Writer in Motion

Wait, I’ve just got to blow the dust and cobwebs from this old blog…there, that’s better!

So, I’ve got a new project to work on with lots of other writers, and even two editors! This time a group of us will be showing our first drafts – unpolished work, like some I’ve written on here in the dim and distant past – then we will get feedback from other writers and edit our work accordingly. We will post our revised versions as we write them and in the end you should see a polished piece of writing with the help of professional editors Carly Hayward and Jeni Chapelle.

This should be fun, and there’s eleven other writers joining in. Their blogs are listed below. You can see what they are up to on the blogs and follow our progress on twitter at #WriterInMotion

Participating Writers

K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com)

Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com)

H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com)

J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com)

Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)

Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com)

Kristen Howe  https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/

Kathryn Hewitt (that’s me!) https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/

Sean Willson (https://www.seanwillson.com/blog/)

Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com)

Talynn (inkinthebook.blogspot.com)

Ellen Mulholland (www.ellenmulholland.com)

Editors:

Jeni Chappelle https://www.jenichappelleeditorial.com/

Carly Hayward https://booklighteditorial.com/

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Writer in Motion – wrapping up

Writer in Motion – wrapping up

Yes, I have put writing this off, and not just because writers always procrastinate! As my eleven year old has been saying during his last week at primary school this week, “I don’t like the last of things”. Who wants good things to end?

I’m sure the participants will keep in touch and we’ll still have angst-ridden chats about our writing and giggles about tacos. It won’t be as intense as while we were writing, editing, critiquing, and re-writing. But the pressure will be off too.

So, what did I learn from this?

For starters, that a great group is a massive boost when you’re writing – it’s such a solitary activity, and having support is vital.

Also that people can come up with such a massive range of ideas from such a small start. I mean, I knew that, but this brought it home.

Another thing I already knew that was highlighted in this exercise, was how much easier it is to see how to improve other people’s writing compared to your own! Having said that, such intense rounds of editing and critiquing did help me identify areas I need to work on with my writing.

Having a real life editor look at my work was great too. I really appreciated Carly’s expertise in identifying the purpose of the story, and how to show that.

And I realised that however good your work is you always have times where you are sure it is terrible. More importantly, that everyone has times when they feel this.

Now, I am moving on to polish my last novel – a feminist/ Neolithic/ time-travelling /patriarchal arse-kicking /magic fantasy. And to use the story I wrote for this as a part of a new novel I am planning to write. From a short story I’m hoping to work up to an epic fantasy – daunting, but fun. I’m writing world-building ideas at the moment, and hope to start a first draft in November.

What I don’t know is whether to carry on with this blog, and what to use it for if I do. Any ideas are welcome.

Thanks to everyone who took part in Writer in Motion, or who supported us. It was such a great idea and I’d do it all over again!

To see the wrap up posts of the other writers see their blogs here –

KJHarrowickBlog 1 Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe| | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland | Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward tSheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant

Writer in Motion: Week 6

Writer in Motion: Week 6 editor’s input.

This version was written after the critique of an amazing editor – Carly Haywood. She told me to consider either making the flashback the entire story or put Dirna’s current thoughts into the memory. Here’s a snippet of her comments – 

Carly's edits

Again, it’s daunting having so much to work on. As with the critique partners comments I fixed the small or easy things first. It’s good to cross some things off a long list. Then I worked on bringing the present day into the story a little more. You can see if I succeeded below.

Time to Mourn

Dirna hated going back. During the war there hadn’t been time for anything but survival. But she needed to honour her oldest friend’s life. She wrapped her wolfskin cloak tight to keep out the cave’s coldness as she followed the glow-worm’s light. Not that she needed their guidanceshe’d created these tunnels.

She emerged by the river, gasping at the icy wind. The boat loomed, alone and grey. Grief slapped her remaining breath away, and her chest ached more the closer she got.

Her fingers stretched towards the hull, without touching the wood. Her hand shook and she stumbled back as the dizzy wave of memory reached for herthe sorrow imprinted in the splintering timber. She couldn’t do it. She wasn’t ready, but she must touch the boat to relive what she’d lost. She grasped at the wood, paint scratching under her nails.

Her tired mind punched into the bright blue day, fishing with Jarn. The freedom of the open air spun her mind after so long in the caves. Jarn grinned at her and she laughed back.

