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Hidden Victories

Those pockets of silence,

Travel between them

A pilgrim seeking holy places,

Hands capable of violence

Yet at rest against themselves

When not at play on the territory of you,

But you sleep, I grind,

No one knows what it takes to be this,

How each day,

Is a battle with toothsome

Loathsome devils,

Some of whom look like old lovers,

But in the silence

They die at my hand

And so, to see me calm,

Amused rather than angered,

Is to frame me in the light of

Hidden victories,

My book Until She Sings is out now.


Until She Sings


My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

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Keygoyle – a drabble

(From Chuck Palahniuk, a prompt about a closed space. There are three here, in this story)

Kyle pulled out of the driveway, blinking away tears.

Kyle didn’t see it, paranoia like rabid dogs loose in his head.

They’ll wait before doing anything which might get them caught, he tells himself.

In his mind, he imagined them with terrible clarity. How she would respond to him, the unknown lover.

Each time he left for work, part remained inside, a gargoyle. Guarding.  Peering through the keyhole.

Red with feeling, like the light he missed.

The scream feels liberating as the car crumples like paper in God’s right hand.

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Angela’s neighbours were widows and widows in-waiting. She had tenure at a university where most of the faculty and students were women.  She stepped off the plane onto the soil of a Finnish island where there were only women allowed. She had read about the retreat online, and signed up for two weeks, which meant she would be more exacting with the line of credit she extended to Preston, her son.

Angela had turned sixty last week, and this fortnight was her present to herself. As she stepped off the plane, a young woman approached her. She smiled, glowing with a beauty Angela found intimidating until the woman opened her arms and embraced her, planting dutiful kisses on each cheek before pulling back and smiling at her.

‘Welcome to Mother Island, Angela.’ she said.

Helene’s voice was as neutral as distilled water, enough education to scrub any distinguishing details from it. She had the bone structure and complexion of a fashion model, but she wore an oatmeal sweater and olive slacks which clung to her thighs in a way which would inspire envy from men. The observation reminded Angela there were other reasons to express physical attributes than to attract or please men. Beauty was a weapon like ugliness. The latter was more within reach of most women than the former, but still responses to hetero-patriarchal values.

She turned to take Angela to the compound who noticed she had the round, firm backside of an athlete. Angela jiggled despite a macrobiotic diet and enough yoga to make it feel like a punishment.

There were around thirty women gathered in the main hall. Angela accepted a flute of champagne but ignored the canapes, worried about having something between her teeth if she spoke to someone. They were all so bloody young, she thought, hearing the certainty of their voices and the righteousness, envying it even as she knew it had been the instrumental force in the world they lived in.

Ruled, she thought. It concerned her when she thought of other women as being in charge when she had seen some of them attend her lectures, quote her papers in parliaments and chambers across the western world.

‘Angela Hutton?’

She turned and looked at a young blonde woman, hair shaved at the back and sides but with a long fringe combed away from her face. Angela heard how gruff the woman’s voice was as she nodded.

‘Your books have been a real comfort.’ she said.

It was the voice which drew Angela’s attention. A cursory glance of the woman’s hands and throat raised concerns, but she smiled and thanked her.

When Helene passed her, Angela asked if she could have a word. Helene gave a bright, serene smile and asked her how she could help.

‘There was a woman I spoke to -‘ she said.


Her throat grew tight as Helene waited, and her expectation wearied Angela.


‘Well, I understood Mother Island was for women.’ she said.


Helene gave a slow blink, but the smile stayed fixed in place.


‘Yes, it is.’ Helene said.


Angela’s palms grew damp as she finished the last of her champagne. It did not soothe the tight, dry thirst, but it allowed her a moment to collect her thoughts. She nodded and thanked Helene, who continued on her circuit, talking to everyone in the room. As she watched her leave, Angela saw the blonde staring at her. She grimaced with a force which made Angela turn away, her cheeks burning as she plucked a canape and popped it into her mouth.


Jessamyn briefed them on the general run of things. There were workshops and panels but attendees were free to enjoy the facilities. A thermal spring spa and massage therapists, restaurant facilities open throughout and a sports facility, cinema and library. Angela winced, knowing she would compete with deep tissue homeopathic massages and colonic irrigation for her talk about her latest round of research.


