Alphabet Spaghetti – A Word Game

The exercise is based on a version of the 7x7x7 writing game. This time, I’ve incorporated seven words beginning with C, each with seven letters, and selected using a random word generator. I tried to keep to the 700 word count, but went over by 86.

The story is a continuation from last week. It includes characters from my fantasy series, The Collective. If it turns into a longer piece of work (and it looks like it’s going that way), in terms of timeline, it comes after book 2. The story takes place during the early stages of a Demonic War and centres around a safe zone known as Grangefield. The characters today are; Cody (a human, who we discovered last week was injured during a mission and broke his leg in three places, Tamaya (a witch), Logan (a changeling wolf), Clayton (a hympe – which is a form of shapeshifter), and twins, Amber and April. The instalment ended with Cody reacting to a scream as he entered the med centre – he dropped his crutches and set off running (injury be damned!)

The incorporated words are; crusade, chapter, certain, costume, ceiling, capital and concert.

Warrior’s Embrace (Part 2)

The instant Cody entered the medical room he stopped dead, right before he fell on his ass. He didn’t have the option of dropping to his knees, what with the giant pot on his leg, and it wasn’t the pain that levelled him. It was the shock of what he saw.

On the bed directly in front of him, right where one of the Dillon twins should be, was what looked to be a cross between a giant chrysalis and a set of mummified remains.

Please don’t let that costume of horror be what I think it is.

Behind him, Tamaya stopped just short of ploughing into him. “Holy shit! What is that?”

He looked to the other occupants of the room, all frozen in place around the bed like they were trapped in some form of suspended animation.

“I’m not certain, but I have a feeling it’s Amber Dillon,” Cody said, fighting a wave of nausea.

The Dillon twins had been rescued just outside the perimeter of Grangefield. After being held captive by a group of rogues, April had somehow escaped with her sister. Barely able to walk, she had dragged Amber on a makeshift slay eight miles through the capital to the closest safe zone. It wasn’t until they were both safe that April had succumbed to the exhaustion. The twins had been in a coma ever since. Until now.

Now, April’s mouth was hanging open in a silent scream, her blue eyes wide with a horror they all felt.

Cody watched as Tamaya walked over to Logan and waved a hand in front of his face, or as close as she could get being that he towered above her. Logan didn’t react, not with his body. His pale blue eyes were a different matter, they followed her hand, slower than normal, but the movement was there. He was fighting whatever compulsion was holding him, and it had to be powerful considering the strength of his mind. It was difficult to control a changeling wolf.

Whatever was going on, Logan had managed to execute a shift before it happened. By some miracle, he wasn’t naked either, which was what usually happened until someone threw clothes in his direction. The closest thread shack, as they were known on the base, was outside the med centre, so it explained the ill-fitting scrub pants. His shock of white hair contrasted against the dark skin of his naked chest. He’d definitely been caught unaware, because Logan rarely changed out of wolf form when he visited. His animal soothed the twins, even as they slept.

“What’s wrong with them?” he asked, glancing at Clayton. The hympe was their resident medic. He was obsessed with healing the twins, a personal crusade since he was the one who found them.

“This has Orion’s signature stamped all over it,” Tamaya said, turning in a slow circle. “But since he’s not here, and I don’t feel his energy in the room, I have no frigging clue.”

She would know, she had the whole chapter and verse going on when it came to the man with the plan. “That’s a shame. We could use a god’s help right now, either that or a Hail Mary.” He tried to get up, his mind racing right along with his heart. Which was when the pain from his flight down the hallway decided to make itself known. It was like a wave of nasty spreading throughout his body. He swore he could hear his pain receptors buzzing like a concert of angry bees in his head.

This time he found himself flat on his back staring at the ceiling as he held in the scream of agony working up his throat.

“What can I do?” Tamaya asked, dropping down beside him.

He took in a slow breath. “Grab my crutches and then help me up. We need to find out what the hell is going on.”

“It’s going to take more than crutches to hold you up.” She pulled the bandanna from her head, setting her curls free. “Here, you might want to bite on this.” It was the only warning she gave him before she shoved the material between his lips and he felt the touch of her magic grab hold of him.

