Friday, 14 December 2012


China is part of the file name for the prompt for the second Business Card Fiction, but I've recast it off the waters of Vietnam, seeing as how I'm living here  - that also lets me slip in some accented letters and a different font to spice it up from just normal text. I also selected colours from the picture to try and liven it up a bit. They're sort of Christmassy too, so that's a nice touch.. The final font is popular on shop fronts and printouts here, because it imitates calligraphy, although it doesn't seem to support diacritics which I find a bit strange. But I guess those accents only help people like me who have to look up the meaning of words. Even at high font sizes it can be a bit tricky to read.

The prompt:

The story:

For those of you who struggle with the font as I sometimes do, the last line reads The Dragon would bring revenge

Thursday, 6 December 2012

I saw Business Card Fiction being talked about a while back, and added it to my RSS feed as I loved the idea of it... and I'd forget about it otherwise. Instead of a word count, you're limited by space. To some degree you can tweak it, based on what font you use (and I am a sucker for sexy fonts - though most of them are pretty illegible if you go too small). My story wouldn't fit landscape, but there was buckets of space left over when it was portrait. For the inaugural prompt, we had this lovely scene:

And after talking about how I love fonts, what did I end up running with? Times New Roman

Nerilla the Joybringer

I like the idea behind Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction, though I do have a habit of run on sentences.Today's topic was time. I was originally going to go with something more in a hard SF vein, but I was worried about the pseudo-science taking over the story. And the weather today is absolutely glorious - a burst of summer amidst the winter that had arrived early - so I wanted something chock full of happiness. I chose a picture to go along with it, but ah, if only you could see the image in my head that it conjured up as I was brainstorming.

Kneeling By The Stream Of Consciousness, taken from here
Nerilla the Joybringer

Surely hers was the greatest gift in the whole pantheon - to select those moments that each Sentient would look back on and treasure: 

Proud parents watching their podling making its first tentative steps.
The warmth of sunlight on carapace after returning from the void. 
Languorous breathing after a mating ritual. 

Nerilla would vicariously sample all these and more until the End Times.

Post Nano Post

Nanowrimo? More like NanowriNO. I got off to a good start, especially considering the second day was Sports day so a bunch of the free time I had went up in smoke. But my progress after the holidays was practically nonexistent.

However, a mate suggested instead of a word count, to write for at least 30 minutes a day. He's doing some sort of grueling exercise regime for 30 minutes a day, so if we both stick at it, it'll be great. Again, it's only early days, but it is working so far. I should go back and read what I've already written soon, I've already forgotten the name of one of the two main antagonists already, and who knows what else.

My friends who were also doing nano also have piss poor word counts yet again, so at least I can take refuge in that I'm not alone at having little progress over November.

That's enough whingeing for now, on to writing!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mindful Writing Day - Small Stones

Today is the 1st of November, the start of Nano (got a grand down, but I am happy with that), and also meant to be Mindful Writing Day - which is for writing small stones. Here's my couple from today. The second one isn't very classy, but they don't have to always be happy and uplifting. And be glad I didn't find a picture to go with it, like I usually do!


Simple fare cooked with love, tastes better than a banquet.


Ropey tendrils of dribbling, glistening yellow snot
A guilty pleasure, squeezing the hanky so they squish moistly
Caramel mucus that sticks to porcelain as if fighting for its life
Make the most of sickness - find fun where you can!


Wednesday, 31 October 2012


More Halloween stuff. At the 100 Word Challenge, this week we're to think of a recipe. A cocktail recipe to me seemed the obvious way to go, but what with yesterday's potion and this older one for Unicorn Nipple Biscuits (which I like better, possibly because it is longer) I'm starting to run out of ingredients.

Here are the ingredients for a single serve, but when catering, mix a batch in your cauldron.

* One measure of bitter bile from a long-standing argument
* Two fingers
* Two fingers of whiskey
* A jigger of stolen souls – the real spirit
* Splash of broken dreams
* Nettles for colouring
* Pinch of brimstone
* A spoonful of ectoplasm

Disintegrate the fingers, brimstone and nettles with a howling curse. Add the remains to the shaker, along with the liquids. Shake then pour over ice. Add a dollop of ectoplasm. Serve chilled in a ruby slipper. Garnish with a stuffed fairy skewered on a witch-finder's pin.

