Archive for the ‘Writing 101’ Category

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Todays prompt was to write from the Point of view of a 12-year-old. So, I cheated. Today’s post is an extract taken from my novel ‘Checkmate’. It, coincidentally, is from the POV of my main character – Jason – who in this chapter is 12. So, enjoy…

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Jason woke up thanks to his ever dependable body clock. It was dark outside. The darkness of his room enveloped him. He could hear footsteps padding around. Mum’s up, he thought. He couldn’t determine whether she was upstairs or down. Another one of his mum’s present problems was insomnia. The doctor had prescribed her with sleeping pills to try and get her into a routine pattern of sleep. They clearly didn’t work, or she wasn’t taking them properly. “Thick bitch can’t even take pills properly.” he briefly laughed through his nostrils.

He reached to the lamp on the table beside his bed, fumbled around for a second to find the switch, and the bulb burst into life, through the blue lamp shade. The initial shock of light made him squint and forced him to shield his eyes for a split second. He then opened his eyes fully to the lamp and overcame the challenge the light has posed. Satisfied at beating the light into submission, he looked at the wall across from him at the analogue clock ticking away. He liked this clock a lot as the second hand made a loud ticking noise on every step of its journey around its circumference. It lulled him to sleep at night and focussed his attention through the day when he needed some comfort and time to reflect. Maybe mum needs some help taking her pills. She needs to sleep. Mum needs help to sleep and I can help. Mum needs putting to sleep. Jason thought as he watched the seconds tick round and round. “Mum needs putting to sleep,” he whispered, “forever.”

The clock proudly displayed 6.23. He had planned out in his head, for the last seventeen minutes, what he was going to do. As the clock ticked around to 6.25, he quietly manoeuvred himself out of bed. He eased his feet into his open back, blue slippers and glided the four small strides to his door. Cautiously, without wanting to make a sound, he placed his right ear to the wood and listened. Hearing nothing, the door handle was turned and he pulled the door towards him. He shuffled backwards to accommodate the space the door would now take. He edged his head out of the gap he’d created and held his breath. Faint noises were coming from downstairs. Content that his mother was below, he allowed himself to relax a little and go about his morning ritual, albeit in a quiet fashion. Jason opened his door and stepped across the square void of the landing to the bathroom and closed the door till the latch caught in its natural groove of the door frame. He used the toilet but didn’t flush. He ran the tap and rinsed his hands. He reached up into the cabinet, pulled out his toothbrush and paste and brushed his teeth.

By 6.29 he was back in his room. He removed his slippers, took off his pyjamas and left them on his bed. He walked across the room to his wardrobe and pulled out fresh underwear and socks. He quickly slipped them on. He pulled out his school uniform and got dressed: white shirt, black trousers and black jumper with the white school insignia emblazoned on the fabric where his left pectoralis major muscle hid underneath.

With his feet back in his slippers, he set off on his journey downstairs via his mum’s room.

A short time later, in the living room, his mum was sat in the red arm chair, reading a magazine with her feet up on the matching red ottoman. The lamp, on the table beside the chair, was illuminating the far corner of the room. Jason walked to the mantel piece and picked up one of the two birthday cards he had received five days earlier. The card he picked up had a picture of a footballer on it shooting at a goal with a big number ‘12’ in the top right hand corner. He opened it and re-read the message he had read a number of times in the last few days:

To Jason

Happy Birthday

Love Joan

P.S don’t spend it all at once.

Jason smiled at the thought of the two £1 notes he found when he opened the envelope. He smiled because they went out of circulation in 1984, but he had asked a teacher, and he told Jason they could still be used up until June next year. Joan was an elderly neighbour. Jason did the odd job for her on occasion when he needed to get away from his mum’s abuse. Silly old boot, he thought, bless her. He afforded himself a little smirk at the thought of the old dear. The second and only other card he had received had a picture of a clown holding a balloon. A very babyish card, certainly not meant for a twelve year old. Inside it read:

To Jason

You’ll always be our baby boy

Love Mum and Dad

xx

Jason put his thumb over the word ‘Mum’ each time he had read the card and focussed on the word ‘Dad’. Clearly, his dad had no part to play in this card’s presence over the fireplace, yet Mum must’ve penned his moniker. How dare she! The thought came through as a private yell. He glared across at his mum, who still had her head in her magazine.

Jason snapped his middle finger lightly against his thumb on his right hand and uttered, “click.” The mask was on.

