Thursday, 27 May 2010

What a Wonderful Week!

I'm having a blast of a week! (with the exception of having to go to work yesterday, as I couldn't get time off :-( )

Birthday celebrations orchestrated (yes, that's exactly the right word, I think!)by my family included a trip to London for a double-header theatre session: matinee of Phantom of the Opera, followed by an evening performance of the sequel, Love Never Dies!

I've seen Phantom a few times and this was as good as ever, but LND was absolutely breathtaking

We also took time between shows to have a meal at Little Frankie's by Trafalgar Sq., then wandered over to see the latest installation on the spare plinth - see pic. Nelson can still say "I see no ships", as he has his back to the fourth plinth! ;-p
Today is a shopping adventure in IKEA to get things for daughter's new house, then a family meal tonight with OH and BOTH offspring, when the son and heir joins us after work.

And although I did have to go to work yesterday, I treated myself to two new books (well, I don't have very many..... ;-p) - Peter James' 'Not Dead Enough' and 'Dead Man's Footsteps' :-)

......and tomorrow, we begin the decorating.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

....and she's off !!

Great rejoicing in the household - daughter is now the proud owner of her first house! She took possession yesterday, which was a great boost after the car-related problems from the day previously.

So there won't be much time for writing over the next few weeks as we help her to get decorated and move her furniture out of storage and get settled.

But then me and the OH will be left to our own devices.....!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Is the secret password for TONTO Quimosabe?

I only ask because, because some while back I placed an order for this book from a well-known online shop (think....South American river.....) in advance of it's publication, and duly stumped up the moolah.

Well, the publication date appears to have come and gone, but no book has dropped through the letter box. :-(

So I log onto my online bookstore account - order not yet despatched, and they will email me when they have an estimated date for delivery. :-( :-(

So, perhaps the publishing date has been amended. Off to the publisher's website to find find that there change in the publishing date. >:-o

Just out of curiosity, I know others were intending to purchase this item, so hands up all those who have their copies?

Then again, perhaps it was SO popular they've had to reprint more!!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Now, this is what I call skill!

Well, it's been a beautiul day, the sun is still out and gorgeous blue sky. That makes me happy and so I include this for no other reason than that I'd love to be able to play like this!

(Alas, since my son pinched my guitar and turned into a semi-rock star I think the odds are against me ....)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Bridport Prize: New category for Flash Fiction

I picked this up at work and it seems this year a new category has been included to the Bridport Prize - Flash Fiction. (up to 250 words) There is a cash prize of £1,000!

The added cachet for those wishing to enter the short story section (up to 5k words), apart from fiscal remuneration, is that prizewinners and shortlisted will be read by leading literary agents with a view to representation.

OK, there's a charge to enter, but it's only £5 for Flash and £7 for shorts.

Worth a look?

(Closing date is 30th June 2010)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A lull in hostilities...

Having vowed to delve back into re-writes and edits this week, I'm currently up to Ch.47 out of 58 (although there will probably be a few extra chapters added in as I revise the plot-holes and backstories) - so time for a wee rest!

Break out the real coffee, feet up, mindless TV, and then carry on reading through a friend's novel (glad I can give some quality time to it, insead of only the odd few pages I've managed in the last few hectic days.) The other joy of this is that I can get on with knitting while I read, as I don't have to hold a book - and keeping my hands busy means my fingers don't sneak into the biscuit tin.

It's a win/win situation!

(my characters will have to be left in suspense until later - I hope no-one needed the loo? :-o )

Monday, 10 May 2010

FFF#31 'Chef's Special'

Cormac Brown chose five words (Batch, Catch, Latch, Patch and Coriander) for this week's Friday Flash Fiction challenge. Our mission was to incorporate them, in any order, to create a story.

