Tuesday, 30 April 2013

JBNP is doing an autism month promotion. They asked people to write one shots and will publish them ebook style, and send them to donators. I wrote a Paul and Bella one shot. My one true pairing (otp) in Twilight fanfic. 
You do have to be a member of the website, but if you are, I would encourage you to donate.

During the contribution period, one-shots and their corresponding graphics will be collected via the JBNP Alpha email account. Anyone wishing to participation by donating money will give directly to Autism Speaks via their secure site. We ask for minimum donations of $5. Once the donation is made, we ask that a copy of the emailed receipt be forwarded to the JBNP Alphas email account to confirm your contribution. Donation amounts will remain anonymous, but following the donation period, a list will be published thanking everyone that participated.
The donated one-shots and graphics will be compiled into a PDF that will be distributed to those that participated, including the authors and artists that submitted work.
Donation period ends: Friday, May 10th, 2013 at midnight PST.

Monday, 15 April 2013

What’s in a name?

This week’s challenge from terribleminds was to write the story that goes with the opening lines people made up last week.
I had no inspiration for an opening line but he was flooded with entries. He gave a choice of fifteen. I liked this one.
My brother’s birth was preceded by three distinct and inexplicable phenomena. — Jason Heitkamper 
My effort is 993 words. Phew… just made it under the 1k limit. Oops. Maybe over if you count the line itself.
What’s in a name?
My brother’s birth was preceded by three distinct and inexplicable phenomena. 
At breakfast Nanna fell face first into her porridge. Truthfully that was pretty normal, what with her narcolepsy, so no one took much notice, but when she lifted her head up again she pointed at the walls and started screaming.
Nothing got between kids in our house and food. It wasn’t a meal time, it was a feeding frenzy. No one in our house had ever said, ‘I’m not hungry, I might have something later,’ because there was no later. You ate it now or you went without. So, if you were not even the tiniest bit hungry, you sat at the table and you fought for what you could fit on your plate and then you ate it. You ate it all.
Leftovers? Forget about it.
Nanna pointing and screaming made us look up from our porridge. It was then we noticed the blood. It ran down the floral wallpaper in a seemingly endless curtain of red rivulets.
We all froze; not sure how Mom would take this.
Mom came out from the kitchen with the saucepan in one hand and the wooden spoon in the other, ready to serve more porridge. She did notice Nanna screaming. She glanced the way she was pointing and said, “Oh now, would you look at that.” She was at the nine months pregnant stage and had achieved bovine nirvana. Literally nothing upset her. It was all about the baby. “That reminds me. Honey?” she called. “Did you take The Shining DVD back to the store?”
Dad shouted something back at her that seemed to make her happy and she started serving more porridge.
It was her seventh kid and you would have thought she’d be used to it by now, but she told everyone that this child was special.
None of us believed it. She had said that for the last few as well.
