Posts Tagged ‘ writing group ’

Short Story 21: Flash Fiction – The Size of A Mountain

She had been chipping away at it for days. Slowly but surely, the decimation had carried on until she sat looking at the remains of what had once seemed the size of a mountain. She had nearly lost it when her mother showed up to check on her, asking too many questions as always. Why hadn’t Erin returned it like they had discussed? Did she think it was healthy to continue like that? Erin had moved it into the spare room once her mother had left the house and just in time too as her sister also popped in the day after. She too would have been unimpressed by its presence. They all said getting rid of it was a good sign that she was moving forward but Erin knew best. Days had turned into a week and now there was only one task left to finish.

She took a deep breath and picked up the marzipan figure, looking all smug in its top hat. It was only when she heard the cracking sound as her teeth clamped down on its neck that she finally let out a sigh of relief. Continue reading


The Climb

Having a scan through my old emails, I was shocked to discover that it has been two years since I finished the first draft of a complete novel (let’s ignore the numerous subsequent drafts that had to be produced). I know this because I always email the first draft to myself and the date on my last complete novel is late March 2010. You’ve probably sussed that the two novels and one novella I have recently published were all written before then (between 2003 and 2010 to be exact). It sounds like a long time ago but with all the constant editing, the stories have continued to feel fresh to me which has been a great help in keeping my interest in them alive.

So what exactly have I been doing for the last twenty-three months? Thankfully I haven’t been struck by writer’s block or anything drastic. I’ve been writing more and more short stories (thanks to the exercises set in the writing group I attend), most of which I have put up on this blog in the last year or so. But short stories have never given me the satisfaction that completing a 75,000 word novel brings. I tried to start other novels but Continue reading

Short Story 15: The Wedding

[I just realised I haven’t posted a short story in almost two months – shock and horror! Apologies for that. This one was written last year around the time of the Royal Wedding (hence the title). Enjoy!]

She broke up with him on Christmas Eve, on their way to his parents’ house in Nottingham. It was quite convenient for her because they were already on the M1 so he dropped her off at her parents’ in Leicester before carrying on alone. They didn’t live together so, after the holiday period, all that had to be done was a cordial return of the few personal items they kept in each other’s house. He came over when she was out, dropped her stuff, picked his up, took his house keys which she had left on the kitchen table and threw hers in through the mail slot after he had locked up.

She didn’t see him again for the next three months and the time away from him was so peaceful that she wondered why she hadn’t made her decision much earlier. No one looming about in the background clouding her judgement or questioning her actions. After a year of dating him, it was utter bliss. And then the loneliness began to set in. It was mostly the little things that got to her; he’d understood her sense of humour and could always make her laugh, he knew what would make her happy and what not to say when she had that annoyed glint in her eyes. She missed the occasional romantic surprises as well, like the boxes of fresh doughnuts he had delivered to her office every time he said he saw a funny cloud – which tended to be a lot of the time. Or the time he’d flown back a day early from a meeting in Spain just so she wouldn’t have to go to her friend’s wedding alone.

It took her almost five months to realise that she missed him more than she had expected to. It had been unusually easy not to bump into him. Maybe it was because she had made very little attempt to socialise much after he’d gone. They had mutual friends but it was only after the breakup that she remembered they weren’t really ‘their’ friends but ‘his’ and ‘her’ friends. Her friends that knew him had been careful not to mention any news of him to her if they heard anything and she had been grateful initially but now she really wanted to know what he was up to, how he was doing. It was a little too late to try to ring him up and check on him in what she would have attempted to pass as a casual interest in his wellbeing so there was one other way in which she could find out all she wanted.

Bill and Cathy were one set of friends they could actually call mutual. In a few weeks time, she was going to be one of Cathy’s bridesmaids and he was Bill’s best man. They’d met through the bride and groom about two years ago and the fact that they were now no longer together didn’t mean they couldn’t be on their wedding party. She found herself preparing for the day more than she had planned to. Arranging a facial, a body scrub and a visit to her hair dresser suddenly took on great importance as she kept telling herself not to be so silly; after all she was the one that had broken up with him. That had happened for a reason and she would be foolish not to remember why. But as her head chided her, her heart carried on wildly hoping.

The night of the dress rehearsal arrived and somehow she had still not seen him. She had hoped to run into him at Cathy and Bill’s flat after running one of many errands for the bride during the week but she had no such luck. It was only when he ran into the church, ten minutes after the rehearsal had started that she saw him. Nearly six months had gone by and although she knew she shouldn’t be, she was surprised to note that he looked no different. His trademark wide grin was on his face as he apologised to everyone for his late arrival and even a wink for her as she walked past to take his place beside the groom. No sign of anger or resentment towards her. Maybe that was a good sign. He made an excuse to Bill once the rehearsal was done and dashed off before she could speak to him. She wasn’t worried at all by this; after all he’d have nowhere to go the next day. Continue reading

Poetry 1: I was down that road before

 [I don’t usually write poems, because I’m not really sure how to and I don’t think I’m good at it, but we had a group exercise set a couple of weeks ago to expand on the opening words “I was down that road before” and for some reason, a poem is what came to me so I decided to give it a shot. It might need some more work in future but we’ll see if I ever get the courage to return to it.]


