Siren’s Call ezine dedicated to women writing horror is out online- I have a quartet of pieces in it…and Ellipsis 2 mag is out to buy…

The latest mag comes in at 225 pages and features short stories, flash fiction, and poetry written exclusively by Women in the Horror genre!

It includes a former creative writing student of mine Jill Allison and a fellow Horror Tree writer Ruschelle Dillon.


Siren's call mag2018_February_ezine_cover_med.png

Below is a tweet from editor Steve Campbell:-

“‘Two’ is now available. I’ll keep the reduced cover price for the next week or so and begin the mammoth task of dispatching copies over the weekend.”


‘Two’, the second flash fiction anthology from Ellipsis.
I have a piece of flash in this mag- quite a posh one by the look of it too.

Free short story comp to enter….



1st Prize of £500

2 x Runner-up Prize of £100

PLUS, a selection of short story titles for the shortlist

DEADLINE: 18th March 2018, 11:59 pm (GMT)


Flash fiction comp- free- Legend Press…

Send in your 200 word stories inspired by the word JOKER


Here at Legend Press, we’re delighted to accept submissions directly from writers. We’re always on the lookout for new, exciting and unusual work, and we can’t wait to hear new stories and new voices.

Each story requires the perfect amount of time to be told – whether it’s a series of seven books that takes the world by storm, a single, complete novel, an elegant, slim novella, a pithy short story or the rapid snapshot of flash fiction, we want to read it. And to celebrate all the amazing writers out there, Legend Press is asking for flash fiction submissions.

This month the theme is JOKER. Send us your stories – up to a maximum of 200 words – and we’ll choose our favourite to go on the blog, as well as promoting it on SM with the hashtag #LengendFlashFic and the author’s twitter handle and website (if that’s your bag). Make sure to let us know which name you’d like you story to appear under, and if you have a twitter handle you’d like us to include. Every story we feature means its author can pick any book from our existing catalogue to be sent out free of charge (UK delivery only). Multiple entries are fine by us – if you send more than one story, you could win more than one book!

Send your entries to before midday on 31st March 2018, with the words ‘flash fiction’ in the subject line. All entires are 100% anonymous and will be voted on by the whole office. The winners will be notified before they appear on our website.


Clio Barnard’s latest film Dark River previewed at Square Chapel Halifax…

film poster dark river

Starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean, shot round Skipton and Malham in June 2017; Otley born director Clio Barnard’s third feature (her first two being The Arbor and The Selfish Giant).

Dark River is superbly acted by the leads, set on a sheep farm; violent, corrosive family secrets return to haunt the present day and shape events. This is a dark dive into the heart of a farming family, not an easy watch but powerful and thought provoking.


Focus on Australian horror author Deborah Sheldon….

I’ve been interviewing (by email not in person) the horror author Deb Sheldon for The Horror Tree and its women in horror month focus. I hadn’t read any of her fiction prior to this interview but I am an avid convert now!

I am currently reading her short story collection, Perfect Little Stitches– which is described on amazon as “Mysterious. Creepy. Disturbing.” It is all of that and more. The mermaid story is still resonanting with me, horrifyingly explicit but brilliant.

One of Aurealis Magazine’s Top Picks of 2017.

Nominated for the Aurealis Award “Best Collection 2017”.

Next up I will be reading her bio horror novella Thylacines which looks heart thumpingly exciting.

You can find out more about her fiction at –

The full interview with Deb will be appearing on The Horror Tree later this month.

I will post a shout out when it’s up to read.

Here’s my review for Thylacines:-

*****  5 stars

This bio-horror novella (122 pages) by Australian writer Deborah Sheldon, is a fast, pacy, adrenaline fuelled read which you can gobble up in a sitting or two. The author has clearly done her research into Thylacines aka Tasmanian Tigers or if you want to be cosier, Tassy Tigers and she deftly weaves this information into the narrative without making it a lecture. The striking cover gives you an idea of what Sheldon has in mind.

