Aug 6th

Same Same but Different - ideas needed

By stephenterry

Mitch and Ying are sitting in an outside restaurant in Bangkok. Mitch's quest to find Mint is being aided by Ying, and they will be going to the club which the police raided, to see if any of the girls (who were released) can recognise photos of Mint. They are to be accompanied by Ying's police 'friend' who has his own reason for visiting. Mitch thinks Ying is involved somehow, but he hasn't yet raised the subject.

As is the norm, my M/C has to suffer setbacks along the way and the chapter ends with Ying receiving a phone call. Help me come up with ideas of what happens next?

 

Chapter 14

I gathered we still had plenty of time, the club stayed open all night, and Ying’s beau was off duty around midnight. I sensed his motive for returning was a sweetener in a brown envelope, plus fun time with a girl of his choice. Underage? — I cringed at the thought.

As if Ying wasn’t enough.

Which led me to another thought as I sipped yet another Heineken and a small plate of cashew nuts while Ying downed her purple cocktail, pushed the curry to one-side and picked at her third dish, baby squid pieces in fish sauce.

Apart from me being irresistible and available, why was Ying helping me? Why had she gone to all the trouble of screwing her “police friend” twice for information on my search for Mint?

Or had she?

I couldn’t put a finger on it right then, but her involvement, from the time she pulled out the news clipping on the club bust and trafficking of young girls, told me she was involved somehow.

Coincidence? Hmm.

Maybe I’d find out more at the club. And maybe I could come up with a better plan to encourage Jerk-off to spill the beans.

The beer was affecting me, and I needed a clear head. Coffee. Black. Which I ordered for both of us, despite Ying twiddling her empty cocktail glass at me.

She screwed her eyes up when the coffee arrived and pushed her cup to one side. I feigned indifference. We sat silent for a while as the night wore on, neon signs intensified when a few nearby clubs and bars opened, and live music filled the air.

Elvis back in town.

When Ying resurfaced from her sulk, she asked about Choclit and I gave her a brief rundown of my time with Jerk-off and my scam to gain information from him.

‘Good,’ she said. ‘Check tonight. My friend…’ she gave me a sideways glance…‘can help.’

Her glance had unsettled me. She seemed to be seeking my reaction. Jealousy or what? Jealousy, no, intrigued, yes. But sitting at an outside restaurant teeming with people was not the time or place to raise the subject — what’s in it for you?

Instead, I looked at my watch. Gone eleven. The coffee had cleared my head. ‘Time to make a move,’ I said, waving at a waitress.

Just then, Ying’s phone warbled. She looked at the display and frowned. Started to get up from her seat.

 

‘This is important,’ she said.

Aug 4th

A horror competition

By mike

I crossed the Thames yesterday to book a seat for a play about Sonia and George Orwell.

This is performed at a pub near the Angel tube station called ‘The Old Red Lion’.  If you go ‘Jobs and Opportunities’ - on their website - a  competition for horror plays is promoted.  (Short plays are required.)  There are some horror writers on ‘Word Cloud’ Perhaps you might be interested?  

    But the closing date is near the end of August, so  there is little time.  A   cobbler’s shop, local to the  theatre,  is called ‘Achilles Heels’ but I cannot think if a plot -  horror is not my thing.   I don’t know about the Orwell play,but it might be interesting to see how Orwell is portrayed on the stage.  There is a Saturday matinee if you are in the South East of England.

 

    I seem to write very different material to other word clouders, so there is little point in my writing to agents,publishers  or going to World Cloud occasions,  My face just does not fit. 

    I had been trying to edit a novel that had been published by a grandfather.  It is published so ‘Word Cloud’ would be of no use.  In this case, I would probably do the compete opposite of what anybody might suggest.  My grand father cannot write.  It is a paradox that one of his novels is a minor classic of gothic fiction - yes it is!   But, even is this is established, the novel is unlikely to generate income.  Who now reads Maturin?

   Establishing the novel as a minor classic would  execute a grandfather’s will which is my intention.

     Agents or publishers are out of my loop, as are academics.  There seems to be no place to go?   Self publishing is not an option, because this would be history repeating itself. 

    I am the executor of the estate of a grandfather who cannot write and I am also the executor of the estate of an aunt who can write very well.  I think I might be the weak link here.   But I saw the preview of a play a few weeks ago and wrote out my opinions.  The press night was a few weeks later and my opinions were close to 100% to those of the critics.  This is the play with the songs of Bob Dylan.

     The play got one bad review from an American stage magazine.  The critic accuses the playwright of using stock characters from American fiction. 