 

 

 

 

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Lost and Found

 

My name is John.

Up until two days ago, I was working in a hotel. The Maddison Hotel on the Brighton sea front, to be precise. I was the head porter, and I had worked there for twenty-nine years. Now, my duties consisted of, in the main, fetching and carrying luggage up and down the various floors for our guests. Not the most glam job in the world, but it paid the bills, and in the main the people I met were nice to me. I got a few tips here and there, which were always appreciated. It’s funny, the most generous guests were the ones who didn’t seem to have a great deal of cash, whereas the ones you’d expect a nice handshake concealing the crisp notes were always so miserly. But anyway, that’s not the point of this.

One of the perks of the job was dealing with the lost and found items. It used to make the days more interesting, trying to find out what item belonged to which guest. Steve (my colleague) and I ran a little competition with each other on a week by week basis to see who could reunite the most items to the most guests. The loser each week would have to buy the other a couple of pints in the bar before we clocked off on the Saturday night. It was a close run contest, with each of us probably neck and neck. We used to love seeing people reunited with their lost items. Sometimes, guests would come to our little office and claim the goods themselves. If this happened, whoever was on duty would simply treat it as one for their tally. We have reunited dolls and teddies to children, jewellery to grateful women, and watches to equally grateful men and women. Wallets, keys, clothes (including countless pieces of underwear) have all been on our hit list. Some more obscure items such as: a crocodile head, a canoe, a bicycle wheel, a police badge, a pet cat and three (yes three) wheelbarrows have all been reunited with their owners. Some people are exceptionally grateful that they offer us rewards. Well, it’d be rude not to take it!

Anyway, what I have omitted to tell you so far is that after six months, if we hadn’t found the owner, or if the owner of an object hadn’t claimed their property, then it was ours to keep. By law. Totally straight up. You can check it out if you want to. Totally legit. Sometimes the sign in register is fuelled with Mr and Mrs Smiths that it is hard to track people down! Anyway, Steve and I have already laid claim to many items. Normally, we just put them on Ebay or something and split the bounty, or if it’s something we like, we take it in turns to take it away with us.

Now, you may have noticed earlier I said I used to work at the hotel. This is because of the most recent unclaimed item. It had been in our care for one day shy of six months up until a few days ago. It was a briefcase – locked, with no distinguishable names or markings on. Just a run-of-the-mill case. We had asked hotel members, at the time of finding it, to see if it belonged to anyone. No takers. We couldn’t open it as it had a combination lock on both sides. We had shaken it, gauged its weight, but we had no idea what was in it. Now, as the time pushed on, it was officially going to be ours in a few short hours.

That was 2 days ago. Well, Steve and I decided to flip a coin for it, to see who would take it home with them. I won the toss.

As I got it home, I wasted no time opening it. I jimmied the lock open with my wife’s knives and my screwdrivers. It took a good twenty minutes. Well, when I got it open, it was a sight to behold.

Staring back at me was her Majesty the Queen. Many, many times. I was in awe of the hundreds and hundreds of fifty pound notes. I called the wife in from the front room. She screamed. I screamed. The kids came running downstairs in all the fracas. They screamed too. The four of us just looked at each other. Emma (my youngest) picked up a stack of notes in a bundle. She flicked through them. My son did the same. My wife joined them. I was too afraid to pick a bundle up. I walked into the living room and phoned Steve. I didn’t tell him over the phone what I’d found, but he was round within twenty minutes.

We set down to task and in no time at all, all five of us had counted a sum of cash. We totted up the total to be £240,000. We counted again. The second count confirmed our first count.

Steve and I had a serious talk about the cash. We were certain it was ours and we were the rightful and legal recipients.

Steve was unmarried, and he was happy when I offered him half the booty. Of course he was, but he thanked me and said he would happily take £80k. Fine by me. He thought it was a fair proportion.

Anyway, that brings us to now. Both Steve and I tendered our resignations the following day, and the five of us are here now, enjoying ourselves around the luxurious pool at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. I’m quite a frugal chap, and I know we can make this £160k last a good while.

Life throws you a lifeline every now and then. Look out for yours.

 

 

Writing 101 – Day 15

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Writing 101

Reader… I think officially I have lost the plot with this post.

Here is the stimulus (paraphrased) from writing 101 – day 15:

imagine an annual event you love so dearly is ceasing to exist. Write about how you’d feel.

