Tag Archives: prose

poetry and prose request (and opportunity!)

Some of you may know I’m co-editor of the Poetry and Prose round-up for BritMums. This means that every other month I read as much poetry and prose written by my lovely fellow bloggers as I can, and put it together in a post on the BritMums site. You can find my last post (published early this month) here – it’s well worth a read as I was snowed-under with fabulous work to share!

My co-editor Victoria, was due to do the next roundup (which will be published in early March) but we’ve agreed that I’ll do it instead, as she’s got lots on this month, so I find myself with an extra roundup post to write. Since it’s unexpected, I thought I’d try something a bit different this time, and I was hoping for your help!

heartsAs it was Valentine’s Day last weekend I’ve already noticed a fair few creative pieces on the subject of love… and I thought, why not make my next roundup a ‘bumper, love edition’? And I’d LOVE it if you could point me in the direction of anything you’ve written on the subject. But NOT just romantic love, oh no, no, no – all sorts of love! I want the post to be a celebration of everything and everyone we care about – children, partners, parents, siblings, friends, family, cats, dogs, hobbies, gin, pizza, small pebbles… whatever – the world is your oyster! (In fact, there are extra bonus points for anyone who writes a love poem about oysters ;))

So, lovely people, if you’ve written (or posted) a poetry or prose piece on this theme during the month of February then please share it with me by Friday 26th February. Just tweet me @writingbubble or give me a nudge on my FB page. I will include as many pieces as I can in the roundup (hopefully all, space allowing). Of course, I will also be on the look out for posts too.

Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested. I’m looking forward to reading and sharing your work!

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What I’m Writing – week thirty-nine

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week thirty-nine of ‘What I’m Writing’! Thanks for sharing your posts with us over at Muddled Manuscript last week – I loved reading them!

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is my co-host Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. April’s #WhatImWriting roundup post can give you more of an idea of the sort of posts we share, but really anything goes!

We also have a private group on Facebook that all linkers are welcome to join. It’s somewhere we can share work and have a chat about all things writerly (and whatever else we fancy really). It’s a ‘secret group’ so you’ll need an invitation to join and I send these out to all linkers. That said, we’ve had a few issues with people’s invitations going AWOL recently so if you’d like to join and haven’t received one just leave me a comment – thanks!

We welcome linkers old and new and if you’d like to join in there are just a few suggestions for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @writeybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – I look forward to reading your posts!

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what I’m writing – week twenty-five

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week twenty-five of ‘What I’m Writing’! A big thank you to everyone who joined in over at Muddled Manuscript last week – I loved reading your posts (as always) and I thought we did well with Chrissie’s ‘What I’m NOT writing’ theme. I wrote about procrastination and I procrastinated so hard I wrote two posts for the linkie instead of one! There’s no theme this week but it was quite fun having one wasn’t it? We might do a few more themed weeks in the future!

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is my co-host Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through.

We take turns to write a monthly round-up of posts. My December Round-up should give you a flavour of what we’ve all been up to recently. I’ll be publishing the February round-up soon, honest!

We’ve also just set up a private group on Facebook that all linkers are welcome to join. It’s somewhere we can share work and have a chat about all things writerly (and whatever else we fancy really). As it’s a ‘secret group’ it’s hidden until I send an invititation but I have sent them to all linkers – or at least I’ve meant to! We’ve had a few issues with people’s invitations going AWOL though (think they’re being eaten by the big mail cruncher in the sky) so if you’d like to join and haven’t received one just leave me a comment – thanks!

We welcome linkers old and new and if you’d like to join in there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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what I’m writing – week seventeen

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week seventeen of ‘What I’m Writing’. We had a great start to the new year over at Chrissie’s blog last week with more linkers than ever before! It was great to catch up with our regular linkers on what their plans for the new year were and we were also pleased to see new faces too. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this year takes you all – the only way is up, yes?

So, If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s and October’s round-up posts (we take turns to write them every month) give you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about. I posted December’s Round-up last week.

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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a letter

sea

It was an icy January afternoon. The wind whipped Jane’s cheeks as she stood gazing out over the ocean, the letter clutched in her hand. The location was breathtaking. The winter sky brooded darkly over a landscape dotted with the frosty silhouettes of trees. It felt fitting: beautiful but desolate.

