Day 7 – What is your favorite season? Use vivid details and even include memories you have of that season.

Day 7 of Chrys Fey’s 30 Day Writing Challenge –  What is your favourite season? Use vivid details and even include memories you have of that season.

The colours of autumn are the last gasp of the trees before the death of winter. The reds, browns and yellows are beautiful in a way that the greens of spring just aren’t. The green’s beauty is understandable. It represents birth, renewal, the continuance of life. It shows off the life of the tree. By contrast, the reds and browns are representative of the nearing of the end. There is no need for such beauty. Looking at the glory of colours, the riot for the eyes, you would not necessarily believe that the next step for the leaf will be to crunch under someone’s foot.

The best autumn weather is the low sun, the blue sky and the cool dry day. The blue is not the deep blue of a summer sky. It isn’t brazen and it doesn’t suggest heat. It’s a subtle, gentle blue. You know it will be cold but also crisp, also dry. A time for pulling on the layers. Gloved and scarved, you can keep your warmth while walking in the beautiful sunshine.

The definitive noise of autumn is the leaves under the feet. The last thing the leaves give us, after the glorious fire of their colours, is the wondrous crunch and crack when you run through them.

As my birthday is in November, Autumn is associated with a sense of heightened excitement. As a child, the excitement would start in October and not really lessen until Christmas. I still feel a sense of anticipation at the start of the season which gives the weather and the colours a sense of optimism that they wouldn’t otherwise. It is the start of the season of celebration. 

Advertisements

Chrys Fey’s 30 day writing challenge – Pick one of your favourite songs and write a piece about it.

Okay, so I’ve skipped ahead a couple of days as I was feeling uninspired and this challenge caught my eye straightaway. I will go back and do the others later when I have some ideas for them. This day 8 of Chrys Fey’s writing challenge. I thought of quite a few possible songs – in fact, I may still write those stories as well. The song I picked is M-Bike by PJ Harvey.

“Why did you do it?” They had asked that straight away. The female cop asked it. No sympathy there. You’d think she would understand. It wasn’t like she was God’s gift. How would she manage to keep a man when Lise hadn’t been able? Lise had a nice figure, good boobs, long legs. The female cop was chunky, to put it politely.

“He looked at her shape, not at mine.” Lise’s voice had been cold. She didn’t care. She wasn’t sorry. She had got what she deserved.Lise had looked down the cliff side at the burning carcass at the bottom and her heart had sung. Served the bastard right. Not giving Lise the attention she deserved. That had to be punished. 

It had started about six months ago. That was when she had arrived. A Sunday night. Lise hadn’t known she was coming. No warning. Lise had arrived at his house and there she was on the drive. Foolishly, Lise hadn’t even realised that she might be a threat. But that was before the spell had been cast. He was mesmerised. Lise was second best. He’d even cancelled seeing her a couple of times. Imagine that if you will. It was unheard of.

Even when they were going out, Lise would arrive and she would be on the drive. Lise would see him look over his shoulder at her as they left. It was mere anger at first, the warm glow that rose to her face. It wasn’t long before it was hot, red rage. She burned with it.

But at first she tried. Perhaps it was a novelty that would wear off. That meant she could be accepting at first. So much so that she even came on a couple of dates with them. Lise allowed it. Foolish. That had showed her to be weak. That he didn’t need to care about her feelings.

It had been on one of those dates that Lise had realised exactly how smitten he was. She was recounting her day, playing it for laughs, pausing so he could supply the requisite chuckles. Only they didn’t come. Lise realised that he was staring out of the window. Staring at her, out there on the pavement. Longing for the moment when he could be on her back again. His eyes were filled with it: need. That had been how he looked at Lise at first.

Later that evening, when they made love in his bedroom, Lise imagined that he was still thinking about her, her streamlined shape, her chrome curves and about the way it felt when she was between his legs. She had dug her nails into his shoulders until he yelped.

Plans for murder started then. Lise watched them carefully, thinking about opportunity, about vulnerability. When did he leave her alone, when was he out, where did he keep the keys to the garage and so on until a plan began to form.

