Category Archives: Just for fun

Valentine’s Day – Love Bites

In honour of Valentine’s Day I’m sharing a Valentine’s Day excerpt from my story ‘Love Bites’. Enjoy!

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The pedestal fan in my lounge room pushed around the muggy heat without offering much relief. I cracked a window and sighed in relief as the cool air flowed in. Finally the cool change had arrived. I pushed the window open as wide as it would go, then opened the window in the kitchen, too, so I could heat up a frozen pizza in the oven. Flicking through TV channels, I settled on an old black and white movie. I’d barely snuggled under blanket on the couch with my pizza when there was a knock at the door. I lay my pizza down with a sigh and answered it. A floral delivery lady stood outside with a bunch of yellow gerberas and a heart-shaped box.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said, smiling as she handed the flowers and box to me.

I thanked her and went to the kitchen to fill a vase with water. I put the flowers in the vase and pulled out the card to see who had sent them.

To my favourite gal pal. Love Stu.

I smiled to myself as I peeked inside the heart-shaped box to find it full of my favourite chocolates (the ones with the cherry centres). Stu and I had been good mates since high school. He always knew just how to cheer me up.

I placed the box of chocolates beside the couch for later while I finished off my pizza. I’d barely sat down when another knock at the door interrupted me. I trudged back over to answer it.

It was Todd. Muscles bulged beneath his skin tight white t-shirt and his shaved head gleamed under the porch light. He held a single white rose and a box of chocolates with a hopeful look on his face.

I didn’t take them.

“What’s this about?” I asked, indicating the flower and chocolates.

“I knew you’d be alone for Valentine’s Day and I wondered if you would be my Valentine?”

“Oh, so this is a pity Valentine, is it?”

Anger boiled inside me. Todd and I had not parted on good terms. He’d taken up with his ex-girlfriend while we were still together. I found out about it the day he dumped me. It was a hard blow to get dumped and to find out he’d been cheating on me all at the same time. I was still feeling hurt from being treated so badly by him. I was nowhere near ready to forgive him. And now, to rub salt into the wound, here he was offering me a Valentine because I was obviously too pathetic to find a date for Valentine’s Day. I wondered why he wasn’t spending Valentine’s Day with her.

“Of course it’s not a pity Valentine,” he said smoothly. “Michelle, I still have feelings for you and I was hoping there was a chance we could get back together, now you’ve had time to cool down about everything that happened.”

In other words, his ex had tossed him to the kerb again. I could have spit chips. Did he think all I needed to do was cool down, maybe have a little affair of my own to get everything out of my system, and I would take him back? “So you came over here, presuming I would have no plans on Valentine’s Day? You thought I would be drowning in self-pity and you would have a chance at worming your way back into my life?”

He ran an eye over my grey sweatpants and stretched Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

Do you have plans?” he asked, a hint of a knowing smile played on his lips.

“As a matter of fact I do have plans,” I lied. “I was just about to get ready when you knocked on the door. Now I’m going to be late for my date because I’ve been held up talking to you.”

I slammed the door in his face and stomped off to my bedroom. I peeked out of the curtains and saw him leaning against the side of the house, grinning. He was going to call my bluff. Now I would have to pretend I really did have a date or else have to face Todd’s smug smile when he found out I was lying.

I jumped in the shower and washed my hair. A perfectly good night in front of the TV with my favourite chocolates had been ruined. After I had blow-dried my hair, I peeked out of the curtains again. He was still there. I gritted my teeth and went to my closet. I found the sexiest dress I owned, just to spite him. A cherry red colour, the dress had a heart-cut bodice with shoestring straps and flared out from the waist. It showed just enough cleavage and leg to be sexy, without being too trampy. I left my hair out, popped in some hoop earrings and slipped into my favourite red high heels.

