Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Gemmell Award News

Awesome news from those funky people at the David Gemmell Awards...


New Award Categories

"When we established The David Gemmell Legend Award For Fantasy it was with the intention of subsequently introducing further award categories to cover other aspects of the fantasy genre. We are now pleased to announce two new, additional awards, to be presented at next year’s ceremony. They are -

The David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Newcomer
The David Gemmell Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art

"The Morningstar Award will give recognition to emerging talent in the field of fantasy fiction. As David Gemmell always took a keen interest in new writers, and helped many onto the path to publication, we regard this as an appropriate category to add, and one we feel sure David would have approved.

"The Ravenheart Award will honour the best fantasy book cover art. The importance of fantasy cover art deserves admiration, as do the artists who produce it, yet there is no major UK award acknowledging this. The Ravenheart Award will fulfil that role.

"Like the Legend Award, the winners of these new awards, for best debut author and best cover/artist, will be decided by popular vote. The first Legend Award, for best fantasy novel of the year, presented at a ceremony in London in June of this year, garnered an incredible 11,000 votes from around the world. We are confident that the Morningstar and Ravenheart awards, which are being created with the full approval of the Gemmell family, will be greeted with no less enthusiasm.

"Details of the process whereby these new awards will be administered can be found on our website.

"Our aim is to establish, over time, a set of awards covering all aspects of the fantasy genre. Launching this pair of new awards takes us a step nearer to that objective.

"The 2010 David Gemmell Awards ceremony will again be held at The Magic Circle headquarters in London, on Friday 18th June."

Another Sale for Mike!

News hot off the press!
We've just heard that Alchemy member Mike Chinn has sold his story 'Welcome to the Hotel Marianas' to Pill Hill Press for their anthology of spooky sea stories entitled - The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror (Edited by Jessy Marie Roberts)

The Bitter End is due to be released in April 2010.

Huge congrats to our Mike!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Spotlight on Debbie

Inspired by celtic mythology and classic fairy tales, Debbie Bennett's story Daughter of Lir won second prize in the David Gemmell Cup in 1995/1996 (an annual short story competition held by the Hastings Writer's Group and originally judged by David Gemmell himself...)

Daughters of Lir was republished in the Fantasycon 2000 souvenir programme book under the name Cally Andrews and can now be found in Debbie's collection of short stories, Cherry Picks, which is posted on Authonomy.

Daughter of Lir

There’s a keen wind off the cliffs tonight. Banshees wail in harmony with the mournful cries of the seagulls that circle above the waves. The tide is in too, a rhythmic pounding on the rocks – the sea’s heartbeat growing stronger as the hour approaches. There is a feeling of anticipation in the darkness; lives have changed, battles been won and kingdoms lost on nights such as this.

Standing on the headland, by the edge of the crumbling chalk with hair stinging his face like a thousand tiny insects, he waits and watches as he’s waited and watched for what may be a hundred lifetimes. If he closes his eyes, faces the wind and looks with an inner vision, he can see forever out there in the ocean.

But it’s not forever he’s looking for. Not tonight with the memories strong and the image of her so clear in his mind it’s as if time itself has looped back for him, giving him another chance to reach out for her, hold on to her and keep her as he’s kept her love in his heart for so long.

Aisling is her name. Daughter of the Gods and forbidden to one of his kind. Aisling, who came to him on a night like this and left him with such a longing that life became meaningless without her. A sea vision, the sailors said – a child of the ocean sent to snare mortal souls with such beauty and song that could charm the angels from heaven itself and make them seem pale shades, ghostly silhouettes against the spell of the children of Lir. Superstition and yet he believes, for he can hear her now, hear the haunting melodies in the wind and the sea.

There is a power in the song, and power still in the singing.

But his Aisling has no need of such weapons. He is already under her spell and willingly. They have pledged their love for one another and though he knew her time was short, he has her promise to hold onto. And when her father called her home, she swore to return one day, to love him as only a child of the Gods can love.

So each year he waits on the headland and listens to the voices of the sea, secure in an unearthly love for a woman who is not mortal. Each year he listens for the song and hears only the banshees’ cries, premonitions of a death for which he can only dream until he finds her again. For the love of a God carries the price of eternity and he knows he will never find peace without Aisling.

The wind stills to silence. The tide ebbs. There is magic in the air tonight.

Aisling? He dares not look, but forces himself to step closer to the cliff edge. Down below, wet sand shimmers in nacreous light. The sea has withdrawn, exposing rocks like black teeth, the mouth of the ocean come to swallow its prey. Behind the rocks something moves, glistening in the shadows and he can make her out now, a slim figure in a pale shift, her hair like seaweed dressed with pearls. She is watching him, one hand touching the rock, the other outstretched towards him, pleading with him. She can come no further; Lir will not allow it. This is as far as she can keep her promise and it is not enough.

There are tears on his cheeks now, as he knows he cannot see her again. She has risked much already. But how can he live, knowing they can never be together? He sighs. Take me with you. He has no need of speech. She will hear him, if she chooses.

A flutter in the air around him and suddenly there are swans. Four white birds fly above him, majestic in their splendour. Slender white necks outstretched, they circle him for some moments, climbing effortlessly only to swoop down, then rise again. Up and down, round and round, until he is dizzy with exhilaration.

