Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Three Witchy Sisters

A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Another writeworld prompt. I was about to fall asleep last night when I just had to write this down.

The Three Witchy Sisters
A long time ago in a land far, far away there lived three women. They were special women because they were all witches. They were also special women because they were all sisters.
They would probably have said that being a sister was nothing special. In fact, they would probably have said that they would much prefer to be alone and that having sisters was annoying and that it was not fair that such people existed who both knew everything about you and perversely understood nothing at all about you. That they all thought the same was more annoying.
The eldest argued that she hadn’t wanted a sister for the longest time, because she had actually been alone for a while before any of them were born even if she was too little to remember it and so there.
The middle sister, like all middle people, tried to keep everyone happy by constantly complaining that she was in the middle and that therefore nobody really understood her except for another middle child and that there couldn’t be one another one of  those, because then she wouldn’t be the middle child and so there.
The youngest wondered what it would be like to have no sisters at all, given those she had constantly told her that she did everything wrong because she was the baby and she didn’t know and they always stressed the know in such a way that it made knowledge seem secretive and powerful and that they had it and she didn’t and she knew that she knew what they knew just as much as they knew it and so there.
Proximity was the key to their power. They found this out the hard way when the middle one tried to leave home. The eldest said she couldn’t go, because then who would do everything and the youngest couldn't go because she was just a baby and couldn’t look after herself.
The middle one got very sick and had to come home. When she got better, she left again and well, ... you can see where this is going.
After some experiments and a few upset stomachs, the three sisters worked out exactly how far away they could be from each other before it made them ill. It formed a triangle, of course. If you want to be specific it was an equilateral triangle, because each side was exactly the same length.
And then they decided that they would each build their own home, just inside the point of the triangle. They chose a pretty green valley with a freshwater stream running through it. Water helped their magic, it washed away the grey stuff and it was terrifically useful for a whole lot of other things as well, like filling baths and boiling things in cauldrons.
They each pored over house plans and giant sheets of paper to design their own home. They had to be perfect, with a place for a cauldron to hang - outside - just in case of another green smoke incident. That was a bad day, and not nearly as memorable as the purple smoke incident but perhaps that is a story for another day.
They also needed high access for their owls and special places for their cats because cats rather like to have special places of their own, but often you have no idea what a cat will decide is special to them, because they do rather have minds of their own.
Each sister kept their plans hidden from the others and when they started to build, they kept their construction cloaked and hidden from the others while they built it.The valley was full of the sounds of hammering, banging and sawing and occasional swishes and zooshes and other assorted magic sounds as they all worked away feverishly.
They worked for days.
The construction all had to be finished by the right hour of the right day when all the signs had said it was the best day to finish building your dream house and to open the door to your first guest. First guests were very important.
The local townspeople watched in amazement the goings on in the little valley. To have one witch was useful, but to have three might have been an oversupply. They were a little concerned. You never knew what could happen with too much magic in the one spot.
They watched the three noisy white clouds very carefully.
The auspicious day finally arrived!
The three sisters put on their best dress and brushed their hair until it shone and they tried to brush their cats but they would not be in it and they got most offended that anyone would even think they needed help to clean themselves. The owls just ignored them and pretended to be asleep.
Each sister was utterly certain that her home and her design would be far superior to that of her siblings, because they were not special and different like her.
At the exact right hour, each stood on her threshold and the concealing cloud started to waft away in a zephyr breeze.
The townspeople who were all there and very interested in the cloud contents; every one of them from the eldest to the tiniest baby, held their breath.
The wind blew, the clouds scattered and there was a collective gasp.
Each house was exactly the same as the others.
Nobody knew what to do.
And then, there was a tiny snort that expanded into a small giggle and that grew into a laugh that blossomed into a guffaw.
Everybody laughed.
Afterwards, each sister said that she had laughed first and they argued about that for years as sisters do.
When they had all stopped laughing, wiped tears from their cheeks and walked to the centre of the triangle, the three sisters exchanged an enormous hug. They held hands and joined together they magicked up hanging rope bridges to connect the three houses. They all agreed that hanging rope and wooden bridges were cool and neat and that there should be more of them.
That was, perhaps, the first thing that they had all knowingly agreed upon, but it was not to be the last.
Still holding hands they each became the first guests to step over the threshold of the others’ homes.
And the townspeople heaved a sigh of relief and said to each other that you just never knew what would happen with witches and weren't they lucky to have three of them, except for the days when the sisters fought and black, stormy clouds hung over their houses, because all sisters fight sometimes.

