Saturday, 8 August 2020

time to share || One Quirk Later #3

There is no title for this week's Quirk. 

I'm just. Not good at titling. It's a problem. 

My major WIPs are all titled after the MC. (You might remember that my current one is "Three Sisters". Yeah.)

SO. Have a title-less Quirk! And if you have ideas for a title please rescue the poor thing. It feels unloved.

High tarps, slung by lanky boys in lanky jeans, hands quick and practised, stopped being necessary to draw out the shade several hours ago. The sun has dropped past the jungle of trees at the edge of the yard’s clearing; the shadows have stretched out across the white rows of plastic chairs which thread across the grass; the food has been eaten and the remains cleared off the line of fold-up tables.

It's Great Uncle Steven’s seventy-fifth birthday. The last event this big was Evan and Shania’s wedding, two months ago. A month and a half before that, Trigger’s twenty-first birthday—when he and Aimee announced their engagement—which was five weeks after the full family Christmas.

There’s a system to setting up the yard, stacking the cold room with each family’s platters, readying the spare bedroom for mothers needing nappy changes and feeding space.

(There’s a reason the system is second nature.)

Tanisha is not in the kitchen. This is because she got caught listening to Grandad John, who is Grandma Grace’s sister Jenny’s husband’s brother and the great-grandfather of both Evan and Aimee. By the time she got up to the house, there was barely room to fit inside the kitchen door. So she withdrew from the domestic flurries and is folding up tables back down on the lawn.

There aren’t many people left. Some have gone, certainly, and some who live close by have taken home families who live further out. But not everyone has gone home. Children’s voices carry indistinctly from around the corner of the house, in the fairy garden that’s the pet project of Aunt-Maria-Who-Never-Married, and there’s the sound of a motorbike coming from the hay shed, where no doubt the teen boys have assembled in a seriously-nodding ring.

In fact, the only other person still on the open lawn is Ben, stacking white plastic chairs from their uneven rows.

(The rows started out even. Fathers just have a tendency to drag them into roughly circular shapes when conversations become engaging.)

They work silently, for a while. Ben has his ute backed right up to the first poles holding up the tarps, and there are a couple of ratchet straps puddled on the grass by the driver’s door.

He’s got two stacks of chairs lined up against the ute’s headboard when she finishes folding the tables and heaves the first one up and into the tray. It’s more awkward than necessary: the red dust Ben’s brought in from out west is thick on the tyres, and mudflaps, and half-way up the doors and tray, and her dress is a warm yellow that doesn’t need the extra colour.

She hoists up the second table and slides it past where Ben is now sitting, legs swinging off the end of the tailboard. She doesn’t look at him. So she doesn’t see it coming when he whips his hat off and slaps it down over her head.

The hat is well-worn, an old felt friend, and the brim is stiff with use and the crown is topped with a ring of careful hand stitches. It does nothing, of course, to muffle her outrage.

"Last time I was out at your block you dropped this in the cattleyards, and after that, you used it to feed Calypso, and I have washed my hair, get it off!"

"Aw, you like Cal, though."

"Not enough to put horse spit in my hair, Ben, and if you have any sense of self-preservation—"

Apparently, he does not. He folds the brim down so it covers her eyes; she ducks and twists her whole body to get out from under it and ends up with the hat in her hands.

"What are you, eleven?"

He pushes up on his hands, pulls his legs under him to scramble onto the tray, and retreats to lean against the headboard. "What are you, sixty?"

The hesitation is clear in her eyes; she’s tempted, very tempted to throw herself after him. Experience with the hat currently in her hands has taught her that, among other things, it is an excellent weapon for mild brawling. But she’s in a dress, and it’s her favourite dress, and she’s not risking it.

(In the past, several favoured items of clothing were sadly retired after her adventures were too much for them. A few of these adventures involved shrieking after Ben.)

He looks down at her and raises an eyebrow.

Tanisha tips her head. "The kitchen window opens straight down here. Any mum could look out and see you tormenting me."

"Pff." There are lengths of blue baling twine tied to the headboard. A gust of wind flies them like banners around him as he leans back, drums his fingers on the ute’s roof. "They know what you’re like, Timtam."

Her face shows that this is a miscalculation on his part. The wind ruffles her skirt, and she smooths it down. "I’m wearing a dress I made myself. I haven’t been in the kitchen, but I’ve been laying out tables, and wrangling small children. I haven’t even joined the boys slacking off in the hayshed. You’d be surprised how good my image is at the moment."

"What, despite your history?"

"Might be because of it, I think. They’re just grateful to see a change. So. Would you face down Grandma Grace?"

"I’m not afraid of Grandma Grace." A pause, and he amends his statement. "I’m big enough to take whatever consequences she hands out."

"Definitely bluffing now, Ben."

He shrugs and swings himself over the sides of the tray. The grass swallows the thud of his boots. He’s gotten red dust down the leg of his jeans, somehow. "If you’re not going to be any fun, give my hat back."

"I’d refuse," she says, blunt, "but again, I’m on the good list. Here."

