Notes To Keep a Life Going at Metazen

My story “Notes To Keep a Life Going” has been published at Metazen. The story originates from the weekly Flash Factory challenge at Zoetrope where the remit was to write a story using list form. My (absent) character felt very real to me and it was fun to try and convey her in this way.

I like how it looks up at Metazen too.

Review of Nik Perring’s Not So Perfect

I “know” Nik Perring from the online bloggy world, but I don’t “know” him at all. We aren’t friends, tho’ he seems like a nice guy from his twitter feed and his blog. We have mutual writing pals but we’ve never emailed or met or spoken or gone beyond commenting on each others tweets/blogs. I wasn’t offered a review copy of his flash fiction collection “Not So Perfect” (humph) but as I run a dedicated Flash Fiction section at work I ordered a few copies in as I like to mix classic books with fresh, contemporary work. 
From what I have seen so far, Roast Books create gorgeous publications; books that stand out because of how they look, books that demand to be picked up and held, explored, read. Nik’s is no exception. It’s a small book – the size of a CD, so immediately looks different. Here’s the cover:
Delicious, eh? I had a wee flick through and liked it enough to buy it.
I read it in my lunch break and on the train ride home. To be honest I was so immersed in it that I didn’t notice I was at my home stop until the last moment and that never happens. What Nik Perring seems able to do is breathe life into characters. It’s a vital, difficult skill, made all the more impressive by the brevity of these fictions. With just a few pertinent details he makes characters feel real. He makes the reader care. His stories are brief but full. I was surprised by how romantic many of them are; beautiful, aching examples of love and heartbreak.

A grumpy man surprises his wife with a message in flowers, a woman heard sobbing through a wall may bring hope, a spurned lover can’t recall the last time anyone said his name, a man finds a lump on his dates breast…slices of lives reveal human nature.

It’s a cute book containing 22 wee stories (each complete with accompanying quirky line illustration.) It costs £7.99 and is available to buy from Waterstones online, Waterstone’s Brighton, or y’know, one of those other places. 

Stories at Neon Magazine


                          (Image from Neon Magazine issue 23)

When Matt died I somewhat inevitably found myself writing about grief. Not as straightforward reportage, rather I wrote tiny, odd flashes of misery and loss. Three pieces in particular seem to belong together despite their differences. I call them Grief Triptych and am pleased to have found a good home for them at Neon Magazine ( a place that states it looks for “…the new, the experimental and the strange.”)

My second story at Neon is called “Inside VS. Out” and ostensibly has nothing to do with Matt at all. However, it was using his words “evenings of ordinary sand” and “moon worms” as prompts that was my inspiration. He wanted us to collaborate and write together and I hope that he’s cool with what I did.

Matt was very supportive of my writing and had an especial fondness for my concise flashes. Anyone who knew him knows from his music, artworks and humour that the weird, surreal and grotesque appealed to him. I hope he would approve of these fictions. I think he would.

The main thing I would like to say if any of his friends or family read them is that I wrote and published them in memory of Matt, but they are not about Matt. Rather, they are about me.

Most used words

I’d forgotten all about the nifty WordCounter tool until today it popped back into my head. I have put together a bunch of my flash fiction and was curious to see if there were any over used words. I tried to guess what those words might be. “Salt” maybe, I know I use that quite often. But nope, my most frequently used word was “look” followed by “one” “back” “over” and “go”. It was only after I sent my manuscript off that I realised if I put those most used words together they form a message.  “Go look back over one.”


I also favour “say” “think” “get” “want and “watch” which I think flows quite well. As does “head” and “down.”

My list of 25 ends with “mouth” “little” “hand.”

What are yours?

New display case revealed…da da daaah….

I think this display case is a perfect mix of fiction that appeals to Eddie (lovely colleague and fiction buyer) and I. We have both selected books for inclusion (Eddie is very skilled at finding awesome, bonkers, wonderful fiction), and I’m really pleased with it. Show it some love people! (You can play guess who chose what as well if you like!)

A flash fiction display case! How cool?

I had never heard of Tender Buttons, but sheez, what an intriguing looking book. Gonna have to buy a copy for myself. Lydia Davis and Amy Hempel, of course. Barthelme looks magnificent.

An enticing middle section eh? Tania Hershman (aka queen of flash), Sum (which is selling heaps of copies)and Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms (and looks like a must read to me.)

The final shelf has Dave Eggers – How we are Hungry, Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style and The Black Sheep and Other Fables by Augusto Monterroso.

So, what do you think? Looks good, right?

P.S Since piccy taken we have sold out of Queneau and added Etgar Keret.

Kitchen Sink (no) Drama

I have a new story up at a new lit journal. The journal is “Kill Author” and I know very little about it! “Kill Author” started following me on Twitter and put a call out for submissions. I liked their manifesto, especially this: “Individuality – There are too many writers aping the style of other writers, especially online. And far too many authors still want to be Charles Bukowski. We love Bukowski, but his work’s been done. He did it, and it doesn’t need to be repeated. We want writing where the author dares to explore the outer reaches of their own voice, and see where it takes them.”

I too love Bukowski (his poetry more than his prose) but fuck yeah, real tedious reading all the Buk lites, the wannabe’s but never wills.

And this: “If you knew that you were going to die – shortly, soon, imminently – you would want to get every last word out of your head and onto the page. Not for the sake of crafting perfect prose or poetry that would live on after your final death rattle, but just because it would be necessary. Vital. Urgent. You’d want to communicate while you still had time. You wouldn’t be concerned with fine tuning every last adjective of your literary style. You wouldn’t care about competing with, or even consciously echoing, what the latest cool lit kid was writing. That last rush of words would come out bruised and raw. All heart and liver, guts and spleen.”

Sounds good to me.

I am pleased they have published my oh so jolly story “Kitchen Sink (no) Drama”

(I am lying about my story being jolly!)


Well, as my own writing shrivels and dies (it’s ok, I’m just being dramatic) it’s nice to know that someone else’s is alive ‘n kicking. I spoke to Dylan’s English teacher this week, and she told me that Dylan is the sort of boy that makes her life easier as he responds so intelligently to poetry and stories. She scribed for him in his SAT’s and said she thought he did really well. Anyway, I know that my Dilly really enjoys English class and making up stories but it’s been a while since I’ve read anything of his. He spends his time at home talking about wrestling, playing wrestling games on his wii, watching wrestling on tv, and the only reading he does is reading wrestling magazines (fairly typical for a year 6 eleven year old boy I think.) Tonight he brought his schoolbook home, and I read this piece which he says is his best work yet. He told me that he spent 5 days writing it, and used a thesaurus to get some cool words. I may be biased, but wow. His prompts were to describe an island surrounded by sea with some animals and people on.

Pandemonium by Dylan Crowley

There was a dark storm with a crackle of lightning and a loud bang of thunder. The fire from the volcano was dripping down making a huge pandemonium. The young look out was experienced but had never seen anything like this before.

The wild pigs were searching for food, fighting for survival. The sea was getting rougher, it was like two colossal buildings smashing together. This dramatic scene was made worse as two eyes like yellow headlights were watching the whole time. Unnoticed by the people of the island the eyes disappeared behind the volcano.

The look out was exhausted, he had been working the whole day. He felt that he needed to stay awake. Superstitious that something, he was not sure what, was tracking him and the villagers.

Slowly even slower the beast emerged from the depths of the volcano. It seemed the whole of hell had unleashed its spirits.

The volcano erupted!!!

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