Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thinking Ten - So Far...

I have been recently been writing pieces at the cool site Thinking Ten. Here is a list of pieces I have done so far. Feel free to have a look...

Til Death Do Us Part

The Lovin' Spoonfuls

My Favourite Haunt

Memories On The Breeze

S'nuffin' But A Good Time

Accidental Bombing On The News

Sad Wings Of Destiny

Kill Me Again

This is two weeks worth of posts...will try to keep them a little more regular from now on.

If you have the time, pop in and have a look. Most posts are only 3-4 paragraphs, and the site itself is great practice.

(Near) Death Of A Salesman

Last week, I failed to get a piece in for Friday Flash Fiction due to a number of reasons. This week, Cormac Brown is having a well-deserved week off so I thought I would use this time to write a story using last week's starter sentence which was supplied by none other than Paul D. Brazill.

(Near) Death Of A Salesman

The trouble with me is that I never realise how deep in the shit I am until I'm choking on the stuff. Right now, I don’t reckon I could have gotten any deeper – face first in the gutter, a boot on the back of my head, and a couple of shotguns pointed at me. Yeah, I reckon the shit was pretty deep right now.

Right from the get-go this morning I knew today was going to turn to shit. A flat tire kicked off my morning, the temperature was going to be in the high thirties, and my decidedly younger girlfriend had decided it was time to call it quits as her father had threatened that if he found out who was doing his teenage daughter, he was going to kill them – slowly.

I stopped in at the corner deli for a sandwich and a cool drink. Sitting in the air-conditioned comfort, I decided that today was going to be my last. Twenty-nine calls this morning and I could only convince one person to join up. I stared at the “best chance” cards in my hand and decided that one more would do and then I would hand in my resignation. The boss wouldn’t care – he fucking hates me anyway.

After lunch, I drove to my final door-knock in the insurance game. It was a huge place – a mansion, some would say. A circular driveway took me right up to the front door where I was greeted by two huge Dobermans, eager to take chunks of my flesh for their dinner. A man appeared at the doorway, whistled, and the dogs disappeared around the back of the house as quickly as they had appeared.

I got out of my car and headed for the door. The guy, dark hair slicked back, looked as if he had just recently stepped out of the shower – or a Hollywood Mafia film. Either way, I didn’t want to disturb him for any longer than I had to so I approached him and cleared my throat.

“Good afternoon, Sir, are you the man of the house?”

The homeowner didn’t respond. Instead, he nodded his head towards the door and ushered me inside.

The interior of the place was captivating; floor-to-ceiling mirrors, crystal chandeliers and leather couches. What caught my attention more, however, was the silenced pistol that had magically materialised in his hand.

“Who the fuck are you?” The stranger took one step towards me, expressionless as he lifted the pistol and aimed it directly at my head. “And what the fuck do you want?”

“Dude, I am just an insurance salesman – I just sell insurance.”

“Do I look stupid to you? Do you think I am a complete idiot? Is that what you think?”

I didn’t know how to answer him. The gun was making me nervous and I looked around, trying to locate any avenue of escape. He smiled at me, closing the distance between us until I could smell his cologne (or quite possibly what he had had for lunch.)

“So, you are just a lowly insurance salesman, huh? Life insurance, I hope – for your sake.” He looked me up and down, and seemed to realise that I was no threat to him. “Okay, I’m interested.”

I didn’t have the faintest notion how to sell insurance to a man holding a weapon and I could sense that he would use that gun with only the slightest provocation.

“Do you mind pointing that thing somewhere else while I get the paperwork out my bag? It is really making me nervous.”

The stranger chuckled and nodded, placing the pistol down gently on the end stand next to the couch.

Just as I started on the company spiel, a young, gorgeous brunette walked in the front door. She bounced into the lounge-room where I was and came to a grinding halt. The smile dropped from her face as she recognised me, and I her. She shook her head and gestured silence.

“Hi Daddy, how was your morning?”

I felt myself groan inwardly. Daddy? Oh, I am such a fucking dead man.

“Hey, princess. Been keeping out of trouble?”

“Always, Daddy, you know that.” Daddy could see me staring at his daughter; I hated to think what kind of expression was plastered on my face – didn’t take long to find out.

“What are you staring at, asshole?” He picked the gun back up and ran his fingers across the black steel. “Not staring at my daughter, I hope.”

“No, Sir, I wasn’t staring at Heather...” Oh shit.

“How do you know my...”

“Daddy, can I see you in the office? Like, right now?”

I could see Daddy was torn between the wishes of his daughter and wanting to find out how I knew his daughter’s name.

“You stand right fucking there and don’t fucking move or I will shoot you dead on the spot. I ain’t done with you yet. Capisce?”

I nodded dumbly, afraid to make even the slightest movement for fear of discovering just how serious he was.

Heather and her dad had been gone only a few moments when I heard shouts from the other room. All I could make out were the words bastard (him) and run (her). I figured that was my cue and made a break for the front entrance.

Flinging the front door open, I made a break for freedom. In my haste I failed to notice the two burly guys sitting on the bonnet of an Olds in the driveway, nor did I see them step quickly in my path. What I did see, however, was the giant fist as it careened into my face and knocked me on my ass. I struggled to get to my feet until one of the human tanks connected his right foot with my ribcage, sending me sprawling into the gutter.

So, here I lay - face first in the gutter, a boot on the back of my head, and a couple of shotguns pointed at me. Yeah, I reckon the shit was pretty deep right now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blog*Trivia*Challenge - At The Bijou

Everyone likes a challenge - Absolutely*Kate does things LARGE!

So when Kate fires up the ol' Bijou and issues a challenge, you can always be assured of one thing - it is going to be a blast!!

Head on over to and check out the challenge HERE.

As a side note, Absolutely*Kate has also included her list of Sunshine Awards here. Go and see who brightens her day - you may find a spot of sunshine for yourselves!

I would also like to take the time to thank Kate for her support of my writing and many other writer types. She works ceaselessly to promote others and deserves all the recognition that I can throw her way.
Kate, you are truly a one-of-a-kind gal...that's why we loves ya!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunshine Of Your Blog...

"I've been writing not long
You be where I'm going
In the sunshine of your blog..."

Okay, I know that was bad but I had to try and think of something...

David Barber, a very cool and versatile writing dude, has nominated me for a Sunshine Award. The rules for me were pretty simple to follow:

1. Put the logo on the blog within your post.

2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.

3. Link to the nominees within your post.

4. Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.

5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So, thanks David, I do appreciate it.

So, on to my list. It is as follows:

Absolutely*Kate & Amazing Ensemble - At The Bijou
Laurita Miller - Brain Droppings
Anthony Venutolo - Bukowski's Basement
Daniel Stine - Daniel's In China
Jodi MacArthur - Fiction Writer - Jodi MacArthur
Lee Hughes -
Erin Cole - Listen To The Voices
Mike Whitney - Livin' In The Hills
Michael Solender - Not From Here, Are You?
Tess Dickinson - Thoughts From Tess
Nicole Hirschi - CJT's Word Vamp
Paul Brazill - You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thinking Ten - A Writer's Playground

"Each weekday morning, a themed writing prompt will be posted. What improvised story ("daily flash") can you create in ten minutes?"

That is the introduction to Thinking Ten - A Writer's Playground. Created by Blake N. Cooper, I stumbled across this site from a link he had added at Six Sentences.

The Point
Practice—that's the point of Thinking Ten. My goal, here, is to create a place you can come to each day to get your reps in, learn from others in the ThinkingTen community, and, ultimately, strengthen your craft.

The creative process—more specifically, the art of preparation and practice—feels like it's fading and this site is my attempt to reverse the trend. Full disclosure: I want to be part of your day—if only for ten minutes. No matter at what level you consider your writing skills to be, it is my hope that you jump into the ThinkingTen world, practice your craft by participating in the daily (weekday) prompts, and offer some feedback to other writers putting themselves out there.

Do yourself a favour and go and have a look. It has certainly been a great experience for me so far.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Community Spirit - FFF#27

Another week, another excellent challenge at Friday Flash Fiction. This week, in lieu of a starter sentence, Cormac Brown offered up four words to be incorporated in our stories. Sounded easy, until I realised that I didn't even know what one of them meant...