It was one way to get him on his feet, though even with the powerful buffer to coax him upright, he still saw stars.

When the agony finally released him from its painful jaws, he was sitting in a chair, his injured leg stretched in front of him.

“Hang tight, you stubborn mule,” Tamaya said from the doorway, and then she was gone, leaving Cody with his misery and a roomful of crazy.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

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Alphabetti Spaghetti – Word Game

This time, the story (based on a version of the 7x7x7 exercise) incorporates seven words beginning with B. They each have seven letters, but I broke the rules a little this week. I went over my 700 word limit by 27. It’s also based on a character from the Collective series, and I will be continuing the story, so my apologies for how it ends. You can find out what happens next week.

The incorporated words are; bargain, brother, battery, banquet, breathe, barrier and bathtub.

Warrior’s Embrace

Cody looked down at the pot on his leg, then the bannister, and shrugged. What the hell?  Planting his butt on the wooden rail, he handed his crutches to the first person he saw, leaned back and began his ride.

“Holy shit!” he shouted, less than halfway down the stairs. He was beginning to pick up some serious speed.

“What the-?”

The rest of the comment faded away as he shot past the gaping resident, towards the floor below. Okay, so he hadn’t really thought things through but, damn it, he was bored. There was nothing fun to do when you were grounded in a safe zone, except annoy his buddies, and that shit got old fast.

Breathe. You’ve got this.

As he approached the lower level, which held the cafeteria and communal zone, he spotted Tamaya stuffing her face. Perhaps it was his blurry vision, but she appeared to be sitting down to a banquet.

She was on her feet at the sound of his whistle, which would have made him smile if he hadn’t been shitting a brick at the thought of face planting at her feet. Luckily, their resident witch intervened a lot. It helped they were friends.

Cody hit a cushion of air and came to an abrupt stop. It tweaked his leg a little, but he couldn’t complain since Tamaya’s magical barrier was like colliding with a cloud.

“Please tell me you tripped and fell onto the bannister,” she said, her green eyes narrowing. “I swear, if I didn’t think of you as a brother, I’d drop you on your ass. On second thoughts, maybe I will.”

He looked down and realised he was hovering above the floor, caught it a witch’s grip. “Oh, come on, short-stuff. I’m going out of my mind here.”

Tamaya lowered her hands and his body followed suit, not as slowly as he would have liked, but he landed on his good leg gently enough. “You can’t pull that crap, Cody. For gods sake, you broke your leg in three places.”

“Yeah, and you say that like I had a skiing accident.” He’d been thrown against a wall. Again.

When you were in the middle of a war, and your enemies were of the supernatural variety, that kind of thing happened a lot. Though it could have been worse, the demon could have petrified his insides.

“Are you telling me you never broke a bone skiing?”

He grinned at that, because she had a point. He was accident prone. Earlier, he’d almost drowned himself in a makeshift bathtub trying to keep his leg dry. “Well, there was this one time-”

“Ahem.”

Cody barely had time to turn before his crutches were being thrust at him. The young man he’d caught unawares at the top of the stairs walked away without a word.

“Let me make you a deal before you upset anybody else,” Tamaya said, drawing his attention. “If you stay out of trouble for the next few days, I’ll find a workable solution to get you healed up and ready to roll.”

By workable she meant by non-magical means. He was being stubborn, he knew that. The elves had offered to do him a solid and speed up his recovery. But he couldn’t bring himself to go down that route. Not yet.

“Maybe I’ll make a bargain with the great and mighty Oz,” he joked, because seriously, what was a supernatural war without a god or two? He liked to joke Orion Reece was the god behind the curtain.

His wrist communicator bleeped, reminding him to take his medication. The thing ran on body heat or some shit, like he was a giant battery. If that were the case, he needed a little extra juice. “Listen, I need to hit the med centre, so I’ll let you get back to feeding your face.”

“That’s okay. I was just about done.” She bumped her shoulder against his arm. “Come on. I’ll walk with you.”

Cody didn’t argue. Things were never dull with Tamaya around, and he could use the distraction.

