This is the title of my latest short story, a spooky little tale told in exactly 75 words, which is appearing at Paragraph Planet today.
Telling a whole story in so few words isn’t easy – I often find that even when I think I’ve achieved the target I’m actually two words short, or three over. After much fiddling, pen-sucking and head-scratching (not to mention swearing and banging of head against the nearest wall), I managed to convince this story that it really, really wanted to be told in those 75 words, and ‘Noises Off’ is the result.
It’s available to read free at Paragraph Planet today so head on over and check it out. And don’t forget the magazine is always open to submissions if you want to have a go at your own tiny tale.
Excellent news today – I’ve had my first short story in ages published over at the Library of Rejected Beauty.
The Library does what it says in that wonderful title – collects stories and other assorted creative content that have been rejected elsewhere, often multiple times, but which the creator still considers to have some worth or beauty.
In my case that was ‘Fearful Symmetry’, a short story I wrote for a contest years ago, and have had no luck placing anywhere, perhaps because it’s told in second person point of view which can be unpopular. Basically, it tells the story of a dark and dangerous forest during a thunderstorm, but with a unique twist at the end. And the quote about tigers is something my own Mum used to say to me when I was a small child, which gives it a personal touch as well.
I’ve always loved the hot, steamy and vaguely threatening atmosphere I managed to conjure up in the story, and I’m delighted to say that the Library of Rejected Beauty liked it too. You can read it over at their website, free, today by following this link. I hope you enjoy it. At the very least, you may never feel the same way about curtains again!
What a nice surprise. Like the historian I studied to be I’ve been digging around in old files and archives, and have just re-discovered a short story I had published way back in 2011, which I quite thought had disappeared.
‘Clones’ appeared in The New Flesh magazine, which ceased trading not long afterwards (although I’m sure the two events weren’t actually linked… Ahem.). I assumed that the magazine’s web site would cease to exist, took the link off my own web page, and promptly forgot all about it.
Just shows how wrong you can be. Thanks to the wonders of the internet The New Flesh site is still accessible, and my story is there along with many more. The story is more than a little strange – but perfect for Halloween, so if you want to read about a scientist doing dreadful things with a vat of goo in a laboratory, follow this link! I hope you enjoy it, and if I find any more buried treasure I’ll be sure to let you know.
Great news – the anniversary issue of In Flight Literary Magazine has gone live today, complete with my short story A Walk in the Park.
The title of the story is a bit of a double-edged sword. You can take it literally, because the main character Samuel does indeed go for a walk in a city park at the end of the tale. But it’s also ironic. Samuel’s life has become very much not a walk in the park, not easy or pleasant, not a stroll through flowers and trees. Instead, the modern work ethic and being utterly divorced from nature have blighted his life, pushing him to the very limits of his endurance.
The story itself isn’t exactly a walk in the park either as you might have guessed by now! But I’m hoping it’s poignant and thought-provoking enough to be enjoyable. Here’s a little snippet to whet your appetites:
“…Samuel couldn’t remember the last time he’d left his desk for lunch, or walked to the local deli or felt the fresh air on his face. The air in the office was stale, recycled so often that every atom had died. Samuel’s nose and throat ached, and his eyes were red and tired. He missed the sunlight on the trees, and the simple joy of walking through the streets…”
Go here to find the rest of the story, which you can read for free. I hope you like it!
…to say that In Flight Literary Magazine (courtesy of Paper Plane Pilots) has accepted my short story A Walk in the Park for publication in their anniversary issue.
I first wrote the story a few years ago in response to a prompt from the Flash Friday website but although it appeared on the site it’s never been ‘published’ before. It tells the story of a man driven to extremes by the modern work ethic, loneliness and sick building syndrome, which doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs but is hopefully quite poignant. The In Flight editors seemed to like it, anyway!
The magazine should be flying off the shelves (or screens) in the next few weeks but I’ll post a few more details as soon as I have them.
This is a little snippet from ‘The Boyfriend From Hell’, the story I have in ‘Shapeshifters’ from Fox Spirit. It’s a totally tongue-in-cheek romp involving aliens, tentacles and locked bathroom doors, and if you want to see more then check out how to get your hands (or tentacles) on the book here.
The one thing I didn’t know about Stef was his bathroom habits. I’m for letting it all hang out, but not Stef. For a guy he was surprisingly reserved. The minute he got inside that room the door would slam shut and the bolt would snick, and that would be that. I thought it was women who were supposed to hog the bath, but Stef would stay in there for hours. He didn’t even turn into a prune – just emerged looking pink and newly-scrubbed. I assumed he had a thing about cleanliness and left him to it, and kept my nagging for things that mattered, like birthdays and taking out the trash.
Until one particular morning after the night before. We’d been celebrating his birthday. I didn’t know which one because he was coy about his age, but I’d baked a cake and stuck a token candle on the top, and I’d bought him a brand new waterproof watch.
“Thought it might come in handy,” I said. “For all the time you spend soaking in the bath.”
He smiled, and put the watch on straight away, and gave me a thank-you hug which turned into other things. Things involving mouths and arms, and a bottle and far too much to drink. I don’t indulge as a rule – the people I work for take a dim view of that. Just this once, I thought. Once can’t hurt. Shows how wrong you can be. I woke up next morning with a head that was playing drum solos and a violent urge to be sick. But when I staggered to the bathroom I found the door was already shut and locked.
These stories weren’t actually published on the same day, but I happened to trip over both whilst browsing friends’ social media today and thought both were so powerful I had to pass on the links.
First, over at InFlight literary magazine, Margret Helgadottir’s ‘Grandma’s Tricks’ is a brilliant exploration of actions and consequences, wrapped up in an enigmatic yet heartfelt tale about a family’s misfortunes. I’m still questioning the exact meaning of the ending (isn’t that the case with all good fiction, that it should make you think and question your own certainties?) but I absolutely loved it.
I’d no sooner finished reading that, than I found this little flash piece from friend and fellow-scouser Cath Bore over at FlashFlood. ‘Stolen‘ is hard-hitting, poignant and sad, but beautifully written and packing an amazing emotional punch in so few words.
Do go and check these stories out. They’re well worth the investment of your time.