Monday, 22 June 2009

And So It Officially Begins...

The phone was ringing.
Grey, unfocussed eyes stared out from the mirror. The irises, smeared with red, formed a tight shuddering ring around black and empty pupils. Swollen eyelids hung low over clouded eyes, sweeping in toward the nasal bridge and dangling, purple and bruised below.
He did not blink. The phone kept ringing.
From the mirror, through the early morning haze, loomed a face. Like the eyes the skin was grey, like the eyes was smeared with blotchy red. Like the eyes the mouth turned down, the lips dry and cracked.
He did not blink but raised one trembling hand to his chin, rubbed at ripe stubble. The phone kept ringing.
The hand pulled roughly at gaunt skin, scratched through stubble. Stretched the face. He pulled down hard from coat hanger cheekbones, dragging his mouth into a cartoon frown, pulling the skin around the eyes. Slowly, wet grey eyes rolled down to examine still white teeth, unnaturally bright against the dead flesh around them. He released the skin and it snapped back into place, shaking fingers leaving long white streaks which faded to red, faded to grey.
He did not blink but his head fell back and his eyes moved with it, were stung by sharp twists of hair, a range of an unkempt mane. Dark, damp, shot through with whispering white. The phone kept ringing.
It took an effort to pull the face into focus, oversized pupils sucking in the dim light from the room, the toothpaste speckled mirror, the beaten wooden shelf on which the mirror leaned. The single, spread bristled tooth brush. A voice behind the eyes whispered slowly, each syllable tasted and tested: Who is this?
He did not blink but instead raised one unsteady hand to his neck, twisted his chin toward the light and watched the razor catch the light. The phone kept ringing.
The blade sparkled, a tiny window of light skittered across the surface of the mirror, exposed the blotchy skin, the bruised bags, the almost blue lips. He breathed deep, clutched the handle tight. He felt his hand steady.
The phone stopped ringing.
A spider, frozen in the spotlight cast by the angled razor, stopped dead somewhere behind his head. He stared with weary eyes, watching its reflection. He stood in the vacuous silence, the bathroom suddenly bigger without the phone pressing on his air. He watched the spider, its courage returned, creep across the bathroom wall. He lowered the razor and placed his hand on the mirror, cupping the spider. The spider crept upward toward a damp corner.
The phone had stopped ringing but he held the razor again and dragged it slowly down one cheek. Someone knocked on the front door.
He swapped hands, held the razor in his right hand and dragged it slowly down his left cheek. He hissed, paused and watched a thick, dark bead of blood dribble into the sink. Someone pounded on the door. He turned slightly, staring the length of the corridor from the bathroom, past the open bedroom door toward the frosted glass of his front door. Two fat fists beat at the window, two silhouettes desperate to get in. He rinsed the blood from the razor and held it to his throat.
Someone was yelling through his letterbox.
The razor felt cool, he listened to the drip drip of blood into the faucet, heard it splash as it landed. His cheeks burned, raw. He breathed deep, felt his chest heave, pressed the razor to his neck.
‘Sir?’ the voice was angry, frustrated. ‘Sir!’ The words burst from the letterbox, shattering the rhythmic bleed. ‘Sir! Sir, we need you now.’ He pushed the razor into the flesh beneath his chin and stared at the eyes in the mirror, watched the already inflamed pupils bulge.
‘DS Delphin, sir. Please, open the door.’ Delphin met his eyes in the mirror; saw himself deep inside the cave-like pupils. He sighed, dropped the razor and it clattered into the sink. ‘Sir, there’s been an incident. Please. You have to let us in.’

Some People Are Better Staying Lost

Morning Kids. Good weekend?

Mine was... Well. It was. And I think that past tense is the best thing for it. But anyway, enough of that.

My new look blog... It's got nothing to do with anything that happened over my weekend. Nor anything that happens to me daily. This is not a substantial change in my mood nor even a new beginning.

Quite simply it is this:

Watching 9987 was set up for me (and you. Not you, no, nor you - you were here for the Lesbian Nurses) to follow 9987 from happy birth to learning to walk and, more recently, to branching out on it's own. I think that now though I'm spending too much time simply Watching. And this is no good.

9987 is doing quite well. It's part of the Read Regional Campaign and it'll kicking about some festivals this year I hope. Plus, it's even getting some new clothes soon as it heads for a second date with the printers.

But I'm a bit too smug.

And a bit too lazy.

And I need a kick.

So here it is.

I will continue to watch 9987, of course I will, but - and I'm actually quite excited by this - it's time to get back to work.

Second novels will not write themselves.

Two hundred words a day from now until my summer holiday. That's a month away. That's (counts on fingers... starts again...) 6,000 words.

Then a thousand there after over the summer.

And DK will not stop fzzt-ing. DK will stand by me and support. DK will, undoubtedly be flirting with the microwave...

And this time you can watch.
And this time the conception will be recorded.
And this time I will welcome all you voyeurs (no... no, once again, not you, you're on the wrong site. Again.)

And there is Someone Who Really Should Stay Lost...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fancy Getting Published?

Alreet kids?

Got another, yes, another, Kick Ass Cool Competition.

This really is cool, and actually, if I'm honest, in no way is it my Kick Ass Cool Competiton. It's Tonto's.

Oh yes.

Big Daddy Tonto is spreading the lurve boys and girls so make sure your toast isn't burnt. (I may have had too much coffee. And too many biscuits. And, apparently, have a craving for toast...)

"Here’s the cover for ‘Even More Tonto Short Stories’ - hot off the press!

Even More Tonto Short Stories

And even better news to announce … author Caroline Smailes will be judging the competition and helping to put the collection together.
The competition is open to new writers as well as experienced writers, as long as the work has not been published.
Please click here for full details of how to enter.
Entry fee is £6.99. Everyone who enters will receive a FREE COPY of the book."
You see?
How Mint is that?
I've got my entry almost finished.
Well, one of my entries.
I've got another one planned.
Maybe two...
Oh it's exciting.. I do wonder if Caroline is open to bribes...

Thursday, 11 June 2009

My Confession: A True Story Of Desperation And Free Coffee

I have a confession to make.

It appears I have succumbed to adultery.

Last night, I am ashamed to say, I accepted free coffee from a different kettle.

I've not yet told Disco Kettle this. I am hoping that, perhaps, me broadcasting it to the world will help ease the blow. It'll give DK time to reflect and, of course, it'll give me a chance to offer my explainations without interruption or scalding.

See, the thing is is this.

Last night was truely terrifying. Truely honestly truely. I was shaking and sweating and generally minging with fright and well. I just didn't think.

It was all instictive and although I'll admit that at the time it was wonderful, that for a brief moment it meant the world to me now I just feel - well. Dirty. And guilty. And I can't quite shift the taste of the chocolate bourbon, the haunting tingling in my fingers from the curve of that mug...

And I am sorry. Deeply sorry.

And I'm blaming the libarians.

They tricked me.

"Let's show you round" they said.

"It's really a beautiful building" they said.

"Have doen this sort of thing before?" they said.

They were right of course. They did show me round. It is a beautiful building. And no, I'd never done this sort of thing before.

I passed the poster on the stairs on the way down to the public library:

"Middlesborough Central Library
Entry £2

Two first-time young authors read from their new novels and talk about their publishing experiences so far.

Alice de Smith’s new novel Welcome to Life is a coming of age novel set in the 1980’s.
Nik Jones’ first novel, 9987, is a dark menacing drama about young man who works in a video
shop who goes off the rails.

The authors are part of New Writing North’s Read Regional 2009

And, DK, before you start arguing I haven't done this sort of thing before. I've never had to appear at a library before. I've never had to talk to people about my experiences as a published author before.

I've never had to read my work in public before.


I've had an actor do it, and he was really good.

I've done it on the radio before. But that was over the phone. At early o'clock. And I had slippers on and my Magic Dressing Gown. And coffee from you, DK. Coffee from you. And no one was watching except for the cat. Who, I'll admit, seemed less than impressed.

