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Creative Writing

NaNoWriMo 2017: Memories from my Future

A few years ago I entered a science fiction and fantasy short story competition and won.  It was an incredible feeling to be acknowledged for my creativity (this was pre- Wandering Words), and the story was something I shelved, hoping to come back to some day.

And that day is finally here!  I’ve chosen Memories from my Future to rewrite for NaNoWriMo – that’s right, I’m being a NaNo Rebel again.

For those who have forgotten my rebellious ways last year, a NaNo Rebel is:

a NaNoWriMo participant who chooses to write something besides a novel of at least 50,000 words.

So, what’s Memories from my Future all about?

Plugged into the prophetic machine known as FATE, Harriet Finlake is finally able to see her future, a flash of colour and sound that will show her a glimpse of her life to come.

But what if the future is not what she expected?

What if FATE shows her a glimpse of something else? Something dark and mysterious and terrifying… and the clock is already counting down the hours until it arrives.

My idea always worked best as a short story, and I’m hoping to spruce it up a little into a novella.  The title also worked three years ago, but I might give that a makeover too.  What will be interesting is that I wrote this originally with no regard at all for the science behind the machine.  I wonder how current me will tackle these issues – I’m certainly more meticulous about details in my old age.  We’ll see – I have 30 days to figure it out!  Wish me luck!

Who else is participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Emma

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October 23, 2017
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British Holiday

Let me tell you

how to have

a British holiday.

It should rain

every day.

Forget your umbrella

though,

and leave the car window

open overnight,

so the pages of the map

stick together.

Maybe the sun

will appear

for a moment or two.

That’s your cue

to don the shorts,

flip-flops,

sunglasses,

before it gets

swallowed again

by grey.

That’s when you

return to your

newspaper

in your damp

holiday cottage,

and listen to the

drip, drip, drip

of the leaking tap

and the rain.


But British holidays are still the best kind of holidays.

Emma

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October 19, 2017
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Wednesdays

Wednesdays A Poem

Palm comes crashing

down onto the table

as you thrust your papers

into my face.

“What is this?”

you demand,

spitting in your fury,

mouth frothing.

Yet I’m the one feeling caged

“It’s all wrong,

why is it wrong?”

We stare at each other.

Both red-faced.

Both a little alarmed

by what you do next.

You tear away

from the desk,

like the shreds of paper

you leave behind

for me to clean up.

You roar,

slamming the door,

as you go.

I take a deep breath.

Smile, of course.

Whose next?

“Hi, how can I help?”


Customer service.

Emma

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October 12, 2017
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Flash Fiction Winner: ‘Game Over’

I’m pleased to share the winning entry of August’s Flash Fiction Competition!  The theme this time was ‘Game Over’, and Jess Larter has been chosen as August’s winner for her short story about a queen at war.

You can read her winning story below:


The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.

She stares out across the battlefield and observes the army on the other side. It is as if she is looking in a mirror, the other army a reflection of her own except for the colour of their armour. Her soldiers stand in front of her in a neat row, all dressed in the white garb of their kingdom. They are restless and eager to fight; ready to sacrifice their lives for the crown, for her. It’s likely they will do just that.

One of them takes a tentative step forward and his reflection does the same. Within seconds the playing field becomes a thunderstorm of black and white as more troops from both sides rush into the fray. The Queen doesn’t hesitate to join them.

After what feels to her like hours, she is finally able to stop and catch her breath. When her eyes find the King, his white armour a beacon gleaming in the sunshine, she is surprised to see she is not the only one eyeing him. A Knight clad in black armour sits atop her horse, a shadow ready to charge. The shadow waits just a second longer then spurs the horse forward.

She is almost upon the King when he finally hears her racing up behind him. He only has the time to take a single step to the right and out of the reach of her sword. At least this time it will not be that sword that deals him the killing blow. Or perhaps this time he won’t be dealt any fatal blow and instead it will be the King in the black cloak who dies.

