Thursday, 26 September 2013

Landing dock
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!

Picture Source:

“Alanna!” her father shouted. “Incoming!”
“I KNOW!” she shouted at him before she muttered under her breath, “You can hear the thing coming a mile away.” The airship was running hard and loud; if necessary they could be almost silent.
Smaller airships were sent to the other platform; theirs was for larger ones but there were few of them these days because of the war and how dangerous the skies were now. She knew this ship. It was the Bennu and she knew the captain of this one, too. Cheeky bugger. Always flirted with her. Offered to fly her away from all this; as if she could ever leave? Her father depended on her.
“Alanna?” a voice called from the rigging over the side as the airship approached.
“Evelyn?” She was the second in command of the ship.
“You got a first aid kit? Our supplies are depleted.”
She caught the mooring rope and tied the airship off. The rear line was in her father’s capable hands. “Hang on.” She ran to grab the first aid kit before she clambered up the rope that was dropped over the side and aboard the ship. Normally she would have asked permission first, but she was in a hurry today.
“Who’s hurt?” She almost didn’t want to ask.
“It’s Peter. Gut wound.” She paused as she swung down to the deck. “It’s bad and we don’t have time to wait around for him to heal.”
They had already dragged him out of the cabin. He lay on the deck looking smaller than he usually did. She rushed over and leaned into his face. When he didn’t acknowledge her, she knew he was very ill.
She hurried over to the side and looked for her father. He was negotiating the mooring fee with the purser. With some kind of extra sense, he glanced towards her. His face asked the question.
“H-he’s hurt,” she said.
Her father patted the shoulder of the purser and moved quickly towards her. “What do you want to do?” He looked up at her, trusting in her decision.
“Can he stay here?”
He sighed. They both knew what harbouring a fugitive meant. “Evelyn?” he asked.
“We can be back in three weeks.”
“He’ll die being out of the air for three weeks,” Alanna said.
“He’s close enough to the sky, here.” Evelyn jigged her head at the windmill sails. “Almost there.”
“E-evie?” Peter croaked. Alanna thought he was mostly unconscious. He was just raving. She put her hand on his forehead. He was fevered.
“I know,” Evelyn said. She looked just as concerned as Alanna did.
“Get him inside,” her father said. Crew leapt to help carry him.
She stripped him down, bathed him, and blanched at the scars on his wiry body. His shirt stuck to the angry wound. She cleaned it and stitched it while he was passed out and then painted it in honey, just as her mother had taught her.
It looked like a sword slash to her; across the stomach. He was lucky to be alive and not holding his spilled guts in his hands. She covered it with a clean bandage and mopped his brow with cool water infused with herbs. Her stash would need replenishing. She had tried to grow them in tubs on the platform but the weather was too erratic.
She fed him broth when he could manage to swallow it.
On the third day his fever broke and he fell into a much more restful sleep. She felt confident enough to leave him alone and check in on her father.
“I got young Tim to help out.”
“The boy from the village?”
“He doesn’t know we have a guest?”
“No, he believes you have taken to your bed.”
“It is occupied.”
“Yes.” He frowned. He still wasn’t happy about it. “Is he ...?”
“He’s on the mend. Asleep now.”
“Good. The sooner we see the Bennu’s sails, the better.”
She didn’t agree. She wasn’t sure what to hope for.
That night, as she fed him his broth, his grey eyes were heavy upon her. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing.” She fed him another spoonful.
“I can feed myself, you know.”
“I know.”
“But I like you to do it.” He almost had his rascally gleam back.
The next mouthful, he licked the spoon. His tongue darting out of his mouth to touch it.
“Stop it,” she groused at him.
“Tell me.”
“I’m worried.”
“Ask me anything. I’ll be honest with you.”
“My half sister.”
“Oh.” And after she had thought for some seconds. “Oh.”
“Honest,” he repeated.
“Right. Thank you.”
A spoonful.
“The war?”
“We are not winning... but we are not losing, either.”
“What will change that?”
“I am not sure.”
Another spoonful. He studied her.
The next spoonful, he touched her arm; brushing his fingers very gently down her skin.
She sighed.
“Alanna,” he whispered.
“Don’t. You’ll just heal and leave.”
“Come with me.”
“I can’t.”
“You could if you wanted to.”
“As what?”
“My wife, if you wished it. My partner if you do not.”
“You mean that?”
“I am no airman.”
“You could be; you are halfway there.”
She chuckled. “That’s what Evie said.”
“Please, Alanna. I can’t make you co-captain, that’s up to the crew, but you could be my partner in other ways.”
“You’d share your spoils with me?”
His face twisted. “Yes,” he chewed out.
She smiled at him. He was a pirate at heart.
“Because I adore you,” he added. “It kills me every time I fly away and leave you. All the treasures in the world mean nothing compared to you.”
“You really mean that.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Oh, but I did. Just not out loud.”
She thought about it. He always had gifts for her. Silk scarves from far off lands, perfumes from the Orient, small carved animals that he swore he had seen running below the airship. Even the honey she had slathered on his wound had been a gift from him.
He seemed to understand that she wasn’t completely convinced. “I nearly died. I don’t want to waste another day doing what is seemly; I want to do what is right.”
He reached out and took the bowl out of her hand.
She still held the spoon. She clung to it.
“Alanna?” he whispered. “I need an answer.”
He tried to sit up and groaned with the effort.
“Stop it! You’ll rip the stitches.”
“After you put so much effort into stitching me up.”
“Yes, so don’t wreck it.”
He fell back on the pillows, breathing hard with the effort.
She touched his face; her hand cradling in against his jaw. He leaned into her hand. His eyes... they were pleading with her.
“Yes,” she whispered.
He smiled at her but he was so exhausted, he passed out.
She pulled the blanket up and tucked it in around him, brushing his hair out of his face. He was still a rascal and a pirate, but he was her pirate. She knew that now.
© AM Gray 2013

