Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Devil's Staircase by Helen Fitzgerald

The Devil’s Staircase by Helen Fitzgerald
One Man’s Opinion

Helen Fitzgerald must have been one hell of a social worker. As a probation and parole officer she most likely needed to apply levels of patience and understanding that most of us would struggle to find.

You sense this in the way she creates her characters, from the main players to the bit parts. It’s as if she is able to empathise with each and every one of them. She understands that people react differently to situations, that patterns of thinking vary from one individual to the next and that the human condition is to live somewhere under the shady parasol of death.

I first encountered the work of Fitzgerald earlier in the year when booking a place on an evening hosted by her at ‘Crime In The City’, part of a series set up by Edinburgh libraries.

I got hold of a copy of ‘Bloody Women’ to give me some pointers as to what to expect. It turned out to be a real gem. A genuine page-turner. It’s highly recommended.

The event was almost hijacked by a bunch of kids who were getting excited about something in the background. Even so, Fitzgerald wasn’t deterred and she entertained the crowd delightfully with her reading, her tales and her answers to questions.

Thoroughly satisfied by the evening, I bought a copy of ‘The Devil’s Staircase’ which I finished tonight after a couple of days of reading pleasure.

On the back it remarks: ‘Not for the faint-hearted’ (certainly), ‘is funny’ (definitely), ‘sexy’ (oh yes), and disturbing’ (I’m with you there).

Bronny, an Australian teenager, has witnessed the demise of her mother who has a genetic condition. When her sister is given a clean bill of health at the age of 18, the odds of Bronny having the condition seem to shorten.

Reflecting upon the things she missed out on in the years preceding her own blood test, Bronny explains:

"I never went on the Scenic Railway in Luna Park.
I never kissed a boy in case I began to love him.
I never applied to university.
I never lost my virginity.
I was already dead."

The prospect of being doomed to a life dominated by a ticking bomb is too much for her to bear. Deciding not to collect her results she does a runner. Takes a plane to Britain. Joins a group of backpackers in London and sets herself the goal of losing her virginity.

It’s the sexual quest that has us wrapped in the early stages. Indulging in drink and drugs she lets her hair down, feels chemically induced love for her new friends and a comradeship forged by a common situation and regular smokes on a bong.

She’s the kind of girl I wish I’d met when I was 18. Bright and beautiful, sweet and sincere, fun and tinged with melancholy. I reckon we’d have had a really good time getting to know each other. My imagination was rampant.

When the gang break into the building next to their hostel to set up a squat, the merry-go-round accelerates and the intensity of life is heightened.

Bronny hears strange sounds in the basement, but she’s the only one that picks up on them. She decides she’s taken too many turns at the bong and is losing her mind. That she’s been hearing things.

Perfectly judged as a time for change, in kicked part 2.

It turns out Bronny should have trusted her instincts.
Beneath her a woman (Celia) is trapped, snatched from the street by a man who needs a little something extra to get it up.

It’s this section in which we find out about the victim of the kidnapping and the rape, told in her own words. Her condition is harrowing. Celia goes into detail about her pain, her emotional torment, bondage, attempts at escape and disgust and her captor’s sexual acts. It’s hard hitting, smelly, violent and vivid. I was unsettled to say the least, which is not something that often happens to me when reading.

This short section, full of grittiness and violence, altered the novel’s drive. In Bloody Women the structure is cleverly put together, flitting between narrators and time with ease like a tightly fitting jigsaw. I might have liked the same to have happened here and witnessed the torture of Celia unfold along with the rest of the story. As one chunk it reads well and I remained engaged, but I wonder how it might have come across with a different approach.

From then the plot speeds up and never stops racing. You just know you’re heading for a high speed derailment.

Bronny becomes entangled with men, Celia’s family, miserable colleagues and a wonderfully painted detective Vera Oh (I’d like to see more of her in the future).

The depiction of Celia’s husband and sons coping with their loss is handled with the deft craft of a talented writer.

How’s this for a response from her son after Bronny persuades him to send an email to his missing mum?

Subject: No subject
Dear Mummy,
Why did you leave? You are a witch fuck. I hate you
and it’s all your fault.
I miss you.

It’s a lovely illustration of contradicting feelings and helps to sum up Fitzgerald’s ability to depict situations and people by considering all their facets.

