Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Friday Fictioneers — Magenta and Cyan Equals Purple, Right?

Folks, I’m disappearing off into the sunset throughout the month of November and not participating in Friday Fictioneers during that time. During my absence I’m going to attempt to write at least 50,000 words of satirical science fiction as a participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The novel’s working title is The Parable Teller.

This is my first attempt to write a starter draft that fast. My record is three months, following three months of research. You’ll only see me back at FF before November 30 if I flunk the challenge. Meanwhile, I hope to post once-weekly progress reports on my blog, perhaps with the occasional excerpt if I have time to edit it, as nobody gets to see my raw drafts of anything!

If any other Friday Fictioneers are participating in the madness and want to link up as a NaNoWriMo buddy, my username over there is Wolery Wol. I’ve one buddy so far, and that’s none other than Dale!

So here’s my story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers (in which the colour purple features … especially for Rochelle, of course!). And many thanks to Roger Bultot for the wonderfully picturesque photo prompt.

Genre: Mainstream
Word count: 100

MAGENTA AND CYAN EQUALS PURPLE, RIGHT?

“Sunsets aren’t purple.”

“The one was at teatime yesterday, Miss.”

“Viewed through a glass of blackcurrant juice, you mean?”

Robbie’s ears and cheeks burned with a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

Sophie threw him a sideways glance and started to giggle.

“What’s so funny, Sophie?” asked their art teacher.

“Robbie’s gone the colour of a proper sunset, Miss.”

He tore up his painting and stormed out of the classroom, yelling, “Everybody can eff off!” Then headed for the headmaster’s office, determined to get in the first word.

“Sir, I’m here to lodge a complaint against the curriculum.  It murders imagination.”

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To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

Review: The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J Walker

My rating : 5 of 5 stars 

The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J Walker is a post-apocalyptic novel set in 2021. “Hell!” I hear you say. “That’s not far in the future.” As you know, things can escalate very fast, especially when it comes to politics. People become hot under the collar, extreme in their views and, in the worst-case scenario, society could collapse.

This story is told from two different viewpoints: a mongrel dog named Lineker and his owner, Reginald Hardy.

Lineker swears a lot, and some readers may not approve of this, but I thought it worked well and added rather than detracted from my enjoyment of the story. Obviously nobody knows exactly what it’s like inside a dog’s brain, but if a dog of Lineker’s personality were to use human words, then he would use the f-word and the c-word without compunction, in particular with regard to cats, squirrels, foxes, and disagreeable humans. Even though he relates his insights and his plot narration in the English language, I would not class this as an anthropomorphic exercise. He is always very much an authentic dog of huge personality. Also, I felt that the author obviously knows his dogs well; he includes a great deal of interesting background information about their relationship with humans from the earliest times, when wild dogs first became domesticated.

Reginald worked as an electrician before the apocalypse, which comes in useful for fixing his recalcitrant generator, as well as it equipping him with a skill that post-apocalyptic society can use. The trouble is, he’s a loner who can’t abide any sort of physical contact with other humans, even a quick handshake; thus, the fact that the majority of people have left London and that he has the immediate neighbourhood all to himself, is a total boon, and he’s not in a hurry to leave it, until a starving orphan girl turns up on his doorstep, refuses to leave, and then asks for his help with something that involves him having to leave his flat. Lineker and the girl bond straightaway, and so it’s two against one when it comes to the final decision about this.

What follows is an adventure to end all adventures, triggering a rollercoaster of emotions. I found myself laughing, near to tears, my stomach in knots, breathless with anticipation, and, most important of all, I really cared for the three main characters. As for the baddies, they were spit-worthy and you wanted the worst for them. At the same time, you could understand their motivation, however twisted it might seem.

A highly recommended read (except for those who belong to the anti-swearing brigade!).

[Note:  There are two novels of the same title, as there are no copyright restrictions when it comes to book titles, so make sure that if you like the sound of the novel I’m reviewing, that you don’t end up ordering the other one and wonder what I’m rabbiting on about.]

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And a post script for my fellow authors re marketing…

I stumbled upon this fabulous book by typing in the keywords “dog fiction” on Amazon. Quite a number of books came up, but the brilliant and rather quirky yellow and black cover to Adrian J Walker’s novel particularly caught my eye. Then I read the product description, which wowed me so much that I had to read the opening pages of the novel. After that, I was so hooked, it wouldn’t have mattered what the paperback cost; I just had to buy it. This proves that experts’ advice about selling books on Amazon is true, although not all of us have Del Ray (an Imprint of Ebury Publishing/Penguin) as our publishers)!

Then, of course, there’s the marketing ploy when you’ve got to the end of a novel, only to discover some additional pages with an excerpt from another book by the same author. Thus, I found the first thirty pages of Adrian J Walker’s novel The End of the World Running Club, which hooked me so completely that I had to order a copy of the book straight away. I’m now two-thirds of the way through reading this and will post a review in due course.

Monday Morning #Haiku 178 — Autumn Leaves (02)

Leaves tinged by autumn
Still glued to tree after storm
Stubborn to the last

#Tanka 36 — Squashes

Kabocha squashes
grown football-sized overnight:
fresh soup at no cost.
On the supermarket shelves,
pricey glop packaged as soup!

