Mini adventures of the bookish kind

Recently I’ve had a bit more work-related travel than usual, and you know what that means – extra reading time! In the last few weeks I’ve read a whole bunch, including The Crimson Petal and the White – Michel Faber, Not so Perfect – Nik Perring and The Stars in the Bright Sky, which were a pretty ideal mix to be honest. All very different (and not just in length!) and great in their own ways. But it’s not all been about reading quietly on the train, I also read a flash story out loud at the FlashMob event in Manchester. As always, a bit scary, but that’s the third time I’ve done it and I still haven’t burst into hysterical laughter or starting trying to scramble over the audience to escape, so I’ve chalking it up as a success. All the folks were lovely, especially Nik Perring (the guest reader who read from the collection mentioned above) and the judges, especially Roland and Sarah-Clare and Tom, who made sure I ended my journey a bit tipsy and safe in the knowledge that girls who say ‘judge a man by his shoes and I don’t like politics’ are a little scary. All of the shortlisted stories are available to read online now, including my storyand the worthy winners. Another story of mine popped up on the web this week (always a flood or a drought eh?), and you get a squiz of Chewed Blankets in Spilling Ink Review number 5. In there you’ll also find Benjamin Judge, who happened to be one of the organizers of the FlashMob event. Almost like it was meant to happen… There’s also a nonfiction piece by the super Chelsea Cargill, who just happens to be in my writers group, hurrah. It’s so nice to feel as though you are in good company, and that there are so many awesome and friendly writers out there – my faith in the community spirit of writing has been restored.

Wee story at Imagining Scotland

A while ago I wrote a wee story inspired, as so many are, by one of those moments I’d rather forget about. The moment safely changed to another, I sent it along to Imagining Scotland, part of the Scottish Wave of Change projects, and they agreed to pop it on their site.

If you fancy a wee read, it’s at

Various Authors out and about

Various Authors from The Fiction Desk

Various Authors from The Fiction Desk

The new anthology from The Fiction Desk I’ve been all excited about is now out, about and available to buy direct through pre-orders or your friendly neighbourhood bookshop (if you’re still lucky enough to have one).

And if you’d like to have a sip and find out whether it’s your cup of tea, why not have a try of a free Various Authors sample pdf? Or, if you’re a Kindle owner – or you have the Kindle App on your phone (took me so long to twig I could do that it’s embarrassing) – you can also download their sample, which happens to have my entire story in.

Bettering my day

This is one jam packed looking week, but luckily (apart from a trip to the dentist) all of the engagements should be interesting and fun ones. That’s how I feel about it today anyway. Yesterday, I was in a pretty bad mood by the time the afternoon rolled around – work looked never-ending and the thought of doing all of the fun things I have planned for the week gave me that weird, worried feeling I think all people who try and balance a writing/working/social life suffer every time their calendar gets a little busy.

When am I am going to have time to write? Such a selfish question, but one that bugs me so often. So there I was, grousing away, and then I got an email from Ether Books saying they were going to publish another couple of my stories. All of a sudden, the grumpiness lifted: it’s possible to make it all fit, I remembered, you just can’t have it all at once. Sometimes you have to put up with a rubbishy day of deadlines and work problems, and you have to accept you won’t get much done for the rest of the week and you have to resign yourself to getting up a couple of hours early in the morning. It’s worth it.

The new story on Ether is called Bettering Yourself and it’s free at the moment, so go ahead download for your iPad/Pod/Touch if you fancy a little subtle horror on your lunch break.

Bettering Yourself – Hypnosis to make the fat melt away? She knows it’s too good to be true, but it doesn’t stop her hoping.

Hope everyone else is having a good week, whether they’ve managed to book themselves a quiet one or they are running around headless chicken style like me

Today, I am Various

Various Authors from The Fiction Desk

Various Authors from The Fiction Desk

Don’t worry, I’m not having some kind of crisis, I know I’m only one person really (although I guess that’s a questionable concept for any kind of writer). However, not only am I not suffering from some kind of personality disorder, but I am a pleased as punch kind of person today, as details for Various Authors – a new regular anthology from the folks behind The Fiction Desk – have been announced and you’ll find my name among the many.

Together, we are various; alone, I merely vary.

I’m really looking forward to receiving and reading this, there are some impressive and interesting names in there, but I will have to be patient for just a little while longer. Actually, it is due to be released on April 18 – the day after the new flat will finally be hooked up to the net. I have a feeling that is going to be a good week.

