Category Archives: NEWS POSTS

Newspost # 10

Oh, it’s been a while since I updated you on stuff, hasn’t it? Too long I think, so I’ll try and do better job of things in future. Slackness is ever with me, raiding my fridge, messing up my DVD collection, forgetting to pay its half of the bills… So here goes a catchup. First few items are about the past, later ones about forthcoming events. Sure you’ll work it all out.


  • Vampsov 38, my forthcoming novel, is proceeding through its edit. The first chapter has been done and the editor seems happy. Hope to plough on and get things done. I have an author page on facebook now (not that there’s much to say at the minute, but if you want to get in at the ground floor, so to speak…) 
  • I have a story coming up in a forthcoming anthology. All a bit hush-hush at the mo, which is a bit paradoxical, but heigh-ho. 
  • Phoenix writers is growing in numbers and scope. Already have 20 members on the E-mail list and have started work on getting a website, critique guidelines etc together. Excitig times.
  • Still on Phoenix writers, Leah and Maria both completed Nanowrimo and Mary Essinger was featured on Radio 4s Womans Hour (talking about her non-fiction book ‘How to be a merry widow’). Leah also had some exciting news which might involve the future purchase of a double pushchair. Congratulations! 
  • Guillermo Sheridan, the Mexican author shared a comment on Floppybootstomp. Woohoo! So loved his book El Dedo de Oro, so happy he stopped by.
  • The Brightside Cabaret is a new (to me) spoken word event gracing the fair city of Leicester. Must go and see them sometime. Shortfuse, as per usual, continues apace. 
  • My campaign to bring SF/Fantasy/Horror conferences to Leicester has worked! I am therefore solely responsible for the bringing of Alt.Fiction (April 14-15th) to the Phoenix and the Discover Festival (May 18th – 20th ) being brought to Coalville. In an act of magnanimous humility, I will be reading a short piece on the open mic at Alt.Fiction (seriously, thanks Adele Wearing for the opportunity!). 
  • March 17th also sees the now regular States of Independence small press bookfair taking place at De Montfort University. I’ll be going to catch up with friends and browse the bookstands. Always an enjoyable event. And on St Patrick’s day too. 
  • One of my fellow Speculators (Leicester’s foremost and only SF/Fantasy/Spec Fic writers group), has bagged themselves a top London Agent. Can’t say any more right now but it is thoroughly deserved as X’s writing is superb.

And that’s all for now. I leave you with a Carrotnapper short play, currently in play on a number of radio stations… enjoy.


News Post # 9

 The last news report of the year from Floppybootopia. The clocks have just gone forward (or is it back?), Sven Goran Erikson and Liam Fox have both been booted out of their sinecures (although to be fair, Sven isn’t a corrupt croney-favouring scumbag, he just lost a game to Millwall), Gadaffi has been ousted, protests against the banks are intensifying and Denmark and Thailand have elected their first women presidents. Out with the old, in with the new, that seems to be the sign of the times. If that is so, an old geezer like myself is in for a rude shock at some point…

 # Starbase Leicester is now 6 years old and has moved from reception class to Big School. They had a party and cake and stuff. At the last minute I had to cancel my attendance, which was annoying. Still, happy birthday, SBLites.

 # Will Ellwood sold a story to Flurb! If you don’t know what Flurb is, I’ll tell you. It’s an online magazine of Speculative fiction run by Rudy Rucker and held in extremely high esteem by the SF world. In the same issue as Will, little known author Bruce Sterling also had a story.

 # The Grassroutes project has been launched! Your esteemed self is the list of authors and is pleased as punch to be there.

 # Saw the production of J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls at the new Curve. Nice to see such a great play put on again. Thought the acting was top notch but the staging seemed a bit odd. Particularly as a lot of the action seemed to take place in a dolls house. Still, the production won me over as it did reference a lot of the Soviet ideology that inspired the play (first performed in Moscow, dontcha know…)

 # My extra-curricular activities are boundless. Went to see Leicester play Barnsley in the league with my amigo Miguel and his dad. Met my mate Wayne Exley there before the match for a few pints. Can’t remember much about the game, apart from the fact that I got sun-burnt. In fact I’m probably the only person ever to catch sunburn at Oakwell on consecutive years.

