A guest post…

Hmmm.. A guest blog post.  Now what would I do that about?  Do I have enough of interest, other than in my stories, to tell?  Will my words hold you rapt, or wrapped in a cocoon of otherworldly wisdom?


Thinking of a subject to write a guest blog post on was really quite difficult.  Is that a surprise from one who purports to be a writer?  One who declares himself a designer of authorian delights?  Authorian, rather than Arthurian…  Although sometimes it can be likened to pulling Excalibur from the stone…  Or teeth for that matter!

So what inspired me to write this particular piece?  Inspiration, in fact, did.  I was inspired to write a piece on Inspiration – 99% mental Insurrection and 99% Perspiration.  And 1% luck.

Yes that doesn’t add up, but my main character kills people involuntarily and talks to his dead sister.  Or she talks to him and he listens, mainly because, it seems, you can’t argue with a ghost.  They seem to have a higher knowledge – or they pretend to have anyway.  Even denying that higher knowledge still makes it seem they have them.  Plus, she’s female.  Dead or alive, as a man, I understand his pain!  Either way, in worlds were the dead walk, dragons fly and ordinary kids ride a train to Wizarding school, who says 99+99+1 can’t equal 100?

In fact, who says 100% is complete?  Why can’t 199% be a whole?  Perhaps 199% is the Fahrenheit to 100%’s Centigrade.

So.  Inspiration.  Where does it come from?  Is it a lurking beast that hides in the shadows and you have to reach about blindly in the hope of catching hold and bringing it forth into the light?  Or is it a happy little elf, sitting upon your shoulder, chatting away into your ear.

For some it’s one and for others, I’m sure, it’s the other.

For me…  I don’t know if it’s either.  I think it’s a joker, resplendent with juggling balls and tri-cornered hat, riding the back of the skulking beast until it wants to leap out and shout “BOO!”, taking me by surprise but filling me will all host of tumbling words and ideas.

I very rarely plan out a story or piece of writing (which I’m sure you can tell from this!).  I have a name or a starter sentence and everything, normally, flows from there.  Sin, my novel, started from thinking of the word Sin as a name.  I had no idea where the story would take me until it did.  With his ongoing blog posts, it’s the same thing.  I have a beginning and the middle and end follow where they will.

Today’s, for example, is a ‘diary entry’ called Little Willy the Wire.  The blog is written from the point of view of Sin and is his diary from within his asylum – filling in the time prior to the book in which he escapes.  I hadn’t planned on writing an entry today, preferring to work on a children’s book I’m writing about a witch called Puddlebrain.

Then a small, wiry man called Willy came to my office door.  The next thing I know I’m writing about Little Willy the Wire who climbed up a church spire.  Yes, in rhyme.  Again, if that’s the way it flows, then there’s nothing I can do about it.  It’s like a few weeks ago.  I settled down on my sofa, tablet computer in hand, to write some of Sin’s sequel.

It started fine.  I don’t know where the words came from, but, apparently, “It was snowing.  Heavily.”

Almost a thousand words later I realised Sin was nowhere to be seen but Rudolph was on track to save Christmas!  Now, that’s a book in itself.  I don’t know where it came from, but the jester, joking to the last, had pulled his three peaked hat over my eyes and taken control of my hands.

He’s a bugger like that!

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What time is it? Christmas O’Clock!

A couple of years ago, I sat down to write some of the sequel to Sin.  As usual I had no idea what I was going to write, but I knew Sin would be ‘strutting his stuff’.


1,000 words later, I discovered I’d written the beginning of a story which came to be titled ‘Rudolph Saves Christmas’!  In the story, Rudolph (you’ll never guess) had to save Christmas!  No, really.


Anywho.  I have no idea how venturing into the world of an escaped lunatic who kills people with his mind could morph into a children’s Christmas story, but that’s pretty much how I work.  I just write.  I’ve just read an excellent blog post by Connie J. Jasperson, the author of the equally excellent Tower of Bones series on how she’s forcing herself to work to an outline to ensure things happen in her books the way she wants or needs them to.  I wish, sometimes, I could do that.


It appears I can’t.  Hence Santa from Sin.


I’m a member of the Myrddin Publishing Group and, under their banner, published my anthology Dark Places.  A number of the talented authors from the group, including Connie, have lent those talents to a very seasonal collection, with all of the proceeds going to charity.


The collection is called Christmas O’Clock and contains two books and six stories with subjects ranging from Magic Coal, a girl who has to face the North Pole courts to clear her name from the Naughty List and playing Scrooge in a school play.

The charity we’ve chosen is Water for Life, an international project aiming at helping people develop safe and sustainable water sources for their communities.  The charity’s website is www.waterforlife.org.


I join forces with such authors as Alison DeLucaNicole Antonia CarsonConnie Jasperson, Irene Roth Luvaul and Mary K. Mitchell in the collection, each of whom have successful books in steampunk, fantasy and more.


