Time for another Goodbye

Hello all.

It’s the last month for Novel Dreamers. The writers have run out of time last month, and now to just go home. Well, after one last month.

Go vote for those by the way. They’ll be on the Voting Page shortly.

So thanks for another year. This month, just write what you want to. It’s a free for all. Go for it.

Much love,

Steve

Does This Really Need An Example?

I can’t show you how to do this. Funny, because each month without fail, I have tried. Obviously I’m the oracle of all of this and as such I should be able to tell you exactly what you need to hear to make you pick up your pen/pencil/crayon/writing tablet/whatever you write with and just put some bastard words on paper. I can’t tell you how to feel about things. You know me, so you’re probably hearing the use of the word “bastard” with my mock Sean Bean impression or with a hint of anger. I just like the word. It wasn’t used in malice or frustration, just like the word and didn’t like the sentence without it.

You don’t need me to tell you any of that either. I don’t have any paperwork saying I’m an educated writer. I have no sales reports saying that people like my writing so much that I can live off it. I’ll be very honest with you, the little payments I have received for my writing has been enough to cover a month of rent in the 15 years of writing I’ve done and that includes Theatre, Music, Prose, and that bloody Table Top Role Play Game that I’ve become “the guy” for. I am a fraud that just got tired of hearing people say “I wish I had time to write” so forced them to sit down once a month and write. And forced is a very broad use of the word. I’m not sat next to you with a gun to your head, and every month you don’t write I don’t get angry because life is busy and hard, I literally just put the request in front of you.

That’s what I do for a lot of life, I’ve noticed. A friend wants to do podcast work, so I write the first episode of an audio play that never gets touched because the idea isn’t needed anymore. Another wants to sing and play in a band, so I draw from the pool of friends with talent and say let’s make a go of this. Sometimes I don’t even need to ask. The group just finds itself and I just happen to be the one who ends up organising it until it gets to the point that I don’t have time to organise a night of people just needing an escape.

So when do I escape? I’ve forgotten how, if I’m honest.

If I boil everything I do in a week down to brass taxes, I spend 25-40 hours at a place I resent for cracking the childhood illusion of that high held dream. I then go home and I sit with this screen in front of me for an hour or two. Throughout nearly all of these hours, I have my headphones in playing someone else’s story into my brain. There’s not enough time to actively sit and read a book so audiobooks and podcasts whilst doing the other things are quite useful. If I am not too busy that week, I’ll sit and absorb a story through video game whilst listening to the headphones. I may not actually put a word to the page all night, but there are ideas brewing and fermenting away to the point that at the end of the week when they’re needed, I can pull from the brain without much issue. I will sit and listen to previous recordings of these events and edit them so others can listen. I talk occasionally with my partner about things because she’s very busy with her week and the last thing you need when you’re busy is some numpty to start talking about their weird fantasy works that have nothing to do with your actual proper writing that’s getting a degree and actually means something. And finally I try to occasionally break with puzzles because there is no stopping, just distracting.

Back to that comment of not being educated properly or paid enough to hold a level of authority in all of this. I think the constant streaming of work gives me some authority.

I won’t lie, I am tired of the constant streaming. I need a break but I don’t know how to. Actually no, that’s not true, I want it to stop feeling like work and go back to feeling like fun.

When I was 17, I applied to go to university after 2 years of studying both Theatre and Music and my music teacher was most upset when I said I was going to study Theatre not Music but my reasoning was sound then and I feel it is sound now and should be applied again. I wanted to avoid going to study Music because the thought of having to spend day in day out playing the guitar with some form of judgement that led to a grade took all the fun of it away. I go home and pick up my guitar and relax for a bit. I can’t do that if I have been playing guitar all day for university, or even reading and writing about it for coursework. And that’s where I feel I’ve gone with all of this.

So where do I go from here? I don’t want to stop my weekly writing task, because I’m quite attached to the work I’ve done so far and I’d like to work out how the story finishes. I’ve also started to work on the next story, should me co-writers agree to such a thing. I’ve worked out where the fun is with that. I struggle to keep a hold of it, but I know where it is if it ever gets too much. Maybe I should take the advise I want to give you for the end of this year of writing. I think it’s a fair enough request, as one final challenge for you that I too will try to give example of for sake of a familiar format.

For the love of all that’s holy, write what you like. And don’t hold yourself to stupid deadlines like some fat guy who literally writes his example piece in 30 minutes on the hand in weekend because he feels the month is too long to write for. That’s his time scale, not yours. If you need a deadline, create one for yourself. It could be a RPG session for the end of a week, it could be a date you want to release a song on your soundcloud, it could simply be that your child wants a story before bed. Don’t stop doing what you love, just work out how to do it in the week so I don’t have to keep running these!

I’ll probably start working on Novel Dreamers Year 3 soon.

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August Rush

Hi all.

Edit note: this was scheduled for this morning, but didnt come out. Because I meant morning and the schedule meant evening.

Anyway!

July is done and dusted, so get your summer shorts and flip flops and get ready for a vacation and then panic writing the night before hand in!

Shortly, the voting page will be ready for your wonderful pieces about finding stories in random phrases, and for this month…

I am asking the writers to write like they are running out of time. This can be two fold. 1: write on the theme of running out of time. 2: Do what I did and set yourself a timer and you stop writing at the end of the timer.

What could be simpler?

Anyway, example piece:

A Goodbye Note

Susan.

I need you to listen and I need you to listen good.

I don’t have much time.

I have stumbled upon a grave misdeed in the village and I don’t think I’ll see you again.

Father Jasper has been working with outsiders and is sending the girls off to the city for profit. I don’t know how long he has been at it, but it has at least been for the last three or four months.

I have been running surveillance during neighborhood watch meetings. He comes in 40 minutes early for the meeting, and leaves with a different girl each time. I have tailed him and found the trade site is actually in the rectory. Why would anyone think any different? The famed and adored
Father going into the church in a village in which the most that happens is a cat goes missing a little
longer than the usual week?

I don’t know where they go to next.
So I am going to hide myself in the back of the van before it leaves.

