The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is the final piece of writing for the Outcast anthology. Fingers crossed, the anthology should have the last few loose ends tied up this week.  It really has been an adventure.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s story.  It’s inspired by the prompt “Secret Doorways”, but it is quite a bit over the challenge word limit of 250 words…

Written in response to WWP # 22 – Secret Doorways

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is a random historical photo…

Arthur Everleigh pushed his tiny round spectacles back up his nose. He was feeling smug. They said he would be no good as a gentleman-explorer, or an archaeologist, but look at him now. He was exploring. He was discovering.

Who were “they”? Everyone. His classmates at Cambridge. The professors too. Not to mention, his father, Sir Lancelot Everleigh.

‘Ha!’ he cheered, fist raised in the air in triumph against his naysayers. A huge sneeze broke off his gloating celebration, a consequence of the vast amount of dust.

Casting his eye about the dimly lit room – the only light coming from the small lamp he was holding – he guessed it had been centuries, no millennia, since anyone had been in there. Statues, chests and strange looking furniture filled the space. All was covered with many lifetimes worth of grime.

Raising the lamp, he turned slowly to allow the light to reach into the furthest corners of the room, chasing away the ancient shadows. On the far wall, he noted a large inscription, which he translated in his head.


‘I knew it!’ he exclaimed, his free arm swinging before him for emphasis. ‘What will they say about me now?’ he asked in a self-satisfied tone.

He continued to study the room, his mind wandering slightly from what he could to see to whether it was likely the British Museum would name something important after him.

‘“The Arthur Everleigh Collection”, perhaps?’ he mused, chin nestled between thumb and forefinger in deliberation. ‘It does sound rather good.’

And that was when he spotted it, half-hidden in the gloom. A door.

His brow furrowed. He was sure the building hadn’t looked big enough from the outside to accommodate another room. But then, he had been wrong before. In fact, he had always been wrong about everything before.

Pushing his concerns to the back of his mind, he went over to explore some more. Rolling an impossibly large shield out of the way, and then wiggling a chest just enough to make access to the doorway easier – Arthur wasn’t a particularly strong young man; he preferred cricket to wrestling – he surveyed the entrance. Scratched into the wood of the door were the words, THE ISLE OF APPLES.

‘Avalon…’ he whispered. ‘Could it be…could it really be…I wonder…’

Come along now, Arthur,’ he heard the pater’s voice in his head. ‘Don’t do anything silly. Or reckless. If the papers get to hear about it, well, imagine the embarrassment for the rest of us.’

Arthur weighed up his father’s words. They sounded sensible. He should return to civilisation and put a team together so they could start cataloguing the treasure he had found. Then, maybe with an old soldier, or one of those derring-do sorts of chaps, he could find out what was beyond the ancient barrier. That did sound safer.

He stared at the doorway for what felt like a lifetime, trying to make up his mind. Finally, he came to a decision. Why would he want to involve other people in his greatest victory? Sharing the glory after he had done all the hard work…no. That didn’t seem fair.

‘Sorry, Father,’ he said to the dusty room. ‘I like doing silly things. I like being reckless. And I’m quite enjoying being a gentleman-explorer.’

With that, he pushed open the doorway and stepped through…


NaNoWriMo 2018

To NaNo or not to NaNo…that is the question…for today’s post…

Questions about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) always hit me with bouts of indecision at this time of year.  And it’s usually the same two questions: 1) Should I participate? and, 2) If I do, what should I focus on?

This year, these two questions are giving me a lot to think about, though I hasten to add, the first question has always been answered in the past with a “yes”.  That being said, I’m going to bore you anyway with this year’s deliberations…

Today’s random photos are all inspired by the element of water…

Should I Participate in NaNoWriMo 2018?

As I’ve already mentioned, in the past I have always answered this question with a “yes”.  I’ve joined in the yearly writing challenge for the last six years and learned a lot about how I write and what works for me.  Last year’s lesson was tailored writing sprints, but I digress.

