I began a ‘short’ story for children but somehow it is getting longer and longer. So I will post excerpts of it for your enjoyment and that of your children!
Clickety Click Part 1
It’s eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bedcovers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click, click, clickety, click.
Alice’s scream woke her. She was drenched in sweat; her heart beating so fast it hurt her chest. She had no idea how long she screamed but her throat was sore. Shortly after waking, she heard her uncle’s thundering footsteps coming up the stairs. The noise drowned out her aunt’s voice full of concern and Alice’s fear induced tears.
The bedroom door flew open and Alice’s uncle stood in the doorway, looking around the room before rushing to the bed and embracing Alice.
“There, there girl, what was it? A nightmare?”
Alice tried to stop her crying in an effort to answer him as her voice croaked and her body shuddered.
“It was a monster, a huge mauve monster with sharp claws and dripping slime. Uncle Gregor, I was so frightened.”
“What a horrid dream, my girl. You are perfectly safe now.”
Alice’s Aunt walked into the room slightly out of breath with a panicked look on her face.
“Oh my, you poor dear. Just look at you. I think it would be best if you had a nice glass of milk and left the bedside light on.”
“Thank you, Aunt Cattrine. I’m feeling better now you are both here but a nice glass of milk does sound good. I can come down to get it.”
“Not at all, let Uncle stay with you, it won’t take me long.”
Her aunt stroked Alice’s hair before exiting the room giving her husband a quick wink as she left. With her uncle’s strong arms around her, Alice felt safe and calmed down as her heartbeat resumed a normal beat.
Once she finished her milk, her aunt and uncle left her to sleep the rest of the night with the small lamp lit. They told her to call them if she had another bad dream. Alice drew her bedclothes up as far as she could and curled up into a ball. She watched shadow branches on the wall closest to the door for some time before her eyelids grew heavy and sleep claimed her.
Click, click, clickety, click. His claws tapped together as he sat in the corner watching her. He delighted in the way she moved as she spun the threads back and forth. The aroma of boiling meat filled the room, making him drool. She turned and grinned; she was as hungry as he looked. This would be a good feast.
Alice slipped out of the covers and curled her toes when they touched the cold wooden floor. She pulled her legs up and reached for her thick woolen socks. Once her feet were enclosed in the soft warmth of the wool, she wrapped a large dressing gown around her and walked downstairs. She found her aunt and uncle busily cleaning the kitchen counters. She thought it was odd as breakfast was not on the table but their smiling faces pushed the thought away.
“There she is. You do look better this morning, rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. Now what do you fancy for breakfast?”
“Whatever you and uncle Gregor are having is fine, thanks auntie.”
“Well I think after such a dreadful night you should choose, I haven’t begun anything yet.”
Why were they cleaning so thoroughly if they haven’t eaten yet? Her uncle’s large hand on her shoulder made Alice dismiss the thought. She turned and smiled up at her large heavyset uncle.
“Sausage and eggs would be perfect, if I may. Thank you, Auntie.”
“Good breakfast choices, Alice, I think we will all enjoy eating them.”
Alice walked to the counter and pulled out the cutlery drawer then began laying the table settings. Her aunt turned to the stove and placed a large skillet on the heated ring, while her uncle picked out sausages and eggs from the fridge. The sausages soon began to sizzle and their tantalizing smell filled the kitchen.
When the food was cooked and placed on plates, they sat down to eat. Alice chewed the spicy sausages and marveled at the unusual but delicious taste. The eggs were special too, bigger than Alice had ever seen before with large deep yellow yolks. Alice collected all the plates once everyone had their fill and set them into the sink before turning on the tap. She heard a clickety click behind her and turned swiftly. Her aunt and uncle were smiling at each other and both frowned at Alice’s sudden movement.
“Whatever is it, dear?”
“Didn’t you hear it? That clickety click noise.”
“No dear just the water running and your uncle’s belch. Really Gregor, your manners!”
“I must be overly sensitive, that nightmare was so real, and I swear I could feel its breath on my face. Thank you both for caring for me.”
“No need for thanks, Alice, we are here to make sure you are healthy…”
With her back turned, Alice didn’t see Cattrine punch Gregor’s arm hard.
“What Uncle means is happy and healthy, Alice. Now are you meeting Bernadette today?”
“Yes, I am. Her Mom will collect me at ten o’clock so I should get dressed.”
Cattrine watched Alice leave the room then licked her lips. Gregor sat with his head down sucking at his fingertips.
“Good grief, Gregor, watch your tongue around her. Get yourself up and go to the pens and feed them.”