Yeah yeah, it looks nothing like my description, but it's the coolest looking Halloween cocktail I could find. It's from here

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


It seems every prompt at the moment is Halloween themed. Here's a couple in quick succession. From Lillie McFerrin Writes Five Sentence Fiction prompt for this week - potions. She's picked a marvellous picture to illustrate it, too. Simply gorgeous.
People always say that the Arcane Arts aren't something you should meddle in, but how hard can it be? It's just like cooking really - you follow the recipe and get the desired outcome. Water of Lethe, hemlock, down from a phoenix, dryad's moss and a dragon scale. The master has them all in labelled jars... I should know, seeing how it's me that had to sort them away. This stupid musty old tome doesn't specify what colour dragon scale, but that shouldn't matter, should it?
Picture source

Friday, 5 October 2012

I've spent a bunch of writing time yesterday and today on not writing. BUT, it wasn't a complete waste. I've been signed up for the Creative Bursts sent out by Sandy Ackers for a while now. The idea behind them is something you can do in about fifteen minutes just to get the ideas flowing. Sometimes they're writing, sometimes drawing, sometimes physical. Some of the writing ones I've liked, but I've never got around to doing them. Usually I ignore the drawing ones, because I'm no artist. But the one this week was: Draw a picture that includes only flowers, trombones and octopuses. I thought that I could have a crack at that, especially if I used pictures for a guide. And this is what I came up with: 

It's not 100% in line with what I imagined (especially the flowers) but I'm pretty happy with it. Moreso because of attempting it, rather than just going "Eh, I'm a crappy drawer!" (it is true though, I'm a much better cupboard). This has come round largely because of Super Better I reckon. A wonderful piece of gamification to improve your life in whatever facet you choose. Most of the people playing it are overcoming something serious, but I'm mainly using it for motivation for more writing and being more dedicated at work. So far, it's working on both fronts. A lot of the stuff they recommend - such as positive thinking, noticing the small things and complimenting others - are things that are already pretty ingrained in me.

But Super Better also has a social element that I find quite nice too... you have the option of teaming up with allies, who cheer you on and support you. Allies can be real life friends, or random strangers on the internet. I've opted for the latter. It's quite refreshing, having sympathetic ears to rant and decompress to. I reckon it's a good system, as no matter how much you piss and moan, you're unlikely to offend them (which could be the case if you had real life mates supporting you). I’m also lucky that I’ve picked up some shit-hot allies, that definitely helps, too.

I've pretty much jettisoned most of the elements they suggest in the couple of power-packs I tried at the start, instead creating and customizing things that suit me. So far, I'm keeping on top of my marking (admittedly only having a class of eight this year is helping with that too), but also other facets of my life too. I'm more likely to be honest about things where I screw up, too, because I know that every man and his dog can't see it displayed on the internet, and because of how awesome my allies are in suggesting ways to deal with problems and for general moral support too. It has me thinking of other ways I can improve, or change, too. I surprised myself and had a salad the other day - and now I see that my review for that place has more props than the one for the glorious meat temple that is Au Do Lac Brazil... that feels really weird and out of character.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


I heard that October the 4th we were meant write something about Stars. Rather than whipping up a piece of fiction, I thought I'd instead write something based more on fact. These snippets are some observations about observation of stars, both here and back home. The picture is of the star chart from that most fantastic of games Star Control 2. The name Snellopy comes from there, his race is the Spathi, and their sphere of influence is marked out in yellow.

The sky in Hanoi is usually pretty sparse - there's plenty of smog, light pollution and other nastiness up there, so it's rare that you'll get many bright twinklies. On quite a few occasions we've been walking and my wife has said "Wow! Look how many stars there are!" and there's been maybe six, maximum. She said it wasn't always like that, back when she was a kid, things were different. There were lots of them. She used to fall asleep on the roof of their house, looking at them, and recalled being groggily carried downstairs in her father's arms.

I've seen lots of stars, not just on charts of various science fiction games when I'm battling aliens. I used to work out bush. When holidays came, we'd team up and drive back to civilization. One time on a drive when it was my turn to sleep, we were going past Brunette Downs on the Barkly Highway. It's a cattle station larger than Northern Ireland, so there's obviously not much light pollution going on. I only woke up after we'd stopped, and so my eyes were perfectly adjusted to the darkness. Looking up, I was amazed by the pinpoints scrawled across the ceiling, far more than I'd ever seen before. I pissed all over my feet as I leaned back in amazement, trying to get it all in.

At Tet a few years ago, I excitedly called my housemate out to have a gander at the skies. Just like me back when I'd been working in the Outback, everyone here had taken advantage of the holiday to get the hell out of Dodge. The roiling tendrils of pollution had relaxed their grasp on Hanoi somewhat, and we could see maybe 20 or 30 stars. But that wasn't what was so amazing to me - happily, I pointed.
"What?" he asked, "It's just Orion."
"I know," I replied, "But this is the first time I've seen the bugger in the flesh (so to speak) and he's not standing on his head. Damn you northern-centric celestial cartographers!"