It was the middle of the night. It seemed apt. She’d pulled him in to kiss her, earlier that day, swiped the keys from his pocket while he was sticking his tongue down her throat. Now she crept up to the garage, let herself in. She had wondered if she would been able to do it, once she was there but the sight of her gleaming in the moonlight, it brought unbearable hatred. It had to be done.

Quietly, she began to roll her out of the garage. It’s okay, Lise whispered, I’m a friend, remember. She moved slowly and was far heavier than Lise had reckoned but she didn’t have far to go.

Lise wasn’t sure how long it took to get her there but she knew she was panicked by the thought of spying eyes. There was no hiding what she was doing. It would be clear that there was something wrong. Still, they would understand when Lise told them. The usurper had to go.

When she stood at the cliff edge, Lise revved her engines up. That’s the last time I’ll have to listen to that, she thought as she gave one final push. Away it went, over the edge. Lise smiled for what felt like the first time in ages.
“I fucking hate his motor bike,” she screamed as the machine bounced down the hill.

 

Chrys Fey’s Writing Challenge Day 5 – Write about a dream or nightmare that you’ve had.

Write about a dream or nightmare that you’ve had. Turn it into a short-short story – Day 5 of Chrys Fey’s 30 Day writing challenge.

I have a recurring dream / nightmare when I’m at a new school (which as I am a supply teacher, happens quite often) and I can’t find the classroom I am supposed to be in. This story is based on that.

How did I end up here? Outside? I don’t remember a door. I’m sure I didn’t go through a door. Ahead of me is only green field. I don’t recognise the view. In my head, I have a vision of the room where I should be, paper flying, noise levels rising as the kids realise there is no teacher. 

As I turn around in panic, I see the school buildings. Running towards them, my heart is pounding. They don’t seem to get any closer. And I am going as fast as I can. My legs are starting to hurt. My breath is coming short and fast. Why won’t the buildings get any closer. 

Suddenly I am inside. Now where is the map they gave me? I begin to pat my pockets. Calmly at first then when it does not appear, frantically, going through pockets again and again. The corridors peel off in different directions. Pick a corridor, any corridor. I shoot off to the left. 

Science. Turn left again. Maths. Right this time. Art. Running again. I pass classrooms for every subject. Food Technology. Drama. R.S. Does this school even have an English department.

And then suddenly, I see it. At the end of this corridor. In large golden letters. The word I have been searching for. English. My classroom must be along here. I look at the doors, 12, 13, 14, yes, 15. This is the one. 

Inside and the class quieten down expectantly. I stare at them in silent alarm. It is then I realise that I have left the work for them to do in the staff room. 

 

Chris Fey’s 30 day writing challenge Day 3 – if you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go.

Day three of Chrys Fey’s 30 day writing challenge. This wasn’t an easy challenge for me. My writing tends to be quite internal- relating to thoughts and feelings – rather than description of external things. Even when I write third person, it tends to be from a character’s viewpoint so I don’t often write straight description but here goes….
I picked somewhere cold because the heat doesn’t really attract me. Even though the description isn’t particularly pleasant, I would really like to visit somewhere really cold.

The air was sharp, lethal almost. It managed to hurt, as if it were solid somehow. The effect on the body was instant. Eyes streaming and nostrils twitching, trying to retract. Ribs ached. If there were any fingers foolish enough not to ensconced in gloves, they were quickly attacked with vigour by the wind until they were red and numb, not to mention completely useless to their owner.
From the cliffs to the sea, there was a thick blanket of snow as yet untrodden. White so pure and clear that it hurt to look at it. Even with sunglasses, the glare was still painful. The light bounced back from the snow with a determination to blind. It was difficult to spot where the sea began from a distance.
The crunch of the snow under the first feet was the real start of winter. The innocence of the snow broken again by human feet. The foot slid through the deep snow so that it was more a foot hole than a foot print. The foot needed to be pulled out before the next one could be attempted. Progress to the water’s edge was slow. The trail of footprints stands out in the unblemished scene like a scar across the landscape. As if the snow was wounded.
At the water’s edge, the silence suddenly becomes apparent. If this was a summer’s day, there would be the waves lapping and the gulls shrieking but today, it is quiet. There is the occasional howl of wind and the odd creak as the ice stretches itself. Inhuman noises that suggested emptiness, cold, death even.

