Let The Right One In

halloween-468026_640As it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow, this week’s Friday Flash Fiction effort is of course a tale for Hallowe’en.

If you think you can do better, why not submit a Hallowe’en-themed story to the Friday Flash Fiction website (rules – it must be original and 100 words or less). Here’s the submission information, or you can just submit your story submissions@fridayflashfiction.com

Let me know what you think…

Let the Right One In

“I’m dreading this evening so I am.”

Matthew had been the more gregarious of the two. It was the ultimate compliment to his hosting skills that so many people often dropped by, unannounced.

When he died ten years ago, she shut her front door and gradually those unannounced visitors stopped coming.

Hallowe’en, however, every year brought the neighbourhood’s children, craving comments on cute costumes and greedily demanding sweets.

The doorbell sounded at 6pm. She sighed and heaved herself up.

“Jenny – you’ve been hiding away too long. It isn’t good for a person.”

She stuck out a tentative hand.

Oh Matthew…


Originally posted on the Friday Flash Fiction website.

Atypical – Friday Flash Fiction

“It was not your typical start to a Friday…”

I love the first line of a story, don’t you? It offers up such potential, but I fear my first lines often promise far more than they deliver.

Take this morning for example. I awoke with the first line in mind.

BAM – what could that mean? But as I thought about it, I realised I’d made assumptions about the word “typical”, that there was some kind of universal Friday morning experience.

Were people commuting? Were they firing up their laptops at home? Were they, gulp, golfing?

Another false start…


If you would like to read more Friday Flash Fiction, check out the wordpress blog, Friday Flash Fiction and the website

Cute Shoe Alert!

new shoesIf you write a book that features cats and you happen to love them yourself, then a pair of shoes like this are a necessary purchase, wouldn’t you agree?

FYI, they are by Irregular Choice. Apparently Irregular Choice aficionados protect the sole by never wearing the shoe outside or persuading a kind friend to piggy-back them everywhere.

This is not an option for me, so the sole will not be preserved in its beauty for all eternity – although, like most high heeled shoes, these are staggeringly uncomfortable after a while and marching down the street for a long period of time whilst wearing them isn’t an option…


procrastinationWhat do you do when you know there is a writing task that needs doing – re-writing and editing finished book number two? You procrastinate like mad by starting another one of course…

This book began its life as a short story that I entered into a competition (and did not win, alas, on the other hand, it did get long-listed in a publishing company’s competition) but I was then so taken with the idea and the concept that I decided it needed expansion.

See what you think…


Sunday morning – somewhere in the city

Listen, it isn’t like this is the first time I have ever woken up and not known where I am. I mean, six months ago this happened to me regularly. Even more disconcerting was when I didn’t recognise the guy lying next to me either.

But waking up and being disconcerted by surroundings you don’t immediately recognise happens to all of us from time to time. You need a few seconds to re-orient yourself – “Ah, we’re at my mum’s”, or “Of course, we crashed out at Dixie’s.”

I wait for revelation to spring itself upon me, but nothing happens so I run through what I do know. I am in a large and comfortable bed, with clean sheets which smell strongly of fabric softener. The window is to my left and there is daylight shining through the curtains, and the décor is very modern and very smart from what I can make out.

And, reassuringly, Josh is next to me.

“Mum! Dad!”

The shout outside the bedroom door startles Josh. His eyes spring open and I watch him working through the same thought process as I did – where am I, I don’t recognise my surroundings – and then arriving at the same mental destination I did, the I don’t where I am one.

The door bursts open and a tall, gangly teenage boy flings himself into the room, coming to a rest at the foot of our bed, hopping in agitation from foot to foot.

“Guys! C’mon, get up! You’ve got to take me to the auditions!”

I have sat up in bed, modestly clutching the duvet to my chest which is inadequately covered by a thin nightie, and exchanged an incredulous glance with Josh. He has returned the glance in full, but his incredulity mingles with intense curiosity, and I scrabble for my glasses (thankfully left, as per usual, on the table next to my bedside).

The boy in front of us undoubtedly looks like both of us. Curly-haired (we both sport frizzy mops), bluey-green eyes (my boyfriend), a wide face (me) and approximately 6ft 2” – me too.

Kidding, of course the height is all Josh.

“Five minutes guys!” The teenager grabs hold of my foot and waggles it, and the unfamiliar touch sends a jolt through me. I have to concentrate very hard on not jerking my foot away.

“Get you downstairs then,” I say. He gives both of us an intense look, a “hurry and get up” look and leaves the bedroom in roughly the same way he entered it.

“What the f–”

Continue reading

On Writing my first book

A writer colleague of mine has this to say about writing her first book (which is out in January)…

Jane Tulloch

Well I’ve done it now. My first book is released in January 2016. Unbelievable!  Plucking up courage to tell people I’ve written a book wasn’t easy. There tends to be several reactions: either blank astonishment, a curling lip and disbelief, sometimes compliments and pleasure at my having done it at all, or a flurry of questions about the process.