 # Phoenix Writers have been busy. We hosted Bead Roberts as a guest on September the 17th and held an open day on October the 1st. Five new faces joined us for a writing session and as many again have dropped in since. It seems that the whole thing is starting to take off.

 # Still at the Phoenix, a short film festival with over 20 local films packed out the building in September 24th. I attended the event with Maria Smith and Keith Large, who had written and produced two of the films ‘The Ticket Collector’ and ‘Refrigerator’. Both were very well received. A big shout out too to Big Society, a cracking little satire I’ve embedded below:

 # Three days before that (Saturday 20th) I trolled up to Waterstones to a book signing by local fantasy writer Mark Chadburn. A great guy who I knew from Twitter (i.e. we were complete strangers), but we had a great little chat. Also met up there with assorted speculators (Catherine Digman, Jenny Walklate, Damien Walter and the aforementioned Will Ellwood). The highlight of the visit was the GodCake provided by Adele Wearing. Yum. Yuuummm… Oh, yeah, where was I, right, OK, Mark Chadbourn. Bought a copy of his Elizabethan fantasy adventure The Scar-Crow Men. A great read that introduced me to a whole new universe of great books.


# Get Leicester Reading, the festival of all things literary, gets better every year. A highlight this time was the appearance of writers writing in Waterstone’s window. Maria Smith gives the lowdown on Keith Large’s appearance here. Will, Damien. Keith Morley and others also took their turn as window displays.

# Still on Get Leicester Reading, a highlight of the whole thing was the ‘Science vs Science Fiction’ debate between Peter F Hamilton and Professor George Fraser, director of Space Research at Leicester Uni. A great and thought provoking debate and only the 2nd time I’d been in the new library since it moved venues.

# Jim Worrad has returned to England following his sojourn in San Diego on the Clarion workshop. He continues to amaze and astound. He did miss out on the Speculators lock-in with Kasabian at the Dos Hermanos bar last week though, bad luck, Jim.

Kasabian. They stick to session bitters because a tummy upset is just not worth it.

Blimey! What a lot of news there is… Haven’t got time to wish you all a happy Halloween and Bonfire Night and Solstice and Day of The Dead have I? Thought not.

Newspost — 8

Greetings and salutations and a jolly summer to you all. Plenty of stuff happening to tell you about, so let’s get down to brass tacks. First, I had a huge influence on local politics, oh yeah. I brushed past Peter Soulsby at a public event (he was later elected Mayor of Leicester; I’d like to think his walking past me as I headed up Rutland street had a decisive impact on his campaign). On the other hand, I totally missed the zombie invasion of Leicester. Can’t win them all.

But back to the real world…

* Krys Wysocki and Richard Farren Barber have both recently had their writing appear in anthologies. It’s always great when friends find success. A tip of the old topper to you guys.

Krys Wysocki, Brenda Bernard and other people I know appeared here (A Leicester Writing School Anthology, published by Pewter Rose)

* James (Jim) Worrad has flown off to San Diego in California to take part in the 2011 Clarion SF Writers Workshop. He’ll spend six weeks writing, scrunching up his Panama hat in frustration and doing unspeakable things to space-sharks. He’s even started blogging, so he must be serious. Bon chance, mon ami.

* StarBase Leicester co-hosted the Phoenix SF film festival. A stonking success that hosted a rare showing of 2001, A Space Odyssey. The event also held a signing by SF writer Gavin Smith. Me, I watched Moon and Brazil (again) and talked to a lot of people. Great day all round. The Phoenix will soon become the ‘home’ of StarBase as the Dark Side Cafe is (sadly) facing closure.

2001: walking down corridors with attitude

* Not straying from the venue, the Phoenix Writers organized their own all-day hogfest. Me, I presented a workshop on Shaggy Dog Stories – Don’t ask me why I like them, I just do – and others hosted equally interesting sessions. Maria Smith gives an overview of it all here..

* Alt.Fiction returned this year (and I attended a fab Sunday session). It really is a great little festival, putting us in the East Midlands on the map. Went to a couple of workshops hosted by Dan Abnett and Juliet McKenna which were both good.


