Sunday, 27 February 2011

How to deal with bad reviews - Johnny Mains

Johnny has written an interesting piece on his blog about how to react to bad reviews as a result of a couple he has received for his debut short story collection, With Deepest Sympathy.

He makes some sounds comments on the subject, which some other writers could do well with taking in. All of us from time to time are bound to get bad reviews. After all, you can't cater for every taste. Not only reviews, either; sometimes a story will get rejected with some adverse comments. A writer needs to be able to take the bad with the good, and learn from those that are well meant and realistic. That's how we learn to get better.

Our Granddaughter: Teagan Mae Webster

Linden and Teagan

Me, Cassie and Teagan

Friday, 25 February 2011

Our First Grandchild

Just spoke to my daughter, Cassandra, who rang me at work to tell me she had our first grandchild this morning, a little girl.

My wife, Linden, is over the moon. She's been after a grandchild for ages.

Can't wait to see Cassie, her husband Alan, and of course our granddaughter, Teagan Mae Webster!

Alan and Cassie with baby Teagan

The Man Who Collected Machen by Mark Samuels

There's an early online review for Mark's collection, shortly available from Chomu Press.

I've just pre-ordered a copy through The Book Depository for an amazing £6.75 with free delivery!

This collection was originally published by Ex Occidente. I'm glad it's now been made available in a much cheaper format. Congratulations to Chomu Press.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

RIP Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney 1929-2011

For those who watched the earlier series of Doctor Who, Brigadier Lethdridge-Stewart will be a familiar name. He was a stalwart of that series, especially during the Pertwee years.

The sad news is that Nicholas Courtney, who played him throughout the series, died aged 81 on February 22nd.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Hammer Novels

Hammer will be launching its own publishing imprint on March 10th with the release of two novels, one old and one new.

The new is the novelisation of a new Hammer thriller, The Resident, by Francis Cottam.

The other is a reissue of The Witches, by Peter Curtis. This was originally titled The Devil's Own, on which the 1966 film starring Joan Fontaine was based.

Monday, 14 February 2011


Well, with some misgivings, I finally created a Facebook account for myself. As my wife already had one, I had to set up a new email account first. I used gmail: I had been thinking of setting up a separate one to our standard ntl address, as that can only be accessed from our own computer. How the internet complicates our lives, though, with all these details to remember, not to mention those dreaded passwords.

Anyway, early days yet, but my Facebook account seems to be working okay so far, though just how much I'll use it I don't know.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Prism - Spring Issue

Finally got the disc for the next issue of Prism in the post today to the next person on the "assembly line" for putting the BFS Journal together.

It's probably not the best issue so far, but I must admit some of the zim has gone since I, along with the editors of Dark Horizons and New Horizons, lost control of doing the layout. I was a tad disappointed with how the journal was laid out last time. It was pedestrian at best, a bit sloppy at worst. For example, one picture was positioned two lines before the bottom right hand corner of a page. Why two lines? Why not nice and neat at the exact bottom, without two lines underneath it?  Some of the pictures were not much bigger than postage stamps, which seems nonsensical to me. They should have been much bigger. Nor did I really care for the over-fancy thin fonts used for the headings. And all my suggestions about using two columns for certain sections were ignored. I suppose it's all a matter of taste, but I do miss having total control of the magazine and what it looked like. I feel less like an editor and more like someone who just gathers stuff together and sends it off to the real editors - the people who decide what the damned thing will look like.

Now, after one issue of the Journal as a hardback, future issues will be downgraded to paperbacks for reasons of cost. So consistency has gone from the word go. As, quite obviously, has cost control. Before I produced the first Prism I made sure I got a number of quotes from various printers and went with the cheapest. That's what I would have expected for the Journal. Obviously not.

A shame. It would have been better to have started off as we meant to go on.

