Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Kick Ass Heroine from a Kick Ass Writer

Having read Chuck's non fiction books, and being a devotee of his blog, I had high expectations for this novella. I was not disappointed.

This was a rip-roaring, roller-coaster of a story that grabbed me at the start and didn't let go until the very last page; my kids went hungry, my husband's work shirts were not washed, the dog was not walked, did I care? Not one jot! I was cheering for Atlanta Burns the whole way. A messed up kid trying to make her way in the world with little in the way of guidance and support-I really hope we see a little more of the mother daughter relationship in the next few stories I really want to know what the deal is there-and trying to help others along the way.

There were a couple of teeny tiny proofreading errors but nothing serious even if they did momentarily jolt me out of story mode.

I will definitely be getting the next book in the series as soon as I can and keeping my eyes peeled for more to come.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sleeping Princess

Wrapped up, warm and cozy in bed, a young woman awakens.

Rain lashes down the window, wind wuthering round the castle making the roof tiles rattle and shaking the window in its frame.

She groans, wraps the covers round her more tightly, and tries to go back to sleep. Surely no prince will come today.

It's been a hundred years, a few more hours won't matter.

So, I've missed a few days...oops. In my defence I have been busy, writing my novel, trying to start up freelancing, preparing for the festive season, and looking after the home and family.

On the other hand that really is no excuse. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Ordeal

The young girl ascends the stairs. Her mouth dry, her heart pounding, will she survive the ordeal to come? Her foot misses a step, her sweat slicked hand fails to grip the rail, she lands awkwardly bruising her knee.

Abruptly, the door at the top of the stairs opens,

"You're late." Snaps the young woman. "Hurry up!"

The girl rushes up the remaining stairs, stumbles at the top, and falls through the door landing at the feet of the young woman who, for the next two years, will be her leader, her guardian, and possibly her nemesis. Hopefully it won't come to that, she will perform well today, she will triumph and they will love her.

The room is small, cosy, slightly shabby, but homely and filled with elegant decorative touches. Four young women fill the room; one lounges in a window seat, beautiful, elegant, poised; another two are on a sofa, one serious and stern looking, the other, plumply pretty with a merry glint in her deep black eyes; the fourth is the woman who opened the door, tall, stunning, with masses of tightly curled hair falling about her shoulders in careless abandon. These are the ladies of the Lower Sixth, prefects who oversee the younger girls of the school. These are the people who subject every new girl to a terrifying ordeal.

The first day you get a note in your pigeon-hole:

Dear Nobody,

One week from today you will be summoned to the prefect's room, if you do not find it, or if you fail to attend you will be punished and will not receive your name.

When you arrive you will be expected to; sing the school song, in full,
                                                          recite the school prayer,
                                                                                            have memorised the school rules and be able to                                                                                      tell us randomly picked rules when we ask,
                                                                                        read passages from a book of our choosing,
                                                                    and sing a song of our choosing.

If you fail in one or more of these tasks you will be punished, if you fail all of these tasks you will not receive your name and will be "Nobody" for the duration.

Yours sincerely,
the Prefects.

No one tells you where the Prefects room is, you have to find it for yourself. They do, however, tell you in great detail about their ordeals and the kinds of punishments meted out by Prefects. Everyone agrees that teachers punishments are preferable to Prefects punishments.

A week later, your summons arrives, you have ten minutes from receiving the summons to get to the Prefects room, no more, regardless of where in the school or grounds you may be.

"Well? What are you waiting for child? Get on the table." says the elegant woman on the window seat.

The young girl gets to her feet and climbs onto the table, it is old and rickety and she does not like heights at the best of times. She is terrified.

"Sing child" says one of the Prefects and a book is lobbed at her from the direction of the sofa.

The girl opens her mouth and tries to sing but all that comes out is a nervous croak.

"You'll have to do better than that if you want to earn your name" One of them says with barely suppressed laughter in her voice.

The girl clears her throat and tries again. This time she manages, she sings the school song from start to finish in her beautifully clear soprano voice. Her Prefect, the one who opened the door, raises one eyebrow.

More books are buzzed at her.

"Now the Prayer, come on, get on with it." The voice says again.

The girl gets through the ordeal, in the end it wasn't nearly as bad as she had anticipated. When she walks through the door her Prefect whispers,

"Well done, you've earned your name back Stephanie."

