Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 306

It's extremely rare these days to not be able to find the origin of a picture, because there's no excuse with so many tracking sites not to be able to credit, but this picture throws up just 5 finds on Google image search, and two on others, with the majority to pinterest all linking to an etsy shop that once had this for sale. The others are just other sites sharing the pic with no credit. It's such a shame. It's a cute picture and the image speaks for itself. And there are loads similar to it on etsy if you want one!

I tried for something a bit different, and it is. Much more timid than I thought. Also a test in writing mainly in dialogue. 

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 tiny clear bottle full of blue liquid with a cork stopper and a chain (to a necklace) trailing out of the picture. On the front of the bottle is a white circular label with a red cross on it and round the edge of the labie it says at the top Zombie, and at the bottom, antivirus.


“What are you wearing that thing for anyway?” Liam flicked the pendant on my necklace.

“It’s the antidote, isn’t it, you dummy!” I clasped the little vial not wanting to risk him breaking it.

“Who are you calling dummy? You’re the one believing it will cure you.”

“It will! As long as I take it within five minutes of getting bit – that’s why I’ve got it round my neck.”

“Who gave it you?”

“Uncle Ryan.”

“No way! Then it’s defo bullshit. He babbles about all sorts of flaky bullshit: how we are all going to die if we don’t get above ground again, how the lack of sun will make us weak, how living underground is doing us harm.”

“And he’s right. Look what happened to Maisy; that was due to no sun.”

“Rubbish! She was already sick before she came down here. Being out of the sun is good for you; healthy for your skin, and better for your eyes. That’s what Babs says.”

I tried not to scoff too hard. “Babs?! You have to be kidding, you’re not listening to her, are you? No wonder you’re believing all that clap-trap.”

“It’s true. If I go out there I’ll burn up before I get bit.” Liam look convinced, I tried to stifle my laughter.

“Why don’t you try it then?”

“What go up there? Don’t be daft.”

“Why, cuz you think you’ll get burnt?” I giggled again and Liam looked angry.

“You’re the one who thinks you’ll be cured taking that silly thing, even if you get bit. Why don’t YOU go and try it?”

“Cuz I’m not as stupid as you.”

Liam kicked the step I was sitting on. I ignored him.

“Dennis reckons they’re all dead up there anyway by now; we’ve been down here almost a year,” he said in a sulky tone.

“He going up there to check, is he?”

Liam gave me a black look and I gave him a fake grin.

“I’m sick of being down here,” he said as he slumped down next to me.

“Yeah, me too. But it’s never going to be like it was even if we do manage to one day go back up there. There’s not enough people left.”

“Do you think there’s anyone else out there, you know, like us, living in hiding?”

“Maybe, but I doubt as big as our group though.”

“Remember that show on TV, The Walking Dead, about a zombie apocalypse?”

“Yeah, everyone at school used to go on about it. But it turned out to be completely unrealistic.”

“TV shows always were. That’s why people watched them. They needed to believe they’d be able to survive alongside them.”

“Fat chance! And all that killing each other and stuff, no one has been doing any of that.”

“We don’t know that, we’ve been down here.”

“There’s no way they’d survive long enough to do all that to each other. Real zombie’s aren’t that stupid. But Dennis might be right; they might eventually kill themselves and die out.”

“Sasha said it would take longer than a year.”

“Yeah, she’s probably right.”

I stood up and dusted off the seat of my trousers.

“Come on, let’s go see if we can scrounge something to eat.”

Liam pulled a face. “It’ll just be more of that pappy shit.”

“True, but at least it’s something.”

“What I wouldn’t give for a chicken sandwich!”

“Oh me too! Or tuna!” I pulled him up.

“Ugh, I hated fish. Although at this point it’d be better than that sloppy stuff.”

“Definitely. Come on.”

I pulled his arm and we ran off to see if my Uncle Ryan had any going spare. The only upside to life underground was that there was always someone around to scrounge off.


Monday, 25 September 2023

Review: Spare, by Prince Harry & J.R. Moehringer

SpareSpare by Prince Harry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A review or a rant? You choose.

I hadn’t paid much attention to Prince Harry until recent years, until all the tabloid started screaming their racist stance about his wife, and picking her apart. It reminded me of his mother, Princess Diana who I did love, and was devastated to see she was murdered by the very press that made money off her back. And even though everyone knew that, everyone ignored it too.

I was born and raised in the UK, and even before I left in my 30s, I knew the dire state it was in was due to the British newspaper media and how it manipulated the pubic and their views. And now more than ever the current state of the country is due to what they have wrought – and what the people choose to believe.

