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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When Does Evolution Become Transformation: “Washed Up Upon the Shore” to “Pearls and Memories, Spilled and Scattered”

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I’m not sure when Story A (in this case “Washed Up Upon the Shore”) becomes Story B (what I’m currently calling “Pearls and Memories, Spilled and Scattered”). The tenses changed from second person past to first person present and, while it’s at its core a milleu story about a priest on a quest to save a child, the story doesn’t feel the same anymore. Now into its sixth iteration, there are new scenes and a completely different journey towards a similar ending.

So where do you draw the line? Is Story A just a proto-evolved version of Story B? More importantly when does a story become so transformed that you can submit it to a market as a totally different entity to an earlier, imperfect draft?

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I have no idea. I suppose the good thing is I only submitted “Washed Up” to two markets. I’m revising it now because I want to submit it to a specific place which happens to be open. I can feel that itch in my fingers as I think about how the story needs to go. How I should have planned it. I can still do that, of course, and I have a mental map in my head. I also know where this needs to go, the marked out scenes and the comments from my crit group that the story needs to be darker.

But I’m left wondering, when does A become B and perhaps there isn’t an answer.

But that’s okay.

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When the Stars Fade: Expanding the Short Story


I liken writing to being a jigsaw puzzle. With anything—a short story, a novel—you have the corners and sometimes the outside pieces but the middle is a hole, an absent picture you have to piece together.

I wrote “When the Stars Fade” a couple of months ago and only as I’ve gone through more drafts and several rejections have I realised that there are several components to the story which makes it bigger than 7500 words.

  • Hesri’s relationship with her eventual murderer, Meiku
  • Kadjat’s romantic relationship with Hesri, their marriage and Kadjat’s widowing.
  • Meiku’s execution and how this affects Kadjat.
  • Hesri’s faith in the Ubani, the Mortal Gods, and Kadjat’s agnosticism versus Meiku’s suspicion/atheism.
  • Kadjat’s application to the Space Program and the process involved with her becoming an astronaut.
  • The winnowing of the other applicants.
  • Nadir, his secret and Kadjat’s discovery of it.
  • Her decision, not that she actually gets to make one, the moral quandary, however remains.
  • The shuttle disaster and Kadjat’s demise in space.

I also know several other things, such that this is a story written in-universe by Jaada Serani after her world for the Commission investigating the Directorate, after she learns to use her abilities as a wild muse.

I usually find a track and this one, well, it perfectly reflects Jaada’s perspective given her relationships, with Tobai in her present and, as Kadjat, with Hesri and Meiku. This one sums up her desire to rewrite history, to change her past, but this is tempered by the knowledge that she’s a muse, not a god:

When this story came back from being critiqued, the one thing the group wanted to know more about was the Ubani. This story, which will probably be a novella, is about pieceing together the world between The Mortal Gods and The Singularity, the two parts of Jaada’s novel The Divided Land. This is a world after war but before chaos, there’s a unique status quo coupled with a desire to find a way out of the cycle of violence.

The faith in the Ubani is strong, even in Taborin, but science is rising. Oh and there’s a planet to colonise … of which Jaada’s failed mission is the first tentative step.

The story itself is set decades before the Singularity and is going to help me fill in important holes needed to make sure there aren’t any in the Atridia Duology. After all, jigsaws do come with pictures to help you put the pieces together and this story is not onlu Jaada’s attempt to deal with her own demons but it’s my way of making sure nothing is left out and the world will be all the richer for it.

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The Balancing Act: Finding “Solace”

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My self-worth isn’t great right now. I’m trying to write but it’s like getting blood out of a stone. My brain screaming at me that I’m a terrible writer, that the two rejections I had this week were personal and signalled my ultimate failure as an author. I cringe at the thought of sending more stories out and yet there’s a call coming up that I’ve promised myself I’ll submit a story to.

After the name-changing of the other day, I had a temporary high which means, of course, my mood was always going to crash back town. It’s not as bad as it was a couple of weeks ago but it still feels particularly dark at times. I can find fractured moments of happiness in Disney movies and the Game of Thrones rumour-mill, listening to certain pieces of music and eating things which are bad for me. Though I do have a bag of carrots in the fridge that I’m sharing with the hound.

