The Top Ten Facebook Crimes – Chapter Five

facebook userBook Number Three, Chapter Five

Chapter One – An Unexpected Start to a Sunday Morning

Chapter Two – Sleeping on Your Front

Chapter Three – Destination Obal B

Chapter Four – Half a Hot Dog in a Handbag

 

Sunday morning into the afternoon, somewhere in the city.

I appear to have turned into a Facebook bore.

I know, Facebook. Like, who would bother when you’ve got Twitter, and Instagram? I just used to go on it for the occasional nose, and maybe once or twice I posted a pic of me and various other people getting drunk, or one of Corky the cat doing his cute-sy stuff. I maybe posted something once or twice a month.

I never posted up inspirational quotes about love, friendship and/or fitness, or a bet that 97 percent of my friends would never share this earnest quote about cancer, or reply to a post with one word, and preferably a word that was flattering, that described me.

But now? Now I seem to do all the above. And yet at the same time, I have ten times the number of friends on Facebook I used to have and people keep sharing my shite. Those inspirational quotes seem to be very popular indeed, and my Facebook friends appear to love all those sickly pictures and videos of cute kids I keep posting.

And not one person has made a sarcastic comment about this: Celebrating our 20th year of marriage. Can’t believe we’ve been together and so happy for so long. Love you so much baby. You’re the best which was posted a week ago.

20th year? Well, that ties in with the dodgy wedding pic on the landing I guess. Continue reading

Writing About Teenagers – Can You Keep Up?

teenagersLast year, I finished a book about teenagers – specifically a teenager with mental health issues. I enjoyed writing the story and I felt reasonably proud of it once I had finished, but I knew work needed to be done on it. It needed re-writing in places and it needed some re-ordering of the plot half-way through.

[I find beginnings easy to write and endings fairly straightforward, but the middle of the novel – the rising arc seems to give me issues.]

I started the re-writing and then ground to a halt, beginning another novel instead and letting that take up my time. One of my issues with the book about teenagers is my feeling that I can’t possibly keep up. When I started book number two, I felt reasonably confident that I knew how teenagers lived and existed day-to-day, but as time went on I lost that confidence.

How do teenagers live these days? Do they talk to each other at all? Or are they too busy, heads bent, hands curled round a mobile phone awaiting updates on whatever social media platforms they belong to? And what social media platforms are they on? Is Twitter now passe? Have young people grown bored of Instagram yet? Have they moved onto Periscope? And how exactly does Snapchat work?

Modernity feels as if it’s difficult to accurately reflect these days because it moves so very, very quickly. I’m sure anyone writing about children and teenagers 40 or 50 years ago could confidently feel that their book would be as relevant at the end of a decade as it had been at the beginning of one, but I don’t feel that way about teenagers living in 2010, compared to teenagers living in 2016.

The answer to this dilemma? Who knows… Writing about teenage vampires or teenagers living in a futuristic world where they need to take part in games to stay alive? Maybe that’s the answer.

Oh. That’s been done already. Oh well.

 

A SANDWICH AT THE END OF THE NIGHT

sandwich 2A little short story for you – that could become something longer…

They met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at university and Digby was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur who had figured out that the students who came into his High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches might appreciate the availability of those sandwiches at other times.

Times such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

He had persuaded his dad to lend him the money to buy a cheap van, which he then converted into a mobile sandwich-making and preparing venue and he parked outside the union hall every Thursday from 10pm. At that time of the night, he was targeting the swotty students who weren’t prepared to sacrifice study time on a Friday for a hangover.

As the night progressed though, sales rose dramatically. He had always been a practical person and he couldn’t understand why students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards from their student halls and bedsits so why not conjure up their own sandwiches at tiny costs to themselves?

As he said to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, ‘ours is not to reason why’ (congratulating himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting) as they enjoyed raking in money from the leery students who crowded round the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco. Not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well at university so far – but because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons. (Her words, not theirs.) Continue reading

Miami Vice circa 1985

Some flash fiction – January-themed:

Jamie’s 2016 New Year resolution was to model himself on a 1980s lounge lizard whenever at parties.

Thus, he dressed in chinos, a polo shirt with a pastel-coloured jumper tied loosely round his shoulders and deck shoes – no socks. He also magically materialised beside any woman in need of a drink top-up or a light, proffering either a bottle of wine or a lighter.

Unfortunately for Jamie, he hadn’t taken into account Dry January. Most women didn’t require a drink top-up because they were abstaining (ditto the ciggies).

Jamie’s appeal depended almost entirely on the blunting haze of alcohol.

 

If you can do better (you can, you know) why not submit a story to the FridayFlashFiction website?

Potential senior photos of Thomas.