I was raised a royalist; I was raised to see the monarchy as people who did a job, a bloody hard job, one that requires them to open their lives and be critiqued on a daily basis. People are under some strange delusion that they are making a ton of money and rubbing their hands in glee and pretending they’re above others, but the truth is that every day since birth their lives have been given over to meeting and engaging with people they have no choice about. I watched a documentary about Prince Charles’s life some time back in the early 90s, which detailed the one day a year where his entire year is mapped out for him: what engagements he had to attend, what trips he had to make, and the people he had to entertain. There were no choices. He asked a couple of times if it was his turn to do this or that engagement, but unfortunately it was dictated to him. And the recent fiction series, The Crown, which bases its storylines in truth, depicts the same: employees of the monarchy, including the government, are the ones that hold all the rules and regulations and they are puppets who are there to serve a particular role.

Anyone who thinks otherwise has been coloured by the national newspapers of the UK. There is no where else such bias can be founded, unless you knew them personally and actually had a proper insight into their lives. They are real people, with real lives, despite how they got there.

Yes, they live a particular kind of life, at a much higher level than most of the citizens of the country, but so do the owners of those newspapers that have tainted and manipulated the views of the nation. The difference is the royal family live in a 'gilded cage' as Prince Harry calls it. Everything they do is restricted.

This particular book, I felt, was written as a plea to Prince Harry’s father and brother. I have no idea if they have read it, or if their view of it has also been coloured by those that want to discredit it - one of them sitting on the throne next to the King, someone who from the very beginning was not to be trusted, one who managed to use the press to reimagine themselves to get the public onside, and who is a huge part behind why this situation has happened.

Anyone who reads this book and picks at the things Prince Harry talks about doesn’t see what he is actually saying, i.e. the British media are in the wrong here and have literally been terrorising him, his wife and his children. And those people are the very public the British tabloid press has manipulated to believe that Harry mentioning how many people he killed in a war is more relevant than the press having a vendetta against them. And don’t think they don’t – they very much have a vendetta against anyone who speaks against them or doesn't tolerate their free rein to lie about them. And anyone who also believes that the details of Prince Harry's part in the war wasn’t vetted and checked by the army clearly doesn’t understand what it takes to publish such writing. But of course the public don’t know that, and the British tabloids aren’t about to tell them when it serves their ‘anti’ discourse.

I was hugely moved by this book. Having watched Prince Harry’s interviews about this book, I could hear his voice in the wording, even though I knew that much of it was guided by a ghost writer (I’ve read articles by them about the writing of it too). I still can’t believe that anyone thinks that what this couple have been put through is okay, or that in publishing this book they were being hypocritical by using the thing that was tormenting them. Why not use the very thing that is persecuting your life to try at least put the truth out there and be heard? And if you don’t believe this is his truth, then you must think he is just like the newspaper editors/owners: liars and manipulators.

I don’t know when we as a society got to the point where stalking someone, invading and trespassing on their properties and lives was ‘freedom of speech’ or that it was ‘in the public’s interest’. Nothing the British tabloid press have ever written about these two has been ‘in the public’s interest’, unless it has been about their charities, work and engagements they fulfil for the country. The British public’s continued support of this kind of behaviour by the press – and I see it here in many of the reviews – is not okay.

I may only be one individual, but I hear you Prince Harry, and I am so ashamed that you have been treated this way. Thank you for being open and vulnerable and risking yet further damnation at the hands of the British press.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Interview with Victoria Pearson about Kill The Goblins

My good friend, Victoria Pearson, who has her own channel on YouTube and does mini daily gratitude shorts every morning, where you can take a breath with her, interviewed me about my new book, Kill The Goblins, How to get the negative voices in your head to shut up. She has been instrumental in me writing and publishing this book, having helped me with the content, layout and also promotion. I am eternally grateful to her for giving me a platform to speak on.

Here's the video: 

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 305

This week's picture prompt is one of my own. And if this looks familiar in some way, it's because it is at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire (and I'm told by my family that live close by it's pron: lay-cock), where they filmed some of the Harry Potter movies. This room was from the scene about the Mirror of Erised - where Harry speaks to Dumbledore. I thought it would make a nice prompt. 

A Tricky snippet, which I may or may not use. It worked perfectly for where I am at. The last time I wrote a Tricky piece for Mid-Week Flash was Week 302

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 empty ancient room in Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, UK. The floor has terracotta and black patterned square tiles laid throughout up to two arched windows, which each have three vertical panels of leaded glass with light flooding in. In the centre of the room are two beige stone pillars which meet the stone arched vaulted ceiling. Between the arched vaults on the walls that meet the ceiling, are stone brick walls and on the left, there is what once was a fireplace but is now covered with an ancient metal door. Photo taken by Miranda Boers


Tricky waited nervously. She had no idea what was going to happen next and to put it mildly was terrified. No one seemed to know anything about what others might know and whether their knowing influenced another knowing, and if no one knew who knew, then what? A tangled web that Adric had spun, and had his father caught up in, though she knew The Baron could get himself out of it easily enough. Oh how she hated all this.

She paced the empty ancient room, which had once been furnished by the impossibly rich, the overlords of the time before the shift. Just this bare shell showed their opulence: the stonework on the floor, the arches on the walls, even the vaulted ceiling. But now it was just an anti-chamber to a larger system of rooms that made up this mangled palace. No one quite understood how the different building and landmasses had been thrown together, and why ones like these survived and remained intact, while others had fallen and crumbled. No one knew anymore, too much had been lost, they could only shore up what they had and maintain it.