But reading in public?


And I was nervous. And I didn't know what to say. And I was garbling. And it was awful. And I couldn't hold the book open and stand up. And I couldn't turn the pages. And it was all going so horribly wrong.

And one of the lovely librarian ladies handed me a coffee. And I spied a plate of chocolate bourbons.

And I just didn't think.

I am sorry, DK.

Really sorry.

But, if it makes you feel any better I think it helped. As awful as my beginning was I think I got better. I got polite and much appreciated applause after each mini reading I did. I almost managed to stay on track when answering questions.

And I brought you back a signed copy of Welcome to Life.

Do you forgive me?

Can you forgive me?

I could descale you...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Rachel Green - An Ungodly Child

I really far too good to you all you know that? Not content with one geet mint author interview I now have another.

Oh yes!

Admittedly they're coming along thick and fast due to my ineptness at meeting deadlines, rather than a hard hitting journalistic desire to hunt down and stalk authors but hey, what to do?

So for the next week it's all about An Ungodly Child, the debut novel by writer and poet Rachel Green.

An Ungodly Child follows Harold Waterman, an unlikely hero, and his summoned demonic familiar Jasfoup. When Harold is infected by an incurable disease when he meets Jedith, otherwise known as the Angel of Pestilence, he turns to the black arts to find a cure. Jasfoup is only too happy to help, as long as Harold can pay for his services. Meanwhile, the three angels of destruction are out to prove that there could be an antichrist, if only Harold would believe it. Gillian, Harold's vampire girlfriend, is not so sure.

Described by Amazon reviews as being "Intelligent, imaginative, and Very funny." and "warming, amusing and insightful. The use of imagination is inspired " this is a another must buy novel.

Luckily Rachel was able to take some time out from her (very) busy writing day to let me pester her.

Me and DK do another Wossy

1. At what point, or do you at all for that matter, begin thinking about yourself as 'a writer'?

I do think of myself as a writer, despite Nathan Bransford declaring it a reference to this somewhat controversial blog entry by Curtis Brown agent Nathan Bransford. Ever since I started being published regularly I have said: “I am a Writer.” It defines me. It's what I do. I used to be an Artist and to be truthful, I still make more money from painting than I do writing. "An Ungodly Child" has cost me around £400 in review copies and postage and publicity and freebies and the printing of postcards and the like.

People still look at me and say "but what's your real job?" A visitor to the house once said "Hi Rachel, are you writing something interesting, or just your book?" (To be fair, she also looked at my painting and said 'Is that some kind of art?') Now I answer them: Writing is a real job. Look: Here is my book. That’ll be £8.99 please.

2. If you're anything like me then completing that (hopefully) final draft was truly glorious. The process immediately after that, so often littered with rejections and hopelessness was not so fun. Can you talk us through how the process went for you?

It wasn’t easy. “An Ungodly Child” was my first novel and was truly rubbish. It was originally cobbled together from a series of connected short stories and had no arc and virtually no development. I sent it to a few places and had it rejected, then sent it to WordWise Edit in Sheffield for a professional opinion. Miranda gave it a glance through and sent me a few notes back. I completely re-wrote it, using the original as a series of plot points and surgically added a spine, a major plot and several subplots. Then I left it for six months, edited it again and sent it of to the Undiscovered Authors competition in 2006. It won the runner-up prize of publication plus £1000 after publication. It took another two years and several more edits, but appeared on Amazon in December and in a few bookshops in February. It didn’t get the publicity I was hoping for, however, and was never officially ‘launched’ by the publisher.

3. Your book, like much of my own work, seems to be about isolation. Isolation and a desire, a need perhaps, for acceptance. Is this a common theme for you too? And what came first? The theme or the story?

The theme, I think. My first novel (that I never count because I never finished it) was about an immortal woman searching for a home after hers is destroyed by the 5th legion of the Roman Army in 438AD. She was very much a loner. In some ways Harold’s childhood reflect my own (though my father wasn’t the Devil) in that I was something of an intelligent-but-lonely child too. I found acceptance and a huge extended family and so did Harold. I wish I had a Jasfoup, though. In all the books I write (and I’ve written four sequels) there is the element of a loner gaining acceptance (or a spectacular failure of it.)

