March of the Midnight Crow – a performed reading

March of the Midnight Crow - a performed reading

‘Last week alone this dreaded Curse had destroyed more than two thousand souls. When Pope Clement heard this news, he shrugged and damned the whole area. Nobody touched by the plague could be spared.’ As the Black Death ravages the land, Dominic struggles to balance caring for his sick daughter and doing his duty for …

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Making noise

Making noise

What goes into making my performed readings? You know the ones. I’ve recorded a short story every month for the past year to share here at The Fine-toothed Comb. It’s been a hobby, an excuse to work with some new people, and an opportunity to showcase the results. The responses I received were universally warm, …

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Splashes of Darkness – October edition

Splashes of Darkness - October edition

Comic-books are a medium, not a genre; they can tell any story and suit any palate. You want horror? I’ve got bottles of the stuff. Welcome to ‘Splashes of Darkness.’  I’m archiving my Splashes of Darkness posts for Ginger Nuts of Horror here at The Fine-toothed Comb as well, for easy access in case you …

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Letting go

Letting go

Fear freezes us, very often. We tighten our fingers, clinging on to the known and the settled, but that instinct can be counter-productive. Ask any parent. I’ve got *three kids, and two of them are filling me with fear at the moment. I want to protect them, desperately, but I also know that if I …

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The Electric Eye of the Silver God, Pt 2 – a performed reading

The Electric Eye of the Silver God, Pt 2

‘Then the source of the stampede made itself apparent as Ahemait burst from the trees, turret swinging her cannon-mouth about. Horeb was standing atop her, rifle at his shoulder and mail gleaming.’ On a world where all of Time has become…twisted, an Egyptian pharaoh sets out on a quest to help his dying friend. Accompanied …

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The Electric Eye of the Silver God, Pt 1 – a performed reading

The Electric Eye of the Silver God

‘It seemed an appropriately mythic thing, to steal the treasure of a false deity before finally accepting that he was too old for heroics.’ On a world where all of Time has become…twisted, an Egyptian pharaoh sets out on a quest to help his dying friend. Accompanied by a spy, a monster, a Norse mechanic …

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End of year review 2021

End of year review, 2021

The last time I took proper stock of The Fine-toothed Comb was way back in March. It was supposed to be the first of my Quarterly Reviews but, as it turned out, it was also the last. The longer I spent bobbing about in the ocean of self-employment, the harder I found it to tread …

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Splashes of Darkness – September edition

Splashes of Darkness - September Edition

Comic-books are a medium, not a genre; they can tell any story and suit any palate. You want horror? I’ve got bottles of the stuff. Welcome to ‘Splashes of Darkness.’ I’m archiving my Splashes of Darkness posts for Ginger Nuts of Horror here at The Fine-toothed Comb as well for easy access, in case you …

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Stuff is nonsense

Stuff is nonsense

‘What do you want for Christmas?’ I used to have a million answers to that one; these days I’m more likely to say, ‘I don’t need anything.’ Hah! It always drove me mad when my parents said it, but I’ve started to come around to their way of thinking. Perhaps it’s age-related. Perspectives change over …

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Lady Grinning Soul – a performed reading

Lady Grinning Soul - a performed reading

‘I could almost feel the kiss of the muzzle against my temple, the thrill of cold steel. They would kill me, if they knew, without a second thought.’ An extraordinary agent find a kindred spirit at Chez Romy Haag, during the age of Bowie and the Cold War. It’s easier to slip free of the …

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Splashes of Darkness – August edition

Splashes of Darkness - August edition

Comic-books are a medium, not a genre; they can tell any story and suit any palate. You want horror? I’ve got bottles of the stuff. Welcome to ‘Splashes of Darkness.’ I’m archiving my Splashes of Darkness posts for Ginger Nuts of Horror here at The Fine-toothed Comb as well for easy access, in case you …

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See (eps 1 & 2) – tv review

See (eps 1 & 2) - tv review

In a post-apocalyptic future, Mankind has been devastated by disease, our species reduced to a mere 2 million souls, sightless and crawling on the face of the Earth. Generations later, society has reformed into tribes and developed new modes of survival, of communication, of battle and of culture to circumvent their blindness. Vision has become …

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Want-to wants

Want-towants

Do you know what you want? Okay, but do you really want it, or do you just ‘want’ to want it? There’s a difference, see, and it took me a long time to understand that. Take writing, for instance. I’ve always had a facility with words, so writing and editing should have been a shoo-in. English Literature was my favourite subject at school, and I followed it right the way through to university, which begs the question…why did it take me so long to get into the industry?