Yesterday I didn’t write a word all day. Instead, I wasted time on the internet, reading and posting until it was time for an appointment on the other side of town. I took the bus because I couldn’t face the walk from either of the two routes I can use, I even arrived early because it was better than lingering in Starbucks for another half an hour.

Of course, I could have slept in, I could have been kinder but I’m a creature of habit. I did, however, walk back into town, past the barky German Shepherd Uni hates. We had lunch, which was cheap and filling (bonus points to the fact I was craving cabbage and new potatoes). We capped off the day with an epic 99 that took me back to my childhood. The seller even made Uni a micro 99 which she definitely appreciated. It was exceptionally warm and poor Un, well she’s getting fluffy again.

As part of my run of jobs on Monday, I booked her a slot to be clipped for the summer. It’s expensive but worth it, she’s already feeling the heat and it’s only just gone from sub-arctic rain to a few, precious, glorious days of summer. She’ll thank me in two weeks. In the meantime, I’m carrying water and her bandana, even retiring my jacket because denim and heat, they don’t play well together.

My big focus for this week is the short story I need to write. It’s a space mermaid story and I’m hurrying to get it done not because the call is coming (it’s at the end of the month) but because I want to have my crit group look the story over first. I have a better idea of the storyline for “Solace” but my desire to write, it’s still not easy. Plus the deadline is making it much harder, inducing a panic that I won’t be done by 1st July.

This annoys me as normally deadlines are my fodder, my fuel. The trick is, of course, to go back to what MRK taught me in the short story class I did. Outline the story, write down what happens and then, when my muse returns in a coffee-fueled flood, do the story. Worse case, as long as it’s done by Wednesday, the group won’t be too put out but I still feel bad. We each understand everyone has problems writing sometimes and this week, it’s my turn.

I want this story to be good, though. I want to love writing it, the desire is there, but my mood flattens it. I want to nip to the garage, buy a pint but I can’t afford to lose either the money in my purse or the addling of my brain. So I’ve put on Game of Thrones and am trying to outline, hoping that will help. At least I now have a much clearer idea of the antagonism in the story and the ending.

That’s something and, right now, I’ll take anything I can get.

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New Short Story: “When the Stars Fade”

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I’ve been wanting to write a space story for a while and Kadjat Suru was mentioned, off-handedly in two other Ashteraiverse stories: The Fractured Era and “Constructed Mind, Reforged Soul”. Both Teiru and Juran know the name as being one of the pioneers of science, in Kadjat’s case she was a noted Atridian mathematician who specialised in launch trajectories and she was also the first person from her planet to die in space.

“When the Stars Fade” was always her story and began with a single line: My name is Kadjat Suru, I’m the first and I’m alone.

I discovered several things about Kadjat, primarily that she was married to a woman named Hesri and that relationship which pushes her to join, at her boss’ insistence, the space program as an astronaut. By Juran’s time, her life has been sanitised (same-sex relationships having been banned under the Directorate and partially blamed for the near-collapse of society during the Singularity) and it’s known she had a spouse but Hesri’s name and gender were wiped from the history books.

Kadjat became a loyal member of a fake past where she went into space for the advancement of science, willingly giving her life to prove it was possible to leave the planet. In reality her mission was the first step in a much larger plan, to colonise the neighbouring planet of Arcadia. But none of this is public knowledge by the time of Juran’s birth and only the Ubani remember her wife even existed.

Of the two of them, Hesri was the religious one and a follower of the Ubani sect, the religion which grew up around the progenitors who also serve as the Atridian’s third sex, needed to carry children until they’re ready to be born. This ability has turned them into mortal deities and being blessed by them is seen as a sign of good fortune, especially during weddings and naming ceremonies. By the time of The Fractured Era, however, the sect has been banned and no one remembers what Ubani actually means, much less their former place in society, except the persecuted progenitors themselves.