This year, I’m suffering from exhaustion.  It’s been an issue I’ve had all year long, but instead of resting like any sane person would, I pushed myself harder in an attempt to work through it / ignore it.  I’ve now got to the point where that is no longer an option, and I’ve started to close down many of the projects I’ve been working on to create the time and space I need to recuperate.  This in itself, would be a sensible reason not to do NaNo this year.

However, even if everything stopped tomorrow, I would still be writing.  I, like most writers, write every single day.  So whether or not I sign up to NaNo, I will be writing.

NaNo has become an important part of my writing year, and I think I would be quite disappointed if I skipped it, even once.  This means I think I will be participating again this year, unless I find closer to November 1st, I’m really not up to it.  For now, I’m full of positive thoughts – always look on the bright side of life, and all that…so to the next question…

What should I focus on for NaNoWriMo 2018?

This is the question that stumps me every year; I think hard about it for two weeks, pick a project, plan it for a week and then change my mind the following week, only to pick something else on the 1st November. I’m so very indecisive.  I have so many ideas for stories that I want to write them all right now. But, I hope to avoid these shenanigans this year with a little prep and planning.  Whatever I pick, I’m going to stick with it, because an over-active, over-anxious mind equals exhaustion.

Last month I completed my latest novel, Oathbreaker (if you didn’t already know!).  75,000 words over 38 writing days produced the best first draft I have ever written.  It helped, I think, that I completed it from start to finish – hell, it helped that I actually completed it at all.  I have dozens of novels on my computer, in various stages, but only a handful can be described as complete – and it’s not just novels, but novellas and short stories too!

Anyway, back to Oathbreaker.  When I sat down and started writing it, it was supposed to be a standalone short novel, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that was never going to happen.  Now it’s a novel trilogy, and I’ve already had people interested enough in it to ask when will they be able to start reading book 2!  Not a bad result from a first draft!

It makes sense then that my next project should be book 2.  The problem is, I’m just about to make a start on it but NaNo doesn’t begin for another 27 days.  My project could be the Oathbreaker trilogy; I start book 2 now and finish what’s left of it in November, and should I need more words, I could start book 3.

But there is part of me that says pick a different project for NaNo and let Oathbreaker take care of itself (book 1 will also need editing at some point…).  Surely it will be simpler that way.  So what else could I work on for NaNo?  Earlier in the year I was working on two unfinished novels.  They each need 20-30,000 words to complete the first draft.  There are also a load of half-finished short stories awaiting some attention.

So I guess my options are:

  • 50,000 words on the Oathbreaker trilogy
  • 50,000 words split between the Oathbreaker trilogy and a few smaller writing projects
  • 50,000 words split between unfinished novels
  • 50,000 words split between unfinished novels and short writing projects
  • Or start a  completely new project

It looks like I’ve got a lot to think about.

Wow.  That was a long post.  If you’re still reading, I’m both surprised and thankful 🙂

So what are your thoughts?  Any wise words or suggestions to impart to this indecisive writer?  Are you joining in with NaNo this year?  Do you know what you are focusing on?  Let me know in the comments.

And, should you wish to add me as a NaNo writing buddy, you can find me over on the NaNoWriMo website by searching “Sammi Cox”…

The Christmas Present

A little like my offering last week (Impatient Earth), this is an out-of-season scribbling for one of the last remaining empty chapters for the “Outcast and Other words” anthology.  That being said, Christmas will be here soon enough. *Sigh*.

Written for Weekend Writing Prompt #34 – Christmas. A horror Christmas story…but definitely not in 250 words or less.  This one ran away from me, but I had fun writing it.

Moira had a secret. A dark secret. One that kept her awake at night. One she didn’t dare breathe a word to anyone about. The only person who knew about it was Moira herself, and that was the way she intended to keep it. It was a heavy burden to bear, and the stress of wondering if anyone would find out ate away at her.

As the days passed and no one said anything, she couldn’t help but think maybe…perhaps…she had got away with it. However, she didn’t dare to hope and the anxiety remained.

The days shortened and the nights lengthened. Autumn turned to winder, rain to snow. And still nothing was said. It seemed Moira had got away with it and the secret was hers alone. As long as she could keep it to herself…as long as she didn’t confide in anyone…it was as good as if it had never happened. And, if she was the only person who knew about it…was there a chance she had made it up? Was it all just a bad dream?

