I thought that today I would treat you all by splashing some actual fiction across my blog for your viewing pleasure. Below is a silly short story I wrote in 2009 for no reason other than to amuse myself.
© Alyce Caswell
When the UFO first appeared in the stratosphere, slinking through the darkness on my side of the world, I was comfortably unaware of its presence. Immersed in the intricate workings of some novel and its outlandish premise, I enjoyed the soothing noises that appear after midnight. The burr of traffic and the infrequent barking of dogs form the closest thing to silence known to modern man or woman inhabiting my city.
I didn’t expect to encounter any other worldly intelligent life, nor did I wish to die before I saw something vaguely suspicious and glowing in the sky. For all my interest in space, I was to be very disappointed with humankind’s first contact with aliens.
I briefly paused in my weaving of words and manipulation of hapless heroes and helpful heroines to glance dramatically into the shadows that blanketed the world outside my window. Unfortunately, I had been distracted by the ever glaring light of the neighbour over the fence who refused to improve my silent reverie with inspiring darkness.
The light shimmered, flickered and thrummed before disappearing into the void.
“You picked a good night to be a good neighbour,” I muttered, throwing a smouldering but relieved glare across the space between our houses.
Writers rarely like to be disturbed or distracted from their work, but on those rare occasions they tend to deliberately gaze out the window or form an attachment for those clicking pens. I’d lost hours in clicking pens and I was about to lose hours in bizarre discoveries.
The nail of my index finger became wedged between my teeth as I chewed absently. A nasty habit I had cured in all but one finger. I quickly added this quirk to my favourite new character.
Between adding this feature and then crossly back-spacing it, I became aware of beady eyes watching me through the gloom. I also had the sharp shock of noticing a face pressed up against my window, nose squished so much that I could see down the tunnels of their nose. That was not a pleasant experience.
The man-shaped being fluttered his hands at me and pleaded, “Don’t scream. I mean no harm. I’m...how would you say it...in need of fuel.”
“Eek!” I wanted to say, except it came out as, “You picked the wrong night to need petrol. They always hike up the prices at this time of the week.”
My wardrobe is besieged by shoes. Not just a few pairs - a bajillion of them. Sandals, slip-ons, joggers, slippers, limited edition pairs...it's the continuing legacy of my brush with the shoe industry. So I thought I too would besiege you - every Shoesday (it took far too little time to come up with that!).
Once upon a time, I believed that shoes should be bought for function only. I carried this staunch belief into a job embroiled in "sneaker culture". I met people who had smothered every inch of every skirting board in their houses with neatly paired shoes sporting the classic logos - Nike, Adidas, Onitsuka Tiger, etc. So many shoes, so little time...!
Sneaker culture is about collecting the fancy, sharp, limited, insane, cool - oh and shoes seen in movies. You can simply collect them or you can wear them for street cred. Most people on a shoestring budget (haha) do the latter and you can spot the painfully bright joggers at the gym or even on the feet of suited men roaming Pitt Street in Sydney.
This was a new concept to me. And totally not one that would affect me in any way. Right?
Say hello to my Onitsuka Tigers. Yes, as seen in Kill Bill. I also own the katana in case you're wondering. :P
As an office junior, one of my tasks was to do a daily circuit of company locations nearby. In doing so, I'd find myself looking at shoes in different shop windows, indifferent, but then one day...I saw these. I'm not an insane Kill Bill fan (I don't even like Tarantino that much - gasp, blasphemy!) but I loved the meaning in these shoes. If you wear these, you too can...kill bill. ;)
As someone who is 6.5 in sizing, imagine my delight when I walked in and gloomily requested a size 7 whereupon the sales assistant said, "Oh, we only carry half sizes."
"Hallelujah!" is what I usually add to this anecdote. I would have bought the shoes without wearing them but shoe sellers get weird about that (unless you actually work there in which case they give you a weird look because you don't know your own size!).
These shoes are my favourite. When I wear them, I feel like I'm drawing attention with the super bright yellow. I've seen people's eyes follow my feet down the road. The shoes also give me a weird confidence boost. It's a surge of strength. Don't mess with me - I totally have an invisible katana on me.
I paid an uncomfortable sum for these - a third of my weekly wage at the time. But I feel like they are worth it. And I imagine the sheer joy of wearing cool new eye-catching shoes is the reason so many people squeeze through a week of rent and bills just to get a pair that symbolises their interior awesome.
A good pair of shoes can get you through a bad day.
And an awesome pair of shoes can give a writer inspiration. ;)
That was me in January last year, having recently gone exclusive with my first serious boyfriend. I was admittedly a little panicked.
V-Day had been the annual reminder of my singledom. I had started calling it "Generic Love Day" and gave out chocolate goodies to my friends and family. I was so used to being single on The Holiday of Love and Judgement that I had no idea how I was supposed to share it with a boyfriend.
A week before Valentine's Day while we were cuddled up on a park bench in Hyde Park, Sydney, watching a cop car slowly inch its way up and down the middle path in search of criminals, my then boyfriend (and future husband) made the grave error of indirectly using the L word. It was a good thing I was studying the darkening scenery instead of him because he would have read the horror on my face.
