Thin Spiral Notebook’s “100 Word Challenge”: Sleep

ThinSpiralNotebook has launched another great 100-word challenge. Today’s theme is “sleep”.

Here’s my entry. Enjoy!

They said the pills would help me sleep.

I know better. The pills appeared after the day they found the cat. It wasn’t my fault the house pet ended up ripped apart and floating in the bathtub. It looked at me funny.

Mum and Dad warned that if I ‘caused trouble’ again, they would send me to a special place for disturbed kids.

Take the pills, they said. They’ll help you sleep and stop doing this.

They regretted that. Now they’re the ones in the bathtub. My baby sister is screaming, but I already took my pill. Time to sleep.


You Need an Editor.

I love indie books. I buy and read at least a few a month, and like to ‘discover’ up and coming writers by being one of the first to write and review their work. For example, I was one of the lucky people who got to read Amie: An African Adventure during its early stages. It now has over seventy reviews.

Amie An African Adventure by Lucinda E. Clarke

One downside to indie books is that writers are often so excited to publish that they skip over what is possibly the most important step of all – editing and proofreading.

There is a lot of stigma towards indie books, and a large part of that is lack of professional editing. Narrative is sloppy, potentially fantastic scenes are cut short or lack rhythm, and continuity errors and plotholes cause people to stop reading and, unfortunately, fan the flames of the unfortunately popular opinion that “indie books suck“.

I haven’t sold thousands and thousands of books. I’m young, still climbing my way up the literary ladder, and am still virtually unknown. I haven’t given lectures or taught classes on how to write a great book.

What I have done is proofread over twenty books, essays and memoirs. I have an eagle eye for spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammatical errors. From a young age I could read, spell and write well, and because of my love for books and reading, the written form of the English language has not only been my strength, but my passion.

It makes me happy that I have found a way to contribute to the world of indie literature.

I’m not asking you to hire me. I’m not telling you that I’m the best proofreader you’ll find out there. I’m telling you that I’m affordable, passionate and as well as helping you polish the written quality of your work, I’ll also point out plotholes, continuity errors and my opinions on certain characters or the storyline. Click here for more details on my services, including prices.

You need an editor. Please don’t publish before you’ve found one. Let’s make your book professional and loveable.

Re: Assignment: Secret Seers

Our Write Side has challenged authors to write a short story based on one of three prompts:
  • Broken Moon
  • Shrunken Revelations
  • Secret Seers
(Read the full submission post, including rules, here.)
I chose “Broken Moon”, and decided to revamp a scene from one of the old Fire Princess stories I wrote when I was a kid. PLEASE bear in mind that I was twelve years old when I wrote this, and my published works are much better! This is just for the fun of contributing to Our Write Side.

“Are we going back to the Youth Hostel?” Kerry asked as we zoomed through space.

“No,” Fios said. “We don’t have to run away any more. We have Tiene.”
Somehow, I still had the sword at my side. I nodded.

“Right, so we’re going to the Earth’s moon,” said Fios in a determinedly cheery voice. “And if Harry and Lorraine are still there, then -” he looked at me, and I nodded again, feeling nervous.
“But what if they aren’t?” Terry asked. “What if we get there and it’s just a – a mass of buildings and – and bodies?”
I could almost feel the blood draining from my face.

“Now don’t be silly,” Fios choked. “We all know that – can’t be true.”
“It could be.”
“Oh, stop it, Terry,” Kerry suddenly snapped. “You always have to look at the miserable side of things, don’t you?”

Terry didn’t answer. We flew past the dark blue Mercury, then Saturn, which was yellowish-orange, then Jupiter, the massive reddish-orange planet. I remembered meeting Fry there two years ago when the Magic Pebble had transported me from a beach on Earth.

Five minutes later, we passed Mars. The next stop was the Earth’s moon.

I felt like I didn’t want to get there. I just wanted to keep flying forever, past planet after planet, not knowing where to stop.

But we did get there eventually, of course. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the large grey ball looked the same as usual, only there weren’t as many buildings as before. I thought about when Lorraine and Harry burst open the Torah’s Arms Bar and shuddered. Horror crept over me. How could Icy and I have been so ignorant as to let all this happen?
Nearly the whole journey was completed in sullen silence but as we got closer to the moon I could feel the tension rising. Nobody said a word until Fios yelled, “Stop!” and we all skidded to a halt, hovering in midair.

“Don’t go any further,” Fios warned, eyeing the moon.

“Why not, Fios?” Carl asked, his magnificent birds’ wings flapping slowly, and holding Crystal in his arms like a baby.

“Just don’t!” Fios hissed. “Look!”

We all looked carefully. Icy grasped my arm and pointed. Two blue figures were whizzing round and round the moon in a continual orbit, making soft whizzing sounds. It was Lorraine and Harry.

“They must have taken over the moon!” Fios shouted.

“But, Dad – they won’t have killed anyone, would they?” Shenog asked, his huge orange eyes scared.

