Monthly Archives: September 2012

It be fangs and claws for you my ked, should sunfall shroud you here

Here in the UK we don’t do really do “Halloween” like our colonial brothers in the US, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a bit of the macabre now and then. Hell, we Brits practically invented gothic spookiness. So the fact that I’ve got a wee ghost story coming out in World Weaver Press’s Spectre Spectacular anthology today is a nice pre-Halloween touch to my writing (mis)adventures.

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Of my seven published or soon-to-be published shorts five are horrors, varying between slasher and supernatural to good old vampire bashing. Oh yeah, I’m a werewolf kinda guy. I grew up in the Highlands, okay? I can’t not be. We’ve got spooky Gaelic were-tales aplenty up in our heathenish northern lands, the title of this post alone is from a nursery rime. Nursery! No wonder my Halloween costume last year (above) was *awesome.*

My newly published short, Little House at Bull Run Creek, isn’t a hairy-moonlighting-monster type chiller though, just a good old spook spectacular. Set during the American Civil War, it sees a troop of US cavalry cornered by Confederates in an abandoned old house near Bull Run Creek. The odds look grim, but the rebs on the outside aren’t half the problem – what’s still “living” inside could yet undo them all…

So anyway, I’ll be doing a guest post elaborating on my spooky Scottish upbringing over on WWP sometime soon. In the meantime  please excuse both a lack of posts and a lack of any form of wit in the posts that do make it online – I’ve got classes to the left of me, coursework to the right, and I’m stuck in the middle with you. Best hope I don’t undergo the transformation whilst you’re still around…

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The Follow-Swap Blog Hop

Content is King, whether you’re writing for the New York Times or your college student paper. And in the beastly, brutal world of Blogdom content is more important than ever – no matter what you say and how well you say it, you can bet your keyboard someone else out there is saying it too, and saying it better.

To help raise my content game I’m joining in the Follow-Hop Blog Swap. No, wait. The Follow-Swap Blog Hop. That’s the one. I think. The idea is simple – read a bunch of new blogs, make more awesome contacts, say hi, learn new stuff, the usual. I was let in on this developing online secret by the ever-reputable Ms Wynn-Nolet, whose blog and the actual list of bloghoppers can be found here (WordPress is evil and won’t let me add the list to this post). So, if you’re new to this, my miniature sphere of online influence, check her out then peruse ye writerly works below. Be warned, I’m a Uni Student and this can/could get a lil’ crayze.


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Cut Off

I’d been back barely a week and already I was hunched over, cramp burning through my thighs and knees as rounds hammered into the tires at my back and whipped through the sodden grass to my left and right. My breathing was panting and short, and steam had reduced my goggle’s vision to a tiny sphere of uncertainty.

This, needless to say, was not how we’d planned it. We’d had them on the run all day, in fact we’d already whipped them so soundly that it was now impossible for them to claim a victory. But my God had they come back fighting. Literally.

I’d done this before, seven times in fact. More than almost everyone on the field that day. I’d been through engagements twice the size of this one. I’d won commendation, I’d been noted for skill and valour. I’d done this before, and the boy at my side, Matthew, had done it as many times as I. But Matthew wasn’t there any more, hit less than a minute earlier, and suddenly all the past experience in the world felt like it counted for very, very little.

I was hopelessly, helplessly pinned. We’d gone forward at the start, far too far forward, perhaps believing in our own immortality. A weight of fire as hot as any I’d encountered had started to pound us from the enemy emplacements mere yards away – whipping at the tires, spanking off the barrels, zipping through the grass. I even felt one part my hair.

That isn’t so bad, let me tell you, until the firing stops coming from dead ahead. When it starts cutting in from the sides, that’s when the panic sets in.

Matthew was hit. Even as it happened I saw the sight everyone dreads – masked, armed figures, crouched over, moving with a purpose, darting past me to the left. They were headed in the opposite direction. I brought up my weapon, but they were already gone on, leaving me alone and unnoticed as they rolled up our line. Our entire left flank had caved in, and we were being overrun. I was out the front, alone now, the leading edge of an advance which had disintegrated beneath the vengeful fury of our opponents.

I couldn’t go forward. I couldn’t go back. Angles of fire were slicing in with increasing severity from left and right. I only had one purpose remaining – to stay where I was and pray, if anyone rushed past, that I was quicker on the trigger. Our left was gone, but as long as I was still out front our centre and still right existed.

And as I hunched there, listening to the hammering of two dozen fully automatics, and watching the spray from their hits discolour the world around me, I was reminded once again of just how much I love paintballing.

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The Reader Appreciation Award

A week on from finding myself rather unexpectedly “blog-tipped” I awake to find yet another honour heaped upon my burdened brow. It would appear that I’ve been nominated for The Reader Appreciation Award *drumroll* by the lovely Tessa Sheppard Like me she’s just starting out as a writer, and unlike me she clearly has a great future in the business ahead of her. The most important thing you need to know about her, however, is she says very nice things on my blog. My thanks to her for this nomination. Stop reading and go check her out!

