A Creature of Fantasy

Was that seaweed on her head?

It wasn’t like any plant I knew. It was out of the water for starters and yet it flowed like it was being caressed by the tides. When seaweed dried and died, its flavours turned foul. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t like the shoreline, too many rotting tastes. The deep waters were  better; crisp, clean with the tang of salt. The ocean was my home.

Yet here I was, bobbing in the swell and watching a creature of fantasy walking in the world above the waves.

The object she moved on wasn’t an island, there was no rotten taste to the waters and it had no rocky roots down to the seabed. It was more like one of those trees that floated by after a storm. Only it looked … made. Put together by people. Who would do such a thing and why? The ancients had built cities in the still of the depths, but no one had needed to add anything for generations. Why should they, we had all we needed?

Then there was the girl. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She looked lithe, her curves like gentle waves, and her skin glowed amber in the sunlight. She was so strange and yet so startlingly beautiful. Unlike the girls under the sea, she moved calmly in the air, back and forth, as if searching for something she couldn’t. I can’t help but wonder what it is? Maybe I should help her.

Neither my younger sisters, nor their friends, would ever come near the surface. They didn’t like the wildness of the world above. All that wind, thrashing and thundering, and during the day the sunlight was blinding. Their eyes were not used to such bizarre intensity. But I had swum this way so often mine had acclimatised to the sun’s rays and I loved the way my skin warmed up, if I lay on the edge of my world, floating between. I could understand why my sisters loved the cool depths. The world of our senses was so comforting. There was no danger and even the sharks didn’t touch us. We were held sacred by those denizens.

But I felt there had to be more and I couldn’t stop myself exploring, even if I wanted to. It was an irresistible force, a greed my father, the Old Man of the Sea, had warned me. Others had swum those currents and all of them vanished. They had died, he cautioned me, consumed by their insatiable hunger. That had frightened me. I’d stayed down in the depths for two weeks after that conversation. But inside my heart I knew I would return to the surface, and here I was.

All I had wanted was to feel the sun on my skin again, but as I neared the surface I saw the floating structure and when my eyes had held the girl, my heart had swirled like a hurricane. I watched the girl with the light coloured wispy seaweed on her head. Her eyes were blue like the waters near a beach. Inviting and warm. I wished she would jump into the sea so I could say hello. I wanted to touch her skin and hold her close, even though she looked so dry. The hunger built up inside me, the swirling grew and, before I knew it, I was swimming up to the floating object.

But how would I survive in the world above and how would I pull myself out of the water? The sides of the floating object were too tall for me to grasp, and as I swam closer I lost sight of the girl. My heart didn’t ease, if anything it grew more desperate. I needed this girl.

There was a contraption hanging between our worlds from the blunt end. Was this a path? A means of crossing over? My heart raced. I stretched my fingers out. Grasping the rung, I pulled myself up. As I cleared the sea, water cascaded from my body. Sunlight heated my skin as a light wind cooled me. It felt so strange and yet so wonderful.

I hadn’t thought how I would breath. I had lived all my life in the water. The air was just too abnormal. I felt panic fighting my hunger, but the thought of the girl was too powerful and I pulled myself up next to her. I didn’t care, even if it meant I would die.

Her eyes burned bright and I could see the whiteness surrounding them. In the centre of the blue, her dark irises pulled at my soul and I knew I was lost forever.

“Hello?” I said, surprised the noise carried, even out of the water.

She smiled. That beautiful strange creature who had captured my heart, smiled at me. My chest rose and fell, with wonder I realised I could breathe the air. It was a miracle.

“Hello. I knew I would find you out here.” Her words sounded so rich, so full of life, my hunger vanished and my heart settled. “I am called Ruby, and we are soul mates, you and I.” Her eyes brimmed with love.

And I knew I would never leave her…

 

I hope you like this month’s offering. I had fun writing it.

So for next month the words will be…

 Character – Short, Supernatural,
Traits – Arrogant, Curious,
Conflict – Weather
Location – Forest
Objects – Message and Vehicle

 Wish me luck…

 

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A Journey’s End

Everything felt bone dry. The sand under my feet, the scorching air around me and, most especially, the skull watching me from the top of the dune. This was why I was here. It had taken too many arid days to locate. Now it was almost within my reach… yet still a world away. I was tired, so very tired, I wasn’t sure I had the strength, or the heart left to finish this.