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Be careful with that thing!

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!

“Be careful with that thing!” he yelled, grabbing her hand.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she argued. “I can’t work it; it’s a magic staff and I’m not-”
A beam of greenish blue light shot out of the end of the staff and zapped into the wall. A few chunks of plaster fell in a mini avalanche onto the floor.
In a fluster, she dropped the staff on the floor.
They stared at each other. She looked more shocked than he did. “What? How? I’m not...”
“Clearly you are... you didn’t even say anything.” He bent down and picked it up; handling it rather more gingerly than she had.
“I wouldn’t know what to say if I did know the words.” She stopped. “Did that make sense?”
“No. You can barely make sense when you do know the words to say.”
“Ha ha.” She reached for the staff but he held it away from her.
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be careful.”
“How? You don’t even know what you did. You just held it in your hand.” She noticed that he didn’t close his hand around it.
“I can’t explain how it went off.”
“I’m well aware of that.”
“Well, who can we ask about it?”
He looked doubtful. “We need to keep this quiet, actually. And we need to get out of here.” He wrapped the staff in a cloth and shoved it inside his rucksack.
She knew he was right. They had come here to steal it; to stop the evil wizard Bronwyn from using it. 
“I didn’t do anything,” she said as they hurried from the chamber.
“No, I know.”
“I just picked it up.”
“Yeah... I know.”
“Wait... You know what this means?”
“Maybe she isn’t magic at all... maybe she just has tools that are magic.”
“Move faster... in fact... run.”
“Why?” she puffed as she sprinted after him.
“If you are right about the magic tools, then she won’t want anyone to know that. Run faster.”
“Oh, crap.”
They ran.
© AM Gray 2013

* I asked kid 1 what was a good name for an evil wizard and he said Bronwyn… no idea where that came from. 

Monday, 23 September 2013


Since the closure of JBNP I only have my stories loaded at fanfic. I have looked at ao3 (an archive of our own) and joined so that I could comment on another story. Seriously, if you like Teen Wolf, why are you not reading meeranamjoker’s  ‘Witha Silver Practise’? It is Derek/Lydia and it is awesome.
But I digress… so, I could load my 71 stories onto ao3 but that might take me years and it is html editing and I HATE html. I saw an article in fictionators, I think, about a new site called fictionpad. I had a look. 
They also have an info vid on YouTube 
I joined mostly to protect my fic name. Woe betide someone else tries to be mtr, like I dunno the real mrstrentreznor… lmao
It is in the beta phase and very much reminds me of a Twitter page. Same screen size. It fills your screen and you navigate by hovering on the RHS where a next page bar pops up.

Some good things:
·       You can sign in with Twitter, Facebook or Google+
·       One button loads all stories from fanfic. I know right? It did load Closer to God twice. But I have a lot of stories and it did pretty well.
·       Works in progress are marked with a big blue spanner next to the fic name
·       One shots are marked with a green thunderbolt
·       It has an 18+ category
·       You can load banners on each chapter if you wish - I am still trying to work out the banner size for story icons.
·       Readers can click the thumbs up or leave a comment or both
·       It allows multiple characters AND multiple genres
·       Writers can PM a reviewer or reply to the review publicly. If you use an @ like twitter, they get notified.