* The Grassroutes Project is busy rootling out multicultural writers based in Leicester.. It’s even going to publish a guide comparing Leicester and London in terms of writing talent (hardly fair on the vain, inconsequential metropolitan pseuds, but there you go). If you are a multicultural writer, or know someone who fits the bill, get in touch with Corinne Fowler at Leicester University

* Get Leicester Reading is gearing up for October. It seem that The Speculators will be running an event or two, possibly in the Central Library and probably with high-profile invited guests. I have put myself at the disposal of Damien Walter (who knows about these things) to help out where and when needed.

* Started on a new writing project and seriously considering self-publishing. All I need is an illustrator and an editor to get things into shape before releasing them to the world. According to the Guardian, it’s the way to go. A big advantage is that you can set a price that doesn’t rip off your readers like conventional E-publishers are doing.

* Mark E Cotterill has left the editorship of The Avatar (StarBase Leicester’s fanzine). It’s a shame he’s gone (although his new pet project is learning to fly a helicopter, which seems quite exciting). Good luck to Mark and to the Avatar for the future. Hope they both do well.


News Post — 7


 Ooh, been months since I updated you on what’s been happening in my little corner of the multiverse. As always, there have been big chunks of ennui, despond and insouciance to get through, and the world outside is getting scarier by the day (see New Zealand -quake, Japan -Tsunami, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran – political turmoil, Portugal – economic meltdown… etc) but apart from the impending apocalypse, the main edited FBS news highlights are these:

* Jim Worrad has been accepted to the 2011 Clarion Workshop in San Diego. This six-week Californian summer school trains the next generation of superstar SF/Fantasy writers and is usually taught by top genre authors (John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear) as the students’ writing skills are honed through constant workshopping. Congratulations, Jimmy boy! Sadly, even this life-changing opportunity has a downside. Poor Jim has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the authorial fast-track of webdom. This involved the ignominy of signing up for facebook and twitter. Facebook, as it does, suddenly threw up a bunch of long-forgotten embarrassing images of poor ol’ Jim. This one is perhaps the best of them.

Jim Worrad in a fin de siecle mood (I guess).

* A bunch of writers I’ve been meeting with for ages to critique our scribbles has just got a name and logo (see below). I remember our early get-togethers in pubs, cafes and wherever we could commandeer a table to share writing, gossip and future plans. Well, we finally have some status as the Phoenix Square Cinema has given us a place on their website. We are now official! So, to my fellow ‘Phoenix Writers’; Maria Smith, Keith Morley, Keith Large, Sheila Kondras, Krys Wysocki, Pat Kings, Pete Kings, Sally Knight and Brenda Bernard, a tip o’ the ol’ topper from me.


* I have had a number of stories and articles appear since I last posted. Mostly, these have been in horror publications (Dead Mans Tome, Violent! (forthcoming) and Sex & Murder). The Avatar also published a wee story of mine in their third issue. Meanwhile, I had a couple of articles on this very blog featured in the Starbase Leicester/Avatar 2011 Annual.


* Talking of Starbase, they held a couple of fun events that I managed to attend. A Quiz Night (February) and a Superhero Night (March) both held in Lucie’s splendid Dark Side Cafe. Word on the street is that there will be a Starbase film festival at the Phoenix Square in the summer. May 7th

* Conferences seem extremely popular at the mo. A bunch of people I know are off to Eastercon in Birmingham, I myself ventured to the 2nd States of Independence day conference organized for the small presses of the Midlands. Catherine Digman is also going to the York literary festival and is rounding up a possee for Winchester.   Alt.Fiction is coming round again as well. All go, it is.

* The Speculators, ‘Leicester’s Foremost Speculative Fiction Writers Group’ ™ is growing. We’re going to need a bigger room as weekly meeting numbers are starting to regularly attract double figures. Plans are afoot for more dreams and schemes and circus crowds that will hit the pipeline as soon as poss.

* Started reading lots of fantasy and sci-fi to bring my knowledge up to date. So far I’m faced with a China Mieville, a Gaiman, an RR Martin and a Bacigalupi. It should be fun, but the door-stop sizes do intimidate me somewhat. On a side-note, my WWII Stalinist vampire novel, Vampsov 1938 is now finally complete and looking for a publisher/agent. If I don’t place it within a year, gentle readers, I’ll let you have a free copy for your kindles/i-pads. If I do place it, drinks are on the house.

