New story – Chapter 1. Why must it be a pirate’s life for me?

The first draft of chapter one of a new story I’m working on about magical pirates. All feedback welcome.


A cannonball crashed through the wall of Buccaneer Jones’ tiny cabin. He yelped and fell out of his bed. Through the newly made hole he could see out to the raging ocean outside, and the pirate ship that was rapidly approaching.

There was a crash from above as the ship that Buccaneer called home, The Singing Seal, returned fire. Buccaneer grabbed a padded hat from a hook and rammed it onto his head, the thick material covering his ears to muffle the sounds. He picked up a dog-eared old book about different types of plants and tried his hardest to ignore the battle around him.

The two ships closed the distance until men and women swung from one to another with cutlasses in their mouths. Now shouts and laughter filled the air, punctuated with the clang of swords and pistol shots.

Buccaneer sighed and started to hum loudly. Despite his name, Buccaneer didn’t like fighting. In fact he hated it, just like he hated his name. To his friends he was just Bucc. Not that he had many. Bucc was considered odd by most people. He didn’t like violence, couldn’t stand loud noises, and he willingly washed at least once a week. How where you supposed to treat someone who didn’t like to fight, pillage, and drink?

For you see, Buccaneer Jones was the son of two pirates. That was nothing special though. In Hylantia everybody was a pirate. It was a world of vast seas and tiny island. A place where humans lived on ships and wandered the waves in search of adventure.

Bucc’s door was kicked open and his parents rushed into the cabin. His father was tall and gangly, with a bald head and a missing thumb. He held a pistol in his good hand and a modified cutlass in his other. A black snake with spiked fins was draped around his neck.

His mother was a stout woman with a mallet in each hand. Where his dad wore nothing but an open jacket and shorts, Bucc’s mum was decked out in an array of layers that were all different colours. Perched on her shoulder was a six legged cat with horns.

“What are you still doing in here, Buccaneer?” asked his dad. “Come quick. Big Tim got a splinter in his eye. We need you to man the cannon.”

“You’re not serious.”

His mum grabbed him by the hand. “It’s time for you to become a real pirate. When the adrenaline starts pumping through you, you’ll realise what you’re missing out on.” Continue reading

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Editing your story.

I am bad at editing. I don’t plan my stories and find that I don’t like rereading my own work. The story is only ever fresh to me in that brief moment between conception and preservation, between the initial idea and its translation to the page. Because of this I find the process of going through the work after the fact so much more difficult. Growing a story without clear structure is all fair and good but it is easy to create plot-holes while an excited flurry of wring leaves you prone to typos.

As such, while editing is often dry, demoralising and not remotely creative, it is a vital thing that all writers need to be able to do well. Being bad at it, I have spent a lot of time learning how to get better, some of it by proactively going and reading advice from other writers and editors, others by doing the wrong things and learning from my mistakes. I am still far, far from perfect but since I am in the editing phase myself at the moment, I felt that it might be worth presenting what I have learned for others in my position. Continue reading

In Death’s Shadow – 1st Chapter (2017)

It has been over a year since I first posted an extract of my current story. In that time I have learned a lot about editing and actually pushed to get reader feedback so now have a far more polished version of the story. This polishing isn’t fully finished yet but I figured that I would show how far the story has come by posting the 1st chapter of its current draft.

The original version can be found here.

Once again, any feedback is welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 1

A dark shape flew through heavy clouds far above Abernethy Forest. In a land of ancient myths such as Scotland, where mountains vie with dark forests while snow and cold winds dominate the rugged landscape, it was all too easy to see contorted faces staring down from the icy heavens. The shape disappeared into the churning clouds before erupting out from the silently screaming mouth of an angry god to swoop down low above the treetops. Leathery wings glided serenely for several seconds then lunged into the greenery to vanish from sight completely.

A short distance from here was a large wooden building known as Aife’s Lodge. It had once been a private manor house but had been converted into a hotel in recent years. Fitting with its remote location it was the kind of place where people went to escape society completely.

The clouds parted just enough to reveal the moon through the black veiled sky. A warped howl echoed through the snowy night. Nobody heard it over the festivities though. It was just before midnight on New Year’s Eve and the few guests of Aife’s Lodge had forgone seclusion and gathered together in the main hall to celebrate. A stone fireplace dominated one wall while numerous stuffed animals showcased the local fauna. Long dead deer and wildcats seemed almost alive in the flickering light. The guests mingled awkwardly in groups of two or three, the conversations gradually becoming less passive as the alcohol flowed. Continue reading

Wonderland Blues

Just like Alice had to awaken from Wonderland

So too do we find ourselves torn from the pleasant fantasy

Of our dearest conventions.

We the weirdos and oddballs who find no peace in life

Who are beaten down and left alone in a sea of reality

Come together to indulge in the make-believe worlds

And form bonds of family that none outside can grasp.

For days we have laughed, loved and lived,

We have belonged. Continue reading

Words of Fate: Of Quills and Swords.

City walls of pale stone stood proudly on the horizon ahead. Around it rougher stone structures clung together in a hodge-podge of designs and materials like a cancer. Farmland covered the ground between the settlement and a lone hilltop many miles from it where a young man stood taking in the sight of the legendary city. Dense forests made a ring around it all.

It was early in the morning and the young man hoped to be within those walls come nightfall. He wiped an arm across his face to remove a trickle of sweat and grimaced at the smell that rose from his sleeve. He had been travelling by foot for over two weeks now without a single change of clothes. Washes had been few and far between and the summer’s heat had been like the innards of an oven for the entire time.
Continue reading