How to Write Short Stories on a Deadline

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This week I’m trying to get two stories ready for submission to specific calls in the hope they might sell. One is the story formally known as “Infinity Girl and the Shadow” (and is going to be renamed if it kills me) and the other is (also about to be renamed) “Washed Up Upon the Shore”“. The call for the former shuts on Thursday, the one for the later at the end of the month.

Guess which story I’m working on right now?

Yeah, the one not due for another few weeks. But, I suppose, at least I’m trying to write something.

Actually, it’s not that bad; I spent most of Sunday cutting 1500 words out of my magical girl story. It’s pretty close to done and I’m remembered how much I like redrafting when I actually focus on the work, when I cut things because they’re extraneous, it feels like I’m good at what I do and the story is all the more polished for it. Especially as the tilt on this isn’t the and never had been the superheroness (in this case the magical girlness) of the story but how that impacts on reality and the protagonist’s life and relationships.

“Washed Up” (which is probably going to be renamed “Like Pearls, Spilled and Scattered”) is about what makes a person and how purpose can sometimes override memory, personality. Good people will do good things, even if you strip them to the bone, because of who they are in their core. Oh and it’s my attempt at a Lovecraftian story without the Lovecraft but all the magic and mysticism. I’ll definitely be returning to this world, though not the same area.

I just wish it wasn’t so warm out, this really kills my ability to be creative.

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Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Writers is Now Available!


This is one massive tome but it’s also only available for a very short time. It contains my short story “The Soulless: A History of Zombieism in Chiitai and Mihari Culture” (written as Lesley Smith) as well as at least fifty other Future Chronicles stories and other writers you should be reading.

Look at this anthology as a free excuse to expand your list of favourite short form writers. 1.1 million words worth, specifically, and 120 authors in their first and second years of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Go download it now!

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Hey Look! It’s the Mosaics: Volumes One and Two Covers


How cool are these? And please do click on each one to pre-order. I’ve got a story in Volume 2 called “One Quiet Night” but I wanted to showcase both covers because why not? Volume 1 is out March 8th and features a collection of short stories, flash fiction and essays from a bunch of amazing women. Volume 2 will follow with even more, including my contribution.

I don’t have the release date for Volume 2 yet but it’s apparently going to be confirmed by the end of March, to tie in with the first volume’s release. I’m just excited to be involved that that Pavarti and Kim loved my little story.

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Alt.History 102: Cover Reveal


Last year I wrote a story called “The Elissiad”, it’s set in another version of Earth where Rome fell to Hannibal and a stranded alien ship appeared above the ancient city of Carthage.

Here’s the synopsis:

What if Hannibal Barca and his elephants crossed the Alps and destroyed Rome? What if Carthage became a new Eternal City but with the bread and without the circuses?

Now the city is home to two aliens stranded on Earth who have adopted the personas of the native gods in order to repair their vessel—while accidentally uplifting humanity in the process.

Welcome to the day Carthage learns the truth about their ‘gods’.


Before I was a journalist, before I was an author, I was a sixteen year old bookworm who was trying to choose her A Levels. Religious studies was a given, as was English language given I got a B in my GCSE’s in the subject but what was my third choice going to be?

During an interview at my high school, one of the teachers let slip that Paston College, the local Sixth Form (which for the Americans is where students go to continue their education from sixteen to eighteen), did a course called Classical Civilisations.

Now I’d always loved history and was a huge mythology buff. My parents never told me stories but I did have books; I discovered mythology and remain to this day a hub of obscure information relating to the Greek/Roman and Egyptian pantheons.

By doing this two year course (and the Classics syllubus in my first year of uni), I learned about art, society, religious practises, theatre and the cultures behind the big budget movies (to this day Disney’s Hercules makes me cringe and brings out my inner mythology nerd).

Carthage and Rome’s rivalry was one of the things we covered simply because one of the books I had to study was Virgil’s Aeneid which is best described as a stylised Roman take on the Illiad and Aeneas’ own Odyssey to find a home for the dispossessed refugees who survived the war against Troy.

Along the way Aeneas meets Dido, Queen of Carthage (known as Elissa in Carthaginian stories) and there’s love and tragedy, ending with a funeral pyre and a deep resentment which the Aeneid pitched as the reason why Rome and Carthage never saw eye to eye.

Historical fiction isn’t normally my cup of tea, at least not until I started reading Jo Graham (whose book Black Ships is her retelling of the Aeneid). But I pitched three ideas to Sam and Alt-Carthage was his favourite so I decided to retell the love story between Dido and her foreign lover with a twist—aliens.

The best part from me was being able to take the real religious and history of Carthage and wind it into my story, finding a reason why children were sacrificed to Tanit, greatest of Carthage’s pantheon and goddess of the city. I wanted Carthage to fall, because all cities must one day end, but in a deviation from the historical records which gave it another century or so of life.

“The Elissiad” is the result.

Alt.History 102 is coming this February and you can pre-order a copy here:

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