At times it seems to me that half the people I meet are writing or planning to write a book and the other half is asking how do I do it. Where do I get my ideas from? What gets my writing juices flowing? Why?

No easy answers but it did set me thinking. Now I’ve done a bit more writing and am looking to writing in the longer term I’ve been reflecting on this.

The “how” is quite straightforward. Creating a story seems to me to be like creating a painting…

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National Chocolate Week – and Out-of-Control Chocolate Binges

sweet wrappersThis week’s it’s National Chocolate Week – no doubt the web will be awash with chocolate facts and famous name brands pushing their products on us…

I thought I’d mark the occasion by publishing an excerpt from book number two, Two Slices of Carrot Cake. My 16-year-old heroine Savvy struggles with an eating disorder. In this excerpt, she talks about walking into an office to find an open box of chocolates in front of her…


And now there is a huge box of chocolates twinkling evilly at me.

According to the gospel of Moll, opened boxes of chocolates are fair game for cleaners. I worked with her once and she helped herself to two or three handfuls of them. (Thornton’s, if you are interested.)

“I’ve seen the skinny bitches who work in here,” she said to me at the time, “So I’m doing them a favour eating their choccies so they don’t get fat.”

Moll’s at least a size 24, I reckon. And she doesn’t seem to give a shit.

I glare at the box – it’s one of those ginormous ones of Miniature Heroes – my favourite chocolates in the whole, wide world. Hard to know which ones I would eat first. I put down my spray cleaner and duster, and take a handful out of the box as an experiment. I line them up before me on the desk in order of preference, from the ones I’d eat first to the ones I’d eat last (I always eat my favourite thing last):

  1. Crème Eggs
  2. Cadbury Caramels
  3. Dairy Milk
  4. Chocolate éclairs
  5. Twirls
  6. Fudge

A voice starts up in my head, “Go on, just one just one won’t hurt, lovely, sweet, vanilla chocolate, smooth caramel, chewy toffee yum yum yum,” and then I look them up quickly on myfitnesspal.

Miniature Heroes (each):

  • Calories – 53
  • Fat content – 3g
  • Sugar content – 6g

Which really isn’t all that bad after all. Less calories than a lousy apple, I think to myself and my hand hovers over those beautiful wrappers, the purples, the yellows and purple, the shiny foils of the crème eggs and the orange glint of the fudge…

I hit the side of my head with the flat of my hand, hard. It won’t be one, I’ll keep going back to the box again and again until the whole lot are finished and then I’ll have to go out to the bloody supermarket to buy another box to replace it, remembering to take out just enough chocolates so it doesn’t look brand new.


I’m just putting the chocolates back in the box when I hear a sound – the sound of footsteps and a door opening. I put the lid back on the box of chocolates and start furiously polishing a table.

“Savvy – is that you?”

I spin round. It’s Sandy – Jan’s nephew.

“What are you doing here?” I snap at him. I’m kind of embarrassed he’s caught me cleaning, but he could have caught me stuffing my face with Miniature Heroes.

And that would have been much worse.


Friday Flash Fiction – Cheese and Taxes

Dig in - it's good for you...

Dig in – it’s good for you…

It’s great discipline trying to write a story in 100 words – all those horrible fillers we are guilty of using (in order to etc.) have to be removed, which is the opposite of my other writing life where people ask for set numbers of words and I resort to fillers…

(Yup, when desperate I start writing out contractions in full.)

Anyway, on a Friday I practise “less is more” with a weekly 100-word story.


Nothing as Certain as Cheese and Taxes

Three things had changed Terry’s life that week.

First up was the discovery that cheese is really good for people’s longevity. He celebrated with a cheese omelette for breakfast, macaroni cheese and salad for lunch and ended his day with a huge pile of cheese and biscuits.

Secondly, a letter from the IRS announced the news that he’d overpaid his taxes for the last 10 years. Amazing!

Thirdly – and this was the killer – he decided to do a little cleaning up of his shop, Captive Born Reptiles.

He entered the python’s cage. Boy, it was mucky in there…

My inspiration was a couple of stories – one that cheese is good for you (excellent, excellent) and the other about a pet shop owner’s unfortunate cleaning experience.

If you enjoy writing flash fiction yourself, why not submit a story to the Friday flash fiction website or the Friday flash fiction WordPress account? This link will take you to the site and you’ll find the submission details there.


brilliant booksYes, #SuperThursday – it’s a thing… Apparently, today the market will be flooded with new books.

No doubt many of those books will have the might of the publishing industry behind them. They will have glossy covers and a big marketing budget so you will see the book or the author everywhere for a few weeks as they promote their book.

I’m self-published so I rely on kind friends and family (and they were very kind and generous indeed) and promoting myself via the medium of social media.