It is a hopeful thought, but a fleeting one. Both the King and Queen realise too late that the Knight was intended to be a distraction so that other enemies could surround him. He frantically searches for a way to escape; the Queen resigns herself to the fact that there isn’t one.

Every other player on the field pauses their fighting to watch the situation unfold. Silence falls as they hold a collective breath, waiting to see what happens next although they already know what will. It won’t be long now before they are tidily arranged back on their own sides of the battleground, about to repeat this all again. There is comfort in the inevitability.

A single word booms out above their heads, louder than cannon fire. The absence of the sounds of war makes it even more startling.

“Checkmate.”

In the end, it isn’t clear which foe is the one responsible, but the result is the same.

The Queen watches. The white King falls.

Game over.

The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.


Congratulations to Jess for winning!  The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Friday 1st December 2017.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information.

Emma

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September 12, 2017
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The Man at the Station

I see your legs

bent and broken,

and I think:

Thank God

I can still walk.

Thank God

I can run,

if I wanted to.

I return to the sofa.


I was musing today about the marvels of movement, after seeing an elderly man being overtaken by speedy commuters on their way home from work.  It was very humbling, though I still spent the evening in front of the television.

Emma

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August 22, 2017
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Little Terrors

Writing, and rewriting, scenes about monsters seemed like a good idea at the time.  But now, lying in the dark, duvet pulled up past my chin, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet outside the door.

Tiny, furry feet.

Up and down the stairs, they disturb the floorboards and baby’s toys; I hear the giggle of a plastic, smiling child.

The door creaks open…

Not quite terrifying beasts, but still little terrors.


They leave me alone all day, until I open a book or newspaper.  Then they come running.

Emma

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August 15, 2017
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Vampire: The Masquerade – Meet Hiroko

Last year I experienced tabletop roleplaying for the first time.  I’d dabbled in it before – a game of Edgewalkers here, a few nights of Pathfinder there – but I’d never really taken it seriously before.  That is, until I was invited to join a game of Vampire: The Masquerade.

Inspired by my recent read of the time, The Trees by Ali Shaw, I created Hiroko, a Gangrel (animalistic shape-shifting vampire) from Japan.  Hiroko was just nine years old when she was murdered by a mysterious stranger in the woods near her home.  Scared and terrified after her transformation, she frenzied (a term for when a vampire’s humanity drops too low and the beast within them takes over) and killed her parents in an attack orchestrated by her twisted Sire.  After years of abuse, traveling with her as a pet and means of entertainment, her Sire abandoned her and she found her way to the moors of England, where she was taken in by an old Gangrel called Morris.  She moved into a beat-up old caravan on his acres of land, where he taught her how to control her bloodlust, and feed off sheep instead of people.

One night Hiroko learns of the terrifying murder of her dear friend Morris, and forms an unlikely alliance with a group of vampires, who are all invested for their own reasons in finding out who has been killing the locals.  As the story unfolds, Hiroko soon learns that someone from her past has returned – her wicked Sire, who lives now in a neighbouring city.  What has led him to the same area as Hiroko, and does it have anything to do with the murders in town…

Sadly, the group was not to be, and we were never able to complete the full storyline, but I loved developing Hiroko! The game involved a lot of acting as we stayed in character through the sessions. Acting isn’t my forte, but usually by the end of the session I was successfully ‘in the zone’, and it was actually quite fun!

Has anyone else ever played Vampire: The Masquerade or similar games? I’d love to hear about the characters you created!

Emma

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June 18, 2017
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These Eyes

A while ago, inspired by my discovery of zines, I created a few poetry pieces for a collection, just for my own amusement.  I found one of these today whilst tidying and thought I’d share.

“These eyes
have seen it all,”
he says,
bottle slamming
onto the table.
Drink spilling
in his haste.
Palms over
eyes,
he is still
for just a moment.
Still
but
still remembering.
“These eyes
have seen it
all,”
he says.
“I wish
they hadn’t.”

