Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Archive for the ‘Now for something completely different’ Category

Missing inaction

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Writing, blogging and reading have taken a back seat as hubby and I rush to get a friend’s house painted before autumn arrives.

 

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Currently busy elsewhere.

 

Oh, and then there’s Dad to look after while Mum’s in convalescence care for two and a bit weeks.

Hoping to fit in some flash fiction, but I’m already exhausted and we’re only four days in.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Poetry. Yes, really.

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Over the last few months I have taken part in a number of writing MOOCs, primarily to receive feedback on my writing from peers. This has happened with a varying degree of success.

I have really enjoyed the University of Iowa, International Writing Programme’s, How Writers Write Poetry. I would encourage anyone to take part next time it runs, or even log in now to see the video lectures. I didn’t know any of the writers – Robert Hass, Mervin Bell, Nick Twemlow, Lucy Ives, Sridala Swami, Alexandria Pearyor, James Galvin, Kwame Dawes, Larissa Szporluk (to name a standout few), or the course leaders, Christopher Merrill and Mary Hickman (although this might be simply because I am UK-based), but I am going to read more of their work. The course really has been fun and an inspiration.

When I started the course I didn’t know how to write poetry. Apart from the WWI poets, I have never really understood it. I am still clueless as to the rules of poetry writing, but the enthusiasm exhibited by these writers is infectious.  I’m not sure I’m any closer to being able to write poetry, but I’m throwing caution to the wind and posting a couple of my course efforts here. Criticise away – it’s feedback that I need.

 

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I wrote the below following a lecture on free verse and prose poems. Mervin Bell described writing free verse poems using a sentence as a line, a line being a sentence. This is the form I adopted. He now writes poems in paragraphs.

 

I wonder did he ….?

Does he really want children?
With you?
I don’t want to upset you, but I have to ask, did he stop drinking?
When you were taking the hormones to bolster your eggs, feeling weepy, getting heavy, did he stop drinking?
You know why I’m asking.
Excess alcohol is the primary cause of middle-age infertility, creating drowsy, lazy sperm, or ones with their tails missing.
And excess weight.
Are you heavy now with hormones, alcohol or despair?

I watched you both the other night, enjoying the delights of yeast and grape, and I wondered.
I wondered how much you wanted a mewling babe.
How much you both wanted.

My mother criticised my 16-year old niece for having a child.
‘She only did it so she had someone to love her,’ she said.
I wondered then and wonder still whether we have children for any other reason.
Why did you want children?
You say you’ve given up now, that you’re too old, but I have to wonder why – not why you’ve given up, but why you wanted.
Do you want someone to love you because he doesn’t?
You know he loves only himself.
He’d deny that, of course, you both would.
He loves his children, the ones he had by her, and of course he loves you.
But he doesn’t.
Not properly.
Not in the way you deserve to be loved.
So, I ask again, but expect no reply, when you were filling with hormones, creating the perfect nurturing womb, did he stop drinking?

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Two-thirds of the ways through the course, the lecture was entitled, Poetry as Pleasure. We were encouraged to find the delight in our writing. Hmm, well, I’m not sure this covers it at all, but it was fun to write.

 

Yogurt

Empty cold fridge.
Reach in, withdraw thin plastic pot.
Portents not good.

Pulling back lid.
Silver inner layer reflects
pink-flecked putty.

Hint of rhubarb.
Fibrous threads mashed to sweetened pulp.
Resistible.

Spoon dives in;
Rises overloaded with light;
Hovers, takes flight.

Lips held apart.
Tongue startled, teeth stripped, maw tingling.
Senses heightened.

Swirling around,
Overworked palate starts to heal.
Haltingly smooth.

Timid throat waits.

Creamy unctuousness passes through,
Drops to centre.

Taste and texture
Engender comfort and feeling.
Soul satisfied.

 

 

Author spotlight: KZ Morano – 100 Nightmares

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Because it takes me so long to get around to everything, I’m too late to take part in the blog blast cover reveal for KZ Morano’s new e-book of little horror stories – 100 Nightmares. It’s out already! However, my tardiness does have positive consequences – I’m able to provide the links for you to buy, as well as telling you about it.

