Got a new 81 worder up on Christopher Fielden’s site…

To write 81 words and tell a story- to be included in the anthology and to raise funds for a charity- Chris Fielden invites us to submit our pieces- poised somewhere between a dribble (50 words) and a drabble  (100 words)- which I have dubbed a drubble– my own made up word for 81 words.

The Charity The 81 Word Challenge Supports

The 81 word challenge is supporting the Arkbound Foundation, a charity that aims to widen access to literature and improve diversity within the media industry.

Arkbound Foundation

I am a trustee of the Arkbound Foundation and we are working very closely with the charity’s sister project, Arkbound (a social enterprise publisher), to publish the 81 word challenge anthology. We plan to use money donated via this challenge to finance more creative writing workshops in the UK for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

My piece is no 409 and here it is in its entirety…

The Germans Are Coming

by Alyson Faye

Me and Dad are watching a war film, cosy with mugs of tea and chocolate Hobnobs.

“One of them’s a double agent. Working for the Germans. Now, which one is it?”

I know, but I stay silent.

The film’s two stars, in camouflage whites, shoot guns, steal trucks and dice with death.

“Bloody Germans.” Dad stands up. Pointing. Red faced.

“That’s not PC, Dad, now, come on.”

I follow his finger.

I see, in his immaculate garden, two German Shepherds, fouling.

Thank you to Chris for running these mini writing challenges and raising awareness.


Review of Undercliffe anthology from Horror Tree writer/editor Steph Ellis…

on her blog –


How can a place so concerned with death be so full of life? To answer that, you’ll have to read this book. This anthology gathers short stories and poems from the Stories from Stone writer’s group and gives you a taste of what the Victorian cemetery (opened 1854 in Bradford) can inspire.
Some writers paint pictures of Nature over the cemetery’s canvas. Christine Edmonds creates some atmospheric imagery in the anthology’s opening poem Undercliffe, ‘Black decrepit oaks/In yellow lichen jackets’ and again in Promenade, ‘It’s cold out here/On top of the world’ although my favourite from this author is Shroud, with its poignant lines ‘I wonder do the scraps/Of pale, soft cloth still wrap/Around your small white bones?’
Alyson Faye uses the cemetery to tell stories. The homeless ex-soldier finding his bed for the night not amongst the tombs, but within a tomb in Bed for the Night and Stone Struck; the melding of a child’s flesh with stone in the tragic (but beautifully gothic tale) Stone Struck. Should you want to know what walking in the cemetery is actually like, read Tomb Land, ‘I stroll haunted and watched/by dead men’s eyes … This city rings with silence’.
Stuart Firth’s The Chimney Sweep is a short but all-telling story of a man’s life, his open admittance of being less than perfect and that if his grave in the cemetery is marked by a Celtic Cross ‘it had better be full of serpents, lots of them.’ Firth’s stories switch between Victorian and modern with ease, from a child’s stroll in the grounds in the 1850s in A Sunday Afternoon Stroll in Undercliffe Cemetery to feral dogs becoming a danger in The Cemetery Pack.
Jill Lang brings in Victorian attitudes in Beyond the Grave, the hypocrisy of family and the necessity of denial of sexuality whilst her ‘Undercliffe – A Recipe’ provides another pen portrait of the landscape and how it was designed with its trees and foliage and monuments in order to make ‘mourner’s spirits rise’ to ‘encourage them tenderly to take in the view.
Pam Line includes a vampiric tale in The Piano Lesson and contrasts this with a tale of homelessness and of charity in Pasta for Tea. Her poem Stealth, is a research walk through the cemetery where ‘Silently, surreptitiously we made notes like thieves’, they steal the stories of the dead ‘taking from someone unable to defend themselves.
Irene Lofthouse who oversaw this writing project contributes a wonderfully grim story with The Hat Box before lifting the mood with her Writing Workshop poems forcing her group to walk through the snow and not moan ‘Said ‘Stop making a fuss -/It’s much colder for those down below.’ Plus she coins a collective noun for a group of writers, describing them as a ‘wodge of writers’.
The final contributor is Gillian Wright. Her Oastler’s Angels focuses on the history of child labour in the area and their suffering before turning to lighter topics with a couple of limericks.
This is a collection of well-crafted stories and poems wearing both the faces of tragedy and comedy. It’s perfect to dip in and out of and for every copy sold, £1 will go to the Undercliffe Cemetery Charity.

Markets For Writers

Here is a free short story comp- courtesy of the excellent writer/blogger Esther Newton- thank you Esther


The RWL (ReaderWriterLounge) Short Story Competition is looking for entries of between 1000 – 10,000 words in their 2018 competition. Writers have until the 31st August in which to send their entries.


1st Prize: £100

2nd Prize: £50

3rd Prize: £20

Entry Fee: FREE

If you’d like to know more, please visit the website



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Writing Fearlessly

Alison’s take on the Wentworth Castle creative writing residential I’ve just been on- a fab week, writing in the gorgeous library, listening to Louise Jenson, talking books and stuff all week over meals and drinks and laughing lots and lots.

Ali Harper Writes

Just back from a five day writing retreat at Wentworth Castle with the awesome Anna Chilvers. I’ve tutored lots of retreats before but this was my favourite yet. We started out as eighteen strangers, with nothing in common but writing, but sharing our fears around the process of writing quickly bonded us a group.

