Other Things on My Mind, But Day Eight Is Here Anyway

BringBack

I’ve spent almost all day working on syllabi and lesson plans for my summer term. But I still wrote. That’s what most of this month is–squeezing in that little bit of writing here and there.

I hope I write strong female characters. I want to write about girls who save themselves. Or maybe who save the world. Or just their best friend. We need more stories like that, don’t you think?

So, for Story-a-Day May…

Meredith wasn’t used to anyone else in charge. Certainly she wouldn’t listen to an old woman and a teenager. But she couldn’t walk away from them.

She wanted the bag. The girl didn’t know what she had. If she reached into her bag the wrong way, she could be dead. Meredith kept that to herself.

Her determination to burn the Asylum to the ground hardened in her heart. She needed only a plan and an opportunity.

The old woman was whispering in Hannah’s ear, and Meredith’s mind raced. There wasn’t much time. Gasoline would work. She kept her gaze on the old woman and the girl, but her mind searched through her knowledge of the Asylum grounds, the outer buildings, and the odd hidden storerooms.

A tank of gasoline was usually kept in the garage where the Night Ambulance parked. A lighter or matches were harder to find.

“Oh, Nurse,” the old woman said. “Are you listening?”

Meredith snapped out of her thoughts. “Of course.”

“So, you’re going to help?”

Meredith nodded. “Of course.” She looked to the girl for a clue for what she’d agreed to.

But Hannah smiled back at her. “Thanks,” the girl said. “I’m glad you’re willing to make a difference.”

“That’s my purpose in this life,” Meredith replied. “To make a difference.”

Story-a-Day Begins Again

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Story-a-Day May returns! And I’m revisiting last year’s characters in medias res. It may take a few days to get more comfortably back into that world, but here’s the start. Or rather, the middle.

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Hannah decided not to think about the dead man. They needed to run. She hoped the old woman was as good at running as she was at wielding a knife.

“The way is clear,” the old woman said. “We should have only three more security guards to worry about.”

Hannah resisted the impulse to look back at the body of the dead man. Her plan had gotten far away from her. What if this old woman were her grandmother? Was she related to a killer? That would’ve been cool an hour ago. But being in a dark room with a dead body unsettled her ideas about what she thought she wished. “Only three?” she asked the old woman. “It seemed like there were more than that.”

“That’s a trick. There are only three.” The old woman gestured for Hannah to step out into the hall. “There’s the staff too of course. But I’ve got my knife.”

“Right,” Hannah said moving into the hall. “I’d like to keep knife work to a minimum.”

“Smart girl. It would just low us down and leave a trail.”

Hannah didn’t argue with the old woman’s reasons. Why the old woman kept her knife hidden away didn’t matter. She tilted her head slightly to pinpoint where all the noise came from. The roof seemed like a dead end, but the commotion seemed below them. “Maybe we can find a place to hide until things blow over.”

“Nothing blows over, sweetheart. They just lie in wait.” The old woman stepped further away from the relative safety of her room. “We need to get to the basement. That’s where everything important is and the cameras aren’t.”

“But we’ll be seen. Caught. Everyone is between us and the basement.”

“You broke into this place and you wait until now to be afraid?” the old woman asked.

A scream came from downstairs. “Everyone’s got to afraid some time,” Hannah answered.

“Why?”

“Haven’t you ever been afraid?”

The old woman shrugged. “I’ll be afraid if we keep wasting time here debating fear and escape plans. Move, girl. Move.” The woman took off down the hall.

The old woman’s speed surprised Hannah, and she had to sprint to catch up.

At the stairwell door the old woman stopped. She wasn’t out of breath. “When I open this door,” she said, “you run. Run to the bottom of the stairs. The stairs to the basement are on the other side of the building, so we’ll have to run down the main hall. Listen to me and don’t stop. If someone grabs you, fight enough to get away, then keep going. Don’t listen to their threats. Understood?”

Hannah nodded. She had her lock pick in her hand. It had already proven a useful weapon though she hoped she wouldn’t need like that again.

Back to the Asylum

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Spring is here. Sort of. In some places. More importantly, Story-A-Day isn’t far away!

