Want Something to read? Visit my Wattpad!

I’m working on all sorts of stuff at the moment. There’s “Daemon’s Will, “Alethdar’s Daughter”, “Where Are My Socks?”, “The Dribble-O-Saur”….


But one of the oldest of my WIP’s is “Pure Shores”. Part One is up on the site, but I continued the story far beyond where it finishes on here.


I’ve been publishing the sections as they’re finished on Wattpad – if you feel like reading it, then feel free to pop over and take a look; I’m not charging for anyone to read it!

The plan is, once it’s finished, to publish it as an e-book. It’s a Terrene Empire story and there will be more of them!

There are a couple of other things there as well if you feel like exploring what I’ve put up… poetry etc. They’ve not been read for a while and are feeling a little lonely…

Here’s the link you need –

https://www.wattpad.com/user/MandyWard

Saturday Fiction: Zoo Tale

I was quite young when I first went to the zoo. I can remember holding on tightly to my mother as we entered through the little gate into the park.

There were all kinds of creatures in there, making so much noise that I let go of mother to cover my ears.

We passed all the animals I had seen in my books, the Tigers, Lions, and Bears before we got to the Primate section. Chimpanzees, Capuchins, Baboons were just a few of the monsters behind the bars.

I shivered in delight as we watched them, climbing around the enclosure, grooming each other, and chattering at each other.

A voice came over the tannoy, “For the safety of patrons, we ask that you do not attempt to enter the enclosures. Thank you.”

“Why would anyone try and get into a cage with them?” I asked.

“Well, there are some people who see all the creatures in this zoo as cute. And I can’t deny that they are very cute when they’re babies, but they grow up eventually.” Mother said, “Anyway, I want you to see the new exhibit.”

We walked further in.

The enclosure my mother stopped in front of was quite small, and there were comfy looking padded blocks here and there in the yard area. At the back was a small wooden hut with a flap for a door.

I looked at the sign that was between the path and the enclosure wall and mother read it out loud for me, “Warning, highly dangerous creature. Do not, under any circumstances, approach the wall.”

“Ooh.” I breathed, “what is it?”

“You’ll see. It’s nearly feeding time.” Mother smiled and stroked my face, “Don’t be scared though, little one. You ‘re safe with me.”

A keeper, pushing a wheelbarrow, approached the enclosure. He picked up a pair of buckets, one large, one small from his barrow, walked over to a caged doorway and let himself in.

I caught a glimpse of what the creature was being fed. In one bucket was what looked like mud, but it was pink, red, and white, and smelled disgusting to my delicate nose. “What’s that?”

Mother looked over, shuddered, and looked away again, “You don’t want to know, darling.”

The keeper walked over to one of the padded blocks and placed the contents of the small bucket into one section of the feeding trough. Into the other side, he poured chunks of fruit and vegetables.

“Does it not drink water?” I asked.

The keeper heard me and looked up, “He has a separate drinking container inside his sleeping area, in there.” He gestured at the hut.

There was an indescribable noise, somewhere between the howls of the Chimpanzee and the hoots of a Howler monkey. It repeated and then came a weird noise, all breathy and alternating in pitch.

“Ah, he’s hungry then. I’d best get out of here before I let him out.” The keeper picked up the buckets and ambled back to the enclosure entrance. He was very careful to lock the door inside before leaving through the gate and locking that too. Then he pressed a switch and after a high-pitched whine there was a click, “He should be out soon.”

“Why do we have to lock all the animals in here?” I asked Mother, tugging on her to get her attention, because she was staring into the cage.

“They’re all predators, Little One.” The Keeper said, walking over to us, “The whole Zoo is full of predators. If we let them out to mingle with normal people, they might escape.”

“Would that be so bad?” I asked, as the creature emerged from the hut.

“Watch him eat, and then you might have your answer.” The keeper said, “I’ve got to go feed the Lions now.” He picked up his barrow and walked away.

I looked into the enclosure. The creature looked like a chimpanzee but a lot bigger. It had a long flowing mane down it’s back that caught the sunlight and turned gold. A pair of bright blue eyes peered out from between the shaggy fringe of hair over its face and the curly matt of hair on its lower jaw.

The rest of his pale skinned body was almost hairless. There was some on his back legs and lower front legs. It walked across to the food trough, sat down on the padded block, and prodded at the food with his odd, long digited front paws.

“Mother, why does he have a tiny trunk between his back legs?” I asked. The thing had flopped around with his movements.

“That’s how you know it’s a He.” Mother said, “Remember what happens when Father gets excited at Mating time?”

I remembered. I’d never seen a trunk that looked so weird or that was so big. My aunties had ushered me out of the way quickly, but I’d discussed it with mother afterwards and she’d explained that it was how Father implanted the seed into her and my aunties to make babies. It seemed logical.

The creature was now eating. He picked up pieces of vegetable, smeared the pink, red and white stuff on it and stuffed it into his mouth.

“The reason that I wanted you to see him, is that he’s a wild one. He was caught by your father and uncle on their trip to the Americas and he attacked them. So, they trapped him and brought him back to Africa.”

I stared at the creature and then stared at Mother, “That’s a Human?”

