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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 05:57pm on 19/05/2017 under , ,
I'm feeling rather antsy and restless tonight. I was planning to skip parkrun tomorrow, but think I need to go and burn off some of my excess nerves.

The new Dunfermline Carnegie museum/gallery/library opened on Thursday, so we're going in anyway to have a look at it, so I might as well trek in a little earlier for the run. I better burn off all that chocolate bread I made and ate. *pats very round stomach gently* My pizza was amazing, btw. I don't think I'll do stretch and fold doughs very often because they take forever, but wooh did it make a spectacularly crispy and airy pizza crust.


The cheese was a mix of mozzarella and very mature cheddar, with onion, beefsteak toms, and mushrooms for topping. It was sooooooo moreish. And now I have the last dregs of a red wine bottle, and I'm listening to Placebo so this is a pleasant Friday.

Novel-wise, i decided I needed a new character in the book What I Just Kinda Finished. I mean, partly I'm kicking myself, and partly I'm going "Oh, yeah, this makes so much more sense." So she will be stitched in, and add to the texture of the story.

Why do I need her? Well, this is a story about mothers, daughters, sisters and step-mothers, but I realised I'd ignored the grandmother. And there was this AHA! moment, which made me realise I was on the right thought track there.

How I took the vaguest outline of Snow White and made it a story about female relationships (and all the ways they twist and support and tangle), I have no idea. I wouldn't say I set out to write any kind of lady manifesto, and it's not. it's just about people, and hearts. And the people happen to mainly be women because Snow White.

Music:: Placebo - Running Up That Hill
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It's a dreich Monday, but despite the grey and gloom, I have cleaned the lounge carpet, done laundry, some beta reading, so proper reading, and managed another 1000 words on the WiP. 1000 seems to be my sweet spot, so if I could just focus on daily writing, I can finish this draft pretty soonish.

I know I did plan to finish it for April but eh well, progress is progress.

Yesterday I went for a run with Lynn from the school and two of her running buddies. We did a 5km through Pattiesmuir and the graveyard and woods. It was really beautiful. Fife farmlands are stunning; there are fields of electric yellow flowers in bloom at the moment. No idea what they are. They look a little like when cabbage goes to seed? Uh, a farmer I am not hahaha.

After that I headed to Edinburgh for the Robin Hobb signing. It was meant to start at 12:30, and I got there at 11:30 and a queue was already forming so I grabbed a copy and got in line. Good thing too, as they actually ran out of copies before 12. I was going to buy 2 copies (one for me and one for Nerine) but the book was £25! and I need to pay for aikido and skating and guides and life.... :P

So I just got Nerine a copy. It's the third book in a series that I haven't read yet, though I did enjoy her Liveship Traders books muchly, but people looked at me funny for saying that. I have so many books on my TBR pile, and I am so behind in all things readerly. My biggest fear is I'm going to die before I read everything. ;)

 The 5-minute-queue friends were pretty cool - Some arty Welsh girls who were art and lit students, and behind me an adorable couple who drove up from Newcastle for the signing, and stayed overnight in a hotel. Robin Hobb fans are DEDICATED, yo. She is charming and lovely, and ended up signing for 2 + hours instead of the 1 hour she was booked for. She also very kindly listened when I explained the book was a for a huge South African fan of hers who was also a writer, and if she could just write a message to keep writing (if possible) that it would be so appreciated.

After that, I recognised writer Laura Lam, whose book Pantomime I really enjoyed (still need to read the rest of the series though, cause I am a slacker of note). We had tea in the Waterstones coffee shop and a bit of a natter over The State Of Publishing, and I bought her newest book False Hearts and got it signed. Bizarre and random connection is that False Hearts is blurbed by Sarah Lotz, who is a fabulous writer human person, and also one of the most prolific people I know. I want her dedication to work when I grow up.

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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 07:03am on 04/08/2009 under ,
Yeah there was a day 5 and 6 but I was too lazy to actually write them...




"Don't you hear how the trumpets sound?"

Nothing particularly exciting here. But my brain obviously needs to warm up a bit.

