#BookReview A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing @Magpie_Richie

Title: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Date Published: 12th June 2019

Genre: Non Fiction/Writing

Description:

‘A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook’ provides detailed guidance on the pillars of storytelling as well as aspects of writing that rarely feature in other books, such as writing fight scenes and world-building. At times the focus shifts away from the technical elements and considers the philosophies behind writing, ways to help you maintain focus, and methods of battling the demons of doubt that forever loom over our shoulders.

Section two explores the thriving genre of fantasy and the many facets that make it what it is, before looking at the histories of our world that so often inspire our fantasy tales.

The final part looks at the things that come after you’ve finished your story—formatting, peer-reviewing, finding publishers—and other things the contemporary writer can do to enhance their careers, such as making and maintaining a website, blogging, and marketing methods.

By the end, you’ll have a sound foundation upon which to build as well as the tools to venture on alone with courage and confidence.

Review:

This is a seriously overdue review, Richie Billing himself sent me a copy of this last year and I’ve only gotten round to reviewing it now!

I write mostly mystery but I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with fantasy but I thought there was no way I could write something like that, so I was interested to see what A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook had to offer.

Written in a friendly conversational style, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook offers advice on characters, world building and even editing.

Don’t be put off by the title A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook because there are plenty of practical tips on things like characters and plotting that are helpful to any wannabe author no matter the genre.  

What made this standout for me was not only was there loads of writing advice, there were suggestions of extra reading on writing and editing which I really appreciated. 

Like most writing advice books, not everything will work for you but writing is a learning curve afterall!

A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook is a well written and helpful book that I’m glad I’ve got a copy of on my kindle shelf for when I want to tackle a fantasy story in the future.

About The Author:

Richie Billing writes fantasy fiction, historical fiction and stories of a darker nature. His short fiction has been published by, amongst others, Kzine, TANSTAAFL Press, Bewildering Stories, Liquid Imagination, The Magazine of History & Fiction, Aether and Ichor, and Far Horizons. His debut novel, Pariah’s Lament, will be published by Fiction Vortex in Summer 2020. He co-hosts the podcast The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed, a venture inspired by the requests of readers of his acclaimed book on writing, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook. Most nights you can find him up into the wee hours scribbling away or watching the NBA. Find out more at www.richiebilling.com.

#Review 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner by Mariëlle S. Smith @rararesources

Hello lovelies! Today I have my review of 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner with a fabulous giveaway (see bottom of the post) but first a little about the book:

52 Weeks - cover-image

Title: 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner by Mariëlle S. Smith

Date Published: 1st December 2019

Genre: Non Fiction/writing

Description:

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be? 

52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long. 

52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for. 

52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week. 

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality? 
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks? 
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way? 
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer? 

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you. 

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them. 

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.

You can buy your copy here: https://mswordsmith.nl/journal/

Review:

I want to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

52 weeks of writing has been compiled by Mariëlle S. Smith, writing coach who has managed to publish eight books since 2018 which as a person like myself who can’t even finish one seems like a huge feat!

I want to point out this book is not a how to write manual. It’s something that will help you identify what is getting in your way of writing, help you set goals and recognise when you might be setting yourself up for failure.

I found myself reflecting on what is holding me back, I still haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of it yet but I hope with the use of this book I will do soon!

There are also some helpful writing prompts along the way if you’re struggling with your creativity.

52 weeks of writing is a handy book that feels like you’ve got your own personal writing coach! 

About The Author:

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and52 Weeks - Author Photo custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count. 

Social Media Links – 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mswordsmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariellessmith/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtnYOpjmj83mvMM2L348F1w

52 Weeks - Giveaway

Giveaway to win….

THREE paperback copies of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner,

TWO paperback copies of Tarot for Creatives: 21 Tarot Spreads to (Re)Connect to Your Intuition and Ignite That Creative Spark, and

ONE coaching session.

https://mswordsmith.nl/en_GB/giveaway/

New Year’s Resolutions and 2019 recap #Goals #Blogger

Hello lovelies! I know I’m a little late with these resolutions but better late than never as they always say. So I’m just going to give you a quick recap of 2019’s resolutions and how I did before I set myself some for 2020:

2019

2019’s resolutions were:

Write a little every day. 

