Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

#FridayFlash: Just The Driver

All being well the pixies will return next week, but in the meantime, here's a new vampire story starring the same character as in last week's #FridayFlash, A Rude Awakening. He's gone a bit noir in this one, you have been warned!


I'm 'Up North' for the first time in ages, delivering a package for Lucien, and it's been a ball-ache of a journey so far. Having to travel by night places a fair few restrictions on a trip of any length, and it doesn't help when the van gets a puncture and I have to spend valuable time changing the wheel in a lay-by, my arse inches away from the traffic in the slow lane. Oh yeah, and it's raining so I'm bloody soaked. 'Triffic.

No Aston for me this trip either, too conspicuous according to Lucien, so here I am, playing at being “white van man,” with my rear end twitching faster than a ship's cat in a barrel every time one of those artics thunders by.

And then there's Plod. Never around when you bloody well need him, which can be a blessing in my line of work, but by God doesn't he always show up at the most inconvenient of moments? Just don't ask to look in the back of the van. No, really. Don't.

Here he comes now, a black rat, a traffic copper. All spit and swagger, tapping his pen on his pad of traffic tickets and moaning something about the van's tinted windows. He goes back to his patrol car, pulls a gadget out of the boot and puts it up against my driver's window. I reckon he can smell a ticket in the offing for the tint on the glass being too dark. As he takes his reading I thumb the button on the key fob in my pocket and the little device Lucien had installed adjusts the tint to just within legal limits. Not too much mind, just enough.

Plod does not look happy. He packs his kit away and I wish him a cheery good evening as I throw the jack onto the passenger seat. Trouble is, now I'm stuck with one of those bloody “space-saver” spares, it'll be like driving on a feckin' ice skate, and I'm limited to 50mph. Bollocks. This is going to put a serious crimp in my evening.

About half an hour later I'm starting to feel peckish so I swing the van into the motorway services' car park. Well hello, what do we have here then?

My headlights splash over a little car tucked away almost out of sight in among the trucks in the HGV parking area. Steamed up windows and rocking like there's a high wind, which there isn't. I hop out of the van and stroll over. Tapping on the passenger window stops the rocking. Stops it dead. There's some scuffling then the door opens a crack. Bugger me, it's the copper from earlier, all red-faced and sweating with his trousers round his ankles, and some tart young enough to be his daughter in the back seat.

She squeaks something unintelligible and flings an arm over her naked breasts while he climbs out and starts blustering, fumbling with his belt. I reach into my back pocket and flash the DI's warrant card at him. That gets his attention. I can see the look in his eyes as he mentally chews over whether or not his career's fucked. It's not a real warrant card, just a little insurance policy Lucien suggested I carry, he has them run up in bulk by some bloke in a lock-up somewhere. It's not brilliant, but it's good enough to fool the copper. I don't give him time to read it properly either, just long enough to register my supposed rank. I keep my finger over the name.

The wedding band on his fingers gives me an “in,” and he's soon on his way, mightily relieved he (a) didn't nick a senior officer earlier in the evening, and (b) that I've agreed, after some persuasion, to say nothing to his Inspector about the position I've just found him in. I did suggest transferring him to the dog section, or was that dogging section? Just my little joke.

He'll have more to worry about than that soon enough I reckon as I climb back into the van's driving seat. As soon as the SOCOs find the girl in the car, her throat ripped out and full of his semen he'll be screwed. Literally I shouldn't wonder, once the old lags get their hands on him. A life sentence on Rule 43, your arse kept firmly against the wall, it's enough to give a bloke the shivers. Silly sod should have used a condom.

My fangs retract as I throw the van into gear and roar out onto the motorway. I can still taste her. Eighteen years old if she was a day and very fresh, like one of those juicy green apples I used to like. Used to.

I'm not going to make it before dawn, so I pull the van off the motorway and manage to get parked up in a quiet spot down some faceless country lane just as the sun's starting to come up. This is going to be tight, I think as I sprint round to the back doors and throw myself inside. I can already feel the heat in my skin as I haul the doors shut. The sunburn's going to hurt like a bastard by the time I wake up.

I chain the doors tight shut behind me. Can't have the package getting loose while I have a kip, and there's no way I'm hunting about the countryside for it, not during daylight at any rate. I'll go up like a Roman Candle if I try that.

Just before I settle down I check the cable ties keeping the woman trussed up in her sleeping bag. She rolls frightened eyes at me and tries to wriggle away, not that she's going anywhere, strung up the way she is like a Christmas turkey.

“It's alright pet, I'm just the driver. You've nothing to fear from me.”