Day 2 – 30 day writing challenge – Pick a book at random and use the opening line

Day 2 - from Chrys Fey's 30 day writing challenge. 
Open a book at random and pick a line. Use that line as the
beginning of your piece and continue writing from where it 
leaves off. Pen the first thoughts that come to mind and don’t
revise it.

(The opening line is from Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood.)

Her parents thought she was becoming too wrapped up in these 
things and tried to give her dancing lessons to make her more
sociable. 
More sociable? In what way would being in a room full of sweaty
girls make her more likely to speak to any of them. Probably some
sort of leotard would be required. She had no desire to have flesh
on display. The more flesh on display, the more tongue tied. That
was an obvious correlation.
She didn't really understand why they were so concerned. She would
speak to them if she thought it was worth it but it clearly wasn't.
None of them were as interesting as the people in the books she read. 
None of them came close to the people she could imagine. They must
exist somewhere other than in her head. Well, even if they didn't 
she liked creating a world where they did. 

Chrys Fey’s 30 day Writing Challenge – Start a story with Once Upon a Time

First off, before the story, an apology. As ever, life is hectic and when I posted that I was starting this challenge I really thought I’d be able to do it the next day. Due to circumstances beyond my control, it has taken over a week to get this to you. This is the first challenge of Chrys Fey’s 30 day writing challenge. Hopefully the next one will be quicker but on her website it does say that you don’t have to do one every day which, given my busy life, is just as well.

Start a story with Once Upon A Time. 

Once upon a time….

There was a princess called Lucinda that lived in a big castle. I know, that’s not unusual for princesses but she really didn’t like living there. It was dull and cold and too big. Sometimes she thought her entire family could leave and she wouldn’t even know. The worst thing about that was the fact that it wouldn’t surprise her if they did go. And it was likely they would leave her behind.

The castle had big towers that filled the princess with foreboding although she wasn’t sure why. She just knew that when she was on her way to princess school and she looked back; she shuddered involuntarily when she saw them. There was one at each corner, tall and proud with only the one window at the very top. She didn’t like them any better when she drove back from school and they seemed to stare down at her, one cold dark eye each. It made her skin cold all over.

The school wasn’t much better. It was grey and imposing with the same stark towers on the corners. Perhaps, she mused, they would be frightened into behaving as they were supposed to. It was true that no one seemed to step out of line so maybe it worked. They all trooped into the classroom and sat at their desks and learned the many things that princesses needed to now. Like how to be radiant. Or how to talk down to your subjects. The princess wanted to ask about the towers. Questions like why are they so tall. Questions like what happened at the top with the one eyelike window. Once you got in, she reasoned, you would not get out. But she didn’t ask. It was unspoken that the towers suggested punishment. And they were all good girls really. Even Princess Lucinda.

It was hard enough for Lucinda. She knew she didn’t really fit in. The other princesses were pink. They were flouncy. Lacy. Well, so was she. That was the uniform. But she didn’t like it. The dresses got in her way and when she sat down; they could always see her underclothes no matter how careful she was. She had failed that this year. Ladylike posture. It just didn’t come naturally. She looked on with envy as the others stuck their little fingers out when they picked up their cups and when they moved slowly and elegantly across the room in their sharp healed pointy shoes.  

Their hair was bouncy. Her hair refused to do that. She had asked to have it cut short but they would not let her. Instead, it tangled itself into knots or unravelled from however it was supposed to be. And she couldn’t stay clean. The other princesses sat and waited for things to be brought to them, for things to happen. She wanted to go and find things. Although most of the time, the only things that she found were dirt and the corners of tables that were intent on ripping skirts and tearing lace.