Still, she had seen this world come about. The perfect was the enemy of the good, but this was a better world for women than the one she grew up in. Her gaze returned to the blonde woman, talking to a young Asian woman. Angela saw how the blonde was close, and the Asian woman was leaning back, her fingers clenched around the stem of her glass as she nodded, a beat too fast to communicate any real agreement.


Jessamyn performed Katie Makkai’s Pretty but Angela watched the blonde and fought a shifting, grim concern which manifested as a rough itch travelling up and down her arms. She walked over and made eye contact with the Asian woman. She envied her buttermilk skin and lean, androgyne figure but the desperate, pleading look had never left the world of women.  Some ghosts remained despite the change in balance.


‘Is everything okay?’ Angela said.


The blonde looked at her and scowled before she caught herself and plastered on an easy going smile.


‘Sure, just I thought I knew Karyn here from a conference last year -‘ she said.


Angela turned to Karyn, watched with alarm as Karyn turned away from the blonde.


‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?’ Angela said.




She put out her hand and Angela took it, surprised by something so patriarchal as a handshake.


The strength of Jo’s grip made her wince. Was it deliberate? Such shows of strength, Angela had lectured were evidence of patriarchal and hierarchical power displays, something they had built legislation to render as atavistic as duelling and lynch mobs. When Jo relinquished her grip, Angela shook out her fingers and smiled. Jo frowned and gestured to her left incisor.


Angela scraped the moist blob of food under her fingernail and popped it into her mouth. Jo smirked and leaned forwards.


‘I’m sure they do it on purpose.’ she said.


Angela laughed, a little too loud for her liking. Character, she thought, realised itself when it was not in its best interest to do so.


Jessamyn had finished and Angela ducked beneath the waterfall of applause and turned away. She felt Jo’s eyes on her for the rest of the morning. When she checked into her suite, she took a nap, unusual for her, and when she woke up, her head throbbed with exhaustion and she felt irritated with everyone and everything.


She hadn’t dilated before leaving. Angela had not felt the need to, but now, having seen Jo, there was a fierce, petulant need to affirm herself again. In the mirror, she looked at herself and flexed the hand Jo had squeezed. A cold wave of self-loathing crashed upon her as she assessed herself.


The lines in her face had deepened, too much time frowning and not using enough sunscreen. All the surgeries had been painful but by the time they had finished, she believed there was a woman looking back at her who she could spend a life with.


No one outside herself ever had before. Angela though, was a true romantic.


Yet as she stood there, she looked at her broad shoulders, built down to sinew from the tabata and running, endless running and the pouch of flesh at her abdomen. Angela had always loathed sloth, but time was defeating the regimen of diet, exercise and medication and there was nothing she could do about it.


She wanted to be amongst women, in a place without judgement, a dream of sisterhood and a place to just breathe as the goddesses they were. A pantheon-race, transformed by will and love into elevated beings who had mothered a better world into being.


Most of all, she realised as she looked at the rope of vein down her right calf, a pale snake beneath the skin, she wanted to be somewhere beautiful where she could fall in love with herself again.


Angela stood in front of the mirror and wept. When she looked up, she didn’t recognise herself and it was there, in the diffused light of the suite, whispered a terrible truth to herself.


‘I don’t love you anymore.’ she said.


Getting home was easy. She avoided seeing anyone, not bothering to have breakfast for fear of being seen eating before cowering away from Jo again. She bet the Asian woman went with her to the suite, imagined how Jo would be in bed. It horrified and excited her and it lent a shrill edge to her demands for a flight home.


It wasn’t until she was back in Palo Alto she felt free to cry. Tears were necessary, but they stung and Angela felt so ugly when she wept. In the crisp, perfect museum of her home, Angela listened to Preston make bright conversation about her adventures on Mother Island, but she didn’t ring him back.


She would say she took ill. Angela hoped no one would recall the on-site medical facility which was world class. Last year, their surgical team had dealt with a brain embolism, so people would wonder why a stomach upset would force her to return home.


Angela ran a bath and undressed. There were three days before they expected her to resume lectures and it would give her time to decide what she needed.


She sat in the water, looked at the faint band of white skin, still there after decades.


‘You’re still married, you know?’ she said.


Her voice echoed around the bathroom, but there was no one there. Just the two.


She slipped her hand beneath the water and leaned forwards, letting her hair hang in the water as she sighed and let the tears drip into the water.