It is very new, so all my alternate pairings meant most of my characters aren’t listed yet. But they seem cool and approachable. I am slowly working through my list and upgrading the age bracket or telling them they need to add a character.
And big plus for me. No HTML! You edit the story, click add a chapter and cut and paste it in from Word. Then click republish. It will hold it as a draft until you have it all done and click the green button. Neat!
They don’t have lists of authors yet, but the search box works well at the moment when the site is small.

If nothing else, it will serve as a backup of my fanfic stories. I wake up every day expecting my whole page to have been deleted. I do write some rather racy things… *grins*

Friday, 13 September 2013

Milestones September 2013

This has been a big month.
This blog passed 30,000 hits.
Smashwords has nearly 5k downloads.
My continuation of a one shot - I’ll be Home for Christmas earned over 500 reviews for the first eight chapters. It seems to be doing a word of mouth thing; with its hits increasing daily as people must refer it to their friends. That is wonderful to see. It is not a popular pairing. There are THREE Bella/Josh stories on fanfic. It is HERE
I am clearly writing very different pairings, because my most recent one shot Dreams and Dust was a Rosalie/Sam story and there are only three of those as well! Bwahaha. Read it HERE.
The pic is the image prompt #26 that inspired it, from the Truly anon twific contest of 2012. Still challenging myself to write them all - except guitars and cowboys. I’ve got nothing for guitars and cowboys. Not in the Twilight world, at any rate. I can’t find the original source for the shot and it is everywhere on the Net.
But the big milestone is my total hits at fanfic. It just passed 5 million.
5 Million.
There are no totals on the Legacy Story Statistics page at fanfic, but I cut and pasted it into Excel. (See, I do have wicked computer skills. Laughs at self.) I totalled them up recently when I was trying to sell myself to a publisher. Look at me! I’ve got X hits at fanfic. People like me; really they do. I don’t think it worked, as I haven’t heard back from them. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Things change

It’s interesting - I’ve been reading a bit of young adult books lately. And one thing they often reference is that confusion that afflicts teenagers as they grow and change and aren’t entirely sure where they fit into their world.
I’m not sure that we lose that feeling at any age.
I am change averse. I have told you this before. I do not like it. I laugh at myself about it, but I really get annoyed when the supermarket moves the tomato paste for the third time in a year for no obvious reason and I can’t find it. Maybe I just hate grocery shopping and if I spend minutes longer trying to find the stuff… yeah - it’s annoying.
I’ve been through some dramatic personal changes in my life. I used to be a world traveller who lived in a foreign land in an enormous house with servants and personal drivers. In Australia we bought a house commensurate with that income level. It was a very nice house. We entertained a bit; it was a great house for that. People played tennis on our lawn court, swam in our enormous pool and used our sauna. They came to stay for weekends, organised the soccer team party at that house etc.
Things change.
Post-divorce my income level and thus the kids’ and my standard of living dropped pretty dramatically. I stayed in the same area so that my kids didn’t have too much change in their lives. They can go to the same schools and they didn’t move away from their friends. But it is an affluent area and we no longer are. We moved house. To a much smaller house, right on the edge of the affluent suburb. We get the suburb name but not the tennis court or the pool.
And interestingly, the people who wanted to be my friend when I had that big house aren’t around any more. Sycophants - much?
But I forget that, sometimes. I ran into one the other day at the barbers and I was genuinely pleased to see her. She tolerated talking to me but kept flicking through her magazine as if I would get the hint and go away. For just a second, I felt about as lost as a teenager does when they get into a situation they don’t understand.
I know I wasn’t at my best. I had walked down to the shops with my sons and I was wearing an old tracksuit and a pair of runners. I hadn’t spent hundreds of dollars on my hair or nails like she had. But still… I had thought we were at least on a talking basis.
I’m no teen and it still hurt.

Monday, 9 September 2013


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!

Picture Source:

It was the pegs that were the first clue; they were wrong. Too new, too shiny. Too clean. They were still pegged to the line the way someone did when they either didn’t have a basket to store their pegs in or were too lazy to take the pegs inside. They should have been weathered and stained darker if they were stored on the clothesline.
And they didn’t fit with the house. Nothing else was new. The rest of the house had peeling paint and hanging shutters. Even a broken window upstairs. It was the house of a person who wouldn’t have bought new pegs.
The pegs didn't fit.
So, it was a trap.
He had been through several exercises and mind games already. He was tired, and wounded, but he wasn’t stupid. He never had been stupid. He had always been one of those people who noticed too many things; who thought too much. That was why he had been recruited, if you could call being chosen from all the young people of his village recruited. It was more of a lottery draw really. A lottery that nobody liked to win.
Not that anyone had ever come back to tell the village about it. Not alive, at any rate. Their bodies were returned. The lucky ones in large caskets and the unlucky ones in small urns. Sometimes he thought the urns were empty.
So far, he had been lucky and smart.
Smart was better than lucky, any day.
He hunkered down in the bushes to watch the house before he approached any further. He’d kill for a drink of water.
And today, he might have to.
© AM Gray 2013

