Notebook and Pen

Portfolio of Work

Making Stuff Up As I Go Along

 
Untitled

Something Fishy Going On

I wrote this story from the dirty plate or should I say the dirty secret of menopause and how older women gradually disappear. Before I slipped into 'the change' I imagined it would be a few hot flushes and no more periods, but like any change it is so much more complicated than that! As for the disappearing aspect-I searched for 'older woman in swimsuit' for an image to accompany this story and guess what? There were no photos!

Image by Jonathan Smith

All The Better To Save You

This is another of my dirty plates. My first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. It is a subject not often talked about and one that is almost dismissed by medical professionals at the time as for them it is unremarkable. But for me that collection of cells was already a baby. I have been very blessed as I went on to have four beautiful children but each May (her due date) I buy myself some flowers.

Image by Jamie Street

Bring Back The Bees

This was my first published story. It was published by FlashFlood Journal as part of their 'Debut Flash Series' and I am forever grateful to them. The thrill of their acceptance email is hard to describe and it was this early success that encouraged me to continue writing.
Since then I have had three times the amount of rejections as I've had acceptances but the thrill remains.

Image by Eugene Zhyvchik

Another Pleasant Valley Sundae

This was my first paying gig. It might have only been a token $3 but it was enough to buy me a black coffee.
I grew up in a small town in South Wales. We didn't have a cinema or a train station but we did have a number of cafes owned by Italians where I spent many rainy Saturday afternoons drink coffee with foam. What we now call cappacino.

Image by Sarah Cervantes

Pas De Deux

When I was young I really wanted to learn how to tap dance. I loved Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Side note-Fred Astaire's sister was called Adele and there were not many Adeles around when I was growing up so this meant a lot. Now, of course, everyone knows Adele (the singer natch) and nobody in Starbucks asks how to spell my name any more. Anyway, there was no tap dancing in Porthcawl (that is my provisional title if I ever write a memoir) so I went to ballet class until I was thirteen. This story grew from that.

Untitled

Maybe I Give A Damn

I wrote this flash fiction as a response to a prompt in a work shop and a clump of leaves caught in a web dangling outside my kitchen window. The editor of Free Flash Fiction used the photo I had taken to illustrate the story.
I often take photos when I'm out and about and use them as an inspiration for a story or a poem. I also scribble down interesting phrases from the radio, TV, or snippets of over heard conversations. In fact, since 2019 I've filled five notebooks.

Image by Kikki Starr

Love Shack Maintenance

Another story written in response to a prompt in a writing workshop conducted by the very talented Sharbari Ahmed.

It was a photo of a shack that looked like it was about to fall down and I was very excited to find it on Upsplash. 

And contrary to popular belief it is not about my husband and myself-he loves egg salad sandwiches!

Image by Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma'aji

The Boys Are Alright

I have always loved dystopian stories. I think it was because I read 'The Handmaiden's Tale' by Margaret Atwood when I was quite young and it stuck with me. I find it so sad that if you google 'Handmaiden's Tale' the first thing that comes up is the Hulu series!

 I was recently turned onto Octavia Butler's short stories and love them. This story was my first attempt at writing something vaguely science-fictiony.

Image by Diana Parkhouse

Stray Love

This story was published via Medium-an online publishing platform and Catness, a blog about cats which was an adventure in its self.
The irony is I'm allergic to cats.

Image by hannah grace

Reflex Fiction Submissions-Can I Have A 'P' Bob?/ I Made A Wish Jumping Rope

The Reflex Fiction competition is a great place to read wonderful flash fiction. They will send a new story in 360 words or less to your mail box each morning.

These are two of my stories that 'just missed the long-list' but they published them anyway

Image by Anastasiia Pyvovarova

Breeding

This story grew out of the first line, 'She dreamt of stillness for her soul' that I had scribbled down in one of my notebooks. I had no plan or story arc, no real idea where this story would go. I researched as I went and discovered the strange story of Mary Toft. In the 1700s she was a woman who supposedly gave birth to rabbits. After that the story pretty much wrote itself.

Image by Alesia Kazantceva

She'll Grow Out Of It

This story won a highly commended commendation in a flash fiction competition. I had submitted it to various publications and got through to a second reading in one case but no further. I had never been completely happy with the ending so I worked on it-I persevered-and was rewarded by being published In Free Flash Fiction and having some very nice words written about my work by the judge.

