Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Writing Prompt!

Tuesday is, of course, writing prompt day! And today's prompt is a series of six words for you to use in whatever exciting, inspirational way comes to mind.

Book, Triangle, Flower, Tunnel, Flames, Blue

Your piece can be any length and any genre and you may use the words in any order you wish as long as you use each of them at least once.

Please feel free to post your response in the comments below to create more fantastic inspiration, or if you'd like to submit your piece for publication on this website please visit the Submissions page.

Happy Writing

Monday, 19 December 2016

Motivational Monday! Fiction Factory Short Story Competition

This week we're featuring Fiction Factory's Short Story Competition!

This competition is for short stories with a maximum word count of 3,000. Stories can be in any genre except children's and young adult.

There is a small entry fee of £6 and for an extra £5 you can get a critique of your story as well, so even if you don't win you'll still get some expert advice at what to improve on.

Please note that the closing date is the 31st of December 2016 and any entries received after this date will not be counted.

The winning story will receive £150, second place will receive £50, two merit places will receive £25 each and all winning stories will be published online and in a planned future anthology.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many great stories, poems and literary works are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't let your work be one them!

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit Fiction Factory Short Story Competition!

Happy Writing & Good Luck

Rach x

Sunday, 18 December 2016


"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." 

Earnest Hemingway

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Artel 18 - Goodbye's are Always Hardest when you Hold a Broken Heart

The sun was already rising fast as Millon followed a renewed Artel towards the edge of the village where the two horses they had been gifted were tied to a lone post. He once again carried his heavy pack, full of pots and pans and sleep sacks and other provisions that the townsfolk had given to them. Artel strode ahead, tall and proud once more, the hem of the dark green cloak Nanuka had given to him flicking out behind his receding heels. In the past few days he seemed to have formed a strange bond with Nanuka, almost like the bond of a mother and child. They had spent many hours together and when they spoke there was a tension between them that spoke of something neither of them shared with another. Millon had not asked what it was. It was a mildly curious thing, but he was far more concerned with his own feelings and troubles than that of the Knight who was forcing him to leave the first home he had ever known. He knew that Artel was right of course, but that didn't make it any easier.
He turned back to the small crowd of townsfolk that had gathered to see them off. Among them were Dina and Henn, the owners of the farm he had worked on for the past few months, and he offered them a small, sad wave. As his eyes roved over the crowd he realised that he knew most of these people, and that he liked them all, even the ones he had spent little time with. They had been nice, and kind, they had been fun and warm and welcoming. Some of them he had shared drinks with, some of them labour, and some of them only a few words, yet he felt as if they were all a valued part of his life that he would miss, each in their own small way.

His life would change again now, from this moment forwards everything would be different. The small interactions he had grown to love in the town he had begun to call his home would continue without him. He would be missed, perhaps, but only for a while, until their thoughts and hearts moved on to other people and things. They would all continue to be a part of that life that he loved, that life that he wanted to live, that he wanted to share, yet Millon would leave, locked out as if he had never been, unable to return, and unable to partake. The knowledge made his heart ache in a way he had never before experienced. In a sense this was the first time he had ever fallen in love, and so in a way this was the first time he had ever experienced a broken heart.

He had felt it in the few short days leading up to this moment, in the increasingly uncomfortable knot of emotion that seemed to have settled in his chest and in his stomach, almost like a panic, panic that there was nothing he could do, no way he could escape what was coming. He had felt it in the cold fizz of feeling that seemed to spark and throw itself around his body, making him want to jump and fidget and cry and scream and bang his fists on the table until someone heard him and told him he didn't have to go, that this didn't have to be the end. But it was the end, and Millon knew that, in the cold harsh way that all creatures know certain facts. As if he possessed within him a sixth sense, which in a sense he did. There were markers, pockets of knowledge, that were held within the inherited intelligence of the DNA from which his body was created, these pockets of knowledge came from nature, and nature had bestowed many gifts upon her children. And of course there was a life's worth of intelligence that had been weaving it's own encyclopedia guidebook inside his head since the moment he was born. He was not a stupid man, had never been a stupid man, he was simply the sort of man that did not fit into the world he had been born into. As such he had spent much of his life watching the strange interactions of the people around him, the ones he could never join because for some unknown reason he had been born without the ability to articulate them. But through his watching he had learned far more than he probably ever would have if he had in fact engaged with those subjects he studied. He learned the meaning for each and ever subtle movement of hand, wrist or finger. He learned the implied words behind a wink, or a slight downward nod, the flutter of an eyelash or the flare of a nostril. He became, in his own way, a silent, ungainly expert of how to read not just people but situations. And to his horror he could read this one all too well.

Over the past few days the townsfolk he had begun to call his friends had already begun the process of putting distance between themselves and him. They knew they would never see him again, and so they backed away, what point was there in putting in effort when there would never be a long term reward? It was incredibly logical, although these actions were not conscious actions, and Millon knew that if he confronted the townsfolk with this knowledge they would be confused and surprised and upset that he could think that of them. Yet it was only natural, and all creatures would show such behaviour in any similar situation. So Millon had had no choice but to accept as the last few days passed that these people were, in their own way, already beginning to forget him, and that that fact hurt him a whole lot more than it would ever hurt them.
Now as he stood looking out of the small crowd of assembled townsfolk he felt a pain as if some part of himself had been carved out and removed. The feeling echoed through every part of his body, making his throat constrict and his legs begin to shake. For a horrible moment he thought he might not be able to hold himself up, that he would collapse on the floor and dissolve into a puddle of mess in front of his collective audience. Tears sparked at the corners of his eyes, threatening to spill down his face and cascade onto the floor. He swallowed and gulped and blinked, doing his best to hold them back. He had a strong feeling that once they started he wouldn't be able to stop them, and he didn't want to be so undignified as to break down publicly at what for most would only be a little goodbye. A little goodbye. He envied them, the people stood there, he envied them their lack of care. Sure they had known him for a short while and some of them may even think they were sad to see him go, but none of them would be as upset as he was. None of them would feel this as deeply as he did, would hurt quite as badly, would feel quite as lonely, lost and incomplete afterwards. They would go back to their lives, move on with themselves, until all thoughts of him were mere background recollections. They had it so easy, so terribly, dreadfully easy.

Out of the corner of his eye Millon spotted Tella and his heart broke all over again. It shattered into a million tiny pieces littering the floor around him with broken shards that did not glisten in the sunlight but lay dark and oppressive like thick dust upon the floor. Tella. He had never gotten to tell her how much he liked her, how much he admired her, how much he longed to spend time with her and hold her in his arms. He thought of the feel of her soft hand in his, the sparkle of her green eyes, the tinkling chimes of her laugh. He would never again see, hear or feel those things, from this moment forward they would be gone from his life and his life would be all the emptier for it. A derelict ruin of what he had hoped would become a beautiful home. He had been so foolish to hope, he should have known, of course, that that hope would lead him only to an end of pain and silence and goodbye. Yet still he had let himself hope, dreaming of a life he could never have, so much so that he nearly convinced himself he had it. His eyes found hers across the crowd and he imagined himself moving towards her, parting the small crowd of townsfolk, walking up to her and taking her in his arms and kissing her gently, passionately. He imagined the soft feel of her pink lips, the taste of her mouth, the smell of her skin. But he did not move.
Behind him he heard the sound of horses hooves and Artel's voice calling his name, telling him to shoulder his pack and mount his horse. They didn't have time to waste.
Wasted time, what was wasted time? Time without that which made you happy, that had always been Millon's idea. But he knew that was not the accepted definition, and so had never spoken this thought aloud. He held Tella's gaze for a moment longer, wishing he could be the man that strode through the crowd to get her, instead of the man that waved a small hand and turned to follow his master.
His heart broke again as he turned and mounted his horse, accepting his fate with a grim resignation he hadn't known he possessed until that morning. As he began to trot away he looked back momentarily, his animal following Artel's without him even having to tell it to. The tears welled in his eyes and spilled out, leaking down his cheeks and blurring his vision, more and more and more of them, until he couldn't breathe and his chest heaved and his nose ran and he had to fight not to scream and moan and wail.

