Blog

Ten Minute Free Write: Couch to 80K – Week 2 Day 1

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

A ten minute free write; write without stopping.

Without a doubt, casinos are strange places. People go into them, spend money they don’t have or do have in pursuit of money they don’t have, turning the money they do have into money that they don’t have, and then they go home in sadness that this situation happened. And then they do it again. And the entire industry is based on this premise.

I also find work a challenging one. The practical reality is that we all say this precious, imperfect, one-in-a-lifetime periods of time that we call our lives are portioned up and broken down into hour long segments, that we sell to our employers for really quite miniscule amounts of money. Even if you earn a high wage, £20 an hour, £50, £100, £1000(!), the thing we trade it for is so rare, so finite, so beautiful that it seems almost a shame to waste it.

Dogs don’t care about time. Evie and Callie lay in the sunlight, with the warm glow resting on their bodies. One of them flicked a tail, the other gently snored. A minute or a day could pass like this, and pure contentment would be their only achievement.

~ ~ ~

The laser burnt directly through the bulk head next to xhr head. Borza began to shake uncontrollably, the fear taking over for a second. Curling up under the cockpit controls began to seem incredibly appealing.

“What the Zen is going on down there, Borza?!”, screamed a voice in xhr helmet. Supressing the tremors less through will, and more through the ingrained iron of obedience, Borza grasped the control rods once more and dived into the asteroid field, leaving the open space of military terror for the equally unpredictably territory of rock-based danger.

~ ~ ~

You take a couple of eggs, balancing them on top of one another. You aren’t exactly sure why, but that doesn’t protect you from the subtle pang of disappointment as they inevitably shift. Roll. Crack. Scooping inffectually with your hands is not enough, as gloops of egg roll down to your wrists, gleefully escaping the enclosure of your fists. In a scurry entirely lacking in dignity, you direct the whole crunchy, oily mess into the bin, attempting to remove as many pieces from you as possibly, whilst they cling on with the glue like quality that these moisture laded protein strands have in such excess.

 

Risk Warrington – Board Games in April

Lockdown made me realise many things. One of them is that I love playing board games with people, yet don’t make the time to do it enough, as well I enjoy playing online casino games from https://online-casino-canada.com.

As a result, I’ve started a weekly board game night! I last had one of these back in Boston – check out some of my posts from back then – and I’m excited to get back to it.

Risk Warrington

Of course I’ve made a Risk Map specifically for our town of Warrington. See it below, or click here for an full size printable version

 

We played outside due to ongoing Covid-19 rules, which for evening in April was not as cold as you might have expected. The two fan heaters certainly helped!

For those of you who haven’t played Risk, it’s a Napoleonic Conquer-the-World style game, with really simple rules, and the ability to break lifelong friendships over political fragmentation. You get extra armies each turn for holding territories, and a bonus for holding an coloured area (see the key in map above for bonuses).

It begins with all 6 of us in the daylight. At the back right, you can observe Josh already readying evil machinations.

Note how we foolishly let Josh (Yellow) have the whole of the brown Latchford area during setup. This was a poor decision on all our parts, and one that eventually doomed us all.

To be fair, the “Josh threat” was noted early on. A strategic alliance between me (Grey) and Eddie (Pink) relied on his reinforcement of Stockton Heath, and mine of Grappenhall, to enable a joint attack on Josh (Yellow). Here, Eddie is considering the practicalities…

…before placing his armies in Central and completely abandoning any pretence at following through with our Alliance. This did not stop him making regular, empty, hope-crushing promises to me for the rest of the game.

In these early turns Jess (Green) and Callum (Blue) slowly carved out strongholds in the North and East areas, whilst Peter “Quisling” Clarke (Red) allied with Overlord Josh and nestling in the safe bosom of West.

Although there were some scuffles – Dallam changed hands about 8 times in the course of the game – most of us tried to bunker down and avoid poking the dragon. Here Pete is explaining how as far as he’s concerned Josh can kill everyone else in the whole of Warrington as long as Great Sankey is left alone. Charming.

And where am I at this point? Splintered to the edges of the map, Grey is already an irrelevance.

After devouring Jess, taking all her cards, and dumping a ludicrous 30 armies onto the board, Josh is crossing the Manchester Ship Canal with fire in his eyes! Pete averts his eyes, deeply conscious that he is an enabler. Eddie leans over to me and promises that this will be the moment he delivers on our alliance…

…emptily. Any action on his part proves impossible, as Josh embarks upon Hillcliffe with 35 Yellow armies at his disposal, against Eddie’s 7 Pink soldiers.

The South lost, Latchford and Central unattainable and North rapidly losing any hope, Eddie readies for a pyrrhic last stand…

…whilst Callum trades in every card he has earned so far for massed Blue reinforcements! Counterattacking the imperial Yellow might of Josh’s hordes? Could this be the turning point of the game?!

…only for 4 Yellow armies to hold against 18 Blue ones! With the shattered remains of two armies in place, Josh proceeded to macerate both Eddie’s Northern remnants and the Birchwood stronghold of Callum. Look at him here. Crushed, the poor lad.

With 85% of the board in Josh’s hands, its a game over.

Pete “The Red Enabler” Clarke sits content in 2nd place, quietly satisfied to hang onto the coat tails of the victor. Overlord Josh rubs his hands, savouring the enormity of the Yellow Empire, and the delicious, needless blood he has shed during its consecration.

A fun night, although next time there’s no way I’ll let anyone take Latchford!

Objects in a Bag: Couch to 80K – Week 1 Day 6

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

Interesting Objects In The Protagonist’s Bag

A dented ring pull from a can of New Coke.

Hardly enough change for the single bus journey into town.

