Queen of Hearts – Revised

As soon as I posted up part one of The Queen of Hearts I had a crisis of confidence about the POV and the tense in which is was written. Tonight I used my hour of writing races to rework the tense and the POV. For those who read the original over the weekend, I’d love some feed back and some idea of which one works better.

– – –

The wolf whistles and the applause reach a crescendo and the heavy velvet curtain falls, the golden tassles brushing the boards. I wait a moment, take a few steps back from the curtain and walk off into the wings.

“Do you want to take another curtain call?” Louis is new and all the stage hands eye him with a mixture of curiosity and contempt.

Every fiber of my being screams to be back out there soaking up the adoration, but I shake my head as best I can in the elaborate headdress. Sergio, the old stage manager knew the score. Stars take three curtain calls. Divas more. I’ve never forgotten which side of vanity I want to reside on.

A diminutive woman walks into the wings, hands lost in enthusiastic clapping which segues into excited signing.

You were so beautiful Miss Varla. Bravo! Bravo!

My hands easily form the signs I need to assure Luisa, my dresser and friend, it is all thanks to her. Luisa doesn’t just sew incredible costumes and ensure I look stunning every night, she keeps me grounded. Every night when I look at her fussing over me I know it could easily have been me. One pedestrian and one car. Two lapses of concentration. A career destroyed in the split-second screech of tyres.

Is Vin here? I sign

Luisa shakes her head. My joie-de-vive drains out through my diamante-encrusted dancing shoes and into the ancient boards.

Come! Come! Luisa motions. There is much celebrating to be done. No mooning over Vin Tefnel.

Luisa doesn’t wait for a response, walking behind me, detaching the elaborate feathered train from the sequined bodysuit, giving me a very gentle push towards the back stage entrance.

The scent of evening jasmine hits me the moment the wonky door of my dressing-room opens.

“Oh Luisa.” The words gush out and are lost to Luisa as I rush to admire the huge bunch of tigerlillies dramatically framed by the light-studded mirror. “He remembered.” I recklessly plung my face deep into the large genetically-engineered petals, remember Vin’s excitement the first time his friend successfully bound the perfume of jasmine to the large orange flowers.

He always remembers, why do you doubt him so? Luisa signs the same retort each opening night, always caught out the corner of my eye, before she berates me

You will stain your face with the pollen. Luisa’s hand fly emphatically through the air infront of her.

I flick my fingers off opposite shoulders: I don’t care.

As I do so I catch sight of the creamy envelope attached to the flowers and pull the note out.

We did it babe. One million hits. The server held this time.

~Vin

I squeal and thrust the card at Luisa, clapping my hands in delight. It had been a long hard road but we’ve done it. Years it’s taken us to find a niche for our brand of uncompromising, political burlesque, moving men from wanting just tits and long legs, to appreciating political satire and fine art. And now we’re no longer contained to one packed theatre a night, with a matinee on Saturday and Sunday. I twirl around once and then twice. The freedom!

Minsky will love it, knowing he could charge more for the privilege of attending a live show. He’ll recoup a thousand times over the cost of installing the shower in my dressing-room. And for the first time Vin and I will have an independent income. The theatre owners will grovelling to us. Finally!

Luisa puts her right hand in her left and gives the two a hearty shake: Congratulations. I smile and before I can to drink in the perfume of Vin’s flowers Luisa’s maneuvers me into a chair and is stripping away my burlesque regalia–tiny fingers moving with speed and precision to remove the red and green feathered diamante headdress, the wig beneath and the thick layer of stage make up from my face. Before the tiredness has time to settle in my muscles, I’m out of the chair and Luisa is carefully removing the skin-tight lycra and passing me a silk robe.

Are you sure you don’t want me to stay? Luisa signs

I shake my head, needing to be alone between the show and the party. And tonight I want to take special care to look good for Vin.

Enjy the after party.

Please come but she shakes her head. I pinch my chin between my first three fingers and pull them back: Thanks.