I grabbed my purse and opened the door, expecting Todd to be still standing on the porch. He wasn’t. Doing a quick scan of the front yard, I spotted his elbow jutting out from behind the tree line. He was spying on me, probably testing to see if I’d give up my ruse if I didn’t think he was there. I almost trod on the box of chocolates and rose he’d left by the door. I couldn’t just leave them there—the chocolates would attract wildlife and I didn’t want some possum to get sick because it had devoured a whole box. I put the rose in the vase with the gerberas from Stu because I couldn’t stand to see it wilt and die. The white did look kind of pretty amongst all the yellow. I opened the box to see what kind of chocolates were inside. Lemon creams. Yuck. I knew Todd was a health nut and didn’t take a lot of notice of junk food (he always hated it when I ate junk food in front of him), but surely after dating all those months he would have some idea of what kind of chocolate I liked. I guess he really didn’t know me that well at all. There was a little note stuck inside the lid, ‘You squeeze my lemon, baby.’ Why did I ever date this guy? I dumped the chocolates unceremoniously into the bin.

As a last minute thought I grabbed the heart-shaped box of chocolates from Stu and tucked them under my arm to take with me. Hopefully Todd would think they were a gift for my mystery date and realise I wasn’t faking it—even though I was.

I got in the car, put the chocolates on the passenger seat and started driving with no idea where I was going or whether Todd would follow me. I reached over and plucked a chocolate from the box to suck on.

Driving on autopilot, I ended up in the city and before long I neared the neon lights of the new nightclub that had opened up a few months ago. I guess it must have subconsciously stuck in my mind from my earlier conversation with Cherie.

I wasn’t really one for going out in the city, usually, though I’d been out to a couple of the nightclubs with the girls when they’d dragged me. The rumours of it being frequented by aliens or monsters or vampires had intrigued me. I guess now I could find out for myself. I’d tried to convince Todd to take me nightclubbing a couple of times when we’d still been dating, but he’d always resisted the idea. He said the music in those places gave him a headache.

Good, I thought. If Todd had decided to follow me this would really rile him up.

I pulled into the car park out front and replaced the lid on the chocolates (had I really eaten half a box?)

As I climbed out of the car I felt a little woozy, as though I’d had too much to drink. I leaned over and checked the label on the chocolates. Liqueur. No wonder I felt a bit drunk. I’d been so angry at Todd I hadn’t even noticed they tasted different to normal. I looked around for Todd, but couldn’t see him. For all I knew he was sulking back at his house, or back in the arms of what’s-her-face. I must have really thought a lot of myself to have thought he’d follow me all the way to the city out of jealousy.

I’d wasted petrol getting to the city and I wasn’t about to turn around and drive back home again, I figured I might as well ease my curiosity. Actually, considering my slightly drunk condition, driving wasn’t really an option anyway.

I shouldered my spaghetti-string purse and walked to the door. The bright blue neon sign above the door read, ‘Love Bites’. It suited my Valentine’s Day mood perfectly. A neon clad employee checked my I.D. and took my cover charge. Nerves hopped around my body as I walked through the doorway. It felt strange walking in alone. No date. No gaggle of girlfriends.

Like the pub back in Min Min, ‘Love Bites’ had not bothered with any Valentine’s Day decorations. That’s where the similarities to my hometown bar ended. The interior walls were painted black and nearly the entire expanse of the large room was taken up by a dance floor. Bodies writhed in rhythm to music pumped out by a D.J. in a booth. Coloured lights flashed, reflected by a giant disco ball hanging directly above the centre of the dance floor. The bar was off to one side and that’s where I headed, squeezing through throngs of dancers dressed in skimpy fluorescent clothing. My short skirted, low cut dress felt more like a nun’s habit next to all the bronzed, sweaty flesh.

I tried to gain the attention of the androgynous bartender. While I waited to be served, I studied the interesting specimen. I couldn’t decide if the bartender was a masculine female or a feminine male. The lurid glittery eye shadow and pink short shorts made me think maybe a woman, but I swore those shorts bulged a little too much in the front. Besides, there were lots of men in the nightclub wearing make-up and pink items of clothing, so it was no real indicator. This place was a far cry from my small town bar where everyone wore flannel shirts and dirty jeans and occasionally the women might wear a nice cotton dress if she felt like dressing up a bit. It was like another world in here. Maybe the bartender was one of the ‘aliens’ from the rumours. Certainly he/she would appear as alien in the Min Min pub.

