28 December 2012

Just a little more UM

And m'funky fellow editor Jan has added her editorial preferences to her blog here... As you'll notice, there's quite a bit of overlap between there and here.  :-)  

And those Urban Mythic guidelines (and all things Alchemy) can be found on the Alchemy site here!  Now go write, my pretties!

17 December 2012

Urban Mythic Opens!

So, yes, right then, editor hat on and all that...

So, the Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic is now open for submissions.  Hurrah!

For Urban Mythic, we are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls; from shanty towns to the floating cities of Venice, Bangkok or Dubai; swanky riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see how the mythic is woven into the everyday.

We want fantasy that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries; fast-paced action; folk tales re-imagined; mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment; noir; humour; horror (with recognisable mythic elements); literary or lighter styles. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.

We don’t want: secondary worlds; steampunk; SF; zombies; paranormal romance or erotica. Also, no human sacrifice; magic help-lines; religion; gore or mythic-beastie love triangles. No poetry.

Original fiction only.  Between 3,000 and 8,000 words.

Electronic submissions only, to Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber at tapboum@gmail.com
Send as an email attachment in standard manuscript format in RTF/doc/docx.

Email subject line should take the form Title/author’s name/word count (i.e. My Great Story/Jane Doe/5,000 words).  Full contact details must be included on the mss front/ first page.

Payment:  £10 advance, royalties, plus a paperback copy of the book on publication.
Urban Mythic will be published as paperback in 2013 and then be followed by an eBook edition.

Submissions close 31st March 2013. No acceptances/rejections will be made until after this date.

Expanded subs guidelines can be found on the Alchemy Press site here.

And because we really want you to have the best chance at getting in, here are my particular preferences and niggles... (Jan will be blogging her own shortly!)

Do not assume the guidelines don't apply to you. The wordcount is firm and we're really serious about those things we don't want to see because, honestly, some of them don't apply to the theme, and some of them are things we've seen so many times in the slushpile our brains automatically shut down as soon as we see a story with them in.

So - to repeat, this is not an anthology for your poetry, secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. We don't want to see human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore.

Also - do not send us fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off, main characters who spend the entire story in denial of the supernatural elements around them, anything remotely resembling a mid-life crisis, someone in the midst of writer's block (or other artist's block), anything with an obvious twist or dream endings (they rarely work). In fact, check out the Strange Horizons page on what they see too often, that pretty much covers a lot of the stuff that makes us cringe too!

And avoid anything vaguely epistolary. Due to excessive experience in multiple slushpiles, I can't read any story that's set out as letters/emails/diary entries/tweets etc.

Don't go overboard with the covering email - keep it short and to the point. If you use Word, don't forget to turn off your track changes and accept all changes before you send the doc, because it is very distracting when it all shows up. :-)

Don't waste your first page. Open strong, don't waffle, don't smack us in the face with an epic infodump on your story's version of the world or the complete history of your protagonist. We can work these things out as we read. Give us an interesting character and situation to make us keep reading.

Diversity is good. I'm all about encouraging diversity in all elements of the anthology. We've said in the guidelines that we're interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy but make sure they're well researched and not exoticised. Picking a location just because it looks shiny is a no-no - give us depth and a respectful understanding of the local culture and folklore. Likewise with your choice of protagonist - we're very open to diverse perspectives and hearing the stories of people who are traditionally underrepresented in urban fantasy. I'd definitely like to see more stories with gay/bi/trans characters in or a protagonist in the more mature age range.  See the Resources page for links to useful articles on avoiding cultural appropriation etc.

I like humour and satire and generally fun stories. A bit of subtle social commentary never goes amiss so long as it doesn't get overbearing or preachy. I like stories that are fast and to the point, with plenty of plot-related action. I like things that introduce new concepts and that mash up genres. I also like stories that are slower and create an atmosphere, things with a decent plot that are also mood pieces. I've a soft spot for a gorgeously turned phrase, though watch out that it doesn't go purple.

