Author at Work

Greetings visitor (and possibly friend),

I am currently in the throes of writing the first Trilogy. Exciting times.

WIP1 is out on submission. Wish it luck, please. WIP2 is under construction and about half written (30,000+ words for the first draft). WIP3 is lurking at the back of my mind but is most eager to leap onto the pages.

Otherwise I am discussing the marketing side with those that know to engage in this better.

Thanks for all your patience. I will resume posting soon…

What’s coming?

A series of articles on Left Brain : Right Brain thinking which links in with my earlier articles on where do ideas come from.

More short stories to entertain.

 

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Where do ideas come from?

It’s a question that has had me wondering for years. As an author I know ideas are what lies behind the Art. They are the core of my stories. When one of my characters does something it’s because of the cause and effect of ideas. It’s interesting in itself, but more than that, as I continue to search and improve myself in my art, this question becomes more important. If I can figure out the secret to where ideas comes from I will open a treasure chest of possibilities which will provide me with unlimited resources. Can you image that? It’s a tempting idea in itself. Exciting even.

So where do ideas come from and what are they? To start with I want to consider what I know.

We all have ideas and we all act on them, even if we end up taking no active action except to think or to ignore them. As human beings one of the differences between us and other animals is our ability to, not only have these innovative ideas, but also the passion to act on them. For example who was it that first thought about the possibilities of fire, or of the wheel? Did the first person actually take any action or just ponder the possibilities? Maybe they even communicated those ideas to another before they became a means for humanity to warm themselves, to cook, to build and to travel. Notice all the verbs? Our actions are born from ideas. They are important to understand. Ok that sounds about right, but still doesn’t address the issue – where do our ideas come from?

What else do I know? Some ideas are stronger than others. What determines whether an idea is motivational? What makes an idea take root and grow? The call to action depends on the depths to which our ideas inspire us. Inspiration is born from need, whether it’s a want to cure cancer because it personal, or whether it’s how can I help my team win its next game in sport? It’s subjective, it’s inspirational and it’s down to circumstance, the environment in which we live. That’s something helpful. There are external forces involved, it’s not all about inside us. Or should I say the perception of our external world set’s the environment for how fertile the ground on which the seeds of our ideas fall will be. If the first person to think about fire was warm, well fed and without fear what would they have made of its potential?

Intriguing. Hmmm. Ideas are subjective it seems. Limited by our perceptions, circumstance and abilities to see. Maybe you’ve heard of Aristotle’s cave. When one man leaves his world behind (the cave) explores new boundaries and when he returns no one can understand him as they have no frame of reference for his new insights, they have not travelled those paths and cannot see beyond their cave. Hmmm. It may be intriguing but I’m not sure I’m getting to the heart of this. I’ve only been able to say how ideas affect us, there’s still no clue about where they come from.

Let’s consider the mind, it’s taken that our thoughts come from our brains. So do these ideas come solely from inside ourselves? Are our ideas just random electrical impulses in our brains that form into something we can then see? What about divine inspiration or eureka moments? Are they just instances when certain things fall in the right slots inside our minds that we see particular circumstances in a different light? Is it all just us making sense out of the chaos of existence? That sounds like what I’ve always been told about creativity, but is it the full story? Is there more? There must be.

The mind works in two halves, apparently, the one side dealing with conscious thought and the other the subconscious. The subconscious works considerably faster than the conscious and each side influences the other in ways that are complex and are not always predictable. Is there a clue in this link between the conscious and the subconscious? Or are they just two methods of looking at the same thing? I’m not sure anyone knows enough about that to give the needed insights about ideas and where they come from.

So what else is there to know? As a species we can exchange ideas between ourselves by a whole number of different methods of communication, but what if an idea comes from beyond our own species thoughts? Is that even possible? Personally I believe anything is possible if we can only imagine how. So where does that leave me?