They had just reached the medical unit when a piercing scream echoed through the halls. Every cell in Cody’s body resonated with dread, and he shot towards the sound like a rocket. He didn’t even feel the pain when he dropped his crutches and began to run.


Don’t forget to let me know how you get on if you decide to take part, or if you would like me to incorporate words in the next installment.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Taste of home

I hadn’t intended to post anything today, but after reading a beautiful poem written by the Lonely Author, inspiration struck and I couldn’t get the emerging story out of my head. It followed me around until I had to pull out my trusty pad and get it down on paper. It’s a short one for me, only 400 words (I know, shocker, right?).

Taste of home

Joseph stared into the horizon, his eyes burning, not from the sun, but the tears that continued to fill his soul. He was drowning without his Sunita. Every second, every minute, every hour, he ached with the need to see her.

Though his gaze never wavered, he was aware of his luxurious surroundings, the kingdom he had built for her. The soft padded seat beneath his body, the fine thread of the blanket that did nothing to warm him. She was his centre, his heart, his life. It meant nothing without her.

A soft breeze brought with it the scent of apple blossoms, mixed with the fruit he was unable to eat. As it lifted his hair in a soft caress, he imagined it was her fingers, her voice whispering past his ears. What he wouldn’t give for the sweet taste of her lips.

Then, as the sun began to descend, he saw her. The dying embers cast a glow across her pretty face, her body shimmering with his tears so that the blooms in their garden shrouded her in the soft colours of their love.

All at once, time slipped away and Joseph remembered everything; their first kiss, their last. The moment he had made her his and all that came after.

With a sign of relief, he dropped to his knees before her, grateful for all his life had given him, and ready to join his Sunita again. She was his forever kiss.

***

Rebecca rushed across the garden, calling out her grandfather’s name. In her heart she knew what she would find. She’d known the moment she’d seen him fall forward from the chair. He had been waiting for days, his body growing frailer with each passing hour as he’d stared beyond the garden he’d built for her grandmother.

By the time she reached him, her mother was by her side, and together they eased him back into the chair. A chair her grandmother had made and upholstered as she’d joked about a king needing his throne.

She’d grown up with stories of her grandparents’ adventures, and as she looked in her grandfather’s peaceful, smiling face, she knew his wait was over. He was with his Sunita again, about to embark on an entirely different journey.

Bowing her head when her mother confirmed what she already knew, she let the tears fall and allowed her mother’s gentle hands to comfort her.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Time machines, comfort food, and the Salem Witch Trials

Okay, let’s tackle the time machine first, which is actually a reference to a new programme I’ve been binge watching – Timeless. This isn’t specifically a review post, but it is a pretty cool show. Once I got over the ‘oh my god, that’s Luka from ER’ and concentrated on the action, I discovered a number of entertaining reasons to continue watching; it has a time machine (actually there are two), the characters battle it out within a time line that includes some pretty significant historical events, all while trying not to mess with the space-time continuum (granted this is American history…but still), and the issues dealt with in each show allow for further discussion. Unless you don’t like to analyse things to death like I do, and even so, there’s plenty for everyone – pretty costumes, explosions, rebellion, comedy, mishap and mayhem!

To be honest, I’ve needed the distraction because things are a little tense in the Barker household, mainly because it’s exam season. My youngest is preparing for her GCSEs, so she has notes, revision guides and flashcards coming out of her ears (not that she actually uses them, but that’s another rant for another day!) As a parent, I have to be sneaky about how I add to her learning when the educational plate is already overflowing. Some of it is imagination, some desperation, but strangely, the show opened up an opportunity for me to force feed her some revision. Fine, so revision might be stretching it, but it certainly led to an interesting discussion that allowed her to recall key facts. Part of Grace’s history exam covers Crime and Punishment, a broad topic that touched on the Salem Witch Trials. Since Timeless tackled this very subject, I was able to instigate a conversation under the guise of entertainment.

Though, when I say I have to be sneaky, Grace sees right through me. She usually rolls her eyes, and I get comments like ‘God, mum, you’re so weird’ or she pulls a face when looking at her sister and mutters something like ‘here comes the lecture.’ Still, I was pleased by the fact that a discussion about hangings led to other historical facts included in her crime and punishment module. Even if she reluctantly shared some of her knowledge, that knowledge should continue to percolate, given that we laughed about it in the end.

