Wandering Away with My Uterus

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

A while ago I told you that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ had been accepted for inclusion in the anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’. I’m very excited about introducing you all to my new character ‘Sorrowful Jones’ and the anthology promises to be filled with interesting articles, poems and stories, all carefully curated by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard.

My previous post looked at the history and mythology around the Wandering Uterus so I thought today I’d give a brief outline of how my story was accepted and the process to publication.

Sub to Pub

As so often happens, I saw the invitation for submissions on social media. I was intrigued by the title and decided to submit.

I carefully read and reread the submission guidelines. These can be a little vague and tricky (many places ask for stories to be for,attend in ‘the usual way’ but each have their own ‘usual’ style so it’s always important to check their preferences’).  Luckily Kate had been very clear with what she wanted so then it was a matter of writing the story!

I’d long been percolating a character, influenced in part by cowgirls in the ‘Wild West’ but who didn’t fight using guns. I’ve been listening to a lot of Amanda Palmer and so decided that my character would carry a ukulele. This being me, there would also be elements of the supernatural.

So, Sorrowful Jones was created!

I wrote my story, sent it to beta readers who also loved it, but who made a few suggestions about how to change things and picked up a couple of grammar mistakes. Multiple readings and more edits and I was happy with the story.

Then came the stressful part – submitting! After getting hubby to check my formatting, my story was flying through the internet. I obviously started hitting ‘refresh’ every two minutes on my email to see if it had been accepted. The waiting for acceptance/rejection is always the hardest part for me. I always think of it like Christmas where you have the expectation and excitement, then on the day you either get the pony you’ve always wanted or another naf jumper. Luckily for me, after waiting impatiently for weeks, I had the good news that Sorowful Jones would be out in the world.

Kate and Byron then had the unenviable job of editing each submission before deciding on the running order.  First edits are sent to the authors for their approval or rejection. More often than not, I accept the suggestions as they will often make my story sharper and ensure there there are no major plot holes. There’s also the grammar and spelling mistakes that I always manage to miss, despite my best efforts.

Once they’ve been returned, the stories are collated and checked before the final proofs are sent out. This is our final chance to check for typos or any strange formatting. I once had proofs sent which were fine in .pdf format but once they’d been put into the book formatting program had strange gaps, added spaces and blank pages! It’s a laborious process for all involved to check for mistakes and I remember a book agent once telling me that you can read and reread a piece but it’s not until it’s been printed that you’ll see a very obvious mistake, usually on page one.

So that’s in brief is the process of putting an anthology together. It’s a long process of putting a book together, but it’s exciting and different every time. Now, we’re trying to get the word out and generate interest before ‘P Day’. If you’d like a review copy, please contact Kate or Byron. Keep an eye out for more information and news, including where to meet different writers in the anthology at conferences and more.

If you’d like to read more about my Path to Publication, as well as some hints and tips for submitting your own work, click here.

While you’re waiting for ‘My Wandering Uterus’ to be published why not check out my other book of short stories ‘Weird Wild available now. (The link below is an affiliate link which means I may receive  small commission, at no added cost to you, if you purchase after clicking)

Make It Monday: Making Medusa

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

I remember seeing Medusa for the first time. It was a Sunday afternoon and ‘Clash of the Titans‘ was on. In his quest to save Andromeda, Perseus had to face the vicious Medusa. She was brought so beautifully to ‘life’ by the highly talented Ray Harryhausen. With her snake hair and highly accurate archery skills, along with her ability to turn anyone who looked upon her to stone, I was transfixed.

Ray Harryhausen with some of his creations

I read all I could about Greek myths and whilst I was interested in the different gods and goddesses, it was the ‘monsters’ which always appealed to me – probably a precursor for my future as a writer (certainly, the Guardian from my short story in the Fox Pockets book ‘Guardians’ could be right out of mythology).

Medusa the Icon

As part of my celebration for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to celebrate my love of Medusa. With the current ‘Me Too’ movement she seemed a good embodiment of both a victim (one retelling of her story has her raped by Poisoiden) and as a protector, with her visage being placed on Gorgoneion amulets. Assorted myths suggest that once Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus was born and that the snakes in the Sahara were created from drops of her blood. Even in death, she created life. More contemporary writers have suggested she’s a feminist symbol and the idea of Medusa continues to spark debate and research, such as this piece from The Dangerous Woman Project. Plus, she looks pretty cool!


