My Facebook page

3 Aug

Last year I decided to make an author page on Facebook, and it’s taken me until today to finally publish it!
It would be delightful if you could give me a like and a share, and if you have your own author page, I’ll like you in return! (I like you anyway, obviously, but you know what I mean!)

There’s not much on it right now, but as I am currently working on things, I hope to update it more often!

Books for Free! (Not spam…!)

25 Jul

I was walking though Liverpool Central train station yesterday and spotted a Books for Free centre, and it really does what it says on the tin!

They are centres in which people can donate pre-loved books for others to enjoy, sort of like a library but you don’t have to give the books back! 

You are permitted to go in and choose three books that you can then take away and keep, which I think you’ll agree is a great idea!

Not only does it provide free books for people, thus encouraging reading for those who may have been put off by retail prices, but it’s also a great way of recycling, as, I know it’s shocking, but some people do throw old books away! Oh the horror!

The link below will take you to a map which shows all the centres in Britain, though I did have to zoom out because for some reason it opened up on Iceland (the country, not the frozen food supermarket).

https://beta.healthyplanet.org/what-we-do/sustainable-community/books-for-free/centre-map

So give it a look and if there is one near you, pop in and browse or donate!

Feel free to share this post as well, get word around about this great scheme!

One year down, another one (two) to go!

9 Jul

Today I received the result from my second-year Creative Writing module with the OU, and was thrilled that it was a Grade 2! This is basically the equivalent to a 2:1, so obviously I was pleased! Having received the same grade for my other second-year module, I’m on track for a good degree classification!

Now, although I am starting my ‘third year’ of education in October, I am splitting it over two years, so I will graduate in 2017. This is good because it means I can concentrate on each one and work as hard as possible!

The module I am starting this year is Advanced Creative Writing, which incorporates script-writing techniques, so now I can turn my stories into film and plays! Oh the joy!

With my free time until then I hope to write as much as possible and finish my short story collection which is tentatively titled We Are the Blood, and is loosely tied together with a ‘families’ theme… With any luck and a lot of annoying self-promotion, it will be released by spring of next year, so any comments, reposts and recommendations would be really appreciated! 

New story out!

13 Jun

As a student of creative writing with the Open University, it’s pretty nice to have a short story published, so I am chuffed that a story I wrote for an assignment has been published in an anthology on Kindle. There are some great pieces of writing from plenty of talented aspiring writers, and the best thing is that the book is FREE until the 17th of July, so if you want a nice read and fancy supporting some students, download it and get your fill! 

http://tinyurl.com/ncx2kod

Daeva. Or My Second Marked Assignment!

21 Jan

Below is the story I wrote for TMA02 of my Creative Writing module at the Open University.

It is a short story, edited based on the feedback given by my tutor.

I hope you enjoy it! If you did, please comment and share. If you didn’t, comment and share anyway, your friends might like it! ;0)

Daeva

The quickly darkening sky seemed to almost creak under the weight of the pregnant rainclouds. Since Douglas Grayson arrived at his destination as the dusk began approaching, the threat of the storm had become a promise. The huge oak trees in Delamere Forest dwarfed his slight, birdlike frame and the moon etched deep lines into his furrowed brow from its place above the canopy of trees.

He had followed the instructions she gave him to the letter, recited the words exactly as she had transcribed them for him and made sure that he bought exactly the same herbs she listed, even going as far as to use their Latin names, remembering that she had said that some plants had similar names but very different effects.

‘Why is nothing happening?’ he shouted at the yellowing leaves high above his head.

As he slumped down against the damp bark of a nearby tree, he pressed the heels of his hands hard into his bruised eye-sockets in an attempt to hold in the tears.

He didn’t know exactly what he was expecting, and a part of him had anticipated that nothing would happen at all. But what he had hoped for was for some great and powerful beast, or Aeshma Daeva as she had called it, to appear before him and accept the terms of his bargain.

No child should have to lose his mother before he even knows her, and Douglas tried his best to do what he could to stop that from happening to his grandson. He had exhausted all the conventional routes, and soon enough had begun trying the alternative, and at times, unusual, methods of prolonging or attempting to save his daughter’s life.

Since Rebecca Grayson’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her father had paid for the best specialists, consulted nutritionists, spent hundreds of pounds on books about alternative therapy and imported exotic herbs and spices purported to bring health to those who consumed them.

It was in one of those herb shops he had visited that he first heard about Madar Parivash, a Persian healer who was purported to be highly in tune with the hidden nature of the world, according to those who knew her.

Madar Parivash operated from the back room of one of those specialist shops, a room filled with carvings of bizarre creatures on every shelf, books in dozens of languages, beautiful and colourful rugs over every piece of furniture and etchings of yet more wondrous beasts on the walls. The air in her study was redolent with fragrant incense and the scent of burning candles, which made the shadows of the carved creatures seem to dance in every corner of the room.

