Roses stretch like weeds

In a response to today’s daily prompt I incorporated the word Spike into my flash fiction challenge.

This is the final contribution to my series of seasonal flash-fictions of 99 words each!.

A thousand petals like fallen snow, gather on the ground. The sun peers through growing buds until the rain blasts the ground, the fades. Bright skies return and the tarmac steams. Blackbirds chatter at the cat as she crouches, patiently, hopeful that the grass gives camouflage to her black and white fur. The roses have stretched like weeds against the garden fence, thorns that cover the stems in belligerent spikes. The cat sinks further, nose and tail extended.  The garden is growing, bursting forth; but she remains still. Nose twitching, eyes narrowed on target. A sparrow hops towards her.

I have to admit that I’ve really been struggling with this image as there are so many clichés that just felt unavoidable. The challenge was meant to explore the seasons in slightly different ways and give a unique texture or taste to them.

Please find the further three contributions below; but which piece is which? Leave me a message and let me know if you’ve managed to work them all out!

One:

The sky is a tapestry of falling rain and threads of smoke. Leaves drift in slow spirals between heavy drops. Grey puddles spill off the path and into sodden grass, tramped with muddy boots and wellingtons. Water gurgles in the roadside drains and steals away with sycamore seeds. Conker shells burst, shining chestnut nestled between layers of bronze, amber and fading green. Interwoven clouds in faded lines and jagged blue tears. Pale sunlight peers through the cracks and paints the tarmac gold. The umbrella snaps to attention, stolen from a desperate grasp, whipped up, away, lost to the tapestry.

Two:

Spires of bright fuchsia sway. Scattered bursts of buttercup, daisies and dandelions dance on the meadow. Waves of long grass whisper and break on the fence line. The thump and trundle of an antique tractor approaches, rumbling over hard-baked earth. The driver bounces from window to window over the dips and furrows of the ancient field. A blast of Heart FM twists across the boundary. Bare toes wriggle on the fresh-clipped lawn. Wide-eyes fixed on cracked blue paint. Pigtails and tiny fingers stick in fresh varnish. The metallic beast makes a slow spin, grumbling, puffing, ready for the next charge.

Three:

I love it when the air smells like ice. Dark green pine sways between barren branches and then mountains rise behind. Cars crunch salt, engines purring. It’s an experience, negotiating ice in six-inch heels; challenge accepted.  Coffee cup clutched tight to my chest. The bitter taste of rising steam is mellowed with double cream. Hat pulled low on burning ears and sunglasses paint the sky in gentler hues; lines of pink and gold across frozen blue. There’s another flurry on the horizon. Feet slip without warning. The ground is harder than it looks and less forgiving. Must buy boots.

Four: 

A thousand petals like fallen snow, gather on the ground. The sun peers through growing buds until the rain blasts the ground, the fades. Bright skies return and the tarmac steams. Blackbirds chatter at the cat as she crouches, patiently, hopeful that the grass gives camouflage to her black and white fur. The roses have stretched like weeds against the garden fence, thorns that cover the stems in belligerent spikes. The cat sinks further, nose and tail extended.  The garden is growing, bursting forth; but she remains still. Nose twitching, eyes narrowed on target. A sparrow hops towards her.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Fibi

An Alternate Reality

I love it when an plan comes together. I’ve always been very fortunate to have a loving family and generous friends. Minus a few scary hours, in Montreal, I’ve always had a safe place to sleep. Even if it was in a tent…with bears in the nearby woods.

Recently however, I entered a flash-fiction contest  at Third Word and won. I was delighted, because the project intends to help homelessness. So here it is, a shock to the system. A Jolt of today’s daily prompt.