The four words were: Cache, Cashew, Eschew, Through. Hope you enjoy it and, as always, any tips on improvement or typo-spotting always welcome.

Community Spirit

Alice had been working for Meals on Wheels for over a decade now and Mrs. Helder, her first delivery of the week, was by far the grumpiest (bitchiest) client she had. Not the greatest way to start the week.

Pulling up outside Mrs. Helder’s apartment block, Alice quickly shut off the radio, got out of the car and retrieved the small cache of food and medicine from the boot. Alice still could not believe that one woman could go through so much in one week.

The street outside Mrs. Helder’s seemed unnaturally quiet. This was not the wine-and-caviar section of town (more the beer and cashew nuts crowd) but still, she expected to find people milling about, small children playing in the street. She studied the faded and decaying building, the paint peeling badly and more than a few windows boarded up. No wonder this was the last refuge for the elderly, desperate and poor.

Heaving open the side entrance door, her senses were immediately assaulted by the smell of piss and decaying food, making her gag. Alice could never get used to that stench, no matter how many times she came here. Taking a shallow breath (she didn’t want to risk a deep one), Alice knocked on the door of number twenty-three. She heard footsteps in the hall beyond the door and a weak voice asking who was knocking. Alice found that strange; she usually just peered through the spy-hole that Alice had installed for her on her second visit. Maybe she couldn’t see very well as the light bulb on the landing was missing – probably stolen.

“It’s just Alice, Mrs. Helder. Got your delivery.” Alice waited patiently at the door as she heard the locks being disengaged. The old lady had four massive door chains and her hands were full of arthritis. It usually took her a few minutes to unlatch them all.

While she waited, she thought about the other residents in this block; she had come to know many of them during her visits. They were mainly retirees, unable to afford to live in private rental accommodations. They were a different community to what she was used to; she lived in tidy streets and leafy neighbours, they lived in a run-down apartment block, surrounded by drugs, guns and violence. She may as well be visiting another planet.

She sensed someone behind her, watching her and she turned to find Mr. Jackson, the Gulf-War veteran, peering at her from behind the mesh security door. His face was a mass of mangled flesh and deep scars and, even in this light, she could see that he was concerned about something. He was leaning heavily on his walking stick, looking much older than his fourty-nine years.

“I don’t think you should be going in there today, Miss. Bad things are happening here.”

Before she had time to ask him what he meant, the door to Mrs. Helder’s apartment was flung open and Alice felt a hand grip her forearm and pull her through the door. Her left shoulder collided with the door frame and she cried out; not in pain but in surprise. A split second later, pain caused her to groan, this time as she lost her footing and landed heavily, head first, against the solid oak coffee table. She felt the air rush out of her, leaving her doubled-over, gasping for breath. She noticed two men in the room. Seconds later she was left writhing in pain as one man unleashed a hellish right boot into her ribs.

Rolling ever so gently onto her side, Alice could see Mrs. Helder on the couch – hands tied behind her back and a gag in her mouth, held in place by a thick strip of black tape. The other man was sitting beside her, a handful of the old woman’s hair gripped in his fist.

“Who the fuck are you?”

It was such a simple question but said with such force and anger, it felt like a slap across Alice’s face. She couldn’t find the breath to answer so she attempted to reach for her purse, to offer her work credentials. The man nearest her stalked across the floor and planted that big heavy boot down on her wrist, causing Alice to scream in agony once again.

“It’s alright, sweetheart, I can get it.” Bigfoot reached into her purse, surprisingly still slung over her shoulder and grabbed for her identification. He let his hand wander slightly, brushing against her breast and leaving it there for the shortest time, but to Alice it felt like forever.

“Alice Knowles – homecare worker.” Bigfoot looked down at her with disdain. “Isn’t that bloody civil-minded of you?” He tossed her plastic ID across the room and emptied her purse onto the floor beside her. Alice had been brought up to eschew ne’er-do-well’s and, as such, she had no point of reference of how to react to the disorienting predicament she now found herself in.

The other man, so far silent, rose from the sofa and walked to the middle of the room, took Alice’s chin in one hand and slapped her hard across the face with the other. “Interfering bitch,” she heard him declare. “Take her to the spare room and do whatever you think necessary, but make it quick,” he had directed his accomplice. “Once we get the cash out of the old cow, we are out of here - and you know what that means for these two.”

