ON WRITING

Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. A. L. Kennedy

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

#WEPff challenge - UNRAVELED YARN - My yarn, A Thirst Before Dying.

It's time for the Write...Edit...Publish challenge again. Open to all, this month the prompt is UNRAVELED YARN.


I've chosen to re-post a story I wrote for #FridayFlash several years ago. I've done some re-imagining as I thought of it right away when I saw the challenge.
A Thirst Before Dying is a TALL STORY set in the Queensland outback. I was actually born on the edge of the Queensland Outback, so I love writing about it.
I've added some images of Australia for you, which will be helpful if you know little/nothing about our culture, especially our indigenous culture.

Indigenous Australians are not only the most profoundly disadvantaged group in Australian society, some say in the world, but they're certainly the most discriminated against because they're misunderstood. 
There are some references in this story you may not get, but suffice to say in Colonial Australia, Aboriginals were often referred to by a collective title, 'Jacky-Jacky' and Aboriginals used to wryly call themselves 'King George' after the English king at this time. Of course, Indigenous Australians ran rings around the 'white ghosts' when it came to surviving the outback. 
If you want to know more about surviving in the outback, watch the Australian movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence, the true story of three little girls who followed the outback rabbit-proof fence for nine weeks, covering 1,500 miles (2,400 klms) to return to their community after being snatched during the Stolen Children debacle.
So, here's one of my favorite stories, told in a sort-of stream-of-consciousness way...
Aboriginal Rock Art

A Thirst Before Dying

You don’t want me to stay with you?

No. I’d prefer to be alone.

I could stay…until…

No, it’s best to leave now, Herb. Find a way out of this god-forsaken country.

Look, Paddy, there’s water down the valley. I know it. I’ll come back with some.

Don’t worry about me, matey. Listen to me croak. Let’s invent our own bush lore — every man for himself. None of this laying down your life for your mate…

I feel bad…

No need, Herb. Just go and let me get on with it. You’d be a silly bugger to stay here. You’re the lucky one. You know I haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of surviving. I’m roasting from the inside out. I’m done for…

But…Paddy…

Go, you ugly bugger. Wipe that doleful look off your face.  Get on with it. At least one of us silly buggers will survive.

Look, it’s my fault. I was the one who got us lost. I thought I knew where I was...

Turns out you didn’t, but we aren’t the first and we won’t be the last to be tricked by the Australian bush. We broke every rule—walking away from the car, not enough water, then I go and break my bloody leg to boot. No chance of me getting out of here. Think about it. Go!

***
I woke to throbbing in my busted leg. I screamed as I rolled over, took deep breaths, tried not to pass out. How fat it’d gotten while I drowsed. I lay there, trying to will myself to feel nothing even though the sun was frying me like an egg on a car bonnet.

How will it feel to die of thirst?

I read in National Geographic about an old salt who survived seven days in the Arizona desert without water. Well, it’s about three days for me so far and I know I’m not going to break Mr Valencia’s record.

I ran my tongue around my mouth…saliva thick as paste. My tongue clung to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. A golf ball in my throat. My head and neck throbbed like I'd been hit with a golf club.

I started working on the strokes to perfect my golf handicap. A completely useless activity, but it helped take my mind off the pain.

My face felt like a full moon and my skin was like crackly parchment. Before long I’d be a raving lunatic. Hallucinating. Please don’t let me be around when that happens.

It was a tossup between pain and thirst. 

Which would kill me?

***
I’d fallen to my side while I slept. Was I going to die lolling around like some old abandoned guy in a nursing home? With a few grunts and groans I managed to heave myself up and prop my back against the red sandy rock.

The dry valley spread before me, shimmering in the heat. I swore I saw water, but I knew a mirage when I saw one.  The red and ochre of the steep gorges soothed me, taking my mind off the possibilities of that inland sea.

I’ve always loved this country, especially the outback. Unforgiving though. Only the toughest survive. Add smartest to that. Not smart to get lost, run out of petrol, run out of water.

Old Herb. I hoped he’d been smart enough to find water by now or he’d be propping up a rock too, or roasting in the sand like a pig on a spit.

***

My eyes were just slits, but I watched a pair of wedge-tailed eagles fly between the harsh blue sky and the ochre cliffs like children at play. I kept vigil like a protective parent.

It was a brutal world out here in the desert. I waved my arm around the red valley: I hereby name you ‘Tarrangaua’. It meant ‘rough red hill’ in Aborigine. I smiled to myself, feeling smart as King George.

A thick pain punched my chest. There was a whooshing in my ears. 

Here comes the deafness...

A crunching sound reverberated around my head. I swear the rock shook, so I must have reached the hallucinating stage. Didn't even need a pill! Gave them up years ago. I grinned, feeling my gums and teeth protrude like some zombie's.


‘What you doin’ sittin’ here in the sun, you silly bugger? Hardly Bondi Beach, you bum.’

My time had come. Looming over me was the Grim Reaper. A wobbly outline of a face. I blinked and it morphed into the ace of spades…with hair and beard white as snow. Topped with an Akubra hat with silver studs glinting in the sun.

‘Jacky-Jacky?’ Every Australian knows an Aboriginal tracker is called Jacky-Jacky, even a city slicker like me.

‘No mate, I’m not Jacky-Jacky. I’m Mr Theodore White, but who’s askin’? Looks like you could use some help before you turn into one tough piece of steak.’

‘Hey, I’m King George,’ I said only half-joking. Who am I again? 

‘That's my line. He died long ago, mate. You don’t wanna be him.’

He cradled my head in one of his massive black hands and let me take a few sips from his coolamon.

Coolamon
The water tasted real enough. Its coolness was the most beautiful thing. But I had trouble slugging it past that golf ball in my throat.

‘That’s enough, King George. Only a drop at a time or it’ll kill ya.’

I tried not to cry like a baby when he took the bottle away.

‘Found ya old mate.’ He tended my leg with ancient Aboriginal lore guiding his hands.

‘What? Who?’ I rasped. Oh no. Old Herb.

‘Poor old bugger. Roasting in a dry riverbed down there.’ He pointed into the red valley. ‘Musta gone to sleep thinkin’ he was in the water, seein' a mirage. No savin’ him. His face was burned to a crisp. But looks like you’ll make it. Ain’t you the lucky one? No one should die alone.’

I hope you enjoyed my story. Please click on names at the top of my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) after the name. This means the story is up and ready.

Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing if you would be so kind.




Wednesday, 6 June 2018

#IWSG post - BOOK TITLES or CHARACTER NAMES - Nah, let's promote much-loved blogger C. Lee McKenzie's new book instead!

Hello all!

Welcome to the #IWSG for June. Hope your month has been awesome and you got plenty of writing done, whether outlining your next book, writing your current book, or planning your series. 

Thanks to Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Thanks for taking the time to help out, team. I hope you get lots of visitors today.

So much to do, so little time. Which brings me to the June 6 question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names.

Well, my response to that question was a bore a minute, so I was waiting for some inspiration for my post, when I caught on L Diane Wolfe;s FB timeline that C. Lee McKenzie, that much-loved blogger has lost her husband just as she launched her latest book. Several bloggers have come to the rescue as C. Lee is hardly up for book promotion.  I'm honored to do something that may help C. Lee (I call her Clem) at this time.


Image result for some very messy medieval magic


SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC

By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie's Profile Photo, Image may contain: C. Lee McKenzie, smilingC Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand. http://cleemckenziebooks.com



Available now - Some Very Messy Medieval Magic by @cleemckenzie Barnes & Noblehttps://tinyurl.com/y8lessr9 iTunes https://tinyurl.com/yaz4sqb6 Amazonhttps://tinyurl.com/y92g67q5 #middlegrade #magic
Now I hope you'll give C. Lee's new book a look!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones at this time, C. Lee.


If you feel like a writing challenge to refresh your writing, please join us for the June WEP challenge which opened for submissions on June 1st. 


Unraveled Yarn! No, we’re not necessarily talking knitting and crochet.  A yarn is a long and rambling, often improbable, story. But we’re not talking long and improbable, a crisp and convincing flash in whatever genre you choose is what we’re after. We are open to everything, except erotica.

Serenity, meet Disaster. A lie found out, the unpicking of a tall tale. A crime taking an unexpected turn. A bad-hair day. An ordinary walk spiraling into a crisis. A romantic encounter ending in chaos.   Take your pick with the unpicking. And have fun! And get feedback on your writing!


PHOTO INSPIRATION: SUNSET OVER NICE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES IN THE WORLD,