It's not fair. It's not fair. I don't want this. This is not what I want. It hurts. It hurts so much. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.
But of course it didn't stop, and the cruel hand of time would push him further and further from this thing that he loved, until he was no more than a half-remembered fact of the past.

In front of him Artel trotted calmly along on his brown and white flecked mare, looking towards the mountains in the distance and wondering what they would find once they reached them.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Another day in Paradise

She woke with a start and blinked into the thin streams of sunlight that cut through the gaps in the metal shielding around her small bed. Reality returned, a fragment at a time, like pieces of a puzzle that her brain had to slowly put back together. What had she been dreaming about? The tendrils of her subconscious were already slipping away, too quickly for her to grasp on to, it was a lost cause. She had a feeling it had been important, the dream, but in what way she couldn't now say.
Alia pushed herself up into a sitting position, careful not to hit her head on the cold metal roof above, and rolled over onto the threadbare mat that lined the floor. Another day, another day in paradise.
She washed and dressed quickly, there wasn't time to spare on these activities. She had a limited amount of time to spend during the day, and if she wanted to get everything done she'd have to meticulously sparing about how much time she used. But she was used to the drill now. It was the same old familiar routine that kept her alive, that kept her going, that kept her safe. Dust motes circled in the slips of sunlight that cut across her small home and for a moment she let herself watch them, enjoying the random way they dipped and flowed around each other. Her eyes followed the beam of light back up to the dark metal wall and the gap it had pushed itself through. She couldn't see through and for a moment she allowed herself to imagine that beyond her shelter lay lush forests carpeted in bushes and grass. A world where the birds sang and small creatures rustled in the leafy undergrowth.
No. She didn't have time for this.
The tunnel that lead from Alia's small shelter to the outside world was barely big enough for her to squeeze through, a tactical defence strategy she had designed specifically. There were many things bigger than her that she didn't care to encounter, much less give an opportunity to find their way into her home, such as it was. She paused at the end, listening intently to the silence, her keen ears checking that the coast was clear before she pulled back the wood barricade and pushed away the stone that both locked her in and stopped the entrance from looking like anything remarkable to the outside world.
The sunlight bit into her eyes, causing her to squint for a moment until they had adjusted. That was the problem with living underground, there was always a period of blindness when you emerged. That was dangerous, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, that could mean the difference between life and death. Blindly she pushed the rock back in front of the small tunnel and turned to peer into the now familiar wasteland before her. This was it, this was her home, the same at it had been the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. Every day in fact since the happening, the event, the apocalypse, the great shut down... whatever you wanted to call it. Names didn't matter at this point. The only thing that mattered now was survival. Survival in the cold barren wasteland of the once green and luscious earth.
Alia shouldered her pack and started moving, she didn't have long. Just another day in paradise.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is one I stumbled upon a little while ago that I think is really beautiful and catches a really abstract feeling that I think we will all have felt at some point, but which has since caused a bit of a stir on the internet;


- The realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own - populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness - an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you'll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

What a beautiful description.

But where did this word come from, and is it actually a 'real word'?

There has been a lot of debate over the internet about the validity of this word. It appears to have been created by John Koenig, the author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, where it is listed along with the above definition, although there are claims that it was created on Tumblr before this. Either way you won't find this word listed in a typical English dictionary and there seems to be a lot of debate surrounding whether it should be taken seriously or left behind for fanciful minds to enjoy.

Personally I like it and would be happy to incorporate it into our lovely language.
But what do you think, do you love it, or hate it, or not really care that much at all?
Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts on it.

'The early evening sun shone down on the busy London streets below, illuminating streets signs and shop fronts with a soft yellowy glow. It was just past six in the evening and the streets were still busy, perhaps busier than they had been all day, heaving with the footfall of hundreds of people making their way from work to home and home to work, pushing their way in and out of the doorways of shops and jostling each other for their share of the pavements that lined the busy roads. Most of them were in a hurry, their minds already three steps ahead of their slow and cumbersome bodies. In the midst of the frantic rush that is city life Claire dawdled, sticking to the inside edge of the pavement where she had less chance of being knocked out of the way by important looking people in important looking suits. She had nowhere to be that evening. She had finished work half an hour ago and there was nothing to do now except wander home, make herself some dinner, and curl up for the evening. There was no need to hurry. As she made her way down the busy street she watched the people rushing past, thinking about their faces and their clothes and their wives and their lives. She wondered where they were going and what they were thinking, if they were happy or sad, or somewhere in between. As she was watching and thinking Claire felt a strange yet strong sense of sonder settle over her, there were so many of them, these people, and that was just the ones she could see.'

Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Writing Prompt!

It's Tuesday all over again, and you know what that means... It's time for another writing prompt!

So, today's prompt is a person, a place and an emotion.
Your story can be anything you like, any length, any genre etc, as long as you somehow combine the three facts given in this prompt, have fun!

'A small stunted hag, A grey stony beach, And disdain.'

Please leave your responses to this prompt in the comments section to share more fantastic inspiration, or if you're particularly proud of your piece you can visit the Submissions page and look at how to submit for publication on this website.

Happy Writing

Rach x

Monday, 12 December 2016

Motivational Monday! 404 Words New Years Contest

Can you write a short story at or under 404 words?

This week we're featuring 404 Words' New Years Short Story Contest!

This competition is a bit different with a much shorter word count, which I think is a nice little challenge. It doesn't have a huge prize pot but it does also offer publication on their website and possibly on youtube which is great for those looking to get their foot in the door.
So, this competition is for an original short story up to 404 words long. There is no set theme or genre so any is accepted.
The only rules are that you must be over 18 and your story must be original, unpublished, and written in English.

The winning story for this competition will recieve $50 as well as publication on the 404 Words' website.
Each story accepted for the competition will also be published on the website and some will be professionally narrated and published on 404 Words' youtube channel.

You may submit your story online through Submittable for consideration by a blind judging system. There is no submission fee for this competition,

Please note that the closing date is the 31st of December 2016 and that if your story is over the 404 word limit it will be automatically disqualified.
Each entrant can submit up to three stories.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many great stories, poems and literary works are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't let your work be one them!

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit 404 Words New Years Contest!

Happy Writing & Good Luck

Rach x

Friday, 9 December 2016

Artel 17 - That's Good

He visited daily, and neither man spoke of the conversation they both knew was inevitable. Millon could feel Artel's brown eyes drilling into him curiously as the days passed, he fancied he could even feel the knights questions poking at his skin, wanting to know why he was there, what he had been doing, why he had left him in the forest.
In reality Artel was thinking none of that, instead he was marvelling at the fact that he seemed to be in some kind of decent civilisation, and that Millon seemed to have somehow become an entirely different person. The Millon who came to his bedside and helped to bring him back to health was not the man that he had lost in the forest. Though he still looked much the same, apart from having grown a small beard, he seemed much more relaxed. Gone was the timid stoop, gone was the tendency to avert his eyes to the floor whenever someone began a conversation with him, gone was the stutter he had started almost every sentence with, and gone was the fear that had always lurked just behind his eyes. Artel had never seen the man so happy, and were it not for the fact that Millon knew him he may have wondered if it were a different man altogether. He wondered too at what lay beyond the hut that seemed to have become his home. If he had to hazard a guess he would have said some sort of small village or town, but whether it was housed within the forest or outside of it he could not be sure.
As the days drifted by he could feel himself growing stronger, and when he finally managed the short walk to the door of the hut he found that the bright sun dazzled him and he was forced to blink into a canvas of sparkling white until his eyes adjusted. He still felt weak, terribly weak, and he had to lean heavily on Millon's shoulder as he made his way down the steps and round to the little herb garden at the back of hut. He could feel the villagers eyeing him up, curiosity driving them to be braver than they normally would. None of them were quite brave enough to come up and talk to him though, and when he looked their way they looked away quickly, as if to pretend they hadn't been staring.

