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The Cultural Convention: Part One – A Matter of Time

 The thing about creating a fantasy realm is – it’s a different world . Yes, I know that sounds self-evident. But when starting work on any kind of fantasy story, it needs to be borne in mind because it places the author immediately into a dilemma. How different exactly? A different world means different rules, that fundamentals of life that all its readers have in common don’t necessarily apply. Take units of time for example. Is the length of our day the same as a fantasy world’s day? Do they measure time as we do in hours and minutes and seconds? Do they follow the same turn of seasons, the same months, the same year? It's a tricky one. On the one hand, upending these basics makes one truly feel that the place in which the story is taking place is alien and different. But on the other, it upsets the audience’s equilibrium. They are used to the old ways. Having to remember this world they are reading about has different rules can actually be jarring, it can push a reader’s b

Very Short Story - The Spectre Cometh

 This was written for the story prompts Horror and Spectre for a long ago internet writing challenge. Being my usual contrary self, I did something a little different with it. ;) The Spectre Cometh  She couldn’t remember the last time that she had been so deeply, utterly afraid. They were coming. They were coming for her. There was nowhere to run. And what good would running do? There was no escape, not ever, not for her, not for anyone who had trodden the path she had chosen, who’d taken the responsibility she had willingly accepted for she had always known that with the children would come Them. It was the price that must be paid for those happy little faces she watched over day after day, for the privilege, not the right, of watching them learn and grow and change, of keeping them warm and safe and happy until the day came when she was forced to bite her lip and wave them through the gates into the dark austere arms of the grim and tatty monstrosity that towered over the simpl

The Whodunnit Convention

I have discovered in myself in the last few years a rather odd talent – I am very good at figuring out whodunnit in certain modern TV Detective shows. For example, until I stopped watching it a while ago (because the challenge had rather gone out of it), I had 100% hit rate on the long running murder of the week BBC series Death in Paradise . I figured out the murderer in the recent ITV series Holding in the first episode of four and was proved correct in the final show. So how do I do this? Have I missed my calling as a valued member of the police force? Well, no. Not in the slightest – at least not unless today’s detectives are solving their crimes via the art of narrative convention. I don’t choose my likely candidate by watching them intently, considering the evidence and weighing the probabilities. I make my selection generally early on in the programme, usually very shortly after the line up of suspects have been introduced. And I use very simple criteria. Who doesn’t the wri

Disposable UK Sale!

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  From Thinklings Books: This one's not a joke, promise! We've put The Disposable on sale, in honour of both April Fools' Day *and* The Disposable's 2nd publication anniversary! https://amzn.to/3tbakrk

Very Short Story - The System

This is a short story written for a challenge prompt of "Messy Room" some time ago. It is, to some extent, inspired by my childhood, when my bedroom floor required stepping stone clear patches to allow me to get to my bed. But the thing was, I knew where everything was and couldn't understand why everyone else felt I needed to tidy it up! ;p I am much tidier now but I will admit, there is still an element of system in play in certain aspects...;) The System That was the thing that no one seemed to be able to understand. She knew where everything was.   Oh it looked a mess to the outside eye. It looked like carnage. But to her it was a code. The clothes were not strewn at random but carefully arranged – over the chair if they had been worn once but could be worn again in public, on the stool if they had been worn several times but were still good for lounging around the house and in the heap at the end of the bed if they were due for the washing machine, preferably with

On the Matter of Content Explosion - With Bonus Announcement!

On the Matter of Content Explosion Now, anyone out there who has followed any of my fanfiction projects over the years may be aware that in respect of my writing, I tend to have something of a problem when it comes to estimates of length . My fanfiction projects were famous for turning into monumentally vast monsters well beyond the bounds of my original intent as chapter after chapter proved insufficient to hold the content I wrote for it and split out and split again. Indeed, anyone who read my author interview for The Merry Band will also be aware that this phenomenon of my writing is not confined just to fanfiction, given the confessions I made there – that my novels were all originally intended as a single book, would you believe, and that I split it, first in half and then into a trilogy to accommodate fresh material that blossomed into life in the process of writing. Once I started writing, there was simply too much story for one book or even two books to hold. Some might

Very Short Story - The Apprentice

I wrote this piece to a challenge prompt of the word "wea ve". It’s written by me, so it’s weird and slightly warped and very strong with my own opinion on certain matters though I have updated some of the names, since they were about a decade out of date. Some choices may be a bit British, but persons of whatever nation may feel free to insert their own offenders as appropriate. Because I know you’ll all have some…;p The Apprentice Okay, I admit it. I may have made a few mistakes. But I mean, this soul-weaving lark – it’s not easy, is it? The apprenticeship is a thousand years for a reason and how much help do you get? All those other weavers, they sit there glued to their looms, churning out visionaries and artists and geniuses and did one of them bother to show me the threads? No. They just sat me down and told me to use my instincts. And I’ll admit, it hasn’t always gone well. It is possible I got a little confused with my backstitch when I was working on Henry VIII’s

Ask The Author - January 2022

  Ask the Author – January 2022 Well - I tried. But I think everyone was understandably a little preoccupied with Christmas so my appeal for questions on this occasion resulted in a grand total of one. So for this short but sweet blog entry, I shall simply wish everyone a very Happy New Year and proceed to answer it! From Sarah Awa: Will there be a dragon in the third book? Any other magical creatures like unicorns, mermaids, etc? I feel that Maw has rather had his moment of glory – anything further might be a little much for his delicate constitution. ;p In terms of magical creatures, the story at this stage is really more focussed on the people and how they handle the erupting goings on of their Realm rather than the wider universe of beasts and beings – but rest assured, there will be plenty of AFCs and one glorious and significant appearance from a monstrous special guest. ;)

Poem - A Christmas Tale

In honour of the approaching Christmas season, I thought I'd break out a poem I wrote for a Christmas writing challenge a number of years ago. It was for the prompt "a walk through a house from the perspective of a child" because I wanted to write something with some rhythmic hurly burly to it as that’s the kind of poem I like best – something with a bit of gallop and a cadence – and that seemed to fit the bill, given that in my experience, small children do not so much walk through a house as push it out of their way as they pass. ;p.   A Christmas Tale    The day was barely dawning when I woke on Christmas morning, As excitement filled me up right to my core, I flung aside the blanket as I leapt from bed all frantic, Skipping, tripping, skidding, slipping to the door!   Christmas day was here now! The best day of the year! Wow! What glories waited down beneath that tree? Had Father Christmas called by, left the presents piled up knee-high, In all

Very Short Story - Toil and Trouble

 The below was written for a long ago writing challenge somewhere across the internet but in honour of yesterday being Halloween, it seemed appropriate to post today. ;) Toil and Trouble “What do you mean, you forgot the eye of newt?” “I mean it just slipped my mind! It was so busy at the Wicca market, there were so many stalls and the slug juggler was flirting with me…” “Well, you got to admit, dearie, he is a fine figure of a man….” “Shut up Ursula! Just keep stirring that cauldron!” “Fine by me, dearie, fine by me…” “I’m sorry, Medea. Do you want me to go back?” “Well, there isn’t time now, is there? We’ll have to make do. Did you get the fillet of fenny snake?” “Umm… they were out…” “Of for the love of Hecate… All right, the toe of frog?” “They were out of that too. There’s this recipe for wart growth in Circe’s latest compendium that’s proving very popular, you see…” “I don’t care what’s popular! We need those ingredients! Please tell me you at least got the wool