Christmas was only days away. Moira wrote and posted her Christmas cards and bought presents for her family and mailed them. The Christmas tree and decorations were put up, adding warmth and colour to the long wintry nights. Moira felt her spirit lift. It was, after all, her favourite time of year. And, in amidst the seasonal cheer, her secret was forgotten.

A knock on the door on Christmas Eve disturbed her evening of mulled wine drinking and A Christmas Carol reading. She found a place to stop, put the book down and went to see who was there. But the doorstep was empty, except for the present, all lovely and wrapped and topped with a glittering bow, sitting there on the mat.

It must have been from her sister, Moira reasoned. She was always in a hurry. Perhaps this evening she couldn’t wait?

Moira picked up the present and put it under the Christmas tree. Then she went back to her mulled wine and book.

The next morning, she got a call from her sister. “Sorry, Moira. We’ve not have time to drop the presents off yet. Are you in this morning?”

Moira paled. Trying to sound normal, she made arrangements with her sister for later that morning. Then, full of suspicion – and a large dose of fear – she went to the Christmas tree.

She removed the present and, with trepidation, unwrapped it. She looked inside. On top of layers of tissue paper was an envelope. She opened it. It was just a normal Christmas card: village church, lots of snow, robin in the foreground. She unfolded it to see who it was from. There was no name. Only a message.

Want to talk about it? A secret shared is a sin halved.

Moira felt the world spin.

“No,” she whispered. “No. It’s not possible. No one knows. No one.”

Carefully she peeled back the layers of tissue paper to find out what had been so carefully wrapped and placed in the box. She screamed.  And then she screamed again.

Somebody did know. They knew everything.

Any thoughts on what Moira’s secret is, or what’s in the box?  I would love to hear your thoughts…

At the Crossroads of Life


I’m standing at the crossroads of my life

Wondering which path before me

Is the right one


They all look the same

There is no visible sign

Separating one from the other


And yet, I must make a choice

I cannot stay here

Dithering forever


Indecision rules my heart

Confusion clouds my mind

Anxiety rises; I don’t know what to do


Tears well up in my eyes

I’m lost and lacking direction

My life, a roadmap of mistakes


Past failures begin to take hold

When a sudden strong breeze shifts my perception:

What’s been has gone; start afresh


And that, I decide

Is what I’ll do

Written for Weekend Writing Prompt #12 Indecision

Not to Everyone’s Taste

The estate agent paled. Bright pinks paired with blood red; an unusually bright, garish colour scheme that flowed hideously from room to room. How was she supposed to sell that? And to whom? A vampire?

I suspect my thinking is greatly flawed in this little piece of flash fiction…I can’t even imagine a vampire approving of this colour scheme 😉

This was written for Weekend Writing Prompt #23 Taste


This is a more seasonally appropriate prompt, with the equinox falling on 23rd September 2018.

Written in response to Weekend Writing Prompt # 21 Day and Night.

WWP#21 | Word Prompt: DAY AND NIGHT

Equinox, Evennight
Almost perfect balance between
Day and Night

Evennight, Equinox
Traditional markers for
Seasonal clocks

Marking the beginning of autumn
Or the beginning of spring
Named from the Latin,

Impatient Earth

It seems a little strange, a little out of step, to be writing about spring when autumn is slowly claiming the natural world where I live, but while I try and fill the last few remaining empty chapters of the Outcast anthology, I must work with the relevant prompts…

“Impatient Earth” was written in response to Weekend Writing Prompt #45 Spring

Winter had quickly given way to spring. The snow had melted and as the earth warmed, nature awakened, almost impatient to put behind it the death and the darkness of the colder months.

Suddenly the world was alive with early season colour. Trees were in bud. Delicate pink blossom clung to boughs until an eager breeze dislodged them, sending them dancing through the air like a spring snowfall.

Daffodils, snowdrops, violets, and primroses pushed their way through the recently roused earth to bloom above ground in sunbeam yellow, rich cream, snow white and watercolour purple.

And so the wheel turns….