Monday, 30 July 2018

Don’t Quit the Day Job - How the day job affects your writing.

Vic Watson put a call out on twitter asking for writers to share how their day job(s) have influenced their writing for a blog series she's writing called Don't Quit the Day Job, and I responded, so here I am am telling people how my work and writing fed one another.

Thanks to Vic for hosting such an interesting blog series. 

"I didn’t really think that writing would be something I would take seriously. I started out life wanting to be a film director, I even studied drama at college, but I did write snippets of stories (which would now be called flash fiction) – and one day a friend said they wanted more – a whole novel more, so I thought, how do I make this more?

By this time, after leaving my first job of working back stage in a West End theatre, I had moved into clerical work and it was at my first permanent job working in the office of a shoe factory, processing sales orders that I started to debate how I could turn one particular piece into a bigger story. And then one day the Office Manager, who sat opposite me, laughed at something someone had said. It came out as an effeminate cackle, and with his aged, balding, liver spotted head thrown back the antagonist for my novel was born!

I started that novel in 1991 and it has gone through many incarnations and rewrites, but it is now finally about to be released as a novella in my new science-fiction collection: Slipping Through."

For the rest of the article here.

If you are interested in taking part, just get in touch with Vic Watson either on twitter or via email through her website.


https://amzn.to/2LcIV5w
 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 65

This week's picture is by ZedLord-Art - aka Zenad Nabil, a digital Artist from Algeria. He has some interesting art. Go take a look over at his Deviant Art page.

A picture that in some ways already tells a tale, so I thought hard to try and find another angle. It ended up very short, but if you have no words, it tends to be. πŸ˜‰

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.  



No Words 

The words just wouldn’t come no matter how hard he tried to put them on paper. He’d spent weeks trying but they weren’t there for him, not anymore.

All his life he had managed to master them, make them dance to the tunes he wrote, but now they were gone, swallowed by events he couldn’t comprehend and never believed would happen.

It had made it all so pointless: the songs, the music, the words – yes, even the words. They had no meaning now. And he knew he should be lucky to still have his piano and a place to play it, many weren’t so lucky.

Now more than ever they needed the sound of it; they needed the comfort of the tune, the reassurance of the words, but he couldn’t provide them. His muse was dead, like the world.

And his words, like the falling ash, were drifting on the breeze, turning to nothing when caught, just disintegrating and remaining but a stain – a reminder of what once was.

Maybe they’d return again like the phoenix, and rise up out of the ashes, when people had recovered, and when the world had become more upside and less down.
 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 64

This week's photo is of Laura's Bridge, in Goodrich Park, Stockbridge, Berkshire, Massachusetts and managed by the Laura Hill Association. But I was unable to find out who took this photo.

In this sweltering heat I thought a bit of snow was in order. Try and feel that cold air!

I had planned something more serious, but this is what came out. I rather like it.

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.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there. 


The King's Daughters


The person he was tracking was either a fool or setting a trap, either way Rhodri was cautious. But the second set of prints on the bridge confused him. They weren’t significantly smaller – hence a child being carried and then set down – they were the same size. Rhodri didn’t like it. There was something he was missing here.

He continued to follow the footprints into the castle grounds, using them to cover his own tracks. No alarms had been raised at their arrival; could he be wrong in considering them intruders? The Princess had not informed him of any planned visitors, in fact she’d made it clear that no one was to be welcomed without explicit invitation, so who were these people?

The tracks ended abruptly several feet before the entrance into the great hall. Rhodri entered the castle through the servants quarters, swiftly scaling the back stairs to his mistress’s rooms. He needed to be sure she was safe.

He heard raised voices as he approached, and rushed into the room, hand on the hilt of sword ready to defend. But he stopped short, snapping to attention when he saw the back of the King, who was busy admonishing his daughter.

“How could you do this to me Gweneth?”

“This has nothing to do with you, father!” The princess was irate.

“It has everything to do with me. What of the family name?”

“What of it? We must move with the times.”

“Move with the times? Like your security? Your man Rhodri here didn’t even stop my entry.” Rhodri flinched at the insult.

“You were using your magic tricks again though, father, no one could have stopped you. You and that sycophant you carry around like some sort of pet, doing abnormal things.”

“Don’t speak of Hoodwink that way; he has gifts which he has chosen to bestow on his King.”

“His very name describes who he is father, everyone knows that. It’s trickery and deceit, and I won’t be spied on!” The princess stormed to the windows.

“But clearly someone needs to; this marriage will not go ahead!”

Gweneth sighed. “It’s too late father, we are already married.”

The King inhaled bringing himself up to his full height, his face colouring in such a way Rhodri was scared it might actually burst.

“How dare you! Your marriage is not legal without my permission!”

The princess seemed amused at her father’s rage. “What rubbish. Your consent is no longer required.”

“Until your 25th birthday it is!” Her father was indignant.

The princess dropped her smirk. “So concerned, yet you don’t even know your own daughter’s birthday.”

“Yes I do, it was last week!”

“And my age, daddy?” The King paused; she didn’t wait for a response. “Jasmine is a year younger than I. You always get us mixed up.”

This took the wind out of her father who visibly slumped, moving to the sofa to sit down. The princess joined him, her manner changing to one of appeasement.

“Daddy, you know I was going to choose my own suitor, it was always going to be that way. Ruth might have been happy for you to choose, but not me. And he’s a good man, Daddy, he really is.”

Rhodri felt his chest swell with pride. Gweneth looked at him and beckoned him over.

“Rhodri has been by my side all of my adult life, father, I couldn’t love anyone else.” She put out her hand and Rhodri took it, looking into her eyes and returning the love he saw there.

The King’s mouth dropped open. “I was told it was Malick that you planned to marry.”

“Oh father, no! Malick’s hideous.”

He smiled at Rhodri. “I could always trust Rhodri to keep you safe.”

“Oh he does, Daddy, he does. But who on earth told you it was Malick?”

“Your sister, Jacinta.”

Jacinta? But she’s the one who always fancies Malick. Daddy, are you sure she’s not the one planning to marry him?”

The King looked startled. “Oh my goodness! Of course, she’s sent me on this wild goose chase to divert my attention. I must away. Hoodwink? We must go.”

A tiny man appeared in the corner of the room. Rhodri wondered if he’d been there all along. He ran over to the King and climbed up on his back. The King bent down and kissed his daughter’s cheek. “You have my blessing Gweneth dear, I’m sorry I misjudged you.”

Then he walked to the doorway and disappeared in a blue flash. 




Saturday, 14 July 2018

Slipping Through Release Day!

SLIPPING THROUGH RELEASE DAY!

 



Today my book Slipping Through is released into the world!
It is available on Kindle through Amazon, and Ebook on Smashwords.

The print version is also available now too.

Here's a snippet from each story:

InterDimensioning

 
Elise could have believed they’d arrived back home had it not been for the lilac trees that lined it. The trucks and cars parked along it wouldn’t have been out of place in her hometown. But the silence around them spoke of something different.
Elise’s grip on Logan’s hand tightened as they began walking. Logan pulled her into the middle of the road, his eyes scanning the trees with suspicion.

They were travelling uphill and when they reached the rise of the road they were greeted with a breathtaking sight: a wide expanse of sea lay in front of them, its waters meeting brilliant white sand. They paused.

“Do you think it’s safe?” Elise asked.

Logan shrugged. “There’s only one way to find out.”

They continued to walk until the tarmac petered out and the sand took over. They made their way to the water’s edge and stood looking out over it. Logan’s head was bowed and Elisa wondered what he was doing. He seemed to be studying the water. She lifted her foot to dip the toe of her shoe into it when he shot out a hand to stop her. She turned to him about to speak, but his finger was on his lips, and he whispered, “Look and listen.”