    There are only three things you have to know about my grandfather.    He met Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa; his father wrote the first life of Shelley; he wrote a famous march and he was mad.  What would a literary agent make of this paragraph?

     ,, 

 

 

 

    

Aug 3rd

Rurik revisited

By Squidge

Cloudies that have been around for a while may remember that years ago, I wrote a novel about a character called Rurik. Several extracts appeared in critiques and certain cloudies were good enough to beta read him in his entirety. He also had several critiques by the editrix supreme, Debi, which knocked him into decent shape.

He was also the second novel I worked on with an agent, but became the focus of my learning on the self-edit course (fabulous course - do it if you can afford it, because it changes the way you write for ever!) because said agent parted company with me because a) she didn't like his name, b) she didn't like the journey he took in the novel and c) she hadn't been able to market my previous novel either. Two strikes, and you're out, it seemed. However, that parting of the ways was a blessing in disguise, because it forced me to write for myself, and as a result I've had two novels published as well as several short stories.

But I digress.

The reason that my first novel was accepted for publication was thanks entirely to York. I was asked by an agent whether I believed in that story enough to rewrite it - for the umpteenth time. I did; I set to and the resulting MS of the first novel became my debut. Lovely. I went away, wrote another, published that. Again, thanks to York, when I was told 'make shit happen'! Even lovelier.

All through that time, Rurik has waited. Ocassionally I pull him out of the drawer, give him a little bit of a polish, shove him back. Recently, I asked myself whether, like StarMark, I believed in his story enough to tackle it for what seems like the eleventy-hundredth time. Except this time, it wasn't going to be a case of 'finding my voice' - or rather, Rurik's voice - to make the story come alive.

My publisher only accepts writing by women, for women and girls, with female protagonists. It's something they are passionate about, and means that they're pretty niche in a lot of ways. I'm lucky that what I'd presented to them so far met those criteria. 

Rurik doesn't. He has balls...literally!

So. 'His' story has got to become 'hers' if I want a chance of publishing it with the same publisher.

I took the MS on holiday recently to read. Blimey, but it felt pretty amateur compared to my much later work. I found plot holes and shallow characters and various other things that I cringed over, telling myself all the while I hadn't learned as much about writing as I know now when I last edited it. I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of work I'd have to do to bring it up to what I now view as scratch.

Since I've been home, I've begun the work to give Rurik a female protagonist, in the hope that if my belief in the story is still so strong and this new female character 'works' within it, I can then continue writing the other four books I had planned for Rurik. 

Should I have stuck with Rurik, kept him male and offered the story to another small press? Am I right to write to the publisher's requirements - or do I lose something in meeting other people's needs and writing to order? I'm not sure. I don't think I'll be sure until I've edited the whole story with a female lead. And of course, there's no guarantee that my current publisher will even like the story when it's done - I could be doing all of this for nothing!

If I'm honest, I feel guilty that Rurik is not going to be in the story any more. He's been part of my writing journey for so long, it's almost like I've dumped him at the side of the road and sped away from him, tyres screaming on the tarmac. But then I realised he's already undergone one change of world and name, because he started life as Benjamin the book lover, who fell from our world into another to start his journey. 

So perhaps it is OK to keep morphing the story until everything clicks and it all feels right? Even if ultimately it takes a sex change, too.

I'll let you know when I've finished!

Aug 2nd

So.... what did you do today?

By Purple witch

 

Normally I would have been snuggled up and  warm in bed but, because  his motorbike coughed and growled and died on him, I was up  taking  my  son to  work at 4 am this morning  when it began to speckle  rain. You know the rain I mean ... a little on the window screen ... not enough to use the wiper but just enough to notice.

 

 What I did notice as I drove home ten minutes later  though was a bald man on the pavement opposite riding a push bike towards me.   I could  see him  well enough in the shine of the  streetlight as  he  rode  past  it  to see he wasn’t wearing a coat; just shorts and a T shirt. There were no lights on the bike either.   It was a strange contrast to the young person going in my direction wearing a dark coat, dark trousers, and dark back pack.  He was jogging along, dipping in and out under the trees on my side of the road. I  kind of  got the  feeling that  ‘dark back-pack guy’ may have been up to  no good but I went by  him to quickly to be  sure.  I passed at least ten other cars and the local milk van as well. Nearer home I spotted a pair of teenagers, hand in hand, trailing home.  I guess they’d been to a party as they both had a silver helium balloon attached to their wrists.

 

It’s busy out in the forest   at four am in the morning that’s for sure.    

