Monthly Archives: May 2012

Flash! Unintentional flash fiction

I didn’t intend it but whoops, here’s a flash fiction for you to enjoy.

A facebook post from a friend and a comment from another made me realise that some of you actually enjoy these. I’d intended to do one on the weekend but, the muse took hold and well, you know.

Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds is responsible once again. The prompt this time was paint colour names, I chose Burnt Tile. It wrote itself, no idea where this story came from except my Pa did have a shoe shine box like the one in the story.

The word count was supposed to be 1,000 but ended up as a smidge over  1,800. Oops. But , oh well.

First bit here, click for the remainder, you know you want to!

………………………………………………………………….

Burnt tile

‘How about these Nan?’

My granddaughter extracts four or five tablecloths from the depths of the linen cupboard.

‘I don’t think I’ve seen you even use these.’

I can remember my baby sister Maisie embroidering those tablecloths, sitting on the big bed we shared with Edith, fantasising about the fabulous man she was going to marry. Two years later she was so proud hosting Stan and I to dinner at her new home with her young husband. Her table was  beautiful, the tablecloth and napkins ironed and immaculate. We barely got to know Pat, five months after that dinner he would be at the bottom of a foreign ocean, entombed forever in a submarine. Maisie never remarried, never had children.

The tablecloths came to me eight years ago when the cancer finally took her.

‘They can go to good will sweetheart, unless you want them?’

The rest is here, it’s worth it, go on click!

My darlings are strangling my sweethearts

So in my fabulous writing course I’ve found some of the participants have provided a couple of aha moments. One in particular had me nodding sagely in agreement, how wise I thought, how insightful. Right up until two hours later when I found myself in the same situation and I was far less understanding.

One of the other writers was relaying how she had followed some of the plotting and structure advice we’d received in the previous class and as a result had been forced to get rid of some of the writing she was most proud. We know what that’s called don’t we fellow frustrated writers, yes, she’d had to kill some of her darlings. However, she assured us that it turns out she wasn’t killing her darlings, it was her darlings that were strangling her sweethearts.

Ah, yes, sage nods, wise, knowing acknowledgment.

Later in the class we did a writing exercise. And strike me if it wasn’t a good one, it worked really well for me, unfortunately it probably means I’m about to lose the first 10 pages of my manuscript. Ah crap. There’s some seriously good stuff in those pages. Aww man.

Those darlings, can I really kill them off, are they really strangling my sweethearts?

That’s 10 pages people, 10 pages single spaced, 11 point. Just shy of 5,000 words. Sure some of it I can rework a bit and reposition but I may lose some great lines, like

I steel my shoulders and my nerves, remind myself that I love my mother, and weave my way through the tables, catching the eye of the sommelier as I go.

And

Let’s face it, my participation in this conversation is not really required, or perhaps even desired.

and

When I tumble into bed at night, exhausted at the effort of yet another day not writing, there it is blink, blink, blink.

I’ll live, I’m sure, even if some of, even a lot of, my early pages don’t.

If David Mitchell can do it…

So my wonderful husband, BMan, suggested that he loved my flash fiction pieces so much I should write a short story compilation. Bless his cotton socks, I had to explain how that the ridiculously difficult to crack publishing industry becomes nigh on impossible when presenting short story collections.

We have many books in our home, many books. We also have many ebooks and now that BMan is an audio book convert, we have many of those as well. I then asked him how many short story compilations he had bought in his life – nada. Hmm.

However, I have a cunning plan. My wonderful host, Wade <I will link to their site as often as I can to encourage visitors, go there, now, no after you finish reading this post, then go there straight away!> related a brilliant family anecdote at my recent Cimarron Session that sparked the germ of an idea.

Essentially it’s a novel in stories. Sneaky sure, but hey if David Mitchell can do it in Cloud Atlas then why can’t I? Don’t mistake that I’m actually comparing myself to David Mitchell, good lord no. But it shows that novels in stories can be done, mine will not be anywhere near as literary and clever as David Mitchell can write, the narrative thread will be much more obvious, but I’m sure it will have its own beauty.

I’m chuffed with the concept anyway and really would like to start it. Finish your current damn manuscript Bel!