Kadjat remembers Hesri telling her about the Ubani belief that souls are the stars in the sky. After her wife’s death, that throwaway comment is behind her desire to go to the stars and see if she can find Hesri there. She doesn’t believe she’s literally there, of course, but it becomes Kadjat’s motivation to do the impossible. Except things go wrong and the story concludes with the tragedy that secures Kadjat’s memorium in Atridian and Union history.

Now to let it rest and get the final pass for edits/tweaks while I figure out where to send it.

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First Drafts: My Untitled Ashteraiverse Blind Lawyer Stories


I actually don’t know what this is yet. A novel? A series? Short stories? Novellas. There’s definitely more than one though because they’re each set in a different year. Randomly writing scenes has been my guilty pleasure while I should be doing other things, like revising short stories and finishing  Ash Seeketh Ember (which I’ve just now finished).

I know the basic outline and that each story involves a particular case from a technopathic teenager to an alien cleric accused of murder. Oh and the legal ramifications of interspecies sex in London, that’s my favourite. I have five sketched out, each taking place in a different year, from 2016 through 2028. The final story ushers in Second Contact and the Terran Schism, the Ashteraiverse endgame, which I’ve been wanting to write for nearly a decade.

For now, here’s a rough first draft exploring one of protagonist and Ashterai Elder Astraea’s dates with her eventual husband and soulmate, Marc, on a snowy day in January 2005.

Edit: And here’s the perfectly fitted song I found while writing it …


The day Tara died, it had snowed the night before and I was praying someone had gritted the streets.

I could taste the cold in the air, feel the burn on my skin as I huddled under layers of clothing, a turtleneck jumpers, a coat, an infinity scarf, thick boots with special studded oversoles that offered me some traction on snowy streets, trousers and wool socks. I hate being cold and sometimes it feels like I’ve been exposed to absolute zero in the moments before the heat death of the universe.

Maybe it was a memory, of before and beyond.

Bad weather makes me even more hyper-vigilant than I usually am. When your blind everything tries to kill you and snow, in particular, makes the streets deadly when you have a working set of all six senses. I was down one of the major ones.

“Hi, Tara.” Marc made me jump, waiting just outside the lobby of my building. “I wanted to meet you, the sidewalks are murder.”

“Sorry, you made me jump. Thank you.” I smiled, liking the fact he cared, risking his own life because he wanted to help me and not out of pity either but genuine concern.

“No, thank you. The weather was worrying me. I’m terrified I’m going to slip and break something.”

“What do you want to do today?” he asked, it was a Sunday and I’d been looking forward to a day with him. What we’d do hadn’t occurred to me.

I grinned. “Something new. Something I’ve never done before.”

So he kissed me.


You have to understand from the get-go that reality has rules.

That’s part of why now is better than the place I grew up. There were rules but they were fractured, nonsensical and we knew, all of us, a clean slate was required and guardians to make sure the rules are kept sacred. The world I was born into, it was a mess of cataclysmic proportions.

But I was never happy being disconnected from time and so I asked to live within it, with Marc as my companion. Each time we’re reborn in a different place and age, our memories are suppressed. For a while we think we’re normal, average, it makes it easier when Marc and I finally meet, when we remember who we are. We have people to be as a foundation and time to just be like everyone else, even if it’s only a few decades per lifetime.

We don’t always sync or fall in love. Once in a while I can go an entire lifetime believing I’m no one special—which is a good thing, it keeps you humble—until I hear the voices of the guides and my true self is reasserted. It’s like a tide rising on a beach, the water washes away the memories of my old life and I’m left knowing what I am, liberated from the cycle of life and death. It’s like waking up from a dream and it’s always easier when Marc is waiting for me.


I looked up at him, my eyes opened the fraction I could allow and see his shadow against light then smiled. “Yes. Hey—”

He cut me off. “Don’t, not my first name. I’m not him anymore. Marc suits me better, don’t you think?”

“Yes.” I agreed. “I’ll always be Saere.”

“Shut your eyes, before you get a headache.” He gently set my dark wraparounds back over my nose, careful not to catch my ears. “Are you all right?”

I nodded. “I will be. Once I figure out who I am.”

“It’s easy, remember? I’m Marc and you’re Saere.”