‘You want to save her,’ she had said when Douglas first parted the heavy curtain on the doorway. It disturbed him that this wasn’t posed as a question.

‘How do you know? And what do you know, exactly?’ he replied.

‘I know what I am required to know. The spirits that surround me tell me many things. They have told me many things about you.’ She indicated for him to sit down, ‘What you wish to do is a very brave and selfless thing, but it is not without its price.’

‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ he kneeled on the rug before a small wooden table, ‘so how come you do?’

‘I know of your struggle, your fear for your daughter and grandson, and most importantly I know how far you would go to save her.’

Douglas heard her earrings jangle slightly as she kneeled on the opposite side of the table from him. The sound had a chilling unearthly sound in that small and strange room. For a fleeting moment, he found himself wondering if she truly had hair underneath her voluminous headscarf, or if perhaps her head was teaming with snakes. He pushed that notion out of his head when the candlelight lit up a tendril of henna-red hair which had writhed its way out from under the fabric.

‘There is a way to help her,’ Madar Parivash’s softly accented voice roused Douglas from the hypnotic spell the dancing beasts on the wall had cast over him, ‘but, as I have warned you, it is not without its price.’

‘Anything. I’ll do anything to save my little girl! Darren needs her!’

‘Ah yes, the child. A child needs his mother, of course.’

As she explained the nature of the Aeshma Daeva to him, and then carefully wrote the instructions on how to summon it, Douglas got the sense that all of the creatures depicted in the study had turned their attention to him, eager to see if he was bold enough to call upon such a fearsome entity.

And he had gone straight out and done exactly as she had instructed, yet nothing had happened. After recalling every minute detail of his afternoon meeting with that enchanting sorceress and accepting that she was his last hope, Douglas finally gave in to the tears he was holding back and let out a wail that seemed to shatter the sky above him, for almost instantly, the rain began to pour through the leaves and onto him, onto his face, where it washed his tears and saturated his parched lips.

So powerful was his outpouring of emotion that he felt his head swimming, his vision tunnelled until it was nothing but an aperture of muted grey light and his hands fell to his lap as he slumped back heavily against the tree and lost consciousness.

He was awakened by the sound of his mobile phone ringing. By the time he answered it, the electronic reproduction of a passage from Vivaldi’s Spring movement had played through five times.

‘Hello?’ He was at first confused as to who would be phoning him from a forest, until he remembered that he was the one sat there amongst trees and moss.

‘Dad? It’s me, Rebecca… Have I woken you up?’

‘No. Yes, I was sleeping,’ he felt more drained than she sounded.

‘I’m sorry, I hope you aren’t angry?’

‘No, not angry. Did you want me?’

‘Erm, yes,’ she replied hesitantly, ‘I… I have some good news…’

‘Oh good.’

‘Yes…very good. Is everything ok?’

‘Yes, very good. Everything is ok.’

‘Ok. Erm… good. Well I just wanted to tell you that the doctors are shocked with my progress today. They said that the cancer is still there, but after the scan that they pushed through because of my stats, it looks like it has shrunk overnight!’

‘You didn’t tell me this morning when I saw you,’ he responded.

‘Dad, I haven’t seen you since yesterday morning! Are you sure you’re ok?’

‘I am. Must have slept through. Sorry.’

‘Where are you? Have you spoken to anyone?’ there was the smallest hint of a tremor in her voice now.

‘Yes, I spoke to a lady. The lady with all the monsters. She sent me to Delamere. Must have been tired and had a snooze.’

‘You’re in the forest?’ her voice rose in pitch and volume, ‘You were asleep in the forest? In the rain?’

‘Yes. Yes it was raining.’

‘I’m asking them to send an ambulance, you could have died!’

‘I’ll walk, it’s ok, I’m fine. See you.’

He pressed the worn red button on his ancient hand-set and let it fall to the damp leaves at the base of the tree under which he had apparently slept through the night and a good part of the day.

The sound of Vivaldi started up again and faded quickly behind him as he walked through the forest with no destination in mind. He looked up at the yellow and green ceiling and noticed that the rain had abated, though the part of sky he was able to see was still grey and murky, as though someone had painted it in black and white before smearing it with their palm.

In the distance, a low rumble of thunder growled just loudly enough to drown out the sound of Douglas’s phone ringing again. Still he continued on his aimless journey, nowhere in mind but with the sensation of wanting to be somewhere.

A gust of wind rustled the leaves above him and whisked a few off the mossy carpet into a swirling tumult almost human in shape.

Just as the leaves settled back down on the ground, Douglas heard what he thought was someone walking behind him. Curious but unafraid, he turned around to face this new inhabitant of the forest.

Seeing nothing but more trees, he decided that this was as good a direction to walk in as any so set off on his new but equally aimless path.

