Christmas Story…

Each year, members of Wirral Writers pen a short Christmas themed story each. The only rules are – it has to be between 500 and 600 words, and Christmas orientated.

Each year I post my mini offering here. This years is loosely (very loosely) based on the journey of three Biblical characters.

***WARNING*** There will be profanities ahead*** 

Wirral Writers Christmas Story 2017

We Three Kings

The three Kings rode from the east. It was unseasonably warm and time was running out.

Useless bastard!”

Frank, language.”

Fuck language, fucking gearstick’s…ngh…get in ya bastard!”

Frank!”

Dad. You’re so sweary.”

Alisha, the day you get your own car and do your own…argh…bastard…Christmas shopping…grr…don’t talk to me about effing swearing. Gotcha!”

The Signal yellow Austin Allegro belched and farted and grizzled through early evening traffic.

Take the A124, Frank, that’ll take us straight to Canary Wharf, right, right! Frank.”

I always drive this way.”

Every year’s the same.” sighed Alisha popping her right earbud back in.

Dad growled.

Mare, did you bring the list?”

I thought you had it? I told you it was on the hall table.”

I said I was putting water in the friggin car. That was your job, Mare. One list. One-”

I’ve got it.” Alisha waved a white piece of paper at the rearview mirror.

At Blackwall roundabout, the traffic slowed, slowed and the not so trusty steed ground to a halt.

Fuck! Fuckfuckfuckkity fuck!!” screamed Frank.

Alisha sank lower in the rear seat, aware of other drivers and passengers watching the beetroot faced man having a meltdown in the shittiest car in England.

Once again,” said Mary, “Mind the language.”

Why? Why should I mind my language?”

Mary indicated the backseat passenger with a head motion.

Alisha rolled her eyes.

She’s seventeen years old, Mare.”

It’s true mum. I am. And I do know swear words. In fact we did about them in English, for example did you know the word fuck-”

Alisha!”

It’s a real word mum. Did you know, it appeared as early as the 15th century in some poem about the monks of Ely fucking local wives-”

Alisha King. I don’t care about the fucking monks of Ely. I just want to buy Christmas presents!” Mary cried.

And you just used it correctly as a verb, or is that an adjective?”

Alisha!”

What?!”

Eventually on the move again, after a fashion, the Kings kangarooed along Upper Bank Street. Six eyes straining.

I love the old traditions.” Alisha said, “Such as trying to find a parking space.”

We should have taken the train.” Mary moaned.

What, and carry all it all back with a million other sweaty bodies? No thanks.” Frank made a yipping sound. “There!” He ground the gears, and his teeth. “Shit! There’s a bike in it.”

They drove round and around the parking lot until they saw a shopper emerge from the mall. Then they followed her,until she led them to a parking space.

Yay!” cheered Mary as they pulled up. “Okay, what’s everyone need?”

Samsung Galaxy S7; Pink Gold, please.” Alisha thumbed the dial, selecting a new tune and slunk off ahead of her parents.

How about you Frank? I need to find something for Janice and the nephews. Oh, don’t let me forget your dad’s razor.”

He doesn’t need a new razor, Mare.”

That’s not the point love. It’s Christmas.”

What, so we buy shit we don’t need or won’t use or that breaks in five minutes?”

Mary started to make her way to the shopping centre, “Come on love, get in the spirit will you.”

Frank looked at the press of bodies, the trolleys filled to overflowing, crying kids, mums with frayed tempers, the signs plastered across the windows, Christmas Eve Sales, took a preparatory breath and through gritted teeth said, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.”

The End!

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The horror of Christmas shopping

 

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The ‘E’ Word or, I Thought I’d Finished But…

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“Did you say the e word?!”

I finished writing my story today, HURRAH! Yes, the one I was doing for NaNoWriMo, that I did not complete in the time-frame; 1st to 30th November.

But now I have to edit it,BOO!