Aisling! There is joy in him as he knows the waiting is over, the promise kept. Yet still the swans circle, as reality crashes back in with the boom of the sea against the cliffs below. The wind howls again, the savage and ancient anger of a God defied. Aisling has betrayed her father by falling in love and he will not give her up lightly.

The swans are flying away from him now, buffeted by the wind. And then they are gone, white arrows speeding out to sea. His body shrieks with the loss, a part of him ripped open and exposed to the wind and the night. But this time it is different, now he knows he can fly too, that all he has to do is believe.

Five white swans soar high above a deserted headland. She has stolen his soul, taken what she laid claim to all those years ago and he is no longer human. And if he is no longer human, then he is free.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Right Honourable Chinn

Congratulations to Alchemy member Mike Chinn for scoring two Honourable Mentions in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year, Volume One.

The HMs were issued for his stories All Under Hatches Stow’d, which appeared in The Second Black Book of Horror; and Like a Bird, which appeared in The Third Black Book of Horror. If you fancy getting a hold of either of these books to check out the stories, pop by the Mortbury Press website.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Support Our 'Zines Day!

And welcome to Support Our 'Zines Day! And what is it, you may be wondering? Very simple. SOZ Day is the day when you shout your love for your favourite 'zines across the internet and if you're in a flush mood, donate a little to keep them putting out the stuff you love... See here for the whys and wotnots...

Here's some great 'zines to get you started...
Clarkesworld Magazine
Fantasy Magazine
Strange Horizons
Hub Magazine
Murky Depths
The Lorelei Signal
Weird Tales
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
Expanded Horizons
Theaker's Quarterly Fiction

And don't forget these 'Zine resources - Ralan.Com and

Saturday, 26 September 2009

BFS Short Story Competition

Also announced at Fantasycon last weekend were the results of the annual British Fantasy Society short story competition...

The lucky winner was Patrick Whittaker with his story Dead Astronauts. Patrick receives £50, a year's membership of the BFS (which includes eight magazines and at least one book), and will be published in a forthcoming BFS journal.

Second place went to Elana Gomel with In the Moment, who will receive £25 and will be published in a forthcoming journal.

Third place (alas, with no prize attached), went to Charlotte Bond with The Apocalypse Has Been Good to Us. (A story that is this reader's favourite!)

Alchemy members Jan Coleborn-Edwards, Pat Barber and Jenny Barber were on the reading panel along with Chris Teague (of Pendragon Press) and Ranjina Theaker.
The panel of celebrity judges for the final round of reading consisted of Rhys Hughes, Sarah Pinborough and Chaz Brenchley.

The BFS has announced that next year's competition will be open to entries from 1st January 2010 so stay tuned for more news!

BFS Awards

The annual British Fantasy Awards were announced last weekend at Fantasycon on the night of Saturday 19th September. And the winners were:

Best Novel (The August Derleth Fantasy Award)
Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney aka Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Anthology
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 ed. Stephen Jones (Constable & Robinson)

Best Collection
Bull Running for Girls by Allyson Bird (Screaming Dreams)

Best Non-Fiction
Basil Copper: A Life in Books by Basil Copper ed. Stephen Jones (PS Publishing)

Best Novella
The Reach of Children by Tim Lebbon (Humdrumming)

Best Short Fiction
"Do You See" by Sarah Pinborough from Myth-Understandings ed. by Ian Whates (Newcon Press)

Best Magazine/Periodical
Postscripts ed. Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers (PS Publishing)

Best Artist
Vincent Chong

The PS Publishing Best Small Press Award
Elastic Press (Andrew Hook)

Best Comic/Graphic Novel

Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)

Best Televison
Doctor Who (Russell T. Davies, BBC Wales)

Best Film
The Dark Knight directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner Brothers)

The Karl Edward Wagner Award (the Special Award)

Hayao Miyazaki

The Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer
Joseph D'Lacey for Meat (Bloody Books)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Fantasy Magazine Needs Slush Readers

The very fabulous Fantasy Magazine is in need of some slush readers. If you can spare 5 - 10 hours a month and want to find out more, check out their website for more details,

Saturday, 5 September 2009

All about Mike

It's almost time for Dark Horizons #55 to hit the streets and not only is our Mike's story: Sailors of the Skies in it, but it's the cover story! Behold, Arthur Wang's view into young Mr Chinn's mind...

Mike talks about the return of Damian Paladin on his blog here.

And if, like any sane person in the universe, you can't wait to get yourself some Paladin goodness, there's an extract of Mike's story Ace in the Hole here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

New Award for Short Fantasy

Following the success of the David Gemmell Legend Award and its celebration of heroic fantasy novels, a completely unrelated group of folks have decided that short heroic fiction deserves its trumpets too.

To that end, presenting: The Ham-Sized Fist Award! The award is for best heroic or sword & sorcery short fiction published during the year, whether in print or online and both the winning author AND the publisher scoop $400 prize money.

