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Today I took a step that I've dithered over for far too long. As a published writer, most of my work has been part of anthologies and magazines, ie appeared side-by-side with other authors. In a way that has been a comfort blanket, the presence of others giving me something to hide behind. But, if I'm ever going to get anywhere, I'm going to have to go it alone and so in a few days time, this little lovely will appear up on amazon.
It contains poetry, both published and unpublished, that's been lurking in my folders for far too long. In particular the section of twisted rhymes takes me right back to when I first started posting work online (at a now defunct site called ReadWave). I took a few traditional rhymes, eg Jack and Jill and gave them a dark twist. If I just say my new version is now called Jill, you may get an idea of what happened. Anyway, they were well received and I wrote a number of other versions of Mother Goose's traditional verses - but I never did anything with them. That has changed and they form part of this collection.
It's only available on Kindle at the moment. I might sort out a print version at some point down the line but just getting it out there was my main challenge.
Look out for it and let me know what you think.
NB. Anybody living in Southampton might recognise the place in the cover (Weston Shore). I was going to buy a 'proper' cover but certain expenses came up to throw a spanner in the proverbial works and so went DIY. The fonts were advised by my youngest daughter, Rhonwen. For as long as I can remember she's had a thing about fonts, it's very noticeable on the bus ride into town when she heaps criticism on various shop front graphics! All my kids actually are vocal in their approval or not of fonts. I think it must be a generational thing ...
Oh dear, I have neglected this of late. But I have good reason. Life has been very busy lately, although now with the onset of the school holidays releasing me from my day job, I can be a writer 'full time' ... sort of. So, what has been taking up my time?
1. Horror Tree's Trembling With Fear online magazine. As you know this is my weekly editorial stint but involves me checking in almost every evening to look for new submissions, respond and read and also deal with any admin stuff. This takes several hours a week ... and sometimes more. Please note this is a voluntary role, done to support a very worthwhile cause, ie The Horror Tree!
2. DeadCades. The soon-to-be published anthology from The Infernal Clock. I am currently in editing mode with a couple of authors and awaiting three outstanding submissions. At present, I have formatted the book and it is pretty much ready to go on to the next proof-reading stage with David Shakes, once I have those last stories in. Publication Date: 1st October.
3. My Playground. Some time ago I started twisting nursery rhymes to show their darker side. I have now compiled these with a selection of my darker verse and hope to publish that within the week. Subject to me getting to grips with amazon and Kindle!
4. WIP, The Five Turns of the Wheel. My folk horror novel which needs a little rebalancing but which has become a world I love to visit. A spin-off short story, The Way of the Mother, will feature in Nosetouch Press's anthology Fiends in the Furrows, published September 2018.
5. What else? My industrial horror, Live, is currently at the start of that horrible process of trying to get an agent. I have had a few extremely positive rejections for short story submissions lately so am also looking at finding alternative homes for the stories concerned. There is beta reading to be done for Horror Addicts' Emerian Rich's Quillz group as well as reducing my own TBR pile. I am also hoping to create a more 'professional' website this summer.
So, who said holidays were a time to kickback and relax?
Haven't posted one of these in a while, partly due to lack of time preventing me from taking part in Microcosms' weekly competition but I managed a return recently with my story, Goat.
Elements to include were: Vet, Nazareth, Horror
Mount Precipice loomed over him. Khalid wiped his brow and stared at its steep slope. Abba was up there somewhere with his injured sheep. From this point, he would have to leave his car behind and go the rest of the way on foot. Hoisting his bag onto his shoulder, Khalid started to climb, wondering why Abba continued to keep sheep instead of goats. Goats didn’t get stuck on mountains. Goats jumped. He had herded many goats up here as boy and man.
A distressed bleat reached his ears and Khalid increased his pace, regretting not having passed the call to his partner but the young vet had his own goats to herd.
Khalid was almost at the top and the bleating grew louder. He knew the area well. Also known as the Mount of the Leap of the Lord, many misguided fanatics—like Abba’s brother—had attempted their own literal leaps of faith from here. Khalid had often walked with them, helped them on their way, his own cloven hooves keeping him surefooted.
A goat trotted up beside him, nudged at his hand, then butted him sharply.
“Hey,” he said. “You could send me over.”
At these words, another goat appeared, its horns hard and painful as they too rammed at him, made him stumble.
“Abba,” he called, seeing the man appear at last. “Goats, not sheep? Why didn’t you say when you called.”
The creatures bleated noisily and began to shepherd Khalid to the edge.
“Thought it was about time I saw how my brother died. Watched a goat jump. You never know, I might enjoy it.”
“How did you…”
“Said a prayer. But it wasn’t God who answered.”
Khalid looked down and saw Abba walked with Devil’s feet. The mountain had a new goatherd.
Welcome to the Show – edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Seventeen stories fill these pages, all linked together by their common setting – The Shantyman, a bar and club, cursed, home to demons and vampires, aliens and madmen across the decades. Each story brings its own visitors to The Shantyman - customers, staff and performers – none of them leave in the same way, if at all.
This is a strong selection and a collection in which all clamour for the title of ‘favourite’. Some though did exert a slightly stronger pull, including What Sort of Rube – a good choice for an opener and one which paints The Shantyman immediately in dark tones. A crippled victim of misfortune and cannibalism attempts to dissuade a musician from performing at the club by telling him how the venue came to be cursed in the first place. The musician heeds the warning and leaves, he survives. Many in the following stories do not. After this, you know something will always go wrong at The Shantyman. Night and Day and in Between is a tale of vampiric love, romance dining on an opened vein, In the Winter of No Love takes you on a trip of disintegration and oblivion, whilst murder is played out to the music in Wolf with Diamond Eyes. Pilgrimage brings you the most unfortunate time-traveller ever, picked up by members of the Manson Family to become ‘practise’ material whilst A Tongue Like Fire feeds a story of grief and suicide. From the attempted demonic takeover in Master of Beyond, the poisoned chalice of a cure to all ills in Dark Stage and the curse of a contract with the devil in Open Mic Night, The Shantyman shows how time fails to dull the impact of its cursed nature. True Starmen with its cult ending, the desperate ‘wannabe’ in Parody, the nightmare of discovering the reality of a previously online relationship in Ascending, the death throes of a relationship in Beat on This, the madness and obsession of Just to be Seen all continue the dark influences which touch the lives of the club’s patrons. The anthology finishes strongly with The Southern Thing and Running Free, but my own personal overall favourite must be We Sang in Darkness, a very dark story which plays with your mind. Do you believe in the alien creature or is that being simply the image the main character created to reflect his own descent into madness and cannibalism? Having re-read it, I’m still not certain and I don’t mind that at all.
An excellent collection of original stories and refreshing twists on traditional tropes. Sometimes a curse can deliver good things …
A writer - I think that says it all.