Mainly it's all about the characters. I can forgive a lot in a story, but if the characters are thin or cliche or generally unpleasant assholes with no story logic behind their personality, then I lose interest. I have very low tolerance for obsessively racist/sexist/homophobic characters, even if they meet a grisly end. I like characters whose choices move the plot along, characters who have a strong voice and obvious personality. I prefer characters with a bit of experience in their profession and/or with the mythic element of the story, as I've read far too many stories where a newbie is just discovering the weird things and spends the whole story having everything explained to them.

So get your stories in!  That Alchemy Press site link again!

02 November 2012

Ghost Ship

So, yes, I have reviewed. Film reviewed, to be precise.  (A first!)
In honour of Halloween (yes, I know, that was two days ago. I've been essaying for the OU, time does funny things...) Geraldine Clark Hellery, m'fellow fab Apocalypse Girl, has been doing a 30 Days of Horror on her blog. 
So here would be my review of Ghost Ship (and don't forget to check out the other 30 Days posts!)

And as bonus content, here would be the infamous opening scene: 

And here would be my favourite scene in all the live You-Tubey flesh: (It is slightly spoilerific if you haven't seen the film, but I love the music in it!)

26 October 2012

Strange Horizons Fund Drive

If you love Strange Horizons (and I very much do) then now is the time to show your support by donating a little to their fund drive.  Over on their blog they've got a lovely list of reasons why you should support them, including a few nifty prizes for donators... Books!  Art!  Tarot Readings!  Tax relief!  (er, what?)

All of which are very good reasons, however the best and foremost one should be this: Strange Horizons is one of the best magazines out there.  Not just for the fiction - which, it has to be said, is almost uniformly excellent.  On Shiny Shorts we've reviewed  Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas by Alberto Yáñez (Jan 2012) and Tornado's Siren by Brooke Bolander (Feb 2012), and not reviewed by still highly recommended are Feed Me the Bones of our Saints (part 1) (part 2) by Alex Dally MacFarlane (July 2012), Tiger Stripes by Nghi Vo (May 2012), Pataki (Part 1)&(Part 2) by Nisi Shawl (2011), 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion—The Lion Bows) by Zen Cho (2011),  The Yew’s Embrace by Francesca Forrest (2011) & Last Of The Monsters by Emil Skaftun (2010).

But! Also! Their non-fiction is also brilliant.  Always fascinating articles and some extremely juicy in-depth reviews that should not be missed.

Share the love and keep them going strong by donating here!

And if you're curious, here's how the fund drive is going so far:

19 October 2012

Alchemy Goodness for 2013

Following the rather lovely launch of Ancient (Buy it! Buy it now!) Wonders, am dead chuffed to announce that me and m'funky co-editor Jan Edwards will be doing another Alchemy anthology next year! It will be called ::drum roll:: The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic and will be launching at WFC next year.

Can I get a woohoo? Woohoo! ;-) Now then...this does, of course, mean we're looking for subs...

The basics: For The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, we are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls; from shanty towns to the floating cities of Venice, Bangkok or Dubai; swanky riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see how the mythic is woven into the everyday. We want fantasy that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries; fast-paced action; folk tales re-imagined; mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment; noir; humour; horror (with recognisable mythic elements); literary or lighter styles. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.

We don’t want: secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. Also, no human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore. No poetry.

We are seeking original fiction. Reprints only accepted by agreement with the editors (and will be very few). No simultaneous or multiple submissions. Contributions between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Submission period runs from January 1st to March 31st 2013. Do not submit outside of those dates. More details to be found on the official APBOUM page here.

We're interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy but make sure they're well researched and not exoticised.* We'd also like to help make the field of speculative fiction more inclusive and welcoming to both authors and readers from traditionally underrepresented groups, so we're interested in seeing stories from diverse perspectives and backgrounds. 

~ # ~

And if that wasn't enough, we'll also be launching a range of Alchemy Novellas! Full guidelines and wotnot here... In very short - in 2013 there will be 4 e-novellas, which will be collected into a print book at end of the year. Open subs months are December 2012, March 2013, June 2013 & September 2013. Length range: 15,000 - 35,000 words. (The big boss prefers 20,000 - 25,000.) No reprints.

