Nuuk and Maarit – Episode Two


“What is that?” Maarit puzzled the gnarly grey spike.

“It is time,” came back the reply as Nuuk spun in a circle looking beyond the tip of his horn and up past the moon.

And knowing no fear, but to be alone, Maarit stared at the creature in the center of the hole and into the darkness below and the deep and the cold. Ice that surrounded shaped smooth formless shadows and the tips of the wake kissed the air as they collided. Maarit now in full flight.

The shock from the cold caused a burst of white light as her lungs filled with fire and then her world faded to black. Icy sharp fingers reached out for the child as she spiraled and sank, but it was Nuuk that dove hard and reached Maarit first. Reaching out with a fin he found her wool covered hand. What was black was now blue and then green and then yellow and had the warmth of a good night blanket. A new world righted in that moment below the ice floats and Maarit stopped her descent. Shaking her head it was her turn to float.

“I can swim!” voiced in wonder that knew nothing of swimming.

“Of coarse you can swim,” it was Nuuk’s turn to speak. “Of course you can swim with that very fine tail.”

Where there had been mittens now there were webbed fingers with nails shaped like key hooks and where boots and then feet now a length of flowing tail. A tail that streamed out into the breeze of the current to wave like a flag made of very rich silk. Shimmers of metallic green, purples and pinks and then joined at the knees. Silver scales interlocked in a wrap of her legs reflected what light that was able to survive a trip through the dark.

“I can breathe!”

“Of coarse you can breathe, you can breathe just like me.”

Taking a moment Maarit felt the thickness in her throat and could count the sensations as her neck pulsed with her breath and her hair swum about her face in an opaque halo of lace.

Nuuk was swimming in circles around and around observing Maarit glow accepting her form.

“Let’s go let’s go there’s no time to waste!” Nuuk pointed his horn to the south and much deeper.

“Where are we going?” Maarit’s words bubbled as she checked for her watch.

With a twist and a thump of his powerful flukes Nuuk was clean out of sight leaving nothing behind but his own trail of bubbles. Bubbles that started as small as pin-points and then grew and grew in size to the shape of grand holiday balloons and from inside the bubbles the sound of brass trumpets announced it was indeed time.

Ten reasons to write short stories, even if you’re a novelist.

I spent a lot of time on short stories – now I feel much better about that 😉 Another thought-provoking post from DOUGLAS WILLIAM THURSTAN SMITH.

Douglas William Thurstan Smith

At first, I thought writing short stories would ultimately distract me from my novel projects, in fact they make your other projects stronger.

Here’s ten reasons why you should write short stories:

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Chasing Stars

A Writer's Soul

Let’s chase the stars together, catching the wind and her stories,
Each whispered so gently; I missed the most important parts when you wandered off, running to catch you, but you were already far too gone…
Mine to have, mine to hold, but you were like the tide,
Falling in and out with the moon, coming and going with the night sky,
You were mine once, but this love was gentle, so gentle, too gentle,
That one strong gust of wind came, and you were gone.
She carried you off, let you dance onto the next cloud,
And I was left alone in that meadow,
Wishing on a star that had already granted another’s wish….

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Work in Progress – Todor Zhivkov’s 67th Birthday

Back into my archives for this one…here are some bits and pieces I was brainstorming while considering the anniversary of the assassination of Georgi Markov.


Oxenholme Station sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Kendal, and has done so without recognition since est., 1847. A place where a man in a fisherman’s sweater, flat-cap and ratty old field-bag would be a routine observation.  That said, would it be routine if the same man made the same arduous serpentine up to the green slate terminal almost every day for the last four years, rain or shine, reason or not? The specific days varying week by week, and month by month? This September morning had both rain and reason. Under a cooling air that signaled the arrival of Fall this man was expectant, excited, the train would be at the platform soon.


Approaching his destination a discordant symphony of aging tannoys announced the pending arrival of the 12:17 from Euston Station, London. Seven minutes. Jim maintained a casual gait, breathing, as he made for the east side of the station where the northbound train would soon arrive.