I  was down that road before

In another lifetime

When dreams seemed attainable

And hope was more than a feeling

Now all I gleam are passing shadows

Of a life that could have been

So when I’m glum

I pause and remember

That dreams that haven’t come true

Were probably never meant to be.



Short Story 14: Sins of the Father

[Happy New Year readers! This is my take on a competition from Wimbledon Bookfest last year, which we decided to try out at my writing group. The competition called for an interpretation of any one or more of the “Seven Deadly Sins” and it had to be no longer than 200 words. Can you guess my sin/sins.]

Twenty years of the best part of her life and he had left her for that tramp. She had given him everything and it meant nothing. She hadn’t seen him in six months but when they had to identify his body, they came to her. She was still legally his wife; for this, the tramp didn’t count. She stared at his face, a bluish-grey shade now that there was no life in it. They said it was an accident; the pipe had flown off the back of a lorry and gone through his windscreen ripping a hole the size of a 5p coin through his heart. Continue reading

Short Story 11: The King’s Speech

[I completely forgot about this story until last night when I was sitting in a pub with some friends and someone reminded me of it. You’ll understand why it was being discussed in an alcohol infused environment when you read it. It was written as part of an exercise titled “King’s Speech”, shortly after the movie came out. Not my finest work but here it is.]

By the age of twenty five most people have a reasonable understanding of what their alcohol tolerance is. Years of daring under-aged drinking followed by equally foolish years of legal age binge drinking would have honed the senses into gauging how many units to consume for drunkenness, flirtatiousness, chattiness or to just about pass as a designated driver. Most people’s livers had conversed with the rest of their organs and agreed how long they thought their owners’ bodies would last. It was a good year for the body to start the sideways shuffle away from the evil liquid as people took stock of how they wanted to proceed in life.

For Beverly King it was at this age that she discovered what her limit was. It was the night of the office Christmas party, historically a night of embarrassing tales and yet one that people never quite envision as the night of their undoing. To be fair to Beverly, it was only her second attendance at one of these dos. She had to bail out of the Christmas party she had been invited to last year because her sister had gone into labour just after the main meal had been served. As her birthing partner, Beverley had no choice but to dash to the hospital to be with her. This year she would finally be able to join in on office gossip ensuing from misdemeanours of the night. She was a little too excited about it all and it didn’t help that some of her colleagues squealed with delight at any mention of the party.

None of the excitement dissipated till the night arrived. The event was being held in the large ballroom of a four star hotel on the outskirts of town, one of the few venues that could hold the three hundred plus crowd. The room was all done up in white fairy lights and a tall glistening tree stood in the corner, soft carols filled the air and alcohol flowed at a disproportionate ratio to the meal that was served. Everything felt perfect, a sure sign that disaster was about to strike yet everyone managed to remain civilised until all the food was consumed. The alcohol began to flow more rapidly and a DJ arrived, promptly swapping the carols for a selection of cringe worthy cheesy tunes. Seats were abandoned as a dance floor emerged amidst the tables and song choruses were shouted at anyone who dared to brave the floor, which was surprisingly most people. It was still all going well until Beverly saw him.

Matthew Conrad from HR. She had been silently obsessing over him for months and now there he stood, drinking a beer and chatting with two of his mates. For once he looked approachable and for once she felt like she had the courage she needed to say something to him. Continue reading

Short Story 10: The Zone

[After struggling with the writing exercise I blogged about this month, Girls Don’t Fight, this is my attempt at believable sci-fi (my first ever sci-fi story, hrrah). I hope someone out there enjoys it, it was a nightmare to write!]

“I think they broke my nose.”

Those words stopped Adrian Bench in his tracks. He turned to face the speaker who stood holding his nose and wincing. He couldn’t actually hold his nose, the glass helmet he wore prevented any physical contact but his hand was positioned in the right place.

God I hope this isn’t the first one, Adrian thought as he scowled at the man. “Stop whining and brace yourself. There are worse things to come,” he barked. Then turning to the people standing closest to him he whispered “Check him.”

The men approached the injured man and began a thorough search of his protective suit. The man’s eyes had widened with dread when he realised what the implication would be if the others found what they all feared they would. Adrian went to one of the broken windows in the room and started to board it up. Their suits protected them from the noxious gases but they had been attacked by about a dozen giant aphids when they came into the containment zone. It only took a rip in a suit to contaminate the unfortunate victim. He prayed the man’s luck had not run out.

“He’s safe,” one of the men called out to him as they finished their search. Adrian sighed with relief. They would have had to shoot the man in the head to prevent him morphing into one of the creatures that had caused this place to be sectioned off.

“I used to live around here,” a slightly chubby man announced to the group of eight men as they waited for a signal from Adrian for them to move on. “Hackney Empire is just up the road and that one leads back to Dalston.”

His companions nodded and looked in the direction he pointed. The only other Londoner amongst them was a woman who had lived in Willesden before the containments had started. Now she lived in a camp just outside Essex with other London survivors. The rest of the group had been called in from around the country to assist in this mission. Adrian couldn’t understand why people still wanted to save London but there were too many sentiments involved. The people had lost enough already and completely losing their capital would not do. He heard that some people still lived in Chelsea and St John’s Wood. You couldn’t pay him enough to risk it.

“I hear something.” Continue reading