KZ’s desciptive qualities are awesome – her 100-word stories for Friday Fictioneers regularly leave me squirming in disgust, desolated by pain, and generally feeling very envious of her talents.

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100 NIGHTMARES – OUT NOW!

 

100 nightmares x900

 

100 NIGHTMARES by K.Z. Morano is a collection of horror stories written in exactly 100 words, accompanied by over 50 illustrations. Inside, you’ll find monsters—both imagined and real. There are vengeful specters, characters with extremely impaired psyches, dark fairy tales and stories and illustrations inspired by bizarre creatures of Japanese folklore.

 

It takes a brief encounter with death to cause enduring nightmares.

A single well-placed blow could maim you for life…

One well-placed word could haunt you forever.

 

Micro-fiction is a blade—sharp, swift…

Sometimes it goes for the jugular, killing you in seconds.

Its silver tongue touches your throat and warm blood hisses before you can scream.

 

Sometimes, the knife makes micro-cuts in the sensitive sheath of your sanity, creating wounds that will fester throughout eternity.

 

Take my 100 words daily like a slow-acting poison or read them all and die of overdose.

Your call.

It’s your suicide after all.

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Take your heart in your hands and BUY 100 Nightmares, but don’t say she and I didn’t warn you:

www.amazon.com/dp/B00JVRJNG0

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kz-morano/100-nightmares/ebook/product-21592369.html

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/431783

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About the Author

K.Z. Morano is an eclectic eccentric… a writer, a beach bum and a chocolate addict who writes anything from romance and erotica to horror, fantasy, sci-fi and bizarro fiction. Over the past few months, her stories have appeared in various anthologies, magazines and online venues. Visit her at http://theeclecticeccentricshopaholic.wordpress.com/ where she posts short fiction and photographs weekly.

Like this story collection on K.Z.’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/100Nightmares

 

Written by Sarah Ann

April 24, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Follow? Like? Comment? Works not in progress!

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Jennifer at elmowrites.wordpress.com recently posted about followers and converting readers of blogs to buyers of books. She posted her thoughts on 2nd September; I didn’t get around to reading them until the 18th, so was a little late to add much to the discussion, and it’s taken me until now to formulate a probably completely unrelated response.

I try to be a follower that reads. I might not always comment, but I do click though from my inbox to see what’s been posted. Since having three weeks off from blogging in the summer, things have been slightly out of control with my inbox hovering around 350 new emails – as fast as I read, like or comment, something new comes in to grab my attention. I tried starting my reading at both ends of the list to work towards the middle. I tried deleting everything over a week old. In the end, I had a good clear out before revising my ‘blogs I follow’ list. Most of the people who don’t like or comment on my blog, or even reply to comments I leave on theirs, I am now following in name only. For some others I now receive weekly rather than instant notifications of posts.

Trying to get to grips with 350 blog posts was taking time and effort. It took my focus away from my works in progress. Now, with fewer emails and posts to read, and having moved to an area with hardly any internet access for a week or two, I might be able to get back to work, as well as concentrating on the blogs I‘m still following and reading.

Written by Sarah Ann

September 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

Weekly Writing Challenge: Dystopia!

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Last Monday’s Daily Post Writing Challenge caught my interest. Pity it’s taken me a week to get organised enough to post my thoughts. This is a second draft that needs more work but, if I don’t post now, I never will. A journalist responds to…

 

Big brother keeping an eye on you. Fighting to the death for a live TV audience. Being turned into meaty pellets of goodness when you reach maturity. Struggling through grime and smog while a rich elite quaff champagne and make with their decadent follies. Discovering you’re a robot and that all of your memories are implants. Falling in love and then realising that you’re a clone destined to be carved up for spare body parts.

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Death of the Smartphone

Parents have started to adopt the previously gang-only punishment of amputating thumbs. Doctor-recommended, medical amputation is becoming the first line of defence for parents who have been unable to communicate with their offspring for a period of 6-months or longer. Teenagers obsessed by social media, who spend the majority of their waking hours with their heads in front of a screen, are being stopped from talking to friends, acquaintances and strangers by the most drastic means.