Stumped. I don’t know any answers.  But this idea has now taken a hold of me and I cannot let it go. So what’s next? Action. I am doing some research to find out if anyone else has discovered anything which will shed light on the question. And next month I will explore beyond my own cave and see what I can discover… At least it’s an idea for understanding what I need to know and more importantly – this is fun.

Once Upon a Page part two

“I don’t like it.” Nicholas mumbled to no-one in particular. The darkness pushed down on him as he stepped into the unknown. Danger lurked in the shadows and this place was full of shadows. He reached inside his rucksack and pulled out a bag of peanuts. The sound of the shells cracking offered him some small comfort. Henry craned his neck reaching his beak in the bag, but the Orang-utan lifted it high out of reach without giving his companion a second glance. Henry wanted to honk his annoyance at being denied but could only flap his wings.

Hugo felt the air stirring and his back legs wobbled. “Hey, you guys, watch it. You almost knocked me over. This is hopeless I can’t see a thing. We need some light.”

“Did you bring one?” Nicholas wondered, pausing his chomping. “Yes. Of course I did.” Hugo sniggered. “Didn’t you?”

The cave remained in darkness. “No you didn’t.” Nicholas resumed his noisy chomping. The white goose was suddenly illuminated in the darkness. Henry flapped his wings and the lantern in his beak swayed back and forth. He held it up to Hugo who smiled and took it gratefully. “Thanks Goose. Who knew the goose was smarter than us Nicholas? Not me.” The Orang-utan munched on.

Now able to see their way the three companions ventured deeper into the cave. The air smelt damp like an over-moist towel hanging too long in a bathroom. They could hear drips echoing in the distance, but the path was dry as it wound down through the rock. They entered a large chamber which opened out before them. Beneath their feet was smooth and flat with a carpet of loose stones so fine it looked like freshly turned earth. Above them was endless darkness, the top of the cavern so high above it was lost from sight. In the middle of the chamber was a chest, a large wooden lock-box bound by steel. It was easily as big as the three of them together and looked as though it contained all the wishes in the world.

“Any ideas?” Hugo sniffed at the lock. There was no key and no obvious way to open the chest. The goose pushed the lid with his beak, but it didn’t budge. “That would have been too easy.” Hugo sniggered. “Still, it was worth a try.” Henry smiled at the rat. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad companion after all. “Let me have a look. My fingers are more dextrous.” Nicholas put his packet of peanuts in his pocket and nudged Hugo out of the way. “Hey!” Hugo staggered to the side, the lantern swinging alarmingly. “Watch what you’re doing you great big orange oaf!” “Sorry. I forgot about your tail.” “I wish I could.” Hugo sighed and steadied the lamp, pointing it as best he could at the chest.

Nicholas focussed and using his long thin fingers, he explored every millimetre of the lock. It was built into the chest, made of steel, was smooth to the touch and had a keyhole he could just fit his little finger into. His lips pressed together as he concentrated on his finger tip. A triple barrel lock and he could feel the notches they needed to turn, but his finger was too big to work all three simultaneously. “I could open it, but I’ll need something like a wire.” Hugo sniggered. “How about a claw?” He held up his fingers and on the end of each gleamed long claw tips.

Nicholas nodded and his whole face wobbled. He pulled his lips back in an effort to smile, but instead grossed his companions out with tooth encrusted peanut mush. He told Hugo what to do and how to move the barrels by the notches and then pulled out his packet of nuts while he watched the rat. It didn’t take long. Hugo must have been born to pick locks and with three quick clicks the lid of the chest sprang open. And that’s when everything went wrong.

Once Upon a Page

Firstly I would like to apologise for missing my deadline last month. I would like to say it was because I was away on a much needed family holiday, or that my right arm has been out of commission due to repetitive strain from writing too much in awkward positions, or that writing my latest story for the Everlasting Fantastical Adventures took most of my time and inspiration up, but no excuse is ample or totally correct. Let’s just say I had a sabbatical and am now back.
This month’s piece has turned into the start of a bigger story with part one below …
ONCE UPON A PAGE there were three animals who went on an urgent quest into a deep dark cave. Each one determined to find something they had lost that was very dear to them.

