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Ill-health and a writerly struggle

I have a deadline coming up for an anthology of short stories. It is going to be tight, but it is still do-able. Except I did something silly.

For the last four months I’ve been on iron tablets. I go anaemic easily and this time it was enough to worry to doctors. But after the four months I went back to the doctors and got a blood test. I decided to give the iron a rest between the blood test and the doctors appointment. It was only seven days.

By the end of the seven days I couldn’t sleep and I was dizzy. As in falling over dizzy. In fact I have been four days back on the iron and I’m still dizzy. In hindsight (which is always 50×50) I ought to have waited until the deadline had passed before I tried my little ‘no-iron’ experiment. Instead I am trying to write my stories and combat the fact I feel like I am going to fall out my chair any minute.

My own fault. I forget sometimes that there is only me to write.

Hopefully, by next week I shall be fine. Until then it is a bit of a struggle. Oh, and the doctor has said I need another 2 months of iron at least. After that I have got to see how I retain it. I’m not holding my breath.

On an excellent note tomorrow I am off the a local conservation centre to learn how to paint flowers so the petals look transparent. I can’t wait and I think the break will do me good. Hopefully at the weekend I can show some flower and leaf paintings. :-)

Home?

Kate:

Is there anywhere that is safe? The next part of ‘The Gone’. #writing #novel #thegone

Originally posted on The Gone:

After the computer screen goes blank I sit for a moment. I am trying to gather myself. Honestly, I am so scared I don’t know if I can go back. But then do I have a choice. As I sit I can hear a scream in the distance. It is identical to the one I heard in the hospital.

“Oh no,” I whisper and flinch because I hadn’t realised I was going to say it out loud. Now fear has me in her grasp, but I am more scared about waiting here than moving. I wonder if I ought to go quietly and sneak or if an all-out run would be better.

Another scream echoes through the building. It is getting closer. I glance out of the window and see the rapidly retreating light. I’m going to make a run for it. Pushing back the chair I barrel out of…

View original 736 more words

Geeks and Hackers

Kate:

Will Bitsy find anyone on the internet? Is the internet even working?

Originally posted on The Gone:

The page opens and I watch as the hospital title appears. I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the internet is working. Typing in the address of a well-known search engine I keep everything crossed. It loads.

Making no sound I punch the air. Now I just have to find someone on. First though I type in BBC news.

Page not found.

Shit. Next I try my social media. Nothing. Finally I just type in yesterday’s date. There are only ten options and one of them is a forum. I click that one.

Do you want to join or use anonymously?

I click on the second and I’m in.

There is only one new heading – what is happening?

I enter and type:

Guest 234: Is anyone there?

J.H.: I am, comes the answer.

Guest 234: Who are you?

J.H.: John, you?

Guest 234: Bitsy. Do you know what’s…

View original 420 more words

Busy!

I am SO busy. Why is it all deadlines seem to clump together? I have a theory that they are actually sentient beings and they follow a migration route. The one they are using at the moment reaches its conclusion at the end of September.

Of course the result of this is that I am running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything sorted… I will though. The problem is that there is very little time for anything else. But I will manage to keep up my blogging, even if I have to do it instead of sleep!

Okay maybe I won’t go that far, but I will still blog.

The new anthology had a tentative launch date of the 31st of October. It seemed right for a set of horror stories. But I have linked them together. So the same characters appear in each. It’s good and satisfying to be revealing deeper characters than you can get in a short story.

What’s it about?

Well, imagine there is a street, a normal street that ends in a dead end. That end opens onto a flood plain. It is a good place to live. Safe. Kids can play in the street because it doesn’t go anywhere. Everyone knows everyone else. Then there is something that happens in the middle of that street and it is so evil that it ripples out from the centre. Everyone susceptible to the evil falls. Including the street itself.

Sounds interesting?

Hope so.

I am almost there on the stories and I have completed the cover… And hung it out of eye-line because it was freaking me out. I have given myself nightmares!

Keyboards and passwords

Kate:

Is Bitsy going to survive on her own? The next part of ‘The Gone’.

Originally posted on The Gone:

I can’t stop shaking but as I step into the gloom there is no hissing or screams, instead everything remains the same. Breath explodes out of me as I realise that I have been holding it. Setting my sights on the door I walk forward. I don’t look around, I can’t. I only have a little while to get in, find the information and get out. There is no way I want to be trapped here in the dark. Not with those things. I reach the glass doors and cup my hands to peer inside. I can see the reception desk. There is no movement. I consider banging on the glass, but that might bring others and I want to be quiet and quick.

As I push on the door it swings quietly inward. I stand on the beige linoleum floor and shiver, not in fear but because the air…

View original 555 more words

Kid’s Books and Kindle

I got an email last night and it said that Kindle was launching something new… A Kindle Kid’s Book Creator. 

Oh er…

Was my first thought.

Interesting…

My second.

Now, I understand that Amazon is a massive conglomerate and that most don’t like them, but for me they have made things possible that I never imagined. I have books for sale thanks to Amazon, and I hope to have more. Normally I just do a few illustrations for my adult books but with this new programme I should be able to create children’s books.

The programme itself is free but does take time to download. It is only a creator though. you have to have the illustrations and words ready. Looking at it and  reading the manual is seems to be there for picture books and chapter books. It isn’t for paper books either, instead this is the ebook market. And with the ipad, Kindle fire and tablet computers lots of kids are looking at books that are full colour.