The advent of the Smartphone, initially heralded as a breakthrough in human development, has, to many minds, become a curse, and the hours our younger generations spend online are no longer seen as harmless.

Children were initially given mobile phones for safety reasons – to call parents for a lift when the bus failed to turn up or a train derailed. This emergency-use phone became a pivotal tool in the arsenal of the cyber-bully.

The Smartphone’s contribution to economic growth (because one was never out of touch with the office) is now being questioned as more and more individuals are signed-off work with stress because they are forever in job-mode.

The phone became event smarter with the advent of Google glasses, but this was a short-lived phenomenon. Products were withdrawn after too many people died crossing the street, and in accidents, whilst paying attention to the feed in front of their eyes instead of the world around them.

The mini-computer we all carry around in our pockets has become the pariah of modern society.

Many middle class families are going phone-free and reverting back the desktop computer in an attempt to reintroduce family life. The cost of buying bulky table-top machines has been spiralling upwards. Laptops and Smartphones, once out of the reach of the pockets of the poor, are now chickenfeed for the lowest strata of society.

Crime figures are also changing. Muggings, brought down by the instant disconnection of any stolen phone, are on the increase as people begin to carry cash like their grandparents used to now they no longer have a cashless payment system about their person.

The well-worn argument regarding chipping human fingertips, as we do our pets’ ears, is once more on the agenda…

Written by Sarah Ann

March 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two

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I’m very late posting this, as it was last week’s WordPress Daily Post Writing Challenge, but I love this picture and my character has inveigled his way in, so I had no choice . He wanted his story told, so here it is.

 

Couple Embracing

Photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas

 

Ernesto struggled up the hill laden with shopping, a bag in either hand. As the tram clattered past, Anna nudged him.

‘See,’ she said, ‘we could be sitting on that relaxing. We’d be at the top of the hill in minutes.’

‘Pah,’ was his only reply as he hefted the bags and soldiered on.

His voiced insouciance belied the mood of his body. Arthritis was tearing through his rusty joints. In an ideal world a surgeon would open him up, sandblast back to smooth bone, smear everything with oil, and sew him up. But Ernesto didn’t live in an ideal world; he lived in a stubborn one. He was determined that he would do this walk until it killed him. Never would he give in to travel perched on his backside or holding on to a pole. Inside the devilish tram he would miss the warmth of the sun on his skin, the one thing that soothed his pain. And today was such a day: the sun was high and bright making everything around him shine.

As Ernesto reached the halfway point, he was looking forward to reaching to top of the street, to turning left and descending slowly to their apartment. He would soon be home sipping espresso and dunking cantuccini on the balcony. Anna had bought the chocolate ones again. He preferred the nut ones, but they had started to present too much of a challenge to his teeth. He’d just have to get used to the sweeter taste.

The buildings either side of the road provided shelter from the sun’s glare. He paused, stood back to let others pass, then leant against a wall. The bags in his hands were leaden weights pulling on his shoulders. He wanted to throw them away, throw off the blanket of age and pain that smothered him, held him down, interfered with his every move. He took a moment to look around, glared at the back of the trundling tram and shook his head. Not today. Never.

The sun glinted off nearby windows and drew his eye. The surrounding buildings reminded him of his childhood home. His and Anna’s place was newer; brick instead of stone; light and well insulated. Home. He was nearly there.

He pushed away from the wall, set his shoulders and made to carry on. As he did so, he noticed a couple embracing on the opposite side of the road. The young man reminded him of Peter, his son. Ernesto shivered with recognition. No, not Peter. It was himself that Ernesto saw in the young man. He shrugged, to clear his mind of these odd thoughts, and walked on.

Anna was a few steps in front of him. Soon she would stop to look back, to see where he was. She would chide him for his slowness. ‘Just like when we were at school,’ she’d say. ‘Why go anywhere faster than a snail?’

Back then it was because he’d wanted to spend every moment he could with her. He still did, but his body occasionally let him down. And Anna put up with it, waited and coaxed. She waited for him in the bedroom, just as she waited for him in the street. His beloved Anna put up with so much. She could do this walk in half the time – slim and lithe as she still was. Even now she was carrying two bags of vegetables while he had the half-empty cereal boxes and loo rolls – bulky but light. His Anna: she was so caring, so generous.

