Happy to be Back!

It’s been far too long since I wrote a post and I’ve really missed doing so. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way, and/or other things must take precedence. Last year was not a good year for my family. We had so many illnesses to deal with, some of them worryingly serious. All in all, I got little writing done at all, either on my books or my blog. So this year has been a mad rush to get Book 3 of my Sons of Kings series finished, edited and formatted and published on Amazon. And, at last, this is it:

It was uploaded onto Amazon a couple of weeks ago, so I can now start to relax a little and get back to writing a few blog posts. Well, that’s the plan… On the other hand, Book 3 didn’t finish either of my protagonists’ stories, so I am now writing Book 4. My trilogy has become a series (or perhaps a quadrilogy).

All three of my Sons of Kings books will be 99p/$0.99 until July 31st. After that, Book 1 (Shadow of the Raven)  will be 99p for a little longer, Book 2 (Pit of Vipers) will be $1.99 and Book 3 (Wyvern of Wessex) will be $2.99, the usual price for each of the three books.

My book of short stories and flash fiction pieces will be still at its usual price of £1.49/$1.97. Amazon won’t allow it to be any lower because of the number of coloured images I’ve included. I had intended this book to be permanently 99p!

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The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Having only recently responded to one a blog award nomination, I still have three more to do – so I thought I’d better get on with them. I’m doing each according to when I received the nomination, and this one, from Maria, at Doodles and Scribbles, is from late September.  I really do appreciate being nominated for these awards, but time hasn’t been a particular friend of mine recently. So I must apologise to Maria for hanging onto it for so long. I don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to fit everything in that I need to. Maria writes some lovely posts, including many great flash fiction stories, and I recommend you to take a look at her blog.

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award is one I’ve had before, but not this particular version. I was pleased to find that it didn’t ask for any more facts about me, as I’ve used up a lot of those recently!

The rules for this award are as follows:

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  1. Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.  (done)
  2. Answer the 10 questions given to you.
  3. Pass the award on to ‘N’ (as many as you want) other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  4. Give your nominees 10 of your own questions to answer.
  5. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog (first image above)

Right then, now to answers the questions:  

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  1. Why do you write?

I’ve always loved to write (such a typical response!). Even in primary school I wrote stories about all kinds of things, often inspired by what I’d been reading at home or at school, or games created in the playground. I was always good at the basic spelling, punctuation and grammar, so it was just a case of using my imagination – which I never had a problem with. Nowadays, I write my books because I have a story to tell and need to get it out. I also become very involved with my characters and love developing them.

2. If you were to create a fictional character for yourself, who it be and why?

Having finished two of the three books of my trilogy, I can say that I’ve created a lot of fictional characters. Several of them, like Alfred the Great, are actual historical characters, so I’ve had to be careful to comply with whatever has been historically documented. But my story is set in the 9th century, when little was written about individuals’ characters, especially those of women. So it’s down to authors to flesh out the details. Sometime in the future, when I’ve finished this trilogy, I’d like to create some interesting Roman characters for a historical crime novel set in Roman Britain. At the moment my protagonist is likely to be a legionary based up on Hadrian’s Wall who will have some devious characters to deal with.

3. What’s your favorite book?

I haven’t got a single favourite book. I’ve read a lot of excellent novels, and enjoyed and admired the skills of the authors who wrote them. I read mostly historical fiction and crime novels, and really like a combination of the two. For historical fiction I’ve enjoyed books by Dorothy Dunnett, Wilbur Smith, Bernard Cornwell and Harper Lee. For crime novels, I’ve liked many authors, most recently Val McDermid. I’ve also enjoyed some of Patricia Cornwell’s crime books which delve into the forensic side of things. If someone twisted my arm for a single, favourite, I would have to cite ‘Game of Kings’ the first book of the Lymond Chronicles as my all-time favourite.

4. Idealism or realism?

I think we need a dollop of both idealism and realism in life: they balance each other out nicely. I believe a life spent totally in fantasyland can be a dangerous thing. We all need to live in the real world and face up to how things really are. Conversely, most of us can dream of having a better life, a better future – both for ourselves and the world in general. In my view, the bravest people are those who go out there and work towards making that happen.

