Don’t see me

He peered through the window that was greyed with dust. His fingers gnarled on the frame, nails catching in the curls of leftover paint. It had been blue once, the colour of a crisp autumn sky. Blue windows and shutters as eyes on a crisp pale house. That had been long before last winter or even the winter before. The shutters had peeled back, copper hinges warped and bent. The heavy wooden panels beat against the painted walls, and the fragile glass shivered.

His nose pressed against the cool glass, smudged the surface. He would not breathe. The fine hairs tickled his face, because the dust moved. It smelt like damp coal; dark, earthy and trapped inside for far too long. No one came here anymore. Except him. Except her. Eyes lashes flickered and he blinked fast.

She visited the house every year, with the turning of the seasons. A tall woman with broad shoulders and inky hair. She wasn’t like the other women he saw in the marketplace, or moving through the town. Bold women who were loud, or joyous or sad or angry. Women who wore their hearts on their sleeves, or hid them. There were women who hid in shadows and cringed away from passers by. There were girls with long hair flowing down their backs as they skipped and taunted their classmates. There were older women, hands curled with aged and features haunted by wisdom. There was no like her though. The woman with hair cut with razor precision to her chin. She was bundled up in furs and kept her hands hidden beneath her long coat. Her dark eyes were narrowed as she came and stared, and studied.

His legs, bent beneath him, started to cramp. He was older now, and it wasn’t comfortable to bend beneath the window to watch. Every year he wondered, if he should come back and every year he decided no. Then the season would change and he would find himself, slipping through the shadows towards the broken house. He’d break the old lock on the back door and set the rusted chain to one side. He’d crawl along the dirty floor and he would wait, perched like a crow beneath the frame. He always worried that she wouldn’t come, the woman. Yet, he always hoped that she would.

The muscle in his calf caught fire, tight and seizing, flickering. He pushed back from the window, mouth clamped shut. He would not shout out, he could not! He wrapped his hands around his leg and pounded the muscle. The shutters banged against the pane. Eyes lifted skyward he stifled a groan and the pain began to ease. Slowly the burning ceased, as though a brand was removed from his skin.

Had he made a noise, or had she seen the movement behind the darkened pane? Ilyad looked up, tears streaking tracks down dark cheeks. The woman. She stood at the window she was staring at him.

This was a response to today’s daily prompt of: Interest

The prompt caught my imagination and I hope that you enjoy! Did I manage to hold your attention till the end? Let me know what you think!

Happy Writing,

Fibi xx

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News Update

Even more exciting news!

First off, another piece of flash-fiction is going to be immortalized in an anthology with proceeds going to charity; hooray! I submitted to Christopher Fieldens’ Sensory Writing Challenge and I’m excited to see another snippet of writing in print.

Following previous publications of the same type, this anthology should be available for purchase on Amazon during pre-release – super exciting! I’ll be sharing the details once they’re available, so keep an eye out.

Secondly, the target for pre-sales for the Third-Word anthology has also been reached. This was due to be in print before Christmas, and I’m excited to get my hands on the teeny-tiny book that is being created. I think it will make a lovely present and suspect I might end up buying a few more copies…

Finally, as promised work is going ahead with Burning Embers. It’s been officially sent to a professional Editor this afternoon and I’m feeling a bit giddy. The manuscript should be returned to me by the end of October and then…then it’s simply a matter of publishing! Eeeeek!

In the meantime, before I burst with excitement I can at least promise to share the cover with you in the next few weeks. Yes, the picture featured might be a bit of a teaser…Also, as I’m no longer following a traditional publishing route with Burning Embers, I can share some of the writing with you. I hope that you enjoy. Leave me a comment!

Extract from Burning Embers #BE – Due November 2017

In the heartbroken depths of night, exhaustion overcame her tears and Feia slept. It was a fitful restless sleep on cold hard ground and she woke when the first rays of light touched her. The world was replete with layers of autumnal colour. She lay on leaves of copper, geranium, magenta, burgundy and cerise. The leaves still attached to the tree were in the middle of transformation.

With arthritic movements she sat up. She pulled off the leaves that had fallen on her during the night. Her eyes and throat itched, her clothes were damp through and she was chilled to the core. She could smell the forest pine mingled with the waxier scent of the tree she’d sheltered under. Poking through the pile of cast off foliage were stalks of lush grass and a plant with purple and maroon berries that twined around the base of all the trees she could see, linking them. Feia pulled her cloak round to inspect it, realising that she’d lain on the vine. She found berry stains mottling the grey cloth like a bruise and she felt a rueful smile pulling at her mouth. Perhaps it was an improvement. She’d never liked the colour grey anyway.

She could hear the river in the distance and the trees rustling above, shaking final drops of rain from their branches. Gradually, she became aware of another sound. Crackling and spitting then a louder pop. Why had she not smelt smoke? She sniffed the air, purposefully, drawing it in, but the forest scent kept its secrets. Dread wrapped around her like a cloak. She wasn’t alone. Please do not be a man. Please don’t be Bill. She sent her silent plea to the Spirits. However, Feia suspected that if they had ever been listening they weren’t any longer. She was no longer a child.

Happy Writing,

Fibi xxx

Exciting News!

I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet again, I have been writing – honest! The Poisoned Well is so nearly ready, I can almost taste it! So close… *mutters and carries on typing and editing like a fiend*

However, earlier in the year I was so excited to win a prize for a piece of Flash Fiction! A Prize for Everyone has been selected for a small anthology and is going into print – sqeeeeee!!!

The anthology is available for pre-order until the 21st of August – ONLY. If you would like a copy of wonderful short fiction, with proceeds going to a good cause then please do follow through to Third-Word and make sure you place an order.

A House of Music & Other Stories is available to pre-order online from our website, for a month only, until 21st August!

A collection of eighty-word works from published, aspiring and casual writers from around the world, including the award-winning authors Joan Byrne, Sam Palmer, K S Dearsley and Hannah Froggatt.

This anthology showcases sparks of imagination from the fantastical to the obscure, celebrating the spice of flash fiction.

Sold in support of the homeless, each copy sold online subsidises the printing of 3 copies for the homeless (or homeless organisations) to sell.

There seems to be a veritable list of authors included in the anthology, and I am so proud to be included among them.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Fibi xx

 

The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass

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.