There’s a racket out there and a bracket in here
And I’m not quite sure what I mean
Is it anyone for tennis?
Is it anyone for edits?
Is it something not quite out of a dream?
There’s a bracket out there and a racket in here
And I think there’s a scam going on
Is it bad for your wealth?
Is it holding up a shelf?
Is it what I should be hiding from?
There’s a bracket round me and a racket round me
And the noise won’t stop when I scream
Does it define what I am?
Is it banging on a a pan?
Tell me please should I change my routine?

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This apple has a rotten spot

I think I should complain

I’ll write to Asda, double quick.

Oh hell, here comes the rain.

My washing was so nearly dry,

And now it’s all wet through

The weather forecast told a lie

A quick complaint is due.

My laptop’s ready for the job

I’m going to tut-tut

I’ve got the kettle on the hob

Oh no! A power cut!

I’ll sit down here and use a pen

At least I can still write

To Asda first, and only then …

… Wow, that lighning’s bright!

The fire brigade are on their way

At least that’s what they said

I’ll sit here tight and come what may

I will not lose my head.

I’ve made a list, it’s nice and long

Of all the silly twits

Who always get everything wrong

So nothing ever fits.

There’s something banging at the door

I think it has a horn

I just cannot take any more

Really? Demon Spawn?

Dear Sir or Madam, from these lips

Of mine please hear my plea …

This noisy, wet apocalypse

Is really not for me.

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Fight for the Future out now.

My first novel, Fight for the Future, is now available as a paperback or for Kindle here.

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Fight For The Future

Many, many years ago, I started getting spectral visits from a young red headed woman. She wouldn’t tell me her name at first, but she did tell me that she was a shapeshifter, and that she had a story for me. That story is the story of the Ransomed Hearts, and is the subject of my next novel. Once she was sure that I’d got the message, she left me alone, and I wrote lots of stories about her family and their adventures. One of the stories was set several decades in the past, and at first all I knew was that it started with two scruffy looking lads climbing down from an old fashioned bus in a village in the north of England. That story became ‘Fight For The Future’ and is my first independently published novel. It’s been a long time coming, and for that, I apologise. It was pretty much finished a few years ago, but it took me a while to pluck up the courage to send it to be critiqued, and then edited.
I don’t expect wild success, as the whole series is hard to categorise. It will have to find its own audience. It’s about shapeshifters, but not the paranormal. It’s about centuries long feuds, terror and murder, but it’s also about love and laughter and family.
I’m hoping to finalise the publication of ‘Fight For The Future’ very soon, and in the meantime I’m licking the second book into some sort of shape before I dare to start sending it around for reading and editing. The third book is written, and has a title too, but we’ll save that for later eh?
I’ll let you all know when you can buy the first book, and I hope that some of you, at least, enjoy it.

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Revolutions 2 / Sole Defender

I loved ‘Revolutions’, the Manchester speculative fiction anthology, so I was chuffed to bits when my story ‘Sole Defender’ was accepted for ‘Revolutions 2’.

All the stories are based in Manchester.

You can get a copy here.

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Nothing / State of You

My short story ‘State Of You’ was published by Hic Dragones in their anthology ‘Nothing’.

I’m proud to be the anthology sister of Daisy Black, Kim Bannerman, Hannah Kate, Nancy Schumann, Valentine George, Ackley Lewis, Amanda Steel, Anthony Cowin, C V Leedham, David Turnbull, Rue Karney, Patrick Lacey, Sarah Peploe, Matthew Jessop, Tim Major, Sally Davies, Melanie Stott, Sara L. Uckelman, and Tony Rabig.

You can get a copy of the anthology directly from Hic Dragones

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PC Caleb

(A sequel to ‘Crushed’)

I need your help, to get me out of this place. It’s all been a big, horrendous mistake. Could you please get up a petition or something? I’d start one myself, but I’m not allowed any sharp objects. They’ve given me web access, and I can see the screen on the wall, but the keyboard is glued down. I’ve not got access to any Caleb Khan or Wandering Thoughts sites, but I’m sending this out to everyone I know, in the hope that someone will post it to where people can help me.

I told you about the therapy, and the letter from Caleb, but when I gave that ‘True Confessions’ interview, the restraining order hadn’t started yet. I’m no longer allowed to be in the same building as him, it seems. I don’t understand why, we were getting along so well! And I know he loves me really, he’s just in denial!

Anyway, you probably heard the story all wrong, I was completely innocent, and any one of you would have done the same thing in my position. I’ll explain what happened.

It was a couple of weeks ago, when the Wandering Thoughts were doing the photo shoot for the special charity acoustic limited edition re-release of the Thought Again album … you know, the one with the bunnies on the cover? I couldn’t actually go in the building, but I was hanging around outside … not breaking any orders, you understand? I wasn’t going to actually SPEAK to Caleb, I just wanted a quiet word with Rob or Seth from the band, to see if he was coping OK without me. I worry about him, you see. It was the same day as the protest demo in London, so things were quite busy.

