Saturday, 27 September 2014

This writer is writing

Blogging has been lower down my priority list for a while now, which you'll know if you've stopped here recently. With every post, I seem to be making excuses giving reasons for my lack of interaction. And when I do post/enter a blogfest, I have a really hard time getting round to all the commenters.

Please just know, I love you and your blogs, it's nothing personal, it's me trying to write while the dog rests his head on my keyboard - looking pitiful - and hits me in the face with whichever toy he wants to play with next. Often, I've resorted to typing left-handed while playing tuggy with the other.

I've finished polishing the flash fiction I started a couple of months ago, and with help (thanks Kyra Lennon) weeded out the weak links. This means the collection is a little short for purpose - I'm planning to enter it into the Vine Leaves Literary Journal competition - so I'll be writing some more over the coming days and polishing those too.

I should be thinking about my next longer work, but at the moment I have nothing. I've got a 'novel' that I could play around with, but I don't really have an overall story to link together the short periods of genius (lol). 

Tomorrow, after work, I'm off to listen to Hubby playing an afternoon gig in a pub, and I'll be taking my notebook to write. Music and cider... what a great way to write!

On a different note, Our Beautiful Child has been available for almost four months. Have you read it? Did you like/dislike it? Would you consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads? Thank you!

What's your best marketing tip for me?
What's your favourite way to write?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Underrated Treasures

Today I am taking part in Alex's blogfest. Click this link for the sign up list and go find lots of underrated treasures.

It seemed like a good idea to sign up for this, but I have a problem. It often feels like everyone has heard of everything I like - I'll find something amazing and want to share it with people, and they all look at me, with pity, and say "Yeah, we all knew about that last year."

So, this is a challenge...



Okay, here goes... a lot of you have heard/read Suzannah Dunn's historical fiction, yes? If no, my job is done, go and read...

Venus Flaring
If yes, did you know she wrote contemporary fiction first, and that her first book, Darker Days Than Usual was the book that convinced me I might be able to make a living out of writing? (Okay, I'm still waiting to make my living.) Unfortunately, I can't grab a decent picture of Darker Days Than Usual, and I don't own a copy, so here are a few others to check out.

Past Caring is another book that doesn't seem to have an image available - it's about reincarnation, though, and pretty good.

Blood Sugar

Quite Contrary

Have you heard of Dunn? Is the contemporary part of her career a surprise to you? Have I just proved my original statement?

I'm off to hop around and see what underrated gems I've been missing out on!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Rifters by M Pax

The awesome M Pax has a new series out, and the first - The Rifters - is free! Right now! What are you waiting for, go and get it.

Oh, you want to know some more stuff about it first? Here you go...

Rifters Blurb:

 The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

The Rifters is available at an introductory price. The second book in the series, The Initiate, will be available October 20, 2014. It’s up for preorder for a special price at iTunes, Amazon, and B&N. Check HERE for links. Giveaways and events are ongoing through October 31, 2014. Check HERE for details.


M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons  to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide, has a cat with a crush on Mr. Spock, and is slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. Learn more at

Here's an excerpt:

 A woman in a long flowered dress hurried forward carrying a paintbrush. “Hello, hello.” She waved. “Excuse the mess. I’m renovating… again.” She laughed with little snorts, stumbling in a little circle, defying her years. She couldn’t be younger than forty. “Inside joke, man, sorry. What groovieness can I help you find? I know where everything is.” She gestured at the piles of castoff merchandise strewn about.
If not for the goose bumps on her goose bumps, Daelin would have left. “A winter coat? Earl Blacke mentioned you might have some.”
“Oh man! What a tragedy about him, huh?” She wore her amber hair in two braids, tied with twine and decorated with plastic flowers.
Tragedy? What had happened to Earl? Daelin clutched at her knotting stomach. “What do you mean?”
“There was a murder last night. Umm, wow. Didn’t you hear?” She set the paintbrush down on a plate that had been used for the purpose before. Bracelets covered her arms, clinking with her simple movements.
“In Settler?” Violent crime wasn’t what Daelin expected to hear. She didn’t know what she had expected, but not murder.
The thrift store woman leaned in closer, whispering in a conspiratorial tone. “Yeah, they’re saying Earl Blacke killed Susan Leeds. Took her head plum off, man. Only thing is…,” she glanced at the shadows then wet her lips, “her head is missing.” The soft scent of melon accompanied her words.
Earl had murdered somebody? Daelin gulped, getting a lungful of paint fumes. Right, the paint. The fumes had to be messing with her mind. “Are you serious?”

Right... now will you go and get it...

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kyra Lennon loves cats, and anthologies, but mostly cats :-)

I've been really busy and not even read the comments on my IWSG post yet. I will, I promise, but not for a couple of days... sorry.


The wonderful Kyra Lennon is organising an anthology with all proceeds going towards Cats Protection (Teignbridge and Totnes branch), and here is my entry... I, of course, give permission to use my submission in the anthology. Click here for the list of other entries. (I'm not on the list at the moment, but I will be soon, I think!)



I hear the sirens, far off, coming closer. I bury my head in my heads, covering my ears so I can’t hear them anymore. It doesn’t work; they filter in, echoing around the darkness, filling the room.
I stand, and switch on my old record player. I take the only album I own – Ziggy Stardust – and Five Years blasts out as loud as I dare to disguise the wailing sirens. Straight away, there’s a banging on the wall from my neighbour, so I turn it a little louder, just so she knows I heard her.

When I was a child, my father would sit me on his lap and we’d listen to the sirens as they fought through thick rush-hour traffic, his strong arms protecting me from them. I hated the idea of vehicles specially designed to manoeuvre dying people from one place to another.
I don’t think about my father much. When he died – taken away in an ambulance, with a promise he’d be home again soon – everyone was so upset, and I didn’t want to make Mum cry any more than she already was, so I hid in my bedroom and pretended he was always in another room. He became my secret, my fairy tale.
My mother tried to help me, tried to protect me like he’d done, but her arms weren’t as strong, weren’t as safe. And she had to send me here. “I can’t look after you anymore, I’m sorry.”
“Dad wouldn’t send me away,” I cried.
She hugged me. “Your dad was a very special person, I’ll never be able to take care of you the way he did. You need more help than I can give you.”

I don’t like that memory.
I hold my breath until it goes away.
I focus on the music, because I feel like a star man. I am a star man.
I close my eyes and float away.

A cat jumps from somewhere and lands on my window ledge. I gasp, startled. My heart pounds against my chest; I feel my pulse beating against my forehead.
Just a cat. How can a cat hurt me? I laugh with tentative relief.
But, even so, I hold my hands out in front of me, taking the stance of a kick boxer before the bout starts, alert and determined. Sssh, says a soothing voice in my head that could belong to me, or to my mother, or even to my father. Too many people are talking all at once, and I can’t concentrate.
This cat isn’t mine. I don’t know where it came from; he must be a stray. He’s brave: I live on the second floor, and there’s nothing below but a long fast drop onto grey concrete slabs. The cat looks at me, solid and unflinching; his eyes are green, cold, narrow.
I don’t turn away. There’s something haunting, almost irresistible about his eyes. I move my head to the side, but my gaze remains fixed on him. I want to look away, but the cat stares and I stare. His face changes, taking human form just for a second. I call out in shock. I know that face; the face of the devil. I feel myself being lifted up, floating, being coerced. He thinks I won’t fight, that I’ll give up easily.
The cat looks away, bored, just a cat; no longer possessed. And I’m still here, alive. I shiver and run my hands through my hair, down my ice-cold face, across my breasts, down my hips and thighs, just to make sure. Yes, I’m still here.
Never use a cat to do the Devil’s work, I think with a wry smile. Then I restrain myself. It was close this time. And he’ll be back, because he always comes back.
The cat arches his back and turns himself around on the narrow ledge; he stretches and lies down. He yawns, holding a paw out, indulgently examining himself. He appears to smile, to be satisfied with himself, then settles down and curls into himself. Just a cat.
I look beyond him, out across the orange glow of the city. They’re all out there, lurking under the cover of the darkness, sucking life from one person at a time. Those sirens, that’s how they travel. No one’s safe; I’m at home, my door and window are locked, bolted, and yet I’m not safe. They watch, they listen, they pounce when you least expect it.

My father lied. He said he’d always be here. But he isn’t. He hasn’t been here for a very long time. He’s a whisper in my peripheral vision, a speck of dust that’s blinked away.
He said he’d protect me from all the bad things; but he went away.

The sirens are getting closer; they are getting closer. I can see the blue lights twisting and turning in the shapes of roads that are there in the daytime. I back into the corner farthest from the window. My hands grasp the air. Who’s there? What do you want?
There’s no one here. I laugh anxiously. It’s all in my head. Dad told me that. He said my head played tricks on me. He said when the tricks started I just had to listen to his voice, and everything would be okay again.
I inspect my reflection in the window, a wobbly image that looks nothing like me. I reach out with faltering fingers and touch the fingers reaching out from the glass. I press my palms flat and feel the chill from outside. The glass is distorted. There are two of me, overlapping. How do you do, you do, I ask my selves? They reply in unison as though they’re one person.
It’s too hot; a trail of sweat runs down my back, following my spine like a warped, bony finger.
The cat jumps to its feet on the ledge. I spring back; I’d forgotten he was there. I watch him stretch. I stare right at him until he looks away. It’s a game. He glances back, winking sardonically, and looks past me, over my shoulder into the room. He opens his mouth, like he’s laughing at me. He’s going to enjoy it when this is over. He’ll be laughing louder than anyone else. He’s coming to get me.
I shiver but I’m not cold. I wrap my arms around my body, squeezing. My hands are cold against my hot chest, my hot stomach. I close my eyes to focus on the sound of my father’s voice; but I can’t hear him. He has to be here, doesn’t he? He said he’d always be here.

An ambulance stops outside, blue lights flash into my room. There’s a lot of commotion and noise suddenly. People running, doors opening and shutting at the end of corridors.
“In here, she’s in here. We found her about ten minutes ago. We’ve been giving CPR…” The voices muffle and quieten until I can’t hear them anymore.
I slump to the floor, leaning against the wall, hugging my legs close to my chest. They went into Jennifer’s room. She’s new. She doesn’t talk to anyone, not even at mealtimes when we go and eat together downstairs. She doesn’t eat in front of people; she hides food in her pocket to eat later. She carries a pink teddy everywhere she goes.
Jennifer’s door opens and the voices return, shouting out lots of medical stuff that I don’t understand. The wheels of the stretcher squeal on the lino, and footsteps run beside it. They emerge downstairs and Jennifer gets swallowed up into the ambulance. I kneel at the window and peer over the ledge; then walk backwards. It’s wrong, staring like that.
One day, it’ll be me. My overdose, my limp body being wheeled away.

I jolt forward, as if pushed. I jump around. Who’s there? I watch the shadows. He comes in the shadows, hiding, waiting for the precise moment. Then he strikes before you even have time to react. He’s listening. He hears my thoughts. He’s here. I can feel his ice-cold hand sliding around my waist, pulling me towards him. I can’t move.
He’s gone again. As condescendingly and calmly as a cat, he leaps in and out of bodies, possessing and deserting at will.
The light in the middle of the ceiling is suddenly too intense. I hold my hand up to shield my eyes from the piercing light. I stumble backwards, but catch myself in time. If I move too close to the door, I’ll be vulnerable; he’ll seize me, swoop down to steal my soul from within me.
The opening chords of Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide gently ebb into the room. I focus on David Bowie’s voice in lieu of Dad’s. Will it work the same way? If I listen to Bowie will the bad things stop?
My head aches. I close my eyes, hazy and uncertain, dreamlike. If this is a dream, I can be anyone I like, can’t I? I can walk through walls, or fly high above the city. Or I can make myself small and invisible. I can creep through people’s legs while they stand in bus queues. I can watch them like they watch me.
The moon is high in the sky tonight, but it’s frowning; I always thought the moon smiled. It’s just a lump of rock in the sky, says someone in the corner, using my father’s voice. But he wouldn’t say that, of course. He’d say, of course the man in the moon is real, just like Father Christmas, and I’d believe him.
It drifts across the sky, still scowling, and shines into my room, making it shimmer. The ghost-grey radiance swirls around me. I idly gaze up at the ceiling, at the cracks that are now highlighted. Some are fine lines; others are almost holes that cast deeper, snaking shadows.

