Friday, 27 May 2016

How to Write a Winning Synopsis

It's no use writing an absolute masterpiece if you fail at the first hurdle of  trying to get it published. Writing a great synopsis is a really big deal. It's also known as the elevator pitch where you have roughly thirty seconds to impress an agent or publisher.

You'll need to showcase your prowess with words by first selling your manuscript. You need to convince all who read your synopsis that your book is going to be huge.

So how do you do it?

What is a Synopsis?

In simple terms a synopsis is a brief description of your manuscript. It's not something to be overlooked it's need to be powerful and compelling so that the agent or publisher does not simply push it to one side and never look at it again.

What does a Synopsis Look Like?

The first part of your synopsis should begin with a brief summary of 35-70 words.  Just one or two sentences.

The second part of your synopsis should give a more detailed synopsis of your work. This is where you convince the agent or publisher of the story's greatness and potential.

Tell them why this is unique and amazing and why they risk overlooking it at their peril. Think of this section as the interview stage, that they've heard your elevator pitch and are interested to know more. You do not need to include a chapter outline unless specifically asked to.

Your synopsis should be no more than one side and should be single spaced because time is money and agents and publishers have many thousands of manuscripts besides yours to look at.

Do's and Don'ts When Writing a Synopsis

  • Keep it simple and engaging, don't get too bogged down with the details. Keep the intrigue.
  • Include the narrative arc of your story. Introduce the protagonist/main character and make your reader care about them. All good stories involve conflict so briefly outline their conflict how they faced it and ultimately resolved it. Remember to include their emotions rather than their actions.
  • Write in the active voice and keep it punchy.
  • Do include the main themes of your work but don't go too deep.
  • Make it overly complicated and confusing the agent/publisher just needs to know what sort of story you're trying to sell.
  • Don't only include the plot outline, this is a chance to sell your characters and also yourself as a writer. Readers care more about great characters than great plots.

It's important to take time and care when writing your synopsis. I know by this stage you're just dying to get your work out there but getting your manuscript published will be a long process even if it's snapped up straight. It's important not to rush and hopefully get it right the first time.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Deadman's Tome: Book of Horrors Volume 1

I'm very happy to announce that my short story The Memory Chamber has been selected to appear in the Deadman's Tome: Book of Horrors Volume 1 Anthology which will be released in July 2016. Deadman's Tome is a horror magazine only for those who like their horror extra dark and extreme. So read at your peril!

"Lost, but not forgotten. Discarded, but not abandoned. Rumor has it that somewhere deep in the dark abyss lies an ancient relic of wicked men, a product of madness. A tome of horrors so unimaginable, so unfathomable that a few lines was all it took for people to go mad. There are documented accounts of this book shattering families, tearing through the strongest of examples of love, causing mothers and fathers to devour…"

You can pre-order your copy here and why not? It's a brilliant bargain at only £2.08 for the kindle version. You don't even need a kindle to read it as you can get free kindle reading apps for your phone or computer.

Also featured in this anthology is Sean Glasheen, S.J.Budd, Florence Marlowe, S.Alessandro, Matthew Johnson, Mark Armstrong, Jacob Lambert, Joseph Rubas, David Wright and Jesse Dedman as editor.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Aphelion Magazine Issue 206, Volume 20 - May 2016

Aphelion is a non profit magazine that provides a lifeline for new writers and those more well known and allows writers to receive feedback on their work. I had been fortunate enough to have been published in a previous issue with my short story, The Tail of the Sea Upon the Thief's Path which you can read here.

Aphelion is a monthly webzine that is packed with the latest tales of science fiction and fantasy that is packed with short stories, long fiction, poetry, features and flash fiction.

You can read all the issues including this one for free here!

This issue features seven short stories and for me the stand out super awesome tale has to be The Voice Catcher by Tyra Tanner.

The Voice Catcher by Tyra Tanner

Stacia is no ordinary child she has spent her life living on the edge of the forest which unites people together in fear. This is a forest that must be stopped before it destroys indiscriminately with it's voices and a small team of burners dedicate their lives to go back to the forest's boundaries and protect the city. But what really happens if you succumb to the forest's voice.

A really thought provoking tale that is really gripping and original. The tale blends together both fantasy and science fiction and warns us of the prisons we make for ourselves with fear.

Tyra Tanner is a full time mum who spends her free time crafting fiction.

The Turnip Farmer's Daughter by E.A.Moore

A sweet little tale written entirely in dialogue full of charm and wit that reminds one of a fairy tale. A young heroic man is captivated by the turnip farmer's daughter and will do whatever it takes to sweep her off her feet.

