Writing Prompt Number 17

Quotation:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’Ronald Reagan

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!

Books and Candles

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

“Are you sure about the candles?” Noah asked.

Mina nods. “The library is enchanted against most fires. A candle isn’t a problem.”

“Of course it’s enchanted,” Noah grumbled. “It’s in fairyland.”

“It’s in Lady Freydis’ domain,” Mina said primly. “You’re taking the whole fairy thing very well.”

Noah grunted and peered at the shelves. “Why are the bookshelves so dark?”

“To make a nice contrast between the dark of ignorance and the light of knowledge in the books,” Mina said. “To be fair, it wasn’t all Lady Freydis’ idea. I’ve redecorated a few times, but she likes to keep the books in a dim light.”

“I’ll wear one of those headlamps next time,” Noah said. “Is there a system? I’m supposed to be finding books on candles.”

“I’ve tried to keep a system,” Mina said. “However this library is used by elfen. Werewolves are pretty good at putting things back where they found them and so are vampires and even boggarts, but elfen seemed to see an organised library as a challenge.” She led Noah over to the shelves and ran a knowledgeable finger along the spines. “You want a book on candles to distract Kadogan, right?”

Noah glanced at her. “I was ordered to come here and get a book on candles to help me write a book.”

“Because Kadogan has a thing about candles,” Mina said. “And he’s just split up with his girlfriend, so he’s looking for a distraction.”

“I didn’t realise that he had a girlfriend,” Noah said. “What was she like?”

“I didn’t really see her,” Mina said. She glanced over at him. “I don’t really leave the library much, but I met her a few times. She seemed nice, but she was far too calm with Kadogan.”

“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” Noah said.

“The best elfen relationships usually involved furniture being thrown,” Mina said. “Lady Freydis had that with her first husband, but it got complicated. It’s different with vampires.”

“And Martin is a vampire,” Noah said. “They seem really happy together.”

“They absolutely are,” Mina said.

“Are you a…” Noah trailed off.

“It’s very rude to ask,” Mina said. “As it happens, I’m a normal, just like you.”

“But you said you didn’t leave the library much,” Noah said.

Mina shrugged. “I came here when I was quite young,” she said. “And I’m comfortable here.” She turned. “Here you are. The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday. It was first published in 1861. I’m sure that it’s the sort of thing that Kadogan expects you to read.”

“I hope that he’s not expecting a lot of readers for this book,” Noah said uneasily.

“Probably not,” Mina said. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow? I’ll dig out the old household books on candle making and anything I can find on coffee for you.” She smiled with an unexpected glimpse of mischief. “And I think I have a lead on one of the books that Lady Freydis wants. I’ll double check it, but it may need another trip to Ferdi.”

Noah grimaced. “He’s a slimeball,” he said. “What are those books about anyway?”

“Lady Freydis is researching a spell, that’s all I can say,” Mina said. “It was considered powerful enough or problematic enough for the creator to spread the ideas and notes over several books. They originally were all in one library but they got scattered. Tracing them is a little tricky, especially as they were a random lot.”

Mina shrugged. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll have more for you then.”

Noah looked at the young woman thoughtfully. “I’m sure you will,” he said.

Writing Prompt Number 16

Quotation:

Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death but to inspire yourself to life

Adele Brookman

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 15

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!

Sorting Out Characters

I’m finally catching up with the writing prompts. I don’t cheat – I don’t try and fit prompts that work for my story and I don’t check upcoming prompts to make things easier. Instead I’m allowing Back to the White Hart to wander its winding way through the random prompts and watching with interest to see where it ends up. I’m very much enjoying the chaos that is inevitably attached to that particular story arc.

I’ve written quite a lot around the White Hart. There’s around 200,000 words contained in the three books on Amazon and I’ve written quite a few extra stories which you can find under After the White Hart. The stories go back at least a decade, as well, so trying to remember all the little details that keep it real for me is a trial. This is even worse when I factor in the issues I have finding stuff on my computer, you know, like I said in a previous post and that I was certain that I was going to sort out. I’m sharing this as it may be a comfort to other writers, or even a little useful. Besides, it makes be at least slightly accountable.

