Get On Your Bikes, Gremlins!

When I announced at the end of September my intention to take a month off blogging and concentrate on doing an intensive edit of my latest novel, I might as well have sent out a party invitation to every gremlin in the neighbourhood.

Here was the gremlins’ idea of a party

  • Turned my landline into a homing beacon for international call centres.
  • Made sure that everything I needed to buy wasn’t available in the local shops, so I had to search for the items online, which, in turn, distracted me with things that I might like to buy in the future.
  • Compelled me to google for the perfect cure for being underweight.
  • Put the idea into my head to take fish oil supplements, which caused me the rarest side effects of insomnia and anxiety attacks.
  • Blew up my mobile phone charger with an almighty flash and bang.
  • Knocked out the speedometer and petrol gauge in my car.
  • Ensured no family chilling out time in front of the TV in the evenings by damaging the satellite dish.
  • Caused instant narcolepsy to anyone in the household trying to read a book after supper.
  • Then finally, as if this wasn’t enough, those darned gremlins decided to make Mister so ill I thought he was going to die. This necessitated him being admitted to hospital as an emergency and undergoing every test under the sun.*

[*It reminded me of an episode of House, whilst the team search for the cause of Mister’s symptoms like medical detectives, finally diagnosing the problem. I can’t praise them more highly. They’re my heroes. They are the reason he’s still alive. Thank you, NHS. You are a national treasure. May this Government and future ones always see it that way and provide the necessary funding.]

As you can imagine, I haven’t finished editing my novel but have only completed a third of the task. Neither has my son managed to complete the first draft of his novel as intended. Now we’re both working hard to stay below the gremlins’ radar to complete our missions, although, if I’m being realistic about it, I can only manage an hour a day of intensive work. On the plus side, I admit to achieving more in one hour than I sometimes achieve in four!

Please bear with me, my dear blogging friends, if my participation in the WordPress community is rather intermittent for a while longer (maybe until the New Year).

Next week, I will post a 5-star review of Sam Jordison’s most entertaining non-fiction work The Ten Worst of Everything: The Big Book of Bad, which, despite the title, is incredibly funny in places and helped me put my own trials in perspective.

Please note, that if you add the fact I haven’t finished editing my novel to the nine bulleted ingredients of the gremlins party, it equals TEN BAD THINGS – a most interesting coincidence, indeed.

So how did everybody else’s October go?            

Friday Fictioneers — Imprisoned

Many thanks to Rochelle for using my husband’s spiderweb picture as this week’s photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers. Some of my blog followers and visitors will already have seen this picture, which accompanied my New Year’s Day Monday Morning #Haiku 181 — Spider, thus to avoid spiderweb overkill, I’ll just post a downsized reminder of the original to go with my 100-word story for today.

My apologies for not having participated in Friday Fictioneers since last October. Throughout November I took time off from blogging to concentrate on penning the first 50K words of my latest tome for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and succeeded in reaching the necessary target to qualify as a winner. December was all about catching up with jobs and squeezing in a bit of writing when time allowed. January was a slow starter, but I’m now on the homeward stretch of the first draft of my novel, with about 15-20K words to go.

So here you have it, a trimmed snippet from my work-in-progress Twicers, which is a satire set in the not-too-distant future. My main character, Japeth, is loosely based on  my MC in The Parable Teller, a short story of mine published in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual, 2011.

Please be warned that the excerpt contains a profanity but, under the circumstances, I’m sure you’ll agree my MC is being most restrained! Also, note that I use the singular of the word “heel”, as Japeth only has one leg.

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IMPRISONED

By now, his eyes had adapted to the false twilight afforded by a row of high-up windows at the rear of the workshop, each one opaque with grime and laced over with spiderwebs.

With the dogs at his heel, he conducted a search of the workshop and nearly tripped over a tin bucket. Toilet rolls were stacked on the shelf above, with a piece of corrugated cardboard propped up against them. The cardboard had painted on it in white the words “COURTESY OF THE MANAGEMENT”.

“Shit!” said Japeth, which seemed apt. Nobody needed nine toilet rolls for a short stay.

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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.

777 Challenge: An Excerpt About Naughty Schoolgirls

Leigh W. Smith of Leigh’s Wordsmithery very kindly tagged me for the 777 challenge back in mid-October (shame-faced at my slowness to respond). Leigh is such a cool writer of most original voice and style. She writes speculative fiction and science fiction, mostly short stories, although she is working on her first novel. Do visit her blog and read some of her awesome creations.

The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress. This is all a bit of fun: nobody must feel beholden to take part and they are free to bend the rules if they wish.

SarahWritingI’ve already done a similar challenge (Lucky Sevens) twice before, for my Speculative fiction novel that I’m busy submitting to literary agents and publishers just now. What I found interesting about this earlier exercise was that my 7 lines changed from the first draft to the last. For anyone who’s interested, you will find the two different versions in these posts —  Lucky Seven Time! and The Magnum Opus: Where Did that Year Go?  Also, the title has changed several times, with it ending up as Counting Magpies, partly thanks to my fellow bloggers’ input in a recent poll.

At the moment, my work-in-progress involves editing and formatting one of my older novels, possibly with self-publication in mind. It’s not a path I ever envisaged going down but no harm in exploring all avenues. This particular novel, Desiccation, is set in a posh girls boarding school in the 60s and is a darkly comic science fantasy, which I envisage as being suitable for older teenagers upwards. So here’s my extract, although I can’t guarantee that it will appear exactly on Page 7 by the time I’ve finished my edit.

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The head girl despaired at both the skag and the hog, but she could just about tolerate them as long as they didn’t start quibbling about her extortionate commission; not that she was optimistic about making a fortune with such shoddy specimens in her employ.

The sport-mad Skag Rag looked more like a boy than a girl with her flat chest, muscly limbs, and short-cropped hair, while Sweat Hog resembled a large pink blancmange. She could have made something of her white-blonde hair, but instead chose to wear it in a limp ponytail, adding to her general air of neglect. The plus side of both girls’ unattractiveness was their desperation for male attention of any kind.

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And while I’m on the subject of girls boarding school, I’d like to share a picture of me, aged 8, dressed as a St Trinian’s Girl for a fancy dress competition! St Trinians Girl

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Following that brief interlude, here are the 6 (not 7) people I’m tagging for the 777 Challenge (I hear their feet running off into the distance already!):

Blondeusk of Blondewritemore , who is writing her first novel and was my guest storyteller in August (Note: this tagging is strictly under the proviso that Blondeusk doesn’t take up the challenge until December, after she has surfaced from NaNoWriMo as I’m encouraging her not to read back over any of her novel-in-progress until she has typed THE END).

Sherri of A View From My Summerhouse, who’s writing her memoirs. (And shush, this is secret as Sherri doesn’t know it yet, but I’m shortly going to invite her along as a guest storyteller to my blog).

Dave of Dave Farmer’s Blog, whose fantastic zombie novel The Range is due for publication at the end of this month (watch out for the Publication Day special on my blog). Dave was my guest storyteller in June.

Andrea Stephenson of Harvesting Hecate, who is at the submission stage of her poignant novel The skin of a selkie and was my guest storyteller in October.

Ese Klava of Ese’s Voice, who has travelled the world and has written a book titled Butterfly Thy Name.

David Milligan-Croft of There Is No Cavalry, who, like me, doesn’t enjoy the restrictions of genre. I’m not sure where he is with his second novel, Peripheral Vision, re editing, but I’m hopeful he’ll take up the 777 challenge.  The story is about a boy growing up in the 1970s northern England, who descends into crime and whose only chance at redemption is in finding his long-lost childhood sweetheart.