People I Meet on Trains – R. G. McKay Ireland

Today’s guest post is by R G McKay Ireland. A poet and fiction writer, R G has contributed three stories to our Lit Bits series of short reads – ‘Remnants’, ‘Drive’ and ‘One-Way traffic.’


“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” – William Faulkner.

That’s how my stories tend to start. I place a person, somewhere, in a predicament – and watch what he does. Before that I stare at something – like a blank page on my computer screen or at the back of the city on the train journey from London to south Wales – and I wait for someone to come to life: sweating, fearful, angry, or maybe brave, fearless, hopelessly optimistic.

I like the train from Paddington to Bridgend – you get to see much of how people live. Firstly you get to see the arse-end of west London through the window: countless Tox graffiti tags, Trellick Tower, sleeping bags in tunnels, factories and junk yards. I like to see the other passengers doing the same, their faint reflections like ghosts of themselves looking back into the carriage.

Then I get out into wealthy towns and villages beyond London that I’m not familiar with. I don’t know the places by name, but I see mansions on the river with yachts. There’s one house I look out for, it’s as equally impressive as the others and a picture-perfect river cuts through the immaculate lawn. I’ve wondered if the people who live there own the water and the fish for the short moments they pass through their property.

It’s not long before the houses become sparse and I’m in the countryside, and my laptop has turned itself off because I haven’t touched it. But it’s then, usually, when somebody desperate and imagined introduces themselves to me. It’s then that I turn my laptop on and follow what they do.

By the time I start writing I’ve got less than two hours until I get to Bridgend. I’m a slow writer. I’d like to say that I start and finish a short story neatly in the time it takes to get home – that’s not the case. But after a little while of writing I’ve passed through the Severn Tunnel and into Wales, through the coastal cities of Newport and then Cardiff, where the places and people are different to London but I assume not so different in the problems they face – and sometimes, I begin to like the person who introduced themselves to me. I feel guilty for putting him in such a predicament, while I sit comfortably and sip a warm Stella from the buffet car.

When the train leaves Cardiff (the next stop is Bridgend) I get distracted and my writing slows and the quality drops, and I flatten the screen of my laptop and look out of the window again. If I’m lucky, I feel for the character, and I think of him. I think of how I owe it to him to finish his story, and in the coming days he’ll tap on the inside of my head until I do.

Remnants, Drive, and One-Way Traffic – my first published short stories – were born on these train journeys. These are stories of desperate people in fierce predicaments, who I couldn’t help but like and do my best to keep up with on my keyboard.


Each Little Bird – a classic ghost story from Lit Bits

A trailer for one of the more scary stories from the Lit Bits range of short reads – Each Little Bird by Robert Rigby…

Robert Rigby – Keeping It Short

Today’s guest post is by Robert Rigby. A prolific author, dramatist and song writer. We are delighted that Robert has contributed three stories to our Lit Bits series of short reads – ‘When Harry Met Dali’, ‘The Silences’ and ‘Each Little Bird.’

‘I was sitting in my dressing room after the show when I heard people outside my window shouting, “Max, Max, give us Max!” So I went outside. And it was raining!’

A Max Bygraves joke, which he may well have pinched from his hero, Max Miller. A joke, yes, but it’s also a story, a very short story with a beginning a middle and an end.In a few words it paints a picture, in artistic terms it might be called a sketch.

An artist friend of mine has been working recently on oil ‘sketches,’ trying to capture what he says is the almost impossible task of painting moving water. I think the sketches are fresh and beautiful, even though he maintains his mission remains unaccomplished. I asked him if the paintings were preparatory work for a bigger painting.

‘No,’ he said, ‘for me sketches are works in their own right, although they may inform a later work. Obviously, they are quicker to complete than a bigger work and perhaps they are painted more experimentally and with more freedom, but every sketch is a finished piece of work, once I decide it is finished, that is.’

One of my very short stories for the Other Publishing Company’s, Lit Bits Collection, When Harry Met Dali, explores the theme of creating images from memories, painting a vivid and permanent picture in the mind that can be viewed or stored away as required.

I’m interested in Art, and images, the narrative within a piece of art (not that there has to be one), and from a writer’s point of view, in painting pictures with words. And since that conversation with my artist friend, I’ve seen, more vividly, the similarities between short stories and sketches.

Short stories, too, are comparatively quick to complete, and mine certainly were written more experimentally and with more stylistic freedom than is usual for me. And they are finished pieces of work. It’s also possible that one of my short stories may inform a future novel. It happens often enough, the late Alan Sillitoe confessed that Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was made up entirely of a number of short stories. You can clearly see the joins when rereading the novel, but it worked, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a twentieth century classic.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of the literary ‘sketch,’ of saying everything I wanted to say but keeping it short. So there will be more, because in the words of the late Mr Bygraves, ‘I wanna tell you a story…’

Find out more about Robert Rigby and his work at:

Sex and The Older Man

The first in an occasional series of posts featuring extracts from some of our books:

In this extract from ‘The Brinkmeyers’ by Michael Cameron, Hymie Brinkmeyer writes in his blog about discovering that you are never too old to find love and possibly sex… Even if you are fat, unfit and the wrong side of fifty…



What have I done? How did it happen? Oh dear God, why have I done this? Can you forgive me? Will you ever forgive me?

