Tag Archives: Michael D. Griffiths

Shoot for the Moon 2016 Challenge – January Roundup

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Mhairi Simpson, and I have set ourselves some crazy writing-related goals over the last several moonyears with variable results. But I have found the experience so very helpful in keeping my focus throughout the year, it was a no-brainer as to what I’d be doing as 2015 sputtered to a close in a flurry of fireworks. So what goals have I set for 2016?

• Publish the Sunblinded trilogy
As some of you know, I was all set to go with this target, having planned to release Running Out of Space in time for Fantasycon 2015 at the end of October – and fell at the last hurdle because I had major problems formatting the book to a suitable standard. And then was ill throughout November with a dreadful cold that would not lift – chiefly due to exhaustion.

However, my clever son has sorted out the formatting issues for me, so I’m hoping to have both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space released together in the first half of 2016, followed by the final book in the trilogy, Breathing Space, in the autumn. I have learnt my lesson, though. No spreading the word about release dates until I have everything set up and ready to go!
It was huge breakthrough to understand what went so wrong and why – not something I’m going to bore you with, seeing as it’s an arcane techie niggle. But it means I should not run into the same problems again!

• Write the first draft of Bloodless, my space opera crime novel, featuring Jezell Campo, my protagonist who features in The Sunblinded Trilogy
I have the plot outline sorted out and I’m going to have a go at writing this one, while editing Dying for Space and Breathing Space. It may not work as I’m the ultimate monotasker, but I won’t know until I try, will I?

• Complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the novel my writing pal, Michael Griffiths, and I started in 2014. We still haven’t managed to finish it, but perhaps this will be the year when we can get it completed. It’s not a priority as we both have plenty else to be getting on with.

• Complete Picky Eaters
This is the novella that mushroomed from my short story, published at Every Day Fiction longer ago than I care to think. Another story that wouldn’t rest in my head until I completed the whole tale… While reading it to the grandchildren over the Christmas holidays, I realised there were another couple of plotpoints that needed tidying up, so I have it pencilled into my editing schedule during the summer when I’m not teaching, to have a go at getting it to a publishable standard. All being well, I intend to see if I can self-publish it at the start of December.

• Edit Miranda’s Tempest
This is one of the successes of last year. This novel has been burning a hole in my brain for the best part of a year, after I made a couple of false starts. When teaching The Tempest, I always felt that Miranda sailing off to marry Prince Ferdinand was never going to work – she’s been running around an enchanted island in her father’s cutdown robes since she was a toddler, which simply will not prepare her for surviving life as a 15th century Italian princess. And I finally managed to complete it while I was ill during November, given that I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t seem to concentrate on reading. I now need to knock it into shape so I can send it out to some agents.
I am working through it right now, as it still won’t leave me alone. I’m more than halfway through the manuscript and so far have lost 8 pages as I’m tightening it up and ensuring the language is appropriate for the Shakespearean period. It’s a balancing act to keep the feel of the language without too many forsooths and I prithees cluttering up the narrative drive…

• Submit Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above
While submitting my work still happens in fits and starts, rather than the smoothly rolling process I’d planned in theory, it hadn’t been completely discouraging. A number of agents requested to see the full manuscript of Mantivore Dreams and said nice things about my writing. Meanwhile Netted is under consideration by a publisher. I don’t want to say more at this stage, but I plan to send out Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above as soon as they are suitably shiny and good to go.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
As 2015 was the second year in a row that I nailed this challenge, I’ve decided to fine-tune it. While I don’t want to extend the number of books I read and review, I am going to apply for more Netgalley ARCs and read and review more new releases. There is a real buzz about doing this – and as reading is my main hobby, increasing the excitement and fun can only be a good thing. I’ve also already signed up to the Discovery Challenge, thanks to Joanne Hall’s thoughtful post – read it here – which is to read and review at least one female author I haven’t read before per month, then report back in a specific blog, which should keep me on the ball…
I wrote 12 reviews during January, which came to just over 10,915 words. Half the books I completed were by authors I hadn’t previously read and five were new releases. I don’t think for a second that I shall be able to sustain those shiny stats – the slew of new releases were affordable due to Amazon vouchers and book tokens as Christmas gifts. But I am hoping to be able to continue to read and review at least two female authors new to me every month.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
I have next year’s courses sorted out, but during the second half of the term I will be submitting them for approval to Northbrook College. I really would like to have the course notes and plans written by the end of the summer holidays, and so long as I work hard, that should be doable.
So far this term is going well – although a number of students have gone down with various bugs and illnesses and I’ll be glad when they have all recovered!

• Work on the teaching syllabus for TW
Since taking on teaching my friend’s son, County have given the go-ahead for the current situation to prevail. So we are now getting organised to start teaching him the English GCSE syllabus and I will be taking responsibility for the planning and delivery of both the English Language and Literature. This is hugely challenging – but also extremely exciting as only a few years ago, no one would have thought he would be in a position to consider taking such qualifications due to his autism.
This is, obviously, going to take priority as it becomes necessary.