Tricky looked out of the windows, which had glass intact though cracked in places – a luxury that didn’t exist anymore. She watched the river water flowing just a few feet below. How it hadn’t infected this place with its dampness she didn’t know. They had all sorts of tricks to stop it back then and clearly someone still knew how otherwise this room would be covered in mould. She’d seen it in multiple buildings on the outskirts. It depended if people valued a particular building, whether they would save it.

Tricky wanted to sniff at those living here, how they were the new overlords, but she couldn’t quite. They were trying to manage so many different aspects all running simultaneously, while trying to keep people safe, especially from the likes of the network.

Tricky shuddered. She thought the time of political and powerful threats were over for the people. The shift had seen the end of it, but here they were again, worrying what someone might be capable of, or might do just to gain … what? Control over others? Control of a landmass? What did they think it offered them? Did they see the work that went into trying to keep it going and safe? But they didn’t care about working and safe, they only cared about having possessions, about gorging themselves on objects and things that didn’t belong to them. She hated them. She felt the rage and frustration of being caught up in their road of destruction. She wanted no part of it, but they had decided she was the crux of it; they wanted to claim her knowledge and her inherited possessions for their cause. The rancid, corrupt minds of inflated egos and ugly intentions. She wanted to see them dead.

She heard footsteps outside – hard not to on the echoey stone floors that ran through this place – and took a deep breath. Who would be coming through that door, friend or foe? And would she know the difference? 

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 304

This week's picture prompt was created by hungarian born, Sarolta Ban. She doesn't give this a name, but it is located in the alterego category.  It's not the first time I've used one of her images. I used one on Week 28, and Week 24 . She has some exceptional images, worth checking out. 

Took a while but then this story arrived sometimes you have to follow your beliefs. Just say no to caged birds. 

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 black and white image of a box on the ground, outside, it is foggy. The flaps of the box are open and coming out of it is part of a white feathered wing. Art by Sarolta Ban


I heard the car pull up. We’d been driving for a while, and I had no idea where they were taking me. The box wasn’t very comfortable but it beat the cage. I heard shuffling and a car door open, then the box was jostled as they picked it up. I heard them walk on crunchy ground for a while. Then the box was put on the ground. I heard strange zipping sounds, and then more footsteps until the sound of them faded. I heard a car engine in the distance, then nothing. Silence.

I pushed up on the cardboard above me, not expecting it to give, but it did. I opened the flaps with the tip of my wing, and pushed up, opening them out to their full wingspan. I hadn’t been able to do that in years.

The air was thick with fog, or was that smoke? I couldn’t be sure. I had little recollection of what fresh air smelt like. I stepped out of the box and flexed my wings a few times. I hadn’t flown in at least a decade.

Cage life was torture for anyone with wings, but humans like to have you there to coo at you. They also expected you to be grateful to have been caught in the first place and kept alone, trapped, and living with the indignity of shitting where you eat. Some days they were lazy and let it get really smelly. All I could do when that happened was hide in the corner and cover my face with my wing in shame. I would hear them talk about me as though I was some tiny toy. But mostly I was just an ornament.

They had clearly had enough of me, which is why they had dumped me here. The novelty had finally worn off, and as I hadn’t died in the cage, they were now going to abandon me and force me to fend for myself in a hostile land.

I beat my wings a few times and hopped over to a rock. I needed to get above whatever was causing this fogginess and feel the sun on my body.

I beat them again, expecting to feel tired, but instead I was exhilarated, my energy rising high. And with another hard beat I rose using that energy, climbing higher and higher until the clouds around me began to brighten.

I broke through and got my first glimpse of sunshine and sky in … I no longer knew how long, but since I was a baby. It was magical. I caught a thermal and glided out above the dense cloud, until I came across a gap that showed me the ground.

It was indeed smoke. I could see patches of the ground consumed by flame and others black from where it had passed.

I stayed high, it was easy up here, the warm thermals keeping me buoyant, and not requiring too much wing strength. Then I spotted a flock ahead of me, and made my way towards them. They were white-winged like me.

I joined the tail end of their formation. The wind drag lessened and I felt I had found my place.

I soaked in the view of the sun glistening on the smoky clouds and imagined water, large expanses of it. And somewhere in my mind I knew that was where we were going, and I could see the route. I hoped my wings would hold me up that long.

But soon the light was fading and the formation was descending, fortunately to an unburnt patch of land. I tried for an elegant landing but I stumbled a little. Folding my wings hurt after such a long time expanded but it was a relief too. I joined them pecking at the ground, and followed them towards a small stream. I placed my feet in the water and squawked with delight. They joined in. And then I saw the movement in the water and caught up the little fish in my mouth. I’d never experienced anything so blissful.