Genre-wise, they'll cover almost all areas of fantasy: heroic fantasy, alternate world fantasy, urban fantasy, supernatural, dark crime and horror. Comic fantasy will be considered but not if it’s a parade of puns or bad gags. We are not fans of zombies or heroic vampires. We will not publish hard science fiction. Though there is some flexibility depending on how well the novella works for the editors considering them. Of which I am one! :-) That guidelines link again!

~ # ~

*Handy links for things to bear in mind:
 Appropriate Cultural Appropriation by Nisi Shawl
What is Cultural Appropriation by the Angry Black Woman also posted here with additional comments.
Safe Exoticism, part 2: Culture by Athena Andreadis
From Aliette deBodard:
-  Writing Cultures: Insider vs. Outsider
-  On Worldbuilding, Patchwork and Filing off the Serial Numbers
-  The Prevalance of U.S. Tropes in Storytelling

(I'm sure there are more, but I can't track them down at the mo. Any additional links on the above/similar topics gratefully accepted!)


01 October 2012

BFS 2012 Awards

Am back from that there Fantasycon (post later on that!), so for now, here be the 2012 BFS award winners!

Main Jury Awards: 
Jury: James Barclay, Hal Duncan, Maura McHugh, Esther Sherman, and Damien G. Walter.

Best Novel: 
August Derleth Award/Best Horror - The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Robert Holdstock Award/Best Fantasy -  Among Others by Jo Walton

Best Novella: 
Gorel and the Pot Bellied God by Lavie Tidhar

Best Short Fiction: 
The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter

Best Anthology: 
The Weird, ed. Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

Best Collection:
Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman

Best Screenplay: 
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Best Magazine/Periodical:
Black Static, ed. Andy Cox

Best Comic/Graphic Novel:
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Then the Special Juried Awards (which a lot of blogs keep forgetting to mention...and, yes, I'm slightly biased because I was on one of the juries for them, so don't forget that they are actual proper BFS awards as well, right? All right then! x )

The BFS/PS Publishing Best Independent Press Award: Chomu Press
(Jury: Sandy Auden, Peter Crowther, Nicholas Royle, Peter Tennant & Darren Turpin)

BFS Best Artist Award: Daniele Serra
(Jury: Guy Adams, Anne Sudworth, Christopher Teague)

BFS Best Non-Fiction Award: Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Super Hero by Grant Morrison
(Jury: Djibril al-Ayad, Roz Kaveney & Adam Roberts)

BFS/Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award: Kameron Hurley
(Jury: Adele Wearing, Jenny Barber, Lou Morgan)

BFS/Karl Edward Wagner Special Award: Peter & Nicky Crowther
(Jury: BFS & Fantasycon committees)

12 September 2012

More funky things...

So today saw the delivery of the books for my next history module - this one being on Empires and a level 3 course (gulp).  But, still, shiny new books with shiny new book smells!  Alas, the new OU policy of not letting you know your assignments until the website officially opens at end of the month has completely buggered my intentions of getting ahead of things... Ah well, there's still lovely booksies to read...

In other news, the fabulous Adele over at her new imprint Fox Spirit, has just published the excellent sounding Tales of the Nun and Dragon...  Behold! The cover....

Have got my copy and will be reading it ever so shortly...

In other-other news, I do believe I have found the perfect hairstyle thingy for evil-twin's Wedding-of-the-Century. 
Thank you Katy Perry for doing all the work and modelling it! Nice and simple and purple!

Oh, and, of course, I really should be mentioning that order details for that there Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders are emerging -paperback editions available from Amazon UK, Amazon USABarnes & Noble or The Book Depository for £10 / $15 - though can be had for the bargain price of £8 if you buy it at Fantasycon in a couple of weeks.  No news on the e-book editions as yet, but rumour has it our beloved publisher is working hard to crunch files and sort that out...

Annnnnnd, not only that, but m'fine and funky co-editor Jan and I will be doing another anthology next year - that one will be the APB of Urban Mythic and details on that shall be forthcoming after Fantasycon...

