Tuesday, 30 October 2012

NaNo... WHAT?

2 sleeps until NaNoWriMo


Am I all plotted? 

Is my notebook at the ready? 

Do I have a storyboard spread across my wall?  

Do I have a sparkling pinterest board full of shiny faced characters?

Have I got a fantasy map all plotted out?

Is the pope a druid? 

Right. 

So that's a no then.  (At least I think it is.  After the Da Vinci code, one doesn't like to make assumptions.)

Ah yes.  2 sleeps until the National Novel Writing Month frenzy commences and I'm still seesawing between plot ideas.  Do I want to start a brand new concept?  Do I want to rewrite an old project from scratch thus becoming a NaNo Rebel?  Do I want to continue something I started before thus invoking the Zokutou clause?

Thank GOD for the support of The Ultimate Plotter, Ruth Long, who like a fairy godmother of writing, scatters her precious hard won gems of wisdom across the writing sorority.  Just read her How to Find Your Story's Premise or her paean to STRUCTURE.  Damn, it's so enticing it makes me want to break out the lego. 

LEGO by Bdesham


With Ruth at our backs the writing world can DO THIS THING.

I just have to make a decision.  And being a Myers Briggs "P" type this isn't easy for me.  "P" stands for "Perceiving".  For some reason, this can be loosely translated into "Last Minute Merchant Who Is Only At Their Best When Faced With An Insurmountable Deadline."

"P" for Pantser, in other words.

But no.  I shall not give in to the unwieldy lure of pantsing and pottering through November.   

I have 2 days.  That's enough to come up with a plot - right?  RIGHT?
So whether I'm a NaNo-Rebel (sounds like Star Wars, cool), a Zokutou-ist (sounds like a spiritual guru, cool) or a NaNoWriMo-er (the ultimate prize), I am DOING THIS THING.  

Right?

RIGHT! 

Are you with me? 

Pens at the ready.....  and WRITE! 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Diabolical Deeds 5: Going to Hell


The fifth and last of Timony’s #DiabolicalDeeds challenges is to write a 100 word story inspired by the demon Zagan and two prompt words.

Zagan

Zagan is a Great King and President of Hell, commanding over thirty-three legions of demons. He makes men witty; he can also turn wine into water, water into wine, and blood into wine.  The prompts are:

zoic – showing traces of life
zymosis – fermentation; process resembling fermentation in development of infectious disease



Going To Hell


“You’re a funny guy!”  

The drunken bitch was fatuous, Draco decided.  If he hadn’t been so hungry, he would have walked.  But hunger fermented his blood, clawed at him with the canker of infection.  He must feed. 

Smiling with dark enticement, he touched her arm.  “Come outside sweetheart,” he murmured.  She did, of course.  It was too easy. 

It wasn’t until he sank his teeth into her perfumed neck that he realised his mistake. “Wine!” he spluttered. 

Grinning, the woman stirred back to life, changing before his eyes. 

“Zagan?” 

“Hello Draco,” the demon said. “Time to come back to hell.”




Thursday, 25 October 2012

Diabolical Deeds 4: A Sister's Lament


The fourth of Timony’s #DiabolicalDeeds challenges is to write a 100 word story inspired by the Gorgon Stheno and two prompt words.

In Greek mythology, Stheno was the eldest of the Gorgons. She and her sister Euryale were both immortal, and the third sister, Medusa, was mortal.  The prompts are:

saccadic – jerking and twitching
sussurate – whisper, sussurant



A Sister’s Lament

The snakes jerk, saccadic, around her ravaged face, their forked tongues sussurating in the dust.  Her dying eyes stare sightlessly at the barren earth as Greek lifts her head.

She was barely more than a child when Poseidon tore her body, defiled Athene’s temple with her virgin’s blood.  Just a child, her beautiful eyes blank as they are now.  Empty.

“Whore.I screamed. “Defiler.”  Because of her beauty, we were all rendered monstrous.  She got no comfort as she held her tattered robe to her tender breasts, as her lustrous hair grew serpentine.

