Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Horror Bites - It's Alive!

I managed to get on a roll and write two Horror Bites entries in one night. It's delayed, but I kept to the rules with the word count and mention of reading. Hopefully I will be fully caught up soon. Here is my entry for the second challenge.

sir-duncan-rice-library


When it arrived everyone just thought it was another arty looking building, nothing special; another attraction on the skyline of the city, another chance for fancy photographic shots. And when another arrived on the road behind, everyone assumed it was part of a chain. No one questioned it. 

Marjory sat in the park nearby on her lunch break reading a crime thriller she’d been enthralled by all week - Willow Walk by SJI Holliday. But something caused her to look up at the building and wonder about it. She had never seen a door, although the querky green zigzag lines that ran down it could make them invisible. She’d walked by it and its sister many times and never seen anyone going in or coming out. The coloured glass reflected the outside world making it impossible to see in. She pondered the strangeness of it, especially since the newspaper reports. 

The papers said they were base jumpers, illegally flinging themselves off the top to prove something. But Marjory had been unsettled by the stories. There had been nothing to indicate an interest in base jumping from any of the victims, or so the family members claimed - one even suffered from vertigo. There had been more than five deaths so far, so why were people continuing to do it? It didn’t make sense.

As Marjory turned back to her book, movement at the top of the building caught her eye. She saw a figure approach the edge and realised with increasing horror what she was about to witness. But what confused her was the way the building seemed to move and contract, tipping the figure and not allowing them to hold on. Her hand flew to her mouth as she saw the body descend, a loud bang and screams from bystanders announcing its arrival on the ground.

Then she watched as the building seemed to shudder as though shrugging something off. The matching building behind moved too, as though tipping its head in agreement. Marjory went cold. If these weren’t buildings in their midst, what were they?


Words 347

Horror Bites - Arranging a Date


I'm a bit behind on the Horror Bites Challenges, run by Laura James. She recently started them up again over at her new blog Get Wordy, and I am trying to keep up.

I have been out of the loop with writing for some time, and I need to return to it as I felt I have lost my focus with everything lately.

In attempting to write for the first challenge, I didn't register the word count, and went quite a bit over (400 words). And although I clawed it back to 280, trying to get it down to 200 will lose the entire story, which is a different kind of horror - but just as scary. Enjoy.



clock

Jackson looked at his watch and up at the clock again. “Come on, come on,” he muttered. He hated waiting, especially in train stations. Any one of them could be who he was waiting for. That was the downfall of arranging things over the net - and the beauty of it.

He smirked, his irritation forgotten. He’d always thought about doing this, but never had the nerve. Working as a team gave him courage. 

A man caught his eye: head down, black Parka, tufts of curly hair sticking out the sides of the hood - it had to be Carter. He glanced up looking straight at Jackson. That’s when he knew. They were a go.
The sleeve of Carter’s coat brushed Jackson’s arm as he whispered, “Down from 10 …”

Jackson started counting, moving rapidly to the agreed destination. She’d be in view by the time he reached it, and she was. 

Her blonde pony tail flicked from side to side as she walked towards the escalators. Jackson saw another guy flanking her on the left - that had to be Mandelson. Jackson moved up behind her and pushed the lid off the syringe in his pocket, letting his sleeve disguise it as he pulled it out. He pretended to trip and knocked into her, feeling the tip enter the flesh of her arm and the contents release. She took in a sharp intake of breath and scowled at him, rubbing her arm. 

The scowl became confusion and he saw her eyes roll. He stepped forward to support her from behind, Carter and Mandelson came in on either side to keep her upright. They were going to have fun tonight! 
 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Horror Bites - Properties of Glass

I was a bit shocked to find that the last time I wrote a Horror Bites tale was in August of last year, but then the host, Laura James, has been on a hiatus. Thankfully she is back, and providing some truly wonderful inspiration for dark tales. This is the last Horror Bites on her old site, Office Mango, the news one will appear on her new one: GetWordy.



Maggie ran her fingers over the tips of the smooth metal instruments, being careful not to press too hard in case she should break the skin. She didn’t want to taint the fine polished steel or mark the display board beneath - even though it was red anyway and no one would notice.

She smiled to herself. The equipment had been hanging in the museum for several months - she’d even taken a job there to be near it - and no one had noticed how the collection had expanded; how there were ten more pieces now. 

Maggie’s fascination with glass had started as a child. Her father liked to make his own ‘artwork’ using broken pieces of it on her and her mum. It had made Maggie want to learn more about it and how it was made. She’d taken an evening course in glassblowing once she was old enough and become quite proficient at it. She’d collected the utensils for crafting and shaping the glass one by one, squirreling them away, lest her father should find them and decide to use them for further abuse.

So when she’d discovered the exhibit at the museum, she’d wanted to share them, put them where they rightfully belonged; be amongst their own - even though in truth they’d rarely touched any glass.

No, Maggie had discovered a much more effective use for them once she’d brought them home. And her dad could testify to it too, having been the one to experience their sharp and precise abilities.

He wouldn’t be hurting her or mama any more.  


Friday, 21 October 2016

Monster Mash 2016

Monster Mash is a yearly Halloween flash fiction writing competition hosted by Ink After Dark, a site run by three great writers: Ruth Long, Laura James, & Cara Michaels.

This year a story had to be written around one of three lines, which had to be used exactly within the piece. Here's mine, with the line highlighted.
monster-mash-2016



Sacrifice to Cthulhu

She let the waves lap at her toes. In the moonless night, the dark water left darker trails running from her feet with each pull of the tide. It could have been blood. She knew it wasn’t - yet.
She edged in, letting the black fluid encircle her ankles, tugging at them as though encouraging her to come deeper. She did. 

Some might have missed the movement ahead, mistaken it for a swell of waves, but she knew better. Her breath caught as her heart rate increased, excitement sparking adrenaline, enabling her to take another step forward. The cold water brushed the inside of her thighs and she shivered. The surge of water in front of her expanded.

She moved further in, eager to see him rise, wanting to be claimed, waiting to be taken. 

The water broke apart and a round head appeared glimmering in the starlight as tentacles broke the surface around it. Two eyes blinked into life and eyed her as the body continued to rise, the scaly flesh appearing to ripple as water ran off it. She opened her mouth in a gasp of awe as his wings opened up on his back, blocking out what little light there was, engulfing her in darkness.

She felt her body move towards him as though drawn by an unknown force. She didn’t resist.
His clawed hands reached for her, slicing her flesh as they grasped it, the blood looking like water as it ran down her arms. She felt his embrace and let him pull her in. 

He lifted her above his head and carried her like a trophy, moving back out into the ocean. She felt weightless and dizzy, whether from the height or the blood loss she couldn’t be sure, all she knew was that she was flying. 

Once out in the midst of black seas of infinity he lowered her and put her out in front of him, laying her on the top of the water, the points of his claws piercing holes into her back, but she didn’t care; she felt numb.

She looked up into the star filled sky and waited for him to take her, to consume her and feed on her, but he seemed to be waiting. Then ripples broke the surface of the water all round them, turning into violent splashes. 

She jerked her head left and right to try and make out what it was, but his shadow blocked her view. Then he released her, pushing her forward towards the frantic movement like an offering, and her eyes opened wide at what was revealed in the half light: hundreds of sharp glittering white teeth descending upon her. Her throat was barely able to let out a screech before it was shredded.  

Her consciousness faded with deep sadness: her sacrifice to him meant nothing, over ridden by his offering to them. 


 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Using Nor without Neither


I am here to discuss the use of ‘Nor’ without ‘Neither’.

A recent editing job brought this to my attention, and although I knew instinctively when it wasn’t right, I checked the rules to be sure. There weren’t many places to reference, so I thought I would share what I discovered to increase the circulation.

Many of us are used to using ‘Or’ without ‘Either’ - and in fact ‘Or’ has a pretty good existence on its own without ‘Either', but ‘Nor’ has to be more careful, there are some places it can’t go without ‘Neither’.

Let’s take a look.

‘Nor’ is allowed to start a sentence on its own: for example if mentioning items you don’t like to eat, you might continue the next sentence with it:

I don’t eat Indian food. I don’t eat Thai food. Nor do I eat Mexican food.
                        

‘Nor’ can be used with other negative expressions in one sentence:

I don’t usually eat cranberries, nor do I eat blueberries.

The tide has not come up this far, nor should we expect it to.

She has never been to the theatre, nor does she want to go.


‘Nor’ can be used multiple times in a sentence when used after ‘Neither’:

The shop had neither bread nor margarine nor milk.

But on its own (without neither), it wouldn’t be right:

The shop didn’t have bread nor margarine.

The ‘didn’t’ already provides the negative for both parts, so it doesn’t need repeating.


Let’s break that down in another example:

Incorrect would be:

She didn’t know which direction she had approached from, nor which way she was going.

