Ytterbium Eastercon: Saturday


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Saturday for me was when Eastercon got… busy… there was so much I wanted to see and do today and so much I missed, plus I was busy with a lot of volunteer work too. However, as this mostly involved holding up a card to say when a panel was overunning, it was no great effort and I got to watch the panels too.

First panel of the day was “What is #Ownvoices and why is it important?” This panel 6C1A8357.jpgfeatured the wonderful Russell Smith, a regular on this blog, and a selection of other diverse voices who were there to discuss their own experiences of being seen as ‘other’ in publishing. For example, the tired old excuse of “We already have a book about [insert minoroty issue here], we don’t need another one.” An argument easily countered by “but you have half a dozen books about the experiences of cis het white males…” The panel made it clear why these were issues, whey they shouldn’t need to be an issue and discussed what is now a growing and more vocal group of #Ownvoices. In all, an entertaining panel.

6C1A8382.jpgThis was followed by an interview with Frances Hardinge, another old regular on this blog. As a guest of honour, she had certain obligations, including being interviewed. The interview ably covered the spread of her work and discussed such topics as her thoughts on over researching and the personalities of her main characters. For example, the wonderful quote as tweeted by Farah Mendledesohn on twitter: “My heroines tend to have other things on their mind: like surviving, or revolutions, or not eating people.”

Then we had John Scalzi’s interview, where Emma Newman went into detail about his 6C1A8420.jpgcareer as a writer, the popularity of his blog (Whatever) and why he is the only writer in history who does not seem to have imposter syndrome (diagnosis: he is a Mage…). This interview also covered why he is destined to be eaten by a polar bear (because, as a Mage, if he wishes it, it will happen and he did say if he were to get eaten hy any sort of bear it should be a polar bear as that is the most environmentally friendly option).

There then followed the Hay lecture where Hamied Haroon, of the University of Manchester, talked about medical imaging. My one take home message from that lecture was “Any chance of any jobs in your research group?” because it looked like awesome work I would really liked to have got involved with as a biomedical scientist with an especial interest in the technical aspects of research…


After this, things got a little dark and sinister… with a panel about conspiracy theories called ‘Paranoid Politics and Fantasy’. This one also featured John Scalzi, who did coin the phrase ‘Trump’s Razor’ to describe the situation where the stupidest possibility is most likely true. Much discussion about various theories and the reasons they exist as well as looking at differences in past and present in terms of conspiracy.

Next we had ‘Romance in Fantasy and SF’ which did explore differences in current romance vs older romance tropes, mostly examining the change in the ethnicity and sexuality of those involved in it.


Finally, there was ‘Creating Fantasy Biologies’ which ranged through a lot of evolutionary and paleontological theories and tried to work out how these will apply to alien or fantasy species. This was an entertaining panel that was, unfortunately, over crowded due to being in the smallest room.

In all an excellent day if somewhat tiring…




Ytterbium – Eastercon 2019 Friday


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Yesterday was just the fringe event, a small taster. Today, Eastercon started properly.

Also worth noting that this is the first time I have managed to actually post about the event on the day. I always promise to do day by day accounts but always end up sidetracked (usually by the bar) and don’t make it back to my hotel in a state in which I can coherently write. This time I cleverly made no promises so here is the report on time and (vaguely) coherent…6C1A8313

Day one at Eastercon is always quiet and this was no exception. As usual, members of the con were arriving all through the day in dribs and drabs. Most of the morning sessions are actually staff briefings to make sure everyone is up tp speed with conference policies and what jobs need doing. However, by 3pm, when the opening ceremony runs, a good majority of people are in place and ready to go.

6C1A8335Said opening ceremony introduced us to the co-chairs (both dressed fabulously in evening wear), discussed some of the upcoming highlights and introduced us to three Guests of Honour – Frances Hardinge, John Scalzi and DC- while explaining that the fourth (Sydney Padua) would be be arriving tomorrow. The ceremony was basic but also quick and efficient – allowing members to head off to whatever they wanted to get on with for the rest of the day.

