Architecture of Writing

You know how I promised in my last blog post that I would be updating it weekly?

More fool you for believing me.

That said, I’ve not much really to report, except ongoing disappointment.  Well, I have one bit of news about an acceptance, but until it’s all tied up in a neat little bow, best not to mention anything.  Just a short story acceptance, but welcome nonetheless.

Otherwise, what a barren wasteland of success (really, failure) my writing has become this year.  I’ve finished a few stories, had one acceptance.  One of my stories which I’m quite proud and goes under the title Excess Baggage, has seen more rejections than I’ve had hot breakfasts.  It’s likely because it’s not a very good story, but with editors not providing feedback (understandably), I’m at a real loss as to what to do with the damn thing.

Submit, reject, rinse and repeat I suppose.

I did finally finish the edit on my novella length dark sword and sorcery story.  I quite like it.  It’s a little bit choppy still, part to do with the length of time it took to finish, and trying to seamlessly blend sections which were written not continuously.  I have hopes for it (though I have no idea where to submit it, given its length), but we shall see.  I ahve farmed it out to a few friends to read and comment back to me about.  I know its weak points, but other eyes will help find more, to the novella’s betterment.

The other thing I began, and is the reason for the blog title, is a novel I started a couple of months back.  I’d been working on a story outline and building up the characters for some time, to the point where I thought I was ready to begin.  Started out of the gates like blazes, things were moving along nicely, then it petered out at about 13000 words.  Part of the problem relates to getting different strands of the story to intertwine at the right moments, part of it is the characters feel a little (a lot, actually) bland, part is finding that I’m concentrating on the one character at the expense of the others (his viewpoint anyway) but the biggest problem is the setting itself.

I’ve set the bulk of the story in an abandoned, underground city.  I initially had it physically set up as a series of levels, largely bare of buildings, then realised that if people had once lived there, they needed to have places to live, meet, work and socialise.  It became a real stumbling block, a distraction from the writing which itself seemed to me to lack any heft.  So I’ve put it aside.

I may’ve worked out a way to fix it, so I’ll give that a try.  I think it’s a decent story, with a decent and diverse cast of characters.  Whether I can get to the end of the damn thing is another matter entirely.

So there you have it, not quite once a week, or even once a month.  But there’s your latest blog post.



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I’m still alive

As usual, it has been far too long between blog posts.  I intend remedying that – my intent is to post something at least once a week – if only as an update on any current work.  Apparently engagement is one of the (many) watchwords of this connected age of ours.  Too connected, I say, but there you go…

Of course, if I’d had more published recently, I would’ve posted more, but it has been a very fallow period of late.  I had a couple of stories come out recently, as more recent blog posts would indicate.  Looking at Submittable, I’ve a heap of short stories that have been sent out I’m waiting to hear back about (given my recent track record, REJECTION  appears to be their foreordained fate).  I sit down and look at these stories and wonder if they’re any good.  I mean, they’re okay, but they seem a bit one note – single protagonist, usually male, faces up against something…odd, that usually ends badly.  I mean, it doesn’t really leap off the page, does it?  And as for any sort of unique ‘writerly’ voice…is there one?  The writing needs to be more focussed, less wordy, beefed up and…well, you get the picture.  One day, I suppose.

As for current writing:  I’ve completed a first draft of a sword and sorcery story that was meant to be around 4000 words, but ended up being 20,000.  Yes, you read that right.  Which means that virutally no market will touch it, understandably. And I’ve just finished a 10,000 word horror story – again, the length is problematic, and some of the issues in the previous paragraph pop up.  I need to get in the groove of having multiple characters interacting.  I can do half decent dialogue so coming up with stories that fit is the key here.

I’ll spend the recent of the month fixing those two stories, but my main aim is to start on a novel/novella I’ve been thinking about and outlining since last year.  Again, a sort of dark fantasy (that’s a fancy 90s marketing term for horror, best exemplified by Feist’s Faerie Tale which wasn’t that much chop, to be frank, if I rely on my increasinbly chancy memory), but with sowrd and sorcery elements.  Anyway, the main problem I’ve identified today is the lack of any real tension in the plot I’ve constructed.  Two groups, one hunting the other in a subterranean environment, beset on all sides by strange creatures, don’t really come into contact until near the end.  Of course, if they’re forced to team up, and that truce lasts until the end of the story, then yes, I’ve just fixed the problem while I’ve been typing this!

Well, that’s good, then.

I’ll leave you then to ponder this blog post by the underrated horror writer, Brian Keene, who has decisively moved into elder statesman mode with this blog post.  Enjoy…



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Promo! Massacre Magazine – Issue 8: Horror and Suspense

I welcome in the new year with a story in issue 8 of Massacre Magazine.

The Kindle edition of Massacre Magazine Issue 8 is now available on Amazon.

My story is Cat’s Whisker (you can google the name to find out what one is) and tells the tale of a blogger, his son, and a sinister old man who enjoys listening to number stations just a little too much. I had a great deal of fun writing it and I hope you enjoy it just as much.

