Work of between 1,001 and 10,000 words, covering all genres.
18 year old Jemima is still grieving over the death of her mother and unborn sibling two years before and still arguing with her father about her dreams of moving away from home and going to university. We walk with her and best friend Monica as they walk to work and find an empty pram. This triggers a lot of upset in Jem and we hear about what really happened to her mother.
What the story of St Clare doesn't tell... In this poem, Alwyn Marriage suggests that St Clare (1194-1253) may be a rather more interesting figure than history suggests. Clare Offreduccio (Chiara) was a normal, healthy and enthusiastic teenager until she was swept off her feet by the dashing young Francis, whom she heard preach with passion. Abandoning her previous life to follow him, she devoted herself to a life of chastity and charity. Images of St Clare in art tend to depict her as an icon of humble obedience and purity, but there may well be more to the story than that. While not wishing to diminish Clare's genuine piety and good works at all, this story suggests that Clare's obvious love of St Francis was more full-blooded and passionate than the official stories have suggested, and that ending up in a convent was not quite what Clare had in mind. (Please note: This is a poem, rather than a story)
Mr H's Angels
London in the eighteenth century is no place to raise a child alone, without money or a place to live. Lili knows that the only hope her son has of living a better life is to take him to the Foundling Hospital where he might, if he's lucky, find a place in Mr Handel's famous choir. ('Mr H's Angels' was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Short Story Prize in 2014)
The White Dog Of Barafundle Bay
A soldier home on leave sees things he cannot quite believe and finds his wife in a strange, compromising position. "The Boathouse Café had an air about it that suggested sea and sand. If it had been inland patrons would have drank their coffee, eaten their scones and felt nostalgic for the beach without knowing why. It was the décor, Phillip decided. Crisp white walls, low beams, driftwood picture frames, and a candy striped canopy over the ice-cream booth outside. He ordered a fried egg and sausage bap but the assistant with a tattoo on her boney arm, written in a script he couldn’t decipher, informed him that it was after eleven o’clock. They didn’t serve breakfast after eleven, but since when had fried egg and sausage become solely breakfast food? Had he been away that long? If he decided to take the next tour – Middle East, Mosul or Marshhad no doubt – would he come back to find soup sold at lunchtime only or teacakes served only after three in the afternoon? The girl’s lip curled when she spoke to him as if he were the hundredth person to ask for sausage and egg that day. Did she have no respect for a uniform? For all he knew she might have thought his clothes were fancy dress and him, just another case of too much sun to the head. The sun had a lot to answer for in these parts..."
Spooning With Colin
Colin is an estate agent with idiosyncrasies and a hatred of cats - which drives the narrator to despair. "When we met, Colin was thirty-five, an estate agent with a collection of vinyl records that stretched from floor to ceiling and a head of hair like Lee van Cleef. For the first few months we were together Colin adored me. He adored my turned up nose, my wonky smile, the way I read a map upside down. Quirky he called me..."
The War Hero the Film Star and the Footman and Another Story
A young footman's eyes are opened to the reality of life when he takes up a position working for a glamorous couple. (This e-book also includes the story "What Have You Done To Your Hand, John?")
Hugh McPearson and the Confounding Riddles
In his sixth bizarre adventure Hugh (and his brother who is also called Hugh) face their nemesis. This mysterious master villain has already stolen all the gold from The Bank of England and all the paintings from Buckingham Palace and now Hugh (and Hugh) have to prevent the villain from... well, they don't know what to prevent unless they can crack the villain's mysterious coded riddles. According to Hugh (Hugh's brother) a total twit is needed. Confused? Read on...
Hugh McPearson and the Agreement Gas
In his fifth inconsequential adventure at the request of the Prime Minister our hero attempts to save the nation by uncovering the heinous villain behind the production of Agreement Gas, which very dangerously makes everyone agree with each other! In the course of his adventure he becomes the first ostrich to fly - downwards to go upwards as well as upwards - disguises himself as a corner flag and becomes one of the first ever to sit in a spell. To find out more... read the story! How simple could it be!
