Archive for November, 2011

The Sound of Silence

Over the years whenever I’ve felt down, distressed or simply in need of motivation, I’ve found myself resorting to music to save me from despair. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people but I sometimes worry about my overreliance on the comfort of a good song. I don’t often think this but it occurs to me when I receive frowns at work because I’m plugged in on the day of a deadline and bobbing my head along to a song (so much better than listening to other people freak out around you when you’re trying to concentrate). I guess the only awkward thing about my habit is that I don’t listen to what the majority would call soothing or inspirational music. For some reason, loud headbanging tunes are what help me relax the most (oh, the paradox!). It probably helps that I never pay too much attention to lyrics; I am more interested in how the music fills me up and distracts me from reality.

Unfortunately this blissful experience has started to draw close to an end. In the last couple of months I’ve developed a strange reaction to songs – whenever I listen to these supposedly calming tunes, I’ve actually started to hear what the artist has to say! It’s not that I haven’t ever listened to lyrics before (duh, that would be weird), it’s just that it has taken me years to open my ears to the real meaning of lyrics I’ve been listening to all this time and the effect is shocking. Continue reading

Short Story 11: The King’s Speech

[I completely forgot about this story until last night when I was sitting in a pub with some friends and someone reminded me of it. You’ll understand why it was being discussed in an alcohol infused environment when you read it. It was written as part of an exercise titled “King’s Speech”, shortly after the movie came out. Not my finest work but here it is.]

By the age of twenty five most people have a reasonable understanding of what their alcohol tolerance is. Years of daring under-aged drinking followed by equally foolish years of legal age binge drinking would have honed the senses into gauging how many units to consume for drunkenness, flirtatiousness, chattiness or to just about pass as a designated driver. Most people’s livers had conversed with the rest of their organs and agreed how long they thought their owners’ bodies would last. It was a good year for the body to start the sideways shuffle away from the evil liquid as people took stock of how they wanted to proceed in life.

For Beverly King it was at this age that she discovered what her limit was. It was the night of the office Christmas party, historically a night of embarrassing tales and yet one that people never quite envision as the night of their undoing. To be fair to Beverly, it was only her second attendance at one of these dos. She had to bail out of the Christmas party she had been invited to last year because her sister had gone into labour just after the main meal had been served. As her birthing partner, Beverley had no choice but to dash to the hospital to be with her. This year she would finally be able to join in on office gossip ensuing from misdemeanours of the night. She was a little too excited about it all and it didn’t help that some of her colleagues squealed with delight at any mention of the party.

None of the excitement dissipated till the night arrived. The event was being held in the large ballroom of a four star hotel on the outskirts of town, one of the few venues that could hold the three hundred plus crowd. The room was all done up in white fairy lights and a tall glistening tree stood in the corner, soft carols filled the air and alcohol flowed at a disproportionate ratio to the meal that was served. Everything felt perfect, a sure sign that disaster was about to strike yet everyone managed to remain civilised until all the food was consumed. The alcohol began to flow more rapidly and a DJ arrived, promptly swapping the carols for a selection of cringe worthy cheesy tunes. Seats were abandoned as a dance floor emerged amidst the tables and song choruses were shouted at anyone who dared to brave the floor, which was surprisingly most people. It was still all going well until Beverly saw him.

Matthew Conrad from HR. She had been silently obsessing over him for months and now there he stood, drinking a beer and chatting with two of his mates. For once he looked approachable and for once she felt like she had the courage she needed to say something to him. Continue reading

Stranger Than Fiction

Last week I was surprised to learn that the former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi will soon be releasing his – wait for it – fourth studio album. Who knew he could even sing? Apparently he worked as a cruise ship singer when he was in university and was also a bass player. I know I shouldn’t be so amazed by this piece of information but I am always taken aback when I discover what I consider unusual accomplishments that celebrities/people in the public eye have achieved. Of course this doesn’t always apply. Whenever I hear that actors and actresses can also sing (take Gwyneth Paltrow’s mind blowing performance in Glee or Scarlett Johansson’s impressive singing in her collaborative album with Pete Yorn), I don’t usually care because I assume they all learnt how to do so in whatever acting school they attended in their youth (although Pierce Brosnan disproved that theory with his abysmal singing in Mamma Mia). But throw in something slightly more interesting and I’m stuck on my PC googling for hours, umming and ahhing as I have been doing today. Continue reading

Short Story 10: The Zone

[After struggling with the writing exercise I blogged about this month, Girls Don’t Fight, this is my attempt at believable sci-fi (my first ever sci-fi story, hrrah). I hope someone out there enjoys it, it was a nightmare to write!]

“I think they broke my nose.”

Those words stopped Adrian Bench in his tracks. He turned to face the speaker who stood holding his nose and wincing. He couldn’t actually hold his nose, the glass helmet he wore prevented any physical contact but his hand was positioned in the right place.

God I hope this isn’t the first one, Adrian thought as he scowled at the man. “Stop whining and brace yourself. There are worse things to come,” he barked. Then turning to the people standing closest to him he whispered “Check him.”

The men approached the injured man and began a thorough search of his protective suit. The man’s eyes had widened with dread when he realised what the implication would be if the others found what they all feared they would. Adrian went to one of the broken windows in the room and started to board it up. Their suits protected them from the noxious gases but they had been attacked by about a dozen giant aphids when they came into the containment zone. It only took a rip in a suit to contaminate the unfortunate victim. He prayed the man’s luck had not run out.

“He’s safe,” one of the men called out to him as they finished their search. Adrian sighed with relief. They would have had to shoot the man in the head to prevent him morphing into one of the creatures that had caused this place to be sectioned off.

“I used to live around here,” a slightly chubby man announced to the group of eight men as they waited for a signal from Adrian for them to move on. “Hackney Empire is just up the road and that one leads back to Dalston.”

His companions nodded and looked in the direction he pointed. The only other Londoner amongst them was a woman who had lived in Willesden before the containments had started. Now she lived in a camp just outside Essex with other London survivors. The rest of the group had been called in from around the country to assist in this mission. Adrian couldn’t understand why people still wanted to save London but there were too many sentiments involved. The people had lost enough already and completely losing their capital would not do. He heard that some people still lived in Chelsea and St John’s Wood. You couldn’t pay him enough to risk it.

“I hear something.” Continue reading

Two Is Company

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported and/or bought my e-book The Other Slipper. I couldn’t have done it without you guys. It took a while for me to get into the whole self-promotion mindset but I’m slowly getting there. One of the resounding pieces of advice I’ve come across during my research is that with e-books, more is better when it comes to how many books an author has available. As long as the work published is interesting and of high quality, there is no need to wait months or years to release books as is done in the traditional publishing world. This is because there is no debate about which book shop will stock your book or how much shelf space the product takes up etc. E-books will always be digitally available (well, as long as the internet and e-book readers exist) and so can always be stumbled upon by a multitude of readers.

Bearing this in mind I’ve decided to give The Other Slipper a companion on the shelf. It looks a little lonely sitting out there by itself so I’ve been editing another fantasy fiction novel I wrote called The Altercation of Vira. I wrote this years before The Other Slipper and I know some people will be happy to finally see it out there (you know yourselves) so I’m even more excited about publishing this than the last one.

Again, I’d love to get people’s opinions on the front cover. Continue reading

Girls Don’t Fight week, my writing group set an interesting writing challenge (see excerpt below). It could be seen as a slightly sexist exercise but when we came up with the idea there was an even division of sexes in the room, so we’re hoping no one takes offence. The problem is, I can’t think of anything to write! This week of all weeks when I’m supposed to disprove a stereotype, I have writer’s block. Typical!

So this post is a cry for help. I need prompts before Monday or I’ll have to sit through a session with nothing to read out…or even worse, I’ll have to read an old romantic piece I dust off my shelf. All the ideas that have popped into my head are bland and rip-offs of slasher movies I’ve watched. Continue reading