• Continue to improve my fitness
I suffered a major back injury back in early 2005, which left me with ongoing sciatica that meant I was a constant visitor to the Physio. Doubtless spending hours in front of the computer aggravated the situation, but I found I couldn’t go on long walks, swim or spend an undue amount of time gardening. Then last year, Mhairi suggested I get a TENS machine to see if it would improve the nerve pain during yet another flare-up that was making my life a misery. It worked! Last June, I spent the day at Kew Gardens for my birthday treat, walking up the stairs in the Palm House and around the grounds without so much as a twinge.
I’ve now been signed off by the Physio and am on my second course of Pilates – yay! Himself and I have also started hiking again, albeit gently. But it’s marvellous – I feel I’ve got my life back. My ambition is to resume my regular swims, which I used to enjoy and increase the distance I can walk. And in case you’re wondering how this impacts my writing – it’s huge. I used to battle through the nerve pain to write, and now I don’t have to, it is such a wonderful relief…

Those are my 2016 Shoot for the Moon Challenges. Wish me luck!

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Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – How Did I Do?

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Thanks to the success of this form of goal-setting, concocted by writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and moonme one New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago when we were slightly the worse for wear – this has now become an integral part of my writing process. The theory is that I set myself some crazily ambitious targets and while striving for those, achieve more than I would have done, had I been more sensible. Um. Yes, I know… But it made sense at the time, when you consider we were both rather the worse for wear – and it has proved to be a very successful strategy for improving my productivity. Question is, did I achieve my targets for 2015?

• The Challenge – Publish Running Out of Space
Nope. This was a decided fail and when it happened, felt like a devastating blow. I had intended – and announced – that I would self publish Running Out of Space, Book 1 of The Sunblinded in time for Fantasycon at the end of October. And I was fully geared up to do so – but fell at the very last fence due to a major glitch in getting it formatted. It was a nightmare, with the clock ticking and convinced it would only take one more major effort, I pulled three 20-hour days in a row trying to get it right. Only to face the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen – unless I shrugged my shoulders and let those occasional bolding/italicization errors remain. I was tempted. Truly. But when I went back to the uploaded version on my Kindle, I felt vaguely sick every time I flipped through the pages and came to those particular passages and knew that feeling would intensify tenfold if I took the decision to publish with those errors in place. So I took the decision not to do so and set off for Fantasycon without having Running Out of Space live and available. It hurt. So much so, that I woke up on the last day of the conference with a heavy head cold that lasted six weeks – and I think the fact it lasted so long was due to exhaustion, both physical and emotional.
However, I take comfort from the knowledge that I made the right decision – and that if I had gone ahead and published Running Out of Space with those errors in place, I would have bitterly regretted it.

• The Challenge – Complete first draft of Miranda’s Tempest
Yes – I managed to achieve this one. Ironically when I was so ill throughout November, I couldn’t sleep much or read – but the one thing that alleviated the misery was writing. So I dived back into this world which has been burning a steady hole in the back of my brain since I started it over a year ago and couldn’t get it right. I went back to the beginning and did a major rewrite, then powered on until I completed the manuscript. It is the most ambitious book I’ve attempted to date.
When teaching Shakespeare’s The Tempest as part of the GCSE syllabus, I always wondered about poor little Miranda. She has been running around an enchanted island, playing with spirits since she was three-years-old. And now, engaged to Prince Ferdinand of Naples, she is sailing off to become a 16th century princess in an Italian court. I never saw that one ending well… So I wrote her adventures, first as a short story, and then when the idea still wouldn’t leave me alone, made a start on the novel. I feel delighted I’ve managed to finish the first draft and am currently working on fine-tuning it, ready for submission.

• The Challenge – complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the book my pal Michael Griffiths and me started writing a while ago, now. We are really, truly now on the last lap – but Mike has a new baby, so it is not a surprise that this one is still on the backburner. But the nice thing about this project is that it has been written in amongst all our individual writing activities, so if it takes a tad longer before it sees the light of day – so be it. It’s a bonus any way you look at it.

• The Challenge – Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
Done. Actually, I wrote 108 reviews, after reading 121 books, so I only achieved it by the skin of my teeth. This is the one target I haven’t bothered to strive for – I enjoy writing book reviews and I read for pleasure. It was a target I’d set in 2014 and achieved, so there was no point in changing it. But if I hadn’t met it, I wouldn’t have been unduly worried.

• The Challenge – Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for 2015/16
Done. I didn’t manage to get the courses written during the summer, as I had wanted, because I was busy on the final edits of Running Out of Space. In addition I was also very busy Grannying, which tends to drive a coach and horse through all my writing schedules. But I had a successful teaching year, with some new tweaks to make the classes more interactive which have proved popular and I’m pleased to say that both current courses are full.

• The Challenge – Submit Mantivore Eyes and Netted
Those of you kind enough to closely follow my blog will know this has been a major block for me – I am reasonably productive, but not terribly good at getting my work ‘out there’. I resolved to submit my work to at least 50 agents. And no – I didn’t achieve those numbers, BUT I did send out both manuscripts and received a number of nicely worded rejections along the lines of ‘this one isn’t for us, but please bear us in mind for your next project…’ and both manuscripts are currently under consideration.

