Katy van Cuylenburg: Response to the Writing Prompt!

This is the response from Katy van Cuylenburg to this week’s prompts, which is also in the comments.

Oh wow, that sunrise is…is. I always enjoy a sunrise.It’s so beautiful. Now I have to deal with my sister. I don’t want to do this ever. She killed somebody. She just went out there and killed somebody…a guy. Sliced him to death. She said it was self defense. I believe her. I believe she was left to her own defenses…and her own weapons.

So I’m pulling up in front of the cottage to see her. We have always enjoyed being by the ocean. The rhythm of the tide and waves has always been our zen.

Dinner is on! The bbq is working. Loving this beach house. Okay Sis, tell me…
What gotcha there…How hard did he hurt you? Glad she didn’t go to jail.

This is a great space. Fine house. Beach, tide, sand. I’m happy being here. Glad to have this space. How wonderful she puts on the music.

And then the uniformed contingent arrived. Okay. I can listen. It’s time for alternative situations. Good grief, my sister has always been convinced quicker than me.

I say No! Nee! Nien! Nyet! She yells at me. I don’t care. I feel the need to be me.

I do not run. I do not hide. I leave. I

I love the madness of this!

Madhouse

Photo by Christopher Harris on Unsplash 

I paused outside my home. It all looked as it should, with a neat step and a bicycle propped outside. I made a mental note to get the ivy trimmed back. The last thing I needed was to look like a haunted house. I picked up the parcel and opened the door. “Hi, I’m home. Jacob, the new polish you wanted has come.”

The sofa cantered up to me. “Darlene, you have to do something! Melinda thinks she has woodworm.”

The hall was wide and spacious, but it was still a squeeze for Cassie to get in. I grabbed the vase on the shelf before it toppled over. “Do you think it’s serious?”

Cassie jiggled awkwardly. “I know that Melinda is very upset.”

“I’ll go and have a look.” I said. “Perhaps I can calm her down.” I waited patiently as Cassie manoeuvred forwards and backwards to get the angle to get back into the drawing room. She wasn’t a very large sofa, just big enough for two, but it was still a squeeze to get through the door. The portrait of my grandmother sniffed.

“That dresser is always making a fuss about nothing. I mean, even if it was woodworm, it isn’t the death sentence it used to be.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.” I watched Cassie wiggling and reversing yet again.

“I know, but I will tell you something to worry about. You don’t have a young man.”

My heart sank. I dreaded coming home to another lecture about how it was time to provide children to inherit the house. “I need to check on Melinda and give Jacob his polish.”

“You aren’t getting any younger.” The portrait called to me as I squeezed past Cassie and into the kitchen. The dresser was looking as dejected as it could, propped against the sink.

“I’m so sorry to put you to trouble.” Melinda said, her voice catching in her throat, “But I’m worried I might be contagious.”

“Let’s have a look.” I pulled out my phone and switched on my torch to get a better look. “Here?”

“Right on the hinge.” Melinda said, “Perhaps if I’ve caught it early enough, I can just have my cupboards removed.” She paused. “Will that hurt?”

“It’s just a speck of grease.” I picked a cloth from the sink and gave the edge of the cupboard. “There you go – all gone.”

“She was really upset.” Leah said.

“I’m sure anyone would.” I told the stove. “Anyway, I’m just going upstairs to give Jacob his polish.” And as I walked upstairs to the wardrobe, I wondered who on earth would be mad enough to bring children up in a house like this. 

Weekly Writing Prompt: 8th July 2019

The reason I’m posting a writing prompt is because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

Photo by Christopher Harris on Unsplash
Please credit this photo if you use it

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?

Ursula K LeGuin

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

Writing Prompt Response by Marianne Gustavson Madson

Mr Suave

Here is Marianne Gustavson Madson’s response to the writing prompt. Due to similar technical difficulties to Katy, I’ve posted it onto my blog so it can be shared, and I think it is amazing, and I want to know what happens next.

It was the summer of 1974 when Mr. Suave strolled into the popular Hollywood Restaurant’s bar where I sat at a darkened corner table. My head had been bent over my journal as my hand scribbled but the paper suddenly wafted as if struck by a breeze.

My eyes lifted to the sight of a very attractive man whom I immediately named ‘Mr. Suave’. He leaned causally against a bar stool and faced the bartender as if they knew each other.

“Welcome back, the usual?” The bartender said with a smile as he reached where the expensive liquor was stored.

Mr. Suave nodded yes as he gracefully eased onto a bar stool.

My eyes secretly admired Mr. Suave in his expensive black suit which he wore comfortably as if he were in an old shirt and jeans. His body looked agile and lean and he was tall and graceful yet very masculine, I thought as I drank him in.

As if he felt my gaze upon him, he casually looked over his shoulder … at me. His dark chocolate bangs hid one eye while the other checked me out. I blushed from being caught and half lowered my eyes so I could still see him through my lashes. He gave me a lazy smile as he shook his glass in greeting.

I didn’t answer but instead bit my lip as my pen hovered and then froze midair when I saw the chair across from me move.

“Mind if I join you?”

I looked up into a handsome face that made my eyes fully dilate, he looked like a young Cary Grant.

“What are you writing?” He didn’t wait for my answer as he went ahead and sat across from me.

“Just stuff, thoughts.” I said as my eyes met his. “Let me see,” his right hand reached for my journal but stopped …when I said.

“You have pianist hands.

” He looked at me and then at his hands. “I am a pianist, a composer.”

“I knew it, may I?” I asked to hold his hands. He let them rest in my mine as I studied his. I explained with envy in my voice, “you have the right length, that extra tip to play Chopin.”

He laughed, “I can and do, and I know what you mean.”

“What did I say that made you laugh?” “It wasn’t what you said, it’s like the saying, don’t judge a book by its cover.”

“So you’re saying I look like a dull book?”

“No, yes, I mean, it’s Hollywood and you look normal to be sitting in a bar.”

“I’m sitting in a dark corner,” I said as if that held weight.

He gave me a long look as he held his glass in front of his lips, he suddenly took a sip and then said. “I want you to hear a piece I’m writing, come back to my place with me.”

I rolled my eyes at him, “I don’t know, I’ve heard tortuous killers can also be good-looking.”

“Harve, please assure the lady she’ll be safe with me.” Mr. Suave called out to the bartender without turning around.

“He’s good,” Harve assured with two thumbs up

Writing Prompt Response from Katy van Cuylenburg

There were some technical difficulties with Katy’s response, so I’m posting it here, but I can’t claim credit. This awesome story is from Katy van Cuylenburg

You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve – JK Rowling

I knew this day would come. I didn’t sleep all night. Awake mostly for the celebrations, dancing, embracing. Including the trepidation of what was to come, the journey.

I must have dozed off. ‘Wake up! Get up!’ yells my Mom shaking me. ‘You’ll be late’. My Mom is a stickler for the rules, old fashioned some would say. She’s okay, she keeps me in line…and goodness knows I need to be kept in line sometimes.

I’m up, dressed, and psyching myself up for the journey. I’m looking forward to the ceremony. I get to see Sadepisara. She’s also making the journey. She’s really cute. I hope I end up in her group. My friend Rankkasade is coming too.

‘How late can you be??’ ‘Stop daydreaming and get you brother ready, your father is waiting for us’. Snapped out of my daydreams, I get my brother into the tram and we head off for the Village Square. The bells are just beginning to ring.

I can hear the roaring coming from the square. The bells are ringing. Have to admit, I’m starting to feel special. I worked hard for this and was chosen. It just seems a bit overwhelming. I don’t like I have to leave, but I’m happy a couple of friends are going with me…and Sadepisara. I’m hoping she notices me.

‘Hey Lumi!’ ‘Over here’ yells Rankkasade. He’s standing with a few I don’t know. I think I recognize two of them. I’m busy looking for Sadepisara.

‘ATTENTION ATTENDEES, ATTENTION’ comes from the podium. A lull falls over the square. The bells ring out the anthem and then also fall silent.

‘Time to form your groups for the journey’ ‘This is special. You are special. Please make sure you report to your group by 1200’

The drums start beating!! The lights flash, flash, jagged lines, and then more drums. They are harder now. I’m looking for my family to wave at them. We are in our groups. ‘Lumi! Lumi! Over here Lumi!’ It’s my Dad. I wave. I think he saw me.

