Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 34

This week's photo is from Parrish Relics, which sells handcrafted Amulate jewellery. I can't find any crowns on her site but the owner of Parrish Relics, Jen Parrish-Hill put this picture up on her Pinboard. I think this might have been a custom piece.

It was easy to come up with this tale and hear these characters but it was a struggle to find any kind of twist, so it is just a piece of what could be a larger work. 

 The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.


Game of Crowns

Kalic didn’t know where Karnie had hidden it but he knew that once the papers were produced Karnie would have no choice but to concede. Just one more day and it would need to be back in the throne room ready for the coronation.

But who would be crowned?

It was the question on all their minds. Twins born just minutes apart, but which one came first?

Their mother had died years ago and everyone assumed their father knew, but the onset of dementia meant he was no longer present to declare it.

Kalic clearly remember his mother telling him was first: her blue-eyed raven arrived first, she’d always said. He was the one with thick black hair, whereas Karnie’s was blond. But as his brother towered over him, people assumed it was the other way round. He was always referred to as ‘the little brother’.

It meant the papers had to be found, showing the exact time of birth, and stupidly they were kept at Great Bander, the strong hold in the North.

Kalic didn’t trust it. They could be interfered with at any stage of the journey, so he had gone personally. He had not viewed them, simply collected them. They would be looked at upon his return with his brother present.

He stormed into the East Wing of Castle Rossinda, Karnie’s side of the home they shared.

“Where is he? I want to see him now!” he yelled at the servants.

They scuttled before him, as he strode further into his brother’s domicile. Then a voice reached him: “I’m here brother, what are you so blustered about?”

Kalic pushed open the doors to the south entrance of the lounge and stomped in, the sight of Karnie lazing on the sofa with a book enraging him further.

“Where is it? There’ll be no pronouncement until you produce it!” he bellowed.

Karnie’s puzzled eyes met his. “What, Kalic? Produce what?”

“The crown you fool!”

“The crown? Why would I have that?”

“To stall the process and stop me from my rightful place on the throne.”

“Since when have I ever opposed your claim to the throne?”

Kalic halted. “Always!”

Karnie sat up. “What lies! I don’t want the job!”

“You always argued with father about everything, thinking you could do better, and threatened to do so.”

Karnie laughed. “He’s an old fool stuck in his ways. He has no idea how to rule a progressive state, whereas I have every confidence in you.”

Kalic slumped down into an armchair opposite his brother.

“Oh. So where’s the crown?”

“No idea.”

“But the coronation can’t happen without it.”

“Where did you see it last?”

“I presumed it was in the antiquities room, but it’s not.”

“The room next to father’s?”

“Yes.”

“He’s probably taken it then.”

“Why would he do that?”

“In his foggy state he gets quite riled up worried his throne will be taken from him.”

“What, still?”

“Yes.”

“Come on. Let’s go and get it.”

“What, me too?”

“Oh yes, I’ll need you.”

“Eh?”

They made their way to their father’s chambers in the back of the castle. It smelled of musty old belongings, which, Kalic supposed, their father was too now. They found him dancing round his rooms, naked but for a robe, the crown firmly planted on his head.

“Father, we’ve come for the crown,” Kalic said.

He stopped and put his hand on his head, grasping the crown. “I’ll never give it up!”

“Not even to your sons?” Kalic asked.

Their father paused, stepping up to them, inspecting their faces. Kalic could smell illness and decay on his breath.

“My sons, are you sure?”

“We’re sure,” said Karnie.

He continued to inspect them, then suddenly grabbed Karnie’s shirt and ripped it off. The strength he possessed was no surprise to them; their father had been a great warrior in his day.

Karnie’s chest exposed a childhood scar. Their father nodded. “ ‘Tis you, there is no doubt.”

And with that he swept the crown off his head and plonked it on Kalic’s.

Karnie looked surprised. “How did you know he would do that?”

“Because we are his sons, brother, the only people he still knows and trusts.”

This touched Karnie who stayed to settle their father and help dress him. They escorted him to the great hall for a banquet dinner, knowing it’d be his last as king. Despite his broken state they wanted to celebrate his reign while he was still with them.




Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Faerytaleish Pin Contest entry from May 2012

I came across this entry I wrote for a competition (Faerytaleish Pin Contest) back in May 2012, hosted by Anna Meade and posted up on her site: Yearning for Wonderland, before I had this blog. I still love the tale and the photo prompt. I am reblogging it here so I don't lose it again.

NB. A bit of research revealed this is a guy called Kiwan Landreth-Smith, he is a musician (Guitarist) from Trinidad & Tobago. 




Spellbound

Spellbound was indeed what she was when those eyes met hers. The minute she was caught by them she knew she was his. He didn’t need to lure her back to his lair; she was more than happy when he told her he was going to keep her there forever.

She would sit for hours and wind her fingers in his sundrenched hair while he tapped away on the locks that would bind her to him. She would whisper sweet nothings in his delicate elfish ears and run her fingers along the ornate markings on his deeply tanned skin while he wove the iron strands into place. And she would wait for the moment he would pause in his toil and look at her, making her catch her breath as she lost herself in the starlight glow of his eyes. Then he would smile in his quiet coquettish way, and her heart would flutter.

Despite the sparse furnishings of his beach dwelling cove, he made sure her new home wanted for nothing; providing silk cushions for her to lie upon, and a little tray for her food and drink. Then he hung her up high to give her full view of the ocean and they would watch the sunsets together.

As time went on it was the mornings she looked forward to the most, when he would wake her with his poking fingers and open up the door. She would turn and meet his dreamy gaze wishing once again that she could kiss his perfect lips and feel their fullness. But alas it was never meant to be; she could only dance along his finger and tickle them with her own miniature set, while fluttering her tiny wings against his cheek, and making him laugh.


Friday, 8 December 2017

National November Writing Month - Winner


I'm a bit behind in posting (or should that be boasting?) about my National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) success, as I have been basking in the 'I don't have to write anything today' afterglow.

For those that are new to the writing game, this is a yearly November challenge to try and write 50,000 words in one month. The idea is to get you into the habit of writing daily and also to keep you writing forward and not continually editing or rewriting what you have written. There is also a June one now (JuNoWriMo) so you have two opportunities to do this each year or use both to get some serious writing done.

I find the pressure to write daily quite hard. In fact this is my fifth attempt and my first success, so I am not one of those that can be blaze about it and consider it a walk in the park. Most of my failures have also been down to trying to juggle work as well, but this time I had no work so I was able to give it my full attention.

I find I tend to hit a wall around the 10th day, but I managed to push forward this time. I had a trip to Edinburgh for a friend's book launch already planned, so I knew I was going to have to stop writing for about four days. I used this as a sort of deadline, raising my daily writing quota to compensate.

In the end I was surprised at how easy it was to maintain a 2,000 word daily quota, even doubling the daily word count of 1667 to 3334 on occasion to cover my four day absence. The trick I found was to write some of it in the morning, get some words under my belt before the children came home in the afternoon and then the evening shift was much easier. And also the trick of leaving it mid-scene or mid-sentence so I could pick it up again quickly.

I wrote directly into Scrivener too, which was new for me. I loved how easy it was to keep track of my daily word count and my overall progress with the Project Target tracker. I could easily change how much I wanted to write daily as well. It was simple compiling it into a Word version for verification at the end, and the entire process has definitely made me a fan of this software.

After my trip to Edinburgh I did struggle to climb back into it the novel and the routine of writing, but once I got going again, it felt normal. And that's the trick really, maintaining a certain level of writing, if not daily at least a few set days a week, which keeps it all flowing, like a muscle you are trying to build.

Previously I have left my novels for a year or sometimes more, which has made it necessary to re-read the entire thing to refresh my memory. Although that does give me the opportunity to do edits or rewrites, or add in scenes before I continue. 

I started a new novel for this NaNoWriMo, rather than finishing one off as I had done last year. And although what came out was not exactly as I had envisioned, it came out painlessly and flowed in a way that made writing forward easy to maintain.

I am not a planner on the whole. I have an idea, I tend to know the ending and I have a few scenes in my head I want to include. I have a page of notes: a bit of an outline, a few questions and the concept of what I am trying to achieve, but that is all. I didn't even have the main character's names until the week prior to starting NaNoWriMo, although they tend to pop into my head when I begin. I jot them down as I go along too, so I don't deviate. This novel has been swimming around my head for the last six months and I had let it gestate and grow a little before trying to shape it.

So now I've had a rest I'm considering my next step: continue with it until it is finished, or return to editing a previous novel? Yes, I know, I can do both. But come on, that would be pushing it a little, wouldn't it? It is the month of December afterall.

See? My ability to procrastinate is still in fine form and not been disrupted by my success in any way. 😉😀



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 33

This week's prompt was created by a Turkish interior designer called Manolya F. You can see more of her art over on Deviant Art. She calls it Reflection of a Conscience. 

I have produced only a short one this week, but it contained all that I envisioned for this picture, which conjured emotion rather than a story.  

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.





Perspective

The painting led her away to a far away land she wished she could visit. Warm, blue azure seas and the imagined beaches they washed up on. She would dream about lying on them and feeling free, liberated from the world of emptiness she now resided in.

On calm days she would imagine floating on the surface, drifting to wherever the current took her, washing her up on some idyllic island where she would bask in the luxury of only having to care about herself and no one else.

On rough days she would imagine being on the deck of a sturdy ship, rising above the waves and ploughing forward through them to a place unknown but full of hope and rest.

But most days she would stare out at the ocean as though from a window of a cell, in a place she felt held prisoner, if not in reality then in her own mind.

And some days the painting would seem to leak, the seas so rough they splashed over into her own world, filling her with fear and hopelessness, unable to change or control anything; the inevitability of drowning becoming more real as she thumped on the glass attempting to break the window and release her soul.






Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 32

This week's picture prompt is a painting by Keith Alexander, called 'Dead End'. It doesn't look like a painting at all. Keith Alexander was a white African artist, and much of his art was inspired by what he saw. This particular painting was inspired by a train in the Namibian Desert called Martin Luther. Sadly Keith Alexander passed away in 1998 at the young age of 52.

I have had the opening of this story in my head ever since I spotted this picture. It is sort of my nod to Stephen King's magnificent novel, The Stand, but doesn't come close to the fantastic tale or characters he weaves in that.  This book also reminds me of The Dark Tower series - which crosses over with The Stand - and Blane the Pain (DT No.3). Interested to know what others see in this picture.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.