Ok, then self, good advice, I’m off to up my word count 🙂

Cimarron Session – flash fiction 2

Rioting butterflies

Tonight’s flash fiction challenge wrote itself really really quickly, which will be great for blog reader Rebecca as she wanted to read it before bed – you ask I deliver Bec!

So Chuck Wendig who really puts out the best flash fiction challenges I can find provided a link to a site that generates names for American military operations, we were to choose one and use the title for the story. So please enjoy

Rioting butterflies

The teacher stood at the front of the class. As she did every day.

She had loved school, that’s why she had become a teacher in the first place. Sure, like every kid even she’d had days where she didn’t want to go. Days when she’d faked nausea to get her nanna to come in her pale blue Holden and collect her, and they’d go back to her place where the clock ticked loudly and play checkers and eat honey toast and sip on luke warm sweet tea. Who wouldn’t want to skip school to do that.

But overall she’d loved school.

She looked over her class. The most flattering description she could summon was they were a motley bunch. These kids sure as hell did not love school.

As a group they were surly, disinterested, rebellious, disengaged, unreachable. Good god she didn’t even know how she dragged herself out of bed to come here each morning. Thank everything that was holy she wouldn’t have to do it ever again after Friday.

In the back corner, always the back corner, did students think there was some sort of forcefield that protected them from a teachers’ gaze, really. In the back corner two girls were tattooing themselves with a compass point, one had a ring through her nose, the other had one side of her head shaved, the remainder sticking in the air like a cockatoo.

Read the rest here

Cimarron Session – pics

I thought you guys might be interested in the Cimarron of the Cimarron Session, so here’s some pics for you.

Above is my cosy sleeping area.

The view from my bed.

The sitting area of my room – the Eagle Room, love it!

Where I’ve been doing most of my writing, so lovely! The room, not so much the dork in the corner of the pic 🙂

Breakfast is always going to taste fabulous when it’s presented like this. Such a huge collection of beautiful vintage fiesta ware, with such a great story behind it I’m thinking of stealing it! The story, not the crockery!

Back to the writing, a little longer on the manuscript and maybe a flash fiction to post late tonight….

Cimarron Session – building the word count

WIP word count at the start of the Cimarron Session 32,286

Let the writing commence!

SO this morning after the most divine home made, home toasted muesli, chock full of nuts and other yumminess (yes I’m a wordsmith, and yes yumminess is the correct word choice in this instance), some great coffee, an almond croissant I didn’t need but still had to eat, I brought my shiny red lap top to the verandah.

The scene – tiny grey and red finches hopping around my feet where the rosellas had been that morning and the kangaroos had been last night. Native bushland stretching down the hill in front of me, the sweeping bay and grey ocean just beyond that. I can’t see a road, a power pole or another house from where I sit. It’s pretty cold, but if I type fast enough, I’ll keep my fingers warm. The softest rain is falling, I hope it clears as I want to ride my bike into town later!

Anyway, stop distracting me, I need to write! Here’s to the word count climbing.

Cimarron Session – flash fiction

Of dinosaurs and eagles.

I am one of Chuck Wendig’s penmonkeys and love his flash fiction challenges. This week he simply challeged us to write a 1000 word piece that featured dinosaurs. Sadly he called his post Must Love Dinosaurs – my protagonist does not.

As my lovely readers know I am at my first Cimarron Session and this is my first writing effort from my writing retreat. My gorgeous room here at Cimarron B&B is the Eagle Room, hence my eagle protagonist in this piece.

This story is something out of the ordinary for me, hope you like it, please comment!!

Of dinosaurs and eagles

From his vantage the giant beasts seemed insignificant. Not quite ant like, it would take a height far higher than he was capable to make the hulking, stupid creatures seem that small.

Still, perched on a craggy outcropping, in the thin air at high altitude, the eagle felt vastly superior. Far below, on the plain, among the long grass, in the forest and deep in the lake, the dinosaurs reigned. Some lumbered, ponderous and clumsy, others small and skittish, all thick headed and stupid.

Even the meat eaters, those that relied on their cunning, strength or size to keep them sustained were beneath the eagle’s contempt. He watched them from his aerie, saw their attempts at stealth and, if he’d been able to, laughed aloud.

