Thursday, June 30, 2011


Best Western Hotels are currently running a summer bestseller competition for short stories with (unsurprisingly) a 'summer holiday at a hotel' theme. The winner gets a free weekend in a hotel for two, so I decided to send them a tiny story called Cat-astrophe. It's set in a harbourside hotel and involves a woman on holiday, a mackerel salad and... a cat. I'm sure you can guess the rest.

The good news is it's got through the first round and has appeared on the Best Western blog. If it gets voted as the most popular story, I win that weekend away. Fingers crossed, and in the meantime you can read the story here.

There's even a nice picture of a cat!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New release

Pill Hill Press have surpassed themselves. 'There Was a Crooked House', the anthology containing my story The Other Side of Silence, was due out some time in July, but they've bust a gut (metaphorically speaking) and released it in both print and electronic formats already.

They usually specialise in spec fic with a leaning towards horror, but this anthology is more in the paranormal/creepy range, with stories inspired by the title and the rather nice cover artwork. And it's absolutely stuffed with stories - twenty-seven by my reckoning, although you might want to verify that since adding up has never been my strongest point.

In keeping with the general tone, The Other Side of Silence is a darkish, creepy little tale about a woman's brush with the paranormal as a child. When Nicole is left White House in her Aunt Esther's will she has mixed feelings, thanks to an unfortunate childhood experience. Will time heal her wounds when she finally goes back? The story was originally inspired by a painting I saw in an antique shop window - a Victorian oil painting of a white house in the snow, with its door open and a woman standing on the doorstep. It was beautiful yet somehow unnerving and otherworldly, and the image has stayed with me for years.

'There Was a Crooked House' is available via Pill Hill's online store and will be coming to Amazon and other distributors shortly.

Monday, June 27, 2011


So summer is suddenly bursting out all over and it's bloomin' hot. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far (28c here in Birmingham) and today isn't far behind.

So, am I draped elegantly in a deck chair with a tall glass of something cold and a good book? Am I heck. I've had my head in a paint pot most of the day, decorating the bathroom. We made a special trip out to buy the paint yesterday so I thought I'd better show willing and actually use the stuff. And the bathroom desperately needs some 'tlc'; thanks to several previous aborted attempts at redecoration it currently has about nine different colours on the walls. Not bad for a room that's only about six foot square!

I got the first coat on the bottom half of a couple of the walls but now it's threatening to thunder and I may have to shut the window... which means no ventilation. Hmm. Paint fumes and a heatwave. What a combination.

And just in case anyone is wondering, no I'm not painting the walls bright purple. I'm using a nice tasteful, neutral (and utterly boring) beige.

Friday, June 24, 2011

'Crooked House' update

Still on the subject of Pill Hill Press, their anthology 'There Was a Crooked House' is on schedule for release in July. This book includes my short story The Other Side of Silence, a poignant but creepy tale about an unsettling childhood experience which has always been one of my own favourite stories. I'll post details of a specific date a little nearer to the time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Four for the 'price' of one

I had some great news the other day as Pill Hill Press, who are already in the process of publishing my ghost story The Other Side of Silence, have just accepted four flash stories for their latest flash anthology.

The idea of Daily Flashes of Fiction is to have 365 (or six) ultra-short stories, one for every day of the year. All are on the speculative fiction side (sci-fi, fantasy, mild horror etc) and none are over 500 words long - perfect for a daily 'bite' over a cup of coffee.

The stories they've taken include a reprint of This Life Sucks, a poignant vampire story which first appeared in Flash Me Magazine, plus stories about a 'peeping tom' farmer, a monster in a country house maze, and an enigmatic dog.

As far as I know the anthology will be published towards the back end of the year, ready for 2012, but I'll obviously keep everyone posted when I have more specific details.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Afternoon by the lake

Last week I promised to bring you some photos of our sunny afternoon walk by the lake shore, and here, finally, are a couple to give you some idea of the lovely conditions and scenery.

Looking across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes.

Boat moored off Miller Ground with Fairfield looming in the background.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

5x5 Fiction - new issue

Issue 2 of 5x5 Fiction has just been uploaded and you can find a link to it here. (It loads into a Google reader page which I've never seen before; I learn something new, technologically speaking, every day!).

