Tuesday 27 November 2012

Diet Coke Flash Fiction

I have been inspired by a photo taken by the husband of a good writer friend Susi Holliday and titled simply 'Art'.

I was caught between the bright jovial display, that glitters with it's symmetry and synchronicity, contrasted with the content of what it displayed; a large amount of Diet Coke cans. The juxtaposition of such a commercial object, drunk in such quantity, with its controversial health risks (in my view anyway), being used in such an off the wall artist way, begged to be written about, or in this case 'Flashed' about.

So encouraged by my writer friend, that is what I did. Enjoy.
Diet Coke 

They said that it was the sugar in the coke that was the problem, but they were wrong. Plus it was diet anyway, so there was no sugar.

He counted out the white pegs to make sure he had enough. Then he measured the distance of the line, calculating the breaks between, before he started hanging them. It had to be right, otherwise it would look silly.

The cans glittered in the sunlight. The pegs just catching the top of the ring pulls, so they had room to move in the breeze. He smiled; she would have liked them, and she would have smiled. He faltered, his arm outstretched about to hang another one.

That was where it had begun, with her smile. It had started to decay - not metaphorically but literally.

He continued to hang them and turned them so that their labels displayed the same way. They had to be uniform. Then he took a count – there had to be an even number too.

As each tooth had crumbled, the dentist had grown increasing puzzled. He’d asked her to start listing what she ate. And when he first pointed out the regularity of the cola on the list, she thought it must have been the sugar and had switched to Diet. But then she’d broken her wrist. No accident, no fall, just a quick flick of the wrist to switch off the light and snap!

As he appreciated the contrast of the glaring red ‘Coke’ on the silver background, he remembered the blood test results, the words ‘advanced Osteoporosis’ ringing out and wandering round his head, trying to find a place.

He heard a crumpling sound from his hand and saw he’d dented the can he was holding. He threw it on the ground and picked up another; a clean, smooth one. He stroked it and hung it up, admiring its clean lines, its brightness, and the innocence with which it had held its poison.

It was then that they had heard about phosphates, and in particular Phosphoric Acid and its corrosive properties, particularly on bones. The funny thing was how dumb it was really; everyone knew about the coca cola tooth test, everyone had seen the pile of dust the tooth had become overnight. It was fact, not fiction. But they all kept drinking it.

He placed the last one at the end by the birdhouse. He didn’t think they would mind; birds liked sparkly things. He looked back along the row, looking closely at the gaps between making sure they looked equal, symmetrical.

Then he took the camera and stood back. She’d love it. He would lay it on her grave that afternoon.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Second NaNoWriMo snippet

So time for a taste of my new novel 'Sleep'.

It's proving quite hard to get into, as the way is not yet clear, but it's coming. Plus my writing time has been scuppered by work demands, so I have had less time to focus, and have fallen way behind with my NaNoWriMo word count.

But here's a piece to entice you:

As the van jolted forward with the light change, her mind jolted back to their first night in their new home together. They had decided to not move into either one of their existing homes, but to do this properly and move into a new place they had chosen together; a nice three bed semi.
They had settled in well, and found an easy rhythm. They created date nights and nights in together. Their first holiday abroad had been thrilling, both enjoying the same type of beach holidays; part lazing on the beach; part discovering the history of the Greek island they had picked. It had worked, they were in synch. So it had only been a matter of time until the next step.
It had been a long time since she had recalled any of the soft, gentler feelings she’d had towards him. She hadn’t dared; it hurt too much. And she’d been too consumed with rage. Now the rage was gone - she had quelled it.
Lizzy felt the van start to slow down, and saw the steps of the court house ahead through the windscreen. She saw all the people gathered there and wondered what they were there for. As the van pulled up she could hear the noise of them; their rage.
The guard raised his eyebrows at her and held up a blanket. She looked at him stone faced and then at the blanket. If nothing else it would protect her from the spit.
She stood up and lowered her head, and he swept it round her as the back doors opened. He clutched her shoulders helping her out, knowing she couldn’t step far with the ankle cuffs.
The roar increased as she stepped out, the blanket blocking her view of them. She felt relief from that, but knew the shuffle up the steps was going to be one of humiliation.
It was like walking through a lightening storm as the flashes went off left and right, streaking through the material of the blanket, heating up her face. When she reached the court house entrance she sensed a gathering of people behind her, and heard the warning voices of police telling people to keep their distance. Then the silence of the marble interior of the foyer deafened her as the doors were closed. Someone pulled the blanket off her head, leaving it to rest on her shoulders, and she saw her team of lawyers standing there waiting for her. Everything was hushed in here, and she was manoeuvred into one of the side rooms for the briefing. 

