Archive for plans

An update…

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Okay, so I haven’t managed to get back on here like I promised I would, but there have been good reasons. Not only did I find the first six weeks of this year difficult, which I have already talked about on here in a recent(ish) post, but I discovered that I was suffering from exhaustion, which led to me developing a bad case of the ‘flu (despite being inoculated), which was promptly followed by a cold (which, thankfully, was very mild and exceedingly brief) and a hacking cough. The last two weeks have been spent recuperating and reassessing certain things.

First, the exhaustion issue – this was caused by overwork, pure and simple. In other words, working 10 – 12 hour days, seven days a week, doesn’t really make for a tiredness-free life. I was waking up every morning like I’d been hit by a truck during the night. Naturally, this also disturbed the equilibrium of my diabetes, and my bloodsugar levels were all over the shop. Elevated levels of ‘inflammatory markers’ in the results of one of my recent blood tests didn’t help the situation, either, to be quite frank – it could indicate anything from a mild (hitherto undiagnosed) allergy to something far more serious. Unfortunately, the test (and results) were annoyingly vague, so my GP couldn’t specify what it could be. I went back last week for more tests, results expected this week.

Anyway, since the recent bout of illness, I’ve been feeling brighter, a great deal less tired and a lot fresher every morning. Conclusion: everything that’s happened in the last two months was related, and the subsequent illness the consequence of not paying attention to what my body was saying. Solution: don’t work so damn hard. It’s all very well wanting Spectral Press to be a success, but it’ll all mean absolutely zilch if I end up making myself ill in the process. So now, I work during the hours of 9am – 5pm during the week and for a few hours in the evenings at weekends, and at other times I indulge in a relaxing hobby.

A hobby? Yes, a hobby. Specifically, making scale models of things. Even more specifically, models of classic cars and WWII military vehicles. This was something I used to love doing when I was younger; I took it up again a couple of years ago, then gave it up when I started the record label. Now, I have realised I need some me-time, time when I can just forget the world and all its many troubles and lose myself in something I find interesting, engaging and relaxing. And I make no apologies for it, either.

But, Spectral is still going strong and growing. Part of my agenda this week is to look at a story Mark West has sent me for critical appraisal, and editing Gary Fry’s wonderful story Abolisher of Roses, due out at the beginning of May or thereabouts, as Spectral Volume II. I will also be doing a spot of reading and reviewing, planning the cover painting for Willie Meikle’s cancer-themed anthology The Unspoken, and getting on with building a Sherman tank with Calliope rocket launcher (as you do) in those moments of relaxation. Photos of the fnished tank are likely to appear on here, so you can follow my progress into utter geekiness.

Anyway, expect more blogs to follow on a much more regular basis, and many apologies for being silent over the last couple of months. I can be my own worst enemy at times, and I should have known better.


2010: a look back…

Posted in General Musings with tags , , , , on December 9, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

This is the time of year when people start reviewing the kind of year they’ve had, so, for once, I thought I’d do something similar to what everybody else does (and get it done early) and assess what’s been going on in my life for the past twelve months. It’s been a decidedly mixed year for both Liz and I, but nearing the tail end of 2010 as we are things have settled down considerably from how they were earlier on.

2010 started off well enough, with Liz and I’s futures looking quite rosy. I was writing almost non-stop, Bookgeeks had asked me if I would like to start reviewing for them and I was getting to know quite a few people in the writing world. Liz meanwhile had a secure job and good prospects for a permanent job and promotion. At least, that was until May, when Liz was told she had to have a major operation and, the day before it was due to be performed, she was told that her work contract was not going to be renewed. So, quite a jolt there, as you can imagine. Financially, that decision, in combination with Liz having to take time off work to recuperate, necessarily meant having to tighten our belts considerably.

