Tag Archive: Fiction


Toxic

Happy New Year!!! Here’s to a fresh new year of creativity and stories! Looking forward to reading and writing, and sharing stories and ideas with all the other awesome writers on the internet.

This piece was written for Words on Wednesdays in The Write Practice. Today’s word was Toxic. I really enjoyed writing it – maybe I can do something with these characters sometime?

 

As Thomas opened the huge wooden door to the stone walled chamber, she was the first thing he saw.

Vivienne – beautiful, bewitching, toxic. He had to lean against the door frame for a moment to steady himself.

She lay on her side across the chaise-longue in front of the fire, in a black and red corset and thigh length boots, with her long curtain of sleek shiny black hair tumbling down her shoulders.  She broke into a seductive smile, and Thomas was sure he could hear her purring.

“I knew you would come,” she said, her voice slithering towards him and tickling his ears. It was intoxicating.

Thomas cleared his throat. “Don’t imagine I’m falling for this, Vivienne.” He told her, in what he hoped was a strong unwavering voice, “You are pure poison. Toxic. If I touched you, I would burn in hell.”

Vivienne giggled “Oh come now! Let’s be friends!”. She rolled smoothly onto her back, lifting one long, shapely leg and hooking it over the back of the chaise. She lifted her hips a little, the sight of which almost caused him to stop breathing. It would be so easy to give in and lose himself in lust, but he had come here for a purpose, and he must not fail.

He took the dagger from his belt and marched purposefully towards her. He was breathing hard, his heart racing at the thought of what he must do. Her intoxicating scent hit his nostrils and surged into his lungs, and it took every last scrap of will power he had to hold the dagger above her chest.

“Must….stab….” he gasped.

But his senses were overpowered. He could hold back no longer. His dagger dropped to the floor, and he fell into her embrace, into the burning fire and poison of this evil, toxic witch. With one move, she flipped him over onto his back and moved on top of him, a ritualistic dance.

Annabelle tutted. She had watched the whole thing from behind the door.

“If you want something doing properly…” she muttered to herself, as she entered unseen into the room. Picking up the discarded dagger, she lifted it with both hands and plunged it into Vivienne’s back.

There was a split second of silence and stillness, as if the world had stopped for a moment.

Finally, Vivienne exploded with a roaring scream, filling the room briefly with hot red smoke and then vanishing with a noise that sounded like a hundred souls being sucked into a void.

Thomas fell to the floor, wide eyed and gasping. He looked at the chaise where he had been locked in Vivienne’s clutches moments before.

“Thanks,” he said, looking sheepishly up at his friend.

“Think nothing of it,” said Annabelle, curtly. She turned and walked out of the room.

 

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Tea with Trolls

One of the practice pieces in The Write Practice this week was to write in the style of JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’I really enjoyed writing this, and could have written pages and pages on it. 

There was an afternoon late one spring when a troll unexpectedly came to have Afternoon Tea with a wizard.

The troll hadn’t intended to take tea at all – Afternoon Tea is a delicate refined affair, much unsuited to the particularities of a troll. Supper was more his thing – a hearty meal slurped straight from a bowl and soaked up with big chunks of bread.

It was a warm and sunny afternoon. He had been merrily stomping through a hitherto quiet little village, bashing through doors and smashing windows, collecting unwilling dwarfs and hobbits with which to make a stew. In a bag over his shoulder he carried a growing collection of them. They were unusually still; some had frozen with fear and others had passed right out and were happily oblivious to their impending doom.

The Wizards house was much like the others in the village – small and slightly crooked, but brightly painted and cosy looking. So imagine the trolls surprise when the door was opened just as he was about to put his fist through it, and who should be standing there but a smiling little old man with silver hair in a long grey robe.

The Wizard carried a long staff. He waved it in a casual manner in the general direction of the troll, who succumed almost immediately to a severe bout of amnesia.

“My dear boy!” cried the wizard, “You are here at last! I have a pot of tea and a plate of hot buttered crumpets waiting for you in the drawing room! Not to mention a rather delicious spiced apple cake that I made just this morning! Won’t you come in?”

