Sunday, 16 May 2010

Egads, I would not send these people my book...

Direct quotes from a publisher's website - name excised to protect the guilty...

"When a submission is made to [our publishing house], it is judges on it's content"

"Do you pay advances to author's?"

(To which the answer is no, and they only pay royalties on books bought at full price)

They also ask me to 'please not[sic] that a small charge will be made for illustrations completed by [our publishing house]'

This is a publishing house who will charge me to illustrate my book if it's deemed necessary, they will not pay me anything unless my books sell at full price, and, more to the point, their website contains language mistakes that a child could spot. Now, we all make mistakes, but we don't all claim to publish quality books. It doesn't give me confidence in their editing process...

Suffice to say that I don't think I'd be desperate enough to see my work in print to send it to these folks.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Great article on criticism

I'm terrible at updating recently. Will do better.

In the meantime... enjoy:

On Criticism

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Please tell me you're joking...

I just read a post of someone daring to suggest that being a smoker these days would be enough to give one a good insight into being a black person in the 50s.

I had to read it twice to believe what the poster had written. It's not appropriate to bring any attention to it on that particular thread, but I'm struggling to believe anyone could seriously believe there's a valid comparison here. Or even that it was appropriate as a light-hearted joke.

I absolutely believe in any person's right to smoke if they want to, as long as they also respect my right to breathe clean air (something which some seem to think is unreasonable). I have many friends who do or who have smoked, and I don't think it's some mark of a flawed character or something. However, I do sometimes wonder about the martyr attitude some people have about being allowed to get their fix, and about the (largely very reasonable) restrictions placed around their habit. This is one of those times.

Seriously, Mr Smoker? You're going to go there?

You're going to compare a choice to pump yourself full of noisome and noxious chemicals with being born with the 'wrong' colour skin?

You're going to compare having to stand outside to have your quick fag break with only being allowed to live in certain areas, ride on certain buses, go to certain schools, take certain jobs?

You're going to compare a habit that many manage to break, for which much help is available, to indelible skin pigment that cannot be changed or disguised?

You're going to compare polluting the air around you with smoke that makes your neighbour's eyes water and his throat sore with being of a race that those around you believe only worthy to be servants?


I'm giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming the comment was meant as tongue in cheek... but even so. Come on. *shakes head*

Sunday, 21 February 2010

What M.E. feels like.

Ian Logan (chairman of Worcestershire ME Support Group): “Even thinking makes the brain hurt. It fogs over. You don’t know where to lie in bed. Your arms ache. Your head aches. An overcoat feels too heavy to wear, like a hundredweight. Your shoes feel like leaden boots. It’s like walking in mud, like trying to walk across a ploughed field or writing left-handed when you’re right-handed. The whole of your body feels as awkward as that.”

I don't usually write about my health on here - after all, that's part of what this blog is for, ever since an unusually sensible attempt to divide and conquer on my part. But this was too good an expanation of how I feel today to miss.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Friday, 19 February 2010

As Yet Unfinished/Excerpt

As Yet Unfinished...

If you saw a book with this title, would you be intrigued/pick it up to have a closer look?

As usual my title idea came about by accident. But I think it could work...

And I'm wondering if anyone cares to tell me who they would imagine was the viewpoint character in this excerpt - oh, and do you like it and stuff. (No clues from fellow 2YN folks who will know who's speaking, please! ;))

It's first draft, be warned, but yeah... be interesting to see...

Anyone who gets it right gets, erm, to be right? Unless anyone can think of a better idea *laugh*

The man appeared slowly, fading into view. He seemed to be asleep, but I stayed well back. People who appear unexpectedly but fully formed into a work of fiction are generally trouble, however peaceful they may seem at first.

It was when he turned over in his sleep that he realized, on some level, that something was wrong. He reached for a duvet that wasn’t there, tried to fluff up a pillow that had unaccountably turned to a flagstone beneath his head, and then opened his eyes and took his first bleary look at the Inside. His hair was a mess and he was in pyjamas – I almost felt sorry for him. He got up, stumbling slightly before finding his feet, and stared at his surroundings as if looking hard enough would make them dissolve back into the bedroom he had evidently fallen asleep in.

