#FlashForFriday – Terribleminds Fairy Tale Flash Fiction Challenge

Hello lovely readers 🙂

Last week I mentioned that I was attempting a flash fiction challenge set me by my wonderful author friend J S Collyer. In this you had to pick a fairy tale to rewrite and add into it a sub genre that was not in the original 🙂 You then had to use any random number generator to help you pick your sub genre from a list on the website and I kid you not I got sword and sorcery 🙂 How perfect is that? I almost exploded with glee when I got that. Anyone who has visited my page previously will know that I am a bona fide fantasy nut. This is the result I came up with; I hope you enjoy 🙂

Cin

“Cinderellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” rang out her stepmother’s shrill voice. Cin sighed. Why won’t you die Cinderella, (after Millais) Picture  (2d, fantasy, witch)old woman? she thought as her body moved to comply to the harpies wail. She found herself ascending the stairs in their, sorry, her home. She had no desire to think of it as theirs. She still saw those upstairs as intruders.

“Yes stepmother?” she asked on a sigh as she entered the room. Sat on the chaise was her stepmother and step sisters draped in the finery that her family’s wealth bought them. They’d squandered the gold her father had earned before his ‘absolutely-not-suspicious-death-in-anyway.’ She’d been left with rags as her clothes and no shoes, her robes and staff were gone, while they had kept the gold for themselves. Her estate was almost bankrupt and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.

“Tonight is the night,” began the harpy. “We need you to go and get our robes, our staves and the armour. They won’t know what hit them,” giggled her stepmother.

“But motherrrrrr,” whined the fat sister. “How do we decide who gets the Prince?”

“We decide after the spell wears off,” informed the ugly one. Cin made a point of not thinking of them in relation to their names. That personalised them and they deserved no such consideration.

“Yes stepmother,” Cin reiterated as she went to do what they bid. The damn spell that awful woman had put on her the night she had entered her home meant she had no choice to obey. Her own considerable power had been nulled by it so she was as much a Norm as her pathetic step sisters. Norms were those born without magic and shunned by the ruling sorcerer aristocracy. An aristocracy her father had been part of…

… Cin watched as her step family streaked off to the ball on their broomsticks, sorry, in their carriages. She wasn’t envious of them per say more that she thought herself a good person and she was loyal to the royal family. Knowing the plans that her step family had for them grated on her but what could she do? She went back to the fireplace that served as her bed, sat down on her chair and sighed. She felt restless but somehow defeated, which was a feeling she loathed.

Her attention was suddenly drawn to the kitchen window she had left open as an almost transcendent bird song began as if from nowhere. Gradually a ruby red shine began and in its midst appeared a small songbird made of pure flame. Cin was mesmerised by it. She had an affinity for birds and this one was truly beautiful.

The songbird finally finished its song and looked directly into Cin’s eyes. Did the bird actually smile at her? With a tweet and a wink the bird coalesced into itself, grew and the image of her father appeared within. Cin almost swallowed her tongue. What? How? When? Her father was dead, wasn’t he? She had never actually seen a body.

“Yes I am dead Cin,” her see through father began. “Your stepmother saw to that, but I couldn’t just sit idly by in paradise while my daughter was treat the way she is. Had not time moved differently there I would have come sooner. Don’t say anything my little love, we don’t have a lot of time and we need to stop the fool woman I stupidly married.”

“How do you mean father?” Cin asked, not really knowing what to expect.

“You know only half of what they have planned. They are going to spell the Prince, marry him to one of the daughters and kill the King and Queen to gain power. My former wife believes she has enough magic to do that and we can’t take the chance that she has. You are powerful daughter, you will stop them.”

“I can’t father,” Cin sighed. “The harpy you married spelled me the first night she was here. She nulled my power and made me obey. I am helpless.” She watched as her father smirked,

“I may be dead Cin but I am not altogether powerless.” She watched as her father closed his eyes and held up his hands. Purple energy surrounded her and she heard a sound akin to a lock unlocking. She felt her power rush back to her in all its flaming ruby glory and she had to smile. It felt wonderful.

“I will empower you also daughter to ensure you prevail.” He held up his hand again and a doorway of purple flame appeared. She watched as her father reached through it and withdrew a bundle of ruby-red clothing and a staff. He blinked and the purple doorway dissipated as if it never was. He handed her the staff with a perfect, fist sized ruby floating atop of it and held the robes, armour and boots up for her to see. The robes and boots were flaming red ending in magical, transcendent flames and the armour was the purest silver. Cin was eager to put them on, they were beautiful. She took them from her father with almost reverence.