I asked the lovely Helena, who is running the competition, and what had prompted it’s creation, and this is the response I received:

I, the founder of The Third Word Press, had the idea late one night.  It was the culmination and drawing together of various passions – to run my own project, to support the homeless and a love of literature and writing.  I had designed and submitted my first project for funding whilst in Sri Lanka, in the aftermath of the conflict; it was a peace building project through dialogue based around photography.  I did not get the funding, and left the country a short while later but the idea of running a project remained.  Upon returning to the UK, I started work at a photography CIC, a relatively new organisation running projects with disadvantaged individuals, where I observed the workings, struggles and strategies of setting up and running projects based upon a passion for the arts with charitable bent.  I’m not sure when I started to want to work with homeless people, but it quickly became the group for whom I wanted to provide relief, and designed a project to lead craft making sessions with them, another passion of mine, to make sellable items.  Having set up the organisation, and in the process of applying for funding, I came across a selection of short stories I had written some years ago (I had more recently moved to writing screenplays) and I discovered that I wanted to do something with them, to get them published would have been the ideal, so I wrote to a number of publishers.  Unintentionally, one of the publishers I wrote to was a self-publishing outfit, and they, quite predictably, showed support for my work, but I was not inclined to proceed with them.  Frustrated, I was convinced that I was by no stretch alone in wanting to see my work in some medium that went beyond my Word documents, and I thought of drawing together like-minded individuals to publish works collectively.  Publishing these works in mini books appealed to my love of all things dinky, and such a medium would be novel, suit shorter works, and, in a flash, I saw would also be something that homeless people could market without being overly burdened (physically), something that could engage them, share glimmers of imagination and other worlds.  I went to sleep very happy that night.
So far, we’ve received up to 17 stories a day, from all over the world, it has been incredibly exciting to wake up and discover new literary gems every morning.  We’ve got enough high quality stories to proceed with the first edition, but are following up a number of contacts and applying for funding (which takes 10 weeks to be processed) before we compile the first edition.  We have our fingers tightly crossed for the funding, but with strong support from our authors, we can irrespectively proceed with a smaller edition.  Our winners to date have shown huge support and willingness to help us market the books across their networks once they are available to buy online and this is hugely stimulating.  We should have the first edition available by the end of the summer, and look forward to it!
It’s been difficult to select winners, we’ve been amused, tugged, surprised by the works, we feel that our initiative nurtures the belief that everyone has a story.
It’s my intention to enter the competition again and I would encourage everyone else to join me. It’s only 80 words! Imagine how much fun you can have with an 80 word story!
Thank you to Helena for answering my questions with such enthusiasm.
Sometimes it takes a jolt, to help us see beyond the realms of our own worlds.

Title Revelations

Today’s Daily Prompt was: Measure which again is fortuitous. As I’m embarking on a new project in order to gauge and measure feedback on my writing. This is a new ambition, to create an entirely fiction ebook and publish it, setting it out into the world.

In my feverish excitement to start a new project, I’ve set myself some targets. The first will be realised today as I confirm the title of the project. Tadaaa! Then next month, I hope to reveal what will be the cover of the pending e-book. All things going to plan I should be able to confirm when the manuscript is complete, edited, reviewed and available. Eeek! Pressure is on! Especially as, although I’ve been very dutiful with my writing this week – I havn’t written as much for the new project as I intended to. I owe myself a word debt and I’d like to close that gap today. Wish me luck! I certainly have not spent the last hour flicking between youtube videos and then deciding to write this blog instead…
The schedule for this project was always going to be tight, am I’m sat here, writing now thinking oh my. Oh I really need to move those chapters along and get going if it’s going to come to fruition… I don’t want to write, or edit, or beta, and then edit in a panic. However, if my current lack of diligence continues, that’s where I’m going to be. Agh!
Right. I mean it. I’m going to write, I’m going to do it now. I’m going to start with 250 words and then I’m going to make myself a cup of tea. Then I’ll try another 250 and hopefully ease into what I owe the project. By the end of this weekend (thank goodness for long weekends!) I aim to be four chapters further into the text. That’s it. My newest goal – four chapters by the end of the weekend. I’ll let you know how that goes…
However, what I’m sure you’re all desperate and eager to know, is what I’m calling this project? I’m sure I’d like to know!
It’s called:

The Poisoned Well

Ooooooh, you say. Oooooooh!
The Poisoned Well will be approximately 50,000 words in length and perhaps a more commercial YA fantasy novella then I perhaps naturally write. It follows the journey of Lyris as she tries to complete her Quest and return home.
Here is an extract…
The twist of tunnels was endless and the first shout of alarm was raised. The echoed growl lifted the hairs on her arm and the back of her neck. Lyris couldn’t remember how far they’d dragged her through the dark or how long it had taken to wind through the abandoned mine. Were they lost, or did her rescuer know where he was going? Fright gnawed at her belly and made her legs tremble but she persisted. Scrabbling through the ceaseless pitch, tripping over uneven ground and arms stretched out; her fingers bruised along the craggy walls. When it seemed they’d been scrambling for hours, the air started to twist with sweetness and the suffocating damp began to fade.