I was silent for a looong time, before I finally warned, "Be careful with that L word."
Still, our Hard Rock Cafe date was going ahead on V-Day the next Friday as planned and I spent the Sunday afternoon writing a card for him while chatting to him on Facebook.
By T-minus 2 days to Valentine's Day, I was bemoaning the L word event to my mother, nestled safely on the lounge in the living room. I confess that my ramblings escape my memory, but suddenly I finished with, "I think I love him!?"
"Sounds like it," agreed my mother.
I wanted to rush off to the interwebs and proclaim my love, but...well. I had 2 days until a special dinner. So I hatched my plan. What better day to return my boyfriend's ardour than Valentine's Day? I grabbed the card from the weekend and clumsily added "love" in front of the words "from Alyce" ("love" was, of course, underlined for emphasis).
But it will always be Generic Love Day to me. :) I'm still spreading the love to family and friends, because I have been very lucky to receive so much love from them. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your relationship status is - V-Day is what you make it.
Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
I thought I'd keep track of all the books that end up in a terrifying and teetering tower on my second desk (technically I bought it for my fiancé but you can never have enough writing space, y/n?) so here goes. A weekly review! There's a lot a writer can learn from reading books (I always steal an awesome word if it comes across the pages before me!) and I find that it's a hobby that stimulates my imagination.
And how can I expect anyone to read my stories if I never read theirs?
Roland has his night all planned - he's going to get drunk in a pub and enjoy the last few dollars he has left. As a bonus, Roland gets himself into a brawl when he decides to defend a mysterious newcomer. This is Griffith, a sorcerer on his way to Salem in the north of New South Wales, Australia - turns out he could use a bodyguard with smarts. Roland takes the job without quite realising just how much attention Griffith has attracted (and will continue to attract) from dangerous entities...
Purcell immediately triumphs in sinking the reader into noir aesthetics and Roland's voice is strong and his journey to redemption a believable one, if cliched. There's a lot of potential here but it felt like the author was swerving away from some of the more interesting aspects of the story in order to remain focused on Griffith and Roland. And sometimes there were weak moments that I felt could have been fixed up in a more ruthless edit - there were also some typos spread throughout that could have benefited from that as well. All in all, a diverting and promising work but the author still has a way to go before he gives us a much more polished piece.
I picked this up for my Kobo Mini but you can find assortment of sources here.
On Friday night, I went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service on the strength of the trailer's humorous tidbits and – well, Colin Firth. I was not disappointed. I knew immediately when the music started that I was about to stand witness to awesomeness.
I've been a Dire Straits fan probably since infancy because of a thoroughly retro upbringing but never before had the opening strains of “Money For Nothing” been quite so epic; it accompanied explosive introductive credits as the camera panned in. “Money For Nothing” and its working-class voice is the perfect song to encapsulate main character Eggsy's background.
Growing up in government housing with his downtrodden mother, Eggsy (played by up-and-comer Taron Egerton) looks set for the slammer after a jaunt in a stolen car, until a gentleman in a bespoke suit arrives to show him a different path. Harry Hart (delightfully performed by suave Colin Firth) works for an independent spy agency under the codename "Galahad" and, lucky for Eggsy, an agent called "Lancelot" recently got cut down to size (literally – by a villainess sporting Blade Runner legs), leaving an empty space in the agency.
Eggsy must undergo tests to prove his worth against snobby rich kids who turn up their noses at Eggsy's name and background. The film earns “awww” points for introducing an adorable pug as Eggsy's training buddy.
Meanwhile, Harry and the Kingsmen are trying to work out who killed Galahad and just what lisping billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson hams it up brilliantly in this role) is up to with his free SIM cards and free Internet for everyone. In his quest, Harry aka Galahad is superbly outfitted with an arsenal to make Q jealous – inclusive of a bullet-repelling umbrella and undeniable charm.
Kingsman is the best spy film spoof in ages. The greatest spoofs can stand their own two (bladed) legs and the film delivers with an enjoyable plot. Characters make jokes about spy movie cliches but the humour keeps coming in other forms. Absurd violence, stylishly shot, is peppered throughout, most noticeably in a church massacre worthy of TV series Supernatural – and gosh that scene feels almost like wish fulfilment, given that the victims are a homophobic hate group. Was the cinema laughing because we were amused or because we were uncomfortable with our amusement of it?
And let's not forget the pug. Pugs always make a movie more awesome.
It's worth noting that in Kingsman there's a “countdown to V-Day”. Forget a movie based on a Twilight fanfiction – Kingsman: The Secret Service is the fun Valentine's Day movie you want to share with someone. Unapologetic uses of explosions, violence, laughter and well-known actors (spot Luke Skywalker if you can!) abound.
A solid 8/10 and a definite addition to my blu-ray collection.
Alyce Caswell is an aspiring writer who apparently lost her mind, threw away a steady job as an office junior and entered the realm of imagination.
She has blamed her accomplice and husband for giving her this most excellent opportunity.
Alyce has written articles, poems, short stories, books
and several embarrassing blogs. She hopes this venture will avoid the usage of cat gifs.
Links of Interest
A Rambling Rover
Alyce's travel blog which features various castles, stone circles and bemused musings about the Northern Hemisphere.