First was Henry, a snow white goose who had had his honk stolen during a flight through a winter storm by a mischievous wind spirit. He had chased the spirit but lost it in the thickest part of the blizzard. A goose without a honk is a sad thing, every time he tried to warn his flock when a stranger approached he looked silly and ended up in a flap. Since then the other geese laughed at him and, what was worse, he couldn’t honk back.

The second was Nicholas, a jovial orang-utan who had misplaced his laugh when eating his way through a field of peanuts. He had searched and searched, opening as many shells as he could, but his laughter was gone. Now when he told a joke all he could raise was a smile and he felt his world was dull without his belly laugh that could shake the trees.

Last was Hugo, a big black-haired rat who went to sleep on New Year’s Eve and woke up the next morning incomplete. It had been dark in the sewer that night and there had been a troop of young rats from the local University prowling around. It was true Hugo had eaten a stash of overripe plums he had found which made him woozy, but he had felt nothing else that night. He had woken up without his tail, a limb no self-respecting rat could do without. His balance, coordination and his dignity were beyond repair.

The three had met in a market place in the town of Everhope on the outskirts of Wishful County. The market was the home of a famous Sage. Each had come to ask about their dilemmas. The Sage had listened to all three animals. She had told them they must go to the mountain of Faith nestled on the edge of the world to find their answers and that all three must undertake this journey together.

Half way up the mountain was a cave. A deep and lonely place in which was hidden a magical chest. If they could unlock the chest then their wishes would be granted. Without any arguments they decided to follow the Sage’s instructions and set out that same afternoon. Three days and three nights they toiled through torturous weather across the wilds. Each finding out something about the others during the hard journey. Now they had arrived and were standing on the brink.

“So this is the place.” Hugo peered into the gloom. “Looks spooky to me …” he said doubtfully, “and I like damp dark places.”

“-”, honked Henry, or rather didn’t. He buffeted his wings and shook his neck from side to side.

“Hugo, I think the goose wants to tell us something.” Nicholas scratched his chin. They hadn’t found out Henry’s name as his honk was gone and he couldn’t write.

“No doubt.” Hugo shrugged. “ What is it, Goose?”

“-”. Henry said silently. His white face and beak beginning to turn red with anger. The Orang-utan and the Rat exchanged blank looks.

“Maybe we should play charades?” Nicholas suggested.

“We tried that already, remember?” Hugo shook his head too quickly and almost fell over. He really missed his tail.

“When we were crossing that stream and the goose tried to tell us something. It didn’t work, so he lost his temper and took off in a flap. Landed on the other side without a care. He was so upset he wouldn’t help either of us across. We got all wet and cold just because I laughed at his antics.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have.” Nicholas grimaced, his eyes flat and his wrinkly face looked all lopsided and wrong. “I’m sure he was only trying to help us.”

“We’ll never know.” Hugo sniggered, “unless we find that Chest of Wishes.” He liked to snigger. It was a very ratty thing to do and he found himself sniggering a lot more now than he did before he lost his tail. With a quick glance at the other two to make sure they would follow, Hugo stepped into the cave.

“Come on, Goose. You know Hugo doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just like any other rat.” Nicholas held one long arm out to the bird.

“No I’m not!” Hugo snapped over his shoulder, but he didn’t stop to argue. He did not dare to turn in case he fell over. Henry flapped once and then gentle pressed his wingtip into the offered hand of Nicholas. Together they followed the rat into the gloom.
To be continued…

What’s with me?

Whatever is happening?

In our turbulent world it’s hard to know for sure, but with the books, I have finished the initial drafts of the first four adventures. Sweet, such a wonderful sensation to enjoy. That magical time of creation is now to be followed by a lot of hard work to hone and polish, hone and polish… There’s long way to go. However, launch in 2017 is still in sight. We shall see.

