Archive for news

A simple update

Posted in General Musings with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

So, what have I been up to lately that has meant that I have seemingly neglected to post something on here nearly every day, as I used to? Well, there have been a few things that have kept me busy work-wise, plus there have been some health issues affecting both my wife and I. On top of that, January is never a particularly brilliant time for me (along with what appears to be at least half the population of Britain…) for one reason or another. Some of those issues I’ll discuss below.

As some of you may know, I suffered a stroke some years back, whose legacy is a very close acquaintance with the Black Dog. The dark days of this time of year appear to exacerbate it, and so I often find myself fighting to tame that particular beast around this time. It’s a right pain in the arse, as I have too much other stuff to be getting on with to be spending the amounts of energy I do combating depression. I am not one to complain mostly, nevertheless there are moments when I just want to go out there and hit a few things out of sheer frustration. Mostly, though, the dour Welsh side of my character comes out then, where I find myself just gritting my teeth and working my own way through it rather than beating a path to the doctor’s surgery and seeking the aid of medication – they may indeed be the answer but I’m just stubborn like that.

We did, however, visit our GP in relation to Liz’s osteo-arthritis, which is affecting her left knee. There were times earlier this year when she could hardly move, the pain was so great. This necessarily meant that I was concentrating on making things a great deal easier for her around the house and taking on a greater role in the running of the household. Indeed, there was talk some weeks ago of a knee replacement operation, but thankfully she’s been put on medication that seems to be easing everything enough so that at least she is able to carry on doing the daily stuff without anything like the discomfort she was experiencing previously. What the long-term prognosis is on the condition of that knee we don’t know right now, but for the present at least life has returned to something resembling normality – which has to be a good thing. And so, very slowly, as thoughts turn to the return of spring, the pair of us are coming out of turpitude and starting to gear up for the rest of the year in a much more positive frame of mind.

We have also been experiencing a few financial woes, but we have now taken positive steps to redress the situation and already it’s easing up. Whilst we are most certainly not out of the woods completely, we can at least see a bright sliver of light, meaning that we are almost out of it.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom – I have also been busy with a project or two, one of which I finally completed yesterday. Some of you may be aware that Johnny Mains, of Pan Books of Horror and Noose & Gibbet Publishing fame, has been busy compiling a volume of the stories of Mary Danby, a stalwart of the Armada and Fontana ghost and horror compilations for many years. Well, yours truly has been responsible for scanning and inputting all those stories in preparation for the production of said book. Nearly 30 stories all told – and working with an extremely temperamental OCR program, that sometimes recognised the images I uploaded as text and sometimes saying there was nothing there. So… there were times when I simply had to type everything in by hand (fingers?) – but, at least one great thing came out of it… my typing speed and accuracy has increased immeasurably as a result. (And, of course, I got to read a sizeable chunk of Mary’s ouevre at the same time….)

I also released the very first Spectral Press chapbook (Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention) at the very beginning of January and its success has genuinely caught me by surprise. As of this writing, there are just 27 copies left out of the 100 and it’s only been out less than two months. The reviews of the book have been universally positive and I have received some great feedback from customers – plus I now have 60 subscriptions, which is very near my initial target of 70 (which I actually thought was overly-optimistic at the beginning of this year but is now more than within reach). I am already working on the second volume which is due out in three months’ time – for more details visit spectralpress.wordpress.com.

The future for the imprint appears to be more than healthy – the bar for the first one has been set very high, a fact that will encourage me to strive to maintain the high standards I’ve set myself. I also look forward to working with each and every writer who has been asked to contribute, and also to work with those who I have yet to ask onboard.

Now, I can look forward to the rest of this year with gusto, getting back into doing some drawing, painting and reviewing, as well as the editing and publishing, plus some convention appearances. It also means that I will be endeavouring to blog a bit more often with original material as well as posting reviews of the chapbooks. 2011 promises to be a good year for me on so many levels, and it’s to be hoped that you out there will join me for the duration.

Spectral Volume II

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

And so here it is, the cover to Spectral Press Volume II, Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses – again it’s been designed by the inimitable Neil Williams and based on a beautiful photograph by my good friend Branwyn Reeves:

©2011 Gary Fry/Spectral Press - cover design ©Neil Williams - cover photo ©Branwyn Reeves

“It’s not always the guilty who have the darkest secrets . . .

Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He’s a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory and the father of two fine lads.

He also has a secret mistress.

One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood. The fact that Peter would rather go for a pie and a pint and to watch the match is something he keeps very much to himself.

But his are not the only secrets in this marriage. And as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realises that Patricia has quite a few revelations of her own . . .”

“Fry is a writer whose technique is as accomplished as his intellect and imagination are powerful.”–Reggie Oliver

It’s available for pre-order now for £3.50 (inclusive of p+p) – email Simon Marshall-Jones at spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com for more details.

Spectral news…

Posted in News with tags , , , on January 11, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Just a very small snippet of news today – just so you can join me in welcoming two more writers to the Spectral roster!

First up is PAUL KANE, author of such novels as The Afterblight Chronicles, The Gemini Factor, and Of Darkness and Light, the critically-acclaimed study of Clive Barker’s hellish vision in The Hellraiser Films and their Legacy, as well as numerous short stories, collections and novellas. Paul’s webite can be found here.

Please also give a warm welcome to WAYNE SIMMONS, the author of Flu and the Drop Dead Gorgeous trilogy – the first in the series, Drop Dead Gorgeous, is just about to hit the shops in paperback on the 2nd of February. Wayne’s story, tentatively titled Loving the Dead, will be set within the DDG universe, and promises to add a quieter, spookier dimension to the post-apocalyptic world Wayne has created. Look out for that one sometime in 2012, hopefully. In the meantime, Wayne’s website/blog can be found right here.

Keep checking for more news on publishing schedules, and titles.

News: new interview online!

Posted in News with tags , , , , on January 4, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Just a quick snippet to let all those not on Facebook know that an interview with yours truly has just been posted at Horror Reanimated, conducted by the ever-lovely Joseph D’Lacey – click here to read what I have to say… go on, you know you want to.

Some news

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

A couple of bits of news:

First, Wayne Simmons (author of Flu and Drop Dead Gorgeous) very kindly let me have some space on his blog to talk about Spectral Press, the ideas behind the imprint, some of the history of chapbooks and some of my ambitions regarding the imprint. You can read it here.

Secondly, I have just been interviewed by Joseph D’Lacey of Horror Reanimated – which, he has told me, should be posted very soon. So look out for that!!

The name of Spectral is slowly, but surely, getting out there… =)

The happy publisher…

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

… and his first publication…

Yes, they’re actually here!! So anyone who wasn’t sure can now order one in complete confidence!!

You can buy subs for Spectral Press chapbooks (or individual copies, if you wish), direct.  You can now have the whole of the first year’s publications sent right to your door AND you’ll be able to enter the subscriber-only prize draw (for details of the prize, please see below). You can now pay through Paypal and each sub will cost £10UK/£12EU /$20US/ $25US RoW (all prices inclusive of postage and packing). Individual chapbooks will be available for £3.50UK/£4EU/$8US/$12RoW (again all prices inclusive of p+p). Please send Paypal remittances to spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com. If you want to pay by cheque please email me for details on the same address!!

When you do subscribe, your name will be entered into the prize-draw, where you stand the chance of winning a specially signed and framed edition of the first chapbook by Gary McMahon. Alongside it will be a copy of the annotated manuscript, which means that Gary has scribbled all over it in red pen – and he’s even signed it and drawn a little doodle of a smiley horned creature on it as well (very cute, in the way that only Gary understands the word). The winner might even get a free subscription extension for another year on top of that…

Closing date for competition is 31st December 2010! So, what are you waiting for? Get subbing NOW!!

PRESS RELEASE: MORRIGAN BOOKS announces new editors

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 16, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Morrigan Books can today reveal the names of several editors who have been taken on by the company in readiness for its new e-book series. Some are established, whereas others are new to the field, further strengthening the vision of Morrigan Books that it wishes to promote new talent at the company, as well as maintaining its level of excellence in the field of dark fiction.

We are very pleased to welcome the following to Morrigan Books:

RJ Barker

Karen Newman

Richard Palmer

Amanda Rutter

KV Taylor

All our editors can be found at the Morrigan Books site.

The calm before the storm…

Posted in General Musings, News with tags , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Oh yes, it really is the lull, the quiet interregnum just prior to the mad, swirling chaos that will hit the palatial Marshall-Jones Mansions within the next four to six weeks. Spectral Press Volume I is nearly ready to be sent to the printers, just the final few details to sort out and then it’ll be in their hands, either at the end of this week or beginning of next at the latest. A brief moment of calm, then collect signature sheets, get them sent off to Gary, wait anxiously for their return, take them back to printers for everything to be collated and then another brief moment of calm.