I curl up on the other side of the van and drift off to sleep. No, I have no idea who she is. Pays not to ask, know what I mean? I'm just the driver.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

#FridayFlash: A Rude Awakening

The pixies are taking a short break, but in their stead here's one from the vaults. I'm planning to have an all-new vampire story for you next Friday too.


Kat and I had spent the day hanging round the Theatre Royal’s stage door trying to keep out of London’s bitter winter weather. Luckily we got on well with Joe, the stage doorman, and he’d kept up a steady flow of mugs of tea to ward off the cold. A serial tea drinker, our Joe. Now we were looking for somewhere warm to sleep.

So there we were, round the back of the theatre, sheltering from the stinging sleet which had begun lashing down at dusk, and wondering whether we could bed down among the discarded cardboard in one of the theatre’s big industrial bins when that last mug of tea started to make its presence felt to my bladder.

Diving round the other side of the bin, I went to relieve myself while Kat stayed out of the worst of the sleet storm. I was just tugging my zip down when a figure turned the corner into the alley. All I could see in the flickering light of the single, faulty streetlamp was a tall, thin man in full evening dress, complete with cane, opera cape and a top hat. This was the sort of bloke Joe would have called a “proper toff.”

Kat hissed to me from her side of the bin, ‘You seen that knob over there? Bet he’s got a few quid.’

She winked and, as I zipped up thinking the tea would have to hang on a bit longer, I knew exactly what was going through her mind. At least I thought I did.

Did I tell you about Kat? Willowy little Irish thing in her late teens, all pale skin, flaxen hair and delicious curves. Eyes like a spring morning sky that could melt icebergs, if she was in the mood. And as hard as nails. We first met that summer when we were arrested in a police raid after both taking a wrong turn on the way back from separate spots of petty larceny on Oxford Street. I never said I was a saint.

We’d ended up among a crowd of protesters yelling vociferously about something or other - ban the whale, save the bomb, whatever. By the time we were released from custody we’d become friends and had been looking out for each other ever since.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

As the man drew level with my side of the bin, I stepped out of the shadows slowly so as not to frighten him too much, just enough, and did my best to look pathetic and needy, with just a hint of menacing. I wasn’t too good at menacing, dressed as I was like an advert for ‘Man at Salvation Army.’

He began turning towards me, then Kat sprang at him from the other side of the bin. I thought we were only going to rough him up a bit, I didn’t know she had a knife till I caught a flash of the blade in the streetlamp’s orange glow.

I suddenly had the uncanny feeling this wasn’t going to end well and started forward to head her off, but I’d only moved a step before the man’s arm shot out and, in a perfectly timed manoeuvre, grabbed Kat by the throat, swung her up off the ground, and I heard a sickening crack as he broke her neck with nothing more than a flick of his wrist.

‘No style,’ he muttered as Kat’s lifeless body landed at his feet.

I registered the shock on her face, saw the knife slide out of her hand, then turned and ran. I must have made it oh, a whole five yards before I felt, rather than saw, the shadow pass me, then suddenly there was an iron band round my throat and my feet were the ones windmilling as I was hoisted into the air.

My heart was hammering in my chest as I dangled like a rag doll in his vicelike grip. I struggled for breath and began to choke, all the while surveyed by the most piercing green eyes I have ever seen, framed in a pale, angular face.

Then he sniffed my face, not the snuffling sniff of a dog, a single long delicate sniff like a chef examining the heady aroma of a rare ingredient and, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, my fear melted away in that instant, replaced by a burning white hot rage and I swung my fist at his face. My clumsy punch connected with his right jaw and he grunted. I winced as a wave of pain radiated up to my wrist from my newly broken knuckles. I’ve never been a fighter.

“Spirit,” he murmured with just a hint of surprise, “I like that.”

I didn’t, my hand was regretting it already.

As his eyes rolled back in his head and his fangs slid into place, a couple of things happened almost simultaneously – I felt my eyes widen to the size of saucers and, as he pulled me close and sank his fangs into the side of my neck, I pissed myself all over his shoes.

Then everything went black.

Now, let me tell you something. The entertainment industry has a lot to answer for as they have, en masse, got it wrong. Very badly wrong. There is nothing even remotely sexy or exciting about waking up in the muck and filth of a London alley, in clothes that haven’t been off your back for a month, and covered in your own urine. Just sayin’.

As Lucien introduced himself and began to explain what had just happened to me, it crossed my mind that this was not how I’d have imagined a vampire’s awakening to be, had I ever thought about it. I was still ruminating on this when Lucien pulled me to my feet, slung his arm affectionately around my shoulders, and together we headed down the alley toward his car.