You can find Christmas O’Clock at the following places:


Amazon US:

Ebook: http://amzn.to/CoCusE

Print: http://amzn.to/CoCprint


Amazon UK:

Ebook: http://amzn.to/CoCukE

Print: http://amzn.to/CoCprintUK


Anyone who buys a copy of the book is welcome to a free copy of either Zits’n’Bits or Rudolph Saves Christmas, my own children’s books.  Just contact me through either my website or my Facebook page and leave me a message and I’ll be in touch!



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Ghost of Christmas Past…

“I am the ghost of Christmas past,” she said.


Her head was on my shoulder at the time.  She was resting it there after telling me, if she didn’t, it would fall off.  Who was I to argue?  Who was I to risk the potential decapitation of someone such as she?  Besides, there are plenty here who seem to run around as if headless…


I asked her what she meant, and she didn’t answer for a long moment.


I could smell her hair.  The scent of coconut drifted up to make me think of chocolate and paradise islands.  I could imagine her laying there on the sand, counting the grains that ran through her fingers.  She be gazing at the sky, waiting for the stars to come out when the sun was setting.  She’d imagine seeing the birth of each one, rather than them being burning balls of fire, millions of light years away.


She was like that.  Whimsical.  A wisp of a woman.  Slight and slender.


Gabrielle.  She believed herself to be ‘not from around here’.  By that, she didn’t mean she’d arrived on the train from Kings Cross or flown in on the early plane from Schipol Airport.  She meant she was not… of this plane.  This existence.  This reality.  No one called her Gabby or Gabs or any other too informal abbreviation.  She seemed to deserve her full name.  Gabrielle.  It suited her.


“I mean, I’m the ghost of Christmas past,” she said.


Of course she did.


“OK,” I said.  I left it at that.  What could I say?  How’s Scrooge doing?  What the Dickens do you mean?


Besides, when she rested her head on me like that, something which happened at least a couple of times a week (she seemed to have a wobbly head), it was somehow comforting.  Perhaps it was the simple closeness of another person – a woman, indeed.  Perhaps I craved contact with someone who wasn’t on the verge of having a schizophrenic episode or who might take the opportunity to urinate on my feet.  Perhaps I just wanted to sit and not even talk.


“Christmas is coming, isn’t it,” she said.  It was a statement rather than a question.


“It is,” I answered.  I used to love Christmas.  I watched Christmas films, enjoyed giving (and receiving) presents, stuffed myself silly with the meal.  That was a long time ago.  I didn’t really enjoy anything anymore.  Well, apart from a head on my shoulder.


Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing untoward in my enjoyment of her proximity.  No mischievous thoughts (or anything else) were aroused.  It was purely platonic.  It felt nice to be just there.


“They’ll haunt you, you know.”


My breath stopped as it entered my mouth, deciding whether it wanted to hear what else she had to say before it chose to exit the way it had come or to continue down to my lungs.


“Who will?”


“Those who have died.”


I made a great effort to ensure no one knew of my particular problem.  I was a sufferer of extreme paranoia.  The asylum was the best place to be because those who were out to get me couldn’t in here.  Deaths?  I knew nothing of such things.


“I don’t…”


“You do,” she said quietly, interrupting me.  I did.  “And I know they haunt you.  I am the ghost…”


“Of Christmas past,” I interrupted in turn.


“Yes,” she said.  Her voice was little more than a whisper – a murmur carried to my ears more by vibration than by sound.


“They already do,” I told her.  I heard their screams every night and could feel their anger and despair every day.


“I know,” she said, briefly touching my leg.  “But you won’t stop it.”


I didn’t expect to.  I put myself in here to try and prevent any more deaths, but I figured I’d be forever haunted by the ghosts of those that have already died.  It was only right.  I’d snatched them from their lives.  I’d ripped their souls out and cast them aside like flotsam on the shore.  I was their Reaper.  I should be permanently reminded of that.

Still, to be told that.  To be slapped in the face with the fact.  Whatever I did wouldn’t be enough.  No amount of self-deprecation would suffice.  Leaving myself to the whims of Connors and his staff would, in no way, make up for what I’d done.  And, fair enough.  My torment was also my friend.  I gained solace in the knowledge I’d always be surrounded by the shades of my crimes.  That may not have been right – why should I benefit from such things?  But no.  There was no benefit, not really.  It was simply that I deserved my fate.


“You don’t,” Gabrielle whispered.  I hadn’t realised I’d spoken aloud.  “But they have nothing else to do except haunt the one who stole their lives.  Whether you were at fault or not, you were the flame that started the fire and they are like spectral moths, with their screams the beat of their wings.”


Erm…  Right…


She lifted her head and looked at me.  I found myself unable to look away from her pale grey eyes.


“They will haunt you, always.  Don’t haunt yourself.”


Don’t…?  At first I didn’t understand.  Haunt myself?  I wasn’t dead.  Maybe dead inside, but…  Unless that’s what she meant?  Don’t haunt myself.  Be alive?  Don’t dwell on the past but look to the future?


I asked her.  She nodded.

