Thursday, 26 July 2012

New website

All future blog posts and updates will be available on my new author website - please subscribe and drop by to say hi!


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Mechanical Man


As a special treat, I've written a short piece of steampunk erotic romance entitled 'A Mechanical Man'. With cameos from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and George Gordon Byron, it's free to download from Smashwords now.

The Falcon's Chase, my steampunk romance novel, is due for release through Sirens Call Publications in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out on the website for more details.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Back to the basics

The above is a portrait of me drawn by my three year old daughter (for reference, that's two beautiful eyes, a squiggly nose and a big smiley mouth. Yes, I know there's a beard, and no, I don't really have one!). I pinned it on the wall in my writing corner and it struck me how much simpler life is when looked at through the eyes of a child.

So I sat down with her my daughter at lunchtime and asked her what she wanted. She looked at me thoughtfully as she splashed tomato soup all over the place, grinned and then shrugged her shoulders. "Don't you want anything?" I asked in surprise.

She smiled again and looked around the room. "How about Daddy coming home from work?"

And that's all she asked for. In a world obsessed with consumerism, all my little girl wanted to make her happy was for her daddy to come home and give her a kiss. How special is that - and can you imagine how proud I was of her in that moment?

Once she'd toddled off for her nap, I sat there in the silence and her words echoed inside my head. I can't help but think we over-complicate things these days. We're constantly thinking about what we want - a new car, that dress, those shoes that would be perfect for the holiday you absolutely need to have. Yet in spending so much time doing that, we lose sight of what we already have.

Sure, I might not have much in the material sense. The fridge is on its last legs, my husband still hasn't finished laying the floor after two years, there's no way I can justify buying that pair of Irregular Choice shoes this month and I'm praying that the third hand tumble dryer in the kitchen doesn't give up the ghost (thanks, British summer!). But what I do have is a beautiful, funny and loving daughter, a husband who works all the hours in the day to keep a roof over our heads and the luxury to be able to find a couple of hours each day to do what I love - writing. So long as I've got that, what more could I possibly need?

PS. But in case anyone fancies buying me those shoes, I'm a size 6... ;)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


The whiskey burned ferociously as it snaked its way down towards her empty stomach. Alone in the crowded bar, there was nothing to distract the pale faced woman from the pounding of her head save for the glass in her hand. With a wry smile, she swirled it listlessly and watched the amber liquid crackle and dance in the harsh light of the bare bulb overhead.

The no-good son of a bitch had stood her up again. She should have expected it. He’d done nothing but let her down time and time again over the past year, but still she kept on putting herself out there for him to hurt her once more. She could tell herself that this was the last time she’d let him do it, but what use would it be?

She’d know she was lying.

He wasn’t coming. Time to skulk home and cry herself to sleep whilst awaiting the inevitable phone call full of feeble excuses that showed how little he really cared.

But when she slammed the glass down on the grime-streaked bar and made to slip down from the teetering stool she was so precariously balanced upon, the door behind her swung open. She tensed, nervous anticipation flooding her aching body, but it wasn’t him.

No. Not him. Just someone else; someone she couldn’t tear her eyes away from for even a heartbeat. As the chill air of the winter night outside whipped around him, he shook a curtain of dark hair out of his face and strode forward, effortlessly carving out a path through the crowd.

He was perfect. All heads turned towards him, though he seemed not to notice. His green eyes were fixed upon the bar. Unsmiling, he shrugged off his jacket and took the stool that had somehow become free when he approached it. Too far away. She dared not approach him, but when the crowd briefly thinned she had the briefest of glimpses of him once more.

By the time she could no longer see him again, it was too late. She was lost to him. Nothing she did could free her mind of the grip he had upon it. He consumed her, set a fire raging deep inside her that was impossible to defy. Overcome, she snatched up her drink with a shaking hand and poured it down her constricted throat, ice and whiskey alike.