Overall, despite the mess-up with Running Out of Space, it was a successful year for my writing. And the very good news is that my clever son managed to untangle the formatting issue for me over the Christmas holidays. As for my 2016 targets – I will be posting those at the end of January.

Dragon’s Loyalty Award

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I am delighted to accept Charles French’s nomination for the wonderfully named Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Charles French’s Words Reading and Writing blog is subtitled ‘And exploration of writing and reading’ which nicely sums up his whole approach, so it’s not a surprise that he is rapidly growing in popularity with his series of readable and informative articles that he publishes. He is also has a delightfully friendly, inclusive approach which guarantees a dragonawardwarm welcome to any passing visitor. If you haven’t already dropped in, I recommend you do so.

Meanwhile I have this Dragon Loyalty Award, thanks to Charles. The rules are:-

* Display the award certificate on your website.

* Announce your win with a post, and link to whomever presented your award.

* Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.

* Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post.

* Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So, my 15 nominees are:-

Mhairi Simpson – Crazy Creative

Lizzie Baldwin – My Little Book Blog

Sara Letourneau’s Official Website & Blog

Michael D. Griffiths – Yig Prime

Joanna Maciejewska – Melfka

Sophie E. Tallis

Leiah Cooper – So I Read This Book Today

From Couch to Moon

Anastasia – Read and Survive

Zeke Teflon – Rip-roaring reviews

D. Parker – yadadarcyyada

Ionia Martin – Readful Things Blog

Siamese Mayhem – Musings on YA novels and pop culture

Humanity’s Darker Side – A book review blog

Dr Suzanne Conboy-Hill

Seven Interesting Things About Me – hm… it’s debatable whether the facts below are remotely interesting, but I tried to dredge up details many of my online friends wouldn’t necessarily know about me.

1. I spent a chunk of my childhood in Zambia, and when living with my grandparents I first flew unaccompanied from England to visit my parents in Africa when I was 8.

2. As a left-hander, I turn the paper sideways and write from top to bottom, a strategy I adopted at school to avoid smudging my writing.

3. I’m a writing addict and if I go more than 3 days without putting keyboard to paper, I turn a tad unreasonable.

4. I was born on a Wednesday and so were both of my children and my granddaughter.

5. I am the ultimate monotasker – the multi-tasking skill women are supposed to be endowed with has completely by-passed me.

6. I’m an insomniac.

7. I visualise each of my books as colours when I’m writing them.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – April Roundup

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At the end of last year, I and Mhairi Simpson decided to aim for insanely ambitious targets, using the theory that in an effort to achieve them, we would get more done than if we had been more sensible in our goal-setting. It does make more sense as a strategy at 3 am after having downed several mugs of strong Assam – really… So how are things working out?

  • I am giving myself a rest from editing both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space as I’d got to a point where I couldn’t see the story for the words… Challenge – have both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space completed, including edits, by the end of April – In Progress.
  • I wrote 12 reviews in April and am now posting something on my blog every day – including my reviews. Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews in 2014 on my blog. For the 4th month in a row, this target is on track…
  •  My Summer Term Creative Writing courses started this week, so I am still working on the related admin. In April, I ran a Therapeutic Life Writing 1 day course with a colleague, who is also a trained counsellor – it was an amazing roller-coaster experience, and we have had some very positive feedback so now want to make it a regular occurrence for those who attended. Challenge – to run our 1 Day Therapeutic Life Writing course. Lyn and I have been working on this for over a year and were excited about its power to help people in a difficult place emotionally. I am very proud that we successfully started this project – and I couldn’t wish for a better partner. Achieved and ongoing.
  • West Sussex Writers ran a national Short Story competition with a 3,000 word limit – no, I didn’t submit (more on that later…). As a member of the committee, I was part of the reading team tasked with compiling the long list, so during April ended up reading fifty-something short stories and marking them. It has taken up a lot of time, as obviously, it isn’t something to be rushed. Our team have now completed the first read-through, and will shortly be working on the long list. Challenge – to read and mark entries for the West Sussex Writers’ National Short Story Competition. In Progress.
  • I am team-writing a book with author Michael D. Griffiths moon– we started a crazy thread when we both were members of SFReader.com and found that we thoroughly enjoyed the fact that when we write together, we produce something completely different from our normal output. This was a book we started a couple of years ago – since then Life has intruded and we haven’t managed to complete it as fast as we would have liked. But Chaos in New Cluster is now approaching the final climax and I am working on Chapter 21. Hope to have it back to Mike within the next couple of weeks. Challenge – to finish the first draft of Chaos in New Cluster during 2014. In Progress.
  • I undertook to submit all my short fiction and poetry to magazines or competitions and this month I’ve failed AGAIN. Miserably… I MUST knuckle down and put in the hours it takes to comb through and find suitable markets, then edit/adjust my work accordingly. AND SEND IT OUT! Challenge – to submit all my short fiction and poetry to magazines or competitions. Failed AGAIN!!