I was sitting on the outside steps, watching the world go by, when I heard Caleb storming downstairs. He was standing in the lobby, shouting up the stairs

‘If you lot think I’ll have my photograph taken looking like THIS, you can think again. And tell that PR girl to give me my own clothes back. All of them! And next time Rob, I want the sexiest outfit!’

I moved into the shadows and stared, and stared. Caleb was looking divine, commanding, and utterly arresting in a 1970’s police constable outfit. His buttons were very shiny indeed, and his helmet was gorgeous. But he looked quite cross. I could see his band mates Rob and Seth standing on a landing, leaning over the stairs, but couldn’t figure out what they were wearing. Rob had been growing his hair again, and it was beautifully long. He had a lot of facial hair as well.

Caleb stormed outside, muttering something about ‘fresh air’. He didn’t see me in the shadows, and he stepped into the street, breathing deeply and swearing to himself. He was so pre-occupied with his thoughts that he didn’t see the group of protesters running towards him. One of them, a spotty fifteen year old boy, saw him though.

‘PIG’ the boy shouted, taking aim with an empty Newcastle Brown bottle and throwing it at Caleb. My poor darling fell to the floor like a sack of spuds, and I rushed to his side, once again protecting him from the fates that so want to take him away from me. The protesters were going to start kicking him, but one look at me, and they decided to run away instead. Under his helmet, Caleb had a very nasty bruise starting. As he started to regain consciousness, I helped him to his feet, and guided him to a quiet side street. OK, it’s true, that’s where I was parked, but my main intention was to get him out of the busy main road so that he could recover quietly. He looked very ill, yet still utterly gorgeous, his blue eyes clouded with pain and confusion.

‘Do I know you?’ he said, before he looked down at himself. ‘Why am I wearing this uniform?’

I was only trying to help. ‘What’s the last thing you remember?’ I asked. ‘Er, A levels?’ he said, looking more distressed by the minute. ‘Please don’t tell me I’ve joined the Force?’

I was so upset by his confusion that I couldn’t speak. Is it my fault that he took my silence as assent? He gave me a long look. ‘So, you saved me?’ he asked. ‘I owe you my thanks.’ He was still looking very ill, so I led him to my car, and helped him into the front seat. He still looked nervous, and very uncomfortable, and the sight of a group of teenagers crossing the street made him shudder. Let me make this very clear. HE asked ME to lock the doors. He was worried that the protesters would try to get into the car.

He was touching the fabric of his uniform, caressing his thighs, and checking out his reflection in the passenger side mirror. He was driving me wild, and he must have seen the look on my face, because he smiled at me, and asked me what I did for a living. I told him the truth, that I was an actress. He was quite impressed, let me tell you, and started to flirt with me. I SWEAR I was going to tell him that he wasn’t really a PC, but events overtook us, and before I knew what was happening, we were in a sweaty clinch in the back seat. Now that proves it doesn’t it? He’s really very attracted to me, but in total denial about it. There’s not much room for a tall chap in those things, and just as things were getting interesting, my poor darling banged his head AGAIN. Would you believe it?

Two bangs on the head in quick succession must have completely unhinged him, because he took one look at me and started to scream. He was struggling to get his uniform back on at the same time as he tried to force the locked doors open. That’s how he got so bruised, I swear it. I wasn’t restraining him in the slightest. Then he saw his friends, at the top of the street. His frantic signalling through the rear window got their attention, and they started to run towards the car. Rob was hampered a little by his long robes and the halo that had slipped down to almost cover his eyes, but he was the picture of a perfect little Messiah. Seth was wearing a tight leather outfit, with day-glo orange go-faster stripes starting at his thighs and going up his hips. They got to the car very quickly, just as I managed to disentangle myself from my panicking hero, and climb back to the front of the car to unlock the doors. Rob pulled the passenger side door open, and helped Caleb out. My poor darling was shaking terribly. Seth dragged me out, and pushed me against the car, using his body to pin me against it.

‘YOU again!’ he said. ‘What have you done to him?’ He sounded so protective, and I wanted to explain that I felt just as protective and caring about Caleb as he did, but I didn’t get chance to tell him. The real police arrived within a minute, and took me away. They didn’t believe my story, and have actually accused me of lying in wait for Caleb, knocking him on the head, and dragging him to my car to have my wicked way with him! It’s ridiculous, and if Caleb could remember those precious minutes we had together, he’d have me out of this place straight away. But memory loss is a funny thing, and he probably has no memory at all of the time he thought he was a PC, and I was his saviour.

So, all of you out there. I hope you believe me, and I’m sure you’ll agree that if you’d been in my position, you’d have done exactly as I did. So, get your signatures on that petition, and GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE.

Yours hopefully,

Amy Joyce

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Hiya, I’m so glad to be able to tell my story to True Confessions of the Stars. I’m Amy Joyce, usually known as ‘The Fifth Tracy’. I want to take this chance to tell my side of the tale, and let everyone know what a true gentleman and wonderful person Caleb Khan really is.

