Monday, 12 March 2018

River Dark - Chapter One

RIVER DARK - an Ironbridge Gorge Adventure Chapter One

A Terrible Enemy

 If I'd known I'd be hunted down like a criminal, I would have turned away from Atterley Hall when I heard that horrible screaming. But this was the first day of my new life, and I wasn't giving up now. As the wintery sunlight broke through the early morning mist over the parkland, I took a deep breath, charged through the archway into the stable yard, and had to jump back from a huge black stallion, rearing up and thrashing the air with his polished hooves. He shrieked with anger, trying to shake off a small, grizzled haired man who clung to the leading rein. The groom, despite his broad shoulders and shovel fists, was no match for the angry, enormous beast. His riding boots slid on the damp cobbles as angry horse reared, plunged, and drummed his hooves in a wild, furious dance. Frantic to control the stallion, the groom punched the animal's neck with his fist, making the powerful creature wilder than ever. With a violent twist of his spine the horse flung the man into the air, and I watched in horror as he landed on the cobbles with a sickening thump. Then the thoroughbred reared again, ready to bring his weight crashing down on his tormentor, and I yelled, 'Thunder, don't!'

 At the sound of my voice, the stallion seemed frozen in time with his head thrust back, his mane rippling with a life of its own. His heavy body hung motionless, balanced on his hind legs, the muscles in his haunches straining under the shining skin. Afraid he would topple and break his back I foolishly flung out my arms to save him. But with a tremendous effort, he heaved his weight forward; his hooves clattered the yard, and the groom scuttled to safety. Now the stallion swung his head in my direction, trotted towards me, and it took every bit of courage to stand my ground. For a terrified moment I thought I'd be trampled, but he came to a skittering halt, his huge chest towering above me, and in the sharp morning air, I was close enough to feel the heat of his silky body. His damp breath formed clouds around his whiskered muzzle, wetting my skin like fine rain; he dipped his head and playfully nipped me on the shoulder. He had not forgotten me. With joyful relief, I reached up to pat his powerful neck and out of the corner of my eye noticed the groom striding towards me, a furious, twisted expression on his face. Without a word, he snatched up Thunder's dangling lead rope, grabbed me, and almost jerked me off my feet. Held in his fierce grip, his tweed jacket reeking of sour sweat, and his red, weather-roughened face thrust close to mine, his anger shocked me, if I hadn't shouted when I did Thunder might have killed him.... to be continued...

Saturday, 10 March 2018

River Dark

I shall be posting excerpts from my latest book,  River Dark, sequel to the Ironbridge Gorge adventure Candle Dark on Mondays, here, on my website and Facebook.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

March already and IWSG time!


Having spent the last month reviewing Angela Carter's books and articles for a thesis, and with International Women's Day happening with marches for female equality taking place in many countries, I hope everyone will be thinking what they can do to support the event, now and in the future. There are signs that women are becoming aware that the battle for equality in every walk of life did not achieve the needed result when the Suffragettes won the vote. It was only a very minor step. Pleasing to see that Carter's novels are being reprinted in the Suffragettes' anniversary year and that the books are now available on Audible! #internationalwomensday 

Monday, 26 February 2018

Favourite Genre and Favourite Author?

I have had to read the author Angela Carter and I find her work brilliant, even though I am not a fan of her genre. But as she wrote many genres, there is something for everyone. What author and genre do you prefer?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Folktales for the O.U.

Having fun with this, might even finish this folktale 🙀

Block 3: Chapter 8: Metafiction and Intertextuality
Use a text that has influenced your writing, (I’ve chosen Angela Carter, her gothic Fairy Stories), and produce an intertextual piece of 500–750 words using any of the techniques highlighted in this chapter.  (Anagram, allusion, adaptation, parody, translation, pastiche, imitation…)
The Little Old Man and the House on Heron’s Legs
In a deep, dark wood, where little light squeezed through the blackish canopy, there was a cottage with a thatch so threadbare that even the mice and rats had given up in despair and gone in search of a new home. 
The only inhabitants of this decaying cottage were an old man and his two, grown-up children, Handel and Grubelene. Unfortunately, the children were both very lazy. They did little to help their old father, who had spent a life time digging in the dry, sandy soil, taking care not to chop any earthworms in half, and struggling to grow food for his family. But there was never enough cabbage to feed them, and his wife, seeing how the cabbages were scare, had starved herself and died a slow and painful death. 
Yet, despite the hardship, the old man was of a hopeful nature, and many an evening, as he dug in the poor soil, he would sing a cheerful ditty to his friends the blackbirds and robins, who accompanied him with their happy chirruping. And he always gave them the tastiest scraps of his cabbage meal, rather than keep the last of the food for himself.   
Then one day, when there was only one cabbage left in the larder, and so few left in the sandy soil that even the worms went hungry, Handel said to his younger sister, Grubelene, ‘Our father is old. He can no longer to look after us. There is not enough food left. Let us take father to the middle of the wood and leave him there to die. Then you and I shall not go hungry.’
Now Grubelene was somewhat fond of the old man, and at first did not agree, but feeling her stomach rumbling, eventually told her brother that it was the only solution. So the children gave the old man a couple of cabbage leaves for the journey, told him they were going to pick blackberries, although it was well into December, and set off with him to the middle of the wood. 
On the way, the birds flew around the old man’s head, twittering into his ear and telling him that his children meant to take him far from the cottage and leave him there to die. But the old man shook his head at them, for he knew his children loved him. Then the earthworms slithered out of the ground and roared at him to stop, telling him that if he returned home to his sandy soil they would try to eat less of his cabbages. But the old man was deaf and their whispery voices just tickled his ears and made him laugh. 
When they had walked a very long way, the old man said, ‘I must rest, I am so tired. Handel and Grubelene, you must go on, pick the blackberries and bring some for me to eat.’ 
‘Of course,’ said Handel, ‘you stay here and rest. Eat some of your cabbage leaves and we will bring you delicious blackberries. And when we return home, I shall help you to dig in the dry, sandy soil.’
The old man was so grateful to hear this offer of help after so many years - Handel having reached his thirtieth birthday this very week - that a tear ran down the old man’s wrinkled face. He patted his son’s hand, and settled patiently on a rock with a broad smile on his face. 
The old man waited and waited. He munched his cabbage leaves, and still his children did not return. ‘Oh, dear,’ said the old man to himself, ‘I am so worried. My children must have lost their way in the deep, dark forest, what am I to do? How can I help them?’  
Then he heard a music, a sweet, trilling sound. A robin alighted on the old man’s shoulder and said, ‘Do not despair. You have been kind to us, and so I shall help you.’ 
He flew off, and it wasn’t long before the bird returned with a soft, dappled deer, who lowered his head and snuffed gently at the old man’s face. The beautiful creature seemed to be telling the old man to come with him, and so the old man stumbled to his feet, followed the deer, and eventually they came to a clearing in the forest. 
Here, the old man was very startled, for in the middle of the clearing was the strangest sight...

Thursday, 8 February 2018

I.W.S.G. February

Rather late this month for I.W.S.G., (, for I've  been  backwards and forwards with husband to hospital, but now have time to post again, and I was interested in this month's question, What do you love about the genre you write in most often? My genre is children's fiction, and it is a favourite because I have spent many years teaching primary school youngsters. But having decided to complete an MA in Creative Writing, I find I must complete a book for adults and I am writing fantasy for the degree. It is a new experience and really enjoyable. I'll let you know this new experience progresses!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Module for the O.U. - work for the MA In Creative Writing.

