4

Come on over…

invitation

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging dither. A few months ago, I started a second, curtisbaussebooks, where I write more about writing. But recently, with a few other writers from Book Country, we’ve formed the project of another blog about writing, to be run collectively. Well, it took me a while, but now I’ve decided that three is too many, so I hereby extend an invitation to join me at curtisbaussebooks.

At first I thought this blog would be goofy and the other one serious, but that’s like having baked beans on toast with the beans on one plate and the toast on another. So although this blog won’t be deleted, and I may even pop in from time to time, the whole salmagundi will be on one plate, over at curtisbaussebooks (see what I’m doing here? Nudge, nudge!)

And right away you’ll find some invaluable tips from seasoned traveller, Gerald Rumpy, whose impressions of his recent safari trip are not to be missed. Hopefully Gerald will agree to be a regular contributor.

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Further along in April there’s the A-Z blogging challenge – in this case the A-Z of the Writer’s Affliction (goofiness galore there). Not forgetting, of course, the newsletter:

Click ====>

Your Curtisly signature

First issue goes out Monday, with:

  • A glimpse of Perfume Island, sequel to One Green Bottle.
  • For writers among you, the chance to win a free critique and edit of a short story or a chapter.
  • A link to a free short story, The Singular Point, first published in Spilling Ink Review.
  • And last but not least, The Elizabethan Era, first nibble-size instalment in The Authorised Biography of Curtis. Actually, that’s not quite last. Right at the bottom, there’s a link that says you can unsubscribe any time.

What have you got to lose?

 

8

Serengeti sights

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At the end of my last post, I mentioned that I’d be away for a fortnight. And quite a fortnight it was, as we travelled in Tanzania. But I’ve learnt now that travel and blogging don’t really go together, so I gave up trying to do both. Apologies, then, for my silence, which I now make up for by posting a couple of lovely pictures from our holiday. Naturally, in Tanzania, that included a safari, where we were very fortunate to spot a group of about 70 Spaniards. Our guide, Joseph, assured us this was quite rare. I managed to get close enough to take a picture of them in the early evening, when they gather for a cocktail, the females wearing pretty dresses and the males trying to impress them with witty remarks.

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Spaniards, said Joseph, are of the European genus, which includes a multitude of other members, some of them quite uncommon. You’d have to be lucky, for example, to come across a Finn in Serengeti, and in the few days we were there we didn’t see one. But the group of Spaniards, one of the most endearing members of the European family, more than made up for that. Here they are engaged in behaviour typical of the European species, taking pictures of the sunset.

0

Flash fiction and floating voters

Flash Fiction Curtis Bausse

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been working hard on Perfume Island, so I wasn’t expecting to post very often, but I did think once a week, doing Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. But I think he must be busy as he hasn’t provided any prompts of late, so while I hope he’ll return before too long, here I am being unfaithful by switching to Ad Hoc, an initiative run by the Bath Flash Fiction Project. I came across it thanks to the excellent Damyanti Biswas, whose story, Picasso Dreams, was commended in the inaugural edition of the Bath Flash Fiction Competition (her interview about it is here). While Matt takes a song title as a prompt, here it’s a single word, which has to appear in a story of 150 words or less. Not all submissions are accepted, but if it is, it appears on the site anonymously and readers can vote on the one they like best. The winner gets a free entry into the next stage, the competition proper. Last week’s prompt was ‘float’, so my take on that is up there now. I won’t spoil the anonymity by posting it here now, but it’s a great way of encouraging flash fiction, so don’t hesitate to go along and vote.  There are 87 entries this week, so I don’t suppose many people plough through them all, studiously taking notes before choosing a favourite – a rigorous procedure, it ain’t. But if you read a few and vote for one that you like, maybe I’ll get a few votes coming my way 🙂 Not to worry if you can’t – I’ll post the story here in any case. Not next week, though – off for a fortnight travelling.

 

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Flash fiction: Jealous

He wears flashy trainers. Likes Coldplay. Smokes. Any one of those is a turn off, but all three combined? What she sees in him is beyond me. But then, Jessie’s shallow. Must be to find a jerk like Josh cool. Josh and Jessie. Makes you think of soggy fish and chips.

He wasn’t cool in History today. Dipped a hand in his rucksack and… well, seeing how he freaked, it must have been seriously gross. And he snarls at me, ‘I’ll get you for this!’

What the…? Me? Because I sniggered? Everyone did. As if I care what she does. Jerk.