Think about it. You are a busy mum and have a huge bag full of nappies, cream, wipes, toys… and books? No, the books will go, but you will probably have a tablet or device (even a phone) and the ability to just download the book has got to appealing. 

Even I did the other day for my nephew. So why not give mum’s one of mine to download?

That got me thinking and I decided that my first picture book will be a self-published one. But that is a project for next year. This year I am booked solid. Still, I can’t help but be swamped with ideas. 

Fancy having a look at this new programme? Then go HERE.

The Tracks

Photo by Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post!

Loneliness is an interesting feeling. It hits you in the center of your chest and leaves you standing there feeling as if you have lost something but not knowing what. I suppose I do know what is missing. 

I suppose.

Once, a while back, I walked this part of the line, listening with one ear for the clatter of the train. That was before they electrified the tracks. Now the route I take is silent. There are no more trains here, and there probably never will be. The tracks are still there, mostly. A couple are missing but then I’m not surprised. In today’s economy I’m shocked that there are any left. 

Last time I was here there wasn’t grass growing up through the metal, it had still been rusty, but the top of the tracks had been silver and so very shiny. Now it is rusted and dim. Still worth something mind. I know where I’m going, to the old oak. It was fabled at school that if you came here then any promise you said would be written in stone. Or ‘writ’ in stone as Jessica would say.

Back then, when everything was new and well cared for we had skipped along the tracks. The three of us; me, Jessica and Rachel. It had been fun, and strangely sad. We had been ready to go onto College and had taken this walk so that we would always be friends. 

“Needs to be writ in stone,” Jess had said.

“Don’t see why,” I said. I’d been serious that day. I was sad but at the same time excited for the future. Mostly though I was listening for a train. One of my nightmares was to be caught under the tracks and cut into pieces. It had happened before on this track. For all I knew the kid, I remember it being a boy, had pushed through the same hole that had been cut into the fence. He had been coming to the old oak, probably with a batch of secrets that he needed to get off his chest. I remember thinking of the horror and promising myself I’d never do anything so silly. It didn’t work as six months later I was walking in his footsteps. So instead of enjoying the day completely I was listening for the thrunk thrunk of the train.

“We need to make a promise,” Jess whined.

I hadn’t said anything, I’d barely heard her. Listening.

“She’s not paying any mind,” Rachel said. “She’s listening.”

Jess had pouted at that. “Come on, Mel. You have to be here a hundred percent. This might be the last time.”

“The trains,” I said, giving a worried look over my shoulder.

“Nope,” Rachel had gloated. “I checked. There won’t be another for an hour.” She had looked so smug about that.

I scowled at her and she’d shrugged.

“I asked at the ticket office.”

Jess’s eyes went wide and scared. “You said we’d be here. On the track! What if we get caught?”

I could see panic brewing on her face. Rachel just rolled her eyes. “Don’t be daft. I said I was a spotter and needed to know.”

“Oh,” Jess said. She sounded almost disappointed. Then that brilliant smile lit up her face. “So we’re gonna be fine.”

She skipped ahead, me and Rachel walking behind her. She was crunching through the middle of the track, her shoes making sounds like autumn leaves. I was trying to balance on one of the rails. It was super smooth though so it wasn’t possible, but still I tried, giving a smile at each slip. 

Now I tap the rusted junk of a rail with my stick. No good now. There was enough grip on the rail but not in me. I was due a new hip and the thought of falling was enough to keep me firmly routed to the grassy middle. 

“Live a little,” Jess says, and I spin wondering if I’m hearing ghosts. She had said it back then when we reached the tree. 

“Live a little, Mel,” she had said. “Make a promise that counts.”

I had scowled. “I just did.”

“Nope,” Rachel had said. “Your promise meant that if we were all here and if we reminded you then you might turn up.”

I sighed. “Okay…”

“On this day in say… fifty years,” Jess crowed, arms out and spinning, blonde hair flying.

“Fine.” And I had promised. Which is why at sixty-six I was standing under the oak. Still, I could hear Jess.

I look one way and then the other. I’m alone. I grin. Now one will see me if I make a fool of myself. A small and sensible voice warns me against falling but I ignore it, disturbed that it sounds like my mother.

Placing my stick firmly on the ground I put one hiking booted foot onto the rusty track. I lean my weight onto the stick, freezing at the exaggerated wobble.

“Careful there, Mel.” That was Rachel’s voice, full of bluster and laughter. 

I’m haunted. I know I am. At least on this walk. “Shush,” I say and am pleased when everything goes quiet.

Lifting my other foot with exaggerated slowness I place it next to the other on the track. A faint bell of laughter comes to me and I look up to see Jess standing below the oak. She is completely in shadow. Leaning against the tree I think I can see Rachel, still in her pencil skirt that is far too short.

I smile, but I know it doesn’t reach my eyes. A sadness fills me. 

We had been prophets that day, saying that we would split. We did and it was an abrupt separation, each going to different colleges, taking different routes to our happiness. And I really hope they were happy. Under the tree the two smile and wave. They start to fade and I raise a hand, waving back.

Something prods at my leg and I realise I have taken the stick from the ground. In fact I am waving both my hands, my balance perfect. I gasp and step quickly down.

“See,” Jess’s voice floats toward me. “There were no trains.”

This story was inspired by the photo and the first line and is part of the daily prompt writing challenge – build your own.

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