Saturday, 14 September 2013

I'm terrible at titles!

Evening all!

Really.  I have the hardest time coming up with titles for anything!  Ask RR.  I often have to ask her for title ideas for my stories.

Any rate,  I was very excited to see some folks back, and a new author come to play as well, this week!  The Tome was quite pleased for the extra stories I had to read to it this week.  We sit in the darkness of my room, the only light coming from my little computer screen, and I read your work to it. It seems to find the nightmares you all so beautifully craft, quite soothing.

And so...on to winners and words.

This week's winner is Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw with Parting Sorrow:  Veronica, I must repeat myself.  I loved this.  It instilled that deep, slightly sick feeling that only stories based in reality can elicit.  And it continues to remind us that some monsters are real.  Thank you!

And in second place this week is Antonia Woodville with Infinity (22):  Antonia, as always, the Captain is beautifully eloquent and the complexity of his character continues to intrigue me.  I love the depth you've given him. I often find myself wondering what his "private" journal looks like.  Thank you!

I have called the Tome out of it's nest beneath my bed, and given it some bacon, and it has rewarded me with lovely new words!


The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. All variants and use of the words as stems are fine.

You have until 11:30 PM EST on Thursday, September 19*th, to get your entries in..  Winners will be announced and new words will be posted by 11:30 PM on Friday, September 20th!

The Tome has retreated to the darkness beneath the bed to snore and dream of the stories you will write.  I'll be waiting too.

The gates are open!


  1. Oh my... really? Wow! Thank you so much, Colleen! I am honoured... and a bit chuffed! I guess I still remember a thing or two from those early days with Lily, mentoring and helping me find my 'dark side'. Thank you!

    Congratulations, Antonia! I've read enough of that I shouldn't be, but I am still amazed at the depth and richness of your pieces... done with only a hundred words. Brava!

    Oh, and look... new words! Did 'zombie' just flash across the front of my mind? Hmmmm...

  2. I have a terrible time too, with titles, Colleen. I did a guest blog for Paul Brazill a couple of years ago and 'complained' that coming up with a good title was like excoriating my own flesh. I have sat on stories for days, waiting for my brain to 'vomit up' a good title.

    I believe that a title is much like that first look a person gets... you don't get a second chance to get one's attention.

    Good luck with the titles.

    A fellow sufferer,

    Veronica Marie

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  4. Great place you have here. I’ve been meaning to participate for a long while now. Congratulations to both of lats week's winners.


    Lamb’s blood drips from the doorframe. Benjamin drops the paintbrush, pushes me inside the house. We hope the mezuzah— a protection prayer— and four deadbolts will be enough. When we still had electricity, television news reports dubbed them “The Unclean.” It’s as if demons were made to interbreed with lepers. No one knows how many walk the Earth, but I killed five last night. Benjamin stares in the darkness, taps the .44 caliber magnum strapped at his side. “Just like Dirty Harry,” he says. His eyes are mad. We don’t hear the fiends until they’re already scratching at the door.

    1. Love the tension... palpable and surrounding. Nicely done, Angel.

    2. Welcome! The back story and relationship between the narrator and Benjamin is so clear, which is not easy to do in 100 words. Great classic horror in this piece.

    3. Definitely can feel the tension in this. Love the last two lines. Excellent way to end the piece.

    4. Welcome, Angel! I'm so glad you like our little space. Please stay as long as you like! I love your story. Fantastic notion, demons and lepers. Truly nightmare material. Great use of the prompts. Thank you!

  5. Fantastic first sentence - and the rest builds a claustrophobic tension. Good to see you here.

    1. Thanks, Sandra. Appreciate you reading it.

  6. Hi, sorry I've not contributed the last couple of weeks, but, grats all winners (I do still read them all even if I don't feel I'm very good at commenting :D )

    Anyhoooooo, here's today's bit of the serial; I think there's not much left of this to go...

    Bring Me The Head Of...(18)

    "D'ya think it'll be, y'know, passed on...?"

    "I'm not some unclean HMHVV-infected Banshee!" Ame unclenched her fists and paused to breathe, realising that wasn't 'Nina's meaning; she suppressed her innate wish to melt something, anything...

    --Not 'Nina's' face, not 'Nina's' face...

    Deflecting: "Anyhow, you don't have the right calibre soul anymore, what with mortgaging it off for all that 'ware..."

    "I didn' mean that. If we... survive, escape this life: kids, y'know?"

    "I-I hadn't thought. Like other metahumans interbreeding, perhaps? Fifty-fifty chance?"

    "Right." A pause. "Ame?"

    "Yes, 'Nina'?"

    A wide grin: "You can call me Nina."

    1. I have really enjoyed, and been stricken by, Ame's transformation, but this is the first time I really grasped the implications. Really well done and great dialogue!

    2. Excellent writing as usual with great intensity throughout. Loved the humor of "Not 'Nina's face"; I laughed out loud! Their conversation feels very natural.

    3. it is the dialogue which carries this on so smoothly. It's almost a shame to think it's coming to an end and yet I want to know what happens!