“Except I’m also Tara.” I said. “We have families.”

“We always do.”

Maybe it was because I’d never had a family; my mother, the original one, was never in the picture and my father abandoned me, his blind daughter, to the street rather than claim me as his own. It was easier than be saddled with me, not that I even had time to be a burden on him. Not even the Princess of Stories could get him to be the better person and admit I was his, despite my mother naming me so, as his true child.

Perhaps getting over that was my true lesson and, if it was, it was one I still had trouble learning.

“Ahhh, I get it.” He knew this. “You have Dee.”

“Who do you have?”

“Parents, an aunt. You?”

“Dee and her husband have a baby, Ella. Our parents live in San Diego, enjoying the sunshine.”

“Are you close?”

“I guess. I speak to them once a week, if I remember.” I shrugged. “Can we get a coffee? Do this somewhere a little more warm.”

“We could go back upstairs?”

I shook my head. “I want to be around people, not because of you, not because I don’t trust you. I need to be Tara, not Saere.”

“Sure. We do have some catching up to do.” Marc suddenly flustered. “Do you want a hand?

I nodded. “We’ve just found each other, I’d rather this not be a quick meeting.”

With that I set my hand on his arm for the first time and we headed out into the snow.


The coffee mug in front of me smelled delicious, I cupped my hands around it for warmth. I felt like I’d spent the last two and half decades method acting my way through life. Tara was just the mask I’d worn and now it had been removed, a band aid pulled from a wound, raw and hurting.

Marc was doctoring his coffee, I prefer mind basic and boring. I could smell the headiness of recently roasted beans saturating the air and inhaled, coffee has always calmed me.

“So,” he said and sat down on the opposite side of the table. “How are we going to do this?”

“Carry on as normal.” I said, not even having to think about it. “It’s not time yet.”


“Actually, give me one second before we talk about normality.” I picked up my phone and began to dial. The numbers were random but the intention was there, the desire to connect with someone not on this plane of reality.

“Lady Saere, hello.” Amber’s voice was warm and welcome, I could hear other ones behind her, as if she worked in a call center. “It’s been a while.”

“Indeed.” I said. “Would you mind calling me Astraea? Pass that around, too.”

“Not at all. I was about to ask. What can I do for you?”

“I just wanted to announce my reappearance, Marc’s too.”

“Marc? Oh you mean Lord—”

“No need for titles, Amber, you know that.”

“Sorry, force of habit.” She said and I could hear the unspoken ‘Lady’ on her lips. The young like to give their elders epithets because we were there in the beginning, despite reminding us them they will be there at the end, just as we will.

“Oh and he’s decided on Marcus for now. Can you make sure his employees are aware if they’ve not already heard.”

“Done. In regard to yourself, would you like me to make sure Alycia, David and Matt are notified.”

“I’m sure they already know but please make sure they have a corporeal method of communication. My email, phone number.”

“I can do that.”

“Are the aware?”

“Everyone bar Alycia.”

That meant she was probably going to wake up with a bump. “Where is she?”

“Chicago. Erm, Lady?”

“Yes, Amber?”

“She’s in a relationship. With a human.”

“Ouch.” I winced. “Then definitely make sure she has my phone number. Actually, I need one from you if possible, for someone.”

“Sure. Just tell me who?”

The name popped into my head, a residual note left intentionally in the back of my human brain that I’d otherwise not know. “Chaya Jordan.”

“Shall I email it to you? Do you want me to let Lady Chaya know you want to speak to her?”

“She knows and, yes, please.”

“Thank you. Oh and Amber, has the new girl started yet?”

“New girl? I don’t believe so.”

“Damn, ask Chris to let me know when she does. He knows who I mean.”

I heard whispering and then Amber’s voice. “He says 2015.”

“Really? That ages away.” I sighed, hating that it was 2005. “Okay, thanks, Amber. Can you email me your number as well, I’d rather have a fixed line for you if I need you.”

“I’m typing it right now.”

“Thanks.” I said and signed off.

Marc was sipping his drink almost meditatively. “Everything okay?”

