Microfiction: Voices

Another bit of the story

The voice was the one she heard in dreams—nightmares more than dreams—that she’d had since she was a child. Since her parents disappeared. No one paid much attention to disappearing parents. Best not to ask. Best not to delve too deep. If they came for you, it was for a reason. There were lots of Jeannies around, brought up in institutions. If they heard voices, they had never said.

“Hello, Jeannie. It’s time.”

She had been expecting that too. The way a fugitive expects that the only door out of the maze of corridors will be locked.


Continued here



Microfiction: Dark dawn

Since a few people asked for a sequel to the story I wrote for Sonya’s latest three line tales, I’ve used Sue Vincent’s photo for this week’s #writephoto prompt and done it. The first part is here.


Dawn is breaking and I don’t want to see what it will bring. The hammering of the waves has drowned the screams of the dying, and I dread the light that will show what is waiting for us, the handful of survivors huddled in the cave beneath the sea wall. Smugglers must have used it once, but since the things came out of the sea, no vessels have dared brave what lies beyond the harbour wall. Dawn, purple and red fills the sky, red the waves that lap the black rocks. Red the flames that leap from the city, reflected in the yellow reptilian eyes that stare into ours.

We shrink back into the darkness. A woman pushes her child into the narrow black hole that the cave dwindles to, and follows after. She gets stuck. Two men try to pull her out. She struggles, screaming. The great heads with their yellow, malevolent eyes lunge. I am mesmerized, caught in their glare, until they blot out the light of the rising sun and I plunge, diving past the stink of ancient oceans, the grey green barnacle encrusted scales, into the churning water, and I swim, leaving the trap behind me.

I swim, buffeted by mountains of flesh, until my lungs are bursting and my vision is as red as the water, and when I break surface again, the whole world is red. Flames consume the city, blood stains the water of the harbour, and all I can do is swim into the face of the sun until weariness drags me into the arms of oblivion.


Microfiction: Golden City

Leara asked for sequels to her story. You can read her first episode here. This is the end of the story as I imagine it.


The golden walls pulsate, their light so bright I almost fail to see the hovels huddled in the golden shadows. Movement, sluggish and weary, among the hovels catches my eye. Human servants of my people, probably. All people have servants. Some have slaves. But I had somehow thought that my people would be different, more enlightened.

I approach the gates, and haggard figures emerge from the hovels to watch me. I see the glint of curiosity in their eyes and I smile to myself. If they only knew. The gates spring open before I am close enough to touch them. They know. They sense my presence. I step through, into the great marble-flagged square flanked by guardian statues, that opens the path to the palace. There, at the heart of the city, built from material carried from the stars, lies my destiny. I learned about my heritage, the prophecy and the way it would come about from my foster parents. They told me all they knew before they died. They probably died happy, having fulfilled their part in my story.

No crowds gather to greet me. No soldiers flank the grand avenue in my honour. I shrug inwardly. The city knows. That is what matters. The palace glitters in the sunlight. I can almost hear it singing with happiness. Power surges in my blood, flows with me through the gates that spring open to let me through. The city leaders know I have arrived. I sense their fear trembling in the air. They know their hour has come.
Door after door flies open before me; armed guards melt away in terror. I pause before the last bronze doors, knowing that my destiny lies beyond them. I point, and they burst asunder. The city leaders who held the world in sway, the satraps and sultans, emirs and dukes, barons and tyrants, the corrupt and the tainted who modelled themselves on human despots grovel before me. A single sweep of my hand sends them screaming into an abyss of flame.

I climb the tallest tower, look down on the lands that stretch to the purple mists and beyond. I watch as the humans creep out of their huts and their shacks, the hope in their faces pitiful to see. The prophecy is fulfilled. My foster parents described its final details before I slit their throats. The world is destined to have but one ruler.

The suffering of humanity has only begun.


200 word story: Lutecia

I love writing utopias, I just have problems stopping the human characters messing them up. Sacha Black’s challenge this week is to write a story about a utopia in less than 200 words. Mine usually run for a trilogy of novels, but this is a teaser for the sequel to Abomination. It’s set in a utopia, but obviously, it’s not going to stay utopic for long.

