Tag Archives: Fiction

Mr. Nowhere -Free Flash Fiction

In the darkest region of your mind, you give him life. That small spark of creation, the tiny curiosity that resides in the hearts of all mankind, breathes shape into him. Your fear, and your doubt, and your hate, gifts him more life. He’s here now. He’s watching. He knows you know.

He’s the figure that moves in your peripheral, and the ghastly nothingness left behind when you turn your head to catch him. He’s the shadow in the corner of the room, darker than all other shadows—so dark and dense you know it has form. He’s the whisper in your ear, the tingle of breath over your shoulder. He’s almost a part of you.

He’s the overwhelming feeling of heaviness when you have your back turned to the room, the sense of eyes on you while you go about your home alone. He’s the paper that drops from the fridge behind you while you lean into the dishwasher to collect your cutlery. He’s the answer to all the questions you never dare ask. The doubting, the brush-offs, the ‘ahh it must be the wind’s.’

Every footstep you hear behind you when you walk down the hall, that’s him too.

When you walk beneath the moonlight, and the street lights cast an eery orange in the cold fog around you, he is what follows just out of sight. He is what looms around each corner, what watches from behind every bush. He stalks your most horrific dreams, orchestrating your terror like a puppeteer pulling the strings.

He is the voice that tells you to give up. To just let it go and give in to nothingness. Every deep, dark, frightening thought that enters your mind, is his coercive tongue massaging your ear.

He’s why the kids wont go to bed—why they say they’re scared when we say they’re being silly and need to go to sleep. He stands in the corner while you plead with them, smirking over your shoulder. He’s the creature that stalks them while you’re getting your downtime, the figure they squeeze their eyes closed tight to ignore. He rustles their covers and scrapes the underneath of their beds while they sob themselves into an uneasy sleep.

He hovers above you, only an inch from your face while you lay your head back in the bath to rinse the shampoo from you hair. He’s the creak across the hallway that’s always ‘just the pipes,’ that hideous feeling of terror on a windy night. He’s the stillness between breaths in the dark, the monster in the garden, staring up at your bedroom window until you fall asleep.

You’ll feel him at his most powerful in a thunderstorm, when the world shakes and the sky cracks open. He’s there, in the dark, whenever you’re not looking. He’s the figure just outside the reaches of the flickering candlelight as you make your way to the fuse box. He’s the roar of the heating as the boiler flicks on in the middle of the night.

He feeds off you in the day, leeching your life away with every small seed of doubt. In the dark is where he thrives. He looms over the bed every time you close your eyes, silently begging you to open them. When you do, he dematerialises and hides in the shadows, leaving just a feeling behind. A frequency. You can feel him, you can almost hear his vibration, but he hides just out of sight.

Showing himself to you would be less fun than this. He wants your pulse raised, your breathing shallow, and your mind racing. He wants you convincing yourself that it’s just your imagination until you pull the covers tighter around you and close your eyes once more.

He is here now. Watching. Waiting. Just beyond the light of your screen. Hungry for your terror. He’s under your bed while you read this, or resting his head on the pillow beside you. He’s in the corner of the room, or scratching at the glass of your window. He’s just behind the office door, or in the bathroom at school. He is everywhere, waiting for you to pretend he isn’t. Waiting for you to pretend he doesn’t exist.

Don’t let him know you know. Don’t let him see.

You’ll only make him angry.


Apologies in advance if I’ve made you feel uneasy… I didn’t want to. He made me do it. If you leave a comment and let me know what you thought, He might just leave you be for a while. Have you had much trouble with Him in the past? Where does He commonly crop up in your life? I’m eager to know how He stalks your days and nights.

Most of my activity happens over at Facebook, so please come join me over there. There’s a prize draw for a digital Amazon gift card once the page reaches 1000 likes!

The Dreamer -Free Flash Fiction

Every week over at Fiction Writer’s Group, we share a photo prompt for a flash fiction piece. The word limit is 300, which ninety-five percent of the time is no problem for me. This prompt, however, proved difficult. Trying to extract a 300 word story was almost impossible! I had grand fantasy plots running around my head, stories of a shaman travelling the spirit realm to save her dying mother from cancer, and more. What I ended up with is a kind of mingling of all those ideas into one, and a decision to work those ideas into a short story/novella for my upcoming collection. For now, I hope you enjoy this short but sweet story, ‘The Dreamer.’

Free flash fiction cover photo. A photo prompt of a girl and a lion sitting on a tree branch, both with peacock feathers accentuating their hair.
Photo prompt for flash fiction: Source Unknown.

Poppy Pringle lives in an ordinary semi-detached home in Western London. Her ordinary father, Peter Pringle (prefers Mr Pringle), cuts his front and back lawns at an ordinary height at ordinary times throughout the week, and her ordinary mother, Priscilla Pringle, has ordinary hair and ordinary makeup, and all around dresses as one ordinarily would for the ordinary office job that takes up her painfully ordinary nine-to-five.

To the outside world, Poppy lives the most ordinary, uneventful, and dare I say unremarkable life a young girl in Western London could live. Her neighbours would watch her skip up and down the road picking bunches of flowers for her mother, and they’d say, “There’s that cute little Poppy from down the road,” while silently, in the deepest, darkest regions of their psyche, curse her for ripping up their marigolds and petunias as if it hadn’t taken time and money to create their own gardens. Her teachers would look upon her delicate frame and impressive test-results and say, “A good’en, that Poppy Pringle- if only she were less vacant and could make some friends.”

Princess Parthinia of the Outer Realm was anything but ordinary. Her chocolate brown skin and rosey cheeks resonated perfectly with the golden back drop of the ever-setting sun. Silver fireflies would dart around her wherever she walked, and her beautiful strands of hair, comparable only to the feathers of a peacock, would accentuate her beauty in this magical world.

Stories of her and her great companion, Patch, the lioness with a peacock mane, were told the world over.

Poppy Pringle was Princess Parthinia, and Princess Parthinia was Poppy Pringle, separated only by her great-grandmother’s feather necklace.

What she didn’t know yet, was that each of her worlds depended on her.

* * * * *

So, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed it. Honestly, it was so hard to tie that off in such a short amount of words. You can trust that Poppy Pringle and Princess Parthinia will return soon. Let me know what kind of stories this image inspires in you in the comments below!

Enjoy flash fiction pieces like this one? You can choose from an ever growing collection between 300 and 1000 words right here!

More Flash Fiction

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…

Seriously debating a photo of Eminem here…

Now I’m not arrogant enough to believe that my disappearance or lack of posting means much to anyone at this point in time, but I do still feel responsible for those who have followed my blog in good faith and have been let down on the content side. This half a year has been an unusual balance of ups and downs, with all the ups remaining almost exclusively offline with family, business, and relationships, and all the downs in my writing & reading side as a result of improvements in those areas.

That said, the whole chapter has come full-circle, and everything seems to be levelling out beautifully. After a structureless increase in visits from my children over the past few months, (while obviously welcome, it’s hard to make plans for writing and the like when time with the little-ones will always come first!), my daughter Lily has asked to come and live with me full time!! Myself and her mother have worked out between ourselves that, yes, that is happening, so on the family front there’s more routine and structure there to work around.

I’m that annoying type of person that needs a structured routine. Sleep and wake times, morning and evening rituals, planned out activities at certain times, spreadsheets (yeah, I know…), the lot! Seriously, without one, the whole damn world collapses around me and I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Still, even with knowing that, when my routine does eventually slip away into chaos, I struggle to sit and create a new one. Just think: I haven’t scheduled ‘write routine’ into my daily routine, have I? Can you imagine how hard that makes everything? Do you even know how much this very post breaks all those rules!? I’m practically sweating!

In any case, if you can forgive me, here I am. Writing. Now. This very second.

I haven’t much to say in this post aside from declaring my intentions upon returning to the blogosphere and sharing my excitement over having my daughter come to live with me full-time (more in a later post: nurturing creativity in your children.) Over the past couple months I’ve still been alive, and thus, have still been having ideas, reading books, making plans, and all the rest of it, so rest assured the content will come quickly and often to make up for the disappearance.

The flash fiction and book reviews will continue on a regular basis, but there are other things that will change. For instance, lifestyle is gonna be much more of a thing over here. I’m a keen psychology and philosophy buff, and so love learning and sharing all matters on the condition of life and the many ways in which we can live it. I’m hoping to provoke conversation with the community, and help to shape my own life and the lives of others through what we learn together.

Another thing… a webseries. I’ll be writing one. It’ll be over on Wattpad I think, free to the masses. Nothing too serious or heavily edited, just a fun story that I can add to each week. I’m going either Riverdale-esque college drama with some horror/fantasy elements thrown in, or vigilante multiverse with some horror/fantasy elements thrown in. Go figure.

All that and more. More focus on my art journey, a bigger push toward publication, and maybe a patreon for exclusive bonuses to help pay the bills. One thing that’s certain, you’ll be seeing a lot from me and I can only prove it by cracking on, so, in a while, crocodile!

Fancy a quick five minute read before you go?

My Slice’a Freedom

Like A Nettle Sting

Endgame

My Slice’a Freedom -Free Flash Fiction

The following flash fiction was hastily created for the Kanturk Arts Festival flash fiction competition, based on the below photo prompt. When I first saw the image, I was struck with a sense of loneliness and hiding. I was put in mind of the awful conditions in which black people had to suffer during the times of slavery in America. I remembered reading of situations in the past, where certain whites would help to shield and hide those who’ve escaped captivity, either beneath barns, in attics, or anywhere else for that matter. Sadly, those instances were too few, and no amount of fiction or storytelling can ever romanticise or undo the horrific wrongs of our world at that time. In this image I saw an escaped slave, working in solitude to create tailored items. The story expanded from there, as you’ll read in a second.

In any case, sadly this piece didn’t pick up a win in the contest, and while I think the story has its own merit, I felt squeezing the story into only 500 words was an injustice to the characters and themes I initially envisioned. (You can read the winning pieces here.) I researched extensively for this story (hence the short time to write the thing), and I discovered the amazing story of Nat Turner and the small revolution that would go on to change the face of slavery forever, for better AND worse. I highly recommend you spend a few moments going to research him once you’re done here. While I do like the end result, my heart wasn’t truly in this rendition of the story. Upon learning and researching for the story I had in mind, I quickly realised that I didn’t have enough words to convey all I wanted to in the way I wanted to. So in a way I feel blessed with another chance to tell the story I want to at a later date. For now though, please enjoy this abridged flash fiction piece.


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Are you Vin Buckley that created this painting? Please get in touch with a link to your work.

Gabe stitched through the leather with a careful precision, paying close attention to the tattered pages strewn across the workstation. Moonlight filtered in through cracks in the overhead floorboards, bright and heavy as the night of the revolt. Shadows flickered and shifted across the damp blocks, the flame of his lantern casting a taller, thicker version of himself on the opposite wall. He watched himself work in shadow form, free from scars and riches and class. Not a black man, a white man, a soldier, or a slave. Just a man, working his craft in calm solitude. Shadows revealed the reality of humankind, each equal in the absence of colour.

His wounds had healed up to tightened scars stretched out across his skin, a few pale additions to the tally that claimed most of his back. He tied off his final stitch, wondering what became of the brothers and sisters that followed Nat Turner toward freedom. Robert told him many escaped just like Gabe, but many died too. 

Gabe packed the finished product into a dusty box he excavated from beneath the workstation, and placed it neatly beneath his bed frame. Sleep came fast and without complaint. 

He awoke to the sound of Robert creaking his way down the ladder, moaning and groaning as he did. “Wakey-wakey, Kid,” he said, breathless, “I come bearing good fruit and bad news.” 

“I’ll take the fruit,” Gabe replied, “the news can wait a while.”

Robert placed the basket on the bed beside him, sighing as he did. “Actually Gabe, it can’t. Nat Turner’s been captured. They hanged him and a whole bunch more at Jerusalem. With what’s happened, they’re stricter than ever. Scared too.”

“Oh the white folk are scared,” he retorted, “s’that right?” Gabe shook his head while he processed it. His best friend, born and raised on Ben Travis’ plantation, gone. Dead. Silenced by the hangman. “Jesus Nat. God was menna-be on our side.”

Robert placed a rough hand on his shoulder. “God’s as much a slave to us as you are to them, Gabe. He’s bound to those with the loudest voices.”

“You mean with the most guns.” Gabe pulled out the box from beneath the bed and handed it to Robert, the burden of the news weighing heavily in the features of his face.

Robert opened the box to reveal the finest pair of boots he ever laid eyes upon. The blueprint he never dared lift from the paper himself, now crafted to perfection. “Gabe, did you… How?”

“I fallowed’ya sketches. Was thinking if they good enough, maybe I keep making ‘em?”

Robert stood silently, inspecting them in awe.

“Sir, your generosity’s seen me safe, but I may never walk free. These boots, they can run free and wild. Travel the highs and lows of all the great states, go on a’ventures. They’ll see men marry fine wives and drink fine wine. Each pair’ll carry a little piece of me with ‘em. For now I can only dream of freedom. But these boots… these boots can go where I can’t.’ 

“My slice’a freedom.”


For what it’s worth, I can’t wait to tell this story again, and do it the justice it deserves. Think of this as just a tiny snapshot of the greater story in play. Of course I can only  imagine the tragic circumstances of what it was like to exist back then, and can I even imagine what it would’ve been like to be black back then? What I can say for certain is that  I can do my best to relate the sense of entrapment, loneliness, struggle, fear, and torture, while being awestruck of the hope, love, and fight that never escaped those poor souls that were treated so terribly. A truly awful period in history. Shameful.

Shadows revealed the reality of humankind, each equal in the absence of colour.

Like this story? Try out my favourite flash fiction on this site so far: Endgame.

