Shadows (Flash Fiction)

An ultra-short piece of FlashFic, for Halloween:

Billy asked his father, on one occasion, if the house opposite theirs was haunted. He never saw anyone go in or out. Only saw lights go on and off, at various times, during the day and night. And shadows – there were always shadows in the windows.

“Yes,” his father had answered him, “But not by ghosts.”

Upon pushing him to elaborate, he explained that the house belonged to an old eccentric who was very much alive, “In the technical sense.”

“You see, boy,” he said. “You don’t have to be dead to haunt a place.”

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Poetic Waves (Writing Review – Sept. 2016)

shortlisted-poet-certificateMaybe it’s because it’s the run up to National Poetry Day (in the UK) and the FSNI National Poetry Competition (in Northern Ireland), but September seems to be a fairly poetry-focused month for me.

It was last year, and is even more so this year – no doubt spurred on by me starting a poetry class and having a poem shortlisted in a local competition. Regardless of the reason why, though, the fact remains that I wrote a shed-load of verse last month, and I’m still writing a lot now, as I near the end of October.

I’ll get into the nitty gritty of stats in a moment but, first, I’ve been having some thoughts about this whole poetry lark…

The way I figure it, I’m on my fourth wave of poetry. Maybe (/probably) that’s a weird way to look at it, but what I mean is that I see a clear distinction between the poems I wrote as a child (which I’m counting as wave one – anything written up to the age of about 16), the poems I wrote growing up (16 – 24, as summed up in Juvenilia), the poems I wrote in the last few years (as featured in Still Dreaming, Wake, and The Love Poems), and the ones I’m writing now.

I could be deluding myself, but I really think my new set are at a much higher standard than ever before. It makes sense, after all, that I would improve with practice, I’m just impressed with how much and how sudden it all is.

Obviously, I’m not the most objective person to judge that, but the feedback I’ve been getting in class has been really encouraging. Plus there is the fact that I’ve been able to finish poems that have been sitting, half-drafted, on my hard drive for years.

All in all, I wrote thirty new pieces and added to five more (totaling two thousand words). Also in September, I wrote three and a half blog posts (eight hundred words), a synopsis of a new story (one hundred and fifty words), one short story at a thousand words, a second short story at one thousand, eight hundred, a piece of flash fiction (seven hundred words), and two thousand words towards my novel.

What’s all that? Eight thousand, five hundred words, also known as a successful month!

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The New Project

micropoemsThere’s nothing like the thrill of a new project. Well, for me, at least. At any given time, I usually have about three or four main projects on the go, and another couple simmering on the back burner. I’m like a project addict, I can’t help it.

So, I started a new thing. The idea has been brewing for a while, but it finally bloomed last night (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).

What is it? Well, there are a few layers to it, so bear with me as I rewind and explain a bit.

I’ve been working on a series of micropoems since the start of September – almost one a day – and I’ve really impressed myself with them (more on that particular point in my next blog post).

The plan as it stands, at the moment, is to publish the series as a collection in paperback next year. Maybe do an ebook version, too. But what I really want to do is record them as an audiobook.

In the meantime, I’m posting selected poems to SoundCloud, to try and build a bit of buzz.

What I ask of you, dear reader, is to have a listen. Just listen. You don’t have to like, or share, or write a comment telling me what you think (though it would be very much appreciated if you did…).

There are three snippets online right now, at under thirty seconds each, and I’m planning to add a new snippet each day.

Please, I ask you again, have a listen.

I hope you like what I’ve made.

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An Epic Month for Books! (Reading Wrap-Up Sept. ’16)

Stack of Recently Acquired Books
Stack of Recently Acquired Books

After a couple of months of not reading much, September had me flying through books (at least, by my standards). I completed eight things – count ’em, eight!

Current Tally: 39 books read out of 45

Currently Reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Summer Days, Summer Nights: Twelve Summer Romances edited by Stephanie Perkins.


Get a free Audible 30 Day Trial Here

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Rap and Run (Flash Fiction)

A piece of flashfic I’ve just written.
Inspired by and dedicated to the kids in my street.