The two men sat quietly in the herb garden behind Nanuka's small hut for several long minutes. The smells of the various herbs drifted on the warm currents of air and the buzzing of insects filled the silence. The sun hung hot and full in the cloudless sky, warming the earth below it.
"Where is this?"
Artel had turned to look at Millon, his face was expressionless but his eyes were questioning.
"This is Mele, it's a small town, I found it after wandering out of the forest, which is back that way." Millon pointed roughly behind them. Artel raised an eyebrow.
"How did you get out?"
"Of the forest? I don't know, I walked, I stumbled... I looked for you for days but you were nowhere, one minute you were there, the next... it was as if the ground itself had eaten you."
Artel turned away, "it may as well have."
Millon fought back the urge to ask what had happened, settling instead for the silence that fell between them again. It was not an awkward silence, in fact it was quite companionable, but he could tell that both men had questions burning in the back of their minds.
It was Artel that broke the silence again.
"How long have I been here?"
"Just a little over three weeks."
"Hm, how did I get here?"
"They, the hunting party that is, found you collapsed on the edge of the plains between here and the forest."
"Ah, that'll be why I don't remember getting here then," he paused, "so how long have you been here?"
The question was full and heavy, covering the real question that lay beneath it; How long was I lost? Millon hesitated for a moment too long and Artel's brown eyes found his.
"Nearly three months now, I think."
He could see Artel doing the calculations in his head, he'd been lost for around two months, suffering in whatever hell hole he'd found himself, no wonder he'd been so far gone. He wanted to say something else, something that would comfort the Knight, something that would bring him out of his reverie, but all he could think of was 'it will be alright,' and somehow he didn't think that would quite cut it. Instead he opted to keep quiet, letting the normal sounds of the world wash over them and hoping that his companionship did more to heal the wounds than any words could.

It was four days later when they finally had the inevitable conversation. Artel had improved greatly, as if once he had gotten up the first time he had found the willpower to force his body to get better. There was a gleam in his soft brown eyes again, he'd had Millon cut away the straggly ends to his hair, and there was a soft pink glow to his cheeks. He was beginning to look healthy again.
They had sat in Nanuka's herb garden every day since Artel had first stepped out of the hut, but now they walked onwards, Artel no longer needing to lean on Millon to support his weight. The two men passed the herb garden and walked slowly down through the bustling village towards the open plains beyond. The villagers watched as they passed, still wary yet curious of the stranger in their midst. They turned off the main track and onto a smaller one, at the end of which lay Millon's simple hut, a fact which Millon kept to himself, he wasn't ready for Artel to know how ingrained he had become into his new life in Mele. They passed the hut and kept walking, leaving the track and stepping out through the short stubbly grass of the plains. It was mid afternoon and the sun was high in a cloud streaked sky, casting it's hot rays towards the figures walking unprotected beneath it. In the distance mountains loomed like a strange jagged blot on the horizon, as if they were trapped creatures reaching towards the sky. For a time the two men walked on and said nothing, both lost in their own thoughts. It was, of course, Artel who broke the silence first.
"That is where we need to go isn't it?"
Millon looked at the Knight, caught the slight nod of his head towards the mountains in the distance. For a second he thought about lying, it would be so easy to tell him that they were in fact somehow on the far side of the forest and the mountains they were seeing were far from the ones they had been seeking. But that was wrong, and he had been silent for a moment too long, Artel would know if he lied, and if he did believe him then he would most likely go off in the wrong direction searching for the mountains he could already see. He nodded.
"Yes, yes it is."
"We ought to go as soon as possible."
"Yes, yes I suppose so."
"I'm nearly well enough to travel, as soon as I am we should trade whatever you've got for a couple of horses, some provisions, and whatever weapons we can muster, that'll get us across the plains and hopefully to another village where we can restock. I don't suppose you have anything let from your pack? I imagine it all got lost in the forest."
"Actually, I have my whole pack left, it's been sitting in the corner of my hut since I got here, I haven't really known what to do with it, I haven't even unpacked it."
Artel looked at Millon and raised an eyebrow.
"That's great, that'll be really helpful."
"Yeah, I figured it would probably come in handy at some point."
Silence fell between them again and Millon wondered how he was going to break it to Artel that he didn't want to continue on their quest, that he wanted to stay there in the village he had begun to call his home.
"You want to stay don't you?"
Millon nearly choked on his own tongue as he fought to find the words that would form an answer, any answer. "What?" Was all he could manage.
"You want to stay here in the village don't you?"
"Yeah, yeah I do, I like it here, the people... they accept me, I feel at home here, for the first time in my life I feel like I really have a home."
"Good, that's really good, I'm really pleased for you." Artel's voice was calm, and when Millon sneaked a peak at the Knight out of the corner of his eye he didn't look angry. "Do you know what else is good?"
He hardly dared to hope. "What?"
"Deserting your mission, that's good, and leaving the people at home, your real home, to rot in a war that will ravage the lands you were born in and destroy the people you have sworn to protect, that's good. It's also good to abandon the Knight that you have sworn to accompany, leaving him to face possibly the hardest part of the quest that you pledged both your life and your allegiance to, on his own. And it's especially good to go on living your simple, peaceful village life, being happy and thankful that you finally have a home while back in our own land an enemy far more powerful than we would dare imagine slaughters our women and children, enslaves our men and imprisons our Queen, that's very good."
Artel's voice was still calm, and he wasn't looking at Millon, he wasn't raging or shouting or spitting venomous insults, instead his voice and his words seemed ill matched, and somehow that had all the more effect. Millon felt like crying, which was a stupid baby thing to feel, but Artel had said all the right things and hit all the right buttons. And he was right. He was horribly, irrevocably right. How could Millon abandon their quest and leave the lives of so many to be extinguished like flickering candle flames snuffed out by a great dark hand, how could he ever then live with himself? He had no words, there were no words to say, nothing to break the silence, nothing to add to Artel's words. He would know what the silence meant anyway.

Artel gazed out at the mountains in the distance, his keen eyes roving across the land, wondering what surprises lay between him and his destination.
"We must continue as soon as I am well again."

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Joys of Editing

gerund or present participle: editing
  1. 1.
    prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it.
    "Volume I was edited by J. Johnson"
  2. 2.
    be editor of (a newspaper or magazine).
    "he began to edit the magazine in 1923"
  3.      "he edited the Times for many years."

Editing seems to be a subject that divides the writing world. Some writers, like myself, enjoy it and find it almost as much fun as the writing itself, whereas others dread it and hate every moment of it. It seems you either love it or you hate it. And while some writers take naturally to editing, others find themselves a bit flummoxed by it. 

Now that NaNoWriMo 2016 is over many writers will be turning to their finished first drafts and wondering when they should begin their first edit. That's the first question; how long should you leave between finishing the writing and starting the editing. This seems to be a hotly debated subject, with some people saying just a couple of weeks is enough and others out there suggesting you wait a good six months. 
Me? I think six months is far too long, because if you're anything like me then by the time six months has come round you'll be on to another project and will have forgotten all about editing you novel draft! 

So I would recommend you wait a month, just a month. A month is a good enough length of time for you to have gotten over the awe of having actually finished a first draft, but not too long that you've either lost interest or forgotten half your plot. 
Why is it important to leave time between finishing the writing and starting the edit? 
Because when you finally finish that first draft you feel on top of the world, that first draft is the best thing that anybody could ever have written, ever! So you need to take some time to let that elation wear off before you jump into editing. 
Rule Numbero Uno; Always edit with a clear head. 

When you think enough time has gone by you can start your editing process, which for most people, begins with a lot of Rewriting. 

I like rewriting, for me it's a bit like playing a game. Taking something that doesn't quite sound right and mixing up all the words until I find the right combination, then suddenly - BAM - it sounds amazing. 
Many people rewrite not just sentences but whole paragraphs, chapters or sections of their story. 
Because it's funny how much you notice when you read back through your writing, little niggly things that you thought made sense at the time you were writing them but actually now you're looking at it again just seem really weird. Or whole paragraphs that add absolutely nothing to the story and don't need to be there at all. Remember, readers don't want extra fluff surrounding the story, don't be afraid to chop some of that extra fluff out as well as rewrite the bits that do add to the story. 

Rewriting should also address any majorly obvious plot holes as well as inconsistencies with the characters and any additions or subtractions you'd like to make to the storyline. 

