Friday, 25 January 2013

Flash Fiction: The Princess, The Cop, and The Cowboy

"Let's go, princess," said the cop. He hooked his hairy hand round her thin upper arm and tugged, almost pulling her off her feet. “This way.”

Nah… I don’t wanna,” slurred the princess, her plastic gold crown tipping jauntily on her head, covering one eye. Since the policeman had immobilised one hand and the other was gripping a flute of champagne, she left the crown where it was, hoping it wouldn’t slip much further down and blind her completely.

The policeman’s face fell. “Oh,” he said, shocked. “But I thought, maybe, we could dance?” He nodded in the direction of the dance floor which was covered in swaying couples enjoying the fancy dress party. The cop flexed his considerable muscles. “What d’you say?”

The princess took a swig of her drink and hiccoughed. She started to shake her head, thought better of it, and instead pulled her arm away with a quick tug that surprised the cop. It surprised him so much that he let go and the princess, equally stunned, skipped backwards, tripping over the rug as she went, landing with a bump, the crown now around her neck and her drink all over the floor. The policeman shook his head, sighed and walked away, leaving the princess struggling to get off the tiles.

A cowboy who had been watching this farce unfold with interest, jogged over to the fallen woman and helped her to her unsteady feet. “You okay, ma’am?” he drawled, terrible fake western accent firmly in place. “Uh,” mumbled the princess, trying to regain her balance despite the amount of alcohol she had consumed. “Yes?” she asked rather than stated.

The cowboy grinned. “Well,” he said, looking around him at the carnage, noticing the large policeman making his way towards them with a sour look on his face and beginning to believe it was time to make tracks, “My horse is outside and ready to ride. What d’you say?” He winked as the cop’s shadow fell on him, then turned to face the other man. “Look, buddy,” he said, poking his finger into the larger man’s chest. “This little lady don’t want no trouble, okay? So skedaddle!”

The policeman rolled his eyes. “You like him?” he asked the princess.

She shrugged. “He’s okay. A bit… hero-y. Annoying, really.”

Wanna go home with me?” asked the cop, lifting the cowboy out of the way.

“Better not,” the princess said. She pointed to the cowboy; “I’m married to him.”

©Lisamarie Lamb 2013 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Guest Post by R. A. Smith - Notes on the Underground

Notes on the Underground

I’m impressed. I started writing this post days before realising that the Tube is celebrating its 150th birthday this month But now that it has, it just makes this feel all the more special.

Now I’ve always had a thing for the London Underground. It’s a little weird how sitting in a grubby tunnel and a noisy can could produce such sentiment, but it holds fond memories for me from childhood. I still adore travelling on the Tube even now, and as long as I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere, I appreciate it all the more.

But I always found elements of it unique too. That warm blast of air you get when you’re standing near the platform waiting for an incoming train. The beautifully iconic red, blue and black logo. And that multi-coloured map with a vast array of options as to where to go.

There are a couple of anecdotes I will always have when I come to talk about the Tube. One of the reasons I loved it so in my younger days was that travelling on it was such a treat. My grandfather worked shifts for the Royal Mail and once a month, would take a long weekend in which he and I would traditionally go on a day’s adventure in central London. Living in Croydon, back then, he’d have a plan as to where we were going. We’d catch a bus reasonably early on a Saturday morning and take over an hour just catching the sights as you got closer to a useable Underground station. Sure, there were faster ways in, but this was all part of the adventure, right?

Once we reached the Tube station, I knew, that with a varying amount of changes, we’d end up somewhere nice and exciting. Take your pick of the tour places in London; we probably went there at least one time, if not several. The Tower of London? Definitely. Spoke to a Beefeater and had Mr Kipling Apple pies with my packed lunch. I remember a load of it. Planetarium? Yep; same day I did Madame Tussauds, as it was a double header ticket. I think it was roughly 40 minutes in the Planetarium and the rest of the day checking out waxworks. I met Michael Jackson, Madonna and I think the Prime Minister that day. Heck of a day. I don’t think we ever made the London Dungeon though, so I’ll have to take that adventure myself one day. I’ll add it to my ‘to do’ list (trickier these days as I’m no longer London-based).

There was one day that we really weren’t sure what we wanted to do, so Granddad just said we’ll get on a line and see where we end up. After all, it’s not like we’d have been there before. It was the Jubilee Line. We changed at Bond Street, and carried on all the way up to Stanmore. I couldn’t tell you much about Stanmore, though. We pretty much got off the train, had a quick wander out of the station and around the block, then got back on to go the other way and find something else to do. But as a thing in itself, riding the end of a previously unexplored Underground line during the day can be an adventure in itself.

There was a time many years later, (I wasn’t with my grandfather, I shall state right now), when our train got stuck at an over ground station and I was delayed several minutes. The only other passenger in the car at the time, an attractive young American woman, had been talking to me for the time we were stuck there after initially asking the time. But it turned out she was running late for what was sounding like an exciting night out. To my great surprise, she started getting changed, and asked if I wouldn’t mind turning away for a moment just as she began to whip her top off. Gentleman that I am, I of course obliged – but not without a chuckle. Never did get her name.

It’s fond memories such as these which fostered my fond relationship with the London Underground. Which is one of the reasons I ended up with the Tube as a key feature of my first novel, Oblivion Storm. For me, that vile shriek that you get when a train is on its way from there, perhaps less so with the more modern trains, lent me the image of something considerably more horrific. That, coupled with a reminder of the rarely reported figure of fatal incidents they get at platforms, and I had something to work with. Macabre perhaps, but I just couldn’t shake it as a thing. You may now also know why Bond Street Station features so often, and why Stanmore is mentioned. A bit of story trivia only those who have read this will know!