There’s a real flow to her ideas. The way it’s written means that nothing gets in the way. She has a gentle style which lulls you into a false sense of security, then she gives you a swipe you should have been expecting but were too distracted too look out for. Imagine a teddy bear wrapped up in barbed wire or a Kinder Egg containing an electric chair.

What, then, can you expect to find in a novel by Helen Fitzgerald?

You’ll encounter warmth and humour. There’ll be a lightness of touch and sensitivity that allows for the drawing of characters shaded in with all the colours of the spectrum. There’ll be pitch darkness. You’ll encounter acts of violence that you’re unlikely to have ever considered - The Devil’s staircase had me crossing my legs on more than one occasion. It’ll be a roller-coaster ride that you don’t want to let go of until you reach the end. When you reach the end, you’ll go straight to the back of the queue to get right back on again.

You can’t ask for much more than that in one book now, can you?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Write On Brothers And Sisters

A couple of years ago I was fumbling around looking for the best ways to help me improve my writing when I came accross the idea of working within an online writing community. Don't get me wrong, I'm still fumbling around looking for answers, but for I while I found the role of peer assessment fairly helpful.

I picked up on the website at and, not without trepidation, registered with them. They weren't asking for money and, from what I could tell, not only offered the aforementioned peer assessment but the opportunity to be seen by those in the know.

It works a bit like this. You read and review someone's work and for that earn a token. With your tokens you can upload work of your own and receive reviews in return. You get to see overall scores relating to tension, character, setting and so on and you know the reader actually looked at you work because they had to pass a test at the end of it (yes, that part feels a bit like being back at school, though as a teacher I guess I never really left).

Overall scoring gives you points and what to points make?

Points get you into the chart if the work is highly thought of. The top ten place fillers at the end of each month are seen by people in the business of publishing and acting as agents, or at least their filters.

In relation to the work you intend to review, there's a system that allows you to get rid of things that aren't to your taste, which helps a lot (I wish I'd been aware of that from the beginning).

So what did I learn from my experience?

I learned a little about how the system works. It makes a lot of sense and seems fairly neutral.

I learned how to develop a more critical eye by thinking about the work of others. With this critical eye I was better able, I hope, to evaluate my own work.

I learned that I was impatient to be number one in the charts and so I hungrily read pieces to gather enough reviews.

I quickly learned that I was never going to be number one.

I learned that others shared my impatience - this was evidenced by bland and general comments.

Importantly, I learned about things I needed to improve if I was going to head in an upward direction in terms of the quality of my work. Sometimes a small comment can improve a piece hugely when you revise; it might relate to something that is glaringly obvious once you're aware of it when without the pointers you may not have seen it in twenty edits.

Lastly, I learned to thicken my skin. There's no point asking for advice if you're not ready to take it. People are all different, they have different ideas, different likes, different approaches. Not everyone is going to like a piece that's up for review, but everyone can offer guides into the way you've gone about it. For one of my stories I was told it had 'the best dialogue seen on the site' while on the other hand someone else felt it was 'dull as dishwater'. I hope that I managed to distinguish between those that didn't have as much to offer as I needed and those who had taken the time and made the effort to give constructive advice. I found that if I let anger and frustration settle for a while, waited for the depression to lift and re-read criticism, I was then in a place to consider it. Not all criticism is good, but by thinking about it, putting up arguments for and against, you can come out with a stronger conviction and a real sense of what you're up to. Remember doing all that soaking in vinegar and baking prep for your chestnuts? Might be worth bathing in vinegar yourself and lying on a sunbed for a couple of hours before registering, just to be on the safe side.

I think I'm better as a writer because of the time I spent there. I'm even thinking of putting up another short work (short stories and sample chapters are equally acceptable) to see if I can get a sense of any improvement. I still need pointers and this is a way of getting them for free.

At the end of it all, there's an avenue out there for self-publishing run through the site. It's always tantalising, but I'm not jumping in yet. My feeling is that if work hasn't been taken up by agents, magazines or publishers then there's a reason for it. If I never get to be good enough to get the breaks, then maybe I'll think about it more seriously- who knows?

Print on demand does offer great opportunities for people who want to edit magazines and collections (see my Rue Bella post from a week ago). If that's something you're interested in, You Write On might be the place for you.

I'd advise all interested in self-publishing to think about it carefully first. Make sure it's what you really want. In the meantime, send off work to one of the many reputable small press magazines out there and see what they think.

