Micro-Fiction Challenge: Nine (Ghost Story Snowman)

The girl stopped fiddling with her zipper, stuck half-way. Mittens pressed into the frozen crystals that had gathered into a mound; pat, pat, pat. Her skin was pale, breath turned to ice.

‘It’s getting late,’ I warned. The sky was hooded with clouds.

She worked faster. A spade for an arm, thick rope for a scarf. Snowman smiled back.

Orange light beckoned from the back door.

‘Bye Mommy,’ she raced for the porch and paused to blow a kiss.

He stared from the doorway, a virtual silhouette.

‘She’s not there love,’ he peered into growing darkness, ‘there’s no one there.’

Microfiction Challenge

This was the original Microfiction challenge prompt of Ghost Story, Snowman and the word Virtual that had to be seqwayed in! Although I haven’t progressed further in the NYC Midight Microfiction challenge, I’m proud of the piece I submitted and have enjoyed creating my own writing challenge.

Join me in the challenge! Post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Snowman and the genre of Ghost Story to see what you come up with . Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Wine & Sci-Fi

Zombie & Romance

Horse & Adventure

Train & Travel

Tyrant & Romance

Beat Writers Block – Beat it with a STICK!

Beat Writers Block- Now!

Follow these simple steps to get through that wall of endless misery and doom.

  1. Be Kind – be kind to yourself.
  2. Small achievable goals.
  3. A crappy first draft is great!
  4. No editing
  5. Free exercises for you – from me.

I’m going to explain this all some more, I promise.

This was originally going to be a VLOG – but after a few attempts at filming, well I decided that writing is more my thing that speaking.

Step One: So, lets get back to step one. Be kind. Did you hear that?  BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

I know what it feels to have writers block, or writers procrastination. You wake up, and you’re already carrying around that heavy weight in your chest. There’s already a little voice whispering ‘you didn’t write yesterday…’ or ‘you haven’t hit your word target,’ or even, ‘everything you write is absolute rubbish.’ You know what you have? Writer’s guilt.

Stop it. Stop that right now and take the pressure off of yourself. Especially at the moment when many people are in lockdown, this seems like an incredible opportunity to learn a new language, finish up old projects and pour time and investment into your dreams. For the people for whom this is a reality, that is amazing!

For me, I’m struggling between working from home and childcare. Despite barely leaving my house, I actually have less time and feel more pressured to be getting my WIP finished. More Writer’s Guilt added onto your usual pile.

Let it go. (There’s a whole song about this…)

elsea

Let it go, or you will wake up tomorrow and that nagging feeling will be back.

It’s hard to get into a positive headspace to write if you have to wade through the river of Writer’s Guilt first. We have to get out of this habit. So be kind. So what, you missed a deadline, a day, a week, a year… You won’t meet that 90k target in six months, blah, blah, blah… Let it go. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes if you like. Acknowledge it and let it go. I didn’t write yesterday or whatever. I WILL write today.

Step Two: Small achievable goals.

You WILL write today. Open up that WIP. Get to the last thing you did, the latest chapter and just write. Write 100 words. That’s it. Just 100 words. Have you done it? Here is the best part.  Save it. Close the computer. Walk away happy – you did it! Now the most important part – REWARD yourself. Go for a walk, have a soda, read a book watch your favourite TV show. Do something that gives you a mental woo and makes you feel good.

You know what you’re doing? You’re training your brain into a positive response when you do your writing. You’ll be amazed at how much easier and better you’ll feel tomorrow when you carve out just a few minutes to write again.

Tomorrow? Open up that WIP. Write 200 words. Save it. Put it away. REWARD!

The day after: Write 300 words, save it, put it away – REWARD!

Repeat until the process becomes easier and you’re able to write freely.

Now here is the final trick – Always end before you run out of steam for the day. If you’ve written 2000 words and you’re in the middle of a juicy scene, then stop before the scene ends and you’ll be excited to get back to it. Most of all, always give yourself that little reward for getting it done.

Step Three: A crappy first draft is great!

NO ONE HAS TO SEE IT.