“I – I don’t know.”
I thought of everyone I knew on the moon. Sally, my next door neighbour, and her mum, Harriet. And of the Torah’s Arms Bar owner, Gordon. And what about their houses? Would they be destroyed? And what about Sally’s house? What about my house? Thank goodness I rescued the sword before Lorraine and Harry could find it, I thought, but a choking worry was starting to build up in my chest.

The blue figures flew at the speed of light round and round the moon, leaving tails of blue light behind them. We watched.

“We can’t just wait!” Kirsty wailed suddenly.

“You’ll have to,” said Fios, clutching at Webber’s back. I looked at him, something nagging me at the back of my mind. Then I realised.

“Fios,” I said, “I thought you could fly?”

Everybody looked round at Fios. Fios looked back. “What do you mean, Tiene?” he asked.

“When I rescued you from the police station on Earth when I was thirteen, we only got away because we flew there!” I exclaimed. “You said ‘Tiene, I think I’m ready to fly now.’ Then you grew bird’s wings and took off, and I grabbed your feet. You don’t need carrying!”
Webber craned his neck to look at Fios. “Is this true?” he asked. “You can fly and you’ve always made us carry you?”
“Please, hear me out,” Fios begged. Webber glared at him. “I can only fly in an emergency, when my life could be in danger. Any other times I cannot fly.”
“Of course,” sulked Webber.

We continued watching Harry and Lorraine circle the moon. I didn’t know why, but it chilled me to watch them. Then suddenly, they stopped.

“Why have they stopped?” Crystal asked.

“Oh no!” Fios suddenly cried, pointing at the moon.

What I saw next chilled me to the bone.

An enormous black crack had appeared roughly down the centre of the moon. With a sickening noise the crack descended down the middle of the moon and then to the bottom. We couldn’t do anything but watch in horror as the half on the right slowly fell away from the other half and drifted slowly towards Earth.

“Look what they did!” Kerry screamed, as the half of the moon fell farther towards Earth.

“Well, I don’t know about you lot,” I shouted. “But I’m going to try and get that bit off moon before it destroys Earth! My family’s down there!”

Icy nodded. “I’m helping,” he said. “My grandad’s down there. I can’t just watch him die.”

“We’re all coming,” said Kirby. Ross had turned white but nodded too.

Webber looked worried but I knew he was coming. Kerry and Terry nodded too; and Carl and Crystal looked ready.

“Come on then!” I called.

“Wait!” shouted Fios. “How do you think we’re going to stop half the moon crashing down?”

“I don’t know, Fios,” I said as we flew towards the half of the moon. “I really don’t know, but we have to do something.”

“We can do it together,” Ross said, his voice shaking.

As we flew at top speed we saw that the half of the moon was going too fast for us to keep up. We’d be too tired to do anything else.

“I have an idea,” said Ross suddenly, and flew past us and disappeared. Kirby and Carl followed him. The moon suddenly started to be going a lot slower. Kirby flew back in excitement. “He’s pushing the moon the other way!” she exclaimed. “I never knew his power was super-strength!”

“We’ve got to hurry!” Kirsty shouted as the blue and green ball of Earth got steadily closer. There were Torahs on this part of the moon. We couldn’t just destroy it…

“Kirby!” I suddenly yelled. “I have an idea! Run all over the moon and round up all the Torahs into a crowd! Webber, when Kirby’s done that, web all the people together and you and Ross and I can carry them back up to the other half of the moon.”
Kirby nodded and zoomed off in a blur of green. The surprised Torahs were all rounded up in a large crowd together. Webber spun thick, white webs from his palms and tied up all the Torahs together like luggage. Ross appeared and carried the people, flying back to the moon. I watched them in awe, then turned to Kirby.

“Is everyone off the moon?” I asked.

“Yes,” she panted. Her hair was sticking to her forehead. I patted her and quickly turned to Icy.

“Icy, I need you to freeze the moon all over.” I said. Icy nodded, and put his hands on the moon. I watched in anxiety. Would Icy be strong enough to freeze half the moon? And would he do it before the moon entered the Earth’s atmosphere, which we all knew would make the moon travel much, much faster?

Ross flew back with Webber and quickly flew back to the front of the moon to slow it down with his super-strength. Kirby and Kirsty both looked a bit helpless. Carl and Crystal had disappeared.

When Icy had frozen most of this half of the moon, I could see he was getting tired, although he didn’t want to show it. His face was screwed up in pain and his hands were starting to blister. I wished I could help him, but I have fire powers. The only help I’d be able to give him was to melt the ice he’d made. All of the moon that we could see was now covered in ice.

“Kirby! Check that the moon has been covered!” I shouted. Kirby zoomed off with Kirsty and appeared a few minutes later with the thumbs up. I grabbed Icy’s strained arms and pulled him off the moon. He leant against my chest, his breathing alarmingly shallow.

“Icy? Are you all right?” Kirsty said, flying towards us and looking at Icy.