She stared at the water and waited, but she heard nothing. Then she realised what he meant: there was no sound, no whoosh as the water moved back and forth no matter how big the wave. Then she observed the motion of the water. It wasn’t really back and forth – it was rising and falling.
“Is it water? What is it?” she hissed.

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t touch it if I was you.”

Elise reached down to pick up a small rock next to her right shoe. She glanced at Logan to see if he was watching. She showed him the stone and brought her arm back ready to throw it. He gave a slight nod of approval, so she launched it high into the air.

There was a faint ‘plop’ as it hit the surface, but there was no splash or ripple. They looked at each other wide-eyed.

But then the water did move. It began to retract from the sand, drawing back and gaining height. Logan grabbed Elise’s hand again and stepped back, not daring to take his eyes off the growing mass. Elise moved with him. Her breath caught in her lungs as her mind reeled at what she might have unleashed. But just as they thought they were going to have to run a second time, the water stopped. And then something hit Elise square in the chest.

She let out a startled cry and looked at the ground to see what it was; it was the rock she had thrown. She picked it up and stared at it in amazement, finding the same shock on Logan’s face when she turned to him.

The mass returned to its water-like state and resumed its wave motion as though nothing untoward had taken place.

V.W.G


“Have you any idea how it will show up, Vlad?”

“On the computer it’ll show up in code - you’ll need to run it in DOS - it should be easy to spot. But in the real world? I’ve no idea, Professor. It could be a minor change like a sensation, although if we switch, it should be a lot bigger.”

The professor ran the computer in DOS and the three large screens displayed rows of figures and symbols, some with cursors and question marks at the end. Vladimir joined him and started typing in commands, causing large quantities of data to scroll across the screen. The professor winced at it. “Are you sure it’ll be easy to spot, it looks chaotic to me?”

“You’ll see, I’ll explain it as it runs.”

“And if we switch, what do you think we’ll see?” The professor stepped back from the computer picking up his mug and blowing the mini marshmallows round.

“It could be drastic, like in HG Wells Time Machine; we could end up in a whole new world. Or it could be subtle, like a change of wall colour or something.”

The professor laughed. “I can’t imagine finding ourselves in a jungle. If we’re in a simulation, all the parallels will appear the same, surely? Depending on the cause behind each parallel.”

“Well, we’re assuming the parallels at this point, Professor - more than the sim I think. And that means we could end up anywhere in the world as we know it, without having any relation to a causality difference.”

“What like jumping around the planet or something?”

“Yes, sort of.”

“So we could end up on a beach in Maui, for instance?” The professor took a seat in one of the armchairs scattered around and sat back sipping at his drink.

Vladimir smiled. “We could.”

“Will there be a variant on when?”

“It’s not a time machine Professor, and as far as I’ve been able to tell there is no way of going back to an old sim; they occur in real time. If there is a storage database then I haven’t discovered it yet.” Vladimir continued to type commands into the computer, until eventually the scrolling data became more uniform.

“Is that the mainframe you’ve found there, Vlad?”

“Yes, Professor, I’m in now. When the time comes there’ll be a space between the figures.”

“And what do we need to do?”

“When it scrolls down to here,” Vlad put his finger on one of the screens, “I’ll hit enter.”

The professor waited but Vladimir didn’t continue. “What? That’s all?”

“Yep.” Vladimir picked up his mug of cocoa and started sipping.

“Sounds a bit simple.”
“Trust me Professor, getting to this point was anything BUT simple!”

   

The Game


The man moves round the shop fondling all the shirts down one side, and studies a few as though searching for one in particular. He eventually works his way round to the rack David and Rob are standing at. The assistant pays him no attention, but Rob is watching him, causing David to do the same.

David can only see the bottom half of the man’s face under his hat. He has a long chin with a few days stubble on it. He appears dishevelled as though he’d been in the same clothes for several days, which isn’t exceptional here, but David is transfixed as though compelled to watch his every move.

The man starts to finger the clothes next to David, touching each item and looking hard at the fabric, the brim of his hat almost touching the rack. Then he speaks: “Enjoying the little lapse, are we?”

David stiffens, his eyes moving from the man’s fingers to his face. He expects to see the Jester but instead finds a rugged, middle-aged man. This is not the man he glimpsed in the Bull’s Tavern or in his dreams. The man smiles.

“Don’t look so surprised, David, you knew I was here. Isabella’s rather beautiful, isn’t she? I did enjoy being in her.”

David opens his mouth to speak but he’s at a loss for words.

“Oh come now, so tense? That won’t benefit you. You have to be loose and flexible if you want to catch me.”
This breaks David’s paralysis; he grabs the man’s forearm, but the man only smiles wider and shakes his head.

“No, no, no. As I am, David, as I am.” His eyes start to change. “The man I am currently occupying isn’t much good to you.”

David loosens his grip and the man steps back, his face beginning to change. David glances at Rob whose shocked expression tells him he’s not the only one witnessing this transformation.

The eyes on the man’s face go dark and the skin starts to break up; clumps of pink flesh roll up and drop to the floor revealing the grey taut skin beneath. He opens his mouth exposing rotting teeth and starts to cackle, the laughter growing louder as he walks backwards out of the shop.

David and Rob remain rooted to the spot throughout, until the Jester passes through the doorway. When their paralysis breaks and David realises what he has to do: now the Jester is himself, he has to catch him.

He drops the clothes he’s holding and runs. The Jester is out of sight by the time he reaches the door, but he catches a flash of his coat-tails as he disappears down an alleyway on the left. David gives chase, hearing Rob behind him as they both skid round the corner, sprinting hard until it dawns on them he’s no longer in sight.

David can hear his cackle rising to its screaming crescendo.

“Can you hear it?” he yells at Rob.

“Hear what?”

“His laughter.” David’s pace slows.

“I can’t hear a thing.” Rob comes to a stop, bending over to catch his breath. “Who is he?”

David stops too. “Just a ghost from the past.” The cackle starts to fade.

“What? That’s a pretty lively ghost if you ask me.”

David turns round and starts walking back up the alley.

Where are you going?” Rob calls after him.

“To buy those clothes.”

Rob pauses for a moment, blinking, and then follows.

 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Review - Love Life, Rob Lowe

Love LifeLove Life by Rob Lowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been an unabashed fan of Rob Lowe, since my teenage years when I would gorge myself on his movies and everything 'brat pack', and I also enjoyed his first autobiography 'Stories I Only Tell My Friends', which went into detail about the Outsiders and all the actors involved in it.

Love Life is a more emotional read, mostly due to it being written when Rob Lowe's son was about to go off to college. He shares his feelings with the reader about fatherhood and how much it means to him, and the love he has for his children. Such openness prompted me to shed a tear or two. But it also contains humour: I found myself laughing out loud at the thought of the headline 'Rob Lowe shot dead in forest, mistaken for Big Foot' or 'Rob Lowe's secret fetish: dressing up as Big Foot and roaming forest making wild mating calls'. Hilarious tale.

Rob Lowe writes fluidly, easily engaging the readers with lots of little anecdotes and a ton of name dropping. And he hooks the read in within the first few pages with a story about a vibrator. He clearly knows what he is doing as a writer as well as an actor.

In Love Life he speaks a great deal about his acting career and goes in to detail about acting itself. As a Drama Student back in my college years, I found this interesting and it gave me further insight into what life as an actor is truly like.

The book finishes off on another emotional note, when he talks about his marriage and his wife, and gives some profound observations on life and relationships. Rob shares deep feelings and thoughts with the reader, bringing them that little bit closer. I found his open, vulnerability endearing and special.

I would definitely recommend this book.



View all my reviews

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 63

This week's picture prompt is another where I can't track down the artist/photographer. I have however found the location - Lake Pehoe, Chile. Everyone shares this picture online but no one has accredited it anywhere. I can even buy it on canvas, particularly on French sites. Such a shame.