Amongst the scraps of iron filings and loose screws was an assortment of tools, dulled and rusted from improper storage.

A package, with only a single glowing LED on one edge, blinking a warning.

Three pieces of spearmint chewing gum, gnawed until all the flavour had gone, and carefully sealed back into the original foil wrappers.

An unlabelled tin, like you’d find in any supermarket aisle, but naked. Bright and shiny. Unadorned. Probably just dog food, let’s be honest.

He had all his clothes, carefully folded, with a tarpaulin, a winter sleeping bag, and a knife. The knife was large, unsophisticated and viciously sharp-edged. The regular scratches perpendicular to the blade implied it was regularly used and sharpened. It was a familiar all round hand tool, that just happened to make an excellent weapon too.

A flute, wrapped in a fine satin cloth. There was no monogram on the cloth, but it gave just enough of a scent of perfume off to bring juniper and summer breezes to mind.

Nothing. Suspiciously empty, in fact.

The severed human foot had a number on it. Not tattooed, but sellotaped on, like it was ready for the tombola at a fair.

Multiple diaries, each labelled with the year they were started. None finished. And none containing more than three or four entries. Good intentions allied with a poor ability to follow through, in book form.

 

Books to Read: Couch to 80K – Week 1 Day 5

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

What books have you not read or should read?

  • A History of Wales John Davies
  • Welsh myths book – The Mabinogion
  • The Last Village – Welsh Scifi
  • Finish Ursula LeGuin series
  • Dune
  • Neuromancer
  • Foundation Asimov
  • The Kraken Wakes
  • Slaughterhouse Five
  • Stranger in a Strange Land – Heinlein
  • 2001 A Space Oddysey
  • War of the Worlds
  • The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
  • Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
  • What I talk about when I talk about Running – Haruki Murakami
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Interesting descriptions: Couch to 80K – Week 1 Day 4

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

Make a list of interesting descriptions

His eyes were narrowed, like the business end of a knife.

A blazer, faded from the sunlight of too many summers.

Grime, deeply embedded. Not simply dirt, but the change in colour to skin once the dirt is absorbed. Part of you.

Attached by a string so flimsy, it was surprising the wind didn’t take her hat away with every breeze.

Shiny buttons, shiny enough to show fingerprints, all down his chest.

Her every movement sullen. Resentful. An anger towards each moment that had brought her into this situation, painted on her face.

Its legs twitched, the wolf running in its dreams.

The screen had a hairline crack, running from the bottom right corner to the middle of the display.

His hobbling gait gave the impression of one leg shorter than the other, which was exactly the impression he was aiming for.

To those that knew her, the slight curling of her lip betrayed an irritation she was struggling to conceal.

The trousers were irregular and patchy. No wonder – Calvin Klein still doesn’t make clothing for 3 legged aliens, even though first contact was nearly a decade ago.

It landed silently, legs coiled ready to leap again.

 

 

 

Generating problems: Couch to 80k – Week 1 Day 3

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

Generate some problems

Running away from the ever-so-slightly faster bully at school.

Finding the right sized spanner to adjust the engine torque on the racer. That Kreb racer you just boosted.

Pouring the right amount of sand into the trap to allow your friend to climb free. Enough to climb out, not enough to suffocate.

Choosing the correct opening sentence for your whistleblowing letter.

Three cave entrances. Three possibilities. Two lead to certain death, the other? Escape.

Gasping, reaching, your lungs burning, to turn on the emergency oxygen supply.

The fire roars, in between myself and Agron. Do I try to jump it, or should we escape separately.

“Priority Call” flashes on the display, before being replaced with a red flashing “Low Battery”. Do you answer?

As I turn it once more, the screw starts to bite. Two more twists. It’s hard to get it in any further. Seems solid. But is it strong enough to support a grown man’s weight?

Hands shaking, she reached for the syringe. She hated it and wanted it, in one furious mix of emotion.

Have you ever pushed a car? Like, really pushed it? For miles and miles and miles? I considered just leaving it by the side of the road, but what if someone found the body in the boot…

It hurt, every time she dug the spade in again. There was this area of her hip that was sore from the unfamiliar labour. But how else would they reach the hidden door?

 

Words I like or dislike: Couch to 80K – Week 1 Day 2

This year I am working through Tim Clare’s Couch to 80K Bootcamp– a course where you write for 10 minutes a day.

By following Tim’s prompting, the aim is to work through from basics until you reach the ability to write an 80,000 word novel.

Apologies: it may not actually be that interesting to read…

 

Make two headings. Words you like. Words you dislike.

Words I Like

  • Snazzle
  • Fight
  • Explode
  • Inject
  • Dynamic
  • Heron
  • Overarching
  • Badger
  • Smash
  • Environment
  • Dive
  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Keep
  • Crater
  • Cancer
  • Vermin
  • Volcano
  • Murky
  • Change
  • World
  • Weathered
  • Crimp
  • Cavernous
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Speech
  • Campaign
  • Chasm
  • Project
  • Device
  • Post
  • Entry
  • Display
  • Calculated
  • Calibrated
  • Gallop
  • Grim
  • Record
  • Click
  • Silence
  • Knapsack
  • Haversack

Words I Dislike

  • Urn
  • Feel
  • Lime
  • Yearning
  • Cloy
  • Ream
  • Longer
  • Piece
  • Deem
  • Irradiate
  • Clink
  • Stem
  • Canker
  • Sloped
  • Dreary
  • Dim
  • Callop
  • Grizzled
  • Coil
  • Burgeon
  • Dessicate
  • Petunia
  • Soliloquy
  • War
  • Dip
  • Projecting
  • Phone
  • Hanger
  • Set
  • Designed
  • Vinyl
  • Release
  • Select
  • Quiet
  • Bag