E.A.Moore is a retired architectural designer. Previously he has written for television and radio, is an award winning playwright. His poetry and short stories have regularly appeared in magazines and his first story collection, A Second Coming And Other Stories will soon be published by Friesen Press.


It Came out of the Condenser by George T.Philibin

There is something so strange about the early hours they have a certain quality where the natural order of the world seems distorted and out of sync. Fortunately most of us are asleep during these strange periods but others like Emanuel and Mark our protagonists in this tale are not.

Told with great humour this is a short tale of things that go bump in the night, it has a sort of comic book feel.( Which I know sounds strange as there aren't any pictures!)

George T.Philibin has been writing for 15 years and one of his previous stories Groundhog Days has been featured in Aphelion's May 2015 Issue

Fire!Fire! by Walter G.Esselman

Walter G.Esselman takes us on a high octane fantasy adventure. There's a fire raging in the city of Bon Su Pear but can Gideon get there in time to rescue those trapped?

Walter G.Esselman has been previously published many times in Aphelion Magazine as well as Dark Dossier, Schlock, Residential Aliens, Conceit Magazine, Ultimate Writer and Static Movement.

The Center by Rick Witherow

After his parents are killed by vampires Jud Wechsler is one a man mission to rid the world of the blood sucking vermin. However there's a special one that eludes him...

A clever tale of the need to belong and experience the kind of protection that only exists within a loving family.

Rick Witherow's tales have previously been published in Midnight Zoo, The Best of the Midwest's Science Fiction Anthology and Fantasy and Horror Volume 11.

Huddy's Eats by Peter Cushnie

A strange tale of a man living a lonely life far out in the desert told with humour and sadness. It feels like a modern day Robinson Crusoe mixed with the film, Groundhog Day.

Peter Cushnie is 72 years old and resides in Connecticut U.S.A he has been writing short stories since 1980 and he has previously appeared in Aphelion Magazine with Honeylips.

A long Dsitance Type O Guy by Florin Purlaca

Some people distance themselves from others for good reasons for they can't stand the pain of loss, but this guy just can't help himself,  after all he's only human.

Florin Purlaca is a Romnian writer who has previously been published in many Romanian magazines. His short story The Observer was nominated in the 2015 Romcon Festival for Best Short Story of the Year. He has had a short story Dust, published in UK magazine The Singularity.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Dark Magazine - Issue 12 - May 2016

The Dark Magazine is a quarterly dark fiction magazine edited by Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace. which features great short fiction both in print in audio.

These tales are of a very high calibre and totally absorb you into different worlds as you read. Each tale is wonderfully different but very similar in that they are all  deeply atmospheric. In Issue 12 of The Dark Magazine it's also great to see really good dark fiction by women who have been  for a long time an under-represented faction of horror writers. It's great to see that this is now changing

This months issue features the brilliant artwork by Vincent Chong an award winning freelance illustrator and designer. He has illustrated works by many authors including Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.

The Haferbräutigam by Steve Berman

We are intriduced to Pluschow a sexual predator whose libido feast on young male flesh as he makes his way across Europe back to his native German soil where he meets a young man who looks lost and out of place...

This short story examines how it is folly to ignore the past and our heritage, that no matter how evil man can be there are creatures out there which are far worse.

Steve Berman sold his first story at seventeen and has never looked back. His novel, Vintage: A Ghost Story was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

The Body Finder by Kaaron Warren

Frank dedicates his life to finding missing people but the one he truly wants to find remains forever elusive.

This is a poignant tale of finding peace and salvation and the pain we put ourselves through and the prisons that we form around ourselves.

Kaaron Warren is a Bram Stoker Award Nominee, twice-World Fantasy Award Nominee and Shirley Jackson  Award Winner. She has sold more than 200 stories and has written three novels, Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification. Her latest novel, The Grief Hole, will be released in August from IFWG Publishing Australia.

Website -

Twitter - @KaaronWarren

Caroline at Dusk by Kali Wallace

Caroline comes to Ireland to mourn the death her sister who she had spent a lifetime of living in her shadow and doesn't know what to do next.

You get the feeling you're being kept in the dark with this great tale which creates great tension. A claustrophobic and unsettling tale showing how love and hate are merely two sides of the same coin. This story reminds me of a Stephen King quote, "It ain't the content, it's the delivery," and this is a tale that delivers 

Kali Wallace's short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov's and Her debut novel, Shallow Graves was published in January 2016

The Jacaranda Wife by Angela Slatter

There is an old legend that the women born from the Jacaranda trees bring only sorrow. However James Willoughby ignores the sage advice from the indigenous people whose land he has set out to conquer. When he sees a beautiful woman with pale skin like the moon and violet eyes he falls in love and claims her as his own but wild things are not ours to claim or take...