I was envious of his calm. As the Buddhist, I should have had it but reawakening, it always left me feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. I had a prescription in my bag—being a paralegal was stressful—and felt guilty reaching for the tiny bottle, as if by taking the little tablets I was proving mortality won out over my older self. “It will be.”

“You’re like this every time. It’s okay.”

“Easy for you to say. How do you do it? Be so calm?”

“I’m southern. Nothing phases me, Sae.”

I looked up at the sound of the contraction of my true name. “I missed you calling me that.”

“I’ll be better once I’ve spoken to Chaya, it’s my ritual.”

“You and her have always been close.” It sounded almost like a concession but he wasn’t jealous. She and I, we’d known each other longer. “And if it helps you come to terms with remembering, I’m all for it.”

I loved him in that moment, for the first time as Tara. “Thank you.”

“Do you know what you’re going to do? Are you going to tell Dee?”

“Not yet. She wouldn’t understand.” I said. “But I am going to change my name.”

“Oh?” Now he sounded curious. “That was … fast.”

“New life, new me.” I replied. “How do you like Astraea?”

I heard the frown. “That’s … Greek, right?”

“She was a goddess of justice in one of the older myths. Or the daughter of the goddess of justice, Themis. When the ages changed, she was the deity who stayed on Earth the longest.”

“Sounds like you.” He set his cup down. “Astraea Themis.”

I grinned. “That does sound good.”

“Dee is going to be …”


“Wow, you’re actually scared of her, aren’t you?”

“You don’t have siblings.”

“Somehow that makes me glad. I’ve always been a loner though.” Marc murmured. “But I’m close to my family, my parents, my aunt.”

“I’m glad you had someone.” I said.

“Now we have each other.” I didn’t answer, not immediately, which unsettled him. “Sae? Did I say something wrong?”

“No, no. I’m just … it’s going to look odd. We’ve known each other a month.”

“So? We keep on dating, if you want to that is. We don’t have to get married and, even if we do, it’s not instant thing.”

“Yes.” I said. “And I do want to keep on seeing you.”

“So we keep on doing that. Or are you worried I have a ring in my back pocket or something?”

I must have sounded pained. “You don’t do you?”

“No. Do you know how much teachers make?”

“Probably more than a paralegal.”

“Quite possibly but not much more. Plus, you’re a feminist, if anyone’s going to ask, it’ll be you not me.”

“True.” I agreed. “My parents are going to want a proper Jewish wedding.”

“I thought you were Buddhist?”

I am. My family on the other hand are very Jewish, hence why Dee is so damn protective of me, and why she must never know I have bacon in my fridge. There’s a reason I go to stay with my sister on Friday nights. I can read Braille in Hebrew as well as English.”

“There are different versions?”

“For each language, yeah.”

“I thought Buddhists didn’t eat meat?”

“I’m a bad Buddhist. I got into it for the meditation and never quite got as far as giving up meat. I like meat.” I replied. “And now I get why. I thought it was all about the cycle, liberation from birth and death. It wasn’t, it was my Ashterai nature seeping through.”

“If it helps you, where’s the harm?”

“The stance on religion …”

“You’re human right now. Faith is never a bad thing.”

“I used to dream of a woman, I thought she was the Boddhisatva who bears my name.”

“She has lots of names. I think we only know a quarter of them. I used to hate church, it always felt like I shouldn’t have been in there, despite being dragged by my aunt. She’s a pious woman.” He stopped. “Wait, girlfriend?”

“Yes. Problem?”

“Am I the wrong gender?”

“No, stupid. I wouldn’t have let you buy me apology wine if I thought your masculinity mattered.”

“Why’d you break up with her? Your girlfriend?”

“She kept trying to cure me.”

I heard him wince. “Yes, I can see why that would be a problem.”

“I’ll make this easy: I like women and men, I like people. I just like you more.”

“No problems then.”

“Good.” I sipped my coffee. “I love how understanding you are.”

“I didn’t used to be. Marcus Hunter was known as being a little stern. Especially with his charges.”

“Then time to mellow in your middle age perhaps? Love can change people.”

“You sound like a movie tagline. Are you okay?”