Hmm, I sort of failed at this. I did write a lot more last year, and I also took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2018 but I can’t say it paid off that much. The only thing I can say is, finally, at the very end of the year, I wrote something that I’m excited about. I’ve even started working on a sequel.

Try more genre that I don’t usually read like:

Historical Fiction,

Non Fiction,

Romance,

Fantasy,

Fairytales,

Classics

Paranormal romance.

I did pretty well with this one. I discovered my new favourite rom-com writer Rich Amooi. I also read a few books like Bonnie & Stan, The Fathers, The Sons and The Anxious Ghost and The Ten Thousand Doors of January, all of which were out of my comfort zone.

Cut down on blog tours.

Ha ha. I have no idea why I put this one down. I think I’ve taken part in more blog tours than the previous year.

Set my Goodreads goal for 100 books. The reason I only picked 100 is because I got to a certain point last year where I stopped enjoying reading, I want to take my time a little more this year.

Okay, so the final count was 135 books. I didn’t slow down but what can I say? I’m addicted to reading!

Get my NetGalley feedback ratio up to 80%.

A fail on this but last time I checked I was up to 73%, not too shabby I’d say.

Attempt my first read along.

Do you know I forgot I even did this one! I participated in a read along over on Instagram to read Pet Semetary by Stephen King.

So here are my 2020 resolutions:

2020 new year wide

Get a handle on my FOMO.

So FOMO, or fear of missing out, is the bane of my existence. There were a couple of books this year I probably would never have picked up if I hadn’t been so caught up with not missing out. I have to remind myself, I can always buy them later.

Read more books from my shelves.

I own over two hundred physical books, of which I’ve read less than half. I’m not even going to count how many unread ones I have on my kindle.

Start editing my first cosy mystery.

I’m awful at editing (if you’ve read my reviews you may have seen the amount of typos that slip through the net). It’s something I’m really dreading but if I ever want to be published, I know I need to try harder.

Set my Goodreads target at 120 and carry on reading out of my comfort zone.

Finally get my feedback ratio up to 80% on NetGalley.

Sounds simple but I need to curb the urge to request books, they all look so good!

Give my blog a much needed makeover.

Yep, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for months. Maybe even a change of blog name, so people stop confusing me for other bloggers.

Take better care of myself.

My health, including my mental health, took a nosedive at the second half of the year but as usual I just pushed through it and tried to ignore it, eating my feelings and gaining almost a stone in weight along the way. I can’t do this to myself any more, especially with the risk of diabetes having over me and I need to get a handle on it.

Thank you for reading! 

Have you got any resolutions for this year? If you’ve got any blog posts about your resolutions for 2020 please feel free to link them in the comments, I’d love to read them.

#ShortStory A Hunter’s Night Off by L.J Cassidy #Halloween2019

Happy Halloween everyone! I haven’t shared one of my short stories for a while so I thought I’d share this fun little story. I wrote this in prep for NaNoWriMo which starts tomorrow and I will be taking part of, and hopefully winning (wish me luck I’m gonna need it!). Without further ado, here’s A Hunter’s Night off…

Mist hung low over the ground, making it feel like I was trapped in a cheesy old horror movie. Occasionally the wind howled, whipping up fallen Autumn leaves. 

It was the perfect Halloween night.

Well, that was if you were inside, nice and warm, not out Trick or Treating with your eight year old son on your first night off in weeks. 

I’m still trying to figure out how my husband had convinced me not only to go out but to dress up and ‘get into the spirit of things’ yet managed to wiggle out of coming himself…I swear there must have been some sort of hypnosis involved.  It didn’t help that the vampire outfit I’d chosen seemed to be made out of the thinnest material known to man, and was as much use as using a tissue against a thunderstorm at keeping the cold out. I tried pulling my cloak tighter around my body but it made no difference. I was slowly turning into an icicle.  

Next year I was dressing up as an Eskimo.

I’d been trying and failing to get Connor to go home for the last five minutes, it wasn’t working.

“Just one more house mum, please,” he whined.

We’d been at it for almost an hour and his bag was barely half full. I felt bad. This was a new neighbourhood and we’d yet to work out who answered their door and who didn’t. I could see him shivering, his own superhero costume doing little to keep out the cold. 

“Fine, just one more but then we’re going home.”