    4. Welcome back, Zoe! So glad you found some time! I must agree with the others. The dialogue here is fantastic.

  7. "... --Not 'Nina's' face, not 'Nina's' face......" Oohh.... that made me all goose-bumpey!

    Brilliant dialogue... Brava, Zoe!

  8. Once again... story is done... haven't the faintest idea for a title... *sighs*

    Thursday, half hour before the witching hour, right? Well, I've still got time...

  9. Well done Veronica and Antonia.

    Village Counsel

    Rumour interbreeding with suspicion inevitably births mob rule.
    ‘Where’s Gabriel?’
    ‘Don’t know but that’s his horse ...’
    ‘Black-hearted rogue’s like to’ve killed him ...’
    ‘Gabriel dead? Someone better tell his wife....’
    ‘Who’s the wench?’
    ‘Dirty Drusilla’s maid...’
    A snort, ‘Maid? Aye, she said she’d return him...’
    ‘But not at the price of a man the calibre of Gabriel... Can she be trusted?’
    Other men sniggered. One, scarlet faced, muttered, ‘Likely not, as unclean a bitch as her mother...’
    Twenty yards away, Tao reined in the horse.
    Reached beneath the seat.
    Pulled forth a gun.
    Held it to her head.

    1. Oh! This is quite interesting. The whole thing a set up? I cannot wait to see how it plays out. Mobs are terrifying in their own right...

    2. I absolutely love that first line... "Rumour interbreeding with suspicion..." Wow!

      Love the way this plays out, Sandra.

    3. First line is definitely a gem. Interesting mention of her mother. Sounds like we're to get more history. :)

    4. it's the dialogue again and the killer last line again... brilliant!

    5. First line's an amazing hook! I can't wait to find out more! Thank you!

  10. A change of focus [55]

    Side by untouching side, in silent contemplation of the hotel bedroom’s ceiling.
    At a crucial point she’d remembered Raptor’s claim to be his father. Although subsequently said to be untrue, the spectre of interbreeding had risen, unclean and shrieking, causing recoil and destroying the moment.

    John Pettinger was of a calibre to not take personal offence, yet understandably he was confused since thus far she’d done all the running. Low-voiced, ‘You’d best explain...’
    After she had done so, he gentled her to concentrated acquiescence before exorcising memories of the man who’d been before him.
    While wondering where truth really lay.

    1. Taking a leaf from RR's book, both John Pettinger's tale 'A change of Focus', and 'Tao Returns from Rhodes' can be accessed in their entirety via pages (in my blog

    2. Master of beautiful sentences! I agree with Veronica, loved "the spectre of interbreeding had risen, unclean and shrieking...". Delightful mix of dialogue and suggestive description, teasing at what is unfolding. Loved "exorcising memories".

    3. "...unclean and shrieking.' has to be one of the BEST phrases ever! This is a beautifully crafted piece.

  11. "...the spectre of interbreeding had risen, unclean and shrieking, causing recoil and destroying the moment."

    That line is so rich in dark dread and horror... conjures up nightmare images.

    Very nicely done.

  12. This week's words spoke to me of only one thing...

    by Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw


    Black smoke billowing… rising up… filling the station’s canopy… the ancient train slows into Newcastle Station. Brake squeal of the locomotive’s massive iron wheels jabs, needle-like, piercing the ears of the guards lined along the platform.

    With muffled thuds, the windowless cars bump against each other as the train halts to a standstill. Steam hisses and roils from the undercarriages – precaution against infection from the cargo within.

    Hastily placed signs over the platform’s exit archways answer any curiosity of the station keepers.



    Rifles at ready… high-caliber muzzles trained… guards slide back the massive side-doors of the rolling prison.

    ~ finis ~

    1. Oh. I could not see where this was going, 'windowless cars' set up dread, but even so ... 'Muffled' and 'roils' such evocative words.

    2. Dark and mysterious, loved this! The tension is excellent in the beginning, building steadily until the excellent final line. Loved the description of the train with "windowless cars".

    3. I think dark and mysterious sums this up, Wonderful descriptions.

    4. I had no idea where you were taking this! The slow build of apprehension to horror, and the final line...just brilliant. What a ride! Thank you!

    5. This created a dread anticipation, and the ending brought it perfectly to fruition. Fantastic tone to this.

  13. Seth has been riding me hard all week, but I had to work and deal with harvest. I finally gave him free reign.

    Making the Deal

    “Pleasure to meet you,” Nate lied, but he had the sense to bow.

    “I know why you here.” Marie Laveau appeared solid. “What you bring to trade for my favor?”

    I held out a bag of herbs, potions, stones.

    “Not touching you, boy. Unclean you ain’t, but tainted you is. Some things not meant to interbreed with people.”

    Nate cleared his throat. “I could offer a service.”

    She cackled. “Why I need skinny white boy got no magic his own?”

    “We have skills,” I offered.

    “I take this high caliber trinket. Then we good.” Her hand disappeared into Nate’s chest.