To find out how to nominate fiction for 2009, check out their website here.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards were presented at Worldcon over the weekend... and the lucky winners were:

* Best Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
* Best Novella: The Erdmann Nexus by Nancy Kress
* Best Novelette: Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear
* Best Short Story: Exhalation by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
* Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
* Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
* Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E
* Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
* Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
* Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
* Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
* Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
* Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
* Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
* Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Mythopoeic Awards

The Mythopoeic Society have awarded their annual Mythopoeic awards and the lucky winners are:

Award for Adult Literature: Carol Berg for Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone
Award for Children's Literature: Kristin Cashore for Graceling

Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies: John Rateliff for The History of the Hobbit, Part One: Mr. Baggins; Part Two: Return to Bag-end
Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies: Charles Butler for Four British Fantasists

It's especially pleasing to see that women scooped both the literature awards...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Friday, 17 July 2009

Wizard Anthology

Hot market news! Prime Books will be publishing an anthology of wizard stories in November 2010 and are looking for submissions.

The details are here, but in short:
Length: 5000 words or less.
Submission Period: 1st July 2009 – 31st March 2010.
Payment: 5 cents per word ($250 max), plus a pro-rata share of 50% of the anthology’s earnings and 1 contributor copy.
Submitted electronically.

Editor John Joseph Adams (also assistant editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) has this to say about the content:

(a) The story should be about a wizard, witch, sorcerer, sorceress, of some kind (basically, any sort of user of magic).

(b) The fact that the story has wizards in it should be vital to the story, i.e., magic should be an important factor in the resolution of the plot.

(c) The wizards should be literal, in that they do actual magic, not like a pinball wizard or something like that.

(d) I’m interested in all types of wizard tales, but am especially interested in seeing some stories that explore the idea of wizardry from a non-traditional viewpoint–i.e., something based on the Chilean Kalku or on the supernatural practices of other cultures.

(e) The story may be set in a secondary world, the real world, the present, or in a historical time period…let your imagination run wild.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Rachelle Gardner (and a mass of commenters) looks at social networks and how they fit into a writer's life.

Over on Nathan Bransford's blog, there's some guest bloggers talking about Everything You Need To Know About Writing A Novel, In 1000 Words, The Top Seven Things Every Aspiring Author's Website Must Have and the Five Stages of Querying Grief.

Ever wondered just what is meant by 'the same, but different'? Jessica Faust gives her views on The Meaning of Different.

Jane Smith comments on the dangers of responding to reviews and collects some cool links for other pieces in The Author's Big Mistake.

Sarah Monette talks about series fiction in When Last We Left Our Heroes while Alison Kent shares novella tips in Size Does Matter.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Next Meeting

After a truly fantastic meeting yesterday, verily it has been decided that the next meeting will be 10th October at Alchemy Manor.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Turing Test Wins Edge Hill Prize

Chris Beckett's collection, The Turing Test, from Elastic Press, has won the prestigious Edge Hill Short Story Prize, earning Chris a remarkable £5,000 cash prize. The judges said:

"I suspect Chris Beckett winning the Edge Hill Prize will be seen as a surprise in the world of books. In fact, though, it was also a bit of surprise to the judges, none of whom knew they were science fiction fans beforehand. Yet, once the judging process started, it soon became clear that The Turing Test was the book that we'd all been impressed by, and enjoyed, the most - and one by one we admitted it. This was a very strong shortlist, including one Booker Prize winner in Anne Enright, and two authors who've been Booker shortlisted in Ali Smith and Shena Mackay. Even so, it was Beckett who seemed to us to have written the most imaginative and endlessly inventive stories, fizzing with ideas and complete with strong characters and big contemporary themes. We also appreciated the sheer zest of his story-telling and the obvious pleasure he had taken in creating his fiction."

Andrew Hook (publisher of Elastic Press, and editor of the BFS's New Horizons) said: "Naturally, we're very pleased about this." Obviously he is overwhelmed! Copies of the book are still available from Elastic Press. More on the Edge Hill Prize here.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Raw Terror

Holy Maria! Mike has done it again! His story Kittens has just been accepted for an anthology from Read Raw Press. The book to look for will be Raw Terror, edited by Ian Hunter. No news as yet on when it's out so we'll let you know as and when!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Another DGLA Photo

And here's the Alchemy Peeps at the DGLA:

From left: Jenny Barber, Jan Edwards, Pat Barber - Photo (c) Peter Coleborn

And of course:

The one and only Peter Coleborn! Photo (c) Jen

DGLA photos

I have posted many photos on my Flikr site -- and some will appear on the official website as well. The shortlisted authors eached received a mini Snaga (see left; photo (c) Peter Coleborn).

It was a jolly posh do, at a magical venue (well, it would be, wouldn't it?!).

Sunday, 21 June 2009

David Gemmell Legend Award

The David Gemmell Legend Award was presented on the evening of Friday 19th June at the prestigious Magic Circle HQ in London. Alchemy members Peter Coleborn, Jan Edwards, Jenny Barber and Pat Barber were in attendance, with Peter being official Event Photographer! (Photos should appear on the DGLA website soon)

The Legend Award was won by Polish author: Andrzej Sapkowski for his book Blood of Elves, and was accepted on his behalf by Jo Fletcher from Gollancz. Votes came in from 74 different countries and a combined total of over 10,000 votes were collected from the short & long lists.