I'd recommend youwriteon for anyone who doesn't have a trusted reader of their own and for anyone who enjoys writing. Unless you're already in the big leagues, why not give it a shot?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Killing Mum by Allan Guthrie

Killing Mum by Allan Guthrie
One Man's Opinion


Every day we make hundreds of decisions. Some of them are good, some bad, many of them inconsequential.
The day I passed Waterstones on Princes Street, saw the poster for the launch of Allan Guthrie’s first novel and decided to go in and get a ticket, now that was a day on which I made an excellent decision.
He read and held a Q&A session where he had written his own questions. “What might you call an armed thief? Robin.” Stands to reason. It was a cool way to set it up and I knew immediately that I was watching someone special enter the world of published novelists. I’ve been a fan ever since. Maybe I’m not his biggest fan, I’m only five-eight and a half, but I can’t be far off.
I was lucky, too, to get the chance to see the launch event for Hard Man. The reading was accompanied by a jazz band, a trio I think, the rhythms blending and getting my adrenalin going. Pop, pop, pop, it was beatnik city and I loved every minute.
At Ronnie Scotts, many moons ago, I saw Slim Gaillard play. Thought I was cool as snow just for being there because the man had a mention in On The Road. It was a great night. Hard Man reminded me of that, as if just for a moment I had my finger on the pulse.
Good decisions all.
...what would you do if you were given a contract to kill your mum? What if the two people who could have set up the contract were your mum and your wife?
When Carlos Morales found himself in that position, he wasn’t sure quite how to handle it.
He knows now.
It’s typical of Guthrie to put his characters through the mincer.
Imagine being in a tree. Someone beneath is throwing stones at you. The stones get bigger, the throws more accurate.
Climb the tree, right? Move yourself away from the thrower by heading into the places where the branches are flimsy and all the while you’re getting further from the ground.
The stones keep on coming.
Climb higher?
You have to do something. Inaction is not an option.
Carlos climbs higher and higher until he’s right at the top. The branches are as thin as straws up there, the drop's a hundred metres. It’s not looking good. All he can do is wait and see.
All I could do as a reader was hold on tight and get to the end. That’s no hardship. Not a word is wasted. The characters are real, where they live and how makes sense. They tell us about themselves not in what they say but in what they do, how they act, the way they move from one decision to another.
We get inside Carlos's head. It’s not always a good place to be, but it’s a wonderful way to follow the man’s logic and the rationale behind his twists and turns.
And boy, does Guthrie throw those rocks hard.
I’m trying to slow down when I read his work. I’m desperate to take it all in, get to the next page, the next chapter, over the next cliff-hanger. I realised a while ago that when he reads his own words the pace is key, revelling in the dialogue and the choice of words. I was able to savour ‘Killing Mum’ by taking my time.
We’ve seen some of these people and places before. There’s the tanning studio and the survivor of Savage Night (if you haven’t read it, I think it’s pretty much essential). I like the way Guthrie has created stories by using the familiar, even if there is no way any of the books could be called sequels. He has set up strong foundations and it’s good to build upon them once in a while.
‘Killing Mum’ is a pocket book from the Crime Express series. I don’t think there can be more than 20, 000 words in there. In that short space and time a complete world has been set up and a monumental chain of events has been completed. An amazing achievement.
I’m picking this as a short example, not because it’s the strongest moment, but because it tickled me. He makes me laugh, Mr Guthrie.
She took a sip of her drink, blinked slowly.
“Plumbing,” she said. “It’s never too late.”
“Cago en tu leche.”
She frowned, pouted her lips. “Something about milk?”
Something about shitting in it but he wasn’t about to tell her that.
“I’m very fucking sorry I never became a plumber, Mama.”

As few ‘saids’ as can be got away with, no ‘ands’ wherever they aren't necessary. Even the word 'and' can interrupt the flow.

We learn, even from this, something of the relationship between Carlos and his mum and the shitting in the coffee? No way I was expecting that.
The only thing I can say against the book is that it leaves me with no new Guthrie to read until he gets his next work on the shelves. I can honestly say that I can’t wait to be able to get my hands on it.

Friday, 23 April 2010

'Black Country' by Joel Lane

Nightjar press are doing a line in chapbooks, small runs of individual short stories. I picked up one of them this week to check out the work of Joel Lane.

I like chapbooks. They’re light and portable and usually contain work that might not ordinarily see the light of day through the usual publishing channels. I associate them with radical thinkers and free spirits keen to get out a message as quickly and as cheaply as possible, people hanging round on street corners under the cover of fog, faces in shadows, words worth ten times their actual weight.

