That moment when you’re waiting for half-a-dozen overdue submission responses and an editor from a fantastic lit mag contacts you out of the blue to ask you to submit something for Halloween. That’s what happened to me last week and if felt great!

I’ve been a fan of Ellipsis Zine for a couple of years now and really enjoyed issue four, ‘The Whisper Place’, which had an amazing cover and was packed full of creepy and unsettling flashes. This year, Steve (the editor) is looking to publish a week’s worth of fresh horror stories online to celebrate Halloween, and I’m thrilled I had a story I could send his way.

Under a Black Glass Ceiling was originally written for, and finished up as a close-but-no-cigar in The Molotov Cocktail’s Phantom Flash contest. I knew something wasn’t working the way I wanted it to when I submitted it to that contest and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since. Steve’s request couldn’t have come at a better time, because I’d finally arrived at a version of the story I was happy with.

Ellipsis Zine is an online literary magazine for beautifully written fiction & creative nonfiction. They ‘love stories that make us forget where we are, stories that introduce us to people, places and things we’ve never seen before and stories that stick with us long after we leave them.’

Under a Black Glass Ceiling was published by Ellipsis Zine on 30 October, just in time for Halloween.

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I was suThe Arcanist Monstersrprised and over the moon when I heard I’d won The Arcanist’s flash fiction contest for a second year running (after last year’s success with Boîte Fantôme). This year, the theme was ‘Monsters’. It should have been easy but I honestly couldn’t think of anything to write. Close to giving up, I trawled through my computer files, looking for an abandoned story or a title or anything that might inspire me. What I found was a first sentence I barely remembered writing:

There’s a girl next door who puts dead flies in her sandwiches.

With nothing more than this, I took my laptop out into the garden, sat down and wrote. By the time I had a first draft, I was buzzing with excitement. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

The Arcanist is an online literary magazine, focusing on “genre-based flash fiction.” The editors have published some really creative science fiction and horror since it was launched and it seems to be going from strength to strength.

Fledglings will published by The Arcanist in the Monster Flash anthology on Wednesday 9 October 2019 and the Year Three anthology in 2020. It was also published online on 25 October 2019 in time for Halloween.

Two acceptances in two days is something that doesn’t happen anywhere near often enough! I was still riding high after The Arcanist accepted Lingering when the email popped up from Flash Fiction Festival, confirming they were accepting my story Malik for the third festival anthology.

Funnily enough, I didn’t write any complete new stories at this year’s festival, although it was another fantastic weekend of learning, laughing and sunshine. Malik is one of the stories I wrote at the first Flash Fiction Festival. The story was inspired by Liam – the devilish real-life robot that dismantles Apple iPhones. It’s not the first time Malik has been accepted for publication but, sadly, the ZeroFlash anthology was aborted.

The Flash Fiction Festival is for writers who want to learn more about flash fiction, with workshops from leading flash fiction practitioners from around the globe. I’ve been every year so far and it’s awesome.

Malik will be published in Flash Fiction Festival Three. I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

Lingering (The Arcanist)

Posted: September 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

It’s hard to say what was wrong with the other stories I sent in to The Arcanist this year but I’m willing to accept that, for whatever reason, they weren’t good enough. After last year, when they accepted everything I sent their way, this year it’s been back-to-back rejections. And that’s fine. It’s always reassuring to know that publications have strict standards.

Lingering is another one of those stories that has existed in many forms with different titles. It may have been the first flash I ever wrote although, back then, it was a 250-word story called ‘Sometimes.’ The most recent round of changes have been significant, including the main character and the ending. The story, to me, makes much more of an impact as a result.

With Halloween on the horizon, with all the associated submission calls, I thought it would be a great opportunity to dust the story off and send it back out. And I’m glad I did. The result is my first acceptance by The Arcanist in 2019.

The Arcanist is an online literary magazine, focusing on “genre-based flash fiction.” The editors have published some really creative science fiction and horror since it was launched and it seems to be going from strength to strength. This is the fifth of my stories to find a home on the site.

Lingering was published by The Arcanist on Friday 6 December because … who doesn’t love a Christmas ghost story?

Up To a Point (Guilty Pleasures)

Posted: September 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

Guilty Pleasures full cover

I saw the submission call for Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights on Twitter and knew it was time for me to pen a sordid little tale. Not because I write a lot of Drabbles, which I don’t, and not because I write any erotic horror. I wanted to be a part of this anthology because it was being edited by Steve Dillon at Things in the Well Publications (Trickster’s Treats and Shades of Santa), and because it was an opportunity to have a story published alongside the horror master, Ramsey Campbell.

In this instance, the Ramsey Campbell story is ‘Dolls’ from his Scared Stiff collection – a collection I owned as a teenager but sadly never read. Well, I shall read it now and, amazingly, I’ll get to see my double-Drabble, Up to a Point, in the same anthology.

Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights is “an anthology of dark little tales where sex and horror come together.” Things in the Well is “a publisher of dark fiction, including a series of themed anthologies, single-author collections, and seasonal flash fiction anthologies” and this is the third story of mine that Steve Dillon has accepted.

I’ll post a link here when Up to a Point is published.

Corona 3rdFirst things first: Suds & Monsters is the same story as Lord of the Suds. Well, nearly the same story. I’ve had both titles for quite some time and I’ve never been able to choose between them, so it’s neat that they’ve both found homes. And the nature of the monster is subtly different in this version but you’ll have to read it to find out how. Suffice it to say, I’ve always had a soft spot for the idea at the heart of this story, so I’m thrilled it’s found two fantastic homes in the space of a few months – and relieved that this doesn’t pose a contractual issue.

Suds & Monsters is the story of a young boy at war with his stepmother, with the monster lurking in the plumbing, and with a tower of dirty dishes. I’m hoping it will resonate widely…

Corona Books UK is a ‘fledgling publishing company’ based in the UK. They aim to publish ‘the brilliant, the innovative and the quirky, and can move with a speed and alacrity which bigger beasts in the publishing world simply wouldn’t dream of.’ They received 824 submissions for The Third Corona Book of Horror – it’ll be interesting to see how many make it in.

Suds & Monsters will be published in The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories, which will be released on 1 October 2019.

*Previously published

Unexpected Heroines_edited-1So, this has happened two years running – a withdrawn story being accepted and published. I really liked the look of the ‘Unexpected Heroines’ submission call from Grimbold Books and I thought The Coal Shed would be a perfect fit, but then it was accepted for O Unholy Night in Deathlehem last December, so I sent a withdrawal email and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Last month (May 2019), the editors of Unexpected Heroines emailed me to say they were sorry to hear The Coal Shed had already been published because they really wanted it for the anthology. Emails like this are pretty good for the ego, but then there’s all the waiting and uncertainty while contracts and exclusivity clauses are reviewed. Luckily, the story was still available, and earlier today I received confirmation that The Coal Shed will feature in the forthcoming Unexpected Heroines anthology. I couldn’t be happier.

Grimbold Books “is home to some of the very best science fiction, fantasy and dark fiction around.” They are “passionate about books and are committed to finding and publishing a select few brilliant titles each year. Readers can expect the unexpected from our authors. You won’t find books like these anywhere else.”

The Coal Shed will be published in the ‘Unexpected Heroines’ anthology from Grimbold Books later this year. I’ll add a link here when it’s available.

*Previously published