But this time Dad actually agreed with her. It was probably a boy, so that made it the seventh son of a seventh son. It was supposed to mean something. We all rolled our eyes anytime anyone said that. All it meant to me was that they couldn’t manage to have a girl. I wasn’t even sure I wanted one now, but they kept trying.
Nanna mercifully fell asleep again, so the screaming stopped and we could all chow down without interruption.
As the eldest, it was my job to get all the littlies ready for school. I shoved lunches into bags, straightened ties and did up shoe laces. We did a walking bus thing; we made up half the damn bus all by ourselves, but we would collect other kids and they would all walk with us. If they were brave enough.
Today, nobody was. Just as well.
It was on the way to school that we experienced the time slip. That was the second inexplicable phenomenon. We literally ran into ourselves coming home from school. Well, not all of us; Eros and Fytch were still too young and were at home. We could tell that the other ‘we’ had been to school because Damien’s collar was torn and had blood on it. He’d probably been in a fight, and we all looked worn and dishevelled.
“Ha! Look at us!” said Baal. “You need a haircut AJ.”
“I do not,” I protested. My name was Ajeya. Supposedly it was the name of a Hindu god but I’d seen it pop up on baby girl name-lists lately and I was not happy about that. Everyone called me AJ.
I was watching Cain, because you always watched Cain. Know what I mean?
The two Cains grinned at each other mischievously. They looked like they were already planning something; they didn’t even need to speak.
“We just left the house,” I suggested. “So you lot ought to go to the park or something.”
“Sure,” the other AJ agreed. “That makes sense.”
“No, it doesn’t,” argued Baal. “It’s home time for them-”
“Yeah, but not for us.”
“I hate temporal anomalies,” he said. “They always give me a headache.”
“Me too,” agreed the other Baal. And then they both laughed.
We all arranged to meet later if they were still around. We watched them head towards the park. I suspected that they wouldn’t be there later… or was it us that wouldn’t be there? Maybe Baal was right; that shit was headache inducing.
My head really did ache and when I turned to look at Damien his eyes were completely black. Tick the box for the third inexplicable phenomenon.
“Whoa! Does that hurt?” asked Damien.
“You tell me. Your eyes are black, too.”
“We had better go home,” Cain suggested.
We did. But when we arrived home, we felt wobbly for a second and then we all resembled the group we had just passed. Damien’s collar was torn. We looked like we had been at school all day.
“I’m hungry,” I said.
“Guess we skipped lunch,” said Cain.
Eros came toddling out the front door to meet us. “Baby!” he cried.
“Already? Has she had it, then?” I scooped him up. He had been eating and his face was sticky. “Where’s Fytch?” I asked him.
He looked at me with his huge dark eyes. “Love Eros?” he asked.
“Yes, AJ loves Eros.” Always the emotional blackmail with this kid.
“After you show me where he is.”
He pointed off into the house and I found the baby asleep in his automatic rocker. I guess he wasn’t the baby anymore if we had a new one.
Dad appeared in the doorway looking tired. “Home already?”
“Time slip,” said Baal. “And black eyes.”
“That makes three, after the blood,” I added.
“Huh. He really is special.” He looked pleased. “Come and meet your brother Gabriel.”
“You cannot call him Gabriel,” said Cain. “It’s a nice name.”
“Names are what you make of them,” said our father.
Easy for him to say; his name was Loki.
© AM Gray 2013


