10 Questions with a Twist

Regulars at CWT will already have guessed how I would reply to today’s Daily Prompt. It seems quite simple, right? 10 easy questions, answer ’em and go.

Of course, doing it the ordinary way has never held much appeal to me, so I have turned it once again into an exercise in character development. Readers, meet (or meet again) Flann Hildebrand, the reluctant hero of Another Sword. Flann, answer the questions with minimal sarcasm, please.

10 Questions as Flann Hildebrand


  1. What is your favorite word? Charge.
  2. What is your least favorite word? Dead.
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Hmm… I don’t tend to get turned on. I turn myself on and switch myself off whenever I feel like it. But there’s something about a good horse running, the Knights of the Lamb battle cry, and a Scripture passionately and wholeheartedly read aloud that gives me chills.
  4. What turns you off? A Scripture read like it’s a cold, dead piece of writing. Read it like it lives. Read it like it’s on fire. Oh, and lazy people turn me off too.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? Well, my favourite curse word used to be pretty unprintable. These days, I tend to stick to “Shea’s underpants”. Don’t tell Demetrius.
  6. What sound or noise do you love? Tariq – my horse – whinnying when he sees me for the first time in the early mornings.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Easy. Screaming girls. They’re always my problem and generally need defending. Alarm bells, too. Anything that means another battle.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I can’t imagine being anything but a knight, but I think I’d have fun as a horse trainer.
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Politics. I suck at them. I usually leave the politics to Demetrius; all I do is poke swords in people when they threaten him. Quite simple.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Call me corny, but it’s true.

Phone Call from a Figment

I’m still staring when beside me a Joseph man’s scream turns into a gurgle. He claps a hand to the dagger in his neck and drops out of the saddle, and I’m staring straight into the iron face of a Coyote. His sword is coming my way before I can react; it rings against my breastplate with a force that makes me reel in the saddle. Tariq rears, squealing; I get a grip on myself and on my hilt and block the Coyote’s next blow, bringing Tariq back down to all fours. The Coyote takes the parry easily and turns it into a wind, but the motion makes my shoulder scream pain –

My hands are flying across the keys, sweat trickling down my back, the story flowing from my soul to my fingertips… then my cellphone rings, the funky tune that inexplicably makes me think of James Bond breaking through my train of thought. I blink, coming back from the action-packed world of my YA fantasy novel. It takes a moment to drift out of the imaginary mind of my hero Sir Flann Hildebrand, courageous fighter of evil and succourer of the innocent, and back to being Firn Hyde, a small and quite ordinary teenager-aspiring novelist who is incidentally terrified of speaking to strangers, especially on the phone.

I fumble for my unicorn-sticker-festooned Samsung and groan. It’s an unknown number. For a moment I dither, but it might be something important, like someone telling me I’ve won the Lotto or something. So I answer.


“This had better not be another of those machines that sound like people,” growls a voice that sends a jolt all the way up my spine. It’s a voice I’ve never heard before, but its echoes ring with a strange familiarity in my mind. Deep, gravelly, with an edge of sarcasm sharper than the speaker’s broadsword.

It can’t be. “Uh, nope. Firn speaking.”

“Thank goodness. Shea’s wonderful cotton socks, girl, I’ve been hunting for you all day.”

“For me?” My voice rises to the usual unflattering squeak. No one will ever talk about Shea’s socks, wonderful or otherwise, because Shea was a hero who doesn’t exist and lived in a country that doesn’t exist.

“So I’m told. I have a small problem on my hands right now, and I’m told I need your help with it.” The voice snorts, a sound so familiar that despite my bewilderment it brings a smile to my face.

“My help?”

“Is there an echo in this room? Shut your mouth and listen. I was born probably, oh, about six hundred years ago. I’ve no clue what I’m doing in what I’m told is the twenty-first century. Thing is, there’s a war on right now in Arishea, where I belong, and I bet the filthy Bahaduryans sent me here to get me out of the way. And I need to get back. Now.”

I know the answer to my question, but I hardly dare to breathe it. “Who are you?”

“The name’s Sir Flannery Hildebrand, and you call me Hildebrand. Flann, if you must. I’m told you know about me.”





The Daily Prompt inspired this one, but then again… which writer doesn’t secretly wish their hero would give them a call? 😀 I had fun with this. Now it’s your turn: Do you have a favourite fictional character, your own or someone else’s, that you wish would phone you? Do tell!

10 Ways to Fall off a Horse

For the Daily Prompt.