I don't believe in vampires
“So, you don’t believe in vampires?” I shrugged nonchalantly: did he really expect me to believe in vampires? This was the 21st century. “And do you believe in God?” The old man was getting tiresome. This job was going to be more tedious than I’d anticipated. “No I don’t believe in God and I don’t believe in vampires.” “Yet you seek them out?” He turned and patted one of the two bloodhounds sitting by his side. “I’m interested in contemporary cultural phenomena. I’m a journalist, doing a story on cult groups, hence my interest in your Primave Society, Mr Faust.” “I see.” I took out my notebook and pencil. “Does Primave have a meaning? Is there some Italian connection?” “All things have meaning, young man.” “And is Nero Faust a pseudonym? It’s not your real name, is it?” “Names are just convenient labels. And all names are chosen, the only question is by whom. Take your name, for example. A famous, dare I say, notorious one: Mr William Van Helsing.” “I inherited my name, Mr Faust. It’s useful: my editor lets me write about all things spooky, weird and wonderful.” “Yes, the name intrigued me and I must confess it is why I accepted your request: we do not in normal circumstances allow outsiders to partake in the gatherings of the Primave.” He paused a moment. “So, are you the grandchild of the famed Professor Abraham Van Helsing?” “Grandchild? A great, great, great grandchild, I think. He’s been dead a hundred years.” And then Nero Faust did something strange: he leant towards me and with a long fingernail moved the hair that hung down over my forehead to one side, and started at me intensely. “Yes, I see the resemblance...”
By the River
Terrible things happen down by the river: it is a place of despair where humans do their worst to each other. Yet it is also a place where ghosts can be laid to rest. In this story, originally published in Umber (2011), the voices of a bereaved 60 year old woman, a teenage boy who’s lost his way in life and a murdered Viking are woven into a dark story of revenge and tragedy.
A story for 8 to 11 yea-olds. Having eaten some of the wizard's magic jelly, which was supposed to make him sing better but didn't, King Popple spends every day making up football results. Meanwhile for a not unrelated reason everyone has purple wax constantly dribbling out of their ears and all the children under 5 think they are cows. Hopefully the chamberlain might have a useful idea...
More Than Cold
Some things are better left unfound. After weeks working offshore and away from his wife, a man waits to be reunited with her in a hired cottage. However, she's running late and into the void of her absence comes a feeling that something is wrong, and a persistent chill that won't just leave him be.
The Daddy In The Box
It’s early 1950’s and 4-year-old Ruth is embarking on a new phase of her young life. She’s off to live at the seaside, with her great aunts, Constance, Rose and Pearly Trice. The story covers the next few years of Ruth’s life as she struggles to come to terms with the mystery surrounding her father and the bewildering behaviour of adults.
Queen of Clubs
Living alone, currently unemployed, behind with the rent and with only sour milk and mouldy cheese left in the fridge, Henry Merriweather tells himself that “It’s just the usual modern male condition.” Mundane matters don’t concern him greatly because he is on a mission to form a union with his dream woman, the Queen of Clubs. From the standard deck of playing cards. A taut, witty and moving urban fantasy.
No One Ever
“Many who waded through the water coloured it with their blood, wine-red – a new meaning for the wine-dark sea of legend…” The battle of Marathon, fought in a time of treachery, danger and intense fear and superstition, was a military disaster for the Persians. But it was not the end of danger for Greece, and the courier’s famous triumphant journey, commemorated in the Olympic race, carried a frightening secret: “His own shadow, long and thin in front of him, was like a rope pulling him towards Athens; as he neared his destination so it gradually shortened, so the sun rose, so the enemy fleet moved towards Phalerum.” What of the Athenian runner himself? Surely, there was no way he could have known how his feat would be celebrated: “Thousands upon thousands of people running. In all the known world, and even lands beyond.” He would surely not have known or cared how fast he was running. And he would not have been able to predict that two messengers, not one, would be named in the annals. Or would he?