Several kilometers after departing the terminal Jim played out his role, feigning illness, unable to continue on.  He excused himself from the train at Penrith intent on returning to Kendal aboard the next southbound train.  At the last possible moment the passenger offered Jim an umbrella, a shield from the mist turned drizzle as the wind kicked up. The black umbrella tucked out of sight between the passenger’s seat and side of the cabin. Jim accepted the kindness apologizing one last time for having to abandon the day, leaving his guest to forge ahead alone.


With calling points at Carlisle, Lockerbie and Haymarket the passenger would change trains twice, clothes once and spend the night at a bed and breakfast once eighteenth-century farmhouse, long hair cut short, blue eyes no longer blue.


Resting in front of burning coals, scotch in hand, the guest prepared to examine in detail the contents.


Folded within the brownish wrapper was a series of maps that when sequenced detailed a crude line north through Scotland, crossing the Flow Lands of Caithness, the breeding ground of the dunlin, greenshank and golden plover. Caches flagged in the usual manner.


Plotting a course to the north-east the route terminated at land’s end, leaving to supposition an undocumented North Sea crossing from Peltland Firth to the Orkney Archipelago and onto Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen or Larvik. It didn’t matter.

4 Tips for Writing Round Characters

Lately I’ve been spending some time working on developing more salient characters when these novel ideas found their way to my inbox…

Writer's Blog


I’ve never had a character come to me fully formed and ready to go. They come to me like ghosts and I have to make them real by getting to know them over time. Creating (good) characters is hard work, but when you take the time and effort to make them ’round’ it’s always worth it.

So what is a ’round’ character? E.M Forster wrote in Aspects of the Novel, that:

The test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way. If it never surprises, it is flat… It has an incalculability of life about it – life within the pages of a book.”

Someone once told me that if you can imagine the character existing outside of the novel, if they have lives that reach beyond their role in the book’s plot, they’re round. It’s all about putting life back in those…

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Nuuk and Maarit – Episode One

Something I was playing with and seriously want to revisit…

~Tales of Fantasy and Adventure


“What is your name?”

“I am a girl,” brightly proud. “And I like to eat fish soup. What are you?” A child’s harmless question.

“I’m lost from the sea,” lolling lightly with the buoyant saltiness of the thick fractured marine.

Shifting for comfort, soles of her knee-high skin boots crunching and shaping white crystals, “Do you know any songs?”

But the crack and split thunder of breaking ice interrupted, plates and saucers smacking the hardwood surface of the Scots Pine table.

“Soon she’ll be calling, I don’t want you to go.” Concern and conflict replacing her joy.

“Go there it is time and I will come back to you soon.” With that the strange creature slipped from the surface and back into the sea.

“Maarit, please come down, dinner is warm and it’s just on the table.” Maarit’s mother calling.

Passing around the planed edge and wide swing of…

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Work in Progress – Chapter One, Scene One

In this snippet, the main character (Uhuru/protagonist) is enjoying his breakfast as Hardwood (guardian) watches and worries about the state of things. Introduction of both characters and experimenting with some dialogue.


Up to his ears in love-grass, stretched out in a pocket of shade beneath an overhang of buffalo thorn Uhuru enjoyed the benefits of the unfortunate bongo. The ground beneath him stained crimson where the grass and earth had taken on the hue of a life drained. Uhuru had seen his mother hunt, that was before she disappeared in the long shadows beneath the evening stars. His tail twitched as he worked for a better purchase on an unforgiving knuckle of joint and sinew, teeth denuding bone. It was Hardwood that watched over Uhuru now.

Haven’t you had enough?” thundered Hardwood.

I feel it, I feel it,” replied Uhuru, exhausted. Uhuru needed to sleep but was afraid of what was waiting for him there.

An aubade of light was replacing the cool blanket of dawn allowing a new day’s warmth to wash over a waking savanna. Uhuru shook his head, pawing at snags of flesh caught in his teeth and the debris that affected his whiskers. He had finished but decided to keep his place in the shade.

It can wait, it’s good here,” continued Uhuru. “Come, keep me company.”

Hardwood obeyed, her allegiance never waned, she knew the order of things. The pads of her feet threatened the ground as she moved. Her mass now casting an additional layer of protection to the umbrella of shade thrown by the reach of the acacia, but Hardwood worried. She worried about Uhuru and she didn’t understand what the bongo was doing this far north of the veld, and she worried the dry earth, driving a tusk deep beneath the hard pack looking for water. Hardwood did not know such fierce temperatures in her lifetime. She worried that Uhuru was not getting enough sleep and that he was hallucinating again.

They would wait in the shadow for dusk and the cover of the easterly breeze before moving on. The mountain had been there since the land had erupted from the sea. A few more days wouldn’t matter as the sky emptied and the wake of vulture tore at what Uhuru had left behind.


Uhuru snapped awake to the sound of cruel laughter.


What a great post…exercises too!

Rosie Johnston

Your draft is covered in lines, highlights and lots of great big ticks. What happens next?


Have you ever thought of sending your novel to a script agency?* That can be a useful step but writers are sometimes disappointed by the feedback because the agency or editor seems to have misunderstood the book. Script advisors try to find the heart of your story, your main narrative drive. First novels in particular can have everything in them including several kitchen sinks, so the advisor recommends the strongest line that they think will sell. The trouble is, it may not be what the writer had in mind, at all, leaving him or her confused and upset. Some writers then lose faith in critiques and even, sad to say, have a sense that their critiqued story is not worth working on any more. Writers get a better return on their money if they…

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Work in Progress – Chapter One, Scene Two

In this excerpt (actually two snippets) from Scene Two I am introducing the second of three major characters that make an entrance in Chapter One.


Badeed barked up the seawater that threatened her lungs as she clawed her way up to the high-water mark and the rough line of driftwood and flotsam. Her head ached from the blow of the yard-arm. Behind her the tide consumed her tracks scratched in the sand and the sun burnt the morning sky a feral red. She was weak and the beach was steep and the sand was soft and cool under her paws. Badeed was unsure how long she’d been in the water and was contemplating her new deal with the universe.

Patched from toe to head in an irregular calico branding of yellow, orange and white splotches, the short black bristly fur of her neck and face stood out in stark contrast to the triangular patch of off-white canvas that protected the hole where her left eye used to be. No stranger to injury Badeed bore the wounds of numerous misadventures having lost the tip of her tail to the cracked teeth of an enraged warthog and shouldered three deeply etched scars from the claws of an unusually clumsy leopard. After reaching the islands it was the eye-patch that tipped the scale in her favour.

Blind truth!” Badeed grinned with disturbing joy. “Lost the eye to the tip of a sword and a drunken hyena.”


Badeed regained consciousness riding a tidal current under a deep purple sky. Only the breath of a whale breaching the surface nearby for company. No sign of the ships. All that remained was bobbing with the lift of the breeze, legs wrapped around a drift of mangrove. Badeed fell asleep counting the stars and dreamed of the snow-capped mountain.


~Tales of Fantasy and Adventure

Bears are Fast, Really Fast

Beethoven has always been my favorite composer and pianist, music in general a passion. Not being able to play a single instrument myself, I appreciate those who can and just enjoy listening. I was introduced to Beethoven for the first time after relocating to Marystown, Newfoundland. This was 1970, the same year James Taylor released Fire & Rain. Moving around was not unusual for me, my father’s work took us all over the world. Marystown was different for me though, she changed me, opened new worlds.

Shipbuilding and fish processing were the economic forces of the town in those days and the reason we were there. My father was a marine engineer, he specialized in hull design. But his true expertise, and why they needed him, was his ability to analyze and correct balance miscalculations. Newfie fishermen were notoriously optimistic, boats routinely listing into port.

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