When the air smell likes ice

Following on from my self-set challenge, here is the third in a series of seasonal flash-fiction. Again, I’m not going to tell what the season is, but I really hope that you can guess.

I love it when the air smells like ice. Dark green pine sways between barren branches and then mountains rise behind. Cars crunch salt, engines purring. It’s an experience, negotiating ice in six-inch heels; challenge accepted.  Coffee cup clutched tight to my chest. The bitter taste of rising steam is mellowed with double cream. Hat pulled low on burning ears and sunglasses paint the sky in gentler hues; lines of pink and gold across frozen blue. There’s another flurry on the horizon. Feet slip without warning. The ground is harder than it looks and less forgiving. Must buy boots.

Part One and Two can be found respectively.

Once part four is thrown up here then I’ll compile them together into a post. I’ll probably even tell you what seasons I was originally aiming for. Fingers-crossed that I’ve managed to avoid my natural inclination to the abstract. I have a tendency to think flash-fiction and then jump across to poetry. So you may have noticed some rhymes sneaking in.  The only problem is, that my abstract is often too abstract for most people to make any sense of it.  So what I’ve been learning is to write simply. Or rather…more simply. If I have an image in mind then just say what I see without trying (and usually failing) to be clever.

Looking Beyond

Today’s daily prompt was:  Blindly

It’s nudged me into a few different thoughts. Yes, it would perfectly fit into a ninty-nine word flash fiction for a certain season and I’ll see what I can do with that…

However, it’s made me think about the way that we edit. Blindly. Honestly you’re writing away and you do a few sweeps of editing and then you celebrate because the project is done!

A few weeks later, you look at the print out, or open up the file and there it is. A blatant error staring you in the face. A missing word, a missing letter… for me it evokes a visceral sense of fear. The – oh my goodness, if there’s one error there must thousands! (My mind races at this point) Maybe this is simply an entire manuscript of errors, there will never be an end to the editing, where do all the missing words go!?!

After some careful scrolling I tend to calm down, breath, and set myself a few targets.

What might be worse than the occasional missing word (because they’re easier to spot) are the sneaky phrases that just slip into the text.

I’ve written a previous post about editing here:

My current sneaky words however are as follows.

A little – this is a continuation of my earlier frustrations with this phrase. Why do I feel the need to modify every emotion, or image with ‘a little’. She was angry vs she was a little angry. She threw herself against the glass until it gave a little vs she threw herself against the glass – where do you come from ‘a little?!’ why are you in my work like a constant tiny plague of self-doubt! Commit to the image! Commit!

Though – like a little, this pesky devil is sneaking in. She was tired though. Why the though? Why can’t she just be tired? Again, I feel it’s a rebellion against the responsibility of writing, the sentences are self-moderated to have less impact.  Why?

Just – similar to the others…another sneaky word that just…

She – now this is an interesting word. It’s very useful. For projects with female protagonists the tag of, she is inevitable. However, I can’t help but feel I over use it, despite my attempts to change it up with other phrases such as, the young woman or the solider – depending on whose point of view I’m writing from.

So how do I find these pesky little slips?

I suppose the easy way to combat editing blindness is as described above (with less panic.) Give the project, novel, poetic collection time to breathe. Then return to it with fresher eyes and fresher mind. Find all the devious inflections and then do a ctrl-f to find them in all their triviality. Then work through them, see where they’re needed and where they add nothing but doubt- remove them.

Be ruthless.

 

Unexpected

I’ve set myself a challenge to create a series of flash-fiction. Just four pieces of 99 words each and representing the seasons. Here is the second piece, aptly named, number two. I’m really hoping that you can work out which season is which!