Stephanie practically skips down the stairs eager to go and tell her classmates the good news.

As usual if you have any comments, criticisms, or suggestions then please do share them.


Monday, 9 December 2013

The Vixen

Deep in the forest, hidden in a tangle of brambles, there lies a hole. In that hole there lives a fox. A vixen to be precise.

This vixen is no ordinary fox, she is the genius loci of this place; the guardian spirit, and none dares enter without first seeking her approval, asking her permission.

No human feet have trod this path in decades. The vixen feels her strength waning and wonders what will become of this place when she is gone. She needs the power, the energy, she gains from visitors and her interactions with them. If she passes out of existence then this place will decay and crumble, the animals that rely upon it will die, and plants and insects that exist only in this fragile environment will pass out of the world forever.

She cannot allow this to happen, it is her sacred duty to protect the forest. She gathers the fading energies of the forest and sends out feelers into the wider world. Eventually she feels an energy that may help. Carefully, cautiously, she sends a picture laced with just the right amount of desire to the one who's energy she touched, encouraging him to come to the forest.

The vixen does not have to wait long before she senses the approach of the man. For the first time in years she leaves her den and goes to the edge of the clearing where the stones lie dreaming moss covered dreams.

The man is here, waiting at the edge of the clearing, his senses alert, his mind clear, his energy sending out tendrils, seeking permission to enter.

The vixen is pleased by this, the old ways are not entirely gone then, she thinks.

Permission granted the man enters. Not fully in touch with his energies, or not yet trusting in them, he uses dowsing rods to discover the work that needs done in this place. He does not realise that the work he does is secondary to his true purpose but no matter, he is here sending energy out to infuse the vixen, the stones, the very earth it's self and, what's more, he will return to this place many times and on some of those times he will bring others who will, in turn, bring more.

Balance is restored, life is returning. Satisfied the vixen returns to her den.

If anyone reading this has any comments, criticisms, or suggestions then please, feel free to share them.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Story a Day

When I started this blog it was to get as much practice writing as possible.

It struck me during NaNoWriMo that I've had the wrong focus on the blog. I've been writing random snippets, thoughts, snapshots of my life with the occasional flash fiction challenge courtesy of the mighty Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.

If I'm to improve my writing then I need to focus on what I want to write - fiction -  so, with that in mind, from now on I'm going to try and write a piece of flash fiction or vignette a day. If anyone has any comments, thoughts or suggestions then please feel free to share them.

Here's the first offering:

The Christmas Lights

 I used to love December 1st. We’d all go into town together to watch the Christmas Lights being put on. It was amazing; there would be stalls selling food, drink, and Christmas gifts; street performers, music, and some lameo minor celeb to push the button and “switch on” the lights. It was a great night.

Last year that had all changed. Last year when the celeb pushed the button the lights came on illuminating dead bodies instead of reindeer and santa clauses. That year the fairy on top of the christmas tree had dripped red blood on the gifts below and the branches had been garlanded with intestines instead of tinsel. That year, when the button was pushed, an axe swung down cleaving the celeb’s head in two.

They never did find out who did it or why.

This year we aren't going into town, my family and I, this year we’re staying at home. Where it’s safe. We hope.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Well, I did it. I survived NaNo. I even managed to finish...the word count that is. My novel is still nowhere near finished but I am still working on it.

In the meantime I have decided to celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo by participating in the mighty Chuck Wendig's current flash fiction challenge

My couple of hundred words follows on from this; http://joebrewing.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/another-flash-fiction/.

I lay there vaguely enjoying the sensation of feeling again after having been numb for so long. I was pondering my next move - I’d heard a rumour of a woman in a nearby village who might be able to help me - when I heard voices calling in the still morning air. 

I moved quickly, careful not to disturb the cotton in my haste, on to my front bringing my knees up under me so I could spring up quickly if I needed to. As I did so my hand darted to the pile of clothes by my side and the slender yet deadly blade concealed beneath.

As the voices moved closer I sought the quiet place in my mind,the place where I could leave my self behind. I needed to disengage my emotions, to leave my humanity behind and find the monster within.
I had hoped to be able to leave that part of myself behind but it seemed I would have to hold onto it, for now.

I stood slowly, aware of my nudity and how it would affect my seekers, and held my blade out ready for whatever was thrown at me. Every sense on high alert.

“Over here. We’ve  found her” A voice called.