If you are thinking of going down this route to publication, I thought you might be interested. Part of a recent Module. It is posted to the website and students discuss each other's work. 
I think it often depends upon the subject matter, and how far we have advanced from those first attempts at story writing, as to whether we are minimalist or maximalist. And it is a matter of voice, isn't it?  But my way of writing, with the overused adjectives, my love of hyperbole, my constant use of similes and metaphors, was mocked during the high school phase and I toned everything down.  However, when I first read Angela Carter's work it was a wonderful moment of recognition. Here was someone writing in a way that I admired, in a style that I wanted to achieve. I love the fact that she had the courage to write as she wanted to write, in the way that expressed her vision of the world.  And what a vision. 
This work, set in medieval Shrewsbury, in the early 14th century, has something of the word order, the language, to hopefully give a realistic feel of the period.  I have chosen this story section, with its choice of words, varying sentence length, clauses, rhythms, and use of adjectives, as fairly typical of my writing.
The Pilgrimage of Alice de Brugges
Thomas, waken by the fury of the winter storm, gasps with relief to find he is safe in the wide, upper chamber of his town house at Maerdol Head. No longer terrified by the vision of fiery flames licking at his loins, safe from tormenting demons, he makes the sign of the cross on the matted hairs of his sweat-soaked chest and swears to his patron saint he will never again lust after Prioress Juliana’s silken body.
To add to his growing annoyance, the wind, pouring through gaps in the new shutters, lifts the bed hangings and prickles his skin. His valiant action against the demon hordes has wrestled the down quilt and furs to the floor, and he leans over wife Alice, sleep grunting beside him, her plump, naked body now tight curled against the cold, and with swollen fingers, manages, with much shortness of breath, to retrieve the covers. Now snuggling into his wife’s warm patch, willing sleep to come, he hears a dull thumping above the screaming wind. Fearful that the rain from the hills is flooding the quay, he tries to quieten his agitated mind with the thought that the Maerdol house is well above the river.
The banging continues. Where is Matthew? Why doesn’t he get up from his bench to see to it? One of the new shutters must have blown loose. God’s blood, where is the shuttle-witted fool? Somewhere in the darkness of the house below the banging grows louder. Thomas tumbles through the bed hangings, Alice’s spaniel hits the floor with a yelp and slithers across the chamber, sneezing in the crumbling herbs and dried rushes. With trembling hands, Thomas feels for the coffer lid at the foot of the bed, finds his chamber robe, and flings is round his shivering body. His boot buckles flapping, he feels for the heavy oak door, fights with it as it tries to trap him, and stumbles along the passageway to the gallery above the hall.
That can be no loose shutter, the noise of hammering is coming from the street. ‘The devil take you, go see who knocks,’ he shouts into the darkness below. With one hand on the wooden rail, he feels his way down stone steps into the hall, and in the faint glow from the still hot embers under the hooded hearth, sees the boy sprawled on a bench, a hound licking food fragments from his drunken, ale-stained face. 
His boots around his ankles, Thomas kicks out at the animal, sending it bounding across the hall, its thin rat tail between its legs, shakes Matthew’s senseless body, and shouts above the wind lifting the rushes and howling around the rafters, ‘God’s nails, wake will you. Someone is trying to knock down the street door.’ 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A Happy New Year to you all!

It's the IWSG time again! Are you looking forward to the writing opportunities of this new year? What do you hope for with your writing in 2018? Are you worried that success is as elusive as ever, or are you resting, as the actors say? I'm one of those latter people, but I'm beavering away, despite my lack of material sent hopefully to agent, publisher or magazine. Instead, the challenge I've set mys of is to complete my MA creative writing course by the end of the year. What challenge have you accepted for  2018?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

IWSG - December, the cold and unforgiving month...

Another month gone, another time to share with alexjcavanaugh, and the other members of the group. December is often a cold and unforgiving time, especially if you are elderly, live in the UK, and have a very small pension. Although I care for a disabled husband, we are blessed with a warm, comfortable home, but I think of those in our country who struggle to 'make ends meet' as we say, especially at Christmas time, So if you are thinking of contributing to 'Crisis', or other local charities, I am sure that you will. 
We have moved into a warden assisted flat, mainly to be nearer the hospital, and we are pleased that one couple has organised a Christmas meal for the residents, many of whom live alone. As for myself, I keep busy with the second year of the masters degree, and I'm thankful that all the hard work will be finished by next October. Then  I shall be able to return to writing my children's books. 
A Very Happy Christmas 🎄 To You All. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

IWSG - Writing Nano.

