Category Archives: Excerpts Of My Shit

Posts which have excerpts of my novels/short stories/random ideas/etc.

Thrips In My Tea

I hate thrips/thunderflies/thunderbugs/corn flies/whatever the heck you want to call them, they’re little bastards.  I find them EVERYWHERE and it makes me mad.  So mad that I wrote a poem about the little feckers.

Thrips in my tea
Thrips in my tea
Thrips thrips thrips
Thunderflies
One just went and died
Inside my computer screen
Broken pixel trail left behind
Like snot from a snail
Backwards and forwards
Frozen in the pixels
Bastard thing
Couldn’t have gone
Another three inches
And out of sight?
A tick on the white
Just upwards from middle
Slanted
But always in sight
Thrips in my soup
Thrips in my soup
Thrips thrips thrips
Thunderbugs
I’ve eaten three today
At least

A New Page Is Born

Alright then!  Now if you look at the top of this page, next to my Bio page, you will now see The Adventurous Time Adventures of Doctor When!  In its full and complete glory.

Enjoy my insanity.  I sure do.

Fantastic Bullshitting and a New Story: The Falconer’s Apprentice

I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old advice people give to writers: ‘Write what you know.’  Now this doesn’t really apply to fantasy writers, because let’s face it no one knows squat-diddly about dragons or magic or elves or whatever.  No, instead of writing what you know, fantasy writers have another, more applicable mantra:

“Bullshit really really well.”

It’s all about bluffing, because so long as you can be convincing enough for readers to believe it actually happened no one actually cares if you’re 100% accurate.

Or so I’m hoping.

I’m actually planning to write something based on both writing mantras, for the subject of this latest endeavor is falconry.  But the bullshitting will come into play because obviously I know modern techniques and in a mediaeval fantasy time period they don’t have cable ties and radio telemetry.

So here’s the beginning of The Falconer’s Apprentice:

*

Tommas was feeling deflated, odd in a boy as large as himself. The days leading up to today had been full of excitement as he readied the preparations for what was to come. But now that it was here, and the long-awaited event had passed, Tommas was left feeling cheated.

He’d waited for this day to arrive for six years, ever since he was sent as an apprentice at the age of eight. His master was an imposing man, stern of eye and implacable when it came to detail, but then he had to be; he was the Master Falconer to their liege lord. And as his apprentice, Tommas had done all and more that was required of him, from scraping hawk shit off the walls to being bitten and footed by hungry falcons when attending their needs. Even so, it was two years before he was allowed to enter the mews where the birds perched, alert and wary of his strange presence. Two more before he was allowed to pick one up. And after another two, he was to be given his own bird to train and care for.

That day was today. But it was not as he imagined.

‘What’s that you’ve got there, boy? A blue-tit for catching flies?’ The men loitering outside the smithy laughed and jeered as he came near. Tommas ground his teeth, but kept quiet.

‘Raffe!’ called the Master Smith when he saw the falconer’s apprentice. His own apprentice answered his call, popping up greasy-haired and coal-streaked from the bowels of the smithy.

‘Tommas, let’s see it!’ the lanky other boy’s face lit up when he saw his friend approach. He knew what day it was. But as Raffe approached, he saw what sat upon Tommas’ gauntleted fist and frowned. ‘Is that it?’

Tommas sighed.

‘You know,’ one of the loiterers called to the townspeople who had started to gather round to see what their laughter was about, ‘they say the size of a man’s hawk tells you the size of his prick!’ The crowd roared with laughter.

‘Well,’ Tommas blustered, red-faced, ‘I’ll have you know it’s a falcon, not a hawk.’

‘Yeah,’ chimed in Raffe, ‘it’s opposite with falcons, you see.’ That just raised a louder roar of hilarity.

‘You’re not helping,’ the large boy groaned.

‘Sorry,’ his friend grinned. ‘Come inside and tell me everything.’

*

Cocky young Tommas is obviously less than pleased with the bird he’s given, but the Kestrel was historically the bird of servants and apprentices.  The conflict of the story will be when his master is given the task of training a young Gyrfalcon destined to be given to the King,  and Tommas steals it for himself.  As this would probably be considered a hanging offence, my task is to now work out plot-wise what this cheeky boy is planning to do now he’s got himself into heaps of trouble.

Eventually he’ll find that the Gyrfalcon is pretty but useless, and the Kestrel he’s abandoned stays his loyal companion and keeps them all from dying of hunger whilst on the run, even if they’re only eating mice and field voles.

