Monday, 9 October 2017

#Flash4Storms - More Flash Fics II

Following on from my last few posts, I'm extremely chuffed to be able to post some more spirit-speaking flash fics by fabulous writers - all in aid of Sarah Brentyn's #Flash4Storms for hurricane relief.


Georgia Bell (@gabellbooks)

The days blurred. Blended. Bent out of shape. She held still, bleeding hope, waiting for the help she had begged for.  Until in the silence, bold and bankrupt, she found benevolence in her own battered soul.


Sarah Mitchell-Jackson (@SMitchJack)

They needed her. Their small hands, although precise, were minute against the depth of the world. Month by month they grew; their worlds grew. They stretched further away from her, until they did not need her. Year by year, she narrowed, just as her world narrowed, until she needed them.


Maria Carvalho (@ImMCarvalho)

Even as the invading river relished its unchecked freedom

And the regal cypress bowed down under commanding winds

The storm wielding its power like an angry god

Inhabitants of the wild land – from chameleon to elk –

Held steadfast together, knowing that in time

They’d bask in the sun once more.


Michelle (@PrairieSky_27)

When she found out I'd be alone for Christmas, she insisted I come to her place. My mouth watered at the smell of roast turkey and sage. 

"Before we eat," she said, dragging a deer carcass in from outside, "help me get this down the stairs. Sprinkles must be hungry."


#Flash4Storms - More Flash Fics I

As you may have seen from my recent posts, Sarah Brentyn is doing a #Flash4Storms initiative for hurricane relief.

Many people have already shared their words, and to ensure those wonderful wordsmithers without blogs are also able to contribute their words for a great cause, I'm honoured to be able to post some more fantastic flash fics here.


Bobbi Bowman (@BobbiBowwoman)

What if you don't have bootstraps?


Michael Fehr (@FehrMichael1)

The sun was setting. Maria didn't know if she had the strength to hold on until morning. She clung desperately to the highest branch she could reach above the swirling floodwaters.

In the pitch dark, it was the nose of the rescue dog that guided the boat to her perch.


Stephen (@GallifreyGamgee)

Lora looked lovingly at her ghostly boyfriend, the only one in the Ethereal Planes who could help break the curse by sacrificing himself.


Kevin Odinsknot (@Odinsknot)

We looked to the stars as a means of escape from a dying Earth.

Instead, those we met in Alpha Centauri brought us hope that restoration was possible.


Sunday, 8 October 2017

#Flash4Storms - A Flash Fic by Hope Denney

In my last post, I took part in a flash fic challenge for hurricane relief, organised by the fabulous Sarah Brentyn.

It is a blog-based challenge, and as not everyone maintains a blog, Sarah has confirmed that flash fics posted on host blogs will also count towards hurricane relief. I'm very honoured to be posting some other #Flash4Storms flash fic submissions here, and I hope you enjoy them.

This submission is by the brilliant Hope Denney:

Once upon a time (like right now), there were two women (none of you know them) who lived several seas apart. They battled all the monsters of yore (spiders, snakes, and improperly fitting undergarments) along with the monsters of now (workplace drama, too many dreams but not enough time, and improperly behaved selves). They didn’t always succeed with a lot of panache. In fact, there was often clumsiness, tears, and lots of swearing along the way. With each other’s support, dragons looked more like lizards and each believed a fairy tale ending was within reach.

This story was written in honor of those two women (again, people, social media is a big place and you don’t know them…gah!) and all the women who support the journeys of other women.

She seemed ordinary enough.

Unremarkable. Earthbound.

Early in life's journey, she'd entrusted pieces of herself to those she loved to make their travels easier.

Gifted feather after feather until her beautiful wings were almost bare.

She didn't mind. There was magic in watching her friends fly.

Friday, 6 October 2017

#Flash4Storms Flash Fic Challenge

As I've mentioned several times now, I grew up on the island of Mauritius. Mauritius is one of many islands in the Indian Ocean, which are mere dots on a world map. If you didn't know to look for them, you'd be forgiven for thinking that part of the world is all water.

One of the recurring weather conditions Mauritius (and all the surrounding islands) are always on the alert for in the summer, is cyclones. There have been savage ones in the past, whose names still retain their notoriety. When I was growing up there in the early 1980s, I was lucky to not experience a really bad one. Back then, "Cyclone Carol" from the 1970s was our byword and benchmark for fury and ferocious destruction. All us kids knew the name, and with every cyclone which formed throughout the summers, we would ask the grown-ups if this was the one that would be as bad as Cyclone Carol. It was the one which loomed long and scary and dark in the island's collective memory.