He clapped his hands together and ran towards a house at the end of the street. It didn’t look much different from the other red brick houses around it but there was something definitely off about the place. Maybe it was because every window lit up, like a beacon in the darkness, looking so inviting. I could feel my sixth sense tingling.

“Connor, maybe not that one-”

It was too late, he’d already rang the bell.

By the time that I’d marched up to Connor’s side the door had swung open. A plump old lady stood, surrounded by a golden light. 

“Trick or treat,” cried Connor holding out his bag.

The woman put a hand to her bosom.

“Oh my, aren’t you darling.”

Her eyes travelled to me. There was something in her expression that I couldn’t read.

Another alarm bell rang.

“Well, young man, I have some sweets inside the house but the bowl is far too heavy for me to carry, would you like to come in and pick some?”

“Yes please.”

Connor ran inside before I could stop him.

I let out a sigh. 

He knew not to go into strange houses, what has gotten into him?

The old woman when to close the door but I stuck my foot in.

“I better come in hadn’t I? I don’t want him eating you out of house and home.”

She let out a little laugh.

“Of course. You look like you could do with a cup of tea, warm you up a treat.”

The woman opened it just enough for me to slip in.

I expected Connor to be in the hallway, hovering over a bowl of sweets but he wasn’t there.

“Connor, where are you?”

A strange smell reached my nose, coppery, earthy, maybe.  

“Oh, he’s probably in the kitchen. That’s where I left the sweets. How about I go and get him?”

I could feel the hairs on my arms rise, every sense I had screamed that I should run.

“No, if you point me in the right direction, I’ll get him.”

I took a step away from her but in the blink of an eye she was in front of me.

“I don’t think so my dear.”

She cocked her head to the side and gave me a wide smile.

That’s when I saw her fangs.

Oh, the irony wasn’t lost on me.

“I’m afraid you’re mine now.”

My hand went to my waist, where I usually keep my trusty tools for hunting but I remember I’d taken them off, convinced I was having a night off from all that.

Her nostrils flared.

“You don’t seem that scared. Not at all like my usual prey.”

I adopted a defensive stance.

“I’m not your usual prey.”

She pounced but I was ready for her, catching her in the chest with my boot.

The vampire hissed, steam rising from her chest.

“Silver capped boots, never leave the house without them.”

“Hunter.”

“Got it in one.”

We circled each other, I kept an eye out for any weapon.

I spotted the wooden banister, if I could snap off a piece. It’d make a perfect stake.

My moment of lost concentration gave the creature the edge, charging at me. It caught me around the waist, we crashed to the ground.

I could smell it’s fetid breath, as its strong hands held me down, tearing at my outfit.

Bucking and twisting made no difference, it clung to me.

My boot had worked loose, if I could reach it…

“I’m going to drain you dry, then I’ll start on your little boy but don’t worry, I won’t kill him. I’ll turn him, make him into my son.”

My fingers grazed the back of my boot.

“Why do you creatures always insist on telling me your evil plan before you do it? I mean you could have killed me by now but no, you just yap, yap, yap away.”

It snarled.

My hand enclosed round the boot.

“Oh, I’m going to enough killing you.”

It reared back, opening its jaw wide, ready to rip my throat out.

I brought the boot up, catching it on the face. It was enough for me to wiggle out of its grasp.

I ran for the bannister, elbowing out one of the balusters.

This time when the vampire charged at me, I met it with a sharp piece of wood to the heart.

It burst into dust.

“Mum…”

I heard Connor’s voice. Quickly I shoved my foot back into my boot, readjusted my torn outfit and tried to move as much dust out of the way as possible.

He burst into the hallway a moment later carrying a huge bowl of sweets, the telltale signs of chocolate around his mouth.

“Where’s the lady gone?”

“Oh, she had to go to bed but she told me you can have as many sweets as you can fit your bag.”

His big blue eyes lit up.

“Really?”

“Really really.”

He started shoving handfuls of sweets into his bag until it was almost bursting.

“Shall we go home now?” he asked.

“Come on then.”

I held out my hand which he took, making a mental note to come back later to check there were no more vampires hanging around. The last thing I want is to settle in a new neighbourhood with a vampire nest in it.

So much for my night off.

