Stones, stones everywhere.

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Welcome to my blog. If you have found one of my hidden stones and found your way here, welcome.

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I have a friend who lives in Coventry who told me about a group who paint stones and then leave them for people to find. I thought it was an amazing idea and so I decided to join in. I couldn’t find a local group and so I am kind of freestyling and hoping that as my stones are found others will join in and there will be stones everywhere to find and re hide, or keep.

So thats my plan. If you found a stone, either share it or hid it. Or keep it and paint a stone of your own and hide it.

I ultimately hope that my little bit of art made you smile, and see beauty in what can be quite a dark world.

Marie x

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The ship.

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(Picture found on google. No name to attribute)

Passed down from one seafaring family to the next, the old stories slept fitfully beneath the stormy waves.

Sean whistled tunelessly as he scrubbed the deck, suds blew about him as the ship tossed and turned across the waves. Even the storm would not stop him. His chores were his payment to the promised land. America and streets that were paved with gold.

Harry Riley, the baker’s son had made the crossing over eight months ago. No one had heard from him since. Not even his Ma who sometimes stood by the harbour wailing and waiting for some sign from her first born.

Sean had stowed aboard the ship as soon as he knew where its passage was. Found just three days into the voyage the captain had agreed he could stay. If he worked hard and slept in the storage hold. Sean had agreed to both demands immediately. He would find Harry, then he would find his fortune, send some back to his own Ma.

A sudden knock beneath the deck and the scrubbing brush flew from his hand, skidding across the wood it came to a stop at the port side. Scrabbling to retrieve it before it fell into the churning sea, Sean didnt feel the lurching of the boat. Below him Sean heard the screams of grown men, terror rang up through the corridors and mingled with the roaring of the ocean and the wind as it screamed through the rigging high above the boat.

Screaming and screeching as the ship again lurched from starboard to port.

Old Jasper spilled from the door, clutching his throat he collapsed on the floor before Sean, blood pumped from a wound the gaped across his neck, seeping down the cracks in the boards, washed minutes ago by Sean. Jasper’s glassy eyes reflected the grey sky before with one last groan he fell silent.

Sean crept between two storage crates and peered through the gap.The screaming continued for what seemed like hours. Until at last with the night falling came silence, but for the relentless waves slamming into the hull.

The sea crashed over Sean and he shivered, fear and cold seeping into his bones. As the last of the light faded Sean saw the glow, an impossible glow from beneath the decks.

And Old Jasper dead for over four hours, fingers twitched and moved. His eyes, filled with the darkness of night sought out Sean.

He would never find Harry Sean thought as the thing that was once human scrambled to stand.

He would never send Ma the fortune she deserved.

And he would never see the streets of gold.

As the thing reached him, Sean screamed but the sound was lost on the waves, dashed against the side of the boat. Until everything grew still.

And the ship sailed on.

Time to go home.

Chateau Miranda

(Picture from Google. No name to attribute)

Stroud hall stood at the end of the drive demanding  attention like a petulant toddler.

In all of its beautiful decay is was still regal, holding court to any passers by who might wander too close

Alice hadn’t returned here for thirteen years, thirteen years and 12 days to be exact. She could feel the judging eyes following her passage to the front door. Mocking the pull the place had over her. She had vowed never to return to this place. It had haunted every moment since she had left. And yet here she was; the heavy iron key in her palm, waiting for her to open the door and release the secrets it had held for over a decade.

That night, cool with those first whisper of autumn were replaced with the stormy skies of late spring. Alice imagined as she stepped up to the door she could smell the rotting decay of summer’s bloom around her. Memories invaded her every sense. Dr Tailors words echoed in her brain and she felt some semblance of peace wash over her.

‘The past cannot harm you Alice. ‘

Alice had the distinct feeling that for the good that his words sounded he had no idea what lay here, in this place of shadows.

Slipping the key into the lock it slid open without trouble. Revealing a gaping dark mouth. Stepping into the hall she heard the shush of silence. It was cold in the long hallway and no light fell inside. But Alice didnt need a light. She knew this place as if she was blind.

Sixteen steps and she was on the first floor. Here some light filtered through the boarded windows, dust span through the shards as she stepped towards the room she seeked. The rotting door creaked as she pushed it revealing a cold empty bathroom. Rust had dripped from the taps and stained the bath with forgotten tears. She traced her hand across the edge of it, reliving a day, a night a lifetime away.