The event was a celebration of both fantasy as a genre and David Gemmell the legendary author. Anne Nicholls gave a moving tribute, while Stan Nicholls and Debbie Miller MC-ed and held the night together.

The ceremony was opened by a powerful rendition of A Call to Arms, performed by James Barclay. Barclay later acted as auctioneer for the Charity Auction which raised just over £1000 for Gemmell's favourite charity: Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Truly an excellent start for an important genre award.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Book in a Month!

Stuck in a procrastination loop? Can't wait for Nanowrimo to roll around? Then have I got the thing for you!

Over on Genreality, Sasha White has proposed a Book in a Month (ish) challenge. Starting now, you have until July 31st to get to the end of the first draft of your book project. Or else! And like Nanowrimo, the goal is to switch your internal editor off and get those words down...

See you at the finishing line!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

More Alchemy on Authonomy

And Alchemy diva Debbie has added another book to Authonomy! Cherry Picks is a collection of her previously published short stories which have appeared in various small press and larger independent anthologies and also women's magazines. Some have won awards and competitions and one was "highly commended" by American Goddess of fantasy fiction Ellen Datlow.


Some more fun things to read...

Fed up with being told your favourite style of fiction isn't selling? Read How Readers Drive Publishing by Jane Smith.

Every wondered how to handle being a writer at a Con? Rachelle Gardner's got a few pointers in her Recovering From A Writers Conference post.

Over on Storytellers Unplugged, Gerald Houarner spills his brain and give you Notes from the Front.

Jane Smith talks about Problems with Logic while Jessica Faust give her thoughts on the concept You Have No Business Writing.

And finally, for some light relief, check out 5 Kickass Lessons Books Could Learn From The Movies by Robert Brockway.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

More from Mike!

More congrats and bottles of booze to Mr Chinn. Mike's story - Parlour Games - is soon to be appearing in the anthology Tales from the Smoking Room. TftSR is a themed anthology of Victorian/Edwardian horror and is available from the publisher on Ebay. Link here!

The line up for the anthology is:

The Strangled Garden - Stephen Bacon
Room Three - Matthew Crossman
The Iron Ape - Mark Harding
The Decent Thing - VC Jones
Parlour Games - Mike Chinn
Serendipity - Trudi Topham
A Game of Billiards - Craig Herbertson

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Online Short Story Course

Award winning author Christopher Fowler is currently running an online short story course on his blog... first lesson here!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Next Meeting

We now have a date for the next Alchemy Meeting... Saturday 11th July at the Alchemy Cats-Have-Eaten-The-Aliens House.

And as a reminder, the story challenge for the July meet is: Write a story including/inspired by one of the following sentences:

And Jonathan jerks up from the floor screaming.

Cold darkness is comforting.

Just like in fairytales.

(For bonus points, include all three!)

Ditmar Awards

This weekend the Ditmars were announced at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. (Natcon)

Live coverage was provided by Cheryl Morgan on the Science Fiction Awards Watch site.

A. Bertram Chandler Award
Rosaleen Love

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review

Kim Wilkins, “Popular genres and the Australian literary community: the case of fantasy fiction” in the Journal of Australian Studies

Best New Talent
Felicity Dowker

Best Professional Achievement
Angela Challis, for Black, the Australian Dark Culture Magazine

Best Fan Production
ASif!, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Gene Melzack

Best Fan Artist
Cat Sparks for Scary Food Cookbook

Best Fan Writer
Rob Hood, for Undead Backbrain

Best Professional Artwork
Shaun Tan, for Tales from Outer Suburbia

Best Collected Work
Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann

Best Short Story
Tie between Margo Lanagan “The Goosle” and Dirk Flinthart “This is not my story” (ASIM #37)

Best Novella/Novelette
“Painlessness” by Kirstyn McDermott

Best Novel
“Tender Morsels” by Margo Lanagan

Peter McNamara Award
Sean Williams

New Australian Award

It has just been announced that the Australian Science Fiction Foundation will be launching a new award at next years Aussiecon - Aussiecon 4 - also the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, being held in Melbourne on 2nd –6th September 2010.

The award is to be called the The Norma K Hemming Award and is designed to mark excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, class and sexuality in science fiction and fantasy, produced in Australia or by Australian citizens.

Find out more about the award here.

Alchemy Art!

More publishing news - Alchemy member Peter Coleborn will be having a piece of his artwork published in New Horizons #4. The piece will illustrate a short story called 'The Un-Explorers' by Matt Finucane and will hit the streets around December time.

New Horizons is British Fantasy Society Publication edited by the ever lovely Andrew Hook and is given out free to members of the BFS although copies should be available to buy if you're not a member.

British Fantasy Awards Shortlist

The British Fantasy Society have just released the final shortlist for the BF Awards... The awards will be voted on by members of the British Fantasy Society and Fantasycon and will be presented at Fantasycon on the night of Saturday 19th September in a rather lovely awards do.

Appearance Update

Our spies in Alchemy Land have discovered that Mike's Postcripts story will be appearing in the Autumn 2010 issue! Woot!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Alchemy on Authonomy

As internet phenomenons go, Authonomy is one of the fun ones. Set up by Harper Collins as an electronic slushpile, it lets authors display their unpublished books to the world while allowing readers (both pro and 4-the-luv) to comment on the work and vote for their favourites. And as an extra bonus, the five most popular books get sent to HC's editors desks every month...

Alchemy member Debbie Bennett currently has five books up on Authonomy (click on the links to read them and helpful comments welcome!)

1) Hamelin's Child was long-listed (top 25) for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award. Gritty and graphic adult stuff, this is not for the faint-hearted. The novel made the Editor's Desk on authonomy in 2008 and received a fantastic HC critique. It's a complete novel and is looking for a permanent home.

2) The Blue Flamingo is another thriller. This has more of a horror edge, but is less graphically-adult than Hamelin's' Child. It's still a work-in-progress and Debbie feels it's still a little rough around the edges.

3) Edge of Dreams is a young adult contemporary fantasy which has also won prizes. This novel is also complete and would love to be on a bookshop shelf somewhere.

4) Flashpoint is another completed YA fantasy novel, which continues the adventures of the characters first met in Edge of Dreams.

5) Blood Ties is an attempt at traditional fantasy (but no elves or dragons!). Debbie was working on this with an editor at Orion many years ago, before real life got in the way. This is still a work-in-progress.

Another Alchemy sale!

And young Mr Chinn does it again! Big congrats to our Mike for selling a story to Postscripts Magazine. When we have further details on which issue and when it's out, we'll let you know... Start saving up now to buy many copies from the ever so discerning PS Publishing!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Link Loveliness

Some more opinions on the wonderful world of writing...

25 Things About Being A Writer - Richard Dansky/Storytellers Unplugged

The 4 Plots Of SF & F - Parker Peevyhouse/The Spectacle

On Concepts - Nathan Bransford

How Writers Can Beat The Recession - Jane Smith

James Tiptree Jr. Award Winners

The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council ( has just announced the two winners of the Tiptree Award:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
and the short story collection, Filter House by Nisi Shawl.

The Award will be given out at Wiscon (the world's leading feminist science fiction convention)over 22nd - 25th May in Wisconsin, and the lucky winners will receive $1000 in prize money, an original artwork created specifically for the winning novel or story, and (as always) chocolate.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Nebula Awards

The SFWA's Nebula awards were given out last night at the Nebula weekend that was held in Los Angeles.

The winners are:

Best Novel: Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Novella: “The Spacetime Pool” by Catherine Asaro
Best Novelette: “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel
Best Short Story: “Trophy Wives” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Script: WALL-E Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Andre Norton Award: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Solstice Award: Kate Wilhelm, A.J. Budrys and Martin H. Greenberg.

SFWA Service Award: Victoria Strauss

Bradbury Award: Joss Whedon

Grand Master Award: Harry Harrison

Author Emerita: M.J. Engh

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Things Kids Say

I have just received this press release:

Can members of your writing group help us with a book we are producing to raise money for Barnardo's? We are looking for very short stories of about 100 words. They must be on the theme of "Things Kids Say" and should be funny illustrations of amusing things that children have said. We hope you can help because we need more material for the book and half of the £5.99 cover price goes to Barnardo's.

We launched the book with the help of actress and TV celebrity Lynda Bellingham recently, and your members can see more details and an interview with Lynda at

We are also looking for people to do simple black ink illustrations of some of the funny stories, so if you can help in any way please let us know.

Many thanks, Peter Quinn, Managing Director, United Press

Sunday, 19 April 2009

The drinks are on them...

Alchemy Publishing News!

Jan Edwards has just had an interview with fantasy author Robert Holdstock published in Dark Horizons #54
Jan also had her story Nanna Barrows published in the same issue. This story was originally created as part of an Alchemy writing challenge last year!

Debbie Bennett will be having her story Hunt published in New Horizons #3 in June. This story was also an Alchemy writing challenge creation!

And Mike Chinn will be having his latest Damian Paladin story published in a forthcoming issue of Dark Horizons... more news when we have it!

Both Dark Horizons and New Horizons are magazines published by the British Fantasy Society - more info on them here...

SF & F Course

With thanks to Stephen Jones for passing the info along!


Kingston University London, Penrhyn Road Campus, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
18th-21st May 2009, 6:00-9:00pm

"Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing" is designed to help you improve your creative writing techniques. This four-night crash course in what science fiction is -- and does -- is taught by one of Britain's most accomplished science fiction novelists, PAUL McAULEY -- author of 17 novels and over 70 short stories, and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, John W. Campbell Award and Philip K. Dick Award.


The course is designed for everybody -- from beginners to long-time devotees of the genre -- and McAuley will provide workshop-style discussions of student work, overviews of the history of the genre, the current state of play, and the best ways of breaking into the market.

There will also be class exercises in brainstorming story ideas and narrative development, and class discussions of topics including good work habits, getting from idea to story, research and plausibility, world-building, interaction between character and narrative, and revision and preparation for publication.

Before the course begins, you are invited to submit 1,000 - 2,000 words of a work in progress. You can expect personal feedback -- by the instructor and the class as a whole -- of your work, and you will learn how to closely read and contructively critique others' stories, as well as how to revise and improve your own work.

At least one guest speaker will be featured.