© L.J. Cassidy 2019

#BlogTour #Review Motivation Matters by Wendy H Jones @WendyHJones #LoveBooksTours

Title: Motivation Matters by Wendy H Jones

Date Published: 21st May 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction

Description:

Has your motivation to write flown out of the window? Do feelings of self-doubt creep in and haunt your writing day? Looking for a way to beat the doubts into submission? Award-winning author and writing coach Wendy H. Jones shows you how, with 366 glorious exercises you can use to boost creativity and change the way you think and feel about your writing. Techniques that can easily be incorporated into your day, becoming part of your writing routine. It’s time to change the way you think and feel, in order to set your creativity free.

You Can Buy Your Copy Here:

https://amzn.to/2IsnOu2

motivation-matters

Review:

I want to thank Kelly over at Love Books Tours for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Motivation Matters is a fantastic book packed full of little tips and tricks to help break you out of that creative rut.

There’s 366 tidbits of advice, written in a fun friendly style that almost makes you think that you’ve got your own little personal coach, egging you on. You can dip in and out or work through them on consecutive days, it’s really up to you!

Like most writers, I struggle with procrastination and self doubt, Motivation Matters helped me step back a little, relax and not be so hard on myself.

Of course there’s going to be a bit of trial and error as you work your way through the book, not everything is bound to work for you but this book is really about helping you find out what does work.

I’d recommend Motivation Matters for anyone who needs that extra boost of inspiration to help you reach your goals.

About The Author:

Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series WendyHJones2018featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy, she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

Twitter:

@WendyHJones

#BlogTour #Review The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey @morgenwriteruk @BOTBSPublicity

Title: The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook by Morgen Bailey

Genre: Non Fiction/Writing

Description:

Over a thousand sentence starts, three per day, with writing tips at the end of each week to motivate and inspire, providing kick-starts to avoid the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. Useful for any writer at any level, whether they have 10 minutes or 10 hours, to start a new project. Also an ideal tool for writing groups.

With a combination of six first-person, six second-person, six third-person and three non-specific point of view starts per week, there are plenty to choose from. Beginning at ‘Day 1’ this book has been designed to be started at any time of the year, and regardless of whether the sentences are used in order or not. With a choice of three per day a writer can select one, two or all and see where it leads them.

Add a subheading (1)

Review:

A huge thank you to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me on this blog tour and providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook is a great book that really gives your creative spark a boost!

As the title suggests there are 365 days worth of writing prompts. You can do an exercise every day if you want to or like me dip in and out when you need that extra bit of assistance.

Each day you’re given three lines, in a different tense or point of view which you can use to start a story. The great thing is you can use as many lines as you want, you can even change the POV or names or tense, mix and match lines from different days, there’s endless possibilities!

When I got my hands on this book I was really suffering from maybe not full blown writer’s block but I’d really hit a wall with my writing. I used a couple of the prompts and while the stories I wrote were not the best, it really helped me get back into writing.

The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook is a fab little book that every writer should have in their toolbox.

Author Bio:

Morgen Bailey – Morgen with an E – is a multi-genre author, freelance editor, writing tutor, writing competitions magazine columnist and judge, blogger, and speaker.2 Morgen July 2017

Her website is www.morgenbailey.wordpress.com, email is morgen@morgenbailey.com, she is morgenwriteruk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Her books can be found at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Morgen-Bailey/e/B007SNIBF8, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Morgen-Bailey/e/B007SNIBF8 etc.),

Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey) and wherever books can be ordered.

 

#BlogBlitz #Review How NOT To Write Female Characters by Lucy V Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @rararesources

How Not To Write Female Characters by Lucy V. Hay

Title: How NOT to write female characters by Lucy V Hay

Date Published: 23rd August 2018

Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing

Description:

Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult. 

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog http://www.bang2write.com, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines: 

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls
•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters
•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content
•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas
•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile. 