I just got a necklace made for Tho. Originally it was going to be for her birthday, but just after I had paid the deposit she forbade me from getting anything custom made, so I kept it around for a while longer until a suitable occasion arose. It was of a starred star - A gold star (from the Vietnamese flag) with the Southern Cross (from the Australian flag) picked out on it in four sapphires for the cardinal points and a diamond for the wee one. It looks quite good if I say so myself, and it’ll be perfect to pass down to Madeline too.

We're now looking to head back to Australia soon, and while Tho did see a more representative smattering of stars when we were there for a holiday, I will make sure she gets to see them in all their glory. I didn't spend enough time looking at them before, but after losing them for the past few years, I'll try not to take them for granted in the future. There's probably a lesson there, I'd say, but I’m a slow learner.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony Redux

I started this piece last year, here's a link to the original post. After I started it  I did some research, which made me not want to continue, as I banged into good old rule 34 (If it exists, there's porn of it). Instead, I extended the introduction to it (which follows after this) and left the story for a later date, which turned out to be today. I kept the paragraph from before, and added a couple more.

As our school expanded, so did our playground areas, and our playground duties. I picked up one in a new area, which was forlorn and lifeless as it was just used as a thoroughfare. Practically my only companions there would be the occasional teacher passing through... and Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. Our sports supplies arrived (nearly a term late, of course), and the area sprouted badminton nets and a basketball hoop, so there was an explosion in the student population. Through long months of playground duty, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony stood vigilant guard with not just me, but other teachers on duty. Though I think she went largely overlooked. Incongruous, yet easy to miss... light blue, with a smattering of rich dark purple stars on her hind quarters and matching hooves. Her mane, flowing free in the wind of the ether. Her face was joyous yet solemn at the same time, and she had a wistful look in her eye. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony had a coat that felt like suede. “Merely” a sticker, placed by some happy student on one of the windows, unnoticed by most. I always greeted her as I walked past, and waved goodbye when I went off duty. 

Its the little things, the silly things, that I keep looking for. Who needs a gorgeous sunset over a beach, or other magnificent sights on a grand scale, when you can have tiny patches of wonder. Lower the bar, and keep your eyes peeled for small gifts. Then your joys are abundant, and the payout is even greater when you do see something large and awe-inspiring.

I kept meaning to take a photo of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony, and even though I always had my camera on my hip, I was hesitant to do so. It may have been I just wanted to hold her in my mind, pristine and ranging free, instead of corralling her in a soulless picture: slightly blurry, miss-filed and then forgotten. Then one week she was gone. That doesn’t mean she didn’t touch my life. A damp and miserable duty meant there wasn’t many kids to supervise, so I spent time daydreaming about her instead. Where she came from, and where she went, because she couldn’t have have been only a sticker. I started to write a short silly story in honour of Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony as a creative writing exercise one night, but then we went to bed after the first paragraph. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was in my mind as I was drifting off to sleep, and I couldn’t help but think there was something familiar about her.

A bolt from my subconscious jolted me awake... Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was a My Little Pony! I wasn’t completely sure, but my hunch felt reasonable. So I started poking around, trying to find out if my suspicions were true. Her form seemed similar to the ones on their website, but I couldn’t find an exact match. Maybe a knock off? Maybe I was wrong? I tried an image search, with a few terms thrown in to narrow it down. I found her! How I wish I hadn’t looked! My poor Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony. Good old Rule 34 strikes again. At least it wasn’t too extreme. After that, the wheels fell off my version of happiness for her. My inner child isn’t just an inner child, but more of an complete unit... I don’t really have much space - or use - for an outer adult (except maybe to buy booze). I’m happy and confident with my inner child, and while I don’t mind rainbows and bright shiny colours, I wasn’t  so sure I can knock out a paean of happiness to Blue Belle the My Little Pony. To Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony yes... but it may take a little coaxing to get her to trot back into my life [it did, more than a year went past with the document sitting in my unfinished folder]. At the time I expanded this explanation as the writing exercise instead. That made two unfinished stories in quick succession. Let’s hope that someday, the publication deals come as thick and fast and easily!

Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony

The herd stirred, and nickered softly in the glow of the Aura of Happiness. It was time for them to go out into the myriads of worlds at different periods in the timestream, taking sadness from other beings. The stallion whinnied in benediction, and dismissed them with a flick of his tail. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony galloped without motion, and after an infinitesimal moment that somehow seemed stretched, she began seeking her place and purpose. She was hoping for an improvement over last time, when the only way she had been able to bring joy and happiness was by being eaten. When she was depressed, she could still feel the tiger’s claws rending her. It had taken the herd many revolutions indeed to be able to summon her back into existence.