Once you've finished your rewrite you can get down to proper editing, which for me means rereading through my newly rewritten first draft and looking for any grammatical errors, making sure all the punctuation is in the correct places and that everything is spelt right. 

I have a great book that I like to keep close by whenever I'm editing anything and I highly recommend that if you haven't already you get yourself a copy. It's helped me many times and it's clear, precise, easy to understand, and a little bit fun too. Plus in the back it's got all those pesky English words that have more than one meaning explained sort of like a dictionary, so if your brains not working and you can't figure out which led you should be using when Peter lead Susan up the hill, you can just look it up! 
You can purchase Grammar For Grown Ups by Craig Shrives on Amazon here!

When I'm editing I like to start at the beginning of my story and just read through as if I were reading a book written by anybody else. I start at the beginning, move on to the middle, and finish at the end. Some people like to print their drafts out and go through it physically making marks with a red pen (or blue or black or pink or whatever you prefer to use) wherever they spot an error or something that ought to be changed. But I prefer going through it on my laptop. Although I don't like reading off screens particularly much, if I edit on the computer then I don't have to go through the document again later and add in all the edits that I marked on the print out. 

Once you've done your editing, there is, invariably, a short break, cause you've just done it and it's now the best thing that anyone ever could have written, ever! Then after your break go back with a clear head and edit again. 

For a second edit I look for all the things I looked for in the first edit. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, flow, fluff paragraphs, chapter continuity, character inconsistencies and plot holes. 
This often means more rewriting, but if you're like me and you quite enjoy this process then that's not such a bad thing. And if you don't enjoy it just remember that every second you spend reworking this beautiful book of yours leads you one step closer to having a beautifully high quality finished novel, or novella, or short story.

And when you've completed that and you're totally happy with it, you've got a new choice ahead of you. Do you publish traditionally, or do you self-publish?

If you're going to publish traditionally, by which I mean get yourself an agent who will then market your book to publishing companies who will employ their own editors that will go over your work before it is published, then you don't need to do any more yourself unless you want to. All you need to do is start applying to the relevant agents.

But if you're planning on self-publishing then I would recommend getting yourself a couple of beta readers and an external editor. You'll need to pay for this, but in the long run it will be 100% worth every penny. There is no point getting your book published if it isn't edited correctly, readers will know it (even if they can't quite put their finger on what it is that's wrong, they'll know). 
I read a self-published e-book a short while ago that clearly hadn't been professionally edited. The storyline was good, the plot was good, the idea was good, it all needed a bit of work to tighten it up, but it was promising. But the grammar, the spelling and punctuation, and a lot of the sentence structure was awful. I could not believe that this person had published their book and sent it out there in what to me is a half-finished state for the whole world to see. But the saddest thing was that all those errors stopped it from being a pleasure to read, and that is a shame, because all books, all stories, should be a pleasure to read.

No matter whether you hate it or love it, editing is such a crucial part of publishing a book you just can't afford to even look at publishing without it. 

And if you really hate it that much, get someone else to do it, like me. I edit fiction for £15ph.

Happy writing editing!

Rach x

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;


- Incorporeal
- Having no material body
- Immaterial

Asomatous came from the Latin word Asomatus which in turn derived from the Greek word Asomatos, which meant roughly 'disembodied, incorporeal'. Asomatous would have entered the English language sometime in the mid 1700's.

'He stared at the thing in front of him, unbridled terror fixing his feet to the floor and refusing to let him move. The thing, whatever it was, was huge, towering up till it almost touched the ceiling, and it's strange asomatous form seemed to almost waver or wobble in the air.'

Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Writing Prompt!

Today's writing prompt is a first sentence.
The idea is to use the given sentence as the opening sentence to your piece, it is then up to you how you use it and where you take your character. Your story can be any length and any genre.

'It's not fair, I try so damn hard and yet there he goes, just strolling through as if it were all as easy as pie, he doesn't even have the good grace to know how damn lucky he is!'

If you would like to share your writing please leave it in the comments section for more fantastic inspiration, or if you'd like to submit any of your work to this website please visit the submissions page.

And if you're looking for more great prompts head over to the Writing Prompts page where you'll find all the prompts from the previous months :)

Happy Writing

Rach x

Monday, 5 December 2016

Motivational Monday! Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition

This is another one with a close closing date, you've got just over a week to get your story written or polished as this one closes on Thursday the 15th of December!

So this week we're featuring The Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition!

This competition is for an original short story up to 1,500 words long. There is no set theme or genre so any is accepted.

The winner will recieve $3,000 in cash, publication in Writer's Digest magazine and a paid trip to the WD conference.
Second place will recieve $1,500 in cash and publication in WD Magazine.
Third place will recieve $500 and publication in WD magazine.
Fourth through the tenth place will each recieve $100 and publication of the title of their story in WD magazine.
Eleventh to twenty-fifth place will recieve a $50 voucher for the WD shop and a copy of the 17th annual WD Competition Collection.
 All of the winning entries will also be on display in the 17th annual Writer's Digest Comptition Collection.

Your story must be original, unpublished (except on a personal blog) and not exceed the 1,500 word limit. You must also submit your story online along with payment of the entry fee which is $20 - $25.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many pieces of work are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't be one those!

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition.

Happy writing

Rach x

Sunday, 4 December 2016


I stumbled across this one and thought I'd share it with you guys. Just keep writing! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Damn Links!

Unfortunately the social media icons to the right of this post ---->>>
do not appear to be working, I am working on fixing this however it's proving a little more difficult than I anticipated, please bear with me.

I did it, they should be working just fine now :)


Friday, 2 December 2016

Artel 16 - What are you going to do?

Three weeks passed and Millon almost forgot to worry. The village went back to it's normal routine's, the villagers soon losing interest in the strange man that lay quiet and unmoving in Nanuka's hut. What would he do when he woke up? That was all they talked about the first week. He was going to die. That was what they said the next week. And by the third week he was old news, uninteresting, unexciting. They had better and more important things to worry about than a man who wouldn't wake up.
Millon went back to his work on the farm, and renewed his efforts to talk to Tella. After Artel had appeared she had sought him out, fascinated to know how he knew the strange man. But Millon hadn't wanted to tell her too much, in the back of his mind he knew that if he told her he had abandoned his quest she would be disappointed in him, and he didn't want to say anything that might jeopardise their new found connection.
Now, nearing the end of the third week, even Tella had lost interest in the strange man and Millon wondered if he was the only one in the village whose thoughts still occupied those spaces. Apart from Nanuka of course, true to her word she tended over Artel daily, making sure he still breathed even though his mind appeared absent. When Millon visited she cast a serious eye over him and he could tell that she was biting her tongue, resisting the urge to tell him that they were wasting their time, that his 'friend' was as good as dead.
He knew it though, as he gazed upon Artel's sunken face. Whatever had happened to him out there had put him through his paces, he was lucky even to have made it this far. And he wouldn't make it much further. Guilt filled Millon's stomach. He should have stayed, he should have kept on searching, he should have found him and helped him, gotten him out of there. His only duty had been to protect and serve Artel as best as he could and he had failed, miserably and terribly, and now Artel lay on the table before him, a stark reminder of just how badly he had failed and how helpless he now was.