REVIEWS FOR LUCY V’S WRITING ADVICE: 

‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines. ‘
– Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC)  

‘Lucy V. Hay nails it’
– Stephen Volk, BAFTA-winning screenwriter: Ghostwatch, Afterlife, The Awakening 

‘Packed with practical and inspirational insights’
– Karol Griffiths, development consultant and script editor, clients include ITV, BBC, Warner Brothers 

‘A top-notch, cutting-edge guide to writing and selling, not just practical but inspirational. Lucy’s distinctive voice infuses the entire journey. Quite brilliant. Here’s the woman who’ll help you make things happen.’
– Barbara Machin, award-winning writer & creator of Waking the Dead 

‘Delivers the stirring call to arms that writers must not only write, but take their work to the next level themselves, making sacrifices and taking risks if they want to see their stories on screen.’
– Chris Jones, Filmmaker, Screenwriter & Creative Director at the London Screenwriters Festival 

‘Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays is a must-read for any writer, producer or director looking to create (or in the process of creating) a thriller production. It could also be immensely useful for those generally curious about the genre or looking to learn more.’ – Film Doctor

‘Lucy V Hay explains what a script reader and editor’s role in filmmaking, tells you to work on your concepts and that dialogue is the last thing to work on in her new book.’ – Brit Flicks

Review:

So as a wannabe author, I’m always on the lookout for books to help with my writing journey. How NOT to write female characters is definitely one of those books.

The focus of the book is looking at clichés surrounding female characters from kiss ass hottie to adding a female just for the sake of it.

Even though I am female, I still found this book extremely helpful and Lucy V Hay really uses her years of writing expertise to create this informative read. It’s a quick, straight to the point read, written in a no nonsense style which took me less than an hour to read.

I feel like a lot of the advice can be used not just for female characters, but to create any fully rounded character in general, so it’s definitely worth a read.

How NOT to write female character is a quick read, written in a clear and straight to the point style that I’d recommend to anyone who has an interest in writing.

About The Author –

Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write How Not - hands in the air, looking upconsultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of  WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on DRAMA SCREENPLAYS and DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

Social Media Links –

www.instagram.com/Bang2write

www.twitter.com/Bang2write

www.facebook.com/groups/Bang2writers

#FlashFicitonFriday Waiting by LJ Cassidy #amwriting #writerslife

Olivia settled back into a comfy chair in the living room, opening up a book. With every noise outside, her eyes travelled from the page to the window overlooking the street. After ten minutes of reading the same sentence over and over, she threw the book down.

She hated waiting for things.

Getting up, she checked herself in the mirror over the fireplace. The blonde bob framed her heart shape face nicely, glad she’d decided on a quick haircut the day before. She smoothed the lines of her flowered dress, not her outfit of choice but she had to look good today.

There was a huge slam that reverberated through the house.

Rushing to the window, she saw the familiar sight of a grey van. It looked a little like a delivery truck, except this one had steel reinforced sides and bullet proof windows.

There was a heavy knock on the door, she almost thought it was going to come off its hinges.

Walking out into the hall, she took a deep calming breath before opening the door.

Olivia was faced with someone distinctly male looking, dressed head to toe in bulletproof armour topped off with a helmet.

The helmet’s black tinted visor was down so Olivia couldn’t make out a face.

He was carrying a long cardboard box under one arm.

Excitement coursed through her, she reached for the parcel but a gloved hand clamped around hers’ squeezing tightly. It felt like every bone in her fingers were going to snap.

Malcolm, let her go,” said a woman sternly, who appeared from nowhere carrying what looked like a clipboard. “Sorry about that, can’t get the robots these days. Are you Mrs Olivia Dawson?”

The robot obeyed the woman and let Olivia go.

Yes,” she replied, rubbing the feeling back into her hand.

I’m Agent Buckley.”

She turned to look at the woman, dressed in a sensible navy blue suit and white shirt. Olivia spied a black holster sitting snugly under her arm, the butt of a gun just visible.

Can we come in?”

She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. Not trusting herself to speak, she nodded at Agent Buckley, moving out the way for them, trailing in their wake into the living room. The agent’s eyes travelled around the cosy room with large squashy sofas and bookcases lining the walls. It looked more like a library.

Where’s your wife?”

Oh, she got called into work suddenly,” Olivia said nervously. “She’s a doctor after all.”

Would they not give her the package? They wouldn’t take it away, would they? She was so close.

She frowned. “Most irregular. Anyway we just need a DNA sample to confirm your identity.”

Olivia placed a sweaty hand on the clipboard, which turned out a tablet, to give a sample.

The robot set the package on the floor.

You can leave us now,” said Buckley waving it away. The door closed after it with a mighty crash.

Can I see?” she asked excitedly.

It’s against protocol but I don’t see why not.”

Buckley pulled open the cardboard to reveal a sturdy plastic box that looked a bit like it was holding music equipment or something. She flicked open two catches and heaved up the lid.