When you’ve sat down to write your 100, 200, 300+ words and it’s hard, then just remember that it doesn’t matter what you put down on the page. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. It’ll be 100 more words than you had before and that it what matters. You can’t edit a blank page but once you’re WIP is done you can go back and completely rewrite it. Delete that stuff out if you need to. But maybe there will be something worth keeping?

fry

Step Four: Don’t edit as you go.

This will be maximum leech for your momentum. If you realise a huge plot point then write it down. Adjust where your story is heading and write forward. Always write forward. Don’t go back and start tampering with threads and arcs until you’ve got that first draft down – otherwise you’re always going to be buried in the first part of the book.

You’ve got to keep moving forward. One step and one word at a time.

Step Five: Some exercises for you!

I thought I would share some writing exercises that can also help.

Free writing: First of all, free writing is brilliant. If you really, really do not to put the words into your WIP when you’re struggling, then just sit down with pen and paper. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. Write EVERYTHING that comes into your mind. Even if it’s just ‘I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just going to write and blah, blah this is so ridiculous-’ you get the idea. Just write. Write for ten minutes and then set it aside. It’s a bit like a mental ‘unclogging.’

Microfiction: Now something I’m also really keen on is microfiction. Using 100 words or less to tell a story or construct something lyrical. There’s a whole bunch here on the blog if you want to read. Now I’m not going to tell you that it’s any good – I’m not sure that it is! But it entertains me, and the people who give me the prompts. Melodramatic Dinosaurs, Romantic Zombies, Tyrants and Penguins (romance was a big theme)…So that’s something.

I’m going to be running a #microfictionchallenge if you want to join in. Everyone is welcome! I’ll put up a prompt of a word, and a genre that the story is meant to resemble. You have 100 words or less to construct something around it. I would love to see some responses, or you can even set me a challenge.

My challenge to you, for today would be the word: Television in the genre of Action.

Now go write!

Better yet! Give me the 100 words you get done today! I expect it to be brilliantly random and make very little sense.

baby

Micro-Fiction Challenges – Eight

I love his dark crown. His bright eye turns to the world and searches scorched earth for me. He commands legions and holds dominion over my heart. He gifts to me both orcs and goblins and promised a ring for my hand. What more could I wish from any in the shape of man?

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my sixth response. The prompt was Tyrant & Romance. I saw this one coming from a few days ago, and it’s been giving me some thought. I originally was going to write something about the romance between a different fictional tyrant but had a last minute change of direction.

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Muffin and the genre of Crime. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Wine & Sci-Fi

Zombie & Romance

Horse & Adventure

Train & Travel

Micro-Fiction Challenges – Seven

The little blue train on a wooden track. It rattles across the suspension bridge and through the plastic mountain. No passengers at the station, no freight to collect. Dinosaurs line the junctions and a Mr. Robot guards the shed. Little blue train on an endless adventure. Open books for tunnels and a tin foil lake. Chickens the size of Horses, scattered in its wake.

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my sixth response. The prompt was Train & Travel. This was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be and it’s only 65 words long. However, I feel that if I kept adding then it would lost it’s form.

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Horse and the genre of Sci-Fi. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Wine & Sci-Fi

Zombie & Romance

Horse & Adventure

Micro-Fiction Challenges – Five

Grey lips parted to whisper amorous intent. Warm hands slid across mottled skin.

‘Darling…’

‘Yes, love?’

‘You’ve…you’ve come undone.’

There was a pause. A single heartbeat in the darkness.

‘I’m…I’m sorry, this has never-’

‘It’s really common. I’ll just – I’ll just sew you back together.’

‘Thank you.’ A sigh.

‘What’s the matter?’ Lips pressed to the neck.

‘There just isn’t much time.’

‘I know…I’ll get you back to the crypt before sunrise. I promise.’

 

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my fifth response. The prompt was Zombie & Romance. I was really excited to write this piece as I had a clear idea of where it was going, as soon as I saw the prompt. I just hope that I did it justice!

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Cat and the genre of Romance. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Wine & Sci-Fi

Micro-Fiction Challenges – Four

They were Mars Red and perfectly spherical.

An impatient voice called from the parlor.

‘Nearly!’ she answered. Voice tinny and nervously pitched. Grapes rolled into the hopper.  Her fingers tapped with deft precision on the control panel. The fruit hissed through rapid fermentation. From red to the acidic blue of an ancient five pound note.