 

I parked the car a bit wonky on the drive, but did remember to lock it before I went indoors and got back into bed.   Ohhh...  the bed was still warm. Lovely.  I actually managed to go back to sleep until six.     

 

 Woke to the rain splattering against the bedroom window and could just see it falling in the half light of the grey dawn.  The wind was whipping along under the house tiles too and downstairs the letter box was clapping and flapping persistently under its breezy fingers. Couldn’t get back to sleep so turned on several lights and made a cuppa.  Then I began to paint rocks.

 

 No I’m not mad.  There is a face book page for our area started for the local children as an activity for the summer break.  Everyone  is  painting  and  decorating  rocks  and  hiding them  in the  local  environment  for others  to find . You take a picture of your finds and either re-hide them somewhere else or paint new ones. Its community interactive and fun; with both children and adults joining in.  Anyway, back to my day. I painted a few rocks and stuck a few glittery bits on them as well.  If the weather is better tomorrow I will go and hide them for people to find.    

 

The rain has  not  stopped all day.  I  haven’t  done much more than  snuggle in a chair flick through the tv  channels and  scribble a little on my A4 pad.   I  did  spend time on my  writing course tasks but now I’m on the  last  one  I keep going  back to look at completed  tasks.  I’m at that...... “I’m almost finished but I can’t let it go” stage.     

 

The lights have been on all day.  Outside the sky seems low and  grey and drenched  with  rain  that has been water-falling  down the  windows  and  gurgling in the gutters of my  conservatory.  The grass is waterlogged. I am so glad I mowed it yesterday.  

 

 The  wind  has  not  stopped  racing across the  front of the  house  and  I am so fed up with the  clattering I  have  taped the  letter box  shut.

 

It’s  definitely been a  sit  in  the  warm  with slippers on day  - funny  how  that   always seems  happen  when I  am  on  holiday  though - don’t you think.

 

My middle son visited after work and brought home made stew and dumplings for us to eat.  What could be better on a day like this?     I  braved the  wet  and  picked  rhubarb  from my garden-  no prize  for guessing   what  we had  with  custard for dessert  tonight.

 

He has  just left  to  go  home  and  as  he  was  leaving  he  gently  pointed out that  I  had  red  sharpie pen on my  face  and  small shiny  stick-on  gems in my  hair.

 

Aug 1st

Notting Hill Confidential - The synopsis.

By JB

Synopsis:

Notting Hill Confidential is a tense thriller with a multi-racial cast of desperate men and strong women. Set in the London Metropolis of the1980s, it tells the story of a motley crew of anti-heroes.  Young Jeff Ward, the naïve pampered son of C.I. Ray & Sue Ward, becomes disillusioned with his life, after discovering his Father and his childhood friend Charlie Ford’s corrupt dual lifestyle.

Jeff allows his disappointment to lead him into a world of vice, crime and easy money on the dark streets of West London’s Notting Hill, where he meets the young black entrepreneur and crime lord, Mel Williams. Unbeknownst to Jeff, his new young black friend is also friends and business partner with his Uncle Charlie Ford.

Jeff is seduced by the sub culture of Notting Hill’s opulent street life and eventually betrayed, by Mel’s best friend Johnnie Wilson with tragic results, which ended up making unlikely allies out of police and thieves. This story takes you on a ride of regret, vengeance, retribution and enlightenment.

Notting Hill Confidential is a story for everyone regardless of age, race or class which effortlessly mixes the excitement and coolness of the ‘80s with the greed and ambition of characters that will stop at nothing to get the results that they want. 

 

 

Jul 31st

Unihorns

By Purple witch

 

 

 


Poised, ready to tumble
A powdered moon arcs below a trailing snare of star-shot sky,
And the soft dark clings to quiet sounds,
Listening for the cautious trilling and calling
that heralds the running of the herd.
Gently, it gathers and swells, held,
Briefly at the rim of the meadow, then, thundering serenely,
they race out from the edge of sorcery
with the scent of blossom falling from their flanks as they run.
And the joy of the running live in their voices.
Feathered hooves flash silver and gold in the moon shine,
And pennant manes fly against the air - brushing petal laden garlands
Hung at arched necks.
Their breath, sweet with the green taste of new meadow hay,
Warms the soul of the earth.
And the seed of their power scatters the air before them as they run:
The star-tipped, spiral horn, glistening, lance-like,
and dusted with earth-shine, sings of its glorious magic.
Running still, they pass from sight.  No dust rises,
or mark speaks of their passing,
Only the lacy pattern of their running, sounding,
& the smell and the warmth of their voices trailing like liquid in the air
Echoes the paths to dark-wrapped secret realms.