“What’ll it be, honey?” the bartender trilled. Even the voice gave away no indication of gender.

I ordered a pink fruity cocktail in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Even though I was already tipsy from the chocolates, I figured one drink wouldn’t be so bad. I was single on Valentine’s Day, why not treat myself? While I sipped, I scrutinised the dancers for tell-tale signs of aliens or monsters. Despite the blue lipstick, gold hotpants and glittery green body powder sported by some of the dancers, beneath the glitz they all seemed to be human. I guessed I wouldn’t be meeting strange creatures after all.

An upbeat dance song came on and, feeling a little freer of my inhibitions, I decided to get up and have a dance. The lights flickered over the dance floor to the pounding beat of the music. I threw my hands up in the air and shook my booty for all it was worth. A woman with a purple afro came up to bump and grind beside me. Her orange body suit cut away in strategic places to reveal smooth brown flesh.

“You’re cute,” she said.

“Thanks.” At least I thought it was a compliment.

“This ain’t a place for cute. You’re out of your league, sweetheart.” She shimmied around me. “If I were you I’d go back to Kansas, Dorothy.”

“But I like it here in Oz,” I quipped back.

She grinned. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

She spun around and grabbed hold of the closest male so she could grind against him.

I shrugged her off. I could handle myself well enough. I’d been to the pub enough times to know a thing or two about fending off unwanted advances.

A cute gay couple wearing nothing more than spangled hotpants pulled me in between them to dance. It was easy to forget the words of warning as I giggled and joined in the over-the-top dance moves of my new companions.

“Thanks for the dance, doll,” the taller of the two said as the song ended. “Gotta go. You were a blast.” They both blew kisses at me before dancing off through the crowded dance floor. They sure knew how to move those hotpants-clad hineys.

I downed another cocktail and returned to the dance floor. A new song started and I lost myself in the high tempo rhythm. I was actually having a really good time until a pair of fangs scraped lightly at my neck.

***

You can read the whole story in Beautiful & Deadly: A Fantasy Collection.

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More Christmas presents for my readers!

Earlier this month I posted a present for all my readers: a free-to-read, fun, family-friendly Christmas story ‘Jungle Bell Rock’.

Today I have some more Christmas presents:

 

  1. 35% off ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’.

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If you enjoy fairytales with a twist, supernatural creatures, or LGBT fiction, you can now pick up a copy of ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ at 35% off the regular price. Just use the coupon code

Santa2015

when you buy a copy from Torquere Press.

*offer valid until 1st January 2016

2. Christmas special for ‘Beautiful & Deadly’.

beautiful&deadlycover FINAL

For the month of December I’ve reduced the price of my recently released collection of fantasy-themed short stories ‘Beautiful & Deadly’. Now available for only $2.99 on Amazon!

*offer valid until 1st January 2016

3. A handy-dandy list of links to all my free-to-read Christmas stories.

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Feel free to share and enjoy 🙂

  • Jungle Bell Rock. Inspired by the Christmas Carols ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’, the animals at the zoo have a rocking Christmas party.
  • A Farmer’s Night Before Christmas. An Aussie farmer’s version of the traditional Christmas tale.
  • Dashing Through the School. Inspired by the song ‘Jingle Bells’, a child is due to perform in the annual school Christmas play, but nerves take over.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays everyone!

Jungle Bell Rock – A Christmas Present for my Readers

Christmas is my favourite time of year. As a Christmas present to all my blog readers I’ve written a Christmas story inspired by the Christmas carols ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. I’m entering into Susannah Hill’s annual Holiday Contest. Be sure to check out some of the other entries, as there is always a lot of great stories entered by some fantastic kidlit authors.

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Jungle Bell Rock

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

At the City Central Zoo,

A monkey hanging joyfully,

Ev’ry lion is there, too.

 

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

Where the seal plays with his ring,

Later he’ll have some fishy pie,

And do some carolling.

 

You will get an animal-ish feeling,

When you hear, reindeer singing,

“Let’s be jolly; Deck the stalls with boughs of holly.”

 

Rocking around the Christmas tree,

Have a happy holiday,

Animals dancing merrily,

And putting on a Christmas play!

 

Jungle bell, jungle bell, jungle bell rock,

Orangutan swing and lyrebird sing,

Stomping and tromping and flinging some dung,

Now the jungle hop has begun.

 

Jungle bell, jungle bell, jungle bell twist,

Goannas climb in jungle bell time.

Dancing and prancing with okapi flair,

And a polar bear!

 

When it’s night time, it’s the kite’s time,

To rock with the nightingale.

Jungle bell time is a swell time,

To go riding on an old Clydesdale.

 

Giddy up zebra herd, pick up your feet,

Gallop around the tree.

Dance with a dingo to a jungle drum beat,

That’s the jungle bell rock!

 

 

Dashing Through the School

To wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year (I’m getting in early as I know I’ll be super busy once school finishes tomorrow) I’ve got a present for you all! Here’s a little story I cooked up to the tune of Jingle Bells.

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Dashing Through the School

Dashing through the school,

The bell’s about to ring,

I can’t be late again,

And disappoint Miss Sing.

I’ve got the leading role,

The play’s about to start,

Through the doors and up on stage,

I’m born to play this part!

Oh,

There’s the bell, there’s the bell,

I’m in the nick of time,

The auditorium is packed,

And the curtains start to climb.

Oh,

“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”

The chorus sings in tune,

My tummy’s feeling funny,

‘Cause I know it’s my turn soon.

I take a big deep breath,

Step forward on the stage,

Look out at the crowd,

Is that my Aunty Paige?

The lights shine in my face,

This costume’s far too hot,

The words catch in my throat,

An actor, I am not.

Oh,

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

They’re ringing in my head,

At practice I was doing fine,

But now I’m filled with dread!

Oh,

I’m not well, I’m not well,

I’m really feeling ill,

I wonder if it’s not too late,

To swap my part with Bill.

I take another breath,

Deliver my first line,

The butterflies are gone,

Suddenly, I’m fine.

When the play is done,

Applause rings ‘round the hall,

I take my final bow,

I’m an actor after all!

Oh,

I did well, I did well,

My heart is beating fast,

I never thought I’d feel this way,

The day that I was cast.

Oh,

“Jingle bells, jingle bells,”

I’ll sing it loud and clear,

I wonder if they’ll let me play,

This part again next year.

Word count: 257

I’m linking up to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog as part of her annual holiday contest. Be sure to pop over and read some of the other fabulous entries.

UPDATE: Dashing Through the School is a finalist! Head over to Susanna’s blog to read the other finalists and vote for your favourite (I warn you now there are some REALLY great entries and it will be hard to pick just one!)

*NEW UPDATE*: A new extended version of ‘Dashing Through the School’ is now available in the anthology Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World. Pick up the Kindle version for $0.99 and discover a wide selection of family-friendly Christmas tales from a variety of talented authors.

Have a wonderful Christmas/holiday season!

Photo a Day Challenge

Has anyone else heard of the ‘Photo a Day’ challenge. It’s run by FatMumSlim who can be found on Facebook and Twitter or on her blog fatmumslim.com.au.

I’ve seen many people on my Facebook friends list doing this challenge throughout the year and love seeing their takes on the different prompts, so this month I decided to give it a go. (Here is the September prompt list).

I love writing through prompts. Several of my published stories were inspired by prompts. My children’s story ‘Green Nadine’ was inspired by the prompt ‘green’. My recently published short story ‘A Troll for Christmas’ was inspired by the line ‘Troll the ancient yuletide carol’ from the song ‘Deck the Halls’ and is one of my favourite stories to date.

