Time Flies

Good grief, life can get in the way of so many things. Family life has taken over what used to be the most important thing in my life - writing - with a demanding two year old now taking up our time, so writing has taken a back seat, as well as other things.
The day job has also made me a very busy individual, not that it's a bad thing because I enjoy my job (not many people can say that), and it's giving me ample opportunities to expand skills and knowledge.

That said, the last few months have been a hive of activity, with the recent release of February Femmes Fatales (Ganglion Press), a collection of delightfully dark stories and poems from some great female writers, with eight stories/poems of mine included. If you like your fiction on the dark side and with a twist, then it's right up your street.
February Femmes Fatales (2014)

Other anthologies featuring my stories have recently been released, in conjunction with Thirteen Press and Horrified Press, in particular What Lies Beneath, a chilling mix of tales, which features a nasty, skin prickling story from me, called Grub.
What Lies Beneath (2014)

Broken has some delicious dark tales, and features one of my favourite short stories, Mending the Broken, with perhaps the most shocking twist I've yet conjured.
Broken (2014)

And At the Stroke of Thirteen - an anthology through personal invitation only by editors, is headed by comic-book legend Nick Cuti as guest writer. I wrote a story especially for it, called Bait and Chase.
At the Stroke of Thirteen (2014)

All titles can all be found on Amazon, KOBO and Lulu as digital downloads or in paperback.
Also, my second novel, Red Snow, is with agents, which means I’m in the research stages for the sequel.

One thing is for sure, a writer’s world never stands still.

Back in the Saddle

The dust is finally settling after the trauma of the last six months - these things have a knack of getting in the way of writing, but now that 2013 is underway and 2012 is a memory, I'm back in the saddle of creativity and back to doing what I do best - writing.

It's been a good start so far - lots of work in upcoming anthologies, some winning pieces of fiction, which are always a bonus, and work continues on three novels.

And 15th April sees the official launch of the Sunday Snaps Anthology by Susan James, and available through Chuffed Books Ltd, which is a collection of poetry and fiction based on some stunning landscape and portrait photographs.  The book has been put together for charity.

So far, so good.

2013 is looking pretty tasty as far as writing is concerned.  Just have to wait and see.

One Word Anthology

I'm proud to be a contributor to the One Word Anthology, available 12th November from Alfie Dog Fiction.  Not only can you read some great stories and poems, you can also help the Medical Detection Dogs charity, and it doesn't cost the earth at £0.99p.

One Word Challenge – new anthology of poetry and short stories inspired by one-word prompts
‘Shadow’, ‘putrid’, ‘bounce’ and ‘glass’ are just some of the words that have provided the inspiration to authors of the One Word Challenge Anthology, published this week as an e-book by Alfie Dog Fiction.
10% of the cover price of each e-book sold will go to Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to assist people with life-threatening conditions.

Every month, a competition – the ‘One Word Challenge’ – is held on Talkback, Writing Magazine’s online forum for writers. The previous month’s winners set a word as a prompt for the challenge and entrants submit a poem of up to forty lines and/or a prose piece of a maximum of 200 words, inspired by the chosen word. The judges select a winner for each category, these winners choose the next month's word and so it continues.

Brenda Gunning, who coordinated the project, says, “I am pleased that contributors have been so generous with their poetry and stories and it’s interesting to see how each writer has interpreted the prompts. The One Word Challenge Anthology features a lovely selection of work from both new and established writers who visit the Talkback writing forum.”

Brenda explains, “The collection has been made possible due to a large amount of collaboration between forum members. They have written, produced and marketed the anthology themselves – even the cover illustration has been provided by a Talkback member! In addition, thanks go to our publisher, Rosemary, who is also a regular participant in the One Word Challenge.”

Publisher and writer, Rosemary J Kind, of Alfie Dog Fiction, says, This is an example of how kindred spirits, brought together on an internet forum, can collectively produce a great compilation of poetry & fiction.”

The One Word Challenge Anthology is available from alfiedog.com/ebooks

Annus Horribilis

This has been a particular difficult year; a mixed bag, and only now the storm clouds are starting to part.
Traumas and emotional upheaval can play havoc with writing, and what should have been a great time for writing and publishing had fizzled somewhat and the last few months have been fraught.

