Monday, October 31, 2011

November is going to be a busy month

NaNaWriMo starts tomorrow and I'm already wondering whether I should have signed up this year. November's a busy month already at work (I'm arranging a big meeting in London and will have no spare time at all for a couple of days) and I have a few other things coming up, like the Festive Season and running my life.

I enjoyed myself last year and was deeply pleased when I reached the 50,000 words target and even more pleased after I self published my novel. (So I've sold all of three copies. So what? I'm not in it for the glory.)

This year I have an idea that grew out of a three word week challenge I completed (and I freely admit most of that text will appear in the introductory chapter) and it basically consists of a string of short stories threaded onto the life of a central character. I love the voice (I can already hear him in my head from when I first wrote him) and I'm looking forward to being able to vent some of my natural sarcasm through him. I have about five reasonable ideas for chapters but I NEED 25!

WHAT have I let myself in for?

Friday, October 28, 2011


Every year at Christmas my Dad used to buy me a teddy bear. It started with my first ever Christmas and just became a habit. As I got older he asked me if I wanted him to stop buying them but I told him I loved every one of them, and it didn't make me feel young and stupid to have teddies, it made me feel loved.

Sometimes they were in the form of jewellery, once was even a sweater with a bear worked into the stitches. But the ones I liked best were the proper, furry bears and I've kept every one of them because they are precious.

I'd swap them all to have my dad back though.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Names have power

Read any kind of magic or fantasy literature and you'll soon find out that names have power. Knowing a person's (or being's or creature's or whatever's) true name gives you dominion over them. Think Rumpelstiltskin. Think Beetlejuice.

On the other hand, if you don't know a thing's true name you don't really want to make it angry either. (Think Incredible Hulk, or any other character who chooses to keep their true identity secret. Would you really like to piss off Clark Kent or Peter Parker?)

Lots of writers choose to use pen names, sometimes because their own names don't suit their genre, sometimes to hide their true identities (just like Superman). George Eliot, Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, J.K. Rowling, all chose to hide their gender behind their noms-de-plume.

For the purposes of blogging, I'm AJ.  For the purposes of my profession I'm known by my given name. I am never known as Annie. Unless you want to make me angry. And you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday 160. Making cow eyes.

Have you ever looked right into a cow’s soft, brown eyes?  You’ll see the depths of the ocean there, the breadth of the universe, but nothing happening behind.

160 characters for the Monkey Man. Why not visit him to see what others have produced this week?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday. Fifty five words.

How did it get to be Friday again? I love Fridays, but it seems that no sooner have I written my 55 words for the G-Man, then I’m trying to think up the next one. I know I tend to wish the weeks away to get to the weekends more quickly. Maybe that’s the problem.


The weekly challenge is to say something in just 55 words.  I'm sure other people have done much better than me this week.
Happy Friday all!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday extracts. Jenny Joseph on growing old disgracefully

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

I'm working on it.
All colours, italics and emphasis in the above are mine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday 160. Falling

This autumn seems confused: one minute it’s raining and blowing a gale; and the next there is golden sunshine and clear blue skies behind the yellowing leaves.


160 characters (including spaces) to make the Monkey Man's day. Why not go and visit to see what others have done.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FFF55: Pylons

Electricity pylons. Nearly 100 years since they were designed, and now they want to change them. Practical, efficient, elegantly supporting cables as they march across the land. Why do they need to be changed? Because some people think they are ugly. But they have a skeletal beauty, if only people would look at them differently. 

55 words for the G-Man.

A word of explanation. The UK's electricity pylon was designed in the 1920s and has done an effective job ever since. Now someone has decided that they are ugly and out of date, and that we should have a new design. There are some pretty ugly new designs on offer.  I say leave well alone. They really aren't that bad!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Words of love from Omar Khayyam

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
And pity Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse---and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness---
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Doesn't matter where you are as long as the company's right. Yes - that is my hand, holding K's.
Verses taken from the FitzGerald translation.
Omar Khayyám (1048–1131) was a Persian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. Suffolk-born poet Edward FitzGerald (1809-83) translated a number of his quatrains from Persian and collected them together under the title The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

OK - I'm in

Well, I'm registered for this year's NaNoWriMo, but I've changed my name from the last two years. You can now find me as MorningAJ. 

Are the rest of you joining in this time?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Failing to communicate

“It’s like trying to communicate with the dead some mornings. It’s not even Monday but everyone in the office is behaving like their world’s coming to an end. Grumpy - monosyllabic at best. Where’s the point?”

The young man was clearly despondent as he flopped down onto the park bench beside me. To be honest, I was a little surprised when he spoke. I have been sitting in the same spot every day for many years and it is extremely rare when anyone acknowledges me. City life can be like that: nobody really wants to get involved with anyone else.

It was a pleasant change, to have someone start up a conversation. I turned towards him and smiled, in the hope that it might cheer him up a little, and it seemed to encourage him because he continued.

“I’ve been working there more than two months now. I've never really seemed to fit in, right from the start. I have no idea why. It can’t be an age thing, because we’re all pretty much of the same generation. It can’t be my tastes because I do my best to join in with the water-cooler conversations about sport and television and music and all that. But some days it’s like I just don’t exist, you know?”