My phone had started ringing and I must have gone the wrong shade of white. “It’s Dee.”

“So answer it.”

I fumbled with it, my heart stuck in my mouth. I’d not expected to have to speak to my sister so quickly after reawakening. “Dee?”

“Hey, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Did you have the same amount of snow as we did last night?”

“I don’t think so. I’m okay, I’m with Marc.”

“Wow, you two really are serious, aren’t you?”

I went bright red, my cheeks burning. Tara would blush, be embarrassed, the physical side-effects of my fake life were still there. I didn’t even have to pretend to be her and I almost felt relived.

“No comment.”

Dee was laughing but then said, serious. “Well at least you’re safe. I was worried about you with the streets so icy.”

“Marc’s a gentleman and I’m always careful, you know that.”

“Cool. Listen, give me a call later in the week? Paul wants you two to come to dinner. Mom and Dad will be in town too, she just called me to confirm the flights.”

“Sure.” I said. “I’ll call you once I’ve got my diary in front of me.”

“Don’t forget.”

“I won’t.”

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Considering Patreon


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I’m thinking on a Patreon. I have lots of short stories and could really use the money, even if it’s nothing more than coppers. Some of the stories are stand-alones I’ve simply not been able to sell, other as Ashteraiverse stories and I find myself in need of an outlet, even though, in the past, I’ve never had much luck with Patreon.

Now though, thanks to several anthologies, I’m starting to get a name for myself and I am, sadly, broke. I hate being reliant on the state and I’m just too disabled/sick to even look at jobs (not that anyone will employ me). I certainly have no desire to go back to work full time, I just can’t do it. But crowdfunding, it offers something else that continues to intrigue me, especially if I post stories which is a nice and easy thing to do.

The trick is the followers, the people. I am going to try this as an experiment, spend the weekend updating the page. Even if I get a dollar a month from one person, it’s certainly better than nothing, right?

Edit: You can check out my Patreon by going to

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The Liner Notes: “One Quiet Night”


Last year my friend Shannon was staying with me while she looked for places in London. Being Canadian, the capital was calling her like a moth to a flame, I was like that once too, even if I didn’t go into the city much until my final year at uni and after. Anyway, for fun, we invited around two geek friends of mine, Mel and Kris, for a night of pizza and board games. I didn’t even know that was a thing until Shannon got me playing them. Now I’m a huge fan of Cards Against Humanity on principle because it is the perfect adult game, mainly because it works better the more you drink.

Yeah, it got pretty rude towards the end.

Anyway, we also played Pandemic which Shannon had previously introduced me and a somewhat sceptical Uni too. It’s a lot more fun when you have two more players and I’m totally for anything involving viruses and extinction level events (this is what I get from reading far too much Seanan McGuire). One of the cards, titled One Quiet Night, stuck with me (Hi, Pandemic folk, please don’t sue me!) and thus was my story born.

I wrote “One Quiet Night” in second person because I wanted to really get readers stuck in the story, setting it in an unnamed town near to where I live. It focuses on an unnamed single mother who’s daughter, Carly, has caught a new strain of flu which is, literally, killing humanity not that my protagonist has completely realised her daughter is dying. Then the phone goes out and she can’t figure out why. Oh and her elder son, Brandon, isn’t all himself either.

This story is so British it’s almost painful. That was half the point as I’m aware most readers won’t be; the British words like ‘mobile’, ‘GP’ and ‘101’ are going to confuse the heck out of people, thushopefully—heightening the tension. Added to that the isolation, which is straight out of every horror story ever, is particularly poignant. Especially when the protagonist realises she’s not the only one watching her child die to a disease humanity simply doesn’t have a cure too.

I remember when H1N1 and swine flu were things; there was never that much panic buying, at least not in my little town but everyone was almost painfully aware—exacerbated entirely by Twitter and Facebook—that something foul was in the air. That’s where the rest of this story came from, even though back then at least there was no real danger, not if people were smart (and people so seldom are).