She’d forgotten how escaping the curfew sent her heart soaring into the wide sky.

They hugged the coast, hoping to stay safe, and avoid the elders. They set up their makeshift rods and stretched in the sun on the deck. Fishing lines lay still against the blue water.

That one moment; out of the war, out of time. She shook her head, and forced herself on.

A vast shadow dropped.

Only one creature was that huge.

A dragon

No matter how long it’d been since she’d seen one Dirna plunged into icy fear. Her stomach clenched as Jarn twisted round.

Dirna scrabbled for her staff. She could fight it. She’d done it before. But only with other sorcerersshe flung the thought away, she had to fight alone.

The emerald dragon snatched the boat from the water as easily as an eagle took a fish.

No!” Jarn shouted, covering Dirna.

It’s all right,” Dirna whispered, her hands shaking.

I’ve got you.” Jarn held her shoulders.

Dirna stared into his eyesher last look at him alive. She wanted to stop and pretend he still lived, pretend she’d saved him.

She raised her staff and frantically sucked in power. Jarn steadied her. The solidity of him let her concentrate on taking power from the cliffs swinging below them.

Rock crumbled into the sea, making the dragon spin around. The boat swung like a treehouse in a storm as the dragon banked.

Dirna used her spasm of fear to ratchet the magic tighter. She spun a net under the boat. Protect firstthe elder’s words screamed at her.

She bit her tongue, wanting to shriek at her past selftell her to attack, attack, attack.

She focused the strength stored in her staff at the dragon’s claws in both sides of the hull. The magic hit with a crack. The dragon gasped a vast stream of fire.

Dirna cringed to the deck with Jarn falling over her. One set of claws sprang open. The boat lurched, and Dirna clung to a chain.

Jarn fell.

Dirna leant her head on the boat. If only she’d known. If only…

She screamed as he spun past the rail, slipping past her outstretched staff with his fingers splayed. She struggled to extend the net she’d conjured to reach him. Her staff had nothing left. Before she could draw more power, Jarn hit the sea. The dragon let the boat go and dived to snatch its unprotected prey.

Dirna held the rail as her spell caught the boat, lowering it to the sea with a thwack. She cowered in a helpless ball as the dragon flew away with Jarn, limp and bloodied in its clutches. There was nothing she could dothere never was once a dragon had its prey. She yearned to slam her eyes closed, but she was transfixed by Jarn’s broken body.

Other sorcerers lined the shore. The alarm had been calledtoo late. Before they drew the boat to shore Dirna pulled the horror and the guilt from her mind and thrust it into the splintered wood. She couldn’t let it stop her fighting.

Jarn would have killed the dragons to avenge her and she would do the same for him. Numb anger swept aside her love and grief.

Dirna let the hull go and sank to the mud by the wreck, as hollow and torn as its timbers.

She’d fought the dragons. Then she’d rebuilt the town she’d founded with Jarn and the other rebels. She’d made the fairer society they’d dreamed of during the war.

Now there was time to mourn.

———————————————-

To see how everyone else is getting on click the links here –

KJHarrowickBlog 1 Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe| | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland | Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward  Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant

Writer in Motion – Week 5

Another week another edit. This time with the help of other writers. I was one of a group of three who critiqued each others work. Kristen, KJ and CoffeeQuills had some great suggestions for me–I had to show Dirna’s motivations and world a little more. Here’s a snippet of the comments they made –

WiM

It’s a little daunting seeing all the highlights and comments! I usually leave some time before launching into edits – it’s easy to either get defensive about your cherished phrases, or go too far the other way and change everything.

Of course, they were right about almost everything, and I hope I incorporated their ideas in the new version –

Time to Mourn

Dirna hated going back. The wartime had been a different world. But she needed to say goodbye to her oldest friend. She wrapped her wolfskin cloak tight to keep out the cave’s coldness. Glow-worms tracked the way, not that she needed guidance–she’d created these tunnels.

She emerged by the river, gasping at the icy wind. The boat loomed, alone and grey. Grief slapped her, and it would hurt worse the closer she got.

Her fingers stretched towards the hull, as close as possible without touching the wood. Her hand shook and she stumbled back as the dizzy wave of memory reached for her–the sorrow imprinted in the splintering timber. She couldn’t do it. She wasn’t ready, but she had to relive the memories to let the hurt go. She grasped at the flaking paint.

