Katie's Stories

The Other Ship Part Two

Ships in the Sea and Sky

Time for Part Two!

“What’s that?” Jake shouted. I crossed the boat to see what he was pointing at. There was something under the water. A soft glow was visible. Small and concentrated like a flashlight. 

“Uh, fish maybe?” I said. 

“Glowing fish?” dad rolled his eyes. 

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s called bioluminescence.” Dad stared at me the way he often did when he wasn’t sure if I was having him on. “Seriously, Google it when we get back.” 

“First hums, now glowing fish,” dad said. 

“It’s moving,” Jake said. The humming grew louder. I could feel it rumbling through my body. Smaller items on the boat were shaking. “It’s moving real fast.” I looked over the side of the boat to see Jake was right. The light was moving, it was racing back and forth under the boat and getting bigger with each lap. 

“It’s coming up,” I realised. “Shit, we need to move now!” 

Continue reading “The Other Ship Part Two”
Katie's Stories

The Other Ship Part One

Ships in the Sea and Sky

March seems to have turned into the month of sharing my work with you. Below is a short which is my first, and possibly only, attempt at Sci-Fi Horror.

I was in my thirties when I saw the other ship. 

It was a calm night, and the sea was quiet. Only the soft sound of waves brushing against the boat prevented total silence. The sound was rhythmic and soothing, adding to my sense of peace. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of the sea. 

“We should have taken this up years ago,” my dad said, settling back in his chair and cracking open his third beer. 

“Yup, told ya so,” Jake, my dad’s lifelong friend and current roommate, smirked. “You should have listened to me.” 

“Night fishing hardly sounds glamourous,” I said. “Especially when the only experience we have of it is you getting in at 5 in the morning reeking of beer and fish guts with nothing to show for it.”

“Fish is not the reason I come fishing,” Jake said. “It’s for the peace, the beer and the atmosphere.” 

“And now the company,” dad said. Jake held out his beer can for a clink and the two laughed.

“I have to admit,” I said. “This is peaceful.” 

It was pitch black except for the moon, a few stars, and the light of the boat. Jake was right, this was peaceful. There was something infinitely soothing about a calm sea at night. I decided that I might have to take them up on the offer to tag along on a few more trips. 

“This is nice, just the sound of the sea,” Jake said, echoing my thoughts.

“It would be even nicer if you’d shut up,” Dad said. Jake laughed. 

We sat in comfortable silence, listening to the sea wash against the side of the small fishing boat. 

I was drifting off when dad shook me. 

“Did you hear that?” he said. I sat up, blinked the sleep from my eyes and listened, but all I could hear was the sea and Jake softly snoring in his chair. Nothing else. 

Continue reading “The Other Ship Part One”
Blog News

The Robots are coming…

…to write you some books.

I rarely post blogs about ‘current’ issues, I’m usually pretty late to most parties.

But recently I have been hearing a lot about AI. It’s pretty much everywhere. It’s popping up on podcasts I listen to, YouTube channels I follow are talking about it and I’ve seen a lot of artists very concerned about it.

I wasn’t overly concerned until a YouTuber pointed out that this is the worst AI will ever be. It’s only going to get better from here on out, it will become more and more indistinguishable from people.

What does that mean for writers?

A recent article in the Guardian talks about Clarksworld and they say ‘We don’t know’ far more eloquently than I

Sci-fi publisher Clarkesworld halts pitches amid deluge of AI-generated stories | Artificial intelligence (AI) | The Guardian

Katie's Stories

Walk in the Wood Exerp

The woods were evil

Today I want to share with you the first few paragraphs of Walk in the Woods, these are subject to change.

Late afternoon turned into early evening when we got the call—another body in the woods.

A local hiker had found the body of a young boy seven miles out from Oak Heath, our remote small town, and a mile or so away from the road. The body was up a longleaf pine tree, right up in the topmost branches. While I had seen bigger longleaf pines in these woods, there was no way a child could have climbed that high. 

“It was just random luck,” the hiker said when Roy sent me to question him. “I was taking a break, and I sat back against the tree. It was then that I noticed the gloves hanging from a branch.”

“I see.” I nodded.

“I was going to grab them. It was a pair of children’s gloves, the kind that ties together so that the kid won’t lose them if they take them off.” He paused, covering his mouth.

“Take your time.” I tried to hide my impatience; sound sympathetic.

“I’m fine,” the hiker waved his hand. “I jumped to grab them. They were on the lowest branch and hanging down. I thought I could get them.”

“Still a good eight or nine feet up,” I said.

 “They caught on the branch. I pulled hard and a hat fell. I looked up, and that’s when I saw him.” He coughed, his fist coming up to cover his mouth again, his skin paled.

“All right,” I put my hand on his shoulder. “Let’s get you sat down.” I led him away from my team, who were currently puzzling over how to retrieve the body.

“I’m fine,” the hiker kept muttering as I sat him down.

“Just sit here. The police will be here soon, and we’ll get you back into town.”

“Thanks,” he said, his eyes distant. “I’m fine, I just don’t… I mean, how’d he get up there?”

“That’s what we’ll figure out,” I lied. “Stay here a minute.” I headed over to the team. The air felt thick, I could feel the woods around me, like a tangible thing, I could feel it’s glee at having killed this kid. This place was evil. The team was quiet, usually, they’d be making off-colour attempts at humour by now, to deal with the uncomfortable truth that we were retrieving a body rather than a person. But the off-colour humour never materialised when the body belonged to a kid. Everyone was quiet.

I stopped next to Roy, my boss. He was a short man, seeming wider than he was tall. His face was a permanent angry red beneath the immense moustache that I swear he was growing to compensate for the lack of hair on his head.

“Well?” Roy barked at me.

“Taking a break, saw the gloves and looked up,” I shrugged. “Just lucky.”

“Some luck,” Roy said. I couldn’t see his mouth move under the facial hair. It gave the impression that he was telepathic. At least it would have if I hadn’t been able to smell the nicotine on his breath. “Speaking of luck, I wouldn’t want to be the one to get the body down. Looks like it’s wedged in tight.” Roy turned to face the rest of the group.  

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” Derek said.

“Shut up! Who asked you?” Roy snapped.

“What do you mean?” I ignored Roy and walked over to Derek. The hard set of his jaw and narrowed eyes as he looked up had ice running down my back. Derek, while being built like Hercules, was usually one of my more light-hearted workmates. His tone had me on edge.

“Look at the branches.” He gestured up. “And the ones above them.” I followed his gaze and saw the branches were all in bits.

“The top ones are broken. You think the body was up higher?”

“Yup.” Derek let out a sigh. “With the weather picking up, I’m surprised the kids is still as high as he is.” As if summoned the wind rose, making the topmost branches shake and the leaves rustle. We watched with bated breath as the tree moved and the slight form swayed in the branches. I half expected it to fall, but it remained stubbornly in the tree.

“The damn police better get-” Roy started but was stopped by a loud snap followed by a cacophony of branches breaking and cloth tearing. My stomach clenched as the slight frame, dwarfed by a pale blue raincoat, tumbled down out of the tree. The sound that tiny body made when it hit the ground will stay with me till I’m old and grey. The body was limp, a dead weight. It landed with an unnerving crunch as parts of the kid broke on impact and a popping sound as his skin split under the force of his landing. A bag of crisps burst apart under too much pressure.

“Fuck!” Derek yelled. Behind me, I could hear the new girl, Sandra, losing her dinner.

Blog News

The ‘Oh-God-Why-am-I-Doing-This’ strop


Today I want to talk to you about something a little different. It’s not horror related, though at a push it is writing-related. Today I’m talking about empathy.

I’ve always thought of myself as empathic; I try to put myself in other people’s shoes in any situation, but like all people, I am a work in progress and sometimes I jump to conclusions before empathy can kick in. I want to share with you a moment of realisation I had a few months ago and how it helped me become a more empathic person.

Today I want to talk to you about something I call the ‘Oh-God-Why-am-I-Doing-This’ strop.

The ‘Oh-God-Why-am-I-Doing-This’ strop is very much a strop. I think it is the little, more annoying brother of Imposter Syndrome. Where instead of feeling that one shouldn’t belong, one feels more like they can’t belong despite everything. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much success, praise etc you receive, it’s not enough to convince you that your effort is paying off. Any progress you make is painfully slow and laborious, far too much work for far too small a return.

You see why I call it a strop?

Continue reading “The ‘Oh-God-Why-am-I-Doing-This’ strop”
Katie Recommends

Katie Recommends: Jenna Moreci

Heeeeelllooooo everybody

Today I want to talk to you about a great no-nonsense writing advice channel.

Jenna Moreci

Jenna gives useful advice, which is helpful given that she is a writing advice channel. She delivers it in entertaining bitesize bits that are easy to digest. She also backs up her arguments for why she’s advising a certain course of action, which always helps in my opinion as it’s good to know why something works.

Lastly, she has very useful sponsors.

Recently in the last couple of months, Jenna was sponsored by Get Covers and on her recommendation, I gave it a go and boy was she right.

FYI I also recommend Get Covers but I’ll talk about that in another blog, today is about Jenna.

Jenna also has playlists for specific topics, such as characters, marketing, self-publishing etc, so you don’t need to review her catalogue and pick out what might be useful she’s done it for you. Booya.

Blog News

Falling out of Love

I’m all out of love!

Today I want to write to you briefly about falling out of love.

Dramatic right!

This is very much a case of “I’ll get over it, I just need to be dramatic about it first”. Because there’s nothing wrong with being dramatic when people think you’re doing it ironically.

To get to the point, I am of course talking about writing.

In particular, a topic of writing that ties in quite nicely with my recent blog about burnout. This is often a symptom of burnout for me; not always but often enough that I’ve noticed the correlation.

I have fallen out of love with my current long-form WIP, A Walk in the Woods.

For me falling out of love with a work in progress can range on the emotional scale from “Oh well, that sucks. What’s next?” to “Oh God noooo, my only son!” it usually depends on my investment in the project.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Investment wise I’ve been working on Walk in the Woods for a couple years. I’ve spent a lot of time crafting my characters, themes, and settings etc., I’ve changed the plot more than once with additions and subtractions, and at the start of this year I paid a four-figure sum to have it edited (I said it’s long-form fiction, edits aren’t cheap but well worth it).

So, as you can imagine when I realized I was getting really sick of working on this, I went hardcore into denial about falling out of love. I made excuse after excuse, I’m tired today, this is a low point in the story so of course I’m fed up, maybe there’s something going on technically that I can change to spice it up, I’m not well this week my motivations bound to be affected etc. etc. the list goes on.

But last night I gave in when I had an idea for another long-form piece and immediately tried to make excuses as to why I can do that instead of Walk in the Woods. There’s nothing wrong with my motivation, it’s just this piece that’s dead.

But again, I circle back to the level of investment I’ve made. It’s damn high.

I can’t just let this die, right?

No. No way am I giving up.

As a compromise with myself, I have decided to take a break. Though to be honest this is my usual habit with long-form projects anyway. I normally keep putting them down at regular intervals, hence why it takes me so damn long to write anything of substance. Putting stuff down helps a lot; it helps me not lose motivation/love and it also helps spot obvious mistakes I might have missed if I looked at it constantly.

Anyway, why am I writing this to you? Am I that honestly that vain or arrogant that I think you’re chomping at the bit to know what projects I am taking breaks with and which I’m working on at the moment? I like to think not.

I am writing this for those of you who might be also experiencing ‘burnout’ or ‘falling out of love’ with a project.

Don’t give up on it, you’ve put a lot of work into it. But it is ok to take a break. It’s not a failure.

Try putting said project down for a couple weeks/months. Then pick it up again, if you still feel the same then put it back down, and take a longer break. Pick it up again and look at it in a year. Then another year, and another if need be.

I’m not saying every project deserves to be finished, but hey hard drives have lots of space and word documents are usually pretty small. It doesn’t hurt to hoard this shit.

An example of beneficial story hoarding!

I started writing The Grey House when I was in my twenties (I’m 36 now) and I put it down when I hit a brick wall with it after the second draft. Last night out of nowhere I had a wonderful new plan for it. There are a ton of changes, but it’s fundamentally the same idea and I’m excited about it.

So yeah, stories aren’t people, it’s okay to put them in a drawer or hard drive for months or even years.  You can always pick them back up.

Writing Craft

Pre-Conceived Notions About Being a Writer

Kill your ego

Today I would like to talk to you about being a writer.

I know a writer talking about being a writer! So new! Never done before! Such a unique perspective. Fortunately, I’m not trying to be groundbreaking today, I just need a chance to rant.

I’m a member of several writer groups on various social media sites across the internet and that exposes me to a lot of people in the very early stages of their writing journey and thus also exposes me to a lot of the preconceived notions people have about writing and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Before I start, I want to stress that I am in no way gatekeeping the writing community, it’s an amazing place with some incredibly supportive people and if it can continue to grow then that can only be a good thing. I’m also not trying to gatekeep the craft of writing, I’m not about to start saying “You’re only a real writer if you have sold X number of copies or made X amount of money” That’s all bullshit in my opinion.

What I am going to say is that you need an open mind to be a writer, you need to be flexible (seriously flexible) in your thinking and you need to lose your ego, stuff will be easier without it, trust me.

Continue reading “Pre-Conceived Notions About Being a Writer”