My Mind's Eye
Anna Maria is an opera singer who, following an accident, has forgotten how to sing. She starts to find her voice again in the most unlikely place and with the most unlikely people, in a place of sanctuary where the strangest character of all is a young boy whom only she can see.
Naz and the Djinn
When Naz opens an old bottle he finds on the beach, he gets the shock of his life: out comes Azrael, the Djinn, who has been trapped inside for thousands of years by a magic spell. The spell can only be broken, and Azrael set free for ever, by smashing the seemingly unbreakable bottle. Azrael demands Naz's help to do it. The two set out on a hilarious quest which includes a steamroller, a purple toad, a snooty girl and a troupe of Boy Scouts. All the while, Naz tries to stop Azrael causing too much mayhem, and it isn't long before he wishes he'd never met the Djin at all. Naz and the Djinn is a fun-filled read which offers a modern twist to a traditional tale and will delight readers from 7-11.
Beyond Her Scream
‘Beyond Her Scream’ is the story of a mother-daughter relationship strained by the effects of FGM. It is set against a background of cross-cultural differences and contrasting worldviews. It contains some graphic descriptions which may not be suitable for younger readers.
The Cathalump and The Lemal
Hear the tale of how the camel came to get its hump, told by a mother antelope to her young son. "Once upon a time, a beautiful antelope was strolling through the Sahara desert with her young son. They were extremely hot, so decided to seek shelter from the sun beneath a rather large palm tree. In the distance, surrounding a cluster of cactus trees, were a group of large biscuit coloured animals with man-made seats strapped to their backs. The son watched as they munched on the spiky leaves, while the men that were with them chatted among themselves. It was the first time that the young calf had ever seen such a sight..."
Do They Know it's Christmas?
Set in Edinburgh's 'Sick Kids' Hospital, this heart-warming seasonal tale tells of a cleaner's interest in the Ebola crisis during the festive season in 2014, a seemingly lonely young girl, and the connections his kindness enables. ‘I held the tip of the pen against the window. Jeez, I’d not drawn a thing since primary school. It was a bit squint but you could tell it was a star. The expression on her face didn’t change but I saw a wee click in her eyes. I started on a Christmas tree.’ A story written as part of Linda Cracknell’s writer’s residency at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, illustrated by Cate James. All author’s royalties go to the Sick Kids Friends Foundation http://www.edinburghsickkids.org/ Scottish Charity No. SC020862.
The Non-Adventures of Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton
Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton, committed jumper wearers, museum visitors and lovers of minestrone soup, are looking for a way to escape their work in the circus. One afternoon, while sitting in a puddle of spilt breakfast cereal, they decide to follow their dream and bring cheese to the people of Basingstoke. However, the modern world is difficult. Sometimes, one faces problems that cannot be fixed with a list and a damp cloth. Whether it is cheese-dinosaurs, bakers intent on World Domination, missing hamsters or being locked in a trouser museum, non-adventures are never far away. But for every problem, there is a solution. And as long as Mr Sproutface and Mr Wibbleton have their jumpers, a bowl of minestrone soup and each other, they will find a way to keep their dream alive. This story is aimed at children between 7 and 11 but there's plenty for adults to enjoy as well.
An unexpected twist in the closing frames of an old home movie sends Rose hurtling back to her childhood - a time and a place where no one else's parents were divorcing, and where stepmothers were as exotic as shop-bought cake. Revisiting her memories of glamorous part-time fathers and fortnightly treats, Rose unpicks the unspoken adult acrimony, and the childish confusion: "Each time they were returned to her with their bounty she was tight-lipped and unimpressed, flattening their ebullience to a shapeless guilt, their double bind of love and loyalty teaching them early to suppress their enthusiasm in her company." Dual Carriageway is about parents and children, and how complicated it all is.
Laxmi, a girl from the lowest caste of a village in the remote west of Nepal, is told that she is the unlucky kind. But, resourceful and fiercely protective of her sister and niece, she is determined that low birth will not ruin their lives. All profits from this story go to aid work in Nepal.
