Another short from the writing classes. This exercise was to simply choose one of the presented prompts and run with it. The prompt I chose was “Autumn.”



It happened with the turn of the leaves, when things change from green to precious gold. I didn’t know what I was looking for, just that I was looking. I didn’t need anything to search for because I never found it anyway. Just looking was enough. The shiny disk of the metal detector glinted in the sun, offering promises never fulfilled. I didn’t mind. It was a nice excuse to go outside. I always needed one; I could never allow myself to enjoy the world without some tangible reason for it. So I looked for metal.

Then one autumn’s day I actually found some.

The detector startled me as it bleeped wildly – after all, it was a sound I’d only heard once before, when I tested the thing as it came out of the box. I stared at the flat, bare ground before me, confused as to what came next. I’d never anticipated this moment. Eventually I got onto my knees and dug into the soft earth with my hands. It wasn’t particularly cold yet and the soil came away easily. I kept digging and never found anything but I was so curious I couldn’t stop. When I got to about a foot down with still nothing, I tried the metal detector again. It bleeped, so I kept digging.

The sun was setting and I was still digging. I would periodically check to see if the mystery item was still there. It was. I kept going, until I was certain I’d gone down further than the metal detector’s range. My hands bled but by that time I couldn’t feel them anyway. I plunged them down to take another scoop of earth and they smacked into something cold and hard. I dusted the loose soil away frantically, revealing something smooth beneath.

I frowned. The full moon was high in the sky, casting silver light into the hole. It was a face. A metal face with dead, circular eyes and a hollow rectangle for a mouth. Everything smelled like soil and blood.


I flinched at the metallic voice. It hadn’t come from the face. It had come from behind me. From the metal detector.


I looked back to the face. Both eyes were lit with a soft blue light, the left one flickering. My mouth was dry and slowly the feeling was returning to my hands. They burned and shook.

“IS IT TIME?” asked the metal detector. I turned and picked it up, inspecting it. It looked normal, with no spot I could guess at as being speakers.

“Time for what?” I asked it, feeling silly.

“IT IS TIME,” said the face behind me, and something hit me on the back of the head.

I fell face first to the ground and darkness took me, and when I finally woke again Edinburgh was already gone.


Musings on Pitch Contests

With the completion of Through the Black looming ever closer, I’ve been thinking more and more of how and where I want to get my MS out there. Traditional querying will almost certainly be my number one method, but these days online pitch contests are also a hugely popular way to get your short pitch seen by agents and publishers.

The downsides of these are that you only have a very limited amount of characters to make yourself stand out. The upside is that there’s no quicker way to get huge swathes of publishing professionals all at once.

Of course, you might attract the attention of agent who aren’t the right fit for you or you might not attract any at all. The thing is, if you don’t put yourself out there then you’ll never know. The best that can happen is that you find someone requesting a query. The worst is that you’ll have honed a neat, concise pitch for your work.

I actually tried my hand at one very recently. The creative industries festival XpoNorth held one this month and, as they were accepting pitches for manuscripts that weren’t 100 % complete, I decided to have a go. Unfortunately I didn’t have any success with that but I didn’t have much time to prepare my pitches. What it does mean is that I now have a couple of them that I can work on and polish well for when more roll around, and hopefully be more prepared for. Mostly it was good practice for not obsessively staring at my phone or refreshing my internet browser.

There are a few lined up for after my deadline, so I’m hoping to have some nice polished pitches and a finished manuscript all ready to go by the time they roll around!



Day and Night

Another short from the writing classes. In this exercise, we were tasked with studying sound in two contrasting things.



When the sun is high, the world is full of the babble of laughter and voices. Cars rumble past in a persistent, growling stream. Little bells jangle as the shop doors on the street open and close, the crinkling of shopping bags constant.

Only twelve hours later and those sounds are gone. The babble is replaced by a cool silence to those who do not wish to hear the night. My steps are gentle footfalls on the concrete. A soft rustle to my right – just a cat inspecting a bin. At this time, my breaths are loud and the soft breeze whispers to me. Just as I feel peace in this serene nightscape, there are footsteps behind me. I turn quickly. But behind there is only empty space and the footsteps remain. When the sun is high, the world is loud and I am safe from the sound. But it isn’t.

It is dark and it is cold and still the footsteps remain.



The Resolutions Post, 2018

So after last year’s clown fiesta I’m back with a list of resolutions for 2018! This year is all set to be a bit of a mess as well but hey, I’m going in swinging. I’ve had two Bad YearsTM, will 2018 make it three in a row? I dunno but I’m going to try and go with no. As such, here’s some stuff I want to achieve! Let’s go!


New Year


1.) Submit short stories – Guess who’s back? This year’s resolutions are going to be a bit déjà vu thanks to last year. THIS year submissions are going to be happening. For one thing, I’m going to need to practice, for reasons you will see below.


2.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – Not much more to be said about this one aside from I still haven’t done it and really, really should.


3.) Keep arting – now with more tutorials – I was actually impressed with myself and how much I managed to draw last year. Now, this year is again going to be a turbulent one so I’m not going to set a goal to beat last year’s twenty posted pictures. What I will aim for is one a month and to start looking up tutorials to try and get technically better at stuff instead of bumbling along by myself as I did last year.


4.) Get back on the FitBit thing – For a good year and a bit, since I got my FitBit, I was really good at keeping up with step goals. It was wonderful for my health and general wellbeing. However, last summer I got a foot injury (I was just playing Diablo dammit) and then with the latter half of the year being a puddle of despair everything went to pot. Now I intend to get back to hitting those goals every day. For one thing, it did wonders for my mood which helps with the writing.