FEE: £180 (£120 students -- student ID number required)


For more information contact the Short Course Administrator:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7790

More lovely links

Apostrophes Matter - Michael Marshall Smith

The Rise in Queries - Jessica Faust/Bookends LLC

What Editors Want - Jane Smith/How Publishing Really Works

QueryFail 2 - Colleen Lindsay/The Swivet

The ARC Thing - Justine Larbalestier

Digi-ARCS - Tobias Bucknell

The Reality of a Times Bestseller - L. Viehl/Genreality


Next Meeting

The date for the next Alchemy Meeting is still up for discussion but it will likely be in June.

And the challenge for next time is - write a story including/inspired by one of the following sentences:

And Jonathan jerks up from the floor screaming.

Cold darkness is comforting.

Just like in fairytales.

(For bonus points, include all three!)

Monday, 13 April 2009

DGLA Shortlist

The David Gemmell Legend Award Shortlist was announced last night...

Joe Abercrombie – Last Argument of Kings
Juliet Marillier – Heir to Sevenwaters
Brandon Sanderson - The Hero of Ages
Andrzej Sapowski - Blood of Elves
Brent Weeks - The Way of Shadows

Voting on it should start soon - see their website for more details.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Tipton Horror

This is taken from the Lit-Net website: "Do you want to be scared? Then Tipton Library is the place for you in May as two horror writers will be dropping in to talk about their novels. Joseph D'Lacey and Bill Hussey will be at the library on Tuesday 12th May as part of the Black Country Big Book Fortnight and will be on hand to share their experiences of horror writing and to answer questions. The event starts at 7.30pm and is free admission by advance ticket only. To reserve a place please call the library on 0121 557 1796". Sorry to say, I have not knowingly heard of these gentlemen before now. I did a quick websearch and both authors have MySpace pages. If you go along and want to report on the event, contact us, or add a comment.

BSFA Award Winners

Announced at Eastercon on 11th April, are the winners of the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) awards.

Best Novel
The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod

Best Short Fiction
Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Best Non-Fiction
Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn

Best Artwork
Subterfuge cover by Andy Bigwood

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Links galore

Pop over to the SToW blog -- I've posted a number of links to websites detailing online markets and story & poetry competitions.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Writerly Link-Fest

What other people have been saying about writing, publishing and all points in between...

The Paradox of Becoming a Writer - Brett Sandusky

Realities of Power In Publishing - Liz Williams

The Agent Bubble - Janet Reid

What Not To Do When You Get A Rejection - Colleen Lindsay

Book Contract Overview - Jim Hines

Self Promotion - Colleen Lindsay

Apprenticeships in Fiction

If you fancy trying your hand at an apprenticeship, Adventures in Fiction is offering a one year professional development programme for first-time novelists

There are five subsidized placements for first-time novelists of commercial and literary fiction, including one for crime, one for fantasy and one for fiction for children and young people (9+). The placements, which have an individual value of over £2,750 will take the form of an apprenticeships with a professional writer working in a similar genre.

In its first three years, the scheme has already resulted in a publication and referred a further six writers to literary agents. Four writers have also secured funding, two from Arts Council England, one for an individual mentoring programme with Adventures In Fiction and one to support an apprenticeship placement.

The financial assistance of Arts Council England has enabled them to offer an award of £1000 towards each apprenticeship. (A subsidy of over 36%.)

INDUCTION: 3rd September 2009

For further information go to

Friday, 27 March 2009

Investigating Crime with Margaret Murphy

The Crime Writers’ Workshop, held on Saturday 15 March in Hanley Library, was a great success. About a dozen want-to-be writers turned up (including someone from London) and were entertained by, and learned from, Margaret Murphy. Margaret is the author of several crime novels, including The Dispossed and Now You See Me – copies of these two were available for purchase. We also discovered that Margaret is due to take over the Chair of the Crime Writers Association and that she was a founder member of the Murder Squad. The workshop was very relaxed and friendly. It’s a cliché, I know, but it is difficult to imagine such a charming person behind a series of crime books.

The workshop began with a look at villains, how to make them appear more natural – more human – rather than as ciphers. The first exercise was to write a paragraph or two to introduce the villain, who showed elements of empathy, a character who was perhaps monstrous but not grotesque. A few brave souls volunteered to read out their efforts.

After lunch, Margaret gave a talk about CSIs – they used to be called SOCOs in the UK, but our American cousins influence all aspects of our culture, including crime detection. Actually, a Crime Scene Investigator makes more sense than a Scene of Crime Officer since those involved now include civilian scientists and not just policemen and women. The talk, with PowerPoint presentation, covered advances in DNA and fingerprint evidence. Fascinating.

We discussed the extended metaphor, and then the final exercise of the day was to write a piece based on the elements covered earlier in the workshop. Margaret provided two opening sentences. Unfortunately, time was running out and there was no opportunity for everyone to read out their pieces.

Personally, I was surprised at how easily I found it to write in a crowded room. Of course, my piece was a tentative first draft and will require a lot of work, but it did provide an idea that I hope to use in the future.This was a jolly good session, and more importantly, it was inspiring. To find out more about Margaret Murphy visit her website.