I decided to head to the Newcon Press launch because there was free wine. There were also books discussed and some interesting new releases from Newcon are promised, including the ones on this page. The atmosphere was very friendly and open and everyone looked like they were  having a great deal of fun.


The Newcon Press Launch… well, the wine from it…

Then I attended a wonderfully useful workshop on Anxiety as a writer by Emma Newman. This was very useful for me as it helped me to pinpoint some of the causes of my own anxiety and link these to reasons why procrastination might happen. Emma knows her stuff on this topic, mostly through having lived through it herself and, she says, having to go through the same anxieties every time she starts a new book. If you ever happen to be at a Con where Emma is running this workshop, it is definitely worth checking out if you can get a place (this event was oversubscribed).

Much of the rest of the day was spent socialising and discussing, well, books. Including a very scary conversation with F.D Lee who admitted to having read (and promising to, one day, maybe review it) Transitions. I, of course, had to retaliate by telling her I was currently reading hers (The Fairy’s Tale – read it, it is good) and enjoying it…

And that is it for Friday… Saturday currently has many more things planned including guest of honour interviews and some interesting panels…

Titans of SF: The Eastercon Fringe event…

So, I’m in London for the 2019 Eastercon (the one named after a less pronouncable element… ytterbium…) and, being at a loose end the night before it starts, decided to check out the Titans of SF event at Waterstones in Piccadilly. This event had Emma Newman, Alastair Reynolds and Temi Oh in conversation with Pat Cadigan.

As usual for anything involving Pat Cadigan, this was an amazing event. The self styled ‘recovering American’ used her usual anarchic and rambunctious moderation style to lead a discussion with topics ranging from the little details about space travel to the reasons capitalism stops us doing more in space. Topics which all the participants were vocal on.

Alastair Reynolds got to talk about his space pirates and how his career in ‘space science’ grew out of a desire to go to space. Temi Oh got to discuss her alternate reality debut novel and how, with her story being set in 2012, she ant be caught out when the future tech appears and is different to what she imagined. Finally, Emma Newman discussed her thoughts on capitalism and some of the ideas that went into her Planetfall series.

In all, an entertaining event that felt something like a mini Eastercon on the fringe of the main event….

Xander’s Heart by Scarlett Flame


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My latest book is now available for pre-order at the reduced price of 99 cents / 99 pence until the 26th of March. Publication is the 19th of March
This is a modern day Gothic romance

The Blurb:

Xander wasn’t your stereotypical vampire. Far from it. Living in Gothic splendour on the outskirts of Whitby. Savage and Dominant by nature he goes after what or who he wants with ardour and passion.
Especially once his eye is set on his soulmate. His chosen one … Ellenor.

A human that he has been watching and waiting to approach for years. He steps forward when he senses she is in danger from a supernatural being.

Bringing her into his world at full tilt.

A world of Domination and submission.

Spanking and bondage.
Of werewolves, shifters, ogres and faeries.

Of mages, magicians and sorcery.

A world where a deadly apocalyptic magical war is approaching.

Both Xander and Ellenor have major roles to play but are they up to the challenge?

A new series from award winning author Scarlett Flame.

**Sexual Content

**Suitable for ages 18 and over

First Beta Review on Goodreads


Scarlett Flame (Goodreads Author),
Zak Jane Keir (Editor)
F 50x66

Emma‘s review 

Feb 17, 2019


it was amazing


Having read this for a honest review I was enraptured so on the edge of my seat laugh out loud great read I loved the way the characters blended so we’ll and how I’ve been left wanting more from the fabulous Scarlett Flame
You can now add this book on Goodreads
You can find Scarlett
on Goodreads


[Vampire Month] Scarlett Flame interview


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This week in Vampire Month we have Scarlett Flame who is here to suffer the painful interrogations of the Vampire month interview. Scarlett is a Manchester based writer who dabbles in many genres from Steampunk to Paranormal but all with a sexy, erotic twist. She is also the organiser of the Manchester Author signing and gig event that takes place every year in August. Details here: Manchester Author event and gigManchester Author event and gig

A ModernGothin

1)      What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

This is a hard one to answer really. I always kept a diary or journal from a young age so that is probably my earliest memory of writing anything significant. It was just about what happened for day to day in my life.