Luisa takes the same three fingers snaps them together, mirrors my sign and then points to me: No! Thank You.

I nod and disappear around the corner of the shower cubicle, before my emotions catch up with me. Tonight belongs to the ring of champagne flutes saluting success, not tears.

After a moment of rustling, the sound of the dressing-room door closing echoes around the room and I’m alone. I sigh, shrug my tired body from the robe and turn the taps on, waiting for the hot water to come through. Above the whine of the water and the thumping of the pipes I hear the dressing-room door close again. Knowing it is pointless to yell out to Luisa, who is always leaving something behind at the end of the night, I step around the cubicle wall to find the dressing room empty.

A large iron bird cage sits has replaced Vin’s flowers.

“Vin?” I call out.

He always jokes it is only a matter of time, given my penchant for feathers and the passionate devotion of my followers that someone would gift me with a real, live bird. After all, within days of our adaptation of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes every man seemed to be learning the ancient art of origami.

The cage has no card or any other form of identifying keep-sake.

I trhow my robe on and run barefoot out into the chaos of the post-show backstage area, bustling with stage hands and other technicians, rather than performers of hanger-ons. The reverie from the theatre and the bar beyond is audible. Minsky’s cash register will be ringing for hours yet.

“Did you see someone come back stage with a parrot?” I ask everyone who passes, but they all shake their heads and hurry on. Opening night is the only night they’re invited to the after party and they’re keen to get in as many free drinks as they can.

“A parrot you say Miss Varla,” Louis chuckles when I find him fussing over paperwork in his tiny office. “Can’t say I’ve seen anyone wandering around with a parrot. Mr Minsky was pretty darn clear on barring jerks from backstage. He hired a couple of thugs to man the door tonight. Sorry.”

Stream rolls out of my dressing room door when I open it.

“Shit!” Luisa would have a fit if she knew I’d doused the entire room, including all the costumes, like this.

I wave clear a path through white eddies and turn the taps off, throwing open the tiny window which is the only form of ventilation in the room.

When I walk out of the cubicle, the bird cage is still there –  a  red and green parrot staring at me.

“What the hell am I going to do with you?” I remember only too well all the potted plants I’ve killed.

The bird tilts its head.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

She get in closer.

“Did you say something?”

It swaps sides, and looks at me from its right shoulder, never releasing me from the stare.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

I step back, certain the bird said something. But heard is the wrong word. The words seem to just formm with astonishing clarity, in my head.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

“OK, this is not funny.” I spin around, my mind battling against the logic of it and rip aside the costumes neatly hanging on the rack, looking for Vin. This is another of his practical jokes. But I’m alone.

The tigerlily is still drinking as I poke it through the bars of the cage and into the parrot.  It ruffled its feathers.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

“You can turn the damn remote control bird off, Vin. You’re freakin’ me out.”

Vin doesn’t appear so I open the cage and seize the bird. Outside the cage I turn it over once and then twice, pulling the wings out, looking for the on/off switch as it lashes out at me with claws and beak, drawing blood but I refuse to submit. Finally it shits on me, molten crap splashing onto my cheek. My fingers release. Colourful wings open and cut through the steam, carrying the damn bird to the top of the cubicle wall. I look up through the swirls, using my forearm to wipe away the shit.

The Queen of Hearts is coming. You have been warned.

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Friday Flash: Queen of Hearts – Part One

The wolf whistles and the applause reached a crescendo and the heavy velvet curtain fell, the golden tassles at the bottom brushing the boards. Varla waited a moment and then walked off into the wings.

“Do you want to take another curtain call?” Louis was new and all the stage hands eyed him with curiosity.

She shook her head as best she could in the elaborate headdress. Sergio, the old stage manager knew never to ask her. Every fibre of her being screamed to be back out there soaking up the adoration, but stars took three curtain calls. Divas took more. Varla never forgot which side of vanity she resided on.

A diminutive woman walked into the wings, hands lost in enthusiastic clapping segueing into excited signing.

You were so beautiful Miss Varla. Bravo! Bravo!