The Power of Books

“Have you ever ridden on one of these, dad?”Jasper climbed up the side of the old rusted steam train.
“Maybe once or twice, when I was young like you, but these were already past my time when I was a boy. The trains we used to ride on were electric.”
“E-lec-tric? What does that mean dad?”
“It means they worked using electricity, and not steam like this old train.”
“What is ele-triz-eaty?”
“ElectriCITY. It was a form of power, it made things go.”
Jasper was up in the cabin now, fiddling with the rusted lever. He glanced at his dad, who could see he didn’t understand.
“Power is like energy it makes things work. With this old thing ...” Paul patted the metal side of the engine, “you had to burn coal in there.” He pointed to the furnace. “Which then heated water in there,” he pointed to an area above the furnace, “and the hot steam would push the pistons round which would make the wheels turn.” Jasper looked at every place his dad pointed. “But although electricity was created the same way, it was made in huge power plants and stored in big generators, so they could send it through wires to different things and places, including lights for homes and ovens and TVs.” Paul knew his son didn’t know what any of those things were, but he enjoyed remembering them and attempting to pass on the knowledge.
“So what happened to all the power?”
“It stopped being made.”
“Why?”
“Because there were no people to make it anymore.”
“Was that when all the people got sick?”
“Yes.”
“Did you get sick too, Dad?”
“No, Jasper, I didn’t otherwise I wouldn’t be here either. I was one of the lucky ones. I was immune.”
“Ee-moon? What does that mean?”
“It means I can’t catch it. And neither can you.”
Jasper stopped fiddling with the engine and sat down in the cab, hanging his legs over the edge, and looked down intently at his dad. Paul could see him thinking.
“Do people still get sick, dad?”
“Not anymore, Jasper, no. All the people who are left are all immune too.”
“Good. It doesn’t sound like it was good.”
Paul smiled at how simply his son stated the catastrophic event.
“It wasn’t, billions of people died all over the world.”
“Will we ever have electree-city again, dad?”
“I don’t know son, maybe. There aren’t many people left who know how to make it, but there should be books somewhere that we can read that will tell us, if we can find them.”
“Can you read, dad?”
“Yes. I can.”
“Can you teach me?”
“I can, but we have to find some books first.”
“Where are they?”
“In the towns, you know, where all the buildings are.”
“Where the bad people live?”
Paul’s smile dropped when he thought about how bad it had gotten in the cities. It was why he and Jeanie had left to live in the desert. “Yes, like where the bad people live.”
“Will they let us have some books?”
“I’m not sure. It depends if they have been burning them or not.”
“Why would they do that?”
“To keep warm, or use the flames for light.”
“But if they burn the books we won’t know how to make power!” Jasper was outraged.
“That’s true. But maybe we can find another town where there aren’t bad people.”
“How?”
“By walking that way?” Paul pointed to the hills in the distance.
“It looks a long way.”
“It is.”
Jasper looked back at the tent he called home, the only one he had known since his birth five years earlier.
“Will mum come too?”
“Of course. We’ll all go.”
“Good.”
Paul saw his partner on the horizon, carrying something on her shoulder.
“Come on, let’s go see what your mum’s caught.”
“Yummy! Food!”
Jasper jumped down and went running towards his mum. Paul looked on. Whatever she was carrying was big. He hoped it meant they could feed themselves up before the big journey.




Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 31

This week's photo prompt is by Javier de la Torre, who is a professional Spanish photographer based in Madrid. He has some amazing work. Check out his page here.  He calls it 'Alone'.

I adore lavender: I grow it, and I use the oil for mediation. And of course it's my favourite colour: purple. So this picture just called to me to be written for, and this story also appeared in it's entirety. It moves away a bit from my darker side too. What does this picture say to you?

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

 

A Whisper 

Evie put her hands down and ran them through the tops of the lavender flowers, and then lifted them to her nose and breathed in the glorious smell. All through her life it had been the only smell that cleared her mind. She used it for meditation. It was the fastest thing to relax her. She loved it. But she couldn’t remember how she got here - here being a lavender field.

Evie could see perfectly despite it being the middle of the night. The sky was clear and bright, lit by infinite stars, an arm of the galaxy winding its way across it. It domed the row upon row of the beautiful herbs growing all around her, perfect in their straight lines and their round bushy tops. The night air was full of their scent. It was magnificent. It was heaven.

But where was it? Evie had no sense of place. She hadn’t remembered being in the south of France or any other Mediterranean country that grew lavender as a crop. In fact Evie’s last memory was in her car, looking out over the sea, contemplating her life. Was she dreaming?

Evie pinched the skin on her arm. She could see the skin between her fingers and pressed it hard, but was it the memory of the feeling or the actual feeling? She felt her hair against her face and even a breeze across her skin. She was awake ... or dreaming she was awake.

Evie noticed a tree in the distance and felt drawn to it. As she moved closer it became brighter. It wasn’t the tree emitting the light; it rose around it throwing the tree into silhouette. She wanted to see the other side where the light was coming from. Did she hear a whisper? Was it the tree?

She travelled without moving, the tree drawing closer as she thought about it. She had to be dreaming. And then she heard a voice that hadn’t been with her for decades; the voice of her maternal grandmother. It brought back the memories of sitting on her knee and hearing stories of magic and wonder. Evie felt butterflies in her stomach. Was her grandmother really here?

Then the tree was gone and only her grandmother was there, standing with her arms open, tears running down her face.

