Archive for editor

Ripped Genes: The Biopunk Special Issue – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I really wanted to hate this issue. For completely selfish and nasty reasons, I wanted to hate this magazine. I wanted to submit to it, I had some amazing ideas. Ideas that never made the transition from brain to page. For whatever reason (that thing some people call writers’ block and I call life) got in the way of my making the deadline, although I had determined months before that I’d write something. In the end I wrote nothing, and because of that I didn’t want to like this issue.

And you know what? Now I feel even worse. Because this is not just a good special issue, this is the kind of magazine that excites me (ok, not in that way you perve!). It inspires me, it makes me want to write, it wakes up my brain!

Filled with ideas, and bursting with sparkles of brilliance, the editor Samuel Diamond has delivered a treat. This is SF as it should be!

There are far too few SF magazines out there. Morpheus Tales delivers a good share of horror, but the SF is sadly lacking. The small press for SF seems to have mostly dried up (forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’ve looked and I can’t find much).

Which is why it is magazines like Ripped Genes: The Biopunk Special issue are so important. It doesn’t just deliver, it delivers by the bucket load.

There is not a bad story in this diverse bunch, but highlights for me were “Fishing the Life in Notochords” By Matt Leyshon, a writer who never fails to amaze me; “Baby Boom” By Alan Spencer, another writer I’m familiar with who shows time and time again that he’s more than just a blood and guts horror writer (although he does it so well); “Screaming Monkeys” By Dev Jarrett, a remarkable story; and “Legacy” By Richard Farren Barber who gets better with every story.

Picking four out of the thirteen stories on offer had me tearing my hair out, it’s so difficult to pick out just a handful of these exceptional stories. The creators of these stories are all on top form.

I hate that I’m not a part of this magazine. I’m gutted. I wish I had a time machine, then I’d go back six month and sit down and write. Of course, I’d probably steal some of the brilliant ideas contained in this magazine if I did. Ripped Genes is an SF magazine that demands you read it. Check out the free preview and then go buy yourself a copy. You will not regret it.

Cutting edge SF at it’s very best! Devilishly good stuff!

Free preview:

Buy the printed magazine:

Buy an ebook:


Urban Horror Special Out Now!

Posted in Life..., Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Writing is sometimes a thankless task. Endlessly hunched over a typewriter/piece of paper/keyboard, pouring out your heart, trying desperately to put into words the perfect visions in your head.  Sending it to editors in the hope that one of them will see some spark of brilliance, and feeling the harsh, wounding, agony of every rejection. Why do we do it? The answer is acceptance. The thrill of realising someone else gets what you are trying to say. The feeling that people will be reading your words, that the vision in your head is being transferred, possibly around the world.

My story “Shoot Out” appears in the Morpheus Tales Urban Horror Special Issue, go get a copy now feel and transfer my vision to your head. You’ll enjoy it, I know you will!

The Morpheus Tales Urban Horror Special Issue Edited by Tommy B. Smith is not now!

The 19 page preview is available here:

The printed format magazine will be available in two different sizes, the A4 Large Format Edition, and the A5 Compact Edition. Both have the same contents and are available from

Large Format A4 Collector’s Edition

Compact A5 Collector’s Edition

Our full range of Morpheus Tales Magazines is available from lulu here:

Reviews – Morpheus Tales Supplement

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I’ve been doing loads of reviews recently, only a small amount of which have been for the blog (don’t worry, more will be coming soon!). Most of the reviews were for the Morpheus Tales Supplement, where I’m the big chief and head honcho and have to do my bit to fill up all those pages.

My reviews of the following titles will all feature in the next issue, along with my interview with horror editing legend Stephen Jones and loads more:

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! Created By Stephen Jones







DEAD BEAT By Remy Porter

I’m also working on my yearly article,  A Year In Reviews and will be awarding my own personal awards to my favourite books of the year.

The Morpheus Tales Supplement is free to read, view and download from the Morpheus Tales website!

The new issue of the Supplement will be out in January, so I’ll be hard at work on that for the next few weeks!


Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I’m having a hard time writing at the moment. It’s not a lack of ideas, it’s more a lack of passion. I discovered writing when I was in my teens and loved it. I felt compelled to write down my every idea, thought and feeling. I kept a diary, I wrote most days. It wasn’t a choice, it was as natural as waking up, as natural as eating.