Grace wasn’t the only one studying this week. I had a job that included translating a poem into BSL. When the writer admitted to me how important the poem is to him, I began to sweat about the accuracy of my translation. Okay, freak out more than I usually do, because I’m a perfectionist and I like to get things right. But that’s the thing about poetry, everyone interprets meaning differently, and when translating from one language to another (especially a visual language), things can often get lost. Luckily, I got to go through the poem with him, and in the end I was happy I reflected what he wanted to express. The relief of which I celebrated with comfort food and good company!

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Alphabetti Spaghetti – A pasta free word game!

 

After reflecting on my A to Z challenge (I know, I know, I was supposed to provide evidence of those reflections…say in a post for example!). Ahem…anyway…

It occurred to me that I need to work on my writing muscles, since my exercise regime is somewhat lax at the moment (okay, fine…I’m not great at the whole exercise thing). So, with that in mind, I decided to get a little creative. It’s a writing game I can take part in each week, and invite others to play along, working through the alphabet and utilising a version of the 7x7x7 exercise. I will take a letter, choose seven random words (or readers can suggest them), each with seven letters, and a maximum word count of seven hundred words.

Since I’m starting with A, I used a random word generator to get the ball rolling. The results were interesting, since one of the words is obsolete, and another is questionable. Still, I went with it! If you decide to play, let me know how you get on.

The words used are; abandon, abdomen, abalone, abashed, abaser, abactor, and arrghh.

 

Abandoning Reality

“Abandon your post, Jefferson. That’s an order.”

Craig met the CO’s steely blues head on, communicating without words that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Amidst the sound of heavy artillery, the smell of gunpower and smoke, a pocket of silence closed in around them. The stubborn and the heroic. Craig held strong. He ignored the pain in his abdomen, the tension in his legs, and pretended he wasn’t swaying like a leaf in the breeze.

“You leave me no choice, son. I have-“

A loud explosion cut through whatever threat he intended to serve. It was followed by a visual Craig could live without – if he got to live – that being his CO’s body exploding into a cloud of matter so fine, the only blowback was akin to dust. The molecules brushed across his face, making him want to scrub at his flesh, abandon his post, and scream at the injustice simultaneously. He didn’t do any of those things.

No, he remained in position, staring now into a new set of eyes. These not human.

His enemy did not speak. Perhaps it couldn’t. The creature’s face was partially covered by a shell-like protrusion that started beneath its eyes and extended to a hooked chin. It was flat, with a slight spiral in the centre and holes along the outer edge. Bizarrely, it reminded Craig of an abalone. If only that was his strangest thought of the night. It wasn’t by a long shot. He’d been in a state of shock since the base came under attack by beasts who were impervious to their weapons.

“CJ. Heads up!”

Craig knew that voice, and his body acted on instinct. He dropped into a crouch, fighting off a wave of nausea when his brain caught up. It didn’t stop him from watching the show, this one worth seeing, as his buddy swung his kukri in a wide arc and cut their enemy down.

The bastard’s head made a satisfying thump, thump at his feet. One down, only about a dozen to go. They hadn’t been able to get close enough, until now. But they were learning.

“We need to fall back,” Jax said, twirling his blade as though the thing were hungry for more blood.

“No can do, buddy. Those things will have to go through me if they want to get into the bunker.” He realised how ridiculous he sounded. Their enemy didn’t need explosives to blow people up, and they didn’t leave a mess either.  Christ, but he missed home, where the only problem his family faced were castle rustlers, the avaricious abactors, as his grandfather liked to say.

“The bunker was evacuated twenty minutes ago. You need to stand down, soldier and fall the fuck back.”

Craig’s gut cramped at the words. He’d put his CO in harm’s way for nothing. Abashed, he hung his head. “Sorry, man. I thought-”

“Who gives a shit what you thought? You’re not paid to think, grunt.”