Jul 31st

Mystery gift

By Monica Handle

Saturday came, and with it the morning post.  There was an intriguing parcel from AbeBooks.  For those who don't know (hardly any on here, I'd have thought), this is the online marketplace for second-hand, rare and collectible books, art works, etc.  I've used it a few times.

I opened the package to find a book of short stories by Mark Leyner, titled 'My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist', published by Vintage Contemporaries in 1993.  I read the first couple of pages of the first story, and then randomly dipped into a few others - just testing the water.  It's a strange collection, which I find difficult to categorise.  Experimental fiction?  Or just eccentric?  Here's a sample:

"i presume that your're there     the weight of your invisible body straining the leather seat of my director's chair     that strange fart wafting past me like the mildew of old books     "

Anyhow, I like the book.  Quite a lot, in fact: right up my street.  But who sent it to me?  There was no card and no indication of the sender on the packaging.  All I could tell was that it came from a bookseller in the US.

My brother was the obvious culprit.  He's knows and shares my tastes in fiction, and is given to feeding me occasional, unrequested book gifts; the weirder the better.  I texted him: not me, was the answer.  I phoned him, in case he was toying with me, but I could tell from the tone that he was definitely not in the frame.  One of my sons, then?  They've gifted the odd book (in both senses) in the past.  But no - neither responsible.  Final throw off the dice - my father?  He may be 89, but he has a laptop and he knows about AbeBooks, so there was an outside chance. I rang my brother back, as he looks after the laptop maintenance, only to be told there was no chance whatsoever.  Something to do with my dad's unwillingness to commit any financial information to the internet.

So ... what's going on?  I checked my AbeBooks account, just in case I had sent it to myself during some sleep-keyboarding episode, or when very drunk.  Nope.  Account last used two years ago.  I changed the password, just in case, to something I won't remember.

I went back to the packing, after a brief rummage in the domestic refuse.  Ah ha!  A small clue beckoned: the sender had my street name correct, but had ommitted the house number.  It had reached me only thanks to the local knowledge of our nice postperson.  So - someone who knows my bookish tastes, but who only has partial knowledge of where I live.  Or just forgot to put in the house number, I suppose.

This is going to bother me until I get to the bottom of it, but it leaves me with a question for the Cloud:

What's the strangest mystery gift you've ever received, and how did you (if you did) find out who sent it?

 

 

 

Jul 30th

Looking back

By AlanP

I am having a big time clear out of over 20 years accumulations arising from never throwing anything out. I have come across stuff I wrote, oh, 30 years ago that I had completely forgotten about. This one, I have no memory of at all. Hand written on a scrap of paper at the bottom of a suspense file, almost overlooked, I came across a couple of lines of dialogue in my own handwriting, so it has to have been me. And the thing is I now have an urge to write the rest of it.

'Charles, you're supposed to be dead. I buried you last month.'

'I thought I must be seeing as I just read my obituary in your paper. I just wanted to make sure that you finish claiming the patent on the time travel stuff. It's in my desk drawer.'

Anyone else come across stuff they did years ago and completely forgot they had done?

Jul 30th

An Aversion to Italy

By Caducean Whisks

When I was seven, my parents took me to Italy on a Cosmos package holiday; to Rimini, my first trip abroad. 

I remember the Campari swing in the sea, and that Riccione smelt of fish.

We went again the next year. Saw the Sistine Chapel and Venice and San Marino. 

 

At secondary school, I was good at French so was streamed to learn Latin in the second year. 

I kicked up a helluva stink. ‘No! I don’t want to learn a dead language. I want to learn German.’ 

Teachers smiled benevolently but I was incandescent. Stomped about. Banged down books. ’No. You can’t make me. Shan’t. Won’t.’

I wrote a huffy letter to the school and got my dad to sign it. 

School capitulated and I went to the German class instead. 

In later years, I’ve wondered about this and somewhat regretted not learning Latin formally. 

I pursued a scientific career in biology where much of the terminology derives from Latin. 

I like words and languages in general, and Latin would have come in handy. I’ve kinda taught myself in reverse, but a solid grounding wouldn’t have gone amiss. However, I do remember how strongly I felt at the time - as though my world would end if they forced me to learn Latin.

 

I’ve been to Italy a few more times since - or rather through it on the way to or from somewhere else. I’ve travelled the length of it but never felt comfortable. I’ve thought about taking a villa in Tuscany, or a cookery course - but always swerved away. 