* Comic Book Classics will be on a hiatus for a few months. I have sixteen cracking comic books/authors in the series and I need to make sure the site does not become unbalanced in terms of content. It will be back in a few months, I expect, when I’ve run out of other stuff to write about.

Sorry kids, no more comics for a while...

All the best and may the springtime be kind to you.

News Post -6-

 Season’s Greetings. The calendar year is coming to an end and we have exited the age of mellow fruitfulness to run facelong into an icy gloom that would gladden a Narnian witch-queen. Morally we have also gotten colder. The new government has lost no time in reaffirming Tory values. The milk of human kindness has curdled into the cream cheese of I’m-alright-Jack. It pains my bitter, atheist heart to say this, but we really need the Christmas spirit this year…


Be very afraid...

So here’s the news since my last update (September, wasn’t it?). Lots to tell ya, so there is.


** In October I was invited to read a story out at the Halloween Shortfuse event. For those who don’t know, it’s Leicester’s best spoken word event. I contributed a vampire story that had previously appeared in The Avatar and also read a story by Northampton writer and playwright Stephen Loveless. Enjoyed the event immensely. Fellow Speculators Catherine, Damien and Will were also there (Will Ellwood also read out at the event). Later, I was invited to Polly Tucket’s birthday do (she organizes and compères Shortfuse). Excellent night. A round of applause from a public in fancy dress followed by birthday cake. Can’t ask for more, can you?


** My contribution to Sex & Murder (the magazine, of course).


** Nanowrimo came and went and a number of writers took up the insane challenge of writing a novel in a mere month. Madness! Surprisingly, a bunch of people actually made it. So congratulations to Maria, Sally and Lucy. Awesome achievement.


** Starbase Leicester goes from strength to strength. This Christmas they have an Annual out (just like the Beano or Viz, it’s a lovely thing). I have an article in it too.


** Leicester is crawling with film-makers. We’re going to need a big white HOLLYAYLESTONE sign or something. First, there’s Keith Large, who has had one of his ‘Laughs From Leicestershire’ plays adapted for the screen (By the aforementioned Stephen Loveless). Maria Smith has also had one of her short stories adapted (one previously published in The Speculator, edited by yours truly). Here’s the trailer for it, if I can work out how embedding works.


Furthermore, crime writer Rod Duncan is also engaged in a spot of film making (A production with the intriguing title of ‘£43’) and Graham Joyce’s new novel ‘The Silent Land’ has been optioned for Hollywood itself. This brings me to..


** The book-launch for ‘The Silent Land’ took place on December 14th at Kibworth Cricket Club (An impressive pavilion building). Graham kept it short and sweet, speaking for just a few minutes before letting the attendees – a surprisingly large number, I thought – get back to the bar, mulled wine and mince pies. The event was organized by the Kibworth independent bookshop. It was a great way to acknowledge the value of independent bookshops. Thanks to Selina and Jay for the lift there and back.


** Rumours are that Judith Allnatt’s excellent novel ‘The Poet’s Wife’ will feature on Waterstones’ 3 for 2 tables in the new year, coinciding with the books’ paperback release. Go get one.


** Novacon 40 came to Nottingham this year and I went to two days of the three day event. Really enjoyed the social side of it and got to chat to Iain M Banks and Charlie Stross – and nodded to Brian Aldiss as he walked by me. Sadly, Harry Harrison could not make it due to health problems. I was disappointed as I have a first edition of ‘The Stainless Steel Rat For President’ I wanted him to sign. It was a shame he couldn’t be there. I did enjoy talking to a bunch of new people (I bent the ear of the conference organizers to get them to come to Leicester), flinching with pain as James Worrad spent oodles of cash at the auction and the fire alarm on Sunday night. I even missed my train back…


Iain M Banks. "If you want 'The Culture' to become real, cancel your Sky subscription."!