There was no one there to comfort her so she slipped down into the water until it was up to her chin and she avoided looking down at herself, conscious of how water made her skin look. Like something taken from an aquatic mammal whilst it was still alive and sewn over her bones. Something had given her catalogue of personal disgust a new lease of life and part of her revelled in the opportunity to debase herself.


She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself. It was as close as she got to being touched these days but as she laid there, Angela hoped it would be enough.


The doorbell rang and she tried to ignore it. Immersed in the water, and with a judicious application of bubble bath, she could avoid looking at herself. Yet someone rang the doorbell and her self-loathing compelled her to find a witness to it.


She caught sight of herself in the mirror. There was still a pleasing tautness to her midsection and with her hair wet, a sleekness which highlighted her high cheekbones and the warm light which adversity had not diminished. Angela smiled and threw on a robe.


Preston stood there, legs crossed at the knee as she opened the door. He kissed her on the cheek on his flight past her.


‘Mom. I know you gave me a key, but this soylent needs to leave right fucking now.’


He jabbered as he trotted down the hall past her. Her cheek glowed where his lips had pressed against her. She smiled as she closed the door and went to make him something to settle his stomach. A knot untied itself within her stomach and the next breath she took was one of reconciliation.


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The End Of The Affair (Quote)

I loved this film, beautifully filmed and devastating. This scene struck me in particular.
Love doesn’t end, just because we don’t see each other.
Maurice Bendrix:
Doesn’t it?
People go on loving God, don’t they? All their lives. Without seeing him.
Maurice Bendrix:
That’s not my kind of love.
Maybe there is no other kind.
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Sir 2.0 Episode 2: Processing.


You swallow but your throat is acrid with tension. You cannot make out the details of the people watching you, only that they are there. The gown continues to shift up on the back of your legs, adding self consciousness, drop by drop, over the stir of emotions that collide and change within you.

‘To complete processing, you will undergo a cursory medical examination and a bathing procedure. Once those are complete, you will be assigned sleeping quarters and then left to your own devices until tomorrow morning.’

You narrow your eyes against the light. The voice has retreated behind an air of routine and its emotional content is all that you have to go on in terms of figuring out what is going on here. How much trouble, you potentially are in depends on what information you can glean from your present circumstances.

‘The correct response is yes sir.’

Your heart beats hard and faster. There is a low murmur of conversation, and a stifled giggle which rakes its nails down your spine. A hot flash of humiliation bursts in your stomach, a perfect emotional time travel, taking you back to high school again. The spotlight is hot, and you can feel perspiration beginning to teem underneath your arms and at the small of your back. At this precise moment, every sense is sharpened, ready to cut like a theatre of eager surgeons. Whether it’s you or someone else, depends on the response you give.

‘Yes, sir.’

You raise a hand and a titter snakes through the audience.

‘Am I being held here against my will?’

The laughter grows and someone calls out ‘not with those thighs, dear.’ Your cheeks burn with blood and tears well in the corners of your eyes.

‘Don’t laugh at me.’

That draws a series of oohs.

‘What upsets you more, being held here against your will or being laughed at?’

The voice comes through, silences the others in its wake. The way a comet burns up air on its passage through the night sky.

‘Don’t play doctor with me. I want an answer to my question.’

The voice gives a dark chuckle that makes you shiver to be its subject.

‘What if you had already been asked that question?’

You frown, aware that the spotlight makes every expression exaggerated. Another ripple of laughter starts up. It hurts more than the first time and you start to back up.

‘Stop right where you are.’

You jerk at the change in tone and volume and in response, the back of your gown hitches up a centimetre, highlighting the backs of your thighs where they meet your ass. You give an involuntary yelp, which fuels the embarrassment even further.

‘I wouldn’t, there’s nothing wrong with me.’

He pauses and the laughter dies away again. It’s application reminds you of a whip or a paddle and its sting unsettles rather than the pure, stable joy of pain that you enjoy. That you recognise this comes to you unbidden and without import.

‘My point, exactly.’

A wall to the left bursts into brilliant, white light and coalesces into a screen. A series of numbers dance across, teeming in patterns of deliberate complexity before it opens on a woman’s face, smiling.

Your face.

‘Hey, look you’re probably freaking out about now, but that’s kind of the point. I am you and you are me, before all this starts off.’

You watch yourself give your name, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name and that you have paid to experience SIR, signed a raft of paperwork to avoid indemnity and that you should just relax and go with it.

