#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, flash fiction, Short story, Uncategorized, Writing journey

Flash fiction for #DystoniaAroundThe World: The Priest Hole

Yesterday night, I limped over the 200 miles of writing milestone so I am sharing with you, The Priest Hole, the first tale from Mexenby Hall. It’s publication is much later than I imagined but dystonia is predictably unpredictable and I should have realised as soon as I pledged to write 1000 miles the #DystoniaAroundTheWorld challenge it would fight back in the worst way by affecting my vision. Days have been lost but like all travellers on an epic adventure, I am just moving forwards one step at a time.

Flash Fiction: The Priest Hole by Kate Kenzie

 

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Darkness cloaked the narrow passageway. The small candle’s flame flickered with every exhalation and cast little light as Nell gingerly eased herself towards the steep spiralling steps. Her worn uniform and thin borrowed shawl offered little protection against the bitter cold emanating from the damp stone walls.

The privilege Nell felt earlier when summoned to the Great Hall and took into the Lady’s confidence after only a few weeks of employment seeped away as the walls constricted and the rising stench of unemptied chamber pots forced her to question her easy compliance. The Lady hid her true faith well. Any rumours rippling through the staff of clandestine visits from the cast out priest were quickly stamped on by the sharp tongue or slap from Cook and the staff’s forced attendance to the dreary church service every Sunday while the Lady stood in the family pew crushed any lingering doubts. Nell never guessed until she heard the simple request and now she wanted to return to the warm wood panelled room with the crackling fire she lit earlier to retract her agreement, but the clunk of the entrance closing sealed her fate.

Clutching her bundle close to her pounding chest, she swallowed down the wave of nausea, licked her dry lips, and rolled back her shoulders; she could do this and stepped down into the abyss. The twisting staircase plummeted into the depths of the property and she wondered whether the priest had traded the raging flames of Hell he feared for an icy, stagnant equivalent. A hacking cough echoed upwards. She froze and listened. Would the sound penetrate the thick walls of Mexenby Hall and alert the visitors to his presence? Would it lead to his violent demise? And hers? She made the sign of the cross with the candle and prayed. It remained silent except for a shuffling below. He was close. Nell hastened her descent: the sooner she delivered the bundle, the sooner her role as a small cog in the bigger machine would be complete and she could retreat to safety.

The dancing flame illuminated the bare and compact room. A dark shape rose from the corner, uncurling itself to reveal a bent figure hidden beneath a thick cloak. A hand clawed with arthritis beckoned her over. Fear grabbed Nell and the words announcing the arrival of food caught in her constricted throat. She wanted to flee, scramble up the way she came but her feet refused to comply. A cold draft wrapped itself around her ankles, shackling her to the ground as the figure approached.

“Come child,” it crooned. The voice was smooth and mesmerising. “You have nothing to fear. Not you.”

The hand grasped hers. Nell pulled, but the hand clenched hers tighter into a vice grip.  Nell’s eyes widened; the hood flung back,  revealing an elderly woman whose mass of white hair was braided into a long tail, and her blue eyes pierced deep into Nell’s soul, pinning her into place. A searing heat radiated up her arm. The bundle fell to the floor, unravelling, sending small loaf and apple rolling into a puddle. The scurry of small feet told her it had not gone unnoticed, but Nell could not take her eyes off the woman before her. The Old Crone of Mexenby. A legend of nightmares and fairy tales. A toothless smile emerged from the folds of the wrinkled face.

“It’s true. They don’t lie, even when the truth feels impossible. They don’t lie. You are the one. The one that can save us all.”

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You can find out more about the dystonia challenge to raise awareness for dystonia and keep up to date on my progress here. Here is to the next 100 miles and hopefully I will be a step closer to reaching my target of £250.

Happy writing and stay safe!

