A Bonus Day: 2013 365 Challenge #172

Offa's Dyke Path, Hatterall Ridge by Philip Halling

Offa’s Dyke Path, Hatterall Ridge by Philip Halling

Today feels like a bonus day. My daughter was quiet yesterday, and up in the night, and I thought she might be sickening for something. I confess I view it with dread if it seems my children might be too ill for nursery. A combination of the cost, the hassle of trying to leave one child without the other, and the knowledge of precious writing time lost, leaves me selfishly irritated.

When she woke this morning full of life and ready to play I admit I was overjoyed. Particularly as, a) I hadn’t written today’s post, and b) I am fully involved in editing Baby Blues, slashing adverbs and fixing point-of-view mash-ups.

It’s satisfying working to a longer deadline for a change, instead of my 10am one for the daily post. At the same time, though, the longer project makes it harder to put it down for three days at a time. I want to keep pressing forward, reducing that word count and getting the book better-ready for life in the wild.

I discovered that Baby Blues is now live on Barnes & Noble , so I’m doubly keen to get it done. I don’t know how long it will take for the new manuscript to feed through so I can start promoting it properly. With Dragon Wraiths not selling (although I got my first royalty payment today. I can afford a coffee, woohoo) I need something positive to focus on.

I’ll take my bonus day, tired as I am (I fell asleep on the sofa earlier – back to the old days of editing), and just be happy if I finish this dog walk before the heavens open and deliver the promised rain.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire swung her arms and tried to find a rhythm. The rucksack sat heavy on her back and she could already feel the beginnings of a blister forming on her left heel. It hasn’t been that long since I went hiking, surely the body doesn’t forget that quickly? The sky spread low and grey above her head, making her want to duck. It was odd to feel claustrophobic out in the open.

She looked at the map and traced out Offa’s Dyke, trying to work out her exact location. She was still a bit shaky at map reading but the hostel manager had assured her it was impossible to get lost. That sounds like a challenge, Claire thought wryly, glad her phone signal was still strong.

She followed the path along a stone walk, where sheep huddled in its shelter, watching their lambs gambol in the grass, feet flicking behind them. Claire envied them their energy and decided she had more in common with the matronly mothers, or the wild ponies, standing with their faces in the wind, hair blowing wild.

At last her steps settled into a rhythm, leaving her mind free to wander. Overhead, buzzards wheeled and screamed, causing shivers to trickle down Claire’s neck. It felt like the setting for a horror story.

If this were a movie there would be a portentous sound-track, with a heavy beat and the full string section in crescendo.

Her phone rang and the noise made her jump, in turn causing the sheep to shy and flock together. She checked the screen and answered with a sigh.

“Dammit, Michael, you scared me and the sheep. Why aren’t you at work?”

“I am, I just wondered if you’d had a chance to speak to Kim?” As if realising he sounded too eager, he quickly added, “I need to know if I need a suit or to book accommodation.”

Right, of course. Claire wasn’t fooled. She knew she should be flattered by Michael’s eagerness but in truth it irritated her.

“You spend your life in a suit, Michael, and if you saw news of Kim’s wedding on Facebook, you know it’s at a hostel. Accommodation is not a problem.”

“I didn’t want to presume,” he murmured and Claire found herself thinking, Well that’s a first.

“If you meant you didn’t want to presume about us sharing, you’re quite right. You’ll be in a bunk, same as the rest of us, and – take it from me – it’s not the place for frisky business.”

She realised the implication of her words and blushed, glad Michael couldn’t see her face. Her heart thudded uncomfortably as she tried to decide whether she cared if Michael understood.

She could hear his breathing in the silence. Eventually he gave a brittle laugh.

“I’m sure. So, am I invited? I promise to let you choose top or bottom bunk.”

He was a beaten dog whose tail still wagged. Claire frowned, annoyed rather than impressed by his tenacity.

“Yes, you can come. Any affair of Kim’s should probably have a grown-up in attendance. I’ll email you the details.”

She hung up the phone and concentrated on her footsteps, making sure she avoided the gifts left behind by the sheep. The path opened out and began winding round the side of a steep slope. Claire felt herself dragged towards the drop as if there might be peace in oblivion.

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2 thoughts on “A Bonus Day: 2013 365 Challenge #172

  1. Sometimes time is so precious! Usually when you don’t have enough of it. I hear you on editing. Trying to do a quick read through of Reckless Rebellion just for plot issues, but I keep line editing!

    • I find it hard to stay focussed on one element – I’m trying to kill adverbs but keep wandering off to fix point of view issues (who knew there were so many!) and then forget where I got to with the adverbs…

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