“Yes. Humans are the most dangerous creatures in the world. They brought about the Cataclysm that almost destroyed every living thing on Earth.” Mother sighed, “He,” she pointed to the creature, “is very lucky that your Father works for a CC Zoo. Had your Great Grandfather found him, he would have been trampled into mush before he’d even landed a blow.”

“But that’s horrible! Humans are Earthlings too. They deserve to live.” I glanced at the Human, who, having finished his pink stuff and vegetables, was eating the fruit.

“Yes, but for a long time, they were considered pests and destroyed by anyone who found one. Now there are only a few left in the wild and a couple of hundred dotted around the world in the Carnivore Conservation Zoo Network.”

“Are there any that aren’t considered dangerous?” I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.

“The females are a lot gentler, communicate with sign language and can be trained to do simple jobs. They also don’t seem to mind a purely Herbivore diet. Your Father thinks that they may be a separate species, but they have so many characteristics in common with the males that the theory is hotly debated.” Mother laughed.

I didn’t understand most of that, so I let it slide, “So what do males eat that make them so dangerous? It has to be the food causing it.”

Mother smiled, “You’re your Father’s daughter all right.” She took a deep breath, “That pink stuff? That’s meat. Have you studied the habits of Carnivores yet?”

“No. Why?” I frowned, “What’s meat?”

“Never mind then. You’ll get to it eventually.”

There was a noise from the enclosure. The creature in the cage had finished and had moved to the very outer edge of the wall. It gripped the steel bars and stared at us, water leaking from its blue eyes.

“Can it understand us?” I asked, backing up a little.

“None of the Humans your father has captured so far have been able to understand us. He tried to get them to learn simple language, but so far…”

I looked at the Human, “It looks like it can understand us.”

“No, my Darling little one, it can’t.” Mother stroked my face with her trunk, “Now, we’re going to go meet your Father. He’s taking us to lunch at the Banana Grove.”

“Yay! I love the Banana Grove.” I trumpeted and giggled.

As we walked away, I looked back at the Human, “Mother he looks lonely.”

“Well, once he’s become acclimatised to the enclosure, your Father is going to introduce him to a female. They’re hoping to start a breeding programme, but it’s so difficult to breed humans in captivity; the males love the sexual process, but the females don’t, they often reject the male, which can lead to the female getting damaged.” Mother draped her trunk over my back, “Now no more discussing Humans, let’s talk about school.”

“Mother! That’s boring.” I groaned.

She laughed.

(c) Mandy E. Ward, September 2021

The Futility of Being a Self Publishing Author.

Warning – Public Self Pity Party being Prepared….

Everyone who knows me well, knows I publish my own work. They also know that I am a full time Home Carer with four children who are mostly all Autistic. My Partner is Autistic and physically disabled. I am Autistic.

This leads to not being able to have enough money to eat / pay bills, which leads to not being able to publish my work.

I am dependant on the generosity of the Public –

  • Through Social Benefits. I can’t feed my children any. other. way.
  • Through Patreon. I have one benefactor there – She pays for my website indirectly by being my only Patreon Fan.
  • Through Ko-Fi. Well… as soon as anyone sends me something it will pay for something; probably the investment I made in buying a decent podcast microphone.
  • Through buying my books. Not that I get much money for them. I’m lucky to make £30 a year on them.

I cannot afford to go out and get a job because the only way I could make more money than the Benefits we get is in Teaching and I have been out of Teaching for over ten years, so I’m pretty certain that any money I could make will be eaten up in childcare before I can even afford to pay bills and buy food.

So I have more books on my Hard drive than I do in circulation.

They cost money to publish – the bare basics is that you need a decent cover to attract attention of the e book buying public, an editor and a formatter – I can do my own editing (as long as I can find someone to do a quick proofread for free) and my own formatting, which leaves paying for the cover. That’s the bit that costs the most.

So they languish.

Which cuts down on my ability to make money through my books.

But then, in creeps the little voice….

Your books aren’t selling because you’re not a good writer. There are loads of writers out there that are much better than you.

And every time a writing friend manages to get a book published (be it with a publisher or by their own efforts) and celebrates their book, I feel like a little bit of my own ambition and energy dies. I am happy for them, I truly am, but inside that voice creeps out again…

See, you can’t even get your own books published. What is the point of even trying to do it anymore?

I recently made the decision to try and work through that voice – every time it comes into my head, I start writing. Sometimes the voice goes away, sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve had lots of people saying that I should do it because my stories and drawings are good enough to be published. It’s a very difficult market though.

Most children’s publishers prefer to have their own artists do the drawing, so even if I were to shop a story around, I wouldn’t be able to do the drawings. Hence why I decided to publish my own.

But even here I run into money difficulty.

Publishing picture books means digitising my drawings – I have a computer capable of doing digital drawing thanks to a friend. I have a drawing tablet (cost me £25 from ebay) but I have yet to find software that I can get along with. The closest I can come to something I can get on with is Ibis Paint… but that’s an android programme on my phone and my phone is too small to do large pictures.

*sighs*

I started with “Where Are My Socks”. I already have the pictures for that. I thought I could use Publisher to do the Layouts. And I was fine up to the point that I started getting proofs. Everything that I could do to the best of my ability was coming back looking crap.

So I’m back to square one.

Looking at getting a layout artist now. I can’t take the stress of the whole process.

I’m not sure I can take the stress of any of this.