My big break in TV was a dream come true. Corrie’s ‘Fourth Tracy’ had just resigned from the show. She was getting so many death threats from people who wanted to wipe that smarmy grin off her face that her family had begged her to leave the show. To explain Tracy’s fourth re-incarnation, the scriptwriters arranged to have her brutally attacked by her ex-step-sister-in-law-to-be, Shelley. After several months of plastic surgery, Tracy returned to the show as me, humbled in character, and determined to make a fresh start in life. Tracy’s current relationship had to be written out, and to mark her redemption, the writers decided to bring back her husband, Robert.

The actor who previously played him was unavailable, not a real problem, as nobody remembered what he looked like anyway. In a Keith Duffy moment, the casting team managed to get a bit part for a famous musician. His identity was to be kept secret until filming started, to avoid problems with fans invading the set. The role, sadly, was to be for one show only, as Tracy’s full redemption could only be achieved by putting her through tragedy.

I’d been in the role for several weeks, and the first shows had already been aired. I was really enjoying the job, to tell the truth. I was also looking forward to meeting ‘The New Robert’. On the day of filming, the stunt crews and demolition experts were in place, and my co-star arrived on set. Cruel Fate, Happy Fortune! It was the incomparable Caleb Khan, so tall, so beautiful. I couldn’t speak. Face to face at last with the secret object of my obsession for the last ten years, I was helpless. As I fainted, he moved faster than I could ever have imagined and caught me in his arms, letting out a groan and sinking to the ground with me. At the time, I thought it was mutual passion, but he later explained (in his ‘absolutely’ final letter to me) that it was a long-standing problem with his knees, brought about by too many star jumps on stage.

As I recovered, with the help of Mavis’s smelling salts that had been discovered in an old prop cupboard, I determined to be utterly professional. We played our reunion scene beautifully, my declarations of remorse for my infidelities to my true love came from the heart. Caleb had few lines, but delivered them perfectly, and his remarkable presence distracted the camera from my nerves. I regretted that his part in the series was to be cut so short.

At last, the explosion scene. David Platt’s secret experiments in the pit of the garage had finally got out of hand, and as Caleb walked past, the building blew up, covering him with rubble, and burying him. Years of yearning, passion, and love for my musician took over from my training and experience, and I forgot about the safety measures, the fact that he wasn’t even IN the rubble, and ran towards the scene, tearing at the scenery with desperate hands, screaming ‘Caleb! Caleb! My love! I’ll save you! I’ll save you!’ until I was hoarse.

The technicians managed to drag me away, and the only way to calm me was to chase after Caleb (who had already left the set and was in the pub with some extras), and ask him to come back. Although consoling desperate actresses in the middle of a nervous breakdown wasn’t in his contract, he wonderfully, kindly, agreed to come back to show me that he was safe. As I wept in his strong arms, the measure of his spirit shone through and I could feel him sobbing with me, great racking spasms that rocked his body. I looked up and saw tears on his face, as he bravely struggled to smile. He couldn’t meet my yearning gaze, he sympathised with me so much!!!!

The scene did not need to be re-shot; the directors were impressed by my motivation, although they asked me to re-voice it with ‘Robert’ instead of ‘Caleb’ to avoid confusing the viewers.

The show’s psychologist was able to reassure the production team that I wasn’t mentally unstable in the presence of other gorgeous musicians; I only needed to be restrained when Caleb was around. I kept my job for a while, until the story got out. I understand that the Sixth Tracy is enjoying enormous popularity, although my therapist has advised me to stop watching the Street.

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Strife’s Bane by Evie Manieri – a review by Jeanette Greaves

Cover of Strife’s Bane

OK, so there’s this jaded ex mercenary with a terrifying reputation, her drug addicted sister, her beloved who reluctantly finds himself half-way to godhood, an ancient priestess with nefarious plans for a land that is desperate for peace, and an ex-slave who is now a king, It’s the third book of a trilogy, there’s a nasty plague that seems to turn everyone into blood crazed zombies, flying steeds that aren’t quite dragons, magic swords, a prophecy (there has to be a prophecy), and a magic potion. And teleportation.

This pot has been simmering now for two books, and in Strife’s Bane it bubbles over. It’s an ambitious mix with a lot of characters and a lot of sub plots. The scale of the story is dealt with by changes in perspective that can be confusing – I struggled at times to differentiate between two red headed love interest characters. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the romp, and lost my heart to the book when the young king restrained his general from punishing insubordination from a subject by reminding him that the rule of law has to protect and punish everyone equally – if punishment can be handed out on a whim, nobody can ever feel safe. These days, that strikes home hard.

Strife’s Bane has a cast of likeable characters, and ties up the Shattered Kingdoms trilogy nicely. It presents a very 21st century take on the fantasy novel and I enjoyed it a lot.

Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for the review copy.

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The Cove

First published in Flash Flood 2014

If it was real, it would be part of Blackpool, except that there is no cove there. There isn’t a cove with a long, curving harbour wall extending from the northern cliff face. The harbour wall isn’t studded with gaps for fishermen to cast their lines. Set back from the final gap, facing the beach, there isn’t a bench, and nobody sits there day after cold day watching as the tourists throng the prom. Nobody waits for the storm to come, for the crowds to thin, and for the shop, and the flat above it, to come into view.

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