Tag Archive: writing


#AmWriting

I know. This is supposed to a be a ‘daily blog’, but it has been anything but, even from the beginning. I should really re-title my posts.

So what have I been doing?

Well, for one thing I have been undertaking an on-line course for writers, ‘The Story Cartel course’. This invaluable course talks you through how to build a platform, engage with your readers and share your story. It takes you through simple practical steps whilst enabling you to interact with both the founder himself (Joe Bunting) and other course members – budding writers from all over the world with varying levels of writing and publishing experience (from never having shared a story with anyone, to experiences in both the self-publishing and traditional publishing worlds).

The course can be found here:

http://course.storycartel.com/

Of course I can’t even BEGIN to ‘engage with my readers’ if I don;t have anything for them to read, and this is my current agony. What WILL they want to read? I have such a great idea for a story (well, I think it’s great) but I have started it three different ways so far and I STILL can’t decide the best way to approach it. My characters have changed from teenagers to adults and back again, and one of them has changed genders twice! Part of me thinks I should maybe just move on to the next chapter, KEEP WRITING and somehow it will sort itself out.

Hopefully.

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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.

 

Flitter-mouse

This is a story I wrote for a competition a while back. I didn’t get anywhere in the competition, but I was proud of my story anyway. My Tea with Trolls story went down so well with everyone the other day, I thought I might throw this one at you too. 

Flitter-mouse

I stood outside the dusty shop and hesitated for a moment. I really didn’t want to do this but I had no choice. It was the lesser of two evils – I didn’t want to go through another night of hiding in the bottom cupboard of the large dresser that stood in the parlor. It was too cramped. For 13 years old, I was small and slight but still, it was not as easy to hide there as it had been when I was 5. That was when the creatures of my nightmares had sprung, uninvited, into my real life. Every full moon they came to get me. In the early days, before my grandfather had his stroke, he would hide me in the dresser and then sit in his parlor chair, smoking his pipe. The smell of the tobacco hid my scent, and when the creatures came he would tell them I was not at home. They would turn grudgingly, and slither back into the night.

Nowadays I had to fend for myself.

I had found this shop quite by accident when I was 10. I was on my way to school, an awkward little girl with mismatched socks and clothes that I was going to grow into, walking alone as usual. I spotted the shop out of the corner of my eye – a crooked little building with faded peeling paintwork, broken roof tiles and filthy windows. It took me several months to pluck up the courage to go in, and several months more before I was brave enough to buy anything.

I had tried a variety of amulets and incantations lifted from dubious hand written spell books, and last time a throat burning, stomach churning potion. None of it had worked for long. The creatures guessed at my tricks. They were always just a step behind me.

So here I was again, desperate to find the answer.

I pushed at the door. The tinkling bell above the entrance announced my arrival, and I shut the door behind me and waited, biting my lip.

It was dark inside the shop, and it took a while for my eyes to focus on the dusty shelves lining the walls that held all manner of unusual objects – battered pots and tattered books, packets of incense sticks, strange contraptions that ticked and whirred, and bottles of potions that glittered darkly.

It was a moment before I noticed the old woman standing there watching me. When I met her eye, she gave me that familiar toothless grin that made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle.

“Back again, little Flitter-mouse?” she crooned.

“Um, yes,” I replied, fidgeting my feet and twisting my fingers round each other in my clasped hands. I cleared my throat a little. The words were having difficulty forming themselves in my mouth, “That potion you gave me…”

“You want some more?”

“NO! No,” I shook my head vigorously. I didn’t want to go through that again.

The old woman observed me shrewdly, nodding to herself.

“Some thing else.” she all but whispered with a wicked grin and beckoned me forward as she turned to the back of the shop.I followed her through a curtained archway behind the dusty counter into an old glass-house.The unwashed panes were murky and covered in green mildew. It was humid, and smelt damp and musty. Plants of various sizes fought for space in old plant pots. I noticed that some of the plants were moving…there was an ominous hushed rustling sound, as tendrils slithered and crept, and leaves wriggled and dripped.

I stood in the middle of the room my hands clasped under my chin, making myself as small and thin as I could. The old woman was hunched over in the corner, busying herself with a small pair of clippers and a trowel, humming tunelessly as she worked. Finally she turned round and held out a cracked, faded pot containing a small green cutting in a little bed of soft brown soil. It had one leaf and a tiny bud.

I took it from her uncertainly, holding it at arm’s length.

“It won’t bite!” she cackled, “It’ll grow fruit, and you want to eat ‘em if you want to stay safe. Before the full moon rises, girl!”

She took every last coin I had in my purse for that little cutting. But it was worth it.

Over the next few days, before the full moon, my cutting grew into a majestic plant with sturdy green leaves, and on the day of the full moon, pale yellow fruit appeared, with soft velvety skin, like little peaches.

And so, with much trepidation, on the night of the full moon, as the sun set in a pinky-orange sky, I sat on the cool stone step in the door way of our cottage with a little yellow fruit on my plate.