Her tired mind punched into the memory–a bright blue day, fishing with Jarn.

The freedom of the open air spun her mind after so long in the caves. Jarn grinned at her and she laughed back. Her hair flung with the wind as the boat skated along the waves.

They hugged the coast, hoping to escape notice from the elders as well as the dragons. The elders said they must stay hidden for fear of the dragon’s return, though no-one had seen a dragon for weeks.

They set up their makeshift rods and stretched in the sun on the deck. Their lines lay still against the blue water.

A vast shadow dropped.

Only one creature was that huge.

A dragon.

Dirna’s mind plunged into ice. Her stomach clenched as Jarn twisted round. Dirna scrabbled for her staff.

She could fight it. She’d done it before. With other sorcerers–she flung the thought away, she had to fight alone.

The emerald dragon snatched the boat from the water as easily as an eagle took a fish.

No!” Jarn shouted, covering Dirna.

It’s all right,” Dirna whispered, her hands shaking.

I’ve got you.” Jarn held her shoulders.

She raised her staff and frantically sucked in power. She stumbled on the swaying deck but Jarn steadied her. The solidity of him let her concentrate on taking power from the cliffs swinging below them.

Rock crumbled into the sea, making the dragon spin around. The boat swung like a treehouse in a storm as the dragon banked.

Dirna used her spasm of fear to ratchet the magic tighter. She spun a net under the boat. Protect first–the elder’s words screamed at her.

She focused the strength stored in her staff at the dragon’s claws. The magic hit with a crack. The dragon gasped a vast stream of fire.

Dirna cringed to the deck with Jarn falling over her. One set of claws sprang open. The boat lurched and Dirna clung to a chain.

Jarn fell.

Dirna screamed as he spun past the rail. She stretched her staff in his direction but he slipped past it with his fingers outspread. She struggled to extend the net she’d conjured to reach him, but her staff had nothing left. Before she could draw more power, Jarn hit the sea. The dragon let the boat go and dived to snatch the unprotected prey.

Dirna held the rail as her spell caught the boat, lowering it to the sea with a thwack. She cowered in a helpless ball as the dragon flew back to the mountains with Jarn in its clutches. There was nothing she could do–there never was once a dragon had its prey close. She yearned to slam her eyes closed, but she couldn’t turn away from her last sight of Jarn.

The other sorcerers lined the shore. The alarm had been called–too late. Before they drew the boat to shore Dirna pulled the horror, the grief, and the guilt from her mind and thrust it into the splintered wood. She couldn’t let it stop her fighting the war.

Jarn would have killed the dragons to avenge her and she would do the same for him. Numb anger replaced love and grief.

Dirna let the hull go and sank to the mud by the wreck, as hollow and torn as its timbers.

She’d fought the dragons. Then she’d rebuilt and protected the remnants of their life after the war ended.

Now there was time to mourn.

————————————————–

The next step is having an editor look at my work before revising it again. This is a little scary as I’ve never worked with an editor before. However, I’ve been assured that Carly Hayward is a fierce angel so I’m in good hands!

To see how everyone else is getting on click the links here –

KJHarrowickBlog 1 & Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe| | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland | Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward  Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant

Writer in Motion Week 4

Week 4 – Self- edits

It’s always hard to know where to start with editing. For this project I looked at comments people had made about the first draft – they liked the emotion mostly. So, when I read through and added notes about what to change “add more emotion” was the most common! Here’s a snippet of my notes –

Dirna finally had time. Well, she would if she could creep away with no-one finding something urgent for her to deal with.   Show motivation not tell   She stuffed some bread, nuts and water in a cloth and tied it to her staff. She left before dawn, creeping through the cold tunnels. add atmosphere/description

She came out by the river, gasping at the icy air. The boat was right there. Gulping a breath to steady her she walked right up to it. More emotion When her fingers were stretched as close to the hull as possible without touching the wood she paused. Description – tied to emotion- tired/wrecked like her life since war

In the end I added words rather than cutting them. Luckily, mine wasn’t too long to start with – but more than the original 500 word limit. I also read my work out loud as that helps highlight the clunky phrases and repetition.

