Friday, 26 April 2013

Writing is educational

Writing is sometimes as educational as reading.  I've been struggling to remember what flowers when, as during the last twelve months in the UK the weather has been cold, damp and unpromising and things haven't grown as they should.  A tv show 'The Wartime Farm' struggled to reconstruct farming during WWII because, as the presenter put it, even the weeds weren't growing.  As I have been pottering around this week I have thought the flowers are doing well for the beginning of March.  However I am typing this at the end of April.

So as ever, when everything else fails I turn to google.  I found this site - English Wildflowers, a Seasonal Guide - and I had a good look round.

While I was trying to find the right plants to add to a descriptive passage in 'Digging up the Past' I found a small entry called 'Chickweed Willowherb'.  I had a bit of a look out of curiosity and I found a plant that I had known from childhood as a very common weed that was easy to pull up when weeding and that had pretty flowers.

picture by martinjohnbishop and posted on iSpot

So while I've known what this plant looks like since I was old enough to toddle, I only now know its name.  I probably won't drop it into the middle of a block of description, but I will remember it.

Interestingly enough, as I was looking for a picture for this I found a site called iSpot, which has all sorts of nature sightings and records just sent in by the public.  I found a few bits that were local to me.  So I learned even more.

It's been a good day, I love learning new things.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Exchange on a Bridge

This story is written as a response to a prompt from Write on the Edge which is a writing community who set a prompt every week to encourage people to put finger to keyboard and engage in their imagination.  I thought I would have a go, as I need an encouragement to keep writing.  Here is the prompt and the story that followed.  I hope you enjoy it.

pinhole 970, bridge © Darius Kuzmickas via Flickr
Steve Adderson, call centre worker and now dealer with the Faerie Realm stepped nervously onto the bridge.  It was the same concrete bridge it had always been, however now there was a tall man in a motorcycle helmet standing next to his dark motorbike in the centre of the bridge.
The motorcycle rider removed his helmet.  "Are you Mr Steve Adderson?" He asked. 
Steve swallowed nervously.  What had possessed him to deal with someone who described themselves as elfen?  "I'm Steve Adderson." He said, his voice almost breaking with fear.  "Are you Lord Marius?"
"I am indeed." There was a hint of impatience. "Have you brought it with you?"
Steve swallowed again.  "Yes, I have."
"And payment has cleared in your account?" Lord Marius asked.
"No  offence, but when I was first contacted I read up a bit and they mentioned fairy gold..." Steve took a deep breath.  Lord Marius was a lot taller than him, and he had a dangerous edge that went beyond the trappings of a biker.
"As a kindness, and hoping for a speedy transaction, I will share some small information." Lord Marius leant casually against the railings of the bridge.  "If you are dealing with the elfen, never take food, or drink or cash.  Cheques are usually safe enough, though nothing in any path is guaranteed.  And this treasure that you bring me, which has been bartered hard for, well, that is an illustration of elfen foolishness.  You were contacted by Lord Cerdig." Lord Marius sighed.  "He does not see a great deal of the sunlight realm.  He ventures here rarely and his influence is waning, particularly amongst the younger members of his court.  He seeks to bolster his position so he finds something that his more powerful neighbouring prince covets to buy aid and support." Lord Marius shrugged.  "However this neighbour is in the grip of a strange obsession.  It is a curse of our kind.  He is quite desperate for treasure such as you carry, no matter how odd it seems to others, he pines for it.  So Lord Cerdig offered highly for it, lest another find it first and win it from you."
"I was a bit surprised." Steve said.
"Your treasure has some value in your world, but it is not the same value as that to a desperate elfen prince, buying the heart's desire of a much needed ally." Lord Marius sighed.  "Please give it to me."
Steve hesitantly handed it over.  Lord Marius took out the object, examined it with careful fingers and then finally nodded. 
"It is exactly as described." Lord Marius said.  "Here is a bonus from Lord Cerdig, all the papers are in order."
Steve's reflexes caught the car keys that Lord Marius threw at him.  The very new BMW car keys.  And then he watched Lord Marius ride off into the mist carrying with him a package that would cost, at the best valuation, one fiftieth of the price of the second hand BMW he had been looking at longingly in the local showroom.  And some elfen was now the owner of a 1936 Rupert Bear Annual, mint condition.  He held up the keys to the growing light.  What was the car equivalent of fairy gold? 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

It's here!

I have finally finished the first installment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' so please dip in to the story.  I would love to hear any feedback.