She glanced down at the letter. As the late afternoon light hit its surface it glowed with an almost ethereal light. It was just a single letter; her son’s initial, carved out of stone. A simple thing, yet so much emotion had gone into its creation.

It was the same every year – she poured all her lost love and dreams for him into a unique piece. It was always his initial but rendered each time in different materials. They were beautiful and her husband always marvelled at them on completion. Once, a few years ago, he had questioned her ritual of throwing them into the sea.

“They’re always so perfect.” He’d said, running his fingers over the mosaic letter she had toiled over that year, “And so different… maybe we could keep them? We could display them somewhere to remind us of him.”

“I don’t need reminding.” She’d snapped, rather unfairly, “I could never forget. And I don’t want them sitting on a shelf somewhere. They’re not for us, they’re for him.”

This was true. She knew it didn’t make logical sense – he was gone forever, after all – but casting them out into the ocean on this day every year always felt like reaching out to him. Sending him a message. She chose a different location every year too, and over the past fifteen years stretches of coast from the Northern Isles of Scotland to the beaches of Cornwall had all received her little memorials.

She took a step closer to the cliff edge and looked down over the foaming waves below. Unbidden, an image of his face appeared in her mind. She smiled sadly, drew her arm back and sent the letter soaring into the sky.

“Happy Birthday Patrick” she whispered as the sea accepted her offering, “We’ll always love you.”

 
Written in response to #ThePrompt over at Mum turned Mom. This week it was ‘a letter’. I didn’t mean it to be so sad, it just kind of happened. That’s the thing with writing – I never know where it’s going to take me. It is supposed to be as much about love as it is about loss though.

mumturnedmom

 

Nikki Young Writes

what I’m writing – week eleven

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week eleven of ‘What I’m Writing’! Once again, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who linked up (over at Muddled Manuscript) last week. I loved reading your posts. Thanks also to Chrissie for hosting despite being the midst of a depressive episode – I’m impressed as always. I can never compete with the excellent linky posts she writes – mine are just cut and paste jobs… on which note, I’ll now commence the pasting:

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s round-up post gives you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about (and October’s round-up is on its way).

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

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ghost story – part two

Last week I posted part one of my Christmas Ghost Story. Today, it’s time for the concluding part. If you haven’t read part one please click here. And if you have… read on:

spooky snowy houses

The Tradition – Part Two

The young couple merrily slid and slipped their way down the snowy street arm-in-arm. All around them Christmas lights twinkled in the darkness from the windows of houses, from porches, shrubs and trees. The town looked every bit as picture-perfect as they had been promised.

They had arrived on the last train and had intended to go straight to their guest house and collapse into bed but the welcoming glow from the pub near the station had tempted them inside. Now, several drinks later, it was close to midnight as they navigated their way towards what the website had promised them would be a ‘festive home-from-home’.

“The brochure wasn’t kidding – it’s like something from a Christmas story.” Sophie smiled at the scene around them. As if on cue, flakes of snow began slowly drifting down.

“Wheeeeeeee” she shouted, spinning round with her arms outstretched,“snooooowwwww! I looooove snooooow!”

“Shhhhhhh,” Mark made a grab for her arm just in time to stop her toppling into a drift in a driveway, “We’re not in London anymore, people round here are trying to sleep!”

“Whoops!” Sophie giggled, then pointing towards the old stone house they had come to a stop next to, whispered “Those people aren’t! Look.” She paused to take it in. “Ahhhhh, it looks lovely: the man with his kids on his knee in front of the fire. So sweet.”

“Yup, another perfect Christmas scene to add to the collection. But come on,” Mark took her arm again, “we’ve got to get to our guesthouse, they said they lock the door at midnight and it’s nearly that now. I can see it just across the street, if your drunken legs can make it that far?”

“Oy” Sophie cuffed his arm, “I’m not as think as you drunk I am!” she giggled.

“Yeah, yeah, very funny.” Mark grinned and, glancing once more at the cosy scene through the window, they turned and crossed the road.