Imagine the sentence as two separate ones:

She didn’t know which direction she had approached from. She didn’t know which way she was going.

To omit the repeat of she didn’t know – the first negative applies to both parts of the sentence so ‘Or’ should be used. You don’t need the second negative that ‘Nor’ provides.


The same applies when you use the word ‘not,’ in the structure ‘not A or B’.

Correct:
She is not interested in Princeton or Harvard.

Incorrect:
She is not interested in Princeton nor Harvard.

Correct:
She didn’t seem to be happy or joyful.

Incorrect:
She didn’t seem to be happy nor joyful.


Another incorrect example would be:

He didn’t see the flying saucer, nor the robot that emerged from it.

When trying to break this into two sentences it shows up:

He didn’t see the flying saucer. He didn’t see the robot that emerged from it.

The repeat of ‘He didn’t’ should be omitted by ‘Or’ because the negative is implied in both parts of the sentence.

Some of the incorrect sentences might sound right, but when the second negative item is a noun (like the last example) adjective, or adverb phrase, the initial negative covers all items in the sentence.

BUT when the second part of the negative is a verb phrase - an action - can it be either ‘Or’ or ‘Nor’.

She never comes to class, nor does she listen to the teacher.
She never comes to class, or listens to the teacher.

Or in instances when the verb is not acting on the subject:

The teacher will not allow running in the halls or talking after the bell has gone.
The teacher will not allow running in the halls nor talking after the bell has gone.

The teacher is not running or talking in these examples. If it was ‘The teacher didn’t run in the halls or talk after the bell had gone’ it could only be ‘Or’ - because the ‘didn’t’ covers both parts.

And you as the writer get to choose. If you’re unsure which word to use, or if you want to avoid the problem all together, you can use ‘and not’ instead:

The teacher will not allow running in the alls and will not allow talking after the bells gone.
She will not come to class and she will not listen to the teacher.



Hopefully that helps you. Yes, I know, it’s complicated, but it’s what editors are for! ;) 


Friday, 16 September 2016

Book Release: Mostly Dark

For a couple of years now, I have debated whether I wanted to published a collection of my Flash Fiction pieces. With the swathe of flash fiction books already on the market I knew it would just be another drop of water in the ocean, but I hated the idea that my tales were just sitting on my computer on a file, or hidden here in the archives of my blog, never being read or appreciated.

And having spent a long time debating the pros and cons of self-publishing, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to find out what the process entails - the nuts and bolts of it: from physically creating a cover, to formatting the layout of each page of my book.

It has taken time, most of it spent fiddling with section breaks, style headings, and page number formatting, but it has been worth it. I am now less daunted by the prospect of going through the process - although for my novels my plan is still to find an agent and trad publish.

I also choose to self-publish through Lulu rather than Amazon for three main reasons:
1) A larger profit margin on sales;
2) Lulu distributes (for free) through to all platforms, including Amazon;
3) I hate the Amazon monopoly on books selling and publishing.


Mostly Dark is available on ebook at these places:

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/…/mostly-da…/ebook/product-22854210.html
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mostly-Dark-Miranda-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mostly-Dark-Miranda-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/mostly-dark/id1149002379…
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/mostly-dark


There will be a print version available as well - in fact two: Pocket and A5 versions.
I will include the links when they are ready, but here's a look at the back cover:

 

"Like the phases of the moon, Mostly Dark waxes and wanes with thirty tales of darkness and light. 

An intriguing maelstrom of broken minds and broken hearts, from revenge to desire, from new found love to soulmates, herein lies a tale for everyone. 

Prepare your senses for an emotional and sometimes terrifying ride."







Sunday, 26 June 2016

Captivated - Flash Flood Journal Entry



Here I am again with my 4th entry into the yearly Flash Flood Journal. It's an international flash-fiction journal created by writers and edited by a team of volunteer editors on behalf, and in aid of National Flash Fiction Day, which took place on the 25th of June.

Every 10 minutes a new piece of Flash is put on the Flash Flood Journal for the full 24 hours of Flash Fiction day.

My entry 'Captivated' went up in the evening.

This piece of writing was inspired by the iron statues on Crosby Beach, outside Liverpool. I had written a few pieces for them, but this one was my favourite.

http://www.antonygormley.com/projects/item-view/id/230
Sculptures and photo by Antony Gormley 1997
 

There are some awesome piece in a variety of genres, some worth checking out are:

Bart van Goethem - The Discovery
Calum Kerr - Z
Fiona J Mackintosh - Water like a Stone