Tuesday, 29 September 2015

"I have absolutely no faith in your ability to get this job done."

#writeworld #shortfics

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!
"I have absolutely no faith in your ability to get this job done." He said it again. It was about the tenth time that he had said it in several different ways.
The woman shoved various packages into a backpack and seem to completely ignore him as she did it but her shoulders looked tight. When the bag was packed she moved over to point at the map spread out in front of the man. “Here?”
“Yes.” He was terse.
“You’re sure? These valleys look the same.”
“I don't make mistakes.” The rest of the sentence hung in the air. She waited but he didn't add anything else. Her lips pressed together. She seemed to be counting.
After an interval, she shouldered the bag and started towards the door. Footsteps rang from outside of the room. She glanced at the internal door and waited.
The man that entered the room had the easy gait of a person used to physical work. He had a presence, not just because of his height. “Hey,”  he said to her but it said so much more.
“You just caught me.”
He smiled as if that was a private joke. “What's up?”
She jigged her head at the first man. “His wife is missing. Deer Valley.” She adjusted the bag on her shoulder.
“Okay.” He gave the man a balancing look. “Got anything of hers?”
It wasn't clear which of them he was talking to.
“She didn't ask for anything.”
“But you do have something?”
“Hand it over.” Standing in front of him, he made the husband look weak.
The man fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a ring. The plain gold band look small in the palm of the tall man. He made a noise, a kind of a thoughtful noise, before he handed the ring to the woman. They exchanged a look. It was clearly a woman's wedding band. The kind of thing people didn't take off unnecessarily, so why did the husband have it?
He used both hands to close her fingers over it. He whispered in her ear, “He reeks of deceit.”
She nodded.
Trap? he mouthed.
She nodded. “He's not convinced of my skills.”
“Huh. Why hire you then?”
When the hirer chose not to speak, she gave her man a quick peck on the lips. She had to stand on tiptoes to do it. “See you later.”
“Yes,” he agreed.
He locked the external gate behind her and leaned back against it. Arms folded and eyes fixed on the customer who looked increasingly nervous. “Sit,” he ordered.
He did.
“You stay until she gets back and you had better hope she does get back.”
“Th-that wasn't the deal.”
“I didn't make the deal. Sit down.”
His mouth opened but he closed it and sat. He hunched forward a little. “What can a lone woman do?” he muttered very low.
“You don't like women, do you?”
He startled, clearly surprised that the man had heard him.
“Do you?” he pressed.
An awkward shrug.
“Odd that you didn't offer to join her. Show her yourself.”
“I barely made it here!”
“And yet you expect her to do the trip twice? There and back again.”
“I told her she would fail.”
The tall man laughed. “She doesn't fail.” Another balancing look at the customer. “And your wife? Did she fail?”
“Is she your wife?”
“No, she is my mate.”
His eyes widened and his heart raced. Only shapeshifters had mates. Aware that his physical reactions could be catalogued they immediately betrayed him.
“She's dead, isn't she?”
“Who is?” he tried.
“Your wife.”
“No,” but he didn't sound sure of it and the shifter knew he wasn’t.
“You'd better hope not.” He gave a bitter chuckle. “Why do you think she is so good at this? Why do you think she went alone?”
The man made a sound of disbelief.
“She didn't tell you that? You must have done something to annoy her.” He chuckled. “You know what's really funny?”
The man shook his head.
“She can find the missing more easily when they're dead. The dead to talk to her, and they find her because she's the only one who hears them.”

Friday, 25 September 2015

What are your terms, sir?