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Non-canon awards

Oops, I forgot to tell you all.
I won second place in the non-canon awards for the Royal author category. Thank you to all the people who voted for me.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The retrophiliac

This was an image writing prompt from the tumblr site http://yeahwriters.tumblr.com/ marked #deathcab.
The retrophiliac.
She may be young but she only liked old things.
Tim didn’t need her to tell him that; it was obvious from her love of second hand clothes. Vintage, Jenny would call them. She wore her long hair in a style that had an arched up bit at the front that went up from her forehead, curled over and was held in place with a comb pushed in the back of it. He had watched her do it one day. It looked effortless and it made her look like an Andrew sister, if that was the name of those girls who sang the boogie woogie bugle boy and other songs of that era.
She held the rest of her hair tied neatly at the nape of her neck with a large colourful bow that usually matched her dress. She always wore dresses. She had slim legs and lovely ankles and he had amused himself for ages one day, imagining what she would look like in pants. They’d be those Gidget style tapered leg pants, not jeans. He could not imagine her in jeans. She was a girl of the 40’s and 50’s.
Today, her hair scarf was red to match the large red flowers of the floral print on her dress. She had a matching green cardigan and red court shoes. She looked perfect; but then she always did. Tim loved her with a silent passion.
He watched her clear out her in tray and wipe off her desk. She did it every afternoon but it was Friday and that gave things an added intensity.
If he stayed after she had left, he hated to put a file in her in-tray; he felt guilty that he had messed it up. He left her a note on a small piece of paper. It looked less cluttered to him. She had chuckled merrily the first time he explained it to her.
She looked… happy and excited.
“Got a date tonight?” he asked.
“Yes.” She gave him appraising look. “Do you want to come?”
“On your date?” he squeaked.
“You can join us for drinks to start. He won’t mind. He’s always asking if I have work friends.”
“Oh.” He was trying to think how to answer her. He really wanted to go, but felt as if he would be intruding. But she wouldn’t have asked him if she was worried about that. “Okay,” he agreed. “I’d love to.”
His desk phone rang and he answered it. She made hand motions that indicated she was going to powder her nose. He nodded and starting writing down the file number. By the time she came back he had found the file and confirmed that the payment had been made.
It was after six and getting dark outside when they left. They walked across the road and down to the nearest hotel. Drinks in hand they made their way to the back bar. It was her favourite; it had a jukebox. She stood in front of it tapping her foot and pressing her selections while he sat at a table, sipped his beer and looked around.
A man stopped next to their table. Tim looked up and then looked up some more. The man was huge. He had long straight blond hair that fell below his shoulders and was parted down the centre. His eyes were a piercing light blue - almost an icy colour. He wore a vest over a bare chest and he was wearing, honest to god leather pants that laced up at the front.
He opened his mouth to ask what the guy wanted, when she squealed and threw herself at him.
“Tim, this is Ragnar!”
Ragnar? The guy looked tall enough to be half frost giant. Tim stood and held out his hand to shake. He sincerely hoped that the usual show of manly strength was skipped; Ragnar would break every bone without breaking a sweat. His hand was firmly shaken and remained uncrushed. The big man smiled without showing his teeth.
Tim had a friend with bad dental that did that.
They bought a round of drinks and then another as Jenny insisted they wait for her song to come up on the jukebox. The conversation was mostly Tim and Jenny talking about work but Ragnar looked perfectly happy with a pint of ale held firmly in his hand. Tim tried to keep pace with him and that was a mistake; doubly so, on an empty stomach.
When her song came on, Jenny let out an excited squeal. “Dance with me,” she cajoled and dragged Tim to his feet.
He laughed and went with her. The alcohol made him think he was dancing well. At one stage he leaned on her too hard and his hand slipped down to her ass. He found himself held off the floor and making an alarming choking sound.
“Ragnar, put him down!”
“He touched you.”
“We were dancing.”
Tim waved his hands ineffectually.
“You said I could have friends,” Jenny argued.
Tim realised he was being held by one hand at the back of his neck like he was a kitten. It made it worse, somehow.
“Not this one,” Ragnar growled. “He is in love with you.”
Tim wasn’t entirely sure what to say to that. He seemed like the kind of guy who would like for his woman to be adored, but clearly not to be touched. There was no real point to denying it, as if Tim could do anything about it. Ah… he had it. “She doesn’t want me,” he gasped. “She’s mad about you.”
“Of course I am,” Jenny crooned to the Viking. “Crazy in love.” She laughed. “You know I adore old things.”
He laughed and it boomed out. He put his arm out and tucked her in against him.
She leaned into him.
He whispered to her, “And I am very, very old.”
“Oldest thing I have at the big two thousand,” she murmured.
Tim blinked. What the? Did she mean he was two thousand years old? He was a Viking?
“Now put him down and let me kiss you,” Jenny cajoled.
Tim woke up with a bad hangover, a sore neck and no memory of the night before, other than some icy blue eyes that told him he would not remember anything but if he could remember the eyes telling him that, then…? Oh, crap. His head hurt. All he knew was that he was really sure that Jenny liked stuff older than he had previously thought, and that was all.
© AM Gray 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A trip

Another Prompt time!