There was a lot at stake of course. If they didn’t pass all levels of princessing, then they’d never get a prince and go on to have lots of other little princes and princesses. The thought of marrying a prince filled Lucinda with nearly as much horror as the thought of the tower. What a choice! She supposed it would be different with real babies but when they had to practise with the dolls, well, she genuinely couldn’t see the point. All the others cooing and exclaiming and dressing the dolls up. She wasn’t sure what it was but there had to be something better than this.

So that is what they were doing, they were still waiting. For their prince to come. Lucinda sniggered but they were far too delicate to think such vulgar thoughts. They knew that you had to be to snag a prince and sniggering didn’t really figure. Probably, Lucinda reflected, it gave you wrinkles and that was tragedy beyond measure. They spent long hours shaping their nails and curling or straightening their hair depending on what the fashionistas said. Then there was the rubbing on of creams. She looked at them and thought how they all looked the same.

They all had that careful voice, as well, not too loud, not too quiet. The exact right tone. She couldn’t manage that either. Too loud. When she laughed, not only did it come out in guffaws but also her whole body joined in. They tittered carefully behind their hands when that happened although she had no doubt that nasty little thoughts existed behind those careful eyes. She almost hoped they did. At least that would make them interesting.

The princes were equally boring. All vying for position. All carefully styled, of course. Perfectly clothed. That was the problem. Nothing wrong with them. She was fed up with feeling less than perfect. They talked about themselves constantly. The whine of them contrasted horribly with the giggling from the princesses. They were all handsome and that struck Lucinda as odd. Surely they couldn’t all be. What happened if a less than perfect baby was born? Were they sent to some lesser family where it mattered less if you were beautiful? Another question she would never ask.

It was not like Lucinda to be early. Things eluded her. The things needed for school that day, for example. So often, they’d have to turn back and get a servant to run and find some book or other or some homework she had forgotten. Sometimes she’d realise that she had odd shoes on. This morning had run smoothly. She was the first one into their classroom. Or so she thought

She was trying to decide what to do with this small piece of freedom when she heard a noise from the cupboard at the back of the classroom. She knew what she was supposed to do. Scream and then run. Alert the nearest male. Lucinda had no intention of behaving in such a princessy way. How very tedious. She wasn’t frightened, she was intrigued. With a delicacy that usually eluded her, she moved quietly towards the cupboard. The noises – rustles and swishes – made her think of a small animal. No threat.

She paused briefly to make sure she was ready and then she yanked the door open. She couldn’t believe her eyes. One of the princes. In there, among their clothes. Lucinda tried to recall his name. She knew she had seen him before. With the others but they came as one mass. They were the princes. She didn’t try to pick them apart. Then she tried to recall what it was that was different about him. He was slim, slight. Probably the smallest of the princes. But it wasn’t that. It was something that she couldn’t quite place. A delicacy perhaps. It was hard to see him rescuing or duelling or any of those things the princes learned about. Lucinda realised that she quite liked that about him. That and the fact he looked more frightened of her than she felt of him.

“What are you doing in there?” She asked with as much authority as she could muster. There was a pause and Lucinda thought the prince might cry. That wasn’t allowed. Boys don’t cry. She was ready to put her arms around him though, if she should need to. But instead, he spoke. The same thing that Lucinda couldn’t quite grasp about his body was wrong with his voice. It was smooth and had none of the depth that the other princes aimed for. It was soft like silk. Lucinda felt it rub over her skin.

“I picked up my sister’s bag by mistake. I was just leaving it for her.” That sounded fair. Lucinda wished she had a brother that would be so helpful but they were all hateful.

“You probably should go.” He nodded his head. After all, the princes were not allowed in here and perhaps, he knew that the towers were for punishment as well. She couldn’t imagine that he found being a prince very straightforward.

As she watched him leave – his steps were small and dainty – she thought he moved more like one of them. More like a girl. She felt sorry for him. He was as out of place as she was. He turned just before he left. Smiled.

“My name is Sam.” He said. Samuel, thought Lucinda. She would not forget.

“Lucinda.” She hadn’t realised until that moment, how much she had hated her name. It was clunky and awkward. Well, it suited her; you had to agree with that.