“He tilted his head to the side, pushed up from his chair and looked at me askance…”

No, it’s not a description of the man in my life contemplating some request I have just put to him, it’s three of the terms I over-use.

A quick find check of my latest manuscript revealed a lot of askance staring, too many push-ups from chairs and a surplus of head tilting. My vocabulary is shamefully limited at times.

This kind of over-use of words and terms is something a professional editor would pick up on, no doubt, but in the meantime I am relying on the ‘find’ facility in Word and an online thesaurus to come up with alternatives.

How often is repetitive anyway? If it’s an ‘askance’ every 10 pages or so, is that too much? Or does it demonstrate that my character is puzzling to others and they have a need to look at her, askance, frequently?! Maybe they should simply be puzzled from time to time.

Do you find yourself using certain phrases (particularly descriptive phrases) repetitively? Any advice for the remedy?

 

Pic thanks to Nic McPhee on flickr.

Destination Obal B – the Next Day: Chapter 8

champagne and glassThursday morning, earlier that week. Somewhere in the city.

Eve loathed Thursdays. They didn’t begin well – they didn’t end well.

Ever.

First off all was waking up. Waking up in a pod was always going to be a biggie – a biggie yuck, for most people given that it seemed so coffin -like. Then once readjustment had set in – ok, I’m fine and I have not been buried alive – there was then that desperate need to escape back to normality. Whatever normality was for you.

Today’s escape to normality looked like it might take a smidgeon longer than usual.

Eve batted up the lid of her pod.

“Eve!” Lady Stanhope trilled enthusiastically, her face hovering six inches or so away from the pod and immediately setting up a defensive reaction in Eve.

“So!” Lady Stanhope beamed, and thrust out her left hand, “do step out!”

Friendliness from Lady Stanhope was something else Eve did not enjoy.

“That went extremely well,” Lady Stanhope trilled as Eve grasped her hand (ice-cold as always, lending further proof to Eve’s suspicion that the woman wasn’t in fact human) and pulled herself up into a seated position.

She closed her eyes for a few seconds as she battled the nausea, and Lady Stanhope pushed a glass of water into her hand.

“Take your time,” she said. “Remember – it takes a few minutes for the body to readjust.”

Eve sipped the water slowly and felt her heart rate slow. The water settled her stomach and the feeling of nausea left her. She put her hands either side of the pod and pulled herself out – remembering as she did so that she’d forced Lady Stanhope to leave the room when she’d gotten into the pod the night before.

She glanced quickly at her – a tiny smirk. The bitch had remembered too.

As she lowered shaky legs to the ground, Lady Stanhope passed her her clothes and she began to dress slowly.

“The good news is, that we’ve ironed out some of the issues with the system and last night was your most successful attempt.”

“Good,” Eve said. “I’m delighted to hear it. What was the output then?”

“Some 150MW. Quite incredible – in fact, it’s the most powerful output from anyone yet. The director’s delighted, and he wondered if he might have a word once you’re dressed? Unless you have to hurry back..?”

Her voice trailed off, and Eve mentally stuck her tongue out. Lady Stanhope knew fine that Eve didn’t have to hurry back anywhere. Continue reading

A Double Cheeseburger with Fries and Milkshake – Chapter Seven

cheeseburgerChapter 7 of Parallel

Chapter 1 here. Chapter 2 – Sleeping On Your Front. Chapter 3 – Destination Obal B. Chapter 4 – Half a Hot Dog in a Handbag. Chapter 5 – The Top Ten Facebook Crimes. Chapter 6 – The About to Be YouTube Star.

Sunday afternoon, later.

Janey leapt a mile in the air, OMG OMG OMG – that bloody cocaine.

In a fit of panic, she took the tissue that had been wrapped round the hot dog and used it to wipe away the traces of white powder on the coffee table.

To her horror the door to the flat swung open. There stood a cop, dressed slightly differently to the police officers she was used to, but a cop nonetheless. He was a young-ish guy – about her age she would have guessed. His short-sleeved shirt showed off some powerful muscles, he had a sleeve tattoo on both arms and his face was almost classically chiselled. Despite herself, Janey couldn’t stop a tiny quiver of lust that ran from her chest to her belly.

The officer in question then further startled her by bursting into laughter. He laughed so hard he ended up leaning back, hands on both thighs as the guffaws took over his body.

“Oh god… oh Janey…”

It took him a minute or so to be able to recover sufficiently in order to talk in full sentences.

“God Janey, your face…”

Ah! It was answer machine man. A cop maybe, but probably a benevolent one and one who’d just attempted to play a trick on Blondie, Janey figured.

“NOT funny!” she exploded, the confusion of her situation and the nagging remnants of her hangover combining to contribute to a complete sense of humour failure. “Really, really, really fucking not funny.”