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The joy of editing…

I cannot tell you how much I despise editing. The story was planned – first time I have done that, researched, written and completed.

The idea has been expulsed from my mind and body, like giving birth, or squeezing a particularly juicy spot. I do not really want to spend time poking and fiddling around with the after-stuff. And yet I cannot afford an editors fee – I know some out there who say, they only charge so much per thousand words, but free is the affordable amount for me.

When I was a visual artist, I made a quick pencil sketch of my idea, transferred the image to canvas, and painted it – done. I used acrylics because, firstly I couldn’t handle oils and secondly, acrylic paints dry so quickly, you can pack it up (for no-one to ever look at again!) a day later.

Writing is a bit like sex, the more you talk about it, the less I reckon you’re doing it. If I plan too much, or discuss too much, or overwork the idea, then I lose interest. For me, the excitement in writing lies in what will happen as I travel along this journey with my characters, and when we have reached the end I don’t want to go pouring over what might or might not have been.

Editing gets in the way of me starting my next story; I nearly always have two or three; even four ideas bubbling away at once.

Editing is like waiting for three hours at the airport for your bags after returning from holiday – feels like wasting time, but that’s your stuff.

Editing is like doing the washing up after a fat, fulfilling meal – takes the shine off it.

Editing is like having to write the envelopes after the Christmas cards are written – boring.

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“I said back off! I don’t want to edit my story.”

Revisiting the NaNaWriMo site is helpful, to a degree. There’s congratulations and praise; regardless of whether a writer reached 50,000 words or not. For the NaNo team, it’s the taking part that matters, that effort was made, and creativity happened. But what they do have is a link to help people like me – 5 Quick Editing Wins for December. Thanks NaNo Team (Katharine Gripp and co)

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Buddy the Elf

So, I am off to edit now, wish me luck. To misquote the heroic Captain Oates, “I’m going in and I might be some time.”

Have a good weekend everyone.

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

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Motionless in White

The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. This weeks suggestion comes from Beckie. When I asked what genre of music this was I was told it is a kind of Heavy Metal/Rock. Wikipedia tells us it is Metalcore/Gothic Metal/Industrial Metal – so let’s see what happens to my middle-aged-lady sensibilities!!!! Turning up the volume for…

Motionless in White…

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes. 

*** WARNING*** THERE WILL BE PROFANITY***

What I listened to –

1. Necessary Evil feat. Jonathan Davis – Reminded me a little of Marilyn Manson. The opening has this familiarity that I cannot put my finger on; a repeated refrain on an unidentifiable instrument. With lyrics stolen from Lesley Gore’s 1960s “It’s my party” for the verse – ‘It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to, Cry if I want to, cry if I want to…” Becomes, “It’s my body and I’ll die when I want to, Die when I want to, die when I want to…”. All very Goth with Emo lyrics – of course all teens have this dark side (No-one likes to talk about it though). There’s some lyrics sung in ‘Screamer’ style. I first heard this type of singing from Norwegian bands about 10 years ago.

What does it sound like to me? Sort of what Beckie said – Heavy Metal/Rock. I can hear it’s roots in the Metal genre, completely updated to include the Gothic and Industrial.

Did I like it? Yes! My head was banging and my foot tapping from the first notes on.

2. Reincarnate – Opening with electronic, industrial guitar sound. Vocals vary between growly to ‘poppy’. This has a softer feel compared to the first song. Heavy on the drums, briefly.

What does it sound like to me? Pop, with a ‘screamer’ influence.

Did I like it? Not as much as the first one. It was okay.

3. Eternally yours – Sounds like a keyboard and drum opening, which was rather ‘pretty’ (Hey, I’m getting used to the hard-core dudes!). Again the growler voice makes way for the pop; chorus and verse see-saws between two vocal styles – intense, dark and aggressive to lighter vocals and guitar.

What does it sound like to me? Pop/Metal/Goth

Did I like it? Nah.