Image by Nsey Benajah

Fathom

This piece started life as a response to a Furious Fiction prompt. It did not even make the long-list in that competition but it found a home at Fudoki Magazine.

Sometimes it really isn't you -it's them!

Image by Victoria Strukovskaya

The Man Who Would

Another story written to a prompt and sent into a competition. This one was born in an Open University course as a much longer story. I sent it off someone and got some great feed-back. The editor said they liked the idea, the voice and the evocative feel of the piece but that it was over long and I had crammed too many descriptions into the word limit. As Arthur Quiller-Couche said, hardest things to do in writing is 'kill all your darlings'.

But I did, cutting the story from over a thousand words to five hundred and was a reader's pick in Didcot Writers Flash Competition.

Image by Claudia Altamimi

Friday Needs A Suitcase

Another story drawing on my childhood in a seaside resort on the South Wales coast. As a teenager I worked every summer in a shack that sold rock, ice-cream and Slush Puppies to hordes of day trippers. It put me off soft scoop ice-cream for life!

Image by Katerina Bartosova

Shape Shifting


She skulks underneath the bridge as the water drips down.

This isn’t the first time she’s escaped but this is the furthest she’s ever gotten.

After he captured her the first time she grew a wondrous tail with a pearly tip. It took a while to master tucking its bushiness between her legs, out of sight. Each night after he left she unfurled it and warmed herself in its fuzzy embrace. She never wondered why he didn’t comment on her new appendage. She knows he only sees what he wants to see.

       The second time she got as far as the woods. The brambles scratched her and the blackberry juice made it look like her legs were leaking indigo blood. When he dragged her back and threw her down the basement stairs her ears slide to the top of her head. Now she could move them and hear him bimbling about above her, living his ordinary day life. To hide her new appearance she arranged some of her red hair in two buns.

 “Why’d yer do that? It looks like two giant boils on yer ‘ead”, he’d said but he never touched them so that was good. She asked him to get her books about foxes from the library. 

“Wot do yer want with all that? I’ll get yer that new ‘arry Potter book”. But she shook her head so he got her some nature books. They didn’t have a lot about foxes but she did learn they chose cunning over brute strength, which sounded perfect.

      Now she was miles away. A sudden sound alerts her, her nose twitches and she can smell his scent: stale beer and salami. On pale paws she streaks across the ash grey field, her white underbelly flashing in the watery moonlight.

      Free.

This story was first published by Flash Fiction North

Image by Bisakha Datta

Nellie


 Maura woke up at three am like she had for the last week as if her whole system was being triggered by an invisible alarm. And just like the previous seven nights when she batted her eyes open she could make out a lumpy shadow growing out of the corner of her bedroom. Stan slumbered on next to her; gently rumble from both ends, totally oblivious to his wife’s night terrors.

Maura felt for her stack of ‘Tums’ balanced like a cairn on the edge of her night table. Slowly sucking one she looked directly at the shadowy presence for the first time. It seemed to vibrate gently and then what looked like a wing unfurled to fill the space between it and Maura’s bed. With this the lump in Maura’s chest glowed like a red-hot coal and her scalp tingled as if her hair was being inexpertly highlighted. She took a thick, ragged intake of breath. This last week had left her feeling charred like a piece of stewing steak—burnt on the outside, raw and bleeding underneath.

“What do you want from me?” she asked shakily, “Don’t I have enough to worry about without you and your nightly visits?’ The entire shape started to sway towards Laura and then she felt a soothing, warm breath on her cheek. This proved too much, Maura could no longer keep her grief caged. A loud trumpeting woke Stan.

“Oh love what ever is it? Did you have a nightmare?” he said as he took her into his arms and wiped her cheeks with the back of his hand. “No, but we have to talk” Maura hiccupped as she spoke, “Last week I got the results of my mammogram…

The elephant in the room turned and melted into the dark.