© Peter Coleborn

2009 BBC National Short Story Award

The 2009 BBC National Short Story Award was launched on 26 March. This year's panel of judges are: singer-songwriter Will Young, broadcaster and journalist Tom Sutcliffe (chair), author Dame Margaret Drabble, Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and BBC Radio 4’s Editor Di Speirs. The shortlist will be announced on Friday 27 November with the five stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 each weekday before the winner is announced. The five stories will also be published in a special collection. Entries are now open for the Award. The deadline for entries is 5pm on 15 June 2009

Go to the Beeb for details.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Here Comes The Judge

I was asked by Jo Fletcher if I wanted to be a judge for the World Fantasy Awards a few months into 2008. The request came out of the blue and left me stunned. I've never considered myself an expert although I like to think I was -- am -- widely read. It was an honour, of course, and so I agreed. I soon found myself working alongside -- in a virtual world sense -- Robert Hoge, Dennis L. McKiernan, Mark Morris, and Steve Pasechnick. And pretty quickly the books started arriving. Sometimes they came singly or in parcels of two or three. Sometimes huge boxes arrived pack full of hardcovers and trade and mass paperbacks.

The judges soon agreed on a score-keeper, to whom we were to send comments and scorings. It sounds harsh, but it came down to marking a book or story or collection out of ten (plus a comment or two); there was no other way. I also kept my own notes -- a notebook full of them -- in order to keep track of everything. My dining room became a library, with publications stacked all over the place. And then all the books and magazines needed reading.
As far as I was concerned, I wasn't simply looking for stories, novellas and novels I liked and enjoyed -- I was looking for books (and stories and novellas) that stunned me. I believed that an award winner should be outstanding. Thus the daunting task wasn't quite as bad as I was able to pass on from one title to the next. Of course, the more I enjoyed a book the more of it I read -- all of the it -- which takes time (I am not the fastest of readers). Many books were put into 'I must read this book next year' heap -- interesting and intriguing titles, but not quite there.

I was impressed by the quality of the novellas. This is a story length that suits fantasy, I feel, and those I read demonstrated this perfectly. Novels that formed part of a series were more difficult to judge. It took a lot more work to get into the story, especially if a knowledge of the previous title was a prerequisite. I felt that this put series books at a disadvantage, but ultimately each volume had to be judged on its own, not as part of a trilogy (or whatever). Some publishers seemed to have sent everything they produced in 2007, some were more selective, and some didn't bother sending anything without a reminder. I was especially pleased with the overall quality of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, so much so that I've now subscribed to it (but to be fair, I used to read it when Andromeda Bookshop sold it ... when Andromeda Bookshop still existed, actually).

In due course, we judges completed our tasks and following many, many emails bouncing between us we came to our shortlists and winners. I am more than happy with the finalists, even if my own favourite didn't get the prize. talking to judges from previous years, my experience pretty well matches theirs, so I felt I did a good job. Alas, I didn't get to convention in Calgary for the Awards presentation last Autumn; I suspect the winners all had a good time.

A couple of issues from this process. One is that the judges were criticised for being all white men. The complaints suggested that the Administrators were lazy and didn't search hard enough for a 'balanced' jury. Before I saw these comments it never occurred to me that a World Fantasy Award judge would be swayed by a writers' gender or colour or, perhaps, sexual orientation or religion. Yes, these moans did annoy me. I was told by one of the Award Administrators that securing the services of a 'balanced' jury was proving to be more and more difficult because more and more of those approached decline due to the heavy workload demanded of a judge.

The other thing is this: early on in the process, Jo Fletcher warned me that several judges in the past had found it difficult to retain the reading habit. She was right. Since I no longer have to read books, I find myself starting an awlful lot of them, but finishing few. I seem to be picking up more non-fiction -- such as a book on quantum mechanics recently (and no, I still don't understand it).

But, at the end of the day, when all is done, when the fat lady has sung, etcetera, etcetera, it was an experience well worth ... experiencing. To remind you, here are the winners:

Life Achievement: Leo & Diane Dillon and Patricia McKillip
Novel: Ysabel Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada/Penguin Roc)
Novella: Illyria Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing)
Short Story: "Singing of Mount Abora" Theodora Goss (Logorrhea, Bantam Spectra)
Anthology: Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural Ellen Datlow, Editor (Tor)
Collection: Tiny Deaths Robert Shearman (Comma Press)
Artist: Edward Miller
Special Award—Professional: Peter Crowther for PS Publishing
Special Award—Non-professional: Midori Snyder and Terri Windling for Endicott Studios Website

For more information, visit the WFA website.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Hugo Nominations 2009

The internet is all a-flutter with the news of this years Hugo Nominations.. so for your viewing pleasure here are the contenders:

Best Novel
* Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
* The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
* Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
* Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
* Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)

Best Novella
* “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
* “The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF Aug 2008)
* “The Tear” by Ian McDonald (Galactic Empires)
* “True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow (Fast Forward 2)
* “Truth” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)

Best Novelette
* “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Jan 2008)
* “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2)
* “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel (F&SF Jan 2008)
* “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s Feb 2008)
* “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)

Best Short Story
* “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Jul 2008)
* “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe Oct 2008)
* “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two)
* “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
* “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 2008)

Best Related Book
* Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan University Press)
* Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art by Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)
* The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold by Lillian Stewart Carl & John Helfers, eds. (Baen)
* What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction by Paul Kincaid (Beccon Publications)
* Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)

