A Good Darned Flag – Monday’s Finish the Story

It’s time for Monday’s Finish the Story again. This is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in 150 words from the picture and first line prompt, kindly provided by the  host, Barbara W. Beacham.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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. . . and here is my story, including the first line prompt:

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Pizza anyone?’ the dark-headed waiter asked.

Chris glowered at the man, noting the name-tag on his jacket with the name ‘Fabio’ written on it. He was still piqued that Jane had booked the meal without consulting him. Their first anniversary, for Pete’s sake – and she knew he never ate pizza!

‘Menu and wine list…?’ Fabio continued, evidently puzzled by his hostile response.

‘Pizza … pizza… pasta …. I don’t eat any of these,’ Chris snapped. ‘Everything’s got meat in it. And I hate pasta!’

‘Ah, no meat …’ Fabio’s face crinkled in thought. ‘We can make vegetarian pasta … or pizza with mushrooms … or olives. Margherita pizza perhaps: sizzling white Mozzarella cheese, sweet red tomatoes, garnished with bright  green bay leaves.’ He kissed his fingers and flicked them out. ‘The colours of Italia’s flag …’

Chris washed down his last mouthful with a swig of Chianti. ‘Best darned flag I’ve ever eaten.’

Word Count: 150

I wrote this story with my husband in mind. He’s a vegetarian – and a very faddy one. He won’t eat rice or pasta dishes and would never touch pizza until we had a holiday in Sorento. Not liking Italian food at all, he tended to eat Margherita pizza at least once every day. He certainly didn’t love it, and has rarely eaten it since.

If you’d like to read other entries, click here.

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Blog Tour Award!

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I’m a bit staggered to have been nominated for this award, and I owe Izzy huge thanks for even thinking of me. She’s done some really good pieces of writing on her blog, Izzy-grabs-life, which are well worth checking out. Her blog title says a lot about her personality and the way she writes. Izzy is lively and full of fun – and really grabs life by the horns, or some such place!

This is a little different to the other awards I’ve responded to, and involves answering  questions about writing – which is great for me!

So these are the rules:

  • Compose a one-time post on a specific Monday (date given from your nomination – I was given March 30)
  • Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post by.  On this occasion, next Monday will be Easter Monday, April 6 2015. So I’m going to say that my nominees can either post on that date, or leave it until the following week, which will be Monday April 13.
  • Pass the tour on up to four other bloggers.
  • Answer four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

Here are the four questions and my answers . . .

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Q.1 What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on the third book of my Sons of Kings trilogy. Book One was published as an ebook on Amazon in April. 2014 and Book Two in December 2014. That doesn’t mean I write really quickly. I know there are authors out there who can write, edit and publish a book in a few months, but I’m not one of them. Many authors I’ve read about take a year for a 340-50 page book, which both of mine are. But by the time I’d got Book One onto Amazon, I’d already written half of Book Two.

All in all, what I’m saying is that Book Three is unlikely to be finished before the end of this year.  Still, I know I’m going to have to put a spurt on … which, sadly for me, means that I’ll soon have to cut down on a lot of the posts I do on my blog.

Q.2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

Every writer’s work is unique to them. We all have our own writing styles, our own ‘author’s voice’. So in those things, I know I’m unlike anyone else. As for my books … Well, there are many Viking books around today, some straight forward historical fiction, some historical romance, others historical fantasy, and so on. I classify mine as historical adventure, and know that Book One in particular, fits that description well.

Although other authors have written about King Alfred, their interpretation of his character is completely different to mine, particularly since, in my first book, Alfred is a young child. Most other ‘Alfred’ books start with him as a man and already a king. The main action in Book One comes from my equally important protagonist, Eadwulf of Mercia. His adventure takes up a good deal of the book, with frequent glimpses over to events transpiring in Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom). The two stories continue, and intertwine, throughout the three books. Eadwulf is fictional, so no one else will have him in their books!

Q.3. Why do you write or create what you do?

I write historical fiction because I love both history and a good adventure, so that’s where my writing heads to. I fell in love with the story of Alfred’s great fight against the marauding Danes many years ago, but only since retiring from teaching (and bringing up our six children) have I had time to actually write about it. I’m particularly character driven in my writing. I love to delve into my characters’ heads and ponder how they would react in certain situations – notably those I plonk them in. If you know your characters well, their actions/reactions often just follow on through.