Jacob made his way down the street, knocking each door in turn, running away before the owner answered, and then coming back when they’d gone away again so he could move on to the next one.

Sure, it was kinda lame, and not how he was used to spending his last days of freedom before school started up again, but there was a lot of things that weren’t as they used to be.

Two weeks ago, his mom had moved back to this place where she’d grown up. She called it her hometown, but Jacob was not so charitable. Town? It was barely a village. And it was in the middle of nowhere! Ugh, it was so unfair!

Having left all his friends behind in the city, there weren’t many options for socialization left. So, even though he was a lot older than the other boys – practically a teenager, for god’s sake! – he went along with their stupid ideas of fun.

That’s how he got into playing rap and run.

Of course, the little kids with their short attention spans had gotten bored pretty quickly and gone off to have dinner or whatever, but Jacob wasn’t due in until dark and had no better ideas for how to spend the time. Might as well finish the row, he thought, kicking a rock along the dirt road behind a different row of houses that constituted his hiding place from the targeted ones. There were only two left, anyway.

No one answered at the penultimate house, and it seemed pretty empty, so Jacob moved on to the last without trying it again.

Outside the end house, he had an odd feeling come over him. Almost like he was being watched. He supposed he was more exposed, being at the end of the street beside the fields rather than in the middle of it, surrounded by other buildings.

As he raised his fist to knock, an even stranger feeling welled up in him. The door sounded especially hollow, and the house seemed empty, same as the last. That resonated with him in a way he didn’t expect.

His loneliness and desperation rising to the surface, he had to fight back tears as he continued to knock and knock, knowing no one was going to answer him.

Standing all by himself as the wind picked up and the sun disappeared behind a cloud, Jacob poured all of his pent up emotion into the door, his knocking growing more and more frantic until he was pounding it with both hands, making his fists hurt.

Just as suddenly as he’d lost control of himself, the door gave way and opened onto a dark hallway, making Jacob fall forward onto his knees on the mat.

He took a shuddering breath, trying to calm himself and figure out what to do next.

The house wasn’t quite as empty as he first expected. It didn’t look like there was anyone living there anymore, or anything, but whoever had once owned it left some of their things behind on the way out.

Unable to stop himself, Jacob walked the rest of the way down the hall until he was facing a table in front of a door, thick with dust and covered in chips and scrapes. On it was a photograph, which he picked up and inspected.

Jacob’s eyes widened as he recognized the girl in the picture as his mom. She looked about his age in it, though he could tell it was her without a doubt. She was standing beside an old man and another boy who looked maybe a year or two older.

Turning the photo over, Jacob found an inscription reading, Last photo taken before the disappearance, and below that was the stamp of a police department and a crime number written in pencil.

“I always knew she’d come back,” came a voice from behind Jacob, making him whirl around.

There, standing beside the door with its broken lock, was a man.

Taking a glance back down at the photograph in his hand and then up at the man’s face again, Jacob identified him as the boy in the photograph.

He had not aged well.

“Hello, son,” he said, reaching out his hand.

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I was a crappy person

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this on here before or not, but it’s no secret that I think about the past a lot. Sometimes Facebook doesn’t help with that.

I mean, sometimes Facebook’s trips down memory lane are great. There was one day last week that seemed to be the anniversary of almost every big life event I’ve had in the past six years. But the rest of the time…

*sighs* okay, so I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve been an idiot and, yeah, haven’t we all? But I was apparently idiotic enough to share a range of said mistakes on social media, at the time.

There’s probably little point dwelling on it, and the other persons involved probably don’t care anymore – heck, they probably don’t even remember – but I wanted to put a little something here for the people I’ve hurt, just in case.

If you’re reading this, and I’ve ever hurt you in any way: I’m sorry. I haven’t forgotten, and I still care. I know this doesn’t really make up for it, but I hope maybe – if you are still upset – it helps a little.

…maybe Facebook is right in reminding me, after all.

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A Seasonal Summary

At the launch of the Bangor Poetry CompetitionFirst years at university often fall foul to what’s called ‘fresher’s flu’ – a really bad cold resulting from coming into contact with so many new people and their accompanying germs.

I managed to attain this affliction for three years running. (Thanks, immune system!)

This September, I seem to have defied the odds once more. The cold that seemed to have vanished at the end of August, returned during the night last night. Maybe it’s only fitting, seeing as I’m due to start a poetry course this semester. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been really busy, meeting a lot of (wonderful) people.

Last night I was at the launch of The Fourth Annual Bangor Poetry Competition, and the night before that I coordinated my second Women Aloud & FSNI Poetry Recital.

In five months – to this day, exactly – I’m getting married.

…needless to say, things are crazy, and exciting, and amazing, and scary cool!

The season has changed, and I’m trying to set myself up to make this new one a good one, knowing that good things are coming at its end.

Going forward, I’m once more gonna try and implement a weekly work schedule in which I spend two complete days a week writing for myself, completely disconnected from the internet and phone.

But before all that, let me catch you up on last month…

Last month, I finished reading To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, I read Belonging to Myself (a poetry collection) by Jenny Cleland, Why I Write by George Orwell (review here), and I listened to Summer Knight (fourth book in the Dresden Files series) by Jim Butcher. As such, I’m 31 books into my 45-book goal for the year.

What I wrote during August? A bunch of blog posts, a piece of flash fiction, notes for a novel I have on the backburner, five poems, and two pieces of fan fiction. Total words: just over four thousand.


Read about my recent client work over on my work blog.

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Gender Roles and Stuff

shelfieI’ve been ill, the past few days, and not doing as much work as usual because of it. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot (and sleeping a lot. Not to mention putting together Ikea furniture – see photo).

So, here’s what I’m thinking: traditional gender roles are kind of dumb. (I know, revolutionary, right?)

I wrote this poem, a few years back, entitled ‘Woman I Am’, and it’s all about how women are defined by society, and asks the question: what do you do when you don’t meet that definition? What does that make you? How else are you defined? All that stuff – I’m sure you get the idea.

The point is, I’m now several years older, and still tackling the same question. I don’t consider myself particularly feminine, but does that make me any less female?

It may sound dumb, but I’m actually finding it surprisingly freeing to just think of myself not in terms of male or female, but just in terms of me. Yeah, still not a revolutionary concept, but I think I’m accepting myself – whoever or whatever that turns out to be – more, and I think that is quite life changing, if only for myself (and, really, that’s all I’ve been after. Figuring things out for myself, and myself alone).

Beyond myself, I don’t how to define myself beyond ticking the boxes that I’ve always ticked. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in life, and I think the people creating it all think asking you to assign yourself a label from a choice of two is a simple thing.

I keep coming back around to the fact that life is not simple. The longer you life, the more complicated it gets.

Here’s the final thing I’m wondering: submission forms that are open to diversity – how do you announce your diverse qualities without it being weird? I mean, I come across a lot of submission guidelines in my line of work. And I’m seeing a lot of ones with notes at the bottom, saying they particularly welcome people from diverse backgrounds. Which is great, of course. But, like, how do you let them know that bit applies to you? Dear Editor, I’m a lesbian, here’s a poem… Do you try and make it obvious from your line of bio.? I seriously would like to know. Curiosity (and the sneezles) is killing me.

I’m rambling. I know that. But this is my head right now, and I wanted to share that.

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People Worth Promoting: Anna Sheehan

anna sheehanThe good people of Tumblr have declared today – August 21st – Fan Fiction Writers Appreciation Day, making this the perfect opportunity for me to put up part two of my People Worth Promoting series.

I want to talk to you about Anna Sheehan, a wonderful author (not to mention a wonderful person in general, and a great friend), who I met through writing fan fiction.

Anna has written a metric-shit-ton (actual measurement) of beautiful, twisted, character-driven words set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. Not only that, but she’s had three of her own original novels published, too. I’ve read the first one (A Long, Long Sleep – loved it!), and am about to start the most recent (Spinning Thorns – can’t wait!).

She’s so talented, and I can’t recommend her highly enough. So, if you love Buffy fanfiction, check out her stories here. And if you love Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, check out her novels here. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

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