The Night King

It's out again, moving across the floor. There's a hiss-thump as it makes its way over the old-floorboards.




She doesn't answer, so I yell again, pulling the duvet up over my head and screaming so loud for her that I sound like my sister.


The door bangs open, and even through the thick blanket, I can see the light is on. Carefully, I pull the cover from my face.


"What is it this time?" My mother's face is mottled white and red, and there are deep black circles around her eyes. I peer down at the floor, but there's nothing out of place. The only thing still not packed away is a Lego castle that I've been building. At the moment, there are dinosaurs manning the castle walls. A T-rex grins from the highest tower, while his raptor lieutenants guard the lowered drawbridge.


"I - I thought I heard something," I say. "Like -" like a thing with thousands of legs crawling through the darkness "Like..." I stare down at my pillow. There are two wet patches where I've been crying. I turn the pillow over so my mother doesn't spot it.


"It's an old house," my mother says. She sighs and sits down at the edge of the bed. Her feet are on the floor, right next to the Space, and I imagine the Night King lashing out, and grabbing her ankles and pulling her under my bed, into its nest. I shiver. Would it eat her? Is that what it wants? "I think we might have a rat problem."


I hate this house, I hate that we had to move here, away from my old school, that I have to wear second-hand clothing now, and eat spaghetti with cheese for every supper.


"I'll call the exterminator in the morning, see what they quote me."


Whatever it is, it'll be too much. "I'm fine now," I say. I want her to leave, but I don't want her to leave. I wonder if she'll think I'm a baby if I ask to go sleep in her bed with her. Maybe she wouldn't mind. Maybe she's hates being the only person in that big bed. Then I remember that her mattress is on the floor, and there's no way to escape the Night King.


"Good," my mom says, and leans over to wipe at my hair, pushing it back from my eyes. "You need a hair cut, James." Then she smiles. "Go to sleep, I promise I'll sort this all out in the morning."


She leaves, and the light clicks off, and everything is dark again.


For a long time I lie listening, waiting. The only sound is my breathing, and the wind outside knocking a tree branch against the wall. There's nothing out there.


In the morning, I wake with sun coming through my curtains. It feels late. I'm supposed to be going to my new school today, and I don;t need a tardy on my first day. Worse, I don't want to walk in to a classroom late, and have everyone looking at me. There's no way to just blend in if I'm going to be late.


"Mom!" She doesn't answer, but I hear clinking coming from the big drafty kitchen, so she's making me breakfast. I get dressed in jeans and a hoodie, jam my feet into the trainers dad bought for me before he left, and head to the kitchen.


There's no mother in the kitchen. The Night King turns around to look at me, his tails all tangled, making him slow and awkward. In one little paw he's holding an egg lifter. From the pan comes the smell of bacon, eggs.


I'm frozen. The Night King has many faces, all the same - little rats' faces, with their sharp teeth and black round eyes. But the head that's looking at me is wearing my mother's face, sewn over his with large rough stitches. The face is all out of shape, lopsided and bulging in the wrong places.


"Hush," says the Night King in my mother's voice. "Sit down for breakfast, before your eggs get cold. You don't want to be late on your first day do you?"


I shake my head, and sit down at the breakfast table.

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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 09:42am on 30/07/2009 under ,
If you're doing any of these prompts, please link me to them. I'd love to see what people are up to.

Some people have asked that I do text prompts, so from now on there'll be two to choose from

Today's image is from Fuco Ueda

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and the other option is

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun

a line from Funeral Blues (W. H. Auden)

On the Altar of Arabelle

The damn thing was always precocious, and naturally, spoiled by her position as the Eater. Something had to be done. It wasn't as if she was safe under any one person's control. Especially not *hers*, Prince Embick told himself.

When the royal couple finally declared their divorce (Scandal! Horror! The populace had been confused and angry and ultimately bitter at this failure of their perfect romance) and all the properties and duties divided between them, like chips on a land-board, there was still the problem of Arabelle.