 

Just about everything irritates me about Italy. Those double Ls in the words, the round, oily, pudginess of the sounds, the food with all those tomatoes, the colours of the flag. All entirely irrational, I know, but there we are. 

 

I’m in my late fifties now, and I’ve only just made a connection between all this, and something that happened in my early thirties. 

 

From my late twenties on, I became engrossed with all matters New Age (as it was termed then). 

Spiritualism, Theosophy, Astrology, Dreamwork, Afterlife, Mysticism, Auras, Chakras, Karma and Reincarnation. 

I’m a bit OCD when something interests me, and study it to the nth degree. Thirsting for knowledge. I have a veritable library of works on these subjects. I took serious courses on them. I’m the only person I know who’s read a thick volume on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and thumbed the Egyptian book of same. I have Kirlian photographs of my hands. I’ve been for Spiritual Healing that was so intense it had me in floods of tears. 

My first encounter with reincarnation-in-action was at a meeting of the Rosicrucians, where we apparently ‘saw’ someone’s past lives flash across their face. 

No, that was my second encounter. The first was when I was nineteen and stayed in a monastery in Lumbini in Nepal - the birthplace of Buddha. The head monk was doing a PhD on Reincarnation and I thought what a bizarre thing to do a PhD on. We had discussions. 

Reincarnation made a lot of sense to me then. Now, I don’t think I believe it any more, but I still think it’s a good way to lead your life - as if you’ll be accountable at some point for everything you do and don’t do. However, I did firmly adhere to it, back then. And there are things that I can’t explain without that theory; so I believe and don’t, all at the same time. 

Here’s one of those things: 

In my early thirties, I went to be regressed to my own past lives. 

I experienced three. Whether or not they really were past lives, is not the issue; it can’t be proved one way or the other, and could have been generated as images from my own subconscious, in the same was as dreams. So whether they’re true or not, doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that they were hugely significant to me. I recognised patterns, recognised people I know in this life, people who I’m deeply connected to; they say that you can be reincarnated in groups - i.e. the same souls come back together, time and time again, although not necessarily in the same relationship to each other. So a husband and wife in one life, may come back as mother and son. They say you keep coming back together until you’ve worked out the issues between you. And the issues will get more-and-more intense until you do work them out. That’s reincarnation for you. If you don’t get it right this time around, you have to come back and do it all over again. 

I think I can recognise a karmic relationship now - one that’s totally irrational but utterly compulsive. Such as my aversion to Italy.

 

Anyway. Back to my regression. So many things fell into place; anomalies in my life suddenly made sense. Believe it or not, the experience made a huge difference to me.

The third life I went to, I felt so deeply and painfully, that it moves me to this day, over twenty years later. Something else has just fallen into place.

 

I was a slave somewhere in ancient Italy. A young girl. I’d been romantically involved with a young nobleman, a patrician. I loved him dearly and believed he loved me. I’m smiling now, when I remember how happy we were. 

My vision opened as I stood in the centre of a circus. Crowds all around. Laughing, eating, chatting to each other. 

I knew I was about to die for the entertainment of the audience. How, I don’t know. Wild animals, perhaps? 

I look everywhere. No escape. So vulnerable. Difficult to stand up. The smell of sweat, the fear, trickling down my back, the heat. I seek my lover in the baying crowd, catch his eye. He’s in the special seats; his family are running this event. Save me, please save me. 

He laughs, dismisses me and turns to the man next to him, continues his conversation. 

I don’t understand. You love me. How can you let this happen? You said you loved me. You have the power to save me, yet you’re going to watch me torn to pieces. 

 

The vision faded and left me overwhelmed by the enormity of his betrayal. He’d lied, played with me, misused me shamefully. I’d believed he valued me but none of it was true. None of it.

 

And the final cold dagger to the heart? I recognised that young man. I’ve known him in this life, too.

 

Jul 28th

novella in flash

By Hil

Any of you who have looked at the Bath Flash Fiction Award site in the last couple of years may have noticed that last year they launched a new competition - for Novella in Flash.

Here's the link:

https://bathflashfictionaward.com/2017/07/meg-pokrass-novella-in-flash-award-judge/

I'd seen the term without really thinking about what it was (I think novella put me off for some reason), and then decided to have a look. I already enjoy writing flash fiction and short stories, and I now I'm fascinated by the idea of creating a longer work by means of linked pieces of flash. At the moment I'm reading, but who knows - I might have a go.  

I've acquired some of the titles recommended by Meg Pokrass and am currently reading 'Mr Bridge' by Evan S. Connell.

Just wondered if anyone else had read much of this form, or had a go at writing it. What are your thoughts?

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