Saturday, December 28, 2013

Annie's Anti-Resolutions for 2014

With the new year desperate to make its presence known, its time to dust off the lists we all made around Christmas time last year and groan, realising that there were very few actually pursued and less with any intent to complete.
For many years, I have participated in an Anti Resolution campaign, firstly with writers in Write Stuff, then to its successor, Write Anything; finally with Todays Author, made partially from a group of writers who have known each other from these writing sites. It is a light hearted look at the promises we solemnly make each year at this time. The main idea is to commit to NOT doing something. Why not try a list of your own?
1. I will not enter stationary shops under the pretence that I am buying journals, fountain pens or glittery anything in order to coax my muse out to write.  I already have drawers full of magnificent leather bound journals which I have deemed far to pretty to write my rubbishy thoughts down into.
2. I will not push my children to the front of the line in order to see fairy lights and Christmas displays, squealing with delight when Santa comes out. Although they edge away from me now rolling their eyes, but still can’t escape my steely grip. It is all for the kids, after all.
3. I resolve to continue my avoidance of gyms, running tracks and exercise programs; after all, statistically 100% of people who exercise regularly also die.  I don’t like those odds much.
4. I will continue to stay up too late, continue to connect with other writers round the world in the name of networking and moan loudly in the mornings when I have to get up. This resolutions works in nicely with number 1 as I can compare unused writing journals with other authors and swap writers bock solutions as an extra avoidance technique to actually write.
5. I will not carry chalk or permeant markers around in order to correct common signage faults, which I believe form the basis of the disintegration of our language. I will leave signs which shout “4 sale”, “your so great” , when “who’s” and “whose” are swapped indiscriminately and the over usage of double negatives.
6.I will not offer the answer to peoples questioning looks when they look at my business card – announcing that I am a Writer and a Thaumaturg. Nor will I look apologetic when they don’t understand my sense of humour when I attempt to explain it. Get a dictionary, you uneducated plebs.
7. I will continue my avoidance in rushing over to teenage boys and offering to buy them a belt for their ever lowering pants. I couple this with my resistance in contacting fashion manufacturers to demand the return of braces for said teenage boys, and the ban of all fluro material.
8. I will not indulge in writers block though out 2014. After all, I have a stack of pretty journals and enough glitter pens to arm a small platoon of tweenage girls; not to mention countless tips on how to overcome said writers block.
9. I resolve to continue not to stress about getting a real job and settling down. Anyone can work 9 - 5 behind a desk for a big corporation or stand in front of a class in a public school; allowing their life and creativity to be sucked dry by the emotional vampires haunting the hallways, meetings and boardrooms. Instead my kids and I have no plans as we travel around Europe, bouncing from one menial job to the next, not knowing where we will be the next week. this sort of gypsy existence will not only build character, as if I need any more of that; but should boot said writers block in the pants; or at least provide fodder for a short story.
Perhaps to get you going, you’d like to gather some despair from this site; specialising in demotivation posters.
I wish you and your writing every success in the new year.
On a more serious note, I am horrified its been over 12 months since I have written anything, but commit now to pick up the pieces and publish, at least monthly to begin with. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

In Business

Wooden heeled boots clicked harshly over cobble stones. The figure pulled her shawl tighter across her chest as she searched the shop front signs. Dusks’ misty fingers began to swirl as the streets emptied. Lights glowed in windows. She halted suddenly as the gas lanterns lining the street flickered uncertainly. Beyond the throw of the light was the threshold of the shop she had walked all day to find.  The newly painted banner above the shop front proudly announced that Goodale and Sons provided all services to ease loved ones into eternal slumber. Phoebe poised at the curb, but shrank back against the wall when the shop door opened.  She clutched the pendant at her throat, stroking it to gain confidence. 

A tall red haired woman unlocked a large chain to release some of the shops wares on display. Wisps escaped from the tightly wound bun as she wiped her brow. She deftly lifted a small iron cage from the pavement and brought it inside the shop. Returning quickly she retrieved  a wooden stand advertising more products available inside. A young lad shadowed the woman, picking up lose items and ducked into the shop, keeping the door open for her as she struggled with the last items.

Pheobes heart hammered, considering the option of turning on her heel and leaving. Twisting the end of her shawl, she took a step sidwards and gasped as she collided with a solid chest. Gnarled fingers grasped her arms to steady her balance.

“Yer right there Ma’am?” A fine mustache sweeping upwards and joining genteelly into a clipped beard conflicted with the disheveled and shabby presentation of the tall man she had collided with. Pheobe scuttled away from him as a slow smile flickered across his face. He emerged fully from the shadows and pushed the battered top hat from his forehead.

Chewing thoughtfully on a wad of tobacco, he spat noisily onto the stones; all the time carefully scrutinizing the trembling woman before him before finally speaking. “Yer don’t want ta be going in there Ma’am. Dealers with the dead. Lessin’ yer one of them believers.” A huge gob of black manducated tobacco landed near her left boot. 

Regaining her composure, Pheobe took a small step towards him, lifting her chin to meet his gaze. “Excuse me, Sir. I’ve travelled these past hours to get here on a matter of urgency.” 

His lip curled. “Its always urgent. The only force the dead need to contend with is the weight of their souls before the Almighty.”

“Pardon Sir. I need to speak with Mrs Goodale before she closes the door.”