Twenty minutes later the two of them were safely ensconced in a bedroom whose rustic charms exactly fitted the bill for a romantic getaway. Sighing happily, Sophie went to the window to take one last look at the sparkling scene outside.

“Oh my God! Mark!” she shrieked. He rushed to her side but only had time to glance at the horrifying scene outside before she batted him away, “No, quick! Phone! Fire!” She fumbled for coherence as fear washed over her.

The entire house opposite was ablaze. The old stone walls had been replaced by an orange inferno that tore through the building even as she watched. Flames licked up its walls and curled out of the dormer windows. She could hear a deafening roar and feel the blistering heat from where she was standing. The air was thick with smoke. Where were the family? Had the man and his children escaped? Her eyes searched the street frantically for their figures.

“I’m going downstairs!” Mark grabbed her arm as she stood transfixed by the scene “Sophie!” he tried to get her attention, “I can’t get the phone to work here, come on!”

She tore her eyes from the window and together they dashed out of their room and thundered down the stairs to reception. Mark rushed to the unmanned desk shouting for the night porter while Sophie ran to the front door.

There she stopped with amazement. “But… I… it can’t be!”

Mark looked over as she spoke and his gaze followed hers out through the glass front door. His heart gave a great leap.“How..?” He rushed over and stood beside her. “I don’t understand… ”

After staring dumbfounded for a few seconds he reached up and unbolted the door and they both stepped outside onto the frozen porch. The street was silent. The night air was clear and freezing cold. The space on the opposite side of the street, only moments before wreathed in flames, was completely dark.

The two of them slowly crossed the street and by the light of the streetlamp they took in the scene. Swings hung silently from their frame, inches deep in snow. A slide, a climbing frame and a little roundabout were all barely visible beneath a crisp, white covering. They were looking at a deserted playground.

Mark and Sophie looked wildly up and down the street.

“But it was here, the house was here, and it was on fire!” Sophie’s voice rang clear in the freezing air.

“Aye, that it was.” The unfamiliar voice startled them and they turned to see where it came from. The guesthouse’s night porter was standing in the doorway.

“Hey, did you see the fire?” Mark called to him across the street.

“Aye. I was there alright.” The old man nodded sagely.

“W… what happened?” Sophie faltered as the two of them walked carefully back across the icy street towards him. “We walked past here about half-an-hour ago and we saw a family in there, and then just now we saw the house on fire but…” she tailed off, indicating the empty playground. A wave of nausea and confusion suddenly overtook her and she clutched at Mark’s arm. Feeling similarly at a loss, Mark looked to the old man who shook his head sadly.

“That fire burned itself out many years ago. Come back inside and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Sophie and Mark followed him rather shakily back into the building. He locked the door behind them and led them through to a sitting room where he indicated a couple of arm chairs, “Here, you should sit down.” The couple sat, unsure what else to do, and looked at him expectantly.

“Yes, I saw the fire,” the old man began, “it was sixty years ago and I was just a boy…”

Sophie and Mark sat in silence as he recounted the story of a terrible fire that had destroyed the house that once stood opposite, one Christmas night many years ago. A family had been inside at the time – a husband and wife and their young son and daughter. Questioned in the aftermath, the father had told how he had got back late at night on Christmas Eve and had re-stoked the fire in the kitchen and settled himself before it to warm up and relax. His children, realising he was home had crept down to see him. They had spent a lovely hour together toasting bread and talking, just the three of them.

Then, at midnight, his wife had awoken and come down to usher the children into bed. In her tiredness she had brushed too close to the fire as she reached to pick up her son. The hem of her long nightie had swept through the embers on the hearth and set alight. As the three of them tried desperately to put out the flames, the children’s clothes had also caught on fire. The blaze spread rapidly – the huge christmas tree and all the decorations quickly feeding it to a frenzy.

The father managed to get the children out of the house – sustaining terrible burns himself – but was unable to revive them. By the time the fire engines arrived the whole house had gone up in flames. It was too late to save his family. There was nothing anyone could do. The father never really recovered from the tragedy and died himself only a few years later. The blackened shell of the house had stood empty for years before the plot was finally sold at auction and the ruin ripped down. The playground had been there ever since although it was seldom used. People said there was an odd feeling about the place.

The old man paused. Sophie and Mark were both listening intently, their faces pale.

“So,” Sophie began “when we passed by earlier and saw the father and his children through the window…”

“That was them yes,” the old man nodded sadly, “and then you saw the fire that killed them. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Over the years, many people have said the same. They see the three of them – father and children – sitting by the fire together awaiting their destiny. It’s said they appear every Christmas Eve just to enact that little scene. That final hour. It’s a tradition.”

Linking up with The Prompt which this week was ‘Smoke’ (I couldn’t believe how apt it was for the end of my story!) and Friday Fiction.

mumturnedmom

 

Nikki Young Writes

the mistakes we make

DSC_0013

Ella stormed out of the house with her hair still wet from the shower and a half-eaten slice of toast wedged between her teeth. As she teetered down the path, fumbling to prevent the stack of folders in her arms from slipping onto the wet ground, she was still trying to force her left foot into a rather-unforgiving heeled shoe. She stumbled slightly, and her foot came down heavily on the gravel. As the sharp surface dug in to her soft flesh she swore loudly. The toast fell out of her mouth. She swore again.

She knew this whole thing had been a mistake. Why on earth had she agreed to do the presentation this morning? She didn’t even know anything about migratory patterns in seagulls and had had to stay in the office for hours last night after everyone else had left, researching the subject. She hadn’t got home until nearly midnight. Again. Why had she agree to work late every night this week? Why hadn’t she just told that odious toad-of-a-boss ‘no’? There was another mistake. God, she hated her job. In fact, she thought angrily as she pulled the car door open and flung the folders into the passenger seat, it had been a mistake to take the job at all. There must be something out there that she would actually enjoy doing.

She limped round to the driver’s side and climbed into the front seat. A quick examination of the sole of her foot showed her the damage wasn’t too bad. She wiped away the beads of blood and forced it into the shoe. It throbbed against the tight black leather but there wasn’t time to go back inside for a more comfortable pair of shoes. If she even had any – it really was about time she started making purchases for a more sensible motivation than the desire to have fashionable feet. Well, that and the need to please the ever-picky Matt who seemed to think that any shoe with a flat heel wasn’t “sexy enough”… come on gorgeous, you know I like you to look your best.

Bloody Matt. She slammed the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway. Why on earth was she still with him anyway? Sure, he was charming and good-looking and had those eyes, but since when had she allowed any man – or anyone at all – to dictate how she should dress?! Moving in with him had been a mistake. One in a long line.

She turned left onto the main road brooding darkly over her relationship, her job, her whole stupid life, the way it was at the moment. Still, at least the road was clear. If she really floored it, maybe she’d make it to the office in time to avoid another bollocking. Her foot was really aching now though and the pain was spreading through her ankle every time she pressed the clutch. Maybe if she just loosened the shoe a bit…

As she fumbled with the buckle her eyes slipped below the windscreen. She didn’t see the truck that appeared around the corner. She heard the screaming brakes and throbbing blare of the horn though. She was aware of the grinding and smashing and shrieking of metal. The smell of burning. The suffocating pressure. Then nothing.

There it was: her real mistake. The only one that counted.

 
Written in response to #ThePrompt. This week it was “The mistakes we make.”

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought
Nikki Young Writes

character development

typewriter characterOne of the (many) things I’ve loved so far about our #WhatImWriting linky has been finding out about the ways other writers develop their work. Two recent posts by Sadie and Nicola described an interesting process where they had taken characters from their books and put them into different situations to see how they’d react. The idea with this is that you can learn more about your characters than you could just keeping them within the confines of your book. And the more you learn about them, the more real they seem in your writing which is a very good thing for the reader.

I’ve been struggling with my book recently so I thought I’d have a go at this exercise to see if it got me past the block. I decided to explore a scene in my main character’s past. Eighteen years into her past to be precise! It’s not an extract from my book but writing it has revealed things about my characters that I wasn’t aware of. Here’s what I wrote:

“Is it time? Do you want me to call them?” Sam’s anxious face was close to her own, his breath hot in her ear.