“Just a little more,” I said quietly. “You can do it, you can -”

Then I realised. I couldn’t help him with my powers, I could help him with my power.

My hands were on his shoulders, and without even knowing how I did it, I forced all my being, all my love, into Icy. I could feel myself burning, my skin covered in flame, my mouth screaming, as I plunged my entire soul into Icy. I could see Icy’s hands growing stronger, the ice covered the entire moon, and now, we’d done it. I let go of his shoulders and felt myself lunge back into my body…

“How did you do that?” I Kirby cried, shocked. “Icy?”

“He’s weak,” I replied. “Listen – you and Kirby take Icy to the other half of the moon and see if you can get help for him.”
Reluctantly Kirby and Kirsty carried Icy off and I turned back to the massive rock that was now covered in thick ice.

“Now what?” Ross yelled from the tip.

“Now – let go of the moon!” I shouted. This was it. My share in stopping it. Ice bursts if you heat it up too quickly.

I tried to let go of my strangled fear and imagined a fire, a burning hot fire. I knew it had worked before I’d opened my eyes. The massive flame, bigger than any I’d produced before, zoomed towards the moon and covered it in the flames. The ice sizzled and then the moon exploded; bits of rock went everywhere.

It hadn’t worked.

The moon had indeed exploded like I’d planned, but now there were smaller bits of rock, about as big as a person, flying towards the Earth. I watched desperately, all my energy nearly gone. What now? I wondered.

Then Carl and Crystal appeared. My heart leapt. Carl carried Crystal way above his head – and Crystal took off her sunglasses. Blinding light issued from her eyes, sending rays of strong burning light out of them. She zapped at the rocks with her laser vision; the rocks exploded now properly. Ross appeared next to me, his muscles looking strained and looking immensely tired, but we flew over and watched Crystal destroy the last piece of rock.

That was it. The Earth was safe. We’d stopped that half of the moon from destroying Earth!

Kerry and Terry zoomed towards me and gave me a hug, laughing and crying. Ross and Kirby were hugging each other; Webber and Carl and Crystal were all talking rapidly.

“Quick, back to the moon,” I said, and we started to fly towards the other half of the moon. “Where’s Fios?”
I wondered briefly whether the half that we destroyed had my house on it or not, but I decided not to worry too much about it yet. It was so strange, flying towards half a moon instead. I was hurt all over but the wounds felt oddly detached. And where were Lorraine and Harry? Had they gone to another planet to take it over?

We landed on the edge of the moon. It was packed with Torahs. It wasn’t very surprising seeing as there were twice as many Torahs on half the space as usual.

We finally managed to find Fios. “Fios! We did it!” Ross panted.



Other Authors Are Not Your Rivals.


I think I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but it suddenly cropped up again. I’d like to make one thing clear to writers, particularly of the indie variety.

HISTORICAL FANTASY: “The Bone Flower Throne” by T.L. Morganfield

So you’re a writer. You wrote a book, and you poured your heart, soul, energy and time into it. It took a few months. A year. Maybe longer. After careful planning, editing (whether doing it yourself or paying someone to do it) and wrestling with yourself, you finally published it. A few months later, you’ve ran out of ways to market. You agonise over your low sales figures, and often think about packing in this writing lark altogether. Meanwhile, a writer friend (or acquaintance, perhaps) of yours makes writing, publishing and rolling in the bucks look easy. You’d never admit it to them, but their apparent success where you are failing makes you feel resentful, even jealous. “Why can’t I be like that?” you wonder, in the darkest recesses of your mind. “What makes their work any better than mine?”

I have one question for you. What the hell are you thinking?

URBAN FANTASY: “Dauntless” by Thomas Atwood

Let me explain. Imagine that there are two businesses. Both offer products or services that are very similar. For the sake of argument, let’s say that these two businesses sell beauty products.

They design and sell lipsticks, mascara, eyeshadow and fake eyelashes – you get the idea. When one business successfully launches a product that sells hundreds of thousands of units, the other business suffers. They’re rivals, constantly trying to outdo one another, in the hope that they come out on top.

This is not the case for being a writer. Or any kind of artist, for that matter.

Readers don’t pick up one book, stick to it and make the author “win” above other authors. Readers read. They read books from a variety of authors, and their love for one writer doesn’t stop them reading others. Sure, they may have one or two favourites, but their love for one writer doesn’t put them off checking out others.

Unlike the two businesses competing for customers, other writers are not your rivals. They are your power.

FANTASY: “The Assassin’s Remorse” by J.M.D. Reid

Why do you think there are so many writing clubs and communities out there? Why do you think on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook there are hundreds of online writing pages where people read each other’s work, review and recommend books they liked?

Because other writers are not your rivals. If you believe they are, and you let other people’s success upset you (or let their failures please you), then I’m afraid you won’t get very far. Writing is one beautiful, painful and precious art that writers and readers find utter joy in. Life’s a journey, not a destination. The only success that matters is your own.