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

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...’

And Then...

As part of the February Femmes Fatales showcase, And Then appeared last week, a short story that takes no prisoners and doesn't let go of our emotions.  Deep down, death fascinates all of us, and the darker aspects of the human condition will always inspire me.

And Then doesn't pretend to be anything other than true horror.  It's not about monsters or ghosts, but rather the horror of finality, and what it must be like to face it.  True fear and horror comes from the stuff we don't understand, and can never truly understand.  But putting yourself in their shoes, at that final that is scary.

And Then

Minutes. His life ticked away.

Sounds echoed around his head - muted, strange and tinny, and somehow detached - they lapsed into his conscience like the colours of a long forgotten sunset.

Sounds of the crash echoed around him like a residual tear in the fabric of space and time; he remembered the deceptive lull of speed and the stinging flash of chrome. He remembered hearing the grinding shriek of metal against metal, followed by the eerie hissing of air from a tyre.

And then... a strange lingering silence enveloped him; cold, tight and full with dread.

Cool air fingered his skin. The stench of gasoline clung low, poisoned the back of his throat.

He had been returning home along the country lanes as the evening shadows descended across the inky horizon. It had rained earlier in the day, but he remembered the skies had cleared and he recalled looking up at the stars that glimmered against a thick indigo blackness punctured by the arctic glaze of the moon.

He didn’t know what caused him to lose control of the motorcycle. All he knew at that moment was the shifting umbra which pressed against him.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been lying there – it seemed such a long while, even though outside of his slanted sense of reality, it had been only a minute - and for a moment, he couldn’t move; his body and senses had numbed and become compacted by the impact. But then, gradually nerve endings trembled and feeling returned. Skin tingled. His veins swelled and his muscles contracted. He was able to clench his fingers and move an arm. 

He reached up, lifted the visor from his helmet.

He couldn’t be sure, but he thought his neck felt wet; something dribbled down his jaw and around the bottom of his earlobe. He couldn’t move his head, not at first. A strange feeling spiralled across his shoulders and down his spine like a wave of needles pricking his skin. His vision appeared skewed; he lay staring at the glittering glass fragments close to his face, saw his bike lying in the road just ahead, wrecked.

Legs moved, and arms and hands. But his head felt so heavy.

The minutes evaporated.

And then that strange sensation rushed through him again when he tried to move – his head remained skewed. 

Something trickled into his stomach, flooded his abdomen and he winced against the sickly eddy, tried hard not to vomit.

He remained still again, swollen heartbeat pumping furiously beneath his clammy skin, deep burnished breaths filling his lungs. The contents of his stomach swilled and frothed, yet somehow he refrained from retching.

He removed his glove, lifted his arm and touched his neck. It felt strange and wet, just as he had guessed. He tried movement once more, slowly sat up; ignored the dull ache around his shoulders. He didn’t feel any pain, but he felt a peculiar dragging sensation around his neck.

His vision blurred momentarily. Light and colour blended into one before the world around him came back into view. His vision refocused, but he found it hard to blink and his eyes shuttered in response.

Cold air laboured in his lungs. The corridors in his mind sank into a dismal mire of heavy confusion - his vision still seemed strangely lopsided, as though he was staring across his chest, and yet he was sitting upright.

He reached up, felt across his shoulders and sensed the tight, twisted flesh. He tentatively put his hand against what he thought was his neck, felt something soft, sticky and warm. He knew it was blood. The steady stream from the serrated gash soaked through his clothes and stained his flesh. It dribbled down the inside of his leather jacket and soaked through his shirt now that he was upright. He felt the roundness of the crash helmet resting against his chest.

The thought tore through him that he should feel immense pain; his body should have reacted to the crash, yet his entire body remained insensate and it confused and distressed his brittle senses.

He realised then; in the silent minutes that remained, that his head had become partially detached from his body and now hung around his chest, held by wrenched slivers of muscle, bone and sinew.

His stomach contracted and forced adrenaline into every open pore. Vomit lodged in his gullet, as though afraid to expel.

He wanted to scream, but his vocal chords didn’t work.

Minutes to seconds. The darkness crowded him.

He wanted to cry like a lost child, but the tears wouldn’t come.

His life - counting down to a blackness he didn’t want to enter - made him so frightened of approaching finality, so raw in his fear, that he couldn’t shriek in the face of a truth, and the help he so desperately wanted he knew would never come. He could barely grasp any of it and his thoughts rattled inside his skull; a dreadful, terrifying cacophony that drowned out the inevitable.

He couldn’t be saved. He was going to die. In the middle of the road, in the middle of somewhere, next to bristling leaves and whispering fields of wheat, beneath the bleak, nonchalant glare of the moon.

Then the minutes stopped. 

Amid the suffocating inner silence, his final moments vanished into the encroaching darkness and his vision instantly turned into an infinite blackness.

He slumped back against the cold tarmac.

And then...


Runner up Poetry

As a form of expression, poetry can be quite liberating.  It focuses words to a fine needle point, it's a way of saying so much in so few words.  Last month the Writer's Talkback one word challenge allowed me to indulge in my fascination with the classical past.  I've harboured an obsession with Greek literature, mythology and geography since childhood, and the more I learn, the more I want to know.  I've travelled around Greece to follow this obsession...I now have a growing collection of classical art and Greek statues of the great and good.

'Beloved' feeds from such fascination.  Walking in the footsteps of the ancients is no mean feat. Take a spoonful of truth and add a pinch of literary licence, and you have something that might be wonderful. This poem is one of my favourites and was runner up in the competition.


On fairest ground, the golden wheat,
Danced like breezy Nymphs,
Drunk on sweet smelling dew,
Lithe shadows beneath Malian hills,
They shifted.

Across the sky, a darkened scar,
Belied a stillness; fires still lingered,
The sinewy tendrils pointed,
To forge a path inked by blood,
They resisted.

Delicate whispers laced the air,
Spoken soft and childlike in my ear,
But echoes remained like stains,
The hissy tussle of men and bronze,
They persisted.

Scattered grains of dirt, ground down,
Made heavy through clammy tumult,
A river of men clasped and clawed,
Against parched, hardened skin,
They pressed.

On fairest ground, the morning sunlight,
Marched across cold, hilly flesh,
Torn, twisted and tattered trails,
Sheathed in glorious red,
They lost.

A subtle rumble; the shift of power,
An endless breath filled the plains,
Etched in wind blasted stones,
And sun dried tears,
They remained.

“Stranger, announce to the Spartans,
That here we lie,
Having fulfilled their orders”,
These beloved, of Kings and men,
We remembered.


February Femmes Fatales

It's coming up to that time of year for the fabulous February Femmes Fatales showcase for female writers over at Lily Child's Feardom.  (Click on Link).

There are some amazing writers on board, all with their own unique voice, from all walks of life, and from different countries.

There is a gamut of dark and delicious stories starting 1st February, with four short stories of my own - And Then on the 4th, The Firewood Collector on the 11th, Sliver on the 21st, Under a Veil of Red on the 23rd, and a poem, The Hunger on the 27th.

If you like your stories dark, then this is the place for you and the good thing about this is that you can leave feedback and comments for each author, which is always a bonus.

February Femmes Fatales starts 1st February.  Don't miss out!