The sun flamed on, red-hot, merciless. The sand became a sea of glass beneath my worn out shoes. My long years hung on my frame like shackles, each step harder, more painful. I felt ancient, every joint aching deep into my shrinking marrow.

I had always been a curious soul, questing from place to place. Thinking back, it was my curiosity which had caused me all this trouble. If I hadn’t wanted to cross the desert, I wouldn’t have had my world ripped apart.

They said no one crossed the desert, it couldn’t be done. No…worse, it shouldn’t be done. Folk like us, just don’t do that sort of thing. It’s too dangerous and our bones don’t travel well. I didn’t argue, just up and walked out one night, without telling a soul.

I had been fine under my hat, until the vulture. Its brim had shielded me from the worst of the sun during the festering days. But the scavenger had swooped and now it was gone. Without my hat I knew I’d turn to dust in this remorseless oven. Maybe they had been right, maybe I should never have crossed the desert.

Stumbling, I persisted. Finally reaching the beach. Now my curiosity came down to this one last thing. The answer to my ultimate question which I hoped would make me complete.

I paused, wiping my ribs. I had long since stopped sweating, there was no moisture left, not for years. It was as if I had shed most of my skin. My chest hair was brittle, like withered grass. A gentle zephyr crackled my hair. The tang of the sea taunting me. All that water out there and yet I knew I couldn’t drink a drop. My eternal thirst would never be quenched by seawater.

The skull’s eyes were deep shadows, impassive, without compassion. There was no emotion inside, only logic. Cool and calculating.

I stretched my fingers up, grasping the skull. It felt light and airy.

I raised it high above me.

With a sigh I lowered the skull.

A shudder rattled my bones as life raced through me again. With a laugh of delight I moved my head from side to the side testing my neck. It was a perfect fit. I was whole again.

Now all I had to do was find my hat …

And for next month’s piece we have

                Characters = Hairy and Fit,

                Traits = Kind and Greedy,

               Conflict = Love,

               Location = Ocean,

              Objects = Ruby and Vehicle,

I wonder what will come to me?           Anyone else want a shot?

Stretching the Mind

From this month I thought we’d do something a little different.

Every author needs to keep expanding their skills. We need to stretch ourselves to keep in the best condition. That being said, Liz (my wife) suggested using Story Creation Blocks to randomly select some elements for a short story. The idea is to come at it with no preconceptions, just let the grey matter work it out with just these hints.

Next month I will post my first piece (on or around the 12th). Any comments will be welcome  and if others want to post their musings, I will pass on my thoughts.

So how do we do this? Simple.

The Story Creation Blocks are easy to follow.

Die Rolls Characters(twice) Traits(twice) Conflict(once) Location(once) Object(twice)
1 Short Quiet Disease Mountains Horn
2 Hairy Greedy Money Forest Message
3 Supernatural Curious Love Beach Hat
4 Old Hungry Weather Ocean Ruby
5 Tall Arrogant Journey City Vehicle
6 Fit Kind Loss Desert Skeleton

For me in the coming month I shall write a short piece (around 500 words) using the hints

OLD, HAIRY, CURIOUS, QUIET, JOURNEY, BEACH, SKELETON & HAT

Wish me luck!

Like climbing a mountain

I was puffing up the Hill of Fire (Tinto in Lanarkshire) the other day when it struck me that writing a book is a lot like climbing a mountain. The day was quite a changeable one so it wasn’t such a stroll in the park.

There is the view from the base of the impressive task in front of me, scary to consider the climb, but awesome in its potential majesty. Image looking down from the top, the world will look quite a different place. That sense of achievement, the view. How many others have managed this. I am not the first, only the first today, under these conditions.

I have planned things and am equipped for the journey. Foot-ware, clothes, refreshments, water. I have done my homework and am ready for the task.

How do I start? Well, one foot in front of the other. Setting small goals to break down the overall task into manageable pieces. Picking out a route that suits my abilities and time.