Just click on the tabs on the right hand side and enjoy!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Keeping busy

I will be starting a serial soon, set in the same background as 'The Forgotten Village' but not the same location.  This time it will be set in York, UK.

It's a long time since I visited York, I am embarrassed to admit, and I don't foresee many chances to visit, even though I could do with the research and I love York.  So I am googling and reading and remembering.  I've had holidays in York and loved them (if you go I recommend the Castle Museum and The Shambles) and I worked for a few weeks there, spending my lunch hours wandering around enjoying the 'feel' of the place.  York is supposed to be the most haunted city in England and the place is thick with stories and legends.  It is a very ancient place, so all the more reason for it to be over-run with boggarts and elfen.

I am being very upfront about how I am going to do this.  The plan is to have thirteen episodes, one posted every week on this blog.  These are, of course, free to read.  I shall leave them up at the end for a few weeks more.  Then I shall start another series, and when I do that I will take the first series down and publish them through Smashwords at their minimum price (currently 99c).  However you will not need to buy it, as you will be reading this for free on the blog as they are posted.

(btw Woman's Weekly used to do similar, my mother used to get the magazine and read the serialised romance and then you could get a (very cheap) book of the serial, usually three together in a binding.  They may still do)

I hope you will enjoy reading it.  After all, if an elfen and a 'normal' open a shop together, there are bound to be a few stories to be told.

First chapter up soon.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Smoke has passed away

Smoke, aka evil cat, has passed away peacefully.

She has probably trotted into heaven, curled up on St Peter's chair, refused to move, sneezed in fury, hissed and shed all over St Peter.

We were blessed with her from August 30th 1994 to April 17th 2013.  I don't know how we will do without her.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My lion

My Lion

My little lovely tabby is looking rather sweet
The elegant and tabby tail is curled around her feet
Expressionless she looks at me with bland and secret eyes
Assured the plate of sausages was dinner in disguise

I want to read the paper but my lap is occupied
A tabby cat is dozing so I've put my read aside
And though it's really painful as the claws are sinking in
The sound of cat contentment keeps me tickling her chin

It's as if a dozen devils are fighting on the floor
And a screwed up piece of paper is tossed from paw to paw
It's thrown, bit and fought and then chased across the stairs
Then the tabby runs in panic from a fright that isn't there

My cat lies soft in sunlight and her fur is golden bright
Her eyes are slits of slumber as she turns into the light
She stretches like a lion sprawled who drowses in the heat
And dreams of Serengeti mice are twitching at her feet

My tabby's meditating and her limbs are all tucked in
Her head is nodding forward as she draws herself within
And who knows if she meditates to the fire's gentle hum
Her focus will reward her and a lion she'll become.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I Blame the Darkwater Syndicate

Is that a footstep
In this empty house?
Is that a tap
On the second floor window?
Has my dead love
Come back

(You've got me thinking in poetry, darn it! - and thank you!)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Do you like dark short stories?

Thomas Marlowe created the cover designs for 'The Forgotten Village' and 'Cats in the Bible'.  He has a blog and he has written a few dark short stories, a bit gothic.  His latest one is called Abandoned Beauty and I very much enjoyed it, so I am recommending to anyone who may be interested.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

I follow in the footsteps of giants

There is a story here on the BBC news website about a ring that inspired Tolkien and a curse tablet linked to it.

I love finding things like this!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Truth is stranger than fiction

I've just been doing some research.  I've been mulling over some plot lines for the next but one novel and also some short stories I have been thinking about and I looked on ebay under 'Metaphysical and New Age'.

I couldn't put half of the things on there in a novel.  It wouldn't seem plausible.  There is a magical herb starter kit.  It looks very useful, the seller seems very reputable and the sort of seller I would look for when doing business and they have great feedback.  It's just some of the 'buy one get one free' offers, and the kits and collections seem so incongruous.  It just seems so far removed from the fictional world where spells and herbs are so arcane and not found on the same site as bulk packs of toilet paper and great deals on new and used children's clothing.

Mind you, many years ago I went to Todmorden where there was a New Age Shop.  It sold guaranteed used coffin nails but we couldn't go in as the sign on the door said, 'Closed for Herb Gathering'.  That's the sort of thing I would expect if I wanted to get hold of magical incense.  Not an internet site where I can also get excellent deals on knitting yarn. It takes all the story away.

However, I admit it, I have had some great ideas spinning off the stuff I saw on ebay.  I'll just have to tone it down a bit