Tuesday 24 December 2019

Final publication of 2019?

In what must surely be the final publication of 2019 (I had the acceptance a few months ago, but only just received the email confirming release - at 7pm on Christmas Eve!), I have a story published in the latest volume of "Palm-Sized Press."

I imagine it will be available on Amazon at some point, but at present it can be ordered directly from Lulu here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday 7 December 2019

This looks great!

I'll have to watch this at some point.  But intil it becomes more widely available, I'll have to satisfy myself with Jan Svankmajer's Alice, which I think is currently free on Amazon Prime UK.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

New flash published

Very pleased to have a short flash piece published in this year's Worcestershire LitFest Flash Fiction Competition anthology, The Jar Thief: Flashes from Litfest.  "Casanova Jones: A Tale of the near Future" is an edited down version of a story I wrote last year but thankfully it still works at 300 words (even though the longer version is far better, in my opinion).  It is a story about the effects of electronic communication on actual human interaction and so is largely told through Messenger text boxes.  I actually read this live at 42 last year and, despite the visual nature of the storytelling device, it still seemed to work.  That said, I'm glad this has found a home somewhere as it's one of those that I have a soft spot for, even though I have no real idea why.

Saturday 30 November 2019

Spoken Word Self-Publishing?

I was talking to a friend yesterday when he mentioned the possibility of self-publishing.... audio books.  Admittedly, while I'd considered self-publishing before, this was something I had never thought about.  For a while I dismissed it - after all, I'm no actor or voice artist.  But then as I thought about it further I thought, "Well, my voice isn't that bad!  I normally get decent feedback at spoken word nights and I don't have any annoying verbal tics or speech impediments"  (as far as I know!).  But as he pointed out, a lot of people listen to audio books now, either as they work (he is a visual artist so listens to podcasts and audio books as he works on his canvases) or while commuting.  So why not take advantage of that new medium?

So what do you think?  Would you have any interest in an audio version of some of my work?  Maybe the upcoming flash collection?

While I have a far better audio set-up at home now (I was planning to do some YouTubing a while back but never got round to it), some audio versions of my stories can be found below.  Also, if I did do an audio book of stories, would you prefer it as a straight reading of the stories (such as in the link to decomP magazine below) or do you like the sound effects and music of some of the YouTube examples?

Reading of "Man in the Street" - decomP magazine, 2018.

Reading of "Genuine Photo" - 

Reading of "The Girl Within" - 

Reading of "Nanny Knows Best (Prologue)" -

On unrelated news, I will be attending the book launch of this year's Worcestershire Litfest and Flash Fiction Competition anthology, The Jar Thief, tomorrow (Sunday) at Titania Ltd, Security House, Barbourne Road, Worcester, WR1 1RS at 6pm.   I apparently have at least one flash story in there - I submitted three but haven't been told what has been accepted in it as yet, so that will be interesting.  I have also had flash stories accepted for publication by Palm-Sized Press and the Bumper Book of British Bizarro Vol 2.  And in the best news of all, my collection of flash fiction, This Septic Isle, has been accepted for publication, possibly some time in mid-2020.  More news as it comes in!

Thursday 10 October 2019

Fiction International 52: Body

Just received a copy of Fiction International 52: Body, which features my prose-poem "If Janus Had Two Faces, Then Why Can't I?" I haven't had a chance to read some of the other work yet but there is some great art and design in here.  It's now available here (UK) and here (US).

Tuesday 8 October 2019

"Fiction International 52: Body" Now available.

Fiction International 52: Body, featuring my prose-poem "If Janus Had Two Faces, Then Why Can't I?" is now available here (UK) and here (US).

As noted in a previous post, this is a somewhat atypical piece in that it is a prose-poem, the style of which was very much influenced by both Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition and by classical Modernist works, such as The Wasteland.  That said, while its form is very different to my usual work, its themes (plastic surgery, the mutability of the flesh and so on) is very much in line with my usual interests, and of course, it also features the first appearance of my go-to deranged medic, Dr Kokoschka (who has since appeared in "It", "And From the Heads of Babes" and "The Byronic Man).

Fiction International is a very well-respected journal which has previously published the likes of Burroughs and Kerouac, so I am very pleased to be published here.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Reading in Worcester tonight (1st October 2019)

I have a 12 minute slot at "The Long and the Short of It" event at Caffe Bolero, St Nicholas St in Worcester this evening.  Doors open at 6:30 pm and entry is apparently £3.00.  The slightly longer than usual time-slot means I can do a longer story than is common at such things, so I'm currently thinking that I'll do an old favourite from the Ugly Stories for Beautiful People, "It."

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Reading in Worcester tonight (Wednesday 25th September)

I'll be reading at this month's "42" Event at Drummonds: The Swan with Two Nicks, Worcester tonight, at 7:30pm.  I'll be reading "The Hole in the Wall", the only story I wrote this Summer (yes, a pretty disastrous Summer from a creative point of view), so I'm hoping it is well received.  That would at least make my total lack of creative progress over the last few months somewhat more tolerable.

UPDATE: Well, that was encouraging!  It may have been the only story I wrote this Summer (and only 1300 words at that!) but it went down really well.  Unfortunately, as I'm now back at work I didn't have the chance to rehearse reading it and it was only when I printed it off that I realised it was 1300 words rather than sub-1000, which I knew would be pushing it for a 6 minute slot.  As such, I did race through it a bit in order to not over-run which meant I committed the cardinal sin of talking over audience laughter.  That said, there WAS at least some some audience laughter, and quite a lot more than I thought there would be.  A lot of people came up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it and I had several people telling me to get it published ASAP.  Of course, that leaves the question of where I should submit it.  While it is in my usual Twilight Zone / semi-surreal / Bizarro vein, it's not quite overtly Bizarro enough to be considered by many Bizarro publishers but is too odd for many publishers of more mainstream "literary" fiction.  Also, while it does need an extra polish and round of editing, I don't see it getting below 1200 words which puts it in that awkward "longer than flash" / "shorter than a short story" category.

Still, a really fun night with a generally very high quality of poetry and prose as well as some very encouraging feedback.

Next week I will hopefully be reading at a new spoken word event, The Long and the Short of It, at Cafe Bolero in Worcester. 

This one has the unique selling point of focusing entirely on longer poetry and prose with 12 minute slots.  This will be a nice opportunity to move beyond flash fiction and read some old favourites from the Ugly Stories for Beautiful People such as "It", "BobandJane" and "Foetal Attractions."  More news once the slot has been confirmed.

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!