The Quiet Fight and Flight of Florence Morgan


When Florence’s baby was born dead, she found she couldn’t cry. Not at first. She had known for some time that it was dead. She voiced her concern to Doctor Foster just the week before, calling him to the house to listen to her still, silent belly.

“Nonsense, Mrs Morgan. I have never seen a young mother as healthy as you,” he declared.

He would hear no more of it and didn’t even bother to open his Gladstone bag or write anything down. Before he left her house, she heard him talking to George in his study about how women flapped too much at the slightest thing. George apologised for his wasted time.

The baby’s face was squashed and swollen and covered in scratches made by tiny fingernails. It would have been a girl. She would have been a girl. Florence named her Lucy out loud, but in her head she called her Little Lost Lucy. She was tiny and beautiful to her mother, and Florence held her cold, grey body and sang lullabies under her breath until the hospital nurse decided to separate them. One to the morgue, one to the ward. Florence wanted to go to the morgue too. So much. She clung to Little Lost Lucy with the last shred of her strength and determination, and the nurse had to fetch two more nurses to help her.

When her arms gave up her baby, Florence let out a noise like a wounded animal. The noise left the room, travelled down the corridor, and reached into every ward. All eighty-seven patients shifted in their beds, even the very sick ones. All of them knew that a mother had lost a child. It was that kind of noise.

Florence was wheeled into a ward where six new mothers sat cooing over their living babies. She was expected to recover from her grief surrounded by the happiness of others. The mothers did not speak to her because they didn’t know what to say. Nor did Florence speak to them, but that was because she couldn’t speak. She was afraid that, if she opened her mouth, the noise would come out again. It was waiting there, somewhere deep down in the darkness, like a patchwork dam holding back a lakeful of tears.

Doctor Foster visited. He patted her hand and ignored the glare she fixed on him. Muttered something about weak hearts. Florence closed her eyes tight shut and when she opened them again he was gone.

George visited. He said ‘There, there. Never mind’, and Florence wanted to wrap her hands around his neck and squeeze extremely hard. But, of course, she didn’t. In George’s humble opinion, there would be others. Florence was not quite twenty. George was not quite thirty. Plenty of time.

Florence dared to open her mouth at last. “I don’t want others. I wanted Lucy.”

Little Lost Lucy, her heart whispered.

“Lucy? What kind of name is that?” George said. “Not that it matters.”

Not that it matters.

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A New Office, thanks to Australia

Because of the amount of heat coming off Australia, we have record November temperatures in New Zealand this week. Even with all the doors and windows open in the house, it’s too hot to be inside and too hot to be outside. It occurred to me that my messy carport would make an awesome ‘not-indoor but not-outdoor either’ office.

Aah, a nice, warm breeze, a beautiful view and starlings swooping up to their annual nest in the corner. Perfect. Cheers Australia!

How Music Can Help You Write

A lot of fiction writers find music a real distraction when writing, but here’s why I find it a real help…

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The Dangerous Life of a Successful Writer

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This has seriously put me off the whole idea 😀

Thanks, Tom Gauld, master cartoonist.

#4 I didn’t write today because… of Perkins

I asked my mum to drop into the vets yesterday on her way back from town and pick up some medicine for my old, wheezy cat, Alfie Bear. Which she did. Well done for that bit, mum.

But she also picked up something else. ‘I’ve brought you a present,’ she said.

She saw the look on my face that said ‘I really don’t need another cat’ and assured me she could take it straight back to the vets, no harm done. In our house, we have a policy of only taking in adult cats who need a home. But it’s almost impossible to say ‘yes you must take this tiny scrap of warm, wriggly kitten back to where you got it from immediately!”

So meet Perkins. Cat number three and our very first kitten.

Perkins

My boys had been lamenting the fact that we don’t have interesting cats. Our other two like to sleep, and not much else goes on. I asked them what an interesting cat did, and they decided it was the sort of cat that sat on your keyboard when you were trying to work, and liked to shove things off the table and climb up curtains. A cat like Simon’s Cat. Perkins has only been here for a day and can fit into a cereal bowl with room to spare, but she’s already done all of those things 🙂

Click the picture to see Simon’s Cat in action!