    For those new to it, the Nate and Seth series is a collaborative effort between Colleen and I. I write Seth, she deals with Nate. There's a link on the left to my blog, where the stories are all archived in order.

    1. I get chills every time I read you... dark and delicious... to be savored over and over...

    2. You have captured the very essence of how I saw Marie Laveau. Thank you. I could hear her voice in your words. And as always, an amazing set up for me to follow. Thank you so much!

    3. Definitely created a great character here with Marie. Loved her tone and dialogue. Really loved how the story ended. What did she take?! :)

  14. You could not have written this episode any more perfectly. Love Seth's insistence on getting involved, her resistance, and the last line was so, so shockingly surprising

  15. Half-breed

    She slid the palm-sized knife from her garter and laid it against Anson’s throat with a victorious smile. “Not the caliber of your precious Winchester, but it’ll get the job done.”

    His smile was slow and easy. “Gonna give me a shave, Elsinore?”

    Her blue eyes flashed like lightning across the prairie. “They say you’re unclean, you know. Half-breed.”

    “Worried I’ll interbreed with the fine folk of Cody Creek.”

    Her incredulous snort cut off as he disarmed her in one smooth move, rolling her beneath him. Rouged cheeks flushed as Anson’s grizzled cheek brushed hers. “Want me to leave?”


    1. I'm with Sandra... it suddenly got very warm in here... * Well done!

    2. I'm now fervently wishing that I had NOT taken the air conditioner out of my window this afternoon! This is dark, and beautiful and sexy! Many, many thanks. Love your use of the prompts!

    3. This is such a delightful slice of story that makes me want to read everything leading up to this and everything that happens after. Dark and tense and sexy all at once.

  16. Oh boy - you had me (and he could have done too) at "His smile was slow and easy" ... and as for "rolling her beneath him" ... *fans own flushed face*

    1. Ha! how to use the prompts! Wonderful writing there, Zaiure!

  17. thanks so much, Colleen!
    It's been a frantic and stupid week, every night I tell myself it's catch up night and every night it gets away from me. But here is the next instalment, the Captain is pacing, waiting to tell his tale... seems he is a tad introspective this night. Perhaps it's the darkness which comes in so early these days, making me long to put the heating on to keep him warm but we have to hold out a bit longer.

    I have booked a place in the Isle of Wight Literary Festival's Dragons Den for next month. I will get 3 minutes to promote Skullface. The prize is an agent reading the synopsis and first chapter. The publisher it is with right now said he will hold off with a decision until he knows what happens, but he says it is well written and good. It's enough to know he's there if I don't make it.

    Infinity 23.
    Interbreeding produces halfwits. Even the shadows be knowing that and I think sometimes I got me a crew of halfwits. Not a one of them has the caliber of their captain, or is that just my pride? I could be saying they were unclean thoughts but this be my journal, not theirs. The crew be fools. They took their share and never questioned it.
    Ah, the thoughts going on these here pages. I do love the way the quill slides over the paper. Not so sure I love the thoughts going down here but someone has to know the truth.

    1. Darkly introspective... I love how you've woven the prompts into the story.

    2. The Captain continues to fascinate as you give us more and more insight into him. The more the Captain writes, the more I find myself wondering if he's not intending for someone specific to see his journal. Any always, a beautifully written piece. Thank you!

    3. I wondered the same thing, if he hopes someone specific will read his journal. Perhaps a child? Or merely a way to account for something that's coming, so the explanation is there? Love where this is headed.

  18. Phew! - I was afeared the captain had slid into torpor too deep to write this week, but no (though I suspect he's been at the grog, since he's a bit more confrontational tonight, even if only with himself).
    Love what you've done with the prompts, as ever.

    And all best with the IoW festival & agent.

  19. Keeping good thoughts for the festival and agent booking.

  20. This For That

    I thought about screaming, but it was over too quickly to bother. She pulled her hand back and closed it, snuffing the impossibly purple-white glow in her palm.

    “I leave you a bit. You goin’ to need it.”

    “Where’s the priest?” Seth demanded.

    “Here. Hiding.” She pointed to my chest.

    “That help you find him; end him. He disrespect me…interbreed my power with unclean things. Stain my good name. I give him something. A small jar. You bring it back here when you done with him. I give you something high caliber in return.”

    Her rich, throaty chuckle faded away.

    1. Colleen - the perfect response, unimaginable in advance but ideal. The opening line so typically Nate and Marie's voice perfectly continuing.

    2. Thank you, Sandra! RR had done such a perfect job of creating Marie's voice in my head, that I was worried that I might not be able to match the cadence and tone as I wrote. I'm so glad I was able to do so!

    3. Loved the first line! Great intro to the scene. Excellent, fluid use of the prompts. :)

  21. Good evening, m'dears! I can't tell you all how happy I am that our little group seems to be growing with even more amazingly talented folk. Thank you all for coming to play this week!

    The gates are closed. However, please feel free to continue to comment as you will. I'll be back tomorrow evening with winners and words!

    Thank you all again!