Her hands could still feel him, his silken skin, his hair, as soft as Gosling down. She could still see the bubbles, bursting and popping as they reached the surface, boiling and erupting with life that drained out of the boy beneath the water. She could see his green eyes staring up at her. His small hand pulling at her hand as she held him, pushing him further into the water until the light faded from his eyes and he lay there. Still and lifeless.

Her Jake.

Her world, her only child and a moment of madness that had landed her in a place so similar to this it had mocked her for ten whole years.

Turning the tap she prayed to a god that had abandoned her for there to be water. It spluttered to life and filled the tub with murky water that mirrored the stormy skies above her. Climbing in she let it cover her, holding herself beneath the water . Silently waiting for life to slip away, for justice to be fulfilled.

It was time to go home.

It was time too go home.

 

The silence filled the hallways of the great hall and the dust motes drifted to the ground. Somewhere a gentle moan wandered the hallways. Searching for home. Another lost soul to walk the hallways of Stroud hall.

 

Empty Angel.

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Many years ago I was an avid contributor to the site Deviantart ( mazblondie if any of you fancy a nosy)

There I made quite a few connections with artists from around the world. One of these being a talented writer and photographer who goes by the name fuzzy hoser.

https://fuzzyhoser.deviantart.com/

She is the owner of the amazing picture above. And this is a poem that as inspired by this picture..

Fingers grasped in shadowed halls,
passions raging in illicit touches,
step by step towards anonymous sanctuary,
behind closed doors where no eyes pry.

Her name is not important, she has no place,
she is as faded as the antique wallpaper,
brown hues, drab, dimly lit by cheap bulbs,
softening the lines that litter her face like scars.

And still they come, to ascend the drab steps,
finding solace in the arms of an empty angel,
hiding her wings from unbelieving eyes,
while the world outside hers continues on.

Empty dreams echo around the walls,
haunting melodies of passion and dread,
sleeping hopes lost to a life of filth,
beneath the shadows that hide her name.

 

I love this poem even now after all of these years. And the picture evokes so many ideas, maybe it will spark something in you too.

M x

End of days.

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The Lights flickered but Francis barely noticed. His fingers strummed the old guitar and he was lost in the music. Every note, evert chord released a stillness inside of him. All around  life continued. People walked by, barely noticing him or his music as it mingled with the city sounds. Coins tumbled into the case before his feet but he didnt acknowledge their acknowledgment of him. Instead sighing as the melody lifted him to somewhere he could never describe.

The lights flickered again and all around people ran. Francis barely noticed. The lights had been flickering for months now but each time the pulse was stronger. It was getting stronger.

He had seen the news reports, read the papers abandoned in run down cafes. Each day a different scenario appeared to label what was happening. But every day someone else shot that idea down in flames. The end of the world the papers screamed.

But francis knew. He knew what what was coming.

Eighteen years ago he had been out in the wilderness, camping. It was one of those remote places where the sky and the forest became one huge tapestry at night. And the stars appeared so close as if you could reach out and touch them. There, kneeling before the river he had come face to face with a truth so real he could barely name it. He would not speak of it to any other living person.  The figure, for this was no human had spoken few words to him that night.

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It had told him of a time, two decades from that moment. When the lights on earth would dim and he would arrive once more.

He had not explained what would happen. But as the thing had disappeared into the inky black of the forest he had whispered three words that had haunted Francis, had driven him crazy with fear. Stolen the life, the love, the hope Francis had owned.

God is dead

 

Sweeping the memory from his mind, Francis stared at the light he sat beneath, and strummed the old guitar. His hands were calloused and his face a blur in a city of ignorance. But he was ready. When the figure returned he was ready.

Ready to save the world

 

M x

The Woods.

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Everybody knew the woods were haunted.

That’s why Jake was here. Ali had challenged him in front of everyone, including lauryl. There was no way he could back out.

‘Spend one night in Gypsy woods’ he spat his chin held high, defying Jake to look like a pussy in front of everyone. Lauryl stood silent at Ali’s side and Jake nodded.

“I’m not scared of the bogey man Ali, pity you are.” Jake said turning and leaving the group. He hoped the shaking in his knees wasn’t obvious.

Two days later Jake set off on the path that led into the woods. The path soon tailed off into a mossy trail. The silence was deafening and soon all Jake could hear was the occasional snap of branches below his feet and the pounding of his heart.

Lauryl had called him the night before and begged him not to go, that the witch of the woods would take him. But Jake had sighed and explained he had no choice. The bullying had to stop. Maybe this would be the last thing Ali demanded. Lauryl had hung up crying and Jake knew he had blown the chance of every being her boyfriend, like there was ever any chance anyway. She was Ali’s sister after all.