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Kabaret und Gläs – a performed reading

Kabaret und Gläs, by James Bennett - a performed reading

‘And now, meine damen und herren, prepare yourselves! Here at the end of this Periclean Age, feast your eyes on our main attraction!’

Berlin 1936. The Weimar Republic is crumbling. Darkness is on the rise. In the fading decadence of Club Zauber, the mysterious Von Hart puts on quite a show.

Through the smoke and the spotlights, will his assistant Milosh see the final curtain fall?

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Discomforting (Parsing Judgement #2)

Discomforting (Parsing Judgement #2))

I’ve had some difficult conversations with clients (and prospective clients) over the years. People can be…resistant to constructive criticism, despite the fact they’re paying for it—all the more so if there’s an inherent issue to the writing that stains character and plot. Some of the most delicate conversations, I find, are those in which the issues of subconscious misogyny, racism or bigotry must be raised. Writing is intensely personal, after all. But look, horror fiction is my bread and butter; *context matters, so I’m here today to help parse the difference between portraying repugnant things and absorbing them into your writing.

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Foundation – tv review

Foundation - AppleTV+

Foundation is one of the Apple’s tent-pole tv series and, frankly, the only reason I thought it might be worth the free trial. I’d heard good things about For All Mankind and Ted Lasso, but nothing caught my attention like Foundation when the project was first announced. Pretty strange, considering I’ve only read the first of Isaac Asimov’s novels – once – and that was 30-odd years ago. Anyway, I have now watched the first four episodes of the tv series, cursing the fact I’ll have to pay in order to see the last six. (Because I will pay, goddammit.) Here’s why…

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Re: Con-nection

Kelly White, Pippa Bailey, Myk Pilgrim, Joe McMahon, Nick Parkinson, Dion Winton-Polak

First up, I have to confess that I attended very few actual panels, no readings, and I avoided the karaoke bar like the very-literal plague. Well, here’s the Dion’s-eye view, anyway… The first day of FantasyCon was a wobbly affair, full of awkward moments and anxiety, calibrating and recalibrating as we came together for the …

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FCon-templation

Horrific Tales

I was going to focus this post on FantasyCon 2021, which I attended in Birmingham last weekend, but I found that I couldn’t engage with the event in the normal way. This is not a criticism – with Covid-19 still very much on the rampage, I’m not sure any of us felt entirely comfortable. Instead, I’m going to talk about the significance of the event to me past and present, my mental state leading up to it this year, the fears and hopes I carried, and the final actual experience of reconnection with my tribe.

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The Room Next Door – performed readings

The Room Next Door - performed readings

‘I always stood a rapt audience when he spun these tales, and he relished the attention, I could tell. It made us so happy to be a part of the telling together.’

Instead of a single story this week, I’m giving you some snippets – flash fiction from the mind and the pen of a friend of mine. The styles and subjects vary, but there’s a connecting theme between the pieces I’ve selected: the relationship between father and child. I hope you enjoy them.

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Raising my game

Raising my game

What makes somebody a professional? At the most basic level, it’s earning your stripes well enough that perfect strangers will pay you to work for them. By those broad standards I already consider myself a professional editor, but there’s more to it than that. Laurels aren’t for sitting on. It’s one thing to be approached by indie authors or hired by small-press publishers, but quite another to be recognised by industry peers and leaders in the field. To that purpose, and to boost my ongoing professional development, I have now joined the CIEP.

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