Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears

As I considered all things frightening for this month's blog hop, I realised it is not the supernatural that scares me. There is a supernatural God who is bigger than all of that. No, here in Queensland, it is the natural world which leaves me gasping and cringing:  Opening the pantry to see a master cockroach scurry away; walking through a clinging spider web and not knowing EXACTLY where the spider is; watching a grass snake make its way toward my back step. These are what send chills through me. And so for this month's blog hop I thought I'd share a humorous piece about something perfectly natural and something which could be potentially horrific: an overseas holiday.

Mort blew the formaldehyde from his nostrils and breathed deep of his new location. The consequences of a quiet night at the morgue hit him completely now. Twenty five words or less had moved him from the clinical, orderly and dead to this seething mass of life. The woman leading a cow, the man on his bicycle selling coconuts, the snake charmer playing his hypnotic tune, vibrant fabrics and the smell of parrotha bread cooking. It all became a single jostling and colourful entity around him.
Twenty-five words or less was also the full extent of his Hindi vocabulary. Someone pushed him; another shoved something exotic and unexplained in his face yelling ‘Arey, Dost. Arey Dost.’
Mort shook his head, palms up, ‘No.’

‘You are English.’

The little merchant repeated the word and became animated. He continued to repeat it as he dragged Mort into a shop. ‘Australi. Australi.’

The fellow gestured and called people to him. They came as swarthy spectres to envelop Mort. He remembered a nightmare that felt like this. All the bodies in the morgue had risen to threaten him. Like swirling zombies they pulled at him, drawing him to their side of eternity.
Someone picked his pocket. He saw them dash away and dissolve into the dust of the market place. Mort wriggled his way to the door gesturing and pointing. ‘Dekkho. Dekkho. That kid took my wallet.’

His futile chase ended when the culprit, and one by one, the surging shadows, disappeared. Alone in the marketplace, the colours about him blurred and the smells were replaced. A new miasma filled his nostrils as the monsoon arrived to mock him. If he ever made it home, he would cancel his subscription to ‘That’s Life.’

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Spectacular Settings

When I first began my story, I created a hand drawn map and searched for images that would fit with my fantasy.   It is three years now and I am still working on the Kingdom of Asteros.  Some of my ideas have been discarded but others have become well known and well loved places.  
 There are three main settings in the story.  It opens in the Ecclesian Forest in Spring.  In the Ecclesian forest there is the Chapter House where the Healing Order lives.  I particularly enjoy this setting because a remote, stone castle at the edge of a forest captivates my imagination. I've added wood panelled Dining halls and Meeting rooms as well as secret trap doors.  Vines grow on the outside.  Also this is where the Weaver's workshop is - a room dominated by a large weaving loom and with a full glass ceiling.  
Also in the Forest is the village of White Oak which supplies the House with staff and food. 

To the North is the city of Rhaegaard, the administration centre of the Kingdom.  It has tall buildings and a river running through it.  It has more advanced technology than the Chapter House. 
My original idea for the Chapter House was that it was remote and if you look hard in the bottom right picture,  you might see a building in the left of the picture.

The southern kingdom of Calaren is where the king lives in a castle above the town nestled into the side of the hill.  (top left).  Here there is a harbour for trade with the rest of the Kingdom.  I love the idea of houses nestled in the hillside like that.   

I recently attended an author talk with Tina Marie Clark who talked about how we can make settings iconic and how they become characters themselves.  Settings ground the reader and bring the world of the story to life.  Readers can fall in love with settings as much as they learn to love the characters who live there.  

All that is true as I continue to live among my characters and enjoy the settings I have created for them.  

Thursday, 19 June 2014

June is the month for Romance at WEP.

Marius the Weaver, has fallen in love with Ingrid - Intelligent Nano-generated Robotic Droid.  She has feelings for him too but questions (because she’s intelligent, remember) whether or not they can be together.  In a quiet moment in the Weaver’s workshop, the following conversation takes place.

Marius cupped Ingrid’s face in his hands.
‘Look at me.’
She was shaking her head, ‘No, I cannot.’
‘Ingrid, do you love me?’  Her head became still, but she did not look up.  She whispered, ‘Yes Marius.’
‘I will not lose you, Ingrid.’
‘I’m not real, Marius.'
‘Then how have you made me real?  How, if you are not real?’
'You were always real, Marius.  You were just hiding, but I am an android.'
‘Are those real tears?’  Marius asked.
‘Programmed to be released when…’
‘When what?  Your emotion capacitors kick in?’
‘You know me too well.’
‘Yes.  I know you and I love you Ingrid.
He released her face and drew all of her into his chest to hold her close.  He stroked her hair.
‘It’s a wig.’ She said as he played with the strands cascading down her back.
‘It’s beautiful.’
‘My heart is cogs and wheels and wires,’
‘And they turn for me.’
‘My eyes are silicon blend.’
‘And still you see me.’
‘My skin is a bio-alloy.’
‘And yet you can feel this.’   He caressed her forearm.
She nodded
‘It’s titanium inside.’
‘And yet you are holding me.’
‘My head is all cogs and wheels and nanobytes.’
‘And still you are confused.’
She laughed aloud at that and her eyes met his.
He said,  ‘See, and that laugh tells me you are real.’
They were silent together in each other's presence before Marius asked,
‘And what do those nano bytes tell you?’
For her answer, she raised her face and met his mouth with her polymer lips.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Failure, or is it?

