Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween short story: The Cursed Device

Happy Halloween everyone!  To celebrate this creepy time, here is an Halloween short story for you. Creepy and dark.

Cluck, cluck, cluck ka-cluck, cluck-cluck-cluck, tap,   cluck   cluck   cluck   cluck.
He stared at the last word. His eyes narrowed and his lips curled up into a sneer.
Something as dark as the black ink is leaking out of the page and into his soul.
He smiles and stares fixedly at the rubber roll.
The roll sprung back again.
A sound very much like a gurgle reaches his lips.
A demented laugh escapes his throat.
As sharp as a guillotine the rubber roll sprung to the next line answering his command. But he isn't in command. Not anymore.
A black drop drips out of his forehead.
He smudged it off.
Between his thumb and index, he pulls the sheet of paper ever so slowly releasing it from the roll.
Even the sheet of paper seems to make a sigh of contentment as if about to be set free.
He reads the last line again: "You are DEAD" and stands up.
He pushed back his chair and walks out of his room.
Jet of black ink seems to sizzle and tremble off the page steadily flowing towards his hand.
And the hand is steady as it reaches the door handle onto the street.
He sees nothing. He feels nothing. He hears nothing but the metallic key strokes resonating in his head urging him to carry out the task he's been ordered.

Magpie #89:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Your Titanic Friend is here - A new short story for you!

A friend of mine previously introduced on this website, John O'Donnell has given a go at the third "Built your platform campaign" challenge. Just because the challenge is over, doesn't mean anybody shouldn't have fun with it and that's how he came to write this piece. 

So to the new readers of this blog, here was the challenge requirement again:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less , excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction , non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

  • That it’s morning
  • That a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • That the MC (main character) is bored
  • That something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • That something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec ," "wastopaneer ," and "tacise ."  (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).
Your Titanic Friend is here.

The sun rose slowly above the methane sea, lighting up the sky in brilliant tacise - a pinkish-yellow hue unknown on earth but so common on Titan so that a new word had to be invented for it. Miller had now been waiting on the rocky beach for over two days and was so bored that the sights and sounds of Titan no longer moved him. The odour of his own sweat permeated his spacesuit, so much so that each breath he took made him retch, leaving a horrible taste in his throat.

Then something different about the smell, that seemed to emanate from behind him, restored him to full alertness. He first fear was that his Synbatec spacesuit has begun to leak, allowing some of Titan’s toxic atmosphere into his breathing system. Why the hell couldn’t Space Corps afford a better make of suit?  They were always cutting corners in an attempt to save a few credits.  But this smell was strangely familiar, it was the smell of burning meat.

Then came a much greater surprise, surprising because it was impossible – he felt someone, some-thing touch his back. He swung around but saw nothing. It was doubly impossible because he had felt the touch directly on his skin even though he was encased in the thick layers of his spacesuit.

Then a crazy thought entered his mind. Could it be a Wastopaneer? He had never believed that this creature existed  - a being that could communicate directly with another living creature through any of the five senses.

He then remembered why he didn’t believe in the Wastopaneer. It was said that nobody that encountered it lived to tell the tale. If this was so how did anyone know about it? This was his last thought.
Any opinion of this piece will be welcome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ether Books publications

Dear Readers across the globe,
I'm humbly sharing this awesome news with you (as far as I'm concerned anyway)
This English Mobile Publisher called Etherbooks has accepted three pieces of mine: a flash essay on public transport called "PATCHY TRANSPORT FOR THE PADDIES", a poem called "WAKE UP" both "downloadable" for FREE and something for the ladies, a feel good fiction ( about 1500 words) called "SEX ON THE BEACH"  "downloadable" for 69p through the same link.

So dear, dear readers, if :
  • you have an Iphone (If you don't, like me, you won't be able to see this. But then you can always check my latest silly science-fiction short story -300 words- on previous post. It's readable from any mobile phone)
  • you're stuck between point A and B (and obviously not driving, I don't want you to have an accident)
  • you're completely bored,  
  • you forgot your book/magazine at home,
  • you love reading,
(a lot of Ifs) then you might think of me and say:" Hey I know this perfect stranger who's writing pieces on why don't I try to see what she is on about and read her pieces on my cool Iphone?
Yes, why don't you try? You'll make my day, and who knows, I might make yours. (No, that's pushing my luck too far.)

Thank you, dear readers. Did I say how cool you are? Well let me tell you again, you're very cool.;-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The "Three Tacise" Challenge

I was disappointed that I couldn't do the first two challenges of the "I'm a Platform-Building Campaigner" but for the Third Challenge, I thought I'll put everything I got. Well nearly everything. ;-)
So here was the Challenge:
Write a blog post in 300 words or less , excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction , non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

  • That it’s morning
  • That a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • That the MC (main character) is bored
  • That something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • That something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec ," "wastopaneer ," and "tacise ."  (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).
Give me strenght because the first thing I wanted to do after I read the challenge was to write:

It was morning. A man or, was it a woman, was at the beach. He was bored. Something stunk behind where he was sitting. Then something surprising happened.
Obviously the exercise of "show, don't tell" was going nowhere if i did that, so I had to work a little harder to come up with this...
The Three Tacise Challenge
The first rays of light shone lightly above the dark grey sea. 
She walked steadily or more like marched towards him, her walk impeded by the deep sand. 
A breeze rose and with it, a horrible stench. It was foul and rancid like a bad combination of mold and body putrefaction. Then between the palm trees, something moved.
He grimaced and half turned.
To his right, three huge Tacise were galloping towards them. The disproportionate creatures roared and ran faster as they saw their prey.
He sneezed and his snot shot out like a bullet on the blond sand. 
She looked at him, disgusted but raised her sword at the ready.
He covered the snot with his boot and raised his hand in apology.
"Sorry, don't mind me although maybe I'm having an allergy to these Wastopaneer."
And then he burped. 
"Synbatec!" she screamed infuriated. "Synbatec for christ's sake!"
She stomped her boots on the floor and their background vanished to a cold metallic room. Two monitors lit up and buttons appeared on the far walls. 
"What's the point of these simulations if you don't take them seriously!" she snapped.
"Sorry I got confused...actually the setting of the beach confused me..."
"What about the three Tacise?"
"Oh those," he shrugged and burped again. "No, I was ready for them. But first, I think I need a nap. To digest. What do you think?"
"Go to hell!" she said marching out of the room.

I try to get as far as I could from the idea of two lovers on the making the scene as un-romantic as possible...;-)
Entry # 110

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How will look our newspapers in 2108?

The other day I was watching T.V ( I can't remember which program or film it was but it doesn't matter) and my eye caught the front page of a newspaper (I believe it was of an American newspaper) and I was shocked.
I stared at the tiny writing, so crowded was the page with writing i thought you ought to have a magnifying glass to read its content. Articles stacked next to each other, columns upon columns of information typed and looking like little  insects footprints, as if they had been dipped in ink and summoned to crawl across the page to write the articles.
Then I decided to do some research. I wanted to check exactly how a front page looked back then (100 years ago), how it looks now and how it might look like in 100 years.
And here is the result:
The page of the New York Times, February 26th,1908:
A page from the New York Times, Monday 25th of February 2008:
( Funnily enough the first image of the cover page is a picture of immigrants behind the Half Penny Bridge. Hey, it's "our" bridge there, beyond these kids!)
And here is what I imagine would be the front page on The New York Times, on Monday the
25th of February 2108:

The texts and images obviously do not fit but you get the idea.

Images taken from the following article:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts

On my long and tedious research to find a children publisher who would accept submissions, I found an excellent article by a writer called Lou Treleaven who posted whose children's publishers accepted unsolicited mss. Unfortunately I am after realising that a lot of them are not accepting any mss or too full, so since I did that research I thought I might as well share my updates with you.
This would be for the UK Market.

Based on her very good blog, here is an update of her very thorough research.

A&C Black Publishers Ltd
Last time Lou enquired in July 2010, A&C Black were only taking submissions for their Chameleons, Black Cats and Flashbacks series.  They ask for the complete ms for the Chameleons and a synopsis and 2 chapters for the longer series.  They reply promptly with a personalised letter.  Chameleons are chapter books for newly confident readers, 1200 words divided into 6 chapters; Black Cats are short illustrated novels of 9-14K words for ages 7-10 and Flashbacks are historical novels supporting the key Stage 2 curriculum of 12-14K words.
** update** I must say I went on their website and couldn't see any submissions guidelines.

Andersen Press Ltd
Anderson Press publish picture books of approximately 500 words (1K max), juvenile fiction of 3-5K and older fiction of up to 75K.  They require a synopsis and 3 sample chapters, hard copy only, and aim to reply within 2 months.  They use a standard rejection slip and reply promptly.
** update** They still accept mss.

