China Doll – original drabble by Alyson FAYE

Today my fellow writer Janine has posted one of my horror drabbles up on her excellent blog- check it out

Janine's Ghost Stories

I don’t really like this kind of doll. They give me the heebie jeebies. Maybe this is why? Thank you Aly, this was really creepy …

My porcelain princess with carmine lips, so lush and red, and glassy blind blue eyes. I touch your still chest and feel no beating heart.

Oh Blanche, my darling lost girl. Come to me.

You perch beside me in the eternal twilights, keeping me company, listening to my grief and the household’s dying breaths. Warming your tiny hands in mine, I press my lips to yours and breathe out. The mourning silence is broken by the flutter of your corpse-hair lashes upon your chill china cheek.

‘Papa, here I be.’

Your sweet voice. Your sweet breath.

Your scent of death.

Urgh. Spooooooooky. Make sure you head over to Twitter and follow Alyson HERE.

You can find some of my drabble over at Trembling with…

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Black Hare Press’ latest anthology is out – Oceans… I have a drabble in it…

Here’s the cover and below is a freebie – a screenshot of my watery themed drabble for you.

The name Fountain Reid came off a gravestone up at Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford when I was doing a fab creative writing course there with writer/actress Irene Lofthouse.
I’ve had great fun using the name in my fiction since then.

Screenshot from Black Hare Press Oceans drabble2020-04-20 14-44-45

Writing in British lockdown- online and zoom…

Apart from emergency trip to the vets, and taking our dog out daily- I’ve been as you’d expect in lock down at home – or in the garden, for which I am very grateful we have the privilege of our own space outside.

I’ve been doing my college Spanish classes via zoom and singing too – and I must give a shout out to Adam Z Robinson, writer and actor, whose shows with him reading ghost stories (Book of Darkness and Light) I’ve been going to for several years – well Adam is now running live workshops (donate something if you can to his website) on Facebook on how to write ghost stories.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBookofDarknessAndLight/

He’s also been putting out ghost story readings on Thursdays at 8pm.

I’ve found these online workshops fun, accessible, friendly and Adam does a really good job with a mix of exercises, writing time, and reading excerpts from people’s work. He is also super encouraging.

I’ve got the seeds of at least 3 stories from these workshops- which is great.

In other news I’ve been busy finalizing edits on a short story collection from Bridge House author, Paula Readman which will be out later this year.

https://paulareadman1.wordpress.com/author/paulareadman1/

Paula writes a regular blog, like me and has a few writing projects on the go at the moment – so drop over and see what she is up to.

I’ve also been writing a horror story for a charity anthology which I’ve been delighted and proud to contribute to – more info to come – but there are some amazing writers attached to this one. My story is set in West Yorkshire. That’s all I will say so far.

I’ve also had a couple of acceptances from The Casket of Fictional Delights (editor Joanna Sterling) for a couple of pieces – one short, one long for publication later this year or maybe next.

This is a great site https://thecasket.co.uk/and having just gone to it- I see my horror story, Porky Pig! is currently still up there with the option to listen to it on audio.

An indie horror/dark fiction publisher I’ve been hearing more about lately and reading more of their publications is Silver Shamrock https://www.silvershamrockpublishing.com/

Recently I’ve read Paul Kane’s Blood Red Sky and James Newman/Mark Steenland’s In the Scrape both published by Shamrock and I will be reviewing them for posting on the Horror Tree.

Of course Shamrock also published Stephanie Ellis’s dark original concept novella, Bottled

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bottled-Stephanie-Ellis/dp/1951043057/

which is well worth reading and is a creepy gripping slice of Gothic horror.

I entered Janet Reid’s occasional flash fiction comp- where you have to write a 100 words or less using 5 set words- this time they were all titles of Dick Francis novels, which struck a heart chord for me as my late Mum read Francis a lot and loved him

Here’s my entry- a bit of fun-

the words were – banker/forfeit/proof/risk/nerveScreenshot from Janet Reid April2020-04-18 18-49-05

 

 

Review of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by David Coldwell from Maytree Press…

beekeeper cover)

First off I’d like to own up and say I don’t read that much poetry – Wendy Cope and Wilfred Owen remain two of my favourites – so I don’t feel very knowledgeable about poetry and the current scene. However I do know what I like. However this collection from Maytree Press, Beekeeper by David Coldwell, which I received an e-arc to review, is very much to my liking.

