Monday 31 October 2022

Mid-Week flash on hiatus

As I was on holiday last week and have a new book out today and then from tomorrow National November Writing Month starts, I have decided to put #MidWeekFlash on hiatus probably until mid-december. I just need some extra space in my head at the moment.

This is only the third time in the five years that I've done this, but DO feel free to write for ANY of the previous posts (including this picture). There are no time limits on these challenges and you can browse all the all the previous either here on this blog, or join the facebook group and find them in the photo album (now called Media in the new interface), including a link to the post on the blog.

Happy Halloween - and Happy Publication day to Unsailable Sea! 🥳

Happy Halloween! It's here! It's finally here! 🥳

It's publication day for Tricky's second book, Unsailable Sea, book two of Tricky's Tales. It follows directly on from Dead Lake, Book one of Tricky's Tales. There will also be a third book, some time next year. This particular storyline is a trilogy, but I am confident Tricky will come up with another story to tell. 

The blurb:

Tricky by name, Tricky by nature

Buggeration! Without knowing it she’d been recruited into unearthing Carter’s bloody network, just as The Baron wanted!

When Lucien Dufray’s cat and flock of birds turn up at Tricky’s cabin, she knows something’s wrong. But when her crystal ball shows her one thing and Adric tells her another, Tricky becomes suspicious – which might be her natural state, but there was nothing natural about Dufray’s disappearance. Adric wants her to find him, but had Dufray been kidnapped or had he turned traitor?

Between her mother’s jade calling to her in the forest of Ferriston, The Rabble, an untrustworthy fae collective directing her to the Unsailable Sea, and her spy glass showing her Dimitry Stanislav, one of her mother’s murderers, Tricky is confused.

The only witnesses to Dufray’s exodus were his menagerie, so Tricky’s best friend Annie sends for an old friend, Nathan Rothschild, who can communicate with cats, and her ex-girlfriend, Safa Odeh, who can communicate with birds. Together they try and piece together what happened that night.

What they uncover is a plot deeper than the network’s underground bunkers, with more twists than Tricky’s sexual desires. Will she find Dufray, or will she risk capture? Either way she needs to keep her wits about her and remember she’s the tricky one.

Dead Lake is a dark paranormal fantasy novel set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world. After a massive shift of the tectonic plates decimated the world and its population, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 272

This week's picture prompt was created by Lisa Shambrook - fellow author and friend, and incredible artist too. Visit her Instagram and have a look - she even has a shop on etsy, called Amaranth Alchemy, from which I have bought several Crystal Grid prints because I love them. She makes some amazing things. She is also a huge dragon lover, and writes about them, especially in her brilliant series, The Seren Stone Chronicles - the second one is coming soon (I hope). 

I'm not sure I can channel dragons as well as Lisa, but I've given it a shot. I quite enjoyed it too.  

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.

A silhouette of two dragons depicted against moonlight which has just broken through a cloudy sky. Created by Lisa Shambrook.

Wave of Fire

“They’re up there.”

“I know.”

“So what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“They’re waiting.”

“I can see that!”

Petunia was fed up with being pressured by everyone all the time. She’d make the decision soon enough, but it wasn’t an easy one. Sacrifice was never easy – not if you had an honest heart. That’s what her dad had taught her. They might be another species and look different, but life was life. They had consciousness too.

But they had gained in numbers and were spreading out, and that might mean more food for the dragons, but it had also caused fatalities. They were gaining knowledge and ground, and their fire sticks were lethal.

Jacoby was getting impatient. He tapped his tail end on the stone floor.

“Why are you dallying? It’s perfect out there! We have good cloud cover, with partial moon light; we can easily catch them unawares. They’ll be all huddled in those funny domes they’ve built.”

“Out of grass no less.”

“Exactly. Easy pickings.”

“And food.”

“Yes! Come on Petunia, give the signal, let’s get this show on the road.”

She was bolstered by Jacoby’s certainty and confidence. They could do this; there were enough of them and if they did this properly, they could actually clear an area and claim back the lower grounds, rather than having to live up here in the cliffs.

Yes, it was time.