Each step achieved is rewarding. Breaks are required and its fun to look back down the slope to see how far I’ve come. I can make good progress in the early stages and it looks like I am progressing fine. From the start, the top of the mountain is  lost from sight and becomes only a memory, a distant goal to focus on. I know its there, even if I don’t see it clearly.

But then the elements hit me. Its not all just a series of steps after all. There’s the weather, unexpected gusts of wind and rain, or more extreme circumstances that imped our journey. It takes a stronger and stronger will to keep going.

Ahead appears another ridge, the climb gets stepper and I persevere. On the top of the ridge I pause and look back. There’s my starting point, a long way away. I think I know how many ridges and how much time I need to take to finish the task, but I am not really sure any more, the lay of the land looks different up close. The cloud comes in and the going gets very tough. Its hard to make progress when I can only see a little way.

Another steep ridge and surely this must be the last. But no. Beyond is yet an even steeper climb.

Then the rain starts hard. Pelting down, driven by wicked gusts that snatch at my clothes. Many would turn back. its all just too much but I keep going. Stubborn, mule-like, refusing to give up. I know it’ll be fine in the end. But boy it would be easier without the wind and the rain.

A bright patch lights up the scene and I am heartened. My strength and sense of purpose renewed.

But a roaring sound grows and as I top the next ridge there’s a river washing away the path. Life’s curve-balls, Murphy’s Law, those gremlins and trolls sent by Loki and other such deities to cause me mischief. Somehow I find a way through, round, over.

I am now drenched. Wringing, tired and still I cannot see the top clearly. Only the feet moving one in front of the other keep me going. If I stop now, if I sit down, I might never get back up.

With a surge of willpower I march on. The rain eases and now its just mist, cold and eerie. A pervading dampness that fills my world with shadows and doubts. Am I still on the right path? What else is up here? A sudden movement off to my right  startles me, but its only a sheep.

Another ridge is topped and the path leads on. Sodden gravel slips under my boots and my muscle ache. I have to keep climbing. Its not about anything else now, but the conquering.

And there it is. The top. The mists lift as I break through the cloud. The wind is fresher, cleaner and more invigorating. Its only a short way now and the cairn is clear to see. My pace picks up and I rush the last steps.

Standing at the peak I spread my arms wide. The wind is unrestricted and wild. The energy I feel electrifying. As if by magic the cloud below me moves away and the sunlight illuminates the panorama around me and what a view. The struggle and ache to make the climb are but a distant feeling. I have made it.

Tinto done, now I must get on writing my stories.

What makes a good book?

Everyone has their favourites, whether Dickens or King, Rowling or Smith, they cover a wide and varied field of topics and themes. It doesn’t matter if what you like is fantasy, romance, science fiction or fact, the one ingredient that runs true in all loved books is their ability to get under our skin and into our hearts.

 

If a reader wants to keep turning the pages then that is the ultimate accolade for any author, aspiring or experienced.

 

I am not the first author to point this out, nor the first to raise discussion on the subject. So why have I picked this focus for my monthly blog? Because I am re-reading the Ian Fleming books on James Bond and they are such page turners it is obviously one of their main appeals.

 

But no matter how good a story or how much I love being immersed in another’s world, thoughts of my own yarns are never far from my musings and I ponder the question, What makes a good book and how do I ensure I include these fundamentals in my writing?

 

Reading is, of course, right up there. It is essential for any author to read. My own kindle is never far from my side. The pleasures and lessons of our favourite writers are invaluable to us. The journey of the characters and plots we have enjoyed ourselves show us how others have trod the same paths and achieved their goals. The cliff hanger, the enigma, the thought provoking situation. All of these are wonderful techniques, which when mixed with the current blend of the components that define the stories we are telling will empower the tale. But it’s not just about the cold hard science of the writing. There has to be something more.

 

Any Art is dead unless it contains the passion and emotive investment of the Artist. Strange to say, there is a quote from Bruce Lee which always inspires me about this. I can’t remember the movie in which it featured, probably ‘Enter the Dragon’, but I can picture the face and the still feel the force behind the words. “Emotional Content. It’s all about the Emotional Content”.