Alice felt bile rise in her throat, despair like a lead weight in her heart. Bigfoot grabbed her roughly by the hair, hauling her to an upright position. She couldn’t put any weight on her legs, pain still shooting through her side where she had caught the kick earlier. Half-carried, half-dragged, Bigfoot led her down the darkened hallway into a small bedroom. It was an elegant room, considering the building that contained it and Alice had a crazy thought that if she was going to die, at least it was in a beautifully furnished room. Mrs. Helder obviously had more means than the Social Security documentation showed. Alice giggled insanely to herself at the shrewdness of the old woman.

Bigfoot threw her roughly onto the small bed in the corner of the room, the spring groaning in protest of the sudden weight upon it. Alice felt tears come to her eyes once more as Bigfoot hit her closed-fisted in the chin, a rush of darkness enfolded her then quickly disappeared as she felt hands on her body, trying to remove her top. She fought hard but he was bigger, stronger and more determined. She heard him undo the zipper on her pants and felt him pull them down to her knees. She felt his body on her. She could smell alcohol and onions on his breath. She quietly prayed to a God she had believed in as a child, that she would get through this, if only with her life intact.

Without warning, a man appeared at the window, a finger against his lips, telling her to keep quiet. He showed her a gun, and motioned to Bigfoot, indicating that he was the target. Alice was more frightened now; what if the shot went astray, killing her by mistake? She shuddered involuntarily under Bigfoot. The man at the window put his hand to his ear, apparently in communication with another person. He took his hand away and held up three fingers. Two fingers. One finger...

The noise was deafening; glass shattered and Bigfoot spun around in surprise. The look of surprise was more pronounced when he removed his hand from his neck, discovering the blood and slumping onto the floor beside the bed. Gunfire erupted in the same instant from the front room, where Mr. Do-What-You-Think-Necessary had been with Mrs. Helder. Alice prayed that whoever was out there was as accurate a shot as the man now climbing in the shattered window in front of her. The new arrival bent down, placed his fingers against Bigfoot’s neck and stood again, nodding with satisfaction.

“Clear!” came a voice she recognised.

“Clear!” replied the man in the bedroom, who was now helping her into a dressing gown that had been hanging from the back of the door.

The door opened and in strode Mr. Jackson from across the hall, no longer looking feeble and crippled. Alice had never been so happy to see another human being in her life – except maybe for the man who had come into her life only a minute before.

“Ah, Miss Knowles, I see you have met Mr. Gibson.”

“But...what...?” Alice stammered.

Mr. Jackson placed a kind-hearted arm around her shoulders. “Never mind, there is plenty of time for explanations. Let’s get you and poor Mrs. Helder to the hospital and we can talk later.”

Alice leaned into the comforting embrace.

“Okay, I can live with that.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's The Story With Australian Fiction?

I stumbled across this article this morning. It kind of terrified me as far as the market for writers in my country. Some of the statistics are damning, and I worry about the direction this country is heading.

Have a read and see what you think.

What's The Story With Australian Fiction - The Age

Friday, April 2, 2010

"The Celebrity Game" up now at BlinkInk

A new story of mine - entitled "The Celebrity Game" - is now up at the brilliant site of fiction snippets, BlinkInk.

Thanks to Lynn Alexander and BlinkInk for posting this piece on their site.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Has Sprung at The NOT!

Michael Solender - host of the fantastic blog site not from here, are you? - recently hosted a Spring Has Sprung challenge. From what I can gather from Michael, he received millions of entries (well, maybe that could be an exaggeration...) and the winners, runners-up and honourable mentions are all now being showcased on his blog.

A mighty roar of approval for the grand prize winner, Angel Zapata, with his hauntingly beautiful piece, The Careful Seal Of Her Song. It deserves all the attention and words of paraise it has received. A fine write, Angel - definitely one for the resume!

Congratulations also to the runners-up and honourable mentions who Michael chose. There are some very good pieces of flash from brilliant writers such as Erin Cole, Laurita Miller, Nicole Hirschi, Gita Smith, Hazar Worth, John Wiswell and many others. Please, do go and have a read...I promise you won't be disapppointed!