** A recent news story has brought back a lot of memories, not all of them pleasant. A decade ago I was training as a languages teacher and spending a semester in Perpignan, learning French. From there it is just a hop across the border and an easy train journey to Barcelona where I still have family. There I managed to connect with a childhood friend (my next-door neighbour, no less). He was (and is) a successful editor at a major publisher. We met for drinks on a couple of occasions and he told me of some Spanish investigative journalists working in the old Yugoslavia who were now in hiding. They had stumbled upon a criminal organization involved in the trafficking of human organs to Western Europe. This group had links to governments, law enforcement and even the EU. These journalists had been threatened if they talked, but they relied on my friend to help bring these atrocities to light. Sad to say my friend and I parted on bad terms. It was all my fault. I was besotted with a woman I had no business getting involved with and behaved rudely and stupidly to a lot of people, including him. I was a total dick, in fact. Recently a report has emerged linking the president of Kossovo and the EU to a trade in human organs involving Serbian POW’s fattened up in hidden Kossovar jails, who were then killed and their organs sold on to private clinics in Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. I’d like to think that my friend had some part in exposing this sickening trade. In any event I’ll have to go back to Spain. I need to apologize to a good man and make amends.


** Finally, it’s a sad goodbye to Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) who passed away on Saturday. He was a true original and one of the most original voices in rock music. The name of this blog derives from one of his songs (‘The Floppybootstomp’ on his album Shiny Beast). Rest in peace, Don, it’s a poorer world now you have left us.

Don Van Vliet

News Post –5–

  September draws to a close, mellow fruitfulness turns into just plain cold, darkness descends on the land as we hunker down to the new regime of austerity. As we speak there is a coup d’etat boiling away in Ecuador and Mad Men has been snapped up by SKY TV in their quest to trash the telly. Pay your taxes, Rupe, then go screw yourself.

Resistence to Coups d'etat. Not that easy...

But better news is afoot in the collective dingley-dell of my fair city. Here’s some of the highlights.

** Avatar issue one was great (I was in it) could it get much better? Oh, yes. Avatar 2 is now out with a story of mine. Again! So happy.

** Last night Graham Joyce came to visit The Speculators. He gave a really insightful talk about how he goes about the whole writing thing. He even gave out copies of his novel Requiem to those in attendance. Interesting to hear his views on re-writes (he does about four for each novel manuscript, the first being about structure, the last a line-by-line polish. Interesting stuff). I will probably blog more extensively about it unless someone else beats me to it.

** Speculostarbaser friends Chris Burnham and Mark Cotterill have both started blogs. Well done, dudes! The trick is to just keep going (as far as I’m aware that’s the trick. Might not be of course).

** Just read a fantastic novel The Five Moons of Planet Shangar. Probably the best high fantasy concept since, well, since Tolkien was a lad. Who is the author, though? And what will be the fate of the Princess Miskatonia?

** Couldn’t make it to Fantasycon (Holding out for Novacon and Newcon later in the year). Sad I missed it, particularly as Factor Fiction were up for a prize again (beaten by the mullet-headed Gaiman, but that’s no shame is it?).

** My retro kick is going into furious overdrive. Been reading Edgar Wallace, Sapper (Bulldog Drummond) and Mickey Spillane recently. Boy, those old timers could do plot! Lots of good technique in there as well as a few cultural gems (apparently the phrase “do you get me?” was around in the 1930s).

Mickey Spillane

** On a related old-time thang, my sister (a member of the Hazelmere Players amdram soc.) got to play a bit part in a professional production of Agatha Christie’s Witness For The Prosecution. Went down to see her on stage (she was just a member of the jury, no speaking, just there as a spearcarrier). Play was great, typical Christie – three plot twists in last two minutes – well done the Wycombe Swan theatre and cast.


** Met the talented John Coster, who runs the Citizen’s Eye newsagency. He has a plan to train up 2012 community reporters to cover the Olympic  games. It sounds an amazing project. Might even break the habit of a lifetime and volunteer.

** By next week the Getting Leicester Reading project should be cranking up. Lots of good stuff happening including Will Ellwood’s ‘Kick’ creative writing sessions, lots of stuff coordinated by The Bookdoctor, The Literacy Network, Writing East Midlands etc. Not involved myself (work and stuff getting in the way) but I will try and support events if I can.