© AM Gray 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I’ll be home for Christmas

I was listening to Neil Gaiman talk the other day - I could listen to that man talk for hours… ahem, but I digress. He was laughing that the first time he sent in a manuscript to a publisher he had a belief that the next morning there would be a long black limousine parked outside his house, and that they would offer him champagne and a beautiful contract and everything would be fine.
I finished an original project and sent it in to a publisher. And, like Neil I was waiting for the limousine. Well, for something to happen. I have pushed my wordy baby out of the nest and it is scary and terrifying. What if they hate it? What if they love it? What if they never even reply? All the options are frightening.
I have retreated to the safety of fanfic. I can hear the thunder of my best friend’s feet as she runs over here to smack me upside the head. She grouses at me that I need to drop fanfic but she doesn't understand. I love it. It’s safe and comforting. So I am rolling in my favourite scent spot like a shape changing wolf *Giggle* and finishing a story that I did a pile of work on - ‘I'll be home for Christmas’. It got pushed out of the way by my last fanfic brainwave. My muse is aggressive.
Yes, it is an extension of another one shot. I know right? When have I done that before? Lmao. In any case it was the kind of one shot that got reviews like these:
·       From ShadowPast620: "It was Sam Uley. Karma was really kicking her butt today." OMG.  It's The Sixth Sense and I just realized Bruce Willis is dead.  Totally, utterly, freakin' gobsmacked.  (falls to her knees and kow tows)  I'm not worthy.  Fucking brilliant.  Thank you.
·       From niamhg: have you ever seen a small terrier dog with a rat - grabs hold of it and shakes and shakes and doesn't let go.....well I imagine us readers being the dog and let's guess who the poor rat is (maybe the person who wrote this os hehe) and we won't let go until we get more!!! This was just too good to stop there !!! sorry but you dug this hole yourself -laughs!!!!
People asked - a LOT- when it was going to be extended. I had sketched out some ideas and written nearly 35k words on it before it got pushed away, so it was time to finish it. I will try really hard not to write 200k words - AGAIN. Because I do have a huge pile of other things to write. But oddly, I find when I write fanfic that I write a whole lot of other things as well. It’s like the floodgates open.
The one shot is still posted on fanfic here and the story extension is on JBNP here. I don’t like to post things on fanfic until they are complete, and JBNP is a little more flexible for me. The banner was made by goldengirl2707 completely unexpectedly and it is perfect.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Maybe she was having a fit

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
She thought maybe she was having a fit of some kind, but she couldn’t be sure. She managed to put her wine glass down on the table. Her heart was beating at such a rate she thought it was going to bounce out of her chest. She lay on the sofa because she was unable to get off it. Her husband stood at the fireplace. He was looking into the flames, the way he always did, lost in the colour and the movement. She couldn’t speak to attract his attention.
The swelling opera chorus covered the small noises she made, so he was unable to hear her. But he was not unaware of her distress. He turned to look at her.
He smiled. A slow, sweet smile that had a hint of sadness.
She tried to speak; to open her mouth. To tell him she needed help.
Her mouth opened but no words would come out.
She could still breathe. She was still aware of what was happening to her, but she could do nothing about it.
He stepped over towards her. He crouched down so that his head was closer to hers.
She blinked. What was happening? He knew she was distressed and he did nothing.
He swirled the scotch in his tumbler.
She had wine. He had whiskey.
She always drank red wine. He usually joined her. But tonight he hadn’t. He hadn’t drunk at all, even though it was a kind of celebration. He said he wanted to wait until they got home.
She tried to lift her hand; to touch him. She loved him. Their celebration tonight was a special evening. The probate on her uncle’s will had finally come through. She was the sole beneficiary.
Just like her husband was her sole beneficiary.
Oh, dear God.
She frowned at him.
“Y-You?” she asked.
He smiled that sad smile again. “I’d say I’m sorry... but...” He shrugged.
He wasn’t sorry. All those tiny little hints, the bad excuses, the unanswered phone calls, the way he just wasn’t as intense about her as he used to be. It all made sense. She hadn’t worried about it at the time but she had noted it.
Her face must have transmitted all of that to him.
He swirled the whiskey and took another sip. “It was the wine,” he confessed.
She blinked for a yes. Her breathing was getting more laboured. It would never work. The day of the endowment. He always was better looking than he was smart. She sighed. A condemnation of him; the first she had ever allowed herself. She loved him. But she knew in her heart what he was. That was why she had changed her will that morning.
Her vision was going gray at the edges, her breathe coming in tiny pants, now as her heart raced for the finish line.
She managed to smile at him.
He’d have a fit when he found out.
She had left everything to the Amnesty International.
© AM Gray 2013