An older female scientist, (a well written character) has succeeded in bringing a litter of Thylacines back from extinction. This would give most people pause but not this crew. Whilst the animals are locked up in the lab they can’t do much damage. But (ironically) it is a trio of animal rights’ activists who by deciding to free T1-T6, end up being the first course on the menu. For these newly born Thylacines have significant differences to their ancestors. They are faster, fiercer, more intelligent, larger and with a taste for human flesh.

The action unfolds, contained within the university’s campus- as body parts fly and there are several tense scenes where the Thylacines are cornered and fight back. Each chapter ends on a cliff hanger in fact. Another strong female character leads the tiger chase, a local cop, pulling overtime, Janine and her trained police dog, Zeus. I was rooting for Zeus all the way. Go Zeus! An engaging and convincing partnership.

My only disappointment is that it’s a novella not a novel and the ending came really fast. I would have liked a longer played out denouement. Maybe there is a sequel in the offing?

If you liked Jurassic Park or any other novels in that vein, you’ll go for this novella. It’s the equivalent of a B movie on steroids. Have fun.


Interview with prize winning writer Mandy Huggins…..

Welcome Mandy to my blog.

Mandy Huggins photo.jpg

Could you tell us a little more about yourself and how you got started as an author?

Apart from good wine and good company, my three passions in life are writing, reading, and travel. I inherited a love of travel from my parents, so as well as being a fiction author, I’m a keen travel writer.

My first writing success was winning third prize in the school literary competition when I was eleven, with a poem about George Best! And my first serious rejection was an erotic story I wrote for the Sunday Sport in the early 90s. It came back with ‘Good writing, but too dirty. Ed.’ scrawled across the top in blue pencil!

I started writing seriously a few years ago. The first pieces I wrote were for specific competitions, as I found the deadlines were a useful incentive. I sent a travel piece to the Daily Telegraph every single week until they published me!

I have a full-time day job in engineering, so I write in the evenings and at weekends. My partner writes too – a very popular niche music blog – so we both understand each other’s need for creative space!

Which writers have influenced you? Or whose books do you particularly enjoy reading?

My fiction is influenced by many of the great writers that I love – such as Yoko Ogawa, Helen Dunmore, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Ford, A L Kennedy, Helen Simpson, John Steinbeck, Tessa Hadley, Patti Smith, Colm Toibin, A M Homes, Kazuo Ishiguro – the list is endless!

There are many books I would love to have written, such as The Siege by Helen Dunmore, The Housekeeper & the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, or the wonderful Jane Eyre. But the one that stands out for me is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I love all his books, but this is my favourite. It is so beautifully written. A story of a life lost to duty; unsentimental and utterly heartbreaking. A masterpiece.

The Remains of the Day

Where do you get your ideas from for your stories?

My stories are occasionally inspired by personal experiences, and the settings are often places I have explored on my travels. I was brought up on the North Yorkshire coast, and so the sea appears as a major character in a lot of my work as well.

However, most of my main story ideas come straight from my imagination, often sparked by something observed or overheard. Sometimes the starting point will be a newspaper story, or a single scene from a film that inspires me to create a completely new story or an alternative ending.

Writing is a solitary business. How do you interact with other authors?

I’m a member of my local writing group, as well as several on-line groups for fiction and travel writers, all of which are very supportive. Authors I’ve met on-line have become real life friends, and I try to meet up with them a few times a year. Harrogate Crime Writing Festival is one of my regular haunts, even though I’m not a crime writer, because it’s great for socialising! I do find it difficult to attend events, workshops and literature festivals, because most happen during the week when I’m working, and the majority take place in London, or other places far removed from the frozen north!

What do you have coming up in the future?

Seven of my short stories have just been published in the InkTears showcase anthology, Death of a Superhero, alongside three other writers. There was a launch party in London last year, which was very exciting.

Death of a superhero cover

And my first flash fiction collection, Brightly Coloured Horses, is out now, February 2018-published by Chapel Town Books.

Brightly Coloured Horses


“Brightly Coloured Horses is the first flash fiction collection from award-winning author, Mandy Huggins.