Outsiders’ reactions to finding themselves Inside tend to fit into one of two categories. There are those who flail around, demanding to know what is going on and what has happened to them. Sometimes they can turn violent, and generally it takes several days at least for them to become even tolerable company.

The other kind are no less disorientated, but respond by going into shock, their eyes staring and their limbs hanging limp as they take in their new surroundings. They’re not much fun at first either, but at least there is less risk of being hit.

Once it became apparent that this newcomer was of the latter persuasion I sallied forth, the first insider he would ever see, though hardly his last. Mired in shock as he was, he didn’t seem to notice me, however I tried to get his attention. He made his way slowly to the nearest house, felt the all too solid reality of its walls, then crumpled to a heap on the pavement and let out a low moan.

I considered hanging around and keeping him company, but it would be light soon enough. I decided to leave it to the townspeople to explain what had happened, and slinked away, still unnoticed.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

7 - Family Consciousness: The Flat

OK, so I promised to be more interesting BUT I am still sick, and in fact feeling worse. So for today we're back to the 3am challenge I had wisely decided to save up, though fellow thrummers will have read it already.

Yours snottily ;)

Family Consciousness
In a short piece of prose, dip into the consciousness of a family. Rather than one or two distinct points of view, this fiction should allow us into the minds of a marriage with children (old or young). This will be different than limited omniscience because a family can reasonably know a good deal about the goings-on of its various parts. You could also used the royal we as an occassional pronoun to make general pronouncements.

Wordcount: 800 (+/- 10%)

I think I actually kept to the word count here - whoop!

The Flat

We looked up at the fa├žade of the building, and Jinna spoke for all of us.


There wasn’t much else to say. It was grey and cold and concrete, and the idea that we were to live here… I coughed, the infection in my chest a lingering reminder of why we had had no choice.

Momma smiled bravely. She could see exactly how much of a struggle it would be to adjust, but that was not the point – never the point, with Momma. She knew we would manage, and manage with grace, if she had to fight every hour of every day to make it happen.

“Come on, let’s go inside.” There was a slight brittleness to her voice, but otherwise no one who didn’t know her would have known she was sad about this at all.

Jinna, despite her sulk, led the way. It was obvious she planned to swipe the biggest bedroom, but as it turned out she didn’t manage it. None of the bedrooms were big. All the same size, tiny concrete oblongs with cold grey walls and cold grey ceilings and tiny oblong windows with double glazing that was painted shut. If there had been heating, the rooms would have been warm enough to stifle a person. As it was, the glass seemed to shut out the light of the sun as well as its warmth. Jinna looked around and thought about complaining again. There was no point but at thirteen that didn’t usually stop her. Instead she heaved a sigh, and started planning her escape. She ran away with clock regularity, and even if we hadn’t have moved to this hole, she would have been making maps and finding hidey holes anyway. I made a mental note to keep an eye out for her, and saw her making a mental note to keep out of my way as much as possible.

Momma went to work at once, and soon rugs and mats were laid over the tile floors and the chill rising through the soles of our shoes became a little more bearable. Tommy fell and bruised his knee, the role of little brothers one he fell into quite naturally, and the time we spent fixing him up and offering the cheap, too-sweet candy, and cuddling and kissing better made us feel like a family again.

Momma’s face fell when tummies started to rumble. She had seen the kitchen before – we had not. She knew what was coming.

A look passed between us, and without a word I followed her out into the dank hallway. It took a moment to realise that all the bedroom doors had locks, and that we would share the kitchen and the bathroom with others. Momma saw the horror in my face at the idea, but there was no use either of us saying anything.

The kitchen was clean, and there were no cockroaches that we could see. That was the best thing we were able to say about it, and that was said without words. Swiftly we cut the dry rye bread and hard, sour cheese, and found a few mismatched plates. I piled up six, unthinking, and then put two back before Momma saw. I wasn’t quick enough, and the tears pooled in her eyes for a few seconds.

There was no time for sentiment with two hungry children to feed. We strode back down the corridor and plastered smiles on our faces. Jinna saw straight through our insincerity, but she appreciated the effort all the same. Tommy barely even saw the fake smiles. When there was food available he had no eyes for anything else, and we three girls had learned to be grateful for it during this eventful week.