+++NEWS POST 4+++

 Well, halfway through July and things are looking peachy at Floppybootstomp Villas. Spain have won the World Cup thanks to an octopus, Paul Gascoigne made an attempt to be the next Cracker by talking a murderous psycho into giving himself up (the police didn’t let him. Spoilsports) and BP have stopped pumping crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. For a day or two at least.

Rafa Nadal, fresh from Wimbledon, with the World Cup

Personally the highlights of the past couple of months include:

** Publication of a short story in the veteran E-zine Aphelion. An early story featuring Malcolm Brook, the beer-swilling, part-inventor of teleportation. I’m glad the story, ‘Grandfather’s Axe’ has found a good home.

** My first ever stint as a judge on a literary competition. Can’t say much about it as the results are yet to be published, but it was an eye-opening experience into the world of editors and the like.

** The spectacular launch of The Speculator. Placed in the position of editor, with the sterling help of Jay Eales and the other Speculators, we put together a 12 page newspaper in less than 14 days. An awesome achievement, especially as the paper was distributed free at the Alt.Fiction conference to all the attendees. It’s put The Speculators on the map in terms of SF writer’s groups. Are we the top dogs in the East Midlands? Hell, yeah!

** Look out for conference overload in the following months. Novacon, FantasyCon, NorCon, Asylum and Literary Leicester are all looming. I hope to get to a few of these at least.

** Tory ‘Shock and Awe’ tactics are in full swing. Jeremy Hunt, new minister for the DCMS has announced 50% budget cuts from this year. I imagine the lights will start going out all over the cultural/literary scene very soon. We are already losing Leicester’s Central Library, organisations like Writing East Midlands must be bracing themselves for massive cuts and possible closure, educational provision that isn’t ring-fenced will also be slashed. Horrid times ahead for the writer’s ecosystem.

** Starbase Leicester will be launching the 2nd print issue of ‘Avatar’ in October. Issue 1 was a fantastic publication, I hope the next issue lives up to the first (I’ll have a story in it, I think!). Go Starbase!

Starbase Leicester on the big screen!

** CarrotNapper news: Keith Large took his trio of plays Laughs From Leicestershire to the Buxton Fringe Festival, London and the main ADC theatre in Cambridge. All this is a prelude to the main event; A Week-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe. The cast now includes seasoned TV actor Jeff Stewart (Reg Hollis in The Bill), who I’m tipping as the next Dr Who after the bland, charmless Matt Smith pisses off to Hollywood to make bland, charmless movies with Ben Affleck and Adam Sandler. Don’t come back.

Jeff Stewart and 'assistants'

** Writing School Leicester is revamping its curriculum. Saturday Manuscript Writer’s Clinics are set to go and be replaced. I met a great many good writers at these events and I’m sorry to see them go. Hope that Val Moore and the gang can keep up the high standard of their courses (particularly in such a difficult economic climate).

** Two events for October: Get Leicester Reading week; a great effort to raise awareness o literacy issues and just how much help is out there. All splendidly run by Damien G Walter. He also organizes Save Our ‘Zines Day which encourages people to buy/subscribe to at least 1 new publication on the day. Something that is desperately needed by all small press/amateur publications.

** Just found out there is another Floppybootstomp website and it’s just been stopped. It was far more popular than mine (hardly surprising) and featured rock music and girls with no clothes on — not a bad idea come to think of it! Sadly, since the site’s demise, a number of the readers of the original site have been directed here instead. Sorry guys. I feel dirty for stacking up all the ‘hits’ that should by rights be going to someone else. No hard feelings, right?

And that’s the news…

+++NEWS POST+++ April 2010

*** Ah, springtime in Leicester. Could anything embody both hope and despair so poignantly as a sunny day on the Welford Road? Anyway, lots has been happening to tell ya. Most recent first, the St Georges Day celebrations. Leicester got its own walk of fame, a stall selling St George cupcakes or somesuch tat was placed strategically in front of the door of an “adult” club on Orton Square (Joe would have approved) and the Lord Mayor and his entourage inaugurated the whole shebang. Me, I enjoyed the day with friends: Maria, Keith and Damien. It was a grand day out.