Q.4. How does your writing/creative process work?

To start with there’s always a lot of research to do for historical novels. I did loads before I started Book One, but at least the background to the period and events stretches throughout the trilogy. Each book demands exta, too. Then I spend a long time just letting the story play out in my head – different scenes, different characters I’ll need to introduce in the new book. Ideas get thrown out and new ones step in. Unfortunately, I often get ideas for other books as well, which I just have to shelve for now. I’ve got at least two more books I’m itching to start. But, right now, I have to be strict with myself and focus on Alfred and Eadwulf.

Once I’ve worked out a rough plan of the plot I type out a synopsis, and leave it so that I can add extra bits of information as I work on the actual writing.

My writing day always starts with a walk. This is the time during which I plan out the scene I want to write when I get back. I have nice quiet lanes and fields to walk across, so my thoughts rarely get interrupted. I write my chapters a scene at a time, and won’t move on to the next scene until I’m satisfied it’s exactly how I want it. I never just keep on writing, regardless of mistakes, until I’ve finished the book, as many writers do. This is  simply the way I work, and I realise it may not be the preferred way of others.

Once the first draft is done, I edit it myself a few times. I tend to print out a lot of it, because it’s so easy to miss errors on a computer screen. (Well, it is for me, anyway!) Finally, the book goes to the professional editor I use. Of course, this does cost money, and for anyone who can’t, or doesn’t want to pay for editing and proofreading, there are plenty of people happy to be beta readers. And WordPress is an excellent platform for aspiring writers, especially the many flash fiction challenges. If writing a book is still only an ambition for you, and you worry your writing just might not be good enough yet, the challenges are great. The feedback can be really useful and the word limit is excellent practice in being succinct.

Well, that’s my bit done. Now for the last part …

nominees-winners

Now for my four nominees:

I.  Joycelin Leahy at tribalmysticstories

2. Rachel at Creatopath

3. Emily Livingstone at Unmapped Country Within Us

4. Francesca Smith at A Smith’s World

Word of the Week (WOW) – Insular

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Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

Here is my WOW for this week:

insular

 Word: Insular

Pronunciation: In-su-lar (in-suh-ler)

Part of Speech: Adjective

Noun: insularism; insularity

Adverb: insularity

 Meaning:

1. Of, relating to, or constituting an island

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2. Dwelling or situated on an island > insular residents

3. Characteristic of an island people, especially having a narrow provincial viewpoint

4. Isolated or separated

5. Illiberal or narrow minded

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A well-to-do mother, resistant to her daughter’s doctor using vaccine from their neighbour’s child. It illustrates the narrow-mindedness of the petty, provincial middle classes. Source: Wikimedia Commons: wellcomeimages.org

6. (Pathology) Occurring in or characterized by one or more isolated spots or patches

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Synonyms: 

illiberal, narrow, narrow-minded, parochial, petty, provincial, picayune, sectarian,  small, small-minded, prejudiced, blinkered

Antonyms:

broad-minded, cosmopolitan, liberal, open, open-minded, receptive, tolerant

Word Origin:  

17th Century from late Latin insulāris, from Latin insula, meaning island or isle

Use in a sentence: 

1. Their new neighbourhood was an insular community that was not receptive to new ideas, especially from outsiders.

2. Jane hated the insular world of her boarding school.

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Herlufsholm Boarding School, in Naestved, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Martin Joergensen

3. As a government spy, Justin was insular by nature and interacted on a social level with very few people.

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4. For a best-selling author, he seemed much too insular the deal with the scrutiny given to people of renown.

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If you’d like to check out more interesting words then visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

Don’t Pluck My Heartstrings – Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt kindly provided by the host, Rochelle Wisoff Fields. To join in with the challenge, or find out more about it, just follow the link on the challenge title above.

Here is this week’s prompt, copyright David Stewart . . .

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and this is my story . . .

The lights of the bandstand glow against the darkening sky, lively tones of the violins dancing on the evening air. The merry tune is well suited to the May Day mood. I gaze at my husband, so focused on his playing he will not see me …

In truth, James rarely does see me, for he’s a violinist of perfection and married to his music. But, after three years of loneliness, my musical appreciation has waned.