Then as the light left the ground, we huddled together, and I spotted the rings on their legs, too. I wasn’t the only one who had found freedom as the world burned.

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 303

This week's picture prompt is a photograph taken by Nathan Dumlao over on Unsplash. I thought it was a very thought provoking capture. 

I had to think hard about how to generate this idea, but I think it worked. I do like me a dark tale.

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 partially deflated, smiling emoji balloon lying on the ground with a black car speeding by, during daytime. Taken by Nathan Dumlao


Trisha couldn’t bare looking at the bright yellow smiley-face balloon anymore. It was deflated and shrivelled, just like her. She opened the window of the chauffeur driven car and let it go, watching it rise up into the city streets, before being caught by a rush of air from passing traffic and thrown to the ground.

Maybe a child would find it and get a few moments of joy. She’d bought it for that reason, but now it represented something more sinister.

She hadn’t wanted to go to the party, but Hal had insisted, and he was hard to resist. She knew they enjoyed their hedonistic weekends and revel in their rich white privilege, dragging her along as the token minority, but they were far too debauched and triggered unhealthy events. She didn’t mind a few drinks, but when they started hitting the hard stuff – the pills – it made it a bit more difficult to control. And this time it had gotten out of hand.

Trish was only thankful she had been so out of it she didn’t remember much. She didn’t want to; the few snapshots that kept coming to mind were enough.

Trisha’s phone rang and she glanced at it: Hal. Yeah, he’d want to know how it had happened; he’d want all the gruesome details – and they were indeed gruesome. She wasn’t sure she wanted to put words to those images.

“Hey Hal.”

“Trish, where are you? What happened?”

“I’m back in the city, on my way home.”

“But you just left … you didn’t say a word.”

“Did I need to?”

“Well … yeah! Patrick is freaking out.”

“I knew he would, but it’s not my fault. I told you both it wasn’t a good idea.”

“Not a good idea, and why it wasn’t a good idea are two different things. You should have told us.”

“How, Hal? How exactly would that go?”

“But you’ve partied with us before and it’s never gone down like that! Is it a time-of-the-month thing?”

“You think that’s PMS rage?”

“No, I mean celestial, Trish.”

“It wasn’t full moon, Hal, you know that.”

“So then, what the fuck happened?”

“I don’t know. Could have been the chemical combination, it could have been the people.”

“Well those people won’t be a problem anymore.”

Trish felt sick. “I didn’t plan for this to happen, Hal!”

“I know that Trish.”

“It’s why I got the hell out of there.”

“I gather that.”

“So what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to tell me what triggered the change, and how exactly it all went down, just so we have all the bases covered.”

Trish thought as much.

“I’m not telling you while I’m in the car – or over the phone for that matter.”

“Then we’ll come over … tonight?”

“Okay. But no drink, no drugs, no pushing me to perform tricks!”

“Oh my god, Trish, we’re not looking for a repeat, we’re looking to get the details so we can get our stories straight. It takes a bit to get this all smoothed over you know.”

“ I know, white privilege and all that.”

“Yeah, and thank god for that! If we weren’t monied rich guys we’d all be in jail after that display.”

“You guys didn’t have to join in.”

“Of course we did ... though I think you still have a lot to teach us.”

Trish could hear him smile, and allowed herself to smile too, the knot in her stomach loosening a little.

“You’d better come over, then, so we can talk about it.”

“Okay good. We’ll see you tonight.”

“Alright. Later.”

Trish hung up, feeling a little less like the balloon she’d set free. An image of that balloon dancing around the ceiling as the three of them had let rip came to mind. If it had deflated too soon, it would have been incinerated like rest of the bloodied contents of that room. She thought about how she was going to explain turning to them, but suspected they might alright know.

Trish sat up a little in the car thinking about what she was going to say. It was going to be an interesting night. It had been a long time since she’d talked about it to anyone.

Monday, 4 September 2023

Review: Rollie: A fictionalised biography by Michael Wombat

Rollie: A fictionalised biographyRollie: A fictionalised biography by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an incredible read. I was quietly weeping and sniffling towards the end.

Michael Wombat has taken the remnants of someone's short time on this earth, a box full of letters, a diary and some photos and certificates, and brought it to life. Filling in some blanks with a few fictional pieces of dialogue and events. It brought alive the world of what young airforce pilots in the second world world experienced while training.

Michael Wombat spent years reading and researching other accounts from people who went through the same training during that time and knew all about the organisations, and the terminology and used it to fill in the pencil drawing of Rollie's life. I was gained a sense of who this young man was, and how he interacted with friends and family. And it was extremely touching, and I'm really glad I read it.

Even if, like me, you aren't particularly into war stories or accounts, this book gives you a glimpse into someone's life and explains all the nuances and terminology from that time. I definitely recommend it. Well done Michael Wombat for enabling us to remember Rollie and all those like him.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Review: The Foot & Ankle Pain Bible & The Head, Neck & Shoulder Pain Bible, by Chris Kidawski

The Foot & Ankle Pain Bible: A Self-Care Guide to Eliminating the Source of Your Foot PainThe Foot & Ankle Pain Bible: A Self-Care Guide to Eliminating the Source of Your Foot Pain by Christopher J. Kidawski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wish I'd found this sooner!