Millon was in the chicken coop collecting eggs when Narii appeared, breathless and panting. There was an excitement to her eyes, something had happened. He knew what it was, before she even opened her mouth, and he had already put his basket of eggs down and begun to follow her by the time she had finished.
"Millon, he's awake."
They ran, both of them, through the village streets. It was still early morning and they passed only one or two villagers just beginning their day. They watched at the two ran past, their eyes confused and wondering, pulling at threads and putting two and two together, then they began to follow. Millon couldn't think about the villagers, he couldn't think about his chest heaving as he sucked in breaths, and his legs beginning to ache fiercely as he pushed them onwards. He could only think of Artel, could only wonder what that sallow face would look like with it's eyes open, what that wasted mouth would find the words to say to him. But there wasn't even time to think, because they were already there, walking up the steps and through the door and into the ambient interior of Nanuka's hut. He was panting but not heavily, the work in the fields must have been doing him good.
Artel turned his head slowly as Millon entered, his eyes widening as they found him, recognised him. The Adams apple in his throat bobbed as he swallowed dryly and his lips moved soundlessly for a moment before he could push out the whisper of a word.
"Millon... "
Millon walked forward as if in some kind of daze. What should he say? What should he do? Apologise? He knelt by Artel and looked into the Knights face, saw his muscles working as he tried to move and discovered his own weakness. For the first time he could see fear in the Knights wide eyes, they were brown and deep and wide and afraid, so afraid. He found Millon's hand and held it, his weak, flimsy fingers gripping Millon's strong fleshy ones as hard as they could. Millon held his hand, wondering at the strange role reversal they seemed to be experiencing. All his worries about Artel being angry at him had fled his mind. He no longer cared if he was in trouble, all that mattered was the man in front of him, the fact that somehow, incredibly, he was there, and he was going to get better and better and stronger and stronger.
He was trying to talk again, his lips moving soundlessly as he tried to form the words in his dry mouth.
"Water, Nanuka can he have some water please?"
Narii appeared at his side with a cup and with his free hand Millon dripped a few drops into Artel's mouth, watching as his tongue flickered lightly as his lips, and his eyes closed briefly. When they opened again they were glistening, as if the water had somehow spread to his eyes.
"I... I did it... y... you're here... "
Millon nodded as he watched a tear slide out of Artel's eye and slip slowly down across the greying skin of his cheek, leaving a glistening trail to mark it's progress.
"I'm here," he whispered, "and I'm not going anywhere, and you're going to get better, and then we'll worry about everything else." He wasn't sure if the last part were meant for him or Artel really, but he had felt the need to say it, and now it was out in the air he felt strangely better.
Artel nodded slowly and let his eyes fall closed again, and Millon could feel his hand loosening as he drifted back into sleep.

There was nothing to say, to Nanuka, to Narii, to Sicca, or to the villagers who had gathered outside. Yet they all expected some great, prophetic news from him, they were all waiting to hear what he had to say about the stranger they had all assumed would die. Millon gulped and looked around nervously.
"He woke up," obviously, what a stupid thing to say, "and he's still alive," obviously, come on Millon, but what else was there to say? "He's very weak, it will still take him some time to recover fully, and he's gone back to sleep now. Hopefully next time he wakes we'll be able to talk properly and find out what happened to him." That was it, that was enough.
The villagers nodded and muttered between them and Millon left, pushing his way through the crowds and heading back to his own hut. He couldn't be around them now, couldn't answer all their questions. He needed to be alone, now that it looked as if Artel was going to make it he had some serious thinking to do.
Things would be changing now, whether he liked it or not, and he had to work out what he wanted moving forwards.
"What are you going to do Millon? What are you going to do?"
But he had no answer for himself, and neither did the vast empty plains that stretched out in front of him.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016

So, NaNoWriMo 2016 is officially finished and the frenzy is over until next year!

This was my first year taking part in NaNo, I'd heard about it last year about midway through November and resolved to tackle it this year, and I am so glad I did. 
For me, taking part in, and winning, NaNo was about proving to myself that even though I work three jobs and somehow maintain a social life, I can still make the time to write and create and build something that's just for me. Sometimes I feel like I don't have a hope in hell of ever being a writer, cause by the time I've finished all my jobs and spent an evening at the pub seeing some friends it's Monday again and I've barely managed to write a word let alone a chapter or two. So this was my challenge, to make time in my life for the thing that I love doing the most, the thing that I really want to do. And I have, I have proved to myself not only that it can be done but that I can do it. 

I was so excited that I got off to a flying start, not the best, but I was just above target and holding steady, for about a week, then life happened, I had to go to a funeral with my boyfriend and spent a few days away, then I got ill and spent nearly a week laid up feeling sorry for myself, then it was back to work and catching up with everything I'd missed. And by this time due to being ill and stuck in the house on my own my anxiety was playing up so my brain function was just a mess.

Then suddenly I realised we were nearly at the end of the month, and I started seeing so many people uploading screenshots of their wins onto the Facebook group and I realised that I'd been lagging and I was only halfway there, I'd only reached about 26k, and I only had about a week left. But I had other work to do and not much time, so I got a bit in here and there but by the 28th I'd only made it to 31k. 
Then I got all upset about it and my boyfriend had to console me, (he told me all sorts of rubbish about how stupid it is to count the words cause what really mattered was the words themselves not how many there are, and I told him he was missing the bloody point but I love him for trying to make me feel better!).
The next day I went to work (at an after school club) and while I was watching the kids playing on the field I realised I didn't want to lose, I really really really didn't want to lose, so I decided that damn it I'd manage it somehow! 

Day 29 was gross, I had work from 9 - 1, then home for a quick bit of lunch then off to work again from 2 - 7, then I had to do minute taking for a managing directors meeting in the evening. I got home at about 10.30 - determined to write! By midnight on day 29 I'd hit 34k, and was on a roll, so I continued writing for a couple of hours before going to bed, then I got up in the morning and wrote and then I went to work and then after work I wrote and wrote and wrote, and, with 20 minutes left until midnight on the 30th, I hit 50k! I was actually so paranoid about missing the mark that I managed to write an extra 690 words too! 

So I'm super proud of myself, for making the time to do my thing, even though it's been a bit of a fuck of a month, and for finally get most of a novel out of my head and onto paper (google docs). 

But even though I hit 50k and managed to win NaNo my novel is most definitely not finished, it's only about halfway through! But I feel motivated now, motivated to finish what I've started, so for me December is going to be a continuation of NaNoWriMo, and it's going to be all about getting the rest of my novel out of my head and onto paper (google docs) so that I can then start the (lengthy) process of editing, and (fingers crossed) eventually get publication and finally reach those star spangled heights of authorhood! 

So, having made it to the end I think there are three things I would like to take from this whole crazy month; 

The first is that I actually have more time than I think to write and I just need to keep on prioritising it a bit more! 
The second is that success is possible if you keep positive, stay determined and make an effort to put in the time. 
And the third is that the writing community is awesome! I joined the NaNoWriMo Facebook group and the people are lovely. I've not been overly active in writer's groups or made much of an effort to talk to many other writers, but having discovered the joy of talking about this thing that I love so much with other people who also love it, I am definitely planning to make more writer friends! 

If you took part in NaNoWriMo this year how did you find it? 
What do you think? Did you win? Did you discover something new? Did you enjoy it? Or did you hate it? Will you take part next year? Did you find out something about yourself or your lifestyle? Do you have refreshed motivation to take you forwards? Did you find it hard to find all the words needed, or did you race through and finish super early? Did you have to accept you wouldn't make it this year, and if so how come? Most importantly, do you have a novel, half a novel, or even just part of a novel that you can take forward and work with? 

Rach x 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wordy Wednesday!

This weeks Wordy Wednesday word is;


- A balance of forces or interests.
- Even distribution of weight.
- Balance, Equilibrium.
- Counterbalance.

Equipoise originally comes from the Latin verb pendere which means 'to weigh'. It entered English sometime in the 1600's.

'The three houses had been at odds for years, and many battles had been fought between them, now however they hung in an unexpected equipoise, suffering an unwanted truce, for the time being.'

Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Writing Prompt!

Tuesday is writing prompt day and today's writing prompt is a series of six words!

Your story can be any length and any genre but you must use all six words throughout the story. The words do not have to appear in the same order that they appear here.

"Bottle, Dog, Ship, Orange, Sword, Run"

If you would like to share your writing please leave it in the comments section for more fantastic inspiration for others, or if you would like to submit any of your work to this website please visit the submissions page.

Happy Writing

Rach x

Monday, 28 November 2016

Motivational Monday! Atlantis Short Story Contest

"I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. 
I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be." -Ken Venturi

This weeks Motivational Monday! post is for anyone that fancies a challenge! Because this weeks featured competition closes in two days, on the 30th of November.
So this week we're featuring The Atlantis Short Story Contest!

This competition is for an original short story up to 2,500 words long. There is no set theme or genre so any is accepted.