“Okay.” She stepped forward and took a deep breath, feeling the heat stir in her belly. Then she blew it out, sending a stream of flame in an arc, making it clear to all those already in the sky and those on the cliff-face terraces that it was happening. They were going to do it.

Jacoby took off and Petunia joined him as the air filled with the sound of beating wings. The warm air had lifted off the ground now that night had fallen and it was balmy sailing on the current, as they gathered in their numbers and moved into formation with Petunia leading the way.

They’d voted her as leader after she’d taken out a small settlement to the east. She’d had no choice; they’d taken down three of their finest. She might have been able to deal with that better if she hadn’t watched them over the ensuing days, cut the bodies up and use them as a food source. That had incensed her and also scared her. What if they started to hunt dragons on a regular basis? Or worse, enslave them and breed them as they had done with other smaller ground dwelling species.

No, they weren’t having that. They were the dominant species and needed to remind them of that. Tonight they would redress the balance and take out their largest settlement.

The air was thick with tension as they spaced out and slowed their wing beats to reduce sound as they approached. There were some small fires burning both inside their little domes as well as outside. But they didn’t see any of them running around on their funny double protrusions. Good. It meant they weren’t as likely to scatter and alert any of the outer lying settlements and gather a resistance – at least not tonight. Petunia suspected they would have to continue their campaign over many nights until they had decimated enough of their numbers to be controlled.

She dropped down and the others followed. There was a collective inhale and they all breathed out, their flames sweeping the ground in parallel lines, creating wave after wave of fire as they were at least twenty dragons deep. None of this species would be able to live through it.

When they lifted up on the other side, Petunia circled and watched the ground closely, but saw no movement. Dragon’s had keen eyes, even in the half dark and would easily spot escapees. There were none.

But to be on the safe side, Petunia nodded to her flanking companions to go in opposite directions, and they breathed a ring of fire around the entire place just to be certain.

Once they had all reassembled, they flew over the blaze and headed back to the mountains to regroup and decide which settlement to pick for the following night. Although Petunia would also be keeping a keen eye on the aftermath tomorrow and be ready for any potential retaliation. It occurred to her that they had just declared war. It was the first time it was against another species. It felt cathartic to heal clan division through a joint venture. 

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 271

This week's photo is one of the rare ones that I can no longer trace. It's all over pinterest linking to a site called Derelict Metropolis, which has a huge catalogue of pictures of abandoned and derelict, all linked to their owners, but the links don't work anymore - and  the filter for the type of picture is also defunct, so it took me hours of scrolling to find this one. It is linked to a Flicker account that no longer exists. I don't have the name of the photographer, just a title/handle: 'The Last Word (by Day Of The Dead - Chernobyl in 1 Week). From which I can only ascertain that it was a picture from Chernobyl.

Just enough to pique your curiousity this week. 

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 manual typewriter on a sideboard at the bottom of a staircase in a derelict house. There is a black and white photo of a man in a frame just behind the typewriter which still has a piece of paper in it. Dust covers everything in this abandoned home.

Dear John

If you are reading this, then I am sorry we aren’t here. It means you did at least manage to make it back, which I’m thankful for, but I fear you will be putting yourself at risk.

Elliott and Charlotte are with me, of course. They are currently feeling well, but I fear that will change if I don’t leave soonest. I can only hope you have found the house intact, because I know there’s a chance it won’t survive either. If bricks and mortar can’t survive this thing, I’m not sure any of us have hope.

The news on the radio keeps reading out symptoms of the airborne stuff, but that’s never been my concern, it’s the stuff seeping through the skirting boards. I haven’t dared touch it or let the kids near it, but no one’s talking about it on the radio. Both the neighbours have gone – or at least aren’t answering their doors – so I’m not sure if it’s part of it. All phone and internet signals went down last week so we are completely cut off.

I’ll head for my mother’s so you can look for us there. I have no idea how far this thing has reached, and how long it will go on for. It’s put the world into such turmoil. Men and their silly games, playing with things they shouldn’t. And we thought nuclear war or generators would bring about the end of the world – how foolish we were!

Stay safe my beloved. I hope to see you again, if not in this life then the next.