Much like the destructive shadows of Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey now hang heavy over the Caribbean islands and the US.

We live in an era of interconnected communications and collapsed timezones. We have (some) knowledge of what has happened during these recent catastrophic hurricanes. Many of us haven't had to live through them. But we can imagine the tight wordless fears of not surviving, sitting alongside the silent bravery and determination to survive. We can imagine the heartbreak and pain and drudgery and frustration of surviving. Of needing to make do. Of knowing everything must be built back up. Of needing to find the strength - every single day - to make it happen. After the short-spanned media spotlight has dissipated.

I imagine the destruction as three Cyclone Carols, two of which have covered the same trajectory, back-to-back. Not on my island, or those near mine, but on other islands - other dots - in another ocean.

We can't do anything much directly. Or, at least, it feels as if we can't.

The always-inspiring Sarah Brentyn, writer and blogger and twitter micro-fiction genius, has given us - the twitter micro-fiction and blogging communities - a way to help: a flash fiction challenge for hurricane relief (full details in the link).

In brief, we write a piece of flash fiction (no more than 50 words) on the theme of 'help', post it on our blogs, let her know, and she donates $1 per flash fic to hurricane relief.

Consider it done, Sarah. Thank you for this clever, productive way of letting us help with our words, and here's my flash fic:

Long before she left home, I helped her make her white handkerchief and showed her many ways to use it. As wings over valleys; sails to skim seas; parachutes to return to earth; bandages, towels, warmth. Not just for herself, but for all those she wanted to share it with.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Indi's Little Adventure (and ReeBee's too)

In the late afternoon of our first truly warm Saturday of spring (27 degrees - woohoo!), my stumpy-tailed cattle dog woofer, Indi-Girl, and I went for a little stroll at Hassan's Wall.

Hassan's Wall is a lookout with magnificent views of the Hartley Vale area which undulates gently between the Blue Mountains and the country town of Lithgow, in New South Wales.

Indi hadn't been there before, and she was absolutely bursting to smell ALL the new smells AT THE SAME TIME. So to calm her down a bit, we walked a couple of hundred metres down the driving track, away from all the lookout points, just to get the scented lay of the land for a bit.

For good measure, we wandered down an overgrown side track that didn't go anywhere. I'm guessing it's an off-the-main-track parking spot for the likes of the NSW Parks and Wildlife, or the NSW Rural Fire Service folk. Anyway, the little saunter worked, and Indi settled into a more relaxed mode of grooving around. So we backtracked our steps towards the main driving track.

Then, right under my foot - and right under Indi's paws - I caught the faintest glimpse of a dark-grey tree branch moving.


It was a snake.

If Indi hadn't half-turned her head in a casual "oh hey, a thing" sniff, I may not have even registered it.

But as it was, Indi turned her head, and the snake lifted its head - all of which happened right under/between our feet, and which I saw out of the corner of my eye. Mid-step, mid-realisation, I shrieked loudly (probably something inane, like "snake" or "aaargh"), leapt at least two feet in the air, and pulled Indi along before she could sniff further and annoy the snake - all in one single, scrambling movement. We cleared a couple more metres faster than you might believe, before I turned around to gawp and gasp at the snake.

The snake wasn't perturbed.

It's funny, even as I was shrieking and leaping high over the snake, I'd registered that it was a dark grey/black snake - which I know aren't aggressive. (Brown snakes, on the other hand, are super-aggressive and bad news). It helped, I think, that it was the end of a super-warm day and the snake was sun-soaked and relaxed. It also helped that, for whatever reason, Indi turned to sniff it surprisingly casually as opposed to doing her usual "must bite and chew this thing", and also that neither of us accidentally trod on it.

This is the second snake I've encountered by myself in bush country (i.e., when there hasn't been another human around). Both solo snake times, my immediate-aftermath reactions have been the same - a flood of ice-cold tingles. Not goosebumps, but a wash of cold prickles. It's a very particular sensation I've never experienced in any other situation.

I took this pic of the snake. The pic has lousy resolution because I used the zoom. I wasn't going to go anywhere near it again.

It seems rather difficult to miss the snake in this photo, doesn't it? But there you go.

And there we went. Indi and I hurried back up the main driving track, pretty quickly, shaking out post-adrenalin nerves (me, not Indi), and watching frantically as every branch became a possible snake.

We looked at a couple of vantage points, and we saw this strange firepit, which made me think - well, a couple of things, actually. Firstly, it's an odd thing to have at the top of the lookout, near bush. Maybe it's a common night-time drinking spot? I don't know. But I imagine fires like this to be complete no-nos, especially as the weather warms up, but even in winter, especially dry winters like the one just gone. Secondly, I pictured Enid-Blyton-esque bad guys using the fires as signals for Up-To-No-Good Reasons.

