Thursday, 26 November 2009

Donald the e-book

Well, it looks hopeful that my new novel, Burying Brian, will see publication by Immanion Press. Indeed, that likelihood has offered a stay of execution for my first novel, Digging up Donald.

Donald was due to be taken 'out of print', but with Brian's emergence it's been decided that Donald will remain available as a print edition for the time being. The thinking is that should a reader of Brian enjoy that book, he or she might think to pick up a copy of Donald too. I'm happy old Donald is hanging in there; I've a soft spot for the lad.

Talking of Digging up Donald—the book has now been made available as an e-book, and can be downloaded in a variety of formats sure to be compatible with any e-book reader. The price to download is a meagre five US dollars, and it may be bought at

And to celebrate, Donald now has its own Blog.

Donald's Blog

Why not pop over and say hello, make a comment, ask a question, or even hurl abuse?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Necrotic Tissue Issue 8

I finished reading Necrotic Tissue issue 8, and what a treat it was. They're doing good things over there at NT HQ—nice to see a publication strengthening its position while in the current economic climate many others are consolidating their efforts.

It's a digest sized publication, 112 pages, perfect bound with a glossy, colour cover and black and white interior. Cover price for a single issue is $5.95, while a four issue subscription will cost $20. Obviously, postage costs depend upon your place on the planet.

The stories are of a high quality—though, of course, I'm far too modest to suggest my own story is included in that comment—a mixture of short story and micro fiction. Obviously, all the tales are dark in tone, though some employ humorous undertones just to let the reader know not to take them too seriously.

I particularly enjoyed 'Send in the Clowns', by Bruce Cooper, an 'End-Times' tale with its little gems of imagery like: '…as the clowns came up the hill, a pyramid of them aboard a tiny car like a Shriner would drive in a parade…' and '…beaten to death with an oversized bowling pin. The clown kept hitting him over and over again, stopping only to honk the horn on his hip between blows'. There's an abundance of such fine writing throughout.

The issue's opening tale, 'Ellie Elemental', by David Dunwoody, while written in a totally different style to 'Send in the Clowns', is also a fine read. In the 'Strange Death of Henry Wattle', Jim Kelly takes an outrageous premise and somehow makes a respectable, dare I say it, believable tale. I've never seen the devil summoned in such an anatomical manner!

I like the little interspersions of micro fiction amongst the meatier stories. It means there's always time to get something from Necrotic Tissue, be it a stolen moment or a more relaxed reading session. Natalie L.Sin's 'The Hoarder', for example, is short in length but has so much understated story behind it that it lingers in the mind longer than such a flash tale should.

All the stories in this issue have merit. There are too many for me to comment on all of them, but I hope my picking out some favourites has whetted your appetite enough for you to want to explore the rest.

The Necrotic Tissue website is here

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Those Murky Depths

I'm happy to report Murky Depths magazine has accepted for publication my short story 'The Goodship Hyperdrive'. I'm rather fond of this story. It's a gentle comedy; a tale of sexual tensions set against emerging interstellar transportation gone wrong.

This will be my second appearance in Murky Depths. My first story, 'The Loveship Guide to Seduction in Zero Gravity', was well received by reviewers, and went on to be reprinted in 'Galaxies' magazine, a much respected French publication.

Murky Depths is well worth your attention. Its proprietor, Terry Martin, works tirelessly in its production. Why not support the small press and follow the link to pick up an issue, or, better still, a subscription?

Murky Depths

Friday, 20 November 2009

Struck down again

It's only weeks since I had the most God-awful cold, an lo I have another one. How many bloody cold viruses circulate at any one time?

I sound like Barry White. I want to go to bed. Except, when I do I can't sleep what with all the coughing and hacking and general unpleasantness. The waste basket is overflowing with soggy tissues. Steve is not a well bunny.

Still, could be worse, eh?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Heads Between Legs

Your own legs, please.

It's back and ready to go, and once more the universe is in grave peril of imploding up its own black hole.

I'm talking, of course, of the newly repaired Large Hadron Collider, or LHC as it's affectionately known, that most humungous of doomsday machines built deep underground at CERN in Switzerland.

I wonder if the media hype surrounding the switch on will be as intense this time around. Last time, the media interest was almost insatiable, as we watched the CERN scientists don their eye goggles and lead underwear, as they shoved a thumb against the big green 'on' button (it has to be green, surely?) and we all sat back wondering if the world would still be here come lunch time.