That’s it! That’s how he’s getting in!
I’ve always wondered; now I know. That’s how he watches me. That’s how he knows so much about me. Neither my father’s voice nor David Bowie can protect me from this insidious wickedness. I’ll never escape because he’s right here, on top of me. And I’ll always know it.
I’m here. Take me, that’s what you want, isn’t it? What choice do I have?
I stand in the middle of the room, my arms stretched out, spinning on the spot. I wait, but nothing happens. He doesn’t want me to give in, to surrender; he wants to snatch me, to fight for me. To prove his dominance over me. He’s losing his chance. I won’t offer myself again, and I won’t be taken easily.
Why doesn’t he answer? I know he’s here. I can feel him, I can smell him, taste him. I want to reach out and bury myself within him. I want to give him everything I have. I’m tired now; I want to give in, and then I can sleep. All I want to do is sleep.
It’s a trick!
Who said that? I stand frozen, my eyes shifting around the room quickly as I try to catch him.
There’s no one here. No one except the cat, of course. He’s standing proud, staring in, his eyes glinting in the light.
I want to hide, escape. He watches me closely, with a slow smile. He knows what I’m thinking; he knows everything.
“Please go away. Please leave me alone.”
I hear them laughing. I swing around, hoping to catch him in the corner of my eye. He’s too quick. They’re mocking; their voices are full of hatred and scorn. I cover my ears. They won’t go away. They laugh. I look at the cat; he’s laughing too.
I hear breathing, someone creeping up behind me. I spin around, with a yell. No one. Too quick. Like a cat. I turn the other way. No one; no thing. I gradually crouch down to make myself as tiny as possible. I jump with a loud whooping noise, to frighten him. Even though I know it’s pointless.
Gradually, as though drifting on a still river, I am aware of Dad’s aftershave, a warmth returning to the room. I feel his hand pressing on my shoulder. He’s standing beside me; the two of us together, fighting the bad thing.
The cat observes with displeasure. He sees my father beside me. I watch the cat shift his gaze between the two of us, sitting like a porcelain figurine. I don’t move, don’t try to run. I’m strong now; my father has given me this strength, his strength. And the cat doesn’t know what to do. He expected it to be easy this time. He thought my defences were finally worn down. He thought he’d win.
It’s my turn to smile, my turn to laugh. The cat hisses and jumps away. I expect to see my father smiling at me, but the warmth and fragrance drifts away, and I’m alone again. But I don’t have to hide anymore. I can fight back; and my father will always be there.

About the Author:
Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, Cat and The Dreamer in 2012. 
Annalisa's website -

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

IWSG in September

It's the September meeting Insecure Writer's Support Group... Check out the sign up/visiting list here!

You know what that means? It means I survived the summer holidays for another year. It also means both my kids are in the last year of their respective schools. I means my sun tan is going to fade soon. And it means I really ought to knuckle down and get some work done.

I spent the summer messing around with some small projects, giving up, starting something else, giving up... I've had a lot of distractions since April, and I'm still in that I've just finished a major project stage, even though that major project was finished in February!

I used to be happy with my work rate, but there are so many writer friends who are working on several books at once, or releasing something every four months, or telling me their plans to release two new books before the end of the year, that I'm starting to think I'm a bit slow. I ought to be doing more.

I have a novel and a novella currently under submission, but nothing else remotely ready. I'm going to get to a point soon where I have absolutely no writing projects at all... It's probably time for some chocolate!

That Sadie Thing on Kindle is 99 cents (77p) until Friday, and then $1.99 for another couple of days after that. Check out this link. [edit. 12.20pm BST, 3 Sept... Not yet, but soon hopefully!!]