Friday Fictioneers: The Red Barn

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

The moon was full enough to illuminate the path, but I clicked on the light anyway, enjoying how my shadow stretched across the lawn, a giant in the night.

In the cardboard box were the broken spectacles, the engraved wedding ring (Forever), the shoes with their matted laces. All dried now, still rusty looking.

The riskiest things to keep are the driving licences, row upon row of tiny photographs like prison mugshots.

But I keep them anyway.

And touch each with my outstretched fingertip when the kids are on playdates, when my husband is down the pub.

Bliss.

***

Friday Fictioneers is run my the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Come write and share and read other stories.

This week that shed took me along a deadly path by reminding me of the 19th century killing of Maria Marten at Polstead in Suffolk, otherwise known as the Red Barn Murder. My dad used to live closeby and I remember him pointing out the spot where poor Maria died. All I glimpsed was a flash of trees and a newer black barn as we drove past. The original building burnt down years ago but the tragedy lingers on.

***Editorial Sale*** I currently have a 1/3 off all critique and mentoring packages through to the end of September. What better time to polish those submission packages and short stories and make your novel the best it can be?

Drop me a message in the comments or visit my website

Friday Fictioneers: Red for danger

Photo: Dale Rogerson

How did Michael decide what should stay and what should go?

They’d picked the sofa together, the stereo, the dining table. Every item discussed, fought over, every choice a compromise so that nothing in the flat was really Michael’s taste or Con’s, but that of “Michael ‘n’ Con”, an entity murdered by boredom and a million tiny irritations.

Some things he would dispose of – the yoga mat, the hand-knit throw, the rose bought for their anniversary but never given. All red, the symbol of love and danger.

Con’s favourite colour.

Was that another warning sign Michael had ignored?

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best writing prompt around.

As well as being here on WordPress, I also now have a website where you’ll find more stories and details of my critique services. Come along and say hello.

Friday Fictioneers : Happy Hour

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

‘Happy Hour’. What a joke.

The wind is sharp as a papa’s razor, cutting through my shirt, grazing my ribs. The air’s coloured with urine. A dead pigeon lies pressed on the pavement, feathers still flapping, still keen to fly.

I close my eyes, imagine the tug of the wind on wide wings, the thrill in my chest as I lift, soar above the traffic stink, leave the rotting corpse of this city behind…

‘Hey!’ Tommy’s standing in the doorway. ‘Do some goddamn work!’ 

I take my cloth, go back to wiping tables. 

But the wind still tugs me.

***

Friday Fictioneers is run by the incomparable Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. One story, one hundred words – come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

***

It’s been a while since I tried my hand at FF – hopefully, I can still write a drabble that’s comprehensible! I also now hang out at my website, https://www.lynnlove.co.uk/ , where you’ll find more stories and details of my critique services. Just come and hang. Could be fun.

If you go down to the woods today…

Image: Pixabay

Once upon a time…

I’ve not been on WordPress for a long old time, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing.

At the start of the first lockdown here in the UK, I decided it was now or never for me to write the supernatural novel I’d been planning for a long time. But to do that, I’d have to stop my deliciously all-consuming blogging habit. So that’s what I did, went WordPress cold turkey. It was a wrench, but at the end of those three months I had a shiny new first draft. Alright, it was a ramshackle threadbare, ugly first draft, but it had one huge plus – it was finished.

And of course, once I’d done one draft, I had to do another, and another. And then I was invited to contribute to one anthology, then out of that came another, by which time that ramshackle first draft had become a slightly-less-awful second draft, an even-better-than-that third draft, and then I was sending my lockdown baby out on submission, hoping it would be noticed by some stunningly wonderful literary agent. Hoping, but not assuming of course, because the chances of getting signed are a thousand to one…

Then last November my thousand to one chance came in. I’ll share the full story of my road to representation another time, but I now have an agent – the amazing Susan Armstrong at C&W – and I’m currently sculpting that malformed creature of mine into something rather more beautiful.

So, what does a would-be author need, but somewhere to peddle dark tales, twisty thoughts and ghostly whisperings. Below is the link to my new author website where you’ll find the usual meanderings down unlit corridors and details of my critique services.

If you write spec fiction, women’s fiction or literary and need fresh eyes on your work, click the link below. I’m open to other genres (though not children’s fiction, sorry) but message me first so we can decide if I’m a good fit for you.

Or you can just hit Subscribe and wait by your inbox for news, updates and more shaggy ghost stories.

And we all lived spookily ever after…

https://www.lynnlove.co.uk/

Enter the Inferno

Delighted to announce I’ve recently had a short story published in the Inferno anthology edited by Horror Tree editor Stephanie Ellis and author Alyson Faye.

Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, the collection is themed around the nine circles of Hell and mine turns around the first circle – Limbo.

It was a total pleasure to be part of and and it has already garnered a couple of very nice reviews on Goodreads. So if you’re that way inclined, wander along to Hell and be thoroughly entertained/scared to death*.

And this is one of the projects that have been keeping me busy and far away from WordPress.