And there was a whir, and possibly a whine, and someone tossed in a Hadron and someone else lit some blue touch paper. And then there was a fizz, and a damp plop, and yet someone else made a leap for the big red 'off' button.

A CERN scientist searching
for the big green 'on'
button, yesterday.

It's all in search of the Higgs boson, don't you know. As bosons go, it's the kiddie. It's even been christened the God Particle. So, there's no megalomania there, then.

"Yes, yes, Steve…" I hear you mutter, "We're not all as stunningly clever as you, so just what is a boson, anyway?".

"Oh, stop," I say, all bashful and so such…

Bosons are 'force mediators'. When two particles interact, they do so by passing a boson to each other. Two Neutrons feel the love for each other in the 'Strong Nuclear Force' by exchanging a Gluon. Electromagnetism is mediated by photons. And Higgs… well, that's predicted by Physics' love with symmetry, and if/when found will be shown to mediate matter's fixation with 'mass'. And where would we be without mass?

The problem with particle physics is that each layer of symmetry requires more massive particles, and more massive particles require ever higher energies to detect. The accelerators have to be bigger and better each time to probe ever deeper. And now, given that the LHC is one mean machine, there is a theoretical possibility that the LHC might have enough oomph to create a black hole. And a black hole on the tabletop could do one of two things: it could fizzle out, or it could consume the solar system. Hence the call of the Doom-mongers.

Of course, said Doom-mongers don't mention that incoming cosmic rays collide daily with particles in the upper atmosphere at far higher energies than can be coaxed from the LHC, and so far the solar system has remained conspicuously absent of black holes.

It has made for some interesting conspiracy theories, though. Several scientists have suggested the breakdown of the LHC was not accidental, and rather it was engineered by a future bent of self-preservation. The future, it seems, can not, and will not, allow the machine to work. It's a pity the future didn't intervene sooner, before we'd spent billions on the thing. Typical, eh?

The latest glitch was apparently caused by a 'bird from the future' dropping a bit of baguette into a surface substation and causing a power outage (I kid you not).

A bird from
the future, yesterday.

Add to all that accusations that at least one CERN employee had links to terrorist cells, and surely this soap opera really is stranger than fiction. I shall be watching events with interest, with head between the knees, of course.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Brian is Buried at Last

Well, it's taken me five years to write, but my second novel, Burying Brian, is now done. It's thoroughly edited, with just a few minor retouches still required before it's ready to go. It weighs in finally at a little under 90, 000 words.

I've spoken to Storm Constantine, and she tells me Immanion Press are still keen to look at it. So, I'll send it on to them probably Sunday, and then it's fingers crossed while I wait.

I'm thinking I might do something 'grittier' for a next project. Humour is so hard to write properly, and I reckon I can produce a gritty story in a fraction of the time it's taken me with Brian (and with Digging up Donald before it). I've had more success in placing such stories in big markets recently, so perhaps the same will be true for such a novel length project. We'll see.

Before then I want to craft some more short stories. I love writing shorts; I find doing so very satisfying.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


I feel the world all a clatter to madly tapping keyboards. It's NaNoWriMo, and for those of you for whom that means nothing, November is now traditionally National Novel Writing Month—Na-no-wri-mo.

All around the globe, writers and would-be writers are foregoing all other bodily functions and doing nothing but tapping out their novels on their keyboards. Children are going unfed, laundry unwashed, husbands and wives neglected, and all in the name of literary outpouring. It's 50,000 words by month's end, or abject failure and having to stand at the back when the NaNoWriMo certificates are given out. Size matters—there are no hurrahs for 25,000 word dinky ones. Well, no official ones anyway.

While I have respect for the commitment of those taking part, it all feels rather manufactured to me. It feels like such regimented scheduling could easily descend to drudgery where surely any form of creativity should be fun and, dare I say it, spontaneous. It seems the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. 'Get it written and fix it later' seems to be the mantra.

That's why it's not for me. Don't get me wrong, anything that encourages a writer to actually write (because believe me there are times when doing anything is better than writing) should be applauded. But I wonder whether the right way is to promote a better overall writing habit than to all line up on November the first and leg it as one into the distance. Could it be that some people are actually put off writing because they try this blunt approach and fall along the way?

I suppose there'll be lots of blog entries proclaiming word counts. "I'm at 10k, and I only started three minutes ago." :-) I wonder how many Bloggers will go further and let us know what their state of mind is during this marathon (and will they even have time to do so)? I'd be interested to know whether they can bring themselves to write even a shopping list come December first.