Free Books

I’ve made a couple of my self published books free to download. Head on over to the books page to get them.

There’s Amber Stars: One Night of Stories, which is my first book of linked stories and Remain Vigilant which is two one act plays in the same world. Lost in April Fog, my Napowrimo poems from 2018 was free before but I’ve offered direct links and removed the need to go through the shop. All are in PDF, Mobi (for Kindles) and ePub (for everything else).

All the books have now been changed to Creative Commons licences so feel free to distribute and remix them if you so wish.

I’ve seen a few people offer up free books during the pandemic. I’ve wanted to do this for a little while, so this was the prompting I needed. They will all remain free after as well, this isn’t a limited time thing.

Hope you enjoy.

New serial book announcement- This Was Meant to be the Future

Blimey, it’s the year Twenty Twenty, a year that sounds incredibly futuristic. We’re past the setting of Blade Runner. The world is different and weirder in ways we couldn’t imagine before.

With that in mind, I’m announcing my next book of short stories, called This Was Meant to be the Future. I’ve been working on these stories for the last couple of years and it feels an appropriate time to release them.

Continue reading

NaPowriMo 2020 Day 2 – “I only went to a psychic for an ego boost”

Lost to the comfort of burnt sage
and bergamot, I do not remember
entering or paying so I arrive
to myself already sat in silks.

The woman I thought a wood carving,
bows with patience, hands shaking,
branches in the breeze. My questions
about how I got here evaporate
and merge, forgotten, into smoke.

Without looking down at her deck,
she draws the five of pentacles
the tower, the ten of swords.

The curved lines on her face
grow deeper. I realise I have
forgotten how to breathe.

Remembering our arrangement,
she takes my hand in hers,
dry as kindling, soft as moss.
She lies to me: everything will
work out fine, nothing will change
and I am simply a flickering light,
luminescent in the gathering night.


Prompt for today was “Write an overheard poem” from Amy Kay Poetry on Instagram. The title comes from something I overheard years ago and have been waiting to use ever since. I didn’t expect it to turn out like this.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 1- The People

We the spin, the shimmer.
We the sway, the light,
the contagion and the cure
We the anointing and
sometimes the penance.

We the living cosmos.
We who stockpile flocks
of wings in our hearts
and galaxies in our eyes.

We the sun on the river
in the morning. We, barely
glimpsed, we the golden
and the gentle, we the
shine and the reflection.

We the rare, the cruel
and the wonderful. We
the infinite and the brief.

We who have been searching
for millennia, in the skies
and in the hedgerows. We
who are still searching. We
who strive for transcendence
and find it, now and then.


Prompt was “Write a poem that includes the words ‘flock’ ‘simmer’ and ‘sway” I misread simmer for shimmer. I drafted one poem and didn’t like it, so I ran it through a cut up machine, which twisted my words. Then I wrote out from that.

The Oracle

Forgive me, I have lost my lexicon
of the future. Now I search the tangled
entropy of brambles and bindweed.
Nothing useful emerges, only woodlice.

Clouds no longer spell out predictions,
don’t merge or drift into forgotten faces
or arrows, indicating the way forward.

These tea leaves do not show patterns,
just transmit random letters through
flecks settling in cups, stewed static.

I scry daily but my mind is a broken
telescope array. Like every person
now I stumble forward in ignorance.
I ask the stars for guidance. No reply.


This was written from “something hidden, something unknown, something to be discovered” prompt from the Poetry in the Time of Being Alone group.

I’ve just noticed it’s April tomorrow 1 so I guess I’ll be doing a poem a day from tomorrow. Consider yourself warned.

Quick thoughts on editing

From Warren Ellis’ excellent newsletter 1:

The trick is never to let yourself believe it is pouring fully formed from your fingers into a submittable file.  It’s all roughs.  It’s layering. It’s starting with the six lines you had, that you foolishly believe constitute “an idea,” and editing them and adding to them and sculpting them and building on them and then realising it’s shit and saving that version, renaming the file and starting again, going back to where you went wrong and rewriting, until you feel like you have the shape of something that might actually be useful.

I’ve been going over old writing and poems I did at the start of March and I remember none of it. Which is helpful, because then I can tear it apart and rebuild it.

More than ever, I consider this building and shaping as Warren Ellis calls it to be the actual craft of writing. A lot of joy comes from changing things as you go. Very few things start immediately perfect, but they usually have a germ of an idea within them. There’s a lot of fun in shifting and changing and altering to make that idea clearer or to get it to where you want to be. In the first draft, I find new images, but in subsequent ones I find a structure.