I am going to see where this trail ends. If I die before I find out, then I will have died trying to stop this, but if I survive, there are going to be some big changes around here.

I have had enough of this village, Susan. It is time we lived somewhere we want to rather than somewhere we

The letter was found like this. Unfinished. I didn’t know what would come next.

Mobile Data, Feck Off

Hiya!

 

Oh it’s been a long month. It’s been a long year. I am running low on everything. I must get to the store at some point.

Anyway! This month’s writing challenge. We’ve had the wonderful works of last month and hating what they write. So now the weird one that came to me in the middle of the night.

 

I want you to take a mundane sign or sentence, like a road sign or an instruction on your ready meal, and make a story from it. Hopefully self explanatory but if not, I’m available to ask what am I on about.

 

Example piece!

 

 

Tired

Every now and then, one of them come over the ledge and the patrol unload their week’s pent up frustration through the dwindling bullets. Micha is working on a forge to rectify this, but that’s
beside the point. It’s the screeching that really fucks with me. It runs through your entire being and scratches and wrenches everything in its wake, and then the silence directly after is ruined by the echo that rings in my ears.

I don’t remember when it all started. I just remember the previous day, and I can tell you what tomorrow will look like with almost pinpoint accuracy. And I’ve had enough. I sit in this little hut; I hold the fireman’s axe and I wait for another one of them.

They look like humans, but their skin is a dark ashen grey and their eyes are milky white. Their mouths are toothless and frothing with the blood that seeps out of their gums as they mash the food into the rotting holes that once were mouths.

Fuck the rule. I have had enough of waiting for the next attack and I’m tired of working this shitty patrol. What is the point of waking up whenever the third bell rings EVERY BASTARD DAY and then coming and sitting in this miserable overcast and dark open field? Well I’m taking it into my own hands.

I stand up and walk towards the edge.
Several yards between me and freedom.
I can hear the low groaning from below.

The first warning sign comes up to greet me in a fading and rusting yellow. “Do Not Pass”.

The second is a few feet after. “Stop walking, death below.”

And then finally the third one. A few feet before the colossal drop to whatever remains of the earth
thereafter.

Three simple words. A phrase that I used to ignore before all this happened. Mocking me with their almost innocent and caring tone.

Mind the gap.

Just. No.

So we’ve hit a wall, and it’s all gone to hell in a hand cart. Well, you can read and enjoy your pieces from last month’s Hitting a Wall challenge and vote – shortly – at the voting page.

This month’s challenge? Oh, you’re gonna hate it. I did.

Let’s learn about ourselves, writers. I want you to TAKE THE STYLE OF WRITING YOU HATE AND WRITE A PIECE IN THAT STYLE.

I couldn’t think for a while, then realised I hate pretentious writing, but I already do that, so went for political and stereotypical writing. I get the need for the occasional stereotype, but gods kill me if I have to read pieces where every man is in power because he’s a man and they do that and women belong in a kitchen. THAT’S BORING AND RUINING MY ESCAPISM FROM THE CURRENT REALITY WHERE PEOPLE ACTIVELY BELIEVE THIS AND TORTURE ME WITH IT ALREADY.

Anyway, go write. I need a lie down. This sucked.

Archer

 

Item 13-1-25

Councilman Quentin Mason’s eyes rolled back and his collar rubbed against his recently shaved neck; irritation seemed to be the theme of the day. The morning had been draining, a full two hours of back to back inane cases put forth by the lower classes. He was an older man with fading white whisps that constituted for hair, liver spots on his face, and a verge of flesh that wrinkled worse than his shirt between his chin and his collar line.

How droll, he thought to himself as he looked away from the other council representatives to the window at the edge of the courtroom. The sun was shining and he would have loved nothing more than to sack off the afternoon for a drive out of the city in his convertible and see his secretary in that summer dress again.

“Mr Mason,” the voice called, pulling him back to the present situation.

For Christ’s sake, must I deal with another petulant busy body? Her tits seem less perky than my Doberman. He thought to himself as he turned back to Alison Geralt; the head of the Neighbourhood Watch in her area who seemed to own more sickly coloured pant suits than common sense according to Mason.

“Yes, Miss Geralt…”

“It’s Ms, if you wouldn’t mind.” She interrupted curtly. He sighed and ground his teeth a little further into the next dentist’s holiday he’d be paying for.

Ms Geralt, apologies, I thought we had concluded your last item of the day?” The strain of politeness in his voice seemed to be waning more and more as the heat and the boredom loomed upon him.

“No, Councilman, I have one last item on my agenda.” The woman’s shrill and lisped voice cut through him like a knife.

Agenda? Who the bloody hell do you even think you are? He thought to himself, the rising resentment boiling in him, causing him to sort his collar once more. This is the local council, you daft bint, not the god damned Court of King Solomon.

A strained attempt at a smile crossed his face as he adjusted his perch in his seat. “But of course, Ms Geralt. What would this item be? Curfew on the youth passing through the parks at lunch time?”

The two or three other councilmen, similar in age and appearance to Mason, stifled chuckles and continued to stare through morose eyes at the young lady in front of them.

“No, Sir, it is a far more serious matter than your ribbing. The district of Hecton-on-Sea would like to file it’s independence from the City and, indeed, the country.”

The stifling stopped and the four men sat on the board roared with laughter for a few minutes or so. Alison stood, stern and resolute. As the laughter subsided, Mason – wiping tears from his eyes – saw that she was deadly serious.

“Young lady, this country is on the verge of taking back it’s own independence and, indeed, it’s dignity. Why would the local district of Hecton-on-Sea not want to join the rest of the country in such a momentous occasion?”

The other councilmen jeered with approval.

“You see, Councilmen, we don’t agree wholeheartedly with the higher powers that there would be much dignity regained in such an action. As a matter of fact, as a district of the country where the average household income is dwarfed by the population of the area, we’d very much note that our dignity would be struggling to keep up with those more well off than ourselves.”