Cue The Mystery at Hassan's Wall, and "I'd've gotten away with it if it weren't for you rotten kids".

Then Indi explored several of the different lookout points and reluctantly agreed to pose for a few pics for me (not because of ill-effects from the snake, but because she doesn't like the camera being shovelled in front of her face). But I think you'll agree she's a really photogenic girl.

The road in the background is the Great Western Highway, which goes all the way from Sydney's inner(-ish) west suburbs all the way through Sydney's greater west, over the Blue Mountains and out to Bathurst, in the country. I think this section is called "Forty Bends", and I think the township of Lithgow is on the other side of the hill.

If you must, here's the Forty Bends stretch of the highway without Indi, although she's not that impressed that I'm actually using a photo without her in it, after all the posing she had to endure.

Behind Indi here, are the Blue Mountains in the distance, easing up into the mix of occasional hills and cleared plains that characterise Hartley Vale.

Sorry the pics aren't photoshopped. I wanted to get this post up before Indi changed her mind. And - ow! - Indi's scraping her paw on my arm now to tell me that's quite enough blogging for now.

So that's enough from us for now. Hope you enjoyed our little Girls' Own Adventure.
Indi and ReeBee xx

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Tropical Flower Power Trip

I recently sent my folks in Mauritius a picture of an early cherry-blossom-type flower - a sign that spring is on its way here in Australia. They reciprocated with one of the most madly tropical of tropical-looking flowers I've ever seen, and, for good measure, they sent through a further collection of flowers, bright colours and tropical beauty.

They're so lovely, I want to share them here (with all permission, of course) for a virtual tropical flower power trip.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Twitter Tale: Rainbow Splinters in the Derriere

This is another Twitter tale that has to be read to be disbelieved. Enjoy!

Zeke the Imp didn't listen to warnings and slid the wrong way down a long rainbow. He ended up with rainbow-coloured splinters in his butt.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Tracking the Sounds of my Youth

We had a surprisingly warm Saturday back in May. It was very unusual for my late-autumn part of Oz, where winter always shows up too early.

People and their lives spilled outside all over the neighbourhood, just like they do in summer. Somewhere down the street, I could hear teenage girls giggling loudly in that carefree and self-conscious way only teenage girls can.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Twitter Tale: The Girl with the Gold Coin Earrings

The Girl with the Gold Coin Earrings is another one of my multi-tweet tales that I'm recording here for posterity - to resuscitate it from the forgotten depths of my Twitter Timeline. If you're desperately curious, my first resuscitated story is here.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Twitter Tale about Two Moose

Every so often, I enjoy using Twitter's short, 140-character platform to write up very short stories which stretch across 4-6 tweets. The stories are whimsical, whacky, off-beat and sometimes, just frankly silly.

Sometimes a fellow tweep (twitter user) or two will join in and we organically tag-team the stories, lurching them in manically, magically improbable directions. Sometimes, they degenerate into pun wars peppered with wordy brilliance. Either way, they're all in the name of creativity, word play, and bouncing off the inspiration of other people's wordy brilliances.

This is one of my solo efforts and one of my silly ones.

Monday, 5 June 2017

On Writing From the Heart

On the weekend, my old friend, K., who knows I like writing fiction, emailed me and asked for some writing advice. It was for work, she said, but not the usual dry, corporate stuff. This needed to be written from the heart.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Whines, Wines and Wins - Short Story Comp

This is a piece written for the Short Story Competition 2017, run by Wine Tourism Spain.

When I saw the deliciously quirky theme of "the possible relationship between wine and extraterrestrial life", I just had to have a go.

I hope all you Earthoomans and Extraterrestrials enjoy it!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Making Mauritius-Style Banana Cakes (Gateaux Bananes)

I mis-managed my bananas.

I got my timing all wrong and they were suddenly too ripe and too spotted and dotted to eat, and were sitting there looking at me with accusatory and reproachful looks.

Banana cake was the obvious solution. But why go the way of regular banana cake, when there's the distant call of Mauritius-style gateaux bananes (you guessed it: banana cakes). 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Book Review: Dog on it (A Chet and Bernie mystery) by Spencer Quinn

Review: Dog on it (A Chet and Bernie mystery) by Spencer Quinn
Published in Australia by Arena Books, imprint of Allen & Unwin, 2009
Spencer Quinn online and on Amazon

This book caught my eye purely because of the cover. I loved the illustration style and the look on the dog’s face. When I read on the back blurb that the story is narrated by the dog, I was sold. Stephen King’s recommendation didn’t hurt either.