Reasons to be cheerful

Ian Dury & the Blockheads image tweaked to say Dion Dury & the Blockheads, complete with punk pink tache and beard.

I’ve moved out for a fortnight while the builders do their stuff, and got a little mixed up with my schedule. I should have done an extra Hobby post last week then put out my Personal blog today. Ah, well. As I was typing the following update on Facebook, it occurred to me I could …

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Do, or do not

Yoda quote - Do, or do not

The first and really only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. I loved books—loved the language that swept across the page, the worlds authors took me to and the revelations they unfurled. If I *had to dedicate my life to a single vocation, then this was it. I was …

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In the Long Grass – flash fiction

In the Long Grass. SIlhouette of long grass and reeds in a pinkish dusky light. Behind, through the haze, an arachnoid centaur horror.

This was supposed to be a piece of flash fiction but it kind of grew in the telling. I went with it. As ever, I began with an inspirational image (this one courtesy of Eygló Daða Karlsdóttir) and three Key Words: Leavings, Hustle, Chuck As the story progressed and the antagonist insinuated herself into my …

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For the many – flash fiction

A medieval warrior on horseback looks across a desolate landscape at a mountainous thing: a space shuttle on its launchpad, overgrown and forgotten.

We’re back in Flash fiction territory once more, stretching our creative muscles for a bit of fun. The inspirational image is called Cyberpunk, by artist Yuri Shwedoff, and the Key words we have to utisilise are Mercian, Rain God, and Laughter – brought to us this month by Peter Coleborn from a mysterious bit of …

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Nunkie’s M.R. James

Robert Lloyd Parry in full flow as M.R. James

ChillerCon is just around the corner, and my favourite storyteller will be there, so I thought it apt to reshare, expand and update my thoughts on Robert Lloyd Parry’s performed readings of M.R. James’ classic ghost stories. We’ll kick off with a primer for those who don’t know about M.R. James, so if you’re familiar …

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Shush – flash fiction

Shush - flash fiction

As previously discussed, writing is hard, but I feel a responsibility as an editor to keep myself at the sharp end of it, my own skills to better empathise with and advise my clients. I picked out an evocative image to inspire me (those big bullies up there), and three key words I’d have to …

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Losing the plot

Losing the plot

Some people have a very clear path in mind when it comes to writing. They’re super-organised: plotting it all in advance, figuring out the twists and turns of action and emotion. It sounds great in principle, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m more of a surfer, catching the wave of inspiration as it …

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Rotten Heart – flash fiction

Rotten Heart - flash fiction

As there’s a spare week this month, I thought I’d have another crack at some flash fiction. I was pleased with how last week’s came out, though appalled at my timing in retrospect. I mean, come on, Dion – a visceral piece about a miscarriage that close to Mother’s Day? Oof. My apologies. For this …

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Stilled Life – flash fiction

Stilled Life - flash fiction

Now that I’ve started to charge for my audio work, I’m flipping my Hobby weeks back to writing flash fiction. As previously discussed, writing is hard, but I feel a responsibility as an editor to keep myself at the sharp end of it, honing my own skills to better empathise with and advise my clients. …

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Perspective matters

Perspective matters

Perspective is critical to story. It provides the narrative voice your readers follow, gives us crucial insights and privileged information about characters and events; it even dictates (to a certain degree) how the plot unfolds. Fundamentally, it is the mechanism by which we understand and engage with the narrative. Get it right and you have …

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The Electric Eye of the Silver God, Pt 1 – a performed reading

The Electric Eye of the Silver God

‘It seemed an appropriately mythic thing, to steal the treasure of a false deity before finally accepting that he was too old for heroics.’ On a world where all of Time has become…twisted, an Egyptian pharaoh sets out on a quest to help his dying friend. Accompanied by a spy, a monster, a Norse mechanic …

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Lady Grinning Soul – a performed reading

Lady Grinning Soul - a performed reading

‘I could almost feel the kiss of the muzzle against my temple, the thrill of cold steel. They would kill me, if they knew, without a second thought.’ An extraordinary agent find a kindred spirit at Chez Romy Haag, during the age of Bowie and the Cold War. It’s easier to slip free of the …

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Want-to wants

Want-towants

Do you know what you want? Okay, but do you really want it, or do you just ‘want’ to want it? There’s a difference, see, and it took me a long time to understand that. Take writing, for instance. I’ve always had a facility with words, so writing and editing should have been a shoo-in. English Literature was my favourite subject at school, and I followed it right the way through to university, which begs the question…why did it take me so long to get into the industry?