The laughing slowly started to build again but was quickly abaited. Mason leaned forward and steepled his fingers in front of his face. This was a stong move, he thought to himself, she can see your authority and overall superiority in this stance.

“Now now, my dear. No need to get so worked up. We all know that you ‘remainers’,” he did the air quotations then quickly returned to steepled dominion, “would like nothing more for the righteous masses to stop saying such hurtful things and go back to our Guardians and whinging about the old days, but here’s the thing! It’s better this way!”

Another round of jeered acknowledgement, and another round of her piercing stare.

“Better for whom, councilman?”

For Christ Almighty, he strained in his head.

“For your generation and those to come, my dear. When you get to hand your piny down to your daughter, you’ll be able to tell her that the country has returned to an Empire and we are ruling once more.”

“Or that some old men who couldn’t bare the thought of dying without leaving the next generation in tatters wanted one last ride?”

The clucking of the councilmen irritated Mason further.

“Young lady, we do whatever is best for our city, which therefore is best for the country. You honestly think that I would allow the fringe minority of Hecton-on-Sea to affect the progress of the rest of that district?”

A slam as the file in her hand hit the desk in front of her.

“Here are the signatures of 90% of the public in that district agreeing with the request.”

“You can’t seriously be asking for such a thing? We’ve given you so much!” His shock giving him away.

“Like what, councilman?” Her eyes like flaming arrow heads.

“The parks…”

“Overrun with rodents and drug addicts.”

“The leisure Centre…”

“A cesspool and known paedophile haunt.”

He flustered once more, “You’ve been given the right to air your opinion, you left wing tyrant, what else do you want?! What else can we give you that could possibly wave a hand to? We’re lead by democracy!”

She straightened herself and cleared her throat, knowing full well that her requests upset the Conservative stronghold that was the Council of her area was like a grain of sound in a clam’s mouth. She leaned low and close to the microphone, recording the meeting and breathed…

“For The Many, not The Few.”

 

 

 

 

I hated writing this. Have fun.

Close to the Wire

Well this has been the first month I’ve genuinely struggled with the example piece and getting this out on time! Maybe it’s time we took Steve out to pasture? Look at the rabbits? If you’d be so kind…

The twists are over and the the shouting has quieted. You’ll be able to go vote for your favourite pieces at the Voting Page shortly.

Until then, it’s May’s Writing Challenge time. The theme for this month is Hitting a Wall. I’ve had writer’s block all weekend, and this is the best I could do to write something! So bring it writers, what happens when you can’t think of anything till sunday evening of the hand in weekend? Not that any of you lot do that 😉

Tatty Bye!

 

Catharsis

Panting with exhaustion, his throat hoarse, knowing full well he’ll be paying for this in an hour if he doesn’t change his game, he stands drenched in sweat. His head lightly pounding as his heart kept tempo with his nerves. He could hear several voices in his mind, a cacophony of support and abuse that drowned out the crowd before him now the guitar hung quiet. 

Come on, big guy, the familiar paternal voice called. 

We’re just getting started, the gruff, slightly Cornish voice chuckled. 

You’re failing, moron, his own voice seemed to cut through. 

He shakes his head and snatches a glance at the band. All seem to be slightly battered by the ferocity of the show so far; he’s been pulling out the stops tonight, as if trying to prove something. 

 

He rakes the plectrum over the strings and lets out a resilient D chord which rings out beautifully across the room and the dropped D sixth string calms his very soul. The audience seems to take note of the new sound, their incessant chatter over the music all night was expected but he knew that majority of them were just waiting for the next number. He strikes the chord again and the ladies rise in a two-part harmony. 

 

Are you gonna take me home tonight? 

Oh, down beside that red firelight. 

Are you gonna let it all hang out? 

Fat bottom girls, you make the rocking world go round. 

 

Punctuating the vocals with the relevant chords, a calm starts to wash over him. That calm is quickly invaded by the rising sense of anticipation as the last line echoes across the room, the audience now held in the band’s grasp. Slamming his finger onto the fifth fret and running down to the open before swinging the D chord, the thick thwack of the bass drum accenting the beat, he lets the bars go on and winks at the crowd as a filthy grin spreads across his face. Finally, he belts out the first line. His voice is aged beyond its years, it sounds like it’s smoked forty a day for centuries though he’s never taken the drag. An excited whoop punctures the silence of the crowd and his grin gets wider. He closes his eyes as he does whenever singing and feels the confidence welling up to continue now he can’t see. 

Imperceptible to the audience, he is shaking. Every line starts with the slightest shudder of fear but is immediately overpowered by the raunchy bravado that growls like a V8 muscle car. He knows that people love this. He knows that people envy him. He gives off the air that this band is the best fucking band you’ve never heard of and I am the compere that will keep you wanting more all damn night. He is aware of the skills that he has, and he is aware that others in his field are a lot more chauvinistic with that level of skill. Yet he will actively wingman his fellow band members before ever pointing the spot light on himself.  

The final chorus has the entire band hollering and getting into it. The audience are just as loud without the need of amplification. It’s a moment of sheer extasy. He cannot see them, but he can definitely hear them, and he can feel the overwhelming energies following through the room as people enjoy themselves and enjoy the band. 

A few songs later and his voice is raspy and low whilst talking. His fingers ache from the work. He would like nothing more than to stick the coke dispenser in his mouth, press feed, and guzzle for a solid few minutes. But the crowd has requests and a yearning for more, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t want to keep playing as well. Looking to his number two, she grins back at him and gives the cocked eyebrow that challenges him; “tired already?”. Those voices are back in his head once again. 

Springsteen next, everyone loves a Springsteen track, the paternal voice offers. 

Stop showing off and play that bloody guitar, boy! The Cornish voice laughs. 

You’re getting too old for this, his own voice snaps. 

And suddenly it shatters. 

That wall he has been pushing against all evening. 

That panic and worry. 

That need to make sure people are seeing the others and not him. 

That curiosity about how his friend did it so well. 

It’s all right there. Easy to see. 