I used to suffer planters fasciitis, but after 18 months of pain, I found an exercise on YouTube that I did three times a day that resolved it in two months, but since then I have developed foot tendonitis, but after reading this book - in two hours which is unheard of for me - I know what exactly is causing it - and how to resolve it. I am beyond excited.

This is not a long book, but it explains everything clearly AND there are pictures and diagrams to show you how to do the exercises the author, Chris Kidawski talks about. It is all muscular. I can't wait to get stuck in. I am simply waiting on some mobility tools to help me (massage balls).

So many people think that pain meds, immobilising the painful part of the body or icing it will help - it doesn't. They think yoga or pilates or a bit of stretching is all you need. It's not. You have to work out what your body is doing, and look further than the site of pain. I had pain in my arm and fingers when I slipped a disc in my neck and trapped a nerve. It paralysed a whole back muscle, but that was not the site of the injury it was the discs in the neck.

And Chris is right, when he says: "With our want-it-now society, very few people are willing to do what it takes to reverse their diseases and ailments in a more natural, permanent way."

Chris Kidawski has a degree in Kinseology, is a movement, and fascia expert and strength trainer. He knows how to put in all the information you need and get straight to the point. Most helpful book I've read in ages. I have just bought his book on shoulder and neck pain!

View all my reviews The Head, Neck & Shoulder Pain Bible: A Self-Care Guide To Eliminating Upper Body PainThe Head, Neck & Shoulder Pain Bible: A Self-Care Guide To Eliminating Upper Body Pain by Christopher J. Kidawski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent book from Christopher Kidawski.

It's full of clear instructions and explanations. As someone who slipped two discs in my neck, due to muscle tension this is definitely something for me, and I'm already using it. It does involve buying the recommended tools, and also confidence to try this out yourself. Although I did email Chris for help and he responded immediately with guidance videos.

I also have had a lot of physio help for more than a decade and used many exercises, so am confident I won't damage myself because I know what pain is damage pain, and which is releasing muscle - I've had physios release muscles before, it's initially sore, but in the long term really helpful.

There are pictures of how to go about treating yourself, and diagrams of the muscles structures.

I would definitely recommend.

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Saturday, 5 August 2023

Ginger Nuts of Horror: Horror of Humanity feature: Why Horror by Miranda Kate Boers


A couple of years ago, in 2020, I wrote a feature article for Ginger Nuts of Horror, a horror review and discussion website, and for some strange reason I didn't share it on my blog. And now, as the hosting site for Ginger Nuts had problems, they had to move their website, and my article is no longer readily available - at this point I haven't been able to find it in the archives. So I decided to republish the article here on my blog. 

It was part of a feature they were running about horror and mental health, and as I have now published my first self-help book, I am often asked how a horror writer and this article covers that.

What drew me to horror, first as a reader and then as a writer.

I still remember being out on the sports fields at school and classmates surreptitiously passing around a worn paperback urging me to look at a certain page number. To this day I still remember the line: ‘putting his member into her like stuffing dough into a purse’ – or something along those lines. It’s from The Dark by James Herbert if I remember correctly, and there was something repugnant yet compelling about it that made me want to read more, so I did, I read lots more – especially of Herbert’s books. And not just for dark, crudely described sex scenes, but for the dark sinister feel and the brutality of the horror – a brutality which had overlapped into my life since I was born, being a child of domestic violence and having been on the receiving end both verbally and physically as a teenager.

I moved on from James Herbert, lapping up the likes of Guy N Smith and his books Deathbell and Satan’s Snowdrop, and then I discovered Stephen King – Firestarter being my first. I became one of his Constant Readers. And then Clive Barker came to my attention, and he encapsulated both horror and a surreal fantasy that was so extreme it was difficult to explain to people who have never read his work. I could only describe it as being so far beyond fantasy it was ‘the fantastic’; his use of crude, harsh, blunt words giving it a harder edge than a lot of books in the same genre, placing it in darker realms. But I loved it and consumed as much of it as I could find, and for me personally it was the ultimate in escapism, feeding the fantasies I used to disassociate from my real world.

I also reached a point that I was so used to reading this type of horror that it was hard for me to gauge how dark it was: I remember recommending Weaveworld to a friend, only thinking about the fantasy side, and they struggled with it. I did the same with Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz, when suggesting it to my book club.

It’s led me to ponder many times why I was so unaffected by it where others weren’t, and I knew it was reflective of my childhood. I had witnessed and experienced such real, tangible horrors that fictional tales like these didn’t affect me negatively, in fact they helped me escape and see that it was possible that things could be worse. I could relate to the fear and the suspense of uncertainty in a much more visceral way, whereas happy-go-lucky chick-lit or romance novels, where people’s struggles were minor in comparison, just didn’t cut it for me.  