Best Graphic Story
* The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle Written by Jim Butcher, art by Ardian Syaf (Del Rey/Dabel Brothers Publishing)
* Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
* Fables: War and Pieces Written by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, art by Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy, color by Lee Loughridge, letters by Todd Klein (DC/Vertigo Comics)
* Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic Story and art by Howard Tayler (The Tayler Corporation)
* Serenity: Better Days Written by Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews, art by Will Conrad, color by Michelle Madsen, cover by Jo Chen (Dark Horse Comics)
* Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores Written/created by Brian K. Vaughan, penciled/created by Pia Guerra, inked by Jose Marzan, Jr. (DC/Vertigo Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
* The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer, story; Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, screenplay; based on characters created by Bob Kane; Christopher Nolan, director (Warner Brothers)
* Hellboy II: The Golden Army Guillermo del Toro & Mike Mignola, story; Guillermo del Toro, screenplay; based on the comic by Mike Mignola; Guillermo del Toro, director (Dark Horse, Universal)
* Iron Man Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, screenplay; based on characters created by Stan Lee & Don Heck & Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby; Jon Favreau, director (Paramount, Marvel Studios)
* METAtropolis by John Scalzi, ed. Written by: Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder (Audible Inc)
* WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

* “The Constant” (Lost) Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof, writers; Jack Bender, director (Bad Robot, ABC studios)
* Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen , writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
* “Revelations” (Battlestar Galactica) Bradley Thompson & David Weddle, writers; Michael Rymer, director (NBC Universal)
* “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” (Doctor Who) Steven Moffat, writer; Euros Lyn, director (BBC Wales)
* “Turn Left” (Doctor Who) Russell T. Davies, writer; Graeme Harper, director (BBC Wales)

Best Editor, Short Form
* Ellen Datlow
* Stanley Schmidt
* Jonathan Strahan
* Gordon Van Gelder
* Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form
* Lou Anders
* Ginjer Buchanan
* David G. Hartwell
* Beth Meacham
* Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Best Professional Artist
* Daniel Dos Santos
* Bob Eggleton
* Donato Giancola
* John Picacio
* Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine
* Clarkesworld Magazine edited by Neil Clarke, Nick Mamatas & Sean Wallace
* Interzone edited by Andy Cox
* Locus edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi
* The New York Review of Science Fiction edited by Kathryn Cramer, Kris Dikeman, David G. Hartwell, & Kevin J. Maroney
* Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

Best Fanzine

* Argentus edited by Steven H Silver
* Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
* Challenger edited by Guy H. Lillian III
* The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia
* Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
* File 770 edited by Mike Glyer

Best Fan Writer
* Chris Garcia
* John Hertz
* Dave Langford
* Cheryl Morgan
* Steven H Silver

Best Fan Artist
* Alan F. Beck
* Brad W. Foster
* Sue Mason
* Taral Wayne
* Frank Wu

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
* Aliette de Bodard*
* David Anthony Durham*
* Felix Gilman
* Tony Pi*
* Gord Sellar*

Friday, 20 March 2009

Bootstrap SF competition

There's still time to enter the Hub Magazine Bootstrap SF competition... There's a prize of £100 and NO entry fee, and the winning entry and 12 runner ups will be published by Hub.

(See link above for full details)

The Pitch:

Bootstrap SF: A Very British Future.

The British are an unusual combination of heroism and fatalism, humour and malice. Their Science Fiction is unique, blending pragmatism with sarcasm and death with laughter. For the British, Science Fiction is something subtler than the standard utopias and dystopias, something more concerned with exploring the future with a healthy cynicism. The genre faces stagnation. Fans who discovered SF in the Sixties and Seventies are now actively resisting the very progress that they embraced when they were younger, cutting out new audiences by relentlessly defending stories which have little relevance to newer, younger readers. SF has built a wall around itself, and for it to survive we must break it down.

Bootstrap SF is designed to please the core fans whilst attracting new ones. By focusing on British stories about people, characters, the audience doesn’t feel excluded if they don’t quite grasp the science behind the plot.

And the authors? The authors are new. Previously unpublished in the professional arena, these people are brimming with ideas and passion, and aren’t blinkered by decades-old notions of what SF should be. The authors are what’s happening right now in SF. And SF has always been about progress.

In short, Bootstrap SF is about British authors who love SF. New British authors. New British SF.

The Rules: (see website for full version)

Deadline: 14th May
Writers must not have had any short story sold to any publication for a professional fee. For the purposes of this competition, “professional fee” equates to 5p per word or more.
Submissions via email only
Wordage: between 5,000 and 10,000
Winners will be announced 31st August

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Next Meeting

'ware the ides of April. :-> The next Alchemy Writers meeting shall be ::drumroll please:: Saturday 18th April. Sanity optional.

And just in case you'd forgotten, the challenge fic will be a story with the line 'I nodded. This I could talk about' somewhere within it. No word limit.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


This is the blog for the Alchemy Writing Group. We are Pat Barber, Debbie Bennett, Mike Chinn, Jan Edwards, Peter Coleborn, Nicola Robson and Jenny Barber... Stay tuned for all kinds of fun stuff!