Salamanders

A quickie for the NaPoWriMo prompt referring to an art form other than writing. The woman in the August Macke painting looks uncannily familiar.

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If I could paint

a painter I’d be

but these things are decided

when fingers are still stubby tools

for grubbing in the dirt after earthworms and beetles,

forced to shape themselves to uncompromising ivory keys

to grip skinny slippery pencils

and form symbols of another’s creation.

If I could

I would

but paint is a river

an ocean too glorious and uncontrollable

too close to the rolling weaving

water and wind-swept tableau

of another’s creation.

Words instead tumble and trickle

salamanders from a volcanic pit

to be captured and shaped

before they scuttle back into their secret caves

pinned to a page where they glow

immortalised.

That’s the theory anyway.

WIP update

I’ve finished the second draft of my WIP. Chopped out a lot and added almost as much again. Maybe I ought to get straight back to the second part of the story, but the last three weeks of digging about in Medieval minds, speculating on motives and reactions, emotions and lack of them, has worn me out. I need a break from it, to get back to earth (this one, this time) and do something simple like dig holes to put flowers in.

‘On the Quilleboeuf, a man clings as the sea rages and the tide rises and falls. In the morning, he is the only survivor of the wreck of La Blanche-Nef, a butcher from Rouen. He knows nothing of what happened to the Adelin, but jabbers incessantly about a woman, dressed in white who stood on the shore, singing as the ship went down, a woman with the lower body of a serpent. Was it Mélusine or one of her kin, he saw, or the spirit of the vessel? He doesn’t know. But when the flower of the English nobility lies battered and water-bloated on the seashore, who is listening to the stories of a butcher?’

 

Progress report and story time

I started on the third and final volume of my latest series of novels 25 days ago. So far, I’ve done better than I expected, currently at 55000 words and roughly half way there. It’s true I haven’t been around much and haven’t been following the prompts, but it means I should have a first draught ready by the end of July.

To compensate for the lack of fiction pieces, here is my prize-winning story In a blue barque published in Lucent Dreaming magazine. It’s a lovely magazine visually too.

Erratum: It has just been pointed out to me that the ‘free online edition’ does not include my story which is apparently pay to view only. Sorry about that. You’ll just have to admire the cover 😦

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#writephoto: Memorial

This is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.

fallen

They told him sorrow would find him if he took his faithful hounds to look for his lost love. They were old and not up to a long hunt. But Fionn had never been one to listen to advice. After days of fruitless searching, Fionn sent out the dogs one last time to find the scent of his love. The old hounds could barely walk, but they found a scent and though their youth returned briefly, Sceolan began to tire. Bran tried to encourage her, but she sank to the ground, and laid her long head on her paws with a sigh.

Bran reluctantly left her behind and followed the deer to a crag overlooking a lake. The deer leapt, and Bran, with a last glance back at his master, followed. Fionn gathered up Sceolan in his arms, but when he reached the lake, there was nothing of either Bran or the deer to be seen. Sceolan waded into the lake and howled, and would have joined Bran if Fionn had not called her back. Sorrowfully, he carried the old dog back to the fort.

Fionn never did find his love and never found happiness. Years later, when Sceolan died, Fionn was overcome with grief. Nobody knew where he took his faithful companion to bury her, not until the lake beneath the crag ran away and two stone hounds were revealed, leaning fondly one against the other as they had in life.

Twittering Tales: Now, what does that remind me of….?

A 277 character story for Kat Myrman’s Twittering Tales

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He told her to wait at the end of the hallway. There was nowhere to sit, no music no TV to watch no other candidates to stare at just a row of closed doors. She frowned as a word—Gladiator—jogged a memory. An instant later the doors flew open on a yelling sword-swirling horde.

Looking for criticism

Today, I have a favour to ask of anyone who reads fantasy and has about ten minutes to spare. I have a book, several in fact, but one in particular that I am pretty proud of. I’ve been sending it out to literary agents for months now, and their enthusiasm for the story is underwhelming to be kind about it. None of them has asked to read more than the sample pages, and about half haven’t replied at all.