I will also throw in 3 questions from my blogbuddy Disco Kettle. They will go like this:

1. Fzzzzt?

In aviil psstngg. *chuckles* Ocibibibib narloop.

2.Fzzzt fzzzzzzzzt fzt wheeeeeeeeeeze?

Bloogning, Abibabin nawr, pssingssin drenooootish

3. Fzt gurglrgurglrgurgle click?

Ah! Earrlybip Greyinganizzt, os gringing babbbylizzt.

I also write a feckbucket of poetry. I start the day with a cinquain, a haiku, a tanka, a fib and a senryu on my Livejournal and at some point in the day I generally post a photograph and a poem to my dogsbite blog. I also write Jasfoup’s blog and a short vignette to Laverstone Tales . After lunch I work on the current novel, editing or whatever. Sometimes I take the afternoon off. I generally stop working at 6:00 PM

Plus another kick ass cool Competiton

Did I, or did I not say I was far too good too you? I think I did you know. And now look. Hot on the heels of one competition I now have a new, equally EditTastic competition for you.

In no more than 50 words (always fun I know) a flash story regarding someone needing or wanting or getting or being denied acceptance. Tough eh? I'm a mean bastard I know, but hey, it's something to play with. Physical and social acceptance like the example Rachel has had a go at or, you know, try something a bit different. Be a bit weird.

You know me, I like a bit Weird...

Harold dropped his coin in the slot and pushed against the barrier. It didn’t move. He rattled the release lever and tried again. Still no result.

“Why can’t I get in?” he asked the attendant of the Savoy Gentleman’s Conveniences.

The porter scowled. “I don’t like your faeces,” he said.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sue Guiney Competition. Finally I Announce The Results

Morning kids,

Apologies for my general crapness of post over the last week or so. Damien Duff broke my laptop.

Luckily (?), now that I’m back at work, I can make good use of school resources and post from here instead.


The Sue Guiney Competition results.

It was a really close run thing, we had some excellent entries and I’m impressed that so many of you had weather rubbish enough to warrant sitting in front of a computer screen trying to edit your way down to 50 words.

Well done all you pastey pastey people.

In the end it came down to two which Sue and I debated for a while.

“Lauri’s is “right scary,” and Jamieson’s is heartbreaking. How to choose? Do we have to?” Was Sue’s thoughts.

But she’s nicer than me.

Two winners?

I think not.

There can be only one.

And so, like I said, it came down to “right scary” or “heartbreaking”.

And, well, you know me.

There are two routes to my heart.

Lesbian Nurses.

And “Right Scary”

So, without further ado, the winning entry:

Lauri Kubuitsile

“An arm in the corner, a leg in the truck bed, the headless torso folded in the pink blanket- like a human slaughterhouse or a fun fair for serial killers, she smiles thinking unsuitable mother thoughts. The baby screams and she dreams about the silent deception of her first doll.”

A worthy winner so congratulations Lauri.

Lauri chose pages 155-160 as she chosen excerpt and so anyone interested in a pdf copy email me at

Grace remembers a special birthday dinner she had alone with her husband in London. Years later she can still recall each dish, each taste, and the important role that meal had in the realization of the shift in her relationship with her husband.

As I said, it was really close, so close in fact that, even thought there can be only one excerpt choice Jamieson’s entry was indeed so heartbreaking that I think it deserves to be seen by all too.

Jamieson Wolf

“I was twelve when my grandfather died. My grandmother jokingly said to him: Lets play 52 Pick Up! When he went to pick up the cards, my grandfather fell and an ulcer burst. He died instantly. I haven’t played any card games since that day. They remind me of death.”

Congrats to Lauri and to Jamieson and thank you to all those who entered, don’t worry if you didn’t quite manage it this time, tomorrow I’ll be started a new competition you can have a play with.


Tune in next time for another exciting Blog Tour:

Rachel Green and An Ungodly Child