During April, I wrote a paltry 15,000 words, most of which were book reviews, taking my yearly total to a mere 88,500 words. Have to say, I’ve been trudging towards the computer these last couple of weeks as the admin tasks have stacked up. So instead of being all sensible about clearing the decks, etc – after writing this, my instinct is just to plunge into Breathing Space as the buzz of writing will probably mean I’ll power through the admin that at present seems like a dreary slog.

The Adventures of Mike and SJ – Episode 12

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

Honestly. It’s enough to make a woman give up and go home! Except that half the Met police force will be double-parked outside my little cottage, waiting for us to show up…

I mean – how often do you get the producer of Dr Who make an offer of employment? It could’ve been a real opportunity.

londonstreetBut no – Jack has to attempt to shove the soundman’s big fluffy mic up the guy’s left nostril. And why? Because when the bloke offered Jack Billy Piper’s autograph, Jack figured that Billy was a boy – and to use his own words, ‘Figured the durn waste’ve skin an’ air took me fer some kinda homo that were lookin’ fer company. An’ I ain’t standin’ fer that kinda insult.’

As I mentioned to Jack at the top of my voice – no one would mistake him for a homo sapien anytime soon, if he went on behaving like a snake-bit seagull. He and Dahtoe make a pair and that’s a fact. I ALSO pointed out that if he was feeling quite so protective of his manhood, then maybe he should reconsider wearing those leather trousers. They might be good at keeping out the dust and wind in the American panhandle – but they make quite a different fashion statement on the streets of London…

So now he’s stomping around with a face blacker than a thunderstorm and muttering under his breath about ‘wimmin not knowin’ their place these days…’

Meanwhile, Mike is fluttering around Jack with remarks like, ‘C’mon buddy. You know SJ. All bark and no bite. She didn’t mean it, pal…’ Stuff like that… Way to go, Mike. Nice to know I can count on you for backup in a tight spot.

So – I’ve done all I can. I tried to get us away without any fuss – but Dahtoe trashing the Food Hall in Harrods put paid to that scheme. And now, Jack’s messed up this chance to stay safe AND earn us some much-needed cash.

And it’s no good Mike patting me on the shoulder and telling me it’ll be fine. Cos I’ve seen him looking at all those creepy guys hanging around outside the pub. Which we’re going to have to leave right now. Or have Jack arrested for assault with a deadly weapon – the big fluffy mic.

Right *deep breath and hands in pockets like I don’t care if I’m about to die* Hang on – what’s this? Oh, it’s the gem I found stuck to the bottom of my jeans. I wonder whether it-

Oh – I just HATE it when Mike’s hair does that…

Little Wax Head Boy? Is that you? Goodness – haven’t you grown! You want – what? The gem – no! We’ve got to take it back to Her Majesty. No – you can’t have it. It’s property of the Crown! You make Her Majesty mad – and you’ll be SO sorry. She’ll pinch her lips together and look disapproving and the Beefeaters will march you off to the Houses of Parliament and you’ll be doomed to listen to House of Commons’ debates about fracking and killing badgers for the next 10 years… The European Court of Human Rights reckons that comes under the heading of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, by the way…

There! I’ve swallowed it. You can’t have it now.

Ahh… Stop – don’t! Mike! Don’t just stand there looking all waxy – help me! He can’t-

Ahh….

***

Ah… why are we in this Limo?

Why is SJ not answering me? Jack doesn’t seem to be too pleased either. I knew they were angry with each other, but why are they angry with me? And how did we get captured again?

SJ, what happened? SJ what did I do?’ This is bad.

My hair? What about my bloody hair – wait – there’s blood on it?? Oh – SJ! You and your Brit curses… Kids could be reading this.  My hair grabbed you and beat up Jack when he tried to help while I went all waxy again… You sure about this?  Cos I reckon that tea you keep drinking-  Okay, okay, keep your voice down.  Just thought I’d give it a mention.

Why don’t we cut it off then? Sheesh, okay, okay stop yelling, will you? How was I to know that you blunted your favourite garden shears hacking away at my hair? And – I have to say, I’m kinda shocked at you using garden tools on my hair. One snip in the wrong place – I could’ve been earless. And I’m mightily relieved that you couldn’t get the chainsaw going, as it happens…

Look – SJ – I’m really sorry about all the stuff that’s happened. Let’s have a big hug and put it behind us-GD075-Garden-hedge-shears-2

Sheesh! Oh boy… are you hurt?

Hey Jack, you saw… it was an accident. Right? I really didn’t mean for my hair-spike to poke SJ’s eye like that.

Jack? Are you not speaking, either?

