Writing Prompt Number 13

Quotation:

Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situationEdward R Murrow

Welcome to the Writing Gym. This is a prompt for you to play with. You can use the picture, the quotation, a combination or just whatever sparks in your imagination after looking at them. It can be prose, poetry or non-fiction depending on how you feel and which writing muscles you need to work on.

The rules are here, and if you feel like sharing, drop a comment on this post with a link to your writing on your blog, a website, Facebook, Tumblr, Threads or wherever you felt comfortable posting. If you don’t feel like sharing, that’s okay. The important thing is to have fun.

Happy Writing!

To Review or Not Review

One of my targets is to review books. This is purely to widen my reading and perhaps help out another author. I may in theory set it up so that I can put in affiliate links with Amazon, but the tiniest thought of working that out sends me cross-eyed so the chances of me making anything from that are slim. All this to say that I don’t really have an agenda.

But then I thought – what if I upset another author? I know how hard it is to write a book. I know the feeling of being completely exposed as you offer up something that has taken so much to create. I would never normally write something cruel, but I can’t guarantee that I’d always get it right. I’d hate to upset anyone. Besides, I could get a huge amount of retaliatory negative reviews on my books and it could sink me. I’ve heard of authors withdrawing all their books after malicious campaigns.

I thought about reviewing books in genres that I don’t write, but I’m not sure that it would work. I’ve written a little horror, so not only would that be out but I write scarier than I read so I would be giving myself nightmares. I’ve written steampunk and fantasy which may not be in print now but I’ll be getting back out soon, and I’ve danced around urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy. I’m not reviewing romance as I refuse to admit some of the stuff that I read, and even a lot of the mainstream stuff makes me blush. The sci-fi that I’ve briefly delved into is either depressing, only suitable for very mature adults or science heavy and I don’t do science.

As things stand, I want to widen my reading and I want to encourage authors so I’ll continue to erratically review, at least for now. I’m making a commitment though – I’m only writing about books where I can award five stars and in genres that I enjoy. And I’ll keep sending good writing vibes out to all those out there who are conquering their blank piece of paper.

A New Batch

You can find the story from the beginning here – Back at the White Hart

“Are you feeling okay?” Noah asked as Lady Freydis staggered into the kitchen and bounced off the kitchen table.

A tall, dark man followed, grimacing when he saw Noah. “You must be the new social media officer,” he said. “I’m Martin, and I’m the husband of Lady Freydis.” He turned to his wife. “How much have you had?”

“You like pink,” Lady Freydis told him. “And you are soooo sexy.”

Martin took a steadying breath. “What have I said about this?” He turned to Noah. “Could you make some coffee, please.”

Noah eyed the swaying Lady Freydis and nodded. “No problem.” He filled the kettle. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Noah, and I suppose I’m the ghost writer. Is she alright?”

Martin glared at Lady Freydis. “She is for now,” he said grimly.

“Not coffee!” Lady Freydis said. “Not that instant stuff. I need proper coffee, in a copper coffee pot.”

What?” Martin said.

Mrs Tuesday strolled in. “I thought I’d hidden it well enough,” she said. “I think she caught me making the new batch this morning.”

“What’s going on?” Noah asked.

Lady Freydis spun around and lay on the table, kicking her legs as her golden hair fell down, swinging wildly. “I’m not a teapot,” she told Martin.

“Give me the bottle,” Martin ordered.

“I make a liqueur of sorts,” Mrs Tuesday said to Noah. “It’s mainly apples with a few extra ingredients and it’s supposed to sit for a year. I make a new batch as soon as the last batch is ready. If Lady Freydis saw me making the new batch this morning, she may have gone looking for the stuff that’s finally ready.” She shook her head. “You may want to avoid drinking any yourself.”

“You can’t have my bottle,” Lady Freydis giggled. “I’m a prince.”

“You’re also a wife,” Martin said. “And you’re currently a disgrace. What would Lord Lothair think if he saw you now? And how about Lord Cerdig?”

Noah spooned generous amounts of instant coffee into a large mug. “A nice cup of coffee will make you feel better,” he said, more in hope than expectation. “And I’ll write a chapter about coffee being good for clearing the mind.”

“Mina is better at reading books,” Lady Freydis said. She pulled a bottle from her jacket and managed to sit up at the third attempt. “But she doesn’t know the internet thingy.”

“Reading books is good,” Noah said, pouring boiling water on the borderline illegal quantity of coffee granules.

