No Drama

This story emerged from one of my free writing sessions. It was inspired by a TV ad, and is quite timely. Be warned, however – it’s not a children’s story and there is some colourful language!

No Drama

‘You need to sound more positive, Jason. Try smiling while you speak.’ The director ran his fingers through his hair. ‘OK, guys, let’s go again. Take 12.’

Jason forced a painful grin at the microphone. ‘It’s time to get ready for Brexit –’

Cut!’ yelled the director. ‘You sound like you’re saying it through your teeth! You’re meant to be making Brexit sound like something good that everybody wants – you’re making it sound like something grim!

‘But not everybody does want it, Philip,’ said Jason. ‘And it is grim.’

‘You need to cut that attitude right now,’ snapped Philip. ‘OK, take five, everyone.’

‘I thought it was Take 13,’ Jason joked feebly. No one laughed.

During the break, Philip gave him a stern pep-talk. ‘You’re meant to be an actor, Jason – so act! It doesn’t matter what the hell you think about Brexit, you need to act like it’s the best thing to happen to this country since Winston Churchill. People are anxious – so reassure them! You want to sound soothing, and positive, and upbeat. You want to make Brexit sound like something new and exciting, the next Great British Adventure. Make them feel like pioneers! You’re being well paid for this, Jason, so get over there and earn your money.’

Ten takes later the ad was in the can, but Jason wasn’t a happy man. He felt as if he’d soiled himself. He’d never wanted to do adverts, particularly not cheesy, patronising government ones. OK, so they paid more than movies or TV work, but he’d have been happy to take less money and feel good about himself.

He longed to land a part in a big TV drama, but he kept getting passed over. The trouble was, he had the wrong look – just that bit too ridiculous for straight parts, but too boring for comic roles. Recently, he’d tried for Peaky Blinders – he’d even got the haircut, for God’s sake – but he hadn’t been called for an audition.

When he got home from the ad shoot, all he wanted was a hot shower to wash away the unclean feeling. But as he pulled up to his house, he saw Norman outside the front door.

This is all I need, he thought. I can’t cope with Norman right now.

But it looked like he would have to cope with Norman, because Norman had seen him. He pulled into the drive and got out of the car.

‘Hello, Norman.’

‘Hi, Jason! How’s things?’

‘Come inside, and I’ll tell you.’

When they were seated in Jason’s kitchen with stiff drinks, Jason gave Norman a potted version of his woes.

‘I don’t know what people see in Peaky Blinders,’ was all Norman had to say. ‘It’s just a bunch of guys with bad haircuts shooting people.’ He laughed. ‘That haircut really doesn’t suit you, by the way. It makes you look like one of those potatoes kids grow grass on.’

‘Thanks for that,’ said Jason.

‘I don’t know what you’re moaning about,’ Norman went on. ‘You’ve got the perfect look for voiceover work, and you’re getting well paid for that Brexit ad. Take the money and run, I say.’

‘But I don’t want to do VO work! It shouldn’t all be about looks – I’m a good actor, and my talent and training is being wasted on crap!

But Norman was clearly bored with the conversation, because he changed the subject to his favourite topic – himself – and warped on at length about his latest relationship. He was still in the honeymoon period, and the girl in question could do no wrong. According to him, Anya was a cross between Beyonce and the Dalai Lama. She worked all over the world for some charity that saved a rare and exotic species of toad, and she’d met all sorts of fascinating people. She was interesting and funny and, of course, mindblowing in bed.

Jason glanced at his watch. Half an hour had gone by without Norman drawing breath, and Jason was deeply bored with Anya without even having met her. He just wanted to go to bed and watch crap TV on his own.

Normally, he would have gritted his teeth until Norman ran out of drivel, but today he just couldn’t do it.

‘Norman,’ he said. ‘Shut up.’

Norman stared at him as if he’d grown a penis on his head. Jason never told people to shut up. Jason was quiet and unassuming and, well, nice.

‘I’ve had a bastard of a morning,’ Jason went on. ‘I’m tired, I’m miserable, and I just want some peace and quiet. So go away and stop wasting my air.’

‘Well!’ said Norman, puffing out his cheeks. ‘I like that, I must say! I thought you were meant to be a good listener!’

‘No, Norman, I’m a good actor. I’m just good at looking like I’m listening.’

Norman did go home then, having told Jason it was no wonder he didn’t have any friends.

That was the trouble with pretending to be nice all the time – people couldn’t hack it when you dropped the pretense.

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Lazy Pearl and Free Writing

You may have noticed that Pearl’s posts have been somewhat sporadic since she took over from Millie.

This is because greyhounds are basically lazy. They sometimes have spurts of energy, but they prefer to spend most of their time chilling out. Pearl is often too lazy even to do her job as a Storyhound; it’s been so long since she astral-traveled to Storyland to hunt down ideas for my writing that I’ve had to start thinking up ideas myself!

I’m not as good at astral travel as a dog, so I have to use other methods. I’ve found it useful to do a few pages of free writing first thing in the morning. This is something I used to do naturally, but earlier this year my mind got so cluttered up with RULES that my WIP nearly ground to a halt. Those pesky RULES would keep popping in and interrupting my flow, and I don’t need that while I’m working on a first draft. With free writing, there’s only one rule, and that’s NO rules – it doesn’t have to please anyone, not even me. It doesn’t even have to make sense. So, no pressure.

I started with a suggestion I found in Ray Bradbury’s wonderful book Zen in the Art of Writing. He recommends using free association to make a random list of words, then picking one word from the list and writing whatever comes into your head about that word. By following this method, I’ve managed to churn out a short story most mornings for nearly two months. Some of them are rubbish, but that doesn’t matter. Since I started doing this, the WIP has begun to flow again – not as glitch-free as I’d like, but I’m hoping the situation will  improve as I continue the free writing practice. And one or two of the short stories look quite promising!

Do any of you do free writing? I’d love to hear what methods other writers use to get started.

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What Pearly thought of Dorian Greyhound

Hi, Pearl here! As promised in my last post, here are my thoughts on The Picture of Dorian Greyhound, which I have just finished reading.

I immediately fell in love with Dorian, a beautiful and innocent young Greyhound who has his pawtrait painted by the renowned artist Sir Basil Basset. While Dorian is sitting for the pawtrait, Sir Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wooffon comes to visit. Impressed by Dorian’s youthful beauty, Lord Henry urges him to make the most of it as dogs grow old only too soon. When Dorian sees his finished pawtrait, he wishes he could stay young forever and the picture would grow old instead of him.

Sir Henry is a thoroughly bad dog, and under his influence Dorian does a lot of naughty things. Dorian’s wish comes true and he never grows a day older, but the pawtrait ends up looking horrible and hideous as it becomes a record of all his bad behaviour. The ending of the story is very sad and it made me cry. Dorian should have gone to dog training classes instead of listening to that wicked Weimaraner.

I wish I had a pawtrait like Dorian’s. We dogs do grow old too soon – I’m 11 now, and on medication for arthritis already. If I had a magic picture, I wouldn’t be naughty; I would enjoy my eternal youth in happy, healthy ways. Thank goodness we dogs never really lose our innocence!

What Annabelle thought

This book is based on Oscar Wilde’s classic The Picture of Dorian Grey, which has always been a favourite of mine. The abridged canine version stays faithful to the original, a dark tale of the corruption of innocence with a harrowing ending – all the more harrowing in this case, because it happens to a dog. The Greyhound is the perfect canine vehicle for the elegant beauty of the young Dorian, and the illustrations of the characters are stunningly true to canine life, worthy of the great Sir Basil Basset himself.

Favourite lines:

” ‘Oh, there is no such thing as good influence, Mr Greyhound,’ declared Lord Wooffon. ‘Every dog must explore his own sins, and not borrow those of others.’ ”

“It was a poisonous book, which described within it the life of the senses – of the rejection of obedience and training, which is artificial, and the pursuit of natural rebellion, which society calls “mischief”. It troubled one’s tiny brain.”

“It was almost nine o’clock when Dorian finally arrived at the club and found a very bored Lord Wooffon sitting alone, idly contemplating a squeaky ball.”

And, of course, the famous Wilde witticism: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

The Picture of Dorian Greyhound by Oscar Wilde and Eliza Garrett. Illustrated by Pastiche Pastiche. Published by Wildfire. Hardcover, 64 pages.

Other books in the Classic Tails series are Pugs and Prejudice, The Great Catsby and Romeow and Juliet.