She balanced the glass carefully between her hands and set it down on the tablecloth.

From her high-backed armchair, her mistress extended an arm. With only the faintest hum of mechanical whirring the wine was lifted, tasted and set down with a buzz of satisfaction.

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my second response. The prompt was Wine & Sci-Fi. I was really excited to write this piece as I had a clear idea of where it was going, as soon as I saw the prompt. I just hope that I did it justice!

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Chair and the genre of Horror. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Happy Writing,

Fibi xx

Micro-Fiction Challenges – Three

One.

Alone in a box. It sighs with happiness.

Another appears. They glare across the distance, in the darkness beneath the lid.

Two more stretch out, then four. This is getting ridiculous.

One chases them away, but there are more and more and more.

Eight in the darkness, sixteen, thirty-two. Fighting for space. Two tumble free and the box topples over. Funny little furry creatures scatter across a cold metal floor. Sixty-four little Tribbles, trilling with delight. There’s Tribbles in the Loading Dock. Tribbles across the Crew Decks. Pouring out the ventilation and spreading through the ship.

 

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my second response. The prompt was Mitosis & Farce. This was a tricky challenge to nail down, and I’ve been thinking about it since it appeared, knowing it was coming up! I’m happy with how it turned out in the end.

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Apples and the genre of Steam-Punk. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

 

 

Happy Writing,

Life Changing

Update

Well this is ridiculous, I was going to say happy {insert correct month here} to you guys, but I just got seriously confused about which month it is! This may say something about how tired I am! I’d like to say I’m Astonished but I’m not surprised.

As the title suggests there have been some life changing events as I’ve welcomed a baby into the world. It’s been a little busy, but the tiny beast is currently asleep so I’ve snuck away to take care of some typing!

I’m still working on the final three chapters of the Poisoned Well, and I’m so proud that this project is continuing, even if it is slowly! Line by line, paragraph by paragraph it will be finished!

Free Short Story

In the meantime a brand new release is available for download!

HopeCover

Hope is a second short-story from Arenith. It also takes place during the events of Burning Embers and has some characters you might recognize…

Burning Embers

I’ve also reached my second target of sales with Burning Embers! 50 copies sold! I know it’s a rather modest target, but I’m so excited to have so many people read my book. They seem to be enjoying it to! There are some new reviews popping up!

**** This story was gripping throughout, and you want to see Feia through her whole journey. Probably my favourite character was Vesta, Feia’s friend who winds up travelling with her. I couldn’t help but be swept up by her. There is a depth there that made me so vested in knowing more about her.

What I loved about this book was that it brought in so many strong women, but they were all strong in very different ways, and not all of them in a way that helped others. Feia herself developed far more strength as a result of being around these women, though she still found her own way of expressing and using it. – Pysgrad April 2018

*** I enjoyed Burning Embers. It certainly starts out with a bang… I wanted more. More of everything. But I think that will make me enjoy reading book 2 to satiate that craving. – March 2018

**** This was a really good book!! It was hard to put down! There is magic and a little romance and friendship all mixed in! – Dec 2018

Friends of Fibi

Finally, in my connection without writers and artists I’ve come across this author whose box-set is releasing this week!

The Isolde Saga

The Complete Story has just been released on amazon! A fresh box-set release this week it’s receiving excellent reviews and is a real gem of a find.

The Dead Walk. Magic Has Returned. The Netherworld Awaits.

Death plagues Isolde’s village and everyone thinks that the demon, Orlog, has returned from the northern wastes. Isolde knows it is true because she hears the demon’s voice whispering for her. But as the pox spreads, no one has time to listen to Isolde or her warnings.

The wanderer, Skaldi, hears Isolde though. He believes that she is telling the truth, because he knows that her future is tied up with the fate of the north lands. For Isolde is a netherwalker – one who can pass the veil of death unscathed, one who is a dancer between worlds! But Orlog knows the truth too and Isolde realizes that the demon never wanted her village… but only her soul!

While the land is torn apart by war, demons and the undead rise to rip apart the world. Isolde is forced onto an epic quest to end the evil that threatens her world. But it is not just her soul on the line, but the fate of all humanity.

The Isolde Saga is an epic fantasy series. If you like fast-paced adventure, heroic deeds against impossible odds, and magic darker than the abyss, then you will love this fantasy adventure.

Finally

I’ve updated my instagram and can now be found #bookstagram(ing) like a pro at greypixi.

I also just wanted to say a huge thank you for all of your support so far! Have a lovely May and happy reading.

Fibi xx

The uneducated rumbled Rube.

I’ll be honest – I had to look this daily prompt up and work out what it meant: Rube! It’s a word that I’ve never come across before. However, I have recently been writing a chapter where I think this is demonstrated…

The tower appeared on the road. Made from large grey stones, hewn from the local mountain side it was quickly lost in the canopy as they drew closer. It was a large square building with stables and cleared paddock beside it. A pair of bay horses looked up as they approached, tails shaking off the pestilence of summer flies. A large archway extended across from the side of the tower, over the road. Where the pillars of the arch ended, and on the far side of the tower, a stone wall extended. This was the border between Ipito and Staven.

They were forced to slow their horses, or charge through the guards who stood in the centre of the arch. Their helmets were rounded at the top and shone with polish. They were both tall, broad men wearing chain main beneath a tunic with the King’s crest emblazoned on the front. As Kit and Lyris approached, they levelled spears at the charging horses, the wooden butts pressed into the hard dirt and steadying the points. Kit’s pony was first to stop, skidding to a halt and twisting away. Kit turned her quickly and waved a greeting at the men.

Storm, always reluctant to obey anyone other than his own desires had run further and was forced to rear, kicking out at the spears. Lyris clung to his neck, praying that she wouldn’t fall off and break her neck, before they could rescue Arn. When the horse landed on his four feet again, huffing with fury, he danced on light feet and she remained, clinging to his main. Her legs and arms felt like water, flowing and trembling with every small movement. This was not the time to be afraid. The young woman forced herself to sit up. Sparrows were hopping between the pine trees and a hawk circled overhead, casting a shadow on the mottled ground.

‘Speak,’ the first guard demanded, ‘what is your business in Staven?’

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ The words tumbled free, breathless. Lyris had intended to introduce herself, thoughts of formal requests for help spinning through her mind. The young woman knew that she needed their assistance, and quick passage through the pass but despite the churning concern, the words came again before the guard could answer. Lyris steadied Storm with a hand against the tall horses’ neck.

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ She demanded, urgent.

The guard, affronted, glanced at his companion before, features stern. ‘Our question first, mistress.’

As Lyris opened her mouth to protest, he lifted a gloved hand from the spear and set the weapon on it’s end resting against his shoulder. The guard beside him copied his action and Lyris felt Storm release a breath of tension. Long legs quivering beneath her.

‘It’s our duty to stop and question all those who pass,’ confident that he had regained control the first man had settled into a slower speech and northern drawl. His a’s and r’s extending.

Kit had circled his pony again and drew level with his companion.

‘Sir,’ he bowed low across the front of the saddle, hand swept with dramatic gallantry to one side. The trader looked to Lyris, begging a moment of her patience before he continued. ‘We’re tracking a wagon that passed through these gates,’

The guards looked uninspired.

‘Has a wagon passed through?’

The young woman lifted her eyes to the heavens, the pale blue sky was starting to darken again. A natural rain was gathering at the peak of the mountain.  If they could move on with their journey, she could track Arn without draining her powers.

‘A lot of wagons’ pass through here, lad,’ the first guard lent on his spear, ‘but that doesn’t explain your business beyond the border.’

So this is more of an extract from the Poisoned Well and it’s the chapter responsible for slowing me down! The paragraphs from this section must have been written months apart but hopefully you can’t notice…

Take it from the top

I’m going to try and catch you up with my year behind the scenes. Something that has gone in the space of a Blink. However realising how enormous this subject is, I’m going to split it into a few sections and post over a few days.

This is my long promised post of the decisions I’ve made with self-publishing and how it’s all going so far…

The journey so far –

Last January I made the decision that Burning Embers was finally ready. It was a polished as a shiny squeaky thing and in the best shape that I could make it. With my dream of following a traditional publishing route I started to send BE out to agents.