Hey – I’m sorry they took all your weapons, buddy… Maybe they’ll give them back…

So… you’re not speaking to me, either. Oh man. Never thought I’d find a trip in a limo such a drag. With you two for friends, no wonder I gotta seagull for a pet…

The Adventures of Mike and SJ – Episode 11

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

Maybe this will work out if I can Mike to calm down. Jack’s alright. Well – not really. He’s sitting in the corner downing a gallon of beer, along with his sorrow that he couldn’t continue his big old punch-up. Not with that huge guy still crying cos Jack punched him in the jaw. They’re actors, you see.

blimpWe’ve managed to gatecrash a BBC production shoot of the new Dr Who series in this London pub, where they’ve just been setting up a big publicity stunt for the new Christmas special. Got this big blimp looking like an alien ship floating in the sky, with people on harnesses being winched up. Jack went into hero overdrive – grabbed hold of one girl’s legs, while Dahtoe started attacking the blimp. We did manage to stop the mad bird before he brought it down, which was a huge relief for everyone living under it. I think they’re bonkers – whatever happened to CGI? Putting stuff like that up in the sky, is just asking for trouble when the likes of Dahtoe is loose up there…

The producer came and introduced himself – and I braced myself, waiting for the rant about wrecking his set and causing all this trouble. But no. For a change, he was really nice and wants us along as part of the storyline, apparently. Thinks that we look ‘the real thing’ – whatever that is. Trouble is, Mike’s just puddled down into a glassy-eyed, foot shuffling fool, who keeps mumbling ‘Billy Piper’ under his breath and turning unbecoming shades of beet that clash with the alternating stripes in his hair.

I tried to tell him that Billy Piper stopped being Dr Who’s plucky assistant a few series ago – but I don’t think it went in. I’ve a nasty feeling that it isn’t Mike who’s seriously stuck on Ms Piper – I reckon it’s Little Wax Head Boy. And trying to get the LWHB to change his mind is about as easy as ten pin bowling with a boulder.

They’ve given us a script and we’ve got two hours to learn the words. If I can’t get Mike to snap out of it, we’ll never manage. Ah – I’ve an idea. Granted, it’s a bit extreme. But it’s worth a go – after all desperate times call for desperate measures. If nothing else, we could do with the cash – they’re offering us £400 a day. Each…

If I could just get Dahtoe to land on Mike’s shoulder and nibble at his ear. A bit. The pain might bring him round. I don’t like doing it – but it’s called tough love…

Dahtoe! Here, boy! Look – pork scratchings… Yeah – thought that would get your attention. And another piece – wow, it’s cool watching you snatch it out of the sky, like that… But what about this, then? A nice tasty piece – only I’ve hidden it in Mike’s ear… C’mon, Dahtoe…

***

What huh, YOW!

Get off me you, silly bird. Some familar you are. Yeah, you better keep moooovvvving away.

What’s going on now? What is Jack all grumpy about? Huh – what? The soundman’s evil and SJ won’t let you kick his butt because we soundamnare broke?

What – we are going to be on the BBC? Well…I did a little acting myself. I’m sure you saw that nurse training video that came out in 2004. You see I played a mean foreman and-

*Whispering* Oh shoot, I didn’t know they were filming just then. No, Jack I don’t think the soundman did that on purpose. Yes, I think we should leave, but SJ won’t let us. She keeps going on and on about her power bills and all the petrol she has bought. Besides… I have to admit a little beer money won’t hurt.

Um… do I want Billy Piper’s autograph? Oh yeah… that’d be totally cool! Have you met her – she looks so hot… Wait – aren’t you the soundman?

Jack, NO STOP!

The Adventures of Mike and SJ – Episode 10

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

Yeah – go on Jack! Knock ’em for six! Hey – Mike can handle himself… Well, his hair can anyway. Go on, Mike’s spikes! Ooo – that looked hairy…

Hm. Judging by the sound of those sirens, we’re going to have the police here in a tick. C’mon, boys. Stop messing around – finish ’em off. Yeehah! That’s the way…

Right – now – we need to find out exactly where we are… Hah – yes – Oxford Street is just over there. So – if we just scramble over this wall – here. That’s right. Stand on the wheelie bins, Jack, then you can climb- or vault over if you feel like showing off.

Yes, yes – Mike. I KNOW it was a cool fight – and yes – well done, you did a fine job. But you really need to stop air-boxing and reliving every glorious second… Mike! Now!

Yeah – well if I’m being a sour old nag, it’s cos you drive me to it.

Now – we need to cut across these gardens. Jack – try to keep off the flower beds, there’s a good chap. Mike – it’s so not cool to take pics of people in their homes while we’re sneaking around their gardens…

Right – now. Through this door and into the alley…. And out into this street.

Now. There! Am I the greatest, or what? Look where I’ve brought us – we can dodge into Harrods, the store for the Top People – and mingle in with the crowd. Though maybe Jack’s scuffed leather look and Mike’s extreme hairdo mightn’t exactly fade into the background…

harrods foodhallYeah – the Food Hall – you’ll like that…

Oh no – Jack’s caught sight of the jerky – and the price tag. No – Jack – that’s pounds – not pence. Yes, I KNOW it’s a bit expensive… Er – and this is your home-made jerky… Hm. No – I wouldn’t demand to see the manager to show him what the real thing tastes like. Remember – we need to keep a low profile.