All the stories in this magazine are exactly 25 words long, with exactly five sentences of exactly five words each. And my story, Wrong Number, is up there with the rest of them. Do take a moment to cast your eye over it, and the other fantastic little gems in the collection.

I'm still wrestling with writing other stories in this format and hope to submit some of them to future issues. It's a real challenge and Angel Zapata, who edits 5x5Fiction, has come up with a really original concept.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Afternoon sun

After a damp and chilly week, late yesterday afternoon the sun came out and suddenly everything was transformed. Dave and I had been working hard all day but we took one look out of the window at the sparkling sunshine and puffy white clouds and said, more or less in chorus, 'Forget work, let's go for a walk!'

We donned boots and jackets and set off on one of the many walks from our doorstep, following our local stream past a waterfall, then over the fields to the lake, along the lake shore to the local landing stages, and back up to the village past another impressive waterfall that we'd never seen before.

It was magical. The breeze ruffled the lake into choppy waves, the sun glinted off the water, there were ducklings (or possibly grebe chicks, they were just too far from shore to be certain) bobbing about, and for once I'd even remembered my camera. Pictures, I hope, to follow.

On the way back we realised we were starving so we called in at our favourite pub for a slap-up pub-grub meal, then staggered back home full but happy.

Today it's been back to the cold and the storms so we're really glad we grabbed the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Only 25 words...

...but it still tells a story. You might remember a few weeks back I was battling with ideas for a new flash fiction magazine, 5x5 Fiction, which wanted stories that were exactly 25 words, in five sentences of five words each. It was bloomin' hard work, but after several hours of tussling I came up with two stories I was reasonably happy with, and sent them off.

And the great news is, 5x5 Fiction has accepted one of them for its upcoming Issue 2. Wrong Number is a dark piece about a telephone call with a hidden meaning, and the wonders or otherwise of modern technology. And all in only 25 words!

The editor of 5x5 Fiction is still reading entries for Issue 2 but as soon as I know when the story will be available I'll pop an update on here. Possibly in 25 words. ;)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Last chance to see...

If you haven't already been to Dark Valentine to read Can't Buy Love then do it now before it's too late! I've just discovered that the magazine is closing its doors imminently and all the stories and artwork currently featured on the site will no longer be available.

I shall really miss this magazine. I'd only fairly recently discovered it, liked its style and 'look', and enjoyed many of the featured stories. I seem to be the kiss of death for so many magazines and publishers - accept a story from me and they curl up in a corner and die within weeks. Ack. I suppose the only thing I can be 'proud' of is that mine was one of the last stories they accepted.

You can find Can't Buy Love here, for now, but please be quick as I can't promise how much longer the story (or the magazine) will be there.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

No comment... sigh

Just a quickie to apologise to all the people whose blogs I watch, and often comment on. Unfortunately since Blogger bit the dust back in mid-May, I've been having ongoing issues. These include not being able to stay 'signed in' to my own account, and not being able to comment on any other Blogger blog. I can still post to my own blog here (be thankful for small mercies) but that's about it. For everything else, the system no longer seems to recognise me.

It's irritating because there have been some great posts and I'm itching to respond to them, but I can't. And I can't log on to the Blogger help forums to report the problem, either. The only good thing is that lots of other people seem to be having similar problems. TPTB at Blogger keep telling everyone the problems are fixed. Well, guys, I have news for you: they're not!

Hopefully they'll actually notice that things are not back to one happy vista of normality... eventually, but until then I'll just grit my teeth, soldier on, and say 'Sorry!' to all my Blogger pals. I'll comment again, just as soon as I bloody well can!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Can't Buy Love

This is the title of my latest story, a twisted take on love in the 21st century, which has just been published by Dark Valentine magazine.

The story was inspired by a strange and somewhat surreal news article a few months back, but I'm not going to say what the article was about just yet because it will spoil the surprise!

Edited to add: Sadly the magazine ceased publication shortly after my story appeared, so it's currently no longer available.