Apparently they’ve been around since the sixteenth century (who knew?) and were put out of common circulation by the rise of the newspaper.

The name, according to scant research on my part, derives from chapmen, slang for peddler, seller of such works.

The modern chapbook from Nightjar is a nice production. It has the thin and flimsy feel that it should have and a nicely designed cover.

My favourite chapbook is of Cowboy poetry, valued for sentimental reasons as much as for the quality of the work. I also enjoy the idea that a cowboy could wear the book to protect his legs if ever necessary.

‘Black Country’ opens with a quote from the Nightingales.

That takes me back. I saw them a couple of times. For my group of mates they were only a peg or two beneath the Fall and that was high praise indeed. I see that they’ve reformed and that members are with John Robb’s (take no prisoners) Goldblade who I also saw once (I think supporting the 60ft Dolls – my memory is failing more quickly than my eye-sight) and the UK Subs.

I mention these things quite deliberately. I may not remember the details of my youth or even later life, but I have the images, the sensations, the emotional ties to a time that’s no longer here – time is never actually with us; soon as we think of it, it’s in the past. That is something that ‘Black Country’ did for me, evoked times and people and places that are no longer here as they were. Reminded me of playgrounds, bullies and fighting. I thought about breaking into my own school one night just for the hell of it. We didn’t know what to do once we got in, just put things under doors so everyone would know we’d really done it. We didn’t give a thought to the cleaners who’d get there before anyone else on that next Monday morning.

Back to the point.

The story starts with an air of mystery. Clayheath, the Black Country town of the protagonist’s youth has all but disappeared, swallowed up by spreading conurbations, little more than a grid reference any more.

In the vicinity of the place our man believes to be his hometown strange happenings are afoot. Children’s pictures have been slashed in the classroom, the toy shop’s been robbed, kids have been waking up battered and bruised for no apparent reason. A bag of kittens is drowned in the local swimming pool, the mother is found hanging with a collection of Monopoly pieces in her throat. A girl is bullied, identifies her tormentors as a mass of children whose faces blur and merge.

We seem to be inhabiting a world of shadows, a place that’s neither wholly real or dreamt. It holds the nightmares of childhood in a space that feels nine-months pregnant with angst and darkness.

There’s a tension throughout that builds gently, simmers uncomfortably as you are taken through this crazy messed up world into it’s impossible to predict climax.

On the journey through the tale we encounter mysterious moments and characters, spectral and ethereal, and Joel throws in cracking lines every now and then to keep us from complacency. There’s a poet lurking in the prose, that’s for sure. There's that weight to the words that the paper itself doesn't have.

I really enjoyed the piece and would recommend you to part with £3 of your cash to take a look. It may not the best thing you’ll read this year, but it will likely surprise you in a way that will make you feel good to have it in your collection.

The link below will take you to the site so you can get your own copy. If you're quick, there's the nice touch of receiving a signed limited edition - judging by my number, you'll need to be there pretty sharpish.

One man’s opinion.

And thinking back to my cowboy poetry, there are a couple of lines a friend gave me once from a poem we’ve never been able to trace. I love them and would like to find the body to go with the head:

“The best you can say is he’s good to his horse, the worst you can say is he aint.”

If you know it, please get in touch.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Tooth Fairy

On Sunday morning, I had a rush of blood and
decided to take all three of my children to see Ponyo at the cinema.

Normally I take only the two girls as Don is too little to sit for long.

Matters were complicated in that he's in the middle of a potty training regime that's failing fairly miserably.

Ponyo is pretty good, loosely based upon 'the Little Mermaid' and with some startlingly good animation.

Before the film came the trailers. There was one for 'The Tooth Fairy' or similar, a movie I intend to give a wide-berth but will probably be dragged along to when it becomes one of the Sunday morning cheap seaters.

During the week, wee Don had a tooth removed at the dental hospital. It was broken mysteriously a couple of months ago and had become rotten.

In the evening, we thought about leaving the rotting stump under his pillow to do the fairy thing. He's 2, doesn't understand money, so we decided to keep the stump for nostalgia's sake.

When my eldest, dear old Nancy, lost her first tooth at the end of last year it was a different matter. We had to negotiate on the tooth fairy's behalf to keep the sum left to an affordable level.

Why the hell did we go through that process? We're fairly rational folk who may lean slightly towards the eccentric, but not so we're crazy. We believe in science and technology, yet we've done Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and, now school has arrived, we've fielded questions about Jesus and God.

