Flash fiction, short stories, poetry …
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Sunday Snaps: the Stories



hat’s this? Another work carefully pushed into eye-shot across the assorted tables of Café Shorts? What noble literature is suggested by this sun-dappled view of Venetian waters and the word ‘stories’?

My, the cover is quite plashy, innit.

And why is your table suddenly groaning with the weight of a hopeful expectation of an immediate purchase?

Yes, it’s another book my work has managed to sneak into. This time, a short story called: Sabah.

There’s plenty of good reasons you should buy this book — the sheer crumbly, apple-topped goodness of contents aside — from the fact that this is Chuffed Buff Books’ first publishing endeavour, to the fact that it’s been produced in aid of a good cause: the Canadian Red Cross Homecare Services.

And not only that, has it not gone and been a physical book, too. Blimey.

“Why, if it only contained plenty glossy photos and some of the quirkiest flash fiction of all the inter-webs, it’d be perfect,” you might, somewhat hesitantly, opine (what with wanting to have the moon on a stick, and all).

*Cough*, why sir…it does, sir! All coordinated and herded — much as one might have to chase literary cats, pink bottoms exposed, into position on an electrified tin roof — by the estimable and elegant Susan May James over at Scribble & Scatter.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the entirely unbiased blurb has to say:

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.

From which we now progress to an emboldened boldface font…

Purchasing Options

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

But hold on, it’s not just available as one of those old fashioned, quaint bookish things that look a lot like a small paper accordion is it?  What of my discrete, electronic what’sit that let me read 50 Shades of Grey on the bus, the other day, without anyone noticing?

Well, I’m afraid we did notice.

But we don’t take um-bridge at your somewhat dominatory tone round here and would also point you sharply (as we know you like that sort of thing) in the direction of the above, anonymous links.

And do remember: 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

Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and Other Stories

Bloody Parchment 2012 sml cover


ello, lovely people. As previously mentioned, my short story Kiss the Butcher’s Daughter has been pending appearance in Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and Other Stories.

Well, it’s pending no longer and the Kindle Edition is now out on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Needless to say, I’m chuffed to bits to be in it.

The blurb on Amazon reads: “Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and Other Stories brings a fresh crop of horror and dark literature from the most recent South African HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition. From dreary subterranean chambers and angelic visitations to the many-legged horrors of alien invaders and a meeting with the Devil himself, this collection of tales offers readers the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the likes of Toby Bennett (winner), and runners-up Anna Reith and Chris Limb. Finalists include Diane Awerbuck, Simon Dewar, Zane Marc Gentis, Stephen Hewitt, Benjamin Knox, Lee Mather, Glen Mehn, S.A. Partridge, and Icy Sedgwick.”

So there you go: lot’s of horror-y horror in there with a dollop of dark literature — all via the South African HorrorFest — so of course I’d recommend it. Of course!

Even the lass with the white streak ‘n’ beehive on the cover found it ‘electrifying’. What else would you expect from the Bride of Frankenstein?





June 5, 2013   1 Comment

A VERY late blog about novel planning and other news from the Café


ruth be told, I’ve had my linear head on for the last few months: if I start one thing, everything else flies out of the window. Works been busy, and somewhat stressful, but mostly I’ve been working my way through the process of planning a novel. My early morning, 6:30am starts, when Fi gets up, have transferred from writing and editing — and putting stuff up in the Café — to this rather epic new task.

I’ve tried writing novels in the past with NanoWriMo. What that taught me was that I have no problem coming up with words — some of those words can even be good — but I must’ve written six incompatible parts of different novels while I made the word count. I enjoyed them all, but they just weren’t one story. It’ll be good news for for a writer’s back catalogue.

Detailed story planning has always been something I’ve avoided for fear of it blocking my creativity. Because it did block my creativity: a lot of the stuff that goes into my writing just pops in from head-to-pen and I don’t know where it comes from. So giving myself a list felt counter-intuitive. It didn’t help. I couldn’t keep all those details in my head — you should be writing with ‘Wild Mind’, right? — and you can’t stop mid ‘prose flow’ to go look at a bunch of lists. It wasn’t inspiring to [rustle, rustle, where’s that beer mat?] know the leg length of my protagonist or that their favourite food was buttermilk pie.

But here’s the thing, I wasn’t using the planning in the right way. I wasn’t giving it long enough to get to the point where the lists and plans and character-details start to merge together into a reality that you can describe outside of the lists and notes: the point where characters just do what they do, because you know them. The places are real, you can taste the coffee, you know who’s doing what to whom and why. You just know. I think that’s the value of planning.

So my traditional week or two of pre-novel planning, throwing in too many notes, getting bored, starting writing anyway and then getting bogged down, seems naive now. Those lists need time to become things you remember. I know some people can write perfectly good books with a tiny amount of planning, or perhaps even just off the top of their heads: I used to think I was one of them. Not so, now. I’m giving myself time and space, this time. This plan is going to take a year, I say. It’s already big. There’s enough words in it to make a very small novella. But it’s going to be one of those seriously detailed plans that turns into a blow-by-blow story; just not written in proper words. I’ll come along later and add a lovely coat of shiny description from my tin of dictionary.

At least, that’s what I’m saying now.

That’s the plan of the plan.

I will undoubtedly realise that this, too, was hopelessly naive,  that the truth, as always, is somewhere in between. I don’t even know how much planning I need, or how much is too much (I’ve flip-flopped from notes on a napkin to a ten volume, leather-bound Britannica), or even, how much real writing it’ll expand into. But I’ve already found value in moving huge chunks of plot around with ease; kicking down doors, and moving whole locations round like a superhero, without having to bleed-out over re-writes. I’m even finding planning to be an incredibly creative thing. Who knew?

It still makes me nervous, though, when I haven’t been through a whole process I know works: a large chunk of this is running on intuition and — probably — sheer ignorance.

For those of you in the know, try not to titter knowingly. These are short, rather planned, baby steps.


Stories on the way

In danger of ‘all planning and no play making Jack a dull boy’, while realising I’ve been pretty quiet (silent) for three months, I decided a post here might be a good idea. Other than plans for novelistic domination (which sounds rather 50 Shades) some other writing things have been progressing in the background and  I have a few stories being published:

Kiss the Butcher’s Daughter, was selected as a finalist in the 2012 SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition and will be appearing in the Bloody Parchment anthology later this year. This story started off as a piece of flash fiction I was writing for the Café, but was too dark to fit within the rules of Friday Flash. Happily, the revised, much expanded, version did rather well in this horror competition.

Sabah will be appearing in Sunday Snaps: The Stories. Edits are done, proofs are read, contracts have been exchanged, and the anthology should be appearing soon.

You Killed White Claw — a flash fiction first featured on Café Shorts — will be reappearing in Far off Places.  The launch issue of FOP has  the theme ‘fairy tales retold’, and is scheduled to appear in March.  They are now looking for submissions for Issue 2, on the theme of ‘the back of beyond’ so do check them out here if you have any skritchings to supply.




March 6, 2013   8 Comments