2)      When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

I made the decision in 2013 after a discussion with friends that I used to chat to on Twitter. They were, for the most part writers and authors. on evening my friend John was talking about a book he was writing and I happened to mention that I had been writing secretly. I actually kept the writing in my bottom drawer of my chest of drawers in my bedroom.

He said to send me what I had written so I send him the first chapter of a story. A paranormal Steampunk story and he said it was pretty good and worth pursuing. Between about five of them they then came up with my author name. I loved to write so I thought, why not give it a shot.

3)      What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My greatest strength I think is my ability to communicate with others and drive a story forward. My greatest weakness is procrastination. I am easily distracted. Like the dog off Up that can be distracted by the word and thought of squirrels.

A Gothic Romance teaser 5.png4)      Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

The place I live is a very small village on the outskirts of Manchester. It is close to moss lands and very rural. Despite being close to the East Lancashire Road. I live in a pretty mining cottage.

In my steampunk book i mention a number of places including Wales where most of my family live and my latest book is set in Whitby. Lots of inspiration came from a holiday there and witnessing the most amazing sunset with the abbey ruins as a backdrop. In fact the cover of the book shows the view I had that evening.

I derive inspiration from here and the many places that I have visited or my family has lived.

5)      Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

There are a number but I think Dracula was very inspirational. I love a good vampire novel

6)      What drove you to write about Vampires?

I simply love vampires in their many guises. Dracula, From Dusk till Dawn and of course Twilight.

7)      What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

I think vampires and sex are synonymous. Who could resist a sexy vampire tale of love, lust and blood?

8)      In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

I think Dracula would have to come out on top.

9)      What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

Hmmm the Vampire Louis has to win on sexiness from Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat. I love the books by Anne Rice. As for dress sense that would have to be Dracula and his over the top dark cloaks.

10)   How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s)InstagramCapture_e8cd6ef1-7764-43ed-8c46-02db0b04b899 of the above?

I think my vampires would fare well against any other vampires as they are superstrong, fast and have other powers too.

11)   Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

The story begins with a young woman visiting Whitby. Visiting her grandma in fact, on the outskirts of Whitby not too far away from the ancient Abbey. There she finally meets the resident vampire, Xander.

This is the story about how their relationship progresses and about the heroine – Ellenor, finding out that her life is about to change in ways beyond her imagination.

In magical ways and the ways of the Lifestyle. The Lifestyle being that of BDSM, bondage and spankings.

Very much 50 shades meets Twilight in some respects.

[Vampire Month] #TheRedcliffeNovels – Heart of the Vampire (A Redcliffe Novel) Book 5 by Catherine Green


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Some of you may remember Catherine Green from her interview and guest post in a previous Vampire month. Well, she is now onto her 5th Redcliffe novel and here she is to tell us all about it…

A series of Catherine Green novel covers

#TheRedcliffeNovels – Heart of the Vampire (A Redcliffe Novel) Book 5

 It is almost Halloween in Redcliffe, Cornwall, and Jessica Stone is not the woman she Heart of the Vampire a redcliffe novel coverused to be. Her summer was hijacked by werewolves, she fell in love with a vampire, and now she is learning how to be a witch, and what it means to celebrate Samhain with her new coven. Her vampire boyfriend, Jack Mason, is busy at work as a police detective, and his identical twin brother Danny, the werewolf alpha, refuses to let go of the woman he has chosen to protect his pack.

Jessica must learn about control, power, and the love that she truly feels for her vampire boyfriend and his brother.

What vampire book genre is the book?

My novel is a contemporary paranormal romance

What are the ‘themes’ of this book?

There is adult content, sexually explicit scenes and scenes of violence

What is the setting of your book series or book?

The Redcliffe Novels series is set in the fictional seaside town of Redcliffe in Cornwall, England.

What’s in store for readers?