Painting ©:Alexander Samokhvalov


They stepped outside into the sunshine that fell through the vines of the pergola. Yvain and Jack were deep in argument about pigs, the others trooping behind. Carla and Tully stood in the doorway of the auberge, listening to the murmur of voices, the birds fluting among the leaves, the chink of glasses, and letting the sunlight fall on their faces. Carla was on the point of saying something about how idyllic Lutecia seemed, when the spell was broken. A couple of men shifted in their chairs, catching her eye. Even beneath the bright sunlight their skin looked grey and unhealthy, and the expression in their eyes was pure hatred.

She squeezed Tully’s hand and dragged him after the others into the lane.

“Did you see?”

“Those grey-faced characters?”

“What did we do?”

Tully shrugged. “Maybe they didn’t like Dad’s jokes.”

“Seriously. It’s followed us, hasn’t it? Whatever it was back at the mall that…”

Tully kissed her forehead. “Yvain will know what’s going on. I hope.”

Carla glanced over her shoulder. The grey men had gone. The familiar cold terror settled back into the pit of her stomach.


Apart from having a nasty flu bug, and mail still not connected which is a right royal pain, I have two reasons to celebrate. First, today I was offered a contract for the sequel to Abomination. I’ve been writing blurbs and tag lines, a real chore. Does anybody actually enjoy writing blurbs? It means there won’t be an unreasonable hiatus between volumes one and two, nor with volume three if I send the manuscript in soon.


I’m also pressing ahead with the follow on series to The Green Woman. 60k words on the clock of volume two so far. I’m hoping to give the whole thing a makeover. That might take us into 2017 though.

As if that isn’t enough to celebrate, our house-buying plans are going smoothly. The obligatory once-over has revealed nothing more terrifying than dodgy electricity (we knew that from the porcelain plugs and switches), and a bit of lead piping that ‘needs watching’. There are no drains worthy of the name, and heating seemed to come mainly from the adjoining cowshed. But it’s the south, the winters are mild, we’ll dig a drain and change some of the porcelain light switches. Our youngest is trying to convince us to get a herd of llamas for the grass/meadow since the stabling won’t be a problem, and I don’t think you have to milk llamas. Not like goats that don’t eat the right kind of grass either.


As an aside, I have been asked why I don’t write about my ‘experiences’ living in France, and I suppose the answer has to be, would you write about your experiences living in a semi in Stoke? If that’s what you know, there’s nothing extraordinary in it. I’ve never bought a house anywhere but France, never dealt with workmen anywhere but France, never had children or sent them to school, anywhere but France. There’s a lucrative market in writing ‘humorous’ books about life with the baguette and beret brigade, which generally involves poking fun at the ‘French way’. Sod that. I live here—if they do it, chances are I do it too. Seems to me, the people who write these slapstick comedies don’t really live here. They’re voyeurs, ex-pats, people who feel their real lives are somewhere else.

So, I won’t be writing posts about how hilarious French plumbers can be, but I hope I’ll be writing pieces based on our new found country peace and quiet. I hope. Just so long as the neighbour doesn’t decide to swap his sheep for quad bikes…

Evolution release

You may remember a short while ago I reviewed E by Kate Wrath. Some of you will have since read it. The good news is that the sequel is out today.

Evolution, the second book in the E series, is now available! Get Evolution and E for only 99¢ each during release week, November 12th-19th, 2014.


cover of Evolution by Kate Wrath
Outpost Three is still standing… barely. But the deadliest threat it has ever faced is on its way– a violent force that will annihilate every man, woman, and child.

With the Sentries under his control and Grey’s army defeated, Matt is more powerful than ever. Eden is little more than his prisoner, but that line is blurring as her affection for him grows. Now, as the Outpost faces total destruction, Matt must sacrifice the possibility of attaining Eden’s love in the vague hope that her past might hold the key to saving them all.

Eden’s journey will begin to unravel the mysteries of her previous life, reveal dangerous new questions, and change not only the future of Outpost Three, but shape the course of history.

This eagerly anticipated sequel to Kate Wrath’s E begins an epic quest into the dark, dystopian landscape of Eden’s world.
Add to GoodreadsBuy E $0.99Buy Evolution $0.99

Get both books in the E series, E and Evolution, for 99¢ each on Kindle for a limited time only: November 12th- 19th, 2014.