 

That’s when I feel any author gets it right. The balance of the emotive investment, the science of the techniques and the pleasure of the commitment to the story, all simmering together to produce a Page-Turner. A piece of work that will pull the reader into the world of the writer and take them on their own emotional journey.

 

Good luck with your writing.   Sean.

The creative chapter

Hi Everyone,

Just to let you know I am still around, just busy scribbling the stories. The creative chapter of the book writing process. Actually I am typing, if I was to scribble, that’s what it would be, scribbles which no one (not even me) would be able to read. I am currently around 50,000 words with plenty of tale still to bring to life.

This is a fun part of the process and when I am in the zone, I am not on this planet. The Land of Dreams is a very engaging place and alarms are needed to bring me back to reality at the appropriate times.

So when will it all be ready? As soon as I am done and not a moment before. I know where the story is going, but not all the routes it will take. The characters will have their say in this too and may yet hijack the plot lines for their own purposes.

So please be patient and let’s hope the waiting (hard work by me) will be worth it.

 

Enjoy,

Sean

 

Magical Fireworks

If you had only the limits of your mind to create the most wonder-filled pyrotechnics, what would you imagine?

In my stories there is a fireworks show on Christmas Eve, given by the Great Wizard Grumphspawn. He is a powerful and dramatic character who lets his fun-side out once a year. There are seven fireworks in his display, starting off with The Goblin Racer, move on to the Highlander’s Delight, followed by the Jolly Jester. After which we will celebrate the King’s Coronation Ball, and marvel at the Long Light Liberation, then be bewildered by the phenomenal Parrots, Pirates and Pancakes Piratical Pyrotechnics. Finally we will be taken on an awesome trip with the Troll’s Totally Titanic Terribly Triumphant Toothy Tongue Tingler!”

As an author one of my pleasures is to create these new and fantastic scenes in my head. I can lie there dreaming of huge Goblin heads making rude noises, Haggis dancing through the starlit winter skies, watch as my characters leap and spin during crazy time in the long light liberation. As for the phenomenal pirates sequence, this one may well end up as a picture book all of its own.

The last firework is a challenge, can you say it’s name eight times fast? If so you are better than me. That actual firework is yet to be fully imagined in my mind, but I am definitely looking forward to it.

 

Taking over

Well its another Monday morning and I find myself wondering where the last week went. Between life the universe and everything time just flies by. So where do i find the time to write? I must have at some juncture as I have over eighteen thousand new words on file for the next project.

To be honest the thoughts and characters I am living with don’t go away, they are there all the time. You know all those moments of daydreams when life’s pressures allow you the space? Well they are taken over now by the characters. Sometimes its Grumphspawn who can be a bit of a grumpybum and very demanding, or Rodger Meles (a talking  badger) who’s curiosity is hard to contain. But equally demanding are both the Twelve Toed Ugly Troll (he likes to go on the rampage) and Shehalogon the Grimlee (pulling strings and setting traps in the shadows of my mind).

All in all, I find that the stories and characters are taking over, filling the cracks and gaps in daily life and gate crashing my dreams.

So when people ask me where do I find the time to write, its an easy one to answer. I am living full time with my stories and sometimes I even get a chance to put some of it on  file.

Just as well I enjoy it all really.

 

 

Where do Stories come from?

Ever wondered how on earth, or in heaven, did the author think of a story? I have often wondered the same myself.

Stephen King said in “On Writing” that they were like dinosaur fossils the writer had to uncover from the recesses of their minds. I know what he means, its like the stories are not part of us, but something we discover through a door in our imaginations.

Ultimately I cannot know how other authors find their stories, I can only write about how my stories find me.

It starts with a stray thought such as I love fireworks. An inspiration if you will. Whether this is from my memories, a hope that others do too, or a suggestion about fun from someone else doesn’t matter. Its the egg.

Like all newborns it needs someone to nurture and look after it. Working alone is fine for me, after years at sea living with my own thoughts it is an easy and comfortable place. I can give the idea life. But as in all things teams are stronger and more capable than just individuals. My team is a collection of my characters.

Here is Pokey.