Seasonal Flash-Fiction: Two

Spires of bright fuchsia sway. Scattered bursts of buttercup, daisies and dandelions dance on the meadow. Waves of long grass whisper and break on the fence line. The thump and trundle of an antique tractor approaches, rumbling over hard-baked earth. The driver bounces from window to window over the dips and furrows of the ancient field. A blast of Heart FM twists across the boundary. Bare toes wriggle on the fresh-clipped lawn. Wide-eyes fixed on cracked blue paint. Pigtails and tiny fingers stick in fresh varnish. The metallic beast makes a slow spin, grumbling, puffing, ready for the next charge.

I’ve been finding these pieces harder than I expected! For only ninety-nine words they’re taking me far longer than it would take to write 500. When I start writing a new chapter I like to set a scene. With the seasonal flash-fiction I’m trying not to be overly direct and say ‘this is spring!’ etc and the idea of flash-fiction is maybe to do more than just my usual flowery openings that then develop into a story. The flash-fiction is a mini story in itself and I don’t really have the time, or the words, to provide an expansive introduction and explore a character.

So I start with a few opening lines and then as I struggle to piece those together I’m searching for the twist or just the question that the fiction can raise. So far, two down, two to go and I’m satisfied I’ve been able to full-fill my own criteria. I hope that you enjoy them.

The first piece can be found here:

Seasonal Flash-Fiction: One 

If anyone wants to join in the challenge, I’d love to read your pieces. Just 99 words of flash-fiction inspired by a season. Drop me a comment or e-mail me at fibijeeves@gmail.com.

Responding to the Daily Prompt Outlier. I hope that I’ve been able to challenge a few expectations in the fiction and provide something unexpected.

Denying Winter

I’ve had twenty years of winter and no it’s nothing to do with GOT, sorry! Twenty years is roughly how long I’ve been dreaming up Burning Embers, writing the universe, drawing the characters, scrapping it all and starting again, and again and then going into fine-tuning and comma placements – before scrapping all of that! It’s been a big project and definitely one of those that’s taken on a life of its own and one day, very soon, I’m going to share it with you.

In the meantime, Burning Embers is set on the cusp of deep winter. It’s a harsh, cold and unforgiving environment and I purposely studied in Canada for a year, so that I could really understand snow. Having been born and raised in Middle-England and the modernish equivalent of Hobbiton, fields, gentle hills, farmlands, small streams, traditional pubs, more fields, snow wasn’t something I experienced much of. Rain on the other hand, is a different story. I’ve grown up feeling like a rain expert and that’s probably something to do with the wide vocabulary that the British have developed to describe water falling from the sky, or sideways – because sometimes the rain is sideways.

Still, working on Burning Embers for such a pro-longed period of time, has meant that mentally, I’m in Narnia. It’s always winter and never Christmas. Descriptions are of frost-covered trees and the crunch of deep snow. So when I decided that I was going to start a new project, it perhaps isn’t a surprise that it’s set in summer. There will be blue skies and butterflies! There will be warm weather! It’s been refreshing to explore a new season and so I thought that I’d combine that thought with my current attempts at flash-fiction.

This has been a very long introduction for a short project, so I hope I’ve kept your attention so far. I want to try a series of flash fiction for the changing seasons.  I’ve given myself exactly 99 words for each. A different season is going to be posted up in the next four blog posts.

I hope that you’ll be able to work out which season is which, because I’m not going to label them, let me know in the comments!

So here they are, my escape from winter, followed by the inevitable return.

Seasonal Flash-Fiction – One

The sky is a tapestry of falling rain and threads of smoke. Leaves drift in slow spirals between heavy drops. Grey puddles spill off the path and into sodden grass, tramped with muddy boots and wellingtons. Water gurgles in the roadside drains and steals away with sycamore seeds. Conker shells burst, shining chestnut nestled between layers of bronze, amber and fading green. Interwoven clouds in faded lines and jagged blue tears. Pale sunlight peers through the cracks and paints the tarmac gold. The umbrella snaps to attention, stolen from a desperate grasp, whipped up, away, lost to the tapestry.

 

Tied into the Daily Prompt Denial