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Dodged a bullet

Years ago when I first started writing, I sent off a story to a publisher. They responded. I had no idea how rare that was. And it was an actual response with story critique. They said they liked it but I just needed to add more from the male character pov and up the word count. It was from a company called Noble Romance publishing. In the meantime, the company was (as I understand it - I may have this wrong) fought over by two siblings, who between them tore it apart. Jill Noble left more than a year ago and the company became a disaster area that finally closed its doors in August of this year.
It was often listed in the pages of ‘Writer Beware’ because of that. I had only just discovered WB and became aware of the issues through the site and didn't send my manuscript back to Noble. It became the e-book ‘Sea Change’.
Ann Crispin, who set up Writer Beware died this week of cancer. The site is a fabulous resource and she will be greatly missed, not only for WB but for her own writing.
There are so many scams out there to take money from unsuspecting and wide eyed writers. It is wonderful that a site like WB exists to warn people.
The site asks: “Please honor Ann's memory, and her work, by reading her books and spreading the word about Writer Beware.”

My pleasure.

Friday, 6 September 2013

I hate steam

I hate steam.
No, not the swirly wet bathroom kind of steam. That stuff is lovely. And seriously, the air is so dry right now in Australia that I’d be pleased to see some of that. No, I mean Steam the games server. My teens managed to suck up the entire internet allowance in less than a month - again. If I increase it, then they’d use that up, too and it does them good to be reduced to dial up speed for a while. Heck, I watched a few Tedtalks, but most of the blame rests with Steam because these days you buy a game and it is one disk and the rest of the game you have to download.
It is just another chapter in my continuing lifetime war with electronics. I break computers all the time. I break credit card readers. I have no idea why. I can no longer wear watches. It is just pointless to rely on them and too expensive to keep replacing them.
The internet provider company sends an email to tell you when you are running close to your Net limit, but because of my super fry ability it goes to the wrong email address. I have tried to fix this myself and spent much time on the phone and also tried to do it online myself, but it won’t let me. I know, right? So I ring them up, determined to fix this thing once and for all.
‘Of course madam,’ says the helpful guy. ‘I can amend that for you right now. You want the same address as is here’ - he reads it out.
‘Yes, that’s right.’
‘Oh,’ he says. ‘It won’t change.’
‘Excuse me? Won’t?’
‘I change it and it changes back. That’s odd.’
‘I don’t think I can fix it.’
Heavy sigh. ‘Fine. Thanks anyway.’
Ps: I’ve broken gmail, too - it says I have messages but I can’t find them and believe me I have looked everywhere. And given they are confirmations to post a comment on a writing site; my admission is sitting in a ‘waiting to be approved’ tag and can’t be seen by other readers… double sigh.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Big Red Purse

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!

picture Source: 

There was an old saying that you could tell all about a woman from the contents of her handbag. Of course if that bag was large, it could hold more things and you would have more chances of getting some guesses right. In theory.
This bag was traditional, classic, patent leather and bright red. It was the only bright thing about her. The trench coat in khaki, the black satin gloves and the knee high black boots, with a high but not impractical heel. Her hair was well groomed and her makeup was immaculate.
If you were to make a good guess what the contents of that bag were, you might guess makeup, an organiser, a phone, a hairbrush and the detritus that always seems to gather in handbags - old tissues, old receipts, a few tampons, some business cards and phone numbers scribbled on scraps of paper.
And you’d be wrong.
All she had in that bag was a semi-automatic revolver with a silencer already attached. She needed the size for the extra length of the weapon. The leather was firm enough to hide the shape within. She had nothing inside it that would have her DNA on it like a tissue and she hadn’t held the bag in bare hands. Always gloved. And she most definitely had no examples of her handwriting or any contact phone numbers. If necessary she could ditch the bag with little harm done.
She stood, holding the bag with both hands low in front of her body. The face of her target memorised, his table booking known - he was a creature of habit, same day, same table, and the same time. Fool.
She was ready.
A nervous smile for the doorman who opened the door for her, and she stepped inside, the consummate professional. The restaurant was noisy with lunchtime guests. The fashion for wooden floors and bare tables increased the noise level. She strode confidently towards his table, opened her bag as she went, slid her hand inside, lifted out the gun just enough for the nozzle to protrude from the bag opening, put three shots into him as she walked past his table and then she started screaming. If she raised the alarm, less people would think she had started it.
In the hubbub, she made her escape.
Maybe she’d keep this bag. She liked it.
© AM Gray 2013