The Strawberry Girl
Meet, for the first time, David Good, Private Investigator. Plying his trade in 1980s South London, the PI with pliable morals, a taste for blondes and a full-on sense of humour, turns out to be a big softie as he takes up the challenge of sorting out yet another domestic mess. Having discovered that one Alice Jones, a young woman with a well-developed taste for strawberries, has a varied and not entirely honest life, he quickly finds himself wrestling with emotions he’d prefer would go away. As it is, they leave him confused and struggling to work out what he should do with the woman. Join Good on this little jaunt through South London and ask yourself what you would do next.
'Nancy liked the idea of listing the qualities she wanted in a man.' 'Desperate times called for desperate measures, so maybe it was time to try internet dating.' Single at twenty five, and without a man in her life, Nancy is persuaded by a friend to try internet dating. She makes a list of all the things she wants in a man for the website, and arranges a date with Neil, who ticks all the boxes. But Neil stands her up because of a family emergency, and Nancy meets Tom, who doesn’t tick any of the boxes,
The Hand of Providence
David Churchill Barrow
Continental Army New Windsor Cantonment, Newburgh, New York: Mutiny is in the air during the late stages of the American Revolutionary War. "By the winter of 1782-83, tension had reached a dangerous level. The future of the Republic was in doubt." U.S. Army Field Manual 1, Chapter 1.
Hugh McPearson and the Vanishing School Bell
In his fourth inconsequential adventure Hugh McPearson teams up with his side-kick Gary, apparently to solve the problem of the stolen school bell, which means that neither the teachers and children can go home. Their adventure involves a skating rink, a snoring headteacher and several chapters from a book explaining how to cope with the old cars teachers drive. (Book 4 in the Hugh McPearson series).
Countdown and Other Horror Stories
A date from hell; a camping trip with freshly-caught meat on the menu; a Spanish lesson concerning the futility of life; an alcohol-fuelled dream or was it reality?; a secret assignation at a graveyard; the nosy neighbour who found more than he expected; the hair of the dog that wasn't a cure; the effects of the moon on a near-empty beach; exploring an alien landscape - a new collection of nine stories with a theme of horror running through them.
Inglorious Sunset and Other Stories
A collection of a dozen stories with a romantic theme - although all is not always as it might first seem. The subject matter covers wedding anniversary surprises, prom night, an anticipated proposal, double-crossing and backstabbing, love overcoming time and mortality, mistaken identity, someone who is not as sweet as appears at first glance and a harsh payback for an innocent misdemeanour of youth.
What If and Other Stories
Ten stories rooted in the world of science fiction - What if Hitler had died of a childhood ailment? Can you really change your destiny? The horrors of more than half a century earlier revisited; childhood games across time and space; the girl who wasn't there; an affair that wasn't what it appeared to be; a cinema visit with a difference; strange beasts on an alien world; a cyclical life; the man in the moon bides his time.
Sealed With a Kiss and Other Crime Stories
‘Sealed With a Kiss’ is a collection of ten crime-based short stories covering topics including a social media reunion that doesn’t end as expected; a chance meeting in a bar with tragic consequences; wife-swapping with a difference; a teapot that delivers a cocktail of death; the heightened senses of a young sergeant sniff out the criminal; somebody at the library has something other than reading on their mind; a volcanic eruption scuppers best-laid plans; a gamble to replace misappropriated funds that doesn’t pay off; an old lady who mistakes people and doesn’t appear to know what she’s doing; and a flash of light for an over-bearing partner.
Providence is a collection of three short memoirs. The stories reveal a mother haunted by the loss of her family. Her child becomes a woman, shaped by the loss of her ancestors, deepened by the compassion for the suffering she witnessed and the resilience that grew from it.
At the end of a long hot summer holiday, as family conflicts simmer, the unexpected appearance of a stranger tests and then shatters the bond of friendship between two boys. Excerpt: ''During the last summer holidays before I started secondary school, my father decided to dig a pond in the back garden. I think my mother must have encouraged him, because she loved animals and wild flowers. Large yellow and white dog daisies sprawled over the rim of the broad earthenware vase on the sill behind the sink, competing for space with the bamboo wind chimes that tinkled whenever the window was open. Even when my mother wasn't washing up, she'd often rest her hands on the edge of the draining board and watch as a robin or some other feathered visitor plucked a nut from the wire cylinder that hung from the bird table''.