** update** Their publishing programme is currently full and we cannot accept manuscripts

Bridge House
Bridge House is a small press which specialises in themed anthologies of short stories for children.  They also publish a yearly charity anthology with a guest writer.  Check their website for the current themes, to which you should submit via email.  May be unsuitable for ‘darker’ material.
** update**  They are currently closed for submissions for themed collections at this time.
They can not look at novel submissions or short stories sent ad hoc I'm afraid.

David Fickling Books
David Fickling Books publish picture books, and fiction for 5-8 years, 9-12 years, teens and young adults.  They require the first three chapters by post only, and aim to reply within 3 months if they are interested.  If you don’t hear back by then, you have not been successful.

Egmont is a large publisher with a huge range of titles for all ages.  They accept submissions of synopsis plus first 3 chapters by email only to  Although the site says they reply to all email submissions, I have never had a reply from them.

Floris Books
This Scottish publisher accepts postal submissions for its Picture Kelpies, and Kelpies range of books for 6-9 and 8-12 year olds.  Books should be between 30 and 60K words.  Note: only approach if you are a Scottish writer or your book has a Scottish setting and/or theme.

Frances Lincoln
Thank you to one of my readers for suggesting this publishing company to add to my list; they publish picture books, young fiction (6-9 years) and novels (9-14 years) and are looking for exceptional writing that really stands out.   You can email submissions as long as they are below 2MB in size.

Little Tiger Press
Little Tiger Press publish picture and novelty books up to 750 words.  They also publish early readers for children up to age 7.  Submissions should be sent by post only, and they offer some useful tips on their submissions page.

Meadowside Children’s Books
Meadowside accept picture books of less than 1K words, junior fiction of 6-10K words and older fiction of any length.  They ask for the first three chapters with a word count and one page synopsis.  They prefer email and do not reply to unsuccessful submissions, although they did actually reply to mine, so perhaps it depends on when you catch them!

Mogzilla are an emerging independent publishing company with educational links, specialising in pre-teen and teenage fiction from 45-75K long.  They ask for proposals to be emailed and they will then request the manuscript if they are interested, either by post or in pdf form.  They do not return paper manuscripts.  You should also avoid sending them a historical cat series (see website)!

Nosy Crow
Nosy Crow are a new publisher keen to embrace the latest technologies who accept ms for readers up to age 14.  They ask for a short synopsis and the first chapter plus a covering letter about you and your work.  They accept by email or post and aim to reply within 6 weeks.  To Lou Treleaven's latest submission (July 2010), they replied the same day!

O’Brien Press
This Irish publisher accepts picture books of less than 1K words, and fiction for 6+, 8+, 10+ and 13+.  They ask for a synopsis and 2 or 3 sample chapters by post only.  Although they state they do not return unsuccessful submissions, they did return mine recently.  Also note that if you send an SAE don’t use English stamps!

Oxford University Press
This huge publisher accepts hard copy submissions of a synopsis and first 3 chapters for readers up to age 16.  They aim to reply within 2 months but are usually quicker.

Phoenix Yard Books
This new publisher accepts submissions for readers up to age 12, although they are particularly seeking stories for 7-9 year olds, and comic book style or graphic novels.  (They also take ideas for apps.)  Send a synopsis and the first 3 chapters by post or email.
  ** update** They still accept submissions.

Piccadilly Press
Piccadilly Press specialise in contemporary fiction for 6+, 8-12 and 11-15 year olds.  They also publish picture books of between 500 and 1K words (32 pages).  They accept both post and email submissions consisting of a brief covering letter, synopsis and 2 chapters.  They reply promptly, within 6 weeks.

Ransom Publishing Ltd
Ransom publish books for reluctant readers, specialising in low reading age/high content age books.  They will consider unsolicited manuscripts and ask you to email in the first instance rather than submit straight away.
** update** I must say I went on their website and couldn't see any submissions guidelines.
They have a Cutting Edge series. I read most blurb of their series books and I was surprised to read how indeed most stories take an honest and hard-hitting approach to subject matter such as self-harm, family breakdown, suicide and sexuality. Very bold of them and fairplay to them!
At 25,000 to 35,000 words, the books are shorter than your average novel, but they don't look like it. The clear, carefully chosen font is slightly larger than normal and paragraphs are broken with a space.

