Fifteen Yards and Panicking – Mondays Finish the Story

This is my second week of taking part in flash fiction writing challenges and I’m finding them quite addictive. (Who am I kidding? They’re totally addictive!) This challenge is Mondays Finish the Story, hosted by Barbara Beacham. It asks that we write a story of 100 -150 words from the photo and first line prompt -both kindly provided by the host.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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. . . and this is my offering, including the given opening sentence:

They finally made their escape.

The four by four slewed to the right as it rounded a tight bend, scouring the muddy bank with a screech of tyres before spluttering to a halt. Jack struggled to restart the engine then hit the throttle. The vehicle lurched forward, just as the beast rounded the bend.

At his side, Tom squinted at their pursuer. ‘Fifteen freakin’ yards and it’ll have us for a Scooby Snack!’

Jack shot him a venomous look. ‘The throttle’s already at its bleedin’ limit! What d’you expect me to do . . . crash the car, good and proper?’

The beast was on their offside now, all evil-eyed and roaring. Jack squeezed the throttle,  just as the T-rex hurled itself across the chassis, five yards from the finishing line.

Tom pressed another coin into the slot. ‘Two wins each and your “No Result”,’ he said, smirking. ‘And the last go is mine.’

Word Count: 149

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Quadrangle

Today I’m taking part in Rochelle Risoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers flash fiction challenge, which requires participants to write a piece of fiction in 100 words or less from the photo prompt provided. It’s my first time doing this challenge and I found it good practice in eliminating unnecessary words. (Yikes! Rambling’s a hobby of mine.)

So, here is the prompt . . .

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. . . and this is my respone to it:

It was a small area, when one considered the size of the house. A simple, open-aired square, like some Daniel had seen in old Roman ruins. When the sun was low it was shaded, best suited to his dark moods.

The hired assassin made a superb job of his elder brother and parents’ murders, shooting Daniel in the shoulder to deflect the blame. The house was his now. He kept the dining table laid for them, so they’d know he hadn’t hated them: he’d just wanted this house, with the quadrangle. And the hoard of Roman coins buried beneath it.

Word count: 100

You can read other entries to the challenge here

The Twenty-First Birthday

I’ve decided to take part in Ermilia’s Picture it and Write Challenge. This is a weekly writing challenge in which participants are asked to write a paragraph of fiction or a poem in response to the photo prompt given. It can be in a different language, as long as a translation is provided. The challenge is organised by Ermisenda Alvarez, the author of Ermiliablog.

This is this the photo prompt for this week . . .

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. . . and here is my first contribution to the challenge:

Whenever he gazed into a mirror, he saw him; statue-still at his side and staring back. When he turned away, so did the image. Enrico was not afraid, just confused as to why this had started happening. His twin had died before their fifth birthday. Now, Enrico’s twenty-first loomed.

Enrico had never come to terms with the events of that day. He and Miguel had wandered off to the river with their little fishing nets. Miguel had lost his footing and plummeted into the water. Panicked, Enrico had fled for help, but by the time Papa reached the river, it was too late. No one had blamed Enrico for what happened – yet he had always blamed himself. If only he’d tried to pull Miguel out of the water before running for Papa…

He reached out to touch the mirror and his brother’s fingers reached out to meet his. As the frisson of reunion surged through him, Enrico saw the accident through his twin’s eyes: his head smashing against the river-rock that had killed him. Miguel had already been dead before he slumped into the water. Understanding swept through Enrico. Miguel didn’t want him to suffer misplaced guilt any longer.

‘Enjoy your life as a man, brother,’ was the last message Enrico received as the image faded into nothingness.

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Homework – Mondays Finish the Story

I’ve decided to participate in Mondays Finish the Story. This is a challenge which involves a photograph and an opening sentence to be finished within 100 – 150 words.

So here is my first offering!

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Finish the story begins with:  “Racing down into the atmosphere, the unidentified object crashed, leaving behind one heck of a huge crater and a plume of smoke that could be seen from miles around.”

Mrs Jenkins stopped the DVD, her stern gaze sweeping the class over the top of her spectacles.

‘Tell me what we’ve just watched.’

Fifteen-year-old Michael cringed as her eyes rested on him and he took a steadying breath. ‘Something crashed into the earth . . .’

‘And what did you think it was?’

He shrugged. ‘It came too fast.’

‘Hmm,’ Mrs Jenkins murmured, her steely eyes still on him. ‘Have a guess.’

‘A flying saucer?’

The teacher’s lips pursed. ‘What else could have come from outer space?’

Michael knew what it could have been but not what it was called. ‘A huge rock,’ he broached.

Sarah’s hand shot up. ‘A meteorite,’ she chirped cockily. ‘Or perhaps just a fragment of one. We can’t tell how big the crater is.’

‘Good. So tonight’s homework is: What are meteorites? In by tomorrow.’

Michael groaned. His mother was the worst teacher ever.

Word count: 149

Beginnings, Middles and Endings

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All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Most fiction authors write their books with that in mind, although there are probably exceptions. The idea of a beginning, a middle and an end mirrors life itself. We are born, we live our lives, and we die: fulfilment.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life today. And death. Yes, I’m having a ‘down’ day. I’m fortunate in not having too many of those. I’ve always been a cheerful person. I smile a lot, laugh a lot and sing a lot – which probably irritates some people immensely. My parents were cheerful people, who sang constantly (not only in the bath!) so I’ll blame them for that.

But today is not a good one for me. For a start, who could feel happy in the face of so much tragedy in the world at present? The shootings in Paris have left people around the globe feeling both outraged and deeply saddened, and it’s hard to put such violence out of mind.