As he walked Jake thought of the stories he had heard about the woods. Missing children, dead animals tied to the trees, strange glowing orbs. Urban legends no doubt. That type of stuff didn’t exist? No sooner had he thought it he heard the crack of wood against wood and he stopped statue like.

Thwack.

The sound echoed like a gunshot and Jake felt the tiny hairs on his neck rise. It had to be the others playing a trick. Turning slowly he realised just how far he had come into the woods. He could no longer see the housing estate, the red roofs were lost to the ceiling of trees.

Thwack

Jake gazed to where he though the sound was coming from and saw a flash of red, or orange. It was hard to tell with the trees so dense.

Thwack

This time the sound was to the left and Jake saw a flash of blue, but it was high, six foot in the air. Shaking now Jake looked for the trail he had been following, but the moss had given way to a sandy clearing. Jake could see no trace of which direction he had arrived from.

Thwack

Thwack

Thwack

 

Not an echo but multiple cracks on the trees around him. Jake backed up as he saw more definite movement before him. A soft glowing shape that emitted a strange melodic beat, like a heartbeat and the sea all woven into one. No not the sea, leaves in branches, or the whistles of birdsong. A strange hypnotic song that Jake was drawn to.

And then the woman stepped from the woods. And Jake screamed. A scream that no one else would ever hear.

 

04/03/2018

What makes a good writer?

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I saw a post on twitter this week which was publishing a BBC Radio 4 blog

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fzmjt

This podcast (for want of a better word) ran with the title:

“Where are all the working class writers?”

Being a proud working class writer I was intrigued to listen to what the author Kit De Waal ( https://twitter.com/KitdeWaal ) had to say on this subject. As it is currently still up on the BBC’s website I wont go into what she so eloquently talks about but leave you to take a wander over and have a listen. Its 30 minutes long give or take and I think it illuminates a subject that I have been thinking on for a long time.

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On similar lines but not exactly the same it got me thinking….

Do we as writers expect the same treatment? I would like to think that it is a yes, however I do often feel (and this is of course my own opinion) that money talks. Always has and always will. Take my own circumstances. For many years I was a single parent bringing up my wonderful son. Money was tight and so I wrote, and wrote and most of my words stayed with me because spare money was hard to come by. Married now for nearly ten years and working full time I have found that the spare money I thought would be available still isn’t.

When my family needs clothes or I have a big bill to pay how can I warrant paying £300 plus for an editor for a book? Of course there will be those who say you have to speculate to accumulate but where does true talent get recognized over the buisness of writing. And by that I mean those who all want to take their slice out of my pie? At this present time I have 13 books ready for editing, but first these need revising, they need checking first to see if they are even worth editing before I can even get to the editing phase and each one of those processes take money.

Moving aside from the money I often hear or read on the internet about voice.. voice is important.. voice will always shine through. And yet I am constantly told there are a set of rules that all writers must follow. In my mind making each of our voices the same. If I want to use very in my book.. why does that make me a bad writer, it doesnt.. it makes me write how I write. My voice. (Not that I ever do use very but you get the point) On the subject of very I am currently reading a book by a published author and have read a smattering of the V word.. so it shows once you are published and recognised and getting the money rolling in you can pretty much write as you wish.. as long as the pie keeps paying money to all those who have a slice I guess.

One of the first book I wrote was a children’s book, it was a real labour of love and up to yet has probably recieved the most rejections of them all. And I have revised and I have revised with advice from fellow writers (not any of the editors/agents as they rarely give any critical advice) and now I hate what the book has become. It is not the whimsical book that reminded me of Enid Blyton, or the magic faraway tree.. it is a book that has been shaped by what other people want it to be. So much so that I cant even read this new book, this book that has been written by me but is as alien to me as mars. It makes me sad that that story will probably never see the light of day. It saddens me that my voice has been lost because I listened to what others wanted and didn’t just trust me.

 

Where do we as writers draw the line? Is being famous (not necessarily rich) more important than our own integrity. It made me think of this when I was listening to that article, bundled up in my winter coat and travelling to work a minimum wage job (that I incidentally love)  I wondered before how many people from working class get noticed, or have the money or their fingers in the pies that will get them noticed. I often think if you are a celebrity of famous you can get a book published with not much talent, just your name driving along the sales.

 

I worry that all the writers who are out there who cant get that first step up with always be lost somewhere waving frantically as they sit in  their buses trundling off to work and silently screaming ‘notice me too’

 

xx

 

Let me know in the comments your thoughts. Both on this post and the Kit De Waal recording.

