When life is tough, we all have different ways that we cope.

When the things start to go wrong, how is it that each of us are able to manage the way we react?

The world can be a beautiful place filled with the most amazing wonders but, in the blink of an eye, can become the stuff of nightmares. Stress can build and as each day passes we can feel more and more crushed by the problems we face until, at some point, we could finally snap under the weight.

The human mind has the ability to bend and manipulate as all manner of stresses and sorrows attack it and it’s here that I want to examine the power of the written word.

When you have a terrible time, how do you cope? What are the things that you employ to help defend yourself, to protect yourself and to push back? We all do it. We come under attack from the external trials and tribulations of the world and following day after day of fighting against them, we get to the point of wanting to put the tools down and have a break from the fight. Helping to unwind your mind after a tough day has been called ‘fire watching’ from hundreds of years ago where a person would do just that, watch that fire burn and crackle. Just not having to think on anything and let your mind wander around the pretty shapes and colours gives you the chance to not actively be driving your mind, rather you’re just coasting down the road making the most of the scenery.

A great many people turn to drink, turn to exercise, take a holiday, make snap shopping choices, focus on work or dive into their hobby. I have two things that help turn my mind off. Watching the nonsense videos on YouTube and books.

Watching the contents of YouTube is great. Cat videos and people falling off or into all kinds of things just makes me smile. There’s never any complex narrative to try to wrestle with and there isn’t any need to expend energy on any kind of comprehension of what’s taking place. I can sit and ‘fire watch’ happy in the knowledge that my mind is on autopilot. I’m watching lots of YouTube at the moment.

The situation with books is very different.

Books offer the chance to challenge the mind to keep pace with the story. Rather than just existing, floating in the shallows but not venturing further, stories give you the chance to truly leave your troubles on the shore and escape. When you crack open a book, you’re no longer in the world where job or money worries, family concerns or health issues can get you. Now you’re flying through space, you’re casting magic spells, you’re hunting for the deranged serial killer and the reality just falls away.

I also use writing as a way to get myself through issues. By throwing myself into the worlds I write about, I can slam the door on the brutality of whatever is trying to rip me apart. In any book you read, the world has been laid out for you to explore but when I write, I grasp the added delight of shutting myself away in truly a world of my creation.

We all have our coping mechanisms when the darkness closes in. Whatever it is you do to help keep you ploughing forwards, no matter how small, can be a keystone in keeping everything together. When there’s something awful afoot, I need to close the world away for a while and that time spent in another world, even if just for a short period, can be a lifesaver.



Friday last week saw another first for me.

I was interviewed as part of the Speculative Fiction Cantina on BlogTalk Radio by S Evan Townsend. A relaxing chat about my books and why I write was shared with another author, Aran Jane, and all in all, I had a blast just chewing the fat.

I encourage everyone to have a listen and enjoy.



I’ve been working on my latest book recently and can present you with the cover for my soon to be released anthology of short stories.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the cover for “Tall Tales for Dark Nights”.


I’m really pleased with the book and I’m looking forward eagerly to the release.

Watch this space for the date.


And the winner is ………………..


Following on from last week’s competition to win the chance to name my up coming anthology of short stories I’ve been able to whittle all the entries down to the best overall.

A huge thank you has to go to everyone who added something to the list of possibilities helping me find the correct title. An honourable mention has to go to one particular idea which just made me smile. Although not the winning entry, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Elgie’ surely should be a book title.


So finally, I give you the winning suggestion and the title of my up coming collection of short stores.

“Tall Tales for Dark Nights.”

A late entry but overall I think it fits the bill perfectly. I’ve also now got a perfect title for another book thanks to the pool of suggestions.

Thank you all for the help. There have been some amazing ideas which are so much more interesting than what I’d been kicking about.

Watch this space for more information on the release.




I know it’s not too long since I released The Circle of Duty but I’ve been kicking about loads of ideas for short stories over the years which, you know what, I’m going to release later this year in an anthology.

Stories about the supernatural, horror and lots of other juicy topics will be stitched together to be presented at the end of October, just in time for the excitement of Halloween.

I’ve almost finished the final story for the book, I’ve got a few creepy ideas for the cover design but there’s, as always, one thing I don’t yet have.

The title.

So I turn to you brave followers.

I’m asking for suggestions for the upcoming collection of short stories but it’s more than just a call for help.

If you are the creative mind who is responsible for the selected title, not only will you receive a signed copy of the book but you’ll also become one of the characters in one of the stories.

You’ll become a vital part of the world of my short stories and surely the bragging rights for that are worth a suggestion.

To enter your suggestions (you can make more than one you know) either leave a comment with your ideas on here or visit my Facebook page and comment on there. If you haven’t ‘Liked’ the page yet, don’t be shy, I don’t bite. Honest.

The winning suggestion will be announced on here next week at 9pm GMT.

Good luck all.


Now we move past post one hundred to that most hideous of numbers. Time to delve into the ruins which are the ultimate horrors for each of us.

Room 101 is the perfect torture chamber. In 1984, Room 101 is inside the sickeningly named Ministry of Love and it’s within those walls where people get confronted by their own personal worst nightmare. In the book, Winston Smith has to deal with rats as his own personal hell, there to so crush his spirit that he’d be willing to push the person he loved the most into the metaphorical fire rather than face it himself.