5. What quote do you live by and why?

The quote(s) I like best are those which simply say ‘Be Yourself’. I think it’s so important to keep a firm idea in your head about who you actually are and not behave in a way you think will impress other people. Some of the unhappiest people around are those who try, or pretend, to be something they’re not. I don’t mean we shouldn’t aim high and work hard to achieve better things in work and home life – but when it comes down to it, we need to know ourselves to be ourselves

6. What’s the most challenging thing about being a woman?

For me, the most challenging thing about being a woman has been the need to balance bringing up a family and having a career. Having six children and a teaching career, I found it impossible to work for several years whilst the children were all still young. I admit, I wouldn’t have wanted to leave them with child-minders anyway, as few people did that in those days. And we never lived close to any family. When I had just the four children, I did take on teaching evening classes a few nights a week at a nearby boys’ detention centre  – which has now become a men’s prison – for a few years (the ‘boys’ being aged 14-21). That worked well for us because my husband was home from school by then. But even when I returned to teaching at a secondary school it was hard work fitting in all that needed to be done at home as well as finding time for the marking and preparation of school work. But, as they say … needs must.

Nowadays many women return to work within weeks of giving birth, whether through financial necessity or a love of their careers. Grandparents are called on a lot, and childminding has become far more stringently controlled and managed, almost as a ‘career’. And rightly so: parents need to know that their children are in reliable and responsible hands.

7. If you could spend a day with a character in a book or movie, who would it be and why?

The character I would most like the ‘get my head around’ is Francis Crawford of Lymond, from the novels by Dorothy Dunnett, set in 16th century Scotland. My daughter, Louise, is probably an even bigger fan than I am, and has read the series umpteen times. I have only read the books once and know I should read them again. Lymond, as he’s generally called, is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever come across in a novel and, even if I spent a day with him, I’d barely begin to unravel his many foibles, motives and incredible strengths. After a week, I still don’t think I’d understand the way his mind works and I’d probably want to kill him from the sheer frustration of that. He’s an awesome and totally intriguing character.

8. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘feminism’.

Feminism to me means women having equal rights to men. It can conjure up images of the antics of people like Germaine Greer back in the 1960s in their attempts to bring this to public attention. Undoubtedly such antics were intended to shock and get people to take note of the subject of women’s rights, both in the home and workplace. This ‘getting noticed’ plan was little different to the actions of the Suffragettes at the end of the 19th/ beginning of the 20th century. To me, fighting for those rights was justified, in many ways. We only have to watch films and comedy shows set in the 60s to remind us of the way in which women were viewed in western society back then. I believe that, in a place of work, if a woman does the same job as a man, then equal pay is her right. Jobs which involve the physical strength and size of a man are a different thing.

The bad side of feminism that too often raises its ugly head, is women behaving in a derogatory way towards men and being totally obnoxious to any man who offers simple courtesy towards them -by keeping a door open for them, for example (I’ve seen that happen.) To me it’s common courtesy to keep a door open for anyone following behind me, man or woman.  But this particular woman gave the poor man who’d held the door for her a real mouthful of abuse and the usual accusation of being a chauvinist pig! I won’t go into any more examples, but there’s a nasty side of feminism as well as a positive side of equal rights and equal pay. As for drunken and lewd behaviour, my feelings about that are applicable to both sexes. It shouldn’t happen – certainly not on the streets.

9. Name one thing you will never do in life.

Apart from the obvious things like committing crimes of extreme violence (!) and posing naked, I’m struggling to answer this one. I could say that I’d never swim with sharks – or even go down in a metal cage – because I have a real phobia about them. I went snorkelling on the Barrier Reef (Australia) a few years ago, to be asked by our two huge Australian guides when I got back in the boat, if I’d seen the shark down there. I hadn’t … but talk about freaking me out!

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It was only a reef shark, they said. But a shark’s a shark to me! It put me off snorkelling for a while. But I just can’t resist lovely clear, blue water.

10. If your blog is a body part, what would it be and why?

I don’t see my blog as a body part. I know some people will see it as their heart, but I simply see it as an extension of myself and my writing, and another outlet through which the creative juices can flow. I love my blog dearly because of the wonderful people I’ve ‘met’ and ‘talked’ to regularly, but when it comes down to it, my priority right now is my trilogy. I love writing my blog posts though, particularly the flash fiction, and I also love doing my travel and historical posts. But my own writing needs more attention right now because I’ve neglected Book 3 for a lot of this year whilst indulging myself on WordPress. It’s now time for me to ease off on my blogging.  I won’t be saying farewell to all of my heart – just a part of it.

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I’ll pick up the pieces later on.

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And here are my nominees:

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Norma at Emovere

Amanda at Something to Ponder About

Susan at Susan’s Personal Blog

Morgan at The Diary of a Computer Science Student

writenlive at Read Write Live

Jean at White House Red Door

Chioma at livehomeandaway

Bekki at Dartmoor Yarns 

Joy at Tales fron Eneana

Daniela at DanielaApostol

Questions for my nominees:
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1. How would you describe what your blog is about?