For May's 'Write Edit Publish Now' blog hop, I have gone dark.  The original prompt  was titled 'What do you feed your enemy?'.  It was our homework at my local writing group.

“Mmm.  What do you call this?  This is delicious.”  Lord Eamon Barnes continued to salivate as he pushed more food into his mouth and followed it with the elaborate and noisy licking of his fingers.  Digit by chubby digit, he slid his tongue around his hand until Sylvia thought he would devour it. He chose a wing from the plate before him and continued the attack on his meal.
Lady Sylvia watched her husband closely for the indications she had been told would accompany her betrayal.
Eamon grinned across at her, his cheeks puffed with food, coloured sauce dribbling from the corners of his mouth.  He raised his napkin, then burped, a luxurious bellow of which he looked so proud.
Sylvia concealed herself behind her glass.  Immediately, the smooth golden liquid eased her conscience and warmed her throat.  As she replaced the glass to the table, she was aware of him watching her intently through narrowed eyes.
Without warning, a vice gripped her chest and squeezed.  Little explosions were going off behind her eyes as her arteries popped.   Eamon’s face grew large as he came around the table to her.  He leaned in close and said  “Did you really think you would get away with it?”
With a clumsy grasp of her hairpiece, he pulled her head back and Sylvia looked up into his now purple and bulbous features swimming before her fading vision.   The veins across his forehead rose and thumped in time to the hideous rhythm of her chest, the line of his eyebrows pulled into a crease of confusion across the bridge of his nose and his widening eyes seemed to rise from his skull.
He let her go and Sylvia slid forward to lie across the table.  Her bleeding ears stained the table cloth around her but still she heard that most satisfying of sounds:  the thud of Eamon’s round body colliding with the polished tiles. 
Lady Sylvia smiled to herself as her eyes fluttered closed and all went dark.  

Was it failure?  Lady Sylvia achieved what she set out to do, as did her husband, although neither of them expected the final outcome. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Fool: April's Write Edit Publish Now Blog Prompt.

Six Life Lessons Learned from Clowning.

The dictionary defines a fool as
    1 a person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person: I felt a bit of a fool.
historical a jester or clown, especially one retained in a royal or noble household.
    I have spent time as a clown and interacting with people while dressed in my big colourful costume, has taught me some valuable life lessons.  

    Always wear make up.       The white face is neutral, clean.  From it I build a new character.  We all wear masks - this is the function of the white face and make up of a clown - and many of us hide behind them.  Masks have their purpose: they are for our emotional safety.  In my clown costume, I have held a python and interacted with people I would otherwise avoid when just being myself.  My costume makes me brave.      Wear colourful shoes.    People notice shoes more than you may realise so make them note worthy!  But remember, in clowning and in life, shoes must be comfortable.     You are unique, but...      It is what makes a clown stand out that causes others to cringe.  While we encourage people to be unique and different individuals, we don't want them to do it around us.      Undersized hats, large props, tiny props, oversized shoes, all work to effect for the clown but in life we would rather folks blend in. This a clown cannot and will not do.    Know your boundaries.    A clown may behave in a foolish looking way, falling over, tumbling, rolling or playing at being vulnerable or teasing others, but he is always in control.  Those acrobatic movements and mimes are all well rehearsed.  If you must act the fool, know your boundaries.      Keep your balls in the air.    Some of my clowning friends are jugglers.        In life we juggle many things - work, home life, interests, sport.  If your juggling routine is becoming shabby, perhaps it is time to let some of those balls go.      Be prepared.     Not only a Scout motto, but essential for every clown who must always have her pockets full of giveaways, a ready smile or be prepared to perform a random act of kindness, as in life. 

    On a more creative note, the Clown Psalm below is based on Psalm 23.  

The Lord is my clowning friend,
I shall not tumble.
He helps me to play in public places.
He restores my make up
and anoints my head with a bright wig and a silly hat.
When I am in the halls of the hospital, I shall have just the right giveaways.
I shall walk in large colourful shoes.
He provides my props and prepares my routine before me.
Friends with names like Sunshine, Little Star, Sparkles, Gerry and Hallelujah will be with me all my clowning days,
And I will mime and dance and play
in the presence of the Lord forever. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

What's in a Face? February blog hop for Write.Edit.Publish Now.

‘What’s in his face?’

‘Shrapnel.  Was it really necessary to throw him through the window, Bill?’

‘It was self defence.  No. I mean can you read him?’

‘Not until I clean him up.’