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Kabaret und Gläs – a performed reading

Kabaret und Gläs, by James Bennett - a performed reading

‘And now, meine damen und herren, prepare yourselves! Here at the end of this Periclean Age, feast your eyes on our main attraction!’

Berlin 1936. The Weimar Republic is crumbling. Darkness is on the rise. In the fading decadence of Club Zauber, the mysterious Von Hart puts on quite a show.

Through the smoke and the spotlights, will his assistant Milosh see the final curtain fall?

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From Tappet Woods – a performed reading

Cat guarding its precious book

Hello, my lovelies. Feb 20th is my birthday, so I thought I’d give you all a gift: an hour of audio entertainment, written and performed by yours truly. ‘From Tappet Woods’ was my attempt at creating a story in the vein of M.R. James—classical in tone, cosy yet unnerving, ambiguous and hopefully atmospheric. I’ll let …

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Flashes of inspiration #13 – Entries

Writing prompt: Businessman seated on a telephone wire. Watched by a crow.

Hey there, here are the entries for the latest Flashes of Inspiration contest. I’ve been joined by the lovely Tabatha Wood, who interviewed me last week. In case you weren’t aware, she has a collection of short horror fiction out, called Dark Winds Over Wellington. You can check it out here. Okay, so the words this week were Seminal, Ferocity, Pyjamas. We had 400 words to play with and we were looking to evoke a bygone age with our writing. Let’s see what we’ve got…

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Flashes of inspiration #13 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Businessman seated on a telephone wire. Watched by a crow.

Hi all, and welcome back to Flashes of Inspiration, my bi-weekly flash fiction contest here at The Fine-toothed Comb. It’s been a busy week for me. Right now I’m ploughing my way through several short stories and a chunky novel, all for structural review. A convention has been announced, which I’ll be taking part in in various different panelly and workshoppy ways like some kind of pro. Oh, and I’m gradually losing the war against yoghurt. (Don’t ask.)

Anyway, enough about me. This is my forum for bringing creative people together in friendly competition. All I’m after is 400 words of imaginative prose or poetry, using the above image for inspiration. Literal interpretations are fine, as are figurative, tonal, and thematic. Whatever floats your dream-boat. I’ve been setting some specific challenges of late to try to push my own writing a bit. This week, let’s try making our narratives sound like they were written in a bygone era.

In addition, I have 3 key words that must be used in your piece in some way, shape, or form. These are:

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Flashes of inspiration #12 – Entry

Writing prompt: Horse & rider racing. Dazzling sunlight. Classical architecture.

‘Dim ond fi,’ as they say in these parts. Only me this time, but I enjoyed the challenge. It feels good to be back in the saddle, so to speak. So what have I got here? A little vignette, flinging us back to past days of glory and tragedy, swords, sandals, and beating hooves. It didn’t quite do all that I’d hoped but I’m content with it.

From next week I’ll be getting some signal-boosting assistance from my good friends at the Ginger Nuts of Horror, so hopefully we’ll start seeing a bit more company and competition around here. I’m happy to keep plugging away for my own satisfaction but the frisson of competition definitely adds something. It drives us to do better each time, and I think it sharpens the mind, makes us more aware of the power and significance of each word, each line.

Anyway, here’s my nugget of creativity for this week…

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Flashes of inspiration #12 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Horse & rider racing. Dazzling sunlight. Classical architecture.

Welcome back to Flashes of Inspiration, your (ahem) bi-weekly flash fiction competition. It’s been a bit of a busy time at The Fine-toothed Comb of late – both professionally and personally – so my apologies for keeping you waiting so long. I’ve crossed countries to see a cousin get married, attended the WorldCon in Dublin, had a teensy bit of a breakdown with regards to the day-job, and recovered myself at a pretty magical music festival. I’m back in the saddle now and raring to go again, hence the ever-so-appropriate image up top to help inspire our next round of creativity.

Forgotten how this works? It’s simple. You have 400 words to play with, an image to give you a sense of meaning, tone, action (or whatever), and 3 key words that you must use in the text somewhere. (Variants of the words are acceptable, so long as the root remains.) Confused? Frazzled? It’s just a bit of fun. Don’t sweat it.

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Flashes of inspiration #11 – Entries

Writing prompt: Young boy floating in a lake which reflects the cosmos.

A quiet one this week, just the two of us. It’s still working though, still getting me writing regularly instead of just thinking about maybe writing something one day. I’ve just had FB memories popping up today reminding me of one of the books I’ve actually nurtured from conception to reality, so that’s a boost for me too. Proves we can actually do something if we set out with determination and follow things through all the way. Anyway, enough bunkum from me. Here are this week’s entries for Flashes of Inspiration.

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