Momma and I took the smallest plates so that our meagre portions would look the same size as Jinna and Tommy’s. I pretended not to see when Momma gave Tommy half her cheese, and she pretended not to see when I gave Jinna an extra slice of bread.

Voices rattled in the corridor, guttural words we didn’t understand and didn’t want to. They made Momma jump, and put a shiver down my spine. Jinna wanted to go out and see, try and speak to the folks who were making such a racket, but she stilled when I glared at her. Momma quietly walked over to the door of the tiny room we had crammed into and turned the key in the lock. My shoulders untensed from their position up by my ears.

Momma swallowed and braced herself to spout the propaganda we all needed to hear to get through the day.

“When Daddy comes back from the front, we’ll find somewhere nicer.”

No one said anything. None of us believed he would ever return. But none of us would ever say it out loud, for then it might be true.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


I realise that Blogger doesn't want bots to be able to recognise simple words, but the verification thingy-doo-dah word I just got was wqoquive


I do have another 3am epiphany short to post, and I will be more interesting soon. Or at least I'll try. Just let me kick this stupid cold first...

Monday, 15 February 2010


The next challenge I'm supposed to be doing is re-writing an old piece of story with a change of POV from 1st to 3rd of vice versa.

This should be fun.

But there's one small problem.

I hate everything I've ever written. None of it seems worth re-writing.

I feel like that means I should give up, but I think it probably just means I should go to bed.

Unpleasant feeling, all the same.

This is a promise to myself that I will do it. I will!

Third to First

Rewrite a part of an old story of your that was originally in the third person in first person (or vice versa). When you're making this change, count the number of hes or shes (or Is) in the original piece. Reduce the number by half in the rewrite. Use a relatively small section of a story or novel.

Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)

Shy characters...

I'm used to characters being unwilling to confess their motives.

Having characters whose characters I can't seem to get hold of is a new one on me.

I don't like it.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


... when it's helpful, and constructive, thoughtful, insightful, and gives a writer lots to chew on... isn't it great?

Friday, 12 February 2010

6 - The Royal We: Best Friends

The Royal We: Write a first person-plural narration of an event from the POV of a close-knit couple (not necessarily lovers or opposite sex). This means the narratice should sound a bit like this:

We found the body in the outhouse, and Jenny got the can of gasoline from the garage while Benjamin removed all the toilet paper folls stacked up on the door shelves (no sense wasting them).

The reader should not be able to discern who is telling the story - do not use 'I' at all in this exercise (not even in dialog).

too long again - need more practice!

Frank laughs when mother calls us in from the garden. It’s just as well she didn’t notice. We often get into trouble when we are together, but it’s better than playing alone. We have some good times. Frank doesn’t really have anywhere else to go, so he usually stays over. We don’t mind sharing our things, and we don’t like Frank’s house. It’s old and cold and quiet, with a high roof and stone walls, and no one who lives there ever seems to be at home when we visit. It scares us and so we’ve only been there a few times. Frank had to move there, and is supposed to stay there all the time, but no one checks. It says Frank on the wall and so everyone thinks he must be there.

“Coming!” We get up quickly and run indoors.

“Have you washed your hands?”


Jacob talks more loudly. Frank is mischievous but shy. We get on well because we can help each other out that way.

We go indoors, and mother greets us over her shoulder then starts dishing out dinner. As usual she’s only set us one place, but we don’t mind sharing – we’ve been sharing for months and we’re used to it. If we mentioned it she’d get upset, and we hate it when that happens.

Mother never seems to notice, and she always gives us a big portion anyway. She says Jacob is a growing boy, and we suppose Frank must be too.

We finish in double quick time. Frank eats the cabbage, as Jacob doesn’t like it all that much. Mother is very impressed and we get a big slice of chocolate cream pie. She won’t let us eat it in the lounge – she knows that Frank will leave a mess. Jacob is tidy but when Frank is around you can’t tell that. We cancel each other out.

After dinner we go and play in the garden. There’s a miniature swing-boat, but we’re not very good at making it go. We used to be good at it, but somehow we can’t manage it any more. Mother says that life will get more difficult as we get older, and we think this must be what she means.