In the first adventure Elannah and Sam discover the Land of Dreams. They meet Rodger the talking Badger for the first time and can’t help but notice an ugly creature skulking in the shadows spying on them. To get away from the menace, Rodger invites the children to a fireworks display by the Great Wizard Grumphspawn and the night is filled with enchantment. Until the shadow reveals itself and steals the show.

The second story happens at Christmas and it’s the Twelve Toed Ugly Troll’s first. Elannah and Sam are determined to make it the best party possible and brave all sorts of dangers as they put the party together. From crashing snow and thieving goblins the children’s festive adventure just keeps growing more difficult. And with all of the excitement comes the troll’s quickening. Will they throw the party in time or will the troll revert to his nasty life?

The third tale takes the children to the Seven Sleeping Seas and Fips is searching for something he has lost. Life without an itch is no fun for a Salty Seadog. The adventures soon become deeper as the balance in the Land of Dreams is lost. Storms and pirates must be overcome to set things right and its strange to find there’s more to an itch than just a sensation.

The fourth quest happens at Halloween and the Great Wizard’s home is full of trouble, including an Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head and a game of Stinkel Stonkel Pickle Plum that is full of tricks and treats. There are two rather rude pigs running around as the children try to solve the Halloween Secret. And when a Grimlee takes a hand then chaos will ensue.

What else am I up to?

Now my mind is also simmering with an adult book series. An epic science fantasy adventure. The background is clear, complete with astronomical events and causations, the theme is also set in my mind and now I am getting to know my characters. They are many and varied, and I feel we should become acquainted with each other fully before I commit to paper. I believe that characters are the hearts of any story, so discovering just who and what makes them tick will make all the difference.

I am also involved with the SCBWI BI conference again this year. Winchester University in November. A place where children’s books writers and illustrators come together to talk, learn and have fun.

So what about the short stories? I will return to them next month, taking it a turnabout with news of what is happening with me.

Spring in the Air

The sun gleamed bright as a diamond. The light spears reflecting all the colours of spring from the water droplets around my wrist. I was warm at last, after months of frozen isolation I was bubbling with joy. I stretched out further and touched a stick. It had fallen from a nearby tree, a silver birch and its bark was like a wrapping of the precious metal, smooth and glistening. I held it firmly in my grasp, feeling its strength. It would make a good staff for me to use.
I looked deeper into my too familiar glade searching for something different, something new. But my world was one which had not changed for more time than I cared to think about. Bathed in spring sunlight the trees and bushes glowed with awakening life. Buds of fresh green leaves bursting slowly from their winter sleep. Insects were busying themselves in the search for food. The same scenes replayed every year and my heart trembled with my need for something … more. I wanted adventure.
I remembered my life before when I had soared through the skies and raced other girls of my kind over high mountains and vast forests. Those days had seemed like they would never end and yet, here I was in this tiny corner of the woods which had become my world, except for those memories, or were they dreams? It was so hard to tell any more. I felt trapped and unsure. I needed to get out of here.
The bushes rustled and my attention focussed back to the present. A young male dear stepped nervously into the sunlight. The white spots on his back announcing his tender years. I wondered where his mother was. This youngster was too new to the world to be without his parents.
“Don’t be afraid. Take a drink. You’ll feel better and I will watch out for you.” I assured him and tentatively he stepped nearer and lowered his head to drink.
I laughed. A tinkling sound which caused his ears to start up, but he kept on drinking.
“See, that’s much better, isn’t it?” I murmured soothingly and his ears relaxed their guard. “Where’s your parents?” I wondered aloud.
“I don’t know.” His hide shivered. A rippling spasm of uncertainly and fear. “Thanks for the water.”
“You are welcome.” I gripped the stick and stood up tall.
The young dear startled, jumping clear of the pool’s edge and landed quivering several feet from me. His milky eyes bulging and unsure.
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
The fawn didn’t move and I reached out my hand towards him. I felt his breath rush in and out quickly as he took my scent. I tickled the end of his nose and it gleamed wetly.
“See … I mean you no harm.” I laughed. A thought pushed its way into my mind. Maybe this young dear could help me and I could help him. “Would you like me to help you find your parents?”
“Yes, I’d like that,” The fawn licked his wet nose and smiled, “but how could you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. The fawn’s question seemed ridiculous.
“Well, you are made of water so how could you leave this spring?”