I wrote thousands of stories and seven novels, I wrote reviews and articles that appeared in magazine all over the place, but I wasn’t ready to share my fiction. I wanted to keep it for myself. I didn’t edit hardly any of it because I hate editing.

Then one summer, lacking ideas for my latest novel, I decided to edit the ones I had already written. I worked my way through all of them, and then again. Pretty soon I’d been editing for two years, and hadn’t written anything. For me editing takes the passion out of writing, it makes writing lose the magic that makes it special.

I haven’t written anything substantial for several years now. The fire that burned inside me is almost out. I have no lack of imagination, no lack of inspiration, just a lack of sitting my arse down and writing.

Writing now seems like a chore rather than a joy. In fact most things in adulthood seem like a chore. But some chores take priority, like earning money to pay the bills.

I’m not focused on writing like I was before. I have too many other hobbies that take up too much time.

I still write a short story occasionally, although I now have to push myself. When I do a spark of that old fire comes back, the joy returns while I weave my world from words. But I need a kick-start, I need something to push me.

Whilst threatened with redundancy earlier in the year I planned to write a book and to learn a language, at least until I found another job. Fortunately the redundancy didn’t happen, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to spend doing the things I would really like to do.

My latest idea was to get my books proof-read by a professional and start submitting them, but that’s actually fairly expensive if you want it done properly, and trust me, from what I can remember of my last (fourth) edits of my novels, they need to be looked at properly.

So I sit, filling up a blank screen with my moaning instead of writing another story, one I have an idea for. About a private detective who is visited by a beautiful woman who brings with her a box that kills people when it’s opened. Ok, so it’s not that original, but I could do something with it.

May be I would try and see where it takes me…

Some Tips for Writers

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I’m fortunate enough to have a friend who edits a small press magazine, it’s called Morpheus Tales Magazine and it’s bloody excellent. Go check it out: He’s owes me a fiver now!

I’m also friends with a couple of other editors, as well as editing the reviews section of Morpheus Tales Magazine myself. Occasionally we have moans about writers, just as writers tend to moan about editors. During the course of these moans though certain useful pieces of information come to light. Practical information that will help your writing career. I’ve also used some of my own vast experience, and the experiences and advice of other writers that I’d read or interviewed.

Obviously this isn’t a definitive guide to writing, it’s just some tips, so feel free to add any.

In no particular order:

Be professional: Always read the writers guidelines. Nothing annoys an editor more than a story that’s too long, or not long enough, or simply the wrong genre. Don’t waste your time or theirs.

Learn to format a manuscript correctly. This means using the format menu and the paragraph settings to change the document’s indentations and line spacing, not using the tab and tapping enter twice at the end of every sentence to get it double space. If you format a story properly it’s much easier to manipulate.

Using the correct format, ok this is different from the previous paragraph. Most magazines/editors/publishers require standard manuscript format, find out what it is and stick to it. Some publishers require certain fonts and font sizes (normally 12), most prefer double spaced. If you can’t be bothered to find out how a publisher/editor wants to receive your work, why should they be bothered to read your work?

Write a simple, shortly covering letter/email. Include a brief description of the story too, and possibly a short bio. Some publishers want a synopsis, so include that. Include whatever it specifically asked for, that’s why you read the writers guidelines properly. Don’t include your life history, what inspired you to write the story or any other irrelevant information. Most editors will judge the story on its own merits and won’t even read your covering email unless the story is good enough anyway.

Do your homework. Read the magazine before you submit anything. Do you know what sort of material they publish just be reading the title and looking at the website? No. Find out the editor’s name too, it always helps if you approach the correct person. Some magazines and most publishing companies have specific editors dealing with specific areas.

Don’t give up. Stephen King was rejected hundreds of times, he collected his rejection slips on a large nail in his bedroom. Rejection happens to us all, even me, and although its harsh try to learn something from it. It you get some criticism listen to it.

Proofread your masterpiece, spell-check it and check it for grammer. If you want to be taken seriously then take your work seriously, this is part of being professional about your work. Check it for mistakes and typos. Not everyone’s perfect, including, on occasion, myself, but at least try to send your piece error-free. An editor will reject your work if it will take them some time to make it publishable. If there are too many typos they might not even read the whole thing.

