Conferring with Ghosts… in Underland Arcana

I have been waiting for a long time to write this post. If you follow me on twitter, or the twitter account of Crow & Cross Keys, you may know how much I love long titles. They can be book titles, the titles of songs or poetry, short stories or anything else that can have a title. I will gobble them all up and love every second of it.

Now, I can finally share one of my own long-titled short story!

“Conferring With Ghosts Between the Hours of Three and Four Forty-Five in the Morning” is a strange little story about a girl and some ghosts. It was a challenge to write and I’m really proud of it.

I really hope you enjoy it!

You can read it here.

Do check out the rest of the stories in issue one—one of my issue-mates is actually a wonderful friend of mine, and her story, “Vieux Carré”, is excellent. Highly recommend.

Cover image by George Cotronis

Like Shedding Skin published in Emerge Literary Journal

I’ve been sitting on this one for a long time. I can’t quite remember when I submitted it but I’ve been wanting to blog about it ever since I received the acceptance. I could have, but I like to share a link if I can so here we are; there is a link at the end of the post.

I love Emerge, the work they share is always fab and I am proud to now be counted among their number. If you have any work that leans towards literary, I would highly recommend submitting. The Emerge team often do blitzes, wherein they respond to submissions within 24 hours! I just missed a blitz with my submission but even in their usual submission window, the response was speedy.

“Like Shedding Skin” is a little piece of flash fiction that is and isn’t about a broken teapot.

I really hope you enjoy it.

You can read “Like Shedding Skin” here.

Shattered Moon, Hungry Sea on Apparition Lit

Earlier this month, I entered Apparition Literary Magazine’s November Flash Fiction Challenge, for which writer’s are challenged to create flash fiction based on a certain image, and I am delighted to announce that I won!

My story “Shattered Moon, Hungry Sea” went live today. It’s a speculative fairy tale about a mother, a daughter, the moon and the sea.

I really love this story, and I hope you enjoy it!

You can read it here.

The Boat and the Boy published on 101 Words

Hello, hello. It’s been a little while and this update may well be longer than the story itself! A little while ago, I wrote a teeny, tiny story—a one-hundred-and-one word story, to be precise.

Today, that story went live on 101 Words! I’m so pleased. I adore tiny stories so having my own published is particularly lovely.

Click here to read!

In other news, Crow & Cross Keys is now live and packed with beautiful stories and poetry. I’d love it if you could check it out!

Every week, I share the words of two brilliant contributors. If you like your words a little dark and a little strange and a little lovely, you’re going to love CCK.


The Great Green Forever makes HG Wells Competition Shortlist

Many months ago, I wrote a story. Then I had friends—brilliant writer-type friends—poke at it and ask me questions I never would have thought to ask myself. The story almost doubled in length and, we hope, quality and it turned out I really rather liked it.

Apparently, I’m not the only one! I am delighted to announce that “The Great Green Forever” has been shortlisted as part of the HG Wells Short Story Competition.

I’m fairly new to entering competitions (I am currently awaiting the second round results for the New York City Midnight Flash Fiction Contest—wish me luck!) and this is the first piece that has made a shortlist.

I’m so glad it’s this story.

The overall results will be released at the awards ceremony in November. I’m excited.

What a lovely Monday this is.

Coming Soon: Crow & Cross Keys

I have a secret. Well, it’s not truly a secret because it’s all over twitter, but my name isn’t on it yet so it could be a secret.

Allow me to introduce Crow & Cross Keys, an online literary journal dedicated to the weird and the whimsical.

Launching on October 31st (naturally), Crow & Cross Keys seeks to provide a home for beautifully written prose and poetry that scratch a speculative itch.

I am currently collecting submissions for the launch of the website but we are live on twitter and instagram; please come and say hello!

After the launch, we are hoping to share at least one new piece of writing a week. If your writing is strange and dark and lovely, please consider submitting.

The Art of Doing Nothing in Aloe

In May, I wrote a couple of poems about the gut-punch anxiety I was feeling during lockdown. I wasn’t sure if there was anything I could do with them, I’d pretty much resigned them to a folder on my harddrive. Then I found Aloe.

Aloe is a collection of new writing from the UK and Ireland produced under lockdown and I’m so pleased one of my poems, “The Art of Doing Nothing”, has found a home there.

If you would like to give it a read, you can download a free copy or purchase the print edition (with all profit being donated in support of UK and Irish healthcare workers) on the Aloe website.

Aloe imagery by Samuel Best

Pit Stop in perhappened mag

I am so happy to be writing this post. I have been holding onto this for a couple of weeks now and it’s been fizzing in my belly. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen me getting a little bit excited about a recent acceptance.

I am so thrilled to announce that an eerie little piece of flash fiction has been published in issue 2 of perhappened mag!

It’s such a lovely magazine and I’m so pleased to have been accepted; this magazine is going to do great things and I can’t wait to pore over the rest of the issue.

So, without further rambling and before I make this update longer than the piece itself, allow me to introduce ‘Pit Stop’⁠—a strange little story about a moment on the road.

Click here to read!

perhappened mag issue 2: ROAD TRIP cover by Aleah Dye
perhappened mag issue 2: ROAD TRIP cover by Aleah Dye

Last Night in the Forest, or the Dendrochronology of Dying

It sounded like the wind at first, like that little hush before a storm. The windows were open and the cabin breathed with it, gulped for air for a few, final moments.

Then it wasn’t a wind at all.

The trees breathed years onto my sweat-soaked skin, they spoke decades. The forest was alive with days, weeks, months and all of them whispered into the cabin like ghosts in the night air. One, a great oak, talked of an afternoon spent watching my hands as they collected up mushrooms, as they slipped in their circles and left tribute for the little spirits there.

An elm, tall and old as the ceaseless sea beyond, remembered to me a boy with five freckles on his cheek and a rip in his shirtsleeves. It told, in its weathered ring of a voice, of the day that we met beneath its branches and whispered secrets to each other behind muddied hands. Of when we kissed and laughed and how I watered its bark with my tears when he left me, when winter placed its frosty hands on the forest.

A soft voice carried from the cliff-face, just up the path from the cabin; a little sapling lilted sea shanties whose words I cast off the coast not so very long ago. Its mother, it said, had gifted me the thick cane I used to walk, its sibling the wooden soles of my clogs. It described the soft of my palm as I patted it for that last time. Goodbye, my friend. Goodnight.

The cabin shook with their voices. The trees, who had been silent for so long, composed among them a eulogy. I felt the damp of it on my cheeks.

As I rasped, a birch cooed a lullaby into my clearing. A little song it learned from me and I learned from my mother, her mother, her mother’s mother. It leafed the lyrics to the night air and my mouth moved in tandem though no sound could leave my lips now. They were rough and worn as splintered wood, throat dry as a drought.

The gypsophilia beneath my window sighed a story of a spring its roots remembered: when I pressed my mouth to the earth and prayed and whispered and begged the ground to give me a single bud, just one. When I pressed my knuckles to my belly and kneaded the flesh like fresh earth, when I raked at it, when I screamed. It apologised, then, and I could almost feel the petal-soft kiss of baby’s breath upon my cheeks.

It was drawing close, the last knot on my trunk. That last chiseled notch of my years. My hand felt heavy like holding and the elder, whose branches sheltered the cabin against years of wind and salt and rain and sand, murmured close in my ear. It hummed a tune so quiet I could barely hear.

But I felt it heavy in my chest, their breath and mine one final time.

Listen to this story as narrated by Joseph Lindoe

r/TheKeyhole, and a quick hello


See, look how quick that was.

This website has existed for a long time and taken many different forms. From art to blogging, back to art, back to blogging…

It has been about books and life and design and everything in between. But mostly it has been sat here. Well, it has been sat here for over a year anyway.

I recently decided that I need to take myself seriously and I need to take my writing seriously⁠—so that’s what this is. Here you will now find my work, as and when it appears, as I navigate my way through the perilous seas of publishing.

First, in journals and magazines and then⁠—we hope⁠—books.

To anyone who is still here and chooses to remain here: thank you.

I’ve recently been noodling around on reddit, particularly the r/WritingPrompts community, writing silly little stories.

I decided I ought to gather them somewhere.

And so r/TheKeyhole was born, where you can find everything that I cannot otherwise publish. I’m quite fond of it. I might post my favourite things here as well. We shall see.

I never quite know how to end these things, so I shall end it with a quote that has been keeping me sane throughout my writing⁠—and living⁠—process since around 2013:

So it is written – but so, too, it is crossed out. You can write it over again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten. It is Grown-Up Magic.

Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two