 

“Right you lot,” he growls menacingly as he turns on the band grinning. “Simple chord progression; G, E minor, A minor, D. Follow me in the bridge but you’re looking B flat, G minor, C minor, F. D on the second.” 

BAM. 

The G chord rings out, strong and true. 

CHKKA BAM. 

The drop to the E minor feels so natural. A trill on the F# to lead you. 

BAM. 

The A minor jumping up a little bit not too far to leave you guessing. And then he shouts in his hero’s way… 

“1. 2. 3. 4.” 

And he leads the band through a number they’ve never practised, the audience through a performance that would suggest otherwise, the performance into second gear. This isn’t about playing the songs they’ve prepared to a regiment anymore. Now they’re looking to have fun and challenge one another, not just pushing against the challenges they feel within themselves. 

“I wanna hear you on this one!” He shouts before the chorus. The audience responds in kind. 

 And the night roars on.

And he roars with delight.

And he isn’t self deprecating, or shy, or under-confident, or any of those pigeon holes people would place him.

And for a split second, he is at peace.

April Feels, Bro

So we’re at the Spring Time, Midway, crazy part of Novel Dreamers!

If you’ve been paying attention, or if you’d like to find them all in one place, you’ll know that all the March pieces are in and ready to vote on at the Voting Page.

As for my writers, they’re about to go and do some fun writing on the following theme:

PLOT TWISTS

Yes, dear writers, I want you to plot twist like M. Knight Shyamalan! Because April 1st, y’all!

As an added bit of fun, not only will I be voting for my top three at the hand in next month, but the best three plot twists (in my opinion) will be receiving 3, 2, and 1 votes accordingly.

Anywho. I got 6 plays, 2 novels, and 3 Dungeons and Dragons Campaigns to write.

SEE YOU NEXT MONTH!

 

The Highwayman’s Trick

Let me ask you this.

If I held a gun to your head, would you even care what the options I were giving you are? I mean, if I placed the barrel of a pistol on your temple and started along the lines of “No pressure, but given the option, would you say you’re a leg or a breast man?”, how far into the sentence would your attention drift from my velvet voice and down to the terrible trickling that is currently running down your leg?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to be holding a gun to your head. I am unfortunately in no such position to do so. I don’t think I’d do that anyway, it’s not in my horoscope or personality type; whatever those are. It would probably be the nature of my companion that I share this cell with…

Sorry, that wasn’t vey helpful. Picture the scene; an Elizabethan prison cell with torches on the walls and hay on the floor. Two men sit in opposite corners of the room, scowling at one another. One is dressed in a heavy duster coat, tricorn hat, tough trousers, riding boots, and a lot of scarfs and fabrics with pockets; he is not me. I am the second man in the room, wearing a simple shirt, waistcoat, trousers, and shoes. Oh, and a potato sack over my head. I know this for three reasons:

1-      The inside of the bag smells heavily of potatoes.

2-      The outside of the bag is printed with a very Irish sounding family name, along with the statement “and sons, Quality Potatoes.”

3-      I have a very strong feeling of de ja vu and I’m sure it was a potato sack the last time too.

The reason we are sat on either side of the cell is because of the conversation we just had, that lead to a fight, that lead to me miraculously landing a punch on him – in the mouth – and him going off in a strop. I didn’t push the fight any further because I didn’t actually expect to land the punch. Right, sorry. Why did we fight? Well this is how the conversation went:

Setting: the cell I’ve been talking about. Characters: The Highwayman – Stan, and The Narrator or me – James. Context: James has just been thrown into the cell by a rather gropey guard and isn’t too happy as he’s just been found guilty for a crime he did not commit. The rest will be explained post-haste.

Stan:                      Any last words, scum?

James’ breathing speeds up, and he starts to fidget.

Stan:                      Well?

James:                  I, erm, I never done it, sir!

Stan:                      (Laughing) Never done it, boy? I haven’t heard that one before!

James:                  Honest, sir. I was set up, it were that damn highwayman. He stopped I on the Thunder Road. I knew there was something strange about him the moment he hesitated. Talked a while, he did, then left. Didn’t even rob me, sir. Must have planted it as we were in dialogue.

Stan:                      Don’t try to fool me, boy! I knows your type. You try speaking up and suddenly you think the airs and graces will save you. Well it ain’t happening!

Stan comes over and kicks James in the back of the knee, causing him to drop to his knees. Stan places a noose around James’ neck and steps back. Stan pretends to talk to another person over his shoulder

Stan:                      Here, Steven. Reckon this one will piss himself?

He stands grinning at James for a moment, then realises there is no reply and starts looking over his shoulder. He walks over to the door as he calls.

Stan:                      Steven? Steven? Steven!

He rushes back to James’ shoulder

Stan:                      Must be getting the scythe ready

James:                  (Panicking) What the hell does he need a scythe for if you’re gonna hang me?!

Stan:                      (Laughing) Oh boy! My sweet sweet (hesitates) what’s your name?

James:                  What does that matter? Surely it’ll make your job harder knowing my name?

Stan pauses on this a second

Stan:                      How so?

James:                  Well you know what they say. If you have to put down a calf, it’s easier if your little girl hasn’t started referring to it as Daisy

Stan:                      Never heard that one, you trying to save your skin again?

He grabs the noose and yanks it about. James screams and then whimpers

James:                  No! NO! I promise, sir! I just mean that it’s harder to kill something you have an emotional attachment to?!

Stan:                      Alright, alright, quit your mewling. Now, your name?

James:                  James Cobbs, sir

Stan:                      Stop with the bloody sir, Cobbs! Now, the reason our Steven is off getting the scythe is a very simple one. After we’ve hung you, we gotta put you into these barrels to send you off to the physicians at the local university. Problem is that the campus is made of four different schools, you see. Well you don’t, what with that (refers to the bag), but you get my point. Anyway, the four doctors are interested in different parts of you and they likes the parts fresh. So as soon as you start dancing the invisible waltz, we’ll be cutting you ZIIP (gestures over James’ neck and his shoulders and thighs) into the segments. Head. Body. Limbs.

(Pause)

James:                  But that’s only three. What’s the fourth?