I’ve often said that I’ve fallen enough times to be able to ride a little, but I’ve also fallen enough times to be pretty good at falling. An ignominious talent, I know, but everyone’s gotta be good at something, right? So here follows ten methods to fall with the most pain, precision and embarrassment, and the advantages and disadvantage of each. These methods have been tried and thoroughly tested by yours truly for your unsafety and dissatisfaction.

Timo Vee, the beautiful stallion owned by Faeriewood Friesians

Timo Vee, the beautiful stallion owned by Faeriewood Friesians

1. Be invited to ride a newly-backed Friesian stallion. Leap onto the aforementioned stallion with great gusto and discover that he is about as forward-going as a geriatric donkey. Succeed, by supreme effort, in kicking him into a trot. Be so shocked at the very idea of forward motion, and the giant exploding movement that Friesians have, that you start to slide down the horse’s side. Cling on determinedly, spider-like against the side of the horse with your short legs as far around his belly as they will go, for several strides before belly-flopping to the ground. Bonus points for having an audience of five or six people and several dogs, and a shout-out to the owner of the stallion, who is actually a quite amazing horse and, I’m betting, a cool ride once he had some training: I’m looking at you, Faeriewood Freisians.

Looks can be deceiving

Looks can be deceiving

2. Mount a pony who has only ever been ridden three or four times. The saddle doesn’t fit, so you decide to ride bareback. The pony refuses to go forward. Your instructor stands behind her to discipline her with a whip when she reverses. She does so, he gives her a flick on the bum, she leaps into the air and you remain effortlessly seated. Upon coming to rest, the pony waits a split second for you to relax before taking one slow step forward. You pitch over her shoulder and land in a heap. Bonus points if the pony runs away with her tail in the air, highly impressed with herself; extra bonus points if you land almost on your instructor’s feet and if said instructor is a straightforward type and comments, “Well, that was stupid.”

Bestest buddies

Bestest buddies

3. Take your favourite horse in the whole entire world for an outride. She is your favourite horse in the whole entire world, so she will never ever throw you off. Hence, you decide to do the bareback thing again, being a slow learner. Gallop off happily until you reach the southern end of the farm, when suddenly a pair of white rhinoceros stampede out of the bushes. Your poor horse nearly jumps out of her skin and the next thing you know, you are minus one horse and plus a few bruises. Bonus points if you land on your feet and stand there holding the reins and staring stupidly at the rhino, which are making off at their best pace, terrified.

4. Whilst riding around with your friend, spot a wayward donkey chewing the grooming kit. Kick your horse into a gallop to stop the donkey from destroying all your friend’s stuff. Don’t realise that the ground is wet and corner a little too sharply. Your horse slips and lands on its knees and you do a slow slide over its ears and into the mud. Bonus points if your friend is slightly paranoid and almost falls off herself in shock. I didn’t try this one personally; all the credit belongs to the Cowboy Dude who was, thankfully, none the worse for his little crash, but possibly the worse for the embarrassment I have just caused him. Another shout-out: Do yourself a favour and click the link to his blog. This guy writes action-adventure flash fiction like nobody else. It’s powerful, terrifying, and touching.

The awesome Romeo

The awesome Romeo

5. Ride a beautiful, smart, slightly absentminded two-year-old horse in front of his owner, his owner’s family, the yard owner, your instructor and some other horse owners. Feel proud of the progress you’ve made with this horse. Ask him to canter whilst going round a corner, forgetting to get his attention first. The horse obliges but his legs go in different directions, cross, and trip him up. Horse and rider crash to the ground and slide several metres in a cloud of dust, dismay and concerned cries from your audience. Bonus points if the horse’s owner comments that they should install a camera to film all your rides as you would make some very interesting action shots, and also if your instructor is more concerned about the poor horse – who has only a few superficial scrapes – than he is about you.

6. Aged nine years old, be so small and short that you can’t pull your pony’s girth up properly. Ignore this fact and go riding with your girth so loose that you can see daylight between it and the pony. The pony spooks at a duiker, whirls around and charges off; the saddle shoots down her side and sends you flying while the pony heads for the horizon with the saddle under her belly. Bonus points if you are trying to show your friend from one of those smart riding schools in the city how brave you are. This one is courtesy of Rain.

I'm innocent!

I’m innocent!

7. Ride your beautiful jumping horse towards a manageable jump. Commend yourself on how nicely your horse is approaching the obstacle. Forget to actually ask the horse to jump. The horse brakes and you sail gracefully over its head and into the jump, completely dismantling it. Bonus points if your instructor bursts out laughing.