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The Silver Linings Playbook- Matthew Quick Review

Going into The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, I didn’t know what to expect. As you may know if you’re a regular here, while I’ve always enjoyed reading once I get into a book, I’ve never consistently consumed fiction as regularly as I am these days. So far I’ve read five books in five weeks, and that has to be a record for me! I’m super proud of that little achievement and not showing any signs of slowing down. I’m really enjoying it! So while there are unread books on my shelf and you’re happy to read about my journey, I’m happy to keep on sharing my thoughts and opinions.

Let me start out by saying that, like my Crazy House by Robert Pattison Review, this was the first exposure to a genre for me, on a multitude of different levels. Silver Linings is equal parts romance, family drama, and personal struggle, all delivered in a deeply personal ‘journal style’ written by the main character, Pat Peoples.

I loved Silver Linings as much as Smokey loved eating the pages!

Pat’s a man that has white-knuckled his way through bipolar disorder his whole life, and after an incident resulting in the courts ordering him to reform in a mental health facility, we watch as he battles hard to impress his estranged wife and right all his wrongs.

The Silver Linings Playbook is all about Pat finding the end of ‘apart time,’ trying his best to improve himself in all the ways that would impress his wife. Is this a wise approach? To pitch his whole improvement on the unlikely chance to reconcile his marriage? Probably not, like everyone keeps telling him, but they can’t see the Silver Linings like Pat can. He’s gonna prove them all wrong.

Aside from the wonderfully written story, Silver Linings doubles as a reminder for all the classic books that I NEED to read along my journey. Huck Finn, Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird and more, all mentioned and speed-read by the loveable Pat Peoples. The author’s own love of literature is reflected in the respects he pays to these epic titles, and I personally wrote a little list under the title ‘Pat’s Reading List‘ as I raced through the pages of his own unfolding story.

Silver Linings is funny, sad, and painfully real. The exposure to Pat’s mind is an honest treat, and I think many of us can relate to his thoughts at least in the furthest reaches of our psyche.

I LOVED Silver Linings. It sits deservedly at the very top of my all time favourite reads, and has further encouraged me to explore modern literature with an open mind! So what do you say? Have I convinced you? I’ll close out by saying that if you haven’t read The Silver Linings Playbook, you need to get on to it right away.

I treated myself to the movie once I’d finished the book, and while it was good, it doesn’t even compare to the book (obviously.) the characters, plot, and pretty much the whole tone of the story is shifted for Hollywood’s sake, much as you’d expect. So please don’t rate the book by the film.

I’m so out of shape right now 😭😭 but… kittttyyyyy

UK buyers can pick it up from amazon here, and US buyers here. These are affiliate links, which means I receive a small payment from amazon to help pay the bills and feed the kids 😉 Do me a favour by doing yourself a favour -said in my best Ray Winstone/ Vinnie Jones impression- and get yourself Silver Linings right now!

The winner of this copy, with the official Smokey stamp of approval (bite marks with cute kitty teeth), is Jane from the charming photography blog, Fragglerocking. Go check her out, she’s awesome!

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Have you read The Silver Linings Playbook or seen the movie? Let me know what you thought in the comments. What’s your favourite book? I’ll add it to my list.

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If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Crazy House by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet- Book Review

Until only recently, my reading library had been somewhat… conservative. Stephen King is the man, of course, with second place falling to Joe Hill (naturally, it is his son after all). I have read outside of this very exclusive list, but in all honesty, not as much as I should’ve. A bit of Tolkien, some ‘movie’ books like The Revenant, and some fantasy epics (before I realised that for the most part I’m not a fantasy fan).

The point is that the big writers most readers know and love, the likes of James Patterson, Chris Ryan, and John Grisham, have never been experienced by me. So when I see a book called Crazy House, I automatically assume I’ll be reading some Rob Zombie style murder house filled to the brim with excessive gore, psychopaths, shallow characters, and a pointless love interest. What can I say, I’m a horror fan to the core…

Crazy House review James Patterson Gabrielle Charbonnet book cover
Needless to say, I was both shocked and excited to discover that I had opened up into an expansive, dystopian world, with two powerful female leads, three if you count the antagonist, which carried me from page to page in anticipation of what happens next.

My sister in law recommended this book to me and I went in blind. My first exposure to both James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet as authors, and the closest thing to a dystopian I’ve ever read. (I tried Divergent but could only get 30 pages in before I decided I didn’t like the author’s style.)

In all honesty there isn’t much I can say about the premise of the book without spoiling the details of the world that reveal themselves throughout the novel. Some ‘reveals’ are pretty obvious, I’d even call them tropes, and yet others are surprising and deepen your connection with the characters involved. This is what makes the book such a riveting page turner. It perfectly balances the expected with the unexpected, and weaves them into a flowing narrative that keeps you on the edge of your… reading… chair?

I mean seriously, does anyone actually sit comfortably while reading? I find myself laying in all sorts of positions and switching them out every time some part of my body starts to ache…

Anyway, back to it. Crazy House jumps straight in by introducing us to Careful Cassie Greenfield, a smart, sensible girl as popular as she is conscientious. We see instantly that she lives in a world of strict roles and proffessions. Like most dystopians, conformity is their salvation. Each member of their ‘cell’—a fenced in town with a job specialisation, making up the larger United organisation—is put through school and assigned a job role based on their results. Cassie appears to be the typical straight-A equivalent within this world’s parameters. We are introduced immediately to the conflict as we watch Cassie discover that her twin sister, Ridiculous Rebecca, has broken curfew, taken the jeep, and hasn’t made it home over night.

With her mother having been sent off for a ‘mood-adjust’ never to return, and her father attempting suicide outside of the system’s built-in euthanasia program, Cassie heads to school in a panic. Panic over her sister’s whereabouts mixed with an equal panic for missing school and damaging their family name any more than it already has been. From here the plot begins to unfold, and through the perspectives of Cassie and Rebecca Greenfield, we are treated to an action-packed story that keeps on delivering the excitement.

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And what about the dragon flys..?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I don’t often read novels with a female lead, (not through choice, just circumstance), and where I ever have, they haven’t been written by male authors. That surprises me on two fronts. Not only do James Patterson and Charbonnet do an excellent job of presenting the lives and perspectives of strong female characters, but they does it in such a way that the characters being female is not an all important plot point. They aren’t ‘strong female characters,’ they are simply strong characters, which I think highlights and addresses a huge issue in storytelling at this time.

The more I think on the matter, some of my favourite characters of all time have ben female. Underworld, Divergent, Hunger Games, The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, Holly Gibney from Stephen King’s Finders Keepers series. The list goes on and on. And the one thing that sets them apart from female characters that I haven’t quite connected with, is that they are simply presented as characters. They’re not a shallow statement piece like Alice from Resident Evil, because, let’s face it, whether male or female that character is flat as a pancake. What really makes a character is that they’re human beings. It doesn’t matter if they’re female or male, they just happen to be one or the other, and they are relatable and alive!

On this basis alone I applaud the writers of the aforementioned characters, and I applaud the authors for flawlessly entering that mix with this novel. Before I close up this review of Crazy House with a shining recommendation, I’m gonna weigh up the differences between my expectations going in, and the reality of the novel.

First up, Crazy House is not a gory, Saw-like experience filled with gratuitous violence. Rather, Crazy House is what Rebecca calls the place she has been taken to—an off-the-books death-row prison that runs experiments on its kidnapped residents. Furthermore, it’s not a horror. I guess it’s a thriller in many ways, and the action keeps coming, but I’d call this a dystopian. Finally, by the end of the book I was praying that James Patterson would expand on this world and write a sequel. The world he’s created is so expansive, and reminds me a lot of the Colony-81 story I’m halfway through writing. Thankfully he’s delivered, and it looks like I read the book just in time! The sequel ‘The Fall of Crazy House’ (pre-order now) is set for release 18th April 2019, so there’s still time to grab Crazy House and enjoy it.

I have already pre-ordered my copy and it will jump to the top of my reading list as soon as it arrives. How much more of a recommendation for Crazy House do you need than that? All readers with a piqued interest, go grab Crazy House from Amazon UK or Amazon US right now. You won’t be disappointed!

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The Giveaway!

My copy of Crazy House by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet will be shipped out to Ian Steventon shortly. Congratulations! Ian is a writer and friend, not to mention fellow Fiction Writers Group founder. You can find him here.

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Have you read Crazy House? What did you think, and are you excited for the sequel? Let me know in the comments below!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- Book Review

Out a few weeks ago for breakfast with the family, and I figure it’d be nice to call a friend of mine to see if he wants to meet us out. I know it won’t be easy, so I put on my best, most convincing voice. After a few moans and groans, naturally, he agrees to drag his lazy ass up and indulge me. Great!

We ate, we laughed, and we paid the bill. (My treat- a tragic part of the bargain.) And then the worse happened. He wanted to go shopping. I HATE shopping, no matter how brief, and what’s more I’m stuffed to the brim from breakfast. I just wanna get home. To make matters worse, he wants to do charity-shop shopping which, while marginally more enjoyable, takes a hell of a lot more humming-and-harring and mulling over decisions. I know this, and he knows that I know this, but he has me. I did, after all, drag him out for breakfast.

So we head out into town with the quest ahead of us. He’s a man on a mission, a spring in his step and a newfound energy to boot, while I drag my heels reluctantly behind him. You’ve all heard of the gay-bestfriend? Well today I was the straight best friend. Straightup role-reversal. And all of a sudden I’m a style advisor. Yeah I know, man of many talents. *shrugs*

Seconds turn into minutes, minutes turn into hours, or at least, that’s how it feels to me. From one shop to the next, appraising the finest, if somewhat dustiest, of the suit jackets on offer. This one’s too cream, but oh the fabric of this one is sublime. But what about the cut? And ew that stitching’s seen better days. After around six and a half hours (twenty minutes) he comes to a decision, and we head over to the til with his new-old jacket while the bored cashier eyes us suspiciously. Seriously, it’s like she’s expecting us to pull guns out from under our coats and shoot up the place for whatever pound coins she’s taken that morning. But who can blame her? Who under fifty shops in charity shops anyway?

And that’s when I see it. There on the small secondhand book section right by the til. A shining gem in the dimly lit emporium of forgotten things. I swear I could see dust particles dancing around in the rays of light that emitted from this thing. A rare treasure indeed, lying unsuspectingly under my nose the whole time. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I pick up the book curiously between my thumb and forefinger as if it were a piece of forensic evidence for bagging, while Jamie exchanged back and forth chitter-chatter with Professor McGonagall ringing up his items on her ancient til. Pretty sure she used a calculator…

Have you ever had an urge to just walk and keep walking until something clicks and you discover everything there is to know about yourself, figure out the meaning to it all, and unwrap the secrets of the universe all at once? To just be utterly and completely free from all constraints, all trappings of the modern world, and just exist in the face of whatever existing throws at you? Imagine moving from place to place on foot, sleeping and living by the land, surviving by the kindness of people and the work you’d do for them, exchanging stories and pleasantries and friendships along the way. It’s an unlikely fantasy I’ve romanticised for years, so when I see a title like this what am I gonna do but pick it up?

Needless to say I charm the cost of the book out of my friend (a whole, single, pound coin), and leave the shop with the yellowed book in tow and a smile on my face.

The Verdict

The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce follows the story of, you guessed it, Harold Fry. After receiving a letter from an old work friend explaining that she has cancer, he sets out to post one back. The sun’s shining, his wife is busying herself at home like she does, so he decides to walk to the next post box. And then the next. And the next. Before long he finds himself in a diner, eating a burger and talking to a stranger. The stranger inspires him, and as an act of faith he makes the decision to walk to the other side of the country to save Queenie Hennessy’s life.

I loved this book from cover to cover, and genuinely have nothing bad to say about it. The way Joyce uses scene breaks and character switches to manage pacing is expertly done, and the underlying stories of Harold Fry, his wife Maureen, and their son David, is revealed through a sequence of expertly written memories and recollections throughout Harold’s journey. Everything he’s buried over the years, all the hurt, the disappointment, and the pain, comes bubbling up in a smooth and flowing masterpiece, until it comes together in an unavoidably tragic confrontation of the past.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is both a heart-warming and heart-breaking read, which carried me to the end without a second’s hesitation. I can confidently say that this book will stay with me for the rest of my life, and has earned its place in my favourites. If you’re in the market for a funny, tragic, charming, and exciting read, I can highly recommend this book. I promise you’ll thank me for it.

You want a smile on your face like this? Then UK buyers can pick up their copies from amazon HERE, and US buyers HERE. Not only will you be treated to an unbelievably charming read delivered straight to your door, you’ll keep my lights on and maybe even put some food in my belly!

The Fun Part!

My copy of the book will be sent out to Mary Bradford, an author and friend I feel lucky to have had the pleasure of getting to know well. You can check out her website and ever-growing collection of titles here. If you’d like to be in with a chance to win a copy of each of the books I read, subscribe to my newsletter at the following link, and enjoy exclusive flash fictions and discounts on upcoming releases as an added bonus!

Sign Up Here!

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought down below. If not, just tell me something. I read and write like all the time… I’m lonely. Until next time!

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If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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The Sky Rip -Free Flash Fiction

Quick online reads is a free online flash fiction series bought to you by author Gary D Holdaway

The morning it all changed was an ordinary one. Joanna sat out on the porch in her usual chair with her usual cup of instant—one and a half spoons of coffee, two heaped spoons of sugar, and just the right splash of milk. The birds sang their usual tunes in all their usual trees, and the gentle breeze bought along it a medium temperature somewhere perfectly between too-hot-for-her-gown and too-cool-to-shiver in-her-pyjama-top.

“Morning Love!” Called Old-Jim from his side of the picket fence, while collecting his usual paper. He tipped his cowboy hat and winked before pulling the door closed behind him, as he usually did.

All the world was exactly as it should be. The lawn needed mowing and the leaves needed blowing, which Edgar would do once she woke him and he consumed the two eggs, toast, and orange juice she laid out for him. It was a routine that run as surely as the Patel’s opening their recently converted ‘Spar’ shop down the road, consistent, reliable, and dependable.