A year ago I got my cancer diagnosis, had several surgeries, lots of doctor visits, and six months of chemo. I’m officially showing No Evidence of Disease (NED!). So, I’m looking forward to a saner year.

I’m waiting for someone to read and give me feedback on novel number two. (Always a nerve-challenging time.) So, meanwhile, I’m going to back over the stories I wrote last year, and I’m going to see what I can do with and where the characters ought to go next.

I think the story may get more intense. I’ve spent a bit more time this last year contemplating mortality, and it is coming out in my work.

We’ll see what happens.

Kids, Art, and Plums

You may have read this over at writing in the water, but I’m covering all my bases.

My art at The Plum Tree

I’m now Head of Art for Youth-Tube at Plum Tree Books. We’re calling for submissions for art by children under 12.

If you’re interested in knowing more, email me at

marta (at) youth-tube (dot) co (dot) uk

We’d also love for you to visit the site, follow it, tweet it, fb it, or otherwise show your support. Thank you.

Remember, art is cool. And so are kids.

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P.S. Please note the Plum Tree has several other projects in the works–poetry, fiction, music, and photography. Go see for yourself.

Oh, movies…

My grandmother used the word pictures to talk about movies. She would offer to take me to a picture show. She took me to see On Golden Pond. I might’ve been in the 7th grade. She really wasn’t interested in most pictures.

I like movies, but I don’t really mind that I hardly ever watch any these days. The movie has to be something special to me if I’m going to take that much time from my life. One thing I’ve never understood is watching a movie just because “it was something to see.”

Anyway, a friend posted a movie meme on his blog, and I thought I’d use it to make a post. Leave your own answers in the comments if you like (or write your own post and let me know).

1. Movie you love with a passion.

The Wizard of Oz And as with any passion, you either understand or you don’t.

2. Movie you vow never to watch.

Used to be Titanic. Still haven’t seen the entire movie, but I did get stuck watching the last hour a few months ago. Now I vow never to watch the entire thing. And most any horror flick. I’ve made a few exceptions, but usually regret it. Oh. And Batman. Don’t care what anyone says. Or any of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. Or Twilight. Or Anonymous.

3. Movie that left you literally speechless.

Dead Man Walking. Well, I managed to say one thing when the movie was over. My friend asked if I wanted a drink and I said yes.

4. Movie you always recommend.

I hate recommending movies. I don’t want you coming back annoyed at having wasted your time and money. Read reviews. Watch trailers. Take your own risks.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

For a long time that was Harrison Ford, but I haven’t seen any of his films from the last ten years. Can’t think of anyone else. Probably Judi Dench. Though just this evening I was thinking of seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s new film The Woman in Black even though he isn’t my favorite actor and I vowed never to watch horror films. Mostly I sympathize with his efforts to transition from boy wizard and would like to show him my support.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal of.

Tom Cruise. Adam Sandler. And I haven’t seen enough new movies to know who the hot young things are, so can’t speak to anyone else.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Humphrey Bogart. Helen Mirren.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen.

Ah, well. I can go for the obvious. Johnny Depp. (When he’s not hanging out on a Tim Burton movie set.)

9. Dream cast.

Hard to say, but it would have to involve Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, and Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe with David Tennant and John Cusack tossed in.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Molly Ringwald and Ducky (yeah, you heard me).

11. Favorite decade for movies.

Don’t have one. Although I am usually reluctant to watch any film from the ’60s and ’70s.

12. Chick flick or action movie?

Neither. Don’t get me wrong. I loved When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard, but I don’t rush out to see the next incarnation of the genres.

13. Favorite movie setting.

London.

14. Hero, villain, or anti-hero?

I don’t know. Well, not the villain.

15. Black and white or color?

Don’t care.

Now, this one wasn’t in the meme on JES’s blog, but I think there should be this:

16. Movie you regret seeing.

I don’t know the name of this film, but I was in a hotel bar and they were showing this horrifying, misogynistic sci-fi flick on their TV. After watching three barely dressed women killed in sci-fi dystopian ways, I very much wanted to have my brain bleached.

My son and I did recently go see Hugo. That was a lovely film, and my 8 year old liked it.

And films you’d like to mention are?