Pearly’s pawtrait Debra Allen Photography

 

 

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Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Greyhound by Oscar Wilde & Eliza Garrett

Hi, Pearly Greyhound here! Annabelle has just bought me this book – when I’ve read it, I’ll let you know what I think. In the meantime, check out this review on The Strawberry Post…

The Strawberry Post

Title: The Picture of Dorian Greyhound
Author: Oscar Wilde & Eliza Garrett
Illustrator: Pastiche Pastiche
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Classic, Short Story, Picture Book
Book format: Hardback
Sweet Strawberries:  Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description: The greatest works of literature, as told by the finest breeds.
Dorian Greyhound is the best of his breed – well tempered, beautiful and pure of heart.  So Basil Basset, an artist, paints a portrait that reflects the very essence of Dorian’s soul.
Then the moral corruption of this sweet creature begins.  On the outside, Dorian remains young and sleek – but as his naughtiness increases, the portrait starts to reveal his inner decay…

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Advice, please!

I recently read on a writing advice website that ‘He took a deep breath’ is a cliche.

Now, I’ll admit we don’t want a character taking a deep breath every five minutes. However, in certain circumstances a human being does take a deep breath. So how else can we describe it? He drew in a large lungful of air? He allowed himself a profound inhalation? He inhaled a copious amount of oxygen and nitrogen?

Clearly, this kind of over-complicated gobbledygook would not be welcome in a children’s book. I would suggest that ‘He took a deep breath’ is not a cliche, but a simple way of describing a simple action.

What do you think?

 

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – #therapydog – Millie goes to Uni 2017 by Annabelle Franklin

Many thanks to Sally for this final happy memory of Millie featured in her popular Pot Luck series.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the final post from the archives of children’s author Annabelle Franklin who lives in a lovely part of South Wales. She blogs from the Literate Lurcher..or should I say Millie and Pearl do….Millie has sadly passed away now but lives on in the hearts and minds of her pack.

Millie goes to Uni 2017 by Annabelle Franklin

It’s exam time at Swansea University. I’ve been helping to de-stress the students, along with other dogs from Greyhound Rescue Wales, as part of the CBSA Best Friends project. Our humans hand out treats for the students to give us, then…

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#ShareAReviewDay Tuesday – “Gateway to Magic” by Annabelle Franklin

The Write Stuff

This afternoon, please help me welcome author Annabelle Franklin, who is here to share a great review of her children’s book, Gateway to Magic. This is sure to be a tale your kids or grandkids would enjoy, and I know you’ll help us spread the word far and wide, in addition to grabbing a copy for your favorite young person. Thanks!

REVIEW:
Amazon Review
5.0 out of 5 stars

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

‘This is for all children who love gaming, and all the parents who never really grew up and are still entranced by the magic of the classic fairy tales and the “other worlds” of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. Annabelle Franklin has the rare gift of being able to enter a child’s mind. Stephen is a “hero” every boy and girl will identify with. His struggle against the absolute rule and authority of the Fairy Queen…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck #wartime – Mercy Dogs 2014 by Annabelle Franklin

Many thanks to Sally for including another post in her Pot Luck series! Head on over to her blog for Millie’s post about the Mercy Dogs of the Great War. Sally’s post also includes a wonderful review of my book Gateway to Magic, which is free on Smashwords through July at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/581459

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the third post from the archives of children’s author Annabelle Franklin who lives in a lovely part of South Wales. She blogs from the Literate Lurcher..or should I say Millie and Pearldo….Millie has sadly passed away now but lives on in the hearts and minds of her pack. In this post Annabelle pays tribute to the dogs who accompany soldiers into war and offer so much more than essential companionship.

 Mercy Dogs 2014 by Annabelle Franklin

Human wars are crazy affairs, with people getting together in great packs and tearing each other apart. We didn’t know until…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – #Greyhounds – Sorry I’m Late! 2018 by Annabelle Franklin

Many thanks to Sally Cronin for sharing Pearl’s post about her magical meeting with Millie’s spirit.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the first post from the archives of children’s author Annabelle Franklin who lives in a lovely part of South Wales. She blogs from the Literate Lurcher..or should I say Millie and Pearl do….Millie has sadly passed away now, but in this post from January 2019 it is clear that she is still very much in the hearts and minds of those she left behind.

pearl barking

I was sad when Millie crossed the Bridge last year, because I couldn’t follow her, and I thought that meant I wouldn’t see her again. But on New Year’s Eve, something strange happened.

We…

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#Wordless Wednesday: Bee Breakfast Bar

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