Wednesday, 21 August 2019


I'm currently looking to publish a collection of flash fiction (around 20,000 words in total) and am looking for publishers who may be interested.  However, it's frustrating as so many publishers just seem permanently closed to submissions even though they have a steady slate of books being released.

Most of the stories have been previously published (see the Publishing History page on this site) and I would really appreciate any suggestions on publishers who may be open to looking at the manuscript.

The stories in question are:

Nanny Knows Best – Prologue – 1060 words – originally published in The Wild Word
A Fresh Perspective – 900 words                - originally published in Bizarro Central
The Man in the Street – 960 words              - originally published in decomP
Genuine Photo           – 650 words                - originally published in A Cache of Flashes
(Shortlisted for the 2016 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition).

The Chaotic Butterfly – 930 words              - originally published in Bizarro Central
MWC ISO RL           – 1050 words              - originally published in Wired
(Shortlisted for the 2017 Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition).

The Last English Speaker – 1250 words     - originally published in Trembling With Fear
Marks on a Page       – 300 words                - originally published in Wired
The Creative Game   – 530 words                - originally published in Bizarro Central
BobandJane – A fable in two indistinct parts – 2800 words - originally published in Raw Edge
Casanova Jones – A tale of the near future – 760 words.
The Girl Within         – 290 words                - originally published in A Cache of Flashes
The Friend We Made- 520 words                - originally published in Bizarro Central
HUMOUR-CHIP™ - 1000 words               - originally published in The Ginger Collect
The Pub Fight           – 910 words                - originally published in Bizarro Central
Invisible                      – 460 words               - originally published in Reflex
AUTHORSOFT™    - 299 words                - originally published in Ellipsis
It                                 – 2400 words              - originally published in Planet Prozak
And From the Heads of Babes – 830 words - originally published in Horror Sleaze Trash
Celebdaq                    – 1000 words              - originally published in Trembling with Fear
Nanny Knows Best – Epilogue – 880 words.

Thanks a lot for your help - any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Spoken word performance updates

I'll be performing at the 42 Spoken Word event at Drummonds, The Swan with Two Nicks in Worcester tomorrow at 7:30pm.  The theme of the night is "Through the Arched Window".  While they don't enforce the theme stipulation particularly hard, I have come up with something on theme called, imaginatively enough, "Through the Arched Window."  I'm a bit nervous as, while I rarely get nervous when doing readings, this involves me singing.  In public.  Something which is a bit of a deep-seated fear of mine.  While I'm doing it in character so it doesn't matter if I'm flat or croaky (Hell, it'll probably improve it), it's still something I'm not particularity looking forward to.

I doubt very much if I'll ever attempt to get this published anywhere; not that I don't think it's any good but because I feel it probably stands better as a performance piece than a published one.  In addition, it's also a straight-ahead horror story, something I've only ever really attempted to write once before, again for a specific theme for 42, so I don't feel it really fits in with what I usually do.  That said, it should be interesting as it'll be the first time I'll be using recorded music in a performance (I've been editing clips in Mixcraft all day), so depending on how it goes down (it is pretty dark, so even at a horror event I'm not sure how it will be received), I may record it as a spoken word clip which I'll upload to YouTube at some point.  Let's see....

I will also be performing at the next Worcester Speakeasy at its new venue of Paradiddles at 7:30pm on Thursday 8th August.  I'm thinking I may be performing "Celebdaq" which was recently published in the Trembling With Fear: Year 2 anthology.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Flash piece published in new anthology

Yet another anthology featuring one of my flash pieces - which I had previously completely forgotten about - has come out.  Trembling With Fear: Year 2 is now available on Amazon, and it features my flash piece "Celebdaq" which was originally published on the Horror Tree/Trembling With Fear website back in 2018.

This one was a fairly simple idea based on celebrity adding value to objects and people being willing to pay the prices demanded for those objects.  The idea of people bidding on celebrity body fluids, toe-nails, hair clippings and so on is not new (and I believe is already "a thing" in this world), but I liked the idea of pushing that further towards celebrity tissues and bodily organs.  It was then just a small step to conceive of a specialist market place for such transactions (the title of which I got from a short-lived late 90s celebrity news show which I remember was always quite good fun) before then pushing the desired celebrity attributes from the bodily to the more abstract.

