Monday, 27 June 2016

Thought for the Day

"Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger."

~ Ben Okri, poet and novelist

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: Lovecraft's Labours Lost

Everyone who has backed the Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu Kickstarter at the Richard III reward level and above will be receiving a bonus short story, written by Tim Bayley, entitled Lovecraft's Labours Lost. And here's a taster...

They passed from grassy sun-blessed plain to the darkness of the wood, warm regardless with the heat of a summer’s night. A hare had accompanied them a ways, then a hound, a hog... there’d been an untended fire after, but Prosperus led them on. In between they’d been distracted as, one by one, they turned at the tap or pinch of another. But Prosperus showed no impatience at such undue frivolity, whoever was the culprit. By and by, up on a low tree branch ahead, a figure waited, hands clasped. By height he was a small man or a tall youth and seemed both hare-young and oak-ancient. His smile across was merry but in what measure between innocence or wickedness Will could not have said.  
‘Welcome wanderers.’  
‘You are the hobgoblin,’ said Prosperus, ‘the Goodfellow who is called Robin?’  
‘Thou speak’st aright,’ the figure approved in some gentle mocking of their speech and dropped to the ground.  
‘I thank you for coming, honest Puck, and would take time to offer such courtesies as befit you, yet time is the coin wanting in our purses, so I must just enquire: do you have it?’  
‘Indeed,’ this Robin replied, producing a package, ‘retained since ancient times for sport; yet such sport as would be in short supply should your purse run empty. A gift then, and freely given without obligation.’  
With thanks given and courtesies observed they took their leave; only Will once more addressed their benefactor: ‘That was you, was it not? On our way here. The hare, the hound, the hog... the prods and pinching.’  
Puck grinned. ‘A treasure I was to deliver, however necessary; I but took my taxes where I could in fair fee. Fare thee well, noble Prosperus, Faustus Rakehell, Groatsworth and upstart Crow; I would not follow if e’en now I could, but go with the good wishes of Summer and fare thee well.’

Tim Bayley has lived in the Big City for some 16 years and worked in the book trade throughout that time as a Bookseller and then a Sales Rep, more recently directing his efforts full time to writing, organising events and working on web projects. It was after finishing the penultimate draft of a young adults book that the urban fantasy character that had lurked at the back of Tim’s mind jumped up and said ‘My turn’, and he spent the last year discovering the seedy underbelly of London’s secret magical society in order to write the tales on this site and the first half of a full length novel of the same.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Short Story Saturday: Sharks and Shakespeare

Just (another) quick reminder that you have until midnight GMT next Friday, 1st July 2016, to send me your submissions for SHARKPUNK 2. If you don't know what that means, then click this link.

My other piece of short story news for today is that the official launch arranged for Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu - the ultimate genre mash-up anthology of the year - will take place on Saturday 13th August, from 1:00-2:00pm, at Forbidden Planet in London.

A number of the contributing authors and artists will be in attendance, as will a certain Bard. So jot the date down in your diary, and maybe we'll see you there.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Steampunk Thursday: Koszmar Alicji w Krainie Czarów

Now available in Poland -

Koszmar Alicji w Krainie Czarów!

Which, in case you don't speak Polish yourself (like me) means Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland.

And check out some of the awesome artwork Polish fans of the colouring book phenomenon have produced!

If you have any coloured Alice's Nightmare images you'd like to share, please email me via

Monday, 20 June 2016

Thought for the Day

"People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around."

~ Sir Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: Ladies and gentlemen, for Twelfth Night only...

... introducing Mr Ed Fortune, author of The King in Yellow Stockings!

When the Duke Orsino announced, “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it; that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die,” I have to admit, I laughed. Such a pompous, self-important man who loved himself above all others and could no more love another than he could love a mirror. I had been laughing at the Duke for some time, of course. The man had made rather a nuisance of himself to my lady’s court. I miss him terribly.  
Little did I understand at the time that this was no grand statement of desire, nor the pretentious squawking of some bored noble who was venting his frustration at his inability to woo my mistress Olivia. None of us knew at the time that it was a summoning, a dire call into the wild cosmos, where things beyond our ken lurked and plotted events that would lead to the demise of us all.

Ed Fortune has been telling stories since he was very small and he is now too old to stop. He writes about books, table-top games and comics for Starburst Magazine and hosts a very podcast about genre. He also happens to be an award winning games designer, which is nice. He has written for magazines as diverse as Time Out and The Fortean Times. He lives in Greater Manchester in a cave surrounded by bears and is powered by tea and chocolate hobnobs.