First place will recieve $300, Second place will recieve $100 and Third place will recieve $50.
The top 15 stories will also recieve an in-depth review and the top 40 will be listed on the website as finalists and will recieve a certificate.

The closing date for this one is the 30th of November so if you want to enter you'll need to get writing or polishing fast!

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information.

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit Atlantis Short Story Contest.

Happy writing

Rach x

Friday, 25 November 2016

Artel 15. An Unwanted Visitor

It was mid afternoon and the hot sun was high in the clear blue sky when Millon heard the shouts echoing through the village, tearing from throat to throat as each villager alerted the next to the news.
Another one. They'd found another one.
A puzzled frown wrote itself slowly across Millon's face. Another one? Another what? What had they found? He started across the field he'd been turning, leaving his spade stuck in the ground like an angry arrow, making a beeline for Tella, who he could see emerging from the cow shed. She, too, was making her way slowly towards the village, looking to see what the commotion was about. He quickened his pace, wanting to reach her side and be the person that she shared this unusual and exciting experience with... whatever it was.
She turned at the sound of his voice and his heart fluttered at the sight of the smile that lit up her pretty face. He broke into a jog and within a few seconds was at her side.
"Hi Millon, have you heard? They've found another one! I cant believe it, two, in just a span of several moons, usually no one makes it through the forest, let alone all the way out here to us!"
"Wh... what do you mean no one? What is it they've found? Who've found?"
"You don't know? Silly Millon, it's another you, the hunters have found another stranger from beyond the forest!"
 Millon's frown deepened. Another him? Another stranger from beyond the forest, when strangers rarely made it this far... another man for the village to get excited about, to vie for Tella's attention. But that was silly, petty. Then another thought slipped into his mind, 'usually no one makes it through the forest,' that's what she'd said. What if Artel had made it after all, and had somehow found his way here? He'd recognise Millon from a mile away, even with different clothes and longer hair, he wasn't stupid, he'd be angry Millon had left him, and he'd make him continue their quest, make him leave the village he had just begun to call home. A wave of cold fear washed through him but he gulped it back and smiled at Tella, who was patiently waiting for a response.
"Oh," he began, "that's amazing, I would have thought more people would have made it here?"
Tella shook her head and laughed a little.
"No way, it's hard to get through the forest, I think most of those that try probably don't know about half the things that lie waiting in there to surprise them, I reckon there's no other forest in the world like that one. And if you don't get eaten or captured by the things you can't imagine then the darkness comes and takes you for it's own."
Millon thought of the night he and Artel had shared round the fire, when the blackness of night had risen into the air and descended upon them, he had stabbed it but he had known that wouldn't kill it, something like that couldn't be killed by any normal weapon. He shivered at the memory, it was not a nice one, and followed Tella off the farm and into the village, half interested and half fearful of what he would find there.

There was already a large crowd of people gathered around the hunting party making their way slowly through the village. At first sight no other person was visible, but it soon became apparent from the crowds mutterings that the person they had found was unconscious and lay on a makeshift sling carried between two of the hunters. Millon and Tella followed the ever swelling group of villagers through the streets up to the hut where the elders met, trying their hardest to see past the mass of bodies but unable to. They stopped briefly outside the elders hut, there was some hushed conversation, then a bent old woman shuffled out and joined their procession, leading them to her own hut, Nanuka the healer. Whoever the man was he must be hurt bad for Nanuka to be called out. They stopped outside Nanuka's hut and the hunters hissed at the villagers, signalling for them to back away while the person, a man, was lifted from the sling and carried inside. Millon craned his neck, a feeling of dread filling his stomach as he caught sight of a very familiar pair of leather boots. It was definitely a man, and he was the right shape and size, and he thought he had seen a flash of brown hair. Nanuka's door closed leaving just one man stood on the doorstep, a hush fell across the crowd. Sicca turned and eyed them with his steely gaze, then puffed out his chest.
"My hunters and I have indeed found a man, not far from here, barely conscious, severely dehydrated and malnourished. Nanuka will do her best to heal him, but we do not know if he will survive. If he does, then he will be welcome to stay until he is healed, but we have already accepted one outsider into our midst this season and cannot go accepting any more. If it does not look like he will survive by moon high tonight then we will end his suffering, quickly and painlessly."
Murmurs rippled through the crowd and Millon felt himself go cold. End his suffering, painlessly and quickly. What if it was Artel? If so, he couldn't let the hunters end him. What if it wasn't Artel? Then it was none of his business. But if it was and he didn't say anything, then it may as well be him that drew the sword and plunged it through his chest. And if it was and he did get better, then he wouldn't want to stay here anyway, and the villagers might know something useful about the power hidden in the mountain, and despite his reluctance to leave Millon still cared about the fate of the world he had called home for so long. Besides, Artel might not mind if he stayed in the village and let the knight go on alone, it wasn't like he'd ever really been much help anyway. Artel could tell everyone back home that he had died in the forest, fallen victim to some creature or poison, that would be perfect, then no one would ever think to look for him, not that he thought anyone would come looking for him anyway.
He stood still, deliberating as the crowds of villagers dispersed, back to their tasks, their routines, their farms and workshops and businesses. A tug at his arm brought him back to reality and he looked round to see Tella urging him to go with her back to the farm, back to work. He turned to follow her, then realised he couldn't, he just couldn't leave his master, the knight he had sworn to protect, his companion, lying in there, maybe dying. He owed him that at least. Millon shook his head.
"Tella I, I think I might know the man, I must speak to Sicca."
Tella looked confused but only nodded, accepting in her beautiful, simple way, that some things fit together no matter how unexpected.
Together they walked towards Nanuka's hut, the door of which was now firmly shut. Nerves coiled in Millon's stomach, but no matter what the outcome he knew he was doing the right thing.
"Sicca!" Millon knocked three times on the hardwood door as he called out to the chief hunter, then waited, a long pause stretching out. He raised his fist and was just about to knock again when the door swung inwards and Sicca appeared, his grisly face sporting a unhappy grimace.
"What? I gave information, what do you want?"
"I think, I think I may know this man."
Sicca raised an eyebrow and regarded Millon.
"And how's that now then? You leave him out there for the crows did you?"
Millon balked. "N... no, of course not! I believe he may have been my..." He hesitated, he didn't want to say master, not in front Sicca, and not in front of Tella who had stayed with him and stood just inches behind him in the doorway. "Companion. We were travelling together, but we got separated, I searched but I thought he was... lost to me."
Sicca sniffed, casting an disbelieving eye over the two of them.
"You best come in and have a look then I suppose."

It was Artel. As sure as day was day and night was night. There was no mistaking his well set frame, his high cheekbones, his unruly brown hair. Though his face now sported a dirty growth of beard and his body was thin and angular, starved, withering. His cheek bones caved into his face and the faint rise and fall of his chest seemed somehow pathetic, as if it were hardly worth the effort it took. He looked half the man that Millon had known, and twice as old, yet he was still, undeniably, Artel. Millon only nodded at Sicca and Nanuka, not trusting himself to speak out loud, then knelt by Artel's side and took the knights now almost skeletal hand in his. An unexpected rush of emotion shot through him and he had to blink back the tears that pricked at the corners of his eyes. What had happened to this man, this man that he had sworn to accompany and protect to the best of his abilities? He should have stayed, he should have stayed in the forest, searched until he found him. All the time he had spent here happy in the village when Artel had been out there, fighting for his life, struggling through the Gods only knew what kind of hell, alone. Guilt racked his chest and Millon laid his forehead on the side of the makeshift sickbed, sure that he had never felt so wretched in all his life and wishing that there was something he could do about it, anything.
"He is very sick, I am afraid there is not much I can do for him."
Millon looked up and spoke with a fierceness he did not know he possessed.
"You will not let this man die, and you will not end his suffering. This man is a fighter, more so than any man I have met before now. He has fought his way out of whatever hell he has inhabited for the past moons, and he has fought his way to us, let him fight his way back to the living!"
Nanuka and Sicca exchanged a look, a look containing a conversation Millon would never be privy to. Then they parted, Sicca stalking out of the hut while Nanuka turned her wrinkled face back towards Millon.
"Very well."
"Thank you."

