December 22 – On a deserted island…

Author’s note: I sort of gave up on the short story writing for last week. I just had too many things on, and reading was easier in the downtime. However, now that the Christmas play I was working on is finished up, and that the Christmas break is upon us, it’s time to knuckle down and complete a story each day for the rest of the year. The prompt for this one was the opening line.

~*~

She clung onto the piece of driftwood, praying for daylight. The water was bitter cold, and she had no idea how far she’d drifted. She didn’t know if any of her shipmates had survived. All she could do is hope there was shore in sight when the sun came up, and hope that it was land that she could make some use of.

She was starting to get tired. The adrenaline that had been coursing through her since the storm hit was starting to wear off and she was beginning to crash. She leaned her head against the driftwood, and closed her eyes, hoping that would provide enough respite and give her the strength to hold on a bit longer.

Time dragged on, and then finally, she saw a hint of gold on the horizon. And just in front of it, a small greenish-brown mound. She couldn’t believe her luck. She felt so relieved she nearly let go of her piece of wood, and caught herself just in time to avoid sinking. She’d held on for far too long for it to come to that. Slowly, she paddled herself around with one arm, and began making her way towards the distant shoreline. When she reached it, she pulled herself onto the sand and then sank down on her back, relishing the fact that she could relax.

She felt herself drift off to sleep and didn’t do anything to stop it. It felt far too soon when she felt someone shaking her awake. Grumpily, she opened her eyes. As her eyes focused, she realised there was a figure leaning over her. And as she focused some more, she realised she recognised him.

“Alec?” she said, her voice strained. She hadn’t realised how much she needed water until now.

“Mia! You’re alive!”

“So are you!”

She tried to sit up so she could embrace him, but her muscles were far too stiff, and she failed halfway up.

“Don’t try to move,” Alec said. “Here. I’ve got some water.”

“Is it safe?”

“Yes. It’s warm, but it does the trick.”

He held the flask to her lips and poured gently. She swallowed as much as she could before she started coughing. Alec put one arm behind her back and helped her sit up. She leaned over and spat out some of the water, along with any sea water that came up. When she had finished coughing, she turned back to Alec.

“Have you seen anyone else?”

He shook his head. “Not yet. Who knows where they got swept to?”

Mia looked around. “What are we going to do now?”

Alec followed her gaze. The island they had ended up on was barely more than a sandbank, with a few trees in the centre.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But we’ll think of something. We’re going to get home, Mia.”

“I hope you’re right,” she said.

“I know I am.”

#MirthMusicMon – Thank you for shopping at Volde-mart.

So last Saturday I was eating breakfast and watching Saturday Disney, as one does. I feel that since my days of watching Saturday Disney, the quality of the shows has gone down, but maybe it’s just that I grew up. Anyway. There was one show called Random As, which was essentially a sketch show, and this sketch was on it. Apologies for the bad quality; there were only two versions on YouTube and both were people aiming their camera at the screen.

And on a more traditional note, here’s another one from King’s College in Cambridge.

As one last holiday video, the quality of this one is pretty terrible, but I’m mostly sharing it for the cloak-swishing. I’m not sure when this was. Hugh Jackman looks very young.

The link-up tool for Mirth and Music Monday is over here, and we would love to have you! Feel free to join in! I’m going to go now, and will probably be back on Wednesday, but in case I don’t see you there, have a wonderful holiday season (whatever you do or don’t celebrate).

~ Emily

Book Review: Island of Glass by Ruth Nestvold

Title: Island of Glass (Age of Magic: The Glassmakers #1)
Author: Ruth Nestvold
Genre: Fantasy/alternate history
Date Read: 30/11/14 – 01/12/14
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

image

I have read some of Ruth Nestvold’s books of short stories, but I have to admit it was a while ago. However, when Ruth started sharing excerpts of Island of Glass on her blog for WIPpet Wednesdays, I became pretty excited to read it in its entirety. It did not disappoint.