Medusa!

I wish I had been kind.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Diabolical Deeds 3: The Forest


The third of Timony’s #DiabolicalDeeds challenges is to write a 100 word story inspired by the deity Humbaba and two prompt words.

Humbaba

In Akkadian mythology Humbaba  was a monstrous giant of immemorial age raised by Utu, the Sun.  He was the guardian of the Cedar Forest, where the gods lived, by the will of the god Enlil, who “assigned [Humbaba] as a terror to human beings.” The prompts are:

habromania – extreme euphoria
Herrenvolk – ‘Master Race’, superior nation



The Forest

“This timber’s gonna make me rich,” Bob told Gil.  Success thrilled his blood, made him dizzy.  “Stinkin’ injuns ain’t gonna stop that.”  He’d made sure of that.  Hired guns surrounded his loggers, kept the local tribesmen away.  Antsy critters had practically rioted when the first tree fell.  Couple o’shots sorted that out. He’d half split his sides watching them run. 

Might have to do it again, the racket were making with their chants.  What were they saying anyway?  Rum baba or somethin’.

Cocaine high, Bob didn’t see the tree that crushed him. 

Gil still swears he heard a lion roar.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Diabolical Deeds 2: The Cave


The second of Timony’s #DiabolicalDeeds challenges is to write a 100 word story inspired by the deity Calu and two prompt words:

Calu

Calu is an Etruscan chthonic deity. He is identified by his wolf attributes, such as a wolf-like appearance or a human with a wolf-skin cap. The prompts are:

cacaesthesia – morbid sensation
caliginous – dim, misty, obscure, dark




The Cave

The cave is rank, caliginous.  I can’t see my hand in front of my face.  “Isn’t it exciting?” Penny whispers by my side. “We’ll get two research papers from this.” I try to smile but I can’t. 

A cold finger traces my spine and I shiver uncontrollably.  Be professional, I tell myself.  This isn’t hell’s mouth, it’s an archaeological dig. From the corner of my eye I see a shadow slip along the wall and jerk round.

”Penny, did you see that?” Silence.  “Penny?”  I turn again. She’s gone. 

“Penny?” 

In the darkness, I see eyes.

Yellow eyes.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Diabolical Deeds 1: Pure of Heart


The first of Timony’s #DiabolicalDeeds challenges is to write a 100 word story inspired by the demon Ammut and two prompt words:

Ammut

Ammut lived in the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against Ma'at, the goddess of truth.  If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammut would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards immortality.  The two bonus prompts are:

achroous – colourless
adactylous – lacking fingers, toes or claws



Pure of Heart

Pure? I’m pure.

I ain’t like that that slut down the hall, walking past with that lipstick smeared slut face, stinking of sex and beer.  Smiling.  Smiling like she got something to be happy about, whilst she kicks cigarette buts down the corridor an’ brings home a different man every night.  I know what she was doing in there.  She ain’t pure.  I am.  Get it, Ammat, Ammut, Ammit whatever your name is?  I’m pure. 

It ain’t fair, what you’re doing.  I want my bits back. Fingers. Toes. Colour.  I prayed all my life. I’m pure.  You owe me.

Monday, 15 October 2012

#poemwalk2012: Into the Woods



When Ruth Long launched her Poem Walk blog hop, I just knew I had to give it ago.  For those of you who don't know Ruth, firstly, get to know her because she's a writerly superstar of huge generosity.  Secondly, you should know that she writes like a poet all the time with music in every word.  

I'm not sure I quite hit the theme with this prose poem, but this is just what came.  



Poem Walk: Into the Woods

Forking dark against the sky I smell them, damp wood, crushed leaves, dark sentinels crowding us, shrouding us with their bony, rain blackened limbs.   Fingers redden, numb knuckled in the creeping chill.   The light is ebbing, seeping away, fading rich russet to dull brown, fading our faces to blank circles in the twilight gloom.   I taste rain in the air, and tears. 

Darkness is coming. 