This piece also ties in with a longer story called "Shooting Stars" which was published in Suspense Unimagined last year.   In that, the final body Babs comes across, the one that revives her fortunes (that of Pete Doherty), is the first celebrity the protagonist of "Shooting Stars" kills, at the beginning of that particular tale.  As with the Ugly Stories for Beautiful People, many of the stories in State of the Nation will be inter-connected in some way or another (beyond just basic themes).

Thursday, 27 June 2019

"Horror Sleaze Trash" anthology published

Funny, I didn't even know this was coming out!

Horror Sleaze Trash's latest anthology is now available on Amazon and it features my flash piece "And From the Heads of Babes" that was originally published on their web-site last year.  Featuring my favourite deranged medic, Dr Kokoschka, it's one of those stories that was just a collection of ideas (mainly psychological experiments that I thought it would be interesting to do even though they are obviously entirely unethical) but which somehow still manages to hang together as a cohesive whole.  It also means Kokoschka will feature in two very different publications this year - this collection which, as the title suggests is a degenerate collection of dark, sleazy, trash fiction but also in the upcoming Fiction International anthology which is very much an academic journal interested in formal literary innovation that has published the likes of William Burroughs in the past.

It seems somehow fitting that good ol' Dr Kokoschka is equally at home in both.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

New Story published by "Trembling with Fear"

Just had a new flash piece published by Trembling with Fear. I particularly like the little intro they gave it, especially bearing in mind I have never really seen myself as either a traditional genre writer or mainstream literary writer, either.

"First up is Teach Control as a Foreign Language by James Burr. This is not strictly a horror story in the traditional sense. Instead it focuses on the delusions of Gavin who thinks he can teach ‘his language’ to the rest of society and by indoctrinating or programming them with his words, gain control; words are powerful, after all … aren’t they? It is the ending which incorporates an element of horror – of wasted years and futility – turning the story into a tragedy and which in turn is a great change to the usual tropes which pass through our doors. So remember, when trying to come up with an idea for TWF, that horror can be quiet, delusional, tragic or a state of existence. It can be so many things beyond the more traditional fare and in many ways, so much darker."

Anyway, hope you enjoy it at the Horror Tree website (here).  This should also be published in next years's end of year "Trembling With Fear" print anthology.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Prose-poem acceptance from "Fiction International."

I'm very pleased to have a 2000 word prose-poem accepted by Fiction International, the literary journal of San Diego State University that focuses on formal innovation in literature, non-literature, indeterminate prose and visual arts/imagery.  The piece in question, 'If Janus Had Two Faces, Then Why Can't I?' is, as I say, a prose-poem that was influenced both by some of Ballard's work in The Atrocity Exhibition and early Modernist poetry.

Stylistically, it is worlds away from my usual work but many of my usual areas of interest - shaping and changing of the body, the mutability of flesh, the striving for beauty through artificial means, are all present and correct.

The piece will be published in the Fiction International 52 anthology entitled Body, which should be available on Amazon at some point later on in the year.

If I get a chance, I will post a reference sheet for the various references  in 'Janus' (if I can remember them!).  It does however also feature the very first appearance of my favourite deranged medic, Dr Kokoshka, who was of course initially named after the Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoshka, writer of an Expressionist play entitled, Murderer, The Hope of Women and whose perverted, fetid presence has made itself felt across a number of my stories since this piece including 'BobandJane,' 'It' and 'And From the Heads of Babes.'  The subject of the piece - the striving for beauty through any means, no matter how extreme, and at any cost, no matter how demanding, meant that the naming of a scalpel-wielding surgeon after the creator of such a piece of work seemed somehow apt.

I'm very pleased with this acceptance and can't wait to see the finished journal.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019


This looks interesting. It might take a while to make its way to UK TV (if it ever does) but maybe it could turn up on Amazon or Netflix at some point?  Still, looks intriguing.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Reading at "Worcester Speakeasy" - 10th Jan 2019

Another fun night at Worcester Speakeasy tonight.  Some great poetry from Wesley Rolston (who has superb delivery and stage presence) and Staffordshire Poetry Laureate Emily Galvin, whose poems on mental health and unrequited love were very powerful with some really striking imagery and word-play.