This month I have added another column to the list and included a theme category.

Die Rolls Characters Traits Conflict Location Object  Theme
1 Maiden Prone Conquest Hills Weapon Comedy
2 Animal Forceful Illness Cavern Treasure Love
3 Spirit Hyper Dark Agent Ocean Bed Mystery
4 Fantastical Talkative New World Waterfall Stick Fantasy
5 Girl Athletic Self-doubt Spring Bread History
6 Boy Adventurer Disability Plains Chicken Tragedy


For March’s efforts we will have …

                Character = Animal

                Trait = Talkative

               Conflict = Disability

               Location = Cavern

              Object = Treasure

Theme = Comedy

What will emerge?

Breaking the Beat (PG Warning)

They had her by the throat. Her eyes glared fury as they flared at her captors, but she was helpless, trapped in their grasp and at their mercy. My heart sang for her. She looked like I felt inside, as if the world had played a deceitful trick on us and all we could do was wait till it swallowed us whole. I couldn’t stand to watch and do nothing. I wanted to yell out, scream all my rage at them. Make them let her go, give me release, but that’s my burden; I couldn’t make a sound. Not with my mouth. I was dumb, without speech, unable to communicate.

“Let’s finish this witch!” One of the scumbags wheezed. Yanking on her long blonde hair and twisting her neck cruelly. The crowd in the alleyway entrance watched. Fascinated, but unwilling to intervene. The other two scumbags, leered and gripped tighter as the girl wrestled against her captures.

I had had enough. I was far taller than them all and I used my height to lean into the alley. I raised my hands to my face, pulling my horn up to my mouth. I couldn’t talk, or shout but I could sound a tune unlike any other. I squeezed my eyes tight until they bled tears, the angst building to breaking point, then I let it all out through my horn. A note so strident everyone fell to their knees, holding their ears. Even the girl was affected. Though she recovered first and kicked one of the scumbags hard in the belly as she staggered away. I stopped sounding the note when she was clear. She never looked back, didn’t even raise a hand in thanks, she just raced away down the strip and into the murkiness of the night.

I knew I shouldn’t be surprised. I didn’t expect to be treated any differently than before. I was an outcast, no one would deal with me, not even here in the Strip of Shadows. This was the city’s underbelly where crime and rebellion cavorted hand in hand. It was so dangerous, the Judge, the most feared woman in the City, had never been seen here.  This was my home and I had never been out of its grasp, but even here I was beyond hope. My appearance was so tall, I was too easily noticed to be useful to anyone. Because of my lack of voice, I couldn’t talk, couldn’t write and couldn’t communicate with anyone expect by pointing, no one even knew my name. But that wasn’t the worst of it, the one thing which really put me beneath the lowest of the low was my sound. I could make the most disturbing and terrible tunes on my trumpet when I let all my despair out from my heart.

However, to play my dreadful music carried the death sentence or so the police had informed me. To encourage me to play would mean anyone caught doing so was liable to exile, and though the city was a terrible grime-riddled cesspit to live in, it was better than the world outside. And in that lay my entrapment. I had no skills, no ability to scrape a living together, no money, and no job. I was desperate and starving. Hunger was my only friend.

Sometimes I got a cleaning job, mucking out the bars and clubs along the Strip after a night’s debauchery had gasped its last foul breath. Folks expected the debris, the puke and the blood to be washed away each morning before it all began again. It was the city’s worst job and even then I hardly ever had a chance. It had been a week since my last meal. My stomach felt like a hollow cavern, full of hurt.  I was lucky it had been raining this week,  at least I had been able to drink, even if it was filthy gutter water.