Here’s the cover I designed for it (I think the image is gorgeous and totally fits the story which is contemporary but also sci fi):


As a reminder, here’s the blurb:

It only takes one quiet night for humanity to die …

Everyone expects zombies and nuclear fire to herald the destruction of the Earth but the end, at least in this tale, comes much more quietly. Your daughter is sick, the entire world is dying, and there’s nothing you can do. 

Yes, you

Step into the shoes of a single mother whose daughter doesn’t just have a simple bug but is one of millions afflicting with a terrifying virus which is quietly decimating humanity.

And you’re not the only one watching her die.

Oh and you can go preorder the book (which is out 1st May) by going here:

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Happy Spring!


As the days get warmer, as the sun comes out, I inevitably start feeling better, both mentally and physically. I’m commuting most of the week and spending large amounts of time with The Naked Dog (I can’t really call her my Furball as she’s been shawn for the spring) in Starbucks working. I’m still on a short story streak (Asha really does like them) and have been working on a particularly emotional story called “Constructed Mind, Reforged Soul” that I sent off to an anthology call yesterday.

Oh and I’ve watching Dark Souls III playthroughs, doing Zumba and napping.

So, as today is Good Friday (aka the One Bank Holiday which isn’t on a Monday), I went into the city for breakfast with my BFF, Mhairi and her guide dog, Bramble (the one whose hugs are like dog valium). Then I bought a hat.

Apparently all I needed to complete my transformation into Asha was a hat. Who knew?

(BTW this is not a selfie; Mhairi took it. Not bad attempt either.)

We’d finished breakfast and were heading for coffee but, as it’s Easter, there was this market just by Cafe Rouge selling things like food, bread, jewellery, crepes (CREPES … and I had no room left). Oh and hats.

Funny story: I only found out what a milliner is a couple of months ago. I was in Mary Robinette Kowal’s class and she was brainstorming ideas. She came up with something like ‘a milliner who assassinates people with oranges’ and I was mentally going: WTF? A word I don’t know??? (and I know many just not this one). I actually had to google the definition and discovered milliners are the name for people who make hats. I related this story to Mhairi and the stall owner as I tried on hats, who reminded me of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. That bit I knew: he was a hat maker who went mad from the mercury used to make hats.

But he’s never called a milliner.

I pointed this out. Mhairi laughed at me. Nicely.

I ended up buying this rather nice hate (and mentally swearing at the expense). Lots of people have told me it suits me and I really think it does, even if it means I’m going to have to wear my hair either braided or bound back out of my face. Normally I wear headbands and those get in the way of the hat sits.

This afternoon I finally sat down and edited “One Quiet Night”. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been putting it off, apparently—regardless of my name—I still hate editing. It’s like pulling teeth and actually, I’d put it off so long I had to get the file re-sent as it had expired. That’s just embarrassing. Anyway, I cracked my knuckles, spoke to Shannon and then engaged the Kung Fu Panda 3 OST (it’s a freaking awesome movie BTW). I think it took me two hours to do and, as usual, once you start things don’t feel quite as difficult. I’m sitting on the draft overnight and will then send it off with the blurb I’ve not yet written.

Actually, let’s do that now:

It only takes one quiet night for humanity to die …

Everyone expects zombies and nuclear fire to herald the destruction of the Earth but the end, at least in this tale, comes much more quietly. Your daughter is sick, the entire world is dying, and there’s nothing you can do.

Yes, you.

Step into the shoes of a single mother whose daughter doesn’t just have a simple bug but is one of millions afflicting with a terrifying virus which is quietly decimating humanity.

And you’re not the only one watching her die.

I like it.

Also, hey, on the fly! Go me!

In other news I’ve had a couple of rejections, which is fine. I’m sending out stories as fast as I can and trying to revise the last few in my ‘to revise’ pile. I also have about five which need finishing, particularly as there are at least two anthology calls coming up I want to respond to. I’m now treating said rejections as excuses to, occasionally, rework a story and as a badge of honour, not a negative thing. Rejections make you stronger and I’m now at the point where I get to call C.C. Finlay of F&SF ‘Charlie’ after he’s rejected like four of my stories.

This is a major thing, if my other writer friends are to be believed.

And yeah, I’m still sending him stories.

One day he will accept one, I know it.

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