Ragged Bears Publishing
Ragged Bears only publishes picture books, so do not send them anything else.  Their website says they do not accept email submissions, but their entry in the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2011 says they prefer email submissions, so I can’t confirm which is correct!  However you send it, they take three to four months to reply.
 ** update** They still accept submissions.

Rebel Books
This new independent publisher is looking for novels for children and young adults.  They also publish anthologies.  Check the site before submitting as they occasionally close submissions to catch up.  Manuscripts should be sent by email only.

** update**  Unfortunately due to an unexpected illness within their team and the high volume of manuscripts already received they are closing their doors to submissions of unsolicited manuscripts until further notice. Please check back for updates. If you have already submitted we will get back to you as soon as we can with feedback.   

Robinswood publish fiction from 3-12 years plus educational material.  They have very specific guidelines on how they prefer you to submit, which you can read by using the link above.  You need to send the information they request on a single email with no attachments and they will reply within 4-6 weeks if they would like to see more.
 ** update** I have checked their website and they seem to publish exclusively educative material with realistic and sometimes hard case situations ( such as story of a missing kid, stories with anger, alcohol, physical fights and other challenges that life throws at teenagers) and nearly all of the books they publish for their Primary and Teenagers Wallchart were from one author only. His name is Paul Kropp and he has written more than 60 novels. A productive writer. He writes for reluctant readers.

Scholastic Children’s Books
Scholastic publish a wide range of fiction for 5-9, 8-12 and older readers as well as picture books.  They ask for postal submissions only and say to expect to wait up to 6 months, though I have always found they reply very promptly.  However they did address me as Mr Archambrault on a recent rejection letter!

This energetic young publisher is looking for books for the 7-9, 9-12 and YA age groups.  Submit by post or email.  They would like you to specify in your covering letter who you think will buy your book, why, and how.  Unusually, they request the blurb and first three chapters rather than the synopsis.
 ** update**  As of February 14th 2011 we are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Submissions will reopen as soon as possible, please check back for further updates.

Stripes are owned by the same company as Little Tiger Press and they publish books for readers aged 6-12.  They accept postal submissions only which should consist of a detailed synopsis and the first 3 chapters.  Although they aim to reply within 3 months, Lou Treleaven never received a reply from them.

Tango Books Ltd
Tango publish novelty books and accept manuscripts by post or email.  Their website is currently being updated so if the link doesn’t work go to the main site at
** update** I must say I went on their website and couldn't see any submissions guidelines.
Templar Publishing
Best known for the wonderful ‘ology’ books, Templar have branched out with a small list of intelligently written children’s fiction.  They encourage email submission.
** update** I made an enquiry and received an automated response. This was the reply:
"Thank you for your email regarding unsolicited manuscripts.
We will review your submission as soon as possible, but as our Submissions Editor is currently on maternity leave, this may take longer than usual, however, should you require an urgent reply, please contact us. Thank you for your patience. Best regards.  Templar Submissions team."

Top That! Publishing plc
Top That! specialise in children’s picture and activity book and internet-linked fiction.  Their submission guidelines are brief and advise you to study their catalogue (on the website) before submitting as they are very specialised.
 ** update** Which I did and all I could find in their 5 to 7 sections, were drawing books, fact-packed book and activities books. As for the pre-school sections, they are picture books about the story of one vegetable or one fruit going on an adventure. And the drawings are like clay-like similar to Wallace and Gromit stop motion clay animationanimation. So their style are indeed very specific!

Sparkling Books
Check their website for submission guidelines as they currently do not accept poetry, short stories or children's fiction.

Owing to the large volume of manuscripts received, they are currently unable to accept any unsolicited fiction or picture book submissions.
And they are re-directing you to The Literary Consultancy for professional editorial advice.

Wyvern Publications
Their teen and YA categories are closed at the moment due to a backlog of submissions, but  this independent small publisher is still accepting manuscripts for 6-8s (2-8K words) and 9-12s (10-25K words) in their Pixiefoot Press imprint.  Stories for the anthologies should be between 2-5K.  They prefer email submissions if possible.
** update** I checked their website and they do not accept submissions. They are full for the next three years!

This article was updated thanks to the article previously written by Lou Trelaeven.
Here is her website: 

I hope this helps.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are you walking on Clouds or on Fire?