The moral of the story: don’t be a twat.

A Writer Who Writes – A Shock For All!

Holy crap, I wrote a page of fiction today!  It’s kind of a big deal, as most of my recent blog posts have been lamenting my crapness at actually writing anything for months now.  And how can I call myself a writer if I don’t write?!

Though, honestly, I could call myself a magician and you, the gullible internet, would probably believe me.

But all that aside, I’m basking in the pitiful success that is that single page of prose.  A mere 868 words, but enough to regain my confidence in myself that yes, I can still write.

It’s a fabulous thing.

Now for the story itself.  This is the idea I had for the Kelpies prize back in however long ago – back when I actually thought it might be feasible to write 40,000 – 70,000 words and submit it as a finished novel within a month.  I thought, ‘Well I’ve done NaNoWriMo, how hard can it be?!’ – but alas, it was hard to even get started, life got in the way, and so the project was abandoned.

But I still loved my story idea!  And this morning I was suddenly determined to write a little vignette that could encapsulate what I wanted to do with my main character and the tone of the story.

And because I am perhaps bold, and perhaps foolish, I’ve decided to share that page of prose with the internet.

Be kind, internet.

*

It was raining, always raining, but Kayla was not the kind of child who minded a bit of damp getting in the way of her adventures. At ten years old she looked far older than her age, and acted it as well, a tall, broad-shouldered girl with strong, capable limbs, a slow smile and quick laughter. And her adventures were far more adventurous than those of other girls her age – which might have been why she usually went on them alone. So, all in all, Kayla was not an ordinary girl, not that ordinary is a terribly definable condition in the first place.

This particular adventure, however, began very ordinarily – if anything, that is, can be said to be so. As mentioned before, it was raining that day, but this was not unusual; days of blazing sunshine and bluer-than-blue skies were what was strange in this part of the world. Kayla was climbing the hill behind her house, as this was how all her adventures began. This was because in front of her house lay the rest of the town and the adventure of her adventures came from exploring the wild places away from the sense and order of civilisation. So up the hill she went, her back to the contemptible town, digging in the treads of her wellington boots to give her purchase on the rain-slick grass.

Kayla gained the top of the hill behind her house and looked around her, seeking the destination of her current adventure. There was a greater hill dominating the horizon, with squarish fields like a patchwork skirt flowing from it. Kayla picked a direction, and started to walk. First she passed a fenced-in pasture where several muddy horses were grazing. One came to the fence as she approached, and she stroked its velvety nose with guilty pleasure; the thing she wanted most of all was a horse of her own. With a darted glace at the farmhouse behind the pasture, she was pleased to see no one within had noticed her daring familiarity.

This led her thoughts into a well-imagined daydream: Kayla imagined she was walking alongside her own horse, a tall, cloud-white mare with a curving neck and shining hooves. She always changed its name, depending on her mood: sometimes Cloud, Mist, or Snow, or sometimes Spirit. Today she called it Ghost.

‘Ghost!’ she called in her mind’s voice, though she walked silently apart from the squelching of her boots in the mud. In her mind’s eye, Ghost sidled up beside her, whinnying her pleasure at being imagined into being. They walked together, and Kayla would lift a hand beside her, imagining it lay upon the warm, silken side of her beautiful, wild, imaginary companion. In these imaginings, she never rode the horse. It would have been too hard to walk and imagine riding astride, and she was too old by now, or so she thought, to be seen skipping around the way smaller children do when they pretend to be riding on a stick or a broom.

So she and Ghost walked, side by side, towards the greater hill. Soon they would draw near a patch of forest, which led to a stream-fed pond. In her imaginings Ghost wanted a drink, so they branched off towards the trees. In the density of the undergrowth Kayla needed to walk ahead, with Ghost trailing behind her, but she conjured the sensation of the mare’s head nuzzling the small of her back as she walked on. The girl and her Ghost came to the pool of water, and that’s where Kayla stopped short.

Ghost disappeared the instant Kayla forgot her.

Because there was something standing in the water, dripping with rain, and water-weeds knotted in its mane.

For a long minute Kayla froze where she stood, only aware of the constant drip-drip around her, the sounds of birds and the creature in the water. It was unmistakably equine. Unlike her imagined horse, this one was small, built more like a pony, and mud-black. It stood hock-high in the water and watched her as she watched it, a dark eye shining like a wet pebble. It wasn’t as pretty as her imagined Ghost, either, but its awkward proportions and short legs were a fair exchange for its reality. It moved in the water towards her, currents swirling around its legs, moving side-ways in a dressage step to present its back. With a toss of its mane, it entreated her to mount.