To be fair, I’ve been slowly chipping away at chaos. It doesn’t help that everything that I save to my laptop is also saved to the cloud, but not everything that I save to the cloud is saved to my laptop. I have spent far too long trying to find a relatively recent copy of Tales from the White Hart and far too much bad language. I was trying to remember what Martin’s name was before he changed it to Martin (Aelfhelm, for the record) when I was writing Qualified Success and I couldn’t think of it. So today I started a character record by dragging out a project notebook that I had planned to use as a price book.

It’s a fault in my character, but I have to work things out for myself. The starting plan goes like this. I’m using a separate section for each collection of stories. In each section, I’ll have an index (which meant I had to number all the pages, except that I only numbered the odd pages because I could work out which page came, for example, between 7 and 9), and then I can check the index for a character.

I’ve made a key for the characters, together with highlighters. I’m not sure how that will work, but it’s a start and I put it at the start of the section. I’m working on the theory that I’ll end up changing it to make it more convenient, but it will do for now.

Yes, my writing is that bad

Then I’ll go through the various books I’ve written, make notes of the characters and include things like ‘how do they like their coffee?’ and ‘previous lovers/friends/enemies/pets’ and, in the case of the elfen, ‘previous and current obsessions’.

It’s going to be scrappy, messy and I’ll be adding bits as I go along. I’ve tried creating characters from a template and they just snigger at me and do what they darn well please. So when I’m writing and I add a quirk or a detail, I’ll note it in the book. When I’m looking up whether a character prefers red or blue, I’ll note in the book as soon as I find it. I may use the book as I’m writing new stuff but I wouldn’t put money on it. I’m not that organised.

And I’m limiting my work to five minutes a day because I have a lot of other stuff that I want to write and that’s about my attention span at the moment. Here’s hoping that it’ll help my writing.

Unrequited Love

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

“A little bit to the right,” Noah said as Callum posed with a tray of coffee cups. “That’s perfect, thank you.” He quickly took the pictures then relaxed. “We’re done.”

Callum’s shoulders sagged. “That was harder work than I thought it would be,” he said, putting down the tray and jogging towards the back room. “I’ve got to go – the delivery will be here any minute.” He disappeared through the back room on the way to the warehouse.

“So now you know that the warehouse man is a werewolf,” Martin said.

Noah jumped. “I didn’t hear you,” he said, not quite meeting Martin’s eyes. “I felt a bit bad making him stand for the shot. It’s hard holding a position, but Callum was very patient.”

“Possibly more patient than your ex-girlfriend,” Martin said. “And you also know that I’m a vampire.”

“Yep,” Noah said. He slipped his camera into its case and pulled up the tripod. “Mrs Tuesday explained everything.” He forced a smile. “It’s okay.”

“I promise you that I won’t feed on you,” Martin said. “I’m not some ravening beast.”

Noah shrugged. “I’m adjusting,” he said. “But it’s…” He looked Martin in the eye. “You know something, it’s fun. It’s crazy. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and if it’ll be dangerous or even make sense. But it’s an adventure.”

Martin grinned. “You’ll be alright. And it’s not likely to be dangerous, apart from to your mental health. After all, you work with Mrs Tuesday.” He glanced over at the old boggart who was busy switching on the grills. “We’re almost ready to open up.”

“And I’ve got all I need to push the coffee evening that’s set up for tonight,” Noah said. “There’s been a lot of hits on the posts so it should be good.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Martin said. There was a banging on the door. “I’m sorry, we’re not yet open,” he called.

There was a pop and the door flew open. “Martin!” Miss Marianne cried as she ran into the shop. “How could you do this?” She brandished a rather tired bunch of pink roses.

“What?” Martin said.

Noah took a step back and looked across at Mrs Tuesday. She urgently beckoned him over and he took it as a sign to pick up his equipment and get out of the blast zone.

“I remember when you were Aelfhelm,” she said. “You always smiled at me, you always knew my name.”

