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Sunday Snaps: the Stories



‘m very happy to say that one of my short stories, Sabah, has just been included in a new charity compilation:

Sunday Snaps: the Stories
Short fiction & poetry inspired by photography

ISBN: 978-1-908858-01-6
31 colour images
128 pages

This colourful and quirky collection contains short stories, flash fiction, vignettes and poetry of various styles and genres. It developed over the course of 52 weeks in 2010/2011 whereby a series of ‘Sunday Snaps’ were posted online as a creative writing exercise. Writers were invited to use the snapshots as inspirational writing prompts. The result: an eclectic assortment of light-hearted comedy, romance, dark tales, tragedy, slice-of-life stories and expressive verse. While the spires of Milan Cathedral and a café in Toronto provide the backdrop to romance, elsewhere a marriage is arranged, children grapple with loss, and a woman rushes to the side of a life-long friend. With a bit of French cuisine, a spiteful kitty, a mother’s pact with the devil, a birthday kiss and a dash of supernatural revenge, this unique collection offers a tale for all! Stories and poetry by: Sam Adamson, Kim Bannerman, Cath Barton, Dominique Boller, Juliet Boyd, Jodi Cleghorn, Sandra Davies, Miriam Dunn, Rebecca Emin, Annie Evett, Stacey Faulkner, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, D A Volpe Herskowitz, Stephen Hewitt, A J Humpage, Steve Isaak, Mandy K James, Susan May James, Maria Kelly, Mari Lee Kozlowski, Lisamarie Lamb, Shannon Lawrence, Tyrean Martinson, Tony Noland, Linda Olson, Roslyn Ross, Tony Schumacher, and Ren Thompson.

As the first release of Chuffed Buff Books, Sunday Snaps: The Stories has been compiled, edited and published by CBB’s sole proprietor, Susan May James, over at Scribble & Scatter. It’s available in a physical as well as electronic editions, and has been produced in aid of a very good cause: the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

Should you wish to purchase a copy:

It can also be ordered direct from the Chuffed Buff Books website.

Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services. For details on the Canadian Red Cross, or to donate without purchasing a book, please click here.

Best wishes,


June 8, 2013   1 Comment

Kreativ and Versatile


any thanks to Helen Howell and Steve Green for giving me a Kreativ Blogger and a Versatile Blogger award, respectively. These two wonderful people obviously have great taste and a near goddess-like / god-like ability to detect fine fiction. That, or I owe them both a large selection of cream cakes and a hug. You should immediately read their fiction, or your lives will be ever so slightly diminished.

Moving swiftly on, in order to promote said awards, one must reveal a number of unusual factoids one has about one’s person – which, in my case, are still lingering despite the use of a strong steroid cream – and then nominate a number of new award recipients.

So, in no particular order, I present TEN UNKNOWN THINGS ABOUT MYSELF:

  1. I once accidentally gate-crashed a coven. Going to a party in a derelict building I turned up early and discovered some red drapery, weird stuff in boxes, etc. But I’m early and no one’s around, so go catch up with some folk in the pub. Returning to the party venue, I found all that strange stuff had gone, which kind of freaked me out. It turned out I’d gone into the identical house next door. They were, I was assured, white witches.
  2. I used to collect agate and other semi-precious stones as a kid. At a burial mound in the Highlands, I found a primitive tool (probably a knife) made of chipped agate. It was in a tiny, sandy spring. I subsequently lost this pretty awesome thing in the rest of my stone collection…
  3. While diving off the coast of Malta I found three of the largest cockroaches you’ve ever seen in my diving costume, swam as the head of a shoal of saddled sea bream (not one nose was further ahead than the other) and fed the fish a couple of packs of Twisties (a bit like Nik Nak crisps, in the UK) from the deck of sunken tug boat. The boat was resting on a bed of white sand, the crisps were compacted flat with the water pressure. It was exactly like feeding pigeons. Nearby, the Virgin Mary looked on – a statue put there by fishermen.
  4. Also on that Malta trip I did a night dive on a tanker (the Um El Faroud) that’s been sunk as a natural reef. It was at the limit of non-decompression diving; the propellers were a storey high, we swam through the interior – saw the bunkhouse and corridors, and swam out through a hatch. Back on shore our guide tells us that the world’s largest great white shark was caught by local fishermen within a few hundred yards. There aren’t any sharks in the Mediterranean sea, but this one had somehow gotten in. It was a monster. I saw a photo of it hanging from a crane. It looked exactly like Jaws.
  5. I once dressed as a girl and – as part of a team – pushed a bedframe around the Edinburgh Meadows for charity. I discovered that tinned tomatoes do really nasty things to your skin as we were required to throw miscellaneous foodstuffs at other teams. Looking at photos afterwards, I was rather appalled to find I made a very credible female. Thankfully, I look a bit craggier now, sans Minnie Mouse T, mini skirt and makeup.
  6. I once fell in quicksand as a kid – not something I was expecting to encounter in Scotland. I was ‘up north’ staying at a bothy, and a reservoir had been drained. Walking on the bottom of the gorge was fine – it was all rocks – and I came to a small riverlet which looked to be about 1” deep with a sandy bottom. I took a step out and practically vanished. Luckily, having watched quite a few Tarzan movies, I knew not to struggle, thought ‘light thoughts’ and kind of tried to stay on top of the sand, making as big a surface area as possible. I managed to eek myself out. Thanks Tarzan. It was entirely serious.
  7. I once caught six or seven mice by hand. The flat I was in was overrun and the vermin were so precocious I could chase them with an empty cornflakes box, corner them and pop them in. Cereal box loaded with skritchy rodents I then wandered Edinburgh city centre looking for a place to dump them: along the way I found a sub-basement (where I was about to chuck ’em only to look up and find a bunch of office workers working late, staring at me out of the windows, paused mid photocopy); a back alley (only to find a security camera on an accountancy company zoning in on me); and at last, a flower box next to a multi-story carpark where I finally got rid of them. In the distance, a couple were wandering along hand-in-hand while the flowerbox next to me was rustling and springing away in a very excited manner. I left prior to the couple-mouse encounter. Squeee!
  8. As a student, I was once entirely fooled by a confidence trickster who – with whatever lame story – convinced me he was trapped in Edinburgh and needed some funds for bus travel. Offering his shopping (a bag of shirts) or a small silver ring he had on him as collateral, he persuaded me to draw out some cash and give it to him. This taught me lots of things, but I sure darned wished I’d taken the shirts which probably would’ve peaked him, as I bet no-one ever took those… and it did look like his actual shopping.
  9. Our cat used to bring back mice in a very much alive and slightly ticked-off state and then lose them in the house (it used to get everything, including river rats, bats and on one occasion, a mole). You’d be watching the telly and a field mouse or a vole’d run past the skirting – somewhat misplaced from traditional cornfield. One day, a mouse is dropped off by the cat – and we see it happen – and we hunt high and low for the little critter, but it’s gone. We figured the cat must’ve doubled back and eaten el-rodenti like a cocktail canapé. Maybe eighteen months later, we find the mouse as flat as paper and as wide as a tea plate under the sheepskin rug. There were four paws at each ‘corner’ and it was mummified… Ew!
  10. Hanging out with some of the Beltane folk, in Edinburgh, we went to the Hermitage for another of the Celtic festivals – I can’t remember which. It was at night in a wooded, country area on the fringes of the city. There was maybe twenty of us and there was fire, and juggling, music, acrobatics. Laughter. It was a truly awesome evening and, as I left, alone, walking down off the hill, a white barn owl flew directly towards me through mist as flat as a table top. It was flying right on the junction of mist and air, and its wing beats caused swirling vortexes in the moisture. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen: utterly mesmerising and utterly silent.
  11. BONUS FACT: I was walking down through the Edinburgh Meadows one morning when I spotted a squirrel sitting on a tree root – this wasn’t that unusual, except for the fact it was holding up a tiny advert for King Cornetto in its paws. Double take. In fact, it was the circular lid of a King Cornetto.  The writing was precisely upright and it made the perfect, squirrel-sized ice cream ad – I mean, I read the ad and then considered what was holding it. Impression registered, the squirrel started casually licking the back of the lid for the ice cream. For a moment, I thought the advertisers were losing their subtlety (or I was losing my sanity). Damn you Walls for deploying cute forest creatures in the promotion of your whipped, creamy products. Of course I had to go buy one… (le sigh)

And now to nominations. I am somewhat conscious that I’m not entirely widely read on the blogging front, however I do know what I like. While there are a near infinitude(1) of folks who deserve a shiny new badge, I pick the following for their Versatile and Kreativ leanings, complete with a kapital ‘K’, as well as being those I’ve read somewhat more recently.

I would say if you were nominated for these hallowed halls, don’t feel under pressure to pass things on, unless you feel so inclined – feel free to bask in the glow of righteous nomination, throw up the badge (or not), or preserve this entire affair as a guilty secret between just us two and billions of squirrels whom, having navigated the complexities of marketing, are now spending their ice-cream profits to get on line and read these very blogs.  I salute you my fluffy-tailed, praline munching friends.

Nom, nom, nom, nominations:

And there you have it.

Next week, more about acorns and how to find them (2).

Stephen 🙂


(1) Dear God, I made that up and it turns out ‘infinitude’ is a real word. Well there you go. That’s what I want to see written on my next squirrel-borne placard – something that makes you think, while also delivering a ‘huh?’

(2) That Arboreal Rodent Award is tough to get – I’m starting early with the voters.

 (*) Update (04-Aug-2012). I’d originally left these two out, thinking I couldn’t return the reward to the giver, forgetting, of course, that I can give the opposite award to the other – there’s two awards here. St



August 3, 2012   8 Comments

Dude, where are you?


do apologise — it’s been a rather busy few weeks.

I’ve just started working with a new-start games company in Edinburgh and, to celebrate, have moved flat. I think I’ve carted more books up and down stairs than existed in the original Library of Alexandria, and that’s after a few trips to the charity shops. So, ancient Egypt, if you want them back, you know where I am…

On the plus side, the guy driving the removal van was also a promoter for circus performers and had been a clown for years. Neat. I wish I’d asked: ‘What kind of clown operation is this?’ I’m sure he’d have had a fantastic answer that involved a thrown bucket of confetti with a brick in the bottom…

As for the games, well, par-for-the-course, there’s a few(1) things going on at once, and I’m furiously learning about what the iOS doo-dads are all about (iPhones, iPads, etc.)

Bear with me. Normal writing (and reading) will resume shortly when the panic subsides and ‘I’m one’ with IAP(2) and ARPU(3) and have a couple of game designs sitting on a virtual desk, bound in virtual Naga hide,


PS: Next up on ‘Black Door’ — ‘The Wake’. 


(1) That’s a metric ‘few’ which equals about 3.2 imperial ‘squillions’.

(2) In-App Purchasing / buying stuff.

(3) Average Revenue Per User.

October 15, 2011   11 Comments