“Oh Evie,” she said. “I had hoped you wouldn’t be here for some time yet.” 
“But where is here, Nanna, where are we?”
“Heaven sweetheart, couldn’t you tell?”

Then it all made sense to Evie: her car, distracted by the view of the ocean, drifting across the road and the oncoming freight train. There’d been no pain, no drama, only a dream come true, she was with Nanna again, the emptiness was over. 




 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 30

When sourcing this week's photo prompt I came across another wonderful artist/photographer - Todd Wall. You can see a huge selection of his work on his page at 500px website and on his facebook page.

I knew how I wanted to end this piece, but it took me a while to get there. I think it worked. Another one of my dark tales. I do enjoy them.  

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.




Imagined

He kept seeing her at the edge of his vision: in the peripheral, a flash of colour or movement, something orange: a dress. If he turned he’d see something, but it wasn’t her.

Callum continued to ignore it, on the surface at least, although it increased whenever he was out with Gina, his new girlfriend.

“What is it?” she’d ask him. “Nothing,” he’d say. And he was right there wasn’t anything – not in reality.

The dreams escalated, too, to a point where Gina would shake him awake on the nights she stayed over.

“You’re doing it again.”

“What?”

“Shouting her name.”

“Sorry, I don’t mean to.”

“But who is she?”

“No one.”

Gina would give him a look. She thought he was lying, but he wasn’t. The woman had been no-one, just a figment of his imagination, a reflection of an old colleague, someone he’d fixated on and wanted something to happen with, but she’d been married. It’d only lingered in his head: imagined meet ups, imagined romance, imagined torrid affair.

He’d been lonely and desperate, but that had changed now. He’d settled in this new town, got to know a few people, date, and then found Gina. And that was the link: Gina. Since they’d been dating these glimpses had escalated. 

It made him think about this old work colleague again. He’d left the company, but had she? If he passed by his old firm would she still be there? The offices were on the ground floor; her desk would be visible through the windows. But when he went there he couldn’t see her. He bumped into another old colleague instead.

“Hey Callum, how are you? I didn’t think you worked round here?”

“I don’t, I was just visiting another company in the area. How’s it going? Still the same?”

“Yeah, the work’s still the same, just the people differ.”

“Oh? Have others left too?”

“Yeah a few. Jena’s disappearance unsettled everyone, especially the female workers. They thought maybe she’d been taken by someone in the area.”

“Taken? What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you hear? Yeah, they think she was kidnapped or something. No one really knows. “She was seen being forced into a car, but they’ve not been able to unearth anything else.”

Callum was stunned. “Wow, that’s bad. And there’s no leads?”

“No.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Oh quite a while back, a year, almost two. Just after you left, I think.”

Callum’s stomach started to churn. Was he having these ‘sightings’ because she was in trouble and trying to reach out?

That night he had another dream. This time he was in a wood and he could see her body in the ground. He was digging at it frantically, trying to unearth it and when he did, her eyes flew open. He sat up gasping. He knew the woods. They were behind the house where he’d grown up. He had to check it out.

He called in sick the next day and drove out there. He’d put a shovel in the boot, but he wasn’t sure that was a good idea. If he did find a body, it would look strange, too prepared, but on the other hand, what was he going to use, his hands?

He went to the spot he’d seen in his dream. There was a small mound in the ground, under some trees where as a child he used to make a den. It could be something or nothing.

He dug round it. The earth came away easily. He dug further in and saw something orange. It was the dress; her dress. He paused, wondering if he should call the police. But he kept going. He revealed her torso and her hands. In one of them she was holding a ring - his ring: a signet ring his parents had given him. He looked at his hand, expecting to see it, but it wasn’t there. Then he uncovered her neck and found a scarf – his scarf, the one he’d worn at university. It was pulled tight; she’d been strangled with it.

Callum dropped the shovel and backed away. Images tumbled through his mind, images he thought he had made up in his daydreams about being with her. They crowded in, overwhelming him. He fell to his knees. But he was sure it was her husband he’d imagined doing these things to her; how he would’ve reacted if they’d had an affair. He would have committed murder, not Callum.