Write about a character going on a trip! Where are they going? Who are they seeing? Are they paying for a plane ticket with their April grocery money to avoid taking a bus (like I did), or are they ride sharing off Craigslist? How are they getting there? Be descriptive.
Do it in fewer than 1500 words.
And as always, tag us or submit.
I lost where this prompt came from for a while… but it turned out to be a tumblr page called writershelpers. Very neat and worth bookmarking or following. They have lots of great posts listing resources for writing. Stuff like how UK and US schools are different; mythic worlds, meaning of symbols etc.
A trip - 678 words. It went weird again. It must be me. *laughs at self*
The train carriage was about half full. One side had seats for two persons and the other side three. People usually spread out on the wider seats. They sat at each end with a person-sized gap in the middle. But they often put their bags next to them to discourage anyone from actually having the nerve to expect to sit down there. As the train approached the city it got fuller; but people congregated at the exits, rather than moved into the carriage.
The whole train was using mobile devices; phones, laptops, music players and iPads. Not one person was looking out the window… other than her.
She watched the houses go past and remembered how she had grown up in a house almost as close to the railway line as these were. You got used to the noise and you didn’t hear the trains unless you were listening for them. She learnt to tell the time by the train timetable. ‘Oh, that’s the eight minutes to train. I’m late.’ But that was when trains were more often on time than not.
She saw his reflection in the window. He looked lost and panicked. She turned around hurriedly to ask if he needed help, but he wasn’t there.
She stood up a little to see if he had sat down on a seat or something… but, no.
She sat again; feeling odd and bemused. She looked at her own hands. She was most definitely there.
And so was he.
The movement caught her eye. He was waving at her frantically; clearly overjoyed that someone could see him.
No one else on the train seemed to notice her or him.
Having learnt not to try and look for him directly, she looked out the window and unfocused her eyes a little. There he was. She mouthed at the reflection of him, ‘Are you okay?’
He shook his head.
He looked about fifteen. He wore the ubiquitous uniform of hoodie and low hung jeans. A cap was stuffed into his back pocket.
He mouthed something else.
She thought it might have been ‘help’.
‘How?’ she asked silently.
He shrugged.
Yeah, she didn’t know either. She made a perplexed face.
She motioned at the steps leading up to the door. ‘Can you get off?’ she asked.
Another head shake.
The disembodied voice announced the next stop in a mumbled message. It was her stop.
She bit her lip.
‘This is my stop,’ she told him. ‘Hold my hand?’ She shuffled to the aisle end of her seat, ready to stand. She held out her very real; very solid hand and waited.
He looked unsure but clearly desperate.
She waved her fingers a little.
She saw him take a breath and then try to hold her hand.
It felt as if she had suddenly plunged her hand into a bucket of iced water. She held on, though. She waited for people to stand and move up the aisle until she was last and very carefully, without jostling others, she stepped deliberately towards the stairs; her hand behind her back.
The doors opened with their standard warning noise and a hiss of released gas. The sunlight flooded in as people flooded out. She fought her way up the stairs, dragging his weight behind her. It felt like rescuing someone who was drowning in the surf. The second she stepped onto the platform she felt the pressure ease. She was grounded now and she yanked him after her.
As his weight disappeared, she lost her balance and fell on her ass on the tiled platform.
She heard his amused chuckle.
“Jeez. Say thank you why don’t you,” she grumbled. She had actually said that out loud. She got an odd glance from an old lady who shuffled slowly past, intent on the exit stairs.
“Thank you,” he whispered in her ear. She felt the icy touch of lips against the side of her head and then he was gone.
She picked herself up and dusted her ass off and went on with her day.
© AM Gray 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013

Fond memories.