I only had an opening line for this tale and it ended up somewhere completely different, in a style and about a type of character I had never written before. I am not sure about it, but I like it enough to post. 

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

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.

Picture of mountains on Lake Pehoe, Chile, with a ladder or bridge submerged in the water.

Choices


He screamed at the sky in frustration, ‘Noooo!’

It couldn’t end here, he had come too far. He looked along the shoreline in both directions but this had been the only place to cross, the remains of the partially submerged bridge visible.

He paced back and forth for a while, channeling the great bear energy, then let it go. It was useless to him now in this moment. He needed to rest and think.

Wahkan squatted down and folded his arms over his knees. He needed to get across the great lake to those mountains and he needed to do it before the sun had left the sky. He had been sent by the-one-that-knew, and he had to replace the slayer that had gone before him, who had been slain himself. It was up to Wahkan to right the balance. It was the only way that peace would return to his tribe.

He personally hated the eye-for-an-eye ideology, but the white man had brought it with him over the plains, and it had swept like wildfire among the tribesmen. They considered it the only way forward. But it was the way forward to madness and mayhem and the end of their people.

Despite knowing this, Wahkan had to follow the instructions of the chief – or did he?

He stood up stretching his legs. What would happen if he didn’t complete this journey? In some ways the journey had already been completed when the slayer had been reported dead. It meant his tribe had not won this part of the battle. But they weren’t satisfied with that, they wished a repeat.

Wahkan had no idea what or who he would face. He could easily be slain. At this moment he still had a choice.

Was this destroyed bridge a message from spirit? Was he not meant to reach the goal? Was he meant to stop and contemplate whether to go on? Was this a sign that he must turn around?

He was not a great reader of signs from spirit; they had to be blatant to get through, and there wasn’t much more blatant than this. He thanked spirit, and felt the knot that had been in his stomach for the last few days loosen.

But if he turned around where would he go? He couldn’t return to his tribe. He would be punished or worse.

Yet another choice to make; spirit clearly wanted him to show strength of mind instead of body in this matter. He had heard of other tribes far down south who held fast to tradition and refused to be drawn into the fight. He would head that way.

The new decision and intention sparked his enthusiasm. He felt relief and a sense of excitement. With a journey of discovery ahead rather than death, his energy was renewed. But despite his busy mind making plans, he took a moment to pause and admire the nature around him, thanking spirit for the moment of clarity and humility.
 


Friday, 6 July 2018

In Need of a Hug, Lisa Shambrook

A friend of mine, Lisa Shambrook, recently wrote a wonderful post called: In Need of a Hug. I loved it so much I wanted to share it on my blog too.

Here are some highlights, but to read the full post (with some great video links too) go over to Lisa's blog, HERE. 

****

In Need of a Hug - How Hugging offers affection, love, protection, and compassion - the last krystallos

I read this week that the more you hug your children the faster their brains develop. New-born babies shown more affection had stronger brain responses. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Touch and hugs show affection, love, protection, and compassion, everything a child needs. It’s one of the reasons babies are born and placed on their mother’s chest or at their breast – skin-on-skin touch helps bonding and gives comfort.

I also watched a report of a man, Antar Davidson, working with children recently separated from their mother in a migrant detention home in Tucson, who was asked to intervene and explain to three siblings aged 16, 10, and 8 that it was against shelter policy to hug. He was told to tell them to stop hugging. Antar refused and quit his job. These children only had each other left in a terrifying and alien situation and they were asked to relinquish touch between each other. It seems an atrocious and altogether backward move to make.


Removing touch from a relationship can be dangerous. The ability to convey love and emotion within a relationship is paramount to keeping a bond and an emotional connection. One of our basic needs is to feel closeness, to touch each other, and to feel security within love. Animals know this. My dog welcomes us home with physical touch, and my cats rub against us and crave being stroked.



Shared with permission.



Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 62

This week's picture prompt is rather marvelous and I had thought it would be easy to find the artist/photographer - but sadly to no avail! πŸ˜• Such a shame. It's full of atmosphere.

This week I went for something a bit ghostly and suspense-filled. I have run over the word count by quite a bit, but it couldn't be cut further. Plus it's my challenge. πŸ˜‰ (and I am late writing and posting). Anyway, enjoy.

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 Book

He ran down the stairs as fast as his could, the sound of his footsteps bouncing off the stone walls. He needed to get the library as fast as he could. He had to find the book, and fast.

While his body raced so did his mind as he thought about which shelf it would be on; it would be high up, in the back in the section where the warden would never let them go. But the warden wouldn’t be there; no one was anymore. The castle was empty, except for him and whatever was stalking him. That’s why he needed the book.

He rushed into the library, part of his brain registering the musty smell of ancient tomes that held the answer to more than life itself. He rain to the far corner and rattled the metal gate that enclosed the prized books. He had to get in.

Then he heard them: footsteps, after him as they always were. He shook the gate. It had to open; he had to have that book! He could hear the footsteps coming at high speed. Oh no what was he going to do?

He ran, trying not to trip down the stairs. Going head over heels on these flagstones would be the end of him, but he had to get to the library he had to get to find that book. It held the answer to whoever was chasing him. It must be why he was alone. It had taken them all.

He rushed along the corridor to the library, bursting into the quiet darkness. He grabbed a candle off a table as he went, fumbling in his pocket for matches he knew were there.

He reached the metal cage the book was behind and shook it. It was locked. Where was the key? He could barely see in the low light. He struck a match and lit the candle, giving it a second to grow bright enough for him to search for the keys. They must be on the warden’s desk. He went over to it and searched the tops and draws, but as he did so the sound of the running footsteps reached him. What should he do? He snubbed out the candle.

He ran, not caring about the sound his footsteps made on the stone stairs. He had to reach the library; there was no time to lose. The book was there, it held the answer to this incessant chase, to finding the identity of his pursuer. He was tired of running. He needed to get the book down from that shelf.

He rushed into the library, flying past all the shelves to the back where the book was held. He knew the cage door was locked, but he was sure the keys were in the Warden’s desk draw. He would find them. He almost ran into the desk in the darkness.

Realising he needed light, he snatched a candle holder that still had a stub in it and lit it, his shaking hand making it take longer than he liked. He knew he would hear the footsteps again soon, they were never far behind. He pulled the draws open, shuffling about in each one. The keys had to be here. They must be. The bottom draw yielded a reassuring sound as he pulled it out. They were here! He grabbed them.

But it was too late, he could hear the footsteps, rushing along the corridor outside. He had no time. He had to snub out the candle.

He ran, the slapping of his feet on the hard stone stairs resounding off the walls. He didn’t care if his stalker heard him. He always seemed to know where he was anyway. He had to get to the library and find the book. The key was in the bottom draw. He would snatch it as soon as he got in there.

He sped down the corridor to the library; it seemed to get longer each time. He was tired, so tired, but he had to keep going. He had to have that book.

He went straight to the desk and pulled on the draw. There was no need for the candle, he could feel for the keys. He took them to the metal cage door, seeing the outline of the lock in the moonlight coming through the high library windows. There were four keys, he tried each one, and as expected it was the last that fit. He got the door open. He thought to pause but he knew that once he heard the footsteps all would be lost.

He rushed to the end of the aisle of books. It was up on the top. He grabbed the ladder, his heart pounding. The end was in sight. Once he had it in his hands he would be safe.

Was that the sound of footsteps of was his mind playing tricks? He clambered up the ladder, ignoring it sway. His hand ran along the books and then he felt it: warm to the touch. He yanked it out of its tight spot with one hand and clutched it close to his chest.

He paused at the top of the ladder, waiting. Was it over? Were there footsteps? Had his stalker gone?

And then it came back to him: the incantation, the fall down the stairs - he was being stalked by a ghost, and the ghost was him.