Happy New Year – Writing in 2023

Happy New Year to all of you out there and I hope you have a wonderful 2023.

I haven’t posted for a few weeks as I’ve been very busy. I was working in London in early December and brought back Covid19 unfortunately.

After recovering I was busy tying up loose ends at work to have a few days off over Christmas. I hope you were able to spend some time relaxing with family and friends.

After a patchy year creatively I had a stronger end to 2022. My ghost story ‘Outbreak’ came second in the Crowvus Christmas ghost story competition and I also had a piece about Anglesey published on a travel website.

In the coming weeks a piece I wrote about the Birmingham suburb of Digbeth is to be published in a new anthology and I also have flash fiction scheduled to be published in Missouri.

I’m currently working on a radio script and really enjoying it. More on that in the next few months. I hope a change of creative direction will finally lead to a breakthrough in 2023.

Good luck with your creative endeavours this year!

‘Outbreak’ published in Phantoms for the Festive Season

It’s always a great feeling seeing your work in print. I’m delighted to be published online too but perhaps as an ex-journo there’s nothing better than ink.

A few weeks ago I learned my short story ‘Outbreak’ had won second prize in the Crowvus Christmas ghost story competition. It’s published in this festive anthology that landed on my doormat today.

The book

The story is set in present-day Stafford (my hometown) and features real buildings such as St Mary’s church and the Ancient High House. It links an outbreak of typhus in the past with current sickness. Perhaps a doctor who dealt with ‘jail fever’ can help a man struck down in 2021?

Back cover

Thanks to the publishers for selecting my piece and the other writers including winning story ‘Last Christmas ‘ by Keith Porter. Congratulations Keith!

Susan Crow, publisher, wrote of my piece Outbreak: ‘Not only does this story have everything a ghost story should have but it is also thought-provoking in terms of recent world events. A cleverly crafted short story. ‘

Copies are available here

Exploring Chester

*It’s taken me a long time to post this due to other commitments, so excuse the brief notes and whistle-stop tour. Chester is definitely worth a visit and easily walkable.

The Romans called her Deva. Chester is a great city to visit as there are things to be discovered on most of the city streets. It’s only a small city but was strategically important as a port (until the Dee silted up and Liverpool took centre stage) and as a military and administrative post due to its proximity to north Wales. We were in Chester for a university visit, a great excuse for a number of recent excursions including Aberystwyth and Birmingham. We began at the wonderfully named Little Roodee car park. It’s a short distance from Chester Racecourse and right alongside the river.

Footbridge over the Dee

This bridge gives great views of the Dee and City. There are pedalos and rowing boats to hire and trips on the Mark Twain (definitely not a good walk spoiled) and Lady Diana riverboats. The university has many of its campus buildings alongside the Dee.

Looking downriver from the bridge

I’ve been fortunate enough to have stories shortlisted a few times in the Cheshire Prize for Literature, so have good memories of walking along the Dee here and sinking a few red wines at the reception. Sarah Hilary, who won the prize a few years back, has gone on to become an established crime fiction writer.

The Mark Twain

Swapping the Mississippi for the Dee. Close to the river is Chester’s amphitheatre. Britons would’ve slugged it out at the amphitheatre below.

Town Crier

If you’ve seen 24 Hour Party People with Steve Coogan playing Factory Records founder Anthony H Wilson you’ll recognise this bridge and clock from an emotional and celebrated scene in the film.

The Rows

Above and below these are Chester’s ancient rows – two tiers of shops.

More of Chester’s rows.

Plaque

It’s well worth walking the walls that once protected the city. At this end there’s a steep drop to the canal far below and tremendous views.

Flattened out a little here but it’s really quite a drop to the cut.

Even higher from up here on the tower.

A mosaic near the baths entrance

After a tour of North Wales skirmishing with Celts a hot bath is in order.

Another view of the Dee

Chester has very distinctive signs too. I love visiting and I hear Chester is busy these days too, bucking the trend of staying at home.

Ice Age in Stafford

These glacial boulders can be found across Staffordshire. These are examples all unearthed by the development of a housing estate near to us. Excavations of a few metres depth unearth them. I wonder where they originated? Depending on the ice flows perhaps Scotland, North Wales or the Lake District. Of course, our countries didn’t exist then. Amazing to think they have been in this red ochre soil for many thousands of years.