Was that a speck of my blood at the corner of his mouth?


Monday, 14 February 2011

(Nothing But) Flowers Valentine's Day Anthology Goes Live!

All because I can't tell the time (or at least because I got confused between AEST and GMT, sorry!), you get to enjoy my story, Daisy's Café early! It's live right now over at the (Nothing But) Flowers website. I'd appreciate you popping over there and letting me know what you think of it.

Here's the link: Daisy's Café

And if you're on Facebook, why not drop by the (Nothing But) Flowers Book Launch and chat with the writers.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

(Nothing But) Flowers Literary Mix-Tape Anthology

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, which means it's almost time for the (Nothing But) Flowers Literary Mix-Tape.

Inspired by the lyrics of the classic Talking Heads track of the same name, the anthology features post-apocalyptic love stories from twenty-four talented authors (including yours truly) and goes live over at the (Nothing But) Flowers website from 7pm (GMT) on Monday, 14th February. The anthology will also be available to purchase as an e-book and as a print paperback.

My story, Daisy's Café is a tale of young love set against the backdrop of a collapsed society. There are some tough choices to be made, with happiness far from assured. To find out more, make sure you tune in at 8pm (GMT) on Monday, 14th February for my story.

From the (nothing But) Flowers website:

The second Literary Mix Tape, and the first for 2011 is “Nothing But Flowers: Tales of Post Apocalyptic Love”. The stories explore the complexities and challenges of love in a post apocalyptic landscape. Inspired by the Talking Heads song of the same name, the anthology will go live at 9am (AEST) on the 14th February and run online for 24 hours. The anthology will also be available for purchase as an eBook and a paperback.

All proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go to the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Fund to assist with the rebuilding of Queensland communities after the worst floods on record.

The (Nothing But) Flowers anthology features stories from: Sam Adamson, Jim Bronyaur, Jen Brubacher, Chris Chartrand, Kil Conor, Rebecca Dobbie, Annie Evett, Susan May James, Emma Kerry, Lily Mulholland, Dan Powell, Icy Sedgwick, Benjamin Solah, Graham Storrs, Adam Byatt, Jason Coggins, Janette Dalgleish, Rob Diaz, Rebecca Emin, Laura Eno, PJ Kaiser, Maria Kelly, Emma Newman and Dale C Roe (USA). Editor Jodi Cleghorn is contributing a bonus story only available to purchasers of the e-book and paperback.

For more details, and to read the stories as they go live on Valentine's Day, please stop by the (Nothing But) Flowers website, and if you happen to be on Facebook, don't forget to stop by the (Nothing But) Flowers Facebook page and say hello.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

#FridayFlash: The UCF Stories #36: Reconstruction

This is episode 36 of my ongoing web serial, updated weekly as a part of #fridayflash. If you are new to The UCF Stories and would like to read from the beginning, or if you've missed an episode, you can find a full index of the episodes here.


Twinkle buzzed low over the river, the weight of The Book forcing her dangerously close to the fast-flowing water. Up ahead she could see the fairy fortress swathed in scaffolding, a myriad of workers scrambling about on it like so many tiny ants. The ache in her wings forced Twinkle to land on the riverbank, and from there she followed the circuitous land route up the cliffs to the fortress' main gate.

Once past the sentries, Twinkle found herself in the familiar surroundings of the courtyard, familiar but yet different since the collapse of the fortress wall. Piles of dressed stones lay everywhere, jockeying for position alongside heaps of rubble, tools and building supplies, through which were sorting several creatures, apparently gnomes. Twinkle hailed the nearest one.

'Well met, Master Gnome. How goes the re-building?'

The gnome ignored her, so Twinkle strode closer. The nearer she got, the more uneasy she felt. There was something odd about the way the gnome kept scratching his beard, as though he was uncomfortable wearing it. And his tunic did not seem to fit properly either, bunching up around his middle so that he had to re-adjust it every few minutes. It was almost as though, Twinkle thought, he was straightening a lumpy stomach rather than his tunic. She was on the point of calling out to the gnome again when a soft cough sounded behind her.

'M'lady,' said Oberon, 'How nice to see you.'

'Captain Plan...'

Oberon rolled his eyes.

'Oh, sorry,' said Twinkle, 'I forgot. My Lord Oberon.' She bowed.

Oberon waved away her apology.

'Think nothing of it, M'lady. There are times when I am addressed with my new title that I think my previous Lord is standing right behind me. I just can't shake that feeling.'

'Is there any news of my father?'

'No, M'lady. I have my agents abroad in both this realm and the other, but there's not been a word of your father since his banishment.'

Twinkle sighed. 'No matter. I presume my mother is in her chamber?'