I’m scared. I don’t know what’s at the end of the journey. The lights are bigger now. The drums louder. It’s almost time. A few groups have already gone. We were kept back. We are the biggest, strongest. We are ready! I am ready! Jump!!!!

Here we go….I am the downpour in your Thunderstorm! I am the strongest raindrop you will ever know.

But my future is undecided in what puddle or place I arrive.

It’s Important

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Today was the day. I would open the new notebook and write the first page of my novel. I wouldn’t put it off for another moment.

I carefully set out my desk. There was the large cup of coffee next to the notebook, the supportive chair and the scented candle in the background. Now, which pencil should I start with? The HB pencil looked too prosaic but the softer pencil smudged. I looked through the pencils. Perhaps I could try the purple one – I got it as part of a set at Christmas and I had never really used it. I tested it on a scrap of paper, but it was far too scratchy. The scented one felt sticky and the glitter pencil kept breaking. The phone rang.

“Hello, I’m Adam and I’m calling from Windows Support Services. Our information shows that you have a virus on your computer…”

“I haven’t got a computer,” I lied as I quickly flicked over the tabs open on my laptop. “I won’t allow a computer in my house. They are all possessed by demons.”

‘Click.’

I glanced up at the clock. It was already 10.30 and the morning was almost over. I grabbed my favourite pencil. Right, where to start. I took a mouthful of coffee. It was cold. How could I write a world-shattering novel with cold coffee? I put the kettle on. I should be having one of those fancy coffees in a small cup instead of supermarket instant. What sort of writer has instant coffee? I opened the cupboard, then remembered I’d just used the last of the jar. I looked at the clock again. I had to start my novel. I had been trying and trying and now I had the perfect notebook and a great pencil and I just needed a cup of coffee before the morning was over. I got a new jar out of the cupboard under the stairs and made myself a coffee and then sat down at my desk.

It was just after 11am and I had to get started. I took a breath. ‘It was the first caress of summer…’ I picked up my pencil and then stopped. Should I try, ‘It started last summer…’ Or how about, ‘Summer was always the start of things…’ Did that last one make sense? I was desperate to write this novel. It was nagging at me like a hangnail and now I had the perfect notebook, the perfect pencil and a hot cup of coffee. I couldn’t let anything else stop me. There was a knock on the door.

I raged all the way to the door. Why today? Why now? How could I be interrupted like this? I flung open the door with a dramatic flourish.

It was Lucy. Her face was pale and her eyes red. She flinched. “I’m sorry if I’ve come at a bad time, I can come back later…”

“He’s left you again, hasn’t he?” I asked. She nodded. I held the door wide for her. “Come on in and I’ll make you a coffee. I’m not doing anything important.”

Writing Prompt: 1st July 2019

Hi, this is the first writing prompt on this blog, so I am still working things out. If you feel like it, leave a comment with any suggestions, feedback or general advice. Anything helpful is really welcome.

The reason I’m doing this is because I like writing a little flash fiction. It’s something I treat as going to the gym for my writing muscles. If you want to join in, that’s brilliant, but there’s no pressure. If you want to leave a comment with a link, that’s great, but if you don’t feel ready to share yet, that’s also great. Or you could decide that you had a good session at the ‘gym’ and want to submit it somewhere, or use it as the basis for other work, which would be amazing. It’s up to you how you use this prompt. The only thing I would like to insist on is that you enjoy yourself.

Here is a picture and a quotation. The challenge is to write something that is sparked off by one or both of them. It doesn’t have to be directly related to either, just the story you hear when you see them. It’s limited to 500 words (or less, lots less if you need to, or a little more, and I don’t check), and you should try and finish it by next week. It can be prose, poetry, fact or fiction – just have fun.

This was captioned ‘hunting for trolls in North Carolina’ if that helps. If you use this photo, please give credit
Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve –

JK Rowling

If you wish, leave a link in the comments and I will drop in, read and comment, and I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ll also be sharing stuff on Facebook and wherever else I can think of. There are no prizes and no end goal, unless it is to have fun writing. I hope I get to see some awesome stuff sparked by this. Good luck!