“How have you managed to drink all that?!” Martin said staring at the dregs left in the bottle. “You must be mad!” He turned to Mrs Tuesday. “You need to call Dr Williamson. Noah, get that coffee over here now.”

Noah topped up the thick brew with enough cold water to make it drinkable and hurried over to the table where Martin was struggling with Lady Freydis.

“Give me the bottle!” Martin said, wrestling for what looked like a reused novelty gin bottle. “You’ve drunk over half!”

“I’ll mix up a mustard plaster,” Mrs Tuesday said.

“I haven’t had sex with Mina,” Lady Freydis said. “But I think that she should. But not with you either. She’s keeping a secret.”

“What sort of secret?” Martin finally prised the bottle away from his wife and handed it to Mrs Tuesday.

“It’s a special secret which you can’t know,” Lady Freydis said.

“Who’s Mina?” Noah asked.

“That’s a very good question,” Martin said as he turned back to his wife. “Who is Mina?”

The Librarian

This is a book that I own and I can’t bring myself to write over it like the magician that annotated the version belonging to Lady Freydis, so I added some decorative pieces that were close.

You can find the story from the beginning here – Back at the White Hart

“You’ve been decorating again,” Lady Freydis said. “It’s very soothing.”

“I felt like something calm,” Mina said, looking around the library. “I’m not sure about the candle, though.”

Lady Freydis raised an eyebrow. The library sprawled over four levels and had vast swathes of bookshelves filled with thousands of flammable books. “It’s not often that you see a candle in a library,” she said. “But it’s not near any books.”

Mina looked at the candle, carefully placed next to the window overlooking the garden and well away from the bookcases. “I just felt that it gave a good glow,” she said. “If I could rely on electricity, I could get one of those LED lights that flicker, but I don’t think that they feel the same.”

Lady Freydis shrugged. “You are in fairyland,” she said. “That’s why you can move the walls around and alter the time of day. I’ll enchant the candlestick so that nothing other than the candle will catch fire while it’s in Faerie.”

“Thank you,” Mina said. “I like a candle now and again. Oh, before I forget, I’ve found another part of the ritual.” She pulled out an elderly book and opened it at the entry regarding the velocity of elevators. “Here, the notes down the side add another part of the invocation.” She looked a little warily at Lady Freydis. “Will it be safe?”

Lady Freydis waved a hand, dismissing the thought. “How long have you been in Faerie?” she asked.

Mina thought for a moment. “I can’t remember,” she said, then turned back to the book. “I can’t read the writing here, but it looks like the rest of the script.”

“Time passes strangely here,” Lady Freydis said, ignoring the book. “Are you happy?”

Mina looked at her carefully. “Yes?” she said. “I mean, I am happy. I gossip with the brownies, I get good food, I’ve got a warm bed and all the books that I could ever read.”

“What about sex?” Lady Freydis asked.

Mina flushed scarlet. “Lots of women don’t have sex,” she said. “Like nuns. Or teachers.”

Lady Freydis’ eyes narrowed. “I think that you don’t know teachers as well as you thought you did,” she said. “What year was it when you came here?”

Mina thought for a moment. “It was my birthday,” she said. “14th September 1994 and I had just turned 14. You found me and brought me here and it was the best birthday present ever.”

Lady Freydis thought back to the skinny homeless girl she had brought in on impulse after rescuing her from an unpleasant situation. The girl had been fed, housed and clothed, and the brownies had taught her a semblance of manners, but Lady Freydis had an uncomfortable feeling that she should perhaps have done more. “What about your education?” she asked.

“I read all the time,” Mina said. “Are you wanting to get rid of me?”

Lady Freydis was famous for her hard heart but it cracked a little at the fear in Mina’s voice. “Not at all. After all, you are an excellent librarian. But I feel responsible for you. And you do not have the internet thingy.”

“I don’t need the internet,” Mina said. “And I promise that I’ll work harder.”

Lady Freydis waved a hand. “I shall find someone to teach you the internet thingy,” she said. “And I shall also make it possible for you to perhaps have willing sex, though not necessarily with the same person. And I will find a good way to reward you for finding all these references.” She nodded firmly. “I shall return soon.”

Mina watched Lady Freydis leave before gently placing the book on the main desk. She doubted that it would help with the turbulent times ahead.

Writing Prompt Number 12

Quotation:

Success is relative. It’s what we can make of the mess that we made of thingsT S Eliot

Welcome to the Writing Gym. This is a prompt for you to play with. You can use the picture, the quotation, a combination or just whatever sparks in your imagination after looking at them. It can be prose, poetry or non-fiction depending on how you feel and which writing muscles you need to work on.