Twenty-seven tales of betrayal and loss, of dreams and hopes, of lovers, liars and cheats. Stories with a strong sense of place, transporting us from the seashore to the city, from India’s monsoon to the heat of Cuba, and from the supermarket aisle to a Catalonian fiesta. We meet a baby that never existed, a car called Marilyn, a one-eyed cat, and a boy whose kisses taste of dunked biscuits.

These stories all have something in common; each is a glimpse of what it’s like to be human. We make mistakes, we do our best, and most of the time we find hope.”

It is earning ***** 5 star reviews:-

“A mind blowing collection of flash fiction stories. So many great windows of life in it, I don’t know where to start. Perfect Word – loved it. Only the Best- brilliant, but sad….”

Follow Mandy here on this link on her amazon author’s page-

I would love to write a literary novel or a full length travel book, but my writing time is limited, and I can’t seem to give up the buzz of writing short fiction and travel pieces.

I am trying to find a home for my full length short story collection at the moment.* I’ve had a couple of very positive rejections, with some really useful feedback, so I’m still optimistic!

*News update on that last paragraph- Mandy has signed with a publisher for her short story collection – Separated from the Sea.

First author signed to Retreat West Books

Delighted to announce that the first author has been signed to Retreat West Books. Amanda Huggins has signed a one-book deal for her short story collection, Separated From the Sea, which will be published in June 2018.

I knew as soon as I started reading it that it was one for Retreat West Books. In stories spanning generations and continents, there is a sense of yearning that underpins them all along with beautiful prose and imagery that transports you. I’m very proud and excited to be publishing Amanda’s work, which deserves to find a large readership.

The collection includes a number of stories that have been previously published as well as many new stories, and is Amanda’s first short story collection. She said: “I’m so excited to be the first author signed by Retreat West Books! As Separated From the Sea is my first full length short story collection it’s very important to me. That’s why I’m really looking forward to working with Amanda, as I know it will be a true collaboration, and that I’ll be involved in all the important decisions relating to the finished book. I can’t wait to get started!”

You can read more about Mandy’s hugely successful writing career and the many publications her fiction appears in on her writer’s blog at:-

Thank you Mandy for chatting with me today.

Calendark- a horror anthology edited by Horror Tree’s Stephanie Ellis and David Shakes……5 stars, great entertainment…

calendark cover.jpg
This is the a second ‘time’ themed anthology of stories from the publishing/editing team of David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis– the first being The Infernal Clock. Calendark (a neat pun on the word calendar) contains within its dark portals 16 horror stories (with some overlap of writers from the first book), this time being inspired by the significant dates within a calendar year- from the more famous ones of 14 February aka St Valentine’s Day and May Day to the more obscure and ancient festivals (now long forgotten) of Mabon ( drawn from the Wiccan calendar) and St John’s Day in June. This lends a folk horror element to some of the stories like Stephanie Ellis’‘The Dance’– which film- wise reminded me of The Wicker Man with its theme of outsiders in a small isolated community.
Each story is prefaced by a festival date/quote and explanation which nicely chapters the stories. The standard of the writing is as high as in the first anthology, and the book is well edited and presented- all again for a cheap price.
In the Lord of Misrule by Christine Dalcher- there is ghostly pay back for a professor at the Twelfth Night supper; in The Presentation in the Temple by Ewan Smith -the innocuous seeming setting of a primary school with the class teacher putting on a Year 2 Candlemas Assembly is swiftly subverted into something much more sinister and deadly; Marie McKay’s Last Laugh (inspired by April Fool’s day) has one of the most original methods of revenge and murder I’ve read in a while and a lead character I really felt for; Sal Page catchily titled Revels with the Devil is powerful, creepy and keeps you on a knife edge of doubt as to whether the Devil is present- the ending made me shiver. Great last line.
I enjoyed all the stories though, but can’t write about all 16 in the space allowed,- but there is something for all horror readers here.
Here’s the cover of the first book- with amazon buying link-
Infernal clock cover