Thursday 8 November 2012


For those that don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National November Writing Month - where any and all aspiring, and already successful writers, attempt to write 50,000 words in a month. Many begin a new project, a new novel, but the idea is to just keep writing, no looking back, no editing - just write!

There is a website to sign up on and keep log of your word count, with a lovely little graph to show you whether you are on track, and there is also a forum and you can link to any friends you have who are also taking part - your 'buddies'.

This is my third attempt. Last year I only reached 20,000 words, but considering I had a work project running, it was really hard to keep on track. And although the same has happened this year too - a work project (maybe two) has started up alongside it - I have so far been able to stay on track and have breached over 11,000 words in just one week.

But this year I have a much larger support group, who are all writers of vary degrees, and whom I stay connected with through Twitter. We help motivate each other on a daily basis, in particular with what we call 'Word Mongering' sessions, where you go for 'writing sprints' on the hour or the half hour, and write for intervals of 30 minutes and see how many words you can achieve. 

It was during one of these sessions that the idea to post a piece of your unedited work came from. So here I am to do exactly that. I am doing two projects for NaNoWriMo this year: finishing my novel Jade, and starting another novel Sleep.

I am down to the last couple of scenes of Jade, which is about an exclusive nightclub owner called Michael Nelson who has a secret, when that secret comes out all hell breaks lose both personally and professional. This scene is near the end, and is presently a favourite of mine (although it might need more work). So here it is, in all its unedited glory!

John looked at Kate and they both smiled. Kate said, “I don’t know what you said to her that night in the club when she went to talk to you, but you’ve earnt her undying respect! She’s changed her allegiance and been trying to get me to talk to you for a while now.”
“Really? I just put my foot down; wouldn’t put up with her drama, or screaming accusations. She just needed someone to be firm with her.”
Kate laughed. “People have tried that before, it had to be more than that.”
Michael shrugged. “I only insisted on how much I loved you. Told her I wanted to marry you. Could it have been that?’
Kate looked shocked. “You still want to marry me? And you told her that?”
“Yes, I do, and yes I did.”
Kate blushed.
“But this isn’t my official proposal. I think we should wait until I know if I’m of any use to you before making any kind of commitment. I have no idea what state I’m going to be in after this operation heals.” He grinned and she laughed.
“It’s not all about that and you know it!”
“I know, but it does matter.”
“Not to me.”
John interrupted. “Erm, hello? Have you two forgotten I’m still here?”
“No, not at all, you can bear witness to it.”
“Yes John, you can bear witness to the fact that I have just accepted Michael’s marriage proposal.”
Michael’s smile turned to one of elation. “Are you sure? I don’t want you rushing into anything; we need to do a lot of talking first.”
“I know that, but I don’t want to waste anymore time. These last few weeks have shown me one thing; I don’t want you out of my life. I loved who we were together and I want to find that again.”
Michael knew he couldn’t lean forward and kiss her, so he pulled her to him instead. This time he ignored the pain in his face and kissed her for a long time, a hand on each side of her face as he did so.  Only John clearing his throat finally stopped them.
“Sorry John, it had to be done.”
“I know, but it’s not nice feeling all green and hairy!”
They all laughed.

Friday 26 October 2012

Zombie Run

Written for the Zombie Run Contest hosted by Lisa Hollar on her website Jezri's Nightmare which closes on the 30th of October.