This is a story of roots and belonging and the pain that is felt when you are ripped away from where you truly belong.

Angela Slatter is a dark fantsy and horror author of the Aurealis Award-winning The Girl with no Hands and Other Tales. Her short fiction has previously been published in Mammoth Book of New Horror 22, Fantasy Magazine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet , Dreaming Again and Steampunk 11:Steampunk Reloaded. Her short story The Coffin Maker's Daughter won a British Fantasy Award.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Where Phantoms Stir by Mary Williams

Mary Williams was a superb ghost writer who after establishing a sucessful career as a romance writer turned to short stories dealing with the supernatural.  Born in Wales she moved to Cornwall where she spent most of her life and became deeply attached to the uniqueness of the ancient land she soon developed a passion for Cornish Legends and Folklore which provide inspiration for many of her short stories which are almost all set in Conrwall.

Mary Williams went on to write 17 volumes of short story collections, Chill Company, The Dark Land, Ravenscarne and other stories, Time after time and other stories, They Walk at Twilight, Haunted Waters, Unseen Footsteps, Whisper in the Night, Where Phantoms Stir, Ghostly Carnival, Where no Birds Sing, Creeping Fingers and Other Stories of the Occult, Haunted Garden, The Haunted Valley, Trembling Shadows and other stories of the Occult, Creeping Fingers, The Dark God and The Secret Pool.

Mary Williams remains just as mysterious as her tales. She passed away at the grand age of 97 in 2000 and wrote up til her death. The stories of Mary Williams are dark but genteel with a perfect mix of charm, dark undertones and a brooding intense atmosphere. These tales are not what you would call horror there is something I find comforting in these tales. They talk of a time long since passed which serves to heighten their haunting effect and the characters are quirky with oodles of English eccentricity.

Where Phantoms Stir was originally publsihed in 1976 and contains 16 ghostly and macabre tales, my favourites ones are; Widgett's End, The Legend, The Bad Land and Poor Kate.

Love Me, love me

"Before she opened the bedroom curtains Olivia Crane knew she would be there...watching from the quietness...waiting for..."

Olivia Crane has lead a life free from passion and love and has instead focused her life to her career as a trained psychologist and doctor of philosphy and she feels much better for it. She has no time for silly tribulations and whilst writing her book she comes to Penderclose, a cornish cottage to finish it in some much needed peace and quiet.

However during her  stay she is hanuted by a living girl, Lucy Brent who lost her heart in Penderclose but she get's no pity from Oliva Crane who declares herself above all the nonsense of falling in love and giving in to passion. But the heart is a hunger hunter and no matter how hard she tries to lead to celibate life she can't help but fall for a man quite out of her reach.

Julian and Jo

" the hushed silences and golden, almost windless mornings and evenings of that far off summer, I did, at times, feel a trespasser, or rather visitant, in another sphere...another dimension of existence."

Julian's father and stepmother  become worried for their child Julian who does not seem to be like the other children his age and has spent much of his life in isolation. Inevitably his loneliness is filled by a companion named Jo albeit one that has been born in  Julian's imagination. Desperate to have Julian intergrated into society his parents call on Elizabeth's brother Bill to come and visit them at Carnwood and give his professional opinion as a schoolmaster. What he finds is an intelligent young boy saying one last good bye to his childhood innocence.

Rustle of Spring

"Even now, after five years, the very thought of Joseph gives me a bit of a jolt when I remember. So I try to put him out of my mind when I can. It's not easy though. It was all so very macabre; the last thing I'd have expected."

Ameila had spent her whole life in captivity by her overbearing and ailing mother but when she meets Joseph Biddle at the circle her fortunes change. He too has spent his life caring for his mother forfeiting his only chance of marriage and a family of his own and they both shae in interest for the occult and music. Amelia longs for the passion she never had in her youth whilst Joseph longs for something more sinister.


"At first glance I liked the house and thought...'this is the place.' So did Jenny. In fact she was all aglow with enthusiasm."

Geoff and Jenny with high hopes for their futures move to the idyllic Cornish countryside  after purchasing their dream home; Mournevale. It is this perfect home, a retreat from the harshness of city life, that fuels their burning desire to have and raise a family of their own in this quaint little eden. It all seems so perfect but does perfection ever exist?

Pink Knickers

"When William and Martha Pollet moved south from the midlands, it was as Martha put it...'Not to retire; but to start a new life of fresh horizons and interests which would add colourful dimensions to the autumn of their days."

A humourous tale of a married couple retiring to Cornwall to start their autumn years. Neither William and Martha are as happy as they seems and whilst Martha throughs herself into village life William discovers an unsual new art hobby.