Gregor stood slowly blocking out the window with his massive bulk but scuffing his feet like a reluctant child. Cattrine huffed and turned to the cupboards. As she took out a huge pot, Gregor opened the back door and left mumbling under his breath.
“If you are swearing about me I’ll know it, Gregor.”
She heard no answer so began her chores. In the pantry, she unlocked a metal container’s lid and inhaled deeply. Drool dripped from her mouth. She sucked in deeply to return it to her throat. The aroma tantalized her in a way nothing else did. Cattrine pulled out a slab of meat and carried into the kitchen. Footfalls on the stairs made her stop and return to the pantry. She closed the door and stood at the sink waiting for Alice to enter.
“You do look nice, Alice. It’s nearly ten; maybe you should walk down to the end of the lane and wait for Bernadette’s Mom there? It will save her driving all the way up here and it’s too nice a day not to enjoy.”
“Yes, it is lovely out there the sun is so warm. I should be home by four o’clock, Auntie.”
“Have a wonderful day, dear.”
Alice kissed her aunt on the cheek and skipped out of the door, happy and carefree. Absently brushing away a spot of wetness from her cheek as she walked into the wooded glen.
Cattrine returned to the pantry, picked up the slab of meat and began cutting it into strips. Next, she took out a large mincer and fed the strips into the machine. The extruded meat formed a pink and white curl into a bowl beneath it. When all the meat was minced, Cattrine began adding spices and herbs to it. She dug her hands into the mixture and kneaded it repeatedly. Her mouth salivated as she did so.
I couldn’t resist having a go at this writerly ‘tag’ post. Thank you to: https://romance4thebeach.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/tag-seven-deadly-sins-of-reading/ for allowing me to snag it.
Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.
What is your most expensive book?
This depends on how you define ‘expensive’. I treasure the book I received for an art contest when I was in primary school – The Story of Hiawatha. Not only did I want to win the contest but in particular this first prize. The book is slightly worn but I will never let it go – it is my treasure and irreplaceable.
What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?
A difficult question as I accept most writers as we approach, create and write in our own unique way. However, poorly written, constructed and badly edited books really upset me. Obviously there are the ‘Grey’ books, which are awful but also hastily published ebooks and some paperback books that you know were not given the proper time and effort to edit, revise and review. Poor craftsmanship reflects badly on the author and alienates your readership.
Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.
What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?
One that stirs my imagination every time I read it. Ferney by James Long. It is exquisitely written and I re-read it often.
Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.
What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?
A couple of freelancer guide books are awaiting completion on my shelves due to not having a block of time to study them in detail and take copious notes!
Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?
To be honest I can’t think of one in particular. It depends on the situation and the theme of the discussion. I will refer to a book that would inspire others, help define or make my point.
Defined as: a strong sexual desire.
What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?
I do not genre prefer characters in narratives. If a character is strong, capable (or even especially wicked) I enjoy their personality and mission.
Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
What book would you most like to receive as a gift?
A signed copy of the first edition of Carrie by Stephen King. He is the ultimate storyteller and this edition would be placed underneath the personal letter I received from Stephen.
As a frequent prompt user myself; some of which I successfully morphed into novels, I am always contriving stories in my head. As writers we have the ability to create ‘something from nothing’ a good deal of the time. This is one of the reasons writing is such fun. No matter what our minds construct as a character, circumstance or environment, it is feasible within a narrative.
I set a prompt every Saturday on my writing groups calendar, to refresh and inspire. http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com – why not try one or two, just scroll backwards until you find one that appeals. Some use pictures, others are a list of words or a sentence to incorporate.
Has a prompt inspired a story for you?
Care to share it here?
I enjoyed this prompt – limited to 300 words or less from the starting paragraph.
It wasn’t like that before, Andrea thought to herself. The previous night’s storm had caused the tree to topple over like it had never been rooted to the ground. The hole it left in the wake of the storm-induced tragedy was enormous, bigger than she could possibly fill in on her own, especially with nothing but a broken shovel. Andrea walked to the large pit that was now the center of her front yard and peered in. What was that she was seeing? It looked like a…
skeletal hand pointing upwards. Andrea turned her head as she vomited on the grass. Wiping the back of her hand across her mouth she looked down again. Bile rose but she managed to swallow it. A body under the old tree? How long had it been there? Who was it?The shock of her discovery numbed her mind. What should she do first? Call the police? Call Dan?