The cop walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “Sorry baby girl,” he said and to her horror leaned in to kiss her. If you didn’t count fashion air kisses, Janey hadn’t kissed a man other than Ed in 20 years. She was disconcerted to find that the experience was entirely enjoyable. The firm mouth and the different kissing style was different from what she was used to.

She and Ed tended to confine themselves to pecks these days. A full-on French kiss was… well, it was sending a very powerful message straight to her groin. The cop lowered a hand and began fondling her breasts. Janey got a grip of herself and batted his hands away, pulling her face back from the kiss too.

“No, don’t! Don’t!”

The cop backed off, raising his hands.

“Hey, hey, hey – take it easy. I just know you usually like it when you’re hungover and y’know me – put on this earth to please you,” he pointed a finger at his groin and a sizeable bulge.

“No, no, no, no,” Janey pushed herself back on the sofa, as far away from him as she could get. Innate politeness made this show of negative body language tricky for her, but a rather guilty voice inside her was making her protest so vividly because a large part of her was finding the idea of sex with this complete, young and very handsome stranger very exciting indeed.

Heavens, she remembered young men – they recovered in double quick time too… Continue reading

The About-to-be YouTube Star – Chapter Six

Doll_roadkill_1Sunday afternoon, back at Merin Court

I’m not cut out for childcare – I promise, I used to break the arms and legs off any dollies my relatives bought me as a child – as it has taken me about a day to discover, courtesy of young Berkshire one and two.

Sean had phoned us some four hours into our surreal Sunday asking for a lift home so we got out the RAV4 once more, this time remembering to take four-year-old Tildie with us and not leave her all on her own in the house.

Merin Court arena was heaving with people our age – I mean, well sort of our age, but definitely not the age of the people we were supposed to be – and it took us a while to spot the gangly curly-haired boy currently calling himself our son.

“Yoo-hoo Sean. Over here!” I bellowed out of the window as soon as I spotted him and then cringed at myself for doing something so… embarrassingly parental. The lazer-like glare he gave me was intense, and he waited several minutes before loping over to the car and getting in to the back seat beside Tildie in her child seat.

“How did the auditions go then?” I asked, twisting round in my seat. And what auditions were they anyway? Was Sean about to join some boy band? I hoped not, for the sake of continued good relations with his new father, Josh, who hated most boy bands with a passion.

Sean shrugged. “They said I need to come back. Like, Tuesday.” Continue reading

Writing Resolutions: 2016

happy new yearHappy New Year y’all and wishing you health, happiness and other lovely things etcetera.

But it wouldn’t be New Year without a resolution or two hmm? Other worthier and better writers than I shall be listing earnest writing resolutions on their blogs. Write 1,00 words every day – that kind of thing.

I, on the other hand, am listing my alternative writing resolutions.

  1. Do not write after more than two glasses of wine. Yes, the muse may well deign to wander in and stay a while and send you off on the most creative flights of fancy – but correcting the typos the next day is MURDER. And some of those creative flights of fancy, should they ever see the light of day, may well result in your arrest.
  2. Find some reasons to squeeze in your favourite words everywhere. I’m rather fond of quality, spurious, elegiac, medley, splendid, muckle, fulsome and whesht (sp?). I don’t even know what some of them mean.
  3. Learn grammatical rules. I’m a teenager of the 80s. They forgot to teach it to us. Two years ago, I was in charge of a Polish girl interning at the charity I was working for. Sometimes she would ask me to explain English grammatical rules to her, asking about clauses, auxiliary verbs, finite verbs and others. I  had no idea what she was talking about.

Finally, write no more poetry. As proof that I really should desist, I give you the following:

 T’was the day after New Year…

And all through the flat

Not a creature was stirring

Not even the cat

A true Scottish Hogmanay had just taken place

Which meant all the residents

Had decided to get “off your face”

Wine, whisky, lager and beer

Had all vanished down the hatch

Which meant that by 11pm, everyone was of good cheer.

Alas, the cheer lasted only 30 minutes more

And by 12pm, a major rammy took to the floor.

By 1pm, the police had been alerted, 

And by 2pm the party-goers deserted

Heading for the next party and a fresh home to wreck. 

All I Want for Christmas… A Friday Flash Fiction Special

 

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All I want for Christmas is… ah, convention dictates that I say you. Yes, YOU. 

You, who’s so vain you probably think this story is about you. I don’t like feeling as if I’m part of a gang of non-discriminatory females, too dazzled by good looks and superficial charm to see the man beyond.

There you go. I AM that woman – helplessly obsessed with a man who on paper isn’t a good bet and who is a workaholic.

But a man who brings so much joy to the world and delivers so many presents? Santa, I’m a smitten kitten.

Merry Christmas everyone! I’m very grateful to all of you who follow this blog and leave comments. I hope you have a great day and all the best to you and yours for 2016.