Stan starts to laugh, he comes round the back of James and places his hands on his shoulders, massaging him slowly.

Stan:                      Oh, my boy, my sweet innocent Cobbs. There’s a specialist subject that all men are slightly too concerned with to think of about it until it’s endangered.

James:                  And what is that?

Stan:                      Your cock, Cobbs. Your John Thomas. Your prick, man!

Stan grabs down and James let’s out a sob, Stan falls back laughing

James:                  God, man! Have you no sympathy for a man before the gates of heaven?

Stan:                      Ah, Cobbs. You’re neither at the gates of heaven or the tavern backdoor to hell. Why not sit and drink with me a while?

Stan goes over to him and undoes his binding, James gives no fight as Stan helps him to his feet.

Stan:                      Now, let’s get a look at you!

Stan removes the bag from James’ head. James takes a moment to regain sight and then their faces drop as they recognise one another.

Both:                     YOU!

 

Yes, dear friend. The very highwayman that had got me into this cell is here with me. And we have been here for many years. Over the hour we shall squabble, fight, laugh, and cry. By the end of the hour, the sounds of the gallows crowd will build up overhead and we will become scared and somewhat anxious. Stan will explain that he’s never been good at robbing people but really liked the highwayman outfit, and I shall find that I am one of his few victims. We will both come to learn that the worst thing you can give a highwayman is your time, as he then seems to step out of the cell and leaves me to die. And the lights drop, as if through some arcane means, and I fear my end is near.

I think back to the brief moments that Stan accosted me on the roadside, before leaving my cart untouched. I remember the stone in pit of my stomach as I reached London’s outskirts and the guards come to check the contents of my wagon. I remember the brief elation when the guards finally step away, happy but not pushing any further.

And then the sound of metal against stone.

I turn to see the box scatter across the floor as the door of the wagon shuts, and an ‘obviously not my necklace’ falls out of the little jewellery box.

And as the pounding of the boots down the corridor come to meet me, I start to grin.

The audience that have gathered for my execution are confused; as is the hangman.

As the noose passes over my head I whisper, “check the cart again.”

They have no idea I’m ahead of the whole thing.

The guard who checks my carriage whilst I dance on the air finds the quartered body of James Cobbs.

And I flit back to my home. Leaving the body to disintegrate in front of a crowd of god-fearing humans…

I do love theatrics.

Music be the Fruit of Writing

And it’s March.

This year is flying by. Please stop.

Right now, the gang are all exhausted from their Faith pieces, which will be available for voting shortly on the Voting Page. I hope you enjoyed reading them because we’re now going into the void of weird stuff.

The theme is a very simple one this month, so I shan’t keep you all. This month I want the writers to GO TO YOUR MUSIC PLAYER OF CHOICE, PRESS SHUFFLE, AND USE THE FIRST SONG AS YOUR STIMULUS.

If you could share the song with the piece, that’d be most appreciated 😉

 

Have fun, treacles!

Dreaming Again

Inspired by I’m Dreaming Again by Thunder

The two of them sat in the recording room with paper everywhere. There was a palpable atmosphere to the room, and it was not just the humid, lack of air-con heat that seemed to be settling in for the long haul. Each piece of paper had scrawling of lyrics, chords, scribbling over said writing, corrections, vetoes, and back tracking.

“It’s useless,” the woman said, her voice slightly hoarse from lack of hydration. “They’re written the way they were for a reason. You don’t fix something if it isn’t broken.”

The man sighed and rubbed the palm of his fretting hand, starting to ache from the amount of complex chordings the songs required. The two of them looked battered. She was a slim thing, with short brownish blonde hair, green eyes, and a smile that made you worry what she was concocting. He stood about a foot taller, and probably nearly a foot wider, with messy greying brown hair, and bags under his eyes that looked like the cause of his slight stoop.

“Great input as always.” She huffed and started tidying the papers into more organised mounds of mess.

“I don’t know why you want to change the way we play them anyway?” He offered as he stretched out in the chair. “The songs were good enough how they were, surely? I mean the record company seemed to like them.”

“Yeah, but it’s write a new album’s worth of songs or rework the old stuff in new ways and keep people waiting for that previously mentioned album. Which would you prefer?” She placed the pile on the piano and sat at it. Clicking her knuckles, she started to hammer out the beginning riff to Empty City. It was a crowd pleaser from the moment it hit the shelves, but that’s the problem with writing a great song; people want it every show. It had started to lose it’s feel, and although he did his best to make it different – changing up the way his playing or his solos – it always felt like flogging a dead horse by the end of the tour. That had been the reason she had suggested reworking some of the songs in the first place.

If we redo some of the ones that are losing their flame, and throw in some lesser played tracks, people will lap it up, she had said to the Label Rep at the monthly update meeting.

“I’m happy to write some new songs!” He chimed in, knocking her from her day dream and also the held chord ringing out through the room. “I’ve been trying to suggest new stuff since you mentioned a new album. The term ‘new’ really resonated with me, yunno?” The sarcastic quip on the end blended with the B Diminished chord to cause a need to pace. Up she got and walked over to the whiteboard on the wall, grabbed the marker and started making notes.

Miracle Man is bang on, as is Bigger Than Both of Us

“And I think Girl’s Going Out of Her Head will be well received. It’s completely off the wall compared to the other two.”

“So that’s three, we were looking at the acoustic version of Blown Away…” she trailed off mid sentence as a thought struck her. “We could always do Dreaming?”

His face dropped and he looked like she had just told him that he’d been fired.

“We both agreed we’d not play that again…” he said with a stern voice; juxtaposed against his usual carefree and sarky norm.

“People are going to be expecting the big numbers!” She shouted, tired of the pussyfooting.

“Then we’ll do a version of Low Life and She’s So Fine! What about Loser?”

“Oh, if we’re not doing Dreaming, we’re definitely not doing fucking Loser!”

The two of them stood staring daggers at one another, the heat of the room seemed to have gone up a degree or two. As per usual, he broke first.

“You left me, remember?”