He shrugs against the icy wind, jaw locked tight, eyes fixed, red rimmed.   Words rise, tighten my throat, halt, choke.   Turning away I snatch at dripping glossy leaves, let them drift through my fingers to the glutinous mud.  

Darkness is coming. 

Gossip whispers through the branches, mocks in frigid gusts.  Our silent steps slow and we stand, watching the water turn to black and silver.   Vacant air presses my skin with the smooth chill of isolation.  I swallow, bow my head.  

In the darkness, his hand finds mine.   

Image by Gyst


Blog Hop Details

What: Prose poems of 150 – 250 words (details below and here)

When: October 8th – October 21st

Theme: Horror/Suspense or Uncanny Nature

How to join: Send a tweet to @bullishink or @dustyjournal with the hashtag #poemwalk2012 and the link to your poem OR use the linky below

Prizes: 1st Place = $25 gift certificate / 2nd Place = $15 / Sign Up Incentive = If we get 10 or more participants Dusty Journal will gift a journal to her favorite entry
 
get the InLinkz code

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A NaNoWriMo Fairy Feast (thanks @DianeJReed)

A little while ago I read a wonderful book by lovely author Diane J Reed.  Twixt was billed as a magical modern fairy tale and so I was expecting.... what?  A sweet tale with a touch of whimsy?  A princess in a tower?

Twixt confounded my expectations.  There's nothing Disney about this book.  Its a hard hitting story about  breaking negative cycles and about the power of belief and the resilience of the human spirit.   It's also magical, rich and vivid.



Magic is real in Twixt, it can be seen, heard and touched.  The heroine Rose is cursed to relive the life of her ancestress, cursed to fall in love again and again with the same evil spirit.  Her own magical powers are diminished by him, drained from her.  You can take that at face value - and love it (which I did).  Or you can read it as an allegory for abusive relationships, and the cycle of abuse which often trickles down the generations.

Becoming in tune with her own magic is essential to Rose breaking that curse.  Again and again she is told to look within herself, to trust herself, to be herself - and it is not until she does that that she is free.

And then there's the cake.

Boy, do I love a book with magical food.  From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe through to Like Water for Chocolate magical food is always a bonus to me.  But our lovely Diane goes one step further.  Not only does she describe her magical food in mouth watering detail, but she kindly gives us the recipe for her heroine's magical cake - it's right there at the back of the kindle book.

A thousand thank yous!

Want to see fairies?  Look no further.  This cake has magic in every crumb. Well, there was no WAY I could resist the siren lure of Diane's special fairy cakes, so of course I had to give it a go.

Anyone care to lick the bowl?


To do that, I had to convert all her US measurements to British measurements.  That being the case, I thought for Diane's British fans, it might be handy to reproduce the recipe in Brit measurements.  You can find the US version over on Sophie Moss' blog along with an interview with Diane!  So here goes:


Fairy Cake Ingredients:

4 oz butter
7 oz white sugar
4 oz brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
4.25 fl oz cup sour cream, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (scrape seeds into batter & discard hull)
7.5 oz cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 handfuls rolled oats

{ Now here’s where the MAGIC comes in! According to your fancy, add any of the following ingredients that you like (go with what your heart tells you!):

2 oz of chopped walnuts/or pecans
3.5 oz of chopped dried fruit (such as dates, cranberries, apple, or apricots)

A few flower petals!

Then wiggle your fingers and sprinkle joyful feelings (it matters!) }

Lemon Fairy Icing Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese
2 oz butter
2 cups powdered confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (zest)
Several drops of yellow food coloring (to desired color)
(Feel free to add more or less sugar/lemon to taste)

Directions for Enchanted Irish Fairy Cakes:

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Cream the butter & sugar in a bowl until light & fluffy, then add eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract & vanilla seeds (discard hull) and mix until creamy. Add flour, cornstarch, salt & baking soda and mix until just combined (don’t overmix). Stir in by hand the with a wooden spoon the 2 handfuls of rolled oats and any or all of the following: chopped nuts, dried fruit, flower petals & sprinkles of good feeling (remember, this is where your MAGIC comes in—so be creative and play!). Spoon the batter to fill cupcakes liners & bake for 20-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool to room temperature before frosting.