Love

just Kate

Dystonia UK: https://www.dystonia.org.uk/

My fundraising page: https://www.dystoniaaroundtheworld.org/fundraiser/katekenzie

My team’s progress: https://www.dystoniaaroundtheworld.org/fundraisers/dunedystoniauknortheast

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A Writer’s Life: After Rejections A Magical Boost

Rejections are part of a writer’s journey. We have all heard about how hard it is to find an agent or publisher for the manuscript you have spent hours on and given part of your soul to write but I don’t think anyone quite prepares you for emotions you feel when one arrives in your inbox. This time last year, the idea I would have a complete manuscript to submit seemed unlikely. I had received positive feedback from my first 1:1s at the RNA conference, but my word count was lacking. With The End now reached and submissions to agents began the dreaded rejections have appeared in my inbox. I thought I was prepared after listening to agents and publishers talk about the criteria and slush pile, but I was amazed at how low you feel when you read the words it’s not for us. Thankfully, I have my tribe of writers to rely on to lift the mood and remember each rejection is a rite of passage in the transformation of becoming an author. As they stack up, it is proof I have finished my book and had the courage to send it off into the world. It is a sign of how far I have come from; in my local writing group I was scared to say my name, never mind share my work with others, and now I can chat about my characters and read aloud my flash fiction.* Rather than aspiring to be a writer, I am one. Next step up the ladder is the coveted title – author.

 

*I am still scared to speak to people I don’t know, but that is another work in progress.

 

My reward for finishing A Blend of Magic – a painting of The Enchanted Emporium by Jess Titcombe

 

Another way to battle the low after receiving a rejections is to highlight and collect the positives you have heard about your work. Stick them in a file,  a book or copy them on a trusty post-it note to remind yourself someone liked it or loved a character.  A comment I have nearby from my NWS reader:

Everything needed for a cracking good story is here in this full length draft.

Along with the positive feedback from my first beta reader, it gives me hope that with polish and changes it can become a novel readers can enjoy.

 

How do you deal with rejections? All tips are welcome.

Stay safe, keep writing and reading!

Love

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye

From Under the Duvet

Christmas is not Christmas without reading or watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Muppets version starring Michael Caine is traditionally watched on Christmas Eve by the whole family but other versions are watched too throughout the month. On 1st December, I take my illustrated version of the tale off my forever shelf for its annual read. This well-known story is perfect for Christmas with its cruel villain, lessons on love and redemption as well as its powerful festive imagery. So I jumped with glee when I was offered the chance to read the prequel Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol.

Miss Marley Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Title: Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Author: Vanessa Lafaye

Genre: Festive, general fiction

Publisher: HQ

Release date: 1st Nov…

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Writers Tag – let’s continue to connect!

I am excited to have been nominated for this. Thank you Viola Bleu. It is time for me to ponder the answers. Watch this space.

IdeasBecomeWords

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A few days ago, I was delighted to find I’d been tagged by a blogger whose posts I admire and have enjoyed for some months (when I take my head out from a pile of dirty horse rugs and sit down in front of WordPress which sadly is not often enough).

K M Allen posts about all sorts of interesting literary subjects, from great writing advice, tips and updates on her own journey to complete her present manuscript.   I’ve always felt KM has the sort of site which I’d like to aim for.  It is profressional, yet relaxing to work your way around, never short on quality content and inspiring in its message.  So I want to thank her firstly for even thinking of me! (In fact, the day she followed my measly effort at a site, I fell from my chair and scrabbled to get back on to…

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Self-Esteem test… what negative worries soak up your energies on a daily basis?

Sometimes a blog post, like this one arrives in your reader at just the right time. Life is changing with my daughter growing up fast – I am sure to be facing the dreaded empty nest soon and my priorities inevitably are changing too. This exercise has made me consider where I am in my life and what I need to focus on next to create the life I desire.

Thanks Viola Bleu for sharing.

IdeasBecomeWords

I’ve been quiet for a few days haven’t I? I’m still here but focusing on me and The Book!

I’ve been mulling over something I studied a while back and fancied sharing it with you 🌸

I recall a test in which we participated during our 12-week self-esteem course (I say ‘we’ .. that’s myself and seven other women who had qualified for this course having done the Freedom Programme at my local Womens Aid centre).

The amazing volunteer leader who stood at the front had six sheets of different coloured A4 paper. She held up the white sheet.

‘This represents me; my self esteem, which is extremely good.’

(immediately she said this, I curled my toes with embarrassment – how could anyone be that self assured … but I hadn’t completed the course had I)

‘This red piece of paper represents my husband – and when you do…

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