Friday 26 November 2021

Cover Reveal & Release Date Announcement - Dead Lake, Tricky's Tales Book 1

I am finally here to announce the release date for the first book about my character Tricky, who has been appearing on my blog in my Mid-Week Flash fiction challenge entries for three years now!
(her first story was back on Week 77

Not all of her stories appear in the series. I have often used the opportunity to explore the world and characters, and taken ideas or themes from them. You can find a catalogue of all her tales here, if you fancy reading them and getting a taster for the story. 

The release date will be: 26th December 2021

The book is available for pre-order, so get your copy now at a reduced price. 

Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She'll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.


Wednesday 24 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 227

This week's picture prompt is from artist and underwater photographer Elena Kalis. Based in the Bahamas Elena has some incredible images and attained global success in her field. 

Another dabble into Tricky's world to see where it ends up.  (Last Tricky Tale was on Week 222)

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

Image of a woman in a white dress underwater but facing a wall of water and touching her own reflection. Taken by photographer Elena Kalis

Play Dead

Tricky was thankful her mother had taught her how to swim. She’d struggle otherwise. She’d been wise enough to take in a deep breath when they’d chucked her overboard, and swum down as far as she could despite her tied hands.

She felt the riverbed under her feet and pushed herself away in a horizontal line under the water, getting as far from the boat as she could. She hoped they’d think she’d drowned.

The River Red was wide, so it was going to be a struggle to get to the side without coming up for another breath, but she kept going as long as she could. Then turned over on her back and floated up slowly, letting her face and mouth break the water just enough so she could exhale and take in another breath.

She daren’t look back. They were nasty pigs onboard, cut you up as soon as look at you. Tricky knew their sort, and under Stanislav’s vicious hand they’d been given free rein to abuse the people in their charge. It mattered little to them; you were just a piece of meat for them to try out their sick perversions. Even in the water Tricky could still feel all the sore spots where they’d attempted to extract information they’d wanted. She’d given them nothing.

But one thing was for sure, they’d still be looking out for her body to appear. Stanislav wasn’t stupid – at least not that way. He knew their ilk better ... in fact she wasn’t even sure he wasn’t one of them. He knew more than any non-gifted person should, and things that weren’t in any book or learnt in any classroom.

It wasn’t like Tricky to be unnerved, but he’d achieved it. He’d even managed to scare her, which since her mother’s death she hadn’t thought possible – despite all they’d put her through.

The water grew darker ahead and she was confident she would see the side of the river soon. She hoped to come out under the shelter of some trees, even draw some energy from them, because she couldn’t pull herself out of the water just yet – oh no, she would be trickier than that. She wasn’t going to let those slimy rancid slugs spot her again, no definitely not. They were never going to get their filthy hog paws on her again. Next time they saw her it would be their death, oh yes.

When the muddy wall of the river appeared in front of her, she drifted up as close to the side as possible, her fingers touching the soil wall, and tilted her head back so her face broke the water surface. She blinked, trying not to sputter or make any sound, and looked up into the leaves of an overhanging willow. Wonderful.

She reached out and sent her energy reserves and felt them met with the deep green energy all trees possessed. She felt immediately refreshed.

But rather than come further out, she took another breath and went back down, underwater until her feet were on the bottom and put her hands out against the riverbank. She breathed out hard, humming as she did, the sound filling her head, and a pocket of air opened up.

She watched the water part and shimmer as the air pushed it out. Her floating underskirt and camisole top dropped and stuck against her it moved round her, and she opened her mouth to breathe, taking in big gasps as she relaxed.

Some people would think she had been able to part water, but really all she had done was create a time bubble. The tiny bit of river bed she was standing in was not actually here, but in another time and place.

She considered opening it out further and travelling through it away from the river, but she wasn’t sure where she might end up. It was always a nice idea travelling through pockets of time, but you could come out on the other side of the landmass even though you might have only travelled a few feet. Time was tricky like that. It’s what gave her an affinity for it. She liked tricky, she understood tricky.

And not just that, she didn’t trust Stanislav not to anticipate such a move. She’d found she wasn’t the only one adept at manipulating time. Where had he learnt that skill? Who had trained him and honed it? Someone must have. She’d seen his ability wasn’t natural like hers; he needed tools to achieve the same effects. But the only other person that knew as much had been her mother. Or was there someone else, someone unseen?

She sat on the floor of her time bubble and pondered such things. She had plenty of time to do that, oh yes she did. She chuckled, time was never hard to come by for her, oh no. She’d sit here and wait out those dumb meat heads and play dead.     

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 226

This week's picture prompt is from Italian photographer Sergio Pessolano. This is a salt flat in Bolvia - Salar de Uyuni. Sergio calls this 'Just Salt'. He also suggests that the viewer scroll up and down fast. You should see light/shadow changing, depending on the gamma value of your monitor. 

Just a glimpse of what I saw when I looked at this picture. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

An image of a salt flat in Bolivia, with the salt dried out in a pentagonal pattern, and the shadow gives it a purple tinge. There are mountains at the horizon under a cloud broken sky. Photograph taken by Sergio Pessolano

Hallowed Ground

It was in sight at last. He didn’t know how many weeks he had been staggering toward this, but Logan struggled to believe it. He knew what a mirage was; he’d had plenty of them on this journey, yet it was still there.

He tripped over the edge of one of the strange raised pentagons that the salt had shaped into, and fell to his knees. He was grateful for his long trousers, although the knees were thin after the times he’d only had the strength to crawl.

He’d come close to death from dehydration so many times, but fortunately the skies had opened and rain had fallen, and he was able to catch enough to carry on.

He didn’t want to think about where he had come from, he only wanted to think about the future. The pain and captivity were over and that was all that mattered.

He swiped his hand through the air in front of him. The image of the mountains in the distance didn’t waver or change in any way, unlike a mirage. A spark of hope lifted inside him.

He got back up to standing and allowed himself to take a single drop of the rain water he had collected two days ago, and continued with his stagger.

Thoughts of seeing people again entered his head. What would he look like to them? Had the wounds on his face from the continual beatings during his imprisonment healed, or would they still be visible? What would they think of him? Would he be considered weak for having been caught in the first place, or praised for escaping? Few escaped and even less made it across the salt desert.

For a second Logan was filled with terror. What if they took him back? What if they felt he didn’t deserve freedom? What if they returned him?

But his mind at least gave him a reprieve from those thoughts; he knew that escapees were never sent back and that they were hailed as survivors, his own uncle had been one. Maybe it was in the genes.

His mind continued to ponder all the notions and he let it run like credits at the end of a film, watching his feet as he continued to move forward. When he lifted his head again the mountains had grown and he could see details. This was no mirage. He was almost home.

The way the clouds covered the sky above and the sun sat behind the mountains, it gave them a halo as though he was headed for hallowed ground – which to Logan he was.

For over four years he had been trapped and confined in that hell hole, and despite the initial excitement of freedom and space, the salt desert had become its own prison. Empty of life and hope with no sense of place or direction, if it hadn’t been for the sun Logan would have been lost or dead. And now with it there, lighting up his destination, actual liberation was within his grasp.

For the first time since he’d broken out, the surface beneath his feet began to change. The pentagon pattern was beginning to disappear as yellow sand and grit replaced it. Soon he could feel hard stone under his shoeless toes. He would reach the town soon. He increased into a staggering lope.

Lights in the distance came into view and increased the closer he came. The land opened out and cultivated swathes of earth appeared between the rocks. He could smell the sweet smell of desert dried foliage in the air.

Tears came to his eyes as he walked, he couldn’t help it, he was beyond thankful he could behold life again, instead of a cell wall. He had dreamed of this moment.

He started to see people farming the land. A few looked up and then he saw people running towards him, calling to others for help. As they reached him the last of his strength gave out and he collapsed into the arms. Safe at last.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 225

This week's picture prompt was created by Australian artist Cameron Gray, known as Parablev on DeviantArt He calls it Cage. He has some incredible creations. I really love his art. Worth a look. 

This week it went a bit dark. Not what I had initally intended, but still like it. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

Test Subject

Dr Hayden chiselled round the face. It was messy work, but she managed to pry it off. She knew the top of the head came off easily, but she was surprised the face did too. There was blood everywhere and the flesh underneath was deeper than expected.

She stuck her fingers in and rooted around. Yep, there it was. She could feel the hard nub at the back of the third eye. She got her fingers under it and pulled it out, holding the blinking purple light up to inspect it, some sinews still dripping off.

It seemed intact and was still working so what had gone wrong?

She dug around further, going in around the brain which had gone mushy. All the wires were where they should be, and there was no evidence of a short circuit. So what had happened?

There’d never been a case of such a psychosis; all were stable and never questioned themselves like this one had. Self-esteem had never been questioned before and certainly none had displayed paranoid delusions that they turned on themselves.