My love always

Madeline xx

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Review: The King's Peace, by Kevin Hammond

The King's PeaceThe King's Peace by Kevin Hammond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An opening novel to an epic paranormal fantasy. If you love Raymond Feist, you will love this series too.

We follow Nathaniel, a thief, who, after the King is killed in his bed and an enemy is seen in blackships off the coast, is recruited into an army garrison and joins a company of soldiers trying to reach the southern garrison before all hell breaks loose. The background of the storyline is based on the idea of gods using humans and demonic creatures as pawns for their games, and it is played out in the Kingdom of Erenon through various dark and supernatural characters.

It's intriguing, dark, and more gruesome than anything Feist offers, but to those of us that enjoy a little horror mixed in with our dark, suspense-filled paranormal epic fantasies, it hits the right spot.

I look forward to reading the next one and seeing where this story ends up.

View all my reviews

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 270

This week's picture prompt is an art piece from Jade Cheong from the US. (You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.Jade has confirmed to me that she has changed her Deviant Art page since creating this picture (hence a different website on the picture). She calls it Kelpie. She says about the topic of this piece of incredible artwork - which is actually in acrylic painted on canvas : 

"This is a darker take on the kelpie of Scottish mythology. My research on the stories turned up two varieties. The mischievous white horse that likes to dunk people in their river and the darker one reputed to drown people for dinner. Some variations said they were all otherwise normal looking horses, some said they were black with serpents in their forever dripping manes."

I could hear him in my head, but it turned dark, and I like how it ended. 

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.

A painting of a dark kelpie, from Scottish folklore, which looks like a horse, but in this image is painted in dark blue and torquite with yellow demonic eyes and serpents in its mane. A full moon can be seen behind it. Art by Jade Cheong


I stood at the waterside a little stunned at what had just appeared. Some might call it a horse, but it looked more like a demon – an attractive one, dark and sleek, its powerful chest muscles defined in the moonlight, with a mane I would have died for; the serpents were a nice touch.

‘Why do you disturb my slumber?’

Its deep booming voice gave me chills. I restrained a nervous giggle; I didn’t think it would like me smirking.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know these waters were occupied.’

‘I am the fifteenth Kelpie King of these waters and I will know your business.’

‘It was such a brilliant moon tonight, I wanted to come down to the water’s edge and look at it as it casts its gleam.’

He glanced over his shoulder at the moon and when he turned back the light of it remained in his eyes – the eyes of the serpents in his mane also lighting up. It was mesmerising and hypnotic at the same time.

‘This night is sacred to us. This night we call for a sacrifice.’

I waited for him to explain what he meant by sacrifice, but he didn’t. I didn’t want to ask. When a few moments had lapsed he spoke again.

‘We must temper the push and pull of the emotions, and give of our heart and soul.’

I wondered if he meant literally or metaphorically. I gazed up at the moon, feeling its light wash over me. I stretched my arms up into the air and wiggled my fingers, delighting in the feel of it. The king stamped his hooves in the shallow water and snorted.

I ran my fingers down the sides of my body, enjoying the feel of the tips on my naked skin. It elicited another snort. He shook his mane. The movement slowed as the image of him reformed, until he was shaking a head of thick long matted black hair, which fell on ebony skin and shined with a white edge under the moon’s glow. His eyes were still bright and intense.

I stepped forward into the shallows and dared to touch his new skin. He breathed what would have been a snort.

‘Is it to your liking?’ His voice rumbled like distant thunder.

‘Yes,’ I said simply.

He pulled me into him, his mouth finding my neck and I smiled as he nuzzled enjoying the embrace. Sacrifice indeed.

I responded, my hands running across his back, as I pushed him back into the water, going deeper and deeper. He let me, as he continued to ravage my body and I knew I had him.

As the water covered us, the moonlight dancing across our entwined bodies, I began to shake, my skin transforming. I felt him pull back, but it was too late, we were too far out.

I wrapped my scaled limbs around him, holding him tight and drawing him under. He thrashed and fought, his body attempting to reform into his Kelpie state, but it was not to be. He was to be mine; my offering for the luna festivities.