She threw her hands up in desperation. “How could I forget?! Mr Never Forget’s A Fucking Thing! Shall we go completely on the nose and do Love Walked In but change it to Love Walked Out?!”

“Fuck me,” he retorted. “I’m glad you saved that one for now, because the five star reviews wouldn’t be enough. Step aside, Shakespeare!” He put the guitar down and waltzed over to the piano, starting to play the the opening of Love Walked In and started to wail in a strangled cat fashion:

“So tired of waiting, I walked an empty land,

I was looking for something to help me understand,

Cos bad luck kept turning my dreams into sand.

I didn’t want pity, I’d had my share, my friends,

I wanted somebody more special than the rest,

I was aching inside, like I was approaching the end.

Just about that moment, the timing was so right,

She appeared like a vision, sent down to my life,

I thought I was dreaming when I saw you that night

But then Love Walked Out of my door,

That familiar feeling, I’d had once before.

Love Walked Out of my door, and it felt so beige.

Like a long lost love freed from a cage,

Making you whole again.”

She stood with her arms crossed, watching him mock her words so easily. The marker pen dropped to the floor, pulling him from the clowning around and, opening his eyes, saw she was gone. He sighed, and the breath deflated him on several levels. She had left before. Always when he needed her the most.

“I’m not ready to play it again,” he called out to the room at large. The heat of the room started to drop and he looked around, hoping she’d appear once again. “You know that song goes both ways now.”

Waiting for some sort of response, he got nothing but silence in return. Taking another deep breath, he stepped over to the guitar, dropped it down to a Drop D tuning and started to busk those opening chords; his eyes started to water just at the thought. Not knowing how to get the verse to work, he jumped to a simply strummed version of the chorus:

“When I feel the touch of your hand, but there’s no one around,

I know that I’m dreaming

When I wake up to find it’s only me and the night,

I know that I’m dreaming again.”

He let the last chord ring out and his voice trail out. A knock at the door woke him from his own day dream. A slick haired man with headset poked his head around the door.

“Erm, sorry to interrupt, Sir. Warm up act is done, we’re ready to go when you are.” The disembodied head said before disappearing back out.

The guitarist cleared his throat and stood, guitar in hand. Stepping out into the corridor the green room and wandering towards the stage door, the magazine blew off the piano in the green room onto the floor. The front page a simple copy of the poster that hung on the walls outside the theatre, but covered with the headline: ACOUSTIC DUO RETURN AS SOLO ACT ON THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF LEAD SINGER.

George Michael Fan Fiction Incoming

Good morning, Novel Dreamers!

Welcome back to another exciting month of writing. You should be seeing the wonderful LOVE pieces that the guys have been writing over January, just in time for Valentines Day next week, being shared about now! Why not go vote for your favourite(s)? Click here

With that being all tied up, we better start looking at February’s writing challenge! I’m asking our cracking writers to write about FAITH this month. They can write about religion, they can write about belief, they can write about Faith Hill if they really like! Whatever they come up with, however, shall hopefully come from some meaning or interpretation of that word. Or at least, I hope they do. It’s alright, I’ll just keep…

Yeah I’ll see myself out.

Below is this month’s example piece. Enjoy.

 

Come Join the Murder

It was a cold and dreary Thursday in the midst of an equally cold and dreary April. Gale force winds blew in northwesterly, and no sense of central heating or designer outfits could keep the weather from creeping into your bones. But this had not perturbed him; he had a job to do, and he’d be damned before he let his father hold his failure against him. Pushing through the trees and growth, he could hear the stream babbling somewhere ahead of him. He stopped for a moment, clouds puffing from his mouth like some volcano, not too sure if it were going to erupt or not. He took out his pocket watch and checked the time: 03:42pm.

This was meant to be an easy trek, you old bastard, he thought to himself. He started back up and found the weir just as a distant church bell struck four. It was all but lost on him as time seemed to be standing still in the middle of the woods.

“You never told me how you wanted this doing, old man!” he called out to the heavens. His face stung as the weather tried to freeze the tears welling up in his eyes already. The scene was picturesque. He knew it would be as it had been the picture hanging in the living room since he were a boy. His father constantly reminding him, in a semi-drunk state, that that’s where he wanted his ashes scattering when he were gone. He grimaced and looked at the slippery stones just breaking the water and remembered the once or twice the old man had informed him it were quite a dangerous thing to attempt; but this was his father’s last wish.

He dropped onto a log that sat on the bank, placing the metallic tub very carefully to his left, and pulled a small hip-flask from his inner pocket. He let the liquid slosh around a bit inside and turned to look at the urn holding his father.

“Three generations of miserable old cunts, hey?” raising the hip-flask. He immediately berated himself mentally for speaking ill of his grandfather, the original owner of the hip-flask in his hand. He opened it and took a sip. The warmth spread across his chest and throat instantly as the 18 year old Glenfiddich took hold of his entire being for but a moment. Knowing his father would heavily disapprove, he poured a dram over the bark in front of the urn. “You’re not allowed to drink and I’m only allowed 2 units, remember?” he scoffed, taking another pull.

A bark woke him from his daydream as a St Bernard came lolloping out of the brush and directly towards him and a bear of a man stepped out the hole in the trees seconds later. Leaning heavy on a walking stick with an ornate pair of ravens on perch at the top of it, the man was greying blonde with a scraggly beard and eye patch.

“Down, Chronos,” called the older man after his hound before turning to the younger. “Pardon him, he likes making friends and interrupting thoughts.”

The younger chuckled before gesturing to the log beside him. “Well if it’s friends you’re needing, I could do with the company this afternoon.” He turned to the dog, “That’s a very impressive name you have there,” he said as he reached out to pet the big bugger, only to be slobbered over rather enthusiastically.

“Oh he’s an impressive dog,” the blonde man said as he sat. The two shared a handshake and a drink before he spoke again. “The name’s Wednesday. What’s your’s, friend?”

The younger man barked a laugh and drank again, knowing full well he should have stopped two mouthfuls ago. “Oh this is happening is it?” Wednesday gave a half apologetic smile but said nothing. “My name is unimportant, sir.”