Despite their darkness, many horror books have a baseline of good triumphs over evil – and I needed to know that, I needed to believe it could get better and that there were people out there that got away or recovered.

The fallout of experiencing the kind of abuse and trauma I did as a child is that it has repercussions as you grow up and try and hold down relationships and jobs. I suffer from Complex PTSD, which shows up in lots of forms from anxiety and depression to suicidal ideation, and is caused by prolonged and repetitive abuse over many years. It also means I would disconnect from life around me and live in a fantasy in my mind, a form of dissociative behaviour that has caused me to struggle a lot, and which is what led to me moving from reading to writing my own horror.

I started with flash fiction, which enabled me to express emotions – emotions that I hadn’t been allowed as a child – through characters and situations. I could express their hurt and I could express their anger, I could explore what was going on. It was a release, and in sharing them I was also able to open a dialogue about them – a much needed dialogue.

The opening to my debut novel in September 2019 was written in 1991 as a mere snippet for a competition to win a copy of James Herbert’s Portent, but I knew then I wanted it to be bigger, that I wanted to express to the world what would drive a woman to murder, how that was possible, how a person’s mind can be broken. But I wasn’t ready at that time to write it and I knew that. I needed to unravel myself and gain some life experience, and after years in therapy I was able to finally write about that character’s break from reality and her recovery – all be it in prison. I wanted the audience to feel sympathy for her, to understand her, and realise that life is not black and white, it’s a whole world of grey and that mental health is a fragile thing and if people aren’t paying attention things can go array.

As a reader I want to be able to relate, to engage to connect in a way I struggle to in real life, and for me that connection has to be with characters and storylines that aren’t straight forward or ‘normal’, that are off kilter and warped in some way, because that is how I feel in myself. They add depth and give me a sense of belonging, and as someone who has suffered a whole half century on this planet without one that is paramount. I might go and visit other genres to read and write, but horror will always be my true home. 

Monday, 31 July 2023

Review: Parasite Crop, by Mark Cassell.

Parasite CropParasite Crop by Mark Cassell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel sees Mark Cassell's expand his range in the horror genre, with a departure from the paranormal horror of the Shadow Fabric mythos.

Parasite Crop starts bleak and desolate on the south coast of England, in Dungeness - the name itself setting the scene. And this particular horror embraces the senses with a slimy fungus-like 'crop' which affects some of the characters. This book leaves you feeling very uncomfortable and squeamish in some of the scenes, but has some great twists which keep you engaged and turning the page.

I really enjoyed it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Mid-Week flash on hiatus until September

It's been a couple of years since I have taken a break from #MidWeekflash, but as I am off on holiday, and then my eldest turns 18, all while trying to get Tricky's third book written (in my Tricky's Tales series), I have a bit too much on my plate to keep up with it. 

Apologies to recent joiners, 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 will find all previous photos in the archives in this blog, or in a photo album in the MidWeekFlash Facebook group.

Thursday, 6 July 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 302

This week's picture prompt was taken by Juuso Hämäläinen over on Instagram. It was taken in Levi, Lappi, Finland. He has some stunning shots and art. Worth taking some time to enjoy them. 

Another Tricky story this week as she is at the forefront of my mind. The lst one was on Week 300

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.

Path through snow on a hillside, with conifer trees heavily laden with snow, and a clear night sky, full of stairs and the sweep of the milky way.


Tricky was utterly unprepared for this. Her clothes weren’t made to deal with all this white, thick, cold stuff. She was wet through, and felt weighted down. She’d never experienced snow before, only read about it. Apparently some big old jolly man, all dressed in red, was going to come careening over the slopes on a sleigh pulled by some funny looking animals, and offer her a present – at least that was what all the old books said when it was the season for this stuff to fall from the sky, back before the shift.

But the only big old man likely to show up here was Douglas Bottle, aka Gandalf, and Tricky knew his jolly disposition was more a sinister sneer. No, she didn’t want any old men showing up to give her anything, thank you very much. She was doing just fine on her own.

But why was he traveling this way? He was way too easy to track in snow. He knew she was following him. Or was that the point? Was he thinking he was setting his own trap? Tricky chuckled to herself. He really hadn’t learnt, had he? He was helping her implement her own plan. She just needed to know where he’d gone soe she could pull all the threads together.

She stopped by one of the snow laden trees, a strong spruce. She put her hands on its trunk and received its high jittery, lime green energy. When she visualised Bottle, she saw his brightly dressed garb rushing off ahead of her, slightly downhill, then it paused by a large conifer and vanished.

She passed on some of her own energy to the tree as thanks, and stuffed her hands back in her pockets, attempting to save them from the cutting cold. As she looked at the path ahead, she couldn’t help notice the heavens above. Up high on a mountain side with air sharpened by the cold, the clarity of the night sky was striking. It seemed full to bursting with bright pinpricks denoting other stars in other universes. Tricky wasn’t familiar enough with constellations to know if the patterns were different from her own time, though she suspected they were. And the streak of distant nebulous cloud which outlined the arm of their galaxy gave it more depth. She inhaled a deep lungful of crisp clear air and gave herself a moment before continuing her pursuit.