 

So little time

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For those of you who are long followers of my blog you will know I recently got a full time job. Although this in itself is amazing it means I have to really juggle my time to fit everything in. I commute about 40 mins a day so I have been trying to write or read in that time, it’s not always possible when the bus is full of schoolkids but at least if I ever need *rowdy teens on a bus* as a scene then I will have that covered!

 

I am also a keen artist, as I also write children’s picture books I would love to be able to illustrate my own books too. Visually I have the ideas in my head , but sometimes the journey between my brain and the paper is disjointed and I get frustrated at the lack of progress. Are any of you artist/writers? How do you find the journey between what you visualise and what you draw?

 

Recently I went away with my husband to Cumbria. We had a wonderful few days relaxing, walking and eating way too much. And now alongside the writing and illustration my brain would really like me to draw some of what I saw. Its easy to get good photos in a place like Cumbria to be fair. The photos take themselves, but getting that feeling, that luminosity and hit in the stomach may be the challenge. I will keep you updated. I also had another idea for a children’s book.. so at least my brain is still whirring even if I struggle to find the time to get all of it done!

 

I remember before I got my job that I used to complain about all the time I had on my hands.. oh how silly was I? Still I love my job and I know I am really lucky to work where I do with a mostly great bunch of people.

 

How many of you out there have the same issue? Do you find that you have to make time for yourself each day? Regardless of how much other stuff gets left behind? I think I need to learn how to multitask even more than I am doing to get it all done.

And on that note my washing machine is done, and real life beckons once again!. Until next time M xx

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The Grey

I started writing this during a course I was taking. We were prompted to write a story about a disaster, but to not actually reveal what had happened. I am not sure if this will ever become anything more than this; whether it has legs to be something longer.

Enjoy. M x

 

The night had fallen over the group like a blanket. Only a solitary light remained in the centre of the room and it flickered and jumped about, caught on gentle movements of air.  Ashlyn looked across at the sleeping form of her sister, how Teca could sleep was beyond her, but perhaps it was for the best, considering. Pulling her legs up towards her chest in an effort to conserve heat she tried to remember who had been in their group. The events of the past few days seemed to have erased everything useful from her mind. Now all she could think about was how hungry she felt, how dry her lips were.
“Has anyone tried the radio again?” asked a voice from the gloom, devoid of a body it hung there like an accusation rather than a question.
“We’re trying to save the battery remember, twice an hour till we get a reply.” another voice answered. Ashlyn knew the chances of anyone replying to the little two way were slim, but didn’t say. Perhaps the others already knew.

Since the huge cloud of  dust had fallen they had sat in this cabin, waiting. What for? None of them knew but time was running out. With no water or food and their last candle about to be distinguished, they needed to make a plan.

And now.

Coldness was something that Ashlyn was familiar with. Living in Scotland you got used to the bone chilling temperatures in winter. But this cold was something different. It sat in her bones and inched its cold fingers into her whole body. Like the coldness was a disease. Teca stirred in her sleep and a smile played at the corner of her lips, Ashlyn envied her sister the escape into a dream world where none of this was happening.

“Ashlyn, are you ok?” turning she saw her best friends concerned face. Her usually perfectly made up face was grey and Ashlyn nodded. She knew she would not convince Kat of the lie. ” We are going to make a run for it, tommorrow.” Ashlyn peered at the only window and shrugged. Die in here or die out there seemed to be the only choices they had right now. Ashlyn wasnt keen on either of them. But she knew they couldn’t sit there forever. Something had happened out there, and their own chance of survival would come from the nine people who were still alive here.

“When?”

“Jake says as soon as the sun rises.” Jake was the groups unofficial leader. Ashlyn was glad someone appeared to be in charge. Even if he had no idea what had happened either. ” He says it gives us the best chance at finding life..” Kat let the sentence trail off and with a sigh returned to the shadows that filled the room.  Ashlyn crawled into bed next to her sister and she stirred against her. With the warmth of her sister’s body Ashlyn watched the window, waiting for the day to return.

****

Her sister’s hand felt so small inside her own. Eleven years old and seeing this. A new reality stretched out before them. As far as the eye could see was a destruction that Ashlyn had only seen in movies. Any buildings that were left were burning and the sky was filled with black smoke that hung in the air like a mourning veil. Nobody spoke and Ashlyn was glad. There were no words to explain what they were seeing. They were kids, all of them.

And everything they had ever known was gone.