The entire point of the third eye neural transmitter had been to help individuals remain open and to have a healthy perspective. It kept them looking forward and not back, out instead of in. It had been one of the most successful resolutions to the mental health problems over the last century. It had even become standard practice to have one implanted once adulthood was reached. Those that chose not to were considered feral.

So why now, after all these decades had this one malfunctioned?

Dr Hayden took the transmitter over to the counter. She washed it off and inspected the outside of it. There was no evidence of any kind of tampering, and with its position behind the skull it was well protected. She opened it up and found nothing out of the ordinary inside either. It was a complete puzzle.

She took out the patient’s paper file and leafed through. There had been no accidents in their thirty-two years – they’d actually had an exemplary medical record. But something struck her; when the patient reached her thirties there had been repeating visits to their doctor.

She went over to the computer and put in the patient’s details. The name of the doctor appeared. Hayden covered her mouth as she read the name of one of her former colleagues. He’d been relieved of his position at their lab because of his unethical ideas about patient care. He believed the transmitters were a manipulation tool to keep people passive, and wanted to see if they could be removed.

She quickly brought up the specifics of the visits. He’d been giving her medication, a wide variety of them including hormonal replacement therapies and heavy duty stimulants. They were virtually unheard of now. Only those without the transmitters were given them and then at a high cost. Why had he been giving them to this patient? She had no requirement for them. Her initial visit to him had been for a simple bacterial infection.

But then she noticed the note under the initial visit: ‘test subject for hormonal activation of transmitter’. He’d wanted to see if it could be triggered.

And it had; an early death by turning the brain to pulp. But had it been the transmitter or the drugs? That would be the next investigation, after she had made a call to the authorities to report the murder.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 224

This week's photo prompt was taken by Jonathan Steele, an American photographer. He calls it Winter Train. He says: Essex Steam Train passing through Deep River Ct during a snowstorm. (that's Essex in Connecticut in the US).

I tried not to go for the obvious, and I think I managed it.

 The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.


It was coming, she could hear it. Finally she’d be on her way. She could see the plumes of smoke above the bare woods in the distance, extra large in the frigid air. If she could just manage to get on it, freedom would be in reach.

She looked round the platform. It was busy. People were jostling for position. It wasn’t going to be easy to get on, let alone get a seat, but in the crowd she was invisible. He would come, she knew he would, and force her to go back. She didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want the guilt manipulation: the begging, the tears. She wanted to be gone and on her way.

She manoeuvred her way through to the edge of the platform. People didn’t like it, but she was a small frail-looking woman, so they gave way – plus she had exceptionally sharp elbows. She didn’t look at them, just said, ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Sorry’ even though she wasn’t.

She looked along the tracks and could see the train coming, its headlamp cutting through the veils of freezing mist. It was like watching her future arrive.  She really hoped she could get on it.

She looked back at the crowds, worrying that he was there and had spotted her, maybe even working his way towards her. But she couldn’t see him amongst the hat-covered heads.

She edged a little over the platform line. She had to get on this train. She had to get away from him. He pretended every time to be sorry, but as soon as he had her back in that house, she would be the one that was sorry – sorry to have believed him again. He feigned to others that he was the victim of a cold hearted woman, but behind closed doors she was the victim of a cold hearted man. No more. Today she would get on the train and be free.

She took another step closer as the train was starting to slow down, ready to pull into the station. It was a huge magnificent black beast, ready to take her way.

She could feel movement behind her and a sudden pang of fear shot through her. It was him pushing through to get to her, she was sure of it. She turned this way and that trying to see behind her, but the crowd were only interested in getting on the train. They were trying to see round her and pushing forward.

She slipped, falling backwards, and cried out. A man grabbed her hand and for a second she was relieved. But then as he pulled her up his face came into view, and she panicked, letting go. It was him; he’d found her.

The crowd of people emitted a collective yell, but they were too late to save her. She fell onto the tracks seconds before the large engine pulled into the very same spot and rolled straight over her.

  She’d found her freedom. 

Monday 1 November 2021

New Release! - Nocturnal Nibbles - A collection of short, dark tales

I have a new book out today! 😀

I decided to gather together all the tales I’ve had published in anthologies and online ezines over the years and put them together with some of the tales I've written for my weekly writing challenge, Mid-Week Flash which I've been hosting for over four years now. This collection also includes a couple of new stories which haven’t been published anywhere.

To celebrate this new release, I'm offering it at the super low price of £1.99/$1.99 for today and tomorrow, so grab a copy while you can!

Click on the cover