Here’s the result of my first edit –

Time to Mourn

Dirna finally found time. She left before dawn, knowing no-one would be around to ask her to solve any problems. The problems never ended. She sighed as she gave a quick glance to check the tunnel was deserted. She wrapped her wolfskin cloak tight to keep out the cave’s still coldness. Glow-worms tracked the way, not that she needed guidance – she’d created these tunnels.

She came out by the river, gasping at the icy wind. The boat loomed, alone and grey. She stopped, as frozen as the rock she’d left. Grief slapped her, and it would hurt worse the closer she got. She gulped a breath and walked to the boat.

Her fingers stretched as close to the hull as possible without touching the wood. Her hand shook and she stumbled back as the dizzy wave of memory reached for her – the sorrow imprinted in the splintering timber. She couldn’t do it. She wasn’t ready.

But she had to. She touched the flaking paint.

Her tired mind punched into the memory – a bright blue day, fishing with Jarn.

Warmth wrapped her. Freedom of swimming in the open air spun her mind. Jarn grinned at her and she laughed back. Their first time out of the caves in weeks. Her hair flung out as the boat skated along the waves.

Hugging the coast, hoping to escape notice from the elders as well as the dragons, they set up their makeshift rods and stretched into the sun on the deck. They were intent on their lines, lying still against the blueness.

A vast shadow dropped on them. Dirna’s mind plunged into ice. Her stomach clenched as Jarn twisted round. Dirna scrabbled for her staff with skittering hands.

The emerald dragon snatched them from the water as easily as an eagle took a fish.

‘No!’ Jarn shouted, covering Dirna,.

‘It’s all right,’ Dirna whispered.

‘I’ve got you.’ Jarn held her shoulders.

She raised her staff and frantically sucked in power. She stumbled on the swaying deck but Jarn steadied her. The solidity of him, the rock-hard support of his faith in her made her put everything into taking power from the cliffs swinging below them.

Rock crumbled with a crash into the sea, making the dragon turn with a jerk. The boat rocked like a treehouse in a storm. The dragon banked, trying to regain its balance.

Dirna used her spasm of fear, ratcheting the magic tighter, she spun a protective net under the boat. She aimed energy at the dragon’s claws, shooting it from her staff with a crack.

The dragon gasped a vast stream of fire with a shriek that stunk of blood and rot. Dirna cringed back to the deck with Jarn falling over her. One set of claws sprang open, making the boat lurch. Dirna clung to a chain.

But Jarn fell.

Dirna screamed as he spun past the rail. Her staff stretched out but he slipped past it with his fingers outspread. She struggled to extend the magic to reach under him, but her power had depleted. Before she could reach for more Jarn hit the sea with a cry. The dragon let the boat go and dived to snatch him up.

Dirna held the rail as her protective net caught the boat, lowering it to the sea with a gentle thwack. She cowered in a helpless ball, watching the dragon flying back to the mountains with Jarn in its clutch. His face, broken and bloodied, filled her view. She yearned to shut it out, slam her eyes closed, but she couldn’t turn away from her last sight of him.

Before the other sorcerers could draw the boat to shore Dirna balled the horror, the grief, the guilt and soaked it into the splintered wood below her. She couldn’t let it stop her fighting back. Jarn would have killed the dragons to avenge her and she would do the same for him. Numb anger took the place of the love and grief.

Dirna let the hull go and sank to the mud by the wreck, as hollow and torn as its timbers.

She’d had to fight, to rebuild, to protect the remnants of their old life.

But now there was space to mourn.

————————————————————–

The next stage is getting feedback from two other writers. We are all swapping work. It is always easier to see the problems in other people’s writing. With your own work you can’t help thinking about what you meant to write rather than what you actually wrote!

To see how everyone else is getting on click the links here –

KJHarrowickBlog 1 Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe| | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland | Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward  

Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant

Writer in Motion – Week 3

Writer in Motion

Week three – first draft

I decided to go with a little snippet of backstory for an epic fantasy I’ve just started planning. I thought it through a little, but did no formal planning – as you can probably tell – it’s very rough and ready! Still, it makes a start.

Now I can think of sharpening it up, adding to the description, and cutting any unnecessary information. Next comes refining word choice, polishing sentence structure and checking spelling and grammar. Once I’ve edited it into some kind of shape I’ll post the next version.

Here’s my basic story, it’s an adult fantasy –

Time to Mourn

Dirna finally had time. Well, she would if she could creep away with no-one finding something urgent for her to deal with. She stuffed some bread, nuts and water in a cloth and tied it to her staff. She left before dawn, creeping through the cold tunnels.