She slammed the glass back down and choked back a loud sob. Before she could do anything to recompose herself, though, a hand gently touched her arm.

Her head shot up.

The bartender set another whiskey down in front of her and swept her empty glass away. She lifted an eyebrow in question and he jerked his head towards the far end of the bar. “From the guy with the long hair. Says you look like you could do with it.”

Even from the distance between them, it seemed her misery was palpable. Her heart pounding, she slowly leaned forwards and ran her hands through her hair as she glanced in his direction under the cover of checking the dusty clock behind him.

He was staring directly at her, and their eyes met along the length of the bar. Her breath hitched as he slowly raised his glass to her before, still not smiling, he lifted it to his sinfully full lips and downed the whiskey in one.

Her head spun for reasons that were nothing to do with the alcohol rushing through her bloodstream. Dazed, she hastily dropped her eyes and breathed in deeply before following his example and slamming back her drink. She revelled in the warmth that spread through her body, for it brought with it a clarity of mind that had been lacking for far, far too long.

When she looked up again he was gone, but it was okay.

Tonight when the phone call came, she knew she wouldn’t meekly accept whatever excuse her boyfriend fabricated for her. He wouldn’t be staggering in blind drunk to share her bed, and he wouldn’t be the reason for her to hunch over the bathroom sink, tears streaming down her flushed face as she etched out the marks of her misery on an arm already criss-crossed with a year’s worth of scars.

He wasn’t worth it. She finally saw the truth of it. There was far better out there and she had already wasted a year of her life not seeing it. She wouldn’t waste even a moment more.

With a decisive nod, she wrenched the diamond ring off her finger and dropped it into the empty glass before walking away.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Time to take my own advice

After the recent illness that’s taken up much of this year, I found myself in hospital for some tests and I got chatting with one of the nurses on the ward. After exhausting discussions of the glorious British weather, talk turned inevitably to that other conversation stalwart – work. When I mentioned that I was a writer, her eyes instantly lit up.

I’m sure those of you who write have experienced it before. The moment you mention that you’re a published author, you brace yourself for the inevitable announcement that they, too, have a fantastic story. Unfortunately, for now it’s just inside their head. In the next breath, you find your wide-eyed and star struck companion begging for advice on how to get published, ignoring your many protestations that it’s sheer bloody hard work, not glamorous in the least, and that you need to prepare yourself for a hundred rejections for every sniff of interest in your writing. Even if you do succeed, it’s the exception rather than the rule that becomes the JK Rowling, George RR Martin or even those who, whilst not universally famous, are able to make an exclusive living from their words.

I liked this nurse, though, so we sat down with a cup of tea and I gladly answered all the questions she fired at me. The one that stuck in my mind above all others, though, was when she asked me how to sit down and write a novel from start to finish. "It's simple, really," I told her with a smile. "Just sit down every day and write something - anything. You have to make writing a habit."

But when she left, I realised that since for the last few months, I had let that habit slide. On a good day, I'd normally write upwards of 2k, but of late I often hadn't even bothered to open up the files and look at them, let alone write anything. Half a dozen stories laid on the hard drive untouched, to the extent that I lost track of my plots - and then lost the motivation to sit back down with them and hammer them out again.

It wasn't until I thought over the advice that I'd given to that nurse that I realised just how essential it was. I write because I love it. Not for money, not because someone tells me to do it - but because it makes me happy. However, it's still hard work. Some stories come more easily than others. I can start a sentence and then look up again an hour later to find two or three thousand words have come with almost no conscious effort, but more often than not it's all about finding the self-discipline to push through those tricky plot twists and persuade an errant character to do as I had intended them to. So one day of not doing so turned into two, two into three and then a week went past, and then a month.

Working on the final edits for the Falcon's Chase, though, proved to be the much-needed reminder of just how much I love writing and how strong the sense of achievement is when I type that final word of the fourth of fifth draft. And that feeling is worth fighting for. 

So no matter what distractions you have around you or how many other demands you have on your time, you have to remember just why it is that you started writing in the first place. Once you learn how to hold onto that, nothing can take it away from you. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I'll Never Go Away by Rainstorm Press

My story, Idolatry, is featured in the new release by Rainstorm Press, "I'll Never Go Away". Available now on Amazon in Kindle format, with the paperback release to follow shortly.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Guest post with Days With The Undead author, Julianne Snow

I'm delighted to introduce to you all a supremely talented author, Julianne Snow. As part of the indie writers community, I've found the relationships I've formed with other writers to be invaluable, both for the knowledge and support they offer. Julianne is one of those whose friendship I treasure the most, and I was thrilled to be able to offer my help with editing her debut novel, Days With The Undead, which is published by Sirens Call Publications.

Julianne joins me today to talk about a subject that is both pertinent and intriguing to the both of us. I hope that you enjoy her words just as much as I do - and on that note, over to the Zombie Queen herself!

Today I have the pleasure of guesting on the delectable Kate Monroe’s blog. Kate and I have been friends and mutual supporters since my arrival on the Indie scene almost a year ago. A fabulous writer in her own right, she has helped me to fine tune Days with the Undead: Book One and her friendship and guidance mean the world to me. As women writing in the horror genre, I’ve often wondered how our experiences differ from those of our male counterparts. On that note, let’s discuss –

Women in Horror

Is the average horror reader discriminatory?

Can female authors gain the same level of respect for their work as male authors?

They are both interesting questions; ones that I have wondered about since releasing my first horror/science fiction novel Days with the Undead: Book One.

Looking through history, the horror genre is one that has been dominated by men. I have to wonder if that is a product of how society has viewed women as the weaker, fairer sex. Women have been seen as needing protection and guidance from the men in their lives and in some cases weren’t allowed to vote or speak their minds publicly until the 19th and even the 20th centuries. Yet, despite all of these forms of societal censorship, women have managed to gain popularity in the circles of horror writers and horror readers.

Horror has had a long history in literature, mainly in part because readers enjoy being scared. Society has had a long interest in all things supernatural and it’s absolutely no wonder to me that supernatural horror was the prevalent form until the advent of Gothic horror. A lot of the gothic horror coming out of the 18th century was from women writers and it was written to appeal to a largely female fan base. Women like Ann Radcliffe, Marjorie Bowen, Elizabeth Gaskill, Regina Maria Roche and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley have entertained readers with some of the most well-known and well recognized works of literature in the horror genre.

The trend for strong women in horror literature has only continued since then. Authors such as J.M. Dillard, Susie Maloney, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Gemma Files, and Sarah Pinborough along with many others have only helped to propel the female voice further in horror literature as a whole. With the advent of the self-publishing revolution, many female horror authors have stepped up to the plate and delivered astonishing reads as well.

But are horror readers reading women horror authors? I think the answer to that question is yes but there is a bigger question – are they reading female horror authors as frequently as they are reading male authors who write in the same genre? That is an infinitely harder question to answer. If I look at the books shelves of my male friends, they are filled with male authors almost to the point of excluding the women. Conversely, the bookshelves of my female friends show a definite appreciation for both genders. That is not to say that men only read male authors, it’s just that some of them have yet to discover the strong and terrifying voices of the women writing in the genre.

As a woman who has just released a novel in the horror genre, I have found that the reaction to my book has been very favorable. While I realize that it may appeal to a sub sect of horror fans, I feel like I have been warmly welcomed into the fold. I had the unique opportunity to wet my feet prior to releasing a full length book so I believe that has helped me to cull a small fan base. In that regard, I am lucky and very grateful.

Given that women appear to have strapped themselves firmly into the passenger seat of the horror genre, it only serves to note that their notoriety will expand within the next ten years. With horror set to make a huge revival in the future, women authors are primed to make a distinct mark on the genre. So pick up one of the many wonderful tomes written by a woman and prepare yourself for a stellar scare.

It was watching Romero's Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of six that solidified Julianne’s respect of the Undead. Since that day, she has been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse and while classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets; to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead. As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own.

Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name. You can find Julianne’s The Living Dead of Penderghast Manor in the anthology Women of the Living Dead and an upcoming story in Sirens Call Publications first anthology Childhood Nightmares: Under The Bed.

Get your copy of Days With The Undead: Book One in paperback or eBook via Amazon US or Smashwords, and to catch up with the rest of Julianne's blog tour, stop by the Sirens Song for all of the links.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Days With The Undead

Julianne Snow's first novel, Days With The Undead, was released this week - and as her editor, I'm thrilled by all the positive feedback it's been receiving! Delighted to announce that, as part of her upcoming blog tour, Julianne will be writing a guest post for me on March 19th.

Make sure you check back then to see what she has to say about a topic very close to my heart...

And if you'd be interested in hosting Julianne on your blog during the tour, then all you need to do is contact the Sirens Call Publications publicist, Kalla Monahan.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Calling for submissions

Over at Sirens Call Publications, we're now looking for submissions for the second issue of the eZine. This time around, we want stories written from the point of view of The Observer.

Use your imagination and give us your very best flash fiction and short stories (up to 5000 words). Original artwork, photography and reviews are also welcome.

All submissions can be directed to


Thursday, 23 February 2012


“I can offer you forever beauty,” he whispered as he let a lock of her honeyed hair fall through his fingers.   “Forever like this, forever adored...don’t you want that?”

His softly spoken words of seduction wove around her in a haze of desire. How she wanted that! Time would steal her beauty from her, she knew that with an agonising clarity – but he promised her all that she wanted.

She moistened her lips. With a tremulous nod of the head, she gave her wordless agreement.

With a rapidity that was impossible to defend against, he pressed the gleaming blade against the milk-white curve of her throat.

One cut, neat and precise. Her beauty unmarred, forever preserved, just as he had promised.

Forever remembered.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Sirens Call E-Zine

I'm delighted to announce that the first issue of the Sirens Call E-Zine is out now; and to celebrate its release, you can download it for free for a limited time only, or pick up your first year's subscription for the special rate of just $6. How can you possibly resist? Head on over to our website to check it out.

And if you need any further persuasion, here's a teaser excerpt from a short story of mine that's included, Shades of Grey.

   Eden paused only to impulsively pick up the diary before she wandered over to the dust-covered mirror that sat on her grandmother’s beautifully carved dressing table. With a heavy sigh, she straddled the stool in front of it and leaned forwards to wipe the worst of the dust away.
   The locket had nestled itself into the curve of her cleavage, the metal unnaturally cold against her skin. She glanced down uneasily as she touched it again; convinced, for just a moment, that she had felt it faintly pulsing. It stayed still under her hand, though, and Eden supposed that it must have simply been the racing of her heart that she had felt.
   A sudden gust of wind through the open window wrenched away her attention, for it had blown open the diary where it lay in front of her.  An irrational feeling of unease built inside her as she fingered the musty pages and flicked through them as her eyes darted across the page. Seeing nothing of interest, she closed it again with another low and miserable sigh.
   She shivered as the chilled air flooded into the little room. Eden made to rise from the stool and shut the window, but before she could do so the locket twitched again; this time, there could be no doubt about it, for she had seen the movement in the hazy reflection.
   Unable to stifle a gasp of fear, she frantically tried to wrench the locket free of her neck, but the delicate chain that it hung around proved surprisingly sturdy. It refused to give way.
   The locket was still gently twitching against her breasts, almost as if it was impatient for something. Blood rushed through her veins and brought a stinging flush to her skin as her head rolled to the side.
   Eden ceased trying to break the clasp and instead, of their own accord, her fingers moved to caress the locket and try to push it open. The cold metal was stiff and unyielding. The locket seemed to have become stuck shut over time, but she could not stop her fingers from desperately working at it and trying with all their might to force the two halves apart. Finally, it gave way and sprung open to fall back against her chest.
   The locket was empty. Eden slumped down into the stool with a burst of disappointment and gave a shaky laugh, unsure what it was that she had even expected to find. Clearly, her mind, strained by the loss of her beloved grandmother, had allowed her vivid imagination to run away with itself. She reached up to wipe away the solitary tear that had been clinging to her eyelashes; but as she did so, she realised that something was very wrong.
   The colours in the room were fading away. All that was left were shades of grey; the only things in the room with any colour remaining were Eden herself and the golden locket. Even the clothes that she wore were paling in front of her, the red shirt already dulled and lacking entirely in colour. She blinked her eyes and rubbed them hard in case it was some strange trick of the light, but when she warily re-opened them, it was still the same.
   Eden stared at the reflection of her terrified face, her blue eyes round and wide with fear. Nothing seemed out of place in the room that was reflected behind her – nothing out of the ordinary at all, nothing but the utter lack of any colour or life.
  The reflection she saw told her very clearly that nobody was in the room with her. She was entirely alone in the colourless room– so why was it that she could now feel a pair of arms snaking possessively around her waist, embracing her and drawing her back into the heat of another body?

To read the conclusion, just download your free copy of the e-zine.

Kate ;)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How to improve your writing - part two

Today I'll be talking about a writing sin that I'm painfully aware that i'm guilty of - passive writing. It's such an ingrained habit of mine that it often slips in without me even realising that I'm doing it; I can sit down and knock out 2000 words, then look back over it and screech like the legendary banshee when I see that 90% of it is written in the passive voice.

But what is passive writing? Simple: "It was - he/she was - they were -" are all examples of the passive voice. In fiction writing, it's generally discouraged. George Orwell spoke vehemently against it in his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language", and if he's against it then I'm more than willing to fall into line behind him.

Once you know what it is, it's easy to find and correct it in your work. For example...

He was twirling his beard as he spoke like a caricature of a Disney villain.


He twirled his beard as he spoke; the perfect caricature of a Disney villain.

Do you see how much more impact the latter phrase has in comparison to the former?

Authors have a responsibility to make their prose as strong as possible. Writing in the passive voice definitively weakens the text; and as such, we all owe it to our readers to do everything we can to eliminate it from our work. The key to improving as a writer is to be able to objectively recognise your weaknesses and work on correcting them, and that's why I painstakingly go through every first draft of a story I write and remove as many instances of passive writing as I possibly can. I recommend that you do the same.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

100 Horrors

Delighted to announce that a story of mine is included in the debut anthology release from Cruentus Libri Press. Released on February 20th, I'm sure you'll agree with me that the cover art looks fantastic.

Flash fiction is a real soft spot of mine, and all the stories featured in 100 Horrors are just 100 words or less. I find myself in some great company amongst the other horror authors featured, so I feel sure already that this little gem is going to be well worth your time reading.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Who do you write for?

This is a quick straw poll for all the authors out there, I guess.

I have a dilemma. There's a fully fleshed out story that's been buzzing around my head for months now, but I've hesitated to dive in and get it down on the page. I know exactly why I've held back, and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that the reason is fear.

Fear of other people's reactions.

It's not the now normal fear of dislike that I always feel when I launch a story out into the big, scary world - no, this is far more specific. You see, the main cast of the story in my head are vampires. And there we have the main sticking point. Vampires are perhaps the most maligned paranormal creatures out there at the moment, due in most part to the romanticising of the sub-genre by Meyer and her like. I'll confess to a brief dabble in that area in the past, but I find myself really resenting the way that one of the darkest creatures ever created has been corrupted by popular culture to the extent that they aren't even feared any more.

No, my vampires don't sparkle, and nor do they avoid drinking the blood of the precious humans. They are ruthless, self-serving and wholly representative of the highs of the 19th century literature that first breathed life into them - but can they find a home in this cynical world that so openly scorns and mocks all things vampiric? Do I potentially waste hundreds of hours of my precious writing time in crafting a story that I may decide never to show to the light of day, or do I try to forget a tale that is so vivid in my mind that it feels like an ever-present companion in my unconscious mind?

I suppose it all boils down to the question of who I write for. Do I write for the benefit of those who might read my words, or do I simply write for the love of it? Those of you who know me well no doubt realise exactly what my scant hours of selfish scribbling are going to be devoted to over the coming months... and maybe, one day, "Lament of the Songbird" will boldly go forth to reclaim the genre once more ;)


Friday, 20 January 2012

My Old Friend

So, I realised today that it's been a while since I posted any fiction; and to rectify that, here's a little story that was conceived at 4am a few nights ago.

My Old Friend

I knew him so very well.

Him...I suppose that’s a little strange, isn’t it, to have attributed such a strong and developed personality to something that is entirely intangible; and even, to some, incomprehensible. But when he had been my constant and relentless companion for so many years, he had a very real and unshakeable presence in my consciousness.

He was always there. Sometimes – maybe even for months at a time – he’d lurk almost unnoticed right in the furthest recesses of my head. More often than not, though, he was right there at the front consuming all of me. Every thought, every desire, every was all about him.

And I hated him. Oh, how I hated him! He made me resent myself, you see – resent what I had become because of him. I no longer even recognised the person I was. I was a stranger, even to myself; and this new person wasn’t someone I wanted to be.

I knew that I had to rid myself of him; to purge myself of his toxic presence and his noxious embrace. He was suffocating. Have you ever felt like that? You must have done, at some moment in your life. The best way I can describe it is to think of the most terrible panic and fear you’ve ever felt. Remember how it constricts your chest, how it churns your stomach and lifts you high on the black wings of terror as you fight even to breathe? That’s how I felt living with him.

Is it any wonder that I couldn’t take it any longer?

I’m not sharing this with you as retribution, or even as a plea for understanding or compassion. Don’t think that, because it simply isn’t so. I’m just stating it how it is, so that if you find yourself being slowly but surely gnawed away at by someone like him, maybe you won’t make the same mistake I did.

The problem was that nothing I did seemed to get rid of him. I could hide him away and pretend even to myself that he didn’t even exist, but if I ever let my guard down for just a moment, he would be back; and each time he returned, he was somehow stronger and more possessive than ever before.

Enough was enough. I knew that he was never going to go away of his own accord. I had to take matters into my own hands – and in through the storm cloud of misery that had descended upon my sleep-deprived and tormented mind, I could see only one solution.

It was all so easy.

One little pill, two little pills.

Three little pills, four little pills.

Five little pills, six little pills.

And on I went until the little jar’s contents had all danced along my tongue and down my waiting throat.

So easy.

Next, the bottle of bourbon on the worktop joined the party. I had to be sure; I hadn’t come this far only for him to defeat me now. Then all I had to do was wait.

But it didn’t go down like I had expected it to. I expected to feel nothing but relief as my life slipped away from me, relief to be freed of the shackles of his possession – but instead, I realised what a terrible mistake I had made.

I’d never seen it before. Too eaten up by all that he was, I’d never even stopped to dream of a life without him. All I thought of was getting rid of him – not living without him.

I knew in that moment why people fought so hard to cling onto life with all that they were.

Too late.


Bonus points to anyone who knows the song that the title is a nod towards...


Thursday, 12 January 2012

We want to hear from you...

I know that I've got some wonderfully talented authors amongst my readers here. If you haven't already, then please drop by and check out Sirens Call Publications. We're open now for submissions in general and for three specific products that I'm really excited about;

Childhood Nightmares


They haunt us all. Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.