We have come a long way since Jessica Stone fell in love with a vampire and discovered the secrets of her supposedly human friends. As #TheRedcliffeNovels series progresses, Jessica learns that relationships are far more complicated when they involve non-human creatures. She must also learn to adjust her moral code if she wants to continue living with the vampire and the werewolf.

My Vampire Boyfriend promo


“You have to feed, Jack,” I insisted, “And you cannot use me. We tried that before and you almost killed me, remember?”

“You found a way to survive,” my vampire replied gruffly.

I laughed, but it was not amusement that brought such a reaction.

“I survived,” I said, emphasising the word, “because of your brother. Danny saved me. He sacrificed his wolves so that I could claw back some human strength. Maybe that’s what caused this…” I gestured to the empty space on the bed behind me, “thing with Suri.”

“Perhaps,” Jack replied quietly, “But the point is, you survived.”

Words from the Author

I have always been fascinated by the vampire myth and wrote my dissertation on vampires for my university degree. Contrary to popular folklore, I have always viewed vampires as a romantic and misunderstood creature, although I do not doubt their ability to kill and destroy. To me they represent the primitive, dangerous part of ourselves that humans prefer to ignore.

Are you Team Jack or Team Danny? Sign up now and receive your FREE story from #TheRedcliffeNovels series set in Cornwall, England.

Find #TheRedcliffeNovels series in bookshops and online and request them in your local library. For buy links and more details, visit Catherine Green at You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @SpookyMrsGreen.

Buy from Amazon UK;  Buy from Amazon US;  Buy from Smashwords;

Buy from NOOK Books (Barnes & Noble); Buy from Kobo


[Vampire Month] Very Nice by Terry Jackman


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Author Picture of Terry Jackman sitting in a garden chair

Terry Jackman

We open this year’s Vampire month with a piece of flash fiction by Terry Jackman, author of Ashamet and who is currently working on a Vampire novel (which I hope to feature on here when it is finally published).

Very Nice is a quirky little tale with a subtle bite… I hope you enjoy it…

Very Nice

By Terry Jackman

All those winding lanes to drive through these days. Would she ever get used to them? It was almost two o’clock by the time she got home and her feet were killing her. Still, the mirror was the first attraction. Well, what did she think now she had done it? Was it really her? Too short? Too modern? Highlights he had called them and she’d felt obliged to tell him, ‘Very nice, dear.’ And she’d asked for something different, so it wasn’t his fault.

        Then she pulled a silly face at her reflection. Nice. Such a… a safe sounding word. And what she looked like too, her Ernie would have told her.

        Then the hall clock ticked and tutted at her, reminding her that time was precious.

        Upstairs then, to change into a nice, warm woollie and her comfy slippers. Then into the kitchen; unpack all the shopping, measure out the filter coffee, fetch the tray-cloth and the rosebud china. And of course her special pastries. My, they did look tempting, pale yellow fondant squares and chocolate brownies. She knew gentlemen liked chocolate though of course she always took a lemon fondant. You would never know she hadn’t made a single cake till Ernie had passed over. But there, he’d spoiled her. ‘Go on,’ he’d say, and laugh, ‘there’s always more where that one came from.’

        She sighed, then brightened. Wonderful how one adapted, really. Six years now, six lonely years, but she’d managed. It had meant moving out of their little house in town but she liked the cottage, and the nearby village. More importantly she’d kept her strength up. It hadn’t always been easy but it had all worked out wonderfully, hadn’t it?

        Two thirty, already? She was breathless again as well; sure sign she needed to eat. At least the lounge was spotless, thank goodness she’d got up so early. The table sparkled from its morning polish. Not just a squirt from one of those spray things either. That magazine had said that beeswax made a house more friendly, that and the smell of fresh coffee when someone walked in.

        She’d been a bit doubtful about that part. Ernie had detested coffee. “Muck” he’d called it. but she’d got quite fond of it nowadays, and the magazine had been quite right; no one had refused a cup, and once they’d gone that far, well, a piece of cake was nothing, was it?

