There is a place where the sky is
amazingly, truly blue
always perfect summer
floral silk flutters in a warm breeze.
Tea and cake on elegant lawns. We watch
the world go by.
And in this place
the string quartet plays on
all worries fade to leave us
We float on half-heard conversations
skirt around the deep
drown in the shallows while our hearts
More cake? Yes please
this sponge is rather good.
And no amount of genteel words can fill
the gaps and missing parts
but yes, a fine day, a fine day indeed, yes
I heard, it’s such wonderful news.
Lips moving, tasting, swallowing
a full portion
of nothing at all.
Dark stories are told, but time passes so fast you’ll find that precautions are not built to last.
Watch out little children, you better take care
when those who know better tell you to beware,
when those with long memories shudder and sigh
be sure something fearsome will come by and by.
You might love your fairy tales, sugar and spice
without realising such tales are made twice.
The first is to make trembling humans afraid
of glowering monsters that creep in the shade.
The second, to gloss over, sweeten and soothe
for those without courage, the unvarnished truth.
Just call me Cassandra, who did try to tell
there are many roads to the portals of hell.
Through study and practice I long ago learned
to master the hunger that endlessly burned
in flesh bone and marrow, secreted within
my heart and my essence, the voice of my kin.
Dark, difficult magic. This had to be done
to shackle the devil. There was only one
small gap in my armour, for try as I might
no lore can delay the day’s turn into night,
or heavenly bodies that spin on their track
and one day align. Then the beast will attack.
I swear that I told them they must stay inside.
I hopelessly begged all the children to hide.
No prayer, incantation or druid’s wise rune
will silence the call of a super blood moon.
My wolf broke its bonds, howling vengeance. And here
came answering cries of my clan far and near,
my brothers and sisters all hungry to feast
on flesh of the great, and the bones of the least.
Unfettered by reason and drunk on our might
the slaughter proceeded beneath the red light.
I woke to regret, utter carnage around.
We cannot leave anything here to be found.
There is no escape, chained to life by this curse.
But I would exchange all the gold in my purse
to be once again a mere mortal — to die
and pay for my sins as blood drips from my eye in sad imitation of genuine tears.
I mourn for my victims across countless years.
We buried the last of the bodies this morning.
The foolish and brave, who did not heed my warning.
We whispered quietly as lovers do
of you, and me, and us. We came to be
so intertwined no boundaries were seen,
an alchemy whereby two became one.
And when in velvet dark I murmured soft —
a soundtrack to our games of hide and seek
of push and pull, sharp teeth and tenderness
traced round its edge with just sufficient pain
to ground us in mortality — yours, mine
seemed all the same. We kissed and lived our choice.
You held me close, in case I floated off
into the dark skies of forgotten dreams.
You didn’t pause, my love, or think it strange
that passion’s language is awash with death
and dangerous. We fall and drown, expose
soft beating hearts. We’re careless with our trust.
But when you said I’m yours excitement woke
a lurking appetite that stalked the depths.
I took your willing sacrifice with joy
and feasted on you, gobbled up – your flesh
consumed, assimilated thoroughly
while weeping for my loss. Another one
whose wish came true. You’re part of me always.
To taste your enemy and then devour
is to possess all of his wondrous strengths.
I almost held back this time. Sadly you
my love, were too delicious to resist.
This review is about Jericho Writers, a UK based writers’ website offering services and advice to get you published. I was lucky to be given a year’s subscription, but I’ve used their services previously when they were known as The Writers’ Workshop.
Helping to get you published
It was set up in 2004 by Harry Bingham, a successful crime author. Initially offering editorial reviews, the range for members now includes a wide range of videos and masterclasses covering all aspects of writing and publishing. They will give free advice on your stuck manuscript or query letter.
If you’re interested in self-publishing, they have that covered too, with masterclasses dedicated to independent authors.
Queries: asked and answered
I first watched the video on how to write a query, then decided to test the free query letter service. The reply came back within 48 hours. Stephanie gave useful suggestions which improved my letter enormously. I’m now using AgentMatch to find suitable UK agents. This searchable database is easy to use and focused on the questions I really want to ask.
Finding the right agents to submit to is crucial, and knowing if they are keen to build their list or fully committed is a key point. AgentMatch saves time looking at multiple websites. Finding an agent would definitely repay the cost of membership.
Opportunities to meet other writers as well as editors and agents come with the annual Festival of Writing weekend in York, and How To Get Published, a one day event in London. I attended the latter a few years ago. While I was nervous to go to a writers’ event alone, the day was a great boost to my confidence. I talked to varied writers, listened to talks by authors such as Emma Darwin, and had the chance to talk to an editor about my then fledgling novel.