Island of Glass is set in an alternate 17th century Venice,  where alchemy won over chemistry and thus began the Age of Magic. Chiara Dragoni is a maestra glass maker in Murano and like all glass makers of the period, is forbidden to leave Venice, lest she share the secrets of glass making with the rest of Europe. When Chiara’s uncle is arrested after being caught on the mainland, Chiara comes up with a plan to bargain for his safety, but little does she realise how much her life is going to change thanks to one small gesture.

While it’s not entirely obvious from that brief summary, the story draws a lot of parallels with Cinderella, Most notably the glass slippers Chiara makes as a gift for the prince in exchange for her uncle’s freedom. However, do not expect to simply mad the name fairytale you already know, just in a different setting. The prince in this story is a complete slime bag,  who made me shudder nearly every time he opened his mouth. He serves to make Chiara realise exactly where her heart lies, and pushes her to realise her deepest dreams.

Chiara herself is a strong, well rounded character; she works hard to get what she wants, but she is not infallible, and needs advice from friends and family members surrounding her. Her main love interest, Pasqual, does not actually play an enormous part in the story, but when he is there, he is quite charming, and also a character who has his own goals.

It is also quite clear that Ruth Nestuold has done her research into Venetian life at the time. While she has  tweaked certain parts of history to suit her alternate world, much of it is based in our own history, and the world felt authentic as I read.

The end of this book left me cheering for Chiara and Pasqual, but also concerned for what might happen to them in future; the prince and his mother do not sound like ones to be crossed. l can’t wait to see what happens in Book 2!

#WIPpet Wednesday – You only had to call

It’s 10:10pm and I’m super-tired, so a very quick post this week. My daily writing has fallen by the wayside a little because I got distracted by all the Sydney Siege stuff going on Monday and Tuesday, and today I’ve just been too busy… okay, and I’ve also been reading rather than writing. I will try to get back onto that tomorrow.

It’s WIPpet Wednesday, and I have added the 1 and the 7 of the 17th together to bring you 8 paragraphs from my still untitled 2014 NaNoWriMo. I don’t think it’s come up before, but Armand practices divination in various forms, and in this scene they’re trying to use Josephine’s connection to Esra, the main villain, to try to figure out where she is. Armand doesn’t think it will work but they can’t think of anything better to do so they’re giving it a go.

Finally, everything was cleared away and they made their way up to Armand’s bedroom. He pulled his crystal off the hook and held it over the map. “All right, give me your hand,” he said. “Though I reckon this is just go to end up telling me where you are. Think about Esra as hard as you can. Strong memories of her.”

He held Josephine’s hand and closed his eyes. He had never tried scrying for someone he didn’t know without an object of theirs before, so he had nothing to really focus on. In lieu of that, he tried emptying his mind and letting Josephine’s thoughts take over.

The crystal began to swing, as usual. Armand waited, expecting it to simply slow down again. Instead, it gathered speed, and then tugged him towards one end of the map. He frowned. That wasn’t what he had been expecting. His frown got deeper as the crystal then tugged a different way, and then a third way. Its tugging became wilder and faster, and Armand’s arm began to ache as it pulled him every which way.

Finally, he let out a cry and wrenched his eyes open. The crystal stopped moving and hung limply from his hand. He found himself shaking, and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. When he looked up, both Bianca and Josephine were looking at him with expressions full of concern.

“Are you all right?” Bianca asked.

“I imagine it doesn’t usually do that?” Josephine added.

“No, it doesn’t,” Armand confirmed. “What the hell just happened? Were you thinking about her?”

“She was certainly thinking about me,” said a voice from the doorway, and all three of them turned around. “You know if you wanted to find me, you only had to call.”

This was a scene I had in my plan from the outset and had been really looking forward to writing. Esra is quite a fun villain. For any Doctor Who viewers, once the finale of this year’s series ended, I was actually imagining her very much like Michelle Gomez’ Missy, though in the current drafts she is far less chilling than Missy. Also, I still have no idea how this story ends. Ha.

Anyway, so is anyone else going to be doing Christmas Eve/New Year’s Eve WIPpets? Because I’m going to have nothing better to do, but I’ll feel a little foolish to be the only one.

To join in on WIPpet Wednesday, just  post an excerpt from your current WIP that somehow relates to the date, and then link up with us here and check out what others have offered. I’m going to bed now, so I’ll catch you all in the morning.

~ Emily

#MirthMusicMon – Best Flashmob Ever!

It’s only a bit over a week until Christmas, so I thought today and next Monday, I would share some Christmasy videos. For the first video… this might look like an ordinary German supermarket, but check out what the staff do for their customers!

And now for something a little more traditional. How awesome is the King’s College carols service every year?

It’s very easy to join in on Mirth and Music Monday – just post a video or two, then link up with us here. I’m off now, but there’ll be another short story up some time today.

~ Emily

December 14 – White Christmas

Author’s note: I didn’t like any of the prompts I generated today, so I just came up with something on my own. Another Christmas story, Yay! Sorry for any typos and such things, I wrote this on my tablet on the bus and I’m posting using shopping centre wifi before I head to a rehearsal for a Christmas play I’m helping out with next week.

“Pete! Pete! Wake up, wake up, wake up!”

Megan bounced onto the bed and shook her boyfriend. He groaned and pulled the duvet over his head. Megan immediately pulled it back again.

“Pete, it’s Christmas and it’s snowing! You told me I wouldn’t get to see snow on Christmas!”

Slowly, Pete opened his eyes halfway and stared out at Megan. “What?” he said when his brain finally managed to communicate with his mouth.

“Snowing!” Megan exclaimed again. “Come on, get your coat!”

Megan was already half dressed, and only needed to pull on another couple of top layers and her coat before she was ready. While Pete dragged himself out of bed and began getting dressed, she pulled her hair up into a ponytail that she then stuffed into a beanie.

A few minutes later, Peter found Megan by their front door, bouncing from foot to foot in anticipation.

“Haven’t you seen snow before, woman?” he asked, nodding towards the door to indicate he was ready and that they could go out.

“Where I come from, we start complaining about the cold when it hits ten degrees. Celsius.”

“Bloody Australians.”

The snow wasn’t very deep, but it was enough that Megan could mold snowballs in her hands and peg them at Pete. He was much adept at ducking them than she was, and she ended up with a few wet patches on her jumper where he managed to hit her. Other families, mostly children, were appearing in the their own front yards and joyful squeals abounded up and down the street.

Soon the cold was starting to seep through Megan’s several layers of clothing and her teeth were chattering. She squatted down long enough to make make a tiny snowman (his body was only four handfuls of snow) and stuck a twig in his head for a nose, then she and Pete headed back inside to begin getting ready for the rest of the day.

“Well, you got your snow, then,” Pete said, turning the heater on the crossing to the kettle to fill it up. “Do you actually need any other presents now?”

Megan grinned. “Not really,” she said. She moved closer to him and kissed him on the nose. “Merry Christmas.”

December 13 – Uh… whoops?

Author’s note: I had a couple of days where no matter what prompt I gave myself, no ideas were forthcoming. Which I think is at least partially due to an unfortunate habit I have of over-thinking and not just rolling with the prompt. Tonight was shaping up to be another, but I told myself I really ought to be not be lazy, and so I got on with it. Also, I don’t know where all these dark stories are coming from, I’m not that sort of person, really! This is another one where the opening line was the prompt.

~*~

Ricky hadn’t meant to scare him. Well, he sort of had, but how was he to know that Tom was holding a gun at the time? It was just a “Boo” over the shoulder. Now he was vaguely aware of Tom freaking out and trying to explain what had happened to the person on the other end of the emergency services line. Other people had run into the room to see what the noise was, and he could hear their voices as well, but his vision was dimming and their words were muffled. He wasn’t scared, though; somehow he’d detached himself from the whole situation and was wondering what the hell had made Tom so jittery. He supposed it would probably come to light eventually, but the last thing to go through his head was that he wasn’t likely to be the one to find out…