03 August 2012

Book Love

Yesterday saw all sorts of lovely book type things happen -
The fabulous Lou Morgan launched her book Blood and Feathers...

... which I've read and it's awesome so you should probably go pick yourself up a copy.

That there Tom Pollock also launched his new book The City's Son....

... which I've only read extracts of so far... oh, and heard him read a bit at Eastercon (which he was quite ridiculously good at.) ... but all signs indicate that this is awesome as well!

But best of all - look what arrived in the post - as modelled by Indie cat, who is quite frustratingly covering up the author's name - Princess Nest of Wales by Kari Maund (aka the fantastic Kari Sperring)... 

... also pictured, the bonus promo pen for Kari's brand new book The Grass Kings's Concubine...

 ...which according to online sources is due out on the 7th-ish and is definitely a must-buy!

29 July 2012

Ancient Wonders innards!

Let there be w00t!  We now have the final table of contents for the upcoming Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders!

Introduction from Kari Sperring
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Bones
James Brogden – If Street
Shannon Connor Winward - Passage
Pauline E. Dungate – One Man’s Folly
Anne Nicholls - Dragonsbridge
Peter Crowther – Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day
Misha Herwin – The Satan Stones
Lynn M. Cochrane – Ringfenced
Bryn Fortey – Ithica or Bust
Adrian Cole – The Sound of Distant Gunfire
William Meikle – The Cauldron of Camulos
John Howard – Time and the City
Selina Lock – The Great and Powerful
Aliette de Bodard - Ys

Ancient Wonders will be launched in Brighton at Fantasycon on Saturday 29th September, at 10am. News on ordering details to follow shortly on the Alchemy Press website.

Meanwhile, we shall be dancing on the furniture and shrieking like mad things...  ::bouncybouncybouncy::

27 June 2012

Apocalypse Girls are Everywhere!

So, for those of you following the Girl's Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse blog, shift your bookmarks over as we've moved to a spanky new wordpress site at - www.ggsapocalypse.co.uk

Not only that... but we've now got a proper Facebook page you can like, and two (yes, two!) twitter feeds at @apocalypsegirls and @apocalypselotti.

So whatever your apocalypse needs, we have them covered! :-)

08 June 2012


Hurrah! We can haz cover! Behold, the gorgeousness that is the Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders... ta daaaah!

The fabulous artwork is by Dominic Harmon and to say we're a bit thrilled about it would be an understatement of epic proportions.

In other news, there's, ooh, 22 days left for you to get your submissions in.  Check out the the posts here, here and here for the details.  Read the guidelines, burn them into your brain, and pay attention to the theme - we're flexible on what your ancient wonder is, but real or made up, it needs to be in there somewhere. 

Meanwhile, we shall be happy-dancing all over the sofa. ;-)

05 June 2012

Quirk alert!

I sooo do this!  (And constantly suffer the ridicule of relatives for it.)

(Pic from Nerd Quirks tumblr)

03 June 2012

Oh Fortuna

Because it's too good not to share... (and I'll never, ever be able to keep a straight face when the downstairs choir sing it again.)

01 June 2012

Revision hijinx

Watching Youtube totally counts as revision.... ;-P

Although that's not quite as funny as this....

26 April 2012

Bloggity blog

Despite being fully ensconced in the last (hurrah!) assignment of the current history module, it occurs that an exo-bloggage round up is due.  Thusly, here's what's been happening...

On Shiny Shorts we've recently had reviews of The Satyr’s Head: Tales of Terror, Julian: A Christmas Story, Something Wicked #19 and Rough Music,with reviews due soon for Shimmer #14, Mammoth Book of Body Horror, The Respectable Face of Tyranny, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, and, ooh, many more... We also welcomed to the fold new reviewers Jennifer Rickard and Mario Guslandi.  (And are always looking for more volunteers to join us...)