Monday Morning #177 — Crow (02)

Feathered sentinel
Black sheen competes with blue sheen
Stilled riverside crow

Friday Fictioneers — Yumi and the Gods

This week’s photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers, courtesy of Ted Strutz, brought to mind one of my poems (a secret favourite of mine) that I published on my blog a couple of years ago. The poem is a progressive haiku centred around the phases of the moon and contains the names of two Japanese Shinto deities: Tsukuyomi the Moon God, and Amaterasu the Sun Goddess. I’ve sandwiched this poem between two short pieces of prose, producing a story within a story.

For newcomers to Friday Fictioneers, the challenge requires you to produce a story of 100 words (maximum). It’s worth noting that according to WordPress and to my word processor, compound adjectives and nouns count as one word and not two, although only if you hyphenate them. As a Brit, I love hyphens 😉

YUMI AND THE GODS

The ghost-ferry headed for the shore, each of its passengers’ experiences unique en route to the afterlife and dependent upon their main focus at the moment of their taking.

Yumi was looking heavenward…

under cutglass stars
she dreams of Tsukuyomi
new moon love potion

nocturnal circus
leg draped over crescent moon
girl hangs upside down

gibbous halfway house
shadow night crickets gossip
she needs sedating

full moon tree-trunk spin
naked dancing on silver
she coruscates dew

blackbird sings her home
waning moon ambushed by dawn
Amaterasu

The gods awarded Yumi first prize for her dream and allowed her to live.

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To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

Allow me a little hoot!

In my June post #Tanka 33 — Light and Shadow (plus some scintillating “shades of”), I mentioned the Highly Commended awarded to me in this year’s University of Winchester Writers’ Festival for the first three pages (+synopsis) of my unpublished 90,000-word speculative fiction work, Counting Magpies. Since then, I have gained access to a working scanner, hence the images I’ve shared below.

It’s possible that a few of my blog followers have already clicked on the new widget in my sidebar titled “Latest News” and arrived at the relevant page, but for those who usually access my blog through WordPress Reader, or are email subscribers, you may have missed a chance to see the two fabulous certificates mailed to me by the competition organisers.

Four months on, I’m still touched and humbled by the feedback I received from the judges. So thank you, judges, whoever you are, for giving this author a much-needed boost to her confidence 🙂

For those who missed my three Friday Fictioneers’ posts, with adapted standalone 100-word excerpts from Counting Magpies, here are the links.

Snow Baby

The Ancient School at D-wh-n-e

A Rare Specimen

Monday Morning #Haiku 176 — Sea Treasure

Pebble-weed circlet…
Ebb tide find, a Mermaid’s crown
stolen by storm thief!

Review: Feeding Time by Adam Biles

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This début novel is possibly the quirkiest one I’ve ever read. It’s set in a care home from hell, Green Oaks, which is directed/neglected by Raymond Cornish, a middle-aged guy who needs serious therapy himself and spends most of his time ensconced in his office, masturbating and leching over a teenage girl he can see out of the window at the bus stop most days and with whom he’s determined to get his end away.

The residents of Green Oaks suffer from dementia in varying degrees. Their elected commander-in-chief is someone who calls himself Captain Ruggles, having constructed from his delusions a complete history of his heroic actions in the war. He’s a wonderful character who you can’t help but applaud for his constant rebellion against the Care Friends (Carers) whom he believes are Nazis controlling the prison camp of which he’s an internee; hence his frequent attempted escapes.

The Care Friends are total pieces of work, especially with their Supervisor off his head on drugs most of the time. Of course the title “Care Friends” is a sick joke, as they are the worst enemies of the residents, and this is no delusion on the part of Captain Ruggles.

Adam Biles writes in a vivid and faultless literary style that plays on all the senses: in fact, his quality of writing is excellent. However, I decided to award his novel four rather than five stars for the following two reasons.

My first problem with the story is that in the real world, I cannot imagine a care home going so off the radar that it isn’t subject to regular statuary inspections. In the case of somewhere as bad as Green Oaks, at the very least it would be subject to warnings to improve followed by unannounced inspections, but more likely it would be a candidate for instant closure. As for the residents’ relatives, it seems too far-fetched that their visits are so rare and that they are so easily conned by the annual “show”, when the Care Friends give the home a temporary face-lift for their benefit.

My second problem is that there is too much preoccupation with bodily functions. Yes, I know that people suffering from dementia lose control over their bowels and bladders, and can become generally disinhibited in their behaviour, but there is just an overdose of excrement of one kind and another. Also, there was one chapter in the book about a rotting corpse, where things became so gross that I had to skim read a number of pages, and skim reading is something I rarely do. So I feel bound to warn readers, do not open this novel when eating, as you will definitely lose your appetite fast.

Would I read another novel by Adam Biles? Yes. I love his originality and his fluent prose, plus, I think that if he keeps writing, he’ll be a serious contender for a much-coveted literary prize sometime in the future.

As a footnote to this review, I feel compelled to give a special mention to the limited edition that is in my possession as it’s a wonder to behold. The publishers, Galley Beggar Press have produced a book that is simple and yet classy in design. I love the minimalism of the soft back black dust jacket with green interior, the blurb, and the author’s bio. There are also some wondrous, surprising, and fun black and white illustrations by Melanie Amaral and Stephen Crowe throughout the book.

Please note that the limited edition described above, I ordered direct from the publishers, Beggar Galley Press. However the mass-market paperback and Kindle editions for sale on Amazon (UK) & (US) are green, although the green paperback edition is also available direct from the publisher.

Monday Morning #Haiku 175 — Little Egret (02)

Beak points downriver…
Little Egret pleased to wait
until lunch is served

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