Monthly Archives: February 2014

The importance of punctuation.

punctuation_saves_livesWhat is a word that’s formed of 4 letters, but consists of 3, sometimes is written with 9, never with 5, and occasionally is made up of 12.

Get it? No? OK, how about if I write it like this?

‘What’ is a word that’s formed of 4 letters, ‘but’ consists of 3, ‘sometimes’ is written with 9, ‘never’ with 5, and ‘occasionally’ is made up of 12.

NOW you get it. Punctuation. Use it, bitches.

Sorry, I came over all Jesse Pinkman there. Original number sentence nicked from @TeaAndCopy on Twitter.

Back in Time

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Good news, history fans. Today I managed finally to get stuck into a proper writing session on the biggie, 1322. Too long have I been distracted by flibbertigibbet short stories, those strumpets of the writing world with their quick thrills. It was a joy properly to immerse myself once again in the fourteenth century.

Here you can see my character interaction sheet, reference book (published in 1886, this one, and a joy in and of itself), my plot diagram note, and rickety old laptop. Not shown: chronology chart and humungous pot of coffee.

Looking for reviewers

We should have advance review copies of Soul of the Universe ready to go in the next few days. Is anyone interested in reviewing the Anthology Club’s first ever anthology?
If you’re willing to provide an honest review – on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, your blog, or any combination of those – either give me your info (name, email, and preferred e-format please), PM the The Anthology Club page on Facebook, or email your details to reviews@anthologyclub.com and we’ll set you up with a copy in your preferred format.

Yes, oh omnipresent authority figure?

NeeraPortrait“Casting wild magic is like… playing a flute by ear. I just kind of picked it up as I went along, doing what felt natural. In magical terms, I can play a pretty mean tune. But when I miss a note, the flute shoots fire at everyone. Also the flute sometimes turns me into a hamster.”

I’m having a bit of a retro gaming experience by playing Baldur’s Gate Enhanced on my laptop. One of my favourite enhancements? Neera, the wild mage, whose magic tends to go a bit monkeybonkers with, as they say, hilarious consequences. I also like the way she holds a staff.

“EAT FLAMING – or possibly frosty – DEATH!”

#YSPtweetup2014 advance notice

z-0vanishedhippoYes, I know, it’s very advanced notice, but I have already had half a dozen people asking about this year’s Wombat Wedding Anniversary get together. Once again we’ll be at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for picnics, walks and art. The date to mark in red in your diary is Saturday 21st June. As usual, bring food, chums, OHs, kids and all manner of canine companions.

I have a passing fancy this year to finally remember to get everyone to do the Mass Paperbag Trick. And maybe get everyone to bring their ukulele so that we can have a YSP Ukulele Orchestra rendition of Ilkley Moor Bar T’at. We’ll see. More in a few months.

Click here to see previous #YSPtweetup blogs: 2011, 2012, 2013.

Little Mintballs

Ee by gum, I’m chuffed to little mintballs to tell thee* that my short story for (or possibly against) Valentine’s Day, Be My Valentine, was placed second second in the Love Bites: Anti-Valentine Blog Hop 2014.

That it did so well against many other stonkingly good tales warms the heartles of my c… hang on, switch that… the cockles of my heart.

If you haven’t already, read it now to warm even more of my body parts, and you really ought to read the other stories entered too, for they are splendid to the max. Thanks to Ruth Long, Lisa Shambrook, Lizzie Koch and Laura Jamez for overseeing the whole thing.

*apologies for the brief tumble into Yorkshire.

Visdare 48 – To Boldly Go

visdare-badgeThis is an entry for Angela Goff’s Visdare challenge, the idea being to write a story of 150 words or less prompted by a picture. I had a bit of fun with this one, hitting 149 words ignoring the title. Wasn’t meant to be funny when it started out, but isn’t that always the way? Click the pic on the right to check out Visdare and other stories posted for this collection.


To Boldly Go

Click to see picture sourceNo. Nuh-uh. Negatory. No way am I going to be first down there, ducky. I mean, what on earth is that bloody cracking sound, for a start? And is that… chewing? Wet chewing? Ick!

Well, you can pop that right up your pipe and smoke it. I’m security, I am. I don’t do exploration, ducky. Those science homies should have a vada first, see what’s what, and then we can mince in all phasers-on-stun once they know what’s down there.

No! I don’t care what Mr Pointy Ears says. Let him go down first if he’s so bloody keen on investigating his ‘strange anomaly’. Him and his weedly-wee machine.

I don’t get paid nearly enough to risk my lallies down there. Don’t get paid at all, actually, ducky. Wait, what’s that over me head? EEK! AAAAARGH!!! Ouch ouch ouch! Oh bumholes! I just had this red shirt cleaned, too…

Be My Valentine?

Here’s a little Valentine’s Day tale for you, written for “Love Bites: the Anti-Valentine Blog Hop”. I recommend that you read the other stories too, especially if, like me, you get tired of cutesie-wutesie, lovey-dovey crap at this time of year. These tales are the perfect antidote to that flowery smush.


