Oymyakon (The Arcanist)

Posted: January 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

Oymyakon is one of the coldest, permanently inhabited places on our planet. According to Wikipedia, “sometimes the average minimum temperature for January, February and December remains below −50 °C (−58 °F).” It seemed like perfect place to send the characters in this story, whose souls have been exposed to the fires of hell. As they find out, going from one extreme to another doesn’t always work…

The Arcanist is a relatively new (July 2017) online literary magazine, focusing on “genre-based flash fiction and in-depth looks into pop culture’s biggest stories.” It’s published some really good science fiction and horror since it was launched – helped by the fact that it’s a paying market – and I hope it’s around for a long time to come.

Oymyakon is my first acceptance by The Arcanist and my first acceptance of 2018, and it’s a wonderful way to kick off the new year of writing.

Oymyakon is due to be published by The Arcanist towards the end of February. I’ll post a link here as soon as it’s available. Or, better still, sign up here to receive a new story from The Arcanist every week – delivered straight to your inbox for free!



Malik (ZeroFlash anthology #1)

Posted: December 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Malik is another story I wrote at this year’s Flash Fiction Festival, inspired by the real life robot, Liam – Apple’s 29-armed recycling robot. Yes, Malik’s name was supposed to be an anagram of Liam, but all the options sounded too soft and friendly for what I had in mind, which is why I added the ‘k’. Okay?

This was another of my ‘written-against-the-clock’ stories from the festival and I’m pleased it’s found a good home. It’s amazing to think that two stories, written in a classroom setting – without prior thought or inspiration – could end up being published, but that’s what’s happened. And I still have two more stories to go – I wonder if they’ll find a home, too?

The Flash Fiction Festival is for writers who want to learn more about flash fiction, with workshops from the UK’s leading flash fiction practitioners. The 2018 dates are up now and I recommend it.

ZeroFlash is a flash fiction magazine designed to publish works from some of the most creative people around – to praise and support and give a forum for discussion. This will be their first e-anthology.

I’ll add a link to the e-book here when Malik is published in 2018.

Shades of SantaMy Christmas story this year was supposed to have been a 5,000-worder called The Coal Shed. It didn’t happen. My story wasn’t rejected – I’m not even sure it was read – but the anthology I submitted it to was cancelled, with a promise that it would be back next year.

While looking for other opportunities for The Coal Shed, I stumbled across Shades of Santa: Tales from the Bloody North Pole – a charity anthology of 666-word Christmas horror stories, which was inviting submissions.

I knew immediately that I had something for this.

Baubles & Beer Cans started out life as Christmas Morning and was the first writing success I ever had, reaching the shortlist for the inaugural InkTears Flash Fiction competition back in 2012. Since then, I’d forgotten about it – although I’d obviously given it a serious overhaul at some point, including a new title.

I’m pleased to say the story has now achieved another first for me – becoming my first paid submission. Yes, my 666-word Christmas story earned me $6 (AUD), which I promptly donated to charity: water, the charity supported by the anthology.

Baubles & Beer Cans was published in Shades of Santa: Tales from the Bloody North Pole on 21 December 2017.

And as for The Coal Shed … well I guess you’ll just have to wait until next year.

Merry Christmas x



For my birthday, I was given two books: John Langan’s The Fisherman, and a horror anthology called The Infernal Clock. Both books are excellent but the latter immediately intrigued me because I knew some of the contributing authors. And it’s beautifully put together.

In the build up to their new project, the curators of The Infernal Clock ran a flash fiction competition, and I was lucky enough to finish third with my story, The Wand Maker. Soon after the results were published, they announced their next anthology: CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac.

I wanted to be in this anthology.