Over on Girls' Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse I've posted on artefacts to save the world and the fairy apocalypse, and from the rest of the gang there's more gadgets and music posts, Ask the Experts with Chris Farnell, guest post from Dana Fredsti as part of her Plague Town blog tour, musings on the loss of the internet, zombie hamsters, the easter bonnet of the apocalypse, a little something on the Hunger Games, in Know Your Idols we have Commander Shepard for the Mass Effect fans and Donna Noble for the Whovians, there's also survival tricks our mothers taught us and a warning about the haggis apocalypse...

What's not to love?  ;-)

09 April 2012

Eastercon 2012 FTW!

Well, gosh. Wasn't that fun. I might even go so far as to say Best! Eastercon! Ever! (Though it being only my third one, it's a small sample pool to judge by!) Ignoring the fact that the hotel meals had reached new lows and apparently the prices in the downstairs bar were apt to bring about heart attacks, the whole event had a fantastic vibe to it that practically screamed 'this is your clan'.

And, oh, the panels! I do love me some interesting panels! The only one I missed that I really wanted to see was the archery one (looks winsomely at Fcon committee peeps in the hopes they can get an archery thingy in for Fcon this year. Pretty please?) But Saturday had a full day of funky stuff - there was Sufficiently Advanced Magic with Marcus Gipps, Juliet E. McKenna, Stephen Deas, Chris Wooding, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Shana Worthen - talking about magic systems and the developmental comparisons with technology; an utterly fantastic Gender Parity on Panels at Conventions thingy with Kari Sperring, Juliet E. McKenna, Emma Peel, Farah Mendelsohn, Kat Takenaka and Paul Cornell which I could have listened to for much longer as it was both fascinating and educational and left me thinking that maybe it wouldn't be so scary sitting up on a panel at a con; in a similar vein there was How Not to Suppress Women's Writing with Tricia Sullivan, Juliet E. Mckenna (she was busy this convention!), Penny Hill, Amy McCullock and Ian Sales, (and in vaguely related news, check out the all new Fantasy Mistressworks blog that Amanda Rutter has set up!). There was also an extremely interesting panel on A History of Feminist SF in Britain with Roz Kaveney, Lesley Hall, Andy Sawyer, Maureen Kincaid Speller and Kari Sperring which turned out to be one of those ones where I wished I had taken notes of all the names mentioned for later searching out of books.

And, oh, Saturday readings - Anne Lyle with her new book - The Alchemist of Souls - just launched and had sold out in the dealer room by Saturday afternoon. Awesome. Talking of awesome, Tom Pollock, people! Reading from his upcoming book The City's Son (out in June from Jo Fletcher Books) the man is a rock star! Has to be, hands down, the best reading I've ever been to - you don't just want to buy his book, you want to rent him to read it to you as well!

Among other delights, Sunday had Occupy the Metaverse with Tricia Sullivan, Farah Mendlesohn, Adam Roberts and Paul Graham Raven - talking about radicalism and revolution in SF, and almost got a bit heated towards the end when trade unions got mentioned...

Oh, and, I did bar stuff. I never do bar stuff. But Jan and Pete came up for the Newcon launch on Friday (Jan is in the Dark Currents anthology! You'll want to read it. Hers is a fab story of steampunky pirates.) And we plotted mad plots for Ancient Wonders and jumped innocent looking authors for possible contributions. And sat in the bar and chatted with peeps. Which is a thing that usually makes me run away screaming in the opposite direction. But it was quite nice, so I may have to try it for Fcon this year once Reg duties are done...

And there was the Game of Thrones sword-throne. (No, I didn't sit in it. But here's a picture anyway!)

And there was tech! I inherited mum's old Blackberry not long before the con so had a blast facebooking and twittering during the con, just as the gods of tech intended. Which came in handy during the BSFA awards ceremony, as I could witness the horror as it occurred on twitter instead of having to sit through it live. And those genius Eastercon peeps did a guidebook app that updated panel items and gave you the maps and schedule and all sorts. On your phone! How very cool is that? And if that's not enough, the main room stuff was filmed so you can watch some of the panels here.

And the peeps for the Bradford 8-Squared bid got the dubious pleasure of organising Eastercon next year. (That would be Juliet McKenna taking over the universe...) ;-) And apparently Eastercon will be in Glasgow in 2014.

