flash fiction

Flash Flood Warning

It was worth submitting to the Flash Flood event on Saturday 24th June as one of my pieces has been chosen. It's the Sixth year of the event where hundreds of Flash Fiction stories are published on the Flash Flood website. I've been published up there before, but I can't recall what years; maybe I need to keep a better record of this sort of thing?

The email says it'll be published between
5 and 6 BST. It doesn't say '05', or am/pm, so it could be in the morning or afternoon. I'll no doubt tweet it out after it goes live at any rate.

I'd sent one I wrote on the day on Monday and it was turned down (maybe I'll put that one up on here anyway) so I went back to previously written pieces. Ended up sending two that have won on Angry Hourglass hoping that previous approval by someone may prove a help. And
hey presto! my second story was chosen. So some of you Angry Hourglass readers will have seen it before, but I won't tell you which one it is. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise.

I know there are a few
Flash Dogs going to be up there too and am looking forward to seeing you all there!

Keep writing + Keep reading.



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Flash, Flood and Writing

Well this morning I wrote a quick-ish story for Miranda's 'Finding Clarity' midweek writing challenge. Don't be fooled by the 'mid week' moniker it is posted midweek but you've got all week to submit to it. There's no weekly 'winner' per se other than yourself for actually writing! Keep an eye on it and see if any photos get your creative writing going! It's up to 700 words so plenty to play around with and a different challenge to the usual 100-360 word flash ones and with no minimum there is plenty of freedom.

I've seen a few of the usual suspects have been entering the annual
Flash Flood event and having been involved a few times so I've blasted out a quick attempt there too this morning. I may submit another one if I don't get a quick reply ;-)

If you fancy joining the Flood you've got until Wednesday, check it out:
Flash Flood

So that's two flashes of a combined 1000 words today. Flash is all very well... but I now need to get on my bigger writing projects. So a couple of hours next on
Project 3!
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Rainy Day Play

Story for Finding Clarity Mid-Week Flash Challenge (Week 15)

Keys

The photo this week was of this collection of lovely old keys. Keep checking out the Finding Clarity website for the mid-week prompts (for stories up to 700 words).


Rainy Day Play


When we came to stay in Aulston Manor I was so excited. Mum said the house creeped her out, that she hated going back but ‘needs must’ while our house was being renovated. Mum believed in ghosts though, so that’s her own fault. To me the house was just an old house, big but nothing more. It was the gardens I loved. They went on forever. I couldn't even count all the different type of trees and there were all sorts of places to play hide and seek; if I’d had anyone to play with. I loved to climb trees and it was like having my own park. Mum called me a Tomboy. I think she thought that would put me off, but I liked that.

‘Eat your breakfast love. Then I’m going in to town with your grandma to get some things. Are you coming?’ mum said, as she finished washing her plate.

‘No it’s okay mum. I’ll stay.’

‘Are you sure? This rain doesn't look like it’ll stop any time soon and you’re not going out in it. You’ll get filthy.’

‘I’ll stay in.’

‘Are you sure? By yourself in this creepy place?’

‘Don’t worry mum. It’s great, like an adventure. Anyway I’ve got a book.’

Mum shook her head. I could tell she thought I was different- and I am of course. I hate shopping and standing around waiting.

As soon as I heard the sound of the gravel fade away I put down my book. It was time for my indoor treasure hunt; I’d found the keys the night before in a locked box on top of a wardrobe in one of the spare rooms. It was a lovely metal box with red and black embossed pictures of animals and trees. It was battered but somehow all the more beautiful for it.

Each key was metal and long, iron I guessed, not like our house keys for our house in Basildon. These were ornate and beautiful like they’d been made for art as much as locking a door. Just touching them gave me a tingle, like I was touching the past. Other people would probably think they were magical but I don't believe in magic.

I’d been in most the rooms in the house over the last week and they’d all been unlocked, but maybe grandma just didn't lock them these days. Doesn't mean they aren't for the doors though. I liked games and treasure hunts were my favourite. It was a challenge to find which one each key was for while the torrential rain outside kept me indoors. I knew I wouldn’t find one of mum’s ghosts but maybe I’d find something new and exciting; or
old and exciting.

I raced around the house looking carefully up and down at all the doors. There were twelve rooms and the basement. I could hardly believe it but it was soon apparent that none of the doors had locks on. In any case the old timber doors were clearly too big for these keys. They’d looked big to me in my little hands and compared to modern keys, but they were like toys compared to the doors, I hadn’t noticed before how big and thick the doors were, it was like they were built for a castle! The keys were for something else then. Or more precisely eight something elses!