His head snapped back up. That wasn’t fair, nor was it right. Jax could be a prick, but he wasn’t an abaser. Besides, he fell beneath Craig on the food chain so, even in the height of battle, he’d show respect.

Don’t forget. They play to win, and they never play fair.

One of their allies had warned him about the tricks the enemy pulled, and the manpower they brought to a fight. That had to be it. He was being played.

“Aarrghh!” Anger exploded in his belly, obliterating the pain. He threw himself at whoever, or whatever was pretending to be Jax, and took him to the ground.

The instant they hit the dirt, the illusion dropped, and as he stared at the decapitated head of his CO, he feared nothing was as it seemed. He had no clue who to trust, or what to believe. The only thing he knew for sure was that he had a job to do. So, he would guard his post, and continue to do so until he was no longer standing.

 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Zoning out #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

ZZoning out 

Today’s letter was always going to be a challenge (though I’m thrilled I made it to the end) because zoning out isn’t exclusive to writers. Our minds wander, it’s just the way it is. Sometimes we zone out by choice, by necessity, or because we don’t even realise we’re doing it. 

I’m a dreamer by nature so, writing brain aside, my mind often drifts! My dad used to call me square eyes, a moniker I earned because of how often I used to lose myself in a television show. Though, since I inherited that particularly trait from him…pot meet kettle.  

There are times when it’s not always safe to allow my thoughts to drift. Like zoning out in the driver’s seat and being forced to listen to an active conversation between the characters in my head. I tend to play music or make a point of noticing the potential hazards in front of me – a trick I learned to switch mental gears. 

Even when I began to write this post my mind started to wander, or perhaps I should say one of my characters decided he could provide an excellent example and, yep, total zone out. 

So, I’m going to end with a brief scene, a snapshot that wouldn’t stop looping in my brain until I wrote it down. 

Justin felt a thread pull on his subconscious. He started to follow it, and then caught the pretty, sweet scent of jasmine and his thoughts changed direction. Images bombarded his mind; silky red hair, fire shooting from ice-blue eyes and smooth dark skin he knew would feel divine against his.   

He took a deep breath, the smell of leather invading his senses. The images scattered again, a memory filtering through, one of heat and pain, and a mortal wound to his pride. 

This time, he followed the thread, or he started to. Something wet and warm against his lips finished the job. It was accompanied by a smacking sound that slapped his senses right back into him. 

Scowling, he eyed his two co-workers, Suez and JJ, who were staring back at him with twin expressions of amusement. 

“Welcome back, kid,” JJ said, letting loose his grin. 

Justin ignored him and turned to Suzannah. “Please tell me you’re the one who kissed me.” 

“I can’t believe you would insult me when I’ve just done my best work,” she said, her gaze dropping to his chest. 

He looked down to the row of neat stitches across his shoulder, evidence that he should have kept his mind on the road. If it hadn’t been for his leathers, he would have required a lot more than Suzannah’s fair hand. 

When he glanced back up, JJ was making a kissy face at him. “Come on, sweet cheeks. You’re good as new,” he said, patting Justin on the head. 

Moving in a fluid motion, and ignoring the pull on his stitches, Justin dodged the hand and leaned in to peck Suzie on the cheek. “You rock, Suez.” 

The delightful sound of her laughter followed him across the room. But she wasn’t amused by his words, or by the fact he was chasing JJ across command central. No, she roared her amusement the moment Justin came to an abrupt stop, like he’d hit a wall, instead of caught sight of her new assistant. 

Damn, the fiery red head is going to kill me. Nodding in her direction, as though he hadn’t made a complete fool out of himself, he dashed after JJ, determined to take his frustrations out on the clown. 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

 

Your sins will find you out #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

YYour sins will find you out 

Creating a whole new world can be incredibly gratifying. It can also be terrifying. You have a responsibility to all who live in it. The decisions are yours, you preserve the history, the governance – it’s all yours. And, okay, this might be an imaginary world so the consequences are different but think about all the influence you have among readers who enjoy to spend time there. Now, I’m not saying we’re gods, but we do hold a certain amount of power. A writer can educate, inspire, and reach people through their words. We make people laugh, offer them a place to escape and sometimes, find comfort. 

