Cleanliness – SHORT STORY

      YOU CANNOT CLEAN your hands in dirty water – 0h, and how long I had been trying. All that scrubbing, inspecting my only skin under all the light, all that soap, lathering up into a froth, until every speck of dirt was purged into the filthy basin that looked so pristine once, slurped at by the gurgling spoked sink hole.
Turning the tap off, I dared to look in the mirror dappled with toothpaste and flossing collateral. I dry my hands and look at them, front and back, with a detachment as if viewing exhibits in a museum of sickness.

Nobody ever told me, you can’t clean your insides but I tried. I’d been bleaching the hallways of my within vicariously, gallon barrels kicked over, scorching through the dead life, cleansing with harsh notes, a burning sensation without degrees.
And so I stood outside, with clean hands and a book – of matches. The quickest quick read. With the reek of petrol fresher than destruction coating the paintwork of the building, I lit three on the strip, tossing them into the flammable.

With each change in colour I felt cleaner, and by the time the building caught the entire attention of the fire, my mind felt lighter as demons exited through solid bone. Burn in hell is a common phrase. Seems a little distant. Now is better.

Patient confidentiality with my psychologist, let me tell the stories. I think they were eager to assist me now we had worked through several sessions. Eager was the wrong word – perhaps, bound? Underneath my confessions, I sensed fear. Of their workplace. Of their car. Of their possessions, all going up in smoke.

And I learned every issue I had could be neatly summarised into one word: transference; my inner fury had to have an outlet, I had to get clean somehow – fire – the other soap. Fixing years of damage would not be easy Dr. S. Galloway assured me. It would be a long road to recovery. All I could think was, are roads flammable?


lion around 2

WordPress Starter Pack: Blog Tips

manage wp wordpress logo

      FIRSTLY, THE ADVICE I suggest is to be taken as you please. Also long-term bloggers might not find much to get out of this.

I have been blogging since 2013. That’s three years of WordPress experience – not major, not minor – and I’d like to suggest some tweaks that will make your blogging experience better and hopefully better for your readers. I’ll also cover some rookie ‘mistakes’ some make when they set up their site:

  1. Have an About page! Your blog is like a mirror of yourself (unless you are anonymous). Going to your blog should be like meeting you, as much as it is possible for that to happen online. Some personality that separates the blog from a multitude of others helps a great deal. A blog without an About Me section, feels like picking up a magazine with no cover, with little to go on except the words and pictures, although sometimes the blog name does hint at the nature of it.
  2. Picture time. I can understand if you don’t want to put your mug out there, but having a face helps make your presence more memorable, more human.
  3. Life is reciprocal in nature. WordPress is no different. So many times people will Follow a blog and never like, comment or go to the About section…and still expect a Follow back and blog visits! Doesn’t work like that. This isn’t Twitter. There’s no point having 1000 followers if only two of them even visit your blog. It’s not a social genitals measuring contest.
  4. Like, totally! Some people on WordPress Like posts and don’t read them: fact. Pointless, but true. Sometimes it is obvious who does and it’s irritating: e.g. three stories read and two other posts in the space of five seconds? Bullshit. Remember reciprocity? Yep. When people do it, I cease to visit their blog (if I ever did) because all they are after is a Follow and blog visits. I can’t be fucked with that. You can be the asshole who Likes and Follows fifty blogs every day without reading them, and sure for a time your numbers will go up across all categories. But it’s a cheap trick and has short-lived gains. Genuine interest in other blogs goes far. There are people I still visit from when I first started.
  5. No comment? Comments are the blogging equivalent of a handshake, whereas a Like is a hello from the other side of the street. Comments are the gold dust of blogging, appreciate every one. Obviously there are so many blogs with great material on them, so visiting every one is impossible, but it’s great to receive and give Comments regardless of depth as it is the genuine feedback mechanism.
  6. Tag you’re it. Tags are crucial to divert relevant traffic to your site. See what tags blogs use for similar posts if you are lacking ideas. Obscure tags can be beneficial in the long run as anyone who searches for it will definitely find your post. Generally, tags that have a wide catchment, like ‘writing’ are best along with more specific tags relating to your particular post.
  7. Be patient. To those starting out it’s a frustrating time. You’ve dropped the post of the century yet seemingly nobody cares. The truth is you simply need time and energy. Your blog is the tree planting. The more blogs you invest in the bigger the tree grows. In the beginning spending 80% of your time building up a followership and interacting is key to kickstart your blog.
  8. Content is king. Blog how you like, it’s a great freedom. But like anywhere else, quality content brings in new readers and repeat readers. Simply, it doesn’t matter what your thing is, but great posts attract readership.
  9. Lastly, have fun with it. Some bloggers post say, once a week and get lots of readers, others like myself post everyday usually. The first six months or so may be slow, but it all depends on how much time you have to invest. Keep at it and good things will happen.