Even the most fearsome, the most successful hunters had ridiculous incapacities, tiny arms, lateral eyes, fragile unprotected young.

It baffled the eagle how such a poorly designed creature could dominate the environment for such a long time. He cocked his head to the side and blinked rapidly the thought twisted in his brain, he was unable to make sense of the idiocy that mother nature had displayed in allowing the dinosaurs such carte blanche superiority for so long.

The eagle shifted his weight from his right talon to his left and back again. A shudder ran down his body, his right wing stretched slightly out from his body, just enough for the trailing feathers to separate slightly in the strong wind.

Read the remainder here.

Ready, set, write!

What more could a girl want? Glass of chardy, a gorgeous fire, a LOT of books, quiet, lots of quiet, some cheese and bikkies and my laptop!

Yes I am finally at my self designed writing retreat, heretofore to be referred to as the inaugural Cimarron Session! (Cimarron being the name of the B&B I have stumbled upon)

BMan and Little Man dropped me off, Little Man falling asleep in the car well before we arrived (it’s about a 40 minute drive from our house, if that). Naturally I realised after they had left I had left my handbag in the car. No phone reception in my aerie but thankfully there was downstairs. The long suffering BMan turned around and came back for me. He even managed to not sound frustrated despite the fact that he was up at the crack of dawn so he could get back from work early so I could start my little adventure and he is bone tired. Bless him!

Enough diarising already, to tonight’s task.

I am going to complete a flash fiction challenge tonight and post it prior to retiring to what looks like a very comfy bed. That way I can have a good run at my manuscript in the morning.

To the word processor!

One day to go!!

The Count Down (yes it gets capitals and I LOATHE overcaptalisation!) is on people! Tomorrow night I will start my self designed writer’s retreat.

I should give it a name shouldn’t I – The Cimarron Sessions maybe? I am a terrible copywriter, headlines, tag lines and photo captions are just not my thing so I suspect that’s as witty as I’ll get, otherwise we’re looking at ‘Alreadynotpublished’s writing retreat’ – ho hum!

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • sleeping in, although that is unlikely to happen as I have been indoctrinated into the early wake up, sigh
  • nanna nap!
  • writing, lots
  • reading, hopefully not as much as the writing
  • a cheeky chardy
  • cycling into town for a naughty pastry or the like
  • missing BMan and my Little Man!
  • posting new flash fiction

Yippee!

 

Make your writing stink!

There’s a passage in my current WIP where my protagonist is standing at the base of a skyscraper, dreading the impending meeting she has been summoned to attend. The wind is whipping her hair and her skirt. After one of those rapid elevator ascents she arrives in an intimidating black marble and shiny surfaces reception area.

When my lovely BMan read this passage he said that I should highlight the change in air pressure, he works in a multi story building, is travelling the elevators all day and he said there is often air pressure changes. Added to the fact that the wind whipping had been such an element on the street, I think he had a decent point. It made me think about remembering to have the characters use all their senses, not just their eyes.

Smell in particular is a powerful memory trigger and helps a scene ring true. Recently Palmolive took the soap we have used for the last 4 years off the market (side note the whole 4 years we bought this product, right up until it was discontinued, the bottle was labelled ‘New’ – keep relevancy in mind people!). I have been trying to find an alternative and it amazes me how strong the smell of soaps are today! Anyhoo, the idea of senses being so critical was brought home to me when I realised the BMan smelled ‘wrong’ the other day, because of the different soap. It’s very odd to have the person you have been married to for 8 years suddenly smell different, weird.

I can vividly remember Little Man as a bubba had a child care worker who loved him to pieces, I would pick him up at the end of the day and he would smell like another woman’s perfume, my 10 month old was cheating on me and I could smell it! On the upside it did mean he was getting loads of cuddles 🙂

As human beings what we notice most is when something changes. A change in air pressure, smell, temperature, that is what we notice and that is what we need to bring to some of our scenes to make them authentic.

In my WIP’s first paragraph I have a really strong sense of sound – hopefully this triggering of the senses provokes a response in readers, a recognition.

What do you think?