Offscreen, a female voice asks you onscreen how you heard about SIR. You smile, and you recognise yourself, the telltale blink that you give and the bitemark on the inside of your lip that you could probably slip the edge of your front teeth again and find the indentation by instinct.

Your capacity to tear yourself to pieces without cause, a thought arises, might be part of why you are here.

Not that you are sure what here means.

‘I go to a munch two towns over once a month and one of the subs there went. She did not stop talking about it so I looked into it and -‘

You watch yourself spread your arms and grin. A hopeful light twinkles in your eyes. If this is not you, then it’s terrifying in its accuracy.

‘Here you are. Or I am. Sorry, I get tongue tied with things like this.’

The interviewer chuckles and you join in, a little ahead of the beat and the audience in the room follow along. The screen fades into black.

‘We’ve installed a block on your memories. We don’t change anything about you, and at every turn, we’re a bit like the opposite of a supermarket. We always offer choice. You are here because you want to be, but part of what makes this so popular and so important to maintain discretion is that we agree that this is all part of the play.’

Your breath is molten in your lungs and a heat begins to pool in the pit of your stomach, drawn downwards by gravity and you clench your thighs together to make the sensation flare deeper and warmer.

‘So, I volunteered for this?’

A hum fills the air and you experience the interview directly again. The leather chair underneath you, the scent of the Ethiopian coffee that you were offered on arrival and the drive over, calculating how much this was going to cost you. Chrissy had said it was ‘life-altering’ and you knew that your life could use some of that.

Some people went into simulations about the zombie apocalypse, you came here.

‘Does that answer your question?’

You stare into the darkness. The want is bolder than your fear, it puts a leash on it and a muzzle. The courage hardens your nipples, relaxes the muscles between your thighs, opening and transforming the emotions into fuel for the engine of your desire and your fear and your need.

There have seldom been clear distinctions between them and that, you know is part of why you are here. You smile and lower your head. Deferment is part of it, and you know that there is expectation and a responsibility here for you. It is a misconception that the submissive is powerless, and you stopped explaining this to vanilla types a long time ago. Here, you have the power and the voice, the eyes in the darkness are asking you to take it.

‘Yes, where do we start?’

The table is wheeled in with stainless steel stirrups mounted on telescopic stands mounted on the ends, a section cut away in the middle and velcro straps at the top end. A second table is brought in with a bowl of steaming, lilac and coconut scented water and a natural sponge. You run your tongue over your lips, and your heartbeat drowns out the thoughts in volume and rhythm.

No one is laughing at you now. Which is a good place to start.

‘Whenever you are ready.’







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Out With A Bang


It took a lot more planning than Sergei anticipated. He could get large amounts of h, coke, mdma, weed with a phone call but this stuff necessitated a little more care than normal. The girls took less time to arrange, one phone call and a card payment that he was gently assured would be billed discreetly without any potential embarrassment.

He fought back a snort of laughter at that.

It took him the better part of a morning to collect enough to last him. He had paid for three women, the hotel suite and their company for the night. He had chosen from the pictures on their website, knowing that there was always a degree of artifice involved. The digital editing to smooth out stretchmarks, blur over tattoos and remove the marks of time was expected, but for what Sergei was paying, he wanted them to have a tangential resemblance to their photographs.

After all, why not be ushered into paradise by angels, if they were not of the highest quality?

He checked in, and with his reservation confirmed, suddenly experienced an elevation in the treatment that he was afforded. It had been a long time since anyone had called him sir without a sneer being intimated, and it took him a moment to accept it without that longheld tightening in his chest and stomach. He took a long bath, pouring in every lotion, shampoo and conditioner, shaved around his groin with an electric razor, faintly embarrassed and bemused by how the hair had retreated from his head but grew like kudzu everywhere else on his ageing body. Still, washed and trim, he found something left to admire about himself. The tattoos had been symbols of pride, now they marked him as easy prey.

The eight pointed stars on his shoulders. Symbols of his authority.

The cross on his chest.

The dove, with a twig in it’s beak.

All of them done with a primitive version of the shaver he had just trimmed his groin with, melted rubber and his own urine for ink, bearing it all whilst the older men watched with eyes that spoke to endless winters of hardship. Men, who were more like wolves but never needed the permission of the full moon to act according to their natures.