She now wonders how she didn’t notice right away, and how Old-Jim had missed it too, but when she stretched her arms above her head and leaned back on the chair that had moulded to her shape over years of loyal dedication, she saw that the sky had a black void running right through the middle, like two halves of blue paper had been torn apart from either side.

When she saw it, she choked on her coffee and fell backwards out of her chair, scrambling back to her feet in a panicked frenzy to get another look.

“Edgar! Edgar, come down here!” She shouted. Her voice must’ve reflected the sheer panic that consumed her being, because Old-Jim came running out onto his lawn and through the small gate to meet her, just as fast as Edgar appeared beside her tying the rope of his inside-out dressing gown, huffing and puffing like a man who’d just run a 200m sprint.

He started to ask what was wrong, but the words were silenced as he saw it too. The three of them stood bedazzled on the front porch, captivated by the bizarre and frightening sky-rip. What was it? Where had it come from? What did it mean? The questions batted between the three of them in a blind back and forth, gaining no ground as they went. Once you saw it, it was hard to look away from it. It was entrancing.

Other neighbours had started to rouse by now, and they each stood by their own houses, on their own porches and lawns, staring up at the sky.

It wasn’t like the sky had opened to reveal the universe or anything like that. There were no stars and galaxies to be seen. No planets or satellites or meteorites. It was an absence. A black, gaping, nothingness.

Joanna pulled herself away long enough to look at her husband. He was wearing his absent, dumbfounded look, reserved only for football matches, or when she asked a question he felt was too self-explanatory to ask. He was a dick actually. Why did she put up with him? Come to think of it, as she stared up into the void, she realised she had never loved him. What was love worth, anyway? What was the point? Had she ever loved anyone? Her mother never showed her any warmth, her father made a hollow attempt to shoehorn his way back into her life. Even her brother… what a selfish bastard.

In the next minutes, hours, days, months—how long had it been?—she stared at the sky-rip, deconstructing the fabric of her reality. Life itself was as black and empty as the void that captivated her vision. The delicate warmth, the gentle breeze, the presence of those around her, time itself, fell away into nothingness as the blackness consumed more and more of her vision, eating it’s way out toward the edges with each passing, still moment.

Eventually the blackness would take all of her, and with that her life would be over. She knew it, she could feel it. She wanted it. Begged for it. The quicker the blackness consumed her the quicker her torturous existence was over.

She didn’t know, stood motionless and consumed by the void in her silk gown and years old pyjamas, but those around her were feeling the same. Their false realities upturned and twisted into the truth of all humanity. They were nothing but a cancer on the world. I took from them my warmth, and with it their hope, faith, love, passion, and kindness. They had proven how worthless they were. How much they didn’t deserve the lives I so kindly bestowed upon them.

I gifted them with the tools to thrive, and they refashioned them into weapons of separation and destruction, fighting over who’s right and who’s wrong. Constantly taking from the world without giving back. Consuming, consuming, consuming. Insatiable in their hunger for power and control.

The Sky-rip consumed Joanna’s mind. She, alongside the rest of the world, fell into the limitless blackness, never to be unleashed upon the earth again.


Today’s flash fiction took that particular turn somewhere in the middle, and was entirely unplanned. From the very first sentence, the story revealed itself, unfolding line by line right up til the end. I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but I’m happy it did. I’m very happy with the concept here. Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Exciting Change On The Horizon

You may have noticed that over the past couple weeks, my noise over here on the blog has reduced itself to an occasional chatter. There’s a few reasons for this, but only a couple that have any relevance to the purpose of this post. The next few paragraphs are not going to be a self-involved updates post, where I simply list all my stresses, successes, excitements, and plans—posts like that suck, right? We want the good stuff… The stuff we can use. Of course, I will be mentioning those things, while trying my best to help you avoid the same traps and pitfalls yourself, and fast track your online ventures and presence.

I Forgot My ‘Why?’

When you started your blog, or your instagram, or your facebook page, you had a reason for doing so, a purpose. Some kind of meaning that made all the efforts of social media worthwhile. It may have been to build a presence in your chosen field, to market your own or affiliate products, to raise awareness for a charity, or to fix something that you perceive as a problem in the world.

My reason was to build a presence in the writing world, but beyond that, to provide quality reading material for those who A: don’t have much time to read, B: are new to reading, and C: Need convincing of the benefits and wonders of the written word. In a world filled to the brim with TV shows and movies, reading has taken a real knock. I myself am guilty of shunning one for the other.

We know that reading is good for us. We know the book is always better than the movie. But we haven’t always got the time, or patience, to sit through it. Enter Quick Online Reads. Allow yourself to be transported off into the lives and stories of vibrant characters, experience the amazing benefits of reading, all during a single tea break. Enjoy from the comfort of your phone, tablet, or computer.

If I can help convince people, in ten minutes or less, that reading a story can be just as, if not more enjoyable, than mindlessly binging episode after episode of dragged out plot and product placement, perhaps I can help bring reading back to its prominence in this modern world, and help others discover a world they never knew existed.

As readers, we know the benefits of reading are seemingly endless, and that the book is always better than the movie. But those statements alone are evidently not enough to change the mindset of a nation. What if we start smaller? Throw out the 500 page novels that can take a good 50% or more to get going, and convince them with a short, snappy plot line that formed a character, connection, and provoked emotion all in an instant. We wouldn’t expect a middle aged couple that occasionally take a casual twenty minute stroll to go run a marathon would we?

The aim, the goal, the purpose—beyond a reputation for myself, deeper than a fan base to sell books to—behind setting up my little corner of the net, was to offer a reading experience for non-readers in order to help convince them that to read is worth the time. I’m not going to force novel length work down the throats of those who aren’t yet ready to accept them. By offering flash fictions, short stories, novellas, and eventually novels, perhaps I can put a small dent in the sad reality that a majority of people don’t like to read these days.

What about you and your blog? Have you lost track of the ‘why’ behind your blog? Having a solid, consistent purpose, and predictable, human posts, are key to building a strong brand. Your brand is your voice. It’s your promise. It’s what builds trust among your readers and followers, and turns them into fans and customers. Grab a piece of paper, or post down in the comments, why you started your blog. What you wished to achieve, what message you wished to send, what purpose you set out to accomplish. Make sure this purpose is reflected in everything you do, and has solid alignment across all your social media platforms.

I got so bogged down in posting every day that I burnt myself out. Not only that, but I lost track of what the hell I was doing here along the way. I had Fiction, mental health, blogging tips, social media tips, lifestyle posts, all of which I love to write! But that’s not to say they all belong together on this particular site, and certainly not posted at random. Unpredictable posting is a big turn off for your loyal readers. Even if you only have one or two loyal readers at this point, you don’t want to upset them, confuse them, and ultimately send them away. They keep coming back because something you said, did, or wrote, instilled a level of respect, expectation, and trust. Don’t betray that in the pursuit of more followers, more views, more more more. Each single person that builds a connection with you and your content for the reasons your purpose dictate, is more valuable than 100 casual followers. No matter what your goals. Believe me when I say that.

So What Does This Mean For The Site?

Well, back to basics. Fiction, fiction, and more fiction. My aim is to post a piece of flash fiction three times a week, and work on collaborations and guest posts the rest of the time. At the bottom of each piece of flash fiction I’ll ask you guys for a prompt for my next one, and we’ll continue on in that fashion until the end of time. (Or somewhere near there…)

That’s one hour of each morning. The next hour will be spent exclusively on writing submissions for magazines and anthologies, crafting short stories for my own personal collections, and creating exclusive content for those generous enough to support my efforts through Patreon. (That way, I won’t have a crazy two weeks of stress and online silence due to catching up with all my deadlines…)

I haven’t worked out all the tiers and benefits yet, but I will definitely be setting up a Patreon at some point in the near future. There’s a webseries in the works, an interactive community surrounding the webseries where you get to write the life of a character and shape the world, and a whole bunch of exclusive content and behind the scenes tips and tricks for all budding writers out there. Of course patreon supporters will all benefit from discounts in any future books or products, and my eternal gratitude.

On the social media front, my instagram is about to get a huge revamp. I’m talking a consistent theme, beautiful imagery, and a whole bunch of inspiring, chilling, horrifying, philosophical, and entertaining quotes. That, and an exclusive Insta-story flash fiction once per week. If this interests you, head over there now 😊 Do bare with me while I apply all the changes though!

As for Facebook, I intend to start using it. At the minute I kinda dump links to my posts and occasionally ask questions, but I hope to switch this up ASAP. Facebook is for a more active back and forth. It’s where I’d like to build real relationships with my readers, run live Q&As, and set up events. I think a whole bunch of my lifestyle stuff will end up over on Facebook, alongside my typical musings and philosophical ramblings. After much deliberating, I don’t feel it belongs here on this site at all. So if you’d like to come over and join the conversation, please do that now.

Future future future, I’d like to *ahem* set up a YouTube account. A place to read my stories aloud, perhaps have them as elaborate voice overs to animated photos and storyboards. Maybe even use it as a place to practice my own sketching and illustrating skills as well? I’m not sure yet, but I know that I’d like to. I am camera shy however, and I don’t much like my voice… so we’ll see.

And with that I think I’m all out of updates. I’m super excited to get back to the bones of this site, and feel so much lighter with a clear plan laid out ahead of me. How do you balance your time between blogging, social media, and your offline life? Let me know in the comments!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Demi-Gods Exist -Free Flash Fiction

Today’s entry is an experimental work in progress for a longer piece of fiction, with a bunch of kinks that need ironing out. Still, I like the direction and wanted to share this early draft with you. I like the perspective, but certain aspects need further depth, and some situations could do with a little tweaking. Specifically the section taking place in the school. Anyway, it’s coming up for the sixth week since I quickly tapped this out, so will be due a proper rewrite! The finished piece will be almost unrecognisable, and I won’t be able to share publicly, so I figured I’d share it with you now. Hope you enjoy!


Demigods exist. I know, because I am one. I guess I’ve been a demigod since I was born, but to be honest, I’m not really sure how it works. Am I actually the son of Odin? Or is it that I was chosen somehow at a later date? My name plucked from a hat in Asgard (where the Gods live) perhaps?

Maybe you’re asking yourself how on earth I can be a demigod, and have no idea how it all works? Well, it’s complicated. There are like, clues, ya’know? The first and most obvious of them is that I can feel them. They’re with me with everything I do. They’re constantly over my shoulder, whispering in my ear, guiding me.

Just earlier today I was walking the dog. Mum didn’t get back ‘til late and she still had to walk Thor, put Freya to bed, and have a shower, all before cooking for us. I was absolutely starving, so I told her I’d walk the dog for her while she carries on with the rest. Fair deal, right? It’s what they were telling me to do, anyway. I’ve learned I don’t have much choice when they’re telling me to do something. The voice gets louder and louder, until my urge to give in is just too strong to ignore. I’ll end up getting out of bed in the middle of the night to do my homework, or feeling so desperate to do something that I end up doing anything (like the dishes, or changing Freya’s diaper) just to busy myself. It really can be quite stressful, this demigod business.

Anyway, out I stepped into the cold. It was a dark evening. All winter evenings are dark, but it seemed spookier this evening because the air was heavy and the fog was dense, the streetlights painting the whole floor with a deep orange glow. My footsteps echoed down the street, Thor’s excited breathing filling in the rest of the silence. The quietest of sounds seem so loud at night, don’t you think? And when footsteps echo behind you on the path, and your eyes get tired and everything seems to get darker in an instant, and all you can think of doing is running without looking back because you’re pretty certain someone or something is behind you…

I calmed myself down. It’s nothing, I told myself. Still, I peeked over my shoulder, and I could hear my heart thumping through my chest. As I rounded the blind corner of the back path, just before the end where it meets the main road and the street lights start again, I saw a man. A dark man. He stood still at the corner, beneath the streetlight, his shadow stretching out in all directions. Long cloak flapping in the wind, his hat hiding his face behind thick, black, emptiness. With him was a dog, as still and eery as the man that stood beside him.

My brain said ‘Odin.’

Then my brain, in a deeper, raspier voice, replied, ‘Correct.’

I stopped where I stood. In a sharp snap of the neck he looked at me, and the weight of the air suddenly pressed hard against my shoulders. I had to tense my entire body to stop it from flooring me. I can only describe the feeling as the weight of power. Sheer, overwhelming power, radiating from this ethereal apparition. That cold, dark, heaviness. It happens when I pray to Him sometimes, too.

Thor’s thirsty breathing stopped as he pulled his tongue back inside his mouth, both bored from sitting, and unsure of this figure in the distance. I had two choices. Face this man, or turn around and walk back the way I came. I made the smart choice and turned around, walking all the way home as fast as I could.

Do you see how he called me out on purpose? Just to catch me and tell me something? It’s not nice. It’s scary and imposing and I don’t want it. But they wont leave me alone.

Another clue is how uncomfortable I feel in this world, like I’m not supposed to be here. Like I’m different, somehow. Other kids laugh, and joke, about silly things. They obsess over girls and video games. Sometimes they even cry when little things like disagreements happen. I try to help, but it never seems to work out.

A few weeks ago, Jonah Benson was upset over how his girlfriend had held hands with Brent Talbot. He sat beside me in home room, scratching love hearts into his desk between the initials J.B. And S.H —Standing for Sarah Henson, obviously. I told him not to worry, that kid relationships never last anyway- It’s all about learning to be an adult at this point in life. He stared at me blankly for a second, stopped inscribing initials with that pencil, and stabbed me in the hand with it!

I don’t get it! I only told him what the Gods tell me. They give me lessons all day everyday, and nobody wants to hear them. So what am I, as a demigod, supposed to do? Just ignore them myself because the world is too lost to save? I rushed to the medical room crying, pencil still dangling out of my hand. When Mrs Lonsdale pulled it out, there was a tiny red hole surrounded with the grey of the lead. It was actually pretty cool to look at, but it wicked hurt. “I’m going to send you home, Danny,” She said in her kind, delicate voice, “I’ll call your mum.”