Ernesto glanced back across the street. The boy might be like him but the girl looked nothing like Anna. Ahead of him, Ernesto could still see Anna’s young body beneath her clothes, beyond the white hair and sun-loving face. Anna hadn’t gained weight and turned into her mother.  Thank God. Her shapely legs and round bum had survived the onslaught of age because of her walking everywhere. If they had to go further afield, they got a taxi.

The canoodling couple were like him and Anna thirty years ago. Okay, fifty. God, was it that long since he and Anna had kissed on the street? They still held hands in public, when they weren’t carrying shopping and his claws were free enough to entwine his fingers with hers. Was it better to be young and in love, or old and in love? He was grateful and lucky to be able to say he was still in love. His desire for Anna had never faltered. He still enjoyed that overwhelming warmth and comfort of tangling his limbs with hers. And he was lucky that Anna hadn’t exploited the weak friends of his who had come calling. Ernesto could never have blamed her if she had played with any of them. They were out to woo her, continuously teasing and cajoling, but she always rebuffed. Ernesto had never felt good enough for her. He was a failed man who hauled only failed friends behind him.

As Ernesto reached the top of the hill, the young couple skipped past him. ‘That’s something I don’t miss,’ he chuckled to himself. To his mind, skipping didn’t suit anybody over the age of 11.

He thought of all young lovers, oblivious as they were to the world around them. That was another downside that came with age, awareness of others, responsibility for children, caring for parents, and then the fear of being a burden to following generations.

Ernesto made the turn and started his descent. Anna stood waiting for him, hands on hips, smiling. Was that encouragement or exasperation playing over her lips?

‘I’m coming, I’m coming,’ he muttered.

He took a last glance at the skipping couple, and wished them the love he had known and continued to feel.  The anticipated taste of bitter coffee and sweet biscuits was already tickling across his tongue.

 

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Living in the half-light

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Autumn has landed on Britain. It’s warm (well, not cold). The downside is the smooth, comfy blanket of cloud that’s keeping the heat in. It’s grey, grey, and a bit more grey. Yesterday, the sun did appear fleetingly in the afternoon, but it’s not expected again until the weekend. 600w of solar panels, tilted to the optimum angle, gathered all of 6 amps on Wednesday.

We escaped the gloom last weekend to visit friends in the Haute-Savoie region of France.  We drove along the Rhone, around the Lac du Bourget, up mountains, through tunnels, down mountains and along streams. We walked up half a mountain and around a quarter of another lake. And all the time to sun shone. We retuned home Monday and flew into fog. At least we were able to fly – the two previous flights had been cancelled. Touching down at five, it was still foggy; and it was still foggy on Tuesday.

Halfway up Col du Sapenay.

I took Chapter 1 along with me, not expecting to get much done. However, on the flight out, and the slightly elongated one home, I read, scribbled out, added, re-ordered and knocked the chapter into shape. Later today I will try to make sense of the notes and arrows as seven pages of type collapse onto something tighter while simultaneously splitting into two. My new small chapter is very different from originally written – a character previously only referred to by name has developed a voice.

A few of the changes I’ve made to Chapter 1 will result in changes being required in Chapter 2. But I think once these opening chapters are polished, the rest should flow more easily. As my September deadline has slipped by some way, I’m hoping to be done by Christmas. Of course, NaNoWriMo might slow my progress. Even if I don’t take part, the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about NaNoWriMo have been good to focus the mind. A long time ago I had an idea for a story about data mining. (I promise it’s more interesting than it sounds.) This week I’ve finally done some research and reading. My two main characters are drawn and the outline of a plot exists. This story will definitely be character driven – I know where they start out and where they end up, but I have no idea how they get from A to B. I’m not sure whether or not it’s cheating resurrecting a story from nine years ago, but I was pleased the eight A4 pages of scribble hadn’t dated too badly.

Lac de Paladru.

Written by Sarah Ann

October 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

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