And I didn't get lost on the way there for a change. Nor on the way back. A thing which is listed in hidden tomes somewhere as the definition of a minor miracle. All hail the transport gods!

And all in all, the whole thing was abso fabulous! Can't wait to be let out for Fantasycon in September!

01 April 2012

A little more on Ancient Wonders

Further to my last, you'll find the particular story preferences of m'fabulous co-editrix Jan on her blog here. (Whereas mine are in the last post!) All told, no matter what the setting or sub-genre, an engaging story is what we're looking for. That submission link again!

31 March 2012

Ancient Wonders

So, you may or may not have noticed that I have a bit of thing for stories about ancient sites (no, it's not just tomb raider fangirling. Although any kind of archaeological adventuring is always fun... ;-P ) Therefore, being asked if I wanted to do an anthology on ancient sites with Jan Edwards for Alchemy Press was a bit of a no-brainer. It's called The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders and is set for publication around late September and we are open for submissions, right now. (Yes, now!) ;-)

Soooooo, the necessary blurbage:

The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders

Standing stones, burial mounds, ruined castles or sunken settlements, the ancient sites that litter our landscapes have a mysterious appeal which cannot be denied.

Think myth come to life; old folktales updated; the consequences of tomb raiding; hidden guardians and secret civilisations; from archaeology to tourism; mysticism and myth; folklore to the fantastical. Take us on a journey around the esoteric and enigmatic places that cannot fail to fire the imagination. Intrigue us, thrill us, make us wonder about the where, the what and the who.

We are interested in fantasy, sf, weird and horror tales of all kinds. (No erotica, romance or poetry.)

The nit-picky official guidelines and other techy details can be found on the Alchemy Press website here

Now the official bit's done, on a personal note and in case it needs saying - we welcome stories from anyone and are looking for stories involving ancient sites found anywhere on this world, secondary fantasy worlds or other worlds, with well rounded active characters of any age, race or orientation. Make sure your settings and cultures are well researched and not exoticised and be wary of cultural appropriation (see here and here and here and here and here for more on that).

Co-editor Jan will likely be putting her own preferences up on her blog at some point (will link as and when), for me, personally I'm a fan of the type of stories found on Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld and Expanded Horizons so stories with that kind of feel are going to make me happy. I also skew more towards the fantasy and SF end of things and particularly want to see stories set in or crossing over to other worlds. Also stories where actual archaeology occurs. Especially if the site in question doesn't get destroyed at the end of it. ;-) And fun pulpy romps that don't commit crimes of cultural appropriation (as mentioned above). Ooh, and dystopian/post-apocalyptic fic. And space ships. Can we get an ancient site on a space ship? (Actually, an ancient crashed/buried space ship does technically count as an ancient site...) Do the fae get annoyed when people hijack their standing stones for riding ley lines? What happens when the local community object to a gold-digging chancer kicking over their heritage?

There's bundles of possibilities for interesting stories so bung 'em over to us.

26 March 2012

Two More To Go...

It's sunny out, rumoured, in fact, to be a bit scorchio all week, so guess what I'll be doing...

I don't really need to comment further do I? :-)

(pic from Kate Matthews via Facebook)

23 March 2012

Killer Bridesmaids

So, not-so-little-anymore sister will be getting married next year. (Cue relatives eyes lighting up at the thought of someone in that weird branch of the family doing something vaguely normal that they can talk about. Bless.) And NSLA-sis, in a fit of obvious insanity, has decided she wants me as a bridesmaid. (Guh?) In a proper dress. (Eep!) A purple one. (Oh, well, in that case… alas, my suggestion of all the bridesmaids dyeing their hair purple was nixed, however artful streaks of purple have been tentatively approved.)

Not just any old bridesmaid though, I’m to be Head Bridesmaid. (Which does make me have visions of it being more of a Head Cheerleader thing and do you think anyone would mind me doing a triple back-handspring down the aisle? Not that I could actually *do* a triple back-handspring, and where would you put the pom-poms?) But I digress. Having been given such a very responsible position, I got to thinking, just what in blazes is a Head Bridesmaid supposed to do? Frantic googling naturally ensued.

