A Black Heart

Ever write anything so dark, so gruesome, that if it was ever in a film there’d be protests outside the cinema?

Did you ever scribble something that was so dark that Beta readers now avoid eye contact?

I have such a segment.

I’ve added it, taken it away, and then reinserted it.

It is cruel, on any objective measure it is indeed a dark collection of words.

But I wrote it.

I’m not a dark man, a sadistic or remotely cruel man, but write this thing indeed I did.

Writers somehow find those dark images and bring them into the light.

It is strange.

Quiet unassuming tea drinking man describes depravity…

I could delete it and many related passages.

I could paint it all magnolia sweetness and light with all the dramatic tension of an episode of the Brady Bunch.

I could, but I won’t.



Evil exists, glib euphemistic descriptors don’t do it, and especially for those who suffer and then survive, the truth of such events needs to be told. 

I’m not a bad/sad man hiding behind blue eyes.

Empathy is key.

Respect paramount.

Torture porn isn’t my thing.

Maybe folk will wince, feal uncomfortable and read on – I hope they do.

Stay safe – be kind to yourself and be kind to as many other people as you can!

She’s dead.

It took me some time.

It’s taken me years, but she’s now very much dead.

We’ve written it, told that tale, scribbled those all-important lines.

Something I very much didn’t want to do; I have now done.

It’s no small thing, but at the same time it really is.

A character is the written word, not a beating heart – although as the writer it so much feels like the latter.

Amy had a beginning, and so too did she need an ending.

I think (I hope) that what I’ve written is in keeping with the life that she led.

I hope that I’ve done her justice, kept her true to herself and those that she loved.

Her tale isn’t over, legacies live on.

Stay safe and remain sane!

Thou shalt not kill.  

One of the oft quoted anecdotes about the American involvement in Vietnam, was the apparent unwillingness of a lot of soldiers to shoot and kill. 

Lots of shots would be fired, but the aim of most was more in the general area than aimed at a specific target. 

I’m not going to overuse this analogy, but it is relevant.  

I need to kill a loved character.

Yet I cannot.

I skirt the issue, find excuses, avoid the subject; start other projects…

She, like us all, must die, but I cannot pull that metaphorical trigger.

I cannot scribble those necessary words.

I’ve got the whole sorry scenario on my head, but the closer I come, the slower I type, the more I go back pages upon pages and titivate, anything other than kill her.

But she must die.

She must.

This is my struggle, but please feel no pity.

A cold heart is needed, a firm resolve required.

In this matter I have neither.

Stay safe – remain sane!

Isle of Percy – A Love Story.

Never set out to write an honest to goodness Hallmark Christmas Movie styled tale of love and devotion. 

But indeed, here we are. 

I am by nature a chaotic/anarchic writer.

No real plan, no structure, I just throw words at the screen and by a combination of luck and a modicum of ability I end up with a tale.  

A beginning, a middle, and an end (of sorts).

Yet, a love story, a romance novel, this must follow a formula.

This tale, this genre of all available artistic endeavours we are told MUST adhere to the agreed pacing and plot structure – mustn’t it?

We simply must have our voyage of tentative circling, the love that all but those involved can see.  We then have the mistaken interpretation  (hugging a friend) that almost scuppers the destined love affair; and then just as the pages run out, just before the credits run, they hug, all errors are corrected and love rules supreme.

So, if that’s the structure, can I write one?

Can my tale of love between a German Soldier and a Channel Island woman work?

It might, indeed it may not, but it I think will be a more than beneficial exercise.

So, grab the box of tissues and bottle of Prosecco, we are about to make you lick your finger, your heart race as we run out of pages…

Will they, or won’t they?

Stay safe and remain sane! 

Shop Window

Back in the summer of 2017, when initially musing about the whole blog concept I said that I saw this as akin to standing alone on-stage in some great palatial auditorium. 

I viewed myself as a one man show casting pearls into the dark, maybe folk are out there listening – maybe they were not.   

Does silence echo?   

Well, undeterred I’ve been speaking into the abyss ever since. 

Occasionally lost souls, looking for the dinosaur exhibition next door, wander in, look a little confused and then meekly shuffle back out.

Me, I persevere.  

This is my shop window, and it isn’t.

It is so many things, and it isn’t.

What it is, I’m still not too sure.

Does it have merit, not too sure of that either…

If this was a big hall in the centre of town, then maybe I’d have validated some parking tickets, or struck up a relationship with a few of the on-site staff – but it isn’t, and I haven’t.

It is easy to say what this hasn’t been, to look at the chances and opportunities imagined and then not delivered.  That bit is easy but offers no real benefit. 

We must look for the positives. 

What this has been, what this does deliver?

This project gives is a release valve, a venting mechanism, an empty room into which I can mutter consequence free!

Nobody corrects or criticises my mutterings, I stride as an unchallenged colossus in a fiefdom of my own creation!

So, part relief valve, part echo, and a little tiny bit of a shop window, I salute this blog.

Scribbles will continue, and you never know, one day a reply may come forth out of the darkness…

So, until the rapture – stay safe and remain sane!

Wave Hello, Say Goodbye.

Parting is indeed such sweet sorrow. 

Four complete tales, 500,000 words. 

An adventure that started in 1884, is now in 1891 offering Amy Elizabeth Grace a real chance of lasting peace and happiness.

