Time For A Little Celebration

Is writing a novella easier than a full-length book? Not necessarily so…

Caron Allan Fiction

So it’s been a rough time these last few weeks, or should I say, months. I have to admit there have been more occasions during the writing of Scotch Mist: a Dottie Manderson mystery novella than usual for me to get hysterical, shout, swear and throw things, or descend into despair. I’m honestly surprised to have got through it, largely due to support from friends and family.

Writing a novella has been so much harder than I expected, too. Usually I write full-length fiction. And even in a text of 80,000 or 100,000 words, I can waffle quite a bit, and have to really cut out a lot of what the industry calls ‘padding’, and I call ‘chapter 47’ or ‘chapter 54’. Therefore I was convinced a ‘mere’ novella would be a doddle.

I had originally intended Scotch Mist to be around the 30,000-word mark. When I finally typed those…

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Chain Letters and New Beginnings

This Week, I’m…

Working to keep my mum well. I’ve assured a young friend she’ll be live and kicking in 20 days’ time. Why? My teenage chum sent me a text promising dire consequences (my mother’s death) if I broke the chain.

Ah, the chain letter! It’s enough to send you hurtling back to the 80s and those letters that did the rounds. I got a few of them. In those days, they were actual letters and much harder to pass on. You had to copy them out a few times. They focused on good luck—send this to 20 friends and you’ll come into money, marry a handsome stranger, etc. The bad luck wasn’t stated implicitly, but implied.

Now, it’s much easier to copy and paste a text or email of forty words that warn of terrible misfortune. And how kind of people to prey on the vulnerable and fragile among us, such as my poor wee friend.

The text promised me my mum’s death was imminent—giving me a woman’s name to Google as it happened to her. Must be true if the internet tells me so, hmm?

So, after sending my friend a text begging her not to believe this awful s**t, I’ve told her I’ll message her on May 7, confirming the continued good health of the wonderful woman who granted me life.*

There’s a story in there somewhere…

Starting a new job on Thursday. I’ll be working part-time for a project based at Glasgow University looking at better ways public sector services can work together. My role is to help the existing communications administrator.

I’m delighted as this gives me the best of both worlds. Freelancing is terrific and I love the freedom (the clue’s in the name) it gives me, but the money isn’t regular or great. It’ll also satisfy my need to do something worthwhile. I’m not going to change the way public sector services work, but at least I’ll write about some ways they can!

 

*A bold promise, but the odds are with me.

#amwriting Don’t Drink and Drive

Tackling the challenges of a thriller-stroke-crime story. Part one is here. It contains swear words, so stop reading now if you don’t like that kind of writing.

Danni shouldn’t have got in the car. That glass of fizz…oh, be honest with yourself! She’d had more than one.

But Ruby wanted to go home. They’d been ‘celebrating’ her divorce and Ruby insisted they drink something with bubbles so they could clink together flutes and say good riddance to that git.

Wasn’t it gin that made you sad? Ruby horsed her half of the bottle, then ordered another one. Belligerence became depression awfy quickly. She started to cry so hard she was practically howling. People around them started to move back. Maybe they thought it catching. It wasn’t your usual cheery Saturday night stuff.

“I want my bed!” Ruby cried. Her nose had started to run, snot sitting on her top lip. Danni decided not to point it out.

A taxi would have been the sensible idea, but neither of them had enough cash on them. And Ruby refused to walk the length of the street to go to the cashline. She wanted to go home NOW.

Danni had stopped drinking a few hours ago. She joogled the keys in her pocket and said the fateful words, “I’ll drive.”

Her wee red Renault had been a birthday present six years ago, a very generous one as her dad never failed to remind her. “Aye, well,” she thought but didn’t say. “Doesn’t make up for your years of never bothering with me.”

The night was coal black and the road quiet. They both lived in the next town. Balloch was their night out choice. In their home town, too many locals, and Ruby’s ex, drank. In Balloch, endless exciting possibilities presented themselves – tourists and Glasgow guys, hanging around the pubs that dotted the loch side and smirking at you.