It was like this…

Colleen and I have our diary meeting and as she is leaving my office she turns back and asks me if I want to go out tonight with her and the boys from the sales department. Seems they liked my company last time and I am now included in the Friday night bash. For a second I hesitated remembering the embarrassment caused by the King Dong cocktail, but then I think, ‘Aw, what the hell!’ and I say I would love to – I mean what is there at home? A cold supper in an empty house, that’s all.

I turn up at the bar a little late as I have to take an urgent call from a man in France who has a problem with his oil supply, but to my surprise there is no one else in the bar, only Colleen sitting alone at a table. I ask her what’s going on. She says everyone else has gone on to another bar already, but she didn’t like to leave without telling me. She is a kind girl Colleen – she does not want her old boss left standing like a klutz in a bar full of young people on his own, looking like an old man in search of his lost youth.

As we are both there we decide to have a quick cocktail. I do not know how it happened. Dear Lord, I really do not. We didn’t go looking for the others…

The evening just went so quick. We chatted about this and that and I found myself telling her all about New York and my childhood and my early career and how I met Maggie and the kids and even about some of my current problems. She is a good listener as well as being a mighty fine looking lady. And then we chatted about Ireland and her folks back there and how she and her brothers have all left home now but how wonderful the village was where she was brought up and how one day she will go back there… I don’t know – it was all so easy and relaxed and well, as I say, easy.

Anyway, next thing I know the barman is shouting ‘last orders’ and it is gone eleven! I cannot believe it, and nor can she. We laugh at how foolish we are to have stayed there all night. Amazingly we have been talking so much that we have hardly drunk anything so I am not so worried about her riding her big, powerful motorbike but I offer to escort her to where she has parked it… again!

It is parked in the same alleyway as before and it is horribly dark and smelly. Colleen shudders. ‘Oh,’ she says, ‘I didn’t realise it would get so dark when I left the bike here.’

‘It’s a good thing I’m here then,’ I say.

‘Yes,’ she says and it is the most natural thing in the world for her to take my arm and squeeze up close to me as we walk down the passageway. She has left the bike right at the end, which is kind of foolish, but I say nothing.

‘Well,’ she says when we get to the bike. ‘Time to go…’

‘I guess so,’ I say.

And we just look at each other and then she looks up at me and kind of puckers up her lips. And this time there is no King Dong involved…

Oh dear Lord. I tip my head down and draw her close and I press my lips against that sweet mouth… that sweet, sweet mouth – and it is the longest, sweetest kiss I remember having for a very long time. I know I should pull away. I know I should walk back up the alley to the High Street and that we should both pretend that this was no more than an innocent goodnight kiss, but I know that I will not. Instead I pull her closer to me and fold my arms around her and gently part her lips with my tongue and I know that she will not resist and she does not – in fact she holds me tighter and kisses me deeper in return.

And suddenly I am a young man again on a dark and lonely corner of a run-down alley in a tired and dirty part of Manhattan, having my first proper kiss with my first proper girlfriend and this kiss is like that first kiss – long-awaited, passionate and sexy and bursting over me. I am living that first kiss all over again and yet it is more than that – it is like all the kisses I have ever had, from every woman I have been with all rolled into one. It is the sun and the sea and the sky – it is living my life all over again.

So, I hold her closer and somehow my hand has slipped down and it is resting on her ass and I gently squeeze one beautiful firm young buttock through the tight leather of her biking pants and I draw her closer still. And she does not protest. She holds me tighter than ever and seems to draw more of our kiss from deep within me and as she does so, I can feel her press her breasts against me and her groin and her legs – we are becoming like one creature joined at the hip, held by our kiss – here in this dark stinking alley.

Dear God, forgive me. But I allow my other hand to creep around and under her jacket and I feel those firm breasts through her thin t-shirt and she seems to want this and she allows me to run my fingers over her hard nipples.

I do not know how long we kiss and cuddle like this but I am suddenly burningly aware of a stirring down below that I cannot control. The tip of my John Thomas is rising and pressing against the old Kelvin K’s and will not go away. I am deeply embarrassed. She must feel this. She must know my passion. So I pull away from her and for the first time for some minutes she looks up at me with lovely soft blue eyes that are smudged and moist and made more mysterious by the streetlights at the end of the alley reflecting on them, like little sparkles of passion.

‘I must go!’

I do not know who spoke, the voice is cracked and hoarse. Then I realise it was me.