I was roused from my thoughts as the others in the alley came round. Most of the watchers left as quickly as they could go, looking back with fearful eyes. The three scumbags were the last to rise. They had been the ones I had directed my blast at. Trickles of blood oozed from their ears and their eyes were lost as they helped each other to their feet.

I don’t know why I stayed. I should have run too. Maybe they hadn’t realised it was me who had caused them the pain and let their victim escape, but that hope was a legless pony, with no chance of running. No one else in this city could have done what I had done and with my reputation I was a sure thing, an object for them to take revenge on. Better to deal with it now. I’d rather die by their hand than live any longer in my hopelessness.

As they pulled their wicked knives and stepped closer, I smiled, which caused them pause. It wasn’t that I was unafraid, I was petrified, but the thought that the blonde girl had escaped was my one happy thought in a lifetime of misery. I call her a girl, but truly she had been a woman. Probably early twenties, with neat curves and a spark of life to her that had blazed out even when trapped by the scumbags. That’s probably why I had helped her, more than anything else, that spark of life. I wish I had that power.

“You are a weirdo, bugle boy,” Scumbag one sneered. His eyes were cast and his musty hair slick with grease. “I’m gonna-”

But I never found out what he was gonna do to me. All three scumbags turned, fading like ghosts into the alleyways murk, their eyes had flickered behind me as they evaporated from view.

“Alright, Dude.” It was the City Guard. “That is your ultimate warning. Next time I hear a peep from your horn, it’ll be time to go see the Judge and she don’t like you. Remember, she told us if you were ever caught playing havoc with your horn again it would mean your life.”

I turned and hung my head. I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed, happy, or angry. All I knew was this wasn’t my end. I would have to struggle on. Maybe I should raise my horn and play some more, make them give me peace. But I couldn’t. It would be suicide and that I couldn’t do. I was a coward that way.

The filth and noise enveloped me again as I shambled away from the guards. I had three more bars to visit, three more chances to earn a crust of stale bread. Maybe my luck had changed and maybe I would find someone who’d give me a break.

I should have known better. Not only did they not want me in the first two bars, but they threw me out into the garbage heap from both. Now I stank of rotten fish guts. I must have looked like a nightmare as I stumbled towards the Last Chance Inn.

Had my sense of irony left this one till the end? Or was it that this was the worst, the blackest, foulest, most dangerous part of the perilous Strip of Shadows that my sense of self-preservation had kept me from it until there was no other choice. I had never been inside before.

The bouncers leered as I stepped forward. They were almost as tall as me, which meant they towered over everyone else. But whereas I am slight of build, undernourished and underfed, these two specimens of brutality were bulging with muscles and menace. They had the worst reputation on the Strip. No one crossed them, even the guards wouldn’t touch them. Strangely they ignored me as I approached. Normally I couldn’t get within ten feet of the front door before a knife would be flashed in warning, but tonight nothing, not even a glance in my direction. Had I turned invisible? I doubted that.

I took a deep breath and edged closer. Still no recognition. Then I was all the way next to them and they just stepped aside and let me in.

I stopped and looked at them both, but I could have been merely a spirit for all they acknowledged me.

I shuffled forward and pushed through the door. It slammed shut behind me at the same time at the bouncers slammed their shoulders together, blocking of any chance of retreat. I felt trapped, free to move, but caught inside a cage that would define the rest of my life. I had felt nothing much when the three scumbags had been about to kill me. Now I felt that the world had changed and I didn’t know what would happen next. I had never been inside this bar before.

I looked around. The place was quiet, but I saw this was because of me, not its normal state. The place was full, crowded with the meanest and nastiest looking souls I had ever seen on the Strip and they were all looking at me. I almost ran out to face the bouncers again.

“How come you got in?” Someone called from the shadows and smoke.

“Yeah, turn round and go back to the dung heap you crawled from!” Someone else added with a malicious laugh.