        Two thirty-five. Had he forgotten? No, there was a van outside and heavens, he was on the path already.

        Along the hall. Straighten the little brass jug that held the cellar keys. A last glance at that too-short hairdo, though perhaps she did look younger. A calming breath, and seize the handle.

        ‘Mrs Booth? I’m here to mend your washer.’

        Oh, oh yes. So young. So big. So juicy. Why, he’d last the whole of winter. Mrs Booth backed in and beamed at him. She did hope he liked chocolate.

[Vampire Month] The month that never dies…


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It is March and loyal followers of this blog all know what March means. That’s right – Vampire Month. That random idea I had many years ago to create a themed event because, one March, I happened to have four Vampire authors just itching to get some guest posts out there… Then, for some insane reason, once I had laid it to rest at the end of March I decided to bring it back for another year… and another… and another…Vampire

A lot has happened since then but Vampire month has managed to be released on time every year, no matter how busy or distracted I get. This year is no exception with regards to the distraction. I’ve started working on some educational resources (first one published recently, the other two still in production) and also been trying to work on several new projects, including a Vampire based story of my own for an upcoming anthlology to follow up the Over the Top Alphas collection ( This is unusual for me because I do not normally write about Vampires. Well, apparently now I do…

All of this distraction has meant that I have not been able to  get hold of four Vampire authors to do spots this year. So, this year I have opted for a more freeform approach. Instead of the traditional ‘guest post and interview’ combo for all participants, this year contributors are free to submit what they want – guest posts, interviews, photos, flash fiction, anything that fits the theme. I am also going to do a couple of posts myself. One on a Vampire photoshoot I went on recently and the other on the short I am writing for the anthology.

So, expect the first post sometime early next week…

Release: Out of this World Alphas!


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So, despite being in a sort of hiatus in terms of writing, mostly because I have been working with my writing group to develop some ideas more thoroughly, I have managed to submit to an anthology… and it came out recently. The details are below. I submitted a story about Rachel Drake getting very irritated at not being told the whole plan in a game of international diplomacy…


Authors: Brynn Burke, CJ Hartnett, D. A. Lascelles, Rose Satin, N.L. Hoffmann, Orchid Raine, Iris Sweetwater, Maggie Lowe & Mila Raphael 

In this collection we have brought you tales from nine incredibly talented authors. All with one objective, to bring you alphas that are out of this world. Whether you’re looking for an angel in despair, creature in the dark, or a controversial hybrid. We’ve got something for everyone. Take a dive into the unknown, you won’t be disappointed.
Add to TBR here:
One Click Here:

New year musings…


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As usual, I am late at doing a retrospective of the old year. In fact, I may be more than a year late as I cannot recall if I did one of these last year or not…

Anyway, after being name checked in Russel A Smith’s blog yesterday I have been shamed into doing a new year post of my own…

Eddie the smooth coated fox terrier on a beach with a ball2018 has been a mixed year. I lost two things. One was my full time employment, with redundancy in June. The other, more tragic and personal, was the loss of Eddie, our Smooth Fox Terrier. This last one is still very recent (December) and he will be sorely missed. He has featured both in this blog as ‘Christmas dog’ and also had a small cameo in my first novella publication (Transitions) where he is found eating from an upturned bin during a scene where the hero, Brandon, leaves a love note on Helen’s doorstep. I am sure he would have been the first to tell you that the entire plot of that story was all about him and the bin eating scene was artistically essential for the overall plot of the novel and if you cut it out the whole story collapses.

However, there were also good things in 2018. For one, the loss of employment has allowed more time for writing – both fiction and non-fiction. This has meant that I have now almost completed my second educational resource and will be starting a third later in January. I will be using this blog to announce when these are published so keep an eye out for that. The two current ones are based on the BTEC level 3 Health and Social Care specifications for 2016. The potential future one will be based on the Applied science specification.