To create my Medusa, I used my all-in-one dolls base to create her head and the top of her body. In ‘Clash of the Titans’ Medusa lives in a dark temple and I wanted to pay homage to that so I used overly large eyes, to allow her to see in the dark. Hubby bought me ‘Edwards Imaginarium‘ for Christmas and I’ve been desperate to create some of the monsters in it so I used the ‘horn’ pattern for her tail. I inserted a short piece of wire so that her tail can move, but also stay in position. Her snake hair was a simple chain followed by a slip stitch back and I added some red thread for the snake’s tongues. The finishing touch was a skull bead necklace – perhaps the head of one of her victims?

What do you think?

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

Movie Review: The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook movie poster 2014

Synopsis: A widow and her son battle with an evil entity in their home. Don’t invite in the Babadook!

Director: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

Review: I first watched the Babadook when my daughter was first born and I remember being terrified. I couldn’t watch it all in one sitting and had to watch the rest during the day whilst the baby slept as I was too scared to watch it at night.

So, I wondered how I would feel, watching it nearly four years later with the benefit of dealing with my own little bundle of trouble (although thankfully no Babadook!).

Well, I was still terrified! In many respects, my situation is completely opposite to that of Davis’ character but I have a definite feel for the exhaustion felt by a mother when you’ve got a child who hasn’t slept for an extended period, coupled with the demands of a job, keeping house and all the other pressures both external and internal.

Davis has rightly been lauded as she gives a fantastically nuanced performance of an exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed single mother caring for a troubled child whilat also grieving for her husband. Her character is trying to manage so many things without support from her family, no real friends and a child with very specific needs. Her son, played by Wiseman also deserves huge praise for excelling is a very challenging role. I’m always impressed with child actors who are able to display a maturity in their performance well beyond their years and should he continue to follow an acting path, then I expect we’ll see more stellor performances from him.

However, the kudos belongs to writer and director Kent.  This project was born from a 10minute short caleed ‘Monster‘ she wrote and directed. Nearly ten years later the story was still nagging at her and she expanded it to create ‘The Babadook’. Kent’s other credits include directing an episode of a TV show, acting and producing. She truly has a rounded knowledge of the industry and this is evident with the slick delivery of ‘The Babadook’.

From the first instant, the movie has you on edge and it doesn’t release you until the final few scenes. Kent’s use of different colours to signify moods works well, with the bright sunlight of time spent outside in contrast to the blues and greys of their home. This lighting lends itself well to the scary scenes which are light enough to see the action, unlike some horror movies where I have no idea who is running in terror etc as it’s too dark to see anything.

The script, for the most part, is sharply written and Kent’s observations of looking after a child, as well as pressures placed on parents both by society and themselves are dealt with well. The scene where the group of mums are sympathising with Davis’ ‘Amelia’ whilst also silently judging her is spot on and something I know a lot of mothers have endured. Amelia’s isolation in this scene, reflected both in the fact that the colour of her dress is different to the muted colours of the ‘popular’ mum gang, as well as having her seated whilst the other mums are standing at the opposite end of the table is a scene which has stuck in my memory. It’s not overtly horrific but it’s one of the more run-of-the-mill daily encounters which resonated with me, and one which I experienced more the second time I watched it because like ‘Amelia’ I’ve had to find my voice to stand up to others who have judged my parenting style.

It’s an intimate movie in many ways, with the bulk just playing out between Davis and Wiseman. Keeping other characters at arms length works well to help build up the tension of what lurks in the house as well as the sense of isolation felt by ‘Amelia’. The creepiness of the book as well as the lack of explantion as to where the Babadook comes from is works well. Sometimes the over-explanation of where the ‘big bad’ is from slows down the pacing and doesn’t add anything so it’s lack allows speculation and for the viewer to create their own scary ideas.

Overall, I loved this movie. There were a few minor niggles I had but then, everyone’s a critic and they didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie. It’s one I’ll definitely be watching again, although hopefully not from behind a pillow!

If you’ve enjoyed this review, have a look at the other movies I’ve reviewed.

Women in Horror Month: Tuesday Team Ups

Welcome back to my Daily Challenge for Women In Horror Month. How are you enjoying it to far? Today we’re looking at ‘team ups’. I’ll be honest, when I thought of this prompt, I was in the midst of a ‘Supernatural’ rewatch and had planned to post assorted photos of the Winchester brothers (as an aside, are you Team Dean, Team Sam or Team Castiel?).

For some reason, women in genre often fall into different categories: the slut, the geek, the survivor, the frenemy, the bitch, stereotypes lampooned somewhat in ‘Cabin in the Woods’. I get frustrated that so few movies reflect the friendships I have and see all around me. We’re not all the bitchy, underwear flaunting, ditzy, serial killer fodder were portrayed. In my experience, my girlfriends are supportive, funny and I know they have my back. Having worked on the collective project ‘Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse’ I also know that we can work together to create something fantastic without resorting to bitchiness or pillow fights in our undies.

However, I got thinking: whilst I could name half a dozen male ‘teams’ in horror, sci fi or fantasy, I struggled to name a team of women who joined together to beat the big bad so my focus shifted and here we are, celebrating women’s friendship in the midst of terror!

It’s not an exhaustive list, so feel free to add your favourites below.

Sidney Prescott, and Tatum Riley (Scream). Poor Sidney has been going through a tough time since the murder of her mother but her trusty friend Tatum has been at her side, fiercely protecting her whilst also giving her a shoulder to cry on.

Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). One of the most formidable teams on my list, a Slayer and a witch but these two girls were firmly bound by friendship. What I also love is that twenty years later Sarah Michelle Geller and Alyson Hannigan are still friends!

Julie James and Helen Shivers (I Know What You Did Last Summer). First they work together tocover up their involvement in a hit and run, then join together to find the serial killer targeting their group. What else are girlfriends for?

Hongryeon and Jangwan (A Tale of Two Sisters). I love this movie as you can see from my review. Sisters don’t always get on, but when joined in a battle against an evil step mother, they do well.

Katniss Everdeen and Rue (The Hunger Games). Many in the Capitol grew uncomfortable when Katniss volunteered to take her sisters place in The Hunger Games but it was when she teamed up with Rue that the seeds of revolution were firmly sown. Fans of Suzanne Collins book and the film will celebrate this poignant but beautiful friendship.

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (assorted, most recently DC Comics).  These are two of my favourite femmes, even if they have been criminally underused in the assorted Batman franchises. I really enjoyed the juxposition of the unstable Harley with the studious and serious Ivy I’m the most recent comic release. That these two are now a couple is definite trouble for our favourite Bat, but brilliant for readers  I can’t wait to catch up on their adventures!

I’m sure I’ve missed loads of great female team ups so sound off in the comments below. And because I can’t help myself, here’s a picture of the Winchester brothers….

Welcome to Women In Horror Month

Women in Horror Month Logo

And hello to you! Welcome to Day One of my Women In Horror Month Challenge. Today I’m introducing what Women In Horror Month is all about, and why it’s important to me.

Women in Horror Month

There are a lot of people who believe horror is not for women and I think that Women In Horror Month seeks to address that by highlighting the directors, movies, make up artists, writers, artists and more who love this genre. An international  initiative, WiHM showcases the assorted works of women in Horror, with movie screenings, blog features and  well-worth checking out their Facebook page to see if there are any events near you, but also to discover new authors and filmmakers and more.

What Women In Horror Month Means to Me

I’ve frequently been told that I’m ‘too nice’, ‘too funny’ or gods forbid ‘too normal’ to write horror, as if it’s the preserve of the twisted or depraved in society, those who don’t really belong. The fact is I’ve loved horror since I was a child and ghostly bedtime stories were a prerequisite for a spooky nights sleep.

I still love horror, from assorted movies, many of which I review on my site, as well as reading horror shorts and novels. However, there are still so many artists and creators I’m eager to discover, which is why I love Women In Horror Month.

I also want to subvert some of the stereotypes surrounding women in horror. Joss Whedon is often quoted as saying that his career has been about subverting stereotypes and I think the horror genre is one of the few where women can frequently ‘best’ the demons, be they serial killers, aliens, monsters or even school bullies.

I believe that to make somebody scared, to understand their deepest fears and truly terrify them is a highly personal thing. There’s a level of trust that you’ll take your reader on a scary journey, and deliver them safely home for hot coco at bedtime, having battled all the demons and survived with minor scratches. A lot of my short stories feature creatures, spectral entities and things that go bump in the night. And it would seem that you lovely readers would agree that women can write horror  with my collection of spooky tales ‘Weird Wild’ having 4.5* on Amazon.