But, I carried on writing and networking, attending both the alt.fiction event in Derby later on in May and the Terror Scribes day in Leicester in July. Met more than a few of my FB friends at both events – always nice to actually meet people in the flesh and not just as virtual acquaintances. The hotel in Derby after alt-fiction was a bit shite, though, as the morning staff looked at me as if I was something unthinkable stuck to the bottom of their shoe. Not going there again, plus it was miles outside the city itself.

Between then and the next time we were all to meet, I was asked to contribute to another review site, Beyond Fiction, and all the while my circle of friends was getting wider and wider. Liz, it has to be said, recovered spectacularly well from her operation and within weeks had found herself some new employment, so some of the strain was taken off.

The big event to look forward to was FantasyCon, held in Nottingham. Met up with a load of friends there, much drink was had and I came away with more books than I thought possible. One other side-effect of FCon was the sheer buzz I got from it, so much so that, after some careful thought, I decided that I was going to set up a small, independent press, to be called Spectral Press. Originally supposed to be launched at the next FCon in Brighton, the first volume is due to be published in January 2011 instead, after the excellent response I have had from people about it – which includes a promise of stories from some very fine authors, I have to say. I have many plans for the press, dependent (of course) on Spectral’s success – but I sincerely hope that it’s the start of some very good things for all concerned with it.

Additionally, I have been asked to provide the cover paintings to two books, Crabs: Apocalypse (by Dave Jeffery and Stuart Neild) and The Unspoken, the latter an anthology of stories in aid of cancer charities, edited by Willie Meikle and Stephen James Price. I was also asked to do a portrait of Gary McMahon as well (by the man himself), thus pitching me back joyfully into the painting side of things.

I also edited my first ever book, Let it Bleed by Stephanie Schmitz, which will published in hard-copy around the time of my birthday next year in February. That was a challenge which I was more than happy to rise to – looking forward to receiving a copy just after it’s published.

On December 3rd, I had my first story published in Dark Valentine online magazine. It isn’t a perfect story by any means – but I still think it’s something that I can build on. Next year I will be concentrating a lot more on the writing side of things, and attenpting to hone my skills and abilities in that regard.

As a consequence, I will be winding down somewhat on the book-reviewing, as I guess I won’t have time to do everything. I also want (need) to read more – I have sadly neglected reading for pleasure this year so I think it’s about time I pulled my finger out on that one. And, of course, I need to get out there and promote  Spectral Press to all and sundry, no doubt with a little help from my friends, as the saying goes.

Finally, Liz had some very good news recently – she will be in full-time work next year, meaning we have a decent amount to live on. Of course, I will be bringing in a little money myself, so things are gradually sorting themselves out. We WON’T be moving north to Scotland, as was originally planned – after due consideration, the opportunity was too good for Liz to pass up. The plan is STILL to move there at some point, just not sure when now.

Most importantly, though, Liz and I celebrated three years of marriage in June and, come January 1st, we’ll have been together for five years all told. As sentimental as it may sound, if it hadn’t have been for Liz, things would have been very different for me – I wouldn’t have met all the fine people I have and I certainly wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to set up my own publishing imprint. I still have a long way to go, certainly, but I am determined to get there. I may make a few mistakes and take a few wrong turns on the road, but I am only human. I am still wont to believe that 2011 will be a good year for both Liz and I, and for a lot of others too.

In that spirit, I shall finish by saying that I hope all your plans and schemes come to fruition in 2011!!


Posted in General Musings with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Well, today I will be sending off the final bits and pieces of the first Spectral chapbook to Neil for the final layout and then, hopefully, I’ll be able to pass them on to the printers either at the end of this week or the beginning of next. This will be the bit where I become incredibly nervous, the part where I hope the product justifies the hype. I have put everything I have into this: I hope that the trust that all the authors have invested in me and the work put into putting it all together by Neil Williams is recompensed, not to mention those people who have kindly sent me subscriptions.

I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night when it really hit me that I am actually doing this, that what was just an abstract concept a few short months ago is becoming a reality within the next few weeks. That’s quite a scary, yet incredibly exhilarating, feeling – it’d be akin to seeing the film-script you wrote months back turned into a programme on the TV. Or the painting you’d created used as a book cover. It’s a completely indescribable emotion.