I’ve also written a five part serial for The People’s Friend (dates to be announced), had one full request on a novel manuscript from a literary agent (subsequently rejected), entered a handful of competitions (no placings there), rewritten the opening of a novel in preparation for an agent 1-2-1 (my first time on Zoom!), re-edited that entire manuscript after I had a second full request (from the 1-2-1 literary agent – the chat went very well, though no further news as yet), and have been redrafting the novel I wrote during the UK’s first lockdown.

The year has been so odd, so disjointed, the world turned on its head. And here we are, facing a very uncertain 2021.

But here’s hoping that life soon returns to some semblance of normality and that you’re all safe and well and enjoy the kindest, warmest festive season and have a healthy, happy and hopeful New Year.

*I can’t vouch for the other stories, but mine is more creepy and sad than terrifying, honest.

Friday Fictioneers: Across the Cat and Fiddle

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Dad bought the Austin from a travelling salesman he met in the King’s Arms.

The leather seats were cracked like baked mud, the window seals perished to powder and we kids could watch the road speed beneath our feet where spots of floor had rusted through.

Sunday afternoons we’d drive across sullen brown moors filmy with mist, heading for the Cat and Fiddle Inn. Mum and Dad would go inside for pints of bitter and ports and lemon, leaving us in the car sucking lemonade through flattened straws, the wind making the car rock like a lightly moored tug boat.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the photo and let your imagination wander. See here to join in.

The Cat and Fiddle is the second highest pub in England, set in the Derbyshire moors. Famous for its barren location and the highly dangerous, snaking road that takes its name, it’s close to where I grew up in Buxton, Derbyshire.

OLD POSTCARD RP Cat Fiddle Pub Buxton Derbyshire Vintage Car 1930S Cv179 -  £2.99 | PicClick UK

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #83: Goodbye Dolly

CCC#83

Dolly pushed her nose against my shoulder. Warm smells of manure and hay and horse enveloped me.

‘Go on, now,’ I said, gently pushing her back.

She sensed something was different, a wrongness that made her nod and kick the stable door.

‘All right, I know.’ I pressed my face against hers, felt the brush of her whiskery lips, soft as kid gloves.

I turned then, hefted my pack and crossed the yard, cobbles and runoff slipping under my boots.

Mother stood at the farmhouse door, arms folded, a barrier never to be crossed. I nodded and she slipped back inside without a word.

Tom paced at the crossing, tipping his cap back when he saw me. ‘For King and Country, then,’ he said.

Poppies shivered on the bank along the lane, a scarlet ribbon leading us on to adventure.

‘For King and Country,’ I said.

***

Written for Crispina Kemp’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge. Use the photograph to take you to different worlds. See here to join in.

And to accompany the story, an apt song from the time.

Friday Fictioneers: Uplift

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

As Fi left the living room, Callie removed one earbud. She rested a pink DayGlo marker pen on the textbook that was open on her lap. ‘You didn’t read a word the whole time she was in here.’

‘What?’ I returned to staring at The God Of Small Things, ignoring her slight smile.

‘Uplift,’ she said.

‘You going to give me a physics lecture now?’

‘Uplift is how my mum describes the feeling of meeting my Dad.’ She put her earbud back in place and picked up the marker. ‘And it’s not physics, you pillock – it’s chemistry.’

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt photo and write a story of no more than one hundred words. See here to join in.

I admit, I struggled over this one. So I followed the lead of our gracious host and attacked the subject tangentially.

The God of Small Things is a novel by Arundhati Roy that I haven’t read in years but remember it being amazing. It won the Booker Prize in 1997.

Short story published on Horror Tree

Image: Pixab

Between them, Abner and Farley sum up Pale Horse – lean and tough, cruel and greedy. This place bonds people, whether they want it to or not. The summers are short, the winters are long. The strong look out for each other and the weak … Well, there are no weak left… 

Such is the town of Pale Horse, the setting for my ghost story, published on the Horror Tree site as of yesterday.

Let those of you who don’t have the stomach for gore be assured – you’ll find nothing but creeping dread in Pale Horse.

And by the way, Horror Tree is a fantastic site for those of us who wade in dark shallows, full of interesting articles, fiction and writing opportunities. So do hop over and take a wander and read my story here.

I’ve been away from the blog a few weeks, finishing the first draft of my current WIP. Well, the draft’s done (81,000 words – hurray!) so I’ll hopefully be around here a bit… at least until it’s time to rewrite!

Take care, all.

What Pegman Saw: Walking in shadows

Image: Google Streetview

‘The lady stayed in the shadows, mostly.’

‘Particular shadows? Particular places?’

‘I saw her in the park . On days when men came round and I had to leave the flat. The lady would be under the trees, waiting for me.’

‘When else?’

‘At school before I was excluded. In the flat too.’

‘Was that when your mum was taking drugs?’

‘Yeah. We had a cupboard in the hall. When Mum came back from her dealer, the lady would be in the cupboard.’

‘How do you know she was there? Did you see her?’

‘I heard her. She had a way of breathing.’

‘Can you describe it? This way of breathing?’

‘No.’

‘Do you still see her?’

‘Only when I’m off my meds.’

‘Like last week?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Did you really forget to take your medication, like you told the police?’

‘No.’

‘Then why -‘

‘Because I missed her.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Providence, Rhode Island. See here to join in.