‘No,’ she says. ‘Don’t.’

I must! Dear Lord you made me what I am – a man of strong emotions and certain urges but I know you want me to keep them in check and I know my duty lies with my wife and kids.

I should be ashamed. I turn away and leave her in this rat-infested, stinking place and I stumble towards the light of the main road. I only look back once and she is leaning against the wall, her dark hair thrown like a shadow over her face and she does not move but she watches me leave.

Oh God – over the last few months I have said a lot to you in my own way and I have tried to find some answers to some pretty difficult things and I have asked forgiveness for an awful lot – but this time I do not know what to say. I am torn up into little pieces between guilt and lust and possibly love – and nothing about any of this is simple or easy. What should I do? What is your plan for me? Where are you taking me and why?

You do know, don’t you? Tell me there is a plan and that this is not just some kind of free-fall – with a bumpy landing at the end of it.


From The Brinkmeyers by Michael Cameron, Published by the Other Publishing Company 2013, available on Amazon as a paperback or an eBook..


Amazon UK –

Amazon US –

Orwell’s Rules – break them if you dare:

If you are a writer or especially if you are an aspiring writer, you really need to know these rules. If they were good enough for George Orwell – they’re certainly good enough for the rest of us.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

“Politics and the English Language”, 1946

How Not To Get Published

Hi – attached you’ll find the book that is sure to make your fortune and mine. I doubt if anyone has ever written anything like this before –  it is a kind of mixture between Dickens and Gresham, if you get my drift. I see that you only ask for three chapters to be sent in but that seemed a shame as I had written the whole thing – so I attach all 450,000 words for you.



Dear Over Publishing Company – I have decided to consider you as the publishers of my new book, ‘The Hedge Fund Cat Who Stole The Corporate Dog Meat.’  A lot will depend on what sort of deal you usually offer authors.  I was thinking of a good advance and probably between 12-15% of sales – negotiable. I’m only sending you in two chapters at the moment on spec as I haven’t written the rest of the book yet – but no panic – it’s all in my head.

Best wishes


Hi Publishers – Not sure where I got your name but I have a really good story you ought to read. Let me know if you want me to send it to you. And any other information you want and do you have a web site, who have you published before etc.



Dear Sir/madam – my book, ‘England, What Have They Done to My England,’ is a rollicking yarn and a splendid adventure set in the second world war of which I had some experience as a soldier fighting for King and Country. I can’t say that I see much of this kind of story published anymore – a story with values, honour, patriotism at its heart, when men were men and we weren’t hidebound by PC nonsense. So I hope you will agree it is time to redress the balance.



Hi Guys – Attached: ‘Stoned In The Attic’.  No more to say really. Let me know if you’re cool about it.



Good morning – I am doing the rounds of publishers so forgive this circular email but it’s the quickest way to get my book looked at. The synopsis is attached. If you’re interested, get back to me and I can give you some more details/discuss further etc. Just let me know who you are, what other things you’ve published why your company should appeal to me.

All the best


Dear Publisher – as an established expert in my field I have now decided to write a book which I know will be a best seller as I have several thousand followers on Facebook, Twitter etc. Obviously, being so busy I haven’t got a lot of time to write it but I have several hundred blog posts, articles, seminar notes, webinars etc. that we could cobble together into something. I am very excited at the thought of going into print and I know we will make a great team. If nothing else we can have a great launch party! I’m away for a month or two but we could talk when I get back.



Hello Another Publisher – I think you’ll find the attached is very like ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’.  My friends have urged me to send this into a publisher as they have all enjoyed reading it and said it should be seen by more people. At first I was reluctant but then my cousin said I would be a fool not to send it to someone as it is as good as anything professional that she has ever read. So here it is. I hope you agree with them. They’re just ordinary people who don’t read a lot – but they’re the ones who count, don’t you think.

My best wishes to you

Six Word Story Competition Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered our Six Word Story Competition. We had some great entries – funny, clever, thoughtful, weird…

We were originally going to pick ten winners, but after some deliberation and polite disagreement in the office, we’ve decided to award prizes to eleven winners. Here they are, in no particular order:

@BlackHarlequill – Fell through cloud. Damper than expected.

@VictorGrunn – It turns out penguins are flammable

@NorthCat75 – I didn’t know he couldn’t swim

@balston82 – Hours, they danced. She leaves alone

@MrsSheaWong – Zombie meets girl; zombie eats girl.

@GuyLeJeune – Here, I started and finished here.

@Mylittleworldy – FOUND: Girl. Distinctive curl on forehead

@PaulMClem – The drums. The screams. They’re here.

@Storytellerium – One bullet left. Him or me?

@btrainer82 – Flying alone, caution: break if necessary

@SteveMielczarek – Birds of prey peck your flesh


Winners are entitled to one of our Lit Bits short stories available on Kindle – Keep an eye out for more competitions we’ll be running soon.