I’d like to think that Spectral Press will become a hallmark of excellence, the sort of imprint that authors would feel honoured to become a part of. I am very enthusiastic about its prospects, but I am also aware of just how much work is needed in order for it to get where I want it to go. I have plans for the future, but they’re entirely dependent on the success of this line of chapbooks. I am learning every day, but I certainly feel that I have brought together the right ingredients that’ll make the magic happen, but only time will tell, to use a cliché. I am quietly confident – once let Spectral fly, the it’ll in the lap of the gods, as they say.

(The picture above doesn’t really relate to anything I’ve written – it’s a frost-laden day here, with blue skies, bright sun, and bitterly cold…. and even the estate where I live can be vaguely described as picturesque because of it…)…

Spectral Press update and other plans…

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my Spectral Press project , so I thought it a good idea to let you all know what’s happening. So here goes:

For starters, this is the line-up for the first year’s publications:

What They Hear in the Dark, by Gary McMahon (April/May 2011)

The Abolisher of Roses, by Gary Fry (September 2011)

Nowhere Hall, by Cate Gardner (January 2012)

More details and blurb about each very soon. There’ll only be the three in the first year, mainly to judge the kind of reaction to what Spectral has to offer. If it looks like the imprint will be successful then I will increase the frequency to every quarter. My aim, eventually (and this is only maybe), is to publish a chapbook every two months OR two every quarter.

The subscription price for the first year is £10 – I’ll be working out the price very soon for both the rest of the world and the $ price for the US. I’ll be setting up the new bank account tomorrow so that within the next week or two I’ll be able to start accepting subscription payments should anyone wish to take one out.

Other writers who have either agreed to write, or have expressed an interest in writing, for Spectral Press are (in no particular order): Alison Littlewood, Steve Duffy, Thana Niveau, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Steve Lockley, Stephen Volk, Mark West, John Llewellyn Probert, Johnny Mains, Simon Bestwick, Nicholas Royle, RB Russell, Willie Meikle and Angela Slatter. Something for everyone there, I should think. Plus it’ll keep the imprint going for a while….

Jumping the gun maybe, but I am also thinking about Spectral Press in the longer term. This is more of a visualisation exercise than anything else, but this is what I would like to see happening with the imprint.

As well as the main Spectral Press chapbooks, I envision two other, parallel series further down the road:

Spectral Old Masters – republishing ghostly and supernatural tales from the early part of last century and before. I don’t quite know how to go about sourcing public domain/out-of-copyright stories (which, intially, I think they would have to be due to financial constraints) so any help in that quarter appreciated. I imagine them to look something along the lines of the main Spectral line, but with more of a Victorian/Edwardian feel to them.

Spectral Pulp – this would be more of a fun line of chapbooks, giving authors a chance to write something they wouldn’t normally attempt as an hommage to the ‘golden age’ of 50s and 60s pulp publishing. This could take the form of a hard-boiled detective story, or a fantasy story, or maybe a science fiction one, accompanied by some lurid and gloriously technicolour cover artwork that reflects the kind of thing that used to grace newsstands and airport lounge book-racks back in the day. The more outré the better in the last two cases….

Even without the two other ideas coming into being, I’ll be plenty busy enough. This ultimately means that next year I will be cutting back on the reviewing (although the books I have here now will be dealt with, I promise), as I want to concentrate on making Spectral Press the success I think it deserves to be, plus I want to resume my own story-writing. I’ve neglected the latter for far too long, I feel. I have many stories, and story ideas, that I’ve been toying with over the last four or so months, none of which have got very far because of time constraints plus certain personal issues that have deigned to intervene. Those latter are now slowly being resolved, so I should have more time to deal with reviews and Spectral business.

At any rate, I hope you can all join me on-board this exciting new venture. I am definitely looking forward to getting the first chapbook out next year – it promises to be quite an interesting ride.