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!