“If’n you are after quality products for your passed loved ones, yer may be best to find your way into Whitechappel. Don’t be wastin yer time with these charlatans.” 

“I think I’ll be the judge of that. Please step aside so I may pass. Good day to you Sir.”

 “Give Emma my best. She’ll know who it is. Tell her - ” he smiled. “Never mind, I’ll be telling her myself soon enough.” Tipping his hat theatrically, the man shrunk back into the shadows.

Phoebe hurried over to the shopfront, gingerly twisted the knob of the door and pushed her way into the gloomy interior. The tiny bell above the door announced her arrival.

Emma Goodale bent over a sheaf of papers, transcribing a column of numbers into a thick leather bound book. The young boy straightened small dolls dressed in black lace. He sat some of them on their accompanying coffins and shyly smiled up at Phoebe.  A flicker of a frown on Emmas’ face was quickly replaced by a bright smile as she welcomed Phoebe in. Emma took her round spectacles away from her eyes and put her pen into the ink bottle beside the papers. Phoebe noticed that the glasses had pressed lines into the woman’s heartshaped face.

 “Come in. You’ve just caught me before I closed up for the evening. What can I assist you with? We have a wide array of mourning paraphernalia and every thing you need for your grieving rituals.”

Phoebe stood on the threshold gripping her shawl. Her eyes, once accustomed to the low light raced from one surface to the next. “Its m-my father.” She stared at the iron cages at the foot of a stone weeping angel.

“Newly departed or soon to be expected to be so?“ Emma swept around the counter and rattled one of the cages. These mortsafes are a very popular product and guaranteed to keep our loved ones where they are put.”

A shudder shook Pheobes body. “I should think that its too late for that.”

Emma dropped the cage and straightened. “How unfortunate for you.”  Her blue eyes bore into Phoebes. “What exactly did you have in mind?” 

Gripping the pendant, Phoebe flushed. “Your husband’s name was recommended to my family, for situations such as the one we face. I was told you would believe us. You’d be ready to listen and believe us.”

Emma pulled her bodice straight and strode over to the door. She twisted the lock and turned to face Phoebe. “What else were you told?”

“I am looking to employ your alternate services. I hoped your husband may be here to speak with.”

“Of course.” Emma beckoned the lad over. “William, please ask Mr Goodale to step into the shopfront.”  In his excitement, the boy knocked one of the tiny coffins from the bench, sending a stylized skeleton scuttling across the floor.  William stared at the mess with a down turned mouth and looked imploringly at Emma.  She huffed a dramatic sigh and shoed him away before he scooted into the back rooms.  Turning back to Pheobe, she asked. “Where is your chaperone, Miss - ?”

“Phoebe Williamson. I’m nearly 21.”

“Which means you are 18.” Emma smiled.  “I’m not here to drag you through the streets for being unaccompanied Miss Williamson. Though I must say I am a little shocked at your pluckiness. You need to understand that conversations can be delicate and not often received in the way it was mean - under these circumstances. I did notice you with a gentlemen before.”
Phoebe shook her head and flickered her eyes toward the street. “I bumped into a man just before I came in. He knew your shop. He had a message, but he said he’d come tell you himself.”
Emma’s lips flattened. “Did he? Shabby top hat? Chewed tobacco? I hope you ignored him.”
Flattening the front of her bodice, Phoebe nodded. “His advice was most unwelcome.”
“Please, where are my manners?  Take a seat.”  Emma pulled a mourning veil from a chair and set it on the counter. She motioned to the seat. Phoebe nodded and sat down, but gasped as she realized the solid figure of a man was standing beside the chair.
Milton coughed. “Forgive me. I have a very light step.” His solemn face bore the traces of burden grief could only etch. Phoebe hesitantly offered her gloved hand. “Pleased to meet you Mr Goodale.”  Milton captured it, squeezing  it delicately and inspected it. “White kid, possibly Eastern Suffolk, but they aren’t yours.Far too loose.” He continued to hold her hand and stared at her. “and you aren't from Suffolk either are you?”
Pheobe grimaced and pulled her hand away. Milton frowned and reached inside his vest to retrieve his snuff box.  He continued to regard her with an unwavering stare as he tapped the lid. Emma laid a hand on her shoulder. “Forgive my husbands abrupt manner.”
Nodding Pheobe laid her hands on her lap. “Its perfectly alright, I’ve heard, well - ”
She glanced at each face before her before she took a loud breath. “Ghosts. My father who has recently passed. He’s a ghost and won’t leave the household alone.” She bit her lip and held her breath.
“Its alright Miss” grinning, William piped up appearing at her elbow, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts; hey, guv?”
Emma frowned at the boy and pointed toward the back door. “Off with you little scamp.” She turned back to Phoebe and leant on the shoulder of her husband. Her eyes softened as she smiled gently. “Now start from the beginning. How can Goodale Ghostbusters help you?”

This marks the first draft of the first chapter from a Novella I am working on, based on a steampunk ghostbusters group. Each week, as I interview the creators about their characters, I will build their world and adventures in ghostbusting. 

The first story was *meant* to be about Milton. However, his character is extremely shy, quirky and I need to build some trust with him before he will reveal more about him to me. 

These stories will be loaded up as first drafts over the next few months, however, they will be pulled down to be edited and collated into the Novella for publishing and launch mid next year. ( links and info will follow, I can guarantee that!)