"She's mine, of course. It goes without saying." The Queen held out her hand, and one of her thousand maids darted forward with a pen, a second with paper, a third crouched before her as a writing desk.

Prince Embick the third coughed delicately into one fist, and darted a glance at his company of stockinged lawyers. The first nodded. "Perhaps," said the Prince, after the glance had gone on a second too long, "once." He cleared his throat, swallowed, and dropped his hands to his sides, as if suddenly aware of how it made him look. "It has, however, been brought to my attention, by various parties - who, I must insist, are not prejudiced in any way-"

"Oh dear Godsclaw, Embick, get to the point." She stabbed her pen down, hard enough to make the bowed girl squeak. "I have things to do."

Embick spluttered, then ran his thin hands down over the front of his embroidered frock coat. "Very well. The point. Yes, ahem, I shall get to it."

"This century." The Queen didn't look up from her writing. Her fingers flew across the page, the black feather bobbing with each punctuated squeak.

"Arabelle was in fact, given to me -"

"She was not!"

He continued, speaking louder, over the Queen's protests. "Given to me, I might add, by the very Poisoner himself." He smiled. A smug little fattening of his mouth.

The Queen flicked her quill over to the nearest maid, who caught it, tossed the paper to another, who began to blow earnestly on the drying ink, and kicked the writing desk. "Off with you," she said. The girl brushed tears from her face and ran off to join the others.

Embick shuffled backwards as the Queen stalked toward him. "He's my poisoner, you idiot. Therefore, any gifts he gives, are in fact, also mine." She narrowed her eyes. "or do you think that if you don't have the Eater, that I might," she drew back slightly, widening her eyes in mock surprise. "poison you? At the very dinner table, perhaps?"

"Well." He flushed. "It hadn't occured to me as such-"

"Take her." The Queen turned away and clicked her fingers for the maids to come scurrying. The one who had been drying the letter, folded it neatly into thirds and at a nod from her mistress, pressed the writing paper into Embick's hands.

He glanced down. A Deed of Transfer. "What?" said the Prince, to his once-consort's retreating back. "J-just like that?"

There was no answer. The last of the maids left, dipping a brief (far-too-brief, to the Prince's mind) curtsey as she shut the door softly behind her.

Embick looked down at the tall child sprawled in the altar-throne. "Well then," he said. A warm glow of satisfaction went through him, all the way to his very toes. With the royal Eater now his, there was no chance that he could actually be poisoned at the dinner table, as it were.

"You're too late," said the child, kicking one stockinged foot against the black wood of the altar-throne.

Unnerved by her sudden proclamation, Embick shuddered. "What do you mean?"

"I could Eat every morsel put before you," she said, still slamming her heel against the wood, fingers twirling through the ribbons in her hair, "and it would make not a lick of difference."

"Is that so?" He pulled himself taller, not wanting Arabelle to see just how much she flustered him. "And why is that, pray tell?"

"Come closer and I'll tell you." She grinned, an oddly adult look on her round face. "We don't want them hearing how she tricked you now, do we?"

A glance at the lawyers in their powdered wigs and baby blue vestments, and Embick could see how they were leaning forward, despite the studious expression of disinterest they cultivated.

He crossed the space, and kneeled next to the throne. Her right leg was flung over one armrest, and there were pie-stains on her frock.

"Closer," she said.

"Just tell me." He was beginning to grow more than irritated, especially since it now seemed that his charming ex-wife had tricked him again, just like she always did. Just as she'd tricked him into marrying her in the first place. He sighed and leaned close enough to her that any whisper between them would always be secret.

"Good," said Arabelle.

And ate him.
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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 01:13pm on 29/07/2009 under ,
Found this one via leontine greenberg

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My story was made of all kinds of fail, but it sparked a germ of an idea (which was kinda the point of this whole exercise) so I'm just posting a snippet while I figure out where I'm going with this.

Next to her, Madeline had felt the warmth of her father's tweed jacket give way to a new cold emptiness. The Bird Girl, perched on her swing, had stared out at the suddenly vanishing crowd. One by one, the adults had shimmered and faded out of existence. All that were left were the sugar-spackled children, and Old Gregory, who was seven foot tall and almost thirty, but still couldn't tie his own shoe laces.

"Oh dear," the Bird Girl had said, clear as a little flute. "Not again."
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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 12:19pm on 28/07/2009 under ,
This is just to kick start my writing brain (it's been a tad sluggish lately)

If you feel like participating Feel free to go anywhere you want with this. I'm doing 15 minute sprints, and trying to keep it under or close to about 500 words. It doesn't matter if it's a poem or a story or just a piece of descriptive writing.

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Setting Free The Mills  (An ode to John Irving)*

"We'll need longer poles," Ivan said, watching gloomily as the farm's powermill floated off for the third time that day. "To anchor it."


Mark didn't listen, he swung his hand out automatically to snatch at a pebble that whizzed past his nose, but missed.  When a spray of gravel shot upward like grey fireworks as an old iron bolt popped free of the ground, he gave it up as a bad job. "No point."


The powermill had reached its maximum floatation height, and was now spinning aimlessly above their heads. The cables, like torn roots, flailed about, spraying them with clumps of loose sod. "It'll be the houses next," Ivan mused, as the sheep's water trough pulled and bucked at its concrete bindings. A small ungainly pony, it reared up, sending clods and pebbles flying; water spilled, and the fat orange float bounced eagerly.


Across the sky, the smog smouldered orange and brown, like the very air itself was on fire. The horizon was jammed with floating machinery, thrust out from the earth, spat out like the taste of something foul.


Every now and again, one of the machines would float too high, and the clouds would belly down on them, pushing them back to earth, where they landed with a shuddering crash. It was rather like watching an immense, slow game of table tennis, played on the vertical, by madmen.


And it would be the houses next, Mark thought. Ivan was right. Already, the farm house was straining at its foundations, swaying like a giddy girl at a party, one who had unwisely sampled the punch one too many times. "They're sick of us," he said, sweeping his arm in a wide circle, to encompass the rocks, the stunted trees, the thin sheep.


"Who?" Ivan finally looked away from the bobbing powermill. His sun-rough face crumpled in confusion.


"The earth. The sky." Mark felt foolish almost as soon as he'd said it, but Ivan just nodded. He grunted, an animal sound of grudging agreement.


Mark dropped his arms to his side. "All the stuff we've made - they're getting rid of it." From behind came a terrible tearing sound. The crack of stone and wood and wire. He didn't have to turn around to know that the farm house had finally worked free of its moorings. Ivan's suddenly-pale face was all the confirmation he needed.


The sky darkened, as all around them, houses, shedding bricks and tiles and bad art, launched upwards, dancing in sudden freedom.


"And after the houses?" Mark whispered to himself. "The hospitals? The office towers?"


As if in answer, the sun glinted off a mirrored rocket of a building that shot across the low bricked in ceiling of the sky, shattering as it impacted against another similar structure. A slow trail of glitter-glass rained down on the distant city.


"And then?" he asked. "What then?"


Dust fell from the sky and kissed his head.


*okay, not really**, I just hate coming up with titles.

**needs more bears



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Over on AbsoluteWrite there's a thread about the elevator pitch - or how to describe your book in 20 seconds.

So there's all sorts of things cropping up; like Romeo and Juliet, with vampires, IN SPACE. Or Huckleberry Finn, with werewolves, IN SPACE. Or Romeo and Juliet meets Huckleberry Finn, with werebats, IN KENTUCKY.

I looked at my work and realised, damn this is hard.

And I couldn't do it.

All I got for Sea Rose Red is that it's about tea and anarchy and magic. WITH VAMPIRES. IN SPACE. THERE ARE LOVE TRIANGLES. ROCKS FALL EVERYONE DIES.

Only, none of that is true.

Well, there is a kind of lop-sided triangle, and there is tea, and a vampire who is more bookkeeper than doomed poet, and squatters and magic and revolution and class divides and stuff. Er, I have no idea how to squish that into a pitch.

Anyway, It's an interesting exercise - so lets hear yours.


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