Hugh McPearson and the Vanishing Bread
In his second adventure Hugh McPearson seeks to find out why all the bread is disappearing from Mr Jones' bread shop overnight! Master of disguise he may have to take on the appearance of some form of confectionery... (Book 2 in the Hugh McPearson series).
How It Begins
There you are, minding your own business, trying to get this jigsaw started and there's a knock at the door. Who is this strange woman? Actually, she does look a little familiar, and she seems to know who you are. But you have to be careful. Don't trust anyone. Even the inanimate objects are out to get you...
A Dog for Sam
It wasn't fair. Sam wanted a puppy so much it hurt. His friend Harry had a chocolate Labrador called Buttons that he walked to school on a red lead. Sam didn't have any pets, not even a goldfish and his Dad didn't live at home with them any more. As he said, it wasn't fair....
I Can't Tell a Plant from a Weed
Danny Mac Cullough
Returning home to his Fenland bungalow after a round of golf, widower Harry Smith discovered a hand-written note on his door-mat. It was from Juliet Dejardin, Secretary of the local Garden Club. In the note, she wrote ”Dear Gardener, you are obviously a talented gardener...” and she wondered if he would be prepared to enter his garden in the Village Open Garden Day event. Harry wasn’t a “talented gardener”, or indeed a gardener at all; for that, he employed a local handyman. However, he decided to make contact with Juliet Dejardin. Could that be the start of a romantic friendship? Harry was soon to find out....
Danny Mac Cullough
Ted Woods awoke, perspiration pouring from his brow. He quickly looked around the bedroom, nothing had changed. The room was as it was before he went to sleep the previous night. It was seven in the morning, too early to get up, so he turned over and went back to sleep. It was then his nightmare began....
Between the Pages
From between the pages of the very last book I picked up, fell a sheet of paper. Stained manila with ragged edge where it had been ripped from a journal. The network of creases, suggestive of the roads and railways on a map, showed that once torn from its source it had been crumpled and perhaps thrown across the room.
Just an Ordinary Shed
R. G. Tooth
When you were a child were you told to be good or the bogeyman would come and get you? Susan was, and it left a great impact on her life. Now she has to clear her dead mother's house and face up to her childhood fear. This story shared Third Prize at the Ingrid Pitt Queen of Horror Festival, Hastings, in 2012.
A Rat's Tale
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Doctor Dominic du Mortier and I am a hundred and sixty one years old. No no, stay where you are please. It’s not that I’m unwilling to shake your hand, please don’t think that. It’s really more a case of my being unable. Permit me to explain. I am beyond reach. And behind glass. And a rodent. Nothing special you understand – just a Rattus norvegicus, or a common brown rat to you. Oh yes, and dead. Did I mention that?
Leaving The Garden
Maureen the Assistant Librarian has spent a night in her suburban garden, having drunk too much champagne at a high class midsummer party in the Holland Park garden of her work colleague Adrian, whose style, wealth and exalted friends raise the question of why he is still working in the Library. As the perfect midsummer night passes into dawn and Maureen thinks about the events of that party, her solitary existence seems to be coming to a crisis – but someone - or something – has followed her home and is in the garden with her.
Waiting for Sister Constance
This is the story a day in the life of eleven-year-old Sara. Like thousands of other children in southern Africa, she’s an orphan, and she’s looking after her younger brothers and sisters. A kindly nun, Sister Constance, is due to visit the family today – but she’s late, and Sara is getting worried. Will she come? What if she doesn’t? Why hasn’t she come? What will the children do if Sister Constance doesn’t turn up?
The Emancipation of Margot Feather
Margot could have danced, but she bashes away on an old typewriter in her husband's carpet business. Feather's Carpet Empire had never amounted to much, and had her husband listened to her, things could have been very different. But, one day, she hears a voice from the fire escape...