‘I thought I’d find you here.’

He was unable to pinpoint the lilting, purring voice, which, although now more sinister in tone, was immediately recognisable.

Another swirl of leaves from behind him caused him to spin on his heels, sure that this was where the voice must be coming from.

The sweet and pungent tang of incense filled his nostrils, then his head, as the leaves whirled more frantically in front of him.

Once again the tintinnabulation of Madar Paravish’s earrings sounded as the shadows gathered in closer and the swirling leaves took on a more solid form.

He recognised the woman from the shop, though she looked somewhat different to how she had just twenty four hours ago. She wore a gown made entirely of what seemed to be dead leaves, and her skin had become more brown and rustic, giving her the appearance of a sapling tree covered in a layer of young and supple bark. Gone was the headscarf she had worn; now her red-brown locks cascaded over the shoulders of her dress and hung in curls of chestnut all the way down to her waist.

‘How did you find me?’ As he gazed at her he found her intriguing but not fearsome.

‘You cannot be scared of me.’

Could she read his thoughts?

‘Had you any emotional response at all,’ she continued ‘you would realise by now that you have almost no emotional response at all…Don’t you just love paradoxes? Oh, well I suppose you wouldn’t!’ she threw her head back as she laughed, and a peal of thunder joined her in mirthful chorus.

Douglas heard the familiar sound of The Four Seasons and looked around for its source.

‘Looking for this?’ Madar Parivash, or the thing that she now was, had stopped laughing and was looking intently at him, head cocked to one side, mobile phone in her leafed hand.

‘What are you doing here?’ he asked.

‘I told you, selfless acts come with a price. Did you think I meant money? Oh, poor Douglas!’

‘So what is the price?’

‘Are you not familiar with the term “selling your soul”? I gave you what you wanted; now you must give me what I want!’

‘And what do you want?’

‘You still don’t understand?’ she, or it, snapped, ‘I want the very heart of your being. What makes you human. And not your actual heart. That is nothing but a machine. No, the real heart of a man is his soul. The reservoir for all feelings: hatred, anger, desire, or in your case, pure love. I could see your deep longing to do whatever you could to help your daughter, no matter how extreme it was. Can you blame me for exploiting that?’

‘I see. Yes, that makes sense.’

‘My only regret is that, as I already own your soul, you aren’t able to feel anything towards me. I do enjoy tasting a person’s fear at that ultimate moment!’

Once again the thunder and the creature’s laugh bellowed through the forest, and as a flash of lightning lit up their surroundings, Douglas saw her arm thrust out from her body, holding something. As his eyes adjusted after the lightning flash, he squinted to make out the shape of the object in her hand.

‘Oh don’t worry about this,’ she nodded in the direction of the noose, ‘this is mine; it’s not for you. Just yet…’

Had he been capable of surprise, he would not have felt it upon noticing that noose was made of intertwined branches of what looked like birch to his untrained eye.

‘After you carve out your own end, you’ll go floating off, like a butterfly, then just before you arrive at the paradise you creatures are all waiting for, I will use this to take what you owe me!’

‘Yes, I suppose you should take what’s yours. That would be right.’

He heard the phone ringing again.

‘I think it’s for you…’ she threw the phone down at his feet, ‘you should get it!’

He reached down to pick it up from the floor. It felt cold and smooth in his hand. He looked at his palm and saw not a phone, but a shard of glass reflecting the approaching dusk.

‘You know what to do, Douglas; say goodbye now!’

 

 

 

A question for writers of short fiction…

11 Nov

I was wondering what your method was for multiple story ideas!  Do you sketch out a quick plan in your notebook for each idea and work on each one at a time, or do you start writing them all and flit between them all, thus potentially having multiple stories being written simultaneously?

The way I am doing it at the moment is very much the latter. I have two unfinished stories and one that I have just started, as well as two or three more in the notebook that I need to start, but at the moment I am just concentrating on three.

What do my writer friends prefer to do?

First CW assignment marked!

5 Nov

My first assignment on the Open University A215 Creative Writing module has been marked!

The assignment was a piece of fiction, and I achieved a pretty good grade!  I made some silly errors, mainly switching between tenses and being inconsistent in the time at which my passage occurred, but now that I have identified these, it will make it much easier for me to spot during re-edits in future!

As we are allowed to publish our work after it has been marked and sent back, I include an edited version, with the relevant changes made:

The Colour of Night

 The streets were alive with various sounds, even at such an early hour of the morning. Distant cars rumbled along rough tarmac, summoning an otherworldly hum that was audible for miles. Planes flew overhead in the black velvet sky and sometimes a drunken scream could be heard. This is the sound of the city. The night is alive.