Okay, so apparently there are rules to this too (I think it’s basically the GUTGAA tag game but for posh people). So for those I in turn am about to nominate…

1. Identify and show appreciation to the blogger who nominated you.

2. You must add the reward logo to your blog.

3. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.

4. You must nominate 5-10 of your favourite bloggers for this award.

5. Inform you nominees that you nominated them.

7 things about me:

1. I can see 11 union jacks from where I’m sitting in my University flat. Not all of them are actual full-blown flags, some are on book covers, or maps, or posters, or stickers. One’s a giant fluffy bed throw. One’s a little plastic flag I saved from getting stamped on by an irate Irishman in Hive (Edinburgh’s dingiest nightclub). One, an actual proper flag, was presented to me at the Scotch-Irish Festival in Pennsylvania. Its label says it was made in Valley Forge, which any student of history should find immensely ironic.

2. I prefer cats to dogs because they’re so aloof and arrogant. I’m not sure whether the fact that I enjoy being treated as an inferior by my pets is some sort of early warning sign for masochism.

3. The first story I ever submitted to a professional writing competition was the worst thing ever written in human history. I should know, I’m a history student. Thankfully no traces of it remain, except in my scarred memory.

4. I’m the only student at the University of Edinburgh who doesn’t drink. I pretend it’s because I’m Oliver Cromwell’s puritan great x 10 grandson. Stop staring and move on to 5.

5. I’m working on my stereotype. I’m a ginger, Scottish Mac with Donald as my middle name, who was born in the Highlands, loves haggis, drops his ‘t’s whenever he speaks, can play the bagpipes and looks pre-eminently f**kable in a kilt. The stereotype ends when I reveal that my mother is English and I consider myself as much British as Scottish. Jolly good, eh?

6. I’m allergic to fish and eggs. Presumably if I ate a fish’s egg I would implode and create some sort of black hole.

7. I first started writing seriously to held cope with that dreadfully predictable teenage angst-y phase. To this day I produce my best work when angry, moody or just generally pissed off. Please leave insults in the comments section below to help me write the final chapter of Covenanted.

So, with that out of the way, on to my nominees! Yes, there are only three when there should be 5, but I’ve only been blogging for two months now. I’m still networking, okay? In no particular order: Rebecca Enzor – the brainiest writer you’ll ever meet. No, seriously, she’s a nuclear chemist! Don’t believe me, go check her out.  Rhiann WynnNolet – Look, her most recent post features a bit about Richard III. That should tell you enough about why she’s on my friends list. She also happens to have one of the better GUTGAA pitches I’ve read. Have a look. Jodie Andrefski – with more experience writing than you and me combined (10 years, since you asked) plus she has 3 ebooks out. Check out “Summer of Hope.”

Right, now that that’s sorted back to doing unspeakable things during Uni Fresher’s week. The blog posts may be a little slow in coming for a while…


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TIP You’re It!

I woke up this morning to discover that I’d been tagged (or tipped, as we say in Scotland) for the first time in almost a decade. What’s more, it was in fact a cyber tag – what a wondrous age of modern technology we live in!

The tag-er is the lovely Ms Wynn-Nolet – if you want to blame her for this post, you can find her both here and here It’s not just any old game of online tag we’re playing either, oh no, it’s special GUTGAA tag! So it’s my turn to answer the tag writer questions, and then pick three unsuspecting victims –

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

History! Seriously, it was a big mix of my love for the city I’m living in, Edinburgh, and the studying I was/am doing at the University of Edinburgh. I adore history, the 17th and 18th centuries, and when I came across the story a certain real-life Scots heroine (who shall remain nameless, for now…) in my textbooks I just knew I had to write a novel about her.

What genre does your book fall under?

Obviously its historical fiction, within that broad church it can sit in the pews of the thriller or the romance congregations, though I hear it slightly prefers the former to the latter.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Karen Gillan (of Doctor Who fame) would absolutely have to play the main female lead. We’re both from Inverness!

What is the one-sentence short synopsis of your book?

The year is 1637 and Scotland is a nation on the brink. The king is seeking to reform the church in defiance of the will of the people. In the midst of mounting tensions and civil unrest a common-born farm girl, finds herself catapulted by one breathtaking act of defiance from vegetable stall-seller to national heroine. In Edinburgh’s dank alleyways danger is her constant companion, brought on by the unrestrained zealousness of the revolutionaries she joins, the brutal reprisals of the royalists, the jealousy of her unwanted suitor, the Laird’s son, and her own passionate love for the treasonous young preacher who first drew her into the realms of intrigue. As war looms and the proud old nation tears itself in half she finds herself faced with the starkest of choices – will she save her family, or abandon her principles?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m going for agents at the moment. AgentQuary tells me there’s about 250 doing HistFic, so if I keep at it…

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six months almost on the dot, though I got a couple of unrelated short stories written and published in that time too.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Love! Loss! Betrayal! Murder! Marriage! Riots in cathedrals! Battles! A painfully long journey by cart from Edinburgh to Aberdeen! What more could you ask of your historic fic?

Aaaaand TIP! Below are three new GUTGAA friends I’ve chosen to be my innocent and unsuspecting victims. Check ‘em out whilst I go off and get stuck into the GUTGAA synopsis-polish fest!


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