I nodded. I could sympathise with him because I used to have the same problem until a friendly soul helped me out and taught me where I was going wrong. I wondered if the same advice would help him, but I hesitated before deciding to offer it.

“You might have more success if you did.”

“Did what?”

“Necromancy: talking with the dead. There are enough of them and most of them are quite lonely.”

It was a mistake. It took a couple of seconds for the words to sink in, then the poor lad looked shocked, followed rapidly by uneasy. He stood up slowly and began to back away from me, all the time watching in case this madman he had chosen to approach made any sudden and threatening moves.

“I guess I’d better be getting back to work now,” he said as he turned and hurried away from me. “You take care of yourself.”

A little patronising, I thought, but replied anyway. “Yes, you too. Come back any time you feel you need a chat.”

He will come back. They always do. One day he will realise why the people around him behave as if he isn’t there: because from their point of view, he isn’t. He’s one of us – the dead – so necromancy is his only choice.

Of course, we just call it talking.


A very short story for Tuesday. Written because that's how the office feels this morning. Like I'm trying to communicate with the dead. And Hallowe'en's on the way. :)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday 160. Catch up.

Two days on holiday without an internet and I’m way behind with posts and comments. I hope everyone will forgive the delay. I’ll get to you eventually. Honest.


For the Monkey Man's weekly challenge.

Friday, October 07, 2011


Tears rolled down her cheeks as she read the card. “Tell her TODAY how much you love her.” So why had he never said it? Was it really that difficult?

Why did she find out this way? The card was in his wallet, which was handed over by a sympathetic nurse at the hospital chapel.


I'm lucky. I get told every day. Now go tell the person you love how much they mean to you.
Then take a trip over to see the G-Man, who will have lots of other Friday Flash 55s for your delight.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Thursday extracts: Love never ends

It might not be my religion but this is still one of the best pieces of writing about love that I've ever read.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Spring (?) cleaning

The recent warm and sunny weather had a strange effect on me. I started spring cleaning again at home. I know it's October (it was late September at the time but not to worry) but I still felt the urge to remove things that were cluttering up my life.

Same applies here. It seems increasingly that I'm visiting other people's blogs and commenting but no-one's reciprocating. So I'm having a clean-up. I'm removing some links to people I never hear from, others whose blogs seem to have stagnated and a couple that have changed direction to something that doesn't interest me.

If you are a regular visitor and I've not been round to see you lately, let me know. I try to get to everyone as often as possible, but when you follow lots of  blogs it's not always easy (and I run three different blogs, mostly with different crowds of bloggy links).

Meanwhile, if you're one of the people who never drops by, you won't be reading this and so it doesn't matter!

Hello to anyone who DOES visit regularly. And thanks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


If the world was ending tonight, how would you feel? Looking back over your life, long or short, would you be proud or ashamed; content or raging? We all have dreams when we are young, and some people achieve them. Some go out of their way to follow them, while others have them fall into their hands by happenchance. Others realise their desires are impossible and find new ambitions to take their place.

Some people’s worlds will end tonight. Lives will stop, suddenly or after a long fight, but always cruelly. Life is never long enough to fulfil all one’s aspirations. Even for those who wish that death would take them, there will always be something else hoped for but never attained. Happiness, a good job, a true love, a life well lived, a sense of completion. 

Now imagine that your world will not end tonight. What will you do tomorrow to add to your store of goals achieved? You have only one life, long or short. So make it count.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sunday 160. I must go down to the sea again

Water lapping, waves growling, sigh of surf on shore.
Rattling pebbles across sand and slow drag of kelp over rock.
Scuttling shell creatures.
Sound of the sea.


Exactly 160 characters (including spaces) for The Monkey Man.  Actually, we went to the seaside yesterday and it was wonderful.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Bar encounter

Here's a little something from a project I have underway at the moment.  Sorry it ends rather abruptly, but the real last sentence (which isn't the last sentence in the work, if you follow that) gives the game away a bit.  She's not exactly Jessica Rabbit, but I have to admit the character was in the back of my mind as I wrote.


It was the voice that I noticed first. From somewhere over on the other side of the bar I heard: ”Just call me Gina, darling!” followed by a deep-throated chuckle. I looked across and saw a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1930s movie. She had one arm resting on a red clutch bag on top of the bar, and she was poised on a high seat, keeping her balance by means of a gracefully outstretched leg, whose red, patent-leather shoe ended the ballerina-esque pose with the slightest contact of toe and floor. The other foot rested on a strut of the stool to help push her upper body into a high stretch. She was dressed in a tailored white suit with a skirt that rode high on the thigh because of her posture.

Her back was slightly arched and shoulders pulled down and level to accentuate the shape of her small, round breasts; her elongated neck emphasised a strong chin and high cheekbones. Her flawless make-up enhanced her clear, green eyes and her golden-russet hair was swept away from the face into an elegant chignon. She leaned gently towards her companion as she offered him the unlit end of a cigarette that was nipped in a long, black, lacquer holder, the other end kissed by her flame-red mouth. The nail polish on the hand that clasped it matched her lips, which she pursed gently as he held up a lighter in trembling hands. She slowly blinked, then opened her eyes as she sucked hard on the lacquer tube, and I could see that the poor sap was enchanted.

“She’s having you on, mate, not to mention out of your league," I thought as I watched the pantomime.