*** Next day (Sunday) I was at a film showing by Starbase Leicester at the New Phoenix. It was Captain Sam’s birthday and the event was her treat. The films shown were Goonies and Dark City. I enjoyed one of these more than the other. Overall, though, another grand day out. Thanks, Sam!

*** Still on the subject of Starbase, their first print version of their fanzine (The Avatar) was launched to coincide with EasterCon. Yours truly has a couple of short stories in there, here’s the link to one of them.


*** The Speculators SF writers group has an incredibly talented membership. In the last few months Will Ellwood had founded the Kick school of creative writing, Catherine Digman has started hosting writer’s meditation days, Emma Matthews has had a story accepted for New Fairy Tales, Richard Barber has got himself on the Writing East Midlands mentoring scheme, Maria Smith is a competition winner, Jon Vagg and Damien Walter have sold stories hither and yon and Selina Lock and Jay Eales are still producing top-of-the-range comics at FactorFiction. Will and Catherine have recently read at Shortfuse too.You rock, dudes.

*** A Carrot Napper exclusive. Keith Large’s play Carrot Nappers will soon be available as a podcast. Keith is also taking his three-play combo Laughs From Leicestershire to the Buxton Fringe and then on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Yes THE EDINBURGH FRINGE!!! Amazing. There is even a website.

Carrot Napper Crew "Podcasting" in a beer garden.

*** The States Of Independence Independent Press Day saw the regions’ small publishers congregate at DMU (in the pouring rain) for the day – March 20th – A great little conference with lots of interesting stuff going on. On the 24th of March, a Jane Wenham-Jones night was hosted in Loughborough. Another top literary event.

*** Damien G Walter put on a show. Well, the Writers Industries Conference, anyway. It seems to have created a buzz around the creative industries. Graham Joyce gave a rip-roaring opening address and the panels were all interesting and thought provoking. Well done to one and all. I had a meeting with an agent who set me straight on a few things… I ponder his words as we speak.

Writing Industries Conference panel. All keeping their arms crossed

*** Bryan Talbot, subject of my first Comic Books post, is coming to Leicester in June. Hooray!!

*** The Alt.Fiction conference in Derby seems to be taking shape. Its curves are filling out, make up is being applied with taste and sassiness, it’s hairdo looks sensational. It will be clipping along in its high heels and making your heart jump in no time. 12th of June, babe, that’s when she’ll be ready for you.

*** I am now on Facebook. Haven’t tried twitter yet, but as soon as my soul plumbs the depths required, I will let you know.

*** Nicola J Vincent will be submitting my next guest-post. Won’t say much about it yet, but it promises to be a cracker.


 ** A fab LOROS fundraising evening on January 30th! A Spooky Night At The Leicester Guildhall gathered a wealth of local writing talent to entertain the local cognoscenti. Here’s the Roll-call: authors Graham Joyce and Judith Allnatt, actress Genevieve Cleghorn, Scriptwriter Stephen Loveless, Speculators Damien G Walter, JW, Maria Smith and myself, up-and-coming writers Sheila Kondras, Krys Wysocki and (all the way from Shropshire) Nicola Vincent. Promising young talent Brian also shone. Great credit must go to the organizer of the event, Keith Large and LOROS’s Marisa Spitieri (incidentally you can challenge Marisa to do things for charity. If anyone has a tin bath, I’ve got half a packet of custard powder in the cupboard. We could make her sit in a bath of custard beside the Clock Tower).

L-R Brian, Marisa Spitieri and Keith Large at the Guildhall

I read out a short little story of my own called “Life In Film” I also unleashed my werewolf mask on the Leicester public. In an uncanny twist of fortune, I also won the raffle. A big thanks to all my fellow performers, to Keith and Marisa, the really helpful staff at the Guildhall who even cleared up for us after the event and to all of those who attended. You were all outstanding.

Me. Reading

** A rumour is going round that Graham Joyce is to come and visit the Speculators. I am a late convert to his writing (I’ve just read the Tooth Fairy –which only came out in 1996 – and I’ll never go near a carp again…), but it is truly top notch stuff.