Amy has circumnavigated the globe, rode lightning storms, fought enemies in the Khyber Pass, fought more in North America, fought Fairies too, so many battles that her body is a lattice work of scars…

Love was found and then cruelly taken from her, she has given birth to a daughter, but she too has been lost.

Vengeance has been enacted; slights corrected.

All this I have written, and now writing her swan song, the fifth (and final?) instalment I have hit a near insurmountable obstacle; I don’t want to say goodbye.

In 2015 I started telling her tall tale, and now in 2023 I think it’s the right time to let her go.

She is a mere figment of my imagination, and yet at the same time she isn’t.

The emotional investment of the writer shouldn’t be overplayed, but neither should it be ignored.

I hope that I can do justice to her, that I can give her the ending that she so richly deserves (even if I don’t want to).

So that boys and girls is my first world 2023 problem – whatever life brings you, I hope your struggles are as trivial and surmountable as mine. 

Stay safe – remain sane!

And then…?

Okay, so you’ve drafted a book – kudos to you, well done, take well deserved pleasure in your achievement!

Now what?

You’ve browbeaten your friends/colleagues/neighbours/strangers on the train into reading it, and the replies have been favourable.


You write your one-page synopsis, polish the living daylights out of the first three chapters and scribble that all important cover letter.

Silence prevails, silence only broken by the occasional ‘thanks, but no thanks’ rejection.

Self-doubt and other monkeys climb on your back. 

Imposter syndrome takes up long term residence…

What now?

Is it your letter/synopsis/first three chapters?

Is it your entire project?

So, you edit, rewrite, titivate and do your absolute best to create a silk purse.

Is it your timing, is the publishing world focusing on werewolves and moody teenagers with identity issues?

Is it a timing issue, or does your work just lack merit?

The monkey is still on your shoulder, his extended family over to visit…

Maybe you need to self-publish?

It’s a credible option taken by many.

Okay, to go it alone you’ll obviously have to present the absolute best version of your project that you can – it is a crowded market – you will need to be polished – no half measures will succeed!

An editor, yes you will need one of those skilled practitioners – £0.01 per word (£1,200 for Amy Grace: Thomas Payne).

Artwork – most definitely gotta get some good graphics, despite the adage people do judge a book by its cover – okay £200.

So, to launch my project I’ll need a few coins over £1,500.

Do I have £1,500?

No and nope. 

Is it a lack of belief, or just an overriding necessity to pay the bills? 

Ah the mundane of life…

The piper needs to be paid. 

We chase rainbows, pick up pennies, and we debate the sustainability of our project that is doomed to be in perpetual ‘pause.’

Maybe it’s a cosmic statement – maybe it’s telling me to take up golf, or it’s telling me to persevere because nothing worthwhile is ever easy? 

I’m currently looking at option B.

Stay safe – remain sane!

Inciting Incident (courage of your convictions). 

And so it begins, chapter one, page one, we write our first line, and we start our tale.

My original draft made the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan look like a teddy bear’s picknick.

I pulled no punches, spared no blushes, the opening incident was intentionally cruel in its delivery.

I added no trigger warnings – gave no option but to be immersed in what was happening. 

Some subjects work well with kid gloves – and some don’t.

Amy’s tale deserved the honesty I gave it.

Time passed, the tale was completed and then offered out for critique.

I presented the first chapter to a writing group.

It wasn’t the rape, wasn’t the violence or indeed the cruelty that they balked at – nope it was why would a woman go walking/exploring on her own???

I tried to explain, to defend my rational, but they were not for turning – there was a credibility collapse with a young woman walking alone through Cairo at four in the morning – change it!

So, I did.

No longer was she off wandering (alone), now she was stolen from the middle of a crowd.

As the huddled masses jostle for taxis home Amy is plucked from the crowd and the tragedy that initiates our tale is carried out.

Version ‘new’ was carefully crafted to explain every act – to reinforce the notion that Amy as a blameless victim – no naïve culpability [?] in her own tragedy. 

And as well written as the new version is, I don’t like it – but I’m now scared to change it back because the ‘credibility’ of my first incarnation was so universally rejected.

To my own self be true, or to the critics do I surrender?

I don’t know.

Stay safe – remain sane!

Haircuts and Hairshirts

Strange title, that much is true, but it seems that since my last confession, this is all I’ve achieved. 

Participants and acolytes of the scribbling craft set themselves targets, decide upon numbers of words to be written, and the time allocated in which to achieve it. 

Many will claim to have hit these targets, to have written tens of thousands of words, to have dug drainage ditches, manned a food bank for the poor and deserving, and indeed many will also have learnt to play the cello.

Me, I’m sporting a new haircut, and wearing a metaphorically uncomfortable and itchy shirt as penance for my lack of discernible output. 

It’s not that I haven’t been trying, and we all love a good tryer, it’s just that my efforts have borne little or no fruit. 

I’ve tried to hide behind the ever popular “I’m editing” as some sort of defence – and to be fair it works up to a point, but only up to a point. 

So, in my defence I have rewritten a passage here, a phrase there, and added a few new ones at the end of the current scribbles, but I know its not enough, not something I could proudly stick on the fridge next to my potato print paintings. 

I have sat down, fingers curled poised to pounce, hot tea within easy reach, and written practically nothing. 

And today I’m looking at my lack of progress, debating the wearing a hairshirt and considering flagellation (both scouring, and shirt are obvious metaphors).

Although, truth be told, I’ll probably just go for another cup of tea and browse social media for another hour or so!

Perchance that is the problem…

Stay safe – remain sane!