Tones of the violins soar as I turn away. The note on the kitchen table will not pluck too fiercely at James’ heartstrings.

Word Count: 99

If you’d like to read other entries, click on the little blue fellow below:

 

One Whole Year – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge, kindly hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt . . .

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. . . and this is my story:

I cannot see you, but I know you are there, your lovely face hidden by the flimsy curtainsacross the second floor window. The heat of your stare sears through … and right to my heart.

Last time we met I could not speak for grief.  You called to me as I walked through the cemetery gates. Now you don’t answer my calls; my letters return unread. So I must come to you …

I press the bell for Apartment 3b and focus on my worn leather shoes, wondering what you will say.

The door swings back and you are in my arms.

‘A whole year, Dad?’ you say, stepping back to scrutinise my dishevelled appearance. ‘Where have you been?’

I shake my head. ‘Couldn’t face the world without your mother …’

My daughter’s smile is full of understanding. ‘We’ll visit Mum’s grave together from now on, if you like.’

Word Count: 150

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If you’d like to view other entries, click here.

Teamwork – Monday’s Finish the Story

It’s time for Monday’s Finish the Story again. This is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in 150 words from the picture and first line prompt, kindly provided by the  host, Barbara W. Beacham.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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. . . and this is my story, including the first line prompt:

When the team heard the dam explode, they knew they had limited time to make it to safety. 

Dave made the split-second decision that offered his team the only hope of survival. Ahead lay the series of rapids they’d been preparing to negotiate: too late now to escape the river’s fast-flowing pull. Behind them the raging dam waters neared.

‘Blades down!’ he yelled from the helm, thrusting his paddle into the billowing foam. ‘We’re in this together, so control this baby!’

The raft plunged over the dip … straight into the clutches of violent eddies that sent them spinning into jagged rocks. The raft tilted perilously and water swamped the craft. Two men momentarily disappeared, only practised survival skills preventing them from being swept into the suds.

They hit the pool mere yards from the bank as the deafening roar reached the dip.

‘Swim for it!’ Dave yelled.

‘Great teamwork, guys,’ Greg hollered down as they scrambled up the bank. Sound effects OK? River rescue practice tomorrow …’

Word count: 150

To view other entries, click here.

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The Gift of Autumn – Picture it and Write

Picture It and Write is a weekly writing challenge, posted every Sunday by Eliabeth, the author of Ermiliablog. The challenge is to write a piece of fiction or a poem in response to the photo prompt supplied by the host.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

fall-view-through-a-window and this is my story . . .

Evaline Rawston flicked on her favourite CD and sank into a comfortable armchair, closing her eyes as Madame Butterfly’s dulcet soprano soared. Memories of her final performance at the Theatre Royale flooded back: such applauds; such ovation. So many friends with promises of keeping in touch …

Two years had passed since her glorious, thirty-year career had ended. Her throat could have taken no more. Time to cease the hours of rehearsal and gruelling performances, before her voice completely failed.

The heyday of her life was over; the fiery sun of summer set. No friends had flocked to her door. Autumn had hurried in fast, and once the mellowing colours had faded, years of cold, wintry loneliness and regret would follow.

For twenty years Geoffrey had wanted Evaline to marry him, but she’d always put her career first, imagined he’d wait until she was ready. News of his leaving had hit her like a hammer blow; six short months before she’d retired. How she still missed his deep, soft voice, his gentle touch.

Beyond the window, October sunlight played on the ambers and golds. She loved this old house with its beautiful garden; drew comfort from its ever changing moods …

‘Miss Rawston, there’s a gentleman at the door. Says you know him.’

‘Really?’ Evaline said, smiling at her housekeeper. ‘Then you’d better show him in.’

‘Evaline, my dear, how are you?’ Geoffrey asked as he entered the room.

‘Much better for seeing you,’ was all Evaline could say over the thumping of her heart. Winter suddenly seemed a lifetime away.

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If you would like to read other entries click on the link here.

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Word of the Week (WOW) – Hirsute

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Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

Here is my WOW for this week:

hirsute

 Word: Hirsute

Pronunciation: hir-sute (hur-soot)

Part of Speech: Adjective

Noun: Hirsuteness (hir-sute-ness)

 Meaning:

1. Hairy; shaggy : having a lot of body hair, especially on the face or body

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2. (Biology) Covered with coarse, stiff hairs (as a hirute leaf)

Heliotropium Indicum at Kadavoor © 2010 Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India. Creative Commons. A common weed in waste and settled areas. Native to Asia.

Synonyms: 

bristly, bushy, cottony, fleecy, furred, furry, hairy, rough, shaggy, unshorn, unshaven, woolly, bearded, bewhiskered

Antonyms:

bald, furless, glabrous, hairless, shorn, smooth

Word Origin:  

Early 17th Century from Latin hirsutus (shaggy). Akin to Latin horrére, meaning to bristle and hirtus, meaning hairy.

Use in a sentence: 

1. Many hirute males believe that chest hair makes them feel more manly.

2. Olaf was a large, hirsute Viking with an aggressive, blustery personality.

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3. (Noun) Hirsuteness in men is often seen as a sign of attractiveness.

4. I found a really hirsute caterpillar feeding on one of our growing cabbages this morning.

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Hirsute caterpillar of a Java moth. Attribution gbohne from Berlin, Germany.

I think this is a good word to use when describing hairy people, plants, insects and so on. It definitely adds a little something more to a sentence than merely saying ‘hairy’. It can be used to describe women too, of course, although, apart from ‘The Bearded Lady’* of Victorian fame it would not generally refer to facial hair. In women, the condition of excessive hair growth – usually dark and thick rather than fine and fair – is called HIRSUTISM.

* If anyone has never heard of this sad story, Ive added link to a Wiki page about one of these ladies HERE. (There are similar stories of other women who suffered this affliction.)

If you’d like to check out more interesting words then visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

The Perfect Hotel – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge, kindly hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt . . .

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. . . and this is my story:

Marnie took in the building’s formidable exterior and shuddered. ‘Really think it’ll make a good hotel, hun? Looks kinda creepy to me.’

‘It’ll be perfect, Marn.’ Carson grinned at his glitzy wife; the thick fur coat, the diamonds dangling from her ears. ‘Spend a few bucks … and bingo!’

‘But those stories …?’

Carson shook his head, chuckling. ‘Punters’ll be queuing to stay in a joint where a headless dame walks the corridors.’

‘But the agent I met on the roof said–’

‘Which agent?’ Carson cut in.

‘The one dressed like Batman’s butler.’

‘Doll, we ain’t got no agent yet.’

‘Well, this guy said one story was true – some servant, wrongly accused of strangling a rich guest. They hung him, up on that roof.’

Carson’s gaze fixed on the gabled roof … and the dark figure glaring down at them.

‘Ghost-hunting weekends’ll be a blast, Marn.’

Word Count: 150

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If you’d like to view other entries, click here.

The Double-Crosser – Monday’s Finish the Story

It’s time for Monday’s Finish the Story again. This is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in 150 words from the picture and first line prompt kindly provided by the  host, Barbara W. Beacham.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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. . . and this is my story, including the first line prompt:

A body suddenly crashed through a plate glass window at the brigadier’s house. It plummeted past Brigadier Humphreys, lounging on the balcony below. He sped upstairs and into the room, his lower jaw quivering in outrage.

‘What the deuce is going on?’ he demanded, glaring at the shattered window.

‘Relax, Brigadier,’ Mike Jewson soothed, his Texan drawl pronounced. ‘You’ll be reimbursed real well for use of your place once we’re done.’

‘B … but the body …?

Jewson shrugged. ‘No worries, man. Best way to deal with the double-crosser, is all.’

Charles Humphries glanced about the room, taking in the amused faces and their fancy equipment. ‘But you can’t just murder someone, it–’

‘ – was necessary, Brigadier,’ a tall, suave man in tux and bow tie cut in. ‘Agent 008 at your service,’ he added, grinning. ‘He was threatening British Security.’

‘Ah, that’s different then,’ the brigadier murmured as he left.

‘Go retrieve the dummy, Hank, then we roll with scene two.’

Word count: 150

To view other entries, click here.

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