I think it went well. I had a spreadsheet to monitor who I had e-mailed my book baby too, their contact details and what they required in their submission package. I even had a column with an approximate date of response. Generally I had positive feedback from agents and publishing houses that would accept direct submissions. I even accidentally sent it to a few self-publishing companies and received some encouraging results.

In the end however, the answer was no. I was told that Burning Embers was well-written, engaging, had excellent descriptions…but just wasn’t quite right for anyone’s list or didn’t suit their personal tastes. It was discouraging, but important to remember that this is a subjective business. I know that the opening of Burning Embers is tailored more towards literary fiction than a straight YA Fantasy-Romp. I also know that the book really hits its stride after the first six chapters (maybe I shouldn’t be so honest!) However, I also had faith that in the hands of readers who love fantasy, strong-female protagonists and want to be pulled into another world –it could really work.

One of the self-publishing companies did have this to say after requesting opening chapters:

‘Blimey exciting start, its made me think of Game of Thrones, Divergent and a female Uhtred of Bebbanberg all at once, which is a good thing – great imagery and sense of place. I think this would be very popular right now, with the right cover and mega saturation on social media, you will get noticed. I’m sure of that. Keep me posted as to how you get on with other publishers, I would love to work with you on this’ – In the end, this enthusiasm translated into an offer of publication with them for a much discounted fee.

In monetary terms they were willing to remove £500 from their usual price.  I really liked this company and probably would have published with them, however it was at the start of the year and I was determined to exhaust more ‘traditional’ enquiries first.

I also received an evaluation of Burning Embers:

‘The book is very well written and the story is original, exciting and engaging.  

The author creates a rich fantasy world with its own history and mythology. Feia is a sympathetic character and I enjoyed following her story.

I think fans of the fantasy genre will really enjoy this. It combines all the best traits of the fantasy genre but with an original twist. 

 An exciting story set in a rich fantasy world that will really appeal to readers. I can imagine this making an excellent series and, once hooked, I think readers will keep coming back for more.’ 

So what to do next?

I carried on writing.

I started with pieces of flash-fiction for competitions, and I even won a few. As a result of flash-fiction I was published in two additional books last year.

Amongst all the sting of rejection, I started the Poisoned Well a simpler, more linear YA Fantasy which was always going to be shorter than the 120,000 word beast that was Burning Embers.

The plan was to finish Poisoned Well and publish it on Wattpad.

Now Wattpad is amazing. It allows you to post you story in serial. You’re encouraged to post on a regular slot at least once a week and to interact with the community. This in turns generates ‘reads’ for your story and you gain followers. Followers who get excited about your work and are eager for the next instalment. Theoretically this can translate into sales of a book. One ‘success’ story of Wattpad recommends you have  the full text published on Amazon and provide that link to Wattpad, so your impatient readers can skip along and buy your book instead of waiting 30-odd weeks for the next part.

However, as I was sending BE out to agents at the time, I was aware I shouldn’t be publishing it anywhere online! This is where Poisoned Well was dreamt up – something that was specifically geared towards a Wattpad posting schedule. Another hint is to keep chapters at approximately 2000 words each, just enough to keep the story moving, but short enough to keep the reader engaged and hungry for more.

Then summer came around – and life changed. I’ve mentioned it in the occasional post, but over the summer I realised I was expecting a baby. Now among all the preparation for new life and feeling like I had the flu for a few months, I realised that I wanted my book baby project to be done. Signed off, sealed, delivered – fin. Burning Embers had been such a huge part of my life and in order to move on completely I would need to let it go. But it deserved more than staying in my desk drawer and on the computer. Because I’d been feeling so poorly, I’d also stopped writing Poisoned Well – a mere two chapters from the end! SO CLOSE!

So I decided to self-publish. All of the queries that were going to have a response had received one, and I’d exhausted the pool of agents I could harass. I had twittered, blogged, researched and finally it was decision time.

So what to do first?

Well, initially panic. I’d spent years reading articles about self-publishing, marketing, social media…and I immediately lost all confidence that I knew what I was doing and had to go back and re-read everything again!

Self-publishing – there are some big decisions to make. – this is where the next part of the story will continue…

Let me know what you think so far!

Happy Reading Fibi

xxx