Lucinda thought about Sam a lot. She called him the prince of the cupboard. In her head, anyway. For once, that lunchtime, she sat with the others while they giggled over their possible future husbands. Some of them had been promised to princes already. Providing they got the right grades at princessing, of course. Quietly, she asked if any of them knew anything about Sam. They seemed surprised to see her and hear her but they soon recovered.

“Trust you,” said Marianna, “To notice a fellow freak.” Lucinda realised that it was true. That was what was so similar about them. They were all wrong for the role. The others all laughed and she moved back to her lone seat. The prince of the cupboard was wrong in all the ways that made him right for her.

Weeks passed and Lucinda made an effort to make it into school early but she never saw the prince of the cupboard in their room again. It disappointed her every time. She began to think that she would never be able to speak to him again. Not that it would matter anyway. Not when she was going to fail her princessing exams. What happened then? No one wanted to say but she felt the presence of the tower whenever they spoke about it. A lot of good it would do her. Sam didn’t look like the rescuing type. She pictured herself looking out of that one window. That small square her only view.

It was soon to be the end of term ball. Lucinda always hated it. They didn’t pick her to dance. Or if they did, they didn’t do so again after she had trodden on them or elbowed them of in some way or other injured them. These days her reputation went before her so she stood on the sidelines and watched them glide effortlessly around the dance floor. She wished she had the grace to do so herself. It was a strange feeling, to want something she so thoroughly hated but it would be easier, fitting in. Easier than standing watching everyone else enjoying their life. Okay so they were thoughtless but maybe that was better.

This time she tried really hard to stay clean and tidy by sitting in one place before they had to leave and even her mother was impressed that she hadn’t managed to mess up her hair. She was wearing her best dress. (The most expensive one not the one she liked the best. She liked none of them but trousers were not allowed.) She wanted Sam to think she was beautiful. She assumed that he would like this perfect version. It was what all the princes wanted. That was the whole point.

So she giggled not sniggered. She wiggled not stomped. She hid her face behind her hand. She was that shy, sweet girl. A couple of the princesses asked if she was feeling okay. She said she was although it was a lie. She had never felt worse. She was pretending to be what they wanted her to be. What he wanted her to be. Not even that. What she thought he wanted her to be. It was difficult but he was the prize. It had to be worth it.

It was the opinion of the princes that the ball was really for the girls. They had to be there and they had to dance but it was not their thing. Jousting and archery and sports that was their thing. But they had to be impressive and to be impressive, you had to be there. So mostly, they came and stood and watched and decided who was the prettiest. They fought to be the one who danced with the prettiest. They looked at Lucinda and sniggered at the way she giggled, at the way she wiggled. She might be trying but she lacked grace. She lacked feminine charm. She was still a little scary. The princes were taught what the princesses would do and that was fine. None of them was really bright enough to work out someone who did not follow the pattern.

Sam watched her carefully. He patted down his own clothes. They would probably suit Lucinda as well. Maybe he should share with her the secret of his success. He supposed it was probably too late. Watching her, trying so hard, it was heart breaking and Sam knew his heart was already soft with feeling for her. He wasn’t sure what he should do.

She was more like him than she realised. He had to find some way of letting her know that. He thought he’d seen recognition in her eyes, that day she had caught him changing his clothes but she had easily bought the lie he told so maybe she was clueless. Maybe she thought him just like all the rest, hence the terrible trying to fit the role

He couldn’t remember the first time now. Just that it was a long time ago. Long enough that he had abandoned all thoughts of femininity. Even in his own head. Every time though, he felt that small thrill of it being right and proper even though everyone else thought it wrong. He had to be at school early to ensure no one saw him arrive, stay late so he could change again before home. Now, at home, in girl clothes, that was when it was odd and opposite.

“May I have this dance?” Sam looked up and there was Lucinda. His heart pounded unsteadily. She must have grown bored with waiting. Sam had decided that there would be no dancing for him tonight. He was too small and too nervous and he feared whoever he chose would just laugh. He grinned at the way everyone was staring. He hadn’t been concentrating or he would have seen the entire hall come to a stop.

“Of course.” He said, taking her hand. She let her hand sit on Sam’s waist, gently ran her hand over the hip. She noted the curve and nodded.