Perhaps there were locked drawers, secret compartments or boxes; there were lots of wardrobes, cupboards, and chests of drawers in the house; this would be like a proper treasure hunt; just without a map.

But it would take a lot of time to search the entire house and I’d have to do it when mum and gran were out - it’s half the fun doing things in secret I find - and they’d be back soon. In any case the sun was now streaming through gran’s net curtains. The beech I’d been called away from last night was waiting for me. I’m an outdoor girl and I won’t let a tree defeat me. I’m the queen of the trees!

The Great Key Treasure Hunt would have to wait for another rainy day.


-----

WC: 693
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Time Comes Around

It's been a while but I've finally got around to writing something for Miranda's weekly challenge over at 'Finding Clarity'

It was a great photo for
Week 13, why not give it a go? Word Count is up to 700 (with no minimum):

Week13Photo


When the Wheels of Time went Round and Round
A.J. Walker

The giant cogs and wheels kept grinding on slow and steady circling in a audacious dance. Smaller cogs and gearing sent them off at different speeds and in different directions. The noise was constant and not unpleasant. Young Joshua was aghast at the size of the place it was beyond his comprehension. It was mesmerising; and to think his dad worked here!

‘Room after room dad. How many rooms? Perpetual motion. It’s just like perpetual motion. Don’t they ever stop, how do you keep them going?’

‘Not perpetual motion son. When the tides stop the machines will stop too.’

‘But the tides have never stopped, have they? Why would they?’ There was a little tremble in his voice.

‘There are no guarantees.’ His father smiled. ‘But in our lifetimes I can’t see them stopping. Can you?’

‘No. Never.’

And the machines ground on. In one room it was grinding flour and you couldn’t see one wall from across to the other for the yellow fog, in another ropes were lifting laden casks from a boat to the second floor as if they were as light as a feather, in the next lowering crates onto a wagon. His father walked passed an open door making to leave. Joshua peered into the room. The wheels turned here too and in this one great vats of gently bubbling liquid were being mixed by gargantuan spoons. The surface of the dark purple liquid popped and fizzed and an iridescence splashed across the little waves. Even by the door the atmosphere stung his eyes and the odours were like nothing Joshua could approach describing.

‘What’s this dad?’

‘This? This is out of bounds lad. Forget you have seen it.’

‘Forget what?’

‘Good boy.’

In the years that followed when he saw oils on a puddle or even a rainbow in a moody sky he often thought of that place. That indescribable smell and the secret held with his dad. He was sure it must have been something magical, the colours of magic in a purple blackness. It had to be. But maybe it was dangerous too. The colour of many deaths. He’d almost asked any number of people about that room, but in the end he held on to it like a private jewel.

The summer sun was scorching his parched creased face but he was too tired and old to care and the feeling was tempered by the cool water pulsing over his feet. The tides still came like he knew they would. But now the factory was on cliffs ten metres above the sea decaying like a carcass of a long extinct animal. “The tides come but the water has gone,” his father had said, more than once.

Joshua’s grandson pointed up to a tumbledown tower above them, Joshua could just make out a rusted cogwheel behind it. ‘What’s that grandad?’

‘A place of where magic was transformed into bread and beer, where we made everything from gates to windows, to spears and cooking pots.’

‘Oh, was it magic that made those grandad? What makes them now?’

Joshua harrumphed, he hadn’t seen a new thing made in their town for decades.

‘Some other magic I suppose. Some where else.’ Or do we just recycle what we had already, he wondered.

He'd never found out what was made in the room of iridescence. The secret had probably died with his father. Perhaps it was nothing important at all: Possibly it was everything. He noticed the sun hot on his feet, the water no longer lapping over them. The tide must have been turning or he’d absently walked up the beach. Or the water was retreating from this cursed place once more.


____
WC: 617


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Pull Your Finger Out!

Writing... Focus

Not much writing been done over the last week. I did manage a few hours work on
Project 2 last week on a day off and to enter a Flash into Microcosms for the first time in a few weeks. Other than that writing has been a bit thin on my ground.

Work hours have been messed around with - with a late start and consequent late finish it has messed things up in many ways at home and socially. And as per my last post there has been some great TV which has eaten into my time (okay, I know that is my choice). On top of that I have been reading... including The Infernal Clock.