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Getting Praised for Daydreaming

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Though, like a lot of writers, I write mostly because I love telling myself stories and getting immersed in worlds of my own creation (otherwise known as ‘daydreaming’), a bonus of making the stories available to others is the feedback.

When somebody totally gets what you were trying to say, understands how your world works, and bonds with characters you gave birth to, it’s like a little bit of sparkly magic.

Here are two favourites out of all my favourite reviews – one by a journalist, and one by someone who is so completely my target audience. With thanks to Hilarie and Georgina.

I hope you don’t mind a little bit of showing off. I don’t do it very often 🙂


The Blackwood Crusade

The Blackwood Crusade BookBook Review by Journalist, Hilarie Stelfox, published in Huddersfield Daily Examiner

“I was hooked from the first few pages – and mightily relieved to discover that it is extraordinarily well written by someone with a finely-tuned sense of humour. In fact, it’s every bit as good as any fiction for the young I’ve read in recent years, including the novels of JK Rowling and Eoin Colfer. As well as being a natural storyteller, Jo never patronises her readers, an attribute that will endear her to teenagers. Nor does she shy away from the odd bit of violence and unpleasantness, another plus for young readers.”

READ MORE HERE

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The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook

Curtain Twitchers Cover“I read this book in three chunks, over a period of two days! I was hooked to the story and literally could not put it down! It’s the perfect read for many teenage girls like myself what with it covering dilemmas we can relate to and also including the interesting element of the ghost story that leaves you desperate to read on to find out what happens next.

I fell in love with Daisy the main character almost instantly and could relate to her throughout the book, I didn’t see the ending coming at all it took me by surprise and completely blew me away! I felt so emotionally attached to both Will and Daisy throughout the book and found myself almost in tears on a few more occasions in the book.

It was by far one the best books I’ve read in a while, for the reason that not only did it have a phenomenal story but it took me on a journey with the characters as I felt I knew them so well and not many authors i know can portray this skill to take the reader on an journey and make them feel emotionally involved with the story but Jo has done this flawlessly and the book has been lingering in my mind since…

Definitely up there in my top 10 best reads and I have already recommended it to two friends, and passed it on to one of them already 🙂 5 stars!!!!

READ MORE HERE

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Featured Photo Credit: Comfreak

The Sad Case of the Bathroom Mosquito

Bathroom Mosquito

In the last few weeks, I’ve been kept awake by a multitude of marauding mosquitoes. They suck so much of my blood I’m always surprised to find I’m alive in the morning, and that the mosquitoes still look so tiny when they should have the most bulbous of bellies.

But, despite this nasty, nightly feasting, I can’t help feeling sorry for Morris the Bathroom Mosquito.

Don’t get me wrong; I hate the little buggers as much as anyone. As concrete proof of this, here is a poem a teenage version of me, driven half insane with fury, wrote in the middle of the night on a holiday in Wales with my friend, Sophie. Continue reading

Writing and Cucumbers

Cucumber Fail

This is a picture of my cucumber crop so far. Impressed? In all my years on this planet, I have never seen such a curved cucumber. It’s a definite cucumber fail.

A while ago, I started to write a story that appeared, half-formed, in my head. And it was SO good. At least, the SEED of it was. I worked on it on and off for a few days and then it began to mutate into something that barely resembled the original idea. Suddenly I didn’t know where it was going, or even how to take it back. I was forced to abandon it.

But the thing is, you never need to throw writing away, because every piece of writing contains something useful. In the same way that the mutant cucumber can be turned into compost, I can add the disastrous story into the rich mix of practise and imagination that will nourish future stories.

As long as you keep on doing, nothing is wasted.

“Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”Denis Waitley

#3 ‘I didn’t write today because…’

Alfie the cat and I don’t get a lot done when the resident rock star is in the house. Rock on, Alfie!


When you have limited spare time, the slightest thing can put you off your writing!

Novel Formats!

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A glimpse of the future in a clever Tom Gauld cartoon. Love the ‘Recited by Mechanical Raven’ best! If only 🙂