Varla’s hands easily formed the signs she needed to assure Luisa, her deaf dresser, it was all thanks to her. Then asked: Is Vin here?

Luisa shook her head. Varla felt her joie-de-vive drain out her diamante-encrusted dancing shoes and into the ancient boards.

Come! Come! Luisa motioned. There is much celebrating to be done. No mooning over Mr Tefnel.

Luisa didn’t wait for any type of response, walking behind the burlesque star, detaching the elaborate feathered train from the sequined bodysuit then giving Varla a very gentle push to propel her back stage.

The scent of evening jasmine hit Varla the moment the wonky door of her dressing-room opened.

“Oh Luisa,” Varla gushed, her words lost as she rushed to admire the huge bunch of tigerlillies framed by the light studded mirror. “He remembered.”

He always remembers, why do you doubt him so? Luisa knew she was safe to sign her mind – Varla couldn’t see her, she’d recklessly plunged her face deep into the large genetically-engineered petals.

Luisa grabbed Varla’s arm and emphatically signed: You will stain your face with the pollen, Miss Varla.

Varla flicked her fingers off opposite shoulders: I don’t care.

With her face out of the massive petals Varla saw the envelope attached, plucking the card from within.

We did it babe. One million hits. The server held this time.

~Vin

Varla squealed and thrust the card at Luisa, clapping her hands in delight. It had been a long hard road but they’d done it. It had taken years to find a niche for their brand of uncompromising, political burlesque, moving men from wanting just tits and long legs, to appreciating political satire and fine art. And now they were no longer contained to one packed theatre a night. Minsky would love it, knowing he could charge more for the privilege of attending a live show. Via the internet she and Vin had a lucrative means of income for the first time.

Luisa put her right hand in her left and gave the two a hearty shake: Congratulations. Varla smiled, but before she could immerse her face in the flowers to drink in their perfume, Luisa had manoeuvred her into a chair and begun to strip away the burlesque regalia–tiny fingers moving with speed and precision to remove the red and green feathered diamante headdress, the wig beneath and then the thick layer of stage make up from Varla’s face. Before the tiredness had time to settle in Varla’s muscles, Luisa was pulling the star out of the chair, carefully removing the skin-tight lycra and passing a silk robe.

Are you sure you don’t want me to stay? Varla shook her head. She liked to be alone between the show and the party. And tonight she wanted to take special care to look good for Vin. See you at the after party.

Varla pinched her chin between three fingers and pulled them back: Thanks.

Luisa took the same three fingers pulled them together empathically  so the finger tips touched, mimicked Varla’s sign and then pointed to her: No! Thank You.

Varla nodded and disappeared around the corner of the shower cubicle. After a moment of rustling, the sound of the dressing-room door closing echoed around the room. Varla sighed and shrugged her tired body from the robe. She turned the taps on and waited for the hot water to come through. Above the whine of the water and the thumping of the pipes she heard the dressing-room door close again. Knowing it was pointless to yell out to Luisa, Varla stepped around the cubicle wall to find dressing room empty.

A large iron bird cage sat where the flowers had minutes earlier.

“Vin?” Varla called out. He’d always joked it was only a matter of time, given her penchant for feathers and the passion of her followers that one would gift her with a real, live bird. After their adaptation of Sadako and the thousand Paper Cranes every man it seemed, was learning the ancient Japanese art of origami to woo her.

She looked at the cage for a card or some type of identifying keep-sake but there was nothing.

Varla threw her robe on and ran barefoot out into the corridor. It was bustling with stage hands and other technicians, with the reverie from the theatre and the bar beyond still audible.

“Did you see someone come back stage with a parrot?” Varla asked everyone she passed. They all shook their head.

“A parrot you say Miss Varla,” Louis chuckled when she found him in his tiny office. “Can’t say I’ve seen anyone wandering around with a parrot. Mr Minsky was pretty darn clear on barring jerks from backstage. He hired a couple of thugs to man the door tonight.”

Varla returned to find her dressing-room cloaked in steam from the shower she’d left running.

“Shit!” Luisa would have a fit if she knew.

She waved a path through white eddies to turn the taps off. Back at the birdcage she stared at the large red and green feathered creature. It stared back.

“What the hell am I going to do with you?” She remembered all the potted plants she’d neglected.

The bird tilted its head.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

She stuck her head closer to the bird cage.

“Did you say something?”

It tilted its head to the other side, all the time holding her gaze.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

Varla stepped back from the bird. She’d definitely heard it say something. Heard was the wrong word for it though. The words formed with astonishing clarity in her head.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

“OK, this is not funny.” She spun around and ripped aside the costumes neatly hung on the rack, looking for Vin. Accepting she was alone Varla grabbed a tigerlily and poked the bird with the wet stem. It ruffled its feathers.

The Queen of Hearts is coming.

“You can turn the damn remote control bird off, Vin. You’re freakin’ me out.”

When Vin didn’t appear Varla opened the door to the cage and dragged the bird out. As she turned it over, pulling at its wings, looking for the on/off switch long talons lashed out, its beak drawing blood. Finally a hot squirt of bird shit hit Varla in the face and her fingers released. Its wings opened and cut through the steam, carrying the bird to the top of the cubicle wall. Varla looked up through the swirls, wiping the shit from her cheek with her forearm.

The Queen of Hearts is coming. You have been warned.

Author’s Note: you can hear the first two thirds of this story narrated by moi here at audioboo. This story was spawned from the [Friday] Fiction prompt to include a telepathic parrot and comes compliments of my partner who first suggested such a thing two years ago. This ones for you darling!

Audioboo

I’ve taken the plunge!

Since befriending Greg McQueen he’s been gently hassling me to take up AudioBoo-ing (is that an actual word… well it is now) and since suggesting it, the idea has been kicking around in my head. When it’s not pushed aside easily by other concerns, you know you need to sit up and take notice.

Podcasting has always intrigued me but I know it requires (to sound great) a lot of effort and some special equipment. So I had put it into the too hard basket (AKA the ‘when-I-have-time’ basket and I never do have the time). Recording a boo is easy. All it requires is an iPhone (though there are desk top apps for recording), the free app and around five minutes of your time… oh and something to say!

Audioboo. Because sound is social.

That’s the catch cry of Audioboo and it is. Being social used to involve talking to people – the nuances of voice and body language and all of that is lost in status updates, tweets and IMing. While gratefully you don’t have to put up with a visual of my hands going a million miles an hour as a I talk, you get the characterisation and modulation of voice… which I love.

This gets me over one of those fears – the sound of my voice recorded (which maybe another reason to have put off podcasting) When I was a teenage I did lots of public speaking and gratefully many of the techniques I was taught have become standard parts of my voice pattern over time (my debating teacher Miss Crooks would be thrilled I’m certain) In Year 12 I was one of several local students invited to have a speech recorded at the local radio station, 3BA. While I had no problems getting up and speaking in front of people – I seemed to freeze up at the sight of a microphone. It took three takes to get a decent recording of my speech and I seemed forever scarred by the experience.

When it came time for my speech to be broadcast I was horrified at the sound of my voice. It was horrendously nasally as a child and a teenager. The worst bits of my voice seemed to be amplified over the radiowaves and left me forever with a tic about the sound of my voice (you wouldn’t tell if you’ve ever been caught in person by me in the mood for a chat.)

My voice has either matured over time or my health is much better and I’m without much of the horrible nasal sound I had (think talking through your nose – it was really bad.) I was amazed tis morning at the sound quality of my ‘ just nattering away to my iPhone’ and the fact I didn’t spend three and a half minues umming and ahhing, or clearing my throat. A much better job than my little impromptu speech at the State Library for the launch of Gnarly Planning back in April.

There are so manythings to like about audioboo (other than the ease of actually recording and uploading one!)