From being made redundant in February and finding another job, (thankfully) to becoming a parent in April (exhausting), to losing my mother in September, and succumbing to injury and illness in the meantime, I’ve had some pretty dark moments.

But as a writer, these dark moments make us stronger when we emerge the other side.  After my mother died, I didn’t want to write anything, I didn’t care about writing, and probably the most difficult piece of writing I’ve ever done was her eulogy.  But thankfully as the grief settles, the love of writing has returned, and I’m back in the saddle with lots of projects on the horizon.
I wrote the poem, Leaving Martha’s Vineyard, some months back, before my mother passed away, and now that I revisit it, I realise how poignant it is when it talks about death and grief, so I’d like to share it.

Leaving Martha's Vineyard
Fickle fingers grazed
His shapes across her skin
A chiffon breeze coaxed the sand
Against a heartbeat medley
And seagull echoes
She lay facing the sun
Resting gently on her hands
Fading with the light
Lured by the ocean song
Parting with his touch

Warmth soaked his face
As their time lurched
To a moment long expected
His goodbye slowly lost
To the bristling of the surf

Her gentle genie;
He’d granted her wish
To feel the sunset
Across the beach
On her freckled face

Time trickled from him
Stealing his memories
And running with the waves
Leaving Martha’s Vineyard
Far behind
Her eyelids shuttered
And one last time
Her delicate breath
Beat soft like butterfly wings
She shimmered.  Away.

Dedicated to the memory of Patricia Anne Humpage 12/09/1945 - 07/09/2012

Now on Kindle

After much faffing and frustration, Blood of the Father is now available on Amazon Kindle US and UK.  This started out life almost a decade ago, then family and life and other writing work got in the way, so it took a while to get it completed. 

Now that it is out of the way, it leaves me to concentrate on the finishing touches to Red Snow (based on the short story Red Snow of Vledovka), and on the followed up, Red Dawn, together with the much anticipated Hackett novel, Modern Psycho.  It's quite a task I have ahead, as I'll be writing both novels at the same time, but I do like a challenge.

If you like your characters tough and uncompromising, and the hint of bloody revenge gives you a thrill, then have a read.

Blood of The Father - Amazon UK

Blood of The Father - Amazon US

Coming soon...

This year has been busy for many reasons - smaller writing projects, work, studying and a new addition to the family, and only now I'm finding the time for the major writing projects.

One of those will be an upcoming novel to Kindle, Blood of The Father, a tale one woman's path of revenge and betrayal in the search for her family's murderers. 

Kicking ass and coming soon to Kindle.

It's Been a While...

Lots of things happen to drag a writer from the path of creativity, and I'm no exception.  Life has a habit of getting in the way of writing, sometimes in a small annoying way, and sometimes on a grand scale when it blocks the creative process.  I've had a few months of that with life making all sorts of challenges, but now I'm clawing back that creativity and doing what I do best.

Following on from the successful February Femmes Fatales last month, another short story of mine appeared, Under a Veil of Red, inspired by the past, and the kind of future we might one day endure, after all, anything is possible. 

It's a tale of cleansing, but it finds its roots firmly in the present, as well as the past.

Under a Veil of Red

The rain came down so hard it stung her skin, flooded her vision.

Thick mud crawled up her aching calves as she ran through the mire. The darkness made it worse; she could barely see where she was heading. But she had to keep running, had to.

Voices behind her slewed through the storm, like echoes carried on raindrops.

They were getting closer, inching into her frayed senses minute by minute and igniting a fear so intense that it burned and raged in her chest. She had never known such disparate terror – the darkness and the cold and the braying horde seemed so far away from the ordinary life she knew, the only life she knew.

But now her legs were tired, solid, becoming heavy. Breath stalled in her clogged lungs. Every cell in her body had exhausted every ounce of energy, yet she somehow pushed through the pain that flooded her core and she forced herself forward through thicket and trees and dark recesses.

Thick branches scuffed her face and arms and she slumped – a momentary respite.

Voices...closer now.

