The Phoenix Has Risen From the Ashes

Or, My Laptop Has Been Fixed and a Short Story For the Weekend!

Hello again Dear Reader,

Well, well, well. What a week! After my laptop basically imploded, I had to get a new hard drive for it. Luckily my brother in-law knew where to get all the doohickeys that was needed to change the laptop to use a SSD and now poor Phoenix is working better than it did even when it was new. Huzzah!

The fixing happened on Wednesday and Thursday morning, so I took the rest of yesterday and today to catch up on some work (which had simply been impossible on the sloth of a laptop I’d been stuck with). I’m now basically back on track, which is absolutely awesome. It’s amazing what can be done with a working computer…

Anyway, on to more interesting things like stories!

The Ruon Chronicles

I’m finally happy withthe way in which the first book of The Ruon Chronicles will be structured. Basically I’m going to divide it into parts that will follow each of the main characters. I have tried to outline it by “mixing up” the different characters and POVs and then it’s just a mess. So, parts it is!

I’ve also worked on what happens just before the prologue starts to make the story flow better between book two and three. It makes sense in my brain. The happenings before the prologue may be turned into a novella or short story at some point…

Of short stories and Gaslamp Fantasy

There’s a call for short stories in the Gaslamp fantasy sub-genre (basically steampunk, but less science and more magic) that I really want to write a submission for. However, with the deadline being 30 April, I’ll have to do it this weekend if I want to finish in time!

As it needs to be a Victorian setting of some kind, I’ve thought of setting it in South Africa and specifically during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) right at the end of the Victorian era. Because why not.

I wrote a short story set during the war about two years ago that made use of some supernatural elements and I’m thinking of building something on that. Maybe even reuse a character from it…

Flash Fiction: Scorched Earth

I watched as smoke from the burning farmhouse furled into the dark sky. Arguing voices pulled me away from the ghosts’ shapes in the smoke.

Tante Maria was struggling to get onto the wagon while clutching the large Dutch Bible under one arm.

“I’m not leaving it!” she shouted at the khaki-clad soldier in Afrikaans, not caring whether or not he understood what she was saying. “Our family’s history is in that Bible!”

“Give it to me,” I said, forcing myself into the present with its horror of the burning house, the slaughtered animals, the false notes of the piano being hacked to pieces to become part of a cooking fire.

Maria paused and then handed me the Bible with shaking hands. She struggled to get onto the wagon in her long dress. One of the soldiers laughed at another’s crude joke and I clutched the Bible tighter, wishing it would bring me some comfort. Precariously seated, Maria reached down and took the Bible from me, placing it reverentially on her lap. She started reciting Psalm 91, hands clutched together.

“Ik zal tot den Heere seggen: Mijn Toevlucht en mij Burg! Mijn God, op Welen ik vertrouw!” Tears flowed over her cheeks as she watched her house burn to the ground.

I swallowed hard. I was supposed to have been safe here. Johannes promised me. Smoke blew in our direction and, for a moment, covered the stench of the animal carcasses.

I didn’t want to see the ghosts again, but here they were; fallen soldiers who even in death remained with their brothers in arms, their once khaki uniforms faded to grey.

Where in heaven’s name is Johannes? He promised the day he left he wouldn’t go far. Promised he would not let them burn this farm like the others. In my mind I, too, kept on reciting the Psalm, trying to feel the angels and their wings around me, keeping me safe.

Johannes’ voice sounded in my ears as I turned to climb onto the wagon.

“Want Hij zal Zijn engelen vam u bevelen, dat sij u bewaren in al uw wegen.”

I looked around and spotted him standing some way off. Still dressed in simple farm clothes, he no longer held a Mauser in his hands. His chest was covered in dark blood and sand crusted his face. I wanted to wipe it away, to tell him it’s alright. I wanted to beat his chest and ask him how he could have left me. How he could let me go to the camps. How he dared recite the Bible to me.

I jumped when a young soldier touched my arm and I stepped back.

“Jy sien ook?” he asked, the words barely recognisable. “You see them as well?” he repeated in English, his eyes pleading, and pointed at the ghosts.

“See what?” I shrugged and climbed onto the wagon, sitting down next to Maria.

The young soldier folded his arms around him, eyes darting from ghost to ghost.

I stared down at my soot-covered hands.

What I’m listening to:

I’m busy making this “Magical and Beautiful” playlist on Spotify to listen to while I work.

What I’m reading at the moment/have just finished reading:

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (Go figure)

The new issue ofPiecework Magazine (Of course)

The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn and Euan Lawson (also good for anyone doing a job where they’re sitting down all the time)

The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forestby Andrew Revkin (Which just goes to show that I’m an eclectic reader, I guess)

That’s it from me for today - enjoy the weekend!