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Wake up and smell the coffee passes 10k hits

Wake up and smell the coffee passes 10k hits.
*The banner was created by don'tcallmeLeeLee from Printing Paws.
This story is far and away my most popular one shot and has won the Fandom choice award 2013 for Favorite Short (One-Shot). It was a photo prompt from the truly anonymous twilight contest. I have written a few stories for that set of forty-five shots - eighteen of them so far. No idea why that set of shots appealed to me, but it did.
I started with the photo prompt in the left of the banner. It was clearly a guy’s room, laundry on the floor and hung outside the window but the guy looked less invested in the scene to me, I'm not sure why.
I suppose Paul and Bella are my one true pairing but oddly for me writing this pair, it has NO sex!!! And that’s the story that everyone loves. Clearly I have no clue what my readers want. It’s probably just as well that I just write whatever the plot bunnies hop into my head. Well, that is the old writing rule; to write the story you want to read, and here, I wanted to read a Paul making better choices. So he man’s up and goes to tell Bella that he imprinted on her. It’s very sweet and romantic. I am severely regretting not putting it in as my competition entry… lol.
My other milestones this month:
  • This blog passed 20k hits
  • Facebook - 100 likes
  • Twitter 500+ followers
  • Smashwords 4500 downloads.

Monday, 10 June 2013

You left

Writer’s Block

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

“You left,” the child accused, from her hiding place under the table.
“I promised I would come back,” he replied. “And I did.”
She frowned at him and remained unmollified, so he added, “I am here now.”
“You left,” she repeated.
“I had to fight the bad guys and keep you safe. You can come out now.”
She crawled out towards him and he scooped her up and placed her on her feet.
She held her arms up; flexing her tiny biceps and squeezing her hands into fists. “I can fight. I’m strong,” she argued.
“I know you are, Honey.”
“They wouldn’t come in here,” she announced. Her voice dropped to a whisper, “Nanna is scary,” she confided to him.
“Oh, I know,” he whispered back. “She is my mother - remember?”
With wide eyes, she popped her fingers over her mouth as if she had already said too much.
His mother pretended not to hear any of this but her eyes twinkled.
“So you were safe, then. With Nanna.”
“Not happy,” she said.
“You were very brave,” he assured her.
For the first time, she took a good look at him and realised that he had not escaped the fight unscathed. He had a small cut on his face and a larger one down his leg if the blood was any guide. Her annoyance evaporated and she threw herself at him.
He looked pleased. “Hey, hey. I’m okay.“
“You can go get that seen to now,” his mother said. “You’ve seen that she’s safe.”
“Fine.” He kissed his mother’s cheek, holding the small girl on the hip of his uninjured leg. “I’ll be back,” he promised her.
“I believe you,” she said.
He sat her on a bench and pulled her and the bench towards the table.
“Good. You  wait here.”
“Yes, father.”
He left, the door banged behind him.
The small girl stayed sitting at the table she had been hiding under earlier. She watched the older woman make a hot drink for her. There appeared to be something troubling her.
“What are you thinking, little one?”
“If I hurt myself, you say that I have to show it to you fast.”
“Yes, I do say that... oh, I see. You think your father should have got his cut fixed first?”
The child nodded quickly.
“He should have - he insisted on seeing you.”
“Because he lost your mother.”
“In an attack; like that raid?”
“Oh.” She looked very serious. She knew Nanna never lied to her, and often told her the truth of things. “I will be braver next time.”
“I hope that there will not be a next time, so that you have no need to be,” her grandmother said. “Now drink up your hot milk.”
© AM Gray 2013

Sunday, 9 June 2013

It’s my third anniversary of a sort.

