Thursday, September 25, 2014

Netsuke

“Dave!” Ann took a step backwards. “It isn’t your business where I am.”

She sashayed across the marble floor on her Jimmy Choos and pressed a button. Georgy, sitting on a black leather sofa in red Armani casuals, could now hear the conversation.

“What the hell have I done with what?”

Ann’s neck jutted forward.

“Polite, Dave. We’re divorced now.”

She wiggled her hips over to the sofa and sat on its wide armrest. Georgy’s large hand cradled her buttocks.

“You had your netsuke collection valued? The best pieces have been replaced by copies?” Ann laughed. “You told the judge you don’t have a netsuke collection.”

Georgy patted Ann’s buttocks.

“Like you didn’t have a Jag. Remember? A year before the divorce. You changed it for a Fiesta and told me you’d lost all your money.”

She stalked over to a cabinet and chose a small object.

“Polite, Dave, or I’ll put the phone down.”

Ann fluttered her eyelash implants at Georgy.

“If you do have a Jag and a netsuke collection, we’ll have to go before the judge again. The Swiss give bank details now.”

She sat on the armrest again.

“You’ll bash me to pulp? Come and get me, Dave. I’m with Georgy Basilic, in a villa with bodyguards and servants in the South of France. …Yes, the Georgy Basilic. The woman boxing champion. My boxing teacher. You wanted me to learn.”

“Come any time, Dave,” Georgy growled into the phone.

Ann cut the connection.

“This beauty’s worth a half a million, darling.” She held out the object in her hand. “His dad collected, but he can’t tell one from another. And that’s not all I’ve taken.” She slid onto Georgy’s knees. “While he was filling his bank vaults,” Ann interrupted herself to kiss her, “I was filling mine.”




by Joy Manné

www.joymanne.org

Thursday, September 18, 2014

FFF goes fortnightly...

Greetings all!

Just to let you know, for those of you who may not have noticed, we have decided to run our Cafe Aphra Flash Fiction Fridays series on a fortnightly basis from now on.

Looking forward to reading your work and posting up some beautiful polished gems every other Friday! Please do check our Submissions guidelines before emailing us your work. 

Also, Cafe Aphra now has a Twitter account... so for those of you who tweet, check us out and follow us on Twitter!

See you soon... 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's in the Cards

When I started working on my first novel, I felt very enthusiastic about creating my own little universe full of different characters. As the story was set in a village involving several main as well as minor characters I had to come up with a lot of mini subplots, which ideally shouldn't distract but rather complete the main storyline. 

Although readers cannot always put a name to it, flat, two-dimensional or non-credible minor characters can be a real turn-off and mark the difference between a good book and a great book.

What can writers do about this? In selected creative writing guidebooks or workshops it is suggested that an author should write a short biography of all the important characters before starting to write the actual story. This is a great way to "get to know" the protagonists, even if none of these biographies end up in the final product. The characters will acquire a more real, complete feel.

This is certainly good, valuable advice. In fact, many creative writing guidebooks come up with a variety of well-meaning tips. They offer a lot of "dos" but hardly ever any useful "hows". 

It is simply taken for granted that you as a writer are an endless pool of ideas, at times even a little schizophrenic, easily switching characters and putting yourself in their position. But what if you don't want your characters to be like you or anyone else you know? 

Writing my first novel I enjoyed playing with and creating new situations. Yet, at times I also felt as though I wanted something new or that a character was slipping out of my hands. 
 
Then, by chance I found a perfect tool to help me out: Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. I have to admit, I had been into Tarot before, but to work with the cards to help you create your characters you neither have to believe in Tarot in terms of fortune telling, nor do you have to study the meaning of the cards. For those of you who want to learn more about the cards per se, the book can also help you out as it offers you a short overview of the history of Tarot as well as an introduction to reading the cards. For everyone else: let’s just see what the cards can do to keep our writing project going.

Situation 1: You feel that one of your characters should do something. You’ve had enough dialogue, now you just need a subplot to fill the gaps. You are not sure what your character should do next. Lets pick a card. You draw card Nr. 7 - The Chariot.

This is what the book tells us about the Chariot card:

"The charioteer is a man on the move..." "He knows where to go, and he doesn't need to ask for directions" (151) The charioteer is also compared to the Greek god Apollo as well as Oedipus Rex. (153)

In addition to key symbols and legends, the book gives us useful writing props. In the case of the chariot it says: Write about a traveler, a road trip, the contents of the glove compartment, a journey to a foreign land, a soldier. (155) 

Situation 2: There is this character who seems incomplete. You can just feel that something is missing. Somewhere along the line, you ran out of creative ideas. The card you draw is Page of Swords.