Irritably she swiped him away. “Just… wait.” She said through gritted teeth “It’s nearly… ” She exhaled and slowly stood upright again, rubbing the small of her back with both hands in a steady circular motion. “Right,” she looked at him, “how long was that between contractions?”

“Oh, um, I’m not sure, I lost count.”

“Sam!” She snapped “You had one job!”

He dragged a hand through his tousled blond hair and gave her a weak smile. “I know, I’m sorry. I’m not much good at this.”

Staring into his worried, brown eyes Ruth felt a flash of sympathy for him; she knew he felt out of his depth. He was normally so organised and together. ‘Sam the man with the plan’ was what she had teasingly called him in the early days of their relationship – he always knew exactly what was happening in his life and when. His marriage proposal was organised down to the tiniest detail: even the sun had come out on cue. But this was one area where his plans didn’t seem to count for much.

Of course they had a birth plan, just as they had done with Tilly eighteen months earlier. Ruth had painstakingly created it herself based on that experience – all natural if possible, no drugs, overanxious relatives to be kept at bay – and Sam had crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s before she’d placed it in her maternity notes. But, well, anyone would think this baby didn’t know about the plan, because here they were on day three of the painful, exhausting, stop-start ‘is it actually going anywhere this time?’ contractions and she was already thinking fondly of diamorphine.

“Now!” she barked more harshly than she intended and gripped the doorframe as she felt another contraction building.

“What? Now? Oh.” And he peered at his watch as though his life depended on it.

Ruth breathed her way through it. They were getting strong now, maybe this time it was going somewhere. As her muscles relaxed again she looked up at Sam questioningly.

“Forty-five seconds that time… and five minutes since the last contraction I think. Do you want me to call the midwife now?” He stroked her back tenderly and she leaned into him.

“Yes. Good idea.” She said wearily. She wanted to add an apology for snapping at him but the words wouldn’t come. They were tangled up with the heaviness of her limbs and the ache in her back. She had no energy for explanations, besides which, Sam would know she was sorry and he’d understand. Ruth smiled at him weakly as she watched him on the phone across the room. He was a good man, just perhaps not the best in an emergency situation.

She groaned and leaned forwards as the vice round her insides started to squeeze again. Then there was a sudden rush of hot liquid down her trembling legs. Dammit. “Sam!” she said urgently “Tell them to get here now!”

I wrote this in an hour or so yesterday and I’ve not edited it much so it’s still a bit clunky. Writing it was an interesting process though. I knew Sam was the highly organised sort and that he had an anxious streak but I didn’t think he’d react quite like this. I actually like him more now than I did before.

What do you think? How do you develop your characters?

Nikki Young Writes

thunder

mumturnedmom

 

She felt the rumble before she heard it: a gentle buzz that set the hairs on her arms tingling. It was a long way off, though; not something she needed to be concerned with. Or at least that’s what she told herself. She concentrated fiercely on adjusting the buttons on her blouse and smoothing the fabric, all the while urging her feet to keep moving. Don’t worry.

Yet the vibration and sound were insistent. A deep, sonorous hum was building, moving closer and becoming more urgent. She paused and closed her eyes as bright flashes of anxiety started to leak their way across her vision. Breathe, she whispered, just breathe. It will pass.

Forcing her feet forwards again, her body soon resonated with the sound: a thundering that shook the ground beneath her. Sweat prickled her scalp and ran in an icy trail down her back. Relax, she urged herself, It will be ok. You can do this.

Finally as the rumble became a roar and the air trembled with shouts and cries, she reached the curtain. Pasting a smile on her face she stepped out of the wings. The lights were dazzling and the calls of her fans escalated as she walked to the centre of the stage.

A hush fell as she picked up the microphone. The audience held its breath. Then as her voice soared out over the concert hall she felt her fears fall away. Anxiety fragmented with every note and drifted away leaving behind only the beauty and purity of her song.

 
Written for The Prompt – this week it was ‘Thunder’

Also linking up with Wonderful World of Writing and Friday Fiction:

Nikki Young Writes