I hope you’ll enjoy my collection of Women In Horror Month Daily Challenges and I’d love to hear what makes you scared.


‘My Wandering Uterus’ Wandering onto your bookshelf soon!

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

I’m very excited to announce that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ will be published in an anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’, edited by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard with the stunning cover by SL Johnson.

My Wandering Uterus

The history of the wandering uterus is very long, starting in the Greek period. It relates to ‘women’s maladies’ whereby any illness or ‘hysteria’ experienced by a woman would be linked to her uterus. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, believed that the uterus was a free-floating creature, an ‘animal within an animal‘, which would cause different symptoms depending on where it was in the body. Indeed, the term ‘hysteria‘ was coined to describe the action and symptoms of women, and comes from the Greek word for uterus ‘hysterika’. This paper by Terri Kapsalis on the Literary Hub looks at the history of the Wandering Uterus and how belief in women’s hysteria has perpetuated to the modern day. Kapsalis argues that the idea is so ingrained in our collective psyche that it will frequently be used to dismiss women’s role in society, undermine their skills and negate their freedoms. It’s a very interesting article and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

In Search of Sorrow

‘In Search of Sorrow’ is a short story, featuring my new leading lady, Sorrowful Jones. I’m really excited to explore her world more fully and am planning a series of short, interconnected stories which I’ll publish later this year (hopefully!). I don’t reveal too much of Sorrowful’s back story here, but she’s a traveller who is searching for women in need of her help. I’ve drawn a lot on our own travels when building the world of Sorrowful Jones, from her poncho which is woven with animals like those I saw in Peru, to some of the more supernatural ideas from Japan and South East Asia which I’ll explore more in the book.

I’ll keep you updated as to when ‘My Wandering Uterus’ will be published and also my progress with the rest of the book. I can’t wait for you to join Sorrowful Jones and me on the road.


The Silence

It’s been a long week. To differing degrees we’ve all been ill (even the pup,) and we’re shattered. Hubby has gone to bed early, taking the pup with him and the toddler passed out, still clutching her favourite book, hours ago. I’ve just finished watching a silly horror movie and should be working on the review, but as I turned off the TV it hit me: The silence. 

It’s not totally silent, the heating is doing that low hum, the clock next door which hasn’t told the right time in months is ticking and I can hear people and cars outside but I close my eyes and it’s so quiet.


And yet…..

A new set of voices has been nagging me recently, demanding I tell their tale. There’s been muttering, waking me in the night with a snippet of dialogue, a name or an action scene, a delicate whisper whilst making tea or a shout as I prepare our bags for the day.

And tonight, in the silence, their voices are a roar. I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll be able to make sense of the assorted post it notes I’ve written on, that half-formed ideas will percolate and be brewed overnight and things will be a little more cohesive. They’re whispering their names, shyly letting me know their preferences, twirling their costumes and sharing their voices. They’re coalescing, becoming more real (or as real as the Lamb’s assorted imaginary friends). I’m learning their wants, desires and mostly their challenges. This band of beaten women who want me to tell their story, now have an enemy to face and it will be a hell of a battle!

100Days of Happiness: Day Eleven 

Day eleven of our 100 Days of Happiness say the Lamb and I head to one of our favourite places, Killerton House. We met her bestie and I got to catch up with her mum (and my dear friend) which always lifts the spirits. The girls had a lot of fun belting around the gardens, I shared a delicious Victoria Sponge with the Lamb, then we all went on a ‘mouse hunt’ around the house. As always, we left very impressed at the volunteers who help run these National Trust houses and the assorted activities they have to keep little people entertained.

Here’s a bonus shot of one of the flowers still in bloom. So pretty, even on a rather cold, damp day!

As always, once the Lamb was in bed, it was time for me to get to work. I’m prepping a new novel, with elements of fantasy, horror, supernatural and adventure. It’s my first ‘big’ writing project since having the Lamb so I’m hoping to get back into it, and make a start on it during National Novel Writing Month in November. There’s lots to prepare for it, with character bios, locations and multiple fantasy worlds to create. I’ve been struggling to get back into writing for a while so I’m hoping this preparation will help and I’ll be blogging more about my experience so pop back to find out more.

What made you happy today?