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Raven

The moonlight shimmers across her dark starry eyes, glittering and dazzling against the night sky. It dances and flits, slipping across the glistening surface like ice skaters across a rink. Gliding, effortlessly, easily, in recurring patterns that change and break and refract and reform. I am lost in those eyes, in the vision of beauty held captive for a moment before me, reflected, I know, in my own eyes. In that second my heart breaks, shatters into a thousand pieces like a broken crystal, spraying across the floor in a thousand deadly glittering shards. This is pain. This is what it really feels like to hurt. But at the exact same time it mends, healing and growing, the tiny cells and particles reaching out to each other and sewing themselves back together, welcoming their broken halves with open arms. This is joy, beauty, happiness. This is what it really feels like to love. I am still, in the thick oily darkness of night. And although I am clothed I am naked as a new born child, stripped bare in front of the eyes of the universe, staring out at me from a face I am sure cannot simply be from this earth. Her moonlight eyes shine down upon me, asking me over and over a question that I cannot answer. My mind turns over on itself, folding and crumpling like an unwanted piece of paper, with a crackle and a rustle barely audible even to my own ears. She is everywhere, all around me, filling the space both outside and inside of me, filling me up like a noxious gas, entering through my mouth, my nose, my eyes, my ears. I am lost in her eyes, drowning in a beauty my tired brain cannot begin to comprehend. Is this it? I feel like this is it, as if some door has been opened and I've been allowed, for a brief second, to gaze upon the wonders of the universe, to access all the secrets of life. Yet as I stand here gazing into her moonlit eyes, drinking in all the secrets they hold, I find I cannot begin to comprehend any of it. I am being offered that which I can never hope to attain, for the simply chemistry in my brain does not allow it, will not allow it. I am lost, wallowing in a pit of information I cannot hope to glean, full of the sorrows of heartbreak and the joys of love. I am at the same time one with all around me, and yet so distant that I may as well be lost in the vast openness of space, wandering and alone. Yet even the feeling gives me leave to wonder, after all I have seen today, if even space is as empty as it may at first seem to our eyes. Maybe we simply do not have the eyes to see, and so we are unable to perceive what stands before us, in front of us, all around us. I am falling. I can feel it now, the motion slipping past my inconsequential body, like soft silk passing across my dry skin. Down I go, further and further, slowly tumbling through the darkness surrounding me like a thick black cloth blocking the light, like a raven obscuring me from sight wrapping my body in it's many black feathers. I let myself fall, it is not such a bad feeling really, quite calming, relaxing, almost like sinking into a hot bath. Let the raven take me, I think, let the raven take me.
I blink and I am back in my body, standing across the hall from the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, watching the moonlight dance across her dark starry eyes.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Writing Prompt!

Today's writing prompt is an image. (And I really like this one, I think it's got oodles of potential!)
What's the story here? How did your characters wind up here? What are they going to do next? Where is this?

Mesa Arch III

If you would like to share your writing please leave it in the comments section for more fantastic inspiration, or if you would like to submit any of your work to this website please visit the submissions page.

Happy Writing

Rach x

Friday, 18 November 2016

Artel 14. Home at Last

Millon woke with a start and lay in the dark silence listening to sounds of the wind blowing against the small hut. Now that he was awake he wasn't sure what had woken him, only that he was truly and definitely awake. Long moments passed in the darkness and he rolled over, squeezing his eyes shut and imagining himself asleep again. It didn't work. His mind ticked over and his eyes eased open again, staring into the darkness. He sighed to himself, he needed the bathroom but that meant leaving the warmth of the blankets that covered his small bed. Slowly he pushed them back and clambered out, reaching across the floor for the woollen jumper he had discarded the night before and gratefully pulling it over his head. While the days here were warm the nights had a clean coldness to them that sparked across his skin, leaving goosebumps and shivers in its wake.
He shuffled out of the small room and into the main living area inside the hut, a room barely bigger than his own, and pulled the door slowly open, careful not to let it creak too badly. Outside the full moon shone down on the sleeping village, casting a white glow that left everything looking ethereal and somewhat otherworldly. He slipped around the outside of his small hut and made his way into the bushes where he gratefully released his stored pee with a soft sigh. Afterwards he stood next to the hut, strangely not tired and marvelling at this world he had found himself in. Dawn would break soon, he could see it in the slight lightening of the sky. The dark blue black would recede into a lighter purple blue, which would in turn give way to the clear blue of the daylight sky. Somewhere in between the sun would rise and that would send sparks of green and yellow and orange and red and pink across the sky, lighting it up like some kind of strange firecracker. He had never seen a sunrise so beautiful until he had come here, had not known that it had existed. Decided, Millon walked slowly round the back of his hut and climbed up the side until he reached the top and pulled himself on to the flat roof. He supposed you probably weren't supposed to sit up there, it probably wasn't good for the structural integrity of the building, but he was sure it would hold, he wasn't that heavy after all, and it was the best place in the village to watch the sunrise.
Millon pulled his tobacco and a small wooden pipe out of his pocket, filled the pipe, then lit it and began to puff. This is what life is all about, he thought as he watched the sky above him slowly start to lighten, this is what life is all about, sitting up here watching the sun rise above my home while enjoying a smoke. Perfect.

He had found himself at the village several weeks ago, half starved and delirious from walking through the desert with no water. He'd hardly known what words he'd been trying to mutter, and hadn't really believed it was real. But the people had been great. They'd taken him in and nursed him back to health, showing him a kindness that no one in his whole life had ever shown him before. When he'd been well enough to talk again they'd asked him where he'd come from, how they could help him return, they could supply him with travelling clothes and food for the journey, maybe even spare a horse. But he'd politely declined, telling them he had no home to go back to, no home that he wanted to go back to anyhow. They hadn't understood, but they hadn't asked any more questions and they had given him a bed in a big shared hut in the middle of the village that he could stay in until he decided what he wanted to do.
Another week had passed and he was on his feet again. He'd started helping at the farm, feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs, milking the cows and turning the soil for planting. He liked the work, it was the first thing he had ever done that he was good at, and the people seemed grateful, especially the pretty milk maid who had first shown him how to correctly pull on the cows teats in order to release the milk. She'd blushed as she'd shown him and he thought the pink glow that spread across her simple face might just have been the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
A week later he'd plucked up the courage to ask the village elders if he could stay. He told them how he had no home to go back to, that he loved life in the village and was willing to work all the days the Gods granted to him. He told them how beautiful their world was, and how much he longed to be a part of it. That this was the first place in his life he'd felt like he had fit in. The elders had deliberated for a moment, they did not usually accept outsiders into their village. But Millon had been grateful, and had already proved he could be hard working. He was granted leave to stay, and given a small hut on the outskirts of the village that he could call his own. The old lady who had lived there had died a few moons before and nobody had claimed the small hut so it was his if he wanted it. He'd never been so happy in his life.

He'd settled into village life easily, getting to know the locals and working hard on the farm. For the first time he felt relaxed, and for the first time in his life he had friends, people who appreciated him. He found himself laughing with the customers at the local store, chatting amiably with the milk maid at the farm, and sharing an easy understanding with the animals he worked with. Some mornings he woke, afraid that if he opened his eyes he might discover it was all a dream, but it never was.
All thoughts of Artel had been driven from his mind. The former knight had been lost somewhere in the forest, he was gone and there was nothing Millon could have done for him, he understood that now. And the lands here on this side of the forest were peaceful and untouched by the war that had ravaged his home land. It was probably won now anyway, by one side or the other, his quest was obsolete. Besides, why should he try so hard for a life and a people that had always pushed him aside, always viewed him as worthless, useless, an irritation they didn't know what to do with. This, village life, this was what he had born for, this was his home now.
As he sat and watched the sunrise turn the skies into a mirage of refracting colours he wondered absently about the quest he should have been on. The quest that was merely more than legend anyway, that had most likely been born out of folklore and was nothing but the tales told by old wives to their babes in the night times. Yet still he wondered. Somewhere in the snow capped mountains that he could see far the west was a place, if the legends were true, a place that held an unimaginable power, a force of nature so great it most likely could not be tamed. If it was true, if it did exist, it was probably best left buried at the heart of the mountain. No man should have the chance to wield that kind of power, it was too great for him. Yet still he found himself wondering what it could have been. The tales were incomplete, pointing towards a great power, a great energy, yet none of them told of its nature. But it was a mystery he would have to live with. He had no intention of ever leaving the village he now called his home, and although he found he harboured a secret curiosity, he had no desire for power. He was happy here.