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!
#writeworld #shortfic

“What are your terms, sir?” she asked.
“No!” her brother shouted. “I can handle this.”
She ignored him. Her chin lifted. A tiny muscle flexed in her jaw but only those who knew her well could have seen it and known how much it cost her to say those words.
“No,” he repeated, quieter now as everyone ignored him. The figure on the throne leaned forward a fraction. “You,” it said.
She closed her eyes.
Her brother was shouting again. “No. Ignore her. She doesn't know what she’s saying.” The guards that restrained him made sure he got no closer to either his sister or the king of the fae.
“She knows,” the king said.
“My brother returns home, unharmed - no memory loss, no lost time, no tricks or there is no deal.”
The audience of courtiers and soldiers made small nervous noises at her use of the word ‘tricks’.
The king waved a hand and the people fell silent. “How will you know if he doesn't?”
It was a good question. Her hand trembled. “You will not break your word.”
“Your brother will never return to this world.”
“You can’t make deals for me,” he argued. “What about what I want?”
Ignored again.
“Do I have your word?” she pressed. The crowd hissed at her rudeness but the king had not taken his eyes from her face. She was unable to read his emotion.
“Are you sure about no memory loss?” he checked.
“Yes.” She glanced down quickly, unsure if she had made a mistake.
“Wise. He should remember you and your sacrifice.” He made a gesture at the guards. “Take him to his home.” He glanced back at her. “He may lose some time because of the nature of this world. That I cannot control. I will do the best that I can.”
She nodded. She knew that, visitors lost hours here. “I-” she started to say and then took a deep breath. “Goodbye, Oscar.”
“No, Jessica - NO!” He tried to fight but the guards carried him out of the room. The shouts faded quickly.
Jessica stood. Arms folded across her body to clutch at the other. “My Lord,” she said and bowed her head. She didn’t thank him. That was an insult and it may leave her owing him a favour. She didn’t want to owe the king a favour. She took a step back.
“Jessica,” he said.
She heard the warning tone and stopped.
“You sit here.” He pointed to the step between his feet.
“I-?” Her head lifted and she looked him full in the face. Her confusion plain.
Someone in the crowd tittered nervously.
Her face fell. She had only thought to bargain for her brother; not for herself. She had not argued her position, merely that she would stay. It was a serious oversight. One that she could not fix now he had held to his side of the bargain. She was lost. She had no standing here as a mere human nor could she leave to find her own place in this world. She was to sit at his feet like a dog.
“Come,” he insisted.
A guard stepped up to force her to move but he waved them back. He stood and pointed at the floor. The whole court had to rise to its feet when he stood. It made her feel smaller. She wasn’t sure what he meant by the gesture. He had made her the centre of attention.
She went. She had no other choices. She had asked him to keep his word, and it behoved her to keep hers. Slowly she climbed the stairs. Uncertain of how to sit, she knelt as he resumed his seat and then she tucked her feet behind her. Her back ached and she was exhausted.
The court returned to their seats and the banquet resumed. Servers moved among them with food and drink.
She had a lovely view from his feet. The faces of some of the court were wary and she guessed that it was because of her. She was an unknown; a human in their world.
A very tall fae male watched her speculatively and a new thought occurred; she had her back to the king. Was that an insult? She remembered that historically people had to walk backwards out of an audience so that they did not insult a royal. Was it an honour to sit at his feet? She could see well because she was up so high. Did that matter? She was literally higher than everyone else.
All of them.
Except for the king and the occasional server who brought him a tray.
Or, was she a pet? Was she something else? He had asked for her. She hated to think of that even if he had a pretty face. All fae were beautiful even if some were terrifying with it. He was awful in the original sense of the word. Awe inspiring.
The strain of the last few days was telling, and the weight of her worries heavy. She almost leaned against his leg but jerked upright and fought to keep her eyes open. Food or drink might have helped her but she knew to eat it would mean she could never leave. Not that she had bargained for how long she was staying.
She was a fool, an impetuous fool. She hoped her brother was safe and that he was worth this. Would she ever see him again?
Losing the battle, her eyes stayed closed. She slumped a little and leaned against the throne and his leg. He didn’t move but the King of the Slaugh - the dark fae- had tentacles as well as human limbs. And one of the thicker ones snaked down to cross in front of her chest and then twine around his leg. It held her in place like a seatbelt and stopped her from tumbling forward or down the steps. Another thinner and more delicate appendage reached down and tucked her hair away from her face, placing it neatly behind her ear. She didn’t notice the light touch but plenty of the court did. The tall fae was one of them and he frowned.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Weird fanfic stats

If you have followed me for any length of time you’d know I love statistics. I was very sad last month when the fanfiction.net stats went a little weird. They basically died.
I usually average about 4,000 hits a day but my August stats table looks like this:

One reader???
*eyes narrow*
I don’t think so.
This has happened before and usually a few days later it comes good. But not this time. And it continued for the first few days of September. So for about fourteen days I have stats that swear no-one read anything at all. And I know they did. They sent me reviews during that time.
*sad face*
I do not know what happened at the site but I’m glad it’s back to normal.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Build on a good story base