Writing Room My writing room

It’s liberating to discover writers share the same fears – the fear of getting started, the fear of running out of ideas, the fear of letting work go, the fear of not being good enough. In one workshop Anna brought in fifteen of the most scathing reviews ever written and we had to match them to a list of fifteen books, including classics like Wuthering Heights and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. We realised one star reviews are part of the job of being a writer.

We learned techniques for side-stepping…

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Guest Blog: Journey into Darkness by Alyson Faye

My article on the books and films which inspired and influenced my horror writing.

Journey into Darkness

by Alyson Faye

I didn’t spring fully formed into writing for the horror genre; it’s been a gradual slither in that direction with side detours including children’s stories (albeit supernatural in plot) and poetry. However, the seeds were sown early on, for I was a voracious reader as an only child and trips to the local library where a highlight for me. I can recall vividly the covers of those Alfred Hitchcock Mystery compilation books and the Pan Horror paperbacks, which I consumed in vast quantities in my teens. Even now the mere sight or touch of one of those paperbacks makes the years roll back. Books are powerful. Portals to alien lands – including your own past.

Robert Westall’s oeuvre was raced through; two particularly stick in my mind:- ‘Scarecrows’ which sparked a real terror of the straw men in my heart, and his ‘The Watch…

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Interview with Stephanie Ellis, co-editor of The Infernal Clock

Here’s an interview I did with the horror writer Stephanie Ellis who also co edits the Horror Tree- on her writing journey with its ups and downs and where her top tips for writers.

Horror Scribes

“This is the time of the Infernal Clock, when the serpent sends his army out into the world to continue the eternal struggle. Their deeds are recorded in these pages, a small sample, one day in the life of tormented souls”
The Infernal Clock – stories compiled and edited by David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie recently met up with frequent Horror Scribes contributor Alyson Faye and kindly offered her insights into her journey as a writer and her involvement with The Infernal Clock – a blog that publishes anthologies of dark fiction.

How did you get into writing in the first place? Is it something you’ve always done?

No. It never even crossed my mind when I was younger. Reading was my escape and I just loved picking up a book and disappearing into it. I came to writing in a roundabout way, initially writing ‘verse’ in a former workplace…

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The valuable lesson I learned on my writing retreat

I’ve just been on this retreat at Wentworth Castle and had the pleasure of listening to Louise talk and answer questions so honestly and straight forwardly on Wed pm- she is an inspiration.

fabricating fiction

In 2015 I nervously went on a ‘How to create a submission package’ retreat at Wentworth Castle. I’d finished my first novel and although I didn’t feel quite brave enough to send it out into the world, I wanted to explore my options if I one day I drank enough wine to actually sum up the courage to share it.

Ali Harper and Anna Chilvers were the tutors and after reading the opening for The Sister, felt it would glean much interest and after running through the pros and cons of agents, publishers and self-publishing, encouraged me to craft a query letter and gave me tips on writing the dreaded synopsis. I went home believing, not that I could, but that I might, and I held tightly onto that kernel of hope until the day came when I did drink enough wine to press send on the submission emails…

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Trembling with Fear column written by Horror Tree’s Steph Ellis gives me a shout out…

I met Steph in the flesh for the first time last Saturday in Derby at the 7th Edgelit Convention- she was wearing her Horror Tree tee shirt- and well I wasn’t- fellow Otley writing mate Martin Fuller whose fiction has appeared in TWF was with me and we had a great day attending panels,q and a’s and workshops.

Image result for photos of edgelit derby 2018

I got to tell Frances Hardinge how amazing I thought her writing was (a super fan gushing moment) which I am sure (not) made her day 🙂

Image result for photos of edgelit derby 2018

We also did a workshop on ‘Writing your first page’ with debut author Roz Watkins.

Here’s Steph’s comments posted on the Horror Tree site about last Saturday.

“Last Saturday I attended my first EdgeLit convention in Derby, (mainly because I was finally able to afford it). This, for those who don’t know, is a major event for writers and readers of speculative fiction and attracts some big name authors; this year their line up included Paul Tremblay, Francis Hardinge, Laura Purcell, Adrian J Walker and Conn Iggulden. I wore my Horror Tree T-shirt and met one or two who recognised the brand, as well as spending a large part of the day with two of our regular contributors – and two of the nicest people you could wish to meet – Martin Fuller and Aly Faye (she also interviews, reviews and does a multitude of good things for Horror Tree). ”

I was also due tomorrow to go to Ali Harper’s writing residential in Wentworth castle- but with the amazing terrible timing of all injuries and bad luck I am unable to walk and am hobbling- my already injured left ankle won’t hold me up. Gutted – yes, hoping to mobilise with physio and attend later in the week- I can however sit at a pc and keyboard so – I will crack on doing that.

Two poems by me up today on line:-

One, Rooks’ Flight is on a nature/eco themed site for poetry and flash fiction.

My words are displayed against a gorgeous mobile backdrop of images.

I also have a very different themed poem up today on blogger/writer Esther Newton’s blog- inspired by my love of books and my childhood weekly visits to the local library.


(image from pixabay)

Books, Library, Room, School, Study