Sunday, 10 August 2014

Always Searching.

It occurs to me that our entire lives are made up of searching, in both big and small ways.  We spend just about every moment of every day either quietly or actively searching for something.  From the meaning of life, to "where the hell are my car keys", our minds are almost constantly percolating away looking for answers.

Lately, I've been searching for my inner writer.  She walked off weeks ago and took all my words with her. Even now, after finally managing to get something posted here, and hopefully breaking the block and luring her back, I find myself still casting about for direction in my writing.  And it never ceases to amaze me where ideas can come from.  I went to my favorite local cemetery yesterday, and found the next chapter of my serial.  But ideas have come from much more mundane occurrences as well.

So, as a tiny extra this week, to any who feel like sharing.  When you post, let us know one of the strangest, or most mundane things that have helped spawn a story idea?  I'd love to hear them!

Our winner this week is John Xero with (Rise #38): There are so many lovely little turns of phrase here.  Olivia's constant, quiet, bravery never ceases to inspire.  Thank you!

Also winning this week is Sandra Davies with Found Unwanting:  The amount of tension you've managed to build in so few words is brilliant.  The contrast between Helvinsson's gentle treatment of the child to his very ungentle treatment of its mother, is beautifully written.  Thank you!

And now, The Tome has finished searching for, and found, it's treat of bacon, and has brought forth new words!


The usual rules apply: 100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir. Serialized fiction is, as always, welcome. All variants and use of the words and stems are fine. You have until 11 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time) Friday, August 15th

The Gates Are Open!.


  1. congratulations John and Sandra, as usual, class writing from both of you.
    Colleen, sometimes our brain decides to take a rest, now you've got started again it should all come back.
    One of my most potent pieces of flash fiction came from a lyric in a country song, 'it's a long way to maybe sometime' I dropped the 'maybe' and It's A Long Way To Sometime produced a story very much on the lines of Richard Matheson's Born of Man and Woman, the freak in the cellar, only my freak (first person POV) gets out and goes walking...
    I listen to a lot of music when driving. Most of it sisso familiar it's brain mash but good brain mash, then something leaps out at me. If you get the chance, listen to the powerful lyrics on Bonnie Tyler's song 'Broken Hearts and Tyre Tracks' and if that title alone doesn't generate half a dozen ideas, I will be most surprised!
    Then there's mis-hearing people and mis-reading headlines, always a good one for me.

    1. Oh yes, lyrics and song titles too. Any phrase that knocks against something else in your mind, two pieces of mental flint, sparking.

    2. Songs more often work as 'colouring-in' for an already-part-formed character. Having read of Ian Rankin's garnering of newspaper articles I've tried to adopt the habit but haven't so far succeeded.

  2. Thanks, Colleen. And congratulations, Sandra. =)

    Inspiration's a funny thing. Slippery and insubstantial, indefinable and personal... I'm much more dedicated to writing than I used to be, in some respects, and I write every day, but sometimes time and mood mean I can't work on one of my main projects, so I write something else.

    If I need quick inspiration I have a number of pinterest boards. I find images great for sparking a scene or character in my brain, and I run from there. Or sometimes I just start putting random words on a page, without a clue where they will go. And sometimes those pieces are terrible, but more often they find themselves and become something, even if I ultimately go back and lose the first few lines because they were just the spell that opened the door, not the world on the other side.

    Think of a line, any line, and go from there.

    I'm a bit of a daydreamer too, and that's where half the ideas in my notepad come from. (Although, often, that's where they stay). I've always thought all the fiction we consume (whether books or films or comics or games) goes into a big cauldron in the back of our heads, and occasionally something will bubble up to the surface and pop into the forefront of our mind, some blend of ideas and flavours sourced in existing material and yet somehow also new and ours.

    1. I do write daily, but more often than not it's continuing with bigger things; the small daily observation or handwritten note has such benefits, I need to force myself back into the habit.

  3. Thank you Colleen - and honoured to be on the same step as John - well done as always.

    My very first fiction came from the left-over sentences of a (mostly) autobiographical response to a prompt, which brought forth the character of Jenna. I thought I'd finished with her after sixteen brief episodes then her baby daughter grew up ... and spawned four novels. Other prompts (usually words but sometimes pictures) sparked other characters and it's always characters who set off the rest. Story, plot, I regret, is the last to appear.
    Now some of them are beginning to meet characters from other strands; John Pettinger was co-opted into a story I wrote for Bloody Scotland and it looks like he's also a one-time colleague of another of my DIs - they're looking likely to meet in the third volume of a trilogy..

  4. A change of focus [97]

    Mortuary to cemetery was normal, for the dead.
    Pettinger, spine icy, struggled to convince himself DS Brickwood’s curtailed phone-call was due to discharged batteries.