The weather is foul today. It’s a wonder I stayed on my feet during my morning walk, the wind was so strong. It had been howling all night and to make matters worse, it started to pour down just as I stepped outside. Yet I can’t survive the day without my walks, bad weather or not. When I got home I had a phone call to tell me that my uncle had died. He was eighty nine and had been frail for some time, but when death actually comes, it still hits hard. So I’ve been thinking about him – Uncle Bob – for most of the day, too.

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This old photo was taken in 1954, outside our old prefab. (About page).  Bobby is third from the left at the back. It was his wedding day, in fact. I was to be a bridesmaid, aged seven, along with my five-year-old sister and twelve-year-old aunt. When the photo was taken we were getting ‘dressed up’ inside the house with my mum.

Bobby was my mum’s brother, six years her junior. I haven’t seen much of him these past few years because he’s lived all his adult life in Southport (Merseyside) – which is my home town. Originally from Liverpool, like my mum, he never lost his Scouse accent. He had a happy life though, and died peacefully in his sleep. I’m trying hard to dwell on the good things in my uncle’s life and I know that my depression today is natural on receipt of such news. My main thoughts are with Bobby’s four children, my cousins.

Beginnings, middles and endings . . .

Birth is a most wonderful thing; a new life to start on its journey – whether it is a human child, a terrestrial animal or marine, or a member of the vast plant kingdom – the journey through life will take its course.

Many parts of the world are now experiencing hot, summer days, whilst more northerly latitudes are in mid-winter. In Britain we are fortunate in having what are classed as mild winters and warm summers, i.e. with a few exceptional years, we have no extremes. Apart from the few cold days just after Christmas we’ve had a mild winter this year, so far. Even though today is quite wild, it isn’t too cold.

But it’s always heartening to welcome the first signs of new life in our gardens. It gives us the feeling (often erroneously!) that spring is on its way. Here are a few photos, taken today, of our first lovely snowdrops and hellebores. There are also some daffodils already in bud – which is very early!

So our garden will soon have some colour other than the green grass and evergreens. Soon we’ll have the purple crocuses and yellow daffodils opening, followed by the bright red tulips and a whole array of blossoms on the trees – lilac, cherry, willow, hawthorn, maple, and many different fruit trees and bushes. In summer we’ll have a riot of colour from so many flowers and shrubs. Then by autumn the garden will again fade and winter will follow. The earth’s cycle never ceases.

Beginnings, middles and endings.

The phrase also has my mind racing about my third book. I’m already enjoying the challenge of a new beginning and have spent a lot of time on it this last week. The book is planned out fairly well, although I still need to do some more research for one particular part. I love doing research and have to take care not to let it lead me in all directions.

But today my mind’s on other things.

Resolutions, Book Reviews And The Weather

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During this past week many bloggers have written about New Year resolutions. Several, I note, have decided not to bother with any at all since they profess an inability to keep them. Probably a wise decision, then.

I rarely make resolutions, myself. Not that I don’t admire the determination of those who do – however long that determination may last for.  I’ve got as far as telling myself I’ll do this or that in the coming year, but it’s always been a half-hearted gesture. I suppose I’m fortunate in not needing to lose weight or give up smoking. I’ve never smoked in my life and, according to my husband, I need to put a good stone on! But I know there are lots of other things in which I could show real resolve.

This year I have made one big resolution: to finish the last book of my trilogy. With Book 2 now on Amazon, I need to concentrate on getting Book 3 completed. Then I’ll start on something completely new, although it will still be historical fiction (something I am addicted to!).

Starting a blog on WordPress just over five months ago was one of the best things I did in 2014. I’ve met so many lovely people and have been nominated for two awards, though I’ve still to put my Sisterhood of Bloggers Award on display. I haven’t managed to blog very often, however. I aimed for once a week at first and over Christmas, after finishing Book 2, I managed to do a few extra posts. But I’ll never make a power blogger! My writing time is precious to me, so I just fit in whatever else I can.

Two of my fellow bloggers have reviewed my first book, Shadow of the Raven on their blogs, and I am really grateful to them for that. Both of these people have lovely blogs, with lots of great photos as well as informative posts on a variety of subjects.

The first was in November by the wonderful JF on his blog PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.  He also mentioned my book again yesterday, in his summary of  2014. Thank you JF!

Today came  a second review by a lovely Australian lady, Christine J. Randall, on her blog, Christine R. Thank you, Christine, for the really thorough job you made of it!

I can’t thank these two people enough for the kind things they say about my book. My offer of a free copy of Shadow of the Raven in exchange for an honest review still stands. Two other bloggers have also taken up the offer. My email address is on this page. Just let me know whether you need an ePub or Mobi file, or even a pdf.

Since JF reviewed the book in November, I’ve changed the cover to the one now shown here.  Here are the two different covers. The old one is the very blue one. I’ve also added a couple of much-needed maps to both Book 1 and Book 2, Pit of Vipers.

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Shadow of the Raven (Medium)

Well, next week things will really get back to normal. Most schools here open again on Monday or Tuesday, so that’s holidays over until half-term at the end of February. The weather has been cold again today. (I’m English, so bear with me whilst I wallow in the nation’s preferred topic of conversation.) After having sunshine and 9°C a few days ago, yesterday was miserably grey, and it poured down before brightening up by late afternoon to give very clear skies  – which revealed an amazing full moon and a cloudless sky. Naturally, temperatures plummeted to -5°C and it continued to be freezing all morning. It’s always pretty, though, to see sunshine glistening on the frost.

But I still prefer to be warm! The first picture of me was taken at Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire in June, and the second one in Lincoln (left) with husband, Nick, and Auntie Joan in August. They show how I like the weather to be:

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Mum, Dad and Joan

Life in Britain can never be truly boring. We always have the weather to talk about – fickle as it is.