Sunday, 30 January 2011

Explore Books - The Report

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, will no doubt be aware that I have only posted a couple of book reviews. My reasons for this are many [I say reasons - more like excuses]. Blah blah time, blah blah blah working on my own novel, blah blah doing the laundry and so forth. You may also be aware that I recently managed to blag a book from a lovely New York author by the name of Jessica F Kane, which she very kindly sent me a couple of weeks ago.

"In March 1943, one hundred seventy-three people died in a London air-raid shelter, on a night when no bombs fell." This is the fictionalised story of the actual event.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Story So Far...

Well it's almost the end of January and it had been my intention to write this post next week to catch the very end of the month but by posting 'The Dress' last week I've managed to throw a spanner in my own plans - which makes a nice change.

This month the Tabloids are alive with the sound of Celeb divorce and speculation as to whether or not another X-Factor darling is playing 'hide the salami' with a dancer... but I really don't care enough to manage sarcasm let alone spit forth with some righteous fury - I will just ask, why are we even surprised? You see this month has been a tough one for many people, overseas and especially closer to home, and my thoughts are with them right now.

[I need to change the subject as I've just spent 15 minutes staring at the cursor].

If you have read the previous post [The Dress] you will be aware from my little wobble before the story that my confidence has been shaken recently, not for any great reason; the rejection in question must have just landed in my inbox on a bad day... I'm not going to go back over that, I just wanted to tell you dear reader that I've had some serious words with myself and consulted the 'Magic Eight Ball' and its answer was 'definitely' [as to what the question was, now that would be telling].

I thought it would be a good idea to give you a little update with a few bits of Blogtastical news [and that's tastical not testicle dear reader]. January may just be the big turning point for the readership with over 1200 views already this month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for 1500 views by the end of the month - it could happen. The blog is now read in over 40 countries and for two weeks of this month I've had more reads from the USA than the UK, which seems odd but I'm not knocking it and I would like to thank each and every one of you. In fact it's safe to say that I'm beyond chuffed with the way things are exceeding my expectations. I'm sure an amount of this extra traffic has come through Twitter, which I'm still attempting to get my head around.

I have recently [through the Twitterverse] made the acquaintance of a New York writer by the name Jessica F Kane and she has sent me her book "The Report" which I'm now reading [I would have finished it if I'd posted this damn thing next week, Grrr]. "In March 1943, one hundred seventy-three people died in a London air-raid shelter, on a night when no bombs fell". This is out in the UK in march [now in the USA] and I have to say so far this is a gripping, very well written, and compelling read. Thank you JFK for sending me a copy. For fans of Sci-Fi shenanigans I've managed to get my hands on a very interesting anthology called "Engineering Infinity" which I will give you more details about next month.

Well that's me about done, I'm hoping for your sakes that next month I'm in a more angry and ranting state or this might get a little tedious. I've just sought the advice of the Magic Eight Ball and its answer was "as it sees it, yes", fingers crossed.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Dress (Microfiction)

This wasn't my intended post for this week, I was going to post the first of a two part story. But "The Dress" woke me in the middle of the night last week and wouldn't leave me alone until I had written it down. The following evening after work I came home and typed it up, made a few changes and then thinking it was ready - fired it off - still chasing that elusive first writing credit. Imagine if you will dear reader the horror of having a response within 12 hours, usually you have to wait weeks for a resounding NO. After only 12 hours I was pleased that I didn't have a long wait but still, was it that bad? That cliched? I had felt that I was improving, however slowly. It also seems strange that this rejection out of all my others seems to have rocked my confidence the most. Writing is indeed a roller coaster ride for the emotions. As ever, constructive criticism is always appreciated. I have made a few additional edits to the story as I'm no longer restrained by a word count. At this point I would normally type "Enjoy" but this week I would just ask you not to vomit on your shoes.

The dress was perfect, modelled by a headless mannequin with overtly stiff nipples.It had caught Paul's eye while he'd been shopping with his wife but his thoughts were with Bridget; she would look fantastic in it. Then his thoughts wandered further to the feeling of the cloth on her skin.

            Martha had known he was up to something, wives always know. Paul was due to attend a conference at the end of the month but something felt wrong about the arrangement. She fabricated an excuse to contact his PA - a possible diary clash, but her fears deepened when she was reassured that there would be no clash as Paul would already be on leave.

            Bridget loved the dress, a perfect fit. Paul was barely out of the shower. Bridget was already getting changed. She pulled stockings over her long smooth legs before she slipped on the new dress. Paul thought she looked beautiful as she caught his eye in the mirror.
‘Zip me up’, she asked. A few finishing touches to her hair and make-up and she was ready for the evening.

            Paul wanted room service – less conspicuous – but away, by the sea, who would know? Bridget was going out for dinner. As she opened the door to the room Martha was standing there – caught in the act, listening at the door, her eyes full of tears. Bridget froze, she wanted to slam the door in Martha’s face and hide under the bed but it was too late for that.
            ‘Paul what the hell do you think you’re doing?’ Martha cried,
            ‘You’d better come in’, Bridget said quietly.
            ‘I want a fucking explanation’, Martha demanded ‘I don’t believe what I’m seeing’. Bridget started to cry and make-up began to smear across her face as she wiped the tears away.
            ‘I can explain’, said Paul as he pulled the wig from his head, he caught his image in the mirror and Bridget was gone; he was no longer beautiful, he just looked like a suicidal clown.

            ‘Christ Paul I thought you were having an affair. Do you know how worried I’ve been? How long has this been a part of you? Why haven’t you told me before? C’mon stop crying’, she said as she passed him a tissue. Paul, perched on the end of the bed, sobbed into his hands. He felt disgusting and awkward: his Bridget was discovered, her weekend ruined.
            ‘What do we do now?’ he blubbed. ‘Do you want a divorce?’
            ‘Divorce? No you silly bugger’, Martha said as she started to smile.
            ‘But what about this’, he said tugging at the dress.
            ‘I think there is only one thing for it’, she said sitting down beside him. ‘I think we’ll have to take it back…Blue's not your colour love’. He smiled then. Martha kissed him.
            ‘Now go clean yourself up’, she said, ‘You’re taking me to dinner – and then we can talk about what’s-her-name?'
            'Nice name, classy, have I ever told you about my great Uncle Geoff? No? He liked to be called Thelma’.

(c) Lee Auburn 2011

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

His Beautiful Disappointment (Microfiction)

Christmas of 2009 I was given 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' by Raymond Carver, and inspired by that book in march of 2010 I sat down and wrote a very short story that I decided to call 'A Beautiful Disappointment'. You can still find the original on the Explore Auburnville Facebook page. I had only been writing a matter of months at that point, most of the feedback was positive and ever since I have had a soft spot for that piece. Recently I decided that I wanted to post that story on this blog. I wrestled with the idea of giving the original a quick copy and paste and a new home, but settled on the decision to rework it and this is the new version, at this point I cannot say which I like more. I'm sure you will let me know, enjoy.

They’d stopped talking. Well, he had. She’d continued with her excuses, flexing her flawed logic as only she could. He’d been holding the orange since the conversation had started, and twice he’d considered throwing it at her, but in truth he’d always been more of a spinner than a pace man, so he just sat there at the table.
The juice spurted as he dug his thumb nail through its skin; the fragrance of it hit his nose at almost the same time. The smell always reminded him of Christmas as a boy.
He started to remove the peel with precision and control, almost lovingly, as he slid his thumb between its flesh and the skin. He remembered a time when his thumb had moved as easily between her skin and her dress-strap - she had wanted him then.
With a silent satisfaction - he could tell this skin was going to come off in one - he continued to manipulate it and the spiral of textured orange skin grew longer. He gently folded the skin and rested it on the table next to his coffee.
‘Why do you always do that?’ She smiled. ‘There’s a bin behind you! Are you ignoring me now…? Please Peter we need to talk about this.’
She was still talking at him, as he stared at this naked beauty in his hand. Gently he started removing the pith, strand by strand. He thought of her white lace underwear on their wedding night. He carefully tore the orange in pieces and placed one half next to his coffee on top of its folded skin.
'Peter! Please answer me!'
'What do you expect me to say Trudy, really?' he mumbled as he placed one of the segments in his mouth. He chewed it slowly, growing angry as he did so.
'Saying anything would be a start, at least then I would know what you’re thinking'. She flinches as he stands suddenly startling her. He scrapes the orange, the pith and the skin into his hands, turns and slams it all into the bin, pausing briefly to take in its unwanted contents before allowing the lid to swing closed. Now completely disheartened he replies at last,
'The bloody orange was dry! …What do you expect? I feel let down,' he said, slowly turning to look at his wife again, ‘Utterly disappointed’.
‘I’m sorry’. Said Trudy as tears welled in her eyes again.
‘Well that makes two of us.’
‘I didn’t mean to, it just got out of hand; you’re the last person we would’ve wanted to hurt’, she shakes her head and continues almost to herself. ‘I just don’t know why we did it, please Peter, come home we can work this out. You loved me once, we can take our time I know you hate me now but we can make it work again with time, please!’
‘I don’t hate you Tru’, Peter said with a slight shake of his head, he takes her hand in his. ‘But, I don’t think I can get past this, maybe with time…’ He sits in silence for a while listening to her quietly cry and sniff, weighing in his head all the good times that were and what still might be. ‘Do you want a drink?’ he said at last.
‘Please’, she replied and looked at him like she used to.

(c)Lee Auburn 2010

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

It's New Home (Microfiction)

I had forgotten all about this very short story, it was originally written as a competition entry - To write a maximum of 250 words inspired by a famous piece of art (there were only two choices available). Why this particular story came from this Van Gogh I have no idea. I mentioned it was short, put the kettle on and you will have read the story by the time it's boiled. Enjoy!

His fingers could just touch it… but no he just tipped it further out of reach. His shoulder almost dislocated, sweat dripping from his nose. Frantic now his mind raced: how to reach it?
‘Give me a hand’ he cried.
‘What?’ came the answer.
‘Give me a hand will you!’
‘I can’t hear you, what did you say?’ he said, poking his head round the door.
‘I said for the umpteenth time, please for the love of Van Gogh’s fucking ear will you give me a hand!’
‘No need to be like that. What’re you doing on the floor anyway?’
‘I dropped it and then it rolled under the bed…’
‘…And you have such piddly little T-Rex arms you can't reach it?’
‘Well…yes, fuck-you-very-much.’
‘You’re welcome’ he smiled, ‘why don’t we just move the bed?’
‘Alright then… You get that end.’
‘Why do I get the heavy end?’
‘Well you’re the muscle Mary…’
‘…Oh very bloody funny - you need the favour; you get the heavy end.’
‘Ok on 3… three!’ In unison they grunt and sweat and swear.
‘It won’t budge’.
‘I can see that, I think I’ve popped something.’
‘Well was it expensive?’
‘Not really.’
‘Just leave it then, we’ll get another one.’
‘We can’t just fucking leave it… What if a kid finds it?’
‘Look we’ll be back in the U.K. by this time tomorrow, and anyway, who says it's ours ?’
‘I suppose, but I’m not sure I like the idea.’
‘You’ll live!’

(c) Lee Auburn 2010