    Reaching the crematorium he recognised Charity’s long stride, heading beyond the onion-domed replacement for the much-loved municipal baths. She ought to be his quarry but he couldn’t just abandon Ben.

    Overtaking, stopping, getting out, confronting her, ‘What have you done with him?’
    Smirking, ‘Your baby detective? I just taught him a lesson –‘
    ‘In what?’
    Airy dismissive wave of hand,.
    He growled a warning ‘Charity...’
    ‘Himself out of a hole. One-handedly. Without a spade.’

    1. this is such a tightly written instalment, with such a cutting last line! Love it.

    2. Tension iced with black humour. And an excellent cliffhanger (again!). =)

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  6. Despatched

    Women came soon as Helvinsson left me. Not from compassion: their onion tears at my grazed and bloodied spine barely hid their eagerness to be rid of me. Fearing Helvinsson would favour me they misbelieved my antipathy.
    I had to trust the boat they launched me on was whole.
    Landing upstream of where Ravenscar was systematically slaughtering Helvinsson’s best men, I’d settled child and set up camp before he appeared, bloody and thrusting a furry body at me.
    ‘Someone’s fresh-quarried meat. Our need is greater. Horse willing, we’ll leave in the morning.’
    His eyes examined me.
    Still found himself unwanting.

    1. pictures going on here, vivid gory pictures at that, painted with very few words. And another killing chilling last line.

    2. There is a pervasive harshness to every part of her story into which we sink deeper and deeper. This is dark and engaging.

  7. (cosmic discord) #17

    This is how downspace was explained to me: Imagine existence as an onion. The top layer is ours, vast and slow. But you can shortcut through lower layers, where physics, time and space are not the beasts we know.

    Mass – gravity – stretches the skin of the universe. Find a weak spot and punch through.

    The ordnance splashing around us intensified. Quantum missiles with antimatter warheads. Viruses riding wide-beam static. Anything to shut us down. They felt their quarry slipping away.

    Hunched over the shield console, tension biting my shoulders and burning down my spine, I dared not be so optimistic.

    1. "tension biting my shoulders and burning down my spine" - such simple words but so effectively put together. And I love what you've done with the onion.

    2. explanations wrapped up in fiction in a few words, painting a scenario that should be strange to us and yet seems familiar because of the ease of the writing. Brilliant.

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  9. Infinity 66.
    There be layers to an onion like no other vegetable; that be how I see this thing, this creature that hides in its quarters. Thinking on it sends shivers down this captain’s spine and that be no mean feat. I be its quarry, its owner and its keeper. God send that I keep it where it ought to be.
    And then there is the other side, the secret pride that I have that it be me that holds it there. I have to hold on to that right hard, for it would be easy to let it carry me away.

    1. No-one, but no-one, uses prompt words so smoothly as you and this is so, so tightly written, every line a gem.

    2. Layers are important in fiction, what you are shown on the surface and what lies underneath to be discovered. I kind of see this episode both as a lesson in fiction - the importance of tension flowing in more than one direction, the gaoler should be himself imprisoned - and as a great insight into the Captain and his relationship with this new element in his tale.

  10. it's been a strange week. I've been lost in Cro-Magnon times where 7/8ths of what I am getting from my narrator would spawn a whole series better than Clan of the Cave Bear, but we are restricting it to one book, one story, hers.
    Going off and talking with the Captain was almost light relief except this creature and these shadow people on board the Infinity are worrying me, even if they aren't worrying him.
    Colleen, hope the writing muse has returned - I am advertising the challenge every week in my Sunday mailing to all authors, trying hard to get them involved. Where's Tony as well? He came back, he left again... I am missing all those who used to play every week.

  11. Well done John and Sandra!


    I could almost taste her.

    Saliva thickened in my mouth.

    Her fleshy layers reminded me of an onion; she peeled open as soon as I hooked the blade beneath her skin and sliced all the way up her back, revealing the bony knuckles of her spine saturated by beautiful rubicund puddles.

    A few more minutes and my quarry would be dead.

    I never bother with cooking, it spoils the taste. This kind of meat should be served warm and fresh and washed down with drained blood.

    This one is pleasantly meaty.

    Good job really, because I haven’t eaten for days.

    1. Excellent use of 'rubicund.'

      Puts me in mind of Hemingway's old man eating the flesh of the marlin, for some reason, maybe it's the feeling of reverence towards the flesh. Rather disturbing.

    2. vivid gory imagery here, scary thought that there are people out there who do these deeds... brilliantly done.

  12. I confess I forgot entirely that the closing of the gates was my duty this week. I will have winners and words up momentarily. (Hopefully, this comment will post, as it failed to do previously.)