I liked Mrs Lonsdale, she had a beautiful soul. Shortly after, she led me out of the school and into the parking lot, where my mum waited for me with the engine running. She knows I like it when the blowers stay warm. There’s nothing better than warm air rushing at your face after being out in the cold. Mum had to go back to work, so she left me at home with Freya, Thor, and our nanny Ethel. She didn’t like me very much, I had heard her telling mum one time (listening when I wasn’t supposed to be) that I’m the reason dad left. That I was too different for him to cope with. That my ‘artism’ was too much for him. I guess she meant that I was too artistic? Who knows? She was always nice though, and we all watched TV together until mum got home.

After dinner, mum tucked me in my bed and read me the stories of Asgard. My favourite ones, like how Loki transforms into a female horse to stop a giant and his steed from winning a bet, or when he convinces two sets of dwarves to compete against each other for the favour of Asgard, securing six epic items for the Gods. I like Loki, he’s different too.

She kissed me on the head, gave me my medication and a sip of water, and walked to the door.

“I love you Danny,” she said, “You being different isn’t a bad thing, you know? You’re gonna do great things.”

She turned out the light.


So there you go, a slung together, clunky story with a lot of mystery at this point. Still, I hope you can see through the blackened layer to see glimmers of the diamond beneath. I’m excited to have a do-over with this one. So what did you think? Do you have any suggestions that could help me in my upcoming rewrite? Let me know in the comments!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Consistency & Positivity over Pressure & Burnout

This post is just a quick one thrown together from the comfort of my own bed, on my phone. It’s a reminder to myself and all of you who read this, that consistency and positivity are leagues apart from putting too much pressure on yourself and burning out from the stress.

A positive attitude with hope and confidence in yourself, mixed with small, consistent steps in the right direction, are guaranteed to bring you success in your ventures. As humans with big hopes and dreams, we tend to easily slip into the feeling that we must do more than we are doing, must get to where we’re going faster than we already are, and honestly, that mindset is just piling undue stress and pressure on top of dreams that started out with love and passion.

Think of it like this. Positive action, positive thoughts, and positive habits will bring positive outcomes, whereas negative action, negative thoughts, and negative habits, will of course bring negative outcomes.

How we choose to frame our situations goes a long way to how those situations eventually play out.

“I said I’d do a blog post per month, but I haven’t been able to do it. I’ve still got a few collabs to work on and I haven’t even started on my true horror book yet. God knows how I’m gonna get it all done.”

So there’s my situation right now, framed in negativity. If I continue along that train of thought, I’ll become overwhelmed, I’ll stand still, and I’ll end up sabotaging any and all progress I’ve made and have yet to make on this wondrous journey through life. Now, let’s portray the exact same message, only this time, positively.

“I’ve earned some extra money being busy this week! I could take Friday off to write at my own leisure, or work that little extra and treat Ellen to something nice. I can’t wait to get a chance to work on my collab with Hannah Maggie, I’m loving how my character is turning out, and the collab with Iosonas Bakas is going to be so worth all the delay. He’s a great artist and I’m a good writer, what we make will be epic!

“Deadlines for two submissions are due soon so I better get a move on if I’m gonna start my true horror novel in December. They’ll either be accepted or they won’t, but if they are that’s great! And if not, well, I’ll spend some more time on them without the pressure of a deadline and use them for something else. Win some, you lose some.”

You see how much of a difference that makes? Realistically, I can’t post a blog post everyday. I set myself a challenge and life got in the way. That’s a bummer. But the purpose of that challenge was to hit 1000 page views this month. I’m already on track to be ahead of that target, and I’ve written around ten posts. Good ones too! The challenge has spawned great growth and ideas, including my Instagram graphic story intros to drive traffic to the blog, my “Like a Nettle Sting” and “Father’s Rage” flash fictions, both of which I’m happy with, and a couple of helpful lifestyle/mental health posts which may go on to help someone in need. I’m not going to let myself be disappointed about that, and ruin a good thing over a non-thing.

Remember, the best and worst situations in life can be viewed positively or negatively, and it truly is our choice which side of the coin lands face-up in any given circumstance. Only one of those choices leads to happiness.

So, one post a day… that’s a big no-no. Sorry 🤷‍♂️ I’ve got two amazing collaborations going on that I want to spend some time on, and I have two submissions that I’d be a fool to not make deadline for. But I’m not going anywhere, and this blog is a part of my life now. I love to log on, search around the blogosphere and read all your great posts, engage in comments and community groups. I’m gonna slow down for the rest of the month though, at least until a few items on my checklist have that all important tick beside them.

With a great girlfriend, two amazing kids, some talented bloggers working with me, and excellent opportunities that require my attention, I have all the happiness and success I need. I’m a mile ahead of where I was last month, and that’s what’s important!

The only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself the day before.

So that’s all for today. Just a small one, which I hope reminds you of why you set out to do whatever it is you’re doing. Was it for stressful deadlines and pressure, or for the love of the craft and your own passion and growth? Our experience of life is in our hands. It’s all about how we frame it!

Night folks. Feel free to drop a rant and let me know what’s going on in your world right now. How do you deal with stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Like A Nettle Sting -Free Flash Fiction

Cam didn’t like walking in the woods anymore. Actually, he hated it. Since Toby was born, he’d developed a bit of a gut. And a bit of a flabby chest. And his arms, legs, back, neck—they developed a bit of chunk too. When he’s honest with himself, he declares it as a joke—“Not everyone can say they earned 100 pounds for no work at all!”—but it’s anything but funny. That hundred pounds meant he could no longer climb the stairs without stopping to catch his breath, or have a comfortable bath. That hundred pounds made his knees feel like they were gonna snap in half each time he put some weight on them. That hundred pounds, the hundred pounds that came almost exclusively from chain fast-food restaurants and gallons of fizzy drink, added up to him hating walking in the woods, despite the beaming smile on his son’s face as he danced through the bluebells and told himself stories of fairies and monsters.

Toby was the spitting image of Cam—pre fat gain, of course. He had golden hair that trailed into little curls around his ears and shined white in the light of the sun, a button nose that pointed ever-so-slightly up to the sky, and squeezable, squidgable cheeks that, when pinched, forced uncontrollable giggles from him. He was the stereotype gleeful kid, with a cuteness factor plus ten.

“Careful mate,” he said as Toby neared a rogue patch of nettles, “they’ll hurt ya.” By then it was too late, and as any parent knows, there’s no teaching a child before he’s learned for himself. Cam watched his arm bury itself in the nettles up to the elbow and pull out just as fast—if not faster—along a sequence of screams and cries that frightened the birds off their overhead perches.

The next five minutes were dedicated exclusively to calming him down, cycling through each technique in sequence until one showed some sign of progress. Tickling, that was a no-no. Swing-swing, that didn’t work. Real tears—not the crocodile kind—were streaming by the time Cam managed to console him. He rocked him slowly up and down, left and right, a few haphazard sniffles where Toby’s breath struggled to returned to normal.

The boy needed his mummy. Cam wasn’t cut out to be dad, mum, best friend, and all in between. He wasn’t sure anyone was, not really. He was the kind of father to come home after a long day, get the kids all excited before bed—have their happy hour, as Claire called it—and then relax in front of the box with Claires head in his lap, stroking her hair as she dozed off.

God how he wished he could have her back. Sure, they argued, and they argued hard. But they loved each other even harder.

Cam thought back to one evening a year or so before. It was around five, but the winter darkness had already claimed the night. He remembers that day well because It was so cold out in the yard, and one of the younger lads had turned up wrapped in multiple different layers. It looked like he had doubled in size overnight! The boys bantered him heavy that day, and every day beyond that until the sun felt brave enough to peek its head out again. That boy though, the boy with all the layers, was the only one of them to not go off sick all winter. Each day, no matter what, he turned up to lug wood and brick, mix mortar and dig dig dig.

Claire had had a rough day too. It was written all over her face the second he stepped through the door, muddy boots traipsing in dirt behind him. Not his proudest moment. She blasted him the second she laid eyes on those brown pools where the slush had defrosted off his soles, and rightfully so, it was mindless.

After Cam and Toby’s happy hour, they all sat to eat dinner together as they always did, but the air was blue that night. Hardly a word spoken between them, the tension thick like smoke. Claire barely stopped to swallow her last bite before she had whipped Toby out his seat and got him tucked up in bed.

Cam stayed downstairs and took the plates through to the kitchen. His thinking was that he’d do the washing up, whip round all the toys in the living room, and light some candles around the bath so they could share one. Right?

Wrong.

Claire stomped down the stairs and blanked him on her way past into the kitchen. Cam stood with Toby’s little doll in his hands, the one he pushed along in his cousins secondhand toy pram. He followed her through to the kitchen, where she stood still at the sink, staring out the window.

“What’s up with you?” He asked, coming up behind her and taking her in his arms.

Wrong again.

She shook him off and turned to face him. “What’s up with me, Cam, really? What’s up with you? I spend all day keeping Toby happy, tidying up behind him, doing all the cooking, take him for his bath, put him to bed, listen to him moan, and cry, and scream, and giggle, and bang his blocks on the floor to the same songs playing on repeat all day long. And then you come home, have your little happy hour with him, and you’re best friend all of a sudden. Job done, TV time. You’ve had such a hard day right?”

They argued then. Where Cam should’ve listened, he felt the misplaced need to fight his case. He had had a hard day. And if he didn’t have his fun time with Toby, when would he? He was out all day. He was sorry about the mud on the floor, but the ground was soaking wet outside and he didn’t want to bring wet feet through the house. The back and forth went from the kitchen, to the front room, back into the kitchen, out into the garden for a cigarette, and finally back in to the living room, that stupid doll dangling from its leg in Cam’s hand all the while.

“Claire, I’m not saying I have it any harder than you. You chose the hardest job in the world. I know for a fact I couldn’t do it.”

“Well you seem to think you can just throw all his toys in the corner and that’s that.”

“No I—“ Claire snatched the doll from his hand then, and chucked it into the pile of toys beside the tv unit to demonstrate. Where Cam didn’t let go of the leg, it tore straight from the body. Now a dolls leg dangled from Cam’s hand, and a legless doll—that had seen better days—rested atop a pile of assorted toys with a foolish, lifeless grin fixed on its face. Claire couldn’t help but laugh, and neither could Cam.

In a few short seconds, they had gone from arguing to giggling like children, one of the rare hilarities of parenthood. One of the moments that put everything in perspective. They made up, they made love, and they fell asleep in each other’s arms with a smile on their faces.

Cam could remember each separate feature of her face. Each curve, each angle, each expression.. Sometimes, while he was cleaning, or working, or grocery shopping, he’d have brief flashes of memory, where he’d see her as clear as anyone still living. He’d drift away into the good times—the best times—and the hard times.

He saw her now, out in the middle of the woods with the sun shining through her. Gently rocking Toby back and forth with her beside him, her hand on his, whispering in his ear. “You’re doing good, Cam. Hang in there.”

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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My Five Favourite Posts So Far- Don’t Miss Them!

I promised myself that throughout the month of November I’d write a post for this blog every single day, in an attempt to bump my views up to over 1000 this month. So far I’m on track to do this, which is great! I’m so grateful to have had such a far reach over the course of a couple of months, and while it hasn’t been easy, and I still have such a long way to go, I’m over the moon to have enjoyed my small bit of success in my own corner of the internet.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve settled into my blog more, and I’m starting to find my feet. It’s an odd mix of flash fiction, lifestyle, and writing tips, but it works for me. I’ve got a whole load of kinks to work out, and a bunch of restructuring/scheduling to get it running smoothly, but all in all, this haphazard collection of thoughts and fiction is the perfect reflection of me. I love my little site, and I have big plans for its future.

The last few days I’ve not been very well, and the juggling of blog posts, contest & anthology submissions, (not to mention my work in the background) has been wearing me down at the same time. When I got home from work earlier today, I crashed, and I stayed asleep for around four hours! Super-Nap! I do feel better for it, but now it’s 9:30pm and am suddenly hit with the realisation that I haven’t written a damn thing for the blog yet!

To make matters worse… I didn’t know what to write! I felt too groggy to attempt any fiction, too under-the-weather to talk depression, and didn’t want to get into anything too heavy. Then I figured, why not write about the writing I’ve done so far? Today I simultaneously hit 100 blog followers and 100 followers on my Facebook page, and finally cracked 250 on my instagram! I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, and some of you may have missed a couple pieces that I believe deserve some recognition. So without further waffling from me, here are my 5 favourite posts I’ve written so far!

A Eulogy

My first post, and singlehandedly responsible for my return to writing, the eulogy I wrote for my grandfather is a piece I hold close to my heart. While we weren’t particularly close, he being in Germany and me in the UK, he was a truly great man that came with his own presence. He was intelligent, funny, strong, and resilient. Without being forceful or overbearing, he smoothly commanded a level of respect from all who knew him. His death was sudden and unexpected, and from it came an outpouring of words that haven’t stopped since.

I love this piece because it stands as a homage to him, but beyond that, talks about the journey of kingship in all men. It explores what I believe is the ideal journey of all men from birth to death, and allows me to explore the archetypal philosophy of King. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d love if you did. He’d love it too. A Eulogy

How To Take Control Of Your Own Life

Actually my second post here, this is an article that I had originally written for a totally different blog idea, so the tone and voice may be different from what you’ve grown used to. Still, buried within this post is some unapologetic honesty, which forces us to take a close look at ourselves and why we may be unable to achieve what we want. Continuing on this strain, I wrote a post to follow up called “How To Achieve Success in Anything,” which further explored how we hold ourselves back from the things we love and want.