Anyway, as it is #SuperThursday, here is a little plug on behalf of independent artists… You can buy all of the above books via the Comely Bank Publishing website, and through Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

Here’s a little blurb on what each book is about:

Four Old Geezers and a Valkyrie by Gordon Lawrie is an entertaining romp set in Edinburgh. Brian, aka ‘Captain’ is a reiteed teacher who has split acrimoniously from his wife. A chance meeting with his best man encourages Captain to dig out his 40-year-old guitar and leads to a series of hilarious jam sessions in a back garden in Merchiston during which they record a couple ofptain’s own songs.

Posting these on YouTube, they prove to be surprise hits, sending the four ‘musicians’ and their lawyer into a series of encounters with a tiny manager, a boy-band and a female Polish dancer, a cigar-puffing earl and a famous rock band.

The Man from Outremer by T.D. Burke  is a swashbuckling tale of treachery and action. Set largely in Scotland at the time of the early Scottish Wars of Independence around 1300 AD, it follows Derwent, a Scottish Crusader-turned-clergyman, and his involvement first of all in the Fall of Acre in Palestine, then later as Prior of Roslin in Scotland.

Against Derwent stands his nemesis, an English spymaster who is desperate to conceal a dark secret from the Crusader days. In time, they will confront each other in battle at Roslin.

Katie and the Deelans by Emma Baird is the story of Katie Harper and her friends, ordinary teenagers who go to the worst school in the country. Life, however, takes a turn for the extraordinary when Katie and her friends take up magic lessons.

Taught by the fabulous Miss D’Azzler and the enigmatic Jazz, Katie and her friends find out that they are deelans – humans who can change into cats and who have magical powers. Katie and her friends enjoy the first few months of being deelans by practising their magical skills and trying to improve the school and life for those living in the sink housing estates nearby.

Our Best Attention by Jane Tulloch will be published in January 2016. Set in Murrays, a fictional Edinburgh department store in the 1970s, OBA tells the story of the store’s attempts to adjust itself to modern times through its various staff members and customers.




Ballingham High – the Worst School in the Country

interviewerGreetings faithful readers and thanks to you for dropping by. Here’s another excerpt from my book, Katie and the Deelans…

Adam Hartley, Central TV’s youngest broadcaster, had visited Ballingham High School many times in the two years he had worked for Central TV to report stories. Most of them had been bad news.

There had been the arson attack. Then there had been gang warfare, when rival school gangs battled it out for control of the school’s drug supplies. The worst incident, however, had been when one pupil murdered another in a fit of jealous rage.

Central TV’s newsroom boss – Sharon Watson – had stopped by Adam’s desk that morning. He had been doing his best to look busy, as Sharon was a very scary boss and liked to catch her staff out when she thought they weren’t doing enough work.

“Adam, I find this hard to believe but I’ve just had a phone call from the education boss at the council – you know, Donald Chips – and he tells me there has been a remarkable improvement at Ballingham High School. They’ve had a 50% improvement in their exam results. What are you working on at the moment?”

Adam, who had been doing nothing – there never seemed to be any new news on a Tuesday afternoon – quickly thought up something that he thought might impress Scary Sharon.

“I was looking back at some of the stories I worked on last week seeing if there were ways that I could have done them better Sharon.”

Sharon shook her head. “Really? Useful as that sounds, I need you to go out to Ballingham High straight away and do a piece about the exam results. Talk to the head teacher and see if you can find a couple of pupils to interview – ones who passed and hadn’t expected to pass, that sort of thing.

“Oh, and make sure they are good-looking pupils. Our viewers don’t want to see any fat, spotty teenagers on the six o’clock news. It’ll put them off their dinner.”  Continue reading

Katie and the Deelans – An Excerpt

Sleeping makes up a large part of a cat's life. No wonder wanting to be one is such an attractive idea...

Sleeping makes up a large part of a cat’s life. No wonder wanting to be one is such an attractive idea…

Ever wondered what life would be like if you could change into a cat? Yup, me too – and it was that wonderment that created the book, Katie and the Deelans – published earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

We had all thought the School of Sorcery and Spells would start to look different when we started our magic lessons – that it would stop looking like a pre-fab block (grey concrete, rattling windows and flat roofs) and more, I dunno… exotic, I suppose.



But it hadn’t changed in the three years since we’d found out about magic lessons. The only thing was that you couldn’t see in the windows although the entire school had probably tried to look in at some point. 

We stood outside the building and the door to the department swung open. One of the girls in the class screamed – oh actually I admit it, it was me – before Beanie stuck her elbow in my ribs and told me to stop embarrassing her. Inside, it was so far so bog standard school corridor.

Beanie nudged me. Coming towards us was a grey and white slightly fat cat, wearing a smart red velvet collar and tiny bell.

“I love cats! Isn’t she so sweet?” Beanie exclaimed. When the cat reached us, she bent down to stroke it as it weaved round her legs purring loudly and leaving clouds of loose fur on Beanie’s tights.

The cat sat on its back legs. There was a loud bang and all of a sudden the cat changed into a plump and friendly looking woman. She was wearing a black velvet dress with red panels and her hair was scraped into a pony tail.

By this point, all of our eyes had turned to saucers. Continue reading