#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, Just life, Writing journey

How did August get here so fast? A catch-up and Dystonia Around the World

How is it August already? This year is galloping by and I feel I’m still stuck in March with a never-ending to do list and a WIP which is going slower than a garden snail despite my best efforts. Unlike last year when everyone was in lockdown and zoom calls to boost morale and word counts were the norm, being ‘good’ as a clinically vulnerable person is much harder and soul destroying. The world carries on outside and it’s hard not to feel left behind, trapped and bored. Even my imagination has got fed up with my sense of gloom and decided to scarper  – not ideal when have a deadline to meet. Yes, you heard someone wants to read my WIP about ballet and friendship when finished. Time for a happy dance followed by a frenzied panic. How do authors write under pressure without sobbing in a corner with their inner critic shouting at them? Answers in the comments below, please.

The last couple of months have ground productivity to a halt with the unexpected death of Randall, the inspiration of many stories and dear friend, and umpteen other things life has colluded to throw at me at once. But it’s time to turn things around, take back control, get some writing done, wake up my brain cells, and encourage seeds of ideas and my word count to grow. To start living again. Accountability is key so the arrival of the Dystonia Around the World challenge email was perfect. I’ve signed up and ready to go with a new pen, paper and walking shoes.

Dystonia Around the World Challenge

Dystonia is a neurological condition affecting in the UK and can range from focal dystonias affecting one part of the body and linked to a certain activity, such as writer’s cramp or musical dystonia, to more general ones affecting many areas. All types create challenges throughout the day. After living with dystonia for over twenty years, the charity Dystonia UK is dear to me and supported me often. Last year I wrote several short stories but now it’s time to convert chapters of my WIP, catching up with my overflowing TBR and increase my dwindling mobility into miles. Every 10 minutes of activity equals a mile. The hope is as a collective everyone who signs up will manage to walk around the world.

Let the globe trotting adventure begin.

I’ve signed up for the #DystoniaAroundTheWorld challenge

More information can be found here and on my From Under the Duvet blog. Or follow my progress on Instagram. If you would like to sponsor my efforts and help fundraise for Dystonia UK click here.

How have you all been? Are you out and about enjoying the summer weather or still shell-shocked from the last year and struggling to join back into society?

Take care and stay safe!

More soon.

Love

#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

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Dystonia Around the World Challenge, work in progress, Writing journey

The first 10 miles of #DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge: New Ideas and Beginnings for Stories

 

Yesterday, I shared my intention to raise awareness and much needed donations for dystonia by signing up to the Dystonia Around The World challenge. I have downloaded an app on to my phone to time my writing and the journey has begun. According Dystonia UK, ten minutes of an activity equals one mile. This is a lot less daunting than I originally thought when I read it as one hour equals a mile. Maybe I will complete 1000 hours on this project depending on the length of time the challenge runs for and the donations, but for now we will focus on one mile at a time until I travel 100 miles.

Where can we go?

This morning, I had achieved over ten miles of writing. This made me think of where I could virtually visit in my 100 miles target. Manchester is always an option and it would be nice to catch up with friends but yesterday I saw a wonderful shop I long to visit, The Curiosity Society in Haworth, North Yorkshire. It looks full of atmosphere and magical inspiration to get the creative sparks flying. At 80 miles away, it fits perfectly with a quick detour to one of my favourite places to relax, the sea.

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So with my ten miles I am banking them for a Horlicks and a tea cake on Bridlington beach to blow away the cobwebs of shielding and isolation. One day soon, I will do it for real, but until then memories and imagination will have to do.

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My progress so far

With those miles, I have written the beginning of a short story about a cursed locket and a potential scene from my current work in progress inspired by the prompt, the scarecrow, given by my local writing group for homework. I doubt I will use it in the manuscript, but it gives an insight into one character. Watch this space; it will be available to read in September.

Catch up soon.

Happy writing and stay safe!

Love

just Kate

If you would like to sponsor or follow my journey for the Dystonia Around The World challenge my page is here. Or follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Just life, Writing journey

Awards, Afternoon Tea and Friends

As many of you know, I am on the New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) with the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) and it has been an invaluable experience this year. Last Saturday was the annual York Afternoon Tea with the announcement of the winner of the Joan Hessayon Award at the stunning Merchant Taylor Hall. After meeting new friends at the conference in July, I had been looking forward to this event for weeks. There was a moment when it looked as if I would not be able to attend but to my surprise offers of lifts soon arrived. This is the kindest organisation I have come across. Everyone is warm, friendly and supportive. Many are willing to step out of the box to help. Going to one of those events is like coming home, you are greeted with hugs, wonderful food, encouraged to tell your news, and achievements, however small they are in the scheme of things, are celebrated and any falls commiserated. You also want to spend longer there than planned to soak up the love. I truly have found my tribe.

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Food Glorious Food

 

The spread of food was amazing and the macaroons were divine. While drinking lots of cups of tea I caught up with all the positive news from friends old and new. I am proud of all of them and excited that the conference and RNA has boosted their work and confidence too. Watch this space as I believe they will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award in the next couple of years.

The author’s of one of my favourite books, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was nominated for the award. The Joan Hessayon Award is for published books by new writers. Jenni Keer’s books always make me smile with the subtle strands of magic running through them. Her warmth shines on the page making them ideal snuggling under the duvet. The mutual love of teacups is also a draw. My review for this is here.

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Alison May, Lorna Cooke and Hannah Begbie

There were fifteen contenders and more books have been added to my TBR list.  The worthy winner was Lorna Cook with The Forgotten Village. I am looking forward to reading this as soon as I can. The speech from last year’s winner Hannah Begbie with her novel, Mother, was inspiring and emotional making me more determined to write.

Other News

My NWS report from the RNA is back; it was positive and my novel, A Blend of Magic has promise. The readers comments were upbeat and encouraging so along with the weekend’s event I have a boost of energy to finish this latest draft.

Researching A Blend of Magic has reignited my interest in the paranormal, magic and witchcraft. What better way to learn more on these subjects than to enrol as an apprentice at my own The Enchanted Emporium. My journey as a rookie witch can be found here.

NanoWriMo is fast approaching and I have plans if A Blend of Magic can be rested in a drawer. Watch this space!

Thank you John Jackson for the use of the photos.

Happy writing!

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog