NaNoWriMo — Not this Year

This year, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo didn’t hit the goal. Winter always seems to be a time of heightened drama, in opposition to the slower, warmer, more reflective side I long for at years end. Quieten the noise, slow down the pace.
It doesn’t seem to matter the ingredients placed in the cauldron; there’s no slow and steady blending and simmer, it’s a sporadically exploding bomb — spewing shrapnel into the eyeballs and the roof, and right now it’s barely holding up. With that my focus was and still is in tatters, December may be more about finding all the pieces again and trying to fuse some sanity and peace.
Anyway, my Backyard Asylum novel project only reached 14k – quite a distance from the 50k goal! I beat myself up throughout November with exhaustion and lack of creative time to drive into it. That’s been quite prevalent this entire year more than just the month, but it did feel more saturated. Such is life; she likes her curveballs and depression likes to wrap her fingers around my throat for periods of total torment. She’s a cruel demon indeed. So, it’s been a case of prioritising basic practical needs over desire. Although creativity is certainly a need, when it’s embedded deep, which fuels desire — without the sparks of passion there is little will to trudge through the more mundane, life has to be more than that — the fight continues. I’m rambling now, this slump shall pass!
So, while Backyard Asylum is written in my head, I have to sacrifice some sleep, muster some energy from the ether and hit the keys — though maybe without the daily word-count pressure, which did me no good this first time around.
Regardless, I am happy with what’s down for this WIP novel — its bones are horrific in a promising way. There’s a lot to work through and develop, but I’m confident it will in time progress so I can nail this first draft and go deep into sculpting and editing through the rough edges. The characters have meat, and there’s some strong scenes pinned already. I spiralled off into research more than physical writing a little more than planned, such is the ‘panster’ way.
As much as I tried to avoid the temptation, I have my eye on a few open-calls for short stories. Nothing new and substantial has been written on the front yet, but there are some ideas stewing, so I’ve some snippets of poetry to go back to and work on to develop into a full-blown piece.

In summary, my first NaNoWriMo died in week two. But, the story itself will come into being, I am pleased with what’s been written so far, it’ll just take a little longer to get there. It’ll be a priority for 2021.

Cookie-Cutter Lane

Claustrophobic, locked in.
Mirrored headstones line the grey road. 

Buried alive, suburban death-row.
‘Did you hear about so and so?’

Blurred race of parallel lines standing still.
Masking — one fanes will.

Mimic gimmicks with lacklustre flare.
Another unforgiving snare.
Teeth scraping bone.
Smile while blood flows soaking frozen toes.

A trend-setting bush, a coat of paint.
‘Oh, look together we’re dammed saints.’
The season of outdoing the clone next door.
Marching down the line of uninspired duplication — snore.

Bored.
Trapped.
Locked down on cookie-cutter lane.

Painting beige with grey, painfully mundane.
Disgusted with one’s own disdain.
It really is insane.

© Natasha Sinclair

NaNoWriMo Kick-off

1st of November is here and it’s NaNoWriMo Time! The month of writing will be focussed on my project ‘Backyard Asylum.’ 50K word target over the 30 days, no editing allowed – just writing!

Good luck to everyone participating I hope very many goals are utterly smashed!

Hopefully I manage to also keep on top of progress updates over at the nano site: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/clanwitch

I like a playlist as I live and write — every project has its own, and as with the story and characters this too will evolve. Here is where it’s at for Backyard Asylum;

https://music.amazon.co.uk/user-playlists/b06186a4658f4cc4a3dcd2fca1b32e21engb?ref=dm_sh_wRH1l1MzhRwgb4UaiKBj3F6jR

RELEASE: The Sirens Call eZine Halloween 2020 Edition – Issue 51 | FREE Online #Horror & #DarkFic #eZine #magazine @Sirens_Call

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce the release of the Halloween 2020 edition of The Sirens Call The 51th issue of The Sirens Call eZine …

RELEASE: The Sirens Call eZine Halloween 2020 Edition – Issue 51 | FREE Online #Horror & #DarkFic #eZine #magazine @Sirens_Call

I am delighted to have three of my own pieces published in this Halloween issue of ‘The Sirens Call’ alongside a host of creative writers and artists. Check out this beast of a horror/dark fiction eZine FREE via The Sirens Call original post above! Enjoy!

Reluctant Reaper

Rolling rumbling tumbling of the muscle
Steadfast working out the dead

Waiting through waves
Expulsion from womb to world; inner-outer dimension switch

Existence given visibility
Life unviable; dead tangible

The ticking clock veiled agony; pulse-quickening within the neck
Swimming through minutes in viscous shards; stark, exposed in wait

A sudden burst to cemetery-serene-silence
Shock of expectations met, tension swells and pops within the void

Her body expelled, revealed
Limp, still, disturbingly perfect

Few eyes lay upon her — none with such desperate thirst as the child-loss-mother
Tattooing details to memory
Cerebral and uterine imprints
Memories outlived instantaneously

Tiny fingers, toes, torso, fused eyes, jaw, ears…
All except the beating of the heart
Virgin lungs void of air in this, her death hours stare

My pathetic heart beats so hard it chokes the throat
The muscle has pried itself from within its cage, making way up to swell in the gullet

Don’t take her away…
Emotion sickness swells drowning from the inside
Even dead, she’s still the baby; even dead, she’s my baby, still

Must give her honour of life…somehow
Gemini mother; creator, reluctant reaper

Now her death feeds life
Entangled in root tendrils within the earth
Forever reaching within and upward

The true heart of something that doesn’t have to beat
Her cycles visibly viable

Bleary eyes can’t always see their praise of stars
Despair wracked the heart for a time

Peace isn’t only for the dead…

She sways in the wind now; dancing grace
Energy shared, scattered through leaves and bellies of beasts
She worms and she soars through them

Not the life imagined; energy shifted, realigned
Heart-wrenching, gut-punching beautiful

Death Born Still — Lives

© Natasha Sinclair 2020

Written on reflection during ‘The Wave of Light’ 15th October 2020.

Goddess in Motion

Time was not a construct in existence for the great Anantaboga. Her presence always was and always would be; aeons of sacred serenity. Beyond ‘time,’ beyond language — she the source of many a cosmic destiny. Hers was of pure, concentrated magic. Weaving and swirling through the universe — a serpent’s dance of divine grace; goddess in motion, the essence from which worlds would emerge. Moving in timeless transitions among spinning rocks of magnificent technicolour spender, among black holes that fractured into other universes from the booming demise of stars. Magic surrounded her — a goddess of gliding splendiferous, viridescence. Diamond-tipped scales adorned her muscled physique, wisps of feathered flame framed her face — ­Anantaboga sailed through infinities of dark, accented with pocketed explosions of monumental colour flanking her sophisticated dance of eternities.

Alone.

In the pit of the great Naga Jawa’s incandescent, glowing soul…forlornness of being the universal guardian gnawed. A profound ache for which no language could ever convey. Drawing on her effervescence, a poison ebbed in, speckling her colour with despair. Furious to fill the void slowly sucking at this exquisite being, transcendent meditations intensified from new desperate obsession, splitting the deity from herself. Sonic eruptions thundered through the universe from the Naga Jawa as her soul ruptured. Tremors cracked, tearing the ether pouring a new gift into physical being; Bedawang Nala, The World Turtle — Anantaboga’s offering unto herself. Baring a world upon his back, a blue globe — the delicate marbled sphere complete with its own underworld and heavens — a living breathing entity in its own right, teeming with yet more life.

All the gifts of balance were bestowed upon this new world, including precious creation itself — immortality through soul and seed a generous promise to all.  An embodiment of the heavens it would thrive in cyclical motion. Each organism imbued with unique qualities to contribute essential elements to the delicate bountiful ecosystems. Time was created within the confines of the precious orb and so it turned. Light and shadow graced the blue and green, atop the ship of gods guiding her among the cosmos.

Man quickly lost his way. The Deities warned in quakes, rumblings, heat, clearing out pockets, gifting opportunities to shift course, begin anew.

Alas, the little marble spiralled so very far, flagrantly destroying celestial given serenity, waging wars in the face of peace. Greed drained. Even as it still perched upon Bedawang Nala’s shell, the rising tumult permeated through to her, corroding. Corruption reigned on the back of The World Turtle. Warnings were given no hied; dismissed by the ever plundering populace of man. As his neglect runs rampant as an infection perfusing the little globe, Anantaboga sees she must release her beloved Bedawang Nala of the burden of the marble.

The Naga Jawa meditates encircling her creation, jaw stretching around the new rock; within, discomfort rises — her scorching breath quickens the heat rising. Sporadic bouts of flood, fire and new disease litter the green and blue. The great serpents jaw is closing in, no more warnings.

© Natasha Sinclair, 2020

This piece was inspired by the fascinating and magical stories of Javanese / Indonesian mythology. The Javanese creation theme was blended with the devastating environmental damage being caused to our planet. How would our actions be seen through the eyes of gods?

Thank you for reading! If you would like to read more Asian inspired fantasy and horror fiction – check out Insignia Stories, who are presenting and hosting Horror Matsuri throughout October 2020!

https://insigniastories.com/

Speed-Meat

Bumbling sedate-like, a year on, rotters are no different to the local junkies. Except, the rotter isn’t coming at you with its drooping face, skin pulling down at the darkened cavernous eye-sockets, hanging loose off the jawbone, slurring; “Any spare change pal?”

They’re still using that old line, except by change they mean anything that can be offered to dealers in exchange.

I prefer the real dead-walking — even they won’t touch a junkie for their fix. Shame, maybe that’d help us all; thin the heard. Though, I’m not prepared for the sight of the dead on something like speed-meat.

This drabble was first published by Reanimated Writers Press in their anthology 100 Word Bigger Zombie Bites.

The Stranger By G G Flavell

As she slowly opened her eyes, a wailing from across the dark, candlelit hall instantly reminded her of the waking nightmare. Strands of hair were embedded into her forehead and swept across her face accentuating her pale, gaunt jawline. Her eyes rolled around in fits of agony and curiosity to see what had changed, if anything, in her death chamber. The dank smell of death hung heavy in the air. It was difficult to differentiate the floor and the ceiling, the walls and the windows. It was a wooden room, almost a box, containing her contagion, awaiting the final, tighter wooden box.

The light and colourful rooms from her family estate seemed like the memories of someone else now. The songs played by her sister, Elizabeth, on the family piano, which would fill every room in the house with joy and life, swirled around her head like a wasp. The last memory she had was of her father’s face as he closed the carriage door. He had paid the doctor to bring her to London to die. There was no hope for her now. Not since the blisters emerged. He couldn’t risk infecting the rest of the family. So, his youngest and dearest daughter Emmanuelle was sent to die, alone and in agony.

Upon arriving in London, she felt what it must be like for a corpse. She was tossed about, covered up and talked about as if she weren’t there. Occasionally, a kind nurse would try to comfort her, stroking her hand and dabbing her forehead. The doctors were never kind. Poking, prodding, retching and writhing. They were equal parts fascinated and repulsed by her.

“Money can’t save you from the plague,” they would often say.

She fell in and out of consciousness so often that the living and the dream worlds sometimes merged. The fever had played wicked tricks on her. She saw herself riding back home on her beloved horse, Daisy. Naked and radiant, she galloped through the fields of Hampshire where her family awaited her arrival, dancing in jubilation. More oft than not she was floating above her own corpse, wrapped in white linen, stained by the still seeping wounds from the blisters. Her family hadn’t come to say a final farewell, she was there, dead, cold, alone and insignificant for eternity.

But sometimes, her fever brought a strange gentleman to her bedside. He had long, thick black hair that was always neatly held back and under his top hat. His eyes were grey, like when the sun bursts through a rain cloud. He had a funny moustache and an exotic accent.

“And you say she is from aristocracy?” he would ask the nurses.

Always grinning from their affirmative answers.

Of late, he was visiting her at least once a week. On this particular night, Emma had been very lucid, lucid enough to realise he had no face mask, no covering at all to protect himself. She reached up to stroke his face, for reassurance that he was indeed there. But she passed out from exertion before she could feel anything.

The nurses started wrapping her feet and legs. A sign the blisters were getting out of control. Water was the last thing her body could ingest. It seemed hopeless. It had always been so, but Emma hadn’t quite accepted it until now.

The farmer across the room from her had succumbed just an hour before. He could only have been 17. Strong like an ox, with hands like shovels and voice deeper than a well. He looked like a man of 80 as they carted his body to the mass grave.

Emma felt as though she were crying, but the sweat rendered her senses of touch useless. She no longer knew if it was night or day. It seemed a shadow had filtered her eyes; making it so that only the candle from a nurse’s hands permitted her to see so far as in front of her face.

Tonight, that candleholder was, in fact, her stranger. A Count, from what she had heard the nurses say about him after he left.

“My dear sweet Emma, a beauty such as yourself cannot be left to die here, I beg of you, let me take you to my estate, where you shall have the best of care until you are brought back to life.”

This fever truly was the devil — encouraging hope hours before her last breath. But suddenly, it slipped and lost its grasp of her. She felt a cool facecloth on her forehead as she opened her eyes. Something the fever forbid her to feel since she was first bedridden in her family home.

A fire was roaring on the other side of this grand bed-chamber. A doctor gently lifted off the cloth, rinsed it in ice-cold water and dabbed her face again. He turned to talk to someone in the corner of the room. She couldn’t make out who, but it was an unusually tall shadowy figure with piercing white eyes.

“It has broken, sir” the doctor exclaimed, “the infection is rapidly regressing, and I believe in a matter of moments she will be clear. As we both know with the last patient, this may not last long.”

The shadowy figure spoke solemnly, “you can go.”

Emma was exuberant — pinching herself to ensure this wasn’t the last, most deceitful trick of the fever yet. Rubbing her arm as she sat up in the huge bed. She remembered suddenly that the shadow was still in the room as the doctor closed the door.

The white, unblinking eyes started coming towards her. The shadow began to take form as the fire cast its light upon it. A naked male body moved toward the bed as if floating. His skin pale as snow and crooked in ways she had never seen. But he looked so powerful.

Emma froze when she saw his face. It was her stranger. His thick black hair now let loose around his shoulders. His eyes would not stop staring into hers. As he got closer, his skin was almost transparent, it was truly revolting, yet it continued to come closer.

She had wanted to say thank you. Thank you for saving her life, but she no longer felt saved. She felt…hunted. The stranger lifted his arms out as he neared the bed. Emma tried to move, but before she could blink, his teeth sunk into her throat. Drinking her in. Her virginal, thick youthful blood soaked her hair, and his, as he made noises that would haunt her soul into the abyss.

© G G Flavell 2020

About the Author:

G G Flavell is a new author based in Scotland. Inspired by the worlds created by JRR Tolkien (with the tattoo to prove it,) George RR Martin and Charlaine Harris to name just a few. He also enjoys reading philosophical works, with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus among some of his favourites.
Unsurprisingly, his writing leans towards fantasy and dark fantasy genres. He lets his imagination take him places the real world can’t.
When he’s not writing, reading or daydreaming, he is most liking to be found cuddling the life out of his French Bulldog Romy. Yes, like Romy and Michelle.

He writes with fun in mind, with passion and with wine.

https://www.instagram.com/wandering_avthor/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/G-G-Flavell/

NaNoWriMo November 2020

November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. I’ve decided to participate this year for the first time. I reckon that this would be a rewarding challenge to jump into.
Being somewhat of a panster when it comes to writing, I am going to try blend that with a little structure and daily (nightly) target over the 30 nights. The push is very much needed! I am only at the very early (late by the schedule) planning stages. It’s decision time as to whether to use this exercise to really bite into one of my two parked WIPs, or whether to start something entirely from scratch. Either way, the aim is to plan to reach a goal of 50k words as a completed first draft in those 30 nights. No editing – this in itself will be a personal challenge, as I am a constant (probably obsessive) editor when writing.

So, with that 50k target, that gives a daily goal of 1,667 words. This is undoubtedly a mammoth task considering other life commitments to work around and for a loose gardener like myself.
But, it’ll be an epic achievement to end this crazy year on for those who participate. Decisions will be made, planning is underway, and come November 1st I’m on it!

Are you? Sign up over at https://nanowrimo.org/ to access support material for your novel writing month!

Books Releasing in October

First up is Dark Halloween, the 5th book in Macabre Ladies Holiday Horror Collection. With the eBook available for preorder now, it goes live October 6th. My 3 flash stories; ‘Interspecies Relations,’ ‘Painted Black’ and ‘Bloody Eels’ will feature among a host of Autumn/Halloween themed horror.

‘Interspecies Relations’ was inspired by some reading and artwork I was taking in around mythological creatures – particularly that of Cecaelia from Asian and North American mythology. Writing this also inspired my ‘Tentacles’ painting.

‘Painted Black’ is a little flash inspired by my youngest daughter, who rather chillingly asked me why the shadows were looking at her at bedtime one evening.

‘Bloody Eels’ is a Drabble that came from two interlinked short stories of mine ‘The Night is Mine’ and ‘Phantasmagoria.’ It is a view from a trapped spirit of the character Amy when she is in a disembodied, limbo-like state after death.

Next up is Books of Horror Community Anthology Volume 2 from the wonderful Books of Horror Publishing. Another book that can be preordered now, for October 16th release. My new short story ‘Sacrifice’ will feature alongside a mix across the spectrum of Horror.

‘Sacrifice’ was originally an idea I intended to write as a flash piece that centred around Summer Solstice. It sprouted and became a little more with some nostalgic elements entwined with themes of manipulation and betrayal.

I gained a spot with D&T Publishing, with their anthology, After the Kool-Aid is Gone. This one promises to be a ‘heavy-hitting collection’ of political horror / dark fiction. My short story, ‘Neighbours’ will feature.  preorder now for October 26th release.

‘Neighbours’ is another new story, one born during the 2020 global pandemic. Led by the MC’s internal narrative over his frustrations with the hypocrisies and selfishness of mankind, while his family-life is shattered, irreparably during ‘lockdown.’ This story is one man’s journey over the edge in suburbia.

Finally, as far as books I have stories in this October is Iron Faerie Publishing’s anthology, Hexed. Here my flash story ‘Hard Shades’ will appear. Preorder now for October 31st release.

‘Hard Shades’ came from a mind spiral evolving from ‘Painted Black’ marrying with thoughts of the theatre of vampires – though this piece is not vampiric. The dance and chase between light and dark is a classic that I enjoy playing with.