In Ancient Greece the bridesmaids were there to protect the bride from any forces of evil that might lurk in her path. Thusly, bridesmaids must be just a bit kick-ass as they’re the last line of defence between the bride and whatever Eeeeeeeevil is foolish enough to have a go. As an over-protective big sister I can definitely do that. (Goes to check the kitchen for suitable concealable weaponry, nods in satisfaction at findings. They. Will. Not. Pass.)

Legend also has it that the bridesmaids were there to confuse and distract any evil spirits who wanted to ruin the marriage. This tradition can be seen in old Roman law which stipulated that there had to be ten witnesses to the wedding – five men and five women – with the women dressing like the bride and the men like the groom. This was meant to perplex the spirits as to who, exactly, was getting married and so protect the happy couple from unwanted otherworldly attentions. Hopefully the one officiating the marriage wouldn’t be taken in by the subterfuge otherwise hijinx could very well ensue…

The Anglo-Saxons were a bit more traditional with their protection detail – in their version of events, it was the groomsmen who protected the bride from attack by the groom’s rivals/rejected suitors, as it was thought the groomsmen were better able to fight off any attacker who may want to kidnap the bride. (Obviously the Anglo Saxons hadn’t met the women of my family – potential kidnappers would not stand a chance…) While the boys were off having fun with a bit of pre-wedding hack and slash, the bridesmaids were relegated to leading the bridegroom to church. (Wave a cup of tea in front of him. Job done!)

But bridesmaids aren’t just there to play bodyguard, oh no. They’re also there to give the groom merry hell and make him prove his worthiness before he can even think of getting near the bride. The Ancient Chinese had a tradition of wedding games to help ease the tension between the happy couple and their families and one of these games was the wedding door game. This is where the bridesmaids come in to play as it was their task to block the groom from the bride’s door and set him challenges in order to prove his love for his intended. (Now, do we use one of the four different versions of Trivial Pursuit we have or send him off to find the thirteen treasures of Britain? Is throwing a dragon at him too much? How about a riddle game?)

So the evidence suggests that my bridesmaidly duty, as set out by the ancients, is to harass the groom until he’s proven his mettle, drag him to the altar for the ritual sacrifice… er, nuptials … while fending off Team Evil in a posh purple frock. Sounds like fun. :-)

[The Happy Couple-to-be]

29 February 2012

The TMA Song

Ah, essay deadlines. Got to love them. Really. And yet, it's so easy to get distracted by other OU students lamenting the oncoming cut off date of doom...

25 February 2012

Exam Planning

So have just heard when and where the scary exam for this year's history module is taking place. Not, as previously thought, at Reading Uni. Nope, somewhere far more interesting than that...

This would be Sindlesham Court, which may or may not be connected to the Berkshire Masonic Lodge next door.

Strangely, this has just wiped out about half the stress from the impending June torture as it has the bonus of being closer to home with waaay better parking than Reading Uni. Also, it's quite pretty. I may even be looking forward to the exam now... ;-P

22 February 2012

CSI: Gallifrey

So recently I've been watching a lot of CSI (I blame the mother-ship. It's all her fault. ::waves:: ;-P) and while it is a lot of fun to see Morpheus wandering around solving crime, what would be better is this...

12 February 2012

BFS Noms time

So the BFS Awards nominations are now open for business here:

You get three choices per category (aarrrrrgh, the torment!) and the top four choices with the most votes go through to the judging panels for final wossnames.

The new online voting form thingy is still a bit buggy so to ease your pain -

1) when you've entered a couple of choices, nip down to the bottom of the page and hit the 'resume later' button to save your work. Then you can pop up and add a couple more choices, then nip down and hit resume to save it. (Far less frustrating than doing the whole thing, hitting submit, getting an error message, doing the whole thing from scratch all over again, rinse and repeat until the laptop gets thrown out of the window...)