Mike! No – let’s leave the display alone. Yeah – I think it’s a sweet idea – and I’m sure dear Aunt Gertrude would just love these individually wrapped, handcrafted Swiss chocs… But, maybe another time.

Dahtoe! Oh no! And – he’s – yep – he’s managed to completely destroy the fresh fish and ice sculpture representation of Disney’s Little Mermaid. Pst… Mike – no – maybe this isn’t the best time to whistle to him… Can’t we just pretend we don’t know him?

Erm… Run guys. Store security is closing in – and they seem to have a sense of humour failure over Dahtoe’s contribution to the Top People’s shopping experience…

So much for blending into the background *sigh*

***

I could swear we hadn’t done anything to tick off any British bobbies – so why are they chasing us too?’

Yes, Jack, I imagine it was a long flight,  And the fight in the alley worked up a thirst in me too – but I think they’ll notice if we just run into some random pub.   Now all this running away from folks if making me hungry, too, and SJ’s face is so red she is reminding me of lobster.

Do they have lobster here in GB? SJ? SJ? I think she is mad at me for some reason. Sheesh women.pub

Oh wait she’s hi-tailed through that door…

Ah, a pub at last!  No, no, SJ, calm down.  Let’s NOT run straight through and out the back.  Let’s rest up here a while.  Do some of that mingling you were after.  What sort of trouble could we get into in a pub? Yes, I know Soccer is really football. No, I won’t toss my throwing knives at the dartboard and I’ll make sure Jack doesn’t take on the whole bar. He only likes to fight evil people. Oh wait – Jack, where you going?

He is walking over to those two guys in black trenchers – I think he reckons they’re… Uh SJ, is it to late to un-promise that Jack wasn’t going to get into a fight?  At least he waited until we got our pints first.  He looks busy chasing that guy whose crying around the snooker table.  I might as well finish his.  I’m sure he won’t mind.

The Adventure of Mike and SJ – Episode 9

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

suvOh yeah? Well, here’s a thing Miss Snodgrass- bet that’s not your real name… What’s your christian name?
Hm… Not very fair, is it? You expect me to answer all your questions – and yet you won’t even tell me your name… Let me guess – you look like a Tamsin. I knew a Tamsin at school who used to pull the wings off butterflies.

Rendition? Yeah – of course I’ve heard of- Hey – it’s against the law. You can’t do that. You can’t…

This is it… I’m travelling again. Flying off to foreign climes. *gulp* Let’s not think about where I’m going and what’ll happen when I get there – or I’ll probably end up a sobbing heap on the carpet.

Least they’ve given me back my clothes to make the journey and I’m out of those paper overalls. They HAVE chafed, as it happens… And while wearing them I looked like some Teletubbies’ reject…

Hm… Pity no one got around to washing my jeans after tramping around that filthy corridor – look at this clod of mud stuck on the bottoms. Just a min… There’s something here in the middle of it. Hard and shin- Oh, my sainted aunt – it’s a jewel! Must’ve dropped out of the Orb. Better hang onto it. Maybe I can somehow return it to Her Majesty. I’m certainly not giving it to Miss Snodgrass – wouldn’t trust that gorgon further than I could flick her with my little finger. To think she’s been ordering me around since I arrived back from the States. Wonder why British Intelligence were interested in the Shov- I mean… Hang on, it was Miss Snodgrass who ordered me not to use the Sh-word wasn’t it? Shovel. There I said it. And the roof didn’t fall in, did it?

Oh-oh… Here they come. Deep breaths, SJ. Show a stiff upper lip. Wish I could wipe that grin off Snodgrass’s face… Those two guys with her look mean.  Though working with her, it’s hardly surprising.  Bet she could sour vinegar with that face…

‘Alright, alright… Don’t shove! I’ve coming quietly.’

Brrr. It’s a bit nippy out here, this morning. And I s’pose that’s where we’re headed – that black SUV parked over there. That was the one tailing us, wasn’t it? Didn’t ever think I’d end up having to sit in it.

Blimey, that seagull overhead is making an almighty racket… And it’s diving… Dahtoe! Yeah – Dahtoe! You sweetheart!

‘Go on – give old Snodgrass a proper scalp massage with those talons of yours – AND poop on her head… Yipee! Yeah! I take back everything I’ve ever said about you… You’re wonderful-

‘Mike! Are you ever a sight for sore eyes. And you’re safe-

Huh – um… Sorry about the hug and kiss. Got a bit carried away. Yeah – I’m good to go. Go on… Faster – I’m right behind you…. Nope – not that way. Turn down this road – here –

‘Stop running. Walk. Look like we’re just out for a stroll. No- not that way. You’re on my turf, buddy. No… I’m not a Londoner. No – I’ve never lived here, either. Or even visit all that much – but I’ve got an Underground map in the front on my diary – which I’ve memorised. So I pretty much know my way around the city. Now… there should be a big yellow circle coming up any minute, soon…’

***

“Hah, gave those two guys what-for. Did you see that, SJ? I swung the crowbar and he dodged, but I whipped it- Oh no! How’d it slip out’ve my grip like that? Uh-oh… can’t think it flying through that window is good…

“C’mon, SJ. Nope. I’m not running. This is just my very, very, very fast walking… You need to keep up. Well… that’s not a nice thing to say. Haven’t seen you in the longest time and been worrying myself to a shadow over what was happening to you – and now you’re here and once more giving me a pile of grief… Though the kiss was nice.