Best of luck!

lion around 2



THE WEEKLY SIX: It’s back, alarmingly early, and you’re excited. And if you never knew about it, you just didnt know why you were excited. I’m going to shut up now (in typing terms). Enjoy! (P.S. If you want to post your own six word story in the comments go for it.)


Shop lights blacken. Manikins vacate windows.

Spiders entering mouth. Awoken – screaming… EIGHT!!!

Petroleum soaked linoleum – for insurance purposes.

Life knocked. Death answered. Mailman error.

A family member lived in basement…

Shrek recoiled, horrified at mediogre reviews.


lion around 2


Books vs Other Media

      book vs film

      WHEN I THINK of writing as a whole, I think of art, film and music as well. Each has a complimentary aspect to the writing craft. A picture can inspire a story. Even film at it’s foundation is not the moving image, but the written script. Music can evoke emotions that can enhance the writing process too.

Just for fun I want to take a look at what each medium brings to the Table of Story and what comparisons can be made as my analytical mind is let off the leash:

  1. Art – A picture either talks to you or it doesn’t, something about the colours, the subject matter and lay out. A picture is quite an immediate thing – Bam! – you see it, and you like it or you don’t. I have no science to back up how long that process is, but I imagine it is within the first few seconds, much how we appraise a new person we meet.
  2. Music – A step up from a picture or painting, one record tends to last around 3 minutes, a short time to assess it. Writing is often a 50% partner to the beat in forming the lyrics. Again, we tend to know by the end of the song, if not ten seconds in whether it is for us or not. But the time it takes is relatively fast, and music is probably the most virulent form of entertainment in terms of number of people it reaches.
  3. Film – A feature film is like a condensed book (and often is!). We have to watch it for over an hour+ in order to get the story, and we are breaking down the good and the bad as the run time expires. Time is invested and essential to determine how we rate a movie. In other words we have to spend time immersed in watching it to appreciate it fully, whether that is good, bad or mediocre.
  4. Books – Writing takes times to digest. I’m not sure what the average time to read a book is but I’d guess around the 8 hour mark. That is a severe investment in time. Novels are time hungry compared to the other media listed above and only you can read and turn the pages (forgetting audible etc). It takes longer to reach the reward of the end.

So, from art’s immediacy, you have musics’s accessibility and equally short digestion time. Film, takes us on an extended journey but with a significant investment of our attention, and books follow on with an even greater need of our time and the scale of a story can take us places unreachable by any other media.

They are related however. Books tell us stories, but so can a painting, a music track (especially hip hop) and film of course is predicated on doing what books do also. Are books the ultimate story telling format, because there is nothing extra beyond the words. No music can be added to add meaning or build tension. Your imagination builds the story world, all images are copyright to you. Everyone who reads a story, will have a different idea of what it looks like in their mind which in itself, is pretty incredible.

Disagree? Think I’m talking out of a certin place other than mouth? Have something to add? Please do.


lion around 2

The Things They Do – SHORT STORY

the girl who drew a phoenix simon and schuster


      THE PHONETIC SOUNDS of Vivaldi (just as he intended) echoed off the walls of my skull. Our phones had been ringing incessantly the whole morning.
In a rare moment of silence, I opened up my emails and clicked on a video link accompanied by, ‘You’ll love this Eve, Diane x’.
Within minutes the entire office; Doug, Jenny, Clara, Melissa, and Pauline were huddled around my work station as the cat video played, leading to laughter, Awww’s!, and declarations of cuteness.
Just as a once-fluffy white cat styled like a lion was batting at a glass on the edge of a kitchen counter, while the owner deplored it not to, yet somehow couldn’t stop filming… a collective groan greeted my ringing phone, my mobile this time.

‘Oh god, is she ok?’ Blood drained from my face, a hand on my mouth. I felt someone place one on my shoulder. ‘Ok, I’ll be there as soon as I can.’ My tone had gone flat and weak. ‘Something happened at home, I have to go…’
I didn’t wait for permission but vaguely recall somebody offering to drive.
I just hoped it wasn’t serious, they said Ashley was fine.
Home was ten minutes drive, and countless speed limits were broken as I floored it, windows open, trying to counter the high noon sun.

Within a mile my blood drained again, seeing a spire of thick black smoke rising from the midst of the sprawl of houses.
How many times could a heart sink in the time it took to drive Gilligan Street?
Cars were parked up on the pavements as I navigated the narrow roadway. Three fire engines were outside…my home, what was left of it.

Slamming the hand brake I ran towards my driveway, in numbness pushing past the onlookers until a fireman in a yellow outfit blocked my path

‘That’s my house!’ I yelled, nearly in tears. ‘Where’s my daughter? Where’s…’

‘Wait here!’

I watched, my body shaking, as firefighters on either side of my two-story house, fired water into the remaining one story, flames curling out, orange streaks flickering, the same fire that had destroyed everything precious to me.

Well, not everything…

Ashley was shouting, running along the pavement as if in slow motion; skipping over swollen hose pipes, wearing a wide gap toothed grin, her pigtails with blue streamers flowing behind her, the yellow jumpsuit she loved marred by black marks.

On my knees I stretched my arms out and when she nearly knocked me over I felt so relieved, hugging her tight and peppering her with kisses until I collected myself.

‘What happened my precious?’

She looked up at me as innocent as you like. ‘I wanted to make a phoe-nix appear!’

Dumbfounded, I looked at the remnants of home through watery eyes, tasting smoke every time I breathed. All I could think to say was, ‘Couldn’t you have burnt something smaller?’

She looked at me dead on, didn’t miss a beat. ‘The baby sitter is smaller! But Mum, I been thinky, bigger fire, bigger phoe-nix!’

Something went still on my left hand side.


lion around 2

Size: Entire Childhood – POEM

They wore wellies*,

For an entire childhood,

Spent until bankrupt, growing down,

Because, even when,

Predictable storms stopped raging,

Puddles, of unthinkable depth,

Were left in it’s brief wake,

Muddy, never-clear surfaces,

Cast rippled reflections,

That reminded them of their past,

And future…

Nothing ever changed, and doppelganger pallbearers,

Carried the coffins of dead selves,

But at least their feet were dry?!

No. Not even that.


* wellies are rubber boots or wellingtons

WordPress Tip: Tags

BORED OF TYPING in the same tags over and over again?

If you’ve been using WordPress for awhile you’ll know about tags. The words you use as tags identify the type of post you have written, and the key words used will help readers find you. For those new to blogging, tags are crucial to drive readers to your site. Using ‘book reviews’ as a tag will alert people who search for book reviews as your post will show up in the WordPress Reader.

Right, to ‘business’. A very quick hack for tagging in one click. Simply copy the tags of a post on your sites page, and then paste them into the ‘Tags’ box in your New Post. Done!

wordpress tags

Above: Copy every tag from the post. Then…


wordpres tag tip

Paste the tags into the Tags box of a New Post. And you’re done!


lion around 2



      IF YOU’RE A regular (or a blogular…) you know the drill. If not, you’ll soon see by diverting eyes downwards and reading left to right in a typical English fashion:

One punch. Hospitalised. Boxing still. Still.

Left for dead. Revenge…brr, so cold.

Cutting, stacking, burning; The human sawmill.

Carbon dated. It shouldn’t exist – yet.

The rusty gate squeaked: evil entered.

Bobblehead motionless, by time firefighters arrived.


lion around 2