June 9th. On this day back in 2010 I posted the first chapter of a little story called ‘What was she doing?’ My first attempt at writing fanfiction and the start of my obsession with putting the characters Paul and Bella from Twilight, together. It is little, too - just under 30,000 words. At least compared to some things I write now.
banner by lapushstarlight

The title is actually the first line of the story. I am utterly hopeless at thinking of fic titles. If you save a document in Microsoft Word it defaults to name it whatever the first line is. That was the rough draft name and it just stayed, then it spawned a whole set of W stories after that. It is on the favourite list of 999 people at fanfic. That puts it at fourth in that list. Not bad for such a little story.
Some days I look at it and think it begs to be rewritten, but if I started doing that with my old stories I would never write anything new. I’d be trapped in an endless cycle of rewrites. And in a way, it is a view of me back then; my style, my mistakes and things that I would write differently if I wrote them now. It’s historic MTR. I still get reviews from people who love it and take the time to tell me that, and I really appreciate that.

So I will pour myself a glass of wine tonight, toast that story and all the people who read it, and remember how it started my continuing obsession with writing.
Thank you all.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The legend of the scorpion queen

Terribleminds challenge this week.
Pick three words from the list of ten. Incorporate these words into your story.
1.            Scarecrow
2.            Mint
3.            Epidemic
4.            Tongue
5.            Republic
6.            Scorpion
7.            Divorce
8.            Moon
9.            Holiday
10.          Legend
Again: three words. Incorporate into the tale. Which doesn’t mean simply using those words — it means making them parts of the plot, characters, or motifs found within. You can choose these words randomly (d10 or random number generator) or eschew chaos and hand-pick ‘em.
I rolled tongue, scorpion, legend.
I was really stuck until I was chatting to pukbak on twitter and she inspired me. so this one is for her. 935 words.
The legend of the scorpion queen
She strode into the saloon as if she owned the place. He watched her; it was hard not to. Her skirts were kilted up around her waist so that her long legs could move freely. The skirt folds fell in long loops over the front of her thighs. She had tight leggings on underneath to cover her nicely shaped legs and ankle boots. He looked. He was a man.
“Evening, boss,” the barman called.
“Evening, Sam.”
Turned out she did own it. Huh. Maybe he should have known that before he started running a tab. He didn’t like women running businesses. Didn’t trust them; they were sneaky. Once a woman had told him it was because women were smarter than him, but as if she’d know? He curled his large, angry body around his whiskey and hunkered down. He’d finish this drink and leave. The other bar looked okay.
He watched her from the corner of his eye. She scanned the bar. He scanned her.
“Be careful, mate,” the guy next to him said.
“You’re new in town. You probably don’t know the legend. It doesn’t pay to insult the lady.”
He snorted derisively. She was no lady. “I can look,” he grunted. He took another sip of his drink. “What’s her name?” Maybe he knew her by reputation. She’d have to be tough to run a business that wasn’t a brothel in this area. The desert killed more than just the farm holders’ crops.
“She calls herself Serket. At least since the accident.”
“Weren’t no accident,” a grizzled old crone mumbled. “He tried to kill her.”
Now that was something he could understand. “Who did?” he asked the crone.
“Her lover.”
“Wanted her business,” the first guy said.
“I heard he wanted her to put out for the customers,” said another.
“I heard she had a treasure and wouldn’t share it with him,” another supplied.
“Gossip,” he grunted.
He was distracted, trying to remember what he had heard about Serket; that was the only reason why she could sneak up on him. She patted him on the shoulder. He twitched. It was the shock that was all. He wasn’t frightened of her. But he had heard of her.
She leaned down and whispered in his ear, “He said he hated how I could talk. So he held me down and shoved a scorpion in my mouth.”
Her hand caressed over his shoulder and he had the oddest sensation. It felt like feet. Little scratchy insect feet. He shivered and took a fortifying sip of his whiskey.