The troll, who could not recall at all who he was or why he was there, managed to mutter “Er…” before finding himself being divested of his coat and hat and being ushered into the little hallway.

“That’s the fellow!” said the wizard congenially, “Now why don’t you put down that bag of yours, it looks frightfully heavy!”
The troll looked with surprise at the bag as if noticing it for the first time. It WAS rather heavy, now the wizard came to mention it, and he was very glad to heave it off his shoulder and onto the carpeted floor of the hallway (much to the relief of its contents who set about planning their escape).

The wizard took the troll through to a curiously floral drawing room, where afternoon tea had been set on the table. A steaming teapot sat amongst plates of sweet and savory delights. The troll sat rather awkwardly on a chair that was much too small for him and attempted to take tea. It wasn’t easy at all! The china cups were much too dainty for his huge unwieldy fingers, the tea not sufficient to slake his thirst, and the sandwiches (cucumber, crusts removed) did not satisfy the hunger in his belly. Added to which the wizard kept up a stream of endless chatter that the troll could not keep up with and which prevented him from having the time to just think for a moment why he was here.

All too soon he found himself being hurried back out into the street with an empty belly and an equally empty bag.
“Goodbye then!” called the wizard, “No need to thank me for having you, the pleasure was all mine! Mind how you go!” and he banged the door shut.

The troll stood for a moment staring at the door, trying to work out in his befuddled brain how he came to have had tea with a wizard. But as it made his head hurt to think about, he decided to let the matter rest. He stumbled out of the village in a distracted way with a puzzled frown on his face, and was never seen again.

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

This post is WELL overdue. I haven’t been in here for so long.

So how did I do in Nanowrimo?

Well, I DIDN’T write 50,000.

I wrote 31,634 words, which is more than I have written for anything ever. AND I wrote a whole story from start to finish. So, I am really proud of myself!

I learned lots of things during the month. I learnt that I COULD write every single day, and I always wanted to. Some days I didn’t know what to write, but I never felt like I didn’t want to write at all. I found I had to force myself to write the first few words, and usually something would follow it. Some days I only wrote a few hundred words, other days I wrote a couple of thousand. The ‘pep talks’ in the Nanowrimo web site, and on other writers blogs, kept me going even on the worst days.

I also learnt that however prepared you think you are, when you come to write it doesn’t always work the way you think it’s going to. I had many days where my characters would turn to me and say “You want me to do WHAT?” – and I had to figure out something else for them to do, or find some motivation to get them to dance to my tune.

I also found a million plot holes. Well, maybe not a million, but a lot anyway. But in the spirit of nanowrimo, I just kept going – I will go back later and fill them all in.

And I learnt that I definitely want to keep writing. I want to get a book published, in PRINT, in a real book, on the shelves of Waterstones.

That is what I am working towards.

So now to take a month off, decorate the house, write greetings cards, wrap presents and enjoy Christmas with my friends and family. And then it’s back to the grind stone to re-write my novel.

 

Indubitable

Our ‘Word on Wednesday

37/366: King Johann of Saxony

37/366: King Johann of Saxony (Photo credit: Magic Madzik)

‘ for The Write Practice blog was ‘Indubitable’, and here is what I wrote:

The new King sat on his horse at the gates of his castle and looked down across the town to the mountains and valleys beyond. It was finally his, all his, to rule over as he chose. All he needed, as he had informed the Court this morning, was to find a Queen to rule at his side. Someone to share his vision, support him in his campaigns, reflect his nobility, and most importantly – bear him a son.

“Your majesty!”

He looked down. At the side of his horse, the Royal Chancellor Lord Grovel stood, hands clasped, a pleading look on his face.

“Your majesty, I beg your forgiveness,” he began, bowing his head, “But….with the war having ended so recently, do you think it wise to be travelling off so soon? When your country needs stability –“

“I will give it stability, Grovel.” the King said, firmly, “What my country needs is to see their Ruler with a line of inheritance. My father is dead. I am now their King. I must marry, and have a son to sit on my throne after me.”