Inside, lay the most beautiful baby Olivia had even seen.

She’s just to your specifications,” said Buckley reading from her tablet. “Blonde hair, blue eyes, rosy complexion.”

She picked up the sleeping baby gently. She was seven when natural reproduction was outlawed by the world’s governments, to curbed the swelling population.

She still remembered being wheeled into the sterile theatre and the pain in her stomach that lasted for weeks after they ripped out her womb.

Five years ago, the government told her that she wasn’t ‘stable’ enough to have a child whatever that meant. She had so much love to give, they didn’t understand.

Olivia was going to prove them wrong, she would be good for this child.

Hold on,” said Buckley frowning. “There seems to be a problem…”

Buckley went for her gun but Olivia was too quick. She pulled out the gun she’d been hiding behind the cushion on the couch. She shot the other woman in the head before she finished her sentence.

It was the same weapon she’d used to kill real Olivia and her wife earlier.

Somewhere in her brain it registered she was doing something wrong but she ignored it.

She was a mother now.

Thank you for reading!© LJ Cassidy

#ShortStory Bedside Confession by L.J. Cassidy #amwriting #writer #writerslife

So one of my resolutions for 2018 was to write a short story or piece of flash fiction for my blog each month, and here’s the first.  I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear what you think!

I nodded absently, adding the odd ‘mm I suppose,’ as my dad rambled on. I don’t know when he decided that every bowel movement, or lack thereof, deserved an in depth discussion but I suppose there wasn’t anything much else to talk about. At eighty-three his body seemed to be giving up on itself, and now he was confined to living in a nursing home where the only sources of entertainment were reading or staring mindlessly at the TV. Well, unless he overheard one the care staff dishing some salacious gossip, but that had gotten less frequent of late, now his hearing was as he described it ‘like having his ears stuffed with itchy cotton wool’.

Today was especially bad. After the simple task of getting out his chair had caused him to take a tumble two days ago, he’d confined to his bed to rest, which mean he didn’t even have the company of his fellow residents to break the monotony of his day.

His bedroom wasn’t much bigger than your average bedsit. A wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a single bed and a chair had been crammed into the tiny space. It was making me claustrophobic sitting next to his bed.

I remember as a child thinking how tall and indestructible he seemed now he looked so small and shrunken tucked up under his duvet cover. 

My eyes hovered over the bruise just above his eyebrow, covered most of his wrinkled forehead was turning from purple to a yellowish green, which was a good sign but the cut running the length of his forehead that I was more worried about. It had turned an ominous shade of black.

This was the man who used to make bad jokes, always telling me and my sister tall stories of when he was a pirate or a spy or some other such nonsense that kept us enraptured…

Kerry?” said dad, his weak voice breaking through my thoughts.

Yes, dad?” I replied.

You’ve got that look.”

What look?”

That worried look.”

I don’t mean to,” I sighed. “It’s just…how did you fall again?”

It was my dad’s turn to sigh. “I told you. I got up to go the loo and my legs decided they didn’t want to do that and I fell. Hit my head on old Bertie’s chair.”

Nobody pushed you?”

No, this is a good place this, no abuse here.”

Okay, then,” I replied, not entirely convinced.

Your mum was always a worrier when she were alive. I was a couple of hours late home one night, she called the police, the coastguard and she was trying to get hold of the army when I walked in.”

Down the pub, were you?” I smiled. I knew most of his stories and they always seemed to involve the pub in some way, shape or form.

I noticed him shift uncomfortably under his duvet cover.

Don’t tell me you cheating on mum?”

Your mum was the love of my life, I would have never done that,” he snorted indignantly. “It’s just well…it’s not something I’ve ever told anyone before.

Oh, go on,” I replied, “it can’t be that bad.”

He looked at me for a long moment, his bloodshot eyes staring me down.

Alright then,” he said eventually. “It happened when you were small, seventy four I think, the autumn or was it the winter…”

I could see him getting agitated, so I placed a hand on his arm. “It’s okay dad, the date doesn’t matter, just carry on.”

Anyhow, we were living in this lovely street, well, it was lovely apart from this one little sod. Matthew Carter.”

I nodded, wondering where this trip of nostalgia was heading.