CalenDarkCalenDark will feature 16 stories, each one allocated to a specific festival day. The word limit was 5,000 words and I was going to have my work cut out to make the deadline. I emptied my calendar of other opportunities (including Aphotic Realm issue #2, which looks amazing!), and I started getting up at 5.30am so I could write 500 words before going to work. But the infernal clock kept ticking…

I received an email a few weeks ago saying my story, Crying the Neck, hadn’t been accepted for Lammas Day. But the email didn’t end there. They said they liked my story, and asked if I would consider rewriting it for Halloween, instead? Oh, and as a few of the submissions had come in under 5,000 words, did I want to go over the word limit?

Hell, yes.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Stephanie Ellis and David Shakes, the curators of CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac, for their thoughtful feedback and for putting together top quality anthologies. The cover artwork by @TimYouster is also wonderful, and cleverly features all the contributors names as part of the design.

Crying the Neck will be published in the Halloween slot of the CalenDark anthology, alongside stories from some of my favourite authors. At nearly 6,000 words, it’s the longest story I’ve had published to date, and also the first sequel!

Crying the Neck was published in CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac on 29 November 2017.



Green Lamp

I can honestly say I was expecting this one to be a rejection. When The Green Light first announced they were going to publish a Halloween special issue, the request was for “spook-tacular and fang-tastic works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, and screenwriting.” Sounded great.

After I submitted, the brief changed slightly to “poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and photography that center on Halloween and fall.” Suddenly my story, Absent Spouse Syndrome, didn’t fit the brief so neatly.

I figured that was it, and started waiting for the rejection email. But nothing came. Progress updates appeared on Twitter but I didn’t hear anything so, on 30 October, I sent a polite chaser.

I didn’t hear back until 2am (GMT) on Halloween, when the magic ‘Congratulations’ email appeared in my inbox, followed closely by a request to review the proofs. Talk about last minute!

I’m so happy Absent Spouse Syndrome is going to be included in the Halloween special issue. The Green Light is a literary journal designed to showcase aspiring creators, of all kinds, and share their work with the world. I’d like to say a big thank you to the Co-Editors-in-Chief, Ash and Caitlin, for selecting my story to be included in their Halloween special issue.

Absent Spouse Syndrome was published at midnight on 31 October 2017.

python-1424583_960_720It seems like superheroes are a constant feature at cinemas these days but I never thought they would find their way into one of my stories. I mean, there’s only so much world building you can do in a flash fiction story…right?

I had the idea for Snakes & Lasses while on holiday in Norfolk with the twins. I was making my bed one day and there it was, a rubber python, hiding beneath the sheets. Often when I see something incongruous like this, I start dreaming up characters and plot. What sort of person might encounter a snake in their bed? And why would it be there?

On this occasion, the answer involved…superheroes.

Literally Stories was created by writers for writers. It exists to showcase a wide spectrum of short story fiction from new and emerging writers to more seasoned authors. I’d like to thank Hugh Cron for agreeing to publish my first ever superhero tale.

Snakes & Lasses was be published by Literally Stories on 26 October.

On 28 October, Literally Stories also posted a review of the week’s stories. Of Snakes & Lasses, they said “Weird and poignant. I smiled as I read this and that’s always a good sign.” To read their other comments see the full review of the week.

Last October I had eight rejections in five days while I was on holiday with the family. It was a bad week. Thankfully, this October has already been kinder (see my last two blogs) and yesterday I found out that I’ve finished second in The Short Story’s quarterly flash competition!

My first ever competition success was with The Short Story, back when their flash competition was monthly. Then, like Retreat West, they moved to quarterly and I thought I thought that was it for me.

teddy-bear-1374874_640I’m so happy that Parabolas has found a good home. I looked for months for a story that was good enough for this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology and I really thought Parabolas was the one. So much of it is based on my life – things I’ve experienced or witnessed first hand, including the red balloon on my daily commute to work (this happened before the recent release of IT so I wasn’t as freaked out by it as I would be now…). I was heartbroken when the rejection email came through but I did what you’re supposed to do, and sent it straight back out again.

I’d like to thank Rupert Dastur and everyone at The Short Story for championing my stories. The Short Story is a fantastic online resource and journal, examining and promoting all forms of short prose fiction.

Parabolas was published on 15 November 2017.