First published by Flash Fiction North

Untitled

Ridiculous

      I flash my phone, the ticket hovers, fruit of a days labor. The black and white mosaic tile paves my way. At the bar I ask for some tap water and I’m told snittily, “We don’t have any. You can buy a bottle of LifeWtr though”. It cost what I get paid an hour but it does have a bottle designed by an artist and a promise to rebalance my pH so it must be worth it! As I turn around I smell the piquant stench of skunk and hope it won’t perfume my hair. I won’t have time to wash it before I’m back on shift.

      Tunneling into the sparse crowd I secure a seat with a view of The Empire State under a raspberry ripple sky. It’s a scene from a 1990’s rom-com; we just need Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks and a nostalgic soundtrack to complete the illusion. Unfortunately a thrash boy-band is on stage at the moment and a heavily tattooed singer is screaming, “I love you coz you’re ugly like me”. I hear my Mum snigger in my ear “At least he has some self knowledge”.

       I’m here because of my Mum. The band ‘James’ will be on next. Their song ‘Sit Down’ was her favorite. It was this song she made me promise to have played at her funeral.  After she got her lung cancer diagnosis she started planning how she wanted to say good-bye, choosing things that had meant a lot to her. The flowers were to be the ones she had in her bridal bouquet, readings would be poems she loved and the music would be favorite songs. She told me, “I want my coffin to be carried out to ‘Sit Down’. I’ve always loved the idea that anyone can find acceptance, the sad, the mad, even the ridiculous. And let’s face it love we’re all ridiculous. We live with no thought of tomorrow. Promise me you won’t let anyone tread on your dreams, don’t put off the things you want to do. Go to America, see the world, grasp every chance”. Of course I promised.

      Surprisingly the band appears on time. The singer, bald as a basin, wobbling like a mirage from 1989, commands the stage demanding of the crowd “What’d yer wanna hear?” and then ignores all requests. They play songs from their yet to be released album. The crowd nods along obligingly, clapping to give the impression that’s what they’ve come to hear. But we all know it’s not. Eventually they play ‘Laid’, the crowd heaves a collective cheer, it’s a song we all know. I start to sing along but I don’t stand yet. I hold my anticipation on my lap, an excited toddler trying to escape and run towards the bright lights of the stage. And then they’re gone. We wait for the inevitable encore but unbelievably the band does not reappear. As I leave I think I hear Mum whisper, “Arrogant twats”.

First published by Flash Fiction North

Image by Anton Maksimov juvnsky

Bird Brained

This is another story that started life as an entry to Furious Fiction Competition. Although, it never made the long list I edited it and sent it to Prose Online. They asked me to record myself reading the story which was a first!

Old-Fashioned Clock

Watershed Blues

I belong to a Facebook group for flash fiction writers and people often post their publishing success. I love that everyone is so supportive in their comments and suggestions. Its great to be able to read their work and it's also fun to look at who published them to see if it is a good fit for my own work. There are so many places to submit to that it could be a full time job just trawling through them all! I was turned on to Little Old Lady Comedy Blog by a member of the writing group and realized straight away it might be a good place to pitch one of my stories.

Image by Alessandro Bogliari

The Indecent Postures Of Cricket And Old Age

I have found writing micro-flash (stories in 100 words or less) challenging but great fun. This was one of my first attempts.


Last Christmas when I visited my father he seemed like a survivor from that Pogues’ song. He sucked the wishbone and told me long tales of playing cricket and how he bowled my Mam over.
Later he said he remembered crunching beetle husks under foot when he was young. I knew it was more likely beer bottles, smashed when he was smashed.
Before he fell asleep in the chair he mumbled he could feel the sun toasting his forearms and spreading to warm his legs.
But it was only the piss dribbling out—reeking

Image by Oliver Pacas

The Wisdom Of Birds

I was thrilled to discover one of my stories had been long-listed in the Women On Writing Spring Flash fiction Contest, the only trouble was I couldn't remember which one. I often changed the title of stories but forgot to update this on the Word doc. It took me about twenty minutes to work out it was The Wisdom Of Birds. A story I almost didn't send as it dealt with magical realism and I wasn't sure this would be suitable for the WOW competition. I'm so glad I did because I ended up placing third overall out of almost three hundred stories and I won $200! They also interviewed me for their blog The Muffin.

4B064DEC-32EC-4288-AA71-1F8269E4A732.jpeg

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say"

Virginia Woolf