And 2) apparently there's an IP blocker on it somewhere, so if you're being helpful and providing links to some of the very excellent online magazines and stories and wotnot that really should be getting nominated... don't put the 'http://www' bit of the address in as this apparently makes the web page panic and then it's error messages and losing your noms... (here speaks the voice of experience who filled out the form many many times this morning...)

If you're short of inspiration, there's some cool picks on the Best of 2011 post I did a while back, not that I'm at all biased...

So if you're a BFS member, are attending Fantasycon 2012 or attended Fcon 2011 - hop on over to http://bfawards.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/index.php?sid=94577 and share your love of the genre...


23 January 2012

Shiny Shorts

There is no such thing as too many blogs. Really there isn't. ;-) So with that in mind, a few of us have started up a review blog specifically for all things short fiction. We'll be covering flash, short stories, novellas; podcasts, print & online magazines; anthologies & collections; fantasy, horror, SF, & crime; new releases & old favourites.

And so, announcing: Shiny Shorts!

So far we've posted reviews of Welcome to Bordertown, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #86, The Princess Trap by Peter Darbyshire (from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #11), Lavender and Lychgates by Angela Slatter (from Best New Horror #22 but originally from Sourdough and Other Stories) and The Thief of Precious Things by A. C. Wise (from Bewere the Night), and there's plenty more reviews stacked up in the post-schedule queue so drop on by and have a trawl through.

And if any of you, dear internet peeps, fancy volunteering to contribute the odd review, please do let me know - can be of single stories/audio fic, or full magazine/anthology etc. reviews, and we'll also take reprints of older reviews - the point is to share the love of all things short-fic!

Get your Shiny Shorts on! ;-P

22 January 2012

The Zombie Song

I already mentioned this over on the Girls' Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse, but it bears repeating here because, frankly, I love this song.

I give you, the gloriousness that is: The Zombie Song by Stephanie Mabey.

It was used in the closing credits of the excellent Un:Bound Video Edition: Zombies and it's such a wonderfully catchy song...

"If I were a zombie, I'd never eat your brain.
I'd just want your heart, yeah I'd want your heart..."

21 January 2012


Have you checked out the lol-tastic Un:Bound video covering the disturbing events of zombies running riot through Leicester? If not, do so - it includes interviews with acclaimed zombie experts and authors Jasper Bark, Wayne Simmons and Dave Moody.

Plus, in not entirely unrelated news... the first trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution has been released!


16 January 2012

Turtle Apocalypse Time!

It seems to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle day on Girls' Guide to the Apocalypse as I've managed two posts on the little buggers - an early warning of imminent doom in The Ninja Turtle Threat and if the thought of watching the Ninja Rap video scares you too much, there's also the Ninja Turtle cocktail to help dull the pain.

And from the other Apocalypse Girls this month can also be found more cocktails; How to Destroy Humanity - A Guide for Alien Invasion (Part 1), for the Downton Abbey fans - a poll to see which one of the Crawley sisters would survive the apocalypse; more music, reading and accessories; a giveaway of Jonathan Maberry's 'King of Plagues' and, ooh, loads more.

Check us out here!

12 January 2012

Apocalypse Girls with a Pornokitsch Twist!

I think this definitely calls for a tee-hee moment - for, lo, the Apocalypse Girls have been interviewed over on that there Pornokitsch, talking about the appeal of the Apocalypse and how the Girls' Guide came into being...

07 January 2012

Shiny Shorts: The Princess Trap

Found in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #11, The Princess Trap by Peter Darbyshire is a wonderfully fun story about a dragon, a not-really princess, the inevitable knights that cross their path and the mutually beneficial arrangement they work out between them.

Saleema is an orphan sheepherder who dreams of being a queen but when she loses her flock to a dragon intent on settling down nearby, necessity forces her to work with the dragon in order to survive. Being a smart young lady of quite sensible character she soon turns the dragon's hunger and the questing knights assorted demises to her advantage, sowing the seeds for what is going to be a quite useful partnership for both of them.

This is a lighthearted romp of a tale with a heroine who succeeds through her own cleverness and adaptability and promises the continuance of interesting things after the story has ended, which is always a good thing. Love it!