It's for the same reason we read and tell stories. It feeds their imaginations, generates creative thinking, allows them to understand difficult things about the world. They can explore hopes and fears and disappointment in the safety of their own minds amidst the security of their own family.

There's also the buzz we get to see them light up when the magic's around.

The Bogey Man hasn't come into our vocabulary yet, though he has many forms in our fairytales.

How might we describe him if he had? Fierce? Ferocious? Nasty? He comes to get you when you do things your parents don't want you to do, when you go to places you've been told to avoid. He's definitely someone to stay away from.

The Tooth Fairy, now she's something different altogether. Benevolent, kind and thoughtful. If you're stoney-broke, there's no need to sell your seed or your blood, just pull out a molar and sleep on it for a little while.

Santa. He's a mystery. Powerful, magical, knows what you've done for the whole year. He's nice when he gives you stuff, but he's a moraliser. You do the wrong things and he's not coming down your chimney.

Jack Frost. He's just mischievous and makes things cold. I don't really know where he came from.

The Easter Bunny comes under the umbrella of weird and wonderful. Someone must have been chewing on the mushrooms the day they came up with him/her. I lost my own Harvey when I gave up the booze, but I have a constant feeling that he's just waiting for me somwhere and it would be just like old times if we were to bump into each other. I like the bunny, cute, cuddly and generous, but it leaves chocolate in the garden and forgets where it was put. I found a mini-egg in my wellie yesterday - a quick rub down and it tasted wonderful.

Religious figures have got it all: power, magic, love and forgiveness, as well as thunderbolts and a short fuse when things aren't going their way. They're great when they're onside, but you sure as hell don't want to be pissing them off.

Made me ponder the process of writing stories.

Think about it for for a while, whether you're writing or reading. Which character is Santa? Who's the Tooth Fairy? Where are the gods? The Easter Bunny? The Bogey man? Why the hell do you have a Jack Frost?

It might be helpful when looking for people to live in the spaces of your work to give breath to some of these guys and gals. Let them live. Throw them into a plot together and see who comes out on top. Go on. Give it a go. If you do, send me a link - I'd like to see it for myself.

That you Harv?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Rue Bella Magazine (1998 - 2003)

(A new anthology of the Rue Bella is available in the UK and US on Kindle).

It started at the beginning.

The Hay Festival. Must have been '97 I guess.

Brian Patten entertained us in a huge, stiflingly hot tent. Afterwards, drinking beer on the lawn, Brian came over and calmed us in lisping scouse. That was the moment. He told us about his days in the sixties putting together his mag, getting out and doing it. The Mersey Poets were on fire. Still are in this man's opinion (well, those who are living).

Later that evening we saw some pretentious evocation of Rimbauld set to out of key music using amps that cut in and out like a lighthouse with visual-tourettes. Before we retired to our cars to sleep for the evening, we decided we could do better. You know what - we were right.

Our first volume 'Saving the Snow' was put together by Geoff and I using our own work and the work of two other friends. We wore out our DM's distributing to shops across the country and fly-posting in Camden Town. Waterstones were still open to small projects back then and copies got into some interesting hands. Independent stores were always willing.

'Dearth of the Cool'; 'Blue Ruin'; 'Larking Gratey'; 'As High As The Bullet Holes'; 'Feet Like Cassius'; 'Pacific Radio Fire'; 'Shakespeare In Havana'; and 'Busted Flat' followed.

We put out work from around the world.

Top-drawer poets gave us their support - Brian Patten; Ruth Padel; John Kinsella; Benjamin Zephaniah; Alan Brownjohn' Michael Horovitz; Jan Oskar Hansen; Ed Mycue; Peter Knaggs... the list went on. Thanks, still, to them for their support.

More importantly to us, we provided the opportunity for newcomers and those on their way to showcase their work.

It means a lot to have something accepted by someone else. It suggests you're not crazy, that you've communicated something to someone, that somebody out there loves you. It also means that the next time you submit work you have something to add to your CV that wasn't there before and so editors may pay that little bit more attention the next time.

I was looking up a few things this week and came across some of our contributors and their work.

David Rose, a frequent flyer with the Rue Bella, is about to have a novel published by Salt. Entitled 'Vault', it's sure to be beautifully written. He was always encouraging and it's nice to be able to say that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy and know I'm on the money. Follow the links at and you'll get there. I believe he has a short story collection due out soon, also to be published by Salt. More when it's available.

I also stumbled into Joel Lane as I followed Tweets and links and intuition. I've ordered his chapbook from Entitled 'Black Country' and only £3, it's got to be worth a punt. There's also a lovely photo of Joel which shows just what can be done with a name and a little imagination.

Peter Knaggs has clearly been busy. Look him up and check him out.

Ben Myers has been prolific. After his success with 'the Book of Fuck' he is about to have his next novel 'Richard' published by Picador. should tell you what you need to know. Good on you.

Matt Nunn, well he's the current poet in residence for Birmingham City FC - Cool.

I could delve further, but I'd like people to send things to me, make my life easier. I'd like to hear from any of you guys. I know that I'm pissing into the dub.dub.dub wind here, but if you stumble upon me, get in touch.

The Rue Bella went out with a bang producing three individual collections - Craig Smith ' A Quick Word With A Rock And Roll Late Starter'; Norman Jackson 'Fieldwalking'; and Dick McBride 'Remembered America'.

In the end, we folded. There were too many holes in the organisation, there were children in the mix, depression hit and we lost money every step of the way (bit like Blue Monday at Factory Records, the more we sold the more we lost).

Nowadays things are different. You can set up and print on demand. The costs will be lower, the boxes won't clutter up your loft for the rest of your life and you can have a lot of fun. In the process, you can encourage new talent, reignite old-timers, give someone the buzz of recognition however short-lived and connect with amazing and creative individuals.

Go on young pups, pick up the baton and run like hell.

To quote an early editorial, 'Along the way we feel sure that some of the wirters in this and future editions will lay down lines with the power to rouse you from sleep, to take you outside and knock seven shades of shit out of you, or simply, on occasion, to remind you of love and of feeling. This is why we [made] the effort. We hope you [could] see the virue in it.'

That night in the car, by the way, was bloody freezing. Next time we booked a cottage.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

An Arm And A Leg

Writing 'An Arm And A Leg' felt great. The words came easily and the story unfolded itself before me as if I were working with a sat nav system.
A couple of trusted readers took a look and gave me their comments and I did something about them - no point asking for advice and then ignoring it (unless you know they're wrong).
I finished editing and polishing the piece as my eldest daughter pranced round the room watching Strictly Come Dancing (opportunities for writing have to be taken when they arise).
I couldn't say who was knocked out of Strictly that night, or who was in it or what they wore, but I remember well sending off to Jen at Crimespree.
Next day, by reply, it had been accepted. I did a couple of cartwheels and we took the kids out for the day, me being a couple of inches taller.
I'm still a little bit taller today than I was that Saturday, so thanks to Crimespree for their good work. I know what it is to put together a mag and it's definitely a labour of love (more soon).
An Arm And A Leg was in Crimespree 34 @

I can't wait to see my copy. It's in the post, probably delayed by the eruption disruption (thanks Al).
More than seeing my story in print, or level with that, I'm looking forward to reading the Scott Wolven piece. I read 'Controlled Burn' earlier this year and some of the stories within it are stunning. El Rey and Tigers stood out for me. The man could move mountains with his work.
Get yourself a copy, then you'll know.

"People claim that death is not alive, yet it is ever-happening and constant. Death doesn't die. It feeds on loved ones and enemies alike and makes itself stronger and everywhere." SW

Shivers Down My Backbone

Since the demise of our 'Rue Bella' website some years ago, the three posts today just about cover my entire online work. Hopefully I'll get to put things on here every so often once they've been rejected by mags and thrown out of comptetitions. I'd say watch this space only I wouldn't be joining you:

I learned a lot from the series. There are lots of great people out there to check out. Here you'll find links to their work, to magazines, blogs and websites. There are also lots of ideas of what people are reading so that you can dip your toe in there. Highly recommended.

From my point of view I tried hard not to take it too seriously, not to seem pretentious, to seem really interesting and to come across as an all round good egg; clearly didn't make it, but will brush up on that technique if ever asked again.

Wet Weekend

You've got a face like a wet weekend - a true story:


Somebody said I should set up a blog. Here it is. I have no idea if I'll get it to work.

Brings to mind the old phrase 'if she told you to jump off a cliff, would you?'. The answer has usually been yes, depending on the she.

Here's a link, a link to a fantastic magazine. It's something I'm subscribed to. More openly, I'm in this edition with my story 'Sea Minor'. Download it for free, marvel at the content and let me know if you like my story (or not).