Noah caught Martin’s helpless glance. “Miss Marianne was surprised to hear about your marriage,” he said, carefully stressing the name.

“You are a charming lady,” Martin said carefully. “But I never meant to mislead. My sincere apologies, but I am a married man.”

“He’s mine!” Lady Freydis snapped as she followed Miss Marianne through the door. “Go and find yourself a werewolf.”

Miss Marianne whirled around, flinging the hapless roses to one side. “Tramp! You’re whoring around on my love just as you did with poor, poor Ragnar. You’ve enchanted him!”

“Lady Freydis glared at Miss Marianne. “I’ve been faithful to Martin since Ragnar died, how dare you suggest otherwise! And at least I’ve never pined over someone who couldn’t remember my name. If I’ve stayed faithful, at least it’s with someone who shared my bed – and not just for sleeping if you know what I mean!”

“Martin, you can’t love this!” Miss Marianne called.

Martin backed away and bumped into the display of herbs. “I took an oath to be loyal to Lady Freydis of my own free will,” he said. “I didn’t think you’d notice.”

Mrs Tuesday leaned against the counter and narrowed her eyes. “We’ve got fifteen minutes before we’re due to open to the public and a coach tour with sixty passengers due in an hour,” she said to Noah. She looked around the crowded shop with all the breakable ornaments and overstuffed shelves. “We may have a problem.”

“How could I not notice my beloved?” Miss Marianne bellowed. “My twin flame!”

“Of course you believe that stuff,” Lady Freydis spat. “You didn’t even notice when he awoke. Get out of my shop.”

Noah slid his camera onto the safety of a shelf and, with all his courage, walked towards the two women. “Ladies,” he said. “I know that feelings are running high, but no well mannered and gentle lady would want to have this sort of discussion in a shop of all places. Especially as customers could be in here at any minute and they could be anybody.”

Lady Freydis looked at him sceptically but Miss Marianne bought into it. “I will not be a spectacle for tradesmen,” she said. “Martin, follow me!” She stalked out of the White Hart.

“Martin is not following you anywhere,” Lady Freydis snarled, following her out.

“I’d better switch on the coffee machine myself,” Mrs Tuesday said. “It looks like Lady Freydis is going to be a bit occupied.”

“I don’t remember even seeing that woman before,” Martin said, looking shocked.

“It’s elfen,” Mrs Tuesday said. “You know what they’re like. Which is the one that’s in love with the scrapyard again?” She grinned at the man who had just walked in. “That’s Jack,” she told Noah. “Don’t trust him an inch but enjoy the ride.”

“Why is Lady Freydis brawling in the car park?” Jack asked as he wandered towards the café area.

“Hell’s Teeth!” Martin said and sprinted out of the door.

“May I trouble you for a ginger tea?” Jack asked. “And perhaps one of your incomparable muffins? And please, if you love me, what the hell is going on?”

Qualified Success

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

Noah got out of the car and looked up and down the quiet street. “What’s the big deal?” he asked. “I’m just here to pick up a book.”

Ian didn’t meet his eyes. “I’m not going to interfere with the way Lady Freydis does things,” he said. “And I’m not going to talk about what I think she should have done, because I’d be here all day. I’m just here to keep an eye on things.” He glared at the pristine front door in the well kept street. “You may see some weird stuff,” he said. “Keep an open mind.”

“How weird?” Noah asked. “I work with Mrs Tuesday.

Ian snorted with laughter. “Fair point,” he said. “But it could get weird and it’s not necessarily safe.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what Lady Freydis is up to, and I really dread to think what she might be plotting. Just trust me and I’ll get us out of there if things go south.”

Noah rapped on the door. “I’m just picking up a book,” he said. “What could possibly go wrong with that?”

Ian looked at him. “You’ve met Mrs Tuesday,” he said. “How do you think she’d be if she wanted to be awkward? I mean, more awkward than usual.”

Noah shivered and knocked again. “That’s worrying.”

A tall, pale figure answered the door. “You must be from Lady Freydis,” she said. “Come in.”