If this were another story, or if Kayla were another girl, it would have happened like this: The girl would have leapt upon the strange creature, where she would have found herself momentarily filled with the most uncontainable joy. But in the next moment, when the creature began to walk further and further back into the water, she would have found herself unable to move from its back, stuck to the adhesive skin of the beast. Joy would turn to fear, then horror, and soon she would be dragged under the surface and drowned. If this were that story, it would be a short one, and presently ended.

But this is not that story. And Kayla is not that girl.

*

I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with the mythology of the Kelpie (click the link and let Wikipedia enlighten you!) (and see my word-play with the name of the Kelpies Prize?  Clever, eh?  EH??) but I was intrigued by the idea when I was researching Scottish folk legends.  And I was thinking, ‘As a child, what stories did I love most of all?’ and the answer was always, ‘HORSE ONES!’ because I was that kind of child.

And thus I decided to have a children’s story which utilises dark fairy tales, and a main character who befriends a dangerous horse-like creature.  It seemed perfect to me.

So I’m hoping that this is only the beginning, and that my Writer’s Blah/Writer’s Block/General Apathy has been lifted, at least for the time being.  We all know it will come back.  It always does.

It’s just a matter of time…

Doctor When’s Desert Danger and Hurray for Springtime

More Adventurous Time Adventures, for your enjoyment/eye-brow raising/confusion/scorn:

*

This time Doctor When opened the Time Machine door without hesitation upon arrival, and a blast of hot air enveloped them. They stepped out into blinding sunlight, and for a moment they were so dazzled they could only see white. Then it became clear that they stood amongst giant white sand dunes for as far as the eye could see.

‘This is rather convenient,’ the Chrononaut remarked. ‘We’ll be able to get dry.’

And indeed, their clothes began to warm immediately, and soon they were as dry as the few sun-bleached bones that were scattered in the sand. And after a few moments more they all wished they were underwater with the vicious merpeople again. It was far too hot, and they were all incredibly thirsty

‘What’s that?’ cried Tortellini, pointing to a patch of dull green suddenly visible before them, starkly contrasting against all the pale sand.

‘An oasis?’ Wilburforce wondered, having heard of such things on the rare occasions that he enjoyed a night in by the fire with tea and a good book, rather than his usual violence and mayhem.

Their steps quickened at the thought of water, but as they approached, they first noticed that the scattered bones were becoming less scattered and more concentrated in number.

‘When exactly are we?’ Cannelloni had the presence of mind to ask, knives in hand.

‘One thousand two hundred and forty-eight years, three months, two days, and eighteen minutes ago,’ the Doctor replied.

‘And that, hiding in the shrub? That’s what exactly?’

‘That would be a polar bear.’

‘I assume that’s our anomaly, then?’

‘You would be assuming correctly.’

The polar bear was not happy. He was far too hot, most of all, but also very confused. This was not something the polar bear could easily handle, and it made him very angry. So, whenever something came his way, the odd herd of camel-like beasts or such, he released that anger in the only way he knew how. Killing things.

So when the ragged band of humans arrived near his oasis, that instinct rose furiously within him and he immediately leapt forward. The chase made him even hotter, but he knew that quenching his thirst on their blood would make the discomfort worth it. They were slow, these two-legged beasts, but they had a head-start. It would not take long for him to catch up, he realised as he thundered through the sand towards them.

It was unclear to the polar bear why these creatures were rushing towards a tall, boxy object. It had an odd smell, but it was not food nor water. One had opened a section of it, revealing an opening like the mouth of a cave. He remembered caves, those dark and cool places to sleep. But he was nearly upon them, now, and gnashed his teeth in anticipation. One was within reach, and he reached out a paw to swipe.

But then it moved, too quickly, and the polar bear could not stop his headlong flight. Sand scattered as he was flung from his own inertia into the mouth of the strange cave and he hit the back wall with a thud.

‘Quickly now!’ Doctor When closed the door of the Time Machine.

‘But, Doctor!’ Tortellini exclaimed. ‘The polar bear is inside!’

‘Exactly.’ She opened a side-panel which revealed a miniature version of the dials and switches within. Buttons were pressed, levers were thrown, and the Time Machine seemed to implode on itself into nothing.

The Spaghetti Sisters clung to each other, horrified. Wilburforce stood sweating from the exertion beside them, staring in shock at the place the Time Machine had vacated.

‘We’re going to perish here!’ Cannelloni cried, turning on the Doctor. ‘What have you done?’

Doctor When was silent and merely shook her head.

‘Have you gone mad?’ she persisted.

‘I think you’ll find there was no “going” involved,’ the Doctor replied cheerily, checking her pocket watch. It was a miracle it still worked, after all their adventures.

‘But the Time Machine is gone!’

‘It is.’

‘So how will we get back?’

‘The Time Machine, of course.’

‘But it’s gone!’ the two sisters shouted in unison.

At that very moment, there was an expulsion of air. The Time Machine stood where it had been some moments before, as if it had never left.

‘And now it’s back,’ Doctor When remarked. ‘Shall we?’

The others recoiled in fear as she opened the door, but the interior was polar bear-less.

‘I merely instructed the Time Machine to take the poor creature back to a habitat to which it would be more suited. There was no reason to let the beast suffer needlessly,’ she explained, waving them inside.

‘You could’ve mentioned that before,’ Wilburforce grumbled, his civility momentarily shaken by yet another near-death experience.

‘Many apologies,’ the Chrononaut solemnly said, ‘I suppose I thought it obvious. Onward?’

*

I’m expecting there to be only one or two more installments left to write, depending on how verbose the ending gets.  Then I can put TATAoDW aside as a completed project!  How fabulous.

In other news, I’m very excited that spring is becoming more and more imminent here, as noted by the above header picture taken yesterday.  I love seeing flowers in February!  Back in Boston, we were lucky to see any signs of spring before late March or April most of the time.  And then you have one or two glorious weeks of spring before it all becomes far too hot, and then you have summer for the other half of the year.

Ah, I love Scotland.  Much more sensible.

It’s Shark Week on Doctor When, Naughty Time Machines and My Shameful Little Secret

And now onto the next chapter in Doctor When’s Adventurous Time Adventures!  I’m quite pleased because I finally worked out the final trajectory, and I know how it ends now.  But you don’t, HA!

*

The merpeople seemed to be taunting them, swimming just within reach to grab or yank some floating appendage or piece of clothing before swirling off again. For the humans, of course, fighting underwater was proving difficult. Even Wilburforce, usually so efficacious with his fists, was finding it hard to land a solid blow quickly or powerfully. Doctor When’s rapier cut the water with its keen edge, but it too was hampered by the slowing effect of the seawater.

After some minutes of struggling to acquit themselves well in the situation, the Doctor’s voice came through their submarinopulminators, ‘I think popfizz best we make a hasty retreat. Pop-geborg isn’t fizz anymore.’

Relieved, the others followed her lead and swam warily back the way they had come. The merpeople followed, raking exposed skin with sharp chitinous claws when the opportunity presented itself. A trail of red blood hanging in their wake soon marked their passage.

‘Ah, I think we poppop go even more hasty,’ the Chrononaut remarked, eyes fixed upon distant shapes growing nearer and more defined. Whereas the merpeople had merely moved shark-like, these shadows were the real thing, drawn to the scent of blood in the water.

The merpeople noticed the threat at the same time, and turned with predatory hissing to face the large carnivores. Suddnely the water was roiling with fins and teeth, a sheer smorgasbord of marine violence.

In the commotion, the humans managed to drift near enough to the Time Machine, perched on a bed of nearby coral, to board its periosphere. Or rather, to attempt to – for the hatch was refusing to open. And the fight between merpeople and sharks was getting more frenetic and, more importantly, closer to where they floated.

‘You fizzfizz bloody Time Machine!’ the Doctor swore. ‘If you let us in popfizz I vow that once this is over you can have fizz a proper go at doing me in!’ Immediately, the wheeled mechanism spun in her hands and they pulled themselves inside.

As the hatch shut, waves of pinkened water crept through the closing gap. The periosphere drained of water with the throwing of a lever, and soon Doctor When was removing her submarinopulminator.

‘Well that was bracing,’ she said, wringing out her lace cuffs. ‘On to the next, shall we?’

Back within the main body of the Time Machine, the bedraggled toughs were not feeling nearly as tough as they had when this chronological adventure had begun.

‘So how much further will we be travelling in time before we find this Ingeborg?’ Vermacelli asked, rubbing the spot on her scalp where her hair had been pulled.