Her skin tingled from the cold, made her shiver. She grabbed onto a branch, got to her feet and half jogged, half stumbled into the encroaching darkness. She had been running for almost an hour, and no matter how much her mind willed it, her body couldn’t cope with the lactic acid filling her muscles with fiery spite and again she dropped to her knees, watery fingers pulling her deeper into the muddy mire.

Thoughts tumbled around her head, then melted the moment the light grazed her face.

She peered up through the squall, cold breath hanging in the air.

Somewhere up ahead, more lights scattered through the branches. 


‘There she is!’

Her stomach bunched, then sank. She could run no more. The adrenaline in her veins turned to an icy flow.

They seemed to approach from all directions, moving in on her like ghoulish, hungry spectres, the light from their torches blinding her with flashes of white. 

She held up her arm to shield her face, blinked against the flare.

The sound of the rain song against the leaves filled the void, all that she could hear from her rain soaked pit.

The men surrounded her, remained still. The glare from their torches shielded their granite faces from her.

The sound of movement made her turn and look up. A shape whose face she could not see and who sheltered beneath a wide brimmed hat, stared down at her.

His voice parted the darkness. ‘You can’t escape us.’  

‘I’m innocent,’ she gasped. ‘I’ve done nothing wrong, I swear on my life.’

The figure leaned forward. ‘What about the Bible? Do you swear on the Bible?’

The rain masked her tears. ‘No, I...I don’t believe in God.’

‘Then you are a witch,’ he said, flat.

‘I’m not a witch! I’m just an ordinary wife and mother, I--’

‘You are the Devil’s consort,’ he cut in, blunt. ‘There is no place in this society for those who conduct maleficium.'

She took in a deep breath. ‘What are you talking about? I don’t know what that means.’

He stared at the wretch kneeling in the muddy pool, the light glinting from the rain-dappled surface, stared at her soiled face, her drenched, matted hair and torn clothes.

Disdain dribbled into empty spaces and filled the atmosphere with a stilted sense of detestation.

‘Godlessness is a crime. That you are most certainly guilty.’ His eyes lacked emotion. ‘Kill her.’

‘No! Please! I’ve done nothing wrong. Please...’

The first strike dug into her shoulder blades, but rather than pain, she felt a strange dullness, as though being numbed. The second one struck her across the side of her skull, the impact strong enough to throw her into the mud.

Cold dirty water sluiced down her throat, made her retch.

Any hint of pain seemed lost to jagged senses, until the slice of something sharp across her back brought her mind into sharp focus, then another slice and another, and she rolled in the mud, but saw that her legs had not moved, and then she saw the men hacking at her limbs in a strange, silent frenzy, their movements shuttered by the light.

She screamed then, but not from the pain. 

Even through the relentless drone of the rain, she heard their swords whipping through the air, over and over, and then one hard slice severed half her hand from the wrist, spattering her contorted face with thick droplets and saturating her vision with a warm scarlet hue.

She fell back into the mud, felt the rainfall on her face, soft against her skin, almost soothing her, and she drowned beneath a veil of red.

* * *

He walked back through the woodland towards a group of men waiting by a main road. 

A tall, slender figure gestured from beneath an umbrella. ‘A job well done, Mr Treese.’

‘Thank you, sir.’

‘One less witch to threaten the laws of our land. Did she confess?’

‘Yes sir, she admitted to her godlessness.’

‘A crime against humanity if there ever was one,’ Edward Van de Gaard muttered. ‘But a crime nonetheless.’

Treese smiled; guile slithered beneath his sallow skin. ‘She isn’t the last one by any measure.’

Van de Gaard walked towards a car parked nearby. From across the river, the beguiling lights from New York City pulsed through the darkness. ‘I don’t doubt it, Mr Treese.’ 

‘She has a child,’ Treese said. ‘And a husband.’

Van de Gaard turned, faced Treese. ‘I have every faith you’ll exterminate every last one of them. There will be no more ungodly heathens left to threaten our way of life. You’ll see to it, won’t you, Mr Treese?’

Treese’s eyes blackened to glistening shards of coal. He smiled without humour. Rain trickled down his face, washed away the blood. Her blood. ‘Of course, Senator. Every last one...’