I’ve also kicked the fiction writing up a notch. I have been working with a new writing Authors incliding Jacey Bedford and Ruth Long doing a panel at Mancunicon Eastercongroup, courtesy of the wonderful Jacey Bedford who is shown in the photograph from a panel I shared with her at Mancunicon (Eastercon) and that has given me some inspiration and encouragement. I am currently working on two novels. One is a sequel to Gods of the Deep called Gods of the City which will bring us back to the Arcroc and the adventures of Rachel and Everyn. The other currently does not have a name (it was formerly Fortune and Troy but that title no longer works for various reasons and I need a rethink…) but will be set in the Waypoint universe which has already featured in two of the stories in Lurking Miscellany.

Final thing in writing is that I have become a reviewer for the BSFA Review. My reviews have not (at present) made it to the page but are expected to start appearing in the next issue which is due out soon. I have been reading a mix of trad and self published books. Spoiler alert, my review of Lost Gods by fellow Mancunian Micah is largely positive. This has nothing to do with the fact I got to attend the lavish release party

Purple relief figure in Brick lane, LondonIn photography, I have made massive changes. I attended a course at the London Institute of Photography in August. I spent a few days in London with them doing artistic shoots in Brick Lane and the Barbican centre and a few other places.  I learned a lot there and have been applying what I learned to my work. One of the images I took there is shown here – some of the fascinating graffiti in Brick Lane, London. I also traveled to Cyprus to photograph my sister’s wedding, which was an amazing experience and have found a group of local photographers who have been meeting in a pub in Manchester every Wednesday to experiment with interesting photography ideas. I have set up a facebook page to showcase some of my more recent shoots both from those sessions and others.

I also found out that a good friend of mine has recently qualified as a professional photographer and did a residency abroad which was very successful and which makes me very jealous of her. You can see examples of her work here. She is absolutely amazing and I want her to do well if only so that the wonderful photos she took of me and my wife at a friend’s wedding become collector’s pieces in the future :).

For the year to come I am making my usual creative resolution but modifying it. Over the last two years I have made it a policy to do at least one creative thing every day, even if only a small thing (literally a word or two on a document counted). It didn’t matter what it was – writing something, taking a photograph or editing a photograph all counted. However, in the latter half of 2018 I modified the rule a little. Now, instead of being able to do photography OR writing tasks I am being strict and saying that I must do writing every day. I am not making a similar rule for photography as I know that it is often erratic when I can get to do that. However, I am sure there will be more of that to come. The writing every day is essential for the writing group anyway. There must be new stuff for them to critique each meeting and that means I have had to up my volume.

Coming up this year are a number of things.

First of all there is the release of Out of this World Alphas due soon. 15th January is the release date you should put in your calendar. FB_IMG_1545486717540.jpgOr you can click the link and pre-order if you prefer and it will be delivered to your e-reader on the release date. I have a story in this anthology set in the Arcroc that stands between Gods of the Deep and Gods of the City.

Secondly, thanks to the aforesaid Russel Smith, I am working on another anthology which will be based in Manchester. I have the vague concept of a story incubating for that which involves druidic magic.

As for conferences etc. I am not able to make Picocon again this year, which is a shame because I really enjoyed my time there last year. However finances are against me there and, besides, I have two other amazing conferences to get to this year. One of these is Eastercon which this year is in London and gives me the chance to catch up with Frances Hardinge again after too long not seeing her. Regular readers will recall many years ago when she appeared on this blog having done a reading for World Book Night at the Fab cafe. I also did a reading then but I am not sure as many noticed. I am looking forward to a good weekend of panels and talking with people who I tend to only see once a year over Easter…

The other main event this year is like Eastercon only bigger… Worldcon is coming to Dublin this year and as that makes it far more accessible than it has ever been I am going to travel there in August. I have also been involved in the brainstorming sessions for this, which seem to involve a bunch of people sending emails with crazy panel ideas and the rest of us either agreeing with them or making them crazier. No spoilers but I am sure any of you who attend will be in for some treats… I am looking forward to my first Worldcon and will be there with a camera in order to take lots of photos of Dublin to bore you all with.

So that is it… plans for the new year as they currently stand. I hope you all have a good new year yourselves and are successful in any and all ventures you attempt.