  1. they are soundbites – a maximum of five minutes. You can listen as you are reading through and catching up on facebook
  2. You can autolink through to facebook and twitter (though I bungled mine this morning because I hadn’t actually signed into my account on the iPhone before I recorded) so you literally can listen as you’re trawling through facebook.
  3. They are personal.
  4. You can literally do it anywhere (but hmmm – talking into your phone in a cafe might be just a little too pretentious)
  5. You can record and upload in the time it takes to boil the jug and steep a teabag.
  6. You can follow your favourite people and it is all there on your iPhone to listen to (hello new addiction!)

I could go on but I won’t. Greg you sold me on it and I can’t wait now to apply it to a number of other projects we’ve got happening. The poor man’s podcast? I don’t think so.

For those that didn’t catch it on Facebook, here’s my maiden boo (sorry I couldn’t get a funky box to open)…
Maiden Boo

Mixed Messages

I’m not sure why aliens would choose Reservoir to land. There have to be better places in Australia to visit than the suburbs of Melbourne. But the message was clear. They are coming. Here. And I’m to wait.

The sky is on fire, the bits I can see through the curtain of pink blossoms. A column of smoke raises from old man Salvatore’s incinerator, the stink blowing across the fence into our yard, competing with the perfume of the plum blossoms I’m hiding in. I should have set up the roof, but Mother would have heard me no matter how quiet I was. The old crystal set radio is strung up with some twine on a small branch I’ve snapped off to make a hook. It isn’t the best set up, the aerial stuck to the tree trunk, but you make do. That’s what Dad always told me. Making do, whatever the situation is what marks a dedicated communications officer. That’s why the Germans killed him. He was too good.

Samuel says Dad was a code breaker – it was his job to decipher the secret messages the Germans sent. He says Dad showed him some of the secret codes, but I don’t believe him. He says Dad was real smart and that’s why the Germans killed him.

I pat Dad’s cast-off notebook. It fits perfectly in the pocket of Samuel’s old overalls. They’re patched at the knees and soft with wear. I stole them, months ago, from a bag of clothes Mother was giving to Mrs Thomas at Number 18. They’ve been hidden under my mattress waiting for a special occasion like this.

Dresses are useless for climbing trees and while I thought long and hard on what I should wear if I was going to be meet an alien for the first time, I was certain they’d appreciate practicality over pretty. That’s what Dad said when we set off on our last adventure together, hand in hand, with Mother saying everyone in the street would talk. “Let them talk,” he said and smiled at me. I guess he doesn’t have to worry too much now about what people say. Mother says he is a Hero and no one should say a bad word against him. But they still stare at us at Church. When I go to Heaven they can say what they want about me. Sticks and stones and names can’t hurt you there.

From the tree I can Mrs Thomas unpeg sheets folding them into a wicker basket before the night air settles. The smell of Widow Grenville’s apple pie wafting out her back door is torture. And then Mother appears and the real torment begins.

“Lucy, come down out of that tree.”

“I can’t.”

“Don’t tell me you can’t.”

“The aliens – they’re waiting for me.”

LUCY, enough of this nonsense. Come down now. Dinner is getting cold.”

I stick my head out of the barricade of blossoms. The motion knocks some free and they drift like winter drizzle around Mother who has her hands riveted to her hips. A few land in her hair and for a moment I can imagine her as the beautiful, young smiling bride in the silver frame on the lounge room mantle piece.

“The aliens sent a special message. Just to me. They said, Lucy Malone, aliens are coming. Stand by.”

“No they didn’t,” says Samuel, coming into sight. “I sent you a message saying Lucy Malone, dinner is ready.”

I refer to my notepad. I write down everything. Samuel transmissions are always full of mistakes, so I’d know the difference between one of his and an important one from aliens.

“You still get ‘d’ and ‘b’ mixed up, Samuel. Why would I get out of the tree for a message about ‘binner’ being ready. You really should do yourself a favour and just tap ‘tea’ instead.”