“Your father and his father might disagree with you there, boy” growled Wednesday, gesturing to the two metal containers.

“A fair point. Then you can call me Archer,” he said as he offered the hip-flask once more. “Could you take this from me for a moment, I’m not really allowed to drink and I think seeing a long dead God might be a warning I’ve already pushed the line to its limit.”

It was Wednesday’s turn to bark with laughter, joined after by both Archer and Chronos. After a few minutes, the laughter died and the two wiped their faces.

“You were never one for keeping your thoughts to yourself, lad.” came a third voice from behind them that caused Archer’s blood to freeze better than the weather ever had chance to. He turned to see his father stood, ginger-grey had closely cut and beard surprisingly tidy for someone who always screwed up the process of trimming it. He wore that same outfit that Archer thought of immediately when trying to think of his dad. He came and moved the urn out of the way and sat, looking over the stream ahead of them. “Trust you to actually do it, you stubborn git.”

The three sat in silence.

“Dad, we’ve never been religious. You had me baptised and you took me to church a couple of times as a kid but neither of us ever believed in God.” Archer offered out, trying to make sense of it all. “And yes, since I’d had the faculty to comprehend it, I have believed in the tales of Norse Mythology, but not as a devout believer. So why are we sat here with Wednesday?” He realised what he was saying after the fact and added, “No offence, of course.” Wednesday waved it aside and offered an answer before Dad could.

“Whatever faith, religion, colour, or creed, the idiom linked with death remains the same: Meet your Maker. For some, they we realise the full character of their parent. For others, they are welcomed by an angel through pearly gates. For all of humanity’s warring over it, there is but one God; they all just see him/her/they in a different light.”

Archer scoffed, “how very Tumblr safe of you, Wednesday.”

They sat in silence once more. Archer dropped his head into his hands and sobbed.

“You’re not real, are you? Either of you?” He said, finally raising his head. But no one was there. Just a cold metal container, and a hip-flask flung against the log opposite.

He steadied himself, collected the hip-flask, and then the urn. Rounding his shoulders, he stepped onto the bank and then onto the stepping stones leading across the weir. His hands shook in the cold, but also with the fear and reverence of the situation, as he hit the midway point and stopped. Carefully he turned the container lid and paused, trying to think of what his father would have wanted. It came to him in an instant, and through tearful eyes and a laugh at how stupid and cheesy the whole thing felt, he started to sing.

There’s a blackbird perched outside my window,

I hear him calling, I hear him sing.

He burns me with his eyes of gold to embers,

He sees all my sins, He reads my soul…

 

 


N.B.  My father is alive and as well as the grumpy old git can be. This is fictional, based off conversations we’ve had. Please do not read into this.

 

New year; Who dis?

Hello, lovely ones!

It’s new year, and the gang are throwing in their Second Chance pieces, now available to vote for at the Voting Page

This month, as the hand in will be the beginning of February, let’s revolt against Van Halen and actually talk about Love. Yes, this month’s theme is going to be Love, and what a lot of fun we’re going to have looking at the dark brood that I call my writers this year.

So, short and sweet as I’ve been trying to write everything this weekend, please find this month’s Example piece below:

 

Archer

 

Contemplation

Sitting like a grubby jewel on the expansive cliff face known as The Sword Coast, Waterdeep could be argued to Faerun’s New York City. Deep in the hustle and bustle of the manically packed streets of hawkers and hookers, shoppers and shops, stands the less than famous than some of its competitors tavern; The Sunken Shoe. As the metaphorical camera of narrative starts to get slightly travel sick, we take one last swoop into The Sunken Shoe to reveal a grubby interior, sides caked in dust, so are some of the patrons. Behind the bar, a Drow (an Elven race that prefer darkness to light; think Goth kids) cleans the solitary surviving glass owned by the bar as the customers now have to drink out of the cheaper and more durable wooden tankards. Anyway, ignore Thomas, we’re not interested in him. Moving along the bar towards the booths near the end of the room, we find the two patrons that aren’t sleeping sat in one of the booths and deep in their cups. A white scaled male Dragonborn (Humanoid-Dragon person. The result of if a dragon and a human got their Marvin Gaye on…) wearing thick armour, speckled with bullet wounds and holes, and a Dwarven man with short brown mohawk and beard running down into singed ends, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans sit swaying slowing in the seats. The shorter of the two lifts a finger and aims at one of the three dragons he can see sitting across from him:

“Balthazar, I have a question,” his thick Scottish accent straining against the alcohol and thought process that are waging war in his mind. “What is love?”

The Dragonborn sat stoically for a moment, either dazed from his drink or trying to look like he were in deep thought, before belching loudly; a cloud of frosty air wafting from his nostrils.

“Painful.”

The two sat in silence for a moment before the dwarf burst into raucous laughter. Balthazar’s smile slowly crawled across his lips like a night worker slowly slipping into a morning’s embrace.

“Snowball, your wit is as sharp as your sword,” the Dwarven drinker chuckled, calming himself back to the conversation. “But seriously, what is it like? How do you know?”

Balthazar cleared his throat and leaned forward, his face growing serious and the closest to sober it had looked in years.

“Grimnir, in your luxury you have not had to experience it, and I suggest you keep it that way. I only half joke when I say it is painful, for it really is.”

“I wouldn’t call it luxury,” Grimnir protested. Balthazar waved him off with a smirk.

“You know what I mean.” He pauses for thought before continuing. “I once loved a woman, she was big and boisterous, stronger than an ox. We flirted a little, before we were separated and I promised to bring her War Hammer back to her. Months I searched for a way to return, and finally found myself in the way as she tried to save the world. We spent several nights together, and she confided in me when I thought I were mere distraction. And then she left; suddenly and without warning. I was informed she had gone to another plane of existence, so I waited. I was killed in battle, and revived, and still I waited. When she finally returned after nine years, so did my happiness. But, as you are well aware, we are not designed for happiness. So when I finally tried to prove my worth to her, show her that I was strong enough to stay, she beat me to a pulp and left me for fear that she’d kill me if she didn’t.”

The two sat in silence again. Grimnir cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry to hear of your loss in my absence, old friend” Grimnir said with a sense of searching for the right words, “but that is just one story in a book full of many different endings.”

Balthazar barked a laugh. “That’s easy for you to say, as a man who has been around long enough to see a few chapters written. How have you, a man who has experienced centuries, never felt love?”

Grimnir shifted awkwardly in his seat. “You know that my line of work means that I have little in the way of feelings other than anger, resentment, and many other bad things. I think I’m starting to understand a new feeling.” He chuckles as he catches Balthazar raising an eyebrow sarcastically. “I have been exploring this generation’s heroes and have stumbled upon a fun group known as Marblesong. They are kooky and very headstrong, but they seem to be in a bad way as of late. They have a Halfling with them, a wonderfully energetic and cute thing, and I have been informed from my Betters has a lot of potential.”

“Has the old dog fallen for a young pup?” Balthazar clucked mockingly. Grimnir grinned and threw the dregs of his cup at the Dragon.

“No, you big softie, I just… I care for this one. I haven’t cared for much in a long time; present company excluded of course. I just want to make sure this one survives more than the other two, and that bothers me. I am not one for picking a fight that I can’t handle, but we went against a bloody Fire God the other day and I spent the entire time worrying about her safety above my own and the others. It is not right.”

Once again, the two returned to staring at the bottoms of their cups in silence; both wanting to say something but not too sure how to word it. Finally, Balthazar offered a refrain.

“Friend, you have been gone so long, it seems you have forgotten how to live. Love comes in many forms: Sexual, casual; platonic; careful. So many versions of love exist in this world that it kind of has its own magic. To show emotions that might elevate your vulnerability doesn’t mean to question the very foundation of your being. For once, allow this to be a moment of growth for you. Your care for this girl is obviously not lustful love, but that of a kindred spirit. Lovers are just friends who worked out the next step; it doesn’t mean you love them any less if you stay as just friends.”

As if narrative sensed a need for more, the door exploded open as a hyperactive Halfling girl with short brown hair, seaweed green eyes, and a permanent grin bounded into the bar; followed shortly by a dour looking Half-Elf with ginger hair and golden scales lining his features, and a tanned Elven woman with auburn hair, streaked with mistletoe, and somewhat dazed expression on her face.

“Right,” Grimnir said, slamming his hands on the table. “Gang seems to be back up to things. Better go play meatshield for glass cannons. You remember how to get hold of me, should your stubbornness slip?”

Balthazar nodded. The two stood and then embraced, before parting ways once again, to find out what fate had in store for them this time around…

 

Blue Christmas

It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house,

only one creature was stirring, too big to be a mouse.
To the cheese fiend looking up at this orange furred beast,

the creature was huge and had just finished a feast.

Its tail was striped, with black like it’s back,
But the face was a boy’s, no big old fierce cat.
As he stirred his hot cocoa, watching the marshmallows sink,
Snuck up upon him, his father, the slink.

Turned to his Pa, his face filled with glee,
His Dad’s returned smile, as proud as could be.
“Come on then, Tigger,” the Dad said to the lad,
“Let’s watch a movie before we hit the sack.”

The Two wandered off, the mouse in pursuit,
Into the living room, with cookies and fruits.
The plates were placed gently, for Santa and co,
Though with a wink from Dad, two cookies did go.

As they sat through the film, all snuggled and warm,
The mouse could sense something, some unseen storm.
The father grew anxious, as the film came to close,
And he looked as his boy, with cream on his nose.

“Will she be here this time?” The boy asked quietly,
The dad feigned a smile, “you’ll have to wait and see.
Now let’s get you to bed, before we intrude,
On Saint Nicholas’ night shift, we don’t want to be rude.”

And so the ascended, the old wooden stairs,
The boy he seemed hopeful, the man seemed more closed.
The mouse took to the tree line, only one in sight,
And lay down his small head, bidding all good night.

It was later that evening, as everyone slept,
That a light pair of feet, on floorboards they crept.
The mouse did stir this time, and looked up in shock,
To see the small boy, in dressing gown and socks.

He snuck to the chimney, and took a quick look,
He came back disheartened, his belief slightly shook.
When all of a sudden, a hearty boom,
As a warm belly laughter, filled the room.

“Santa, you’re here!” The boy shouted with glee,

and ran over to cuddle the man by the tree.
Mr Claus picked him up and took him to sit,

“You shouldn’t be awake, what time even is it?”

“Santa, I’m sorry, I needed to wait,

I have a big favour, and I was worried I was late.”
“Settle down, sweet lad, what bothers you dear?”
“It’s my Dad and I, we’re lonely this year.”

“Lonely?” Santa chuckled, then looked around,

all pictures had three but no third stocking was found.
“My mum, she’s gone sleeping, that’s what Dad said,”

the boys eyes looked aged but youthfully blinded.

“Oh, son, I’m sorry,” Santa’s face dropped.

“My letters are many, and sometimes get crossed.”
“But you can help us?” The boy asked with hope,
And Santa breathed heavy, rummaging in his coat.

He pulled out a snow globe, and handed it forth,
“Take this to bed with you, and dream your big thoughts.”
Rushed back to bed, with a kiss and a bow,
And the lad slept with a smile, no hint of a frown.

It was early next morning, as Dad panicked awake,
His hand moved to her pillow, then pulled away before his resolve could break.
He stepped onto the landing, dropping his voice to a drone,
“Tigger, it’s Eeyore, it’s time we went home.”

Bouncing out of his bedroom, up onto dad’s shoulder,
The Two headed downstairs, to the presents like boulders.
But taken aback, as the pair came in to,
A woman was waiting, with hair brown and eyes blue.

Her arms were outstretched, the pair stood as if stuck,
The mouse he watched on, as the family closer drew,
“Mum, you’re awake!” The little boy ran to her,
“Santa really did it! The snow globe, it worked.”