As her form became nebulous and malleable, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony concentrated her will into a bright point of actinic fire. It seemed that it was her turn once again to be inanimate. She slowly solidified into a new form. Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony tethered her mind to what had once been her body, and slowly drifted on the astral currents, to better observe her surroundings. How cute! Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony cavorted amidst a range of cheerful flowers, mythical creatures and brightly coloured animals. Her essence pinned to the sheet of stickers, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony was rather limited in what she could do, but in such a situation her mission - that of bringing joy - seemed to be almost over before she began. Being so small, her psychic influence would be weakened, but she was certain she wouldn't need it.  And she even looked a bit like her true form!

Later, a little girl skipped into the room, singing a nonsense song to herself. Upon seeing the stickers, she squealed with glee. Picking them up, she raced out of the room and Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony could already feel waves of happiness washing over her. Lying on a rainbow mat in another room was a baby, being attended to lovingly by her mother. The little girl sat down and began carefully peeling the stickers off one by one. She put them on the toys, showing each one to the baby and waiting for its smile before adding another. The mother stuck a cartoon mushroom on her daughter's nose and this was met with a flurry of giggles and stickers applied generously to all three. Sky-Blue Sparkle Pony was given pride of place on the baby's forehead and the camera came out to immortalize the fun.

Feeling the gentle tug back to the Plane of Joy, Sky-Blue Sparkle-Pony savoured a final moment with this family and coalesced under the rainbow stars. After resting for a while, she sought out the stallion for guidance. Pawing the ground in confusion she asked why she was sent on that mission - that family already had an abundance of goodwill, her efforts would not have had an impact. "My child, happiness was restored to you. Sometimes we must think of ourselves if we are to truly serve others."

Monday, 17 September 2012

Eating Out

 “A long time since I see you in my restaurant, but still I remember what you order with your wife! You will have a banana flower salad, seafood nem, crispy squid and prawns steamed in beer, yes?”

Inwardly I groaned. We had been here about half a dozen times and that was over three years ago... a lifetime ago. “Uhh, that’s what I used to order with my ex-girlfriend - I’d like to introduce you to my wife, we’d like to see a menu please.”

Picture from here
I know this is meant to be Five Sentence Fiction, but this is unfortunately based on a true event. I saw the funny side of it, but Tho wasn’t overly impressed. For a city of six million, Hanoi is a small town. The prompt for this week is awkward.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Tho and I were in the kitchen, picking over the last of the roasted chicken and trying to decide how many of the bananas that were ripening too fast we should eat. Madeline was in the bedroom, gurgling to herself on her playmat to the accompaniment of squeaks and bangs as she batted the brightly coloured toys about. I convinced Tho that a milkshake was the way to go as we’d also be able to polish off the last of the milk. She was always worrying about lack of calcium, but we ate plenty of cheese, surely that was good enough? Breastfeeding a baby means you have to eat properly, but the issue is complicated by random bullshit “advice” that good-natured Vietnamese friends and family provide. For example, nothing boosts the mothers milk production like eating dogs legs. Old wive’s tales seem hideously suspect when they’re part of someone else’s culture.

This time it would be a real milkshake, just like my brother and I made when we were little tackers... earlier in the week I’d gone shopping for cooking supplies. Bananas, chocolate, ice-cream, honey and the secret ingredient - food colouring. I shielded the blender from Tho’s sight with my body, but I needn’t have bothered. She had taken the opportunity to take yet more pictures of Madeline. At this rate, we’ll be buying another terrabyte harddrive, as we’re fast running out of space.

The purple concoction slopped into the mugs (I only splashed a little on the bench, next to some spilled milk, but that’s nothing to cry about) and I sat at the table proud of the hue I had achieved. Tho wasn’t as nonplussed as I’d expected - a byproduct of the photoshoot I guess. We started discussing where to go for the next holidays. Then we heard it. Something that every new parent dreads... often with no good reason. An unnatural silence. She’s probably just fallen asleep we said, yet into the bedroom we ran, eyes frantic.

Madeline wasn’t asleep, but had industriously squirmed across the floor, and was busily chewing on the ear of Rainbow Bear. Time for another photoshoot my wife declared, as we laughed along with our little darling.

This piece is in response to Tobias Mastgrave’s story challenge of the week of unnatural silence. Hardly fiction, though Madeline isn’t able to crawl any distance yet (and I haven’t made a proper milkshake, but I will the next time we have one). Someone had also suggested writing a story with our daughter in it. A good idea, as normally my writing isn’t so grounded in reality. For the record, I didn't make up the bit about dog legs, my sister-in-law was knocking off a couple a day when her baby was born. Plus I wanted something that wasn’t too dark and foreboding as the picture that goes along with the prompt isn't too cheerful. I know our life isn’t all that enthralling to outsiders, but to us, it’s pretty damn good.

High Magister

Yet another site I’ve been reading for a while now but hadn’t got around to entering their flash fiction challenges is the Parking Lot Confessional. I’m not sure if entries in their 500 hundred club have to be dead on in number, but I guess I will work it out as I intend to participate more often. It makes a nice change for me, going over the word count for once, most of my pieces tend to be under whatever target is set us. One of the choices for this week was to write about something loved that was forgotten, so I took the easy route and wrote about love. 

I finished this a few days ago, but yet again, they’re mucking around with filtering software at work, and blogspot was on the hit list, so I think I've just managed to scrape in before the deadline. It also makes reading other people’s entries in various flash fiction challenges difficult.

Picture from here

Ervity was High Magister and throughout the kingdom, he was the final say in all matters magical. Steeped in lore, his form remained ageless, his violet eyes burned with an inner fire. Those eyes had captivated many a maiden, but his studies had always kept him aloof. That changed when the russet locks of one of the serving staff had a similar effect on Ervity. Shorn of his usual confidence the wizard was slow to court Penny, not just because her station was so much lower than his. Eventually - and without the influence of Ervity’s arts - the relationship blossomed into into the worst kept romance the palace had ever known. Instead of being sequestered amongst his books and alchemical equipment, the High Magister was to be found in the laundry, scullery, or wherever his beloved was working.

Granting an unaksed-for boon to his wizard, the king kindly transferred Penny to the staff of the High Magister so that Ervity would be more focused. Rumour ran rife through the palace, but the two did not mind... the mage was well-liked and the teasing was largely good natured. But as the years progressed, and her auburn hair faded to grey, his fondness for her lessened and he became distant - Penny found herself relegated to someone Below Stairs again. If she had been a woman of means, she could  have left in a flounce of skirts and a moue of disgust. But Penny was practical - she was under no illusions she would find better employment outside the castle especially at her age, so she buried her sadness under a professional demeanour and kept to cooking, scrubbing and dusting.

It came to her one day that maybe magic could solve their situation. She was loathe to broach the subject with Ervity, especially since he prided himself on not using sorcery to win her heart all those years ago.Taking the little money she had saved over the years, she spoke with one of the magicians who traded in love potions and fortune telling down by the dockyards. For a small fee (conveniently the exact amount she had brought with her) he instructed her in the design of a sigil that was certain to work.

After washing the needle in her tears, Penny carefully sewed the symbol into the hem of Ervity’s robes of state, using a single iron grey hair as her thread. Penny did not expect the rune of forgetfulness to have an instantaneous effect, but as the weeks progressed, Ervity seemed no closer to her. Perhaps her stitching hadn’t been accurate? Or his wards and defences too strong? Fretting and unsure of herself, Penny waited with a heavy heart.

On the evening of the full moon, just mere days before Penny was going to admit what she had attempted, the magic took effect. The colour of Penny’s hair was not all that departed the memory of the mage. The next morning found him helpless as a babe, unsuitable to fulfil the duties of his rank, or even comport himself in polite company. No-one was able to reverse the spell, and the position of High Magister was passed to another. Penny saw out her days, caring for the man she once loved, but not in the manner she had hoped for.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Five Sentence Fiction: Memories

Another place I’ve been watching for a while, but hadn’t participated yet is Five Sentence Fiction, organised by Lillie McFerrin. So once again, now is a great time to start! This is a great idea - short pieces that will be good practice for me to pare them down instead of comma-splicing into paragraphs. The prompt for this week was the word memories, but it doesn't necessarily have to appear in the piece.

Picture found here
Lou slowly counted out pound coins into piles for each drink - his rheumatism was acting up again. Half way through the second pint his eyes would twinkle, and he would charm the young backpackers with his accent and tales of his beloved Maude; she’d been gone now these past twenty years (God rest her soul) and there wasn’t a day she didn’t grow lovelier in his mind. Often this lead to further drinks being paid for in an attempt to entice more stories but it was pointless. Given a third, his brogue would thicken, tears would fall, and Lou would yearn for more than mere memories... inconsolable.

Time to type again!