‘Yeah,’ agreed her sister. ‘Cannelloni has a point.’

‘Thank you, Tortellini,’ Vermacelli-now-Cannelloni nodded curtly.

‘You’re very welcome,’ Rigatoni-now-Tortellini returned the gesture.

Doctor When watched their exchange with patience, and replied, ‘As long as it takes.’

‘Ahem,’ Wilburforce cleared his throat politely, getting the attention of the three formidable women. ‘And how will be know when we’ve found it/him/her?’

‘Oh, we’ll know,’ the Doctor proclaimed darkly. Then she turned back to her dials and before they knew it they were hurtling through time-space once more.

*

I’ll let you in on my shameful little secret.  It’s terrible, and please don’t judge me harshly, but:

I have to use Wikipedia’s List of Pasta Varieties to decide the interchangeable names for the Spaghetti Sisters.  There’s just no way I can remember that many different kinds of semolina-based noodle product on demand.

And now you know.

Doctor When’s Triumphant Return!

As well as working on Cobault, I’m also continuing with The Adventurous Time Adventures of Doctor When.  Hurrah!  Now it’s been a looong time since I began this shenanigan, so feel free to tag-travel and read what came before again (or indeed for the first time, if you’re uninitiated in my strange steampunk serial drama).

On with the wacky!

*

There was that swirling-down-the-drain feeling again as they slipped in and out of time, uncertain when or where they would end up next. And what strangeness they might encounter therein.

That question was soon answered.

‘Aha!’ Doctor When exclaimed once they had come to a chronological stop. ‘We’ll need to exit via the periosphere.’ With one hand, she pulled down an extendable ladder and reached up to unscrew what looked like a hatch from a submarine.

The others looked on bemused as the Chrononaut shed her tailed coat and shimmied up the ladder and out of sight. Three spherical objects were thrown to each of them in turn, clear-fronted and mechanical. Doctor When’s face appeared in the hatch opening.

‘Come on, then!’

‘Er,’ Wilburforce ventured, turning the object in his meaty but miniature hands. ‘What are these?’

‘Submarinopulminators! Of my own invention, of course. Still working on the communications system, though’

‘But what are they for?’ Vermacelli frowned.

‘How else do you expect to breathe underwater? Come on now, let’s get cracking!’

Up the ladder, they entered another cramped space which all but Wilburforce had to slouch in order to fit inside. Doctor When tightened the hatch shut once they were all within, and donned her submarinopulminator while the others followed suit after seeing how it was done. Thus prepared, the esteemed Doctor threw a lever and cold seawater rushed to fill the periosphere.

As they became soaked through, it became apparent how useful their devices were. Within the submarinopulminators the four land-dwelling air-breathing humans were able to freely draw breath and maintain a good field of vision. Right now, the three hired toughs were seeing Doctor When leaving them behind through an open hatch at the top of the periosphere.

They propelled themselves after her, with varying degrees of efficiency, through the dully lit marine landscape. When they caught up, the Doctor turned and spoke to them, her words fizzing and popping as they emanated through the device, as if beside each of their ears.

‘We need to swim fizzpop the other side of poppop stone outcropping fizzz,’ she said, or nearly. ‘The anoma-fizzpopfizz there.’

So they stretched their legs and arms weightlessly and headed off in that directions. Around them, drifts of seaweed caught on their clothing and extremities. Wilburforce frowned at the thought of what his outfit would look like after this undersea adventure, but then he was used to getting strange stains, usually blood, out of his garments.

Eventually they passed the specified outcropping, and turned to see what sat on its other side.

There were shapes in the water, dark and human-sized. And they moved quickly, like sharks, making the hairs rise on the necks of Wilburforce and the Spaghetti Sisters. Doctor When merely trod water and watched as they became surrounded.

‘What are these fizz-ings?’ Rigatoni had to ask, her voice squeaking with fear.

Fizzpop-ple,’ the Doctor replied, or tried to.

‘What?’

Poppop said, they’re merpeop-fizzz.’

‘Are they popfizz anomal-pop?’ Wilburforce wondered, trying to spin in place to keep his eye on as many as possible.

‘Oh indeed, as a matter of popfizz, merpeople became extinct two hundr-pop years ago. And we fizzpop travelled back only fifty.’

The shapes were drawing closer and closer, until they were swimming within mere metres of the humans. One swooped in and grabbed Vermacelli’s hair, drifting in a cloud from the back of her submarinopulminator, tearing a hank of it from the roots.