And then the mad rush of stuffing and addressing labels begins, ensuring that subscribers get their copies, promotional activity to all and sundry, sending out PDFs to reviewers, answering enquiries…. and then onto getting Spectral Press Volume II ready… and doing everything again when that gets published… and you know what? Bring it on!!

A couple of nights ago, as I took a break from whatever it was I was doing, I had cause to ponder: Why am I doing this? I know damn well that this isn’t going to earn me a living, let alone make me a millionaire – so why do it? It’s simple: I love books, love the written word and, most especially, love a good, well-told story, written by authors who care about what they write. The very fact that I am creating something in a field that I have derived immense pleasure from is good reason enough for me. If I make a little money that I can put back into the projects I have in mind, should Spectral Press be a success, then even better. But, to coin a cliché, I feel like I am giving something back after taking so much from the scene over the years.

Having said that, I also want to avoid over-extending myself. This is the crucial difference between Spectral Press and FracturedSpacesRecords – I did way too much too soon with the latter, inevitably leaving me with a lot of stock that I am unable to sell (live and learn, eh?). Which is why Spectral will, at most, only publish once a quarter for the forseeable future (or only three in the first year). Admittedly, books are a damn sight easier to deal with, plus I appear to have gained a measure of goodwill from those in the scene, for which I am grateful. Above all, though, I am enjoying myself more than I have ever done with anything else I’ve ever been involved in.

I also like to be busy – I abhor boredom. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to occupy yourself with, apart from watching TV (most of which I detest) or drinking (and I REALLY don’t want to go there again – that was a bad place for me). So, running something like an independent publishers is ideal in many ways – and there’ll be many challenges ahead, but those will keep the stasis firmly away.

And now… as an added bonus, here’s Daniele Serra’s cover art for Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall chapbook (please note: the text will be different and everything will eventually conform to the Spectral Press ‘look’ – this is to give you some idea of what it’ll look like, however):

© 2010 Daniele Serra/Spectral Press

More news soon!!

NEWS: And this is where it all starts….

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Yes, this IS where it all begins…

What am I blabbering on about, you may very well ask? I’m talking about Spectral Press, or rather, the very first chapbook in the series, Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark, due out (officially) in January 2011. Today, I’ll be checking it, then I’ll put together some of the other pages (signature page layout, copyright notice page and also a page listing all the founder subscribers – if YOU want YOUR name on there, then act quickly to get a subscription now!! Details below), and then shoot it all off to GraphixMeister Neil Williams to assemble the whole thing. Once he’s woven his magic, down to the printer’s for actual production, with the added complication of getting the signature sheets printed first, then collected to send to Gary to scribble on, sent back and returned to printer’s for final collation – December is going to be one busy month….

Do you want your name listed as a founder subscriber in the first Spectral chapbook? If so, then act fast, before Monday 6th December 2010! A yearly subscription will cost £10UK/£12EU /$20US/ $25US RoW (all prices inclusive of postage and packing). Individual chapbooks will be available for £3.50UK/£4EU/$8US/$12RoW (again all prices inclusive of p+p). You can either pay via Paypal or cheque: Paypal is spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com and for details of how to pay by cheque, please send an email to the same address and I’ll get back to you forthwith.

As an added incentive, if you do choose to subscribe before the end of this year (31st December 2010 closing date), your name will be entered into the prize-draw, where you’ll stand the chance of winning a specially signed and framed edition of  Gary McMahon’s chapbook. Alongside it will be a copy of the annotated manuscript, ie  Gary has scrawled all over it in his best red biro – he’s even signed it and ‘illuminated’ it with a little doodle of a smiley horned devil on it as well. The winner will even get a free subscription extension for another year on top of that… now that’s what I call a bargain! (Winner will be notified by mid-January)

Finally, to whet your appetite, here’s the back cover blurb for What They Hear in the Dark:

An absence is more terrifying than a presence…

Rob and Becky bought the old place after the death of their son, to repair and renovate – to patch things up and make the building habitable.

They both knew that they were trying to fix more than the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.

Then they found the Quiet Room.”

So what are you waiting for then?