So, though our readers know the world isn’t real, they still invest, and feel disappointment if we get things wrong. That’s not to say they don’t forgive us our writing sins, because they do. They choose to ignore the errors in our timeline, the facts about our characters that don’t corroborate. We’re only human, after all, and we can’t focus on every character at once. 

There are ways for us to keep track, though it’s difficult to log every event that unfolds. We create complex systems and the notes we make can become a jumbled array of facts and information. Timelines need to be upheld, but also the strings that bind people (characters) together. This only becomes more complex if we have a number of series attached to the same world, each separate in their own right, but interlinked so that crossover is possible. 

It’s a lot. We might find a way to record every last detail pertaining to the world itself, and we still miss things. But as long as we stay faithful to the story, and not change the rules for the sake of changing them, any sins will be forgiven!   

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

X Marks the Spot #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

 

X Marks the Spot

We’re not going to talk about how tenuous a link today’s title is. Nope, we’re going to skip right over that!

Whether you’re the type of writer who plans everything to the last detail, or merely follows a loose outline, there will be a point when you have a particular goal to work towards. A kind of x marks the spot (I told you it was tenuous), that indicates a major event or turning point in the story.

It might be the death of a character, or a scene set to change the direction of the plot. In the back of your mind – or in front of you in black and white – you know what you want to happen. It’s a game changer and that’s okay. You’re planning on it, so all is good.

But then the character decides, ‘sod that, I don’t want to die’ and you’re left with the aftermath of that particular fight. Then the only x marking the spot (okay, grasping at straws now), is the giant cross against all your best laid plans or the metaphorical grave you buried the body in! Sometimes the characters get their own way, sometimes they don’t, but however many plans you make, the road map is bound to change.

And tenuous links aside, that’s okay. We’re a flexible lot, and we develop a vast number of coping strategies to fit our mood, the situation or, let’s face it, if the wind blows the wrong way!

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

World Weavers #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

I’ve touched on this topic more than once during the challenge, but it’s worth expanding (don’t worry, I’ll keep it short!) 

WWorld Weavers

Today is about getting stuck in the worlds we create, and how this translates to both our work and home life. One of the things that can happen, when you’ve been deep in a creative cloud and you’re close to burn out, is facing a jarring shift back to reality. A story can take over every aspect of our lives, so when we emerge and our loved ones expect us to shift back to the present, it can take a second. 

These worlds are often complex, and it takes time to immerse ourselves completely. Once we do, once we’re in the thick of things and taking a journey that often has major highs and even greater lows, we’re bound to become invested. It’s not uncommon to feel emotionally drained after writing a scene, so it takes a lot of patience and understanding from those around us. 

When it comes to the work itself, we can also get stuck in a particular world and form an unhealthy reliance on the familiarity of it. We might then be reluctant to step out of our comfort zone or explore other stories that need to be told. 

I wrote a little free verse to end the post (my apologies to the poets among us!)  

Teetering on a precipice between two worlds, 

The line blurred but not broken; 

Until that final hurl, 

A freefall into the unknown 

Where danger, magic and mayhem, 

Blanket you in a cloud of creative euphoria 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Vain attempt at humour #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

VVain attempt at humour 

Aspiring writers are often told to write about what they know, and certainly the things they enjoy. Being ourselves, being free to explore, is both a wonderful and scary experience. Writing can be very personal. It’s like giving others a view into our soul.  

When it comes to humour, it can be tough to gauge what audiences find amusing. What we deem funny, doesn’t always tickle another’s funny bone! The fascinating thing about using comedy in our work, is learning what makes a reader laugh – what translates and what doesn’t. 

Often, it takes us by surprise when a reader feeds back that they laughed out loud at a point we didn’t expect. I mean, we laugh at our own jokes – who doesn’t? – but we can gain new appreciation for a character or scene through the eyes of another. Writing really is a gift that keeps on giving! 

Though, given that writing is also a difficult job, (trials and tribulations aside), we deserve a little light entertainment. So, if the tears you’re shedding as you tap away are from amusement instead of misery, then who cares if you’re the only one laughing! 

laughing.gif

Thanks for stopping by 

Mel   

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