Hi, I'm Pokey, fiends with Rodger. Come and join me in the everlasting fantastical adventures. Where the fun and excitement never ends.As you can see he is a hedgehog. Friend of Rodger (a badger) and humorous suggester of fun adventures. He might seem a prickly chap, but actually he is quite warm and good natured. He had a tumultuous past, uprooted from his home and made to live in a place where he was the odd one out, which is why he is such a strong defender and nurturer of his true friends.

Art by Elannah my daughter at the age of eight.

and here is Grumphspawn

GrumphspawnHe is a Great Wizard and loves fireworks. Magical ones, which he makes to show off his magical powers once a year. Otherwise is quite quiet and has the reputation as being something of a grump.

Art is by Victor Guiza.

There are many other characters involved. But these are the two who have volunteered to be a part of this post.

So we now have a thought I love fireworks, and two characters to nurture the thought, Pokey and Grumphspawn. Pokey is part of the characters who will have an adventure in my imagination and together they will go to the fireworks show of Grumphspawn the Great Wizard.

These are the seeds to my stories and from there I have been pondering for years about the circumstances, plot and events that will form the basis of my stories, the Everlasting Fantastical Adventures. As all my characters add their parts to the whole, the story grows.

 

 

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Memories as muses

My memories of my childhood in Malta are still precious to me, even if it was the other end of my life. We lived in Malta for three years back in the sixties. The world felt different then, but the eternal qualities of the island were easy to see, especially for one so young.

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The spectacular fireworks of Valletta are amongst my fondest memories. Evenings full of magic and surprise without needing to leave our home. You see we had a grand stand view from our flat as we lived in Sliema and Valletta harbour, with the city’s majestic walls and bastions, was our backdrop. I can still recall the feelings of excitement and joy as the star-filled summer skies were brightened with the colourful explosions which went on for what seemed like forever.

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The history of Malta is abundant with heroic stories and tales of knights. The island saw many different civilisations and influences over the centuries, from the neolithic people before the Romans and Carthaginians came. After the collapse of the Roman Empire the Arabs and Byzantines fought over the Island until the Normans took the island. Since then its government has been influenced by France, Spain and Britain. Now its independent from outside rule, though it did join the EU. But that was after our time on the island. With all this history the island saw a lot of castles and temples built and we often toured these, filling my head full of daring deeds and heroic adventure.

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The beaches and rocky shorelines were a constant source of fun. My brothers and I enjoyed chasing crabs and lizards in the pools and rocks. Sometimes we even went out on a boat and swam out in the Mediterranean. I used to daydream about adventures at sea (maybe these thoughts are one of the reasons I spent much of my life at sea).

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Then there are the catacombs, rumoured to run from one end of the island to the other before they were sealed up. Legend has it they may contain strange creatures and were used in neolithic religious ceremonies by the island’s previous inhabitants. Their look and smell still hang in my mind and I often wonder about the secrets they are hiding, secrets only children can reveal.

 

These memories of Malta and Gozo islands have inspired my creativity for my forthcoming series under the working title, The Everlasting Fantastical Adventures. From the warmth of the Inland Sea to the magic of the Azure Window, my thoughts delve deep and enter the catacombs then soar high into the air to explode as fantastical fireworks.

 

When people ask me if I have any problems thinking about new worlds and adventures, I just smile and say I am lucky, I don’t have that problem. I have the memories of Malta as some of my muses.

 

As the newest author to Link our pages I would like to introduce:

Nomanono Isaacs  who has authored the book – Escaping Apartheid – A Letter to My Mother

Check out her website at:  http://www.nomanono.com/

 
Testimonial:

From Roseanne May:

I was heartbroken, not just from romance but from the deep emotional wounds of life. Nomanono Isaacs offered vital support in my own need to understand and undertake a healing journey. In essence she was a loving, caring mentor who was willing and able to navigate alongside me. Nomanono guided me to the value and worth of my own inner self.Without fear of judgement or rejection, I was able to show and tell who I was, and reveal my emotional responses to life. Nomanono gave me wise and loving and honest counsel her sound advice came only from ‘a loving yourself’ place. In so doing, I found the strength to change what wasn’t working for me. It will be a dynamic, healing relationship with Nomanono, ever-changing ever growing, best of all there may be tears but there will be laughter too.