Book Review: Bill Smith Goes to College by David Stag

Ah, the university life (or college life to the Americans). I went as a mature student so I didn’t have the wild parties, the “Halls of Residence” experiences and living in a country with Frat and Sorority houses, going into the book I thought that most of the culture and the humour would be lost on me. Certainly, I could relate to some of it from friend’s experiences and things that go on around a university campus but no matter… as a university graduate I hoped to enjoy most of this anyway. Continue reading

Book Review: Dr. Homebrew by Snow Hudson

This short(ish) novelette is an intriguing tale of Doctor Mason, a psychiatrist by day who goes about his job largely uneventfully. But what happens when the doors to his practice close? He goes down into a secret vault – not to unleash secret and dastardly plans to overthrow the world powers… but to brew beer. This in his world is illegal and the Police are hot on the trail of the “Drink Criminal”. Continue reading

300 words of… Angel’s Mass

Greetings on the first day of Advent! Ghost stories at Christmas have become a bit of a tradition in British media. It probably all started with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and over the years both television and radio have got in on the act. What better day than this to post a sample from my own effort in this tradition?

This is a ghost story set at Christmas Eve in the 14th century. The place is Tintern Abbey, the monastery on which my undergraduate dissertation was written. Right through that winter I started this story (2006-7) the abbey was practically all I could think of so it was inevitable that I would write a short story set there. My effort was a spooky tale about a young monk who receives an unwelcome guest. Enjoy! Continue reading

300 words of… The Weight of Reason

And here we are finally at my biggest project to date. This I submitted for my first competition in many years. It is a 12,000 word behemoth of a futuristic crime thriller set on an ocean city. Trant is a Private Detective sucked into some weird goings-on when somebody starts to pick off the city engineers.

I’m particularly proud of this effort, not just for size and not just because it is my largest and most intense piece, nor because I feel it meshes well for a genre I rarely read and had no interest in writing (crime), but because it is the first attempt I made at social commentary sci fi. Continue reading

300 words of… Tartarus

The horror story that gave me so much pleasure to re-write last week now presented in a more horrifying and disturbing tone now unshackled by the rules of Elfwood. I made several changes to the story, not least of all between the relationships of the characters. Lucy, being the whiny one, only went on the trip because she has a crush on Ian… and that now gives her reason to be there in the first place when she is clearly hating it. I have toned her down so she is not quite so irritating.

I really wanted to go all out with this one, to make it a good old-fashioned ghost story with a science fiction flavour. Here is a spine chilling sample. Continue reading

300 words of… Dawn

This was the story that gave me such a headache editing it a few weeks ago. It is a short and simple tale about a medical procedure but I felt it was so written in a way that I found editing it quite difficult. I came close to scrapping what I already had and starting from scratch.

I think that would have been too much effort for little in the way of results. Still, anybody who has read the original will find that though the plot hasn’t changed, how it is written is significantly different. Work like this really serves to remind me how much I have improved as a writer. Continue reading

300 words of… Evil Begets Evil

Sister Marcella, poor young thing, is isolated within the convent. She has medical problems that means she cannot fulfill her duties as a nun with the rest of the community. What’s more, one of the senior women does not trust her and seems to have it in for her. Marcella though, is not all she appears to be.

Most of the changes on this one came toward the end where I fleshed out the attack on the covent. Due to Elfwood rules (the website it first appeared) stating that all fiction had to be for a family audience, I have now been able to make the final two sections far more shocking. The conversation between Isobel and Bernadine didn’t feel quite right so I’ve clarified a few issues too. Continue reading

300 words of… A New Age Exodus

This is a favourite of mine and for those of us who have a lust to see and do new things, we would feel deeply for Kirsten’s predicament. The only life she knows is the valley. She cares for her crippled father and young sister. All she wants is to get out of the valley and see the rest of the world – but the rest of the world is a parched wasteland. No matter, Kirsten wants to see it anyway. She believes that there is more beyond than destruction and she intends to find it… but what she finds horrifies her.

I’ve altered the character of Kirsten slightly. In the original version I felt she had come across as a little bit of a stroppy madam. Here, I have toned her down a bit and made her far more sympathetic.
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300 words of… Herrenvolk 2

The sequel to the story from yesterday’s sample, it is set way after WWII. In the near future, the UN has uncovered the plans of the Herrenvolk project and have located the top secret lab and storage facility. They send in a small team to destroy it and any living samples they find.

The section below is one of the most radically changed parts of the story. I wasn’t happy with the first grand entrance. It was flat and a little soulless so I’ve tried to add a sense of awe to their first sight of these clones and the chambers that are keeping them alive.
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