"The page of Swords is a young man with his head in the clouds." "He is a reader, a writer, a talker." "The Page of Swords is also perpetually observant and alert. He doesn't miss a thing." (288)

So maybe our character is an airhead, or some kind of a spy? Thoughtful, imaginative, but constantly alert?

Of course, in the end, you as the writer have to adapt the ideas to your story. Still, in my experience, Tarot for Writers gives you lots of interesting ideas and springboards for your creativity. If you let the cards lead you to new paths, they can take you on a fun, adventurous journey.


Kenner, Corrine. Tarot for Writers. Llewellyn, 2009.


by B.E. Seidl

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sand Snake


“Hola, Señorita. You wanna look?”

The dark man sat on the shimmering sand with his legs coiled beneath him. In his hand, a red velvet tray of silver-plated jewelry sparkled in the afternoon sun. 

The girl shaded her eyes and took one step closer, clutching the hummingbird-shaped coin purse that her parents had filled with pesos for the week.

She pointed at a butterfly ring. “How much is that one?”

He smiled wide enough for her to see his two gold eyeteeth.

“Is 500 pesos. For you 250. Come, Guapa, I put on your finger.”

His mud brown eyes weren’t looking into her hazel ones. He eyed her ruffled Bugs Bunny bikini. The girl crossed her arms over her flat chest and took one step back.

“Ohhh, you no like? OK, Bonita, look at dis big one.”

The girl glanced down, but he wasn’t holding a ring, he was pointing at something that hung out of his shorts, lying on the sand like a fat brown snake.

“You ever see one of dees, Princesita?”

She couldn’t answer or look away. She caught the shine of his gold fangs out of the corner of her eye and heard his hiss of a laugh. Her heart flitter-fluttered. Was it? Could it be? She’d seen some boys’ things in the bathroom at kindergarten last year… but this was different.

The girl blurted out some words, but later couldn’t remember what they were.

This time, the man laughed out loud. The horrible snake jumped in time with his laugh.

The girl leapt forward, trying to stomp on the serpent, but missed, kicking the velvet-lined tray out of his hands. As she flew away, hundreds of silver rings took flight, as well, sparkling anew against the blue Mazatlán sky.




by Laurie Theurer


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dear Geoffrey,

Geoff put his half-eaten cheese & pickle bloomer to one side and tentatively opened the letter, his gnarled arthritic fingers trembling.

He paused momentarily, gazed out through the living room window towards number six where the woman with those bloody terriers lived. The two little yapping bastards that almost gave him a cardiac on Tuesday. Again.

He gently tugged at the letter and pulled it free from the dirty white envelope, an envelope that had seen better days. It, along with its unopened contents, had taken up long-term residency in the greenhouse on the shelf behind the empty jam jar. Compost-caked fingers had toyed with it for far too long, his fear always triumphing over his desire. It was franked ‘Biggleswade, 19 March 2013’. Almost a year ago to the day.

His stomach churned and he felt the bilious gas rise from the pit of his stomach, the acidic burn of Branston’s singeing his nostrils. 

The writing was a childlike scrawl, almost illegible with an air of resignation about it. Something inside him broke again. In the distance, a car alarm went off and the little yappy bastards started up again, momentarily pulling him back. It suddenly dawned on him he had to fetch the dry cleaning by three. It was already a quarter to.

He sighed and willed the tears back in his ducts. Dear Geoffrey, it started. No one had called him Geoffrey for years. The car alarm had stopped.

Dear Geoffrey, he read again. How are you?

“How am I?” he said to the photograph on the mantelpiece. “I’ll bloody tell you how I am, I’m . . .” he stopped himself as he realised how farcical it was to talk to a ghost, and read on.

She referred to their first trip to Southwold in the rain and she’d even remembered his love of fresh garden mint, the momentary relief quickly giving way to an aching emptiness with her etched words “Lillian” and “visit”. The random, juvenile emphasis in bold of some of the letters in “Lillian” gave it a poignancy that was as endearing as it was unbearable.

He’d given up on God a long time ago. He couldn’t recall when, exactly. Somewhere between the stillbirth and when she went to church in her nightie.

The clock chimed three, accompanied by a haunting guttural sound that mercifully he didn’t recognise as his own.

Baby Lillian.

Too late to fetch the dry cleaning now.


by Claire Brown