He dressed in his best suit, a Tom Ford in windsor check, tailored to accommodate his spreading midsection and as an affectation, he put a white carnation in the lapel. His fingers shook as he knotted his tie in the mirror. This room represented the last of his ready cash, after the pills, the girl and the hotel but it was worthwhile.

Better than the alternative.

The girls knocked at seven sharp. He had answered the door, already feeling the creeping warmth in his throat and cheeks and the rush of blood to his crotch that took him back to his younger years, when he would have fucked the crack of dawn if it had hair on it.

The sight of the women, sleek and knowing as they entered the room did the rest. He shut the door behind them. Blonde, brunette and redhead, he would have gone for a fourth so that he could watch but his running cash was getting spread out thin as it was.

They sent out for ice three times during the next twelve hours. When the redhead Katerina fell off the bed and began to cry, he gave her a wad of roubles and sent her on her way. She winced as she walked, but gave him a kiss on the forehead and spoke to the other girls in a language he did not understand.

When his bowels started to cramp, he excused himself. He shut the door and hoped that the door disguised the noises that he made, let alone the smell. Too much rich food, he told himself.

When he emerged, they had both gone. He looked around his room, breathed in the perfume of sex and sat on the edge of the bed. His vision began to swim, and a sharp pain shot down his left arm. He had enough time to pull himself so that his shoulders rested against the pillows before another bolt of agony ripped through him again.

He breathed in through his nose. He was sore, exhausted and sweating but he knew one last thing. The men he had betrayed would not get their hands on him.

He had gone out with a bang.

(A writing group exercise. It amused me to write about a death like this, which reminds me of the Frankie Boyle joke – that anyone who says there’s no such thing as a good death has never heard the phrase ‘drug-fuelled sex heart attack. The russian mafia stuff came tangentially and it felt pretty good. Original story is


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It was about momentum, trying to lift the weight of my process against the resistance of anxiety and depression. These times are when all the bland, fat days of getting it done reap their reward.

It isn’t about external validation, or money in the bank a lot of the time. You do things that you would rather not do, in order to make it through testing times and write. I hit the 270 page mark this morning, after ten pages yesterday. I am close to the end now of Lawful Evil, two sequences or perhaps three, and it’s followed the story grid pretty closely. Once that is done, it will go away for a while whilst I continue editing on She’s Here, possibly Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere, and developing two new projects, both of which I’ve pitched to my agent.

I finished reading A History of Seven Killings yesterday, Marlon James’ award winning book about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley and the intercession of the CIA in the country at that time. Nowadays, Marley is a meme, a signal of virtue that never captures the purity of the man and his music still carries that rawboned elegance. No Woman, No Cry is Dylan with a joint on the go.

I started Perfidia by James Ellroy yesterday, which has a thematic relation to James’ book in that it uses the swirling undercurrents of personal ambition, corruption and politics to show us a point in the past and teach us that history shows who we are, not who we say we are. I’ve been reading Ellroy for a long time, enough to see how his work has influenced later authors. Lawful Evil probably bears some of his ideas, because he has found the corruption in Los Angeles and found the poetry, the humanity within it.

Reading and writing help, and even the sentences that bring tears to my eyes, do so in the spirit of healing.  Same with the poetry too, they’re all tools I use to build an idea bigger than can be contained within me. I am not at peace anywhere, but on the page, there are moments where it calls to me and offers that hope. It’s a long slog, isolating and polarizing sometimes, but the feeling of being done is always good.

She’s Here is benefiting from a solid line edit. There is less to change thus far than I expected, but am still reading and editing it like I hate it, looking for the bits that would stick out, that feel like affectations or moments of ‘hey look’ which survived the first draft. The pain and the grief are there, and I am now into the haunting sections which represent my first attempts at the genre and hopefully don’t suck too badly. Chewing through the rind of time, sucking the bitterness away and hoping there’s enough nutrition to keep you moving for another moment, another hour, another day.

So I keep breathing, meditation to alleviate the worst of the symptoms and working on myself to find my centre again. Thank you for reading.



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The Burden of Law.


We had been in country for six months now, making friends was a thing of necessity and all of us in the unit had developed friendships in different layers. Imogen, who had dropped out of Stanford to be here was tight with Lorraine, who had been about to start beauty school before she got drafted, giggled like she was sucking down helium and liked to do our nails and hair when we were back at base. Olive had been on a scholarship to run track at LSU and she would work out with Patsy, who had been running her dad’s hardware store when he took ill, had resented handing it over to her younger brother, and took it out on the rudimentary weights and track they had ground and welded out of jungle dirt and brush. My BFF out here was Kelly, because of the fact that we had come from the same town and signed up together. It was that or get pregnant, get married to someone who would become an obese stranger to us over time and watch the years fly by. Safety is an illusion, and it just didn’t feel right to stand by and let other people stand a watch for our safety.

It’s strange what you believe, and your reasons for doing things. They weren’t lies as such, but we believed them at the time. Boot camp didn’t abuse us of that notion.

War did.

We dealt with it in different ways. Some of us retreated back to habits that engendered comfort, like Olive running track and Lorraine doing our hair.

Then there was Laura. Law, she shortened it to that and even spelt it that way, had it stencilled on her helmet with a skull and crossbones underneath. She was married, apparently, no kids, volunteered at the church in the small town where she had been born and lived before she got drafted.  No more than 5 feet tall, about a buck ten soaking wet but she had muscled through training. She was good at it.

Too good, but we never said that aloud. It was a feeling that could only be captured in the language of friendship’s whispers.

Law was the member of the unit who was appointed to kill children. It was not an official order, nothing written down or anything that would put a five star general in front of a sub committee but it was there.


It did not sit well with us, a callus against the skin of our souls, a cut that would heal if we could stop touching it. Law bore the burden quietly at first, but that changed.

It was the enthusiasm that she showed.

She started to take trophies. Fingers or ears because they kept better. No one else needed memories of their kills in country.

Once you’ve shot a grandmother in the face, it tends to stay with you. At least, I hoped it did. It reminds you that you’re still human. Still a woman.

So, when I tell you about how it ended, you have to understand that we were thinking about a lot of different things.

The village was supposed to have been cleared by the 101st

Law, by then, had settled on fingers, tied onto her bandolier of shotgun shells with neat loops of string, each one woven through one of the canvas pockets where each shell nestled, snug like a baby at a breast. Her bright red hair had been shaved down to stubble, bursts of cinnamon freckles against white skin that either burned or resisted the sun. Droopy-lidded brown cow eyes that saw everything with a quiet acceptance. She worked the pump action shotgun with surgical skill. Whatever she aimed for, she hit.

So when the little boy emerged, cheap Russian AK shaking in his arms, she was already in motion. Olive shouted but it was too late.

He flew backwards, at that range, his unformed, tan chest blew apart like a pound of meat dropped from a great height. Law had done it with no more expression than flitting a bug from her eyeline. We stood there, as Hillary, our lieutenant came over and touched Law on the shoulder, as though waking her from a pleasant dream.

‘What the fuck?’ I said.

Hillary raised her eyebrows and strode over to me. Her face had tightened into a harsh scowl, the same one she had probably used as a wedding planner to deal with an errant tent rental company error.

‘Sargeant, you do not get to question operating procedure. Stow that shit for base camp.’

Law knelt in front of the cooling corpse, looked around and giggled. It was a sound that stayed with me for as long as I lived. She already had the knife in her hand, ready to take a trophy.

The next sound was the shot.

It took her between the shoulder blades. Kelly lowered her rifle, then knelt down, placed it ground in front of her and knitted her fingers at the back of her head. She looked at me, tears budding in the corners of her eyes.

‘It had to be done, lieutenant. She can’t go home with that inside her.’

We retreated at the same pace we had arrived. Kelly was by my side, relieved of her rifle but not her duty. Hillary could have shot her there and then, but there would have been enough paperwork with Law already.

When the MPs came and took her, she smiled at me. I could not bear the weight of it and as she waved at me, she had the same expression as Law, but it was overlaid with the patina of friendship. I never saw her again, but when I went home, resuming my bachelors degree, I thought of her often.

I thought of Law too, but those were done by the time that I awoke. I would wash the sheets and shower a little longer than normal.



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Closed For The Season.


This agony

Tests my dimensions

Inspires a grand violence of spirit

Anger is an anaesthetic

That allows me to go through

The day

Numb and shivering

And how the world goes on

Ignoring my resentment

At the callow circumstances, fate swept

The house of cards from the table

How could a love so grand and operatic

Feel so prevalent on circumstance

That the blank, warm milk

Of domesticity

Tastes sweeter than the wine

I offered.

I have lost as much as I loved.

I insinuated you, opened every door

To my heart’s mansion

Opened up as you asked me to

But the cold wind blows

Even the fire has died

And there is no one here

To keep me warm

Let me shiver to death

Cursing the world.

Yet if you peered around the door

I would let you in

Dear god, how I would




But for now, this house needs boards nailed to the windows

And I shall become a ghost,

Lost to some other place

Than here



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Two Pages (07/10/16)


  • Lawful Evil is going well, as I’ve self-diagnosed that writing takes my mind off my discomfort more ably than any medicine. There are always the two pages done in the morning, which is my main writing time, but I find myself returning to it later on in the day. In the evenings, I am editing Until She Sings, going through in the frame of the notes that I received previously. It might mean more work if the forthcoming notes contradict anything I have already done but more often than not, it addresses something that makes me feel proud to meet the expectations afforded to me.
  • The rush of original work seldom loses it’s import, but I have learned far more from rewriting and editing, which then applies itself to exploratory drafts. I still go all in, but with experience, I am less prone to the mistakes and flaws that punctuate earlier work, or if I do, they’re much easier to spot and take out. These insights aren’t constant and I would be concerned if they were. I use the energy of insecurity to fuel my work, to never be satisfied and to lean into my edge, just past it and acknowledge my fears about my work.
  • Complacency is the midwife to more bad writing than we care to admit. Alongside that is the truth that the quality of the work is the only thing under my control right now, so investing in that is the antidote to anxiety. If I cannot control it, why stress about it and put the effort into the things that I can. Building an audience might be the way forward in the meantime, but I’ve nothing concrete to show beyond the work I post here and there’s nothing to distinguish that from everyone else’s free content beyond the ephemeral notions of quality. I tend to find that the building of an audience works if there is something to offer up in the first place. For me, it’s books that you can buy and I prefer to have people come and read my work organically. I post links on Twitter, which is an easy thing for me to do and doesn’t feel desperate or grasping. What you do isn’t desperate or grasping, but I have my preferences and certainly, I would look to someone who is passionate about marketing, hopefully help me out with that when it’s time to take that seriously. I have an agent, and they weren’t checking out my social media profile, they looked at the work and whether I had potential. Which is how it should be.
  • I don’t deny anyone else their experience or approach, I can only speak about what works for me, and more importantly, what doesn’t. To me, articles about what your character likes for breakfast are useful only in so far as you’re stuck with a draft and it might open you up to insight. Otherwise, you’re offering something that has no practical use and you’re just making ‘content’. I would rather spend that time writing another couple of pages or revising something that I’ve done. Especially when a little digging reveals that what content is available, happens to be incomplete or inconsistent. If you go to that trouble, make sure that you have things to show for the investment.
  • There are two important questions in life, and you need to get them in the right order.
  1. Where am I going?
  2. Who will come with me?
  • If you get them in the wrong order, you won’t get anywhere. Paralysed with indecision, looking for allies when there is no war to fight, that’s what will kill your writing stone dead. Write, write again, start to get it down in a way that feels authentic and powerful to you, then start sharing it. Being a writer is nothing special, lots of people call themselves that now and haven’t produced anything more substantial than a shopping list.
  • If you’ve spent more time outlining than writing, then you need to ask yourself what the issue is here, and whether you’re using that approach to protect the platonic perfection of your idea rather than the messy, ugly reality that you will produce. Outlines can be really useful tools, but don’t make them a reason not to do the work. Just because you’re doing something, doesn’t mean that you are producing. I’ve been there, a black belt in procrastination and used all sorts of reasons not to write. Be honest with yourself about your needs and desires in the context of writing. It will help you in the long run, even though it might be painful.  I used to have deserving issues about not having a degree or a MFA, that I wasn’t the right class of person to write, that I could only write what I knew or what I was into, in terms of my media consumption.
  • Then circumstances permitted me to confront my reticence and start writing. I’ve learned more in the last six years than the decades preceding. I’ve discovered a passion and discipline, a strength of character that surprises me on an ongoing basis. So, I don’t judge anyone else on what they do, so long as they are honest about it with themselves. If outlining produces work, then my criticism makes me the asshole.  I am not critical as a tactic to make myself look better, I’ve seen people do that and it’s ugly, caustic work that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Focus on you, be in competition with you and you alone. Let the fripperies slide out of view, be above the petty and make your writing shine like a diamond.

Thank you for reading.