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You’re invited! Come hang out November 12th from 8-12 pm Eastern and celebrate the release of Evolution. Woohoo!

An excerpt from Evolution:

We run down the narrow alley and take the first turn, then another. We keep running, moving. I don’t even notice my surroundings until, at last, we slow to a stop. The smell hits me first—the stench of piss, of something rotten, all condensed into a small space. Breathing hard, we stand in the street and look around us. We’re in a main thoroughfare now, judging from the traffic, but it’s still narrow. I feel squashed, smothered. On all sides, a crowd throngs around us. Most of them are dressed in rags. Hollow faces huddle three or four bodies deep against both edges of the road, dirty, hopeless, and lost. Many of them are children.

I’m scanning their faces frantically before I even realize what I’m doing. “Oscar,” I hear myself whisper. It hits me, and I break off before I can call out his name. Before I can start running again, sifting through the masses of them.

Apollon’s hand clamps onto mine, but he says nothing. He and Jonas are focused on Jacob, who is shaking violently. Tears are pouring from widened eyes down his face. I want to help him, but all I can do is stand here trying not to break down, myself.

“We need to find somewhere to regroup,” Jonas says quietly. “Get out of this mess.”
I cast around for somewhere to go, but as far as I can see, it’s piles upon piles. People, and people, and buildings looming over them. There’s no breathing room. No space. I have to force my breath to steadiness. It’s too much.
There is a commotion on the street ahead, maybe a block away. The ragged masses push away from the center, squashing and trampling each other in the process. We’re caught in a wave of motion and carried backward, but still we try to look. Where the commotion started, there’s a group of figures, similarly dressed in black with blue bandanas. They’re moving down the street toward us.

The wave of people suddenly backlashes from the other direction, and we’re pushed the opposite way from before. We manage to finally see why. On our opposite side, there’s another group of people. These are dressed primarily in white. One of them, clearly a leader, wears a purple doo rag and carries what might be the biggest gun I’ve ever seen. He raises it toward us.

Book baby blues

With less than a week to go before the release of my first novel, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything at all. One of the children has exams next week, husband has a law exam next Saturday, the dog has to go to the vet for his annual jabs. And all I can think about is Friday.

We planned the celebratory meal for Friday evening, bought the champagne and other goodies. But have I thought about what kind of comfort food I’m going to give my Baccalauréat scholar when he comes in from the ordeal of four hours of Philosophy, or his Italian oral exam when he can speak Italian about as well as I can speak Aramaic? Of course not. Have I considered that with a law exam on Saturday, for which he has had hardly any time to revise, my other half might not really feel like pushing the boat out on Friday evening? Like hell I have. This book lark has turned me from a reasonably exemplary caring mother, into an irritable, navel-gazing recluse.

There has been such a build up to this release, pushed back twice, from February, to May then to June, that I have been living in a sort of unpublished limbo. The book has been finished, with a cover, a blurb and reviews to go with it for months. I’ve been pushing it under everybody’s nose as if it was already a ‘real’ book. So what exactly will change next Friday? If I am perfectly honest about it, probably not much. Even if it sold millions of copies the first day I wouldn’t know about it, so, apart from admiring the pretty picture on Amazon, what will I do?

Friday should be the culmination of years of work. On Friday, the dream is supposed to come true. But will it? Perhaps the snappiness, and the feeling that my gut has been through the wringer is due to fear of failure, that my first novel, so long in the preparation will turn out to be a damp squib. Is this what all on-the-verge-of-being-published writers feel? I have heard publishing a book described as being like having a baby. But with a baby you actually get something to take home with you. Not only is it to take home and keep, but you have the responsibility of nurturing it and turning it into a civilised human being: take your eye off the ball for a moment and terrible things happen. But when a book is published, the author’s input stops, apart from the dreaded promotion, and there must be a sense of anti-climax lurking on the edges of the champagne cork-popping euphoria.

I have a feeling I know the answer, not to how other authors feel on the day their book is released, but to how to get over the book baby blues. Forget about the first five minute wonder, and write another one.

Pasternak trying to write the sequel
Pasternak trying to write the sequel