Resonance

I joined a Facebook group 1 which has daily prompts. This one was written in response to the prompt: “How do you click: Write a poem filled with noise” poem.

It’s the first day of lockdown, a week of social distancing and I feel this is representative of me missing the buzz and hum of humans in general.

Resonance

Days pass with the click of keys,
the confused mumblings of the wind,
unseen neighbours speaking, phrases
occasionally diffusing through walls.

Underneath, I still hear an echo-
many voices merged into a chorus.
We were so melodic, weren’t we?
We sang in such rare harmonies.

Our vibrations still shake each
single brick, rumble along tarmac,
and cause dust to dance with joy.
Holding my breath, I listen.

Time’s gone weird

I have a fancy new profile picture thanks to Sam Cavender and his restored Mayima. Oooh medium format expired film. It makes me want to dig out my film cameras again

It was taken after the Lyra Festival slam last Saturday. So only a week ago but it feels like forever. A lot has happened since then. There’s been so much rapid change to our way of life that time has expanded, so a day feels like a week and a week feels like a year.

I’m adapting best I can. I’m lucky in that both my girlfriend and I can work from home and live in a city where we have access to food and supplies. Still, it’s a major disruption to the whole of society so I think it’s going to feel strange for some time.

My point is: look after yourself as much as possible in these unprecedented times. Maybe start journaling, exercise or meditation, all things that have helped me with my mental health in the past. Connect with friends virtually. Or take some time to feel weird about it all, however that manifests for you. This crisis is going to affect everyone mentally and emotionally. Even if you think you are mentally healthy and resilient, it’s important to make sure you are checking in with yourself and doing constructive things to help, whatever that may be.

Here’s a good article by Josie George, who has a chronic illness meaning she has spent most of her time inside. It focuses on the mental resilience needed and I found it very useful. There’s also this podcast from conversations Against Living Miserably which has some useful tips.

Stay inside, wash your hands and stay safe and healthy. We’ll get through this.

Truth Bombs

This is the third story in a series I’m publishing monthly throughout 2020. More details here.

CW: Gun violence

To: Jamilm@Phaethonlaboratories.com

From: holliec@Phaethonlaboratories.com

Subject: What are you up to?

Hey, hope you’re not going too mad on the eleventh floor!

Just seen this- What crazy things are you up to up there with the nano-bots? Growing a new Prime Minister? LOL

www.youtube.com/truthbombs

H x

AUTO-TRANSCRIPT:

Okay, everyone listen up. I’m about to drop some truth bombs like I do every week. Boom! Like that! See the thing about bombs is they hurt. Everything I say might just blow your mind. So strap yourself in, because this might not be pleasant but it is necessary. Welcome to another episode of Truth Bombs!

Continue reading

Reasons to stay at home

So we’re socially isolated for the foreseeable. It’s a weird time, but I’ve been amazed by how people are being incredibly generous. There is so much kindness out there from everyone despite the uncertainty. Here are some things I’ve come across that you may enjoy while distancing from others that may help you feel connected or entertained.

Poetry

Sam Grudgings is doing a weekly newsletter of poetry in order to combat loneliness and forge connections with others. It’s a lovely idea, find it here:

Pascal Vine has shared a long playlist of excellent live poetry. Find it here.

Outspoken Press have made their excellent poetry book collection free until the end of 20th March- I recommend Joelle Taylor and Raymond Antrobus.

Stuart Buck has a free micro collection of poems called Fuck the Apocalypse.

Other stuff

Some lovely relaxing music from Warmth, appropriately titled Home is now pay what you want.

Cosmic Shambles are running a series of streamed gigs with excellent comedians. if you don’t already listen to Book Shambles with Robin Ince and Josie Liong, you really should be.

Also called Stay at Home fest, this site collects live music and has a community calendar for other live-streamed events.

2000AD are offering an ebook of Judge Dredd for free.


Look after yourselves and each other, wash your hands etc. We’ll get through this.

Encrypted (video)

Social isolation means I’m working through the backlog of things I have to do. So I uploaded this video of my poem Encrypted, which was kindly shot by Chris at Bristol Tonic, one of the best nights around to encourage new writing.

Each month performers get given a prompt and are asked to make a piece in a month. My prompt was “Threw postcards in the shape of airplanes hoping they get to where they meant to.” That’s a great prompt.

I took it in some strange directions. Chris also helped me record an audio version of it which was featured on BBC Upload on BBC Radio Bristol.

Have a watch:

Hello Spring

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

E.E. Cummings