Directions for Lemon Fairy Icing:

Mix cream cheese & butter & add lemon juice, lemon zest & powdered sugar, beating until creamy. Spread a generous amount on each fairy cake—and if you happen to swipe a lick (like Rose does in Twixt), prepare yourself to see fairies! Adorn with flower petals, of course!


My added special ingredients were dried black cherries and pecans - and I can tell you now, they were delicious!

Want to know how these cakes can help you see fairies?

Go read the book!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

@TimonySouler's Diabolical Deeds - a challenge!

Having managed to respond with sweet speed to Anna Meade's Behind the Curtain challenge, I thought I had put flash fiction away for the month. Time now to focus on trying to nail my story for an Ink Slingers anthology, to progress Banshee and to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Right?

Wrong.

Because, damn it, Flash Foxtress Timony Souler has issued a challenge.  And this time it's devilishly demonic.  From Monday 22nd October I have a demon and two obscure words to weave into a story every day for five days.  It's almost like a penance.  Or it would be if it wasn't going to be such fun.



Unfortunately for me, I have signed myself up to presenting at various conferences that week so I'm going to get busy inking my fingers ahead of time.

If you like flash fiction, dark stories and twisting your imagination around some devilishly difficult prompts I urge you to plunge right in and join Timony's #DiabolicalDeeds (Twitter hashtag) challenge.

Go on.  You know you want to.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Behind the Curtain


I'm not going to partake in flash fiction, said I.  I'm focusing on my work in progress.  I'm plotting. I'm writing.  I'm busy.

Of course, I failed to take into account the fatal lure of an Anna Meade flash fiction contest.  The Dark Fairy Queen of the social media scene, Ms Meade's commands must be obeyed.  And thus... I flash.

This is my submission for the Behind the Curtain contest, 375 words and inspired by this image:



Behind the Curtain

Stretching her arms high the woman let the robes drop, spreading bright as spilled blood across the well trodden boards.

Purple. 

Her breath stopped, suffocated.  For a single moment she was frozen in the past, in the violet streaked twilight which shrouded their first kiss; the blackberries he crushed against her tongue, their sweetness trickling from her parted lips; the rich silk scarves he trailed against her hot skin and tangled around her pale wrists.  Under her red rimmed stare the purple pool pulsed, writhed, summoned. 

 No!

Too late.

She lifted her head, teeth bared in a smile as a chariot rolled on stage.  Smiled at the crowned man standing within, at the dark eyed girl half concealed behind him. 

Whore.

He met her gaze with startled recognition. 

Yes, it’s me

But he knew that. Their linked names shouted from tattered poster boards all along the streets of Covent Garden, marched side by side in well thumbed programmes. It was the hundredth time she had stood just so with her arms outstretched and her head held high, the hundredth time she had mouthed the familiar lines, smiled the lie. 

His nostrils flared and beneath his golden tan, the blood drained from his cheeks. Oh yes, he saw. It changed nothing.  Agamemnon would step onto the purple tonight.

The show must go on, after all.

At the back of the stage the skene swung open, yawning like the mouth of hell.  She took his hand and led him, bull-like, into the gloom.

He jerked as the doors shut, half turning as if to run.  His fingers trembled as if they were not standing in a stage set, hidden from the gaze of a bored audience.  As if he was standing in a tomb.  As if he knew.

The show must go on. 

“Remember our wedding day?” she murmured. 

“Darling, I-“

She stopped his words with a kiss, knew the subtle rejection of his closed lips.  In the wings a chorus of voices swelled loud with lamentation.

“Forsaking all others,” she said, softly.  “’Till death us do part.”

Reaching behind her into the shadows, her fingers closed on a long handled shaft.

The show must go on.

In the glare of the footlights, purple darkened to black.