“You’re just like me.” She said. “Just like me.” She emphasized each word and Sam was glad she had figured it out.

“Do you think we’ll be able to live happily ever after?” She asked. Nobody else seemed to have figured it out and as far as she could tell, no one else wanted either of them. Her own mother would be pleased just to see her married.

“Oh, I think so.” Sam said grinning. They were floating across the dance floor now and much to everyone’s amazement, they moved well. They fitted together. Lucinda grinned as well. She was thinking about the lack of towers in the future and how it pleased her immensely.

30 day writing challenge

As I have definitely finished the Eclectic Reader Challenge and I am not about to try and read another twelve books in the next 3 months, I thought I’d try and find a new blogging challenge.
I really wanted it to be a writing challenge. I’m still in the throws of editing Choose Yr Future and so I am not writing much new stuff. I must admit that this is starting to get on my nerves. Not that I want to start a new big project until Choose Yr Future is in a better state but I did want to be writing something.

I started by following some of the challenges on Readwave which is a great site for sharing writing and reading great stories. The challenges are fun and short and encourage you to write in different styles. The most recent story How To Murder Your Partner and Get Away With It made the staff picks section so that was pleasing.

Then I happened upon the 30 day writing challenge on Chrys Fey’s excellent website and it seemed perfect. Small challenges that give me something specific to think about and help flex your writing muscles a bit.

Here is the list of the challenges. First one to follow in the next couple of days.

1. Start a piece with: “Once upon a time…”
2.  Open a book at random and pick a line. Use that line as the beginning of your piece and continue writing from where it leaves off. Pen the first thoughts that come to mind and don’t revise it.
3.  If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Use vivid details and prose to describe the experience you would like to have.
4.  Create a character off the top of your head and write a short history about him/her.
5.   Write about a dream or nightmare that you’ve had. Turn it into a short-short story.
6.   Start a piece with: “I am standing at my kitchen window…” (Be creative! Make the piece fit a specific genre such as mystery, horror, romance, etc.)
7.   What is your favorite season? Use vivid details and even include memories you have of that season.
8.   Pick the title of one of your favorite songs and write a piece about it. Give the lyrics meaning by creating a story for it.
9.  You’re sitting in a coffee shop when you look up and see _______. Write a fictional piece about what would happen if you saw a celebrity in a coffee shop. (Humorous/suspenseful)
10.  Find something that you wrote a long time ago (published or unpublished) and rewrite the beginning. Give it a different tone.
11.   Write a short nonfiction piece about your first job.
12. Turn someone you know and love into a character. Write about them. Give them a fictional life.
13.   Describe your dream home as if you are living in it now.
14.   Recreate the sentence: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Expand it into a paragraph or two if you are so moved.
15.   Write about a memory from your childhood. Good or bad. Give it new life and  insight.
16.   The next time you are eating, write about the food on your plate or in your bowl. Describe every  portion. And as you are eating, write about all the tastes on your tongue.
17.   What is your favorite holiday? Write a short-short about a character experiencing that holiday and everything you associate with it.
18.   Think of your favorite book growing up. Use the title as inspiration for your next piece. What do you imagine when you read that title? Write a poem or a paragraph.
19.   What were you like as a child? Describe little you as you would a character in a book.
20.   What is your sun sign? (Gemini, Virgo) Use your sign as inspiration for a character  (protagonist or antagonist) or setting (world or made-up town).
21.   Go outside. Sit on the porch, in the garden, or at the beach, and write about nature.
22.   Create a past life for yourself. Who were you? What did you do?
23.   Write a journal entry for your favorite fictional character.
24.   If you went on a road trip or cruise, describe the experience you would like to have and places you’d like to see.
25.   Theme: Water (Write anything that comes to mind involving water.)
26.   What do you imagine the future will be like? Write a short science fiction piece.
27.  What is your favorite fairy tale? Give it a new ending.
28.    What are you like now? Describe yourself as if you were a character in one of your books.
29.   End a piece with: “But that wasn’t the end.”
30.   Write a letter to your muse. (Dear Muse,)