Ok, straight forward, but I decided to turn myself into a bee, looking for a particular pollen producing plant. I need my head testing I think!!

Anyway.. It was a bit of fun…

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Woah woah woah, what the chuffin’ ‘ell is going on here?

Where the soddin’ ‘eck is it?

I’ve made a special trip for this, and it’s not here!

I’ve fetched my black and yellow ass from the other side of the county and it’s gone!

I’ve buzzed around all morning in hope… no, not in hope, in desperation for that bloody nectar and its gone!

Why does the world hate me?

Once a year… That’s all I want. Just once a year. My father, and my father’s father, and his father’s father before him have all made a bee line for the same bloody perovskia plant. And it’s not here!

I’m gonna start stinging someone in a minute. Where is it?

Wait. Am I in the right place? Yeah, of course I am. It was here last year. I came with Dad, and he showed me.

In fact, I’m in the right place for sure, but the whole garden looks different.

Mmmmm, that purple flower… I’ve gotta stop myself drooling here. I’m an embarrassment to myself. There are butterflies watching.

OK, so I’m not getting the nectar, but that’s ok. There’s plenty more in other flowers.

Oh. That man over there. He’s different. I wonder if the other people moved out and took the plant with them.

Yeah, that’ll be it. Maybe, just maybe, I can find it.

I’m a little tired from my flight over here, but if my wings are willing, then I’m ready.

Time to buzz off I guess. Hehehehe. Oh, great, no one around to hear my wit.

Right, perovskia… I’m coming to get ya!

 

 

Writing 101 – Day Fourteen

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Writing 101

Here’s the challenge today.

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.

I picked out the word ‘Paranoia’ and decided to write him / her / it a letter.

Here we go:

 

Dear Paranoia

                 I just wanted to write you this letter to tell you that me and you are through. We are over! You’ve messed with my head for the very last time!

                What you have done to me is just bang out of order. I hope you’re proud of yourself. You very, very nearly got me… But I’m on to you now, you sneaky son of a bitch.

                You see, I’m not paranoid at all. All that is happening is all too real. It’s not paranoia if they are really watching, you know.

                They are watching… They are there now… I can see them despite of the walls and the drawn curtains. I know they are there. Waiting for me. But I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving I tell you. Oh, I know you want me to Paranoia, but you can kiss it.

                I’ve got you beat my old foe… I’ve got you beat.

 

               Goodbye, Old Fool

 

 

               

This blog challenge is in response to Day four’s challenge – Things we have lost.

I wrote a poem for that, so I will continue with the rhyming couplet theme.

What have I found?

Day four’s writing challenge was to write about losses in my life,

Today – day thirteen – it’s what we’ve found, and it’s causing me some strife.

See, I’m a glass half empty guy at times, and I focus on the lows,

But things I find should be good I guess, so I’ll look at all the pros.

Things I’ve found. Hmmmmm, let me see, well, some ten and twenty pound notes,

On the floor whilst walking the dog, not rifling through people’s coats!

I found a purse in a shopping trolley, so I gave it to the cops,

I found a ring in a changing room in one of those big department shops.

So I kept the money, gave in the purse and gave the ring in too,

But I think it’s the mental and emotional ‘finds’ that are going to entertain you!

On my 37 years on this earth, I’ve found out things about myself,

One, that I am vulnerable and have struggled with my mental health.

I found myself in trouble once or twice or more,

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and you get up off the floor.

You pull yourself together and make yourself pull through,

And you find a decent way of life and a more positive view.

Some things I’ve found out about myself aren’t very nice,

I struggle to ask for help or seek out good advice.

I’ve found out I am too proud to admit when I am wrong,

And I don’t throw myself at life, I simply tag along.

I’ve found some cracking friends on my journey through the years,

Those who invite you in to their lives and take you out for a few beers.

I’ve found that my parents, my sister and my family are there no matter what,

Mistakes you make, achievements you earn, they accept the lot.

I’ve found out that I love to teach, although my paperwork is crap,

I’ve found that my wrath can get out of control and regretfully I snap!

I’ve found a love for writing, I’ve really found by niche,

I’ve got my blog, I’ve written my novel; I hope it makes me rich.

I’ve found that I can love and be loved and also that love is hard,

And that, at times, to protect myself, I should really raise my guard.

I’ve found out the heart is such a susceptible thing,

And whoever holds it in their palm can make you laugh, cry and sing.