It's that interesting time of the month again, and the question posed on this occasion is probably of interest to many of us. Has something that we have written, for Nano, gone on to be published? I think it was over ten years ago that I wrote Snakeskin and Failed Feathers, a novel that I did complete, after a very haphazard fashion, for this challenge. 
Now I am working for a masters degree in Literature, this is my final year, a large part of the work involves writing a book for the degree, and the book I have chosen to submit is Snakeskin and Failed Feathers. Whether it will be published or not remains to be seen. As a writer of children's fictiion, I have self-published several books of historical fiction, but as Waterstones and W.H.Smith sell my self-published work, I know my present effort will reach the Bookshop shelves. However, although I am listed as a publisher, it would great to be accepted by a 'real' publisher, and, in future, to be able to concentrate upon the writing. Fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

IWSG - October - Interview with Author of Many Genres - Deniz Bevan

It is that time again, the brain-child of 
a time that gives writers the chance to express and share their writing concerns with others. And this month, I am delighted to welcome a fellow author, Deniz Bevan, who has kindly agreed to tell us something about herself and the reasons she became a writer. .

Author Deniz Bevan

Thank you, Carole. I
currently live in Switzerland, and  at the time of writing this, I am editing my latest romance, a contemporary. Previous romances were all historical, so this is a new departure Previously, I have written historical and fantasy novels for middle grade and young adults: The Face of A Lion and the sequel, Out of the Water. The Face of the Lion, in the Rising Sea Series, is set in AD 42 and is about a thirteen year whose parents drag him to Turkey. Once there, he rescues a talking cat, witnesses a bloody ritual that causes two people to disappear, and is whisked back in time! 

So a complete change for me when writing my latest book for adults. 

Snippets from my latest book, part of the series The Naughty Bits, are available on my blog at http://www.thegirdleofmelian. 

Deniz, could you tell us who you are writing for?

Primarily for myself! I have ideas - or dream of a story  circumstance -- and then comes the drive to write down the details. I am  a pantster, mostly, which is to say that I have a vague idea of how a tale might end, and I have the original spark, which usually becomes the opening scenes. After that, I need to write the story to find out what happens! If I think too far in advance, it becomes akin to reading a spoiler about an anticipated book or film; I know what happens and don't feel the same drive to write. 
On the other hand, I try to end each writing session (whether it's been 10 minutes or 2 hours) with a question or a revelation, so that there's something exciting to come back to the next time.
Another question. Why do you write?

Because the ideas are there! Once I've gotten into a story, I don't feel right leaving the characters behind until I've resolved their issues and given them a happy ending.  If I feel I can't go on with a story (this hasn't happened recently but used to), I plot out an outline, so that at least I know how it ends, even if I never write it. 
I had a three-year period some time ago where the ideas dried up and inspiration failed, and it felt like losing a part of myself. I was very bereft without that wellspring of stories, and without characters and an inner world to devote attention to. 

Could you tell us where your ideas come from?

I am surprised by how many of my ideas come from dreams!  Others are from a mystery or image, such as the idea that if you walked from Kusadasi to Ephesus, and were walking back in time as you went, the sea would be following you, as it was further inland 2,000 years ago. The dreams generally involve a scene of high tension, such as a spy being uncovered or a great wave engulfing a boat, and then I need to work out who the characters are, what they were doing there, and how they will come out on the other side of the event. 
My last short story was a what if -- I was on a bus and there were only a handful of people on with me, and I wondered what would happen if there was some sort of disaster and we all had to live and survive together. But the characters took over, and it became a story about something else entirely. 
And I'm think reading a lot, especially poetry, helps, as does taking the time to let your mind wander, without staring at a screen or working all the time. Long hikes and drives are very good for that sort of thing!

Thanks so much
Deniz, wishing you every success with you new writing adventure, I'm sure it will be a success!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Oh, dear, it's about to begin again!

The final year of the Open University course begins on the 7th October! Hard work but extremely enjoyable. Hoping I'll make it, despite my caring duties. Would be great to achieve the masters in creative writing. Just a two year course, but I have learned so much, and even I can see the improvement in my fiction. Such a pity that university fees are high in England. It prevents people from taking these courses. When I was a young woman, all universities were government funded. 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

This is IWSG writ large... must decide!

The final year of the M.A. will entail completing five hours work every day for as many times  as I can manage until next October. And I'm still trying to finish River Dark before the end of this October.

But one big decision is which book idea to work on for the final year of the degree?

I have three ideas:
a story which is semi-autobiographical and about life during the war of independence in 60's Africa
a comedy about Adam trying to find Eve through the centuries, village life, and his battles with Lucifer
and a story of a wool monger's wife who runs her late husband's business and is a spy in medieval Shrewsbury at the time of civil war.

Little time left and I must decide!