There are more tips on the writers guidelines page of Morpheus Tales Magazine, right down at the bottom. It’s worth taking a look at these too.

Don’t think I’m going to give you the big secret about how to write a masterpiece, that I’m still working on. I can’t give you tips on characterisation or plotting either, I’m developing those skills as you read this! Read a lot and write a lot. As the saying goes practice makes perfect.

CHI By Alexander Besher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2009 by stanleyriiks

CHI By Alexander Besher

This is a hard book to read. It’s difficult to explain why it’s so difficult to read. The lack of justification of the text sets off my OCD, but shouldn’t make it any more difficult to read. The complete inability of this reader to gain more than a temporary understanding of what’s going on during the first hundred pages, also shouldn’t make it difficult to read. I’ve read entire books not quite knowing what’s going on. It’s not like I haven’t visited this world before, I’ve been with Frank Gobi since Besher’s first book, and only read the second a little more than a year ago, so why oh why is this book so hard to read?

The first third of the novel, set in a futuristic world of the 2030s, basically sets up the actual story. Chi is being siphoned from a Thai Transsexual called Butterfly by the evil Wing Fat, a 650 pound porn king, who’s also the biggest chi trader in the world. It isn’t until the second third of the novel that we meet our protagonist Frank Gobi, who’s trying to find out about Wing Fat and being sucked into the plans of one Trevor Jordan.

There’s also a pair of orang-utans who have been given plastic surgery to look human and brought up as children of sterile humans, who are now reaching puberty and discovering that they’re not what they thought they were.

The plot is ridiculous, but that isn’t what makes it bad. The fact that virtually nothing happens, the writer doesn’t even appear to be aware of when to finish the book as much of the action happens in the Epilogue, and it all turns out to be one big joke in the end anyway.

This reader can’t help but feel cheated, especially as this 300 page novel feels at least double that length. To say it’s an effort to read this codswallop is an understatement. Besher’s worst novel, this really shouldn’t have been forced on the public. Editors should certainly have taken a look at this and sent it back for some serious revision.

Mir, Besher’s second book, took a hell of a while to warm up, but eventually it did and then it had some kind of plot. Chion the other hand lacks plot, story, characters, it’s big on ideas, there are a couple of nice ones in here, and for anyone familiar with Bangkok you’re feel all warm and fuzzy with some reminiscences. Other than that this is a pretty pathetic effort on the part of Besher, his editor and his publisher.

It’s a travesty that a novel (I use the word very loosely) of this quality (again loosely) is allowed into the marketplace when there is so much better that’s not being published.

Rejection… A Writer’s Tale

Posted in Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Rejection is a hideous thing to deal with. For writers we have to deal with it regularly, unless we’re lucky. Stephen King used to collect rejection letters by the hundred, he used to stick them to the wall on a spike.

I find it difficult to take pleasure in my rejection. It doesn’t inspire me to do better. It feels like it’s another nail in the coffin. And what’s being buried, apart from my self-esteem, is my dream of becoming a writer.

On a forum a group of writers discussed how they dealt with rejection letters. In the old days, when paper was required and emails were yet to be invented, people set light to them, or kept scrap books, or stuck them on a spike on the wall. Modern technology has denied us these pleasures.

Email rejection letters I file. There’s something a lot less satisfying about filing an email than burning an actual rejection letter.

But what gets me is the lack of imagination, the lack of understanding that many editors have. “Thanks but we can’t use this.” “Not for us, thanks anyway.” “We’ll pass.” Yes, because passing is not really rejecting, is it! The euphemisms for rejection are just as bad. It’s like the editors get out their thesauruses, they’ve probably got that page marked, reject, decline, deny, discard, repel, scrap, renounce… pass!

It’s hard enough that I’ve created my masterpiece and put my heart and soul into it, then rewritten it, and possibly rewritten it again and then formatted it all nice and neat, and sent my work off into the dark wilderness of the slush-pile.

And then I wait and wait.

I know editors have a hard time, some of them read hundreds of submissions a week. Most of which are probably rubbish. But please! Give us a chance. A standard rejection letter is absolutely no help. I know, I know. Hundreds of submissions. But if there is anything I can do to improve my story, oh wise editor, let me know. Knowledge is power, sure enough, but how about sharing some of that knowledge? A hint here, a tip there. It can go a long way. Help me please!