Real loves and true loves

Cyril Tawney, in his songs, generally used the term “real love” where the traditional folk song usually uses “true love”.

I can’t say I blame him. The term true love in folk song is flexible, to say the least. My “true love” can be the person I love. Or the person who loves me. Or the person I don’t love any more. Or the person who doesn’t love me. It can be my manifestly untrue love, who is shagging someone else, or indeed has married someone else. It can be the person I am about to brutally murder, or the person who is in the very act of murdering me. Sometimes it simply means, someone I had a fling with once, a sort of, “I think I had a true love around here somewhere, a long time ago.”

Of course, it may mean the one person I have loved through many reincarnations, and the other half of my soul. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Folk song is really not romantic.

New book from Jacey Bedford


My new book, The Amber Crown is released into the wild today, published by DAW, and available on both sides of the Atlantic as a trade paperback (large format) and also as an electronic book (Kindle, E-book etc.). I’m delighted that it’s available on Kindle in the UK. My previous six books were only available in various e-book formats in the USA and Canada because the publisher only had North American rights. For the Amber Crown they have world rights, so distribution is international.

“An elegantly told story of intrigue, steeped in detail and rich character.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky.

I’m excited to welcome The Amber Crown into the world. This book has been a long time in the making. At the time I sold my first books to DAW (2013) I already had a first draft of this, but once I had my first three book deal, and then my…

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One of my favourite stories too

Ceci N'est Pas Une Blog

It’s time for my favourite Christmas story!

Experienced readers will know this is not your standard Christmas story. In fact, it’s not an actual Christmas story at all. I first heard this story over twenty years ago, and when the holiday season rolled around, it was the first thing I thought of. So I’ve been posting it every year, and will do so until further notice:

One night, Confucius had a dream about chopsticks.

In the dream, he was transported to Hell, where he saw multitudes of people sitting at enormous tables set out with wonderful foods of all kinds. There was so much food that the tables groaned under the weight and the various delightful aromas made the mouth water.

But the people sitting at the tables hadn’t touched any of it.

They had been told they could eat as much as they liked but only if they ate…

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I do like this!

The Cheesesellers Wife

Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
Did after him the world seduce,
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
Where nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclosed within the garden’s square
A dead and standing pool of air,
And a more luscious earth for them did knead,
Which stupefied them while it fed.
The pink grew then as double as his mind:
The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the roses taint,
And flowers themselves were taught to paint.
The tulip, white, did for complexion seek,
And learned to interline its cheek;
Its onion root they then so high did hold,
That one was for a meadow sold.
Another world was searched, through oceans new,
To find the marvel of Peru.
And yet these rarities might be allowed,
To man, that sovereign thing, and proud,
Had he not dealt between…

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interesting interview with a terrific writer


Tell us your biography in three sentences or fewer.
Born in the West of England where I now live. Have had a varied career, including witchcraft shop owner, SFF writer, college lecturer and international education administrator. Practising occultist.

Liz Williams

How and when did you begin writing, and what was your first published piece?
I started writing before the age of 10, with a plaigirism of Lloyd Alexander (I was an early adaptor of Prydain! – and I also loved the Welsh legends of the Mabinogion). I remember being uneasy about this at the time and thinking that I ought to come up with something more original. This has been happening ever since. My first published piece was, I think, actually in Pravda and related to the education system of Kazakhstan. I remember being impressed that it wasn’t censored. When it comes to science fiction, I had a short story…

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Includes a short piece of mine 🙂


Christmas Present – a short story by Marion Pitman

Doris heard the slight plip of the cat flap, followed by the scrutch scrutch of claws at work in the doormat. There was a pause, then the plink of the name tag on a collar against the rim of the food bowl. After a while she heard the claws in the carpet behind the sofa, a pause, and the air was enriched by the fishy aroma of a well-timed feline fart.

Doris smiled and shook her head. She must start tidying the house – it would be Christmas Eve tomorrow, and Norman and Christine would be round early.

Doris wondered where she had gone wrong with Norman. He wasn’t a bad son; but one of the things that were immutable in Doris’s universe was that you didn’t leave your old mother all on her own at Christmas. They would come round…

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With my other hat on – putting this on here so I can refer people to it – I have a stack of Jack Payne Popular Music and Dancing Weekly from 1934/5. Some of the lyrics are incredibly daft.

May 16 1935 32

Out in the cold cold snow

the tower of London

The Lover’s Waltz



Bon soir!

Dec 1 1934 (2 copies)

Without that certain thing

Swaller-tail coat

The sweetest music this side of heaven

Blue river roll on

Song of the dawn

Bonny Face


Oct 13 1934

Easy Come, Easy Go

Lady of Madrid

Aloha beloved

The show is overcoat


Icicle Joe (the Eskimo)


Oct 20 1934


The beat o’ my heart

In other words – we’re through

Melody in spring



(Lady of Spain)

Oct 27 1934

My design for living

You have taken my heart

Lullaby in blue


Coom, pretty one

In San Antonio

(Clap hands, here comes Charley)

Nov 10 1934


Sweetheart of Red River Valley

Why not?


Nobody’s sweetheart

My Convent Belle

(On the air)

Dec 15 1934

Kickin’ the gong around

The old sow

Humming to you

Old monastery bell

Little wallflower


(You die if you worry)

Dec 22 1934

The sun has got his hat on

Driftin’ tide

It don’t mean a thing

At the corner of the street

What do I care, it’s home

The bells of home are ringing

(On her doorstep last night)

Dec 29 1934

Throw open wide your window

In my little bottom drawer

Go to sleep

You or no-one

Here’s to the ones we love

Hills of Devon


Jan 5 1935

Good night, lovely little lady

Moon Country

Best wishes

Prairie Lullaby

I’m one of the lads of Valencia

You’ve made my life complete, dear


Jan 12 1935


Who’ll buy my lavender?

Seven years with the wrong woman

Love thy neighbour

The captain’s daughter

If I hadn’t been green

(The changing of the guard)

Jan 19 1935

Cocktails for two

Cradle in the trees

Old father Thames

Ill wind

You’re in my power

Rio Grande

(What’s the use of money after all)

Jan 26 1935

The very thought of you

You’re just unfair

Rockin’ chair

Trouble in paradise

The ripping waltz

My sweet

(Sittin’ on a five barred gate)

Feb 2 1935

Madonna Mine


It’s all forgotten now

He was a handsome young soldier

I’m bettin’ the roll on roamer

A star that shines in the night

(Soldier on the shelf)

Feb 9 1935

I bought myself a bottle of ink

The breeze

That’s what life is made of

In the Cumberland mountains

Will the angels play their harps for me?

My Treasure

(Fairy on the clock)

Feb 16 1935

Isle of Capri


Little Dutch mill

Silly girl

You oughta be in pictures


(Cupid on the cake)

Feb 23 1935


Ridin’ around in the rain

The prize waltz

How’m I doin’?

The general and the private

When it’s springtime in Normandy

(Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!)

Mar 2 1935

Out in the cold again

There was an old woman

Riding on the clouds

Just a little grey-haired lady

The crazy song

That forgotten melody

(When I met Connie in the cornfield)

Mar 9 1935

Oh! Muki Muki Oh!

I read it in the paper


Where? (I wonder where?)


Faded letters

(Dance of the rain-drops)

Mar 16 1935

Dreamy Serenade

In the hills of Colorado

Let’s make love


What is there to take its place?

Away from the rest of the world

(Oh! Arthur)

March 23 1935

Every time I look at you

Over on the sunny side

You’re wonderful

Hold up your hands

Rufus on the roof

Blue moon in the sky

(Oh! Sailor behave!)

Mar 30 1935

The sob song

Lullaby lady

Someone’s laying the table

When days begin

Three o’clock in the morning

Offer up a little prayer for mother

(Please Percy)

April 6 1935

Way down south in North Carolina

Three of us

This is the rhythm for me

I’m going to meet my jolly old girl

In a gondola

I will have a real good time

The shamrock your wore in your hair

April 13 1935

He didn’t even say goodbye

Lady rainbow

Roll along Kentucky moon

Old Sweetheart days

The closer they nestle together

Oh! Suzanne!