After that experience, I invested in an Editorial Report. It was the first time I’d had objective feedback, and the critique wasn’t always easy to accept. But it was a necessary step to making my story the best it could be. I didn’t realise then just how many revisions lay ahead… but that’s another story.
Every word counts
Editorial services form a staple of Jericho Writers’ offering. Manuscript assessment, copy editing and agent submission pack review are all on offer. If you have a children’s picture book, a screenplay or script you can access specialist advice here.
And if you want to learn, their online courses cover a broad range of subjects.
Like most memberships, Jericho Writers offers the chance to be a part of a community where you can share experiences online. Members receive a discount on paid courses and events. You can also sign up at no cost to receive regular emails, and get a free guide to being published.
Worth a look
The website is attractive and easy to navigate. If you just want to have a look, the free resources are really useful. If you decide to join, you can choose from monthly or annual memberships. I’ve already gained from my membership, and hope to find success with the support of Jericho Writers.
A breeze blows still, cooler and sharper than summer’s soft sigh, an edged whisper stealing beneath my ill-advised layers of silk. I should wear a sweater, perhaps. It’s almost time, but I cling to the dying summer as a drowning man cradles the last hopeful flotsam to his chest. It’s not enough, in the end. But it will do for now.
Vibrant spring greens gave way to lively grass greens. Varied hues fade in sunlight that promises much from behind a window, but delivers less than wanted in reality. Here and there, wine red blushes leaves while others flicker orange and yellow, a final bonfire of colour to warm the season’s end. The green of life retreats to its source. We know the dark is coming.
Not today though. Today energetic clouds bustle in cool blue. Scarlet fruits bob and sway. Nature keeps her promises in generous bounty. And in the imperceptibly shrinking day another voice hides. Now you see me, then you won’t. But the world turns, and brings another, harsher time. Gather in while you may.
Tell me a story. Give me tales of a thousand nights, warm scented breeze on my skin, sand in my shoes. Take me to the farthest pole, blue-green fire dancing in the sky, breath clouding in crisp night air.
Tell me a story. Let me taste salt sea tang while sun beats down on wooden decks. Show me dolphins, flying fish, whales breaching white-topped waves. Let me glimpse bright eyed merpeople watching deep under the surface, waiting.
Tell me a story. Carry me on red and silver rockets to vast silent space stations where the stars never go out. Show me galaxies born from cosmic dust. Bring whispers from strange aliens and stranger, once-human creatures.
Tell me a story. Lead me up the mountain, rocks skittering away under exhausted feet, lungs screaming for oxygen. Describe that joyful promised land seen only from the summit, take me there on wings of faith.
Expand my horizons. Play my emotions. Cloak mindless chatter, soothe unthinking wounds, only with words. Let me shed this skin, be someone else, somewhere else, sometime else. Give me distance, just for a while. Let me lose and maybe find myself.
He tasted her mind and realised he was starving – unknown
Dancing girls twirl bright and golden, limbs lustred to slip through the hands in a whisper of scented oils. A brilliant array, spread out to tempt a prince mired in jaded expectation. Perfect sweetmeats, empty glossy promises on the lips.
Bright. Gold. Red. Gone.
She is silent, an insubstantial shadow in the light of her better favoured sisters. Eyes lowered, plain garbed, unremarkable, she vanishes behind another dream confected in jewelled feathers.
He rises, leaves the orgy of consumption behind him, seeks her in the forgotten labyrinth of the palace. His hand stays her flight. Understood.
And so to a perfumed chamber. Purple and maroon, silk and velvet, secrets and lies.
Apparently submissive, her hand slips into a pocket. But when she raises her head, fire blazes defiance from her eyes. He steps back, hand on sword.
I do not refuse my esteemed prince, asking only that I might read to him first.
She opens the small volume, gold letters glowing on its spine.
And the universe cracks open and explodes before him. Questions, answers, songs for eternal ages, ancient wisdom and otherworldly beauty. His desert heart blooms, cool rivers quench parched lips. Her voice swathes him in clouds and galaxies and everything that has not yet come to be. Time sits at her feet and listens.
The prince savours thoughts, feasts on ideas, nourishes his soul, gobbling all. The moon sets; she does not stop reading. He is drunk on limerence, enthralled by wonder.
He wakes alone, faint afterglow of her words in his ear. How could this lyrical banquet leave him so hollow with longing? He did not know true hunger till he tasted her mind.
He had not understood.
A lifetime might not be enough. He searches still, for his hidden spirit with the phoenix burning in her eyes and dragon flames dancing on her tongue.
you break on me like a wave
a swell of careless seduction
drawn to dangerously calm waters
pulled under a riptide of love
you snatch my breath clean away and still
lending you the heat of passion
holding close to my cold and slippery siren