The swings are fun, though, even if it’s not the same as sitting on the swing-boat together – Jacob offers to push Frank, but Frank prefers to watch. Frank gets sick easily, and we don’t want to waste any of the pudding.

Our next door neighbour’s cat Smoky jumps over the fence. He hisses at Frank, and won’t let Jacob near him much either. He’s a miserable old animal – we used to feed him from our secret stash, but when we ran out of things he liked he wouldn’t forgive us. Frank tries to pick him up, but the cat slips through his fingers. At least we didn’t get scratched.

Later on we go indoors. Frank wants to stay outside, but really it’s too cold. Jacob is tired and shivering even if Frank never notices the frost. We used to be scared of the dark, but we’re not any more. If we stay together, then we’re both braver.

Frank thinks of a surprise for mother, and we creep upstairs. Frank is best at creeping, and even Jacob can’t hear his footsteps. Frank starts to order Jacob about, but Jacob doesn’t mind. We imagine the look on mother’s face and grin at each other.

“Sweetie, you tidied your room!” Mother is surprised when she comes up. We think she might cry, but she looks happy too. We look at each other and shrug. Neither of us understands parents.

“We both did,” we say, and smile proudly. It’s not really true. Frank had to sit still while Jacob picked up his toys, because Frank makes a mess everywhere he goes. He’s terrible at picking things up. But Frank did tell Jacob how to sort them out, so we did it together really.

Mother looks a little sad. “You’re a very brave little boy,” she says. Jacob thinks she is talking about Frank, but later on Frank says she meant Jacob. Maybe she meant both of us, though neither of us really understands what she means.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

5 - Journalism: The DCI's Diary


Write part of a story in the form of journal entries. Everything that happens in the story will most likely happen between the entries. Make sure your readers can see the events offstage, but also remember to present your journalist's blind spots - she/he will not present the whole story. Your journal writer may not even understand the significance of events until a few entries later (if ever). Keep the entries close together in time. Avoid completely self-obsessed narrators.

Diary 2010 Week To View

If found please return to DCI Swallow

25th January

The subject continues to keep to his usual routine. It’s difficult to tell whether he has any awareness of us – although we endeavour to be discrete, the rumour mill will work against us if neighbours become aware of our presence. Given the size of the flat and the thinness of the walls this seems inevitable, but we have several cover stories and counter-rumours to turn to if necessary.

Jones continues to insist that we refrain from mentioning the subject’s name or those of any of his associates even in our written communication. I’m monitoring that situation, too – Jones appears to have a strong case of paranoia where the subject is concerned, but this is understandable in light of his previous postings in the breakaway republics. The subjects links to the republics remain unproven, and all evidence points towards his being a local small time drug dealer who is trying to get a reputation as something more.

Sneyder, the police psychologist assigned to our unit, assures me that she thinks Jones is stable, and there is no doubt that he is an able officer, but all the same it troubles me that he attributes a good deal of power and influence to one petty criminal.

As the subject is well known and this case well documented, I have acquiesced to his wish that we refer only obliquely to the subject. In the long run it will not harm our case.

10th February

Jones’ behaviour continues to concern me. He has taken to muttering words which rhyme with the subject’s name, and were it not for his excellent work deciphering the coded messages we have picked up from our friend on the other side of the street I would request he be taken off the case. Unfortunately he is one of the few code breakers we have available, and as such is indispensible to us here.

After two weeks’ observation the subject still appears to have no intelligence of our presence. The messages we have intercepted have largely been of no consequence, but some of them have given us new leads to follow up. At the end of this month we should certainly have enough to move onto the next stage of the investigation, and I have no doubt that the records we are keeping will help lead to a conviction.

18th February

After some unusual activity from the subject, we have requested back up, which should be with us in a few days. Our suspicions grow that he has finally realised he is under surveillance, and although he will not make a move before the High Tide festival, which he will need as cover to launder the cash we believe is stored in his flat, we are concerned about our safety after that time.

Fortunately this unpleasant development has allowed us to shoot several dozen high resolution pictures of the subject and his associates with firearms which are certainly not legally owned, and can only add to the strength of our case.

25th February

The increased security has certainly given us all some measure of peace of mind, although I fear Jones will need transferring to another unit before the festival is finished. The strain of waiting for a possible attack has lead to increased paranoia, and his increased use of his asthma inhaler particularly concerns me. I am certain that his dependence on the drug is far beyond what is normal even in severe asthmatics, and he would not have been allowed to serve on this team if his health had been judged lacking.

I confess it will be a relief to leave this wretched flat and get back to the office to analyse the information we have collected.

29th February

Jones is dead. The flat is surrounded and we don’t know exactly what is happening outside. It looks like Jones was correct after all. If this record is retrieved, then let our deaths count for something; whoever is assigned to this case in future must be warned that the subject possesses powers that defy description and that the only chance to defeat him is

The diary extract reproduced above was recovered in early March when survivors and bodies were pulled from a destroyed building which was an apparent victim of a terrorist attack.

Mysteriously, police records give no reference to the case, or the officers involved, and even the unusual surname Sneyder gave us no link to any known police force either nationally or on Interpol.

The body from which the diary was retrieved was unrecognisable, having been badly burned in the fire, and no matches were found of any of the victims of the explosion in the dental records currently available to us. Only a small portion of the diary was unharmed, and tests reveal that the security lock had been breached several times before the time of the explosion, although the DCI makes no record of any attempt to break into it.

No other written material, recording equipment, or similar items and devices were recovered at the scene.

We respectfully suggest that the information contained in this report stays confidential until such a time as the subject is identified and neutralised.

- Bacon County Federal Coroner’s Office.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

4 - The Unstable Self: Pain

The Unstable Self

Write a story that alternates between the I and the he/she (or narrator name), making sure you don't confuse the reader with the switches. You might also consider other ways of indicating instability - voices (in italics), commands, or out-of-body perpectives. Perhaps a situation where a person is under such stress they cannot think straight?

Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)

with thanks to Gerard Manley Hopkins from whom I have begged, borrowed, and possibly stolen! - The Caged Skylark

I don’t want to be here any more. I wonder if I can escape. I wonder if I can fly away.

She winces even in her sleep. I look down dispassionately at my earthridden, bedridden self. In that bone-house, mean house. But not resting. No mounting spirit here. She’s caged. Trapped. Not a skylark, but a dodo.

What, then, of me? Sprung like a rhythm out of flesh. Flying high. She battered against barriers and gave in. I soar free. I can’t explain.

It’s strange to watch her face contort and to feel nothing. To see my limbs twist with pain. To see her teeth grind together. And to feel nothing.

I look away. The view from the window is green and pleasant. She looks it every day but she doesn’t notice it. She looks, the light enters her eyes, the image is processed by her optic nerve and transmitted to her visual cortex. She looks at it. But she does not see it. I have not seen it before, though I have looked at it every day.

A noise makes me look back to the bed. Eyes have opened. Vision is blurred. She can’t see. I can’t see. I have no eyes. They’re there on the bed and they’re misty and clouded with pain. I wonder how, then, am I looking down at her? At me?

I don’t want to. I float away. She is trapped by her bones, flesh-bound, imprisoned. I am free as a bird, as a dare, as the breeze over a meadow. I can soar. I can sing.

She groans. I sink, pulled down. Don’t! Let me go. She won’t let go. She can’t. She doesn’t know how. She needs a sign.

Rain. A drizzle, falling like tears. She did not look. I did not notice the clouds. I am floating above it all, far away, and lying in this bed, a prisoner of her body.

She can’t escape. The sky is weeping for her and she is trapped here, in chains. The chains bind me tight and she cannot move. The bed is not rest but torture.

I fight back. I rise, slowly, slowly. Looking for a light in the darkness. Looking for sweet release. All she wants is not to be in pain any more. Legs too weak to hold her scramble for purchase on the smooth sheets. Machines beep. Regular. Monotonous. Beep. Beep. Counting away the seconds of a life no longer being lived.

The sun falls on her face and she smiles as I feel the warmth. No pain, just warmth. Welcome. Release.

Sudden fear. Is this what I want? Her body tenses, one last effort against the inevitable. How does she know that this is the right time? Who will promise that what is to come will be better?

A rainbow outside the window. She looks. I see it.

Her spirit sings like a bird released, flying high over the meadows. Her body relaxes back into the pillows, quiet. Pain drains away. I cannot feel anything.