I performed "Teach Control as a Foreign Language" which was accepted for publication by Trembling With Fear last night.  My next reading may be at 42 at Drummonds, Worcester in a few weeks and I think I actually have a story idea which may be on theme.  Of course, whether or not I have the time to get round to actually writing it is another matter....

Thursday, 10 January 2019

New story acceptance - "Trembling With Fear."

Very pleased to have my first story acceptance of 2019!  Trembling With Fear have just accepted my flash piece, "Teach Control as a Foreign Language."  I had the idea for this one back in the mid 90s when I was living in Barcelona and teaching English as a Foreign Language and it has lain in the "Burr Ideas File" pretty much since then.  Basically, it occurred to me that we think through language and by teaching English, you are essentially teaching people new words with which to think.  You can also subtly alter how people think and experience the world.  For example, the Spanish word "mujer" means both "wife" and "woman" and that says a lot about the Spanish way of thinking.  After all, groups of guys nudging each other saying, "Look at that wife over there!" says more about traditional Spanish culture than a 10,000 word essay on "The Macho Patriarchy" or whatever.  So by introducing the concept of women being capable of being women and, potentially, NOT wives, does in some way alter how the world can be perceived simply through the use of language.

Similarly, there is the fact that Spanish is quite limited in terms of vocabulary compared to English.  While I'm sure it has many variations on the word "red", from what I knew at the time it had nowhere near the nuance of English which has "crimson", "scarlet", "vermilion" "ruby", "cherry" and so on. In this way, language can atter the experience of reality and how one expresses their experience of it (perhaps partly because English is a hodge-podge of multiple languages in itself, something I explored in a horror setting in another flash piece published by Trembling With Fear, "The Last English Speaker").  From this idea, it was only one small step to think that one could use language to actually alter how people think and ultimately, how they behave.  Hence, "Teach Control as a Foreign Language."

It was always more of a stoned idea than a fully formed concept so I knew there wasn't a 10,000 word story in it.  But once I started adapting some of these ideas into flash fiction, I knew this was one that could certainly carry a 1000 word flash story.

On a different topic, I will be reading "Marks on a Page", originally published in the Wired anthology, at Worcester Speakeasy tonight at Wayland's Yard, Worcester at 7:30pm.  Maybe see you there!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

New acceptance from the "42 Stories" anthology.

Just had an acceptance from an anthology with one of the weirder submission criteria I have ever come across - exactly 42 words with a 42 character title (including spaces).

I sent two submissions, both of which didn't have 42 character titles (I missed that stipulation but have since changed the title on the accepted story to satisfy it).  However, just for the fun of it, here is the submission that was not accepted (with its original title).  I may turn it into a standard flash story of sub-1000 words at some point.

James Burr

He thought the cerebral vacation in his girlfriend's head would be a refreshing break in point of view. But when he saw himself filtered through her eyes he was first surprised, then ashamed, to see he was a caricature, ridiculous and absurd.

The 42 Stories anthology will apparently be available from Amazon at some point in 2019.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

"Shooting Stars" in "Suspense Unimagined."

Just received my copies of Suspense Unimagined which features my 5000 word short story "Shooting Stars."  I originally wrote "Shooting Stars" maybe 15 years or so ago (I do tend to sit on my stories for many years; partly out of being too busy to work on them and partly because I'm a big believer in polishing and editing stories, and I think this works best once you've pretty much forgotten them so you can approach them with a fresh pair of eyes).

I can't really remember the origins of the story but I think it was one of those instances where I read a story somewhere else and the story went nowhere near where I thought it would go based on its premise, so I ended up writing the story I thought I would read.  I had been reading Alexei Sayle's Barcelona Plates collection, so it could have been "The Minister for Death" although I can't remember anything about the story other than it featured a pensioner who was a contract killer.

One thing that was certainly the case was that, even though this wasn't the usual kind of collection I read, it did really resonate with me at the time and I very much enjoyed Sayle's sneery narrative voice in many of the stories.  I'd used a similar type of narrative voice in "Foetal Attractions", "It" and "BobandJane" and not only did I like it but I also found it very easy to write in and, as I had recently written several stories with a more traditional narrative voice, I felt it was time to do another where I could sneer away to my heart's content.  Like all those stories, this one too came out quickly and virtually fully-formed (as easy as I find that voice, I try not to use it too much as I am aware it can wear the reader down).