Here's my offering :

Chef’s Special


Megan’s wrist became the pivot of her existence for a few brief moments, her fingers locked around the wooden spoon, directing its repeated circumnavigations of the pan. The fragrance of coriander wafting up on the trails of rising steam was lost on her olfactory senses – her mind elsewhere, contemplating other issues.

Just another normal day. She gazed beyond the small window to the world outside. The sun was shining, the sky an unbelievable blue canopy punctuated by the efflorescence of green on budding twigs that suggested Spring was on its way.
Just another normal Thursday morning; preparing for the lunchtime rush.


Life goes on, she thought. Keep moving, keep going. More coriander.


Mustn’t let the soup catch on the bottom of the pan. Damn him. Turn the heat down. What’s the point? One last twist of the wrist; set the spoon down.
Walk to the pantry, lift the latch. Why did he have to go and leave her? Remind Penny to check off the stock for re-ordering.

Organic veggies. That had been his new idea. That would turn the business round. Grow our own, he’d said. Hadn’t lasted long. They’d found him face down in the earth, in the carrot patch. Heart attack.

She closed the door and wandered back out into the kitchen, grabbing the marker pen to write up the ‘Specials’ menu. “Soup of the day – Carrot and Coriander”. A tear sequestered itself at the corner of her eye. Carrots. She wouldn’t be making it anymore; this would be the last batch. Too many memories.

She wandered back to the stove and checked the pan; talked and walked herself through the procedures, mentally ticking off all the chores. A normal day. Keep it normal, leave no clues. Switch off the heat. Wipe the counter. Don’t leave a mess.

A final check. Menus printed, tables laid. Penny would be arriving to open up properly in half an hour.

She walked back through the door marked ‘Private’ and heard the lock snap on the catch. Done. Finished. Climb the stairs. Close the door. Shut out the world.

The tablets weren’t so hard to swallow. Looking at the handful before her she hoped she’d kept back enough.

She wondered if the soup needed more coriander. Just a hint. Take away the odd taste. Would anyone notice?

Of course they’d notice. Too late, though.

Just another day. Another normal day.

But not for her.

Or them.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

'All Stitched Up'

Here's my offering for Needle magazine's first flash fiction challenge. The remit was to devise a story under 1,000 to include the word 'needle' - in any of it's diverse descritions.

So, here you are:

All Stitched Up

Lions and tigers and bears – oh, my!
Like Dorothy, I’d like to click my ruby slippered heels and fly away. There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home….

But home will have to wait, even though my slippers are coloured ruby red. Well, perhaps not slippers so much as plastic-covered sneakers. And bloody gore, not so much rubies.

The human body contains, on average, 10 pints of blood and I seemed to be standing in copious amounts of Sigrid Mortensen’s vital fluids. Exactly how much blood she’d lost is a figure I’d find hard to be certain of, considering how much might have soaked into the carpet. Imagine tipping an eggcupful of water on the floor and note how great a pool it makes; well, there was considerably more than an eggcupful of Sigrid’s blood to account for. More than quite a few eggcupfuls actually.

Anyway, no amount of wishes from the Wizard of Oz could make this case wrap up quickly. It’s a strange one, alright. I mean, normally the autopsy occurs after the body’s brought to the morgue.

“What do you make of that?” Bruce had said, pointing towards Sigrid’s torso as he’d pulled back the sheet that had obscured the violation of her flesh. There were slight traces of blood on the fabric, a perfect reversed-image print which matched the impressively executed ‘Y’ incision.

I’d leaned forward for a closer inspection.

“No mistaking it,” I’d replied. “That’s definitely fine needlework. Standard ‘baseball’ stitching. Left handed, judging by the slight angle.”

That’s when something kicked in. It made me keep my further observations to myself.

Bruce and I have worked together for some time; there are few secrets we keep from each other, but now I felt the need to keep silent.

We’d continued to process the crime scene, automatically recording and examining the minutiae of the case until there was little more to be done. Then I’d despatched Bruce back to the lab to prepare for Sigrid’s arrival later.