Alice watched from the window of her top storey apartment. Bartie was trying to put up a fight out there on the green, but they had him surrounded. She could hear the screaming, but it didn’t make any difference; they still advanced on him. There were five of them and they were hungry. They were going to have him no matter what.

She wondered if he might jump up and over them or climb a tree, but unfortunately there were none nearby. He didn’t, he stood his ground thinking that his fearsome stance and continuing noise would put fear into their hearts and make them run.

Couldn’t he tell they didn’t have hearts anymore, or any sense of fear? They only knew one thing; that they had to eat.

They came closer and closer and Bartie still didn’t move. Then one of them dared to go for it, and although Bartie was younger, feistier and could throw a single one off, when the others pounced too he was quickly overwhelmed, and it was only a matter of seconds before the spray of blood was seen and the noise stopped. Only the attackers could be heard now, as they fought over the best part of his brain.

Alice watched the whole thing and it gave her an idea. It didn’t have to be human brains, it could be animals too. Maybe she could find a living cat or a dog too. She shuffled out of the apartment. She had heard a dog whining in the empty apartment on the floor below. Fresh blood.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Flash Flood

In response to the National Flash Fiction day, an international flash-fiction journal was set up called FlashFlood. So far they have had two issues, and there will be more next year.

I submitted a piece, which although was unsuccessful, I really liked. I reworked it from a previous entry I had written in April 2007 for short story competition held in Writing Magazine.

'Echo of a Whistle' by Miranda Kate

Jonas had no idea how long he’d blacked out for this time. His heart raced as he spun round trying to see if the man was still there, but all he could see were empty train carriages sitting in the disused siding.
He shook his leg and pulled at his foot, but it was still stuck. It was wedged right under the track and he couldn’t reach it.
           It was really dark now and the wind had picked up. It startled him as it hurtled round the corners of the derelict train sheds. Any second now he was sure the man would appear. He’d chased Jonas through the woods and out onto the embankment; he had to be here somewhere.
He fought back tears of fear and frustration; crying for his mummy wasn’t going to help him now - the man had been right about that. But the images of that underground room, with its dirt floor and rusty metal cot, haunted him. He couldn’t risk being taken back there; he couldn’t go through that pain again. The very thought of the man touching him; putting those metal things in him again, terrified him.
His freedom had been hard won as he’d had to wait for the man to finish relieving himself and slump back, on one of the rare days that he’d chosen not to use the other equipment on him. The man had expected Jonas to go and clean himself up, and shouted when he was gone too long. Jonas was grateful he was already halfway up the stairs when that happened, and started running for his life.
And he was almost free, but then he’d caught his foot when running across the tracks; too busy looking over his shoulder instead of where he was going. He remembered wondering why the man was still standing on the embankment, then a roaring noise filled his ears and his fall was punctuated by a blinding flash.
He tried to reach his foot again, leaning one hand on the track as he did so, and that was when he felt it; the vibration running through it. This stirred a whole new world of fear and panic inside him. He peered in the darkness and made out two pin pricks of light. They were moving; their size was increasing. In his gut he knew it was a train.
He expected to become frantic, but instead he became calm. This meant that the man couldn’t have him anymore; whether dead or spotted by the guardsman on the train, it was over.
He looked up at the oncoming train. He could see the lights clearly now; the shape of their perfect roundness. He waited for the whistle; the signal that they had seen him; alerting him to move. But it didn’t come. 
He’d already heard that whistle earlier that evening; the blinding flash hadn’t been his head hitting the track. He foot wasn’t trapped anymore, and the man was gone, just like him. 

499 Words

Sunday 21 October 2012

U got the 'Look'

Thanks to the lovely Susi Holliday, I’ve been tagged in this blog game which involves searching your current WIP (Work in Progress) for the word ‘look’ and posting the surrounding paragraphs, then tagging another 5 writers to do the same. It can be a short story, a poem, a novel, whatever you’re working on.