Ed Fortune, and some other bloke.
Ed Fortune, and some other bloke.
Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu goes on sale later this summer.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

SHARKPUNK 2 - Time is running out...

If you are interested in submitting a short story for SHARKPUNK 2, please be aware that there are less than two weeks to go until the 1st July 2016 deadline for submissions.

The stories in SHARKPUNK 2 can – and indeed should – cover the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and steampunk, through to science fiction and action-adventure; the only stipulation is that they must all feature sharks in some way. Alternate historical settings for stories are welcomed (there haven’t been any involving the Golden Age of Piracy yet, or medieval crusading knights braving the perils of the Mediterranean). I am also very happy that the stories feature recurring characters of your own creation, as long as including them in the anthology won’t infringe upon anyone’s copyright. (In other words, you need to own the rights to the character yourself, or have permission from the copyright owner to have them appear in SHARKPUNK 2 at no charge.)

Stories need to be between 3,500 and 7,000 words in length (although there will be some flexibility with this, depending on the individual stories) and the deadline for first drafts is 1st July 2016SHARKPUNK (Volume 1) features stories involving space sharks, ghost sharks, Franken-sharks, psychological sharks, and “sharks with frikkin’ laser-beams attached to their heads” (just about). However, we’ve yet to read any stories about zombie sharks, Hawaiian were-sharks, alien sharks, or tales featuring vampires and sharks, for example, so please bear this in mind when you are working up your idea. I don’t mind if some themes are revisited, but obviously I don’t want an anthology of nothing but steam-powered sharks made out of brass and walnut panelling – heaven forbid!

The plan is to publish SHARKPUNK 2 in 2017 and I am going to be running a Kickstarter (either towards the end of 2016 or early 2017) to raise funds to produce the book and, just as importantly, to pay the contributors. If your story is selected for publication, subject to a successful Kickstarter, you will be paid £50 and will receive a physical copy of the book. However, you will also receive royalties from copies of the book sold outside of the initial Kickstarter, which will be paid on top of your fee. Not instead of, not offset against royalties, but as well as! One of the Kickstarter rewards will be a signed copy of the book and you need to be prepared to sign however many copies are required to fulfil this reward level.

In terms of rights, Snowbooks ask for exclusive World English language rights for six months from the date of publication, dropping to non-exclusive World English language rights thereafter, with an option for foreign language translation within the anthology should offers be made for overseas editions. They also require rights to special editions, omnibus editions or other anthology editions, where appropriate.

If you are interested in being a part of SHARKPUNK 2, then please read the submission guidelines below very carefully, as any submissions not adhering to them will be automatically rejected.

SHARKPUNK 2 submission guidelines 

1. Fonts – choose something easy on the eye for proofing, something like Palatino, Calibri or Times New Roman.

2. Dialogue – “double quote marks” around speech, ‘rather than single’, which can be used for quoting within speech.

3. Formatting – indent new paragraphs, rather than leave a single line break, but use two (or more) line breaks for a change of scene/time/point of view. Please use a single space between sentences rather than two spaces. Please leave a space after an ellipsis but not before one. Submit your story double line spaced.

4. Spelling – please use English spellings throughout, and ‘s’ over ‘z’ in words like ‘realise’.

5. Proof-reading – please proof-read your story carefully before you send it, and remember that a Spellchecker is your friend (although not infallible).

6. Poetry – SHARKPUNK 2 is an anthology of short stories, not a poetry collection, so no poetry please.

7. Contact details – make sure your name and contacts details (including email) appear on the first page of your story.

8. Document name – this should include SHARKPUNK 2, the name of your story, and your name, for ease of identification.

9. Emailing your submission – send your submission to The subject of your email must include your name, story title, and the words ‘SHARKPUNK 2 submission’ in the subject line. For example, SHARKPUNK 2 submission – The Sharks of Wrath – Jonathan Green’. Please include your real name, your writing name (if different), the title of your story and a one sentence synopsis of your submission. Send your story as a document in .doc (Word) or .rtf (Rich Text) format as an attachment to your email, and not pasted into the body of the email itself. Submissions will only be accepted via email.

10. Reading period – the reading period will be from 1st July – 1st October 2016. Formal feedback will not be given on submissions, unless they are accepted for publication, and discussions will not be entered into regarding reasons for rejection. Please do not submit your story anywhere else, until you know of our decision, and if you are not happy working to the terms outlined above, please do not submit.

I have already had a number of submissions, and some from some well-known writers, but SHARKPUNK 2 is open to all, regardless of age or publishing credits. I just want the very best story you can write - so get writing!