My father rang last night. He’s getting old and clearly has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s. He started talking about my brother. The one that I don’t talk to any more. Have you ever had one of those people in your life, that no matter how many chances you give them, they always, always, always let you down? And when they do, they take your money, rob your house, and cost you gallons of tears and immeasurable heartache. That would be my brother.
A long time ago I drew a line around him and decided that I would no longer buy into his life nor let him into mine. He went through the same crap that we all did; some of us worse than him and we coped. We still cope.
As an example, at my mother’s funeral he spent the whole weekend bragging about how much money he earned now and when our sister suggested he contribute his quarter of the funeral costs, he got in his car and drove away. He didn’t pay anything. I paid the entire amount. It seemed unfair to ask the others to contribute if he didn’t. Dad didn’t contribute either. He sold mum’s rings and bought something to ‘remember her by’. It was a DVR. He has two daughters, three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter. He could have given the rings to any of us. He didn’t. I joked to my sister that I should ask him to put a note on the DVR that I want it when he dies, so that I have something to remember mum by.
Dad told this story on the phone about how this brother had been in trouble with drink recently and had turned his life around. ‘What the?’ I’m thinking. When?
Oh, Dad says, I remember when he showed up at the house weighting six stone and I took him in and turned his life around.
I was speechless, but I managed to say that wasn’t how I remembered it.
I was there. As the youngest, I was the only kid at home by that stage.
That wasn’t how it went.
He was a heroin addict for a start, not an alcoholic. He did weigh a little over six stone which for someone who is six feet tall was shocking. That’s about 40kg. He looked like an Auschwitz survivor. The needle marks on his arms had got infected and he had used the top of his feet as injection sites until they too, got infected.
He was dying in front of us.
I was nearly fifteen. So, it was more than thirty years ago.
My father was not there. He was working interstate and only came home on the weekends, so he didn’t see it.
When he came home, he did not embrace his dying son with open arms. He did not help ‘to turn his life around’ as he fondly recalls now. He had a fit. I will never forget him screaming at my mother that the second his back was turned she had invited that thing into his home. THAT THING. Not my son. Not even our son. He wasn’t even human to him at that stage.
He demanded that mum throw him out. She refused. She said he was ill. My mother rarely stood up to my father.
He insisted that she choose between her husband and her son.
She chose her son.
My father packed his suitcase and he left.
We didn’t see him for almost eight months.
We had to start my brother on vitamin injections. He couldn’t eat solid food because his digestion had virtually stopped. My mother and I got him into a rehabilitation place at Cronulla called odyssey house. It still exists but it isn’t in Cronulla any more. It took three hours to drive there and back. We did it almost every day to see him and to sit in on some of their counselling sessions. I was so young and I saw recovering addicts screaming abuse at each other in their circle ‘discussions’ and interventions.
I didn’t have time to do my homework for school. I sat in the car with my mother because I would not let her go alone. It was a very rough time for us all and my father was not there. To make matters worse, my mother had breast cancer the year before. The mastectomy had taken most of her chest muscle as well and it was actually painful for her to drive a manual car for any length of time. But she did it to visit her son. My father bought the car for her. Enough said.
At the time a friend told me she was very worried about a guy she knew who had smoked a joint. I laughed in her face. It just didn’t seem to compare.
After eight months my father begged to come home and I could not understand why she let him back.
Some people comment when they read my fics, ‘how can parents treat their kids like that?’ And I smile and think how lucky they are to have never seen it themselves. This is barely even the start of what my father has done to his family.
Clearly my father’s Alzheimer’s has let him forget that I don’t like him.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