I finished reading Infernal Clock yesterday and have given that a
solid 4 stars (why can't you give 4.5?). Some cracking story telling on all sorts of horror themes. Aim to get a review up on Amazon and GoodReads over the weekend if not before. Um, that will have to count as part of this week's writing - look I'm desperate to count everything.

Great to see that the offer to get the
FlashDogs 'TIME' for FREE on Amazon for the week has resulted in great sales (is it sales if it's free?). Good to see Flash getting out there in book form and not just on web pages. Get yourself on Amazon if you haven't already.

'Clock was my 16th book that I have read this year which is good. Still well ahead of my target. Have read more books than I've bought this year (just) which means I'm ticking off some of those long unread books on these shelves of mine. Huzzah!

Got to focus on my Projects.

Focus! I tell you. Oh look, washing up to do. Is that another Trump tweet? Oh my lord Sean Spicer. Can I just watch that again. Oh, I could watch that Firmino goal again - that was top. There's washing up to do too. Did I say that earlier? Focus, I tell you!

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Come On!

More Reading, Not Enough Writing... Come On!

Just finished reading
Primo Levi's 'If This Is a Man', my thirteenth book this year according to my reliable GoodReads friend. A good and thought provoking read if not exactly a cheerful one. Wouldn't be a pick for everyone. Not sure what my next read will be, but it will probably be more cheerful and thankfully less thought provoking... so many options. Still need to finish The Silmarillion so maybe I'll just drop back into that.

PL If

That said I've got writing to do! Yes, writing! I've just written a daft quick story for Microcosms and put that up on the site. It's my first Microcosms for a few weeks. But really that's a side issue I've got to drop back on to Project 1 (and/or 2) of my 2017 Writing before I fall behind on these.

Okay, decision made... next up will be some thought, if not words on my second story for Project 1. I reckon I can finish that (thought AND writing) by Monday to remain on track.

I have it printed it out. I have pen, I have paper, will travel... and, err, think...


Am Reading...
Am Writing (Promise)
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Tragedy on the Lakeside

Lakeside Flash and Sunday Evening Fever

Off today and meeting mate for his birthday pints this afternoon, then a bizarre evening of music with.. er...
Tragedy a Heavy Metal band doing Bee-Gees covers 'and beyond'. I know not what to expect with that!

Tragedy
Tragedy

So reading and writing confined largely to the morning along with boring stuff like washing and ironing. Grrr.

First up was reading a few chapters of
Silmarillion. Another Folio edition, and another that has been sat on the shelves unread for far too long. Really enjoying the amazing world building with this. Short stories really, written as folklore or a biblical text, to set the background to LOTR and the Hobbit.

Then it was writing: it's a Sunday, so I've usually got to try
Angry Hourglass. I don't know why but it took a while to get a story from the picture this week (below). But got something done in the end. So as far as I'm concerned that's a win.

Lake
Photo: Ashwin Rao

Next writing will be something for Project 1. Or maybe 2...
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The Pen of Serious Decision Making

Writing Plans

Right, I'm a month and a half into 2017 and I still haven't confirmed what my
writing plans are (see blog 10.01.17) and it's not good enough. It's time to undertake some serious thinking and make some serious plans.

I'm giving myself
two weeks now, so I'm putting on my Specialest Writing Hat and holding tightly The Pen of Serious Decision Making and I'm going to get a plan together. Oh yeah, baby!

Er, that'll be two months in to the year before "
The Plan" is in place. But it is what it is, and so on 1 March 2017 come rain, come grey nothingness I will have it.

One of the considerations in this two weeks is whether to go forward at this time with
'Fergie Time' from last year's NaNoWriMo or whether to bin it (or at least hold off on it) to concentrate on other projects. We will see... hopefully.

In other matters, following the
Reflex Competition entered on the 7 Feb, I have also entered the Writers & Artists competition (now closed). On 'reflection' I should have given the piece a better title. But typically it was a finish on submission day job. Ho hum. If I get to enter it elsewhere following its failure in this comp at least I can rename it when I revisit it! There's a couple more competitions that I think I will enter over the next month or so. Unless they get in the way of THE PLAN!

Keep Writing, folks!
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A Reflex Action

Reflex Fiction Competition

Wrote a quick flash story for the
Reflex Fiction competition. The competition is theme-less so whatever you want goes - as long as it's between 180 and 360 words; ideal Flash Dogs length!

It's
free to enter, has cash prizes and is open until the end of February. So why not give it a go?



