Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Visual triggers - it's all in there somewhere!

I do a lot of my writing by hand. It sounds odd in an age of keyboards, laptops and vocal recognition software, but I find that dampening the speed of my thoughts down to the speed of my hand works for me. Especially if I am having trouble writing. It also allows me to be away from the Net.
But… I fill a lot of notebooks with scrawl. And I am thrifty or cheap… yep, cheap.
So I need a notebook with a solid cover and lots of lined pages. It cannot be too large or too small and it cannot be too expensive. I used to buy hardcover Chinese notebooks bound in red and black but I cannot find them in the right size any more.
On a trip to Officeworks (Staples in the US?) to get school supplies, I found some Composition books. 200 pages, 9 3/4x 7 1/2 inches. The cover is not hardbound but it is cardboard so I can write with it leaning on my knees. And as a bonus, they fit in my handbag.
They even come in different colours so that I can use a colour for each fic type.
I bought a dozen of them!

But… I got the oddest feeling from them. I tried to explain it to kid 1 one day - I said I got a serial killer vibe from the books and I didn’t know why.
Fast forward months later. I love movies and I insist that my kids watch what I consider to be classic movies. Kid 1 is old enough for R ratings now and he and I settled down to watch American Psycho and Se7en.
And there were my composition books! Black mottled covers and all. Each killer filled them with tightly written scrawl. In Se7en he had hundreds of them.
And there was my serial killer link.
I could not remember it, but my mind had clearly made a connection, tucked it away in the back of my head and I had forgotten about it. It was a visual trigger.
It’s the same thing in writing - sometimes people dislike a character for a reason that they can’t express. Maybe they always wear a blue hoodie and the guy that bullied them in school always wore a blue hoodie? Maybe a redhead broke their heart?
So each person has a different reaction to the same thing.
Se7en also explains the startled yelp noise that I make when I see one of those Christmas tree car deodorisers. Problem is, kid 3 does it now, and she doesn’t know why.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Phoenix


In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Phoenix
The medium gazed into the crystal ball and then she intoned in serious, ponderous tones, “Your strength will only appear once you’ve been destroyed—or nearly so.”
“Excuse me?” the young woman asked.
“You heard,” she said, in an entirely different accent.
“Wait... what?”
The medium rolled her eyes. “Jeez... why doesn’t anyone listen?”
“That... That was a real reading?”
“I am not a fake!”
“Really?” She waved a hand around at the lamps covered with paisley scarves and the accoutrements that made it look like a gypsy caravan even though the woman was the furthest thing from a Romani she had ever seen.
“Okay, so it looks fake,” the medium said. “People want to see what they want to see. They don’t listen to you unless it comes with all the -” she waved at the offending decorations, “-extras.”
“Fine,” the client snapped.
“Do you want to hear the rest or what?”
“Sure. Bring it.”
The medium tossed her head and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and then she said, “Your future is full of struggle and anguish, most of it self-inflicted.”
“Oh... puleez.”
The medium opened one eye and huffed out a breath, before she said, “Go to Saint Louis. You can win her back.”
“I want my money back; that’s what I want. That’s the lyrics of a Perry Como song.”
“So you don’t love her?”
“Who?”
“The woman... the one you came here to ask about.”
“I didn’t-” Her mouth snapped shut.
“Oh... ho. It’s love.”
“It is NOT!”
“Honey, the first thing you have to do is admit she is The One. Capital T, capital O.”
“It was a one-night...” she finished on an unintelligible mumble.
The medium folded her arms and glared at her.
Silence for a beat.
That is the ‘you’ that needs to be destroyed,” the medium added.
“Destroy her? What do you mean?”
“Not her; you! That you... you need to lose the ‘you’ that people think they know. The one they see at parties and functions. The fake you. She needs to be killed; killed with fire.”
“Oh.”
Then... you can live. Then you will be so strong that you’ll be unbreakable.”
“It scares me,” she confessed.
“Of course it does. Being true to yourself is always terrifying. How many times do you think people have accused me of being a fake?”
“Sorry.”
“I forgive you.” She paused. “Forgive yourself.”
The client picked at the badly embroidered tablecloth. “It was the first time I had ever tried... you know... with another woman.”
“And it rocked your world.”
“Yeah... yeah it did.” She smiled at the memory of it. “But I couldn’t tell her that.”
The medium reached over and grabbed her hand. “Do you want to find her?”
She huffed out a breath. “Yes, I do.”
“Jezabels,” she said. “I don’t know what that means.”
“It’s a band,” the client explained.
“Ah.”
“Her favourite band.”
“So she’ll be at their concert?”
“Probably.”
“There ya go.”
“Yeah.” She still looked unsure.
“If you find her and you tell her how you feel, I promise that it will all work out.”
“You can tell that?”
“Of course, I’m Madame Zelda.”
“Okay, I believe you.”
“Excellent. Go get her.”
The client stood and leaned across the table to grab her hand excitedly. “I will.” She shook her hand. “Thank you!”
She hurried out of the tent, a different person to the one who had entered. The dejected, unhappy girl had been replaced by one who was positive and hopeful.
Madame Zelda rang her bells for the next client.
“I don’t get paid enough,” she mumbled to herself when she saw his aura.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Teach yourself everything.