Personally I would, of course, prefer to go back to all three publications being published individually. Maybe that will happen. I don't know. The push for them to be produced as some "much more professional looking publication" was hammered at the last BFS AGM by the likes of Steve Jones, though why a society with fewer than 300 members should try to emulate the professional look of publications produced by genuinely  professional organisations with paid, indeed highly paid staff, I really don't know. I think people join the BFS, not because it has pretensions of professionalism (whatever that word really means) but because they are interested in the genres we share a love for and because we produce interesting publications about them. I'm not for one minute saying we should go back to the bad old days of mimeographed sheets of A4 paper stapled down the edges - those days have gone, thank God - but we really don't need to aim towards emulating the style and quality in printing terms of SFX, etc., not unless we had a membership that would be prepared to hand over a lot more money than they pay at the moment for their annual subs. I believe the existing publications already looked professional enough. I was impressed with them long before I again took up editorship of Prism. I never heard any moans about them - other than from certain people at the last AGM. who I'm certain made them more because they wanted to make an impression than because they genuinely felt the BFS needed this kind of change. It certainly seems to have created more problems - and time consuming tasks at that  - than it has saved. Which is a bad thing for an organisation which, unlike the professional organisations we are suppoed to ape, relies on unpaid voluntary work from people who have other jobs and things to do besides doing what they do for the BFS.

I have every respect for the new BFS chairman, David Howe, but I do think the last AGM gave him a poisoned chalice with the BFS Journal.  I am sure he would have been happier if he had been left free from all the complications this has presented and been able to get on with looking at special publications, which is something I fear will go by the wayside as a result. Which is a waste as, with his vaste experience in running Telos Publications, he would have been an ideal man for the task.

Nuff said.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Black & Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Received a lovely-looking book in the post today, signed by the author, who sent it to me from California to read and consider for the forthcoming Stoker ballot. Only had time to read the first page so far but it looks interesting and well written. Draws you in straight away. So I reckon that will be my reading over the next few days.

It's published by Bad Moon Books. I've heard of them but never seen one of their books before. Going off this, though, I'm very impressed.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Prism - Spring Edition

Spent quite a few hours this weekend putting all the material I have been emailed for the next issue together in a standardised format, ready to be sent off. It seems to be shaping up well, with a better balance of reviews this time, and a long but very interesting interview and the usual excellent columns from Ramsey Campbell, Mark Morris and John Probert.  I've only done one review this time - Reggie Oliver's The Dracula Papers, Book One: The Scholar's Tale, which Chomu Press sent me a month or so back. I really enjoyed this book, which is in the pure tradition of the Gothic novel. A long novel, but an enjoyable read every page of the way.

By Tuesday I expect to be able to put Prism to disc and send it off.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Prism - Spring Edition

I spent a lot of time today putting together marterial sent in for the next issue of Prism. It's a bit of a grind getting all the different fonts and styles sent into me changed into one harmonious whole. Not to mention getting images for all the books, films, etc.

I think this will be one of the slimmer issues, so it's probably as well it's buried away inside the BFS Journal. Ha ha. There really is a shortage of reviewers. I'll enter something on the BFS Forum about this. We do need more.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Zombies in New York

Got an inscribed copy of Sam Stone's horror story collection, Zombies in New York, today - together with a packet of vampire badges.

I look forward to starting on this book. 

Biography of Herbert Van Thal - Screaming Dreams

Johnny Mains has a new book out later this year (at FantasyCon): Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, a biography of Herbert van Thal, the legendary editor of the Pan Books of Horror.

Published by Screaming Dreams, this is the cover:

New Hammer Film - Wake Wood

I only just found out that this is being released on DVD at the end of this month, so I have it on pre-order. I can't resist that name Hammer, old or new.  There are more details about it here.

It is my only weakness.

Getting Back To Writing

I haven't done any writing at all this year so far. This is because of a combination of having flu at the start of the year, which I'm only just getting over now, and having too many other things to do. One was getting a part in the Oswaldtwistle Players' production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, albeit only a small one, but there are rehearsals twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other is getting the next issue of Prism ready - this has to be off next week.

