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Birthday Cluedo

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while! I hope this makes up for the gap. I wrote this piece of flash fiction as a friend’s birthday present. It’s actually the first piece of flash fiction–as opposed to drabbles, which are the fan fiction equivalent–I have written in years, that I am entirely happy with.

Personally I prefer the word ‘drabble’, but anyway … on with the piece.


The detective steepled his fingers, doing his Holmes impression whilst the suspects all filed into the room.

Colonel Mustard came first; stiff military stature, an air of cold indifference. Mrs Peacock followed shortly behind, fanning herself to try and disguise her shaking hands. Reverend Green was the first to appear calm; confident in his own innocence. Miss Scarlet slunk in alongside Mrs White, despite the intense dislike shared between them; and bringing up the rear was Professor Plum, nervously mopping his brow.

All with motive, all with opportunity. Yet, the detective had explored every option, and as they lined up nervously, waiting for him to pronounce which of them were for the noose, his eyes flickered to the guilty party, and he smiled.

“So?” The Reverend spoke first. “Which of us did it?”

“I expect you did,” said Miss Scarlet. “I saw you going into the library with the candlestick!”

“No! I thought it was Mustard with the pipe—”

“How dare you!” the Colonel blustered. “It was obviously Mrs White—”

They began squabbling amongst themselves.

“You’re all wrong,” the detective said loudly. They fell silent, miraculously.

“Well then, who was it?” the Professor asked after a moment’s pause.

The detective pointed, and they all craned their necks to see who he was indicating.

“It was,” the detective said amongst murmurs of disbelief, “the cat.”

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Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

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A Geeky Christmas

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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.

A Who-ish Season

I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).

I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.

Re-reading Potter

A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.

I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:

It unscrews the other way”

or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:

… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”

(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)

Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.

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All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.

In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).

Joke of the Week

(Told to me at Christmas.)

It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.

“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”

He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”

The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.

The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.

Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”

Call For (Constructive) Criticism, Aquila Extract

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My Aquila project has officially begun. I have drafted a plan of the pilot and begun researching the genre and other things. You may find I am talking about superheroes a lot for the coming months! I’ve invested in plenty of books on writing for television, as well as a few box sets to work my way through. I need to be a superhero expert by the time I come to write my critical essay, so that seems like a good place to start.

I began writing the plan out in script form, and feel it’s falling rather flat–it’s also turning out a lot shorter than it needs to be, which is worrying.

Extract:

Hospital Waiting Room

(DAD is staring at a magazine without reading it. FIONA comes rushing in.)

DAD: Fiona! (stands up quickly) Well?

FIONA: I’m fine. Just a bit of a bump, nothing to worry about.

DAD: Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

FIONA: Dad, I’m fine. Look, they’re letting me go, see? And if my memories come back, they come back; if they don’t, well, I can live with that. Come on, let’s get out of here. Please.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Night

(FIONA is in her own bed, asleep but fitful. The flashes continue.)

DAD (v.o.): Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

NURSE #1 (v.o.): I can’t make out what this is–it looks like some kind of implant …

(The words BEWARE REDTHORN is superimposed over her.)

GEORGIA REDTHORN (V.o.): Come on in my dear, let’s get you dried off and warm, and then something to eat …

(FIONA sits up with a gasp.)

Major’s Kitchen, Morning

DAD is brewing coffee. ALFIE is in school uniform eating breakfast, wide awake. MUM is on the phone, holding a list.

MUM: … I know we should have called, but it was the early hours and our primary concern was getting her to bed safely. … Of course, I’ll give her your love. Bye, Dad.

(Phone is replaced. MUM crosses a name off her list.)

MUM: So that’s Grandad notified …

FIONA enters in her dressing-gown. The room stills as they all look at her.

FIONA: Um, morning.

MUM: Morning, love. What do you want for breakfast?

DAD: Do you want some coffee? Or tea, I could put the kettle back on.

MUM: You could let her answer, Doug.

ALFIE: Mm, Daddy’s being rude.

DAD: Alfie!

FIONA: Do we have any bacon?

MUM and DAD look at each other.

MUM: No, but I could pick some up when I drop Alfie off at school. Come on, Alfie, you’ll be late.

(ALFIE finishes his breakfast speedily while DAD proffers the cafetiere at FIONA.)

FIONA: Coffee, please, Dad.