Hence it became a significant part of my main protagonist’s ‘origin story’, as it were (I intentionally didn’t name her because actually, that’s part of the tale too!). It’s not so much a ‘near death experience’ as a miraculous recovery from death, but that of course is the part which sets her up on her quest.

What I can tell you is that the London Underground was a favoured haunt (pardon the pun) of the other person on the cover, Tally. Of course, it’s still the Metropolitan Railway in her time, the late 19th Century, and the resemblance between the two is somewhat limited. In fact, it’s due to Tally as to why the Tube bears such significance – but I’ll leave you to find that out for yourselves.

I shall leave you with a few links.

Oblivion Storm book purchase links:


Some on the Underground and related celebrations:

Transport for London anniversary links:

A wonderful post I found with a little anniversary history and stamps:

And if you would like to know more about me I can be found here:

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Next Big Thing - Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Welcome! You made it! Thanks for coming. This is The Next Big Thing blog hop, a way to show new readers new writers. It's a chance for people who would never have met to come together and hopefully enjoy what each other does. 

Not only will you be able to find out about new authors (see the links below), but there will also be information about the author who tagged me - thanks! - Melinda McGuire, and her upcoming novel Lotierie - The Legend. 

Click these links to find out about Melinda's novels, Josephine: Red Dirt & Whiskey and Nelson and Cora - The Beginning.

Her website and blog can be found here:

For The Next Big Thing hop, I have answered 10 questions about my recently completed novel. You'll also learn about my writing process, inspirations, and ideas! Enjoy:

1. What is the working title of your book?

At Peace With All Things. I chose it because the main characters - all of them - have to find peace to find happiness and resolution. 

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

One day, for no particular reason, the main character, Jude, popped into my head. I felt sorry for him, but I knew he could be good if he tried. I thought I would help by writing his story. The plot unfolded chapter by chapter, and, apart from the very final scene, I really didn't know where the story would go.

3. What genre does your book come under?

Although I usually write horror, this book would fit better into literary fiction, or general fiction. There are no ghosts or ghouls, but life is still pretty horrific for all the characters involved. 

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

Jude - Matt Smith
Caitlin - Emma Watson
Richard - Daniel Day-Lewis
Bear - Ray Winstone
Luce - Charlene McKenna
David - MacKenzie Crook
Beryl - Kathy Burke

5. What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

Jude tried to escape his past, but found that his new life was his old one in better clothes.

6. Is your book self published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

No, no, and no! At the moment I'm in the process of contacting agents. Fingers crossed!

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

About 2 years, but it was very on and off. I found that, because it was a very emotional story, and because I was trying to make it as realistic as possible, I had to keep putting it to one side and coming back to it later on, when I'd calmed down! It's 110,000 words, so if I'd worked on it steadily it would probably have taken about three months. 

8. What other books would you compare with story to within your genre?

I can't think of another book like this off the top of my head. I don't know whether that's a good thing or not, or perhaps it just means I'm not as well read as I'd like to be. 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Just the love of writing, and the knowledge that I had something good in this story. I wanted to get it down and written because I believe it could be something. I'm not sure I could write another one like this. 

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Hmm... It depends on the reader, I suppose. There's a lot of violence and danger, if that's your thing. Murder, attempted murder, drug taking, suicide... Alternatively, there's a love story (really rather a tragic one) which goes on in the background. 

Warning: if you're looking for a happy ending, this is not the book for you. 

(Tags for authors will be added...)

Friday, 4 January 2013

2013, eh?

Happy New Year!

2013, eh? How did that happen? One moment it's 1986 and I'm starting school, full of the joys of life, full of wonder and excitement, full of possibility, and the next it's now, and I'm full of cake and coffee and stress. And a bit of chocolate.

But despite having grown up into the person I never intended to be, I'm bound and determined to make the most of 2013. I am not ashamed to admit that I didn't do that in 2012. Or 2011. Or 2010, actually. And I'm pretty sure 2009 was the same. I just let the days and weeks and months roll by accepted that this was it.

Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit that.

I'm not saying I've not done anything for the past few years. I have. I've done a few things. The most important of all - the most life changing - was giving birth to my daughter in 2010. But apart from that, on a writing theme, 2012 was the best year I've had: I had a short story collection published by a small press (Dark Hall Press). I completed a 110,000 word novel, and then a 70,000 word one. I wrote over 80 short stories. I published 25 of them in various anthologies. I edited a book and got it into two local bookshops.

I worked hard. And I have things to show for it.

But I want more. Am I being greedy? I don't believe so. I think I'm being ambitious. I think I'm allowing my true self to emerge. I think that this will all pay off in a big way. Don't we all? They key is to believe it.

So I have set myself writing goals for 2013. Simple and, I hope, achievable. If they're not, I'll still be giving them my best shot. Here they are:

1. Find an agent to represent me (and through them publish At Peace).
2. Get Mother's Helper/Over The Bridge/Some Body's At The Door into bookshops.
3. Complete my horror novel called Hell for Leather (estimate 80,000 words).
4. Complete my children's horror called Wanderal Woods (estimate 40,000 words).
5. Write and submit stories to at least 5 anthologies (estimate 20,000 words).

That's it. Anything else, such as writing more words than I did in 2012 (the number to beat is 352,472), is a bonus.

It may not seem like a lot, especially when compared to my 2012 output, but that's where the rest of my goals lie. In my life outside of writing. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to have more fun, explore new places, go out for walks just for the hell of it even if - especially if - it's raining. I want to enjoy life.

So here's to 2013 - the best one yet!