I mean real scum of the earth. Couldn’t hold down a job, too bone idle. Beat his wife up, she was young too. Little slip of a thing. Always drunk and having fights with strangers in the street. I broke one up once, which was a mistake because that set me firmly within his sights.”

What happened?”

He started by shouting abuse in the street. He and a mate jumped me on the way home from work once too. Luck for me I could defend myself, him and his mate ran away with their tails between their legs, I can tell you. He didn’t like that. A week later he put a brick through our window, missed your sister Sue by an inch, she was only a baby at the time too.”

Didn’t you call the police?”

Could do anything, unless they had proof and nobody would testify against him.”

That’s terrible.”

Aye. Then I found out he’d been dealing drugs…selling them to kids too..” he said trying stifle a yawn.

Maybe you should have a rest dad, tell me the rest of the story later.”

No, no,” he replied. “I need to get this out. Anyway I followed him one day, determined to get proof, photographic proof, so I could take it to the police. He went down an alleyway and this girl came up to him, she must have been about fifteen at the most. She had that emaciated look that druggies have. She was obviously trying to buy something from him, I heard him say that she didn’t have enough. She begged him for the stuff. He replied saying that there were other ways to pay for things.”

As the kids say, eww.”

Exactly. But she was made of stronger stuff that girl, she refused but Matthew decided to not take no for an answer. She stand a chance against him.”

I gasped. “Did he…?”

I didn’t give him the chance. There was an old tire iron someone had dumped, picked it up and hit him, again and again and again until there wasn’t much left of his head.”

I could feel my mouth drop open. Did my dad just confess to murder?

What about the girl?”

Bolted,” replied my dad, his voice fading a little. “Never saw her again. I kept waiting for the knock on the door from the police….”

His head drooped forwards. I quickly leapt forward to check his pulse. It was still beating steadily.

He emitted a small snore.

I sat back down heavily, accidentally knocking into his bedside table sending some things flying.

Automatically I picked them up placing them back on the table.

My dad’s a murderer? I can’t believe it. What should I do?

I picked the last item up. A book. The cover caught my eye. It was of a man holding a tire iron. I checked the back. It had a strangely familiar synopsis. It was pretty much the same story my dad had told me.

I couldn’t believe it, he’d just told me the plot line of the book he was reading. He’d been having me on this whole time, just like when I was a kid.

I bent over his bed and kissed him on the forehead.

You got me dad,” I whispered.

I swear he smiled in his sleep.

Flash Fiction: The Date.

Okay so I’ve been trying to stick to a regular Tuesday and Friday upload schedule for this blog but I didn’t have a book review to post, so instead I thought I’d post another piece of flash fiction.

Originally I wrote this trying to break into the woman’s magazine fiction scene but I could never get it to fit the guidelines so I posted it on Wattpad.  Unfortunately nobody really read it there, (chicklit is not my usual genre of choice), so I took it down.  I done a few minor adjustments before posting it here, I hope you enjoy!

The Date.

As usual the Snack Stop Café was packed with the lunchtime rush of shop and office workers. The aroma of the day’s special, Chicken Korma reached Kylie’s nose. She was so hungry she could have eaten everything on the menu plus a chair or two. Perhaps even a table.

It was all because of this stupid blind date Amber, her best friend, had set up. She claimed Kylie needed to ‘get her back in the game’ whatever that meant. All Amber would tell her about him was his name; Alexander. It was an intimidating name, not Alex or Al but the whole Alexander. She immediately tried to back out but Amber wasn’t taking it.

But he’s perfect for you,” Amber pleaded. “Do you know how long I’ve been working on setting you two up?”

Immediately Kylie felt annoyed and guilty at the same time. Yes, she’d been making excuse after excuse to get out of the date yet she didn’t want to let her best friend down…but what if he looked like Piers Morgan?

So much to her chagrin, she let Amber drag her shopping to find the perfect outfit to dazzle him into ignoring all obvious her flaws. Kylie had spotted it right away. The ideal shade of purple that made her eyes look more blue than grey, her pale skin glow and brought out the golden highlights in her otherwise mousy brown hair. Only one minor problem, it was a little bit too tight and the last one in the shop. She was determined to drop a few pounds but only had three days to do it.

So she dieted and exercised and drank green tea until it came out of her ears all for tonight. She had to admit her skirt did feel a little looser.

Her stomach rumbled.