My Lion

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

I wrote this so long ago, and I’ve posted it elsewhere, but it’s still one of the favourite things I’ve ever written, and my son’s homework reminded me of it so I thought I would bring it out again.

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.

Book Review: Shadows over Seattle, the Three Prequels by Timothy Bateson

I know Timothy Bateson. He’s been a real help to me in the past and is a generally awesome person. That is why I didn’t tell him I was writing this review. Instead I paid full price for them (though they are reasonably priced) to read. If I hadn’t liked his work, I wouldn’t have posted anything about it. I would have been tactful, not mentioned I had seen them, and continue to be awestruck at the amount he does to help fellow authors and his incredibly generosity of time and encouragement.

These prequels are awesome!!!

They are written in the first person, which is not always my favourite, but the way that Timothy uses the first person makes the story far more engaging and immediate. The stories are the growth of a character, Richard Parsons, a werewolf growing up in modern day USA, and the trials that he faced. They are gritty and stripped down stories of a werewolf struggling in an urban environment, trying to scrape by. There is no glamour or glitz, but a hard reality about them. I know werewolves don’t exist but this reads true to that reality. There are no dark lords or imperious courts, just getting by and making bad choices in a harsh environment. The three prequels show the hero as a boy facing the biggest hurdle in his life, a crossroads where he has to make hard decisions that impact on his relationships, and the difficulty of being a werewolf in the conflicts in the Middle East – all with tantalising hints of more to come.

I really enjoyed reading them. I have two main complaints. The first complaint is that I would have like to have an option to buy them as a bundle. The second complaint is that the actual books that these prequel aren’t available yet. I should also add (sorry Timothy) that these are quite short, so you may like to check the length before you buy them. I thought they were value for money, but I know that sometimes you have to watch a budget.

I seriously recommend these awesome books, and I also recommend that you check out Timothy Bateson’s blog as not only do you get snippets of writing (and hopefully news of when the next books come out) but Timothy also showcases a lot of other authors with reviews, book tours and insights that can lead you to other awesome books.

Book Review: Realms of Ghosts & Magic by J S Malcom

This is a well-written, entertaining book about magic in our present day world, with a well thought out, logical magic system and a recognition that being a witch doesn’t pay the bills. The pacing was great, with some variation, the descriptions had depth and supplemented the story and the characters were well thought through.

It is written in the first person present tense, which can be an acquired taste, particularly with the use of the present tense. That means that you get quotes like:

A few moments pass as Dean considers his options. Which are basically zero, so I’m not bothered. The fact that my skin has gone from tingling to crawling tells me he’s got a serious problem on his hands. A problem that I seriously doubt a psychic could deal with. Add to that, I can’t imagine one being dumb enough to try. Any true psychic would steer clear. So Dean has me or no-one…

I love the details included, the way that everyday, mundane life is used as a touchstone and counterpoint to the magical world and I love the reality of the language. It is an interesting, detailed, well imagined world with great plotting and lots of hints that don’t give the game away until the end. I can say that it is a good book to settle down with.

I have two issues. The first is that it ends on a cliffhanger, but not an irrational cliffhanger, so that is down to personal preference. It isn’t my preference, but it isn’t a bad end to the book. It is a logical, sensible, rational and consistent end to the book that leads well into the next of the series. If you don’t mind this sort of cliffhanger, then you will be fine.

The second issue is my completely irrational prejudice against first person present tense. It has it’s value as a method of story telling as it makes all the action very immediate and, if well written (and this is), it can make it very relatable. I think it is utterly awesome for short stories. My completely irrational dislike is that I feel that it can affect the flow of information so that you get more ‘tell’ than ‘show’ and that it can affect pacing. JS Malcom has done a wonderful job conveying the information necessary for the plot and the pacing works great. In fact, the way that the background is gently introduced during the story is wonderfully handled. I still have this completely ridiculous aversion to first person present tense.

If you are okay with a cliffhanger ending and a story in the first person present tense then I would be happy to recommend this book and to perhaps check out the sequel.