'Yes, M'lady. I have managed to,' he coughed, 'Escape for a few hours to supervise the building work.'

Nodding to Oberon, Twinkle set off across the coutryard in the direction of the royal chambers. Half way there she paused, half turning back.

'My Lord, is there something strange about the gnomish builders?'

'I have decided that is something best left well alone, as long as the work is progressing.'

Twinkle nodded, turned and disappeared through the doorway to her mother's chamber.

* * *

Titania lay wrapped her blankets and snoring like a hog when Twinkle arrived. Polite enquiries as to the state of her mother's wakefullness were met with snorts and grunts, so Twinkle was forced to give Titania a sharp poke to the shoulder in order to elicit a response.

'Ugh? What? Who is it?' Titania slitted open an eye.

'It is I, Mother...'


'Twinkle,' Twinkle sighed. 'Your daughter.'

'Whaddya want, daughter?'

'I have The Book.'

Titania sat bolt upright in her bed, eyes wide, a grin spreading from ear to ear. Her tousled bed-hair gave her the appearance of a maniacal hedgehog. Twinkle stifled a giggle.

'You have it?!'

Twinkle nodded, still fighting to keep a straight face.

'You have it!' Titania crowed. 'We're saved! Let me see it, let me see it.'

She snatched The Book from Twinkle's outstretched hands and held it up to a shaft of sunlight which fell across the bed from an open window. Sunlight draped the battered leather cover and Titania laughed. It was a high-pitched, squeaking laugh that made Twinkle wince.

'Perhaps now you will give me leave to go and find my father?'

'Your what? Who?' muttered Titania. 'Oh, him. Yes, yes, I suppose so. Off you go.' She waved Twinkle away.

* * *

Twinkle was halfway across the courtyard when a piercing shriek rent the air. Since it emanated from Titania's window, Twinkle could only presume her Mother had discovered she lacked the key required to open The Book.

Oberon winced as Twinkle approached.

'Is that scream anything I'm going to need to deal with, M'lady?' he asked.

'Hopefully not,' said Twinkle, 'And will you stop calling me M'lady?! My mother has just discovered that when she bid me bring her The Book I took her precisely at her word. She never mentioned the key.'


'She has however, finally given me permission to go in search of my father. If she wants the key, she's just going to have to wait until I have found him, isn't she?' Twinkle winked.

'Meanwhile, I shall be the one stuck here on the receiving end of your mother's temper. I can understand why your father took to the bottle.'

'For that I apologise. You were always kind to me while I was growing up. You don't really deserve this. I will try to return quickly, but for now I must fly lest my mother has the chance to change her mind. That will be difficult though, I had her scribe make an official note of her permission.'

'It's alright.' Oberon hugged her. 'Now, away with you while you still can.'

As Twinkle swooped low over the fortress wall, Oberon once again turned his attention to the gnomish builders.

'We don't employ Goblins, my arse,' he muttered as a nearby builder's false beard fell off at his feet.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

#FridayFlash: The UCF Stories #35: The Key To It All

This is episode 35 of my ongoing web serial, updated weekly as a part of #fridayflash. If you are new to The UCF Stories, or have missed an episode, you can find a full index of the episodes here.

Gardner's enjoyment of his snack was spoiled by something sharp poking him on the end of his nose. Swivelling his eyes, Gardner went cross-eyed to discover the source of the prodding was the tip of Pogmorton's wand, which now hovered dangerously close to his left nostril.

'Leave it,' said Pogmorton.


'You remember what happened the last time time you messed with a pixie. The night we first met, as I recall?'

'Yesh,' mumbled Gardner, his mouth still full of Twinkle's neck.

'Then put the fairy down.'

Gardner released his grip on Twinkle's neck and shuffled reluctantly backwards, his eyes still focused on Pogmorton's wand.

There's something not quite right about that pixie, Gardner thought, he's never been quite right since he came back.

Pogmorton extended a hand and pulled Twinkle to her feet.

'Thank you,' said Twinkle quietly.

'Don't thank me yet. If anything happens to Rushalka, I'll make you wish you'd never been born. Now, get down those stairs.'

Pushing Twinkle before him, Pogmorton made his way through the trapdoor back into the basement. As they reached Swazzle's hut, Pogmorton shoved Twinkle onto the front step.

'Wait here, I'll get The Book.'

As he walked away, Pogmorton tossed an angry look back at her, which yapped and ran around her feet snarling.

'If you move, it'll shred your wings,' Pogmorton offered by way of an explanation.

Twinkle visibly paled.