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this week’s prompt was Labyrinth’s song Jealous. My thanks to Matt for hosting this – not only does it give me a chance to try my hand at flash fiction, but since I’m easing up on the blogging to finish Perfume Island, it allows me every so often to stay in touch.

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Flash Fiction: Death of a Bachelor

‘We’re safe then?’ whispered the gangly one.

The fat one nodded. ‘If all goes to plan.’

‘If?’ His beady eyes glared in the shadows. ‘We’re counting on you. A fortune’s at stake. Not to mention our positions.’

‘Yes, yes. It should be over now. But I don’t know -‘ He glanced round. ‘If the you-know-what was strong enough.’

The other flapped a hand in exasperation. ‘Come!’

Footsteps echoing, they scurried through the dark, draughty corridors to the chamber. Timidly, the fat one opened the door. ‘Yes!’

Grinning with delight, the two cardinals danced a sedate jig round the Pope’s dead body.


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this week’s prompt was Panic at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor. Although this precise scene is not historically attested, many an unfortunate Pope has met with just such a fate. The most recent was John Paul I in 1978, after only 33 days. He upset more than a few with his plans to clean up the Vatican and though it’s never been proved, it’s more than likely he paid the price. Quite a risky profession all in all.

 

23

Flash Fiction: Stanley in Love

 

‘You’re sure?’

‘My dear.’ Stan drew closer, eyes glinting. ‘I’ve never been more sure in my life.’

‘It won’t end well for you. But that,’ added Suzie with a smile, ‘is hardly my concern.’

‘Oh, let the future take care of itself. I live for the present.’ He pressed his body against her. ‘You’re just… irresistible!’

Passionately, intensely, they made love. Afterwards, Suzie turned to him, her expression a curious blend of ferocity and joy. ‘I tried to warn you…’

A few minutes later, she belched, wiped her lips and scuttled away, wondering where she might lay her eggs.


 

In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where this weeks prompt was the song Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.

14

Pic’n’Post n° 37

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As announced yesterday, this is the last Pic’n’Post, at least for a good while. When it returns, the format will be different (no, I’m not telling you now…). Mainly because I’m running out of pictures, at least for the Where? – the What? are easier to find. This is borne out by last week’s picture, scraped from the bottom of the barrel, which only attracted one guess. But what a guess that was! Matt, with the Piton de la Fournaise in La Réunion, could not have been closer. He’s therefore the very worthy winner of the final edition of Pic’n’Post in its current format.

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A few more pictures of the very active Piton de la Fournaise, which rumbles and grumbles several times a year, but last threw a big hissy fit in 2006.

Congratulations, Matt!

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You may have noticed that there hasn’t been a picture from the Americas in the whole Pic’n’Post series. The thing is, it’s been a dozen years since I set foot there, and the last time I did, it wasn’t with a digital camera but a camcorder. So I have plenty of wobbly footage that makes you seasick, but no photos. Oh, well. My sincere apologies to the inhabitants of the New World.

26

Thursday interview: Curtis

Perfume Island Curtis Bausse

Um, Curtis, nice as it is if you to come along to be interviewed, I already have a schedule extending a couple of months. But since this is your own blog, you’ve given yourself the right to barge to the top of the list. I assume there’s a good reason for this.

I’m a narcissist. There’s nothing I like more than interviewing myself.

I take it that’s a joke, right? Actually, what I heard was that you’re stopping Pic’n’Post. Rumour has it tomorrow’s will be the last. Is it true?

Not just Pic’n’Post. The whole blog.

What? No way! But you can’t do that!

Well, it’s my blog, isn’t it? Of course I can.

But why?

I’m in the middle of Perfume Island, the sequel to One Green Bottle. Not the middle, really, I’m three quarters done and I have to get it finished. I did nothing for six whole weeks over Christmas. I got back to Mayotte two days ago and I’ve just got back into the swing. I need another three months of sustained concentration. So the blog, I’m afraid, has to go.

You mean for good? After putting in all that effort?

Oh, no. I hope to be back before the summer. But we’ll see. I’m making no definite plans.

And in the meantime, nothing at all?

There’ll be posts on Curtis Bausse Books. You know,  about writing and so on. A bit more serious, though I’ll keep it light-hearted all the same. And on this one, I might make an exception for Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. I’ve been doing it for a while and I’m kind of hooked. I’d never done flash fiction before and I find it a great exercise. Like doing a 100 metre sprint as opposed to the marathon of a novel – if you’ll accept the comparison from such a terrible athlete.

OK, so it’s not a complete disappearance. And the sooner you finish Perfume Island, the sooner you’ll be back blogging.

Well, yes, but it’s not a race. I set myself deadlines but it won’t be finished till I’m satisfied.

But you never are, though. Surely that’s a problem?

OK, I mean satisfied enough. It’ll never be to my satisfaction but I’ll get to the point where any changes I make aren’t going to improve it.

I see. Well, I hope it goes well. I’ll do my best to help.

Very kind of you, Curtis. Thank you.

9

Roofs, ants and cicadas

As Jean de la Fontaine (and before him, Aesop) so rightly observed, some of us are cicadas, chirping away merrily without a care in the world; others are ants, ceaselessly scuttling and toiling for the good of all. When it comes to Europe, the division is clear: the ants, virtuous and dour, are in the north, where they endlessly churn out Mercedes, while the feckless cicadas laze about on the beach down south, piling up debts and paying no taxes. It’s very easy to know which part you’re in because in the north it’s always raining and in the south it’s always sunny. France, which straddles the divide, applies this rule quite consistently, having fixed the Loire as the demarcation line. Few people north of the Loire watch the weather forecast, as they know there’ll be a big black cloud above the spot where they live. In the south, people only watch it in order to gloat.

However, due to the occasional aberration, it has been known to rain in the south. This has to be lived with, unjustifiable as it is. Over and above the trauma, it can cause disorientation, since you’re no longer sure where you are – Antland or Cicadaland? Fortunately, there’s a rough method of knowing, whatever colour the sky is – the roofs.

You might well find a few ants who,  hoping to brighten their existence, adopt a red roof, but the reverse is unlikely. On the whole, it’s slate in the north, tiles in the south. The roofs in Provence, you might think, need no looking after because cicadas, concerned only with singing all summer long, can’t fix a roof to save their life. Well, that may be true enough when the tiles are recent, but after a few decades, they start to crumble and crack. On the left is the roof on our garden shed, built (not by me, don’t worry) in 2012. On the right, the roof over our study, formerly a garage, built circa 1920.

‘Have you noticed,’ said Mrs. B. one day last summer, ‘those patches of damp on our ceiling?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I think they might be due to the garden on our roof.’

‘We’ve got a garden on our roof?’ Mrs. B., who keeps up to date with gardening trends, was impressed that we had a living roof. All the same, fearing for the plaster on our ceiling, we decided it ought to be removed. As luck would have it, our friend Bruce was visiting at the time, so after waiting for the roof to be in the shade, we climbed up and scraped the garden away. Then we replaced the tiles that were already broken, plus all the ones we broke ourselves when replacing the ones that were broken.

roof

If you’re doing this, it’s wise to wear gloves, as I found out to my cost when a splintered tile dug itself into my finger. With great fortitude I stitched myself up, just like Matt Damon in The Martian, then donned a couple of Mrs. B’s gloves, which not only protected me but won me the Most Fashionable Roofer Award.

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The tiles were the curved type, known as canal, which are very easy to place because they just slide under one another like playing cards. The technique was used in ancient China around 2000 BC, and the Romans adopted it throughout the Mediterranean, so Bruce and I were pleased to be carrying on the tradition. According to Mrs. B., in olden times the tiles were made on people’s thighs. This seemed plausible, since they look the right shape, tapering as they get towards the knee. After a little research, though, I discovered it’s a myth – in fact they were moulded round a block of wood called a gabarit. Which is only logical when you come to think about it: what if you ordered a batch of tiles and got a mix of George North and Cara Delevingne?

Having fixed the roof, Bruce and I retired to the garden (the one that’s where it should be), where we opened a beer and sat back listening to the cicadas. Which was all very enjoyable until I looked up and noticed that the entire house was circled by a column of ants.


 

This post (again in the nick of time) is part of Phoebe’s All About France link up.

Lou Messugo
17

Flash Fiction: Young and Beautiful

‘Not both. You know that. Only Class 1 can do both.’

‘And we’re Class 2.’ Jason spat the words as if they tasted vile. ‘After all our devotion to -‘

‘We should consider ourselves lucky.’ Cindy settled a stern gaze upon him. ‘Class 3 don’t -‘

‘I suppose so.’ He put his arms around her. ‘Decision time, then.’

Cindy twisted away, speaking to the window. ‘I already have. The request has been sent.’

‘What? Without consulting me? Cindy, you know I wanted…’ Jason stood, mouth open, struggling to come to terms with the person she’d chosen to be. Young and beautiful forever. And childless.


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where the prompt this week was the song Young and Beautiful by Lana del Rey.