I was a little daunted by the amount of times 'look' came up in my WIP, my soon-to-be-finished novel, Jade (working title), but I decided on a piece that hopefully tantalises!


 Kate silently studied Michael's face and he simply smiled in return. She knew she wasn’t going to get anything more from him than that; she had seen that look in his eyes before - it was so blank she couldn’t decide if he was being guarded or totally open. It made her wonder if she was just trying to connect dots that were on different pages and reach for something that wasn’t there, but ever since Michael’s reaction when meeting Donny and Donny asking him if they had met before, her suspicion had been raised – about what she had yet to figure out.
Michael waited for her to say something else, but could see she was at a loss for words. He knew her suspicion had been peaked. She was clearly starting to pick up on some things; his tension around Donny, Donny finding him familiar, and now a name connection. And even he was a little thrown by Donny making such a connection, but while the BBQ was still going on, he had to keep it together – he didn’t dare to even think about the implications of the conversation he had just had with Donny, not yet, not until it was all over.
Michael put his arm round Kate and pulled her into him, kissing the top of her head. “Stop worrying. That call was nothing but a wrong number. But I have to say I do find it a bit disturbing that I remind Donny of an ex-girlfriend!”
This comment cracked a smile on Kate’s face and she finally loosened, responding to the hug saying, “Yeah, I know, I’m grabbing at straws, aren’t I? I’m just being silly.”
Michael pulled her away from him slightly so he could look her full in the face and said in a serious tone, “No, you’re not being silly, you’re being insecure. And I need to do something about that – it’s just I’m not sure what yet.”
Kate saw genuine intent in his eyes this time, along with deep emotion for her. It reassured her and it made her want to kiss him hard and passionately – so she did. He responded, but tried to keep it short as they were on public display in the garden and the hosts of the party. Unfortunately it was too late there were a few whistles from the male counterpart and general cheering all round.
He raised the bottle of beer he still had in his hand as acknowledgement while they finished their kiss, and smiled round at them when he broke away. Kate laughed, feeling mildly embarrassed. He then said loudly, “I’d better get back to serving up the beer!”, which brought a renewed round of cheers. 

I have tagged this lot of awesome writers (there are so many) and hope to get a 'look' at what they are working on!
@DionneLister  (if only to get a sneak preview of the sequel!)

Saturday 13 October 2012

Behind the Curtain

 Written for the Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction Contest, hosted by Anna Meade over at her blog Yearning for Wonderland.

Performance of her life
Helena switched on the music and one by one they arrived.
They hung out with her daily; flopping down onto the sofa or sitting round the table, gathering in the room to enjoy the same music as her, talk about the same things and just enjoy the ambience of good living.
Every morning her husband would go to work. She would prepare his pack lunch, kiss him goodbye and think about what was in store for her that day. Who would come? How many would  there be?
When Helena had first moved here, she had struggled. When you’re born a city girl, village life was hard to get used to even if you weren’t in a foreign speaking country. She had believed she was coming to join a community, share a life, be a part of something, but she hadn’t been prepared for the enormity of the culture differences, especially the language barrier. They could all speak English when she was just a visitor; it didn’t occur to her that once she was living here they would stop.
Helena’s favourites would always come. Many knew each other - it was hard not to when they were all in the same business. They liked coming; it was an opportunity to network, to hang out in private and away from the public eye; a place where they could be ordinary people again and not ‘celebrities’.
Once everyone had arrived she would turn the music up and the show would begin. She would get up and dance, even sing sometimes, and Kate would join her; they would perform together, totally in synch and everyone would be mesmerised. And she would feel alive again, appreciated again, surrounded by people who wanted to be around her.  
But she would always keep an eye on the clock; make sure she had enough time. She had to make sure there was time to switch off the music and usher them out, so that the house was tidy and dinner was waiting.
As Helena performed for them, she performed for her husband too as the dutiful wife. She didn’t want him to know about their visits.  She wanted to keep them separate. Even if they were only imagined, they had become a tangible part of her life here and the only thing that kept the intense loneliness at bay.