Meanwhile, as the mortuary technicians lift her tiny-framed body into the plastic repository that will be her temporary sarcophagus, I now have to try and walk through the minefield in my head, created by that sudden realisation earlier.

The left-handed stitching. The precise, almost textbook, accuracy of the incisions, as if measured exactly. And the girl’s name – Sigrid. Or maybe, Siggy.

As I step back and collect my things together I recall a young highschool student from one of the career guidance modules we run from time to time. Thanks to the popularity of the TV shows that centre on our craft, careers in forensic medicine have a certain attraction, despite my insistence that the bulk of the work is mundane and repetitive and far from glamorous.

We’d been really busy that week. Bruce had been away on a fishing trip, so it had fallen to me to handle the school kids. I was ready for the nauseous fainting of the boys when we took them round the labs. It was always the needles that made then pass out. The girls seemed to take it in their stride.

So when a young student asked intelligent and pertinent questions about autopsies I’d decided to not hold back on the details. Thinking he’d be shocked, I’d outlined the basic procedure in fairly clinical terms. At first I’d been amazed that he understood some of the terminology, then I’d realised there was something familiar about him. It made sense he’d be aware of some of the medical vocabulary, given his background.

I hadn’t seen him for a good few years. When his parents split up his mother had gained custody. Now he’d moved schools and returned to the area.

“You’ll help me learn, won’t you?” he’d asked. “I don’t want Dad to know. Not yet. Not until I’m sure I can really make a go of it.” I’d shrugged my shoulders, loaned him textbooks; hesitantly agreed to the subterfuge. He’d even bought pig’s trotters from the butchers just so he could practice his sewing technique, saying it was the last respect we could show to the departed, treating the body with the utmost respect.

That’s when I’d noticed he was left-handed. And the last time I’d seen him I recalled his remarks about meeting up with a new girlfriend; said her name was Siggy.

Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, everything shapes up but I really don’t want to try them out, afraid they might just fit.

So, now I’m hesitating, taking my time packing up and wishing I could click my heels and be home. Because somehow, I still have to work out how I go back to the lab and tell Bruce I think his son is a killer.

Friday, 7 May 2010

It's hard being a hero.... the Challenge!

Following on from my previous post, MATT HILTON suggested the idea of writing a spoof on fictional heroes getting their own back on their creators - so how about it, folks?

Why not write a short story along those lines - I'm not sure about the legal side of using established fictional characters, so no money must change hands and presumeably all credit must be given to the original creators, hopfully that would suffice to avoid litigation!
(or retribution :-o )

Let me know what you think? (or add your story here!)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

It's hard being a hero...

I tend to feel sorry for fictional heroes - they have to keep on outwitting the 'baddies'; they don't always get to keep the girl and live happily ever after; or worse still - they DO get to keep the girl, but then she gets killed off in the next book!

I wonder if there's a ficional heroes 'union'?
Can you imagine the mandate of rights they might issue to their creators......

......and then again, if it all goes pear-shaped, can you imagine how they might get 'even' with the authors who put words in their mouths and guns in their hands.... :-o

Monday, 3 May 2010

No Time! No Time!

It never ceases to amaze me that the world spins on it's axis once every 24 hours (give or take the odd nano-second) and yet there are days when it seems to speed up or slow down - how else can I explain the fact that some days I get so much done and on others I seem to be constantly running to stand still.

Someone once told me:

"You can always make time to do the things you want to do..."

I'm not sure I totally agree; something has to 'give' - there's usually a trade off between making sure there's enough food in the fridge (or clean underwear in the airing cupboard!) and sitting down to read that book you can't put down, or write that brilliant idea out of your head and onto the paper (or screen).

But then, this morning I read this (on another blog):

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
- H. Jackson Brown

It got me to thinking - I have no excuse, just need to find someone else to do the catering and the laundry and then I can crack on and write that bestseller.... ;-)