Such a perfect blue, her eyes. Gareth gazed into them, certain that she was the one. The corners of her faultless mouth dimpled. He stroked her waist, squeezed her fingers with his other hand as they swayed to the seductive rhythm of ‘Moonlight Serenade’. As the music ended, he brushed her ear with his lips.

“Will you be my Valentine?” he whispered.

“If you’ll be mine,” she smiled, those amazing eyes twinkling.

“Come up to my room?”

She bit her lip, and glanced nervously at the other dancers, as if they might have heard. She nodded.

“But come to mine. I shall relax more. And only for a quiet drink.”

She gave a stern look. He had better not frighten her with over-enthusiasm.

“I cannot promise not to kiss you, you have beguiled me so. We will stay here, if you feel safer.”

Marian dimpled one side of her tempting mouth in a wry grin and raised a mischievous eyebrow.

“Perhaps just one kiss.”

Bingo. He had been right to target this shy little wallflower rather than one of the more confident women here. An innocent conquest was far more exciting.

Marian took his hand and gazed up at him. He led her between the gyrating couples and out to the wide staircase. Her ball gown rustled tantalisingly. He pictured what her legs might look like above those delicate ankles, and thoughts of what lay higher set his pulse racing. He would love to be the first explorer of those hidden hills and valleys.

She paused at her door.

“I’m not one of those easy girls, you know,” she said, quietly.

“That’s why I fell for you, darling. Your purity of spirit.” Blah blah blah.

Her room was luxurious; radiogram, sofa, even a bar. Bedroom to the right, he noted.

“Can you find some decent music?” she asked, trembling. “I can’t work the radio at all.”

The machine hummed softly as it warmed up. He found a station playing swing music, all the while gazing at her slight figure, hands clasped in front of her like a shield. Time to clinch the deal.

“Marian,” he said. She lifted her eyes like a timid doe. “I don’t want you to feel compelled to do anything that you don’t want.” Oh yeah, lay it on, boy. “But I have fallen deeply for you. Fate arranged our meeting on this special night. The night of true love, of Saint Valentine.”

She gave a little smile, and relaxed her bare shoulders.

“Turn the music up, please?” she said, “It relaxes me.”

Excellent. He would have her this night, whether she wanted it or not, and he did not want anyone to hear her screams. He twisted the dial and Benny Goodman filled the room.

“Would you…?” she faltered.

“Anything, my Valentine.”

“Would you make us a drink? While I…” she gestured behind her, to the bedroom. He nodded, and began to mix drinks at the bar. Behind him Marian stepped into the bedroom, babbling nervously.

“Do you know much about Saint Valentine?” she asked.

“No, I’m afraid not. Do you?”

“Some,” she said, lifting the baseball bat from the bed.

“Tell me.”

She eased off her shoes and stepped back through the door.

“Saint Valentine was actually two men, joined into one legend.”

“Really? How fascinating.” Jesus, he couldn’t wait to shut up her babble.

She crossed the room, the deep carpet tickling her toes. “They both met the same end. Now you are my Valentine.”

She swung the bat violently into his right leg, shattering the bones of his knee. He crumpled with a scream, writhing on the floor. Benny Goodman picked up the tempo.

“They were beaten with clubs,” she explained, arcing the bat to shatter his other knee. She thrust the end of the bat hard into his genitals.

“Of course, that’s not what killed them,” she continued calmly, swinging the bat above her head and down hard across his stomach. He vomited, and sobbed.

“The clubs merely immobilised them, like this,” she explained, and with a cheerful smile splintered bones in both his arms.

“No,” she said, taking a knife from the bar. “What killed them was being beheaded alive.”

Submission call for Pirate Tales

Watch the countdown widget on the right there – you still have time to write a piratical short story for my forthcoming anthology. I already have several tales submitted by talented authors, but want more. Do you want to see your work published, and receive a percentage of any profits that it might make? Then get yourself a parrot and a wooden leg, go and join Anthology Club (see below for a brief intro), and get writing!

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Guidelines: Your tale should concern pirates, and be between 5k and 15k words in length. As long as you have pirates involved, the world is your lobster. I’d love proper traditional pirates – jolly roger, rum, eye patches, tall ships, buried treasure, wooden legs etc., but don’t be afraid to throw a curve ball of an idea in there with them too, if that’s what stirs your creative juices. Comedy, drama, horror, erotica all welcome; if you fancy writing a pirate tale with SF elements, say, I’d be delighted. The deadline for submissions is 31st March 2014.

Anthology Club is a marvellous exercise in collective publishing. It’s free to join, and members can propose and edit their own anthologies of stories which are submitted by other members who like the pitch. All upfront costs – editing, cover design, advertising, website costs – are borne by Anthology Club itself, and participating authors acknowledge that they will share in the profits from each anthology (if there are any) as they happen. The gamble is the initial writing venture, wherein you craft a story with the hope that it will sell, but with no guarantee that it will. But then… isn’t that what we all do, whenever we write?

Editors and authors receive a defined percentage of any profits made. Click here to investigate and join (it’s free). I’ve been there over a year, with one anthology already close to publication. The Pirate anthology will be my second. I thoroughly recommend it.

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