Big JUNE lives alone in her childhood home, a large house in suburban South London. She has been there since 1954 and no-one has re-decorated since 1973. Anyone noticing June thinks she’s odd; people keep their distance. One day, a stranger - a young woman called Lottie - walks in uninvited and starts to ask questions. Over the months, June and the house seem to reveal their secrets. June loves Space and especially, the star of the TV Sci-fi programme to which she is addicted. Lottie helps June to transform her life, build her telescope and finally prepares her to leave to pursue her dream. But where has Lottie gone?
The Buttered Fly Effect
When feisty 35-year-old Jane decides to confront Fear 37 she soon finds herself adrift in a sea of chaos. In a rundown hotel in Dawson Creek, Canada, to achieve her goal she must contend with crazed middle-aged bikers, drunk oil workers and a hippy called Ralf. Will she survive to face Fear 38?
Hugh McPearson and the Gobstopper Mystery.
In this first earth-shattering adventure of many, Hugh McPearson "Ten of Spades Detective" (embarassingly his brother is an Ace Detective) seeks to solve the mystery of the disappearing layer in some school children's gobstoppers! Curiously this fascinating case failed to make the front pages of the national newspapers... or any pages come to that... (Book 1 in the Hugh McPearson series)
In July 2010, this story won first prize in the Unique Writing Publication's 'Love' competition.The non fiction prose tells of family love and the heartache around miscarriage. The tale is hopeful and honest. Family humour has to click in as does the acceptance of support on many levels. A tale of faith.
Off the Beaten Track
This is a coming of age tale of Yuliya which raises awareness of child abuse in Eastern Europe. Young Yuliya prays daily for deliverance from her life of servitude to her family. She dreams of going to college and one day marrying Branimir - a gypsy youth. But when her father's debts are due, he arranges for her to be taken by his unsavory associates as payment of those debts. Her mother calls upon Branimir and his family and it is with them that Yuliya's prayers are answered. (Provocative)
The Girl On The Train
Danny Mac Cullough
When Jake Lewis phoned his wife to tell her he would be late home from the office, he had no idea about the unnerving experience that was to confront him. Having missed the last train out of Euston to Watford, he waited for the first morning train. It was at the Station that he noticed a young girl of about twenty who looked as if she belonged to another age. At her side was a small black haired dog. Where was she going, and why the black haired dog? Jake’s unnerving experience was about to begin...
The arrival of DS Stephen Forest on her doorstep, takes Grace by surprise. A police investigation into the murder of a local surgeon, and a middle-aged, middle class woman living in rural respectability, seem unlikely to be connected, an impression DS Forest appears to share, at least initially....
Last Day of Summer
September 10th 2001 - Chris and Annie are on the final leg of their road trip around the USA. Heading towards New York, the frayed edges of a relationship spawned from post-graduation euphoria are beginning to show as they confront the end of their summer and the swan-song of their youth. Aware that their lives are going to change, they face up to an uncertain future, completely unaware of the global events into which they are about to be propelled.
The Cover Story
Brindley Hallam Dennis
Apparently, this story was going to be 'disqualified with merit' from an Earlyworks Press competition...but that was too ridiculous...so they gave it Second Prize! It's on of the stories in Talking To Owls (Pewter Rose Press) and you can hear it read on Vimeo.
Amber didn't like the house. The frontage faced north and two large conifers cast a sterile shadow. The beams were faded, the chimneys pointed to the sky like accusing fingers, and the roofing oppressed the aged dormer windows that sat in their rimless sockets gazing out a shadowed world through leaded frames. Yet she'd never really had a particular reason to dislike it, until that is she saw the woman with the baby at the window and heard its feeble, sickly cry.
Vicar Up The Tree
Set during the second world war, Isabel does not understand why everyone seems to be so uptight. The war to her is just an inconvenience. When Edward asks her to write to him at the front, all she can think of is to copy out some of Browning's letters. When Edward credits her with the maturity she does not possess, this changes everything.