I love this post because honestly I enjoyed writing it. That style of honest, motivation rant is right up my street. It’s also a small insight into the kind of blog I was gonna be running here, which has now been sort of adapted and absorbed into this one. Hopefully in the future I’ll still run with that original idea, but who knows? I’m pretty busy with all this! If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here: How To Take Control of Your Own Life.

The Man In The Hat

Coming in at under 300 words for a weekly writing group contest, The Man In The Hat was a short exploration of a character I’d held in my mind for a long time. Two characters, actually. The mood of the piece is enigmatic, and it really doesn’t give much away. While the situation isn’t one I saw for a longer novel, I enjoyed setting these two characters free just for a few hundred words. If you’d like to go check that out, it’ll take less than a couple minutes and you can have a go at figuring out who the man in the hat is. Hopefully it wets your appetite for one of my near-future works! You can find it here: The Man In The Hat.

The Fury Of The Godless

Growing in cultural popularity as of late, Vikings have always been a huge thing of interest for me. Having a northern heritage myself, and feeling a particular calling to that wild pantheon of Gods and Godesses, it’s always fun to explore the darker aspects of Viking behaviour throughout the Middle Ages. I wasn’t entirely happy with this piece, but it was received well by all who read it, and reading it back now, I actually love it. Cleverly titled Fury Of The Godless, we question whether the Godless in question are those who’ve slaughtered a monastery of men, or those from the monastery itself. The Northmen had Gods, and they loved them freely. But did the Christians truly love their God? You decide for yourself here: The Fury of The Godless.

Endgame

My most recent piece of fiction comes in at under 750 words for a YeahWrite weekly contest. The prompt was catalyst, and metaphors are this month’s main theme. Being new to YeahWrite, I wanted to make an impression, and weaved a metaphor throughout the entire piece. I’ve fallen in love with both characters in that story, and wish I had more words to fully develop and explore them. Writing this piece was easy. The main character pulled me through smoothly, leading the way as I translated her thoughts through the tapping of the keys. I think I’ll revisit this at some stage and weave a full short story or novella from it. I seriously loved writing it, genuinely love reading it back, and hope you will too. You can check that out here: Endgame.

There’s more that I’ve enjoyed writing, but these are the main five that stand out to me, not necessarily on a quality basis, but on a basis of Enjoyability and meaning. These five are either going places or have taken me places, which is really what writing is all about.

Which post is your favourite so far? Have you got a post you’re particularly proud of you’d like to share with me? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Endgame -Free Flash Fiction


When Marcy was diagnosed with lung cancer, she knew she had to make some changes. Terminal was the news, and once she delivered it to her nearest and dearest—only having broken down to tears once or twice—she headed home to get in some much needed planning time.

She booted up her computer and opened a blank document, where she stared at the blinking cursor for what seemed like an eternity. After a few more minutes of blankness, she typed, “I’m going to die soon,” and stared at those haunting words while she tried to make sense of what it meant.

This was it. As her grandson, Jimmy, would say, she’s reached her endgame. Well, that wouldn’t be so bad if she hadn’t played it so damned safe all this time. Where all the other players hung out in bars, experienced fleeting romance, and got into epic side quests, Marcy carefully played the main story, donating all her skill points to a singular track: longevity.

Now with that skill-tree nerfed, what was she left with? What was the point in ginger and kale smoothies, or six gym classes a week, when her days were numbered? Her whole life she had prepared only for a longer endgame, and now in some sick twist, in some corrupted save file, she was stripped of all those efforts and left with no help from the developers.

She was angry at first. At herself. At the world. At the miserable faces on the sidewalk, taking for granted the one gift they all have in common. But what good could anger do? She could hitch up her skirt and ‘break bad,’ but Heisenberg wasn’t her style. Neither was rage-quitting with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of sleeping pills.

Racking her brains for a while, she backspaced her first few words into oblivion, and opted for a new one. All caps. ENDGAME.

She was too late for a reset, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy the last expansion with the character she had built so far.

Beneath the title she typed out a list of urges she had suppressed over the years. At the top was McDonald’s, beneath that pizza, sleep all day, and skydiving. When satisfied with her list, she smiled at herself, tapped enter a couple times, and typed ‘freedom.’

With that, she grabbed her keys and her purse, buttoned her coat, and bounced to the door.

Claiming an entire booth—living on the wild side—Marcy took her first ravenous bite of a Big mac. She ordered large fries, nacho-cheese bites, and five chicken selects on the side. Jimmy ordered his usual twenty nuggets and slathered them in bbq sauce as he shovelled them in whole.

Any hint of disapproval was switched out for amusement. Where McDonald’s had always come begrudgingly, it was now the best place in the world.

“I’ve gotta say Grandma,” Jimmy said between bites, “I like how you’re dealing with this.”

“Well you’d approve of anything so long as fast food is involved,” she joked.

“No I mean it. Real-talk. You deserve to let your hair down.” He paused, dropping a half eaten fry back into the box, a look on his face like he’d lost his appetite. “It’s so fucking unfair.”

“Language!” She hissed, eyeing the couple of kids in the booth to the right of them. In truth, she didn’t want to get caught up in the fairness conversation. Fair or not, it was happening. She was surprised to see him so worked up though. He had a level view on life and death. Even when his parents (Marcy’s daughter and her husband) died, he showed a level of acceptance far beyond his years. “And don’t start all that… I’m relying on you to show me a good time while I’m still able. If I thought you’d whine about it I’d have gone it alone.”

Jimmy took a deep breath and sat back against the padded bench seat, propping his arms up either side like one of the cool kids from a late 70s musical. He was only a toothpick short of Danny Zuko. “Okay grandma, what you got in mind?”

“I may be dying, but I’ve still got a few quests left in me.”

“And you wanna party-up with me? You know there ain’t no respawn?”

Marcy smiled the cheekiest of smiles. “Darling, I’m banking on it.”

Word count: 739

3 Books That Shaped My Writing Style

This post contains affiliate links

Despite popular belief, us writers are a simple bunch. Despite the raging depression and social anxiety, (not forgetting the fact that we have seven thousand characters, settings, and ideas running round our minds at any given moment,) we’re not actually all that complex.

Each writer’s style is a unique combination of the books they’ve read, the experiences they’ve had, the movies they’ve seen, and the stories they’ve heard. A writer’s ‘favourites’ become their standardised norm, and their ‘current’ can effect that voice in any number of ways.

Growing up, my favourite movies were horror, my favourite author Stephen King. My household is as close as it is unbelievably loud, and I have a history with Paganism, witchcraft, and the occult. I’ve been the popular kid in school, the no-shit tough guy, the rebel without a cause, the unlikely empathic, and the manic depressive.

Over the years, all these ones and zeros come together to form a unique string of code, which we then, as readers, interpret as the ‘writing style’ or ‘voice.’ Ask any writer his favourite books, movies, or childhood memories, and when he answers, you’re almost guaranteed to reply with, “ah, that makes sense.” See, simple, right..?

Today’s post is an insight into the books that have shaped my writing style. They may not each be my favourite books of all time, but they are the most prominent ones that I can recognise and call upon within my own work.

Horns- Joe Hill

For a story about a guy that develops devil horns on his head and the ability to extract the truth from whoever he’s talking to, Horns was very real. Of course Joe’s own voice, is similar to his father’s, Stephen King, but different somehow. More daring, more cynical. His youth offers him a more fresh, experimental outlook in his writing.

Horns was funny, deep, frightening, and emotional all at once. It was as entertaining as it was gut-wrenching. I remember reading through the perspective of one of the characters, and at a moment having to wipe a tear. That’s the first time I’d gotten so deep into the psyche of a set of characters, that I felt pain along with them, and that’s because the characters were so well built, so relatable, that you couldn’t help but become engrossed.

A lot of Joe’s style, and a lot of this book, comes across in my work. I personally believe I ‘levelled up’ in my writing since reading it. As writers, you’ll notice similar ‘ah-ha’ moments, where your writing takes a huge leap in the right direction. My work became more character driven, my tone became more unapologetic, and overall my writing took a positive turn. If you haven’t read Horns, treat yourself. Despite it’s movie adaptation, Horns is one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Amazon UK | Amazon US

The Gunslinger- Stephen King

I’m a huge Stephen King fan, there’s no getting around it. Before the Gunslinger, I had read countless books from his collection, from my favourite ‘Salem’s Lot,’ to the more recent detective thrillers ‘Finder’s Keepers.’ The Gunslinger is not by any means my favourite, or even one of my favourite books, but it is a great book, and it gave me validation in an aspect of my voice that had been bubbling beneath the surface for years.

I’m a philosophical mind. Every waking minute, every situation I see, presents a larger set of questions I’m keen to ask and answer. My viewpoints and ideas are universal in nature, and I suppressed that side of me when writing fiction for many years. King’s ‘Gunslinger’ convinced me that the two don’t need to stay separate, and gave me permission to experiment with a philosophical edge in my work.

Beyond that, the ‘plot’ of the first book is very loose. It’s more an exploration of the character himself, rather than a magical journey across lands with a goal to achieve. While the larger ‘Dark Tower’ series tells of a dark fantasy adventure, that individual book does not, which encouraged me to write stories that not only go from A-B, but explore the inner psyche and motivations of its characters. Sometimes, the growth of a character is enough of a plot to keep a book fluid and alive.

The dark worlds that exist around the Dark Tower and connect many of King’s novels, begins with book 1, The Gunslinger. I highly recommend it.

Amazon UK | Amazon US

The Revenant- Michael Punke

Jumping forward a number of years, The Revenant is one of my more recent reads. I loved it, cover to cover. While the book runs along a set path of injury, survival, recovery, to revenge, it also offers an in depth look at the character and his history, through a series of vivid flashbacks. The Revenant offers a guide in providing a rich backstory for any given character, without taking away from the unfolding plot in the current time.

We see him struggle to survive through serious trauma, and develop a love and respect for the character that I personally feel was missing from the movie. We find ourselves rooting for the guy, feeling his pain, going through his struggle, and existing in those pages right alongside him. This effect was achieved through a clever string of current and past events, that allowed us to feel like we know him.

While outside of my genre, The Revenant instantly became one of my favourite books of all time, and provided me a little further education in deep character driven novels. We’re talking about a book where for 200 pages, the guy laid on his back at the very brink of death, and never once became boring. If you haven’t read it yet, I seriously recommend it. I thought it wasn’t my kind of thing, but loved it anyway. I’m confident you will too!

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Bonus!

Not particularly an impact on my voice, so I couldn’t add it to this list, but Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ had a huge impact on my approach to writing, and is just an excellent book start to finish. You can check out an entire post I wrote on the book, here: The One Book That Changed My Writing Life, And Why It Will Change Yours Too.

So there you go, three books that shaped my writing style. Of course there are many more, but those are the first that spring to mind. Which books do you hold accountable for shaping your style? And if you’re not a writer, what are your favourite books and why? I love to read! So I’m always looking for recommendations.

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Father’s Rage -Free Flash Fiction

Today’s entry comes at a huge delay! Photography blogger, Fragglerocking, was kind enough to provide a photo prompt for a flash fiction. You should definitely check out her site! She goes on tons of cool adventures with her camera, and always has some amazing shots to share with us.

I toyed with ideas for this one for a while, and settled on one in particular. In the middle of writing though, it changed track a little. I was going to write a scene where the children in the story were watching their parents fight through a window as it all went horribly wrong, but in approaching that point in the story, I realised that during intense fear, it’s as if we are existing in a dream state, watching ourselves act on instinct from outside of ourselves. I stuck with that and am satisfied with it’s tie-in to the prompt. Now, let’s get on with it!


Rebecca and I sat on my bed, trying our best not to listen. We were supposed to be sleeping, but my father’s voice bounced off every wall in the house, and vibrated up the stairs into our bedroom.

Sometimes Mummy left the chain off the door, but never when Daddy had been drinking. When Daddy was drinking, the chain stayed on. We didn’t come out, he didn’t come in. Out of sight, out of mind, out of reach. Out of everything but earshot.

“Jimmy, I’m scared,” Rebecca said, cradling the pillow around her ears like I showed her, “Why is daddy so angry?” Her eyes glistened with the tears she fought back, big and blue—too big for her face—like our mother.

I put my hands on hers and pressed the pillow firmer against her ears. “Don’t worry Becks.” I kissed her on the head and laid her back on the bed. “Just don’t listen, okay? Try and get some sleep.”

The shouting got louder then, and Mummy made the mistake of shouting back. The sound of a slap cracked through the house. Silence.

Silence.

Silence that stretched a lifetime.

Rebecca darted upright. I sat perfectly still, holding my breath. Rebecca shuffled closer and nuzzled her head into my shoulder. We had both heard the sound of our father’s back-hander before. Had each felt it’s sting for ourselves. This was different. Had Mummy… slapped him?

Seconds after we heard the sound of smashing and crashing all throughout the downstairs, while father screamed words we weren’t allowed to say at the top of his lungs. Becks cuddled up to me, shaking. Mum was quiet now, probably cowering in the corner while father tore through the house like an enraged bull. I’d seen it before, and the next morning always included helping mum clean up the wreckage while she quietly sobbed, whimpering as she crunched down from where father had broken and bruised her ribs.

I pushed Rebecca off and leapt up to my bedroom door, banging and kicking and screaming, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” All I could do to help. I had to get out of the room. I wasn’t sure what I could do, if anything, but I couldn’t sit on the bed quietly while my mum was abused and intimidated any longer. It had to stop.

Becks was crying now, and rocking back and forward on the bed. Still wrapped in her quilt, still cradling the pillow around her head. The side of my hand was aching with impact shock, but I kept banging. Kept screaming. I’d scream and I’d bang until I pushed out a hole in my door if I had to, even if it broke every bone in my hand. In a rush of wisdom beyond my years, I felt how my mother must’ve felt. Desperate to escape, desperate to fight back and end it, But powerless. My obstacle was a stupid wooden door with a two pound chain from ‘Discount Hardware UK,’ while hers was a sixteen stone man fuelled with drink and hate.