Reach into the forgotten recesses of your twisted mind. Share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish clown perched upon a rocker, the slight murmur of sound coming from the closet… did you close the door completely? Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath.

Do you dare delve into your own memories for inspiration? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again... Tell us, who is Under the Bed?

Submission guidelines;

Deadline for submissions - Monday, January 30th, 2012.

4000 - 10,000 words.

50% royalties to be divided between all contributing authors.

What if the worlds of horror and mythology collided; what skeletons might come tumbling out of that particular closet? Open up your mind to the possibilities of reimaged tales or the consequences of unleashing a mythological creature into today’s world. What would happen if Medusa were let loose in NYC? What would the world of mythology be like if Zeus had a penchant for torture and murder? Perhaps the Fey world holds you captivated; but you imagine the benign faerie folk to instead be frighteningly devious creatures that only exist in the darker, more sinister walks of life...

Spin us a tale that will scare the reader but still maintain that magical twist from the stories of an age gone by. All mythology is open to interpretation; Greek, Roman, Fey, Chinese, Christian, plus the countless others not mentioned. Your only limitation is the one you place on yourself. 

* *Stories containing overt sexual content, incestuous behavior and/or extreme bestiality will be immediately disqualified from consideration.

Submission guidelines;

Deadline for submissions - Monday, February 13th, 2012.

4000 - 10,000 words.

50% royalties to be divided between all contributing authors.

This bi-monthly publication is exposure only for contributing authors, but don't let that put you off! We're looking for flash fiction, short stories (1000-5000 words), literary reviews, teasers for your novels (stand-alone scenes would work best here), artwork or interviews. Previously published work will be accepted provided that you hold the rights to it.

If you have something you think could be placed in any of the above, then please email


Saturday, 7 January 2012

How to improve your writing - part one.

One of the hardest things for any writer to do is to view their work objectively and see where it can be improved. The best option, of course, is to have your manuscript professionally edited before publication, but I'm fully aware that the cost of doing can be prohibitive for many self-pubbed authors.

As an editor, I see many basic issues that crop up again and again in manuscripts from different authors across all the genres.

Now, I'm a fervent believer in indie publishing and taking the power back from the Big Six. In order for the indie and self-publishers to do so, we owe it to each other and the readers to ensure that the work we put out there is of the highest possible quality. Though I can't offer up my services for free to all and sundry, especially now that Sirens Call Publications is keeping me so busy, I can share with you now and again a few little tips and ways to improve what you've written.

Today, I'll be going over speech tags.

Not only are they one of the most overused literary devices, but they're often dressed up to the nines to the extent that they become so ornate that they detract from the story being told.

Speech tags are the words used to label which character has spoken. It can be as basic as "he said" or it can also be used to carry the emotions and thoughts of your character at that point in the tale.

However, in my opinion, a good 90% of speech tags that crop up in first drafts are unnecessary.

My two top tips for how to reduce the necessity for speech tags in your work;

  • Ensure that each character has a well-developed and unique voice. The way that they speak and the tone of their words should identify them as the speaker. If all your characters sound alike to the reader, then they don't have a strong enough identity and the reader won't connect with them.
  • Show what your character is doing as they speak instead if you need to break up a long block of dialogue. Their actions will convey the tone of their speech far more vividly than a speech tag. For example, your character runs a hand through their hair and leaps to their feet to pace back and forth. The reader knows, then, that they're becoming agitated without you having to write "he said in agitation" after your dialogue. Far neater and doesn't distract from the flow of the writing.
Where you absolutely must use them, try and stick to 'he said/she said'. Phrases like uttered, retorted, breathed etc. sound artificial and detract from the dialogue being spoken. Keep it clean and keep it to a minimum and you'll allow the strength of your dialogue to shine through.

Your dialogue should be what carries the plot. Excess and elaborate speech tags will drag it down and interrupt the flow - instead, keep it crisp and fast-paced. Your readers will thank you for it.