I’m hoping one of the photos taken from these prompts might help inspire a picture book this month for 12 x 12, or at least help get my creative juices flowing by getting my mind to think in different ways.

The great thing about prompts is they are so open to interpretation and can be taken in so many different directions. No two people will interpret a story prompt in exactly the same way (just look at the other two stories in Deck the Halls that were inspired by the same line as my story–they’re completely different to my interpretation.)

In the spirit of talking about prompts, here is a prompt for you:

OUTSIDE

You can use it to write a story in any genre or even as a photo prompt. Be as creative or as literal or as metaphorical as you want. Have fun!

The Halfway Mark for 12 x 12!

As of the end of June the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge will have reached the halfway mark. To celebrate, 12 x 12 creator, Julie Hedlund, is hosting a blog party where participants can share their progress so far and either celebrate or commiserate.

Here’s my little update…

PB manuscripts finished so far: 11! (thanks to NaPiBoWriWee in May I have a few extra)

PB manuscripts started, but not finished: 4

Successes: My February PB was published in an online magazine. (You can read it here.)

Submissions: Apart from the one I submitted to the online magazine, I currently have a couple submitted to some PB competitions, but it’s too early to have heard anything from them yet. I’m yet to submit any of them to publishers (most of them still need a lot of work and revision and I  have more polished work that I’ll be submitting before my 12 x 12 MSs).

I’m really enjoying the challenge so far, not just because I’m building a great folder of PBs to work on, but because the support and friendship within the 12 x 12 group has been invaluable. I hope everyone else participating is getting something out of it, whether it’s new PBs or great friends. If you’re not participating, it’s not too late to join in; we still have six months left to go!

Top 5 Reasons Why I Write

1. If I didn’t write my head would probably explode. My head is always so full of ideas I just need to get them down on paper.

2. It is a great emotional release. I don’t know how I would have got through my tough teenage years if I hadn’t been able to release my feelings onto the page (in poetry, in my journal, as imaginary characters).

3. I love to read. I am constantly inspired by the wonderful writing of my favourite authors. I remember as a seven year old being inspired to write stories based on my favourite Enid Blyton books and favourite fairy tales.

4. I have a wild imagination. I have vivid dreams that stay with me when I wake. I’m constantly thinking ‘what if?’ or making up stories for people walking by or imagining stories taking place in the landscape around me. No matter where I go there are always stories unfolding in my mind.

5. Characters ‘speak’ to me. Their voices speak their stories and I can’t ignore them.

Why do you write?

Can’t Wait to Meet You

With less than two weeks until I’m due to give birth and less than two weeks until my eldest child starts school, my mind has been thinking of little else than getting organised for both these momentous events. It is little wonder I have been unable to think of something to blog about this week!

Thanks to the wonderful support and suggestions of the 12 x 12 challenge Facebook group, I’ve decided to allow myself a little creative time today to write a poem to share. As a teenager I used to write poetry all the time to get out my feelings onto paper; sadly, it’s something I don’t really do anymore. I’ve written this poem as a set of haikus.

 

Can’t Wait to Meet You

Every time I hear

Your heartbeat I’m filled with joy

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Knowing you’re growing

Preparing to greet the world

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

God has plans for you

You were always meant to be

Can’t wait to meet you.

 

Next week (providing I’m not in hospital with a new arrival) I will post my monthly helpful writing posts round-up and after that I have a few guest posts lined up to help me through those early weeks with a newborn, but if my blog is a bit quieter over the next few months, you’ll know why. For now, I’m off to contact school books and label uniforms.

A Farmer’s Night Before Christmas

I got inspired to write this a couple of weeks ago and thought it would make a nice Christmas present for all my blog readers. By coincidence, this morning I came across a post on Susanna Hill’s blog with a holiday contest to write your own version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. So if you’re inspired to write your own version (or already have), why not enter Susanna’s contest. Or you could just pop over there and read some of the other fantastic versions of the classic Christmas tale people have come up with.