“What jer mean it was an accident? How can you accidentally kiss someone? Oh – your lips slipped… Hm. Must remember that one…

“Hang on. We’re getting close to Jack. See, there? A pool of spit and baccy. On the sidewalk. And… yes… I can just make out his hat. Over there… on the other side of the road.” We gotta keep moving. I gotta bad feeling about this biz – and shoot – more people littering up these sidewalks than crawdads at the Lilly Ponds… And we need to get over to the other side of this roadway.oxfordst

“Right. C’mon SJ run! Whoa – London cabbies can surely curse up a storm. Don’t know what his problem is. He stopped without hitting us, right?

“Now – c’mon SJ! Stop hanging around! Don’t want to end up wrapped around the front of that big old red bus… These roads are sure crammed with a load of cars and stuff. Hey! Jack!” Shoot – he’s plain flummoxed by all these folks and hasn’t seen us.

“No… SJ… don’t think jumping up and down and yelling his name like that is a good idea. Nope. Wasn’t thinking about Brit cool, as it happens. I reckon those guys are following us and there are more of them. Shoot – and I had to lose my crowbar…

“Right. Quickly. Down this turning, here, SJ…”

Oh no, they’re following. All six of them. This could be trouble. We are cornered in this old alley.

“Go and hide behind that bin, SJ. Yeah – so it’s smelly. And? I need not to be worrying about you when I-

“Oh yeah! Get em Jack. Go Primus, get your prime on! Howdy-de-do to you, too fella! That boy knows what he is doing. What’s that he’s using on them? A cricket bat! Never seen that before. Here. Hold my phone SJ, I need to jump into the fray. It looks like fun!”

The Adventures of Mike and SJ – Episode 8

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

nightdressMm… Uh… Where am I? It’s light. We’re not underground anymore. A soft bed – yipee! Hey – Mike! Mike?

*Deep calming breaths* Of course Mike isn’t here. Someone rescued us & put me to bed. Don’t know about the flannelette nightie, though. Bit depressing that someone reckoned I was a flannelette female, rather than a baby doll gall… Let’s go and find Mike. Probably in a room next door, or something.

The door’s locked! Hey! Open up! Mike! Are you there? MIIKE!!

Miss Snodgrass? So – you’re definitely not a therapist, then. I think it’s outrageous you impersonating-

Don’t you tell me to be quiet. It’s fraud, you know. Taking my money like that. Pretending to be all concerned… And where’s Mike?

Don’t you give me that ‘need to know’ balderdash – I need to know what you’ve done with my buddy. I invite him over for a holiday and-

Lover? Typical. Minds like sewers, you lot. We’re just very close friends, I’ll have you know. Talking of which – exactly which ‘lot’ are you from – MI5? MI6? I know my rights – I demand my solicitor.

Give him a ring – It’s Mr Greene of Messrs Greene, Greene & Lovett, Goring-on-Sea. He was the executor to Grandma’s Will when she left me the cottage 22 years ago. Of course he’ll remember me – he told me so.

He said, ‘Ms Higbee, acting for you has been an unforgettable experience. I’ll have nightmares about it till my dying day.’ Go on. Ring him. You’ll see.

Get dressed – in that? It’s a paper suit! Hope it doesn’t chafe. I get a skin condition when I’m stressed – not as bad as Mike’s. But bad enough…

What d’you mean? Tell you where he is? I mean… you got Mike. Haven’t you? You must have!

No… It’s not an act. I was singing in the dark – that’s the last I remember. Sitting on his legs to keep out of the mud. For ages and ages. Till my voice went… And then I fell asleep. And woke up in this bed.

Oh Mike… where are you? Please… I need you – I’ve missed you so much. And now you’re gone, again.

***

Er…

This blacking-out thing is getting really bad. First SJ is possessed by that shovel and now I can barely see straight and then when I really need to be at my best – I faint. This time was the worst.

At one moment I have the Orb and I am trying to keep SJ out’ve their clutches – Jack reckons they’re some of the scum he’s been tangling with… And we’re in some tunnels under that old castle – the next minute, I’m locked in some new dungeon. About the only seagullsthing I can tell is that it’s not Chepstow.

Where is SJ? Shoot – where is the Orb? Or Jack for that matter? This is even worse than that time that chick tried to smuggle a cat over the Mexican border and I ended up in jail for 4 days…  AND the darned thing had fleas – give me a pet seagull any day…

Okay. I need to focus before I black out again. What do I know? I know I have nothing except my clothes, which does include my belt and boots, at least. Dang! I just bought that cell phone, too. I go through those like SJ does cups of tea!