Noah followed with Ian close behind. “Thank you for seeing us, Miss Marianne,” he said. “Lady Freydis confirmed that you had the payment.”

“I have indeed received payment,” Miss Marianne said. “It arrived this morning.” She led them into a living room that was overflowing. “It is always gratifying to find someone willing to pay in yarn.”

Noah looked around. Every surface was covered with miscellaneous balls of knitting yarn. “It looks very colourful,” he said.

“It is a fair trade for a book,” she said. “And it’s the least I can do for poor, poor Lady Freydis, left a widow.” Miss Marianne picked up a book. “She must be so lonely.”

“She was widowed?” Noah asked, looking at Ian. “I didn’t realise. Still, at least she’s happy now with Martin.”

Miss Marianne stiffened. “Martin?” she asked, dangerously quiet. “The Roman Martin?” She carefully placed the book on the table.

“Yes, they were married a few summers ago,” Ian said. “I thought that you knew.”

“How dare she!” Miss Marianne snapped. “How DARE she!” She paced up and down amongst the yarn. “Martin is mine! He has always been mine! That trollop has always been a nasty, dirty…”

“Don’t talk about my prince like that,” Ian warned.

“I’ve been waiting for Martin to reawaken for centuries,” Miss Marianne snapped. “That slut never appreciated Ragnar and whored around with any leech that would have her.”

“I said don’t talk about Lady Freydis like that,” Ian growled.

Noah, his eyes wide, quietly picked up the book and slipped it inside his jacket. “I’m sure that you’ll find someone special just for you,” he said, the platitude slipping out before he could stop it.

Miss Marianne threw back her head and howled. Yarn lifted into the air and started spinning through the room. “Martin should be mine. He is mine. You wait! She’ll regret the day she stole my man.”

Ian snarled at her. “Does Martin know that he’s supposed to be yours?” he snapped. “Because it was Martin chasing Lady Freya. She could have had her pick of non-normals – from inside York and anywhere. Martin won. He wanted her and no-one else.”

“Not helping, man,” Noah muttered, trying to duck the flying yarn. A magazine from the table was joining them with a sheaf of papers. He edged towards the door.

“Martin must have been enspelled,” Miss Marianne yelled. “I’ll rescue him.”

“You can’t rescue him from his own desires,” Ian yelled. “And who would want you when they could have Lady Freydis? You’re a pale shadow!”

“Really not helping, man,” Noah tugged on Ian’s arm as he retreated further. He managed to force a smile at Miss Marianne. “It was lovely meeting you, ma’am.”

“Get out!” Miss Marianne screeched. “And tell that cheating whore that I’ll be rescuing Martin from her dusty fingers before she can blink her crusty eye.”

“What did you say?” Ian growled.

“I look forward to meeting you again, Miss Marianne,” Noah said, opening the door behind him and ducking a hail of yarn as he tugged Ian out with him. “Bye!”

Back in the car, Noah sat and tried to work out what had happened. He turned to Ian. “Is there something that you’re not telling me?”

Ian winced. “Lady Freydis is never in a hurry to explain things, but she’s an elfen, I suppose you could call her a fairy. She’s powerful, ancient and complicated. She’s in charge of all the non-normals in York.”

“Non-normals?” Noah asked.

“You know, vampires, werewolves, boggarts, brownies, goblins – that sort of thing,” Ian said uncomfortably. “I’ll get Mrs Tuesday to explain it to you.” He rested his hands on the steering wheel and grimaced. “But we didn’t get the book.”

Noah pulled Modern Machines and Power Generators by Rankin Kennedy, 1904 edtition, from his jacket and checked the page for Vortex engines. The now familiar script curled around the margins of the page. “We got the book,” he said. “But perhaps we need to warn Lady Freydis.”

“I think it’s Martin we need to warn,” Ian said, getting out his phone. He looked back at the green door that was slowly turning black. He hit dial and passed the phone to Noah. “You talk, I’ll get us the hell out of here.”

Writing Prompt Number 14

Quotation:

You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in – Arlo Guthrie

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!