I banged and kicked and screamed and cried, entranced, dazed, desperate. The whole time was a blur, like a dream. Like I was watching myself from behind a glass window, sad and scared and secretly hoping that the door held true.

The sound of the doorbell ended the sounds of our father’s destruction. My panic faded away in that second, and I came back to myself. Becks continued to whimper and rock on the mattress. flashing red and blue lights illuminated the bedroom ceiling. I ran to the window and peered down to the street. The police were here. Thank God, someone had called them. I released a long, shuddering breath. How long had it been since I breathed?

A few minutes rolled by. I could hear hushed voices from the hall by the front door all the while, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. The one officer that had been loitering by the patrol car rushed toward the house, and a moment later both officers dragged father back to the car in handcuffs. They stuffed him in the back as he resisted, the taller officer punching him in the back of the head as he went.

One of them called something in on the radio—the shorter one with a Starsky-and-Hutch moustache—and they both headed back toward the house.

I didn’t think anything of it until officer Gomez came up to our room, and told us that we’d have to stay there for a little while while he and officer Rickly called some of their friends.

We were ushered out of the house that night, and by that time there were lots more vehicles outside. The first-responder car and an ambulance, two more police cars, and a Channel 5 news van.

Becks and I never saw our mother again. Our grandmother didn’t let us go to the funeral. She told us it was too much for children to go through at our age, and that some things are for adults only. We stayed with our neighbour while our grandparents drove off in black.

Our father will never be released. He’ll die in prison. Becks and I agreed that even if he does get out, we’ll kill him. He’ll never be free.

And neither will we.


Like flash fiction like this one? I publish one or two each week to give me a creative break from my longer works. Leave me a prompt or idea for the next one and I’ll add it to the list!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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5 Facebook Fan Page Tips- Let’s Help Each Other Out +Community Camera Roll Fun!

Over at Facebook, I post all kinds of events and content exclusive to that community. Over time I intend Facebook to be my main social hub, where I engage with the community, host giveaways, and offer exclusive content and events.

For your chance at a £25 Amazon gift card, head there now!

Today, I posted an event calling for the community to post a photo from their camera roll for me to fashion a story from in the comments. Being only a small page in its infancy, I’ve only had two entries so far, but I’m proud of those two! I wanted to share with you the first couple of photos, and the consequent stories they inspired.

But first, I’d like to exchange a few tips and tricks in Facebook page growth, From the absolute beginning to your first 100. Growing from your first thousand becomes much easier, but the initial run up to that can be a hard, lonely slog.

So let’s make a deal. I’ll share five tips and ideas with you, and in the comments, you offer me one in exchange, okay?

If you’d like to link to your facebook page down in the comments, go for it. I’ll click straight over and give you a like. Return the favour by doing the same here 😉 Without any further delay, here are my top five Facebook fan page tips.

  1. Giveaways- Offer something for free in exchange for a like and share.
  1. Link To It- in blog posts, in your email signature, on twitter, in groups when called to. People can’t find it if you don’t put it out there!
  1. Focus On Engaging Posts– write the kind of posts that encourage likes, shares, comments, etc. Engagement on a post shows in the newsfeeds of their friends!
  1. Offer Exclusive Content- give people a reason to follow your Facebook page. If it’s just the same as your twitter, G+, and blog, why should they be there?
  1. Post Image & Video Content- it’s more eye catching, engaging, and shareable. Attention spans are low on social media.

So with that out the way, what are your tips and tricks? How do you increase audience and engagement on Facebook? From zero to your first hundred. From one hundred to a thousand. From a thousand to beyond… Remember to let me know in the comments.

Moving on, let’s jump into a couple of the stories inspired by my small community today. I was lucky to have been offered two great photos to work from!


Valley Of Rocks

Image submitted by Peter Thompson

After a casual stroll we hit the Valley Of Rocks. In spite of my wife’s enthusiastic response, I didn’t see much special. A few stones stacked atop one another. She spoke of the jagged formations, and the erosion something-or-other. Wow, I could have seen that on David Attenborough, only I’d be warm, dry, and comfortable. Instead, I’m shivering my tits off on the coast in November. Still, I smiled and nodded and agreed. It was safer that way.

After some humming-and-harring between my wife and herself, she decided it’d be fun to walk the extra five miles to The Hunters Inn.

‘Maybe there’s a gift shop,’ she reasoned, ‘and we could get lunch. Make a day of it.’ Great. Food. That sounds good. Five miles of windy coast wasn’t about to dissuade me from filling my guts. If there’s one thing I love above all else—excluding the nearest and dearest, of course—it’s food.

After an hour of lunging down the coast, holding the hood of my Jacket up over my head against the persistent gusts, we came upon The Hunters Inn.

That would’ve been great, but the bloody hunter wasn’t in! Closed for remodelling! And they didn’t think to maybe, I don’t know, put some sort of notice on the sign FIVE MILES BACK?

We lugged ourselves back along the coastal path, this time downwind, but now dripping from the heavy rain that just couldn’t bare to wait another hour before coming down. It wasn’t forecast of course, that would suggest that any organisation in the UK had some idea of what it was doing.

We arrived back to the car out of breath, soaked, and chilled to the bone. The windscreen fogged up the instant the engine was running, but it’d be another ten minutes before the old rust bucket delivered air that felt even slightly warm.

Julie, I love you. But next time I’m picking the day out. He pulled the urn out from under his jacket and placed it on the passenger seat. He removed the bucket-list from his glove compartment and checked off the ‘Valley Of Stones.’

I miss you, Julie.


Walking Away

Image submitted by Janet Bayes

He turned to face her once more, before frowning and walking away. A faceless silhouette, a shadow that stretched before him as far as their history stretched back. Step by painful step, out of their lives for good.

Away from her, away from the kids, away from the life they built together. She liked to think that final look was a second of hesitation, a momentary lapse in resolve. Despite everything she had done, he was torn about leaving.

The sun set into the ocean, alongside her heart. He never stopped to look back again.


So there we have it, two fun facebook stories, free from any pressure or expectation. As long or as short as the image inspired, born from the generous submissions from my community. You should give something like this a try on your own facebook page.

So, you remember that deal we made right? Leave me a comment with your Facebook fan page tips and drop a link to your own page. Let’s each expand our audiences!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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The Awakening -Free Flash Fiction

Today’s quick online read comes from the photo prompt above. Each week, myself, Ian Steventon, and T J Kelly challenge each other to write a piece of fiction in under 1000 words. You can check their entries out by following the links above, but for now, grab a quick coffee, and enjoy!


When Marcus headed out into the woods for his routine walk, he didn’t expect to end up running for his life away from a horde of ritualistic maniacs. He raced across dense woodland, fighting through patches of nettles and leaping low shrubbery as he went, his face and legs cut raw from hostile twigs and branches. His lungs were on fire, his breath shallow gasps of air that cut through the silence of the trees in short, raspy bursts.

He could hear them on his tail, their own crazed breathing blaring in his ears, as if some sinister playlist injected the sound straight through headphones. The pounding of their boots grew ever louder. Ever closer.

He didn’t dare look back. He knew if he did he could fall, or slow down, or be petrified through fright. Robed monsters in the fading light, shrouded in the ghastly shadows of twilight. He knew what would happen if they got him. After what he’d seen they couldn’t let him go. Worm food. And by what sickly means? For what twisted goal?

No. He must keep going. Must get safe. He’d sprint all the way home, where Dinah was getting ready to serve her famous red pepper and tomato tacos, where Lucy bashed her toy cars across the wooden floor and drove her mummy mad through the noise. He’d lock all the doors and check them twice, dial 999, run Lucy a bath, and tell Dinah all about what he’d seen. The police would arrive at the old castle ruins, and the vile lunatics would’ve cleared out. They’d find the poor girl where they left her. Cut up, bled out, tied to a wooden structure suspended over demonic symbols and mystical ornaments, all speckled red with splashes of gore.

He’d never, never, forget that girl. Her pallid face drained of all life. All hope. Her small, delicate fingers curled around that expressionless doll, it’s leg torn from it’s torso and tossed aside like trash. Her last remaining scrap of innocence, the only comfort along her final breath.

He felt a blunt pain where a rock struck the right of his pelvis, another along the center of his spine. That one hurt. He didn’t care. He had to keep going. Had to get to Dinah. Had to call the police. That little girl’s parents needed to know what happened to her. They deserved to grieve their daughter.

The next thing Marcus felt was a sharp pain across the top of his head that sent multicoloured stars darting across his vision. The impact sent him crashing to the earth, and then, nothing.

* * * * *

When Marcus awoke he was roped up on the same wooden structure that he had witnessed just before. His body was bruised, beaten, and dripping with blood. Smaller cuts had clotted with darkened chunks and scabs, his cheeks warm where the wound on his head continued to stream out across his face. Surrounding him were the robed figures, their faces a hostile red where the flickering candle light illuminated them against the blackness of night.

“He awakes,” One declared, throwing his arms out to the side as if in worship. The congregation repeated him a second later in a monotonous droan. He awakes. “This man, this Marcus Frank Hammer,” He read from the ID card he had removed from his wallet, “Believes he can interrupt our sacred awakening ritual. This, this Outsider!”

Outsider, Outsider.

Marcus was frozen in fright. The ritual items that lay decoratively beneath the young girl before, had been replaced by a circular pit, stacked high with logs and kindling. The smell of fuel saturated his nostrils, kept him dizzy. Unfocused.

“we all know the punishment for such crimes,” he said, his icy gaze locked to Marcus’ panicked eyes.

Burn him, burn him

Marcus tugged against the ropes that bound him to the structure, all his might failing him. “Though such burdens are hard to bare, it falls upon us now to make the hard choices.”

A mound of fresh earth lay off to the side where Marcus guessed the little girl was buried. After all, they had to make room for him up on the wicker-man. Round two. A double meal for the sickos. What a sacred, bless-ed day.

Images flashed across his mind, polaroids darting in and out of focus. Dinah in a candle-lit bath, Lucy’s gleeful expression Christmas morning, a loaf of his mothers homemade onion bread. He could smell that. Along the waves of imagery came tsunamis of feeling, floods of emotion, he himself a mixture of anger, fear, sorrow, and rage. The thought of never seeing his family again sunk him into a low he had never felt before. A stilling, overwhelming numbness. Just blackness in the cold reality of his situation. He was never gonna make it home. His entire family, all of his friends, would have to suffer his loss.

“He was too young,” they’d say, “And the way it happened, gasp, nobody deserves that.” He could hear their condolences as clearly as the first strike of the match. On the second, flame came, and it was tossed into the fuel-soaked fire pit.

It came in an instant—sickening, blinding pain. Nothing but panic, noise, heat, smoke. The smell. The smell of his own body burning. The smell of the paraffin. Just seconds after, the pain stopped. Gone almost as fast as it came. His first few layers of skin had all but melted from his body, now just a dangling, skinless figure of muscle and bone.

In these moments he accepted his fate. Accepted death. Willed it. Anything to end the torment, the sight of the robed freaks rejoicing around him, the tiny, pale hand that had burst out of the earth. He tried to scream but he already was. He tried to close his eyes but he couldn’t. His gaze locked onto the one thing he didn’t want to see. Couldn’t bare to see. Wished he’d never seen.

The soulless, pale little dead girl crawling out the earth, tiny limbs bloodied and dirtied and dragging her back above ground. An expressionless creature of evil, each of it’s breaths a raspy growl from the very depths of it’s throat. Eyes red and hungry, thirsty for blood and pain and death.

“Behold the awakening!”

Behold, behold.

The creature stood before him, dead eyes reading his soul. Haunting his final moment, his final breath, dead hand clutching that legless, lifeless doll.

She smiled.


Like flash fictions like this one? Subscribe for more bite size stories 2-3 times per week. Got some ideas for my next one? Anything you’d change about this one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Interview with Mary T Bradford

Mary Bradford is an Irish published author of novels, short stories and plays. My Husband’s Sin, is her debut novel. Available now, the sequel, Don’t Call Me Mum. The Lacey Taylor story, Book 2, not to be missed!

I’m very excited to say I had the opportunity this week to ask author Mary T Bradford a few questions about her writing journey and career. In this interview, Mary offers us an insight into the publishing process through sharing her own experiences with us, and gifts an interesting and unique piece of flash fiction at the end. I’ll say in advance, I was impressed and surprised at her take on the prompt. I expected the typical ‘kidnapping’ approach, but Mary shows us that the imagination of an author cannot be predicted!

You can find Mary’s website here. Want an interview like this one? Leave a comment!


Where did your writing journey start?

I guess it started way back when I was five years old and joined my local library. I love reading and although I have read all my life I never thought about writing a story until I was in my twenties. It began with my first born, I wrote down all the antics he got up to as a toddler. I suppose it documented his early years and when family read those pieces they encouraged me to consider writing stories. I enrolled on a creative writing correspondence course with a Dublin college and graduated with a diploma with distinction. Most young people would probably ask what a correspondence course is. Well it’s like an online course nowadays but you posted your assignments to your tutor and received your work by post too, so it involved a lot of trips to the Post Office. So after that I continued to write short stories and submitted them to national magazines and newspapers. Thankfully I have been successful in publication.

Is writing something you find energising or draining? Tell me a little about the process. What you like, what you don’t?

It really depends on what the project is. If it’s something new, I am energised and all set to go, but if it’s a story that I’ve been working on for some time, well then I might drag my feet a bit to finish it. There is so much to a writing life, there’s more than just the stories to produce. There are interviews to reply to, website posts to write and newsletters to write up plus the promotion and marketing of your work. It isn’t easy and it is definitely non-stop. A writer is always working on something, even if not physically on a laptop or with pen and paper, but in their mind. Thinking is a large part of a writing life. Working out characters, plots, twists, trying to tie stuff together, it’s always on your mind, always. I enjoy the creating side of writing, it’s the marketing I dislike.

What are your favourite few books? Do you have any that stand out among the others, perhaps have shaped your own writing somewhat?

I loved, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, an Irish author. I enjoy his style and his storytelling. I’ve only ever cried my eyes out, really sobbing, with one book that was titled The Last Snows of Spring, by who I can’t recall. I read it when I was nineteen, it broke my heart. Also, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, an American writer, I so enjoyed. When the film came out much later, it was awful, they ruined a beautiful story. I don’t think any, one or few books have influenced my writing as I read lots of different genres except fantasy and sci-fi. My work has been compared to Maeve Binchy, Claudia Carroll, and others who write about family and relationships.

Give us a rundown of your first published book and how did you find the process? What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time and do it again?

My first novel, My Husband’s Sin published by Tirgearr Publishing was like a jump in to the deepest ocean and not knowing how to swim. The story came to me while at a funeral and looking around me, the secrets that so many must take to their graves with them. It started with a character, Lacey Taylor who was raised with her father, Joe and upon her mother Lillian’s death there is a revelation that upturns Lacey’s whole life. Her father had died before Lillian, taking a secret with him which she, Lillian feels obliged to reveal to Lacey and her siblings.

Regarding the manner of writing it, I wrote it in longhand, as it was my first book, I enjoyed the process of the story revealing it myself through the characters and even when it came to editing it, about seven drafts later, I still wasn’t deterred, just a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Next came the whole dealings of synopsis and query letters to publishing houses, now that’s a nightmare. Advice to myself now that I know what it takes I would say, during times of doubt remember many start writing a book but few finish, keep at it, it’s a wonderful feeling.

Finally, tell us about your new release, could you compare it to other books?

My second novel, Don’t Call Me Mum, published in March of 2018 by Tirgearr Publishing came about because readers requested to continue the Lacey Taylor story from my first novel. This second novel flowed easier for me as I knew the Taylor family intimately at this stage and so the writing process was shorter timewise. Having readers ask for a sequel in the reviews of my first novel, was encouraging and reassuring for me as a writer. Knowing people out there enjoy my stories makes the time spent working on them worthwhile. I have since been asked to write the third book in the Taylor’s lives and I am writing it at present along with another novel which is a stand-alone book.

Comparing my books to others I would say they are family orientated, about relationships, everyday life like Carmel Harrington, Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult to name a few.

You’re trapped inside a sealed room. It’s pitch black. All you can hear from outside is some kind of heavy machinery. Write a quick story in under 200 words based on this prompt, to give the readers an idea of your style and imagination.

Not turning up should set off alarm bells for his co-workers. But, Charlie often missed a morning due to this and that. He knew the boss was itching to fire him but couldn’t afford to.

Charlie was an expert in demolition, knowing exactly what strength explosive or whether the wrecking ball would be more effective.

Today it was the wrecking ball and judging by the noise outside, it would be swinging through a wall shortly at him.

This job had stirred his curiosity when he heard it housed a panic room. So after work yesterday, he had gone exploring and now was locked inside the very room that intrigued him.

Trying to remember which direction the ball would hit from, might help get him out alive.

Listening to the drone of machinery, getting ready to knock it, he sat in a corner.

His eyes had adjusted to the pitch darkness and like an old cine-frame his life rolled by.

Snooping often caused him grief. His mother forever telling him, ‘One day, Charlie, it’ll land you in real danger.’

“Well, Mom, this could be the day.” Sighing, his heart pounded.

Smash!

Charlie picked the wrong corner to sit in.


Many thanks to Mary for her honest and insightful answers! If you’d be interested in an interview like this one posted on the site, let me know in the comments. I aim to interview a different writer and blogger each week!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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An Awesome World-Building Activity for Novelists and Writers! (#WIPWorldBuilders)

In a few weeks, I’ll officially start putting words to paper (or screen) in the creation of a new and exciting story. A character driven novel I’ve been concocting in my mind for almost two years, circulating the life of a reluctant demigod chosen by the frightening warrior Gods of the Norse pantheon. He’s an ordinary guy, that feels ostracised from the world around him. He is well and truly depressed, moody, cynical, and yet kind hearted, hopeful, and honest. He’s real, and multifaceted, as all characters should be.

I don’t want to give away too much too fast and spoil the excitement for myself and all who are coming along with me on this journey, but I stumbled upon an amazing community over on twitter, and their #WIPWorldBuilders tag has me all inspired. Being new to twitter, and thus new to this excellent exercise in world building, this post is going to go back through the month and answer each of the thought provoking questions so far.

To anyone building a novel, I’d recommend doing the same. The reader doesn’t need to know everything about the world your novel is set in, but you do, and this community offers lots of decent questions you may not ask yourself. If you’d like to make a compilation post like this one, please link to this post so I get a ping back! It’d be great to read all about other people’s worlds!

Right, let’s get on with this!

1: Introduce yourself and your WIP

Hi all, I’m Gary, a multi-genre author with a love for honest, character driven stories. Over the past few years I took a hiatus from my writing career—while I dealt with depression, separation, and family business expansion—and now am back writing flash fiction, short stories, and novels.

Official work on my first novel starts in November. It circulates around the life of twenty-something Danny, a young man who’s always been a little different. He has a gravity to him, a huge potential others cant miss. He’s a born leader, insightful: he says all the right things at all the right times to all the people that need to hear them. He has a gift to retain a lot of information, and turn his hand to multiple tasks without much teaching. Despite all this, he feels trapped, depressed, wasted.

On top of all this, he’s a demigod. Chosen, if you like, by the old gods of the Norse pantheon. They never leave him alone, haunting his life through frightening dreams and unnerving encounters. They try to steer him, but his hands are tied. He cant meet their expectations. He feels as if they simply torture him, over and over again, until he finally understands the message they’re sending. The novel is a dark story of internal struggle and transformation.

2: Do people believe in an afterlife?

Some people do, alongside various split beliefs in the metaphysical/supernatural. Feeling a natural pull to the old gods and ways of paganism, Danny has built up a small group of friends that are interested in tapping into those forces—though he is clearly quite different from the rest of them. I won’t tell you how… that would spoil a great scene.

3: Is there a holiday dedicated to honouring the dead?

Of course, Halloween! Though Danny and his friends celebrate this time as Samhain with other Pagans. Danny doesn’t put himself in the same category as pagans, new-age, neo-pagan, or any other modernised faith system based on ancient tradition. He’s not sure what his faith is. He calls it his Danny-ism. His theory of everything. His way of seeing things that he cant quite master putting into words, and even if he could, would likely cause confusion.

4: Do people bury the dead? If not, where are they stored?

People do bury the dead, and they also cremate them. The world I’m building here is mainly the world we live in, though the perspective we see it from offers a different side to it. The more interconnected, spiritual side, where Gods torment men and make bargains with them. Where power can be directed toward a goal through strong will and vision.

5:What are the common causes of death in your world?

Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke. These things are like a plague. Danny sympathises with the world around him, but he sees a harsh truth that others may or may not respect. They are enslaved to their own comforts. Killing themselves slowly through their lifestyles. Danny is comfortable with (though resentful of) his mortality, and accepts that his problems are a result of his poor lifestyle choices, and his own eventual death will come as a result of those choices. That doesn’t mean everybody sees things in the same way.

6: How are the organs of the dead prepared? Or are they left in the body?

If people are donors, their organs go on to support furthering the life of others that need those organs. If not, the body is buried or cremated with all organs intact. Of course, there are weird cooky cults that like to use human organs in rituals and the like…

7: What happens to the belongings of the dead?

Some are buried with them, if they hold particular sentimental value. Others are distributed through family members, normally via a rushed open house, where everyone from estranged children to third-cousins show up and take whatever they can get their hands on, in a first-come-first-serve frenzy. Nothing like death to show the living’s true colours.

8: Are there organ thieves or body snatchers in your world?

Seriously, you’ve prompted this again? Right, let’s clear this up… If there is a frighteningly dangerous coven that unwittingly enact the work of an ACTUAL demigod with a few screws loose, and they take bodies and use organs as ritualistic items, I don’t know about it. And Danny definetly isn’t going to run into them… 🤥🤫

9: How are dead pets cared for?

Some bury them in the garden, others get them cremated and keep their ashes in urns. Some particular weirdos ask for some ashes put aside to do various bizarre things with… like eat inside a sandwhich. The love of pets does strange things to humans.

10: Is anyone immortal in your world?

I’ve answered this one on Twitter already, and the basic gist of it is, nobody is really sure whether or not even the Gods are immortal. Ragnarok does tell of their death, but by human standards, they definitely aren’t mortal. Danny looks pretty good for 27, has never broke a bone in his life despite his antics, but he’s mortal for sure. Painfully so. He attributes his various aches, pains, and problems, to being trapped inside a mortal body. It’s almost as if his soul wants to burst out of it.

11: Do people believe the dead can return either as a spirit or physically?

Many people do believe in spirits to some extent, others claim they don’t but have had a few experiences, and others still are dead against the idea. That said, the idea of spiritual intervention is unsettling for most. Danny has every reason to believe himself, but casually brushes it off as a non-thing. He’s not bothered by it.

12: It’s Friday, share and follow 3 other world builders!

World building is a fun and exciting activity for any novelist or writer. It’s also fun to watch others in the process, and learn about the world they are creating. I’ll post a few links to fellow world-builder’s over on my twitter account, and I highly recommend you check them out!

13: Are premature burials common in your world?

Outside of stuntmen and cruel torturous methods of execution, perhaps employed by disgruntled mobsters, no. It’s unlikely that anybody would end up buried alive by mistake.

Well, that’s it. I’d LOVE to carry on and answer each of the questions, but I think it would be unfair on the community. I will be carrying this on day-by-day on my twitter feed, now that I’ve caught up, so head over there and follow me! Failing that, I think it’d be fun to do this again for the blog at the end of October. It’s a dark, gritty story, and it’s refreshing to run through an exercise like this outside the tone of the novel.

Guys, this was fun and thought provoking! I’d highly recommend you complete the same exercise. And if you do, please, please link to this post so that I get a ping back. I would love to hear about the world you’re building for your novel!

So what do you think, shall I post another post like this one at the end of the month, or keep content like this solely on twitter? Have you a system of world-building, or inspired to start? Let me know in the comments!

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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Got five minutes for some quick online reads? Try these:

Colony 81- Quick Online Reads

The Fury Of The Godless- Quick Online Reads

The Man In The Hat- Quick Online Reads

The Dome- Quick Online Reads by Ian Steventon

For those of you who are new here, myself, Ian Steventon, and TJ Kelly have an ongoing collaboration, where each week one of us elects a photo prompt, and we set off to write a short interpretation of it. Both Colony 81, and The Fury Of The Godless stories in my ‘quick online reads’ collection, are examples of the fun and games our collab has already generated!

Today, I’m showcasing Ian’s interpretation of the prompt. I thought it was great! Ian uses his prose to drop us straight into this divided world, where the healthy are separated from the sick, and we instantly feel the curiosity put forward through the main character. If this piece of flash fiction leaves you wanting more, help me convince him to carry on with it by littering his post with pleading comments!

Ian Steventon Author


“When did the sickness start?” Asked Emma, as she looked out beyond the dome that enclosed them. Her father turned to face her, she thought she saw the sadness within him again, but he smiled, that magnificent smile that cured her of all her ills.
“It all happened so quickly, the domes were built for protection while you were still a young baby, they help to keep us safe, to keep the world safe, you know that.”
Emma looked out beyond the shimmering glass, everything looked so normal, the sun was shining, trees moved gently in the breeze. She saw birds rise up above the treetops and watched as they disappeared into the distance.
“Yes, but I wish I could go outside, feel the sun on my face, the breeze through my hair.”
Her father’s face suddenly darkened. “Don’t ever talk like that Emma, you know damn well we…

View original post 975 more words

Colony 81 -Free Flash Fiction

Today’s entry was inspired by the photo above, but it didn’t begin there. The title and premise for Colony 81 were concocted a few years back, but the project was left on the back burner while I focused my efforts elsewhere. Spending a little time in that world today has inspired me to tell a fuller story, a tale of power, sacrifice, and rebellion. If the following short is enough to leave you wanting more, let me know in the comments below. For now, grab yourself a quick drink, light a cigarette, and enjoy the next five minutes.


Cover for quick online reads entry Colony 81
What do you think of the cover I designed a few years back? Keep it, or scrap it and start over?

Jonah Reeves only ever knew life within the stone white walls of Colony 81. He had supposedly been shipped down from Utopia at the age of five—a promise baby from the fortunate, a declaration that ‘we will come back for you’—but he didn’t remember anything that wasn’t wheat fields and grey clothing. He knew it was all bullshit anyway. Nobody down on earth would ever be collected and taken up, not while the Utopians needed them to farm their food, purify their water, and provide all the resources they needed to stay up there. Jonah was many things, but a fool wasn’t one of them. They were slaves, and he knew it. His birth parents threw him away to keep their own spot on the ship, and he knew that too.

Nobody knew how many colonies were walled in, but it was clear they each fulfilled a separate purpose. They had water delivered in barrels marked 64, fresh clothes bundled in grey bags with the number 128 stitched into them. The highest number the colonists in 81 were aware of, was 342, from the numbers stamped on the side of the fruit crates that got delivered each week.

Jonah sat alone with his back pressed up against the colony wall, shaping multicoloured energy balls with his hands. After the riots and wars—the reaction to the launch of the Utopia—were over, people of all castes and creeds were bundled into the colonies. Families were separated, communities torn apart, and each colony was left with a diverse group of individuals that had to become cohesive. Religions and beliefs were abandoned or adapted, and in that simplicity, something new was formed.

No longer was there a God, or an Allah. As the years went on, there was never mention of Christianity, or Paganism, or Hinduism, or Sikh. They had no need for religion anymore. What came in its place had no name, only a voice they could all hear. A whisper on a quiet night, a feeling of connectivity that couldn’t quite be described. Some called it the Source, others, the voice of the earth. The Truth. The message they all ignored, the point they all missed. The silence that spoke all noise, the nothingness that encompassed everything in existence, living and breathing and powering the whole thing.