Here is the version I wrote a few weeks back, inspired by life on the farm in Australia.

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A Farmer’s Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and out on the farm,

Not a creature was stirring in stable or barn.

The hats were all hung after a long day of sowing,

And just like the song, the cattle were lowing.

 

The chickens were nestled in roost boxes of straw,

The dog was snoozing by farmer’s front door.

Both farmer and wife sat out in the yard,

Relaxing with cans after working so hard.

 

When out in the paddock there was stomping of hooves,

“Sounds like the cattle are on the move.”

With one final swig, farmer rose from his chair,

Wondering what gave his heifers a scare.

 

The pink and gold sky gave just enough light,

For the farmer to see a very strange sight.

An eight-cattle drove pulling a ute,

With a roaring V8 and a tray full of loot.

 

The driver’s tanned arm propped up on the door,

It had to be Santa, the farmer was sure.

Kicking up dust his Friesian steers came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name,

 

“On Sausage, on T-Bone, on Rissole, on Stew,

On Schnitzel, on Beefy, on Rump Roast, on Moo.

To the top of the hayshed; to the top of the dairy,

Get moving you bullies, stop acting like fairies.”

 

Then with a bang they crashed on the roof,

The tin rumbled like thunder under each solid hoof.

In through the screen door the farmer did race,

As Santa squeezed out of the old fireplace.

 

He was dressed in a singlet and blue stubby shorts,

His blundstones were covered in dirt of all sorts.

His skin was all wrinkled and brown as the earth,

He had a belly of considerable girth.

 

The beard on his chin was white as a lamb,

And the smile on his face as wide as a dam.

He gave farmer a wink and a thumb in the air,

Then offloaded the pressies and got out of there.

 

He jumped back in his ute and spurred on his team,

The engine grunted and purred like a dream.

He was heard to yell out as he drove out the gate,

“Have a ripper Chrissie and bonza new year, mate.”

 

To all my blog readers: I hope you have a happy and safe holidays!

Blog Award

I’m posting a little later this week than I intended (there goes my New Years Resolution to blog consistently on the same day each week). I just got back from a little getaway with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary and I’m feeling relaxed and refreshed. I was surprised to find when I arrived back that I had a message telling me I’d received a blog award from the lovely Brooke Johnson over at brookenomicon.

I’ve never received one of these kinds of awards before, so I hope I’m following the rules correctly.

Seven Facts About Me

1. I have been writing stories since I could first wield a pencil and I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. I remember when I was about seven I wrote a story about my best friend turning into a fairy. Back then I thought I’d written a chapter book, but it was really only five pages (with illustrations).

2. I have an absolute phobia of snakes, yet I live in Australia on a farm where snakes are pretty much a given.

3. At school I loathed computer class and nearly failed one semester, now I love computers and practically live on mine.

4. One of my biggest writing idols is Australian author John Marsden. I actually got to meet him once as a teenager and got his autograph. I still have it to this day. (Everyone go read one of his books – he’s the master of YA voice.)

5. Whenever I go out for dinner I nearly always order carbonara – it’s my favourite dish. My mum used to make it for me from scratch, and even though I know how to make it from scratch too, I rarely ever make it for myself.

6. I wrote my first complete novel as a teenager and got enough courage to send it to a publisher. It got rejected and I was heartbroken. I was too scared to submit it to any other publishers after that. In hindsight I shouldn’t have let one rejection get me down, but on the other hand, looking back at that manuscript, I don’t think I would have had much luck with any other publishers anyway. It needed a lot more polishing and I needed to hone my writing skills a lot more at that stage.

7. I have never travelled overseas (I’ve never even been to Tasmania), but if I ever went overseas it is my dream to travel Europe.

And to pass on the award to some fellow writers’ blogs…

The Peevish Penman

Harry Potter for Writers

Beth Hull

Rach Writes

Karen Collum

Kathryn Apel

Kangaroobee’s Blog

Be sure to check them out.