Whoa,” said the man who had just appeared next to her. “Is there a bear in here?”

She turned to face him. A large pair of glasses and a cheesy grin met her. He wore a novelty PAC-Man t-shirt and skinny jeans more suitable to a twenty-something than the almost pushing forty as he was. More annoyingly he was lean, in a I-can-eat-what-I-want-and-not-get-fat-kind-of-way.

God I hate him.

Kylie rolled her eyes at him and returned to the menu.

He wasn’t giving up

Kylie?” He said reading the name tag her boss at the bank insisted she wear. “Were you named after Kylie Minogue by any chance?”

Maybe if I ignore him, he’ll go away, she thought.

No such luck.

So, what’s good here, apart from the gorgeous company, of course.”

Look I’m really not in the mood for your bad chat up lines, so just move along,” she snapped.

Okay,” He put his hands up in mock surrender, “if I don’t chat you up, can recommend something good to eat? It’s my first time here.”

Oh,” Kylie pursed her lips feeling a little bad for snapping at him. “The burgers are good.”

Or the ham and cheese panini.”

Or the tuna bake.”

Okay, that’s a lot of choices,” he snapped his fingers. “I tell you what, I’ll just have what your having.”

You’ll be disappointed, I’m probably going to have the chicken salad.”

Kylie’s stomach rumbled again even louder.

Is there a reason you’re starving yourself?”

I have a date and this dress. It’s a little small…”

Does the dress have magical powers?”

No.”

Then why can’t you wear another one?”

Really?”

Well, if I was your date, I prefer if you didn’t look like you were about to gnaw my arm off.”

As oppose to a date that was bursting out of her dress?”

I’m not opposed to that,” he said winking.

Kylie stifled a smile. She looked at him again, properly this time, behind the glasses were a pair of warm brown eyes and his smile wasn’t as cheesy as she first thought.

Sorry, flirting. Won’t happen again,” he smiled, not sounding remotely sorry.

I’ll make you a deal, you eat anything you like and if your idiot of a date doesn’t find you utterly irresistible,” he grabbed one of the café’s menus and wrote something on it, “here’s my number. Do you know, you really do have beautiful eyes, when you’re not rolling them at me, that is. So sorry, flirting again.”

Kylie felt bloated. After her mystery lunchtime friend had left she’d eaten a burger, chips, a muffin topped off by a chocolate milkshake. Now, she was sitting in at a table in the fancy restaurant that Amber had picked for her date, fidgeting with the hem of the black dress she’d hastily pulled on after the purple one didn’t fit.

Damn that stupid man, she thought

His number was still crumpled in the front pocket of her handbag. She just checked on it five minutes ago to make sure it hadn’t disappeared.

Kylie?”

She turned round to see her lunchtime friend dressed in a grey suit had taken the seat opposite her.

He actually looking like an adult, a debonair, James bond kind of…then she caught a sight of his socks. They were bright green with dinosaurs on them.

What are you doing here? Actually doesn’t matter I’m waiting for my date.”

That would be me.”

You? You’re Alexander?”

I prefer Xander if that’s all right with you.”

Okay Xander,” she replied, her voice laced with disdain.

She grabbed her bag, getting up.

Xander grabbed her hand. It felt warm and soft.

Okay, confession time,” he said nervously, “I kind of followed you to the café, I mean, not here. You see I’ve never been on a blind date and I was nervous…”

So you stalked me?” She snapped pulling her hand away from his.

You call it stalking I call it research,” He replied cheekily.

Kylie’s mouth dropped open.

I can’t believe you just said that.”

So, is this the dress?” he said trying to change the subject.

Oh what, no, it didn’t fit.”

Shame.”

What?”

I really wanted to see you burst out of it.”

She raised an eyebrow, trying to stifle a smile.

You look really pretty when you smile. Sorry flirting won’t happen again.”

Isn’t flirting what you’re meant to do on a date?”

So, you aren’t going to storm out of here and tell everyone you know that I’m some sort of weirdo?”

She hesitated a little. “The night is young.”

Xander’s stomach growled.

Whoa, is there a bear in here?” Kylie said repeating his words from earlier.

They laughed.

She looked at Xander as they sat back down and thought;

I may not have been wearing the prefect dress but who needs perfect anyway?

© LJ Cassidy

The picture is not my own.