4. Black Damask – Piano melody, light Gothic, almost something one might hear as film intro, then pow! All of a sudden to screamer vocals (No, I do not know what he was saying!) and then the pop voice briefly, but mostly the ear-splitting, teeth-grinding roaring bile of an angry (young?!) man.

What does it sound like to me? Goth Metal

Did I like it?Kind of.

5. Puppets 3 (The Grand Finale) Feat. Dani Filth – Strafing the guitar again. Did some one scream or was that keyboard. High octane, racing lyrics, drums and guitar chords. The speed is quite exhilarating; however, I did have a look at the lyrics and find it’s a kind of ended romance and felt a little aggrieved that this sound should be slave to yet another ‘love song’. There is a brief moment we hear guitar solo, and it so reminded me of those 1970s Metal Bands.

What does it sound like to me? Goth/Metal

Did I like it?I think so; though I didn’t enjoy the sentiment in the lyrics.

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Puppets 3

 

6. Death March – Industrial alarm like the workers are finished, rolling heavy drums lead into screamer vocals. Lead singer, Chris ‘Motionless’ Cerulli, sounds even more like Manson in this. Pretty tame considering it’s called Death March.

What does it sound like to me? Metal.

Did I like it? It was okay – would have liked more Industrial sounds included.

7.Immaculate MisconceptionTwenty-eight seconds of what sounds like a single chord on a church organ gives way to an angry roar “What the fuck?!” and continues to rant throughout, backed by, what I would call regular pop vocals. A sudden halt – the ears sigh with relief – and twelve seconds of what sounds like wind through abandoned warehouse.

What does it sound like to me? Industrial Goth

Did I like it? Would have liked more of the eerie industrial stuff and it’s beginning to sound very ‘samey’ by now.

8. Creatures – Spoken word from, what I believe to be, archive radio footage, scratch,“Death”, rattle, rubbing, clink, ring and tapping sounds are the intro. Breaks into a frantic drum and guitar rhythm with a slower keyboard accompaniment. Just after the mid point the vocals take on the cleaner more innocent quality before reverting back to screamer. Ends with the ‘itchy’ metal and a woman’s voice saying “There is more inside of me.” and stops dead.

What does it sound like to me? Industrial Goth/Metal

Did I like it? I think so. I liked the intro and ‘outro’ especially and the frantic drums and bass.

 

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M.I.W  America

9. America – Was that an animal or a horse screaming at the very beginning?! Carousel music and a voice played backwards, stretch into the tune then other eclectic sounds and a cricket? A steady drum and guitar beat matching the growling vocals provide a very coherent piece. Feels like this is the band’s actual sound, it’s has more confidence (you don’t need to scream to sound confident) and isn’t trying to ‘fit in’ as much angst and variation as possible.

What does it sound like to me? Industrial Goth.

Did I like it? Yes. Second favourite after Necessary Evil.

10. Loud (Fuck It) – Nirvana style trash guitar intro. Bit of a contrast to what I’ve become used to with this group.

What does it sound like to me? An anthem. More rock than anything Goth. If the vocals were sung without roaring, this could be a rock song, a good rock song (I hate stadium rock), but not Goth.

Did I like it? Kind of. Not sure if it’s good or mediocre.

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M.I.W’s Chris ‘Motionless’ Cerulli

To round-up – I will probably be giving Motionless in White another listening to. I do not, as a rule, watch the music videos that are made for the songs I have been listening to – I do believe that the audience today puts too much emphasis on these visuals, which in turn, takes away from the actual thing they should be paying attention to – the music. I have peeked at one or two (just to see) and I did with M.I.W. I had mixed reactions – Oh, not more of this/Cooool/Derivative much?/I wish I was a teenager again. Another issue I have is the names of the band members – Chris “Motionless” Cerulli (lead vocals), Ricky “Horror” Olson (rhythm guitar), Devin “Ghost” Sola (bass); I mean, really? Come on guys, how old are you? (Turns out, Cerulli is 31, Olsen is 29, and Sola is 27).