Millon watched the sunrise fade into the clear blue sky of morning and puffed easily at his pipe. As the lights slipped away and the sun rose he climbed down from the roof, stashed his pipe in his pocket, and pulled on his daytime clothes. A new day was beginning and he had chickens to feed, eggs to collect, cows to milk, and earth to turn. Not to mention a pretty young milk maid to woo.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Good Morning Winter

It's cold out here,
Beneath the grey stormy clouds,
Hanging in the sky like a thick foggy fungus,
While the rain patters lightly,
Upon the concrete floor around me,
Droplets slipping sliding down the sides of grey mountainous buildings,
And in the distance bare topped hills brave the worst of the weather,
And trees wave the tips of their branches above the faraway rooftops like tiny dancing stick insects,
But the sky there is grey too,
Grey and dull and dark,
Like lingering damp on a ceiling,
Growing and spreading and darkening with each day that passes,
Winter is on its way,
Cold and dark and wet,
Not like the snowy 'scapes infused in our brains as children,
All white fields and red breasted robins singing in the snow laden boughs,
While the full moon above shines down from a clear star strewn sky,
Winter here is dark and chill,
Full of cold drizzling raindrops oozing from the ever dark sky,
And winds that howl and tear and rip,
Pulling at your clothes and your hair and your sanity,
It's a damp that swells and clings to your boots and seeps into your socks,
Invading the privacy of your body and soaking into your bones so your no longer you but winter instead,
You can smell it in the air,
It's a soft wet smell,
Like wet dog except its heavier and hangs in the air like a thick permeating smoke,
Pushing its way into your mouth and up your nose and down your throat,
It's wet England,
It's the smell of damp and mould and mushed up leaves and earth all rolled in together and rotting in a barren landscape full of naked twisted trees whose gnarled branches stretch into the ever grey sky like desperate fingertips reaching for a salvation that never comes,
Good morning winter,
It's good to see you again this year,
Perhaps tomorrow will bring the crisp bright sunlight that glitters across the frosty fields,
Sparkling off the frozen mud and iced over puddles that line our sweet country,
Perhaps tomorrow will bring the sharp sweet stillness of the clean winter air,
The light blue streaks that break the grey monotony of the dirty skies,
And the miniature icicles that cling to the slim blades of grass bending in the fields like elegant dancers,
Perhaps even if it doesn't it may still be beautiful,
In a damp, grey, English kind of way.

Rach x

Monday, 14 November 2016

Motivational Monday! Overland Neilma Sydney Short Story Prize


This weeks Motivational Monday! post features submissions for The Overland Neilma Sydney Short Story Prize!

This competition is for an original piece of fiction up to 3,000 words long. There is no set theme but your story must not have been previously published, including online, or be partway through the process of publication.

The competition is open to writers all across the world however submissions must be in English.

There is an entry fee of $20 for anyone not currently subscribed to Overland or $12 for those who are. If you wold like to subscribe and enter the competition at the same time you can pay a one off fee of £56.

The winning stories will be published in Overland in Autumn 2017. First place will also receive $4000 and two runners up will each receive $500.

The closing date for this one is midnight on the 20th of November so if you want to enter you'll need to get writing or polishing fast!

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information.

To read the rules, find out more and to enter please visit Overland Neilma Sydney Short Story Prize.

Happy writing

Rach x

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Seer In The Tower

By Matt Murdoc

The Seer in the tower sat quietly, writing in his volgen with one eye on the liquid surface of his silver divination dish. The Altar was set to the ancient measure - no better standard could be achieved.
His name was Ramthar. He was an adept, a sage - and yet - he was a broken man.
Now, as he sat peering through his scrying glass, the ethers swarmed and danced through the gulf of his perception. Once again though - nothing. Only frustration and failure.
There were so many things that he had yet to do, alas - so little time.
His familiar, a small Nenderling Pig by the name of Grenchen, sat content next to the burning grate of the stone fireplace - gnawing on a sweet turnip.
The Seer was desperate for a sign. The spirits around him were tied to the past, no spark of of a new form had manifested in these three long nights  - and tomorrow the cold bloody moon would close the astral door for another long, bitter cycle.

To the left hand of the Seer, on the altar before him, sat a pewter goblet containing his last remaining draft of the elixir, which could either save or damn his task.
Three, maybe four precious gulps - that was all.
The Crone had forsaken him once again. A year had passed with no word from her.
He had owed her a life debt for these fifty long years. A debt born of deception and wickedness.
She would provide the ether - but only on the condition that he would scry the depths of the phantom void for her.
He did not know back then, when he first fell doomed into her spell, that the elixir of sight would only be his by way of the witch. She would never give up that method, never would he learn the esoteric knowledge of the crucible and cauldron.
If only he could know the secret of brewing the elixir - if only. So subtle a method - he was sure of that, but so precise an incantation was required that even the master Apothecary had failed to mimic the brew.
He so craved that secret, and dreamed to be the master of his own sorcery - then he could be free of the old hag forever. He could pass through the vail of the ether and become of himself anew.

Her name was Setestia. She had come to him all those long, cold years ago as a maid, a ruse of course, a hoodwinking visage, conjured by the foul crone to ensnare the young scholar within a cage of mystical imprisonment - to forever doom him to be incomplete and subservient to her every whim.
He would never see the fruits of his own labors, he would never feel the warmth of his own accomplishments, nor the sanctity of acceptance from any other soul.
Forever a slave - alone - and never to be absolved of this burden of darkness.

Beyond the silver forest, across the lake of tears, a winding path so rarely tread, lead to the Iron hill. A place of fear. A place protected by ancient and powerful dark spirits.
There, in a grey cottage carved from bones, the witch, Setestia, sat at her spinning wheel.
Down and up, slow but sure the dips and rises of her rhythmic foot counted the pace of the spell. The old enchanted spinning wheel, so gross and distorted from the years of it’s poisonous bidding  - did the rest.
She sang her durge of incantation, alone and shrouded in her purple shawl of omens - invisible to the world of men, chanting her song of sorcery - her prayer of deception.

“Come to me, mine darling ones, my dearest puppets, my precious sons.
Come thee here, your flesh and bones, your all, your soul, now mine alone.
Come now naked, be stripped of hope, your mind and body, come to mine home.
Be thee mine, in dream and kind, in flesh and spirit, ye are - now mine!”

She stirred her copper chalice with a burned Owl bone, three times to the left for the ages of womanhood - Maid, Mother and Crone.
Then, she spat into the infernal mixture before stirring the potion once more. Again three times, this time to the right, for the ages of the man enslaved - Squire, Father and Hermit.
Finally, she added a drop of water from the pool of Goetia - the mirror pond of the underworld, and she stirred then again, this time three times up and down in the form of a cross. “Three, - times three, - times three - Mine gods below me - So mote it be!”

As she sealed her spell, far away in the prison tower, the Seer fell, bent doubled on the ground, his silver dish filled with honey and water fell clattering to the ground and the scrying glass fell backwards upon the altar, fading into darkness as the portal of vision closed upon the Seer once again.
Grenchen jumped in shock and spat the turnip from her mouth as her master fell powerless and mewing to the hard stone floor beneath the altar. The small Pig pounced forward and ran to her dear Master's side.
“Master! My poor Master! Be strong and stay ye here by my side! I beg thee to stay in charge of thine heart! Do not leave! Do not fade! I beg thee Master! Please remain!”
“I remain my love.” Said Ramthar as he writhed weakly upon the floor in the scattered altar dressings.
“But now the ethers have gone once more - the witch contains us here forsaken again. The bloody moon has risen. Now we must rest again. I must think. Go now Grenchen - fetch the pot and bread. - We must eat and gain strength  - before the new sun rises.”