The rules are here, and if you feel like sharing, drop a comment on this post with a link to your writing on your blog, a website, Facebook, Tumblr, Threads or wherever you felt comfortable posting. If you don’t feel like sharing, that’s okay. The important thing is to have fun.

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt Number 11

Quotation:

My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottleHenny Youngman

Welcome to the Writing Gym. This is a prompt for you to play with. You can use the picture, the quotation, a combination or just whatever sparks in your imagination after looking at them. It can be prose, poetry or non-fiction depending on how you feel and which writing muscles you need to work on.

The rules are here, and if you feel like sharing, drop a comment on this post with a link to your writing on your blog, a website, Facebook, Tumblr, Threads or wherever you felt comfortable posting. If you don’t feel like sharing, that’s okay. The important thing is to have fun.

Happy Writing!

Writing Stuff: Sorting Stuff

I’m writing this in the hope that my ramblings on this matter are useful to someone else out there who hasn’t got a clue where to start. I can’t tell you how to organise, but I can show you the reasonings I’m using and that may help someone reading this to get their work to a good place.

I am incredibly disorganised and I’m ashamed of this. I’ve been quite sharp in a business setting, and for a while I wasn’t bad at home. I’m not so good now. Over the last week, I’ve had to face some brutal truths about my (lack of) organisational skills and my issues.

Perhaps the main issue is that I can’t help myself. I have to reinvent the wheel. I have to create my own system. The internet is awash with courses and aides to organise your writing but I can’t seem to pick one. The trouble is, none of them quite fit me. Again, this is nothing to be proud of and intensely irritating, but I need at least a chance of keeping up with the organisation so I need to work out what I’m doing. I’m starting with this.

It’s a ring binder with dividers. I’m still working it out, and I can see myself with multiple ring binders, but it’s a start. Here’s the plan, but it’s a work in progress.

First of all, I aim to record all of the writing I have kicking around on the laptop, on blogs and in books. This may take some time, but I think it’s worth it. It will help me group stuff together and hopefully track plots and characters across multiple books and short stories. I plan to make a list divided up into year and month with the title and a quick note about the setting. I’ll also record where they’re stored on the computer so that I have a fighting chance of finding them again and I can organise the stuff on the computer at the same time.

The second step is to create a new email address and to email all the work to that address. That way everything will be in two places – the sent folder of one email and the received folder in another. It can go in step with the recording of writing and I can note the date that the email was sent.

There is a third step, because I need to have something like a concordance of characters. I don’t want a character having blue eyes in one story then brown eyes later. I like to refer back to keep consistency about how characters, for example, drink their tea and coffee. Lord Marius has been indulging in hot drinks for over a decade, so I need to keep an eye on things. All main characters will have a full page with all their characteristics and a note of in which books and stories they appear. I can make a list of minor characters per book and cross reference if a character grows enough to need its own page.

I also need to have a list of ideas for books. Apart from the urban fantasy that I’ve self published, there are the steampunk and fantasy books that are currently out of print (working on that) which all have ideas that could run for a few more stories. Then they’re the stories where I have ideas, and have sketched some stuff out, but aren’t out there. They include, but are not limited to, fantasy romance, cosy werewolf bookshops and some very intense vampires with an accountant. As I am easily distracted, having a page where I have these ideas will hopefully keep me more focused.

Writing things down with a pen onto paper helps me organise my thoughts so much better, so I’ll be keeping things on paper, in a folder, hopefully, fingers crossed, with a following wind and a little bit of luck.

If this works and grows, I’ll post more. This isn’t me telling you what to do. This is me sharing my imperfect journey. I’d love it if you could add your experiences and advice, or just tell me what you think. I’m always willing to learn.

Writing Prompt Number 10

Quotation:

You become responsible forever for what you have tamedAntoine de Saint-Exupery

Welcome to the Writing Gym. This is a prompt for you to play with. You can use the picture, the quotation, a combination or just whatever sparks in your imagination after looking at them. It can be prose, poetry or non-fiction depending on how you feel and which writing muscles you need to work on.

The rules are here, and if you feel like sharing, drop a comment on this post with a link to your writing on your blog, a website, Facebook, Tumblr, Threads or wherever you felt comfortable posting. If you don’t feel like sharing, that’s okay. The important thing is to have fun.

Happy Writing!

Invitation Accepted Chapter Twenty Nine

“It’s been a week,” Sir Philip said. “That’s seven full days since we got rid of Edragor.”

Gareth nodded, almost too exhausted to speak. “There’s no sign of either Kidder or the Orache Stone,” he said. “Which could be good news.”

“Tyler is about to have a nervous breakdown waiting for the challenge,” Sir Philip said. He looked up as Mortimer called out that dinner was ready. “We’re going to have to abandon the search, or at least scale it down. We can’t carry on like this.”

Gareth followed slowly into the kitchen. “Darren is on the point of collapse,” he said. He sat slowly at the table. “This looks good, Mortimer. Thank you.” He worked his shoulders. “And I’m back in the office from Monday. Everything’s back in place now.”

Sir Philip raised a sceptical eye. “Everything?”

“Okay, it’s still like a battlefield, the weavers are learning the new looms, which still glitch now and again, and the canteen is just microwaves and kettles, but the office is set up and Carli has a dozen new designs she’s working on.” Gareth took a spoonful of the soup and sighed. “This is amazing.”

“We’re trying to convince Darren to stand down for a whole week,” Sir Philip said, digging into his own bowl of soup. “They’re sending someone from Canterbury to cover.” He took a mouthful of soup and looked hard at Gareth. “You’re the one who makes the call on this.”

Gareth sighed. “I’m worried that I’m selfish,” he said. “I’m weary to the bone. I want to spend some time with Carli.” He stirred his soup slowly. “And Luke is setting me up for a role as assistant manager. Work is going to be crazy.”

“Luke thinks that Gareth is going to marry Carli and he can leave the mill to the two of them,” Bron said. “He thinks that they make a cute couple and they’ll look after the mill.”

“He’s not wrong,” Sir Philip said, grinning.

“I think that they make a charming couple,” Mortimer said as he brought over two mugs of tea.

“Are you joining us?” Sir Philip asked.

Mortimer shook his head. “I ate earlier,” he said. “And I’m not as active as you.”

“I think we have to call it,” Bron said. “We have to call off the search for now. We’ll keep an ear out, but we can’t keep chasing our tails like this.” He shrugged. “Brutally, if the Orache Stone has got its talons into Kidder, he’s lost to us already. And the longer he is bonded with the stone, the weaker he’ll get. If we keep our eyes and ears open for the sort of trouble that the transfer of power would cause.”

Sir Philip nodded sadly. “It’s war, Gareth, and we lose people,” he said, his brown eyes sympathetic. “I guess that you’re new to this.”

“You’ve come a long way, lad,” Bron said. “This is just another painful step.”

Gareth looked, unseeing, past the kitchen walls as Mortimer replaced the empty soup bowl with a heaped plate of sausage and mash. “I didn’t realise that I’d face this,” he said quietly. “I was just trying for a better job.” He managed a faint smile of thanks to Mortimer as he poured a generous lake of gravy over his dinner. “But I got the job and I got this.” He took a breath. “And I don’t regret a damned thing. It’s not easy…” He picked up his fork. “We call off the search. I’ll call Tyler after dinner.”

“He’ll have a fit,” Bron said. “But he can just deal with it. And it’s not like we don’t have enough to do.”

“That’s absolutely right,” Sir Philip said. “And it’s why Darren has been run so ragged. The echoes of death and magic are still bouncing around and causing trouble. We won’t exactly get bored.”

“We’ll call it,” Gareth said. “And watch our backs.”

******

Kidder licked his lips nervously as he walked slowly towards the solicitors.

“I could have got more money for you,” Yvonne said. “We could have taken over the pack.”

Kidder projected an image of Fang after he got the Orache Stone and piles of awkward paperwork. Yvonne understood images better. “A small lottery win as seed money works best,” he said. “We don’t want to have our pictures shared for publicity. We need to lay low for a bit.”

Yvonne responded with an image of Kidder, relaxed and happy, hanging around with Gareth, Sir Philip and Mortimer. “Just a little more comfortable,” it said.

“We’ll do this right,” Kidder said. He sighed mentally and smiled at Yvonne. “Sometimes I wish that I could give you a hug and let you know that it’s okay,” he said. “Take a moment.” He looked around at the crisp, autumn day with the bright, thin sunshine streaking across the pavement. “This is a good day.”

Yvonne responded with an image of the solicitor. Kidder always thought of lawyers as male and old. Caitlyn wasn’t much older than him and she was beautiful. She was also professional, icily competent and, according to the ring on her left hand, married. “You need to make a friend family,” it said.