Open call for words and pictures on a musical note

I’m a little late on this, but if you’ve got some spare time or some musically-themed words or pictures this could be just what you’re looking for. This is an open call for submissions on a musical theme from the lovely people who published my chapbook recently, so obviously I’m all for them!

This is what they say:

“Whether it was a tune that drove you to tears, then to the page; a melody that can transport your mind to another time; or a debaucherous adventure centred around a killer gig, we’d like to present your work as an homage to the relationship between literature and music. Submissions should generally be less than 5,000 words, and a piece of music should play into the narrative. Artwork should be sent as high-res jpgs to”

I’m not sure if I’m gonna make the submission date, due to gallivanting all over the pace in the last few weeks and a backlog of work to get down to – but you all definitely should! 🙂

Short story in the Bugged files

After a very, very busy weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was come to work today – especially as I have to go and give a training presentation in London tomorrow, boo – but my Monday morning has taken a turn for the better.

Earlier this summer I noticed an interesting looking creative writing project on WordPress – Bugged – and have been following it and trying to find time to submit since. I finally managed to get something in last week, and today I found it’s up on the Bugged site as part of the August 15 collection. Mine is At A Price, go have a look and check out the other cool bits of poetry and prose for the day.

Steven King’s novel ways with nudes

Steven King doesn’t exactly need to do much to raise his profile – the horror king has sold hundreds of millions of copies of his back catalogue – but his latest publicity stunt is sure to secure him a few new fans. The writer has revealed the opening lines of his new short story, Morality, on the naked form of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli!

The picture graces the cover of Esquire magazine where the words are painted directly onto her body in a variety of fonts. The concept is to celebrate the magazine’s special Story of our Times edition and Mortality is a tale of a financially struggling couple.

If this is how the short story is being supported, I can’t wait to see what they pull out the box for his next novel – Under the Dome – to be published at the end of this year!

Your songs

Sometimes it seems as though my life holds no greater pleasure than listening to someone basterdize one of your songs.

Those darling awkward children of yours that needed far more coaxing than any of the slappers who’d slink in and out of whatever bed you were inhabiting at the time. How nice of those girls to try and take your mind off whatever private torment it was that was responsible for the brooding look of yours. The one you would have trademarked if you could have.

The one I’d sometimes catch you refining in reflective surfaces – any old one would do, didn’t matter if it was a picture frame holding a masterpiece, it would be your own face shining on the glass that would captivate you. You were probably secretly ecstatic about the advent of CDs despite your posturing to the contrary – just another shining repository for your limited yet much lauded talents.

You’ll never have any idea how much I personally enjoy the mangled chords of your babies and sickly voiced renderings of the lyrics I used to find scribbled and strewn around the house in fragments like poor bleating sheep separated from the flock. People used to joke that I’d have heard a sneak preview every time you went for a morning shower – but they really should have known that you are far too serious an artist to have been capable of cheapening the lyrical process in such a way. You believed that your songs were not the fodder for morning ablutions. You believed they were transcendental.

Nothing is quite like the thrill I get when I imagine the concerted rictus of your smile when the latest brain dead starlet reaches to the bottom of that construct she thinks is a soul and belts out one of your best with such carefully wrought sincerity.

I’ve bought all of the singles you know. The ultra thin jewel cases are hidden in a small stack that slides and threatens to tip every time I open the drawer. Was this the kind of iconicity you dreamed of? Careful what you wish for mister, selling your soul turns out to be far less glamorous than you might have thought.

And I used to be convinced that the most I could hope for was that you would blur into obscurity and that I’d only have to deal with reminders every now and then rather than what seemed like every minute of every fucking day. I longed for the time when I could fume and mourn over something the way the women around me were able to. Never did I think that the Christmas bargain bin would yield such delights for me.

I couldn’t have planned a sweeter revenge, no I never could have achieved one, because how could I ever compete with, or affect, the only thing that could get close to your heart? No, I had to let the world do it for me. I had to let the march of time drown your genius in the same way it engulfed the young girl you once swore you’d die for. The girl survived though, even though you couldn’t see her any more, or didn’t bother looking for. I find her again whenever your songs come on the radio and I begin to dance and laugh as my heart soars with childish glee. I like to sing along and when I do I wonder if you can’t help yourself from doing the same.