I looked to the bar. That’s where the manager always purveyed his empire, in all the other bars in the city. I could see a bald headed guy with five scars interlacing his face into a patchwork of cold hearted disdain. He didn’t talk just nodded at me to approach.

I stepped forward. Unsure for the first few steps, nervous as everyone’s eyes followed my every move, then with more confidence. I wouldn’t be thrown out, there was some work here after all. I might even earn that stale crust I desired. I smiled but it only evoked a scowl on the bald guy’s features. The skin around his scars reddening. My smile froze, but I couldn’t shift it from my face. It felt like a rictus grin. I stopped just in front of the counter and stretched out my hand. The manager didn’t even look at it.

“Seems like it’s your lucky day,” he wheezed. His voice a hoarse whisper. “I hear you need a job. What can you do?”

My smile warmed up, but still I met a glacial response. I mimed sweeping and polishing.

“We got a cleaner. What else.”

My smile shrivelled. Cleaning was all I ever did. With my disabilities I couldn’t do anything else. I shook my head, my eyes pleading.

“If there’s nothing else you can do for me, then maybe there’s nothing I can do for you.” The manager looked relieved as if he hadn’t wanted to offer me a job. What was happening? Was this all just another setup to humiliate me?

“Maybe we should use him as a bog brush!” Someone shouted, “With his height and thin bones he could even clean the pipes around the bend!” The room erupted in scorn and I quivered.

A phone jangled behind the bar and the manager sprang to answer it. Whoever was calling must be important. I watched him listening and nodding, ignoring the rest of the bar who were all trying to outdo each other in belittling me with their sarcastic nasty humour.

The manager’s eyes flitted to me again and there was something different in them now. More than the disdain, almost a respect. I must be imagining it. He turned to me, cradling the phone still and asked, “Do you still have your horn?”

Now I knew I was in real trouble. Nobody asked me about my trumpet. The Judge had issued her decree and everyone knew about it. My horn was bad news.

“Do you still have it?” The baldy asked again.

I nodded and tapped my jacket where the trumpet was tucked out of sight.

“Right. I can offer you a chance to play here. You get three tunes and if they like you …“, he gestured to the audience. “I can give you a nightly gig.”

I stood rooted. Struck dumb like I’d never been before. Only my eyes were moving, I wasn’t even breathing. The raucous noise in the bar had stopped and everyone was looking at each other. There were no more bawdy comments. No one had expected this.

Why? I wanted to scream. Why? Don’t you know we would all die! The Judge has spoken.

Finally I was able to move again and I slowly shook my head. I hadn’t played anything but despair and hurt for so long, I wasn’t sure if I could recall any music.

“Well, it’s your funeral.” Bald guy murmured. He turned away from me and spoke into the phone. Then he put it down and faced me again. Arms folded eyes hard. The doors swung open and the two bouncers entered and stopped. Barring the exit and fixing their eyes onto me. They didn’t look menacing, just determined. I knew I was going nowhere. My life was no longer my own. Not that it had been for such a long time.

Then a bead curtain behind the bar swished open and there stood the girl. Blonde hair swept back from her face and her eyes smiling at me.

“It’s alright, Dude. You can play, if you want.”

I shook my head violently. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to this girl.

“Don’t worry about me. I own this joint and it’s my way of saying thanks. You saved my life.” Her words carried weight and I could see the bouncers’ and the manager’s eyes following her lead.

I tried again and shook my head, drawing a line across my throat as if with a knife, trying to tell her about the decree. Maybe I could play some, but not if it meant hurting this girl.

She came right up to me and whispered so no one else could hear, “And don’t worry about what the Judge said.” She smiled, her eyes laughing, “I am the Judge.”

Well that’s it for this month, I hope you enjoyed this piece which is a little different.