I’m angry with Samuel because he was given Dad’s collection of straight keys and antique telegram machines. Mother says Samuel will follow in Dad’s footsteps, even though there is talk telephones will soon be more popular and cheaper than telegrams. Next year Samuel’s allowed to leave school and become an apprentice at the Telegraph Office. Mother says Mr Hardy has promised Samuel won’t have to start off delivering telegrams like the other boys. I tell Mother I’m going to get an apprenticeship at the Telegraph Office too just like Dad and Samuel. She says no I won’t and turns her back on me when remind her I’m better at sending code than Samuel.

Dad wrote to me and told me I could do anything I wanted to. Told me he was proud of the progress I was making at learning Morse Code. I’m not going to make sandwiches in Coles and wait to get married, even if Mother says that’s all I can rightly expect as a girl. I don’t want to have her “realistic expectations.”

She comes closer to the tree to hiss her commands through her teeth, that way Widow Grenville wont pop her head over the fence to ask if Mother’s having a bad day with me again. Widow Grenville is my greatest ally. Mother thinks Widow Grenville is a busybody, but  Widow Grenville says someone’s got to be my champion now Dad’s gone. She gives me chunks of Edinburgh Rock and tells me my Mother wasn’t always so mean. Widow Grenville says all the goodness and light in Mother went to the grave with my Dad. She shakes her head every time she says that and for a moment I want to ask her all the questions welling up inside me. But never do.

I thrust the note book out of the tree and shake it. “I chose to ignore your message. According to my watch you sent the message about dinner at 18:27 a good hour after the message from the aliens arrived at 17:13. I could not have made the mistake of thinking one was the other.”

“Lucy Louise Malone, you will come down out of that tree or I will tan your backside so hard you won’t sit for a week.”

“But the aliens, Mother. If I’m not here to greet them, it could be a diplomatic disaster of intergalactic proportions. Do you want that sitting on your conscience?”

“Have you been lending her your comic books again?”

“No, Mother. I learn from my mistakes, Mother.”

“This has nothing to do with his comic books.” I hang myself a little further out the tree. “How about you send my dinner up and I’ll have it in the tree. Then you will be happy because I’m eating dinner and I won’t offend the aliens.”

“Get out of the tree NOW!”

The words hit me as hard as if she’d actually slapped me. I fall back into the tree, into the safety of the world behind the pink curtain. The fire is fading in the sky. My stomach growls loudly. A shank of hair falls in my eyes and  smells of old man Salvatore’s smoke.

But I’m not going down. A dedicated communication officer remains at his post until the last. The aliens will send me another message. I know they will. They told me to stand by.

When they land they’ll invite me to come on board and live on their planet. And I’ll say yes in a heart beat, knowing the only person who’ll miss me is Widow Grenville. But she’ll understand.

“I’m counting to ten. If you are not down by the time I get to ten, you are going to wish you’d never been born Lucy Malone. One… two.”

I stare at the radio willing to squeak to life.

“Three… four.”

There’s a squeal and the tones tumble out. Dots and dashes fly from my pencil onto the page.

L-U-C-Y  M-A-L-O-N-E (stop)

“…six.”

A-L-I-E-N-S  T-H-I-N-K (stop)

“…eight.”

S-U-C-K-S  T-O  B-E  Y-O-U (stop)

Authors Note: This story was inspired by [Fiction] Friday Prompt #160: A signal is misinterpreted. Photo by Becx5 via Photobucket.

Where to Next?

Yesterday morning I received the email I had been dreading. My flash fiction “In Their Own Good Time” didn’t make the cut for the 4th AXP Flash Fiction competition. After Tony Noland announced his story had been accepted on Friday I languished all weekend waiting to hear something. By Sunday I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact I would be getting a rejection and thus, I’d already turned my mind to where it could be sent next.

But assuming rejection and actually knowing you have been are two different things. When I read the email from bed, I went ‘Oh well, just as I thought’ and the morning continued on.

It was only after lunch it began to sink in.

What surprised me most was I really couldn’t care less about the writing. I did my best to ensure it was tightly written. There were no syntax errors and it was to the word count. I have had rejections before and moved on, knowing it was just not the right fit for where I had sent it. Rejection was a call to arms to find the right home.