“Remember Cin, I love you always,” and with that her father disappeared back into a flaming purple birdsong and then vanished. She was touched he came as a ruby-red one for her. He was always that thoughtful. She smiled but she had to turn her mind to tonight…

…Cin stood to one side of the ballroom with her hood over her head. She had already started to garner notice from the quality of her robes and armour so she prayed her stepmother would hurry up and make her move so she could disappear again. It hadn’t even occurred to her to wonder what she would do afterwards she was that focused on her task.

The orchestra began and Cin was almost blinded by what she saw. The King and Queen came down the stairway resplendent in their robes but it wasn’t them that caught her attention. Following after them was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. He had beautiful ebony hair, handsome features and a well muscled body under his beautiful sapphire robes. Cin reasoned this must be the Prince. She was spellbound.

Suddenly she heard a familiar shrill wail that turned her stomach and hardened her heart.

“Your royal majesties,” began her stepmother. “I am Lady Lanaya and I must respectfully ask you to step down from power.” The crowd parted and her stepmother came forward flanked by her two ridiculous daughters.

“Who are you to demand such from royalty?” exclaimed the Prince, angry that someone could demand such from his parents.

“I am the new Queen,” stated her delusional stepmother. She watched as she raised her hand towards the Prince and Cin’s heart accelerated. Lime green energy flew towards him and she watched in horror as he was encased in crystal. There was gasps among the crowd and his parents seemed frozen, unsure what to do. She saw her stepmother turn with glee to the Queen and Cin knew she had to act. Stepping in front of the Queen Cin pointed her staff towards the frozen Prince and watched in satisfaction as flames engulfed him and he was once again free. She heard a distraught scream and had to smile.

“Who are you to interrupt my plans???”

“Oh you know who I am,” Cin replied and removed her hood to reveal her perfect golden features.

“Cinderella!!! My spell should have kept you at home.”

“Sorry stepmother,” Cin replied with sarcasm. “You’re out of luck. I got some unexpected help and now I’m here to stop you.”

“Pathetic child,” her stepmother spat. “I should have ended you long ago.” With that, her stepmother brought her hands together glowing the lime green of her magic. She began to swirl them in a circular motion and once a ball of lime green flame was sat between her hands she projected it towards Cin. She had to smile as the sad attempt at magic bounced off the shield of flame surrounding her.

“My turn,” Cin said with a wicked smile. She echoed her stepmother’s motions and projected her power towards her. Many songbirds of ruby red flame flew towards her stepmother with force and vengeance. Around the sad woman the power coalesced and cocooned her in bright red crystal. For her step sisters, two ruby-red songbirds plucked out each eye, penance for the torment they put her through. She turned to the royalty,

“Forgive me your majesties for bringing warfare to your home. I learnt what they had planned and couldn’t stand idly by. I leave them here  for you, for your just punishment and what they deserve.” She was about to leave when someone caught at her arm,

“Cinderella, wait,” began the Prince. “You don’t have to go so soon do you? My family and I would like to reward you for your bravery and I would like to comment on your beauty.” Cin felt her heart thaw a little at that.

“Please you don’t have to do that but a dance would be nice. I haven’t done so in so long and I so love to,” she smiled at him. “But my name isn’t Cinderella, it’s what my stepmother demeaned me by, denying me my true name. It’s Cinder named so for my affinity with the magic that burns. You however can call me Cin.”

All Hail the New Flesh by Dagda Publishing

 Where to even begin with this book? As previously mentioned this is the new anthology from the epic Dagda Publishers. It contains within thirteen futuristic tales of dystopian Worlds and technology gone mad; and my God it’s a cavalcade of creative goodness that has your mind soaring from a mix of imaginative stories and language so delectable you feel full just from the one reading.

I had initially intended to speak of only one or two of the stories within but I now know that is a distinct impossibility. Many of the stories called out to me in various ways that has my mind returning to each tale again and again. You may think I am going overboard with my description but believe me, pick up a copy, you’ll be in my mind set before you know it.

I must begin with the story from one of my best friends and my writing hero. Isaac Heights by J S Collyer is such a fantastical journey of science and emotion that it’s hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. A perfect image of a young moralistic Dr, Jasper, struggling to establish himself in a mental institute for androids is painted before your eyes in such a way that you can almost physically see the moral dilemmas he finds himself in. In retrospect, his almost fateful meeting with one of the inmates perhaps was not best for his career. Would his morals be tested? Would his belief in equality be heard? Would the ultimate freedom for all be achieved? One aspect of this story I loved was that the language use, while detailed, didn’t serve to alienate the reader from the subject matter; the language was so well written that alienation from the narrative was in no way a possibility. If I take, for example, this description ‘She was one of the most early models before they’d refined the iris spectrum. Instead of the delicate sky-blue of the newer makes he’d worked with at college, her eyes were the colour of burnished bronze,’ how wonderful is that combination of language? You have the cold description of models and spectrums expertly meshed with the almost reverent description of colours. In turn, the story flows in such a creative way that you find yourself ensconced in the narrative and eager to find out the climax; and I can promise you in that you won’t be disappointed either. This is a wonderful story of technology, suffering, conflict and perhaps, in the end, misplaced trust.

I now have to move onto the exceptionally written At the End of the World, My Daughter Wept Metal by Eric Robert Nolan. Now first off, how great is that title? I am absolutely in love with concepts of literature that sound to be idealistic but turn out to be a wonderful description of the narrative itself. It reminds me greatly of the novel that the film Blade Runner was based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, another brilliant title. But sojourn into the random aside, I have to say this story perfectly establishes for you the struggles of genius when striving to cure the World of all ills. The protagonist represents said genius in the form of Jacob Farmer, a scientist determined to advance past his research into artificial hearts to create something that would cause Human kind to heal itself of all ills. Little did he know that essentially he was catalyst to a certain type of apocalypse… but I won’t give up any spoilers here. I strongly suggest that you pick up a copy as there are twists and turns here to fully engulf you and leave you literately sated afterwards. The language use here is also exceptional; for example look at the description the protagonist uses for himself ‘The point is this – I created thinking organs. I have a genius for mechanics that rival’s Strasburg’s own. (I am not a modest man.)’ How fabulous is that? The personality of Jacob really shines here through expert language use, from his belief in his abilities to the knowledge that one day he would do something great, all portrayed in a few sentences. The effects of this wonderful narrative are one of a well written story filled with achievement, love and inevitably sadness.

My third choice is one of the stories that really had an effect on me; one of emotion and I will admit, almost a kind of fear. Taking direction by Samuel Barker is an effectual tale of loneliness, begrudging friendship and reliance on technology that borders on the extreme. We are introduced to the protagonist Ben, in his dark grey World of loneliness, and Derek his almost absent minded neighbour and occasional friend. He goes over to Derek’s house sometimes so that they can share coffee and Derek can talk of some of his inventions; at the moment he is intent on finishing a highly intellectual sat nav like device. They both make believe that Ben understands what he talks of as it relieves Derek of some of his loneliness too. What would happen if one was so lonely they were extremely susceptible to any power of persuasion? What follows is a tail of loss, obsession and at moments we are led to believe that there are aspects of the occult. Such wonderfully descriptive language is used that I am certain it will have individual effects on each and every reader; I personally was chilled after the climax, that kind of I-just-watched-a-horror-movie chilled but it may be different for other readers. I loved this descriptive section ‘”Ben.” I heard it again, so familiar, like a sheep’s bleat. But I was awake. I felt my body going rigid. Cold sweat formed under my arms… “Ben.” My heart seized up. It was Derek’s voice and it wasn’t outside; it was in the room, somewhere to my right. Close.’ Placed where it is in the narrative this served to begin that aforementioned fearful feeling and had my mind racing at the possibilities of the ending. What followed was highly intuitive, extremely creative and very thought provoking; a great story.

I have to now move onto the wonderfully written The Best Medicine by Jessica B. Bell. Again I will admit that this too started to provoke in me that same fearful feeling but this was quickly overridden by my sense of enjoyment at the well thought out story, brilliant language use and, much as the previous mentioned tales, fantastic character development. What would the World be like if it were ravaged by a disease so virulent that even loved ones became horrendously deformed, mindless enemies? Where would the search for a cure lead? This story expertly delves into the recesses of such a narrative that even from the beginning you are presented with a World left with no hope but only desperation and the will to survive. I felt that in a way I really connected with the story as the protagonist is a mother Hell bent on protecting her daughter at all costs. Having recently become a mother myself, and having the rampant imagination necessary for the survival of us writers, I could really project myself into this narrative and could easily feel the emotions that character felt as if they were my own. The part of the text that really stuck with me was ‘”Shhh!” Judy hushed her, holding a hand firmly over Helena’s mouth. The older woman’s heart was trembling in her chest, and her mouth was dry and cottony. She licked her lips and whispered: “We’ve got to get out of this house.”‘ This was just the beginning of some excellent descriptive language and I myself could feel the panic rising in me as if it were tangible. It only goes on to get better and you are ultimately left feeling satisfied with the excellent ending; one that presents sadness, loss and a twist so well written you are actually left smiling.

And lastly I want to mention the excellent Retrograde written by Seppo Kukri. This is one narrative that quite expertly melted my brain through twists, turns and language use so good you follow the story without being aware that you do; your brain is still five pages behind trying to gather up all the different detail. Now I can’t say much about this story in all without giving too much away. You are presented with a forgetful protagonist that knows he has to do something important, it’s why he is on the train, but he can’t remember what. You are eventually treat to his past and this part does actually flow so well it’s like water, even though there is literally a narrative twist on each page. A military operation left him as the sole survivor, having witnessed the gruesome deaths of his colleagues and experiencing a madness so deep no one believed him. A botched experiment on the operation had far reaching consequences that would last the rest of his life. You read and you start to think that perhaps the author missed something as a certain integral detail was different two pages before but they haven’t; this is an expertly written piece designed to leave your mind reeling while efficiently describing the unstable state the protagonist is in. I can’t even tell you much about the language without giving spoilers away. Just trust this is an exceptional piece.

Sorry for going on so long, I do tend to ramble a bit, but I just had so much to say about this wonderful book; and hopefully in a coherent manner. I have attempted to leave major plot points out while telling you of the stories so you can find out yourself about the brilliance of these new authors and what they can contribute to the literary World. Buy this book, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

And yes I too am published in here but it’s bad taste to write about my own work, especially when the genius of these above authors, not to mention the others in the anthology, is so plain to see 🙂

Thank you 🙂

Where Am I? An Update and a Smile Go a Long Way

Good evening lovely readers 🙂

Right about now seemed like a good time to flesh out where I am with my writing. So many exciting things are happening at the moment that it felt right to post about it. As mentioned in the previous post, the new anthology for Dagda Publishing is available from Amazon. All Hail the New Flesh is a collection of thirteen futuristic stories with a dystopian feel and a general theme of ‘technology gone mad.’ In this I have been lucky enough to have my short story Requiem chosen for publication; it’s a great honour and has been wonderful fuel for my creative fire. As I got overexcited and bought the kindle version this morning, a full review will be posted shortly 🙂

Next some wonderful personal news. Today I have had confirmation that I can get my novel professionally edited. The wonderful people at Dagda Publishing have agreed to edit my draft so I have the perfect version to send to publishers. I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate this as they are very busy with bringing out their fabulous novels and anthologies. I would in turn try to submit my novel to Dagda but I’m a self proclaimed fantasy nut through and through; give me sword and sorcery any day 🙂

And now to the blog news. I have to say that I do have a lot of rough copies of writing on here that I have stored for future use such as my novel idea Frozen. I do fully intend to carry on with this initial idea but as the paragraph above states I am concentrating on my original novel I Cast Magic Into the Darkness and intend to take this as far as I can. So in the meantime I hope you enjoy any posts I put on here in the future and for now take them as they are 🙂 Keep an eye out for improvements in the future.

And lastly I have a new #FlashForFriday in the creating which will be posted on here on Friday. It’s in reply to a flash fiction challenge my friend told me about where you have to rewrite a fairy tale and include a sub genre that wasn’t in the original. I am so excited in writing this and can’t wait for you to see what I have done. I hope you like it 🙂

Thank you 🙂

New Creative Yumminess

helenahannbasquiat.wordpress.com

Good evening lovely readers 🙂

First I would like to apologise as I am currently typing this one-handed. My baby girl is going through a phase of refusing to be put down. So please forgive me if there are any typos 🙂

Next I am so excited to say that the new anthology from the epic Dagda Publishers is out tomorrow. That’s right, the 25th of January. All Hail the New Flesh is a collection of thirteen futuristic short stories with the general theme of ‘technology gone mad.’ I am so thrilled to say that my best friend and writing hero Jex has had one of her short stories accepted for publication. Isaac Heights is a thrilling bout of creativity about a newly qualified doctor trying to make it in a psychiatric hospital for androids. I myself have also been lucky enough to have my short story Requiem accepted for publication. The story follows my character Ana and her fight against the infestation of ‘Bots,’ a race of self-righteous machines bent on destroying Humanity. I can already tell you that you need to pick up a copy of this; it’s a must read and you may start liking some new authors along the way. A full review will be posted as soon as I have the book to read 🙂

Have you had a stab at flash fiction? As some of you may know I have had a couple of attempts so far entitled #FlashForFriday but now I have come across an exciting challenge that I am eager to write 🙂 This Flash Fiction Challenge requires you to rewrite a fairy tale but the twist is you must add a sub genre not originally contained within the story. The website gives you options of said genre and I hope I get sword and sorcery with my random number generator. Can you see why I’m excited? It will be a fine chance for me to flex my fantastical muscle 😉 The result of this challenge will be posted on here next Friday 🙂

I’ll leave you now as I really must get the little one to bed but I will finish off by saying check out the Dagda Publishing website. They’ve started a new feature on flash fiction and Jex’s ‘Caffeine Low’ is their first pick. It’s a great read 🙂

Thank you 🙂

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