I haven't written much lately, what with holidays then getting accustomed to my new class. Time to remedy that! Chuck Wendig's challenge for this week was something anything SF or Fantasy. And for a while now I've been reading Tobias Mastgrave's page, where he often gives a seed sentence or an image for inspiration. I'd never got around to doing any of his, so figured it was about time I give it a shot, especially when it aligned so nicely.

The scene challenge was the starting sentence (and maybe the picture too, I'm not sure, I'm new). I think scene challenges are meant to be short, so this one is just a wee little tacker.
Picture comes from his page, of course
Agnal mouthed words of power, though no sound emerged from his throat, and raised his hands. The long years of his training in the Elder Tongue had corroded his vocal cords, but it was a small price to pay for such power. A bluish glow emanated from his fingertips, lighting the recesses of his cowl and causing his familiar to hiss with irritation. Slowly the light coalesced into the tentacled and be-fanged form of the Ithyak that was bound in service to the mage. With a keening roar the creature dashed from the study.

Agnal smiled, fingering the key he had worn around his neck in remembrance for many a long year. Soon justice - true justice - would prevail.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

1006 number 2

I liked the idea of these 1006 challenges so much I thought I'd do another quick one. I haven't done a baby picture here yet, so we're due one I am sure. It was snapped by my wife, Vietnamese seem to have an inherent sense of how to frame photos - I guess it is because they take soooo many.

Anne Geddes, eat your heart out.

Monday, 20 August 2012


I've had Delft's blog in my RSS feed for a while now, originally for their writing, but I've been enjoying the recent photos paired with poems. They suggested a 1006 word challenge, which is an absolute rip-snorter of an idea, smashing together two fantastic sayings - that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I'm guessing the six words you choose to accompany it is a tip of the hat to the baby shoe story of Hemmingway.

Today was the first day back at work, so here's my entry. A quick (and very rough) bit of photoshopping.  Neither words nor pictures are mine because of all the extra paperwork a new class brings. Not that I can complain with a class of eight (that I eased into since only 5 rocked up).

"My God—it's full of stars!"

Next time I promise to be original.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Dammit, Butthead!

So we got a Nexus, and silly me left the Sync everything ticked. And so it pulled down a whole host of junk I didn't need, like every email address I've ever written to as a contact, and a bunch of pictures too, which were ones I'd used here.

couldn't work out how to remove them, but finally found the info on some forums somewhere. Delete it from Picasa it said. I didn't think I had been using Picasa, but I guess since Google owns it they rolled everything in together. So I went in and deleted everything, using some Picasa app on the Nexus, thinking it'd only wipe it from there. Nope, broke everything here. A fair few of them I didn't save, like the ones for the Steampunk Superheroes piece, and I really reckon it made that one. So they're gone for good.

No big deal as I don't get many visitors, but the place will look a mess for a while. Maybe I should swap to Wordpress. But both Blogger and Wordpress are blocked at work, and I've been too lazy on the new computer to load TOR, but I'll have to get around to it sooner or later, especially as this year I will have a lot more free time for writing.

Monday, 30 July 2012

I Aten't Dead

In the immortal words of Granny Weatherwax:

Parents are leaving tomorrow, with our computer. We'll be getting a new one after payday. We've had a great time while they've been here. I haven't done a lick of writing. Any planning? Noooo, not so much. Doesn't matter, I'll get back at it when I'm back at work.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Donny's Delight

By any yardstick, Donny was a bad man. As head enforcer, he’d committed some atrocious acts which needed no embroidering or additions to inspire fear. His reputation was tough, image harsh, his visage locked in a permanent scowl. If there was a hell, he’d certainly be going there.

These depraved and deplorable deeds caused him no torment, nor loss of sleep. It wasn’t the case that he took a perverse pleasure in them, he looked at it as a job that needed doing. But Donny was tormented, as in the dark recesses of his mind he was a furry, and that was something he could never be.

For the 100 word challenge this week, the prompt was … in the dark recesses of my mind … which I tweaked since this was written in the third person as there's no way Donny would be admitting this. 

 I have a real good mate who is a furry, he just got back from Anthro Con where he competed in the dancing competition. He made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated - not bad for his first time! Next year I'm sure he'll place better... he's started working on his new routine already.

Edit:  A furry is someone who identifies strongly with an animal, often going to the extent of buying a fursuit (or a partial one) that can run into the thousands. Think of something along the lines of a sports mascot or children's TV character like Donald Duck. My dancing mate bought a partial suit - head, tail, arms and legs - and dropped about 4 grand on it. Some more information here but after that I'd probably not recommend digging too deeply as it can get NSFW fairly quickly.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Create a Coreling competition

Peter V. Brett has written two excellent books so far based in Thesa where demons rise from the centre of the world at the fall of night. There's a couple of short novellas based there too, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book, coming out in February. Every couple of months Peat has a competition of some sort, and this time it was to create a coreling of your own. Most of his are elemental - wood demons, rock demons etc, and we were invited to draw, sculpt, write about or otherwise invent some of our own, up to three. I turned in three entries, and got third place, not too shabby at all!

Below follow my entries, I'll try to do some more writing soon, once we get tests and reports out of the way. I had the most fun with the last one, though writing it did require me to dig through his books a bit to find the correct spelling. 

Demon of Doubt
Demons of doubt have a toothed maw at the centre of a mass of writhing tentacular arms, covered in suckers and terminating in hooked claws. Small as a grain of sand, and fond of remaining insubstantial until they strike, the existence of these demons is unknown in the current age, though their predations continue unchecked. Unfortunately this means there is no specific ward that guards against them.

Drifting through the smallest chinks in ward nets they phase through the skull and feast upon tiny portions of the unwitting brains of their host. This affects the linkages between neurons and unduly influences the hosts' behaviour, causing them to be more likely to give in to their baser emotions – such as doubt, fear, envy, greed, recklessness, or hidebound thinking. It is probably for the best that humanity is unaware of this demon, lest they revel in shallow acts, and blame their actions upon these beasts.


Turned Coreling
Far from the lands of Thesa that have been described in the Demon Cycle so far, in one of the last outposts when man was master of machines and science still served him, a small bastion of humanity managed to create an apparatus of surprising power - it was able to convert a small number of demons each night. Though the batteries of this device have long since run down, and the circuitry fallen into disrepair, their numbers still slowly increase, as they are able to overpower and infect those demons that plague the world.

They can be easily identified by their enveloping aura of honey-coloured light, and their eyes are limned with a pleasant viridian tinge that also manifests upon their extremities when they move.

Turned demons can follow simple commands given in their new masters' tongue. Even if the Krasnian army fought their way to them it would do no good, as the language has been lost to the ravages of time and demons - none of that enclave are left alive.

When the sun rises, the enslaved demons do not return all the way to the core, but merely part way down the paths (much like Arlen did) and dwell there. The coreling princes know of their existence, but are unconcerned by them, and see no great need to snuff them out as yet, as that part of the world is devoid of human life.


Bone Alagai
May Everam's light always shine upon thee. The Dama will say that the tale within this manuscript is heresy, yet still must it be told, for it is true - those of the white have defiled the Will of Everam by dismissing it out of hand.

In 142 AR our people entered a resurgence of matters spiritual.  New interpretations of previously obscure scripture flowed down to even the lowliest of the khaffit. Eager to further expand our knowledge and understanding, the Andrah formed in utmost secrecy a cadre of Dama'ting well versed in prophesy and Dama that excelled as distinguished scholars of the Evejah with instructions to prepare by any means necessary prognostications of the future - whether they be dire or jubilant.

All of their auguries so far have been accurate, though you will find no other mention of them, they have been eradicated from our peoples’ histories, as have their names. That is due to their final act of soothsaying, which I am sure will be no less accurate, painful though it is.

Turning their thoughts and powers upon that most honourable edifice, the Jewel of Krasia, last resting place of the noble and brave, paean to Everam's glory and might - I speak of none other than Sharik Hora. Those luminaries from long ago ascertained that in the closing stages of alagai’sharak Fort Krasia would be overrun. Runes undone, the Andrah’s palace torn asunder and Nie's children free to despoil the fairest city of all. The taint and scourge of the darklings rendered our defenses useless. Just as the unending desert sands calls to sand demons, and the restless wind summons the winged foe, so too did the concentration of osseous relics summon a type of coreling never before seen - the Bone Alagai.

A blasphemous melding of the skeletons of those who have gone on to Everam's paradise, with thigh bones sprouting from eye sockets, ribs fusing into fingers and other monstrosities too foul to speak of,  the creatures made a mockery of those dal’Sharum who gave their life in alagai’sharak.

Rather than hiding the news of this hideous desecration, these visionaries brought their proof before the Andrah, hoping against hope that given warning we would be able to avert such a course. At first, the Andrah would not accept such an unpalatable message, and threw them out in fury. They did not cease their petitions, and in time, his anger appeared to give way to their entreaties. The Andrah sent word that he would hear them out again, so long as they brought all their evidence and spoke of it to no other.

That most wise of Damaji, Rashid Asu Goram am’Harzuk had in secret left an encoded copy of all documents with his most favoured jiwa, to be passed on to his son when he had completed hannu pash and emerged as a Dama. It is from these that I have gleaned the truth, passed down through the generations, for the Andrah had not recanted in his anger, and still waxed wrothful. When all his seers were assembled and the documents accounted for he accused them of plotting sedition and that their predictions were no more than couzi fueled lies – slander and an abomination of the Everjah, and put their scrolls to the torch.

He then had their tongues ripped out, later to be thrown thrown to fire demons. A rabble of the most miserable and pitiful khaffit was gathered, given lumps of wood and instructed to bludgeon the worthy prophets to death, so that they would suffer an ignominious demise. Then they were bound to stakes on the ramparts of Fort Krasia with their own entrails, so that when the wind demons carried them off that night their souls would be dismembered, screaming wordlessly for eternity beyond Everam's sight in Nie’s darkness.

You will claim that you have never heard of the great Rashid Asu Goram am’Harzuk. This is so, as the Andrah had the names of each oracle and sibyl struck from the record, never to be spoken again, on pain of sharing their fate. The knowledge of them and their “crime” faded from memory, yet their words be true – ‘ware the Bone Alagai.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Small Stones

I forget how I stumbled upon small stones - but I loved the idea of them. Its meant to be a short, descriptive piece where you're paying full attention to something, and capture it perfectly. A nice idea making you take notice of what is around you and  simple wonders, convenient as its only a titchy piece of text, and good practice for me as I tend to comma splice myself into long, rambling sentences... like this one. A lot of the ones I’ve read tend to be visual, which makes sense as it takes a lot less effort for something to catch your eye than your other senses, but I’m going to make an effort to cover everything. In the demo the instigator of this idea had, some of the steps said about trying a different sense and I’d already had a crack at them.  

I waited till our daughter arrived before I made my first one, thinking it only right she should take the premier position. Here’s my list so far, I might throw them up every month or so I reckon.  They’re not poems though there are a few haiku and a couple of the sexy new (to me) elfje - instructions for which you can find here


Our baby has arrived; a hiccuping bundle of happiness!


Lego with our young nephew.
Practicing English, burgeoning imagination.
For me, childhood revisited


Dripping sweat
Temperature rising oppressively.
Susurration of the aircon:


With blanket, hot
Without - too cold
Top sheets a rarity over here
A negligible difference, yet I pine for home


The rattle of the neighbours squeaky gate
Tho's peaceful dreaming breaths make me smile
Then the Bronx cheer of Madeline filling her nappy makes me laugh


Back at work after holidays
Yellow leaves, swept into knee high piles
A splash of colour, soon to be removed


Simple Pleasures
Hardly gourmand fare
Soggy Ramen, the opposite of al dente
A burnt lip slurping them up
But still so appealing


The insistent whine and hiss
As the pump summons the milk
Sounds like marching mecha


Banana palm in the gloaming
Surrounded by rusted corrugated iron
A splash of yellow & vibrant green
Amidst the rust and concrete


Simple sustenance: spud, quid, shrimp - scrumptious!


Tonal languages are complex
I called my father-in-law (bố) a potty (bô)
And asked my mother-in-law to please pass the vaginas (lồn) instead of the pork (lợn)
Gales of laughter ensued


Madeline Mai
Our beloved baby
Sleeps, cries, eats, poos


My classes are always raucous
Shouting like happy magpies
Their cheerfulness is infectious
Even when exhausted
Smiling imps


Perched in the rocking chair
Our newborn in my lap
One sunlit, and half in shadow
Above hidden greenery in Hanoi's bustle


Fourth term is fun
Swimming with the kids
Splashing, throwing them
Holding their heads underwater
Laughter and silliness


Flame Trees
Riot of colour
A happy, cheerful sight


Drab background shattered
Exploding like fireworks
Flame trees greet the sun

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Treasure Hunter

Back at work, so paradoxically, time to write. I’ll leave this short, so I also have time to read (and comment) on other people’s entries for the current weekly 100 word challenge - to use the word ruby.
Treasure Hunter

He stood agog, staring at the mounds of treasure. Tomb robbing was easy! He hadn’t even needed to unsheathe the sword at his hip. He unwound the sack from his waist, wishing now that he had brought more, though now he knew the route, he was already planning his return.

Gems and gold flickered and gleamed in heaped piles from his torchlight. Thrusting his torch into the jaws of jewel encrusted statue, he fell to his knees and began shoveling treasure into his sack with both hands.

The eyes of the statue flashed ruby red, and his torch went out.

Picture from here. It's one of my favourite treasure images, I've loved it for years, maybe because of the tankard