As the car took the first left out of the town, Ruby pulled herself together. She’d whacked up the radio volume, choosing a local station that played dance stuff on a Saturday night. She couldn’t sing, but she chanted along anyway. Danni joined in, hoping it would keep her from crying.

You helped your friends, yes. But they were much easier when they were happy.

They were busy belting out the words to Timber when the view changed.

“Danni!” Ruby shrieked, clutching her arm so hard she almost yanked the steering wheel toward her. “There’s a fucking lorry there.”

So there was, a lorry straddling the two carriageways and another car next to it. Danni felt adrenaline and fear flood her body, the contents of her stomach rising up alarmingly. She slammed her right foot to the floor and heard the car screech its protests. The hand she held out to pull on the handbrake shook.

Time had stopped. There was only her and Ruby, a still shrieking, crying mess, and a small car hurtling along, enveloped in the blackness of the night and heading for the lorry blockade that loomed before them.

Then, the brakes kicked in and the car began to slow well before the lorry and the other car. Danni felt the breath she’d been holding for the last minute or so puff out of her, deflating her lungs, stomach and head.

There was a bump, the Renault catching something with its left wheel and its impact reverberating through the car. Not your wee bump that signified cars going over potholes or verges. Something else, something…

Danni felt the contents of her stomach rise once more.

“Was that…?” Ruby wasn’t shrieking now, but the whisper made it worse.

The car had stopped, the two of them sat there staring at their hands. “Sorry, Dad, sorry.” Why did that pop into her brain? But all kinds of thoughts were whirling through there, frighteningly fast.

Drink driving.

Convictions.

Losing her job.

Hitting a person with your car.

©Emma Baird 2018

 

Ten Reasons to Delete Facebook

delete facebookAre you sure you want to delete your account?

Hell, yeah. Cheerio Facebook. It’s been okay knowing you…

I’m as guilty as the next person of kneejerk reactions. I sign petitions without finding out more about the issues. I throw my hat in with stuff trending on Twitter. When a famous bod’s words are taken out of context, I tut without bothering to read the whole interview.

The Cambridge Analytica stuff was alarming, but was it enough of a push to press that delete button? I’ve hung onto my account for the last year because I thought I should be on it. I work in communications. I try (and mainly fail) to sell books. Two (sort of) reasons why you should be there. I added up the pros and cons of remaining. The plus points list was jolly feeble.

Delete!

  1. No more accidental, drunken posts. You promise yourself you’ll never ever do it, but wine o’clock comes round. Bye-bye inhibitions and hello Too Much Information.
  2. You’ll feel a bit secretive and quite powerful.
  3. You’ll never have to go to a kid’s birthday party again. Well, you might. A real-life one. But Facebook often feels like being at one long children’s party you RSVP’d to, saying ‘no, ta, I’m busy’, so they brought it to your house instead.
  4. You can genuinely claim not to have seen anything on Facebook, instead of pretending you missed the latest holiday snaps/ill status/kid’s birthday pics. when you don’t comment on something.
  5. No more working out weird Facebook etiquette. Do I say ‘happy birthday’ to this person, even though I’m going to see them in the flesh later today? Do I ‘like’ something (anything) on someone’s account just because I haven’t done so for a long time? If I miss commenting on a child, am I a rotten friend?
  6. No more fear of missing out. I’m an adult, but occasional pics of my friends enjoying a night out make me feel like I’m twelve all over again. Why, why, why didn’t they invite me?! Now, I won’t see it.
  7. No more of that heart sinking feeling when you read views you never suspected a friend/family member held. Brexit? Casual racism? Calls for capital punishment? Islamophobia? Hating cheese?
  8. No more lectures. I love it when someone lectures me on politics. Said no-one, ever.
  9. No more wondering why everyone else in the world has the photography gene and I don’t. Seriously, my photos are s**t. The rest of the world appears to take beautifully composed and focused shots. Yes, Instagram is all about pics. But I don’t know most folks on there personally. They can’t judge me for my lack of skill.
  10. Time! One less social media platform to procrastinate on is A Good Thing.