At last at peace. Breathing stills, stops. Heartbeat stills, stops. I soar onwards, chains released.

Emails from Blogger

Anyone able to tell me if I can make blogspot send emails to the email address I actually use rather than the gmail address which I only ever use as a backup?

Frrrrrrrrrustrated! They are both in my profile but it'll only subscribe me to things with the gmail account.

Monday, 8 February 2010

3am Epiphany Challenge 3 - Unreliable Third: True Love?

To celebrate sending my novel off (albeit it still in pretty shabby shape!) I am posting my next challenge snippet. Enjoy... :)

it's a bit too long really, but I'm trying to get a few done... I'm going to go back and have another couple of goes at some of them, but I'm posting my first efforts anyway!

Write a fragment of a story from the POV of an unreliable narrator - third-person limited (or attached) narration.

Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)

Usually, an unreliable narration is spoken in first person, so what happens when you give us a slightly detached, yet still unreliable narration? (Think Hitchock's movie Stage Fright) In third person unreliable narration, the readers will believe more of the lies, so see if you can present a deceptive character's perceptions as what he/she believes or wants to believe. You have to both believe the lie and show it to be a lie.

True Love?

Helen smiles at George and tries to ignore the little frown lines around his mouth. He is trying to make her a better person, and it is working – slowly, but it is working.

She turns back to her ironing, standing up straight, ensuring that her back is elegantly poised and her shoulders are not slouched. He hates slouching, but only because he doesn’t want her to get backache. He only slouches himself because of his own back trouble, and he doesn’t want Helen to suffer the way he does. After all, he couldn’t afford for them both to visit the masseuse.

He turns the television up a little higher. He’s forgotten that she hates this show, hates the presenter. He wouldn’t have put it on if he had remembered, but she forgives him, because he’s just trying to relax. He’s been working late, it’s not his fault his job is so stressful. She’s grateful his secretary is such a sweet girl, always so obliging, staying late at work so he doesn’t have to make the phone calls himself. Jeannie. A lovely girl. She even calls Helen herself when George is working late, so that George can get on with things and be home a little earlier. Jeannie is such a pretty thing, she could be a model, but George says she prefers to do something useful with her life.

Helen folds up the last shirt with care as the programme finally finishes and places it in the pile of ironing. George harrumphs and hauls himself up from the settee. There’s a faraway look in his eye that reminds Helen of their honeymoon. She’s about to say something when he catches her eye and frowns again.

“I’m going to bed.” His voice is gruff, but that’s just his way. She knows he loves her. She’s sure that tonight when she goes up he’ll be waiting for her, not turned away and snoring as he has been recently. He’s just been tired, and she can’t blame him for that.

“Can you…?” She gestures towards the pile of ironing, but he puts a hand in the small of his back and grimaces.

“Can’t. Back trouble.”

His terseness can’t cover up the fact that he’s still miles away, looking past her at some memory that softens his expression and reminds her of the man she fell in love with.

She’s sure now that he’s remembering their honeymoon, and once he’s gone up the stairs she starts to bustle about, getting everything quickly tidied away so that her beloved won’t have to wait for long.

She tries not to move too quickly when he is in the same room – she knows he gets irritated when she makes a noise. It’s not his fault – he has sensitive ears. That’s why they rarely have music on. It’s something to do with the beat or the pitch or – Helen doesn’t really understand, but she loves him and she can listen while he’s at work. The neighbours won’t tell.

There’s more to do than she had thought, and she doesn’t want to leave anything untidy. George probably won’t be up before her in the morning, but if he is he won’t want to be tripping over things. It only takes a few minutes, but George is so tired, and when she pushes open the bedroom door he’s snoring. She sighs. She’s disappointed, but not surprised. He’s been working late. Jeannie told her so. Maybe at the weekend he won’t be so tired.

He’s only doing it for her, working himself into the ground so that she can stay in all day and not have to work. He loves her. She knows he loves her. She’s sure of it. She is.

On finishing

Gah. I have a self imposed deadline for my NaNo novel today. I have two eager readers waiting to dip in to it. I know I'm not going to come close to filling all the plots holes and such. Help!

I'm enjoying it(!) so much that at the moment I am working on this particularly evil 3am challenge instead.