Frustratingly, I’ve not found what to do with my remaining years,

What job will make me happy? Someone, please, speak up. Give me some ideas.

I’d love to write for a living, but I’ve got to be realistic,

I’ve found that life is hard. Why can’t it be simplistic?

So, there’s an idea about what I’ve found, some simple and some quite deep,

I’ll probably think of more later on. They’ll probably wake me from my sleep.

Writng 101 – Day twelve

Posted: June 17, 2014 in Writing 101

 

Dark clouds on the horizon

Even through the fierce wind rampaging through the trees, Adam and Karl could hear the sound of howling wolves in the distance.

“We can’t be out here much longer, Karl.” Adam was pushing on whilst clumsily pointing his rifle right-handed down the trail. His left hand was fixed around his lapels, continually pulling them close to his neck.

“It’s freezing.” Karl was using both hands to rub his arms and shoulders. He was wearing two full layers less than his buddy, including the lack of a coat – with lapels. His rifle was resting on his left shoulder via the strap. He was cold and terrified of the wolves’ howling, which were getting closer as the minutes past.

It was nearly nightfall, and the pair knew they were in trouble. They had gotten lost from their tour guide three and a half hours earlier.

Karl had teased his friend upon setting off on their mini trek for wearing so many layers in the morning heat, yet now, the laughter was non-existent, and Adam felt a little smug despite the fear at his friends discomfort.

“Karl, where are we?” Adam asked for the umpteenth time in the last twenty minutes.

With chattering teeth, Karl responded with the multi repetitive, “I don’t know!” he was getting a little irate at his friend’s cumbersome question.   

After another forty minutes on the trail, the dark had really closed in and was enveloping them. The wind persisted, and the howling was at its loudest.

Adam lifted his head to glance the trail ahead of him. He suddenly stopped, and Karl almost walked into his heels. Adam slowly looked to his right, and his eyes widened as he primarily saw, and then heard, a snarling, black wolf. Adam used his left hand to steady the rifle, and he twisted on the heels of his feet until he was facing the beast.

Karl’s eyes followed Adam’s stance and to where he was directing his vision. Karl fumbled for his rifle, making a din in the process.

Adam, barely blinking or removing his stare from the direction of the wolf, took aim. He was shaking like the proverbial. He had only fired a rifle this morning on plywood cut-outs. He took steady aim and fired one shot. The shot rung like the bell of a clock tower and hit the wolf. The wolf let out a yelp, and it sent him on his way, rapidly, back up his own trail.

Adam knew it would only scare a pack of wolves briefly. They’d be back, so he knew they had to get out of this wooden maze.

They pushed on; the howling grew louder still, and they could now hear the definite snarling of them too. The pair were frantic.

They began to run again…

“Hold it! What’s that, Adam?” Karl had spotted something in the distance.

“Could it be?”

“No, it couldn’t… could it?……..”

 

My home at aged twelve.
My home when I was twelve was pretty sweet. I had started secondary school, and fortunately our new house was only a five minute walk away from school. It’s all about Location, Location, Location. Smart move folks. Mind you, the old house wasn’t exactly a country hike away either.
Now, I don’t quite know how this panned out, but the house had a huge second bedroom, and I, as the younger of two siblings, managed to claim it. Now the third room, was literally a box, and my sister, as far as I’m aware, didn’t grumble about it. Maybe she did, but perhaps my smile was too big that it affected my hearing. After speaking to my mum just now, she confirms that my sister didn’t complain, and I was afforded the luxury of a huge room because I had a fabulous 5 foot snooker table. Hours of fun. Ooh, and a dart board. Happy days.
The kitchen had a breakfast bar, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I always envisaged getting some stools and sitting there while brekky was served. It never quite panned out that way and ended up really becoming an obstacle in the room.
My two cousins lived practically over the road, which was great and a school friend – Kelly – lived two doors away.
The house was a town house – one of the middle two houses on a row of four separated by a ginnel from the neighbour to the right. Prior to moving to this house, I had had hours of fun in my old house in yet another ginnel, but the attraction of this ginnel wasn’t the same somehow… Funny how ginnels can have different feels to them. One ginnel couldn’t replace the love of another.
So that’s my house at twelve. I can’t remember much about it at twelve. But my parents still live there now – twenty five years on.
I still don’t like that ginnel!
And guess what – the snooker table is still in my room. Who wants a game?