The poem was called These Eyes and was part of a series of old poems I don’t even remember writing.  I just happened to dig them up in the depths of the ‘Writing’ folders on my computer.  It feels strange to find something I don’t remember writing, like I don’t even know who I was when I created it.  I barely dabble in poetry, which makes it even stranger!  Anyway, I enjoyed cutting letters out of newspapers and bringing the poem to life with some olde typewriter font.  There’s a few other poems I have adapted in the same way that I might share too at some point.

Happy writing,

Emma

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May 9, 2017
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Flash Fiction Winner: ‘Beautiful’

I’m pleased to share the winning entry of April’s Flash Fiction Competition!  The theme for April was ‘beautiful’, and the judges enjoyed Nicky’s short story about a disillusioned mother and the relationship with her son.

You can read her winning story below:


Perfect day for it. Could have gone either way, really. If I’d gone to the gym first I’d have talked myself out of it, definitely. An endorphin-fuelled shallow sense of contentment. No, it was now-or-never. Done with the pretence, too old to care what people think. Growing this thick-skin recently felt bloody amazing. With the big year approaching, well, it’s just shouting out for a big decision, isn’t it? Besides, I still haven’t struck off half the things on my bucket list. Been all about you from the start; you, my one and only, my son. Now nearly 16. You’d get it; you of everyone. You’d been allowed to follow your dreams. Me, parenting solo, always was over-compensating for the absent one. There had been the trumpet years, the Nintendo years, the karate obsession, the violin and drama classes. The holidays to Disney and Thorpe Park. I was there enjoying myself too, don’t get me wrong. But not properly. Worry always there. Would you fit in at your new school? Worry I’d get a knock on the door at midnight with news you’d been in a road accident. Would you pass your exams? Would you start to resent me for my failed relationship? Any hopes and plans of my own were discarded, buried with my former self. Just what you have to do, what we all do, isn’t it? My life coach kept cheering me on that now I had to step into my own power.

Gave you a hug, pulled you close to my chest this morning as you went to kiss me goodbye. Smell of your shampooed hair made me wobble. “Mum!  Get off! My mates will see.” Don’t think I didn’t spot that smile fighting with your top lip there.

“Your dad’s picking you up today from football. Don’t be late.” Christ, how I said that so matter-of-factly. So driven lately. Nothing was going to get in the way. Been paying an arm and a leg for those life coaching sessions. About time my investment paid off.
“Can’t you, Mum?  Don’t wanna see him. I’m old enough now to make my own decisions.”
“All in good time, love.” Waving a bit too manically as you hurry out the car. When did you get so tall? Catching a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror, I wince. When did I get so lined?

I’m putting my foot down. Driving past the school playing fields, past the railway tracks, swing onto the ring road. Clock the traffic sign for Dover. Open the glove compartment. Guide book, check. Euros check. One way to Calais. Check. Shoulders drop, face muscles relax. I switch the dial from Radio 4 to Kiss fm. Bill Withers. I tap out the beat on the steering wheel, joining in. ‘And the world’s alright with me…’ The light bouncing off the windows on the houses in front never looked so beautiful.


The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Tuesday 1st August 2017.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information!

Emma

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May 1, 2017
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Elegy for a Dead World: Dear Marta

I recently started playing a fantastic game for writers called Elegy for a Dead World.  It plays like a scrolling platform game, but there is no fighting or obstacles to face.  Instead, in each world, players are given the opportunity to write stories about their landscape – the sights, the smells, the sounds – with writing prompts to guide them.

I’ve written a few stories on there now, but I was particularly pleased with my most recent one: Dear Marta.  It is the letter from a girl on a new planet – one with warm weather, beautiful sunsets and starry, starry nights – to her sister back on their home world, Onun.

As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that this isn’t a letter written from the heartache of a short absence.  It has been a long time since the girls have been together.

At the end, it is revealed that the narrator’s sister died a long time ago, back when they were children on Onun.  The girl remembers their childhood fondly, and promises her sister that she will never forget her, but this will be the last letter she will write.


What story would you have written, with this beautiful purple planet as your backdrop?

Happy writing,

Emma

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February 16, 2017
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