* * *

Creeping silently through the small door next to Rev Beresford's fireplace, Pogmorton emerged into the priest's study. The vault he had created the night he died hung in the air near the sofa. Pogmorton scrambled onto the arm of the sofa, pulled out his wand and began a ritual of immense complexity that involved many intricate wand gestures.

As the ritual reached its conclusion, Jamieson appeared from behind the sofa carrying a dustpan and brush, just in time for Pogmorton to shout, 'Catch!'

The Book winded Jamieson as it landed on him, but what upset him more was the fairy hand that landed full in his face, dripping blood down the front of his second best tunic. Jamieson let out a shriek, shook the appendage from his face and, glaring at Pogmorton, vanished.

Pogmorton grabbed The Book and Twinkle's hand and dashed back to the basement, where he found Twinkle exactly where he'd left her, still guarded by the angry look. He threw Twinkle her hand.

'Antidote. Now.'

'Alright, alright, but call that thing off first.' Twinkle gestured towards the angry look.

Pogmorton let out a low whistle and the angry look's ears pricked up. It turned and scampered towards him, climbed the front of his clothes and re-attached itself to his face.

'Get brewing that antidote.' Pogmorton pushed Twinkle ahead of him into Swazzle's hut and stood over her while she set about brewing. By the time the antidote was ready, Rushalka was wreathed in sweat and clawing at her bedclothes, gasping for water. She recoiled visibly at the sight of Twinkle when the fairy approached her bed, and it fell to Pogmorton to lift the cup to his sister's mouth. Rushalka greedily sucked down every drop then collapsed back against her pillows.

After a few moments a warm glow seemed to settle about Rushalka, the sweat evaporated from her brow and her breathing eased.

'She'll be alright now,' reassured Twinkle.

'She'd better be.'

* * *

Rushalka was recovering nicely as Pogmorton escorted Twinkle out through the air brick onto Goddess Rising's back step.

'Here's The Book.' He handed it over. 'Now piss off.'

Twinkle took to the air, flapping furiously to gain height under the additional heavy weight of The Book, and buzzed low over the back yard wall just as Swazzle and the Draig returned from their stroll.

'Was that Twinkle I just saw leaving?' said Swazzle as the Draig nuzzled Pogmorton's leg.

'Yup. I had to give her The Book.'

Swazzle was aghast.

'She poisoned Rushalka. I had to.'

'But, but...'

'It's alright though,' there was a gleam in Pogmorton's eye as he fished around in his pocket before holding up a small spherical object. 'She can't do a thing with it. She's bollocks'd 'cos I've still got the key.'

Swazzle recognised the walnut shell they had appropriated from Simeon some weeks previously. A smile began to twitch at the corner of his mouth.

Peals of pixie laughter rent the night air, the Draig lolloping in happy circles at their feet.

'You do realise she'll be back?' said Swazzle between sniggers.

'Of course she will.' Pogmorton dabbed tears of laughter with his handkerchief. 'And when she does, I will kill her.'

One look into Pogmorton's eyes left Swazzle in absolutely no doubt he meant it.

'No-one hurts my sister and lives.'


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Splintered Lands - Ap Garriyon Part 1

I am thrilled to have been invited to be a part of a new collaborative fantasy writing project, Splintered Lands. The first part of my story Ap Garriyon is up now over at the Splintered Lands site.

Ap Garriyon opens with a troop of the Knights Of The Broken Wheel on a sensitive mission high in the Shelvasha Mountains, a particularly dangerous part of the Splintered Lands. Here's a taster of the story:

Troop Captain Sir Merarus McNaer shifted uneasily in his saddle. His horse's constant fidgeting did nothing to ease his nerves as the morning mist billowed around him, an insulating blanket almost completely opaque this high in the mountains. Speaking quietly to the animal, McNaer stroked its neck, the horse whickering softly in response.

McNaer had always been an early riser, so it made sense he should stand dawn sentry while his troop struck camp. Even though he knew their camp lay not a hundred yards distant, were it not for the occasional muffled clank of armour or a whinny from one of the horses, McNaer could easily have believed he was completely alone in one of the most dangerous places in the republic...

To read the rest, and to explore the Splintered Lands, please go here.

For further information about the Knights Of The Broken Wheel, please go here, and if you happen to be on Twitter, keep an eye out for the #SplinteredLands hashtag for more updates on the project.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

I Guess That Makes Me An Author, Right?

Today you'll find me over at Write Anything guest posting about my first year as a writer. Hop on over to read my rags to, well...still rags but with a lot more words under my belt, story.

Are there similarities between your writer's story and mine? Am I doing it totally wrong? Please spare me a minute or two to leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.

My guest post is here.

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