I try to walk every day as I spend too much time sitting at my desk. A trip to Ikea got me a desk top and table legs that can extend to a standing height. It made a cheap standing desk for my chromebook so I can do a few things standing up but scrivener is still on my PC, so I swap and change. I never stand still. I usually end up dancing about listening to my music. I’m sure that’s good for me, too.
My suburb is in flux; the older homes are being knocked down in sets of four or six, and low level unit blocks are popping up everywhere. They are all eight to ten storeys which is the building limit in this council area. If I look out my back window I can see seven cranes. It makes my walks a little bit challenging - seriously, I am too old for catcalling - but I love watching the changes in the building sites as the structure rises from the ground.
There is one site that intrigues me. From the day it was fenced off it was different. It is incredibly neat and well organized. The fence was dead upright with no gaps, the clay soil was covered in gravel so the workers didn’t walk in mud, the work caravan units had aircons and plumbing installed, and one was a designated meeting room, and they built a two metre wide set of stairs down into the pit when other sites used a ladder or a dirt ramp. At the end of the day they have the structural items they need for the next day set out - ready and waiting.
I was thinking that if I had the pick of an apartment in any of the building sites, I’d take one in this block.
Why? Because if they have that attention to detail on the basics, then it will be the best quality construction.
I said in the last post that I have been reading a lot about writing. And one of the things I am learning about is story structure. It is one of those things that I think you notice more when it isn’t  present. I read a murder mystery recently that I gave up on when I was more than halfway through and there still hadn’t been a murder. It broke the rules and I didn’t like it. Because it did that it didn’t get a chance to prove itself to me.
Another was a regency romance that then introduced the paranormal, and then a murder mystery and then a serial killer. Well… which is it? In trying to do everything, it didn’t do any properly. When the two main characters were being romantic I was thinking ‘they don’t have time for this, someone is trying to kill her’. And when they finally started to investigate the murder they used clues they had gathered in the first, very early part of the book. It was like a frankenbook - built up of too many genres for me. It’s basic structure was flawed.
And another was set up as a werewolf Romeo and Juliet; each was the child of warring alphas and once they mated any conflict disappeared. As a reader I was so disappointed. The writer had made an implied promise to the reader - I’ll give you this - and then they didn’t.
So, like that apartment block, if your story has the structure right then maybe you can be a little bit fancy if the core is there. Keep your promises, get the basics right, and you will build a good, solid structure when you do.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Large gap in posts - sorry...

Oh my goodness… where has the year gone? I know I always say that but seriously… I picked up a carton of milk and saw the use by date in September and nearly had a fit.
I have lost it a bit lately - been all over the place but I promise to try and update more frequently… now… what have I been doing?
I did another camp nanowrimo. This time I was sorted into a cabin with other wanna-be writers from a tumblr writing page. If anything, the results were more disastrous than the cabin of newbies from last time. A whole quarter of us (three) finished. And what have I learned from this? As I always ask the kids. Don’t rely on your cabin to drag you along. I aimed for 50k words and did that with the usual sagging bit in the middle before I pulled up my socks to finish.
The story was different to the one from last camp; a messed up soul mate romance. It now has nearly 80k words but needs a lot more work.
I had to update to Windows 10 and I damn near had a panic attack at the thought that Scrivener might not work. When I contacted them they assured me it should be fine. And so far it is. *crosses fingers*
Kid Extra is still with us. I eventually measured out kid 1’s room, made a scale model on paper and shifted things around until I could make them fit and then went to Ikea and bought some single bed furniture. They are getting on well and he seems a lot happier. His mother has not been back and told us after many attempts to arrange to collect his stuff, that she had destroyed it all because we didn’t collect it by some arbitrary date she hadn’t even told us about. (And she wouldn’t let us collect it anyway.) I do NOT understand some people. He seemed quite blasé about it. I reckon he knew he wasn’t going to get his stuff back.
I have been doing a lot of writing courses on Udemy and YouTube, and reading a lot of books on writing. I am very proud of my status - read 150 books this year! And my Pinterest book page looks neat. I have 39 followers there, now. It might help if I wasn’t reading six books at once in four different places! Updating my PC means I can read on the Nook app but I am finding it very different to the Kindle one. Plus I have some older ebook files open in adobe reader and I have a pile of actual physical books by my bed. I confuse myself some days - now where did I read that quote?
So what have you all been up to?