I haven’t done a Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge for a little while and this week’s one intrigued me. It was:
You still have 1000 words. But you’re going to break that up into 10 chapters.
Now, ostensibly that works out to about 100 words per chapter, though variation on that is fine. However you see fit to make it work. The goal here is to maintain brevity but increase scope. Can you tell a larger story in a smaller space? Does breaking it up make that easier — or harder?
The starting line was a Writeworld challenge, too so I am killing multiple birds and clearly I have a thing about grandparents and funerals.

Teach yourself everything.
“You’re not fooling anyone,” her brother accused.
She had been dabbing at her eyes surreptitiously. Didn’t want anyone to see her cry.
He gave her a weary smile.
“He’s not dying,” she insisted. Their grandfather was too vital to be ill; he had worked all his life, been married once, raised a half-dozen kids, built a house in his spare time and been a pillar of the community, as they say. He always had time to drive across town in his truck built from spare parts to replace the air conditioner for a widow.
“That’s not what the doctors say.”
*****
The doctors were right.
*****
The casket was open but she couldn’t bring herself to look inside it. Whatever that husk was, it wasn’t him; the essence of him was gone.
She glared at the plastic crucifixes and refused to cry; too angry to allow the tears to fall.
She ducked a hug from her mother, something she would have to deal with later. In the large family she had always been the odd one out; the prickly one that people found hard to deal with.
Her grandfather had persisted. And she had loved him for it.
At the wake, she wandered around listening in to conversations about him until it got too much for her and she headed for home.
*****
Home was a side-gabled wooden bungalow. No prizes for guessing who had helped her renovate it. It was tiny and perfect for her. She hung her coat on the coat rack he had helped her put up before sitting in the high-backed Shaker rocker he had made. Everything in her house reminded her of him.
He had told her that waiting for the right man to buy her a house was dumb. Start small, he had said. First real estate purchase was a garage. Every cent saved for it. Each year she sold and bought something larger.
Grandpa had found the house. Discounted because a witch had lived there, or so people thought. All her possessions were still in the house. They did a lot of trips to the dump, clearing boxes of odd stuff out of the attic.
*****
But she kept all the books.
*****
They looked old; leather bound and filled with pages of crabbed handwriting. They fitted with the house. Jenny Merrimack was written in them all in fountain pen. It took her some time to learn to read her writing. Maybe she skipped handwriting classes for herbology because she knew an awful lot about plants? Jenny did and soon she did, too.
She re-planted the garden with the things that Jenny would have liked. Cottage garden style fitted with the age of the place. And a lot of the plants had other uses.
*****
With her grandfather gone, she spent more time with Jenny’s books.
Her brother kept ringing her and inviting her to dinner. She kept finding reasons why she couldn’t go.
*****
Talking to Jenny came so naturally that she didn’t even notice when she started doing it.
Or, when Jenny started talking back.
*****
Death magic is hard.
She shrugged.
He’s been dead too long to bring the body back; he’ll just be a shade.
“Does a shade have a voice?”
I have a voice.
“Did I do that? Bring you back.”
We did, but you did so well that I have all my memories intact.
“Can we do that for Grandpa?”
Together we can do almost anything.
“Then, that’s what I want.”
*****
Hey, pumpkin.
“Grandpa!”
What is this? I always said to work a little bit every day on the big projects.
“I am so glad to hear that!”
Another thing he had always said was to teach yourself everything.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Wattpad versus Ao3 final post

Whoops. I forgot to post the final figures for my month of keeping an eye on my stats for various fanfiction posting sites. Click on the image to enlarge it.


So it goes in this order:
1.     Fanfiction.net 320 hits,
2.     Ao3 82 hits,
3.     Wattpad 28 hits, and
4.     Fictionpad 15
But not many reviews… anywhere… sigh.
Keeping an eye on stats does show one thing, Ao3 is very different to fanfic. There seem to be a lot less Paul/Bella stories there and an unexpected one of mine has leapt to the top of the hit table. Techno Bella - where Quil slips Bella a mickey and she is all over Paul. 
And Wattpad has found one of my creepy short stories, Home.
I think it works that if you comment on a story, your comment is sent to all your followers. More like twitter than fanfic, if that makes sense.
Plus I wrote a small Teenwolf fic called Even more complicated that is smacking everything else in the hits race at Ao3.
Given what that show did to her this week; maybe everyone just wanted to read a happy Allison fic?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The airship mechanic



A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
This is captain Duke Wyndwalker from an indie game called ‘windforge’ and the link to source is above. The kickstarter is here.
http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/79397329335/writers-block-a-picture-says-a-thousand-words

The Airship Mechanic

He chomped on the end of his cigar, folded his arms - the large wrench still held in his hand - and studied her. Captain Duke Wyndwalker.
She had been escorted down to the engine room by another crew member; one who had now deserted her.
She noticed the leather braces on his wrists, the brass goggles on his head, the long dreadlock of hair down past his shoulder, the immaculately kept moustache and beard, and his clear intent eyes. “What?” he demanded.
“I need a job... on an airship,” she explained.
He raised an eyebrow.
“I get that you have an airship - I’d be a fool to not notice that!” She wanted to hit herself for saying something quite so stupid given that she was standing on the deck of one.
Silence.
“I haven’t worked on one before but I know engines.”
“Engines?” he asked incredulously. He leaned his head slightly to the side and his eyes travelled down her frock clad body to her feet, dressed in their neat booted heels. She looked as if she had barely ever left her home except to go to chapel.
“Why would I employ you?” he asked, his voice gruff and gravelly. “If you have no experience.”
“Cap’n, cops on the dock.” The voice called down the gangway. “Want permission to board.”
She startled and he noticed.
He stepped much closer to her. “Quickly now, why do you need to be airborne?”
She had to trust someone and she couldn’t say what it was that made her trust this large, dangerous looking man. “M-my uncle... he h-hurt me... so I hit him with a spanner.”
“Is he dead?”
“I didn’t mean-”
“Is he dead?” he repeated.
She just nodded mutely.
“Good.”
The wrench he passed to her to hold. He grabbed her and pushed her into the engine room. Shut and locked the door behind her. They key went back around his neck.
“Allow them up,” he called out as he strode away to the upper deck.
It took some time for the boarding platform to lower and lift them up to the deck height so that the police could board. She closed her eyes and she swore all kinds of prayers and promises. The engine wheezed and clanked and made odd little noises and she felt safe; as she had always felt safe near machines. That was part of the reason why she had reacted so badly to her uncle. He had invaded her private space and then he had tried to invade her.
Her ears strained to listen over the machinery noise.
She heard the hobnail boots on the deck as the police came aboard and the mutter of deep voices. She couldn’t hear what they were saying.
She held the wrench he had left behind and the feel of it in her hand, still warm from his; the weight, solid and heavy and familiar calmed her. Inspecting the engine, she tried to see where he had been working. She listened now, but to her; the ship. She reached out and carefully wiped off the glass on a gauge.
~~~~~
When he unlocked the door, her head was buried inside the engine. “I think it’s the tappet,” she called out.
“Yeah. That’s why I was trying to change it.”
She pulled her head out to smile at him and he stifled a laugh. The humidity of the engine room had made her hair go frizzy; wild curls were escaping from her previously neatly pulled back hairdo. Her face was flushed, dirty and she looked a different person to the one that had boarded his ship minutes ago.
She glanced down at his thick wrists and the heavy leather covering that made it thicker still.
“My wrists are thinner,” she said.
He nodded.
And that was it; she had a job and an escape. She need never set foot in a town if she didn’t want to.
~~
Later that night, she was talking to another female crewman who had been assigned to supply her with clothes and ordered to share her cabin with the newest crew member.
“The captain is so-” She stopped, at a loss for words.
“Don’t worry about it, honey. Everyone is a little in love with the Captain.”
“Everyone?”
“Everyone.”
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Non-canon awards


I have been nominated in the non-canon awards.
Thank you to whoever nominated me. I am not eligible in any other categories because I have more than three stories with 1,000+ reviews. Sniffs.
Some of the pack categories are still open to change, but they are now:
·       Bella/Jake,
·       Bella/Sam,
·       Paul/Bella,
·       Leah/wolf, and
·       a whole set for Seth! Yay

This is much better than previous years, so now you can all nominate those cool, sexy Paul/Bella stories.
Of course, if you have a story that won’t fit in any of those, pop it in the other non-canon pair category. So Quil and Embry can go in there!
Don’t forget they must have been updated in the last three months and the story must have less 500 reviews. 
This is a competition for the underdogs!
Go on… off you go. Well not my stories obviously…

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Six million

Unbelievably, today my total hits at fanfiction.net, clicked past a total of six million.
And what is really amazing is that I passed five million in September 2013, so I have gained another million hits in six months.
Blinks.
Side-eyes excel spreadsheet.
That can’t be right? Can it?
The big ones are the usual suspects, Best Friends, Apologies and Closer. Together they make up 3.6m of that total.
Pats self on back.