I lifted it to my mouth and bit into the soft flesh. It was sweet and juicy and so good to eat that I did not at first realize that my body was changing. I shrank smaller and smaller, and webs appeared between my fingers as my hands stretched into wings. My ears grew bigger, and I sprouted black fur all over my body.

You might think this alarming, yet somehow the transformation felt natural, even the first time it happened. I turned into a little bat the size of my human hand. And the best part, the most amazing, exciting, exhilarating part was that I could fly.

I swooped and I flitted, I dived and I soared, around the roof of the cottage, over the garden, through the trees in the wood.

That night, when the creatures came, those monsters from my nightmares, with their shadowy faces and their rasping moans, could not find me.

And they never will.

Oranges and fire hazards

In my internet world today, there have been TWO blog posts talking about quality of content over quantity. Apparently it is not WHAT we write about, in our stories and our blog posts, but HOW we write it.

(See The Write Practice and Jeff Goins).

This is kind of comforting to me. Some days I have no idea what to write. Yet I have a friend who lives thousands of miles away who I can happy chat to on the internet almost every day, and we can usually find something to talk about. That says to me that I have plenty to say.

So in my post today I am going to tell you about my youngest daughters Christingle service at the church. Don’t go thinking this will be a religious post. I’m not especially religious. I mean, you know, I have beliefs, but I don’t follow any particular church group. My kids go to a local village school which is connected to the church, although most of the kids are not Christians. They are taught about other religions, but mostly about the Christian faith, and they go to services at the church. We join them for end of term services. I rather suspect the end of term services are the only times (other than weddings and funerals) when the church is full.

If you don’t know what Christingle is, you can find out about it HERE. It’s Wikipedia, I know, but it gives you the general gist. I’m not convinced about the story of the 3 children…I suspect someone made that up at some point. But then some people are not convinced the story of Jesus is true either so…what do I know? The general idea is that children are given an orange, with four cocktail sticks stuck in it with fruit on, a candle on the top, and a red ribbon round it. The orange is supposed to represent the world, the ribbon is the blood of Christ, the sticks are the four seasons, with the fruit (or sometimes sweets) representing the harvest, and the candle is the light of the world.

A picture of a christingle, picture taken by m...

A picture of a christingle, picture taken by myself. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, I have never been to a Christingle service, and this is the first time my daughter’s school were doing one.

The church is beautiful. Its a gorgeous ancient stone building, circa 14th century. All Norman arches and Gothic carvings, stained windows and wooden pews. I love sitting in it. It seems full of magic and spiritualism to me.

The children usually sit with their class mates in the pews at church, but today they sat big kid, little kid, big kid, little kid. One of the things I love most about my daughter’s school is how they encourage the bigger kids to take care of the little kids. It’s so cute. And it has resulted in BOTH my daughters having a total love for younger children.

The Vicar of the church is smaller than usual. Size challenged. I’m not sure of the current politically correct term, but he had to stand on a stage so we could see him. You can imagine that with a school full of children. Kids tend to say what they see, and find humour in the inappropriate.

This Vicar likes to sing and play guitar. He is fond of actions for songs and seems to think he is quite ‘down with the kids’. He is nice enough though.

There were songs, in this service, that we had to join in with even though we had never sung them in our lives before…they helpfully set them to the tunes of songs we HAD heard of, such as Puff the magic dragon and Show me the way to Amarillo. We did the best we could. Including the clapping. And the actions.

And then the kids (all approx. 150 ish of them) were given an orange with red tape round it and a bag. The bag contained cocktail sticks, dried fruit, some silver foil and a candle.

With the Vicar’s instructions, they set about putting the sticks in their orange, decorating the sticks with raisins and candied peel, and plunging the candle into the top. Making the Christingle orange was clearly a social event, and resulted in lots of chatter from the kids, despite the Vicar’s valiant efforts at having the task done quietly. “There’s no need to talk! Lets see if we can hear that little church mouse scampering about!” he implored. The kids weren’t listening for the mouse or the Vicar.

I thought – surely though, they are not going to light the candles? Not all these kids sitting so closely together?? What happened to ‘Health and safety’?? Surely someone would get burnt…I wondered if there was any water in the baptism font, or maybe some fire extinguishers…I guess they have to have some, but they weren’t especially obvious…

But yes they DID light the candles, from the flame of the candle at the front and all passed round. THIS was why they had big kids sitting next to little kids. Damage limitation.

All the candles were lit and then they turned off the lights in church.

And then silence. Or at least as quiet as 150 kids all sat together can be.

It was quite beautiful.

We were asked to think of children who were less fortunate – those on the streets or being bullied or abused – and to send them light.

And then the kids were asked to blow out their candles, and the lights came back on.

As far as I know, no-one got burnt or singed or in anyway set on fire. I have to hand it to the school for their achievement.

I patted the arm of one of the teachers on my way out of church – “Well done! I really thought there were going to be burnt fingers or singed hair!”

“So did we.” She muttered.

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.”

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