** My computer died this month. In Nomines Patris Et Filis Et Espiritus Sanctus, Amen. May my hard drive rest in peace.

** I am attending the Writers Industries Conference and an evening with Jane Wenham-Jones in March. Both are great events which allow ample schmoozing time with other writers. I’m down for the lamb and the chocolate cake at the JW-J evening. At last, a decent meal.

** I’m also attending some cool writing courses at the Leicester Writing School. Apart from the Saturday Manuscript Clinics, where I’m polishing my new Vampsov-1938 from a Toyota hatchback into a chrome-finned sexmobile, I am in the last week of Polly Tuckett’s course on writing prose for performance. The course Writing Out Loud is great and full of really awesome writers. Polly runs the Shortfuse evenings at the Y Theatre for prose performance. They are always a good night out.

** Off to the new Phoenix soon. Never been before, but the prospect of seeing “Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter” is about to tempt me from my lair. It’s on on the 19th at 11 pm, if anyone else fancies going.

** They are “restructuring” Leicester’s libraries. What this means is that the Central Library will close. The Records Library will now become the Central Library. Both collections will have to share one building and the music collection will be buried in a library nobody can get to without taking three buses and crossing into a parallel dimension where the City Council gives a shit. The vacated library building will now be used to train job-seekers in finding non-existent work (So at least there will still be plenty of fiction going on there).

** In contrast, Northampton’s main library is celebrating it’s centenary. Last year it was renovated and now looks amazing. Let’s see if Leicester’s changes result in anything half as good.

++++NEWS POST++++

Yep. There’s a lot of exciting things afoot at Floppybootstomp Compress. Some real treats for you all to warm those cockles during the winter months.

# My last post on Carrot Nappers went global (Well, it was picked up by the Literature Network*…). All kinds of writers were kind enough to compliment the report as well as Keith’s excellent play. Simon Whaley now wears a ‘Nappers T-shirt while writing his next blockbuster!

Simon Whaley in his snuggly Carrot Napper T



# I am pleased to announce two new series for the blog. These will appear monthly and will, with any luck, become regular features. I am quite excited about them and have begun to plan their development over the next year. 2010 holds some promise, I can tell you!

The first series I am unveiling today, is a monthly guest-spot. We’re kicking off in December with successful and talented author, Judith Allnatt (Northamptonshire Libraries most borrowed author, 2008). The series is planned to run until July. Some guests may be familiar, others surprising. I am sure, however, that they will all be of interest to writers, readers and casual browsers alike.


My next trick is a series on Comic-Book Classics. A long-neglected art-form, I hope to give you some insights into the treasures that they hold. Armed with nothing but my PhD in Mexican press cartoons, I will dispense what little wisdom I’ve gleaned from a lifetime studying these beautiful objects. First in the series (Also in December), is The Tale Of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot.

# The Alt.Fiction 2010 conference website should be up and running soon. On there you can (probably) find Chapter 1 of the novel I’m presently working on, with the snappy title of Vampsov. It’s a simple tale of vampire hunting in the USSR at the beginning of WW II. It’s still a work in progress, but I have a good feeling about it.

# I am performing as a werewolf. On stage, for charity (I wouldn’t do it otherwise). If you want to witness this travesty, it is taking place on Saturday 30th of January 2010, 6.30 pm @ Leicester Guildhall. It’s a Loros fundraiser with lots of fun events planned. Entrance fee is 10 quid.

# Places remain on a number of courses at the Writing School Leicester.* You can book online from their website. More useful and better value than 99% of creative writing MAs.

# The Speculators, Leicester’s coolest SF/Fantasy Writing group, are still meeting regularly on Wednesday nights at the Friends Meeting House, Queen’s Road.* Beer and cheese-boards afterwards. Come and join the fun!  


Speculators and their hats (L-R) Phil, Rob, Me, Damien, Catherine. Seated: Rhin, Jim, Denis and Emma


# Check out my interview with prize-winning Evington screenwriter, Mehul Desai. You can find it in Avatar, the E-zine for the Starbase Leicester group.* If you are curious about Starbase, do drop in to one of their events. You won’t find a more friendly (and vocal) group of Sci-Fi enthusiasts anywhere.   


SBL do a newsletter too! Hooray!



* My blogroll (the list of links on the right of your screen) gives you access to all the groups mentioned.


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