Where Phantoms Stir

"At first her face was merely a disc of white in the thickening waves of curling mist; then as the light cleared momentarily, he saw the figure of a girl approaching hesitantly from the side of the lane."

Charles Baines after the breakdown in his marriage takes himself to Cornwall on a walking holiday to explore the wilds of the ancient land. Except he gets a little bit more than he bargained for when he bumps into a beuatiful stranger one evening whilst lost in a shrouding mist upon the moors.

The Boat

"That's why I'd been thinking about Sally. Sally in the past, had helped me through so much, during the immediate post-war years, when she and her husband Mich had lived on the barge."

Whilst struggling to come o terms with her husbands plight Ellie thinks back to better times where she had stayed with her close friends , Sally and Mick, on their barge as she recovered from a disastrous relationship. She hasn't seen Sally in a long time but she's in dire need of that very rare thing; a good friend.


"She glanced up and said cooly with the habitual contempt reserved for me, 'Oh go away Fred. You bore me.' "

Lucinda and her husband are trapped in a loveless marriage. Now there love is gone there is nothing left and  they're both hiding macabre secrets which each one wants to remain hidden.

Widgetts End

"My first impression was of intense cold. As I pushed the door open and went inside a wave of dank icy air blew unwelcomingly from the dark recesses of the house, whirling from a spiralling flight of stairs, which I saw from the wan light of my torch, were of stone and uncarpeted."

A poor writer, Nigel, unwillingly takes up an old aquaintances's offer of an using a home once belonging to his great uncle to stay in so that he can finish his book on wildlife. Nigel's never really liked Olliver Lestrange but the offer is too good to turn down. However when he gets there the house is barely upright, there's rats running free, a terrible stench and it's cold and dank but that's not all that's waiting for Nigel at The Hermitage in Widgetts End

A Pinch of Salt

"In other words, she could be, when she chose, any number of things to any number of people."

Miss Tripp earns her wage as a charming medium travelling from place to place, whilst staying at the flying pig she is challenged to something most peculiar, that no one thinks possible

The Bad Land

" 'The point is...' Noel Chadwick said with his keen eyes reflectively on the young couple...'There is bad land as well as good. And I'm not referring to farming...' his lips twisted into a brief smile that lit his lean dark countenance to sudden lively whimsicality."

Newly weds Fiona and John have come to Cornwall for thier picturesque hoeymoon at the golden dragon where they meet Noel Chadwick who is working on a book examining all the unexplained dissapearances that have occurred in Cornwall in the past decade.

The Swing

"Up,up,up in the sky and down...
My name is Mary Elizabeth Brown...
Over the apple tree...into the sky...
With the fat white clouds and the birds flying by..."

Mary Elizabeth an eight year old girl comes across a little ghost child in the back of her garden but this girl is not an ordinary child she's not afraid of it or any of the other ghosts from the great grey ghost house. So she carries on playing in the swing singing her favourite song without a care in the world.

The Second Man

"It was not so much his dress, however, that attracted my attention in a place renowned for it's colourful eccentrics and assembly of beautiful and non-beautiful people...but the fact that he had a green and scarlet parrot perched on one shoulder, a ginger kitten in his arm, and the face of a minature Chawawa poking out of his pocket."

A painter rents a cottage Port Catlyn, Cornwall to o a spot of painting where he becomes transfixed by a local colourful character that seems to change as often as the tide. One minute he's strolling through town with his animal companions the next he's dressed in a dapper suit.

No Dream

"Most people of course, would say it was a dream. But it was no dream. I had been seriously ill; and between sleeping and waking, all the moments of my life were caught up behind closed eyes and compressed into the one entity...myself; from conception to the woman lying with head on pillow, who had struggled so hard and succeeded, to live."

A woman hovers in a dream-like state between life and death battling to survive she remembers the painful passing of her beloved grandfather where she learns a valuable lesson.


"As a child she was the wildest and darkest of the Le Gallienne family; a black eyed dancing creature with a temper as quick and fleeting as her slim brown legs, and a will of her own which defied authority and restraint."

Marie-Lys was the wilsest and darkest of the La Gallienne family, Grandma Borlaze says she is unatural but can she ever be tamed?

Poor Kate

"I saw Kate rushing, almost running, down the road to Pendilon station. I was surpirsed; I hadn't seen her for must have been quite five,...since the day she took off with some boyfriend or other only six months after her marriage to Robin Clee."

Kate Pettigale caused a lurid scandal when she ran off with a mysterious man not long after her maiirage to Robin. Her old friend and colleague alays wondered why she did what she did and finally after a chance encounter, her questions are finally answered