2. Do you see your blog changing (as in expanding or developing in any way) at some stage in the future?

3. Do you write your blog posts straight onto the WordPress page or onto a word document first?

4.  When you write do you need to be on your own or are you happy to write with others around you?

5. Which is your favourite species of tree, and why do you like it?

6.  If you were to have a day out somewhere easily reachable from your home, where would it be?

7.  Which ‘celebration’ (annual or otherwise) in the country where you live do you enjoy the most?

8.  Which way would you choose to travel, given the choice: car or train?

9. Which subject did you enjoy the most at school?

10. What do you think is the best thing about being a woman today?

A Trip to Spain, Writing . . . and Books I’ve Reviewed

shutterstock_160717460This is what I call a ‘multi-purpose’ post, and it’s likely to be the last post I do for a couple of weeks. The reason might be obvious from the first part of my title. Yes, I’m off to Sunny Spain.

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I’ve read a few books over the last couple of months, but I’d like to mention four I really liked here. I’ll just add a link to my full reviews on Goodreads and write a shortened version here, otherwise this would become a bit of a marathon. So here they are:

  1. The Mystery of the Death: Book One of the Runevision Series.

Author:  Jack R. Cotner.

Genre: historical fiction

As a lover of both historical fiction and murder mysteries, I really enjoyed this book.  It’s set in the 5th Century AD in the Celtic lands of north-western, mainland Europe, an area which presents strong resistance to Roman control.

The murder mystery is extremely well crafted, with many twists and turns as the plot unfolds. We follow the footsteps of the young Celtic magistrate, Weylyn, who is tasked by his superiors in the Elder Faith with finding those responsible for the theft of a Roman treasure, including the magnificent Great Cross, and capture the perpetrator of the murder which occurred at the same time.

Throughout the chase, Weylyn must also adhere to the demands of the Roman Enforcement officers, whose agendas seldom tally with his own, as well as sorting out his own future with a woman whose beliefs are contrary to his own, and evading the deadly assassin who is always hot on his heels.

This book is a great read for anyone who enjoys an intriguing murder mystery with well-rounded characters and an historical setting. The writing style suits the period well and there are some lovely descriptive phrases and poems.  Jack is currently writing Book Two of the series, which I look forward to reading.

You can read the full review on  Goodreads.

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2.  Matchmaker of Magics: Book One of The Bleaken Series.

Author: Mara Fields

Genre: YA fantasy

It’s some time since I read a YA novel, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to read this book. I soon found that the style and content would suit both YA and adult readers. It’s an exciting story in which Mara blends magical powers with human emotion and endeavour extremely well. It is set partly in the tiny village of Bleaken and the capital city of the realm, Verdigreen.

Sacha Bleaken is a young woman whose ancestors founded the village.  Though expected to become one of the village leaders, Sacha knows she was born for far more than that. Her magical skills are already considerable. The sudden appearance of the monstrous Coldwights – not seen in Bleaken for many years – and the kidnapping of her beloved tutor, change her life completely.  Blamed for the Coldwights’ appearance, Sacha is banished from the village for a year. Whilst in Verdigreen she hones her powers under the guidance of some of the realm’s most talented mages, thus preparing herself for the tasks of finding her tutor and saving her people from the evil Coldwights.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Mara has a flowing writing style and there is a cast of intriguing characters. The magical element is fascinating. I am already half way through Book Two of this series and really enjoying it.

My full review can be seen on Goodreads.

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3. and 4. Mission Rome and Mission Paris: ( Scavenger Hunt Adventure Series)

Author: Catherine Aragon

Genre: Travel, Discovery and Adventure books for children

There are already several other books in this excellent series but Mission Paris and Mission Rome are the two I’ve read so far. They are aimed at children in the 8-12 age range, but would equally suit older chilren and even adults could make use of them as travel guides.

The books aim to give children on holiday with their family something interesting and exciting to focus on – in order to counteract boredom.  The missions are presented in such a fun way that few children could resist, especially with the added incentive of becoming a Secret International Agency special agent on completion of the tasks. Most of the major sites of each city are visited, with extra information given as introduction – much of this as amusing little snippets. They are extremely well written and beautifully and colourfully presented, with great covers and the maps and ‘missions’/investigations are clearly and interestingly listed inside. I just wish these books had been around when my own children were young. I haven’t visited Paris yet, but when I do, I’ll certainly make use of ‘Mission Paris’!