‘That fizzpop-ing watery bitch! I’m going to poppop kill her!’ the Spaghetti Sister cried.

‘I suggest fizz do so,’ the Doctor agreed, drawing her rapier.

*

Ok, so freely tell me if you find all that popping and fizzing to be terribly irritating, instead of wacktastically humorous as it was intended to be.  My feelings won’t be hurt (much).

I love having such a random side-project to lift my spirits when I get bogged down in Cobault.  And now I’ve decided that once its finished it’ll be a proper short-story which I can try to enter in various competitions for fame and prize money.

Both of which are certainly noble goals, yes?

Seasonal Prose, Lack of Productivity and The Scarf That Looks Like A Scarf

*

Before long, Cobault’s streets were swept by the high winds that characterised Autumn’s approach. Debris rattled on the cobblestones, thrown under the wheels of carriages and making the streets somewhat more hazardous than usual. Ladies’ long skirts twisted around their legs, tripping the unprepared and making men stare with knowing smiles to see the outlines of appendages hitherto unseen. These men had to be careful to remain at least somewhat self-aware and mind their hats, however, for not a few were stripped from their wearer’s very heads. Chill fingers of air groped pedestrians, raising gooseflesh in their wake.

This was an unfriendly season, and Euphemia was more aware of that than her peers – because of her peers, in actuality.

*

So I think I can handle moving forward in time, now, to some degree.  It’s been one of my struggles, and I have to say it took reading all of Harry Potter to give me the idea.  Every single book, J.K. Rowling uses the time device of the seasons to shift us through the academic year:

“As they entered November, the weather turned very cold.” (The Philosopher’s Stone)

“October arrived, spreading a damp chill over the grounds and into the castle.”  (Chamber of Secrets)

“Two weeks before the end of term, the sky lightened suddenly to a dazzling, opaline white and the muddy grounds were revealed one morning covered in glittering frost.” (The Prisoner of Azkeban)

And so on.  Notice how much purpler the prose of these descriptions get with every book?  Oh, J.K. Rowlz, I suppose the fame started to get to your head a wee bit there.  Not complaining, mind – I think the word “opaline” is sorely underused.

It makes a lot of sense but I don’t want to rely upon it.  Just like I began to notice that every single HP book relied upon seasonal prose to move forward through time, it can become clunky and expected.

And readers are a fickle bunch, and you can’t let them get what they expect – they’ll get bored and leave you!  Contrary bastards.

In other news, as noted by the excerpt, I’m writing Cobault again!  It’s kind of a big deal, because I’ve been a bit Blah and not writing for a week or so now.  You can generally tell how productive I’m being, writerly, by how many posts I’m posting here in a given week.  I think this week there has been a grand total of two.  So not very productive.

However, I’m feeling rather proud of the scarf I’m knitting.  It’s very fuzzy and actually looks like a scarf.  It’s impressive.

Algernon Stares, JK Rowling Needs Balls and Some Discourse on Realistic Love Stories

Another randomly selected excerpt from Cobault, for your reading delectation:

*

“Someone catch your eye?” Bertrand nudged him with a sharp elbow to the side. Algernon staggered, off-balance and unprepared. He hadn’t realised he was being so obvious, but then again he had been staring.

“I’ve been trying to work out who she is,” he felt the need to explain. “She seems different from the other girls at Eastward.”

“She is different,” the other boy informed him gravely. “High-born, I’d wager. By the start of term I expect no end to the gossip concerning that one.”

“What do you mean?”

“High-born girls don’t live in dormitories, they live in fancy boarding houses with their fancy friends,” Bertrand was beginning to slur his words, and drained the rest of his wine before snatching up another glass off a proffered platter. “That this girl, fancy as she is, lives at Eastward – well that’s a conundrum, my friend. There’ll be a story, and the story will soon be all over the Academy like wildfire, mark my words.”

Algernon watched as the girl in blue smiled at someone in the crowd, and how that smile froze as its object turned away. “A conundrum,” he agreed, echoing his friend.

“That means puzzle, farm boy.”

“I know what it means, and I’ve never worked on a farm,” he retorted.

“Could have fooled me. Manners like yours belong in a pig yard. Staring after strange girls – shocking behaviour.”

*

So let’s talk about love.  More specifically, love as it’s portrayed in popular films and literature.