Coincidentally Coldwell, like myself, lives in West Yorkshire, so I recognised the landscape he writes so vividly about in poems like ‘Out, out’ where he mentions Oxenhope and ‘Lumb Falls’ where he mentions the Calder river. I could easily imagine myself on chilly walks over those moors, sensing the mystery and history of the terrain and the echo of its ghosts walking beside me. Even the milestones become ‘changeling crayons,crumbling…’ under Coldwell’s eye and I will never look at a milestone in the same way again.

Coldwell clearly is a man who both reveres and acutely observes the landscape he walks in and the animals/birds/flora which inhabit it.

This collection draws on nature and immerses you in it. The language is gorgeous, awakening and is rich in the five senses and yet is accessible too. Indeed these poems are almost edible in their language and texture.

The grass smells of apple and vanilla (How the Light Falls); the kestrel in ‘From here’ waiting … (for) the sky-fall feast; In ‘Side by Side’ …hare jumps…lolloping… and in ‘Elder’ the Wiccan crow, watching with ink black eyes…

One of my favourite lines from the collection is- I try to bottle in the new spring light… (Clocks)- which compresses in a few words an array of emotions and such hope for the spring.

My personal favourite from the collection was ‘Bright Thing’- which is a recollection of childhood, encapsulating the sharedjoy of drawing – and it really resonated with me, taking me back to my own tiny room in the sliver of a new build house I grew up in.

So much to enjoy and mull over in this graceful collection connecting you, the reader, with nature, the world around us and within its pages finding moments of peace.

Brian Bilston poem- just cos it made me laugh…

I follow Brian Bilston on twitter and love his accessible, deceptively easy to read but often with hidden meaning poems- this one took me right back to 1984 and my O level poetry paper.

Today’s poem is dedicated to all those students who have had their exams cancelled, especially those who would have had to endure the unseen poem question in their GCSE English literature paper. It’s called ‘Unseen Poem’.Image

 

When all else fails – throw in death or love or rebirth- it always hits a chord somewhere.

 

Horror anthology out in May from Emerald Bay Books has a story in it from me…

 

 

Horror for Hire cover Alyson Faye lead

In today’s corporate culture, it’s not uncommon to work ourselves to death. But all the wages of sin ultimately can’t save us from the nightmarish jobs that we handle every day. But what if those meetings and paperwork became something even more sinister? What if the job you took became a death sentence? Or a trip to the afterlife? What if you made a deal with the devil himself to rise the corporate ladder? You’ll be spending every 15 minute break you have to dive into these frightening tales of this first volume that make even the most boring Monday meetings seem like paradise

 

Writing buzz is back-

Since we went into lock down in the UK I’ve written the Bingley poem which I posted on my blog and that’s it-life has been turned upside down for all of us and it’s tough getting into the new groove-

however I’ve had 2 story acceptances and have signed off on edits with The Casket of Fictional Delights and the very supportive editor, Joanna Sterling, so I’m pretty happy; final edits have been agreed on my dark Gothic poem for the Air: Sylphs, Spirits and Swan Maidens anthology being edited by Rhonda Parrish; an anthology I have a story in, Strange Girls, is picking up lots of reviews on Goodreads and is storming up the amazon best seller charts for Young Adult Monster Fiction (though I’m rather surprised as I didn’t think it was YA orientated -but hey it’s a best seller chart so I’m thrilled!) and I’ve got 2 invites to write for horror/dark fiction anthologies in the pipeline. Really delighted and hope they come to fruition.

I’ve also started a new horror short story with comedic overtones- my first new piece in a while -up to 4000 words so far and writing, as it best suits me, in the early hours of the morning- it stars a parapsychologist, a locked secret room and a 50 year old scandal whose secrets are ready to explode.