Writing practice from the Write practice 
“Write about a wedding, a wedding that takes place in your work in progress, a wedding you've been to, or even your own wedding. Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to comment on a few practices by other writers.”
My effort skewed off very quickly somewhere that I didn't expect it to go. It really didn't fit with all the other efforts (they were romantic and sweet) so I posted it here on my blog, rather than on the page. And I wrote for twenty minutes. Oops. My bad.
She clutched her handkerchief, ready for the inevitable tears. Weddings. They got to her every time. Every single time. She knew better than to wear eye make-up  or to wear a top that showed the damp spots where her tears spilled over and onto her chest. Dark colours were best or perhaps a busy pattern.
It was all camouflage.
The groom stood, holding his own hands as if to stop them shaking. He wore black. She thought it was appropriate. He was not camouflaged and perhaps he ought to be. He also wasn’t looking the right way. He was staring at the window in front of him and his bride would enter from the rear.
As the music started, his best man thumped him on the shoulder and they exchanged a shaky grin. The photographer took a few shots and then encouraged the groom to look towards the rear.
He wanted a shot of the groom’s face as he saw his bride in her special gown for the first time. The shock; the awe, the happiness - the love, she supposed. That was what the photographer hoped to catch.
But this groom took a step back. His face fell. He shook his head a little.
Oh, no. This was a first.
He muttered something to the best man.
He looked at the bride with no trace of recognition.
He shook his head again and then he turned and he ran. He disappeared through the door to the vestry.
The minister looked lost. Maybe he was only used to runaway brides, and a runaway groom was a new thing for him?
The bride had come down the aisle alone; their father had died a long time ago. She stopped next to the bench and hissed at her, “Sister, what happened?”
“It wasn’t me,” she hissed back. “Nerves?”
The congregation started to mutter and talk amongst themselves.
She stood and waved imperiously at the best man. Go get him, her gesture said. He scuttled off after the terrified groom. She grabbed the bride by the arm and walked her back up the aisle to the entry area where they could talk privately.
“You almost had him in the bag. What went wrong?” she quizzed the bride, as she lifted the veil back.
She got an odd look on her face.
“Oh, no! Tell me you kept the sex up.”
“He wanted to wait… until after… you know?”
Whoops. “You idiot! You know better than that.”
“I know… but it meant so much to him. He wanted it to be special.”
“You fool! You know the spell won’t continue to work if the sex stops. This isn’t your first wedding. You know winding up the pace before the big day is the best way to handle it. Then they can’t wait to get you down the aisle and back into bed.”
“Until they sicken and die.” She sighed. “I know… and I have done this before.”
Suddenly, she understood. “Oh, stars in the sky, this one is special.”
“No, no. No he’s not.”
She denied it too vehemently. “You are in love with him!”
The bride’s face crumpled and she started to cry. Her sister passed her the clean handkerchief and patted her on the back. “I know it gets harder,” she commiserated. “But we need the money. And it was your turn to get married this time.”
“I know!” wailed the bride, dabbing at her face.
“Stop that! You’ll wreck your make-up.”
“I d-don’t w-want to get m-married now,” she sobbed. “Even if he c-comes back. I’ll say it’s off. That I can’t trust him after he ran.”
“Well that’s actually true. And he’s not likely to come back if he saw your true face.”
“And then he can go marry someone else. Someone who won’t suck the life out of him. He’ll be happy.”
“So you love him. Does he love you?”
Another wail. “He doesn’t love me! Nobody really ever loves me. Not for me… you know?”
Her sister sighed. “I love you,” she said.
They hugged.
Over the white shoulder she could see the minister approach.
“Ah…” he started, clearly at a loss about how to break the bad news.
“He’s not coming back, is he?” she pre-empted.
Another wail from the bride, followed by gasping sobs.
“I’ll just take her home. I don’t think there will be a wedding today. Would you mind speaking to his parents?”
The minister looked concerned. “Of course. I understand,” he sympathised. He smiled at her and she thought he wasn’t half bad looking.
She reached over and pressed his arm encouragingly.
His smile broadened.
Thank goodness she had worn the right top.
© AM Gray 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013


Paws & Art held their second banner one shot competition. There were about 15 anon entries; read them all on their site here: Paws & Art 2.0
I won it last year with ‘Rumour has it’ but this year I made an unusual choice for me. There were 65 banners to choose from with lots of cute wolf boys paired up and even a couple with three characters. So you would think any of those would work for me with a history of writing wolf boy slash and threesomes. But, I chose this banner. In a neat idea, each entrant ‘won’ an individual copy of their chosen banner.
banner # 65, artist dontcallmeLeeLee

I like challenging myself and writing different pairings; especially in one-shots, where you can get away with a lot of things because they need to be short. To me, Edward looked beseeching and Leah suspicious. What was he asking her? And the plot bunnies were off.
I have often argued that the ending of Breaking Dawn gave Bella everything she wanted and didn’t really deal with how those things affected others. Bella loved Jake so Bella got Jake in her life; imprinted on her daughter so that he can never leave. Ugh. I shudder just to think about it. A vampire mated to a wolf? The tribal alpha and their next chief living with vampires? His sworn enemies? She would probably be a neuter like most hybrids and never be able to have children. The end of the Black family line? None of it made sense to me given the book build-up to that point.
So, what if Renesmee imprinted on a different wolf? What if she did it for a reason?
Embraced BD, AU, Leah/Edward
Trigger warning: death of a character in childbirth.
(man... what is it with me killing Bella this month? I’ve done it twice. giggle)

It ended up getting equal third place and I was pretty happy with that. Leah is not a popular character and pairing her with Edward was a risk, as well. Especially in a wolf centric competition. And it was anonymous, so no-one knew which story was mine. I love that!