There was a lot of swearing in the vocals, much of it I think I missed too!! But swearing doesn’t offend me – I like a good swear myself sometimes – but repetition is the sure way to make that word impotent. And who wants an impotent Fuck!?

 

What I Have Learnt This NaNoWriMo

 

  • During a storm in Nottinghamshire, in 1558, a child was carried off in the winds.
  • Ghyll is Old Norse for deep ravine.
  • You could be engaged at 7 years of age – in the 16 and 17th centuries.
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Children of the 17th century
  • Church bells can be heard up to seven miles; depending on weather, landscape or obstruction. (In winter they are heard farther as the leaves are off the trees.)
  • Cumbrian dialect for an armpit, is oxter.
  • By the end of the 17th century, only 50% of men and 25% women were able to sign their own names. They could not read or write otherwise.

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    Signatures of Master Bushell and Master Hodges
  • A poultiggery is a hen-house above a pig-house (it protects the eggs from predators such as rats)

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    A poultiggery
  • Martin Luther wrote hymns.

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    ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’. Martin Luther
  • I write slower than I did last year!
Old vintage typewriter
Slow Writing

Google Digital Garage

Google Digital Garage, free digital marketing training and certification

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Google Digital Garage

A lot of the information included in Digital Garage is not relevant to myself as a writer, because I don’t have a business – or do I?

If you have read the ‘About’ me section on my blog, you will appreciate what a technophobe I am. However, as a blogger, I am interested in reaching people who may be interested in the same things as myself. I admit that my ego is massaged when I get notification of a new follower or a like (come on, we all like positive attention, don’t we?)

I like to comment on other bloggers pages; if I am sufficiently piqued or irked! There are some truly amazing people in the world and blogging provides an, albeit connection to them and their ideas. I mean, think about it – I live in England, and someone in New Zealand reads my blog!!! That’s when technology is f***ing amazing !

Google’s Digital Garage has given me some tools to reach a greater audience; like I did not know, for example, that you had to put text with your photographs because search bots can’t ‘read’ pictures! Okay, so you did – you’re probably 30 years younger than me then.

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Start Learning Screenshot

So back to – I don’t have a business – or do I?

Yes I do, unfortunately. As a writer, who wants to get my stories published it is not enough any-more to simply – write – edit – get MS accepted by publishing house – print – make money. Do you know how many books are published each year? Even in your own country? Me neither, but it’s A LOT! ( Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009). You cannot simply write and expect your creation to make it’s own way in the world, it needs a helping hand.

And what if you aren’t a writer or you do not run a business? Well, you probably spend a large part of your time on a computer somewhere in the world, and a few lessons in a previously unexplored area will keep the little grey cells ticking over!

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Test Yourself

Why Digital Garage could be for you:

  • The course is free!
  • All you need is a Google Account or you can simply sign up online at Google Digital Garage
  • At the end of lesson, there is a little test. At the end of each topic there is a quiz.
  • You can do as much or as little as you want; it’s all under your control.
  • 23 topics broken down into 89 lessons; including useful subjects such as ‘Your online presence’, ‘Make search work for you’, ‘Get noticed locally’.
  • Each lesson is delivered as a very short online video. Accompanied by a transcript.
  • It isn’t overly technical (I had absolutely no clue what SEO was before)
  • It’s a good starting point if you’re new to all things digital and the online space.
  • It could actually help you in you in the workplace; or help you promote your blog or book.

However, being the lazy individual I am – no, I’ll rephrase that… being the distracted yet multi-tasking individual I am, it is taking me longer than it should to work through this training, but hey, isn’t that the point?! So give it a go; Boost your digital knowledge today! 

Alex Digital Garage
“…and OPO is Online Page Optimisation!” Me and the gals…

Aphorisms on NaNoWriMo

NaNo turns the spectator into the actor – the reader into the writer – the internal dialogue is expanded for all.

For anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel, implying ‘we all have a novel inside us’, takes away from the real, honed creativity of the true ‘time-served’ novelist.

Self publishing turns us all into writers.

Without control the quality of literary talent will be watered to a degree that we do not know what real writing ‘tastes’ like.

All you have to do is write what you know. But what if you know nothing?

Everyone is a winner. (which means that no one is a winner)

***


Acknowledgement – this post is the soup of the soup. Dr. J. Suglia got here first.

 

NaNoWriMo Headache

migraine (n.)
late 14c., megrim, from Old French migraigne (13c.), from vulgar pronunciation of Late Latin hemicrania “pain in one side of the head, headache,” from Greek hemikrania,from hemi-“half” +kranion”skull” (see cranium). The Middle English form was re-spelled 1777 on the French model. Related: Migrainous. https://www.etymonline.com/word/migraine

 

I had my first migraine when I was around 25 years of age. I didn’t know I was having a migraine. I managed to make it home from the shop I worked in at the time, get into my pyjamas and lie down on the settee. I thought I was coming down with flu. When I complained about an awful noise in the apartment, my husband had to turn off the fridge – and that’s when he knew – I was having a migraine attack.

It began with pulsating neon-like triangles in the outer corner of my right eye. They throbbed away al afternoon, eventually causing such fuzziness as to obscure the vision in that eye. I had the most horrendous headache, felt nauseous, shivering, and later came the vomiting.

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‘Lady’ Migraine!

A migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that are moderate to severe. Typically, the headaches affect one half of the head, are pulsating in nature, and last from two to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migraine

A headache?! A headache?! It’s more than a headache wiki!! Ask anyone who suffers from them. I began to get a migraine once a year or so, from that point onwards. Very occasionally one would be so bad, that I would have to take the day off work. Painkillers were useless. A darkened room, a cool, damp flannel on the forehead, plenty of water, oh and a sick-bowl, just in case!

“Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger.”Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London.

A s far as I am aware, no-one else in my family suffers from migraines; not my mother, father, brother, or aunts and uncles or nearest cousin. Then I reached a certain age (mid-40’s) and began to get a migraine each month. And each time it was different – sometimes I would have a visual migraine; Scintillating scotoma, the most common visual aura preceding migraine, but often without the after headache. I would get Ocular migraines; painless, temporary visual disturbances that can affect one or both eyes; that’s the one which makes you think you might be going blind; scary but it passes. As well as nausea, I get photophobia and in recent years have taken to wearing sunglasses even on not-so-bright-days.

Most commonly, my migraines take the form of, what I call ‘the shrinking helmet’…

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Scolds Bridle – probably invented by a migraine sufferer!

 

…Imagine Alexander Dumas’ Man in the Iron Mask, kind of thing, okay? It is smooth, polished, seamless and fits snugly over one side of your head. There is a ‘plate’ that goes into your mouth and presses on the roof of your mouth and another that presses against your right eye. Through the following hours, that ‘Mask’ is going to get tighter and tighter. Your mouth feels as though it will press up through your nasal cavity, your eyeball is flattened… and then you get used to it. It seems to resolve into a neck-pinching all-over general pain. There may, or may not, be nausea.

I missed my writing session for NaNoWriMo last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because of migraine!! It lasted 2 days (and on the third day you gasp and blink with relief, but fear going near bright lights and technology) I was not sick. But I could not write at my laptop. I could not hand-write as I couldn’t wear my glasses without the ‘Mask’ pressing tighter. I couldn’t read, use my mobile phone, play video games.

Today, Tuesday, I still have the remnants of the pressure in my right eye and the roof of my mouth. I will have to get as much as possible written of my story, before the possibility of the whole thing kicking off again!

Like some kind of word assassin, it lurks on the edges of my brain, ready to sneak in and kill my vision.

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Roy Batty gives Tyrell a hell of a migraine! (Blade Runner 1982)