Gone: A Short Story

This was first published in What the Dickens! Magazine (Issue 2), based on a prompt from Issue 1. It’s a sweet and slightly sad tale, not my usual evil variety. Let me know what you think 🙂

Gone

Grandad Terry crawls out from underneath the bunk-beds. ‘It’s no good, love,’ he says, taking a scrunched up handkerchief from his trouser pocket and wiping the sweat off his forehead. ‘I can’t find the damn thing anywhere.’ His bones crack as he gets to his feet. ‘You’ll just have to tell them.’

‘I can’t,’ I say. ‘They’ll be devastated.’

‘I know, love. But they’ll have to find out some time. We can’t keep on pretending.’

‘Maybe I can say he’s gone on holiday?’ I say, rubbing at my eyes and pretending I’m not about to cry.

‘Hmm,’ he says. ‘That might work. For a little while anyway.’

‘Just until we can go to the pet shop…’

He nods. He doesn’t know I’ve already phoned the pet shop. They’ve only got pure white ones in. Morris is ginger with one white ear. They’re phoning round for me, trying to find one.

‘Can’t you just tell them the truth?’

‘No!’ I shake my head, fast. ‘They’ll say it’s my fault.’

‘But it is your fault!’ Grandad Terry says, loud. Making me jump. Then he smiles and says: ‘Sorry, love. You know it’s not your fault.’

It is my fault though. He was sleeping when mum went out. ‘Look after the twins,’ she’d said, adding: ‘and your grandad,’ as she walked out the door, blowing me a kiss as she went. She looked sad. Grandad Terry’s told the twins she’s gone on holiday. I’ll just tell them Morris has gone to join her and they’ll both be back soon.

‘When’s mum coming back?’ I ask, feeling more tears getting ready to escape, trying hard to suck them back in.

Grandad Terry just shakes his head. He looks sad now too. ‘I don’t know, love,’ he says. ‘I just don’t know.’

 [to be continued???]

Happy New Year – Happy New Writing

Hello again…

Well after a flying start at the end of last year, I’ve become a bit slack with the blog… sorry about that! At the end of November I had intended to write about my experiences of NaNoWriMo, but I felt so drained after it that I ended up not writing much at all… So what happened? I bailed. Yup, I’m a NaNoWriMo ‘loser’ so I don’t get the winners’ badge. But am I bothered? Not really.

NaNoWriMo – NO!

It started off well with words flying from all directions. I had an outline of the whole book and it changed and grew with every word I wrote, and for a lot of the time, I enjoyed it (anything that can get me out of bed at 7am has to be a good thing, right?). But then I had a bad day. Then I picked it up again. I even wrote a chapter from my sister’s spare room while I was away for the weekend, ensconced in a house with an unruly toddler and a screaming baby (both of whom, I LOVE, by the way…) But then I had another bad day. Really bad. I wrote, but the words weren’t making sense anymore. I was rushing to the finish line, words came out jumbled and wrong and there were too many plot holes and ridiculous coincidences and I started to HATE my main character and everyone else around her.

So at 40,000 words I made the decision to stop. I had two choices: break my neck trying to bang out the remaining 10,000 words over two days to reach the goal and become a ‘winner’, sacrificing my enjoyment of writing and any hopes of the novel being readable OR just stop, put it away, and be happy with the achievement of writing 40,000 in 28 days, which by most people’s standards makes me a winner of sorts anyway. It was certainly the most I’ve ever written, and the furthest I’ve got with a draft novel. I haven’t re-read anything that I wrote yet. I know that a lot of it is toe-curlingly bad, but I still think it has legs. So for now it’s been stuffed into the virtual bottom drawer, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

So the day after ditching the ‘novel’, I wrote something else. A story called ‘As Black As Snow’ for the first edition of the fabulous What The Dickens! Magazine. It starts on Page 25 if you want to read it 🙂

Then I did pretty much nothing in December, although I did manage a post at my usual haunt, The Black Flag.

Then two things happened: I won a writing diary in an online competition on Mslexia, then I got sent a free book from a publisher after I tweeted about the author’s previous one (it’s not released yet, so I’ll keep that one quiet for now – I plan to review it very soon). I don’t usually win things, so I was pretty excited about both of these 🙂

THEN I spotted a link to Cara Michaels’ WIP500, a new challenge for 2012 with the aim of encouraging writers to produce 500 words a day – every day – for the whole year. Yup – that’s 183,000 words. The thing about this though, is that it can be on any Work In Progress (WIP), not just on one thing like NaNoWriMo. I decided it was the challenge I needed. So far it has yielded me two 100 words stories (you can read them on my Facebook page), plus a new Black Flag post here, half of a story that I intend to submit to an anthology and a story called ‘The Advert’ for Morgen Bailey’s Flash Fiction Friday which will be posted (fittingly) on Friday 13th Jan.

WHEW! ANYTHING ELSE?

YES! I was awarded an honourable mention in the Five Stop Story October/Halloween competition, and I am still waiting to hear about a story I entered in Writing Magazine‘s 1000 word story competition – fingers crossed (but I’m not holding my breath on that one – the competition is usually very fierce). They did, however, print a letter I sent to them about a couple of articles I read in the last issue. It was a lovely surprise when I opened the magazine this evening and saw my byline 😉

IS THAT IT NOW? JEEZ…

One last thing… I’ve met loads of lovely writers on Twitter since I started frequenting the place in mid-October… and I am now contributing to a joint blog called The Pyjama Club. It’s fun – come and have a look 🙂

Oh wait, one more… I managed to blag obtain a review copy of a great new book by Nicola Morgan by chatting her up nicely on Twitter (again, not yet published – but I will write a review when it is). I am hoping it’s going to be my saving grace for my entry into this year’s CWA Debut Dagger competition (which I haven’t written yet, but I seem to write better with looming deadlines… maybe I should become a tabloid reporter?)

That’s it now… I think… Must get back to today’s 500 words (or more – I think it might be more… A whole novel outline presented itself to me while I drove home tonight…)

Speak to you again soon(ish)!

Susi x

P.S. I think I might go to CrimeFest this year… do a bit of literary mingling 🙂