Check out Massacre Magazine at the links below.

Facebook –

Twitter –

Newsletter –

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Satisfaction, not money, motivate me to write. Seeing your story accepted and published gives a real buzz. I’m lucky to have a full time job to fall back on, because frankly, there’s not much money writing short horror fiction.

That said, it is a different feeling to be told by your publisher that royalties for your contribution to an anthology will be shortly paid. A contributor’s copy, sure. A few cents per word, okay! But real cash in a lump sum form – that’s something you can take to the bank!

That was my reaction when the publisher of Winter Shivers contacted me with the happy news. Sure, it won’t pay the mortgage off today, but it is greatly appreciated. So thanks to them, and thanks to the readers!

Spread the word, buy the book, read some great festive scary stories, and help pad out my next royalty payment!

Link here.

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Winter Shivers brings Festive Fear!

Winter Shivers Cover

Winter Shivers Cover

Happy to announce that my short story, Sacrifices, is included in the latest anthology called Winter Shivers, from publisher Inkstained Succubus Productions.

The stories aren’t festive themed, but a good spooky story around Christmas is a long tradition dating back centuries.

My story is about two college friends who go off on a hunting trip that rapidly turns into something very, very bleak. Enjoy!

All the purchasing details are below. More money comes the publishers way if you buy direct, but it’s up to you.

Website ebook:



Be sure to follow the publishers at, @inkstainedsuccu on twitter and Inkstained Succubus Productions on Facebook!

I’ve been advised that an audio book is also in the works, which is quite exciting.

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King for a Year – Hearts in Atlantis review!

As a slight change of pace, I’ve reviewed Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis for the King for a Year blog, which reviews all of his output.

The review is here:

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Darkest Minds reviewed!

A review by the indefatigable Matt Fryer of Darkest Minds, from Dark Minds Press. Happy to say he said nice things about my story, Refugees.

Check out the link below for the full review of all the fine stories in this collection which you can purchase here.

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New short story published in Heater Vol 3 No 8 out now!


A slight change of pace for me, with a story in the crime magazine, Heater, from

This one’s called Golem, for reasons you’ll soon work out when you read it.

There’s a little bit of crime and a little bit of horror in this short story.  I’m quite happy with the result, though I’ve not as yet tried my hand at that combination since.

The story came out of an online workshop I became involved with a few years back.  The story sat on the backburner until I came across it on my laptop.  It’s brutal, and it’s harsh, and no one comes out of it smelling of roses, but I love it to bits.


Get your copy at either of these venues:


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Doctor Who: THE TEMPORAL LOGBOOK available for ordering from July 15 2015

As some of you may be aware, I’ve been co-editing a fan collection of Doctor Who short stories, through Pencil Tip Publishing via The Doctor Who Project.  After a lot of work, the collection will be available to purchase from July 15 2015.

There were over 100 submissions which myself, Jez and Bob worked through to select what we think are the best stories from the elite Doctor Who fan writers.  As the blurb states, the stories cover all of time and space as all twelve (even the Capaldi Doctor!) are featured in these always entertaining stories.

All three of us are intensely proud of the book, and a lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into bringing it to fruition.  It’s my first editing effort and was a steep learning curve.

Anyway, if you’re interested in Doctor Who, or Doctor Who fiction, this collection has something for everyone.  All the details are below:

To order your copy/copies of the Temporal Logbook click on the link below.

Below is the press release.

AVAILABLE JULY 15th from Pencil Tip Publishing


A Charity Short Story Collection

Twelve Doctors.

 Twelve windows onto the universe. And the Doctor’s life is the history of the universe.

 The TEMPORAL LOGBOOK is the telling of that history.

 From the myths of Ancient Greece to the depths of unknown space, from the life of Lewis Carroll to the horrors of the Black Death, The TEMPORAL LOGBOOK recounts some of the Doctor’s most enthralling journeys during his first eleven incarnations, as told by a selection of Doctor Who fandom’s best writers.

 The TEMPORAL LOGBOOK features stories from Michael Baxter, J.E. Remy, Benjamin Pocock, Craig Charlesworth, Hannah Parry, Ian Larkin, Sarah Parry, Nick Mellish, Hamish Crawford, Paul Silvester, Michael Itig and Meg MacDonald.

Edited by Robert Mammone, Jez Strickley & Bob Furnell

Cover designed by John Gordon

All proceeds from this publication will be donated in support of the Positive Living Society of British Columbia which is dedicated to empowering persons living with HIV/AIDS through mutual support and collective action.

THE TEMPORAL LOGBOOK will retail at $16.95 CAD + postage

The Temporal Logbook will be available for purchase from

To order your copy/copies of the Temporal Logbook click on the link below.

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Fearful Symmetry in Under the Bed out now!


My short Story, Fearful Symmetry, is now available via Amazon from in their e-zine, Under the Bed Vol.3 No.8 or you can go to their store and buy direct.

I’m pretty proud of this story – a nice bit of quiet horror that hopefully lingers in the memory after the last paragraph. And at a nice price!

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