April 20 1935


I was in the mood

I heard

Rambling down the lane together

Wait for the kettle to boil

Desert Start

April 27 1935

That night in Venice

Song of the Nightingale

For ever

In the hollow of your hand

I’m a failure

I’ll always be sorry for you


MitBGive us a short biography in three sentences or fewer.
I grew up in north London, left school at 16, and started a second-hand book and bric a brac business. The shop and flat burned down in 2000, and I spent a couple of years travelling, mostly to Zimbabwe and New Zealand, mostly watching cricket. I have one surviving stepdaughter and three step-grandchildren; I have no car, no TV and no cats.

When did you start writing? What was your first sale?
I started writing as a tiny child: as soon as I learned to write, that’s what I did. I think my first sale was a zombie story to Mary Danby for the Fontana Book of Horror in 1978, and not long after I sold a second story, The Seal Songs, to 19 magazine, and then to an anthology.

Have you always written short stories or is there a…

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It’s hard being a writer. For a start, in most fields of human endeavour, the competition comes from other people doing the same thing, other painters, singers, footballers, politicians, what have you. Very few people, having become successful and well known in another field, then suddenly have an exhibition of landscapes, or play for Arsenal, or even stand for parliament – a few, perhaps, but not many. But it seems to me that every single person who becomes well-known for anything at all – acting, athletics, armed robbery, reality TV, whatever – immediately writes a novel. And has it published, since they are famous. And if it’s moderately readable, and they have fans, it sells, and they write another. And if the poor bloody writer does manage to get a book published and it sells, no-one invites them to record an album, or play Hamlet, or run the country. They’re just expected to write another book, and it’s got to sell better than the first one.

It’s a hard life, I tell you.

Something that tends to come up in critiques is that the viewpoint character isn’t sufficiently involved, that they are not in danger, that they don’t have enough at stake. I see where this is coming from. If the viewpoint character doesn’t care what happens, why should the reader? But the character may care very much, without being in personal danger. And  one can surely write from the viewpoint of a character who is unsympathetic, and then why should one care what happens to them anyway?

Then you have the classic detective story. OK, maybe the hard-boiled private eye, who generally gets knocked on the head so often they must have serious brain damage after a few years in the business, and is motivated by getting paid, has something at stake – not only the pay, but the likelihood of getting bumped off.

The police detective is presumably also motivated by getting paid, but they don’t have to be personally involved in solving the case, generally it’s surely better if they’re not. And surely, also, the chances of getting bumped off are relatively low.

And then Sherlock Holmes – the model of all disinterested detectives – granted there are a few stories in which Holmes and or Watson is attacked, but there are a lot more where they’re not. There are quite a few where it turns out no-one’s in danger at all. Solving the mystery is the object of the exercise. What Holmes has at stake is his reputation and intellectual satisfaction; Watson, the usual viewpoint character, most often has nothing at stake at all.

There are many detective stories where someone has something at stake – they are suspected, or accused, or even convicted, and want their name to be cleared. But almost by definition, they’re usually not the main viewpoint character. There is the scenario where a murderer must be tracked down before they kill again – but the detective is not often the most likely next victim.

I have wondered if this insistence on personal jeopardy is responsible for one of the things that irritates me most about many recent detective stories that I’ve read. The detective, amateur or professional, has to be assaulted at least once, possibly several times. They must be in danger of death at some point. Frequently because they have taken the murderer somewhere quiet to tell them they are a suspect. Sometimes to the top of a tall building. I mean, what??? I’m sorry, can you see Holmes or Miss Marple doing that?

And then there was the successful series of crime thrillers that I started reading and enjoyed, only for my suspension of disbelief to finally snap as, increasingly, every crime the investigator had to deal with seemed to be aimed at her or her friends and family. And after a bit, every crime anywhere, whether in her jurisdiction or elsewhere. All crime was part of a conspiracy against her friends and relations. That isn’t what I’m looking for in a detective story. I want an interesting mystery, preferably with a not-too-sympathetic villain, who is unmasked by a detective who is there for their detective abilities, and not because their private life is the target of every villain in Christendom and beyond.

I fear, however, I am a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Pass the locusts.