“It was a deathstalker,” she said in his other ear. She jerked towards him, making a hissing sound.
Just like a scorpion.
He was getting spooked. He wanted to leave but no woman was going to chase him off.
“Stung me on the tongue,” she added.
“Not dead,” he pointed out.
“No. Clever boy.”
He wasn’t good with recognising sarcasm. Never understood why people didn’t just say what they meant.
“That’s why it’s a legend,” the old crone said.
Serket laughed. Put her head back and shook her hair and laughed. He saw a glimpse of her tongue. It seemed kind of dark. Maybe even black.
He gulped the rest of his drink and made to leave. He’d had enough of this.
The barman saw him do it and had his tab ready but he was feeling ornery. She was annoying him and he didn’t feel like paying.
“Here’s your tab,” the barman said, sliding it across the bar towards him.
He wasn’t good with figures either. He stood and picked up his hat. Others shuffled away from him. He didn’t pick up the tab.
She slammed her palm down on the bar, blocking him from leaving.
She tilted her head. “You owe me a buck twenty.”
He looked down at her hand and shrugged. “Can’t make me.” No way was a woman challenging him.
The barman glanced at his boss and raised an eyebrow.
She sighed. It sounded more annoyed than sad. She made an odd click noise with her tongue.
It was then a movement in her skirt caught his eye. The material moved as if something was underneath it. He almost wasn’t surprised when he saw what it was.
It was a scorpion. It clambered out of the skirt fold and delicately made its way up her hip. He couldn’t seem to get enough air into his lungs. If he could have found his tongue he might have offered to pay, but he could not take his eyes off the arachnid. Purposefully it scuttled down her arm and onto the back of her hand where it still lay flat on the bar.
The scorpion arched its tail and pointed the barb at him.
He’d had guns pointed at him plenty of times and he’d never felt his bowels go liquid like they did now.
“Buck twenty,” she repeated.
He had to reach for the piece of paper. Past the armed creature. And he knew it was armed and aimed at him. They could move so fast when they wanted to.
He reached into his pocket and counted the coins onto the tab.
“Clever boy,” she hissed. He heard an echo of the scorpion rattle in her voice.
He jammed his hat on his head and stormed out of the bar. He made sure to tell everyone to avoid the place unless they wanted to see the scorpion queen for themselves.
A few said they had heard of her. “Is it true that her tongue is black?” one asked him.
© AM Gray 2013

I was having a bad day this week.

Teens. Need I say more?
I got in my car and drove… I kept driving, listening to my favourite music in the car until I hit the sand. I live in Sydney and it’s not that far to the beach from my place.
And then I got out, walked for a little while and then I sat. This is what I saw.

I sat on a park bench marked ‘love is eternal’; a gift from a couple that I thanked for providing it. Wherever Jan and Don are, I hope their love is eternal. It’s June and it’s cold in Australia. There are few footsteps across the sand towards the water. The rip is obvious, where the water curls back onto itself, but there is one hardy surfer out there. South of the rip in his thick winter wetsuit.
The onshore breeze brings the smell of the sea and a fine dusting of sand across my feet. Thankfully warmly shod in my runners. I have never been much of a one for the surf. I can’t swim well enough and it is too big, too powerful, and too unpredictable for me, but the air is bracing and it reminds me what it is to live in this city where ten minutes ago I drove through the bush; a national park to get here. The northern suburbs cling to the coast where the cliffs and the land prices get high.
Love is eternal.
The bench is buffeted by the wind and the sand but it is solid and strong and has been repainted recently by someone who cares. The sun peeks through the clouds and the surfer catches a wave. He turns to paddle out and do it again, and it is like a metaphor for my days. Some you hit just right and so well that they carry you far and you feel elated. Some you have to keep paddling to try and stay on the wave or, you paddle like crazy and you miss it all together, and once one thing goes wrong, everything does.
But you should try again…
I think I can go home, now.