For years it beckoned out, shrouded by wars and technology, drowned out by the sound of their own voices. Had they quietened down a little, worked together rather than in opposition, they would’ve heard it before things got bad. But things did get bad, and it took tearing the world apart to find it.

Jonah watched as the balls shifted from red, to blue, to yellow, to green, floating and coming back down, dancing and stretching and shrinking at his will. Those small bubbles were a part of his essence, a part of everything’s essence. Translucent star-stuff, given form through focus and intent.

“You’ll get seen doing that one day.” Jonah looked up, and the energy dissipated at once in a sudden pop. Grace stood before him, the setting sun illuminating the edges of her silhouette in a pink-orange hue.

“You’ve gotta stop sneaking up on me,” he said, shuffling his knees under his body to come cross-legged in the cracked earth. He reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her to him. “You make me nervous standing above me like that.”

“Deal, as soon as you stop playing with your magic shit in public.” She sat opposite him, wearing her I-love-you-but-I’m-not-quite-happy expression—a half smile pulled up to the left, equal parts happiness and concern glazing the surface of her amber eyes. She really was beautiful. It still left him breathless at times, softening his resolve, cooling the fires that burned inside him.

He sighed. “I’m just practicing Gracie. Gotta figure it out.” He played around in the dirt with his index finger, drawing swirls and squiggles without purpose. Her soft hands took hold of his face and pulled it inline with hers, kissing him before pulling back to meet his eyes.

“Well figure this. If they see it they’ll kill you, probably after tearing you open to find out what it is.”

“I can tell them what it is.”

“But they won’t care what you tell them. They’ll wanna see for themselves.” She took his hands and they sat in silence for a few moments, tracing the lines in each others skin. Farmers hands, both of them, but Grace’s were softer somehow. Warmer.

“Gracie listen—“

“No, you listen Jonah. Whatever you’re thinking, it has to stop right now. Put it away.” Her voice raised, but remained hushed as if others were listening. They were miles from the chalets, but something about Jonah’s discovery put her on edge. Scared her into caution. “What you’ve found here is beautiful. It’s amazing. You’re amazing. But it doesn’t change anything, and it can’t. We’re trapped down here on a dying planet. They’re up there with all the power. You come out with something like this, we’re sitting ducks. They’ll kill us all just in case.”

Jonah squeezed against her grip, smiling. “I know,” he sighed, “I’ll be more careful.”

“It’s just dangerous, I don’t want to lose you.”

“I know,” he said again, this time sounding more certain. He pressed himself up to his feet and pulled her up with him, pulling her in. He stroked her hair while she rested her head on his shoulder, coarse from the grit of the fields, but still softer than his somehow.

“Keep it to that bedroom thing, like the fireflies, okay?” She whispered, pressing her lips to his neck suggestively.

“Of course,” he lied, ‘let’s get back home.”

They walked the few miles through the wheat back to the chalet, rough hand in softer rough hand, appreciating the comfort of each other and the fading light of the sun, painting the sky a dazzling blend of purple, red, and pink. By the time they reached the tiny stone hut they called home, Jonah had the beginnings of a plan.

It didn’t include hiding his discovery.


This post is part of an ongoing collaboration between myself, Ian Steventon, and TJ Kelly. For their interpretations of this photo prompt, check out The Dome by Ian, and Secret, Secret, I Have a Secret!! By TJ.

So there it is. The dialogue and setting can be fleshed out so much more, and there’s a much greater story to be told here. But now I ask you, Would you like me to carry this on? Before the new year I’ll be launching a web series for you lovelies, so if you want this in my list of potentials, or would like me to add parts to this in the coming weeks, let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow for more posts like this, alongside blogging and writing tips to take your writing to the next level. Thanks for reading ☺️

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

£1.00

Like flash fictions like this one? You’ll love:

The Fury Of The Godless

The Man In The Hat

The Cabin

The Fury Of The Godless -Free Flash Fiction

The northmen came ashore along a terrifying storm, their dragon-fronted ships illuminated by angular cracks of lighting. The clouds thundered with violence and aggression, their satanic false-gods shuddering the ground around the monastery.

Gwain had seen many men in his years—both through war, and through his work with the church—but none as ghastly and gigantic as those that fought through the water that day. Inhumanly large monsters, with red and golden hair that whipped around them like sparks in a blacksmith’s forge.

The heathens seemed unbothered by the cold. Muscular animals barely covered in haphazard strips of leather and cloth, traipsing through the icy water like the frost giants their pagan myths warned of.

A small cluster of Northumbrian soldiers were garrisoned at the monastery. They came seeking salvation and God’s blessing, and were instead met with short axes, blood, and painful death. You could hear the carving of their flesh, the cracking of their bones, over the roars of thunder.

Gwain watched as blood painted the waves a sickly red, severed body parts washed out to sea.

The men burst through the doors as if they were made of parchment, nothing but a thin veil between the Christians and the heathens. They slaughtered their way through the monastery one by one, monks foolishly attempting to hold the monsters back with brooms and ornamental daggers. They demolished all that they could. The pews chopped to pieces, the shelves and lanterns demolished. Fires formed where fallen candles met broken furniture, lending the northmen a devilish red glow that reflected their intent.

Those that abandoned God in favour of their own lives, those that fell to their knees and held their hands in the air, those that begged—were chained and pulled out into the storm. They’d meet a fate worse than death. Eternal damnation and torment. A thousand lifetimes of torture and Godlessness.

Gwain stood at the alter facing them, patiently awaiting his violent end. He was old and tired, ready to embrace his peace. His bones had begun to creak as he went about his daily business, his chest rattling with each short breath. He’d reached the age where kings seemed young, and he didn’t want to live to much older than that.

The heathen that first barged into the monastery, a monster of a man with golden hair and piercing blue eyes, fixed his inquisitive gaze on him. It was the same look he gave all the monks he struck down with his dripping axe, as they knelt and bowed their heads to God. Gwain wasn’t afraid to admit his fear. No, God was not going to save him. No, God’s love didn’t seem all that comforting. No, God wasn’t going to numb the pain of what happens next.

Flames licked the air with a newfound taste for destruction, hungry for more with each passing second. The dense heat pulled sweat from each pore on Gwain’s frail body—or was that the anticipation of the death that grew closer with each step the Northman took in his direction? Each pew battered with the back of his axe? Each monk with the thirsty blade? He could feel the smoke building up in his lungs, taste it in the air.

The Northman, fixed on Gwain, headed toward him with an amused look reflected in his features. He was enjoying all the slaughter. Or was it the power? He had certainly earned his pride. Gwain had watched as he gracefully cut through the Northumbrians in all their armour. Spears, swords, and all. With nothing but a small chunk of sharpened iron and an oddly decorated wooden shield. The monks and the brooms were just the dessert.

The heathen stood before him now, a full head taller and a musculature to rival the Greek statues, a body and size Gwain—as a knight of Camelot, one of Arthur’s own table at that—could’ve only dreamed of when he was still swinging his sword. Face to face with the monster, he didn’t look all that monstrous at all. He looked the same as the hundreds of other men Gwain had faced down, just larger and less burdened by the fear of God—that of course being the fear of those that had built their countries around Godliness. Unlike Gwain, this heathen was a truly free man.

Free from duty. Free from judgement. From God.

Gwain met the man’s gaze with a look of his own. One of understanding and acceptance. His puzzlement became amusement, and then, something that resembled respect.

Another heathen came launching out from behind him, axe raised and ready to swing. The blue eyed Northman held up a hand, and the other stopped. They exchanged words in a foreign tongue. Challenging each other in whispered hisses.

After a few moments of silence, the other sighed and turned his back, continuing to destroy whatever the fire hadn’t already consumed.

The heathen looked once more into Gwain’s eyes, flipped his axe, and hit him square in the forehead with the wooden hilt.

* * * * *

Gwain awoke surrounded by the carnage—the alter, the pews, all ruined—the perfect metaphor for his faith in God.

Lungs heavy with smoke, most of the building on fire, Gwain drew his last breath with his dying wish never more clear in his mind. All he and his brothers had suffered, all they had withheld themselves from. All the restraint, the fear, and the control.

No more. The reckoning has come.

Let the church burn.


This post comes as a result of a less-than-1000-word-challenge based on the photo prompt above. A fun collaboration between myself and Ian Steventon, soon to include another wonderful writer, where we take it in turns each week to set the prompt, and get to relish in the differences between our pieces. Seeing the variation in inspiration a simple prompt can have is astounding!

I’m not entirely happy with this piece. I have had the hardest week at work so far, and I feel flat and lifeless. It took a lot of effort to not let that show through in this piece (though I think it does somewhat). I hope you all enjoy it despite the struggle it took to bring it to your screens!

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Stephen King Tells Us to Take Writing Seriously!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. And why shouldn’t I be? Not only has the man pumped out an incredible amount of fiction, It ain’t half bad. The Stand, It, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, to name a few—all great stories, with memorable and alive characters. This is a guy—alongside other great novelists—to take writing seriously.

His writing style is perfect for a good page turner, cutting out all the crappy, pretentious, fluffy stuff, and instead focusing on the driving forward of the story at play. Being a loyal Stephen King reader, I feel his books have a lot to teach about the craft of writing. First among all his lessons, as stated in the title, is to…

Take Writing Seriously!

A lady showing that she can take writing seriouslyAbout this he is absolutely clear. If you’re serious about writing as a career, you’re gonna need to start taking your writing seriously. That means treating it as a job, and scheduling in x-amount of writing every day. Whether it’s 2000 words a day, a couple hours a day, or any variation of the above, you need to set a target, and sit down to it, without fail. No writers block, no lack of ideas, no excuses. You turn up at the same time each day, and eventually your muse will turn up to sit with you.

Equally important and along the same strand, is that you need to Invest in yourself and your craft. That means books, courses, and as mentioned above, time and practice. I cannot recommend Stephen King’s very own ‘On Writing: A Memoire Of The Craft’ enough. Seriously, seriously, seriously. My entire writing outlook changed after reading that book. Alongside being a great read and insight into his own life, schedule, and experiences, the book delves into some important writing lessons that we cannot afford to miss. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy today.

In that book, he talks a lot about ‘The Elements of Style’ by William Strunk, and highly recommends it. I do too. Combine the two books and you have enough of an education to get you selling stories and writing novels in no time.

I could end this post here and tell you that you now know enough to get going. Pat you on your back and send you on your way. But that’s no fair. There’s no fun in that, is there? So here’s a couple bonus lessons I’ve learned through my obsessive Stephen King consumption.

Character Driven Stories

With Jaime Lannister, George R R Martin proves that he can take writing seriouslyOne of the most immersive and engaging factors to any Stephen King story, is the care and attention given to his characters. If you’ve read anything by him, you can instantly see that his stories are—for the most part—character driven. He spends a lot of time getting to know them, breathing life into them, and letting them steer the rest of the story in whichever direction best suits them.

If you’re a plotter, you’ll have almost certainly come across times where the plot you laid out no longer suits the characters you’re writing about. It’s like they aren’t doing as they’re told, and if you try to force them, the entire novel loses its life. This is only natural. As you’re characters develop and come alive, certain elements of your plot may no longer ring true for them. As he states in On Writing, believability is key to writing a decent novel, no mater how fantastical or otherworldly that novel may be.

This Is A Tough Biz

Unless you’ve spent ten years on writing and editing the most perfect novel of all time, you’re gonna have to develop a thick skin, and an otherworldly determination despite all rejection letters. Because you’re gonna go through loads of those. Magazines will sit on your manuscript for months, to simply send a thanks, but no thanks. Others will tell you ‘resubmit, your story wasn’t for us, but the next one might be.’ With patience, determination, and a love for writing stories, you will break through.

From there, you’ll keep going, rejections, approvals, and all. You might start on small mags and obscure anthologies, but with each approval you’re picking up credits. Ignore the money, it’s not that important right now. It’s all about those credits. With each one, you’ll have a little more credibility in your cover letters, and start moving up the ranks.

This is assuming you write short stories, novellas, and flash fiction alongside novels. Personally, I do. Some stories simply don’t make it to novel length… others become a trilogy. Don’t force them into novels. Tie them up, and put ‘em in circulation!

If you’re dead set on novels and novels alone, then just keep on writing, keep on improving, keep on refining, and keep on submitting.

Don’t Be Afraid To Shoot & Miss

Stephen King is the perfect example of sitting down and writing what’s in your head, even if the story may end up a little shaky. After all, he did write Maximum Overdrive (LOL).

The point I’ll tie this post up with is this: you need to write what you want to write at the time. When inspiration strikes, when characters call, when a story starts to develop, you owe it to yourself to get it down on paper, no matter how bizarre it may turn out. In one of Stephen King’s most recent novels, Revival, we see one of the more bizarre conclusions a novel can end up with. It was a pretty good read, while some parts were arguably better than others. But the point is, it worked. If he abandoned the book because it took a strange turn, a lot of readers that LOVED that book would have missed out on it.

So don’t be afraid of a certain story being too this, or too that, or unsellable. Get it written, and submit to multiple publishers with all the rest of ‘em. If a simple rejection is enough to stop you in your tracks, you’re not somebody to take writing seriously. Write for the love of writing, and never, ever, give up.

Like this article? Don’t miss: 5 Simple Steps To Take Your Writing to the Next Level

What’s your favourite Stephen King novel to date? Let me know in the comments.

Tip The Author

If you’ve made it this far then I thank you for your attention span! If you enjoy my content, help me make a living by leaving a tip. Every pound goes toward creating more fiction, reading more books to review, and creating artwork, sketches, tutorials, and lifestyle posts for you to enjoy. I appreciate any and all help! A little really does go a long way!

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