Even though she was here to weave a little magic of her own, she still embraced the awe and wonder at passing through these locations. And there was no shortage of them, as this particular stunt was proving.

Tricky knew Bottle thought he knew what he was doing, leading her into a trap, but he clearly underestimated her crafty nature. It was a merry dance alright, but one he wasn’t going to end up enjoying, she was sure of that – oh yes she was. She smiled to herself as she set off down the hill. She wished she could see his face when he realised how he’d allowed her to ensnare him.

When she arrived at the large conifer, she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. The crystal air made everything a little bit sharper and she quickly saw the remnants of the line Gandalf had opened into the next time. But the energy colour had shifted slightly, as she suspected, because he was trying to lead her into his own trap.

To those that could read energy as well as Tricky, this ploy was obvious. He’d already tried it twice and she hadn’t fallen for it either time, but he hadn’t seem to have realised that. And what it enabled Tricky to do was create her own little net of deception. The fact he was still clueless meant there was a greater chance of success.

She took another breath and blew out gently across the line causing it to glow. She took out the obsidian still wrapped in germwort and scraped up a grain of creasy from the few loose in her pocket. She didn’t need much, just a spark to open it a slither. She held them in the air against the line, and when she dropped the creasy onto the covered stone, it opened a crack as she’d hoped. She took a tiny piece of aluminium foil out of another pocket and stuck it in the gap. It fizzed and crackled, but closed, leaving a barely visible scrap of metal in the air. Few people would notice its existence.

Such metals were a rarity in Tricky’s world, but she’d come across a roll buried in some rubble where there’d been a dwelling before the shift. She’d only ever used tiny scraps, learning early on its use as a replacement mirror.

A raucous cackle escaped her and echoed off the snow covered hills. Oh this was going to be so much fun. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 301

This week's picture prompt is a digital creation by Ciara, or Aura, as she calls herself online, and She Freaks, She Speaks, over on Facebook. She has some wonderful digital art, and she also has a shop where she sell crystals and crystal jewellery. If you like that sort of thing there's a lot of choice. I have also used one of her pictures before - remember the stain glassed bath? That was one of  her pictures. 

A gentler story today. 

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 glass-bodied teapot, with multicoloured gemstones adorning the top half, set into filigree metalwork, and a decorative metal spout and handle with a decorated lid, toped with a clear crystal. The teapot is sitting on a stone, on a table, and crystals are scattered around it, all catching the light in rainbow colours. Created by She Speaks, She Freaks on Facebook.

Mind Magic

Adeline swirled the special glass-bodied teapot, with its multicoloured gemstone decoration round the top, letting the herbs and spices within release their properties into the hot water.

She inhaled the steam coming out of the filigree spout, and smiled, knowing it was almost ready.

She set it down on the small coffee table and laid crystals and gemstones around it, placing candles in between so the light flowed through them.

She moved into her cross-legged position and inhaled deeply. The scent was getting stronger and she knew it wouldn’t be long now.

Since Adeline had discovered this route to accessing the other side, she indulged it as often as she could. She hoped soon she would reach him.

She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. The light behind them swirled with rainbow colours, which began to move into a spiral, taking her further into herself and the cavernous rooms of the mind. Then an archway appeared in her mind’s eye and she stepped through into a meadow which swept away to a cliff edge.

She walked to the cliff edge and looked across the wide vista in front of her, where the mountains opened up to plains of lush green forests and open spaces. It was a spectacle to behold.

She called out his name hearing it echo across the land. She did this repeatedly then walked to a hill that rose off the left side of the meadow, and sat cross-legged at the top. She closed her eyes, seeing the meadow in her mind’s eye again and repeating the same actions. She did this four times. During the fourth she felt him: his energy, his mood, his aura.

Then a whisper; her name on the breeze. She called out to him again, opening her eyes and standing up, hoping to glimpse him.

  She opened her arms wide and felt an energy swirl round her. It was his energy. He was here!

She wished she could see him, but feeling him was special, being that it had been several lifetimes since she had. She hoped to be reunited in their next life – it’s why she was doing this. If she could connect to him enough times in this life, they would be able to find each other more easily in the next.

She breathed in his aura, remembering his softness, his loving nature and his heart. She felt his yearning and reciprocated it. For a few precious seconds they were entwined again. She revelled in it, not wanting it to be over, but before she knew it he had gone.

Adeline waited in case he returned. It could have been for a few seconds or it could have been hours. Eventually she accepted the moment was over and she pulled herself out of each level of meditation. Then she brought herself back into her body, and opened her eyes, staring at the elaborate teapot.

She felt sad yet at the same time elated. She missed him, but knew he was there waiting.

She treasured that moment as much as she treasured her teapot.