A cloud moved away from the sun brightening the scene, a sparkle caught Andrea’s eye. There on one finger was a jeweled ring. Could she manage to climb down and get it? Wasn’t there a ‘finders keepers’ thing for buried treasure? Determined to reach the ring Andrea used her shovel to steady herself into the hole. Gritting her teeth she gripped the ring and pulled, it came off the bone easily. The gem was a large sapphire in a gold setting. There were words engraved on the inside. Andrea read them and everything was dark.
Dan called out as he entered the house. Andrea did not respond. He searched the house, the garage and the garden – no Andrea. A missing person’s report was filed. Andrea was never found. Underneath the tree roots the darkness slithered over the new body – a welcomed feast.
I had a story idea that started to play out in my mind like a movie and I began writing it down. I found myself writing all day because the story just kept coming. I wrote at work, at home, while I ate, at night, in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning. I did this for about two weeks when I had my first rough draft of my very first novel I had ever written Hamster Heaven. I know that sounds crazy, just two weeks, but I don’t think the manuscript was full novel length anyway, in its first draft. Then I had the brilliant idea to add the boy character’s point of view, alternating with the girl character’s point of view, for each chapter. Once I added that in my manuscript was twice as long and at that point I think it was actually novel length. I edited Hamster Heaven on and off for about ten years. It is still my favourite novel that I’ve written. Since then, I’ve written a few more novels and my writing style has changed a lot. So I suppose my inspiration was just a great story idea that insisted on being written.
How did you come up with the title?
The title came to me during one of my early edits when I reached the part where Kati’s beloved hamster dies. The hamster is just a small part of the coming-of-age story, but it is Kati’s breaking point, when everything goes from bad to horrible, and she finally cries. Sometimes it takes a separate incident from all the pain you’re going through, to unleash the emotions and tears, like a sad movie or the death of a gold fish, etc. Once the title, Hamster Heaven, came to me it stuck.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
The novel I’m highlighting today (The Virgin Diaries) isn’t my first book, it is my fifth. Prior to The Virgin Diaries, I wrote Hamster Heaven, Moonlight Shadow and Emodroids and Boy Charming. They are all quite different.
-Hamster Heaven is a teen fiction novel set in the mid-1990’s.
–The Virgin Diaries, which is currently my most successful Wattpad novel (with over 5,200 views) is a contemporary Romance about Abby Blosym, who is still a virgin and about to be turning thirty. She is desperate to start living her adult life; marriage, a house, kids, etc. possibly with her boyfriend Ben. But when he proves to be the wrong one for her she leaves to ‘chase the sun’ and falls for Jade, who is considerably younger than her.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I did research on a little known condition known as Vaginismus, a muscle spasm, which makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for women to have intercourse. This is not an uncommon problem and yet it is not talked about or understood, even by doctors, because the condition is caused by psychological factors such as fear and anxiety. This is what my character Abby has to work through in this novel. Even for those who don’t have a condition to work through, having sex for the first time is a life milestone that can be intimidating, like a rite of passage into adulthood. This can be especially intimidating for women who have waited until they are older.
I decided to take the challenge of writing about a character who is making this transition, in conquering her fears and inhibitions so she can move into the next chapter of her life. I’ve heard it said that to be a successful writer you must write about something that makes you uncomfortable, or challenges you to delve into the difficult things of life, or about something that scares you. So with this novel, I took that challenge.
How much of the book is realistic?
Realistic? It’s a contemporary novel, with locations that really exist and situations that are relatable. One of the main locations, Penticton BC, is a place where I myself have vacationed, and I use descriptions in the novel from my recollections of my visits there; the S.S. Sicamous Museum, Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, the beach front, etc. Abby’s hometown is a small city in Southern Alberta, which is also familiar to me. The main character, I feel, is a realistic representation of women who are still trying to leave their parents’ overprotective influence over their lives create a life for themselves.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Abby is a combination of character traits based on friends of mine that are not married yet, as well as character traits from my own self, before I was married. One of the things I find interesting is the powerful emotional impact that overprotective (or overbearing) mothers can have on their grown children’s lives. My mom doesn’t get too involved in the details of my life, but there are many women whose mothers try to control their decisions with emotional manipulation. I wanted to make Abby a woman with a mother like this, thereby putting her in a situation where setting up age-appropriate boundaries between parent and grown child would be essential in order for her to become independent and make the transition into adulthood. I love having a wide variety of friends in my life. My fictional characters can be as diverse as the personalities of the friends I’ve grown to know personally.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Always the beginning, maybe the first 1/4th of the novel. It’s where I always have the most difficulty, where I do the most editing, where I can never seem to be satisfied. So with The Virgin Diaries I’d want to tighten up the beginning a little in order to get to the first meeting between Abby and Jade sooner in the novel. I tried rearranging the order in which the chapters occur (with flashbacks, etc.) which was a nightmare with Wattpad, back before they created more user-friendly chapter editing options for writers who use Wattpad to publish their work.
But I don’t allow myself to look at the novel anymore because the moment I do I will begin editing again, wanting to change everything. I’m the type of author that is never satisfied with any draft, as happened with Hamster Heaven, which I edited over and over for ten years. It gets to the point where I realize I like my old drafts better than the new ones and I start putting old scenes back in. That’s when I know I need to stop editing and make a final copy. Whether or not the novel could have been better, at this point, doesn’t matter. There’s a time to finally let go. Wattpad helps me to do that. Once a chapter is published I let it go. I have to. Because if I keep making changes my poor followers will keep getting updates in their newsfeed alerting them that my chapter has been “updated”, and I don’t want to clutter their news feeds. This is one of the reasons I love Wattpad. I love connecting with the readers and it helps me build a platform of followers for the future when I will be selling novels or e-books for a cost.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First of all, I’m SO grateful for those who have read, left comments or voted for my novels on Wattpad. It is always such a great feeling to know that someone has connected with my story or my characters. Any encouragement or nice comments can make a difficult day into an awesome day! But I also appreciate constructive feedback, which I got lots of in the comments section for The Virgin Diaries on Wattpad. I did make changes to the story due to some of the reader suggestions. And lastly I want to say to readers that if you enjoy a story, and it has made you feel, think, cry, laugh, see things in a new light or the story has entertained you, then please suggest the book to your friends! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to promote anything, including novels J it is a great way to show appreciation to the author for his or her endless hours of work in making a novel for others to read.
What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
My favourite part… right off the top of my head I would say when Abby meets Jade in the waters of the Okanagan lake. It is a pivotal point in the story and Jade is the catalyst that propels Abby into one of the biggest and most difficult transitions of her life, and yet the whole scene is so unassuming and casual.
What is your favourite theme/genre to write?
There is always an element of romance in all my novels, whether it’s sci-fi, contemporary adult or teen fiction, and yet I wouldn’t say my favourite genre to write is Romance, but rather, Young Adult or Teen Fiction. As for theme, whether the story is about Alien conspiracies or a girl running away from home, my favourite theme is always ‘boy meets girl’.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Horror or war memoirs, the holocaust, rape, psychological thrillers, or satanic cults and human sacrifices.
What book are you reading now?
I’m not one to read just one book before grabbing another and starting that as well, so currently I am reading the following books:
–Midnight In Austenland by Shannon Hale
–Scott Pilgrim Manga Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
–Venus in Love Manga Series by Yuki Nakaji
–Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (I’m really enjoying this one)
–The Academy Ghost Bird Series by C.L. Stone (e-book)
–Conquering Shame and Codependency by Darlene Lancer
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, new to me at least. Ally Condie who wrote Matched is a really poetic author that packs so much meaning and depth into every sentence, and yet her writing style is easy to read and flows seamlessly. I LOVE her book Matched.
Also, C.L. Stone, an indie author who offers the first book of her book series for free as an e-book! It isn’t so much her writing specifically that grasped my interest but the fact that she was able to engage so many readers and grow her audience to such huge proportions with just a simple teen story.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, but with screenwriting more than novel writing. I see myself selling screenplays, before any book publishing deals come along. Book publishers are very picky, they are buying the product that they hope to make money on so it has to be perfect. When you sell a script, most likely it will not be your script that will be used for the movie; rather, your script is given to a better known screenwriter who is paid $1 million to rewrite it.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself having sold one or two film scripts and possibly publishing a novel, whether through traditional publishing or self-publishing one of my novels (in a printed book format, for sale, not free online as I’ve done on wattpad). I also see myself doing a lot more self-promotion. With my daughter being out of the house in ten years, I imagine I will be attending more writer’s conventions and festivals where I can promote my work and do readings, like I had the privilege of doing at last year’s Word On The Street festival in Lethbridge. I did a reading from my (still yet to be completed) novel Boy Charming in the Young Adult festival tent. It was a nerve-wracking experience! I’m also planning to attend the World Screenwriter’s Conference this year for the first time and hopefully get my foot in the door in the screenwriting world and sell a script or two, in the next ten years.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The beginning. I know how important it is to capture the interest of the reader right from the start and I find that creates a lot of pressure on an author to write a compelling beginning. When I write a first draft I don’t worry too much about structure or rules, but once I get into the editing I do worry about these things, especially capturing the reader’s attention at the beginning and moving the action along fast enough yet still taking time to do world building and character building. In The Virgin Diaries for example, I was told that I should move the action along faster at the beginning because it takes too long for the main love interest (Jade) to be introduced. But I didn’t feel the reader would be invested emotionally enough in Abby’s character or have a sufficient enough understanding of her life situation and state of mind, if I skipped those beginning character building chapters.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
That’s a tough question. I can say I’ve hated ‘sharing’ something I’ve written, that is, sharing it with the wrong audience for the work. But I can’t say I’ve never hated the work itself. Each work is a piece of you, a creation of your creative mind. If there was some effort, some emotion, something shared, then I don’t think I could hate it, even if I am uncomfortable with the work, or unhappy with its quality. Any piece of prose can be made better and improved, and there’s something beautiful about a first draft, the emotional honesty of it. I’ve also learned that not all writing is appreciated by all audiences and that you have to know when it makes sense to be vulnerable and present your work to others and when it isn’t the right place or time or audience. I attended a self-publishing workshop given by Linda J. Pedley from Dream Write Publishing (http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/), during which Linda said something that stuck with me to this very day and I will always remember, she said ‘be proud of your work’ [not embarrassed or ashamed or secretive about it]. She said some authors don’t want their picture on the back of their books, but it should be an honour to be the writer of your work. I realized that I too felt embarrassed sometimes by my work because it had a heated romance scene in it or had an uncomfortable topic like my novel The Virgin Diaries. But after listening to Linda speak at that workshop I realized that if I write something, that I believe in and have worked hard on, I have every reason to be proud of it.
What book do you wish you had written?
Matched by Ally Condie. It really captured me. It is brilliant in its simplicity and deep in its purity. Here is a quote from Chapter Twenty Five of Matched:
“Our time together feels like a storm, like wild wind and rain, like something too big to handle but too powerful to escape, it blows around me and tangles my hair, leaves water on my face, makes me know I am alive, alive, alive. There are moments of calm and pause as there are in every storm, and moments when our words fork lightning, at least for each other.”
What is your best marketing tip?
Get involved! Support and encourage other authors by following their blogs or Facebook pages, commenting or rating their work, etc. This can really make a difference for you and your own marketing in the long run. Attend conferences if you can. Make friends. Sell yourself.
There are millions of writers out there, millions of great books, just step into a used bookstore or a Chapters store, shelf after shelf of top quality writing. How will yours get noticed? If you sell your work to Random House then their marketing team will help you get noticed, but otherwise it’s important to network and socialize. What I mean by that is ‘care’, about your work and about others’. Care about those trying to do the same thing you are doing. Comment on their posts, follow them on twitter, leave positive feedback. Particularly in the world of Wattpad, it is important to read others’ work as much as it is to write and publish your own.
But in the end the best marketing strategy is to have a good manuscript. Word will spread and people will show interest. If it is a good novel it will get noticed, eventually, and hopefully not after you’ve passed away. If it isn’t a great novel, then no amount of marketing will make people invest their time in it. So make sure you have a great product that YOU are proud of and then share it with others, while also encouraging fellow writers (and your readers too). If you have just one reader tell them you appreciate them. Reply to comments they leave and (as I like to do on Wattpad) write them a thank-you message if they’ve left a comment or voted on your work.
Don’t despise small beginnings and celebrate your achievements, even the small ones.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
My next novel that I will be uploading to Wattpad is Hamster Heaven (teen fiction) which will involve another read through / edit of the manuscript the chapters get posted week by week. This will be the first time Hamster Heaven is published to the public even though it was written over ten years ago.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Hamster Heaven is a teen fiction novel about a 13 year old girl named Kati, from an immigrant family, who has never quite fit in, nor has she felt the need to. Then she crosses paths with David, also a child of immigrant parents. Before long he is the friend that she has always wanted and needed. But Kati’s sudden change of social status at school threatens to destroy their new found friendship.
You can also follow my Facebook Author’s Page for updates and info on upcoming book / e-book releases and of course to leave comments and contact me J www.facebook.com/BiancaRowena
More about Bianca:
Bianca writes teen fiction and YA (including sci-fi, romance and contemporary styles). She is the author of The Virgin Diaries, Boy Charming and Moonlight Shadow, which are available to read for free on wattpad at: www.wattpad.com/BiancaWatson
For the first 10 people to follow Bianca’s facebook page and receive a free bookmark.
When she isn’t writing, Bianca enjoys playing the piano, reading, going to plays or the symphony, frequenting used bookstores, going out for fancy cupcakes with her daughter, high-tea social events, watching Netflix and baking banana chocolate chip muffins.
“I will always write, because to not do so would be to deny my very self”