8. Hold your newly-backed pony next to your instructor’s car while he gets a saddle out of the boot and tries it on. It seems to fit, so he tells you to hop on. Put a foot in the stirrup, lift yourself up and be taken completely by surprise as the pony suddenly rears up on its back legs and flips over. Crash into the back of the car, missing the tow hitch by a miracle, and watch the pony fall about a centimetre from your leg. Bonus points if the pony shatters the rear light in the fall.


Enjoy your new home, big guy

9. Ride out on a large and badly behaved stallion, your instructor accompanying you on a sweet little mare who unbeknownst to either of you is in heat. Unfortunately, the stallion notices. He bucks you off once. Bounce. Get back on and ride 10 metres further before he starts bucking again. He chucks you off in the middle of the first buck and lands on you at the second. Fail to remember any of this due to your concussion. Bonus points if your instructor is forced to fend the stallion off his mare with a deft right hook, and is worried about you for the first time in living memory.

And the winner is…

10. Ride a highly unpredictable little pony in the company of your friend the Cowboy Dude. Feel secretly surprised and pleased that the pony hasn’t put a toe out of line all day. Decide to try a canter. The first two go well. At the third one, the pony begins to buck like a bronc whilst galloping. Stick on for a short while and then, as the pony hits the brakes, turn a somersault over her head and land on your back, knocking the wind out of yourself. Bonus points if your sister catches the fall on camera. Extra bonus points if the Cowboy Dude then posts it on Facebook with the caption “Firn’s final moments”, getting more attention than your Facebook page has ever had.

And Firn goes splat

And Firn goes splat in the background

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination


John 1

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Can it be more perfectly said?

Sunset rays reach around a grazing horse

Sunset rays reach around grazing horses

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

I have a small sister with whom I took ballet classes for eight years. We learnt to plie and pointe our toes, adages and allegros. We did little pas de chats and attempts at pose pirouettes, and I tried to do a double and fell over more often than not. I got Bs and Cs; she got As and A plusses by the million. But she was always my li’l sis Rainy who stuck out her index fingers and didn’t keep her supporting leg quite straight in a develope.

Two years ago, I was finally permitted to quit ballet. Don’t get me wrong; I love ballet. From a distance. And not a big distance; there always has to be some sucker dashing around backstage, finding ribbons and doing the curtain, and usually it’s me, and I love it because I get the best seat to see the dance. But ballet took second place to horses and writing and cows and God and school, so I quit.

Rain didn’t. Rain dances like most people breathe, only no one breathes beautifully. It was only last year as I watched from behind the curtain, as Rain did arabesques with lines like unbent rainbows, grande jetes that are only not flying because everyone knows that people can’t fly, right? … it was then that I realised that my li’l sis Rainy had grown up into stage name Rain M. Drake, prima ballerina. And I still didn’t know how it had happened.

Resolved: make more time to watch sunsets and ballet and grazing horses. Resolved: make more time to smell the roses. Resolved: make more time to read to and play with and poke fun at and just be around the beautiful, graceful young lady that is my very own sister.


Grande jete against the sunset


Today’s daily prompt was “What is a life well lived to you?”

A life just begun

A life well lived is a life lived on one’s knees.

A life well lived is a life lived in the knowledge that this isn’t really life at all.

A life well lived is a life lived in love.

A life well lived is a life sacrificed to the glory of the Person we love. Jesus Christ.

A life well lived is a life lost for His sake; for that is the only way that we will ever find life.

A life well lived is a life lived in hope, watching the clouds; a life well lived is a life forgotten, the life of the old lady praying in the nursing home, the life of the cameraman praying behind the lens for this new Christian program to work, the life of the intercessor on her worn and scarred knees, the abased, the forgotten, the humbled, the apparently worthless life of a person with the courage to say, “I must decrease so that He may increase.” For he who exalteth himself shall be abased, and he who humbleth himself shall be exalted.

A life well lived is a life that earns a better life that will continue, joyous and free, into eternity. Because we plod along half-asleep now in the brief test that will be over in seconds. Life belongs to the living, and the only Living One is called Jesus. He holds the life in His beautiful, bleeding Hands, and He is calling you.

Questions, comments, suggestions? How can we live in such a way that we can earn our true life through the grace of Christ Jesus? How can we lead others to life, salvation and redemption? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

My dear patient readers, bear with me a little longer; life, writing and the Internet have been a bit crazy over the past few weeks. I squeak into this challenge only just on time (thank goodness for time zone differences between the USA and Africa).

Just in case there are some non-horsy people out there who are craning their necks trying to figure out what this is, it’s my horse Skye’s ear, with her mane parting around it in a delicate silver triangle.

Triangle in silver and gold