I occasionally venture into flash fiction and short stories. Some of these bits of writing have won prizes. Often the stories appear first in my newsletter, so if you want to be part of the club, there’s a sign up box at the bottom of this page!
A few of my short stories have been recorded and I’ve posted these to my Look and Listen page.
Written for a competition but then re-written for my February newsletter, to celebrate Valentines Day – and the romance of my novel Keepers.
A sleeting February morning isn’t optimal to find love. Especially here on this grey, wind-blown high street. Condensation-filled cafe windows and heads-bent shoppers scuttling like crabs to their holes, are hardly the birds singing in blossom-filled trees and rainbow skies Jenny might wish for. Read the full story here.
Recorded by Jacqueline Belle
This woodcut of the Great Flood of 1607 has always touched me, with the floating cradle. It inspired this story, written for the monthly Secret Attic competition, where it won first prize. With their permission, it was also included in the 2020 Resilience anthology produced by Dean Writers Circle, the proceeds of which went to Forest Read Easy Deal (FRED), a local charity supporting adults with literacy problems.
It was also selected among the top ten entries for Stroud Short Stories, read by me at their online event on 9 May. But for a truly magical experience, listen to Canadian poet Jacqueline Belle read it on my Look and Listen page.
Agnes has a headache. The thick air presses her temples, her heavy-lidded eyes squint despite the lack of sun. She glances up, for the hundredth time that morning. Black clouds broil above the fields, frothing like a mad dog’s spit, resisting the wet wind tossing them across a purple sky to merge with the distant mountains. Read the full story here.
Recorded by Jacqueline Belle
Runner up in Graffiti Magazine’s 2020 prose competition and published in their Issue 25 in October 2020. To listen to Canadian poet Jacqueline Belle read it as part of Story Time for Grownups, go to my Look and Listen page.
It’s apt that Lille is here, where the waves play tag with their deaths on the sand.
It was on this beach that she first saw the young fisherman. His sodden body rose and fell with waves lethargic from the storm and Lille’s soul ached at his wasted beauty. Read the full story here.
I wrote this for a Dean Writers Event on the theme of Place, and then entered it in the Ottery St Mary Writers 2020 Short Story competition – where it won first prize. The orchard was a real place where us neighbourhood kids played in suburban Adelaide, Australia. No one died though. Not there anywhere.
Once upon a time a leftover almond orchard lingered in our suburban street. The grown-ups walked by the orchard every day on their way to the bus or the train or the shops. Mostly they ignored it, although in spring their inward-looking eyes might stray outwards for a moment to graze the pale pink petals fading to their magenta centre. Read the full story here.
Recorded by Jacqueline Belle
Prepared for an event in Ross in 2020 which, well, hasn’t happened yet. However, most excitingly, you can hear it read by poet Jacqueline Belle as part of the Story Time for Grownups series on my Look and Listen page. Her voice adds so much to the drama of the piece.
In the icy winter night, the dragon circles high above the sleeping village. Her great leather wings beat the air. Her shiny-scaled body twists, the ridged tail curling and lifting to sweep the stars. Read the full story here.
This story is an Anglicised version of the opening to my WIP Keepers. It was longlisted in a Flash 500 competition in 2020, but rather than enter it into more competitions I thought I would post it here for everyone to enjoy.
Johnny … the wind sings his name.
It’s been a month, a whole month, since the boy from the post office panted up the hill on his bicycle. He’d pushed the envelope into Jean’s hands, muttering, ‘Telegram.’ He hadn’t waited for a reply but bumped back down the stony track, wheels clattering in a tuneless accompaniment to the cawing of the magpie watching from the pine. Read the full story here.
This story is one of two written for inclusion in the Resilience anthology published in 2020 by Dean Writers Circle.
‘The ship kept thic down.’ My new neighbour grinned at his own wit, using dialect to confuse me. ‘Why auld Buck never had fence out front. The ship mowed for him.’
Read the full story here.
Written for an evening at Jolter Press in 2019, a local cider pub where we celebrated all things autumnal in the Forest of Dean.
Photograph Cider Making at Aylburton. Glos, 1910 Courtesy of Sungreen
The smell taunted him. It had filled his nostrils with its lush pungency all day.
He lifted his head, heavy jowls wobbling. Sparse whiskers quivered at the memories.
Here it came again, carried on the crisp air drifting through the doorway. Tempting him. Read the full story here.
A workshop piece based on this photo by Penny Kerr as the prompt
Giants stalk the land. They come in winter, garbed with long coats, hands on shoulders, waiting for prey … Read the full story here
A bit of nonsense for Dean Writers Circle meeting where the theme was fairytales. Nursery rhymes count, right? A friend counted references to 22 in here.
Might as well be living in a shoe box. Actually, just the shoe.
All these kids.
How had it happened?
You had ’em, Sis, her step-sisters pointed out. (They were too ugly to have their own.)
Mum always said she was the black sheep of the family. Baa, baa to that….Read the full story here
Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images on Visual hunt / No known copyright restrictions
I have vague ideas of doing a collection of fairy-tale and/or myth-themed short stories. Here’s Snow White – or a version thereof….
‘Snezhinka, my darling Snowflake, come and meet Valeriya.’
Papa summoned his daughter with a beam which stretched from his full lips to his black, heavy-browed eyes. Read the full story here
I’m helping to organise a children’s History of the Forest of Dean book which will be written by best selling children’s author Andy Seed. We spent early in 2020 (when such things were possible still that year) visiting Hopewell Colliery to talk to Freeminer Rich Daniels about life as a freeminer over the 800 years the rights given by King Edward have been exercised. We also visited Clearwell Caves where ochre and iron ore have been mined for thousands of years. In between we wandered up an old dram road to a monument to a 1904 mining disaster, which inspired me to post this piece of flash. I wrote it a while ago for a water-themed comp I didn’t in the end enter.
How high did the water rise? Did it lap at the toes of those who had found life-saving height on handy rocky shelves? Did it embrace waists, the cold fingers of a no-longer-desired lover tugging at drenched trousers? Or did it soak through heavy flannelled shirts to turn arms and shoulders into numbed sponges? Read the full story here