The Husband and I were watching (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Harry Potter: The One Where Dumbledore Dies (/SPOILER ALERT!!!)  and both of us couldn’t quite get the Harry-Ginny dynamic.  It just seemed thrown in there.  Ron-Hermoine make sense, it was built up properly, but for H-G it just seemed an afterthought tossed in because JK Rowling couldn’t stand to let her main character be lonely.

Get some balls, JK Rowling!!

Personally, I would have loved to see a lonely, angst-ridden Harry – the lone Chosen One in the face of evil, blahblahblah, doomed to wander lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills… you get the point.

It would have been better.

But ultimately, the H-G pairing just wasn’t very believable.  And unrealistic.  What are the chances of everyone pairing off so perfectly, getting married, having kids – and oh look the kids are friends too, how sweet.

Blech.

My favourite love story of all time is from His Dark Materials.  It was perfect.  Realistic not in the sense that the events in the story could occur in real life, but realistic in the sense that the relationship between Lyra and Will is believable and seems to grow naturally.  And the ending is tragic, beautifully so, but exactly as it should be.

So I’m confronted with the feeling of utter humility I always get when I think of how much I want to emulate Philip Pullman’s amazing trilogy.  Sheesh, makes me want to throw out everything I’ve ever written and put my heart and soul into something worthier.

Ahem.

So that’s what I’m trying to do.  I want to make a realistic, beautiful, tragic love story that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending because life doesn’t have a happy ending. The end that it has is the end that it needs to have, regardless of sentimentality, fairness or hope.

And that’s why JK Rowling needs some balls.

Cobault, an Excerpt in Which Drunken Tomfoolery Occurs

I’ve taken yesterday’s post to heart, and am seriously working on Cobault as the novel I intend to turn into a glittering, finished manuscript worthy to represent me as a writer to the publishing world.  And by reading it from the beginning, editing as I go, I’ve realised that I actually like it – Writer’s Blah be damned!

Huzzah!

So with that, I give you an excerpt in which my main character, Algernon, gets drunk and lots of puns happen.  Yay!

*

“Listen,” it was two hours later, and Bertrand was into his fifth pint, “Alg-, Alerg-, Alergininon. My friend. I want to help you, you know that, right?”

“I know, I know,” Algernon replied, enjoying the feeling of lightness he hadn’t known since even before the cave-in. Perhaps his whole life. But then again, he had never been drunk before.

“Good. I’m glad you know, because I know. I know a lot of stuff, you know? Ha! But you Know stuff I don’t know! So let’s try to know each other’s knowing, er, knowledge. Okay?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Colin started to laugh at Bertrand, making the table shake.

“What I’m saying, boys,” Bertrand addressed the group, “is that I’m going to teach our boy Al-, Aler-, Allerg-. Fuck. I’m going to teach Al, here, how to name shit and do shit the way they want him to. And then he can teach me how to Know shit. It’s a perfect trade-off!” He drank to his own ingenious plot.

“What if I can’t teach you to Know?” Algernon was slowly remembering what that blue-eyed twat of a professor had told him. “I think you can’t Know unless you Know, you know?”

“No!” They all started laughing again.

“Oh, shit, we’re drunk.” That set them off again.

“What time is it, anyways?” Colin tried to read the clock mounted behind the bar. “I think it says its half past seventy, but that can’t be right.”

“Half past seven, idiot!” Denny chastised him with an elbow to the ribs.

“Aw, shit. We missed dinner,” Ned frowned, deepening the folds of his chin, and everyone laughed. Of all of them, Ned was the one who could use some missed meals.

“There’s a fry-up down the street,” Durstram suggested. “They do a good fish fry.”

“Ooh, but I want chips.”

“They have chips, too.”

“Ok, lads. Into the breach!” They all stumbled out onto the dark street, its street lamps dim in the gloom.

“I think it’s this way,” Durstram pointed, and soon they were tripping down the cobbles, causing the few pedestrians nearby to cross over to the other side of the street.

“I think I like the Academy,” Algernon mused aloud. “Why not?”

“Why not!” Shouting the words like a battle cry, the rowdy group disappeared into the night.

*

I haven’t made it to where I’d left off in my rewriting, taking my time as I am in rereading and editing as I see fit, but even in what I’m doing now I’m feeling some progress being made.  Which is fabulous.

In other news, I’m learning that a hot water bottle can replace putting the heat on.  This money-saving tip was brought to you by poverty and the letter Q.