The wind rustles the tarps overhead as she holds it out. One corner of his mouth lifts; he shrugs and drops his voice without reaching his hand out to take the offered hat. "You’re just afraid you won’t be able to catch me."

"I heard that!"

"You were supposed to, Timtam." Ben is already walking away, but backwards, watching, with a glint in his eye and a tense readiness in his shoulders.

He breaks and runs not two seconds after she lunges, and they’re off again, down the dusty road of reckless youth.

With this story, I was going for atmosphere. Last year I went back to somewhere which has this fascinating nostalgia associated with it, and with the people there. And I guess I wanted to see if I could portray that at all? 

(Thus the distant POV and out-of-character amounts of description at the start. ;)

Sorry if all the outback and Australian-isms are confusing... they insisted on being there, and I confess I didn't try too hard to kick them out.

(And I didn’t have them climb a tree like in the prompt because I realised, while writing, that once you’re up a tree, there is absolutely nowhere else to go except back down, and if there’s one thing I couldn’t see these two characters doing, it’s backing down.)

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Anyway uh I'm thinking I might make these second halves of the Quirks, where I post my story, every two weeks after the prompt goes up? I feel like my stories need time to stew. So. We all get more time.

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Thank youuuu for joining in! :D
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Well. That's all. (I really should know how to wrap up a blog post by now??) Sorry I haven't been around the blogosphere recently. I now have two casual jobs! and I'd like to say that means I have no spare time, thus providing a valid excuse, but in actuality I've ripped my way through The Silver Eye and am now dealing with my obsession by polishing up the wiki and developing wild theories. *helpless shrug*

As always. You're welcome to join in, whether on the current prompt or an old one. And do let me know if there's something you'd like to see more of in the prompts! A genre twist? A particular kind of dialogue prompt? Anything at all!

Sunday, 26 July 2020

One Quirk Later #3

I absolutely definitely have not been bingeing The Silver Eye. Or listening to Stay Gold on repeat. Or reading Batfam fanfiction.

Definitely not.

I will, however, admit to a) picking up my one-volume Lord of the Rings for a reread; b) joining a basketball team; and c) getting called back into the library for the first time in four months! (I mean. It's still going to be very spotty because they shouldn't need casuals due to decreased hours. But I do have a few shifts!)

Could I have these posts drafted out well beforehand?? well. Yes. But where would be the stress fun in that.

...all that to say. TIME FOR A QUIRK.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Time For Second Thoughts || One Quirk Later #2

It's been two weeks since June's One Quirk Later prompt, and while I'm not entirely sure about what I've written, what I've got is what I've got. *shrugs wildly*

(also this makes the third post this week. I haven't done that since I was but a baby blogger, flailing wildly into cyberspace. scary memories.)

Let's jump straight in and talk afterwards, shall we?

Time For Second Thoughts (and third, and fourth...)


It's not the first time Bobbie's seen a spot beside her abruptly go fuzzy and realised that something, something she's done or said has been bad enough that her future self has moved past regret and into Actually Doing Something.

...if she's honest, it's not the hundredth time, either.

But normally! Normally it's just. One corner of the room she can't see, one dead spot in the background noise.

Now she's standing in the middle of the study, surrounded by bookshelves, listening to the unnatural silence of the room and wondering how the whole place can be vaguely fuzzy. Exactly how many times did Future Her feel the need to return to this event?

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Cover Reveal || Ships, Secrets and Survivors

An assassin trainee fleeing his profession.

A princess risking her reputation.

A talking ship with a mad captain.

Today you all get to see the cover for Ships, Secrets, and Survivors, the creation of our blogosphere's very own Sarah Rodecker and Julian Daventry (Helena George)!!

Sarah Rodecker and Helena George have done countless crazy things together since they first met in 2005. One such thing was write Ships, Secrets, and Survivors on a dare. It went so well, they decided to expand it into a series and publish it together.

Firstly, though, let's have a bit more about Ships, Secrets and Survivors!

An assassin trainee fleeing his profession.

A princess risking her reputation.

A talking ship with a mad captain.

Ravin should be dead. No one forsakes the assassin profession and lives. Attempting to evade capture and certain death, Ravin hides on a ship as part of the crew. Then his name is announced on Selection Day for the annual Scaera Dumeda, despite him never taking the entry test, declaring to the entire world—and the assassins hunting him for revenge—that he is alive.

Princess Adima Radi Kashinda dreams of more than someday ruling Antovan. She desires to make a true difference for her people. When her name is called on Selection Day, she throws away her title, despite the uncertain future ahead. This may be the opportunity she hoped for.

When some of the other selectees are murdered, Ravin and Adi are among the suspects. With the help of Ravin’s captain and crew, they sail away to hunt down the killer and clear their names. Can they catch the murderer when he always seems to be at least one step ahead?

Now, I had the privilege of reading the first four chapters of this book, and let me tell you, it is a fun ride.

My favourite? Ravin trying to do stuff and getting blocked by the rest of his crewmates shrieking "aSSASSIN, NEVER TRUST AN ASSASSIN". And he's just. So tired. (I want at least ten hours with this crew, please and thank you. Especially Captain Jay Hill and his epicness.)