Brandon Tagg swiftly made his way from one darkened doorway to the next, the collar on his coat turned up, scarf pulled tightly around his face. From under the brim of his black trilby, his eyes were just visible in the moonlight and the occasional sodium street-lamp above him. He knew that this street was quiet, but he could not risk having his face seen by a late night reveller or night-worker returning home from a tiring shift.

Throughout his life his facial deformities had attracted looks of revulsion, horror and sometimes ridicule from those that looked upon him. After twenty eight years of feeling like a monster, he allowed the darkness to engulf him. No longer did he venture out in the warm, bright sunlight, instead inviting the darkness of night to flow around him like an ocean wave, keeping him hidden from the eyes of the world.

From his place in the middle of the ocean of night, he felt he could see the sunlight as a distant shore, always beyond his reach as he bobbed in the chilly depths of the night, unseen by most. As refreshed as he was in the night, no longer reviled by humankind, the oppressing darkness seemed to choke him, weighing down upon him like a great column, and he longed to feel the sun on his hideous face, his hair ruffled by a summer breeze.

More than the sunlight, Brandon craved one thing: love. Shunned by friends and family alike since childhood, he feared he would never feel the touch of another, that spark that generates a passionate fervour between two people who truly connect.

It is said that nature compensates in those who are in some way afflicted, such as those without sight developing a keener sense of smell. Brandon was blessed with the unique ability to perceive the character, personality and emotions of a person as a glowing, coloured aura surrounding their head. Each colour signified a different trait. Red for anger, green for jealousy, deep purple for passion. The aura would only show the emotion that was the most powerful within that person, and in his lifetime, Brandon had seen almost every colour possible, apart from two.

The two colours that had so far eluded him were black, for the deepest hatred, and pink, signifying that the person was filled with a true and pure love, untainted by dark thoughts. These two were the polar opposites of one another, and Brandon had always wondered if such pure feelings of good and evil could ever exist in a person.

His questioned was answered that night as he walked through one of the subway paths that connected the various parts of the city. Every twist and turn of these tunnels was familiar to him, as familiar to him as to the rats that populated the system. Brandon felt a certain affinity with the rodents he saw, feared, nocturnal creatures that went through life wearing a cloak of comforting yet cloying darkness.

As he entered the maze that ran underneath the nightclub district, he heard voices approaching.

‘You’re a stupid bitch, Amy! They were in the wrong yet you still sided with them?’

‘You were both in the wrong! He shouldn’t have thrown his drink over her but you didn’t need to step in! It’s almost like you were looking for a fight!’

‘So if I had done that to you, you wouldn’t want anyone to help you?’

‘If it was our argument, then no; it’s nobody’s place but ours to sort it out. Anyway, I’d like to think that you wouldn’t do that to me!’

‘Of course I wouldn’t, but I swear, if I ever see him again…’

‘Oh please, just forget about it! Couldn’t you have just enjoyed our night, Kyle?’

As their footsteps drew nearer to Brandon, he ducked into one of the connecting tunnels that led to the less desirable residential area of the city. At this time of night, this tunnel was less populated than the others, and the angles and the grime coated lamps created ample shadows into which he could blend without being easily seen.

The girl slowly came into view. She was radiant, in a soft pink dress, with flawless skin and natural creamy-blonde hair. Even more radiant than her beauty, though, was the aura surrounding her head. It was the same rosy pink as her dress, and tinged with dazzling golden striations.

First Creative Writing assessment due date imminent…!

26 Oct

My first piece of assessed fiction for my Open University creative writing module is due on Wednesday and to say I am not nervous about my work being marked would be a huge lie!

The exercises set did help to free up creativity and I found myself thinking up a story quite easily after doing them, but it’s still scary! It’s even more nerve-wracking than having complete strangers reading my fiction!

The story I came up with is pretty good I think, and I may expand on the idea a little bit, or a lot, but it does have echoes of some of Dean Koontz’s recent work, so it might be tricky to write it without it seeming like a rip-off…!

Onwards and upwards!

9 Oct

I’ve been so lax in my blogging again! This time I have an excuse: I’ve been sorting out a job and a house and am preparing to move!

My new room is bigger so writing at my computer desk should be possible, so I hope to have a little more output. Which is good, as my creative writing module at the Open University has begun, and NaNoWriMo is just weeks away!

If anyone else is taking part this year it would be great to hear from you, and we can provide support!

My First Published Work!

3 Sep

Remember that eZine that was publishing my work?  Well it’s now available to download for FREE!! just click this link: http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/pdfs/SirensCallEZine_August2014.pdf and it will take you to the ‘zine.  My story starts on page 7

As well as being excited, I have to say I am kind of nervous as well.  People I will never meet may be reading a story I wrote, and that is a strange thought!  Is that a normal reaction to have? Oh well, it’s too late now!

Feel free to share the link with anyone you think may like it, and I would love you forever if you could leave a comment here as to what you thought of my little story!  Thank you 😀