5.) Read more – This year was a terrible one for reading. There are so many books I’ve wanted to read and just haven’t. I’m hoping to be in a much better place for reading this year and start hacking through that To Be Read pile again. Even ignoring the fact that reading is the best way to improve your writing, I just love it and miss it.


And finally, the big one…


6.) Start querying Through the Black – Yes, I know I already mentioned this one a couple of posts ago but this is big for me! It’s what I’ve been working towards for the last five-and-a-bit years. I’m aiming for the MS to be ready by March 31st and then to have the query packet sorted by April 30th. Then, after I’ve had a few people look over the packet and whatnot, it’s query time. Hopefully by the end of May depending on how long it takes for people to get back to me. Then I’m hoping the rest of the year will just be a steady stream of me bothering agents with it and sobbing into desserts.


Whatever you’re aiming to do this year, I wish you the best of luck and I hope things work out. If not, don’t worry. Just keep on pushing. That’s how I got through last year and I already know this year is going to be tough but I’m not giving up before it’s started. Let’s get out there and show 2018 who’s boss.

Resolutions Round Up, 2017

Wow, 2017, eh? That happened. Apparently. I try not to think about it.

So here is the yearly round up post from 2017’s resolutions! Let me warn you, it’s definitely not as good as last year. In fact, it’s so bad I’m going to be looking under every tiny rock for a little beckon of light like “hey I ALMOST did this lookit!” So just to warn you. Let’s get started, shall we?


1.) Submit short stories – Yeah, this was a flat out fail. I got a few submissions out but not a lot and I didn’t get any new stories ready to send out. I blame job applications for that one. Getting beaten down by one kind of rejection was quite enough, thanks.


2.) Get author logo and website banner – This was a half success. As you can see, I have a shiny new logo courtesy of the talented Nat Furman! Unfortunately, due to financial issues in the latter half of the year, there was simply no chance that I could get the banner sorted out.



3.) Put writing samples on website – A partial if very minor win. I did manage to stick up a handful (okay, three). It’s a start. Though, thanks to my writing workshop and a small serial I’ve got ready, there’s going to be a lot more going up in the New Year – which will also hopefully help me catch up with blog posts as well, since this is technically the post from November 5th. Hey, we’ll get there. 2017, amiright?


4.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – Hoooooo-ey, this is another big splat. I got up to a certain point but we’ve still got a loooooong way to go. I’m hoping to throw that back into this year’s plan because it really needs done.


5.) Art more – Okay, you know what? This one is a win. In 2017 I posted up TWENTY pieces of art to my DeviantArt account and there are several that I didn’t post. They aren’t good but they’re there and I did them. And, I think maybe at a push, I’m getting better and that’s the whole point, right? That’s more than one picture posted per month (close to two even) and for me that’s a lot. A lot a lot. You know how much I posted in 2016? Two pictures. So yeah, this one is a win and I intend to keep it up.


I hope last year treated you folks a whole lot better and I hope you had a Happy New Year! I spent mine in bed playing Skyrim and after that twelve months there was no where I would have rather been.

Aurora Borealis

A few weeks ago I promised that I’d start posting some of the flash fiction from my writing class exercises! So here is the first one. This came from an exercise about describing a setting with the senses, using a place from a childhood memory.



Icy air gusted softly by as we stood beneath the stars, staring upwards past the looming grey pillars of the hilltop monument and into the crisp night sky. Specks of silver glistened in the void above us, stiff bristles of heather rustling by our feet. A couple of snowflakes twirled on the salty air, the very first of the fall. It wouldn’t be long before the encroaching grey clouds obscured our view and snuffed out our chances.

Dad held his camera aloft, hoping for those eerie green lanterns to splash across the sky. They never did. Never on the nights we tried. But we always went. And tonight, deep between those twinkling dots of light in the sky, something moved. We both tensed, excited, my numb hands clenching tight. This was it, our time. The thing that moved did shimmer with emerald wonder but it did not spill across the night. It moved closer, growing larger. I held my breath, the crunching of my raincoat falling silent as I stood stock still. Drifting up high was a perfect viridian disk.

My mouth fell agape, breath misting on the air. I glanced at my dad, the camera clutched white knuckled in his chill burned fingers. His brow furrowed, disbelieving and almost annoyed by the object above. Whatever it was, it drew nearer, silent as the snowfall. The quiet drew out long enough that the gentle whispers of the wind became unnerving.

The sudden click of the camera startled me and the haunting thing rose so swiftly upwards it was a dot within a second. It became a pinprick among the starts and then it was gone. I stared a long while, just in case it returned, while Dad scowled at the little preview window of his camera. The display showed perfectly the eerie form of the green glowing UFO, proof that the incredible spectacle we’d witnessed was real. He muttered under his breath and shook his head.

“We’re never gonna see those bloody lights.”

A NaNoWriMo Confidence Boost

It’s over! November 2017 is done and dusted. THANK GOODNESS. With the 30th came my sixth consecutive win of the official NaNoWriMo. It was, by a long shot, the hardest year yet and I’m going to need a few days to recover. I never got that safety buffer and every day felt like a real struggle.


Between my current situation and the addition of family visits, plumbing problems and a whole dental saga (really, wow) it has been an uphill battle from day one. But I have succeeded. It’s one of the few things I can cling to right now as an achievement. NaNoWriMo certainly isn’t for everyone, and even if it is something you try, if you write any words at all you’re still a winner really. The whole point is to get words on a page and not to discourage people for being unable to hit some arbitrary number within a month.

That said, after everything this year and everything else that’s happened this month, getting that 50k was a big boost for me. One thing after another has just been a defeat after defeat after defeat. I really needed a win on something. Anything. And I’ve got it. So now I’m going to cool it on the writing for the weekend and then, on Monday, Through the Black revisions begin.

It’s on. March 31st, here I come. I’m gonna be ready for you.