Perhaps another reason is being a bit jaded over how long it's taking for my collection, The Lurkers in the Abyss, to be published by Midnight House. John Pelan's website has been down for over two months now and I really am beginning to wonder whether the collection will ever appear. Yet another is the fact I have a novel off with a publisher who liked the opening chapters enough to ask for the rest of it. I've been told it could be April at the earliest, though, before I'll hear anything. Waiting is the hardest thing. With the short story collection the other thing is whether I should start to look elsewhere for a possible publisher. Several years have gone by since John said he would like to publish it and I have already turned down one publisher who offered to do it instead. Time's going on and, with more than enough stories for a second collection already, I have been speculating whether I wouldn't be better calling it a day. The only thing holding me back is a feeling of loyalty for John, who I know would do a brilliant job of publishing the collection if he's ever in a position to do it.

Anyway, all this to one side, I am at last starting to feel the itch to write again, and one or two ideas have already been floating about inside my head over the past week. Which can't be bad.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Stoker Awards - Preliminary Ballot

Once again I find I have actually not read anything on the preliminary ballot, so I'll likely not be voting yet again this year. Of course, the overwhelming majority of works and publications listed are US, with very few from the UK, but it does make me wonder whether I'm not reading enough newly published genre-related material.

These are not the nominees. The nominees will be those who get through the next ballot and make it to the Final Ballot.  

The list is as follows:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
VIPERS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
SIREN by John Everson (Leisure)
HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
IT CAME FROM DEL RIO by Stephen Graham Jones (Trapdoor Books)
SPARROW ROCK by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
DESPERATE SOULS by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
THE FRENZY WAY by Gregory Lamberson (Medallion Press)
ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
EMPIRE OF SALT by Weston Ochse (Abaddon)
DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL    
MR. SHIVERS by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
FREEK CAMP by Steve Burt (Steve Burt Creations)
THE MAN OF MYSTERY HILL by Tracy L. Carbone (Echelon Quake)
BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
CARNIVAL OF FEAR by J.G. Faherty (Graveside Tales)
A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
AT THE END OF CHURCH STREET by Gregory Hall (Belfire Press)
MADIGAN MINE by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION    
REQUIEM FOR THE BURNING GOD by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Cthulhu's Dark Cults)
THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
CHASING THE DRAGON by Nicholas Kaufmann (Chizine)
DREAMS IN BLACK AND WHITE by John R. Little (Morning Star)
DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
BLEMISH by Joe McKinney (Dark Recesses #1)
THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
JADE by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
THE BEHELD by Paul Bens (Dark Discoveries #160)
RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
SURPRISE! by G.O. Clark (Dark Valentine 2)
SEMINAR Z by J. Comeau (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS by Brock Cooper (The New Bedlam Project)
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
SURVIVORS by Joe McKinney (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN by Weston Ochse (Dark Discoveries #16)
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE by David Sakmyster (Horror World)
TROOT by Margaret B. Simon (Null Immortalis)
THE DAYS OF FLAMING MOTORCYCLES by Catherynne Valente (Dark Faith)
FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
CTHULHU'S DARK CULTS edited by David Conyers (Chaosium)
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin's Griffin)
BLACK WINGS edited S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
EVOLVE: VAMPIRE STORIES OF THE NEW UNDEAD edited by Nancy Kilpatrick (Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing)
NULL IMMORTALIS edited by D.F. Lewis (Megazanthus Press)
DEAD SET: A ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney (23 House Publishing)
SCENES FROM THE SECOND STOREY by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
THIS WAY TO EGRESS by Lawrence C. Connolly (Ash-Tree Press)
WHAT WILL COME AFTER by Scott Edelman (PS Publishing)
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
LITTLE THINGS by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
A HELL OF A JOB by Michael McCarty (Damnation Books)
A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)
FUNGUS OF THE HEART by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog (Screaming Press)
HELLFIRE AND DAMNATION by Connie Corcoran Wilson (Sam's Dot)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
WEIRD ENCOUNTERS by Joanne M. Austin (Sterling Publishing)
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
SHADOWS OVER FLORIDA by David Goudsward and Scott T. Goudsward (Bear Manor Media)
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
MASTERS OF IMAGINATION by Michael McCarty (Bear Manor Media)
LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY Collection
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
LOVE CRAFT by Bryan Dietrich (Finishing Line Press)
CHEMICKAL REACTIONS by Karen L. Newman (Naked Snake Press)
WOOD LIFE by Rich Ristow (Snuff Books)
WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam's Dot)
DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Needfire Press)