I am also finalizing edits on a book for Bridge House Publishers which is now on the last stretch to go back to the author.

And here is a little reminder that my e book Night of the Rider from Demain is out in paperback:-

on amazon and below is the wonderful banner image designed by the talented Adrian Baldwin.Cover of Night of the Rider plus quotes

 

 

Black Hare anthology coming out with a drabble of mine in …using zoom for virtual classes.. Poem about Bingley in Lockdown…Square Chapel in Halifax has gone into administration…what I’m reading…

Adobe Photoshop PDF

I have a watery drabble in this – and the anthology is due out 14th April 2020.

If you are a writer, Black Hare Press  https://www.blackharepress.com/ have submission opportunities on their website and publish a regular series of books.

 

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A week or two ago I’d never heard of Zoom, what it did or how to use it- now with being at home, and having had the Zoom software downloaded to my pc, I am using it for virtual Spanish classes (once held at Shipley college) and singing classes- it’s been a learning curve for me, but it’s lovely to participate and see folks’ faces and be able to keep up the contacts.

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Here is a poem I wrote about my home town Bingley, as it is under lockdown :-

Bingley High Street during the Lockdown

Empty spaces stretch to eat up the town

where once forests of cars grew and took root

as traffic wardens strolled, on high alert

in their hi- vis armour;

brave and bold, I park horizontal across

three bays by the silenced Arts Centre.

Blinded cafes, nestle next to shuttered shops

and shock of shocks! No Wetherspoons,

with all its clamour and gaggles of

fag smokers outside -it’s defunct, extinct;

the scattered cigarette ends lying

brownly on the pavement.

Forty years fade away, as I recall,

my 1977 on a Sunday,

brought back to life in 2020.

A flicker of movement on the bench-

an old man sits stroking a black cat,

flat cap and all.

In this changed town they are the same.

That bench, that bloke and that black cat.

I feel the pressure in my chest lift.

And I breathe.

Note:-

The black cat does not belong to the old man, nor vice versa; Apparently the cat has a home to go to but chooses to live out its life in the empty space next to the stocks by the Art Centre. The local vets are sick to death of it being brought in as a rescue. The vets didn’t comment on the status of the old man but  I am hoping he has a home too.

The image above shows the area (to the right by the tree) where the bench is.

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Chatting to a friend today on the phone she told me that the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax which I’ve been going to for 15 years or so and was given a huge and glorious refurb in 2017, has gone into administration.

https://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/business/trust-running-square-chapel-arts-centre-halifax-goes-administration-2506193

Square Chapel picture

I was sad to hear that news- we’ve made many visits as a family there over the years to the wonderful puppet shows they put on for little kids, to watch films (the last one being the Korean black comedy, Parasite, ) and to live shows (like Adam Z Robinson’s one man ghost stories show, which we saw in January this year) to gigs.

Hopefully they will find a buyer in time to resurrect it. The facilities inside are amazing:- 2 auditoriums, bar and cafe area, patio garden area and access to Piece Hall.

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I thought I’d be reading more but what with walking Roxy our dog, jobs, and editing a M/S etc I’ve not read as much as I hoped – yet.

However I’ve just finished this one, which the organiser of EdgeLit, Alex Davis, recommended and was involved in publishing in 2013.

Here’s the plot description:-

Sam, along with his friends, Emma and David, find themselves drawn into a world where the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney and Theda Bara are still making pictures; where Harold Lloyd and John Belushi team up for roustabout comedies, and Karloff and Lugosi appear in films scripted by Edgar Allan Poe. Sam comes to learn the mysteries of the Electric cinema and his part to play in its long and strange history.

THE ELECTRIC is about movies, ghosts, and that ephemeral moment in all of our lives, childhood.

With my love of old movies and cinemas this was a must for me. It has a dreamy, elegaic quality to the writing and is also an exploration of first teenage love and the intensity of friendships when we were young, whole summers spent together, just being.