I have 81,359 words as of 3pm. It'll be interesting to see if that rises, falls or stays the same, and how much of the 11K notes file actually become scenes or parts of scenes.

I have a feeling that when I finally fill in all the gaps and stuff it's going to be long and I'm going to have to be brave and do some serious pruning.

Oh well!

On the plus side, my carrot is that I have the latest version of a NaNo novel I've been wanting to read since November on my harddrive. It'll be my reward for fruitful(!) toil...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

3am Epiphany Challenge - 2

Write a fragment of a story that is made up entirely of imperative commands, e.g. "Do this; do that; contemplate the rear end of the woman who is walking out of your life." This exercise will be a sort of second-person narration.

Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)

The Headmistress

“Stop! You there, stop running immediately. Come here. Tell me your name.”

Steel yourself. Don’t imagine this will be over quickly.

“Call me Fonzie.”

Try not to roll your eyes as she inspects you more closely, and don’t be surprised when your clever remark doesn’t get a laugh.

“Don’t be funny with me, boy. And don’t be fooled that you won’t be punished for your impertinence. Call yourself what you like, but don’t imagine it’ll make a difference.”

Hide your smirk beneath a frown. Try not to imagine the kudos the others will give you for making her turn that delightful shade of puce.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you. And don’t scowl. If you think that’s clever, well, think again!”

Don’t rise to the bait. Remember that one day you’ll leave.

“And while I’m on the subject, bring in your homework tomorrow. Don’t be late, and don’t keep the class waiting. Have some respect for your fellow students!”

One day – oh don’t forget that one day the harridan will be old and grey. Imagine it.

“I could be talking to a brick wall – if there’s anything going on in that head of yours, knock once for yes!”

Ignore her cruel laughter. Bite your tongue, it doesn’t do to answer back, so think – but don’t say it out loud.

“Go on, dream away. Dream your life away! Look at me and try to work out if I care whether you succeed or not.”

Oh, go away and die!

“And tell me, boy, what is your mother thinking sending you out looking like that? Let her iron your clothes, at least.”

Try to forget that you have no mother to clean up after you. Try to forget that this woman knows it as well as you do. Ball your hands into fists in your pockets, dig your nails into your palms, do whatever it takes. Just don’t show her she can hurt you.

Wait… wait… be sure the harangue is over before you try and step away. Watch for the sharply indrawn breath. Heed the narrowing eyes. Don’t be fooled by the short silence. Don’t think it’s over when it’s hardly begun.


“Come with me.”

Follow her down the corridor and shrug. Pretend not to notice the looks of pity from the older boys. Pretend not to react to the gestures of encouragement and defiance your friends make as you pass. Pretend not to care.

Follow in silence as she enters the office. Sit down, and act as if nothing’s wrong.

“Stand up. Don’t sit down unless I tell you to!”

Stand up as slowly as you dare. Act nonchalant. Try to ignore the implements of punishment and the glow in her eyes as she stares at them.

“Bring me the birch cane.”

Ignore the hiss of triumph in her voice.

Die, bitch.

Wait for the hiss of the cane as it whips through the air, and brace yourself as best you can.

Resign yourself to the inevitable, and comfort yourself by plotting her downfall.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Note to self: Learn how to use blog

I thought I was clueless enough when it came to Wordpress - seriously, I thought I was fairly technosavvy till I started using that thing. Great for blog entries, not so helpful for telling me how to get an email when someone posts to a blog. Or maybe I am just stupid...

Anyway, so yeah - me, Wordpress, we're getting acquainted.

Blogger?* I can't even work out how to post a comment, and only noticed today that I have two myself. I mean, sorry, how lame is that?!

Just occassionally I press the right button and lo! a comment happens. But not today.

In fairness, it is gone 1.30am here. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

Thank you to my commenters, your encouragement on my first (and thus far only, though I WILL do more) 3am challenge is much appreciated. As and when I can return the favour...

* or is it blogspot? See, I don't even know that - the url is different here than on my actual blog.

Hopeless, truly hopeless!

Monday, 25 January 2010

3am Epiphany Challenge

You may, if you're a writer type, have come across this blog:

Me being, well, me, I didn't find out about it till I was already behind and then I have been bad at finding time to actually take the dratted challenges.

