Saturday 12 February 2011

A present for Valentine's Day

That over-hyped and tacky day dedicated to commercialism and guilt is almost upon us, but don't fret if you're one of the single people forced to watch others spend lavish amounts of money on horrendous presents for their witless other halves - you can have a present too, and it's actually one you might want!

Jodi Cleghorn, MD of Emergent Publishing, has put together the second literary mixtape, Nothing But Flowers. Twenty four tales of love in a post apocalyptic setting, each story will be posted every hour of Valentine's Day, starting at 9am Australian Eastern Standard Time. You'll be able to read them all for free for two days, after which time they will be available to buy. Not much of a present? Well the proceeds are going to the Grantham Flood support fund so you can read some fantastic stories and help a good cause. Nothing like a spot of altruism to start the day!

In addition, if you "like" the Facebook page, the story links will appear in your newsfeed, while a 'yes' RSVP to the virtual launch party enters you into a competition to win one of four eBooks and a signed paperback. You can also swing by and leave a comment for the wonderful cover illustration, done by my creative partner, Jimmy Misanthrope.

My own story, This Was Paradise, goes live at 3pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (which should be 5am GMT, if my maths is correct). It's based on a true story, set during the 1665 outbreak of plague in England. I spent a lot of time on it, and a lot of time getting the historical details as accurate as I can, so I hope you enjoy it. If you use the player below, you can hear me read the first section.


Friday 11 February 2011

Friday Flash - Uncharted Territory

Sir Charles Fotheringay-Smythe stood in the study at Whittingdale House. His team fussed over the piles of crampons, sleeping rolls and surveying equipment that lay around the room. Portraits of Sir Charles’ ancestors watched the mild panic from the walls.

“You there! Jones! How are the preparations coming along? We don’t have much time!” he barked, pointing at a young man in safari wear.

“They’re doing well, Sir. Don’t worry, we won’t be long now,” replied Jones.

“Splendid, splendid!”

Sir Charles marched around the room, hands clasped behind his back. He peered over shoulders and prodded knapsacks on his tour of the study. Satisfied with the progress of his team, he paused in front of the large portrait of his father. The painting hung opposite the door, dominating the room. Severe eyes hid beneath bushy eyebrows, and a handlebar moustache disguised a cruel sneer. The famous explorer posed on a beach, surrounded by the natives of the island he once discovered.

“I will do the family proud, Papa. You may have my word,” muttered Sir Charles.

“Sir? Sir? I think we’re ready.”

Sir Charles turned around to face his team. None of his father’s band of explorers wanted anything to do with Sir Charles, a man they claimed could not discover his own lavatory. Instead, he’d hired enthusiastic youths from the nearest village. The farmhands and shop boys would do nicely. He consulted his pocket watch. It wouldn’t be long.

“Team, I’ve assembled you all here to make ready our expedition into the final frontier!”

“Yorkshire?” asked a buck-toothed lad at the front.

“No, you simpleton. We shall venture into a land that no living man has as yet seen!”

“So Yorkshire then.”

Some of the lads snickered, but fell silent beneath Sir Charles’ withering gaze. At least, Sir Charles liked to think it was his withering gaze, but he knew it was more likely the prospect of the loss of a few shillings that would hush the boys.

“Girl I used to know, she said one day man would go to the moon. All the way up into the sky! Is that right, Sir Charles? Are we going to the moon?” asked a blond youth at the back.

“Don’t be silly, man was never intended to leave solid ground. No, we shall be crossing the Styx to explore the land beyond!”

“What land is beyond some sticks? Is that the county on the other side of the woods?” asked the buck-toothed lad.

Sir Charles rolled his eyes, regretting his choice of that particular youth. Time was running out and he wanted to explain his plan first. He flicked open the pocket watch again.

“No. We shan’t be travelling to Yorkshire, or the next county. Instead, we shall venture across the river Styx, to chart the land of the dead!” boomed Sir Charles. He rocked back on his heels, a satisfied smirk on his ruddy face.

“How will we do that, Sir?” asked Jones.

“Well, we will have to die first, but once that necessity is out of the way, we shall journey into the land of the dead and make our discoveries! We may encounter any manner of things, but I propose that we shall be the first to do so with a firm agenda!”

“I don’t want no part of that. I’ve got to milk the cows tomorrow, my dad’ll kill me if I’m dead,” said the blond youth.

“Unfortunately, you have little choice in the matter any longer. I dispensed a slow-acting poison into your refreshments earlier, so that we may all go together. We don’t want to get to the other side and be separated,” replied Sir Charles.

“Sir, I do have one question,” said Jones.

“Very well.” Sir Charles consulted the pocket watch again. Only a few moments more.

“How are we going to come back to tell everyone what we’ve found?” asked Jones.

Sir Charles’ face fell.

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of-”

* * *


Monday 7 February 2011

Photo Prompt 19

Nineteenth prompt, ready and waiting.

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The nineteenth prompt is Standing Statue.

Gentle Giant

All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr.