The Dark Woods – Short Story

Well here we are again, where did that last week go? I’m ready for you this week, the kettle has just boiled.

I thought it would be good to change things around a bit – after all this blog is meant to help promote my writing so what better way than to share with you a short story… Hope you enjoy 🙂

DarkWoodsThe Dark Woods

She had heard the stories, well everybody had. Hardly a child in the town old enough to have been told a ghost story was unaware of the history surrounding the woods on the outskirts of town.

Over the years the tales of “The Dark Woods”, as they had become known, had passed from rumour to folklore and finally into urban myth. Everyone knew the stories, but nobody ever believed them, not any more.

Which is why when Katy Adams had been dared to walk through the woods alone and at night she had agreed. Although the seven shots of tequila may have also influenced her decision somewhat. It was unlikely a solo trip into those woods would have been something Katy was likely to consider sober. Sobriety, however, had been lost long before she downed the seventh shot and she had felt momentarily invulnerable.

Katy shivered slightly, wrapping her arms around her body as she walked slowly beneath the shadow of the trees, regretting her decision not to take a few minutes to get a warmer jacket as the heat of the quickly consumed alcohol started to dissipate.

“Idiot,” the dark haired girl muttered to herself as she kicked through a pile of fallen leaves on the path that led deeper into the woods. It has seemed like such a good idea less than an hour earlier, a laugh, a good joke, but now, as the tall trees blocked out most of the illumination from the full moon Katy’s enthusiasm began to fail.

She should turn back now before she ran the risk of getting lost. It’s not like they would know, she very much doubted anyone at the party could even remember where she was by now, the shots were still being consumed even as she had left the house a few minutes earlier.

Yawning loudly Katy rubbed at her eyes, the weariness that overcame her was sudden and absolute, she had always been able to handle her drink, the effects of alcohol being enjoyable before, but with no warning she felt herself beginning to stumble as she walked, her feet tripping over each other causing her to wander from the path.

Patting at the pocket of her jeans Katy cursed, the image of her mobile phone perfectly clear in her mind, and its location on the coffee table, just where she had left it. “That’s it… I’m going back… this is stupid!”

Turning around Katy hesitated, she had been sure that the way back out of the woods was directly behind her but it now looked frighteningly unfamiliar, the branches of the trees clawing at the sky or reaching out to her making her shudder and step backwards, a small yelp escaping her lips as her heel connected with a rock causing her to stumble and fall heavily to the cold damp ground.

“Great!” Katy slapped the ground with both palms, the sound echoing around the silence of the woods with surprising volume. “OK game over! I just want to go home now!” Katy’s voice rang loudly through the trees; resounding back to her in a taunting mockery, frustration beginning to blend with fear and exhaustion as she dragged herself to her feet.

Rubbing the dirt from her hands Katy took a deep breath and began a deliberate march forward; logic dictated that if as she maintained a straight path she would hit the edge of the woods eventually. Wouldn’t she?

Minutes ticked by, marked only by the sound of Katy’s feet crunching on the ground beneath her and the heavy panting of her breath as the young woman’s weariness increased with each step until she felt she could go no further.

Her shoulders hunched over in defeat Katy stopped, surprised how dark the woods had grown, only the vaguest hint of moonlight now managing to pierce the canopy of branches and leaves overhead.

“I need five minutes,” Katy said to herself, her words muffled inside a loud yawn that made her feel even more tired. “I’ll just have a quick sit down.”

Looking around Katy spotted the base of a large Oak that seemed the perfect location for a quick rest, a hollow in the front, which provided shelter from the cool wind.

Crawling into the hollow Katy sighed, her eyes falling closed the instant her body came to rest, sleep taking her in a matter of seconds as the comfort of the Oak embraced her.

“What the..?” Katy awoke with a start, a single beam of bright sunlight almost blinding her as she shaded her eyes and looked around in confusion. A quick rest had turned into a night-long sleep and Katy’s head throbbed as the after effects of the tequila lingered in the back of her brain.

Stretching her muscles Katy frowned and looked down at her feet, curious as to why she seemed unable to extend her legs fully. During her sleep it appeared that Katy had managed to get her feet hooked beneath the protruding roots of the old Oak, their hold surprisingly firm as she struggled to free herself.

With a grunt Katy strained with all her strength before falling back against the trunk, her feet still bound in place.

“I am never doing this again.” Closing her eyes Katy rubbed her hands over her face, her skin felt oily and dirty and the urge for a shower made her shudder.

Leaning forward again Katy’s eyes shot open, she could move only a fraction of an inch before something restrained her. Looking down she saw a strong branch across her chest, a branch that wasn’t there moments earlier and a branch that seemed to be inexplicably pulling her closer into the tree trunk, tightening against her ribs until she thought they would break.

Clawing her fingernails against the branch Katy’s face was a picture of fear, her breath coming in gasps as she fought to free herself, but all efforts were fruitless and she let out a high pitched scream of terror as the Oak parted at her back, pulling her inside, her screams stilled as the trunk engulfed her leaving nothing behind but a broken red fingernail.

Everyone had heard the stories of The Dark Woods but nobody believed them, people didn’t just disappear.

How to write a bestseller

Oh here you are again, are you early or am I late? Yes it’s probably me, been such a busy day what with buying wallpaper, gardening and bathing the dog! Who called Sunday the day of rest?!

Still, it’s lovely to see you once more. Three weeks in a row? People will start talking. I don’t suppose you’ve brought the biscuits this time? No? Down to me again then… well I suppose I did invite you around here. Sit yourself down then and get comfy.

So you want to know the secrets to writing a best selling book? You want to see your work at No1 on the top sellers list and your titles instantly recognisable?

You and millions of other people I’m afraid (me included!)

What are the secrets of getting the coveted top spot, how do those lucky few reach the heights of JK Rowling or Stephen King? What do they know that we don’t? What is that special ingredient that they discovered that still eludes the rest of us?

Well the truth is I don’t know. Let’s face it, if I did then I wouldn’t be sat here typing up a blog post, I would be busy writing my next block buster. I do, however, know a few things that might be worth considering before you set out on the path of wannabe author.

1. Why are you writing? If your sole aim in writing a book is to make your millions then just put down your pen (or put aside your keyboard) and find yourself another get rich quick scheme because this is not it. Very few are ever going to get “discovered”, to become an overnight success and be the name on everyone’s lips. As wonderful as that dream might be, however well you think YOUR book would translate into a Hollywood blockbuster the chances are that movie will only ever be playing in your imagination.

On the other hand if you are writing because you have a story to tell or if you enjoy writing for its own sake then go for it. True your book might never end up in the hands of millions of people, but if it even gets a few reads then than can be enough, sometimes just one or two people saying “I enjoyed that” makes all the hard work worthwhile.

2. What are you writing? What is this story you’ve decided to commit to paper? Is it a tale that you have nurtured in your imagination for a while, the story you’ve always wanted to tell, a story that matters to you? Or is it something that you think people will want to read and will make some sales? While there is nothing in writing in a genre that people enjoy, there is no problem writing something that you know has an audience, that shouldn’t be your only motivation. If you plan to pour your heart and soul into a book then you owe it to yourself to be true to what YOU want to write. Write what it is you have always wanted to write and, if you write it well, then there will be someone else out there who loves it as much as you do, even if it takes a while to find them. Who cares if your story is of a cheerleader in love with a flesh eating zombie? Just go for it, you never know that could just be THE story the world has been waiting for.

3. How will anyone ever know? The truth of the matter is, for most of us and especially those who are going along the self-publishing route, writing the book is the easy part. Even getting published can be a doddle these days what with all the self publishing options and the websites and what-not out there helping you format your manuscript into the finished product. Then what? If you think that is the end of your work you are sadly mistaken, producing the book is only the beginning, then comes the real work. Unless you already have a big following from a blog or twitter or similar how is anyone ever going to find out you even exist never mind that you wrote a book? Yes I expect your family and friends will help out and buy a copy, maybe even leave you a good review but to the rest of the world you are still an unknown.

Think about what you would do if you fancied a new read. Even if you fancy trying something new and unknown just have a quick look on Amazon at your preferred genre and see how many thousands of books there are to choose from. It really is a needle in a haystack situation, and it’s not easy standing out in the crowd. I personally rather like the Kindle Direct Publishing free promotion plan. Yes you do have to agree not to sell your book anywhere else but hey, it’s not selling anyway right? I honestly believe that a reader is more likely to give a new author a chance if they get to read that first book either very cheaply or, better still, for free. In fact I discovered one of my now favourite authors that very way. One book on free promotion appealed to me and after reading it I quickly went back and purchased all of his other works.

Being free of course might still not be enough – you have to get your name out there somehow – by blogging, tweeting, facebooking, all of these social media avenues are available to us so why not use them? They can be all be put to better use than chatting with friends or sharing cute pictures of kittens – not that there is anything wrong with doing that but maybe keep it to a separate personal account, you are trying to sell a product after all, even if that product is you.

After reading this do you know how to write a best selling book? No of course you don’t. There is no short cut or sure fire way of achieving that dream but simply like anything and everything else in life if you want to get the results you have to put in the work.

At the end of the day you may sell a few copies, you may sell a million copies, you may just be lucky enough to grab peoples attention and fulfil your dreams. You won’t, however, do any of that unless you actually TRY.

You want to write a best selling book? Then give it a go and you might just make it!

Bearing all that in mind, if you fancy helping me out in getting maybe one step closer to MY dream of the best selling novel how about popping over to Amazon to grab a copy of my first publication Assaie’s Gift… hey if I don’t ask 😉

Does grammar really matter?

Well hello again, nice to see you’ve made it back to this, my second blog post. Or, if this is your first visit here then welcome to you.

I have a nice pot of tea on the go so if you want to get yourself comfortable I’ll crack open the biscuits.

Today I want to concentrate on something that is a pet hate of mine. Grammar. That isn’t strictly true of course, I don’t hate grammar but rather the constant misuse of it that I see all over the internet.

We all use grammar every day. Every conversation, letter (or should that be email), every communication with the rest of the world, it all requires the use of grammar. So why do so many people still seem incapable of mastering even the basics.

They’re, there, their – these are all very different words with very different meanings.

You’re, your – these are not the same and as such cannot be interchanged.

This is basic stuff, kids stuff, and yet many adults seem unable (or unwilling) to grasp these simple concepts.

I can’t help but wonder – is it really ignorance or, in this world of predictive text, is it sheer laziness? Are people just blindly accepting the first suggestion their “smart” phone provides without a thought for if this is the correct word or not? Or are there really adults out there that cannot fathom the difference between hear and here?

Of course I realise that by even posting about this I am taking my life in my hands – figuratively that is – because if I make even a basic grammar mistake in this post then I am sure people would be more than happy to point it out. Quite rightly too in my opinion.

I know that I have my own grammar flaws. I don’t mind admitting that for some unknown reason my brain will not hold the difference between effect and affect. No really. I cannot get the definition of those two words to stick in my mind, and my solution tends to be just don’t use them.

The truth is of course, I will and do make mistakes, we all do. Part of the human condition is that none of us are perfect and without checking and rechecking then errors will sometimes slip through. Occasional errors are understandable and forgiveable to some degree. When it’s these basics however then the very sight of it really does make my teeth itch.

Maybe in this day and age we should ask “does it really matter”.

If someone sends a message saying “let me know when your home” then we know what it means, we wont ponder it or ask ourselves “my home what?”

So am I just picky? It is just overly fussy to insist on proper grammar in social media settings and personal communication?

Well I don’t think it is.

If we let the misuse of grammar become part of our normal every day life then where does it end? If the adults of today can’t tell the difference between they’re and there what chance do our children have to ever learn them?

Language is the most powerful tool that the human race possesses. The old saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” exists for a reason. Words have the power to do so much, to make us feel and think, to laugh or cry, love or hate.

How many of us have fallen a little bit in love with a character in a book? A character that is nothing more than a combination of words placed in just the right order.

Grammar is important because language is important.

So next time you send a text or update your facebook status just take a moment and check you are using the correct grammar.

Your local grammar nerd will thank you for it!

*Okay own up… who ate all the biscuits?!*