Each of us has that deep dark fear. That primal terror that bypasses everything we’ve built up and just spears into the lizard brain. The dark, spiders, heights are the would be classics but we all have that special one thing that goes so far beyond all other fears we may have, outstrips all other horrors we hold leaving us naked before it’s power.

As a writer, I enjoy horror as a genre but how easy is it to make a story as scary as possible for as many people as possible, rather than just aim for that single, specific thing which may only grip a very small handful?

I’m currently reading a horror novel, the review of which will be on Goodreads eventually, and something I’ve noticed in what’s been done, is that the author has placed a great many ‘fears’ that the reader could identify with into a close proximity in the narrative. There are comments regarding familial dysfunction that the protagonist experiences as a child, the disappearance of a son, the dark, monsters of the deep, a worldwide plague and travel to the bottom of the ocean and the subsequent claustrophobia. As I was reading, I found myself getting drawn to a level of fear, not because of what was taking place on the page but by the sensations of me being in those ‘classics’. The narrative wasn’t doing the scaring as much as it was making me recognise how I would have felt in all of those situations. Rather than he story itself being bed-wettingly scary, it was the tapestry of images in my head of being in those situations in the real world. An example would be the disappearance of a child.

I’m not a parent. I couldn’t imagine the pain of actually being confronted by such an awful plight but I know that I’d never wish it on anyone. I have what could be described as an almost ‘common empathy’ for anyone who was in such an awful situation, but the author threw this fragment of the backstory into the mix alongside other nasty bits which had a more personal effect and it was that accumulation which did the trick of making the passage more harrowing.

So horror isn’t just about the knife wielding maniac or the monster under the bed. That most horrific sensation can be brought about by the build-up of smaller pieces to create the whole, making the little things do all the damage as each fragment smiles as it chips away at the mental strength of the person reading it until there really isn’t anything left to defend against the reveal of the monster.

That was a part of how Room 101 worked. You were already being so gently destroyed mentally that when your nightmare was finally unleashed, there was no way you’d be able to do anything but crumble.

Horror done well is a thing of beauty. Like the perfect execution of all manner of tasks, it’s always a finely balanced sum of it’s parts.


Welcome to the latest story from my warped little mind. I actually didn’t do too much to it from the original kernel of thought but you can be assured that you’ll recognise that which I’ve added.

I’ve heard on the radio, on TV and read in the press, of people making confessions and asking the wronged person for forgiveness many years after the event.

This is my confession.


I can remember, more than a few years ago, when I was much smaller than I am today, my cousin and I never really saw eye to eye. She always had everything.

Everyone has the issue right? Not just us?

She’s five years older than me and she was always the apple of our family’s eye. Nothing she did was ever wrong, even when it was, and she was given everything her heart could ever want. I got the hand-me-downs.

Almost from my first childhood memory I heard, “Didn’t you say that you wanted to have that as well?” asked by my parents as they passed down the latest object that she no longer enjoyed, gifted to them as a reminder that they weren’t as good as my cousin’s parents. It was almost worse than not having something myself, the cast offs.

Just looked like they were only ever thinking of me in terms of her rather than as being me.

So I don’t think that it could have truly come as much surprise to anyone that jealousy built in me. I’m not proud of my jealousy but can you really say that if you’d been on the receiving end of behaviour like that for as long as I had, you wouldn’t have been the same?

Eventually, after holding my younger self together for as long as I could, I’d had enough.

Visiting her house along with all manner of other people for a party or some kind of gathering in her honour, she was proudly showing off her latest prized possession, ‘Little Ted’.

Little Ted was beautiful. Little Ted was made for cuddles and my smug cousin just looked down on me as I stood and stared at her with Little Ted.

I wanted my own Little Ted.

But that was never going to happen so I thought I’d do something about it.

As I’ve already said, I always got her cast offs when she didn’t want them anymore, so I thought that now would be the perfect chance to take from her on my terms. I was the one doing the choosing.

I’m not proud of the way the green eyed monster grabbed hold of me but I just carried on with it.

There were just the three of us in the room when I decided I needed to act, she and I and Little Ted. I was going to take Little Ted for myself.

As the time passed by, all I could see was the fact I was going to have Little Ted. All of my rational mind was out of control, the green eyed monster now truly in charge.

Eventually, as the activity of the day continued, she was no doubt distracted by something else that she had that I didn’t as she played to others who were there, I saw my chance.

I bundled up Little Ted and hid him up my jumper.

Turning quickly, I walked out of the house, not meeting her eyes as I left. Surely she’d be able to see that I had something under my jumper as I left? Maybe if she’d been a little less self-absorbed, she would have done.

Happily for me, she noticed Little Ted was missing only after I’d left the house.

I heard that she’d cried and cried and screamed and cried.

I’m still not proud of the fact that I’d taken from her but she did need to see that she couldn’t just have everything she ever wanted and rub it in the faces of all around her.


I wasn’t really sure, as I looked at Little Ted later in the day, that I actually wanted him.

I was scared that I’d be discovered as the taker.


So this is my confession after all these years.

I’m sorry I ruined your life.

I’m sorry I took your Little Ted.

I just wanted to show you that what it was like not to have everything go your way.

I tell you this now for closure for us both.

How was I supposed to know that after that day your marriage would fall apart, that you couldn’t have any more kids.

So twenty years later, your son Edward, your Little Ted, is buried in the woods by our old house.