and (with luck) income from part-time or casual work. Or bank robberies. That sort of thing.

I have no doubt there are enough talented writers out there and enough discerning readers to buy their work. I  have enough contacts now to 'raise my game' with regard to production standards, proofreading etc. I also feel there's a small but nicely-formed niche in the market for inexpensive paperbacks containing new supernatural fiction (as opposed to new horror, which isn't quite the same thing).

I'm well aware that ST has been an amateur publication but I feel recent issues have shown a marked improvement and I think it can get better. Put another way, I'm not a total idiot and I know people don't pay good money for tat.

So, what do you think? If I'm talking out of my hairy posterior, tell me straight. If you think the idea has some merit but there are questionmarks looming like thunderheads, point 'em out. I'm steeling myself to give it a go, but I want as much feedback as I can get. Needless to say I'll also be asking ST readers for their views, too.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Horror Con Con Warning

Most genre fiction fans are decent types, but there always a few bad apples, and so on and so forth. Anyway, I followed links to a site I'd never heard of thanks to an FB posting (See? Facebook can be useful.) Anyway, the skinny is that some git in American has taken people's money for a supposed horror convention that has failed to come off on numerous occasions. This has dodgy written all over it in letters of fire:

In 2008/2009 the show was announced, it was to be called Camp Blood:Friday the 30th- a Convention featuring nothing but celebrities who were involved in the making of the Friday the 13th films. It was to be the biggest and best Friday the 13th Con ever assembled, featuring over 70 guests. Soon after the announcement it was rumored that a lot of the guests posted on the website ( had not been contacted at the time of the site’s inception. The Friday the 30th Con was to replace Texas Fear Fest 3 and promised that the guests were confirmed for all 12 films in the series, including the remake and the tv series. 
Fans were abuzz about the large guest list and from the beginning they had questions which were sometimes answered by Gray and his people. But even from the start there were suspicions of the event being a farce. Venue changes- from a hotel to a sports bar, off the wall reasons for date changes and celebrity cancellations have plagued this show. Many fans purchased advanced tickets, including the popular “VIP Passes” that cost as much as $200! Because of the cancellation of the most recent date, August 13-15, 2010, a slew of fans lost non-refundable airfare and fees they had paid to secure hotel rooms. Not to mention they have at this date, January 9, 2011, not been refunded for the tickets they bought for the show itself. Fans who believe the show will go on, have tried to purchase tickets but with no luck as the Convention’s Paypal account is not able to accept money. I contacted customer service at Paypal to ask why an account might not be able to accept money. They informed me, without being able to go into details because I didn’t ask about any account in particular, that most times when an account cannot accept funds it is because of open disputes on the account.

Thursday 6 January 2011

New Book from Sarob!

Chapter 42, in which I receive an electronic missive from rural France:

Hi David

Thought you might like to hear that I've just announced details of our Spring (April) 2011 title as follows.

Mark Nicholls: Dark Shadows Fall
Dr Nicholls is the President and Librarian at St John's College, Cambridge – surely a terrific place to soak in the atmosphere of centuries and quietly dream up tales of delicious and rather pleasing terror. Previously published in Ghosts & Scholars, All Hallows, Supernatural Tales, Enigmatic Tales and Black Rose, this is Mark's first collection of ghost stories. Here are 12 traditional tales, some Jamesian, some antiquarian, all ghostly and all dark and icily chilling. Afterword by Mark Nicholls. Illustrations by Paul Lowe. Limited Edition Hardcover. Printed Boards. Edition limited to 150 numbered copies. Limitation will be reviewed if pre-publication interest suggests a larger print run is appropriate.
BOOK PRICE: UK: UK £20 / Europe: 25 euros / USA & Rest of World: US $35
Full details at
Cheers, Rob.

Get Some In, says Ellen Datlow

Call for Submissions

I am editing the anthology series Best Horror of the Year (Night Shade Books) and am currently reading for the fourth volume, which will include all material published in 2011.

I am looking for stories from all branches of horror: from the traditional-supernatural to the borderline, including high-tech sf horror, supernatural stories, psychological horror, dark thrillers, or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, send it. This is a reprintanthology so I am only reading material published in or about to be published in 2011Submission deadline for stories is November 30th 2011. Anything sent after this deadline will reach me too late. If a magazine, anthology, or collection you’re in or you publish is coming out in December, you can send me galleys or manuscripts so that I can judge the stories in time. No email submissions. I strongly suggest that authors check with their publishers that they are sending review copies to me as I don’t have time or energy to nag publishers to get me material. I request it once (maybe twice) and that’s it.

There will be a summation of "the year in horror" in the front of the volume. This will include novels, nonfiction, art books, and "odds and ends"-- material that doesn't fit elsewhere but that I feel might interest the horror reader. But I must be aware of this material in order to mention it. The deadline for receipt of material for this section is December 15th, 2011.
Ellen Datlow
Best Horror of the Year Volume Four
PMB 391
511 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10011-8436

****I do not want to receive manuscripts from authors of stories from venues that it’s likely I already receive (like InterzoneBlack Static, Crimewave, Cemetery Dance,  Realms of FantasyPostscriptsWeird TalesF&SF and the other digests, etc) or from anthologies and collections, unless I don't have or can’t get that anthology or collection. Please contact your publisher and ask him/her to send me the magazine or book.
For online publications, I prefer print submissions, so if your publisher doesn’t send them out please do so yourself.

Please do not send a SASE. If  I choose a story you will be informed. If you want to confirm that I‘ve received something, enclose a self-addressed-stamped postcard and I will let you know the date it arrived. For stories that appear on the web, please send me (or have the publisher send me) print-outs of your story.

Ellen Datlow

Tuesday 4 January 2011

The Future of ST

This week I will formally receive a letter from my employer - a local authority in North East England - telling me I will be out of a job after March 31st. Obviously this is a difficult situation and I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing later this year. Probably in the same place, possibly doing nothing. But whatever happens, I intend to continue publishing Supernatural Tales and will try to make sure that the next issue, ST19, is at least as good as any that have gone before. I can't be sure what I'll be able to do in the longer term, but for the near future it's business as usual.

And if anybody knows of a job, please let me know!

Read an AI generated ghost story

I gave MS Copilot the following prompt, which is not complex and you can see where problems arose.. Please write a ghost story in the style ...