“One step at a time,” Kidder said. He was on his way to sign the papers for his first property. Okay, he was living in a room as a lodger, but once he’d signed the papers he would be a landlord, owning a shabby, low cost flat on the edge of Shipley with a sitting tenant. With his under the table job working on a building site, he could start building up a bank balance and a life. “I’m not going to pursue friends,” he told Yvonne. “I’m going to see who I meet and look for good people. I want to find friends worth having.”

“Like Gareth and Bron?” Yvonne said.

“Yeah, like them,” Kidder said.

“You don’t think that you’ll find anyone as good as them,” Yvonne observed.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kidder said. “All I can do now is find my feet and work things out.” He paused. “And at least I have you.”

“You will always have me,” Yvonne said.

To be continued…

Watch out for Kidder’s return in Spellburned. Meanwhile, look out for the Prince and the Paladin, set in Leeds and following on from these events.

And you can read the whole story from the beginning here

The Deal

“Lord Cerdig got the delivery,” Ferdi said. “He’s thrilled. And you managed to get some of that edible gold dust included.” He shook his head and then looked around cautiously. The cheap café was crowded and Noah and Ferdi were safely ignored but Ferdi was rigid with tension. “The thing is, Noah, me old mate, I don’t suppose you could get those shiny sugar pearls in pink?”

“Lady Freydis tracks pink things,” Noah lied. “Kadogan is obsessed with candles and Lady Freydis is all about coffee and pink. I don’t think that I can sneak that stuff out.”

“Lord Cerdig would be very generous,” Ferdi said.

“I’m still waiting for the book,” Noah said.

Once again Ferdi looked around furtively before sliding a packaged wrapped in a plain brown cover. “Lord Cerdig isn’t going to rat on a deal.”

Noah mentally rolled his eyes. This ugly little guy in front of him had watched far too many bad movies. He pulled out Beeton’s All About Gardening and started leafing through. He carefully didn’t stop on page 115 where the notes on Espalier Roses were covered by a strange script but stopped at page 129 and the entry for Fleming’s Machine. I should have been a spy he thought. “This is the copy,” he said. “We’re good.”

“What do you need it for?” Ferdi asked. “And get it out of sight. We could be being watched.”

Noah slipped it into his jacket pocket. “I need it for private research,” he said loftily urgently.

Ferdi frowned at him. “Why are you doing this?” he asked.

Noah felt a twinge of apprehension. “What do you mean? Like I said, I want the book for research.”

“No, this White Hart promotion stuff,” Ferdi said. “I did some research. Your early stuff really rocked before you hooked up with Bethany. You were building followers like crazy. You could drown her out. I saw the ‘mutual parting’ posts that she put up but it didn’t fool me. She lost her meal ticket and she’s steaming. People are starting to comment on the lack of decent content. You did that. Why are you slumming it with Lady Freydis?”

 Because I wasn’t sure that I could even do a basic promotion and content job, Noah thought. Because I thought I was helplessly underqualified for making Instagram posts. I’d forgotten that I’d done it by myself in the past. “There are resources in York that aren’t easily available elsewhere,” he said loftily. “Research can be… tricky. And access to Lady Freydis makes some things easier.”

“If you’re hoping to get into the Rose Library, I’d give up now,” Ferdi said. “No-one gets in there.

Noah shrugged. He had no idea what the Rose Library was, but he wasn’t going to admit that. “And I got access to this book because of my position,” he added.

Ferdi leaned forward. “Listen, anything you can get for Lord Cerdig, any gossip, any early access to news and even any pink shiny cake decorations, get in touch,” he said urgently. “We can make a lot of money out of this. I can get stuff to Lord Cerdig without anyone in the White Hart suspecting a thing, and he’ll pay. He’s obsessed with Lady Freydis.”

“I’ll think about it,” Noah said, carefully not to look eager.

Ferdi checked his phone and winced. “Fiona needs me to meet up with Lady Freydis and I think it’s going to be a little harsh.” He straightened his jacket. “But I can always smooth talk the ladies.” He stood. “But don’t forget what I told you and stay in touch,” he said.

Noah watched Ferdi leave and then looked down at the book. Maybe he should go back to his dormant accounts and see where he could go with them. He’d talk to Lady Freydis and Kadogan about borrowing equipment and keep it all above board and honest. And what the hell was the Rose Library.

You can read this part of the story from the beginning here.