(FIONA sits down while DAD pours her a coffee. MUM ushers ALFIE out into the hall.)

ALFIE: (from hall) Fiona, you’ll still be here when I come home, right?

FIONA: Of course I will.

(Sounds of MUM and ALFIE leaving house.)

DAD: Are you all right, sweetheart?

FIONA: You’re all acting so weird.

DAD: You can hardly blame us, it hasn’t exactly been a normal few weeks.

FIONA: No, it hasn’t.

DAD: We all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible.

FIONA: I know, Dad. I just wish it were that easy.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Morning

(FIONA is alone with her laptop, and searches REDTHORN online. Too many results. She tries REDTHORN SUPER EYESIGHT and REDTHORN IMPLANTS but also gets nowhere. Tries variants with RED THORN, still nothing useful.)

School Gates, Morning

(FIONA stands in a milling crowd of students, nervous. She looks around, noticing minute details. She looks behind her and reads the menu of a cafe the other end of the road. Swallows, but with great reluctance joins the crowds.)

VICTORIA: Fiona?

(FIONA turns and sees VICTORIA and EMMA standing behind her.)

FIONA: Vicks! Emma!

FIONA goes to hug them both but they don’t respond.

EMMA: Where’ve you been?

FIONA: I … I’m not sure. Amnesia.

VICTORIA: That’s not what I heard. Everyone’s saying you ran out on us for the Gymnastics Championships.

FIONA: What? They’re not! That’s not what–

EMMA: No, you just chose then to do a disappearing act on us, your teammates. We always said you were a drama queen.

FIONA: But–I didn’t–really–

VICTORIA: Have a nice life, Fiona.

(VICTORIA and EMMA walk off, arm in arm. FIONA stands there, stunned. The bell goes and she runs into school.)

I’m looking for some constructive criticism (not about the format, I had to do some jiggling to get it to be readable as a blog post). This is the first time I’ve posted something on this blog specifically for feedback, I’m hoping to do it  more in future. I’m very very sorry for neglecting my blog, but the stress has I’m afraid been getting to me.

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Harry Potter Joke Books?

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“The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke and Riddle Book”, by R.U Kidding M.E. I stumbled across this in my Kindle recommendations this morning, but sadly it did not live up to expectations.

This book needs a lot of work before I would pay money for it. I didn’t need to read further than the free sample–most of the jokes are not actually HP-related apart from the author sticking a character name in front, some are Americanised and just don’t fit with the feel of the books, and there are persistent errors: in the Herbology section, Professor Sprout is consistency referred to as Madam Pomfrey. The few jokes that were actually Harry Potter jokes and I as a Brit appreciated and were factually correct, just didn’t merit paying for.

If you’re looking for a Harry Potter joke book where the author knows their stuff, I highly recommend “Harry Pottiness: A Totally Unofficial 6395927Book of Muggle Fun”.

I’ve thumbed my way through this book time and time again when needing some laughs. It’s true it’s incredibly cheesy and the jokes are BAD, but most do fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. The highlights however have to be the more creative pages, such as the Invisibility Cloak care label, and the music chart–always worth a giggle. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to understand most of the jokes; having seen most of the films once is probably good enough.

Writing Stuff

Since we seem to be having a Potter themed post, why not? I don’t normally discuss my fan fiction on this blog, but as it happens, the (Harry Potter) fan fiction chapter I mentioned in my last post that got mostly wiped, I have managed to re-write to, I think, a pretty good standard. It’s a couple of hundred words shorter so I’ve obviously lost some content forever, but I’m pretty sure I covered everything I meant to cover. Even a lot of the dialogue reads like it did before, which is brilliant. My prayers have been answered. The chapter in question is actually on a story that’s not public yet, and won’t be for a long time–but that doesn’t mean I don’t write something on it when the thought strikes. It’s actually one of the sequels to Six.

Moving away from the Potter stuff, I am so close now with my coursework–just got to figure out this bibliography, and some proof-reading, and I’ll be free to work on Aquila! (And hopefully a few days’ holiday!) I got a 5 for my Children’s Writing module–I have to say I was slightly disappointed, as the first draft of one of my stories was predicted 4-6 before it was redrafted, and it means I just missed getting a First on another module. I’m not totally confident in the report I’m about to hand in, so my hopes are pinned on my Aquila script.

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