“What future?” I asked.  “I don’t have one, not anymore.”


“We all have a future,” she assured me.  “Even thirty seconds from now is the future.”


Somehow this wasn’t comforting.  It didn’t exactly imply longevity.


A thought occurred to me.


“What does this have to do with Christmas past?”


Gabrielle didn’t answer.  Her head was back on my shoulder and her eyes were closed.

She didn’t open them again for a long time.

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Promises, promises…

Oops.  I had a story to tell and I had only so many words to use, but the idea didn’t want to listen and spilled over, creating a bit of a flood – at least in comparison to what was initially needed.


As such, I have a lot of trimming to do!


When I visited the wonderful Writebulb peeps, I took part in their writing challenge.  My commitment was to write a 1,000 word flash fiction called The Masquerade, and finish my children’s story ‘Puddlebrain’.  The first part of this seemed easy.  A thousand words?  No problem.  The second part was also a cinch.  I knew exactly where Puddlebrain was going.  I could bash that down without no worries.


OK.  I should have been committed for my commitment.


Since I was there, which, granted was a little while ago and should have given me plenty of time, it’s been a little hectic.  But then, when isn’t my life?  And, as is usually the case – just look at Sin – my ideas don’t conform to a word count.


I don’t control the stories.  They control me, in a fashion.  As I’ve said before, I don’t plan or outline, I simply write.


So.  1,000 words?  When I reached 1,500 words I thought I was close to the end and it’d be fairly simple to trim it down to meet the flash requirements.  I could keep the ‘full-fat’ version for my upcoming anthology Darker Places but whittle away bits to squeeze into the margins.  As it was, I left out a little scene I wanted to put in, so I could work that into the final version too.


I finished the story yesterday.  It’s around 2,650 words.




A friend of mine from America, Cindy Harper, suggested I keep the current story and write another.  I’d love to.  Unfortunately, the deadline is this weekend, and I have an interview to do and a blog post for Sin.  And I have to bin 1,600 words!  So, perhaps not.  I’m not sure what would be quicker, writing 1,000 words or deleting 1,600, but the latter seems to be the faster option.


As for Puddlebrain?  She’s still lost in The Grimace, though it’s leading her out to face The Shadow.  I know this.  I can picture it.  I’ve run through the scenes and the dialogue.  I just haven’t managed to write it down yet.  But I will, and soon.


Just perhaps not by the end of the week.


So.  I knew that time ran away from me like a teenager in a slasher movie.  I knew whatever I wanted to do would actually be a struggle when it came down to it.  But I still said I would do it.  Silly billy.


Anywho.  Hopefully I’ll get the flash fiction sorted and delivered.  Then I can work on Puddlebrain and have it finished and get some beta readers on the case.


And then I may manage to talk to the police about what’s going to happen to Sin now he’s in handcuffs…


Time, though art mine friend and mine enemy in equal parts.  Why dost thou entwine thyself in my dilemmas?

Or something…

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When Inspiration Strikes…

You can never tell when an idea may hit.  Or when one might seep in unannounced and take you by surprise.  A little nudge in the right direction is always welcome and today I had just that from the lovely Helen Murphy, an old school friend of mine.


Of course, when I say ‘old’ I mean from when we were at school together, not drawing her pension or leaving her teeth in a glass on the bedside table overnight…  Saying that, I’m not sure of the pensionable age in Australia, where she lives now…


Anywho-be-do.  I received an email from Helen earlier today in which she told me of the writing prompts from a group she attends.  Helen also sent me the poem she’d written triggered by said prompts.  It was excellent, as is all her poetry and I couldn’t help but reciprocate with something of my own.  I have to admit that it was off the top of my head and is ‘as it comes’, but I quite enjoyed the little creative interlude to my day so I thought I’d share it with you and give my thanks to Helen – young Helen that is.


Summer Loving

By Shaun Allan


The garden was overgrown now

A fire of wilderness

Where no man dare step

‘Cross the breach

Lest they burn with

Heart’s confess


‘I told him not to come back’

She cried

Though was more of a

Hesitant whisper

But he was there yet

Or his body was

She’d buried him with her sister


The summer sun shone

Coating the world

In a sheen of shimmering heat

But its reach didn’t reach

Into her shell

As her soul lay in shreds at her feet


At the jetty she’d seen

Her sibling and love

With a heat as hot as the sun

A deadly embrace wrapped in

Natures own clothes

Placed in her hand

A gun


Now her sister lies cold

And her lover so bold

Rots beside his lies


And as the sun sets

And the moon takes her hand

She looks on the garden

And cries



Oh, the writing prompts were as follows.  Maybe you’d like to see what you come up with?


Use one of these lines as a basis for a poem, story or true story.


1   The garden was overgrown now.


2   ‘I told him not to come back!’


3    He/She was there.


4    Use these three words in a poem, story or true story:  summer, shell and jetty.

Helen’s poem was a wonderful piece about rekindled romance. I did think about following her lead but, well, you probably know me too well for that by now…



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