For 2015 first quarter I have changed the story box

Die Rolls Characters(Once) Traits(once) Conflict(once) Location(once) Object(once)
1 Maiden Prone Conquest Hills Weapon
2 Animal Forceful Illness Cavern Treasure
3 Spirit Hyper Dark Agent Ocean Bed
4 Fantastical Talkative New World Waterfall Stick
5 Girl Athletic Self-doubt Spring Bread
6 Boy Adventurer Disability Plains Chicken

Now the next short piece (around 500 words) will be using these hints.

Girl, Adventurer, New World, Spring, Stick

Have a good one. Till next time.

Cheers

A Supernatural Short Story

This month’s short story prompts were …

Character – Short, Supernatural,

Traits – Arrogant, Curious,

Conflict – Weather

Location – Forest

 Objects – Message and Vehicle

 I hope you enjoy this tale.

Trouble at halloween …

The rain pelted past the trees, thudding on my skin like I was a drum.

“BLARRR! Enough, foul weather!”

I move under an oak tree, pressing myself up against its trunk. Just as well my skin‘s so tough the rough bark was just a small annoyance, much less than the thudding rain. Here I was, trapped in the forest. Trying to get back to my garden in time for the midnight feast. But time and the weather were conspiring against me.The incessant drumming was hurting my head so much I couldn’t even rhyme.

It was the squirrels fault of course. If he hadn’t stolen all the chocolates I wouldn’t have had to chase him into the depths of the woods. The squirrel had scampered for his drey thinking he would be safe to scoff all the treats, but he hadn’t factored in me. I suppose he didn’t get to see me most of the year; I only come out on Halloween.

When I fired my stream of seeds and pulp at the wee thing he had jumped out of his skin. His tail standing out like a pine tree, stiff and smelly. He didn’t moved a muscle as I collected up the treats, hiding them away and his eyes had popped when I blew  a last noisy rasping raspberry. That had been fun!

With the treats in my  possession I set out to return to the garden. But on my way back the storm hit hard. Buffeting winds, thudding rain, extraordinarily nasty weather. Things would have been fine if it had been blustering in the opposite direction, but no, that would have been too easy. All of that horrible wet windiness was set to blow right up my nostrils as I flew home. It was almost blew my lights out.

What was that? I thought I heard something; a message on the wind.

There it is again! I can hear someone calling. It must be the children. They want to see me! Etching my features in a grimace, I prepare to face the pelting raindrops. I am needed and nothing but death can stop me. As I launch myself out from the trees, a few choice words pop into my head.

The rain is fierce with hasty schemes,

               It batters my mind with nasty dreams,

               But weather won’t cause me inner shame,

               Long will burn my internal flame.

I race through the air, skirting around branches and over logs. Lightning strikes stab me and thunder rages. The rhymes inside have inflamed my spirit and I feel invincible. Around me sizzling rain flashes past in streaks of orange as my fires roar higher and higher.

I hear the children again. Their shouts growing larger, “Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head! Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head!”

With a final push I scream out of the storm. Silver lightning carves the sky in two behind me as a great rolling thunderous echo erupts from the clouds. I have defeated them and they are annoyed.

But what’s this? The children’s faces are full of terror! Silence grips them as they stare at me. My light spills out, filling their eyes. My inner flames blaze with the strikes of the midnight clock. It’s Halloween and the supernatural stalks the night.

With a laughing rush I soar over their heads, making them duck and dive. As I pass just above them I pour out my treats; chocolates and candies galore. All the flavours of Halloween and the children cheer for more!

 

 

For next month’s tale, here is the prompts… (only one of each category – I will set up a new box to use from January onwards)

Character – Tall
Traits – Quiet
Conflict – Money
Location – City
Objects – Horn

 

I hope you all have a wonderful and rewarding Festive Season. May Health Wealth and Happiness surrounding you all like the treats from Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head in the coming year.

 

Cheers,

Grumphspawn!

 

“Uppity Mister Pumpkin Head”- is a character from the “Everlasting Fantastical Adventures” and is protected by Copyright. Please ensure you have the author’s permission before any replication of this blog post.

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?

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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.