She came out by the river, gasping at the icy air. The boat was right there. Gulping a breath to steady her she walked right up to it. When her fingers were stretched as close to the hull as possible without touching the wood she paused.

Was she really ready? She withdrew her hand to rub her numb face. She would never be ready. But it was time. She reached back to the wood and brushed the flaking paint.

With a lurch she was back.

A bright blue day on the sea. Fishing with Jarn. They’d shrugged worry off. No- one had seen a dragon in months. Dirna swam in that free feeling of the open air. They hadn’t been out of the caves in weeks. Hugging the coast, hoping to escape notice from the elders as well as the dragons, they set up their makeshift rods and sprawled on the deck.

They were intent on the waves. By the time the vast shadow caught them it was too late. They barely scrambled to their feet before the emerald dragon snatched them from the water as easily as an eagle took a fish. Jarn covered Dirna, letting her draw from the cliffs. She sucked in the power frantically, almost falling as she raised her staff on the swaying deck. But Jarn held her.

The rock crumbled, making the dragon start and the boat sway like a treehouse in a storm. The dragon banked, trying to regain its balance. Dirna spun a net of magic under the boat to protect them. Then she aimed a thin concentration of energy at the dragon’s claws.

It gasped a vast stream of fire that stunk of blood and rot. Dirna cringed back to the deck with Jarn crumpling over her. One set of claws in the wheelhouse sprang open, making the boat plunge. Dirna clung to a chain.

But Jarn fell.

Dirna screamed as he spun past the rail. He was flung past her net. She tried to extend the magic under him, but the shot at the dragon had depleted her power. Before she could reach for more Jarn hit the sea. The dragon let its other claw go and dived to snatch him up.

Dirna held the rail as her protective net caught the boat, lowering it to the sea with a gentle thwack. When she could stand she could only watch the dragon flying back to the mountains with Jarn, broken in its clutch.

Before the other sorcerers could draw the boat back to shore Dirna balled the horror, the grief, the guilt and soaked it into the splintered wood below her. She had to let it go so it wouldn’t stop her fighting back. Beating the dragons that killed her best friend.

Dirna let her arm fall and sank to the mud by the wreck. She’d had to help the others rebuild. She’d been one of the few left.

But now she could mourn.

                                     —————————————————————————–

To see how the others are getting on take a look at the blogs here –

K. J. Harrowick (Blog 1 & Blog 2) | Jen Karner | H.M. Braverman | J.M. Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe  | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn | Ellen Mulholland |

And the editors blogs here – Jeni Chappelle | Carly Hayward

After Writer In Motion started, a bunch of other great writers joined us. Follow them and their processes from idea to edited work here –

Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant

Writer in Motion – week 2

This is where it starts! We have been given the prompt for our writing – this picture –


Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

See more details on Jeni Chappelle’s blog at – https://www.jenichappelleeditorial.com/post/wim-week-2

So, I wrote the first words and ideas that came into my head after seeing the picture – from the simple “boat” and “stars” to the more idea-provoking “Steampunk – fly to the moon” and “retired adventurers”. Then I stopped. Time to think things through and let ideas percolate for a while.

I do my best (or most prolific) thinking lying in bed just before sleep or first thing in the morning. And, no – controversially – I don’t write these ideas down at the time! I figure if they are good or important enough they will stick in my mind when I’m ready to write. Maybe I’ve lost a few things this way, but it seems to work for me.

I have scribbled my two best ideas down now, but I will sit on them for a day or two to plan out a story in my head – at least getting the setting and main character sorted out. So far I have a cheesy Grandpa telling the grandkids a story about his adventures, and a backstory for the epic fantasy novel I’m currently planning.

When I’ve decided which to go for I’ll sit and write as it comes into my head. Sometimes it’s what I’ve thought out in advance but often it winds off in another direction. This is my favourite part of writing, where the ideas just take over and you plunge into a new world, not knowing where it will take you. The hard work of shaping it comes later.