BUT. I will nonetheless post those I DO complete here!

Hope you enjoy...

Write a first person story in which you use the first person pronoun (I, me or my) only two times. Keep the 'I' somehow important to the narrative you are constructing. The point is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself than in what he is observing.

Wordcount: 600 (+/- 10%)

Now frankly, I think I can do a better job than this, and may well try it again.

But here's my first effort.

Don't Get Caught

Don’t get caught. The best advice an old thief can give, and the old thieves are the ones to heed. It’s easy to say, less easy to do, especially when the guards are coming and the lock picks just aren’t working. It’s a time to consider whether this is a good life path. The door is very ornate, very imposing, and very solid. Wood may seem old fashioned, but when it’s centuries old oak it might as well be cast iron. Coupled with an unexpected state of the art lock it is impregnable to the opportunist thief.

A kick only results in a sore toe and a muffled swearword. Being found isn’t an option – this is not the time to get caught, that’s for sure. The windows on either side of the corridor are starting to look more tempting; falling twenty feet seems a better alternative than having my kidneys used as bongos.

The imposing pillars that line the corridor also provide a little cover for anyone trying to open the window. It’s a small comfort, but in this situation it’s better than nothing. The latch is, naturally, sealed shut, but it is less of an obstacle than the heavy wood of the uncooperative door.

The task is a fiddly one, but doable. The voices are getting closer, but obviously these guards are more easily fooled than some. Doubling back or hiding in a cupboard would seem amateur to an amateur, but in the right situation it can provide those few extra moments to evade capture.

The window finally opens with a noise that could be interpreted as a sigh of relief by those of a fanciful nature. The night air is cold but welcome, like a scent of freedom on the wind.

The drop is enough to give pause, but only for a moment. Whoever designed the gardens planted a shrubbery for this very purpose, or at least never considered a flower bed under the window a security risk. They were foolish, but they earn a quick murmur of gratitude.

Edging out through the window and onto the ledge is the easy part: closing the window again from outside is more difficult. Clearly the architect was less fond of criminals than the gardeners are. It’s necessary, another ruse to give a few moments before the escape route becomes clear to those in pursuit. All those moments add up, eventually equaling a successful getaway.

It’s impossible to close the window entirely. A rush job will have to do. So far these guards have not proven the most observant, and it might just be enough.

Decision: wait and hope they don’t notice the window is ajar, or risk them hearing the rustle of the greenery below? The chill breeze makes the decision – even the stupidest guard will have more trouble ignoring a draught.

At arms length hanging from the ledge the ground still seems a long way away, but it is too late to second guess. Footsteps which have been getting steadily closer for five minutes are now too close to ignore.

A deep breath, a reluctant unclasping of fingertips, and the deed is done. A bush doesn’t provide much cushioning, but it’s better than the cold hard ground. Bruises will have to be ignored for now, a stealthy creep through the shadows stands between me and freedom. The gardener has earned his thanks with an avenue of trees that provide excellent cover, and the outer walls are no barrier to one experienced in burglary.

A moment to brush off the leaves, and a thief becomes an ordinary citizen emerging from an alleyway into the light. Hiding in plain view is another trick the old thieves will teach the young. It’s one of the best ways of following their favourite piece of advice. What was that again? Don’t be afraid to ask – a proud thief is a dead thief in this city.

But always remember. It’s simple. Don’t get caught.

Being stalked... in a nice way!

Apparently I have a follower, but blogger isn't telling me who.

Anyway, here is a shout out to whoever you are *waves* thanks for following me!

Friday, 22 January 2010

I am a dragon.

According to a commenter here, "Those who don’t like Twilight Saga are not women."

Join the ranks of those who have therefore decided to become dragons instead.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


I suppose it's a good thing that I have had an enforced time off from my novel. Maybe I will be able to go back and read it and solutions to my plot chasms will come to me. I really hope so.

I just wish I could look at a computer screen for more than ten minutes at a time without my brain starting to protest. I owe several reads and critiques, and I have at least one of my own work to read (plus at least one to come). Scary enough in the first place without the added intrigue of "will it make me sick to attempt to read this today?"

Bah. I'm whining. Sorry!