But this time it is more than just a kick up the bum to move on.

I’m upset my idea and the message in it were rejected. I feel like a big slap for having dared to talk about birth – for having offered a different take on what we really shouldn’t be talking about, much less writing about.

Of course, maybe I could have executed the story differently to better effect. Maybe I came too absorbed (or besotted) with the message and made the story fit it, rather than the story carry the message. Maybe I should have gone for a micro environment – made the story personal – rather than the over-arching distance of the main characters – The Sacred Masculine and Feminine looking down on what humanity had done to itself?

Who knows? I’ll probably never know.

The dilemma now is what to do with the story. I don’t want it to languish on my hard drive. It contains an important message, as Annie keeps reminding me, and one which must be told, to as many people as possible.

We need to stop denying our mammalian natures and acknowledge we have specific needs when it comes to birthing (needs which run counter to a medical paradigm of control). As women we need to stop relying on medical un-truth and see it is just another form of belief and control, and start relying on our intuition – trusting in ourselves and our babies. Humanity needs to stop toying with nature and go with the program which has been evolved over eons – after all if we needed people in white coats to save us from/at birth – we would have died out as a species long, long ago. We need to stop forcing babies out before their time, because we know better. We actually don’t know better. We need to stop believing we are better than nature and technology will save us. We have no idea of the damage we are causing.

In my story I provide a stark ending, though one which carries a message of hope for those who are willing to trust.

That said and done…  I’m lost. My fable needs a home.

Do I post it up as #fridayflash? This would ensure the most number of people read it… from a mainstream, non-birthing background. There is no point in preaching to the converted!

Or do I search out a magazine/literary journal for it? I fear there won’t be anyone out there who will want to publish it. After all – some of the ideas I posit will not be popular and are likely to scare lots of people. Create a nasty backlash?

A problem shared is a problem halved… so I turn to you, my readers (especially those who have been part of the process of bringing this story to life). Where to next?

UPDATE: since I hammered this out this morning (which yes was cathartic!) I’ve had an email from Chris ‘he’s-more- intuned-with-what’s-going-down’ Chartrand helping to put things in perspective. Hopefully he’ll pop in and share them in the comments section… but I’d still like to hear from you!

Synchronicity and Names

I always struggle to name my characters if they don’t arrive with a name. It is like naming a child – you don’t name them just for the sound as it rolls of your tongue but what meaning you imbue their soul with. I have four ways to name a character if they don’t come with their own.

1. I name them after someone connected (think of the daughter Claire in Bondi, named after Claire Halliday who gave me the original idea for the story)

2. I do a bit of research and wait for a name to jump out at me (Calli from “Clutch” which then fed into Dianna and Sade)

3. A name just comes to me at the sink, in the shower, hanging out washing, driving etc. And I go, “well of course!”

4. I pick the first name I come across on the Sydney Morning Herald website (when I was a teenager I had pulled a section from the newspaper with the birth announcements to help me name characters.)

The sci-fi story Parasite I’ve been working on over the past few weeks has thrown up one of those naming conundrums. I had no idea of the names of anyone when I started writing, so I wrote without mentioning their names – using he and she. Last week when I wrote the first installment it didn’t seem to matter too much. Right at the end the male character threw in, “See you in the morning Dr Halligan” and voila, I had at least a surname.

Saturday when I was writing “Clutch” I was stuck for names and asked friends on FB if they would like to offer up some names. I didn’t end up using any of them because in the process of asking I came across some interesting names and went with them. But I looked through the list and thought “What an interesting bunch of names. Shall file those away for later use.”

This morning when I was at the sink I had a “moment” and knew my MC’s name was Thalia (since tweaked to the original Greek, Thaleia)When I looked back on the list of names from Saturday on Facebook – there she was. Bang in the middle. So I popped the name in and started writing. When I was doing a little research for the male character’s name tonight I discovered that Thaleia is the 8th of the 9 muses and she’s the patron of comedy and “rustic” poetry.