If you want to shadow us and write your own work check out the twitter hashtag – #WriterInMotion. To see what the other Writers in Motion are planning in response to the prompt see their blogs at –

K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com)

  1. Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com)

  2. H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com)

  3. J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com)

  4. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)

  5. Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com)

  6. Kristen Howe  https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/

  7. Kathryn Hewitt (it’s me!) https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/

  8. Sean Willson (https://www.seanwillson.com/blog/)

  9. Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com)

  10. Talynn Lynn (inkinthebook.blogspot.com)

  11. Ellen Mulholland (www.ellenmulholland.com)

The Cobweb

Oh dear, it’s been a while since I posted. I’ll try to get back into it now. I have to do something with all my ideas!

 

december015

The Cobweb

Coe stood on the veranda and gazed along the strand. The next town down the line glittered and others shimmered beyond it. The strands radiating from the hub behind Coe all had strings of towns shining with their own light and life. Some were tall and silvery, others were sprawls of multicolour. All different, all beautiful.

Coe loved the web but could take no joy in it this evening. No muses had landed near this side of the hub for some time and Coe needed one. There was no spark, no rush of warmth and inspiration. Coe was flat and empty. There had to be a muse soon.

Moving onto the garden Coe rubbed hands together and stared up and out of the web. There! It was a small speck but it was getting bigger. Coe peered at it. There was a faint but growing buzz. It was coming straight at Coe.

The lights had blinded the muse and it plunged straight into the web. It landed on the strand at Coe’s feet. Caught and struggling to move. Coe’s fangs popped out, and plunging at the figure, they sunk into it. Coe fed.

Others soon came to the muse but Coe was now full. Straightening up Coe fizzed as the ripples of the muse’s power flowed. Coe had it now. Inspiration. How to make the house, the garden, more beautiful. What to write, paint and sculpt. Coe stretched, staring at the hub, watching the flurry of activity as everyone rushed off full of creativity. Coe savoured the feeling, not hurrying. The muses entrapment powered the cities and towns. Sparked the glow of the cobweb.

Behind Coe the muse staggered to its feet. Blearily it moved towards the centre of the hub. It had dull eyes and heavy limbs but it somehow knew where to go. Coe knew that the other muses would take the shell in, give it work. Muses had no spark left but could do simple tasks; cleaning, digging, cooking.

Coe turned to the house, needing to use the powers. But another buzz came from above. It rumbled louder than the muse. Coe turned back to see a massive shadow followed by a flock of others. Coe saw the bird’s long beak. It headed for the hub. It dived and hit the hub, the web. Strands shook, some broke and flew up taking the towns with them. The cobweb began to splinter, towns flying off.

Coe saw the hummingbirds all hit the cobweb. They ripped it apart. Shredded the strands. Destroyed the pattern. Shining towns plunged, screaming down. Spinning like falling stars in the night.

Coe clung to the doorway, unable to do anything. Towns and cities came to rest on the ground, sprinkled over the land any old way. The hub with them. Coe lay quivering. What would they do with no web. No muses.

The hummingbirds hovered overhead.

‘Find your own inspiration web-dwellers. You may not steal from others ever more,’ the largest bird hummed. Coe felt the words vibrate. The birds turned together and flew away leaving the web-dwellers bereft.

Coe couldn’t think, could hardly breathe. What could they do without that spark of life? Coe stared into the night. Dark and unknown.

Then Coe saw. The dark was full of lights. Stars sparkled. The air smelt sweet and tasted cold. Coe felt the earth. Coe felt the familiar ripple of joy. Coe was alive. Coe’s joy spread. Creativity was in the earth, the air. It was in Coe.

The Numbers

The Numbers

Maya stood by a vast brick wall watching the numbers fly round her head, scattering like insects when she put a hand out towards them. How was she going to get one? Which one? She ran along the rough floorboards into the middle of the warehouse-like room and sprang into the cloud of numbers. They shot away from her hand and she was left with an empty fist. She whirled along with them snatching as she went. They flew so fast she was almost dancing in the dusty beams of sunshine that lit the numbers. She decided to go with that and simply danced with them, not trying to catch any for a time. She laughed with joy at the dance, and the tickle of them as they brushed her fingers. They came closer, then flew away as she darted round the room.

In the end she sat puffing on the floor with her legs and arms crossed. She watched the flying numbers dart up to her, then zoom away again making no noise. She sat silent and still. They came closer. She breathed slowly, nearly motionless. They spun above her head then spiralled down from the high ceiling towards her. They drifted down over her eyes and mouth, past her chest and started to circle her arms. With a snap she flung her hand out and pulled a number from the air.

‘Yes!’ she said and jumped up. The other numbers flittered away; their flock broken. The number Maya had felt smooth and cool. It was an odd dully metallic bronze colour and its surface was unmarked. She clutched it to her chest and walked out of the room with a bounce, making for the control room.

‘Hey! You did it,’ Bran said, a wide smile spreading over his thin white face when he saw her enter the little room. Trey got up from the big wooden table and hugged Maya quietly to her red checked shirt. Maya kissed her brown cheek and looked round the others. They sat at the table, each with a number in front of them.

‘Right. Now we have them all,’ Silver said. She had 4; the captain’s number. Bran had the comm’s number; 2. Trey was number 6, the second in charge. Sarra, had number 3 for defence. Geo was maintenance and supplies; number 1.

‘Number 5,’ Maya said. ‘What’s that?’ she asked.

‘Come on. You know what’s left; navigator,’ said Geo with a sigh, pushing back a black curl.

‘Oh yes! Right. Time to try them out?’

The other crew all agreed and took their numbers to the machine.

The brass ball stood outside in the courtyard, almost filling it. They stood in a ring around it. Geo took their number. It was silver and shining. They fitted it into the niche in front of them with a click. Bran’s wooden gleaming number 2 slotted into the ball with a clunk. Sarra’s 3 was a soft red plastic and fitted with a thump. Silver’s number 4 was rough and golden, it clanged as she pushed it into the ball. Maya lifted her number 5 and put it into its place with a tap. Trey put her white stone number 6 into the ball, and they all stood back, waiting.

For a moment nothing happened. Then the ball whirred. It lifted slightly, a thin black line of a crack showing in the smooth sides. The crew gathered by the line and saw it split round and open up. A door fell open at their feet leading up a ramp to a shadowy inside. A slight smell of musk and orange puffed out.

‘Time to go,’ said Silver looking round the small group.

‘Aye, the voyage to The Tree starts here,’ Maya said, and stepped up the metal walkway.

Night Walk

This week’s story is a bit gruesome. Not suitable for any but the hardest hearted children!

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Night Walk

Some folks may be scared of the dark but I like it. As I say to the grandkids I’ve got big enough eyes to see better than anyone else.

‘What big eyes you’ve got Grandma!’ they shout at me.

‘All the better for seeing naughty little children in the night.’ I reply. That always gets them collapsing into giggling heaps. I tell them there’s no need to worry about the dark, no one can see you in the night. I don’t tell them my night sight is so good because me Mam forced me to eat so many carrots. There’s some things best not talked about. Anyhow, it did me some good at least.

Once I stood at the bottom of the dene watching the stars above the treetops. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of movement, I turned to see this man come towards me down the path. I stayed still. I thought he’d walk past but he mustn’t’ve seen me. He ran right into me! I said nothing, best not to let them know you’re a woman. He bumped past me, yelped, then ran up that hill like his arse was on fire. That gave me a right laugh.

I always gave Bonnie her second walk late at night. Through the quiet streets, peering in through any un-curtained windows on my way. The telly was always shining blue into their living rooms, they never saw anything outside. Never even knew I was there watching everything they did, safe in my darkness. Just like I sat in the hall when I was a kid. Watching the telly through the glass of the door, from the darkness. Mam and Dad never knew I was there. The dark was safety to me even then. Folk these days hardly see further than their noses. You could get away with murder, they’d never look up from their screens.

I only had Bonnie in the house with me now. The others had all left, died or got families of their own, living their own lives. Then my Bonnie became ill. Her glossy golden fur was dull and her skin red underneath. I couldn’t look into her sad brown eyes staring up at me. It was a simple allergy, the vet told me when I’d scraped the pennies together to take her to see him. The food she needed wasn’t so simple. More like scarily expensive.

One morning I got talking to another dog walker I knew, we’re a chatty lot. Steve his name was, he had a big brown labrador called Amber at his feet. He told me all about raw feeding, he reckoned it was good for them eating great hunks of meat. You didn’t even need to cook it. Well, it would be a bit cheaper than the vet’s special stuff but it wasn’t exactly in my budget. I had to get her well again somehow. I’d do anything for her. Anything.

Maybe that’s what gave me the idea; the man bumping into me in the dark, never seeing me until it was too late. Not knowing who I was in the blackness. I’d never done anything wrong in my life. The odd lie, that was it. Mam and Dad made sure I was good. I never dared go against them. But they’d long gone. So had Freddie now. The worst I’d done to him was to tell the odd lie, and that was only to keep me and the kids safe. I’d never dared say anything against him, never dared leave.

That night Amber came trotting up to Bonnie, having a good sniff. Steve walked behind her slowly with a torch to light the path in front of him. It shone in a narrow glaring pool. I scorned torches. They ruin your night vision, I always say it’s best to rely on your own eyes. I skirted the path, it was wide here with a soft grassy edge and I could keep out of the light easily. I had my soft pumps on, they are quiet and Steve never knew I was there. Until it was too late.

I’d prepared well and I had Dad’s old cleaver in my bag. He’d taught me all he knew when I was a kid of eight or nine. He would slip off down the pub and leave me in the shop cutting meat for the customers. I’d done it for years. It was a long time ago now, but you never forget do you? Not when it’s been beaten into you so hard.

I got Steve from behind, it took one well aimed cut and he was down. He fell as quiet as I’d crept up to him. Easy as chopping up a bit of lamb.

I had a carrier to take a bit back home for Bonnie. The rest I cut up and took off the path to the old badger sett. I knew the dene like the back of my hand, maybe better. I’m down there twice a day regular as clockwork after all. I know where the old holes the badgers had dug in the bank are. Easy to fill a couple, shove the loose earth back over the holes and scoop a few old leaves over the top. The dogs cleaned up any mess on the path. They are tidy animals when it comes to meat are dogs. Of course I had two dogs to feed now but there was plenty to go round. Amber was good company for Bonnie and we made a lovely little family.

I gradually took all the stored meat home to the freezer and the dogs thrived. The grandkids loved Amber, and we were all as fit as fleas. But of course the meat ran out eventually. So what could I do? Luckily the nights were still dark, it would be harder in the middle of summer. I managed the same as before and the badger setts were soon full. I made sure to fill my freezer before the hot weather made it turn. Folks would likely think the smell was a dead fox or something but it would mean less food for the dogs if I let it go bad. I’d got another dog to add to the family now too. I couldn’t let the poor thing run free could I?

My son made sure to come to talk to me after the third man went missing, warning me not to walk the dogs at night.

‘Who knows what could happen Mam,’ he said. Of course I smiled and nodded and carried on the same old way. As long as I could see them in the dark before they saw me I was fine.

By the middle of Winter I’d got a small pack of dogs and it got harder and harder to feed them. Even the men were wary of walking out at night now so many had gone missing. They’d not turned up any remains, I’d made sure of that, but the whole town was nervous. They couldn’t all have run away, could they? The daytime dog walkers gathered in little groups along the path down the dene chatting nervously. We all knew some of the missing ones and everyone was talking about them.

Then I made my mistake. It wasn’t the next man that was the trouble. They never saw me before I’d seen them. The dark wrapped round me keeping me safe. The dogs were all thin and hungry this time. We’d not seen anyone out after dark for weeks and I was getting desperate. I couldn’t lose my family now after all the trouble I’d taken over them. I hoped we’d find someone soon.

I took the whole lot of dogs out this time. I’d been taking three at a time so they didn’t give me away to my victims. But their whining might make the neighbours worry while I was out. I couldn’t risk some busybody calling the RSPCA. To be honest I wasn’t very hopeful of finding anyone, and my knees ached with the cold. I wasn’t getting any younger.

I stopped to watch a young man right at the bottom of the dene in the dark with his phone. He’d got a can of beer he was slurping, and he was shouting into his phone asking his friends where they were. They’d played a trick on the poor sod and left him alone down there. Only the trees, his beer and the river for company. And me.

He swore down the phone and shoved it back in his pocket, turning to go. He turned into my cleaver. But I slipped on the ice of the path as I swung my arm and the blade glanced over his shoulder. He shoved me and ran away shouting his silly head off. My knees twisted and I landed on the glassy path. There was a crack from a puddle and a wrenching pull in my leg. I’d cut my knees and hands, and sprained my muscles. I crouched there panting like one of the dogs.

Then I realised the dogs were all around me. They could see so much better than me in the night. They had much better tools.

‘Oh Bonnie, what big teeth you’ve got.’

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