He lay still on the gurney.  His eyes closed, though he was fully conscious.  The voices above him faded for a few moments.  When they returned they were accompanied by a burning sensation on his cheek.  He sucked his breath in sharply through his teeth.  It hurt more than the wounds he had gained during his flight through the glass panel.

‘Oh, you’re awake.  Good.  Open your eyes, Sam.’


‘Just open your eyes.  It’s important.’

When he obeyed, the light pushed sharp pains through his head so he closed them again and placed his hands over his face.  It was then he knew his trial had been successful.  Under his hands, the face was not his own.  The experiment had worked.

‘Remove your hands, Sam, please.’

He opened his eyes slowly this time, taking time to adjust to the harsh laboratory lighting and to learn the muscle control of his new physiognomy.

‘Julie, do your stuff.’  Bill said.

The female appeared above him.  She scanned his face and then peered into his eyes.  Her cheeks flushed and her eyes softened as they met his.  Her lips of damask rose, her mouth open slightly.   The choosing of this face had been an unseen advantage.  The way she looked at him.  So Sam meant something to her.

She looked into his face for a long time and then frowned before she gasped and disappeared from his view.

He had read her too.

Julie Harrison,  26.  Level 5 Psych.  Reader.  Three years on the force.  Jogged two kilometres this morning.  Will choose a poppy seed muffin and latte in twenty minutes on her scheduled tea break.  And then there was Sam.  If he could make her thoughts of him real, well…  He smiled to himself.

Julie was stuttering in the corner.    ‘It’s not Sam.  I couldn’t read that man.  I don’t know who he is.  It’s not him.’

Then she was in his face again.  ‘Why do you look like Sam?  What have you done with him?’   She paused.  ‘And why can’t I read you?’

‘I blocked you.’

‘See.’  She was addressing Bill.  ‘I should have known that.  I can’t even discern a simple block with this … this….  What are you?’

‘A mystery,  an enigma, a paradox.’    His enjoyment of her confusion was interrupted by a thumping at the door and muffled voice from outside.

‘Jules, Jules.  Open up.  It’s me.  Open up.’

Footsteps, the hiss of the piston at the door, and the clear accusation as his doppelgänger entered the room.   ‘He’s a shape shifter.’  

Bill laughed.  ‘Shape shifters don’t exist.’

‘Are you sure?’  Julie said.  Then she came back to the gurney and was above him again.
‘Is that true?’

‘Shape shifters don’t exist.’  he said. ‘But I have developed some techniques…’

“Oh, you have, have you?  And does that include knocking me senseless and ripping off my face against my will?’    He didn’t need his psych powers to read the anger and confusion on the real Sam’s features, his features.

And he didn’t need his psych powers to read the love and concern on Julie’s face as she took Sam’s head in her hands and pulled her face into his, gluing herself to it with those rosy lips.

Yep, Sam Ogden’s face had been a good choice.    

(590 words)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New beginnings: The first few hundred words

This months' writing challenge at
is about new beginnings.   I love them.  I love starting something new and I have discovered over the years that I am very good at starting new things -  it is the completion, the seeing it through, that I find a challenge.   I have had some association with Christian Romance writers.  Perhaps to really get something new going, I should try my hand at the genre and see if it fits.  So here is a beginning of perhaps a new story for my contribution to this month's challenge.

Shelby Cole hurtled toward her future at six hundred and fifty two miles an hour.  
From thirty thousand feet she hoped the view of the unknown would be clearer, but all she could see before her was the shaking back of the seat in front.

She turned to the leather bound book in her lap and scanned the dense page reading familiar words which at this moment took on a whole new meaning.  ‘In the beginning was the Word…’   
It became her new chapter, her unwritten page, waiting, anticipating, lying open to receive …

The shudder of deceleration woke her a few hours later and she peered through the clouds to watch the new world rise up to meet her with an offering of lush vegetation. The tall palm trees also waved their welcome.  

As she claimed her luggage from the carousel, she scanned the crowd for a familiar face.  
Someone shoved a pig under her nose and spoke through red and broken teeth in a staccato pidgin; another pushed a basket of a hairy yellow tubes at her.    The fragrance rising from the swirling crowd was a greasy mix of coconut and body odour.  Shelby delighted in it.  She let it reach her expanding heart, knowing this was the new beginning she had chosen.   

Oh, and here he came now, the one who had chosen her.  
‘Bradley’, she croaked through her sudden thirst.  He waved from above the crowd and arrived with a bunch of fresh tropical flowers.   
‘This way’.  He said taking her hand.  

Shelby Cole’s future struck her with a blast of humid air as she stepped from the terminal.  It sucked at her lungs, toyed with the moisture from her body and then abandoned it to remain on her skin where it turned to glue.  It plastered her hair to her cheek and adhered her blouse to her back and arms. . . 

Would you like the challenge of continuing this story or should we leave Shelby at the hot and sticky entrance to her new life?   New beginnings are like that too,  unwritten.