“That is indubitable, my Lord,” Grovel was now wringing his hands, looking up anxiously at his master, “But surely the matter could…wait?”

“Wait? WAIT?” the King roared at him, causing his horse to rear up a little. The King pulled sharply on the reigns, and his horse stilled with a ruffled whinny.

“NO, Grovel, it CAN’T wait!” said the King sharply. “I must be married at the earliest opportunity, and have a son to secure my family’s inheritance! THAT, Grovel, is indubitable!”

Lord Grovel groaned despairingly. He was almost in tears. He loved the King. He loved him TOO much. He had dreamt of this moment; to see the man he adored on the throne, in his rightful place, had been Grovels only wish and hope for a life time. But in his dreams he had envisaged that HE, Lord Grovel, would be at the King’s side – guiding him, supporting him, nurturing him. And yes, of course the King would marry in due course, indubitably, but it would be a small matter of no significance. A necessary chore, a ‘by-the-by’.

But apparently the King wanted more than that. He wanted a Queen for his life-long companion. And Grovel could see the life he had imagined slipping through his fingers and landing on the dusty floor of the courtyard, to be trodden underfoot by the King and his guard.

 

 

The Spell

We had an ingenious exercise for The Write Practice this weekend – to write in the style of one of our favorite authors. Well, my favorite author of all TIME is JK Rowling, but I always try to emulate her depth of emotion and attention to detail when it comes to her characters. So I decided instead to have a go at writing in the style of Terry Pratchett, another of my favorite story tellers. And yes, I do realize I have used the word ‘favorite’ too many times in this paragraph, but its Sunday morning…..it’s ok to be lazy.

 

Lila stood in the circle of wild mushrooms, and took the items she had acquired from the school room out of her pocket. As she did so, the piece of dried up chewing gum that Boltoph had given her fell to the ground. She decided to pretend she hadn’t noticed this. She didn’t think it was likely that the chewing gum had belonged to Miss Sharp anyway, even if it WAS stuck to the underside of the teacher’s desk.

And what she had needed were things that really belonged to Miss Sharp, if the spell was going to be a success.

It wasn’t that Lila was a particularly vindictive girl. It was more that Miss Sharp was a particularly vindictive teacher. Adults were supposed to be wise and learned; they were supposed to guide you kindly, and teach you the sorts of things you needed to know to survive being a grown-up. Miss Sharp didn’t even really teach literacy and numeracy very well.

And she most especially did not like Lila.

As she sorted through the things she had taken from her teacher’s desk, Lila’s subconscious told her that her hands still smarted from being slapped with the wooden metre ruler until they almost bled. But Lila ignored her subconscious. She needed her hands to work, and they couldn’t do that if they were just moping and feeling sorry for themselves.

She had a small blouse button, a hair pin, one of Miss Sharps over sharpened pencils, a small stub of white chalk and a shoe lace. The shoe lace had been a bit of a risk; it was new and unused, and wrapped neatly in brown paper, stored away in Miss Sharp’s desk. Lila was hoping that Miss Sharp wouldn’t be returning to school in the same state she had left that day, and wouldn’t notice the absence of spare shoe string. Plus she needed something to tie the other items together, and had it would have been a much greater risk to have tried to purloin a hair from Miss Sharps head.

Lila carefully tied the items together and put them on the ground, still ignoring the chewing gum that lay just a few inches away. She took the candle and matches from her pocket.

She knew she was supposed to tell the candle what she wanted it to do. Should she tell the match as well? And what about the match box that she would strike the match against to light it? Lila wished she had read the spell instructions a little more carefully.

Just to be on the safe side, she told EVERYTHING what it’s job was, struck the match, lit the candle and then after a few moments, poured melted wax onto the shoe lace. Then she held the flame against it and watched the little pile of objects burn. The flame didn’t last long, and the items were more singed than burnt, but it would do. Then she took the items outside the circle of mushrooms, put them in the hole she had dug in readiness and filled the hole with dirt again.

“Take THAT, Miss Sharp!” she muttered.

NaNoWriMo, dude!

(I love the way Americans call each other ‘dude’…I’d say it all the time, if it wasn’t for the fact I am British and it would make me look pretentious. And somewhat ridiculous. I might adopt it at work amongst my co-workers, whilst wearing the new reading glasses no-one thinks I should have bought, and see what the reaction is.)

BLEAURGH!!! I’ve left way too long a gap between my last post and this one. Unfortunately no-one is paying me to write yet, so I still have to go to work. I live in hope.

So.

Next month is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo (the name always makes me think of the Judoon from Dr Who… “RO HO MO HO JO”, or something like that…). Originating in San Francisco in 1999, it now has around 300,000 participants.

National Novel Writing Month Web Badge

National Novel Writing Month Web Badge (Photo credit: ajsundby)

The idea is you write a 50,000 word novel starting on the 1st of November and aim to have it finished by the 30th. That’s 1000-2000 words a day, or 1666 per day according to Chuck Wendig (if you fancy a laugh, enjoy really good writing and don’t mind a bit of swearing, I can recommend this guys website. Here is his take on NaNoWriMo).

You are not supposed to come out with a shiny, well edited perfect piece of writing – the idea is you just WRITE, with a devil-may-care, sod-the-housework (because it’s so often on my mind…ahem….), throw caution to the wind, fly by the seat of your pants approach and just get the thing written.

THEN you can go back in December, once you have caught your breath, had some sleep and repaired all the damage wreaked on your house by your family while your back was turned, and turn the bones of your story into something beautiful. Add flesh, paint it up a bit, bring the wobbly bits into line, and then maybe you will have a knicker-gripping, earth-shattering, mind-changing story worthy of publication. Most publishers apparently look for something of around 300,000-500,000 words, and are not interested in a tiny 50,000 unedited piece that was fueled by caffeine and desperation.

There seem to be lots of pros and cons to this approach. For me, the appeal is having a goal; a finish line; light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m not very disciplined  Or very organised. I almost always forget everyone’s birthdays, for example. I lose things on a regular basis (my purse, my keys, my phone, my children and the dog). I am still working on strategies to help me with these every day occurrences  and enjoy the occasional success (I still have my kids and the dog. In case you were wondering.)

I’d really LOVE to get something published, and I know it takes time. The word on the internet ‘street’ is that it takes 6-10 years for the average writer to get their work published. Which is why, I keep reminding myself, I am starting NOW – so that in 10 years time I don’t look back and wish I had started 10 years ago.

But as my husband reminded me recently, if I don’t actually WRITE anything, I will never get anything published EVER.

So I’m giving the old NaNoWriMo thing a go, and I am using October (or whats left of it) to plan. Wish me luck.

 

Here are some other articles I read on NaNoWriMo, if you need more motivation:

Twelve Reasons to ignore the nay-sayers

Why winning isn’t the main reason

Five Good reasons to do NaNoWriMo

and this one again, just in case you missed the link – this one is my favourite:

25 things you should know about NaNoWriMo

 

 

Very short fiction piece

This was a little fiction practice piece I wrote for The Write Practice. We had to try and use the word ‘indicate’ (or derivations thereof) as many times as we could. I think i managed four…

 

“Of course, they didn’t have the term ‘gay’ in his time, but I think the indications were all there!”  Our prim and proper Scottish Professor swept her furled umbrella over the painting of the ‘Nude Male’, outlining his erogenous zones in case we hadn’t noticed them. “Just LOOK at the way he has painted the genitalia!”

We stood watching her drool over it; paused, lost in her own fantasy no doubt. My friend Jimmy coughed in irritation, and woke her from her day dreams.

“This way!” she indicated with the umbrella, and we all traipsed off again to the next room.

“See? There’s nothing to be scared of with her. She’s an art whore!” Jimmy whispered to me, indicating the Professor with his index finger, and making me snort behind my art books.

She hadn’t heard Jimmy’s comment, but she heard me snort. She stopped dead, causing several member of the class to bump into one another, and turned on me, eyes flashing and nostrils flaring.

“Ellen Fairfax, you might want to try and take your History of Art course a little more seriously. The exam is in two week. So far the indications are all pointing to failure for you, my dear.”

Die, Vampire, die!

Little vampire

Little vampire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is for anyone inflicted with the Vampires of self doubt, those inspiration sucking, confidence destroying, harbingers of doom.

I was having one of those moments this week where you suddenly doubt your own ability to create anything that anyone might be interested in reading. I read some really AWESOME fiction by other writers and just thought – “How can I possibly compete with all this?”

So I moaned and wailed and bared my soul to a few good friends, and one of them (Elizabeth McIntyre – remember that name, she is going to be President of the USA one day) posted this song for me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DDdM66_nSI

This jolly, humorous song describes those vampires that destroy our creativity and our belief in ourselves; challenges us to ignore them, get out there and be all that we should be! After all, what is the worse that could happen?

(NB – the song contains strong language. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

The Casual vacancy


Talking of awesome fiction by other writers, I have purchased JKRowling’s new book this week. I heard that it has had some very mixed reviews. I’ve read the first few chapters, and I can understand why it might not meet everyone’s approval – after all we have been so used to the wonderful, magical Harry Potter series, the tale of a boy wizard and his fight against evil and this new book is NOTHING like those.

JKRowling made it very clear from the start that this book was going to be different, and for ADULTS. It certainly isn’t the sort of thing I would be happy for my children to read – lots of swearing and very graphic images.

But as usual, Jo has created some really great characters, and this is a dark and satirical view of human nature. It’s nice to see that she has the skill to write well in a different genre.

She didn’t have anything to prove, or any money to make; she is a writer, and she just needed to WRITE.

It’s inspirational.

This City Never Sleeps

I wrote this for The Write Practice this morning. It was inspired by This City Never Sleeps, by The Eurythmics – they were my favorite band when I was a teenager, and I wrote a piece about this song before, when I was about 15. My English teacher didn’t like it…

Midtown Manhattan from Liberty Harbor in Weeha...

Midtown Manhattan from Liberty Harbor in Weehawken New Jersey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another tube train rattles past, shaking the old house with its crumbling plaster and loose fitting, mildew stained windows. I ram my pillow over my head trying to drown out the noise.

It’s 2am. Hopefully that was the last train tonight. Not that I will sleep any better, not in this apartment.

I’d only been living here a couple of weeks. It was all I could afford with my tin pot wages. Moving to the city was not as glamorous as I had imagined.

This house, divided as it was into too many dwellings, heaved with damp, fetid, crawling life.

I haven’t got used to the endless cacophony – the barely muffled talking, laughing, shouting, smacking, sucking, barking, clicking, switching, ticking I can hear behind the paper thin walls. I can hear people BREATH. I can hear them sweat. I can hear them moan and move against each other.

The pillow isn’t helping. I get up and walk to the bathroom. With the dull light from the flickering bulb I can see my reflection in the mirror above the sink. My eyes peer back at me from dark rims, my skin grey and breaking out in places. I splash my face with cold water, and watch the drips slide down my cheeks and drop from my chin.

Leaving the bathroom, I take a slurp of vodka from the bottle on my bed side table, light a cigarette and lay back on my pillow. Smoking has replaced sleeping, for me. I watch a moth flutter against the curtainless window, trying to get out into the darkness, and I listen to the people, whose names I do not know, struggling to survive in a city that never sleeps.

Does any one else have a problem confusing these two? One of the first things a friend said to me when I was setting up this blog was that I needed to get my head round the difference between posts and pages. I thought I had it all figured out, but apparently not.

I was hoping to have another page on my blog that I could put examples of my writing on, but apparently I have to put them in as posts on my blog page and then categorize them instead. Jolly annoying really, because I wanted to keep my main page just for…ranting about writing.

Sigh. Whatever.

Anyway, if you look at one of the bars above, you will see categories, one of which is ‘stories’, under which I will file example of things I have written. Anything that I deem good enough to send to a publisher I will not post until I know if or when they want to use it.

I will however set up a PAGE where I’ll post links to web pages or blogs I have enjoyed reading or found particularly helpful.    They might be helpful to other writers too.

 

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