What the?

My MC loves poetry… but its 21st Pop Poetry (basically song lyrics from the previous century). She has a huge picture of August’s Sappho on her wall. I had no idea of the connection when I named her. Another connection – Thaleia has banished herself to what could romantically be called a “rustic” life of beating a pioneering path across uninhabited planets mapping their micro-biology prior to human settlement. Thaleia of mythology is know for her rustic connections – she’s a patron of shepherds and the like.

I love it when you have moments like that. Gives me tingles.

Thaleia’s personal assistant is named Alan (shying away from admitting this) after Alan Baxter when I went searching through Facebook for the first male name which popped up (I’m also reading his book at the moment!) Dr Hartcher is named after a journo I came across on the SMH page.

My MC’s love interest remains unnamed and was embarrassingly referred to as “XX” in the piece I posted up on the Writing Races forum… but oh, ooo ooo ooo… I think his name might be Xavier? Let’s see if he likes that…

Word count for tonight 1715 bringing the entire piece to just short of 3000 words. Think there are possibly two more scenes to write before I give it the once over, make parasites explore outwards in orgasmic climax and send it out into the wilds of beta reading. Any takers?

Month Five Goals

Last month I didn’t bother setting any goals as I was due to depart for Victoria for two weeks. What I really wanted was a break from everything and to catch up with some writing friends in the flesh. I did have a wonderful break and caught up with Ben, Jason and Amanda, as well as Claire Halliday. It was just what the creative doctor ordered and although suffering through a rather sever post-holiday funk, I’ve come out of it bigger, brighter and more creative.

I wrote one [Fiction] Friday while I was away (Greenman Ridge), wrote one before I left (Mrs Simpson), wrote another when I returned (Clutch) and gestated an idea which I started writing last week (Parasite – which was meant as the 3rd FF for the month). With all the train travel between Ballarat and Melbourne I caught up on reading – ploughing through three and a half books (Secret Life of Bees, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited which I’m still reading) and a score of short stories in the Thieves and Scoundrels anthology.

While the two weeks away were great it generally put me even further behind on all my writing and projects. So this coming month is going to be a big one.

Reading

My projected reading this month is:

  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • RealmShift – Alan Baxter
  • MageSign – Alan Baxter
  • Clock in with 29 short stories read

Writing

  • Fourth Fiction novella – complete the final two sections and finally name it.
  • Parasite (sci-fi/erotica short story) – complete first draft
  • [Fiction] Friday prompts – Participate in 4/4
  • Writing Races – Participate in 4/4
  • Word count –  minimumof 3500 words per week.
  • Hartog -2 new episodes
  • Light Years – new draft

Blogging

  • Writing in Black and White – 1 blog post per week & put up four old WA ones.
  • Follow Anne Whitaker up on the offer of a guest spot on her blog.
  • Write Anything – Organise four guest columns so I can have a break during August

– Complete Know Your Process series

Editing

Mrs Simpson – next draft and then out for beta read. Consider where to sub it.

Light Years – redraft and farm out to beta readers.

Hartog – edit 4 episodes

Beta reading – four stories

Submissions/Competitions

  • Graceville (Meanjin?)
  • Pearls of Wisdom (Island?)
  • Don’t Tell, Alice (Wet Ink)
  • List competitions for July and August

eMergent Publishing Projects

Gnarly Planning

  • Finalise website by 18th June.
  • Meet up with Jane to discuss future projects.

Captain Juan

  • Prepare to launch new site
  • Get two month’s (16 episodes) edited up and scheduled.

Chinese Whisperings

  • Finalise first five stories by 30th June
  • Finalise stories #6 and #7 by 11th July
  • Finalise artwork licensing agreement and have final version of front cover of Red Book.
  • Update website
  • Timeline for promo

Choose Your Own CW Adventure

  • Organise 3 podleaders
  • Organise a team of writers
  • Being tossing around ideas and scenarios

Other Projects

Reclaim Sex After Birth

  • July Newsletter
  • Start looking at the site revamp