The books published so far include missions to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Washington D.C. My reviews of the two books I have read can be found on Goodreads:

Mission Paris and Mission Rome

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On Thursday I head off to Andalusia (Andalucia) in Spanish. It’s not only somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, but an area in which a section of Book 3 of my Sons of Kings trilogy takes place. So the trip is really for research into the old Moorish settlements, particularly Cordoba (Cordova in Spanish) which was the Moorish capital in the 9th century. There are also many ruins of Romans structures, which, of course, would have been there at that time. My ‘header’ image for this post shows the old Roman bridge in Cordoba. I intend to take lots of photos and visit as many sites and museums as we can manage.

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Map of Andalucia from Wikimedia Commons. Author: SantiagoFrancoRamos

So, until I get back I’m unlikely to post again, unless I find time for the odd photo. I’ll have to pick up on my blog where I left off . . .

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 …

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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

Mapping The Story

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The trilogy I’m working on is historical fiction. I now have the first two books on Amazon and have just started writing the third.

I’ve made too many mistakes along the road to publishing, promoting and marketing my books to talk about – and I still have a long way to go to do things effectively. I won’t go on about my bungled start because I did a post about it earlier on: here

One of the things I didn’t do regarding the actual books was to add a couple of much-needed maps to the beginning of each. And it’s not that I didn’t know they were needed! I just didn’t know how to do them, and I didn’t have Photoshop. When a couple of reviewers said that maps would have been useful, I knew it was time to so something about it.

Readers of both fantasy and historical fiction novels rely on maps to allow them to visualise the areas in which the story is set. In historical fiction, we may be dealing with no longer existent territories or kingdoms, such as the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in my books. In fantasy, there may be entirely new worlds created.

With more than a little help from one of my daughters, my two books now have two maps apiece. In Book 1, much of the action takes place in the various Norse/Viking lands, and I knew that few readers would know where most of the places were.

I chose to keep them as simple as possible and just pinpoint the key places visited in the stories.

These two maps are from Book One, Shadow of the Raven:

Anglo Saxon mapMap of norse lands 

The next two are from Book Two, Pit of Vipers:

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book 2 map 2I’ve deliberately made these maps very large to make them readable. On the Kindle they’re much smaller but, of course, they can easily be enlarged. Any comments or suggestions about them (preferably constructive!) would be gratefully received.

Friday Fictioneers – Rosie

It’s the day for Rochelle Risoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers flash fiction challenge. This asks that we produce a piece of writing in 100 words. It’s definitely a challenge to write a story in so few words – but also great fun.

Well, here is this Friday’s photo . . .

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Copyright Georgia Koch

 

. . . and this is my offering:

The customer moseyed alongside the old barge, eyeing her with disdain. ‘Yer sure this tub still floats?’ He scratched his head, mumbling. ‘It’s nowt but a pile of old junk.  ’Ow much?’

‘Had an offer, ‘alf hour ago. Twenty grand.’

The expletives meant little to Archie. He’d rather keep Rosie than sell her to someone like that. A lick of red paint and she’d look good again. Young. They’d sail the Canals and remember the first Rosie, the Gypsy girl he’d loved for so long. She’d still be waiting for him; up there. A year, tops, the doctors said.

Word count: 100

Forgive me

Here is my second contribution to Ermilia’s Picture It And Write Challenge. This is a weekly writing challenge, posted every Sunday, by the author of Emiliablog. The challenge asks that we write a paragraph of fiction, or a poem, in response to the photoprompt given.

Here is the photo prompt for this week . . .

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… and here is my response to it:

It was not a night for driving, especially with the atmosphere in the Lexus like ice. Stephanie just sat there, her eyes following the sweep of the windscreen wipers as he told her about Marcelle.

He had desperately wanted her forgiveness, her understanding. It had been a one-night stand after all, not some long-lasting affair! A few too many drinks with the lads, some licentious talk.  Then those girls had come in, all short skirts and plunging necklines . . .

‘But I love you,’ Jonathan stressed, catching the glint of her tears in the headlights of oncoming cars. Her continued silence, combined with the frenzied sweeping of the wipers, was fraying his nerves. As they neared the junction with the busy road, the winking indicator displayed his intention to turn right. At a slight break in the traffic, he pulled out.

He didn’t notice Stephanie unclipping her seat belt, or reaching for the door. The first thing he knew, she had flung herself out. A passing car hit her . . .

‘Forgive me,’ he sobbed as the paramedics headed towards them in the glare of overhead lights.

‘And . . . cut.’ The director’s voice boomed across the set. ‘Take twenty. Then we roll on the scene in the morgue.’

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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