The last agent said what she didn’t like about it (the first ten pages) was that she found it hard to follow. Now, I wrote it so I know what it’s all about. If I think it’s easy to follow, that could be just my natural bias and knowing what happens on page eleven. What I would really really love, would be for a handful of volunteers to read the first ten pages and tell me honestly what they think.

What it’s about: ‘Shadows in the Tide’ is the first part of ‘Ys’ a historical fantasy series set among the windswept fjords of Norway and the horse-running plains of Ireland in an alternate Ninth Century.

The story centres on Una One-Eye, daughter of a sea wolf, and Fiachra, the household’s Gaelic thrall, both gifted with some of the magic that has survived the Rök, the breaking of the world, and both cursed with its mark, the sapphire eye, impossible to hide from the fishmen Guardians who are collecting the magic to free their master, the Beast.

If you would like to help out with a bit of brutal honesty, just leave your email in the contact form and I’ll send you the first ten pages. Thank you!

 

Is this folly?

I am in a quandary. Do I finish what I’ve started or do I just chuck the lot in the metaphorical fire? I have five novels that I really ought to get on and finish, but for the last few months I have only been writing short stories and poetry. It isn’t exactly procrastination, it’s more a question of not wanting to add to the pile of unpublished novels waiting for someone (other than me) to love them enough to give them a home.

Yesterday, after Thursday’s tweet fest of novel pitching, I scrolled, bemused, through the tweets that had garnered dozens of likes from literary agents. If that is what gets them going, then I’m living on the wrong planet. And I don’t think it’s because I’m getting old that they all seem to be aimed at the 10-12 year-old demographic. Not surprising really agents are not beating a path to my door.

I did briefly pick up one of my quarter-finished stories, revised what I’d written and added a bit to it, but it’s YA and I’m more in the mood for something grown up. Today, I opened a very small file, a page with a brief story outline of a dozen lines. It was an idea I had on the train journey on our first visit to view this house. I noted it down when I got home before I forgot it, thinking it would make a good short story. Looking at it again at a distance of two years (!) I thought, wow! That would make a tremendous novel!

My gut tells me to dump the hundreds of thousands of words waiting in the wings, and resign myself to them never finding a publisher. I have exhausted almost all the possibilities anyway. I should get on and write yet another epic and hope that this will be the one that cracks it. So, I’m sitting here, trying to steel myself to jumping into another world with a whole bunch of characters I don’t know yet, in a story full of violence, passion, war and peace-making, clash of cultures and battle of the sexes.

My gut is winning…

 

 

Fairy tale flash fiction: Matches

First of all, happy birthday, David Bowie, and thank you for being my lucky star. Today, Enchanted Conversation magazine published my fairy tale flash piece based on the story of the Little Match Girl. The Starman was looking down on her too. You can read the story here

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The Snow Queen

I saw this competition in Sacha Black’s newsletter and thought I’d enter. I love fairy tale  and folk tale retelling so it’s right up my alley. You can read my story here. If I’ve understood the rules of engagement correctly, the story needs to have five likes to be considered in the competition, so if you have a few minutes, please go here

https://fairytalez.com/user-tales/the-snow-queen/

and give it a read and a like, if you did.

Thanks!

We’re only making plans for…

For the dverse prompt. A haibun about writing plans.

Plans, I have none. I write, and occasionally send out a letter to an agent or a publisher, but always with lead in my heart. I expect nothing to come of it. Beyond disappointment and with no illusions, I write and write. The words form stories, short, long, novels, or poems, bright as gems in dark earth. I slipped out of the mainstream too long ago to know the right phrases or the current TV speak. I shrink and curl about myself and put down on the page what I know, not what the latest trend asks me in such semi-literate, head waggling ways to write. Begone, dull care, I will write what I please and toss it into the cloudy air. I will walk by the side of the high road and watch the buzzards laze across the field and let the bandwagon with its high-pitched laughter speed into the dust of far away.

Field full of silver,

frost in the grass and the air,

hawk spies red heat—swoops.