A week has passed and I haven't written one post. I have a perfectly good excuse for that.
I wasn't idle. Those keys on my keyboard didn't take the dust, believe me.
I wrote poems/edit poems.
Edit pictures' stories ( old ones)/wrote emails to send them to publishing houses.

Do you see you a pattern here?
Yes, me too.
Writing/Editing <---> Editing/Writing
Back and Forth
In and out.
And before I could hit the "send" button a week had flown by.

So what about those children pictures?
Well we're talking about three pictures books really.
And I feel quite happy about them.

And it feels so easy to re-write something as simple as a 1000-word story as opposed to a 150 000-word story.
One feels like you're walking on puffy clouds and the other walking on fire.
One is a breath of fresh air and the other nearly takes it away from you.
One will be done by the end of the day and the other by the end of the year.

It just doesn't have the same psychological, emotional and physical constraints, does it?
The contrast I discover this week is quite striking.
I think I kind of needed the change really.

I even had a good feeling about them. But in the past, I had a good gut feelings about a story, a person or a publishing house and  it turned out to be quite wrong so I am not holding my breathe.
I do hope it proves to be true.
But we will see.

How about you? Are you walking on Clouds or on Fire at the moment? Have you  felt your journey as a writer was completely different from one genre to the other? From one story to the next? And how did it make you feel?
Pour your hearts out here....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to make a pestering sauce

As you may know or not, I'm trying to get published.

Now I have sent the queries about 2 months ago and I got some answers (not many and so far negative) but I'm still waiting for more replies and as I was agonising over the very reluctant idea of sending literary agents a reminder or cooking to postpone the very idea of doing it, this is the post that came out of it:

How to make a pestering (pesto) sauce:

Pestering sauce is about preparing the basic of how to be a writer by pounding it into you with a pestle in a mortar. Once you have done that:
*Take some nuts because you will need it.
*Don't need to be too generous on the olive oil because the road towards getting a literary agent is already slippery.
*Garlic to repulse your inner voices which will state you can't make it.
*Take a pinch of salt with the rejections.
*Some cheese because you will bound to say something cheesy when you will try to sell yourself. Don't take any type of cheese now, take some Parmesan cheese because you will need to be loud and extrovert like the Italians are in order to get published.

* Take 2 cups of fresh basil because a bit of greenery might all you'll eat for the next while.

Blend the chopped basil, oil, garlic and nuts at high speed until pureed - we are talking about the pestering sauce, not your brain - Pour mixture into a bowl and thoroughly mix in salt and Parmesan cheese.

Serve your pestering sauce to your hot drained brain top-list literary agents. If you can't get them, take your baked pumpkins - that's your cheeks, if anyone should wonder why, that's because your cheeks will blaze with fury or disappointment- and cool them down. For a little while.

Otherwise take your hot jacket potato, that's yourself and serve your pestering sauce to yourself.

Your pesto sauce is ready but if it tastes sour, blame the agents.

Been there? Done that? Feeling the same? Or not like that at all?
Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wake up!

Wake up!

Wake up.
If that’s the only thing you do.
Wake up and live.
Live standing up
Even if it hurts.
Even if there’s doubt.
It took you long enough
to break away
from the chains
they put around your mind.
Around your body
With their mouths
full of words.
Sometimes you wonder what you were,
before them.
You don’t even remember.
You were just an empty house,
Trying to find a home
Within yourself.
So now that you’ve finally
found yourself
in their shadows,
you're awake
to be you.
So be you! 

I keep writing poems at the moment. What's going on!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A life for a life

I saw "Woman in the Rain" on Magpie's blog (#84) and although I loved it, I didn't feel inspired.
Then I watched a program about 9/11. People who were saved and the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.
It inspired me a very simple poem.
I don't even know if you can call it a poem.
I just tried to imagine what it must feel like to have such past.
Anyway I thought about the picture again and looked at it some more and it kind of fitted with the poem then.
So here it is:

A life for a Life

Would you give it away?
Like it meant nothing.
When it means everything
to most.

Would you even think about it?
Just for a moment.
No, you wouldn't.
Because you carry a past.

And that past is a gift
and a curse.
No one sees in on the surface.
But you were saved.
Saved by others
and you carry it every day.

You have to live.
That was their sacrifice to you.
And you would give it back
because you are ready.
You had plenty of time to think about it.

Give a life for a life?
Yes, you would. 

Thanks Tess.
Here is her website again: