Friday Fictioneers : The bubble gum pink coat

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


 

Mum lifts Danny onto the seat, the Umbrella car giddy under his weight.

‘Will you come?’ He isn’t scared, but Mum’s been sad for so long and fairground rides make everyone smile.

She shakes her head, tells him to hold the bar in front but he’s old enough to know that. The car moves – loud music shakes the air in his ears. Mum has already turned, her bubble gum pink coat a spot of colour growing smaller. When the ride has turned once, the pink has gone.

This is what Danny tells the police lady when she comes.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture and write a tale. Share yours and read others here.

 

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How a drowned story came back from the dead

Back in 2015, The People’s Friend magazine launched a serial writing competition to find new authors.

Now, the ‘Friend’ is a bit of a legend as far as I’m concerned. It’s been published by DC Thompson (the same company that publishes the equally legendary Beano) for years, it’s been in existence since 1869 and is one of the few weekly magazines in the UK that still publishes fiction. It’s certainly one of the few (perhaps the only) that has a generous ‘open door’ policy for debut writers, where many magazines are closed to those who haven’t previously worked for them.

So filled with excitement at the prospect of breaking into the tricky WoMag (Women’s Magazine) market, I crafted my three part serial.

Set in the Regency period, it had a brave heroine, a sinister boathouse, a hint of romance and a long buried family secret. I wrote, I polished and slid the first instalment into the post.

I waited. Didn’t hear anything. Waited some more. Still didn’t hear anything. As the day  drew close for the magazine to announce the winners, doubts began to bubble to the surface. Perhaps the writing wasn’t good enough. Perhaps the themes were too dark. Could I do this writing thing at all?

Still, despite my misgivings, come the big day, I checked online, because maybe, just maybe …

I read the list of winners. My name was not there. I read the list of honourable mentions … nothing. It was with a heart of lead that I accepted the fact that all of my hard work, my proofing and editing and extra proofing were to no avail. The ‘Friend’ did not like my story. I licked my wounds and – as we writers must do – tucked the disappointment away and moved onto the next project.

Almost two years later, the story was still languishing on my laptop, unfinished, neglected. I’d looked at the file a few times, thinking I should delete it, clear some space for an idea with potential – after all, where else was I going to sell the story?

Then …

One day last July, I opened an email. At the top was the dictinctive red and white masthead of The People’s Friend. Dazed, I read the note. It was from Alan Spink, a member of their Fiction Team. Alan wrote that although my story didn’t win the competition, they felt it had potential to work for the magazine and would I like to write it up?

Well, what do you think I said?

Within a few weeks, I had the first draft complete and after more rewriting with Alan’s wonderful guidance, the serial was ready to submit to the editor. Now, the wheels of fiction turn slowly, but last November I had the news –

The editor loved the story and it had been accepted for publication.

The first part of The Mermaid of Mortling Hall will appear on 3rd February this year and the story runs for three weeks.

Now, I’m not sure what lesson we can all learn from a story that seemed to be dead in the water, for which I had lost all hope, that will have taken almost two and a half years from its conception to publication.

I’m not trying to fill you with false hope that a story or novel that seemed a no-go will suddenly be plucked from the slushpile and published. In my experience, when most stories are rejected by a publication they stay rejected.

But success can come when you least expect it and through surprising avenues and maybe, finally, it’s just the right time for the Mermaid to swim.

One thing’s for sure. As writers we should never give up, we should keep honing our craft, keep learning, keep improving, keep seeking feedback, keep sticking our backsides to the chair and our fingers to the keyboard.

And if we do that, well, we might just win out.

 

 

 

Three Line Tales : The Thrift Store Cat Whisperer

three line tales week 103: a sanitation van in front of pink graffiti

photo by Hans Vivek via Unsplash


 

Hey, Danny, look! See that old lady? The one pushing her world in a shopping cart. Thrift store clothes, shoes held together with string – your everyday homeless old bag, right? Keep watching.

Isn’t that the weirdest thing you ever saw? How many are there – five. … ten … sixteen … twenty-four I make it. Twenty-four stray cats all after the same hobo like she’s got fish tacos sewn in the lining of her coat. She talks to ’em too, says some weird garbled crap that sure ain’t English. Sal says she gives ’em all names, that they sit round and listen like they’re in elementary school and she’s the teacher. But Sal says his mom was abducted by aliens, so …

Sure see some weird shit in this job.

 


Written for Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a story. See here to read and share.

Friday Fictioneers : When the world froze

PHOTO PROMPT © Victor and Sarah Potter


 

Winter was hard.

The streets were slick and glassy, icicles sang from every tree – a high, unearthly tune – and even the harbour was clogged, jagged plates of ice knocking, sliding one over the other, only for their cold geometry to refreeze each night as the sun vanished.

We were standing by a brazier when we saw the strangest thing. Webs, the spokes and lines frilled white and at the centre of each, the crystal bauble of a spider, waiting for a last meal that never came.

‘A sad sight,’ said Barney, hands purpled and blotchy.

He’s a good man.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the best prompt on the ‘web’. See the photo and write a tale and don’t forget to share and read the other contributions here.

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers : The loss of Folly

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Fandango. Thank you Fandango!


 

‘Stay down. Stay hidden.’ A last flash of Poppa’s eyes in the darkness and he was gone.

Folly did as she was told. She knew the forest well, the creak of the trunks in the wind, the sound of twigs falling to leaf litter, the scurry of creatures smaller and more terrified than herself.

But she searched for other sounds – the soft rustle and pause of a lean wolf, the hiss of breath through his snout; the grunt of boar.

Most of all she listened for the Others, the clumsy thrash of their limbs, the hushed, garbled words, the scrape of metal just before …

Come the grey paling of the dawn, the Others had not come. Nor had Poppa.

She crawled from the hollowed out tree, brushed dead leaves from her skirts, evicted a beetle from her shoe.

A voice cried out, lifting the crows from their roosts. Crashing footsteps,  garbled words – sharp, ringing as a sword hitting stone.

She closed her eyes and wished …

 


Written for Priceless Joy’s FFfAW. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Lely the seal girl

 

Each day through the holidays, Tarek, Sami and I would walk to the waterfall.

Tarek would lead, long toes curled round the tips of his sandals, skin paled from the dusty road. Sami would take the middle, eyes on Tarek’s heels, towel trailing from his arm onto the path. As the youngest, I would bring up the rear, trotting to catch up when I lagged behind, when I had to stop to pull up my sagging hand-me-down shorts.

The oasis was a miracle, a splash of lush green, nodding grasses and pink flower spikes erupting from barren rock and bare dirt.

We met Lely there one day, swimming dark and sleak as a seal through the green water. We all loved her I think, all blushed when she splashed us, all wanted to catch her round the waist in our games of tag.

She never allowed herself to be caught.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the photo prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tel Saki in Syria. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

Friday Fictioneers : Ariadne leaves the maze

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot


 

Ariadne wove along the tangled path, through nodding rosebay willowherb and scabious, nettles snatching at her skirts.

Her mind wandered ahead to the hive, the warm, sweet buzz of the comb then back to him, his warmth. He was often sweet but always tinged sour with beer or sweat, hard words, hard hands.

The sound reached her first, a thousand singular insect voices weaving to form a low hum. The brown cloud enveloped her as she drew close, furry bodies bouncing against her hands, her cheeks, welcoming her.

‘He’s dead,’ she whispered.

She turned and followed the path back home.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Join in, read and share here.

At first glance there may seem no connection between my story and the prompt photograph, but the shapes in the net reminded me of a honeycomb, which led my mind to bees and the tradition of telling them when someone in the family dies. To read more about this tradition take a look here.