She touched the side of it. It had grown cold now, but, like her love for him, the hot water could be replenished; the magic was still alive.   

Tuesday, 20 June 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 300

This week's picture prompt was created by Hungarian artist Sarolta Bán. She has some incredible art, and in fact I have used one of her pictures before back on Week 24 - in the early days of me running this challenge. And I have another one due to be used in the coming weeks, and there will be more in the future. They are just so thought provoking. 

Another Tricky tale, maybe I'll use it in her books, maybe I won't. But I do love developing the stories. The last one was on Week 297

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 canva painting on an easel showing a cowboy walking away from the painting on a beach. The easel is standing on the same beach, so the painting looks like a mirror. There is a white dove in flight approaching the painting, and a colour painting palette on the ground. Created by Sarolta Ban.


Tricky heard a fluttering and watched two birds land on the beach behind her. They weren’t the corvids from Lucien’s flock, so who were they? They eyed her and she wondered if Douglas Bottle had them in his employ. Had he sent them to spy on her? She felt uncomfortable now as she adjusted the easel, turning the canvas towards her.

One of them cooed. They were doves, white ones. They seemed far too pretty and delicate to be handled by an oversized clown like Bottle. They circled each other as though putting on a display, while moving towards her at the same time.

“I don’t trust you,” she said out loud. “How have you found me?”

They kept on coming, ignoring her words. A part of her had expected some kind of reaction, maybe they were just birds that lived here. But Tricky didn’t think so.

An entire empty beach and they land by her? She didn’t buy it. There was something crafty and sneaky about them. Then one of them flew up and perched on top of the canvas. It cooed again looking straight at her. It was definitely here for her. Did it have a message of some kind? She looked at it’s feet but there was nothing attached to them, or the one on the ground.

“What are you trying to tell me, deary? What is it you want me to know?”

It scratched the top of the blank canvas.

“You want me to start painting? I can do that – but this isn’t any normal paint, you know that, right? This is painting with energy, to see something that isn’t here in this time.”

It cooed at her again as though agreeing. It bobbed its head up and down. Okay, that was definitely a nod. Tricky rolled her shoulders to quell a shudder that had run up her back. These birds were here for her, but who had sent them? The only person she knew who could do that was Safa, who had to be working with Annie – but it could also be one of Gandalf’s lackeys. She wouldn’t put it past him to have tracked her here. She kept trying to remain undetected but he kept finding her. He was definitely her match with this time jumping lark.

So how could she be sure this bird was on her side? She tried to think of things only Safa would know that could be answered simply.

Tricky picked up the painting palette and held it close to the bird. Using the paint brush, she pointed to the circle of colours.

“What is the colour of my mother’s protection stone?”

The bird looked at her. Safa knew the answer because she’d been there when Tricky had used it. It turned its head to the side and eyed the palette. It looked at her again, then it sprung onto the palette. Tricky steadied it with both hands. It circled the colours, eyeing each one, then it dipped a claw into the green and swiped it across a blank piece of palette. It eyed her again as if asking if it was the right one.

Tricky felt the hairs on her arms rise. Yep, this was Safa’s bird alright.

“Good. So what is it you want me to know?”

It jumped back onto the top of the canvas and again tapped its claw on it.

“Something you want me to see?”

It bobbed its head down and cooed.

“Okay, I’ll get started.”

Tricky dabbed the paintbrush into the yellow and smeared it across the canvas. It began to glow. Then she dipped it into the green and painted round the edges of the canvas for protection. The glow covered the dove and it fluttered its wings before settling again.

Now for the tricky bit.

Tricky swirled all the colours on the palette together, while taking long breaths, drawing up as much energy as she could from the ocean. Then she blew over it and it glistened. As she swept the brush across the canvas another picture appeared. The back of a man walking away from her. But not just any man, one she knew, (you couldn’t help spot him with that ridiculous top hat and silly old-world costume), one she’d love to see the back of – although not like this; she wanted him dead and gone.

“Tell me, deary, what do I need to know about Dimitri Stanislav?”

The second dove joined the first on the top of the canvas and they both started cooing and bobbing in unison. A white energy began to form around them and they simultaneously swooped down in front of the canvas onto the ground, spreading the energy across the painting.

This time the man was joined by a group of five others, one of them dressed in garish, clashing colours: Gandalf, aka Douglas Bottle.

“They’re in cahoots. I know that already, deary.”

But the group huddled, and then stepped back and what Tricky saw made her gasp.

“No! Oh no. Oh shit. I need to move – now!”

Tricky scrambled in her pockets for the obsidian, germwort and creasy, and immediately activated a rent in time. It opened in the middle of the canvas. She pushed it open making sure it was the destination she sought, and climbed through. As she turned to seal it, she saw the two doves sitting on the sand watching her.

“Thank you so much, dearies. Tell your mistress I’m on my way. I’m not having this!”

And with that she sealed it with a pop. She only hoped she would be in time to get Nathan out of her cabin.