Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anthology cancelled

I heard late yesterday that From the Asylum has finally and completely closed its doors and will no longer be honouring publication of its last two anthologies, including a science fiction one that my short story Boyfriend From Hell was slated to appear in.

To be honest I'm neither surprised nor disappointed. From the Asylum's print magazine closed several months ago and the web zine followed suit soon after. I never did receive the signed copy of my contract back from them and every enquiry, after almost a year of waiting, led only to vague promises that the anthology 'would be going ahead' together with thanks 'for my patience'. Nobody ever gave me a specific release date, and nobody ever answered my biggest question, which was 'how are you going to sell the books given that you no longer have either a print magazine or a web presence?'

On the whole I'm rather relieved to have my rights back and will be looking around for another market where, hopefully, people will actually be able to get hold of the story to read it!

But for now, Boyfriend From Hell is without a home.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First snow

We had the first snow of the winter yesterday. Not much - only about half an inch - but it was enough to turn everything wedding-cake white, and as it was only snowing for less than half an hour you can tell how thickly it was coming down.

Needless to say it thawed slightly and then froze hard overnight so all the local roads look like they've had a spray-coating of mirrored glass and are treacherous in the extreme. I wanted to go into the city centre for a few last bits of shopping but was beaten back, twice, because I couldn't get across the roads to where the bus stops are.

The house is none too warm either. Not only was it -4c last night, but the wind was at gale force, so it was blowing all that freezing air through every gap in the windows. Brrr. Even with the heating on it never seemed to get warm.

I ought to be working today since I can't get out, but cold and concentration don't seem to go together. At least that's my excuse...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Early Christmas present

I had some wonderful news from Byker Books this morning - they've accepted another story, this time for Radgepacket 4. You may (or may not) remember that I had a humorous story about an ageing rock star in the second Radgepacket volume, and they were such a good bunch to work with that I submitted another story earlier this year. I just missed the deadline for volume 3, but the editor has stayed true to his word and hung onto it for this latest collection.

The story is called Lemon Sour and is a dark, almost vicious little tale of childhood humiliation and revenge, involving a pair of yellow gloves!

The book should be out early-ish in the new year (probably by late February/early March) but I'll keep everyone posted about its progress.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pre-Christmas panic

It's suddenly hit us that Christmas is less than two weeks away, so this weekend we had a bit of a panic trying to do everything at once. Dave's parents came to stay on Friday as part of their 'Santa sleigh-run' taking presents round the family, so Friday morning we cleaned, dusted, and put up the Christmas tree. On Saturday all four of us hit the German Christmas market here in Brum, which this year is bigger than ever, and apparently only 20 stalls short of overtaking the main market in Frankfurt. We bought all sorts of bits and bobs and Dave and his dad had a German sausage each while mother-in-law and I headed for the rather more genteel (and warmer) Edwardian Tea Rooms at the museum for a hot drink. After that we got hopelessly sidetracked looking round the museum at some of the treasures of the industrial age - beautiful Morgan and Ruskin ceramics, Burne Jones stained glass, Royal Worcester porcelain, Black Country crystal and wrought iron work, and of course, lots and lots of silver from all the foundries and electro-plating works in the Jewellery Quarter. The inlaws hadn't seen any of it before and were bowled over. We must take them in again some time and show them the rest of the collections, especially all the Pre-Raphaelite art.

Saturday evening Dave and I crouched over the coffee table scribbling endless messages in endless Christmas cards; then yesterday we dashed up to Ikea to buy a couple of bedside cabinets ready for our friends spending New Year with us. Needless to say, they'd stopped doing the ones I saw in their current catalogue which would have been ideal, but we got something similar which will do almost as well, plus a car load of other rubbish that we didn't realise we needed until we saw it. And after that, we dashed out again to find a new duvet for Dave as he's shivering under a particularly thin one. We couldn't find what we wanted, but came home with four scatter cushions, two rolls of gift wrap, a box of crackers and a thermos flask. Don't ask!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Strange research

I'm amazed sometimes at the weird things I end up researching for the sake of stories. Yesterday and today I've been reading up on angels, and especially fallen angels, for a possible story for QueeredFiction's latest 'angels and demons' call.

I went to a Church of England primary school so I knew about the main archangels - Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. I'd also heard of one or two of the fallen angels including (of course) Lucifer, and Azazeal who featured (fictitiously) in a teen gothic series on telly a couple of years ago. But it seems there are dozens, if not hundreds more - around 200 fallen angels, and positive heavenly hosts of angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, guardians, powers, spirts and gawd knows what else. Many of the names were invented during the Middle Ages, apparently, when scholars juggled the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to come up with names, or added '-el' (of God) to suitable Hebrew words. The end result is, um, confusing, but I actually rather enjoyed poring over the lists and finding out who was who.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A cracking good read

I finally finished reading 'Queer Dimensions' last night - it's taken me slightly longer because I wanted to savour each story.

My overall impression is that this is a really good, lovingly crafted collection of science-fiction stories with a gay twist. There were one or two stories that I was less keen on, but only from personal preference, not because there was anything wrong with them. My favourites included Jacques L Condor's The Night Hunters (vivid and warm-hearted); Erastes' fun tale Whatever the Risk; Mallory Path's sensuous transgendered story The Prettiest Girl in the Room; and the heart-rending and original The Sister Bush by Joel Best, but I enjoyed pretty much everything else as well.

If you're after smut this probably isn't the anthology for you (there's one story I'd call erotica and another that's heading that way, but that's all). But if you like original, thought-provoking and beautifully written science fiction, and you like gay fiction, then rush off and buy a copy now!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Too fuzzy to write

No, that's my mental state not my physical appearance. Yesterday I dosed up on painkillers and then found they made my brain so fuzzy I couldn't concentrate, and I ended up doing no work at all.

Today I have the wonderful choice of sitting here and throbbing but perhaps writing a bit, or wimping out and reaching for the pills again.

Aargh. Who'd be a writer?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cold - and ouch.

It's suddenly turned wintry here - there's a thick white frost on all the lawns and roofs and according to iGoogle's weather gadget, it's still only -2c at eleven o'clock in the morning. And there may be snow on the way.

Normally I'd go out for a good walk to warm up but earlier this morning I managed to fall down stairs. I landed awkwardly with all my weight on one big toe and it bloomin' hurts! I don't think it's broken but I can't put any weight on it or get any of my shoes on. Currently I'm hobbling around with an extra sock on that foot for a bit of warmth.

Ah well - it gives me the perfect excuse to stay in and write....