I’m probably still in England, because this cell looks pretty old. Jack should be around, but I have to assume that the villains got what they came for and Jack arrived after I… Well I don’t even know what happened to me. I remember holding SJ’s little hand and following the Orb…

At least there is a window even if it is barred… Let’s… see… if I can jump up and catch… a bit of the view… What is that clicking noise?

Wait… – Dathoe!

“Come here buddy!. Okay… I need you to get the keys… C’mon – through the bars… You can fit. Great job! Yeah, yeah… oh man, I forgot how heavy you were sitting on my head. Ow! And now your claws are tangling with the hair! Shh! Stop cawing! Someone will be in to see what’s going on! Get the keys – see? Hanging on the hook over there…. No – NOT flying around and perching on my head, again! Mooooving towards the keys… Come on, Dahtoe… Nice shiny keys… See? Over there? Come on, we have to rescue SJ!  No… NOT the head, again…
Oh man this may take a while.”

The Adventures of Mike and SJ

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This thread started on a forum Mike and I shared, when we started playing off each other about this alternative/fantasy persona we each gave ourselves. Since then, we’ve started writing a novel together and Mike has had a number of books published as Michael D. Griffiths (The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part I, The Chronicles of Jack Primus, Part II, Eternal Aftermath) while I’ve been busy rewriting several books and establishing my Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College. But though he writes horror and I write sci fi, when we get together, we write… differently! So I thought I’d put a slice of our combined madness on my blog…

I feel like I hamburger exploded inside my head. Where am I? I can’t see a thing. augawip2 007

Oh wait, the Dungeon. Something weird must have happened…

Ouch!  Oh man… feels like I left my brain on the floor as I’m sitting up.  It’s blacker than SJ’s tempers in here – can’t see a freaking thing. Maybe I can use my cell to see a little bit. Oh wait, I have a text. It is from Jack. It says to get to “get the *bleep* outta there!”

Maybe we should. I’m going to try to stand. Why is this part of the floor so soft? Oh wait, I’m standing on SJ.  Urg – she won’t like that.  Or my muddy footprint on her back. But I need to get her up and outta here, I don’t know what is going on, but I have a feeling we might be in trouble again. Oh man, she sounds worse than I do. I hope-

Wait, what’s that? People are heading down the stairs towards us. This can’t be good. I’m going to take SJ and head deeper into this tunnel. Maybe there is another way out.

Huh, what is this doorway?  It wasn’t here before.  Was it?  Nah – think even I’d have noticed something like this – I don’t really have a choice, I have to take her this way.  Uhhh – heave ho!  Oh man – WHAT has she been eating?  She weighs a ton!  Must have lead bones…

What is that light up ahead? It looks like that Orb. Not only is it glowing.. .it’s floating! Well we’ve seen stranger, right SJ? Come on we have to follow that light, at least it will help us see, although I don’t like any of this. Those footsteps are still coming. I think we are in trouble.  Again. Why does this always happen to us?

Dang

****

Huh? Whassup – ow… My head… oooo my back… feels like my spine has been majorly redesigned – and not in an improving sort’ve way.   Ahh… I’m floating – in a – jerky sort’ve way-

Mike!  Hey – put me down. I’m not a sack of spuds – and you’re no fireman. Why did you sling me over your shoulder? Yeah – well I’m awake now, so you can stop moaning about how heavy I am and put me down. Thank you – that’s better… I think.

Where are we?  Hm – I gathered we were still under the castle. It being dark, narrow, muddy and stinky sort’ve gave it away. But, where – exactly? I mean – I’ve got the Guide Book, here. And there’s nothing about this underground passageway in it. Or that crypt we were in when everything went blank…

Orb?  Ha, ha… You and your yank humour. What say you that we find a way to the surface & get ourselves a nice cup of tea before we head back home? People – after us?

There!  What did I tell you – trying to pass yourself off as an OAP! It was bound to get us in trouble. Spect the Security guys are after us to get us to pay the full fee.  Oh – hang on, Mike.

That’s my mobile…

Hallo? Oh – Miss Snodgrass! I’m sooo sorry! You see, I’ve got this friend staying with me from the States… And what with all the excitement, I clean forgot about our appointment and-

Where are we now? Hm… Good question. When I know, I’ll let you know, ha ha… Excuse me? ‘Demand to know?’ Just a minute Miss Snodgrass – you might be my therapist, but I don’t see how that gives you the right to yell at me! As soon as I can, I’ll get back to you and reschedule… What d’you mean, you’re sitting outside my house right now – so you know I’m not there? That’s outrageous-

Mike! Give me back my phone – I was just about to tell her where to go – checking up on me like that. What a nerve! Hmm? Well, it is a good phone… but you’re right – there shouldn’t be any kind of signal down here. And… she did sound really, really clear. So… d’you think that maybe… she isn’t a therapist?

Yeah… maybe you’re right. We should keep going. Before they catch up with us. And – Mike? Um… could you hold my hand. Please? Just in case the other torch goes out, as well…