I can't remember where the initial idea of s celebrity serial killer came from, but the title came from the Vic and Bob quiz show, (".... Welcome to Shooting Stars / Welcome whoever you are / The guests have been greeted / The stars are now seated / So come along and let's start Shooting Stars!") and the intent was to use the story to satirise contemporary attitudes towards celebrity, attitudes which have become even more bizarre with Instagram models and Love Island competitors and so on getting their mugs into the national Press.  Throw in the thwarted (and clearly terrible!) novelist aspect and the "creative" deaths angle and bingo!  There you have it.

This one did the rounds of lots of anthologies and magazines and even though I always liked it, it never quite got accepted.  Several places said they liked it and one or two said they would like to use it but they felt uncomfortable about the use of real celebrities' names.  But it finally got accepted by Suspense Unimagined and I am very happy with that.  It's a really nice looking product that has clearly been put together with care.

Anyway, Suspense Unimagined can be bought from Amazon UK here or directly from the publisher's here.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Reading at Worcester Speakeasy - Thursday 13th December.

A particularly good night at the Worcester Speakeasy last night with, as always, a great flash story from Roz Leavens and some powerful poetry from Daniel Burton and Wesley Rolston.  I gather Wesley is relatively new to the Spoken Word scene but his delivery and stage presence is superb.  However, they got my name wrong on the flyer (yet again!) despite putting "Burr" in huge letters at the end of the email asking for a slot.  Still, I'll let it slide since they call me a "master of deep, dark works from the flash fiction master."  I guess that makes me a super-master, or something.  (*blushes*).

I read "BobandJane" from the Ugly Stories, one that while on the longer side (7 mins in its most edited form) usually goes down well.  It was a weird one, though - the audience was split so around half of them were in their 60s and 70s and half were in their 20s to 40s.  I noticed that in the spots where there are usually big laughs, there were just two or three of the younger people laughing, but not the almost comedy-set laughs it usually gets.  And when I finished, instead of the usual polite but hearty applause you get at these things, there was a few moment's silence before people started applauding.  At first I thought it had actually bombed, but then I realised as people actually cheered (!) and started applauding that it had been an almost stunned silence.  The poet who came on after me was all, "Well, how do I follow that?" and I had 5 or 6 people come up to me afterwards saying how much they enjoyed it and how they thought it would go down well in some of the more raucous spoken word events in Brum.  But despite the very positive response I got from the younger half, I got the feeling the older group were confused or disappointed or wanted to hear more conventional fare.

Still, I enjoy Speakeasy and will undoubtedly do a few nights there next year.  But now it is really time I start branching out into Birmingham and the Permission to Speak night in Stourbridge.

Friday, 30 November 2018

"Shooting Stars" in "Suspense Unimagined" - Out Today!

Have just found out that Suspense Unimagined - which contains my 5000+ word short story "Shooting Stars" - is out today.  It is available from Amazon UK here or direct from the publisher, here.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Reading at "Worcester Speakeasy" Thursday 8th November 2018

So, another reading done with the good folks at "Worcester Speakeasy."  When booking my slot I rather stupidly forgot to give my pen-name so was listed under my real one, but the MC, Suz Winspear, knows me and announced me as "Burr", so it was all good.

I only had 6 minutes so I performed "The Chaotic Butterfly" and "Genuine Photo" (which was originally published in A Cache of Flashes in 2016).  Both seemed to go down well, although one audience member did seem confused and said he had no idea what I was on about.  So, success!

I'm also hoping to attend Stourbridge's spoken Word event, Permission to Speak, at Claptrap the Venue next month, although that will mainly be as an audience member and just to get the lay of the land and to see if it's the sort of night where I would go down well.  Hopefully, that will mean expanding out beyond Worcester.  Then there is also a night in Wolverhampton and several nights in Birmingham I want to check out.

Who would have thought I'd get so into performing when I hate public speaking so much and my idea of Hell is being an actor on stage?  Then again, being able to read and not having to rely on my blown short-term memory is, of course, an advantage.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Upcoming Readings

Just a quick note to say that I'll be reading a flash piece, "Casanova Jones", at 42 on Halloween at the Swan With Two Nicks in Worcester (7:30 pm start).

Then I also have a 6 minute slot at the Worcester Speakeasy at Wayland's Yard, Foregate Street, Worcester on 8th November, starting at 7pm.