Reflex
Reflex Fiction website
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Dreams: Metropolitan and Otherwise

Dreams: Metropolitan and Otherwise

Novels seem to be coming more often than ever from the
Flash Dogs stable (okay, kennel) and this month it's Mark A. King's turn with 'Metropolitan Dreams'. I have just downloaded it for my Kindle and am looking forward to getting into it.
It is great to see any of our Flash Dog brethren head onward and upwards into other areas away from the flash fiction genre. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like they are having their arse gently kicked to get their own keyboard in gear. One day...

Metropolitan Dreams

There's plenty of excellent stories from the Flash Dogs too of course in the three anthologies, all available from Amazon. Check out the Flash Dogs website for the books and information on the many authors involved.

FB-Flashdogs-Dark

In the meantime hats off to Mark for finishing his first novel. I'll tell you what I think about it when I've finished it. But first, well I better start it!

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Twisted Tax Tales

Twisted Tax Tales

Nice email this morning from Down Under informing me the '
Twisted Tax Tales' book will be out shortly. It said it had taken longer than anticipated to format the book and anyone who's done any formatting of books understands this feeling. It's a book of the shortlisted stories from a competition run last year by the Australian tax and accountancy firm 'Success Tax Professionals'.

Looking forward to receiving my copy when the boat from Australia comes in.

Twisted

This afternoon I managed to type up an Angry Hourglass entry I wrote yesterday; yes, wrote it with a pen on paper and then typed up. Makes a change from typing straight into my laptop. Looks like there will be more entries than last week when I was judging. Good luck to this week's judge, A.V. Laidlaw.
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Flash Judging

Judging: Angry Hourglass 123

Hey, so this time yesterday I was typing up my 'judgement' on last weekend's
Angry Hourglass (the beautifully numbered Week 123). The winner's page is linked here.

I've judged a few times now for several challenges and it always requires a combination of tough decisions, personal choice and involves a little bit of fun. This weekend the photo, as usual from Ashwin Rao, was a train travelling along a curve at dusk/dawn, as ever with AH it brought out high quality from all thirteen of the entrants and it was a tough call.

Ashwin Rao Train


As usual @Fallintofiction cleared of the names and twittery bits so that I could judge the stories blind; I never know who I've picked until after I've sent the results off. Sometimes I have a peek after the results have been emailed other times I wait until the email/tweets start flying to tell me who I've picked.

It always takes a bit more time than you think it will to begin with, but it is an enjoyable job. I'd thoroughly recommend trying a bit of judging whenever you get the opportunity. Whilst you'll get a week off from entering the competition it is nice to see it from the other side. Sometimes you may pick up a few pointers yourself as to where you could improve.

Maybe next time I'll do a proper blog on the process, but for this time may I just give my congratulations to the HMs, the runner up and the winner, namely;

  • Ewan Smith
  • Sal Page (despite not following orders)
  • Mark A. King
  • Firdaus Parves

As ever, a big thanks to
Rebecca the Hazmat for hosting such a wonderful challenge, one that always brings out the best in you writers types. Kudos!

To those who didn't place this time don't sweat it. All the pieces were great. On another day I may have picked some different 'winners' and been totally happy with justifying it too - the quality really is that good. And of course on another week a different judge may have picked a completely different list of winners too. Sometimes what floats one's boat would sink another. You're all stars for having the confidence to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

And lastly, if you haven't given Angry Hourglass a go then check it out. It's open for 36 hours over the weekend for pieces up to 360 words. It's always a high standard but that makes the winning even sweeter and the understanding deeper when you don't.


Keep Writing Folks!

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Reading and Writing Two Weeks In

Reading and Writing and Plans


Reading:

It's only the second half of January but that's like 1/24th of the year right? So I got to get my writing plans sorted soon.

Got some good reading done already this year. First off was '
Galactic Derelict' by Andre Norton. I bought it as much for the cover as it was a gloriously gaudy 1959 paperback. Was well worth the read in any case!

Next up was 'W
eird Ales II' edited by Steve Cotterill (created by Theresa Derwin). I said I'd review it as I was involved in the first volume, writing the introduction. I didn't have any involvement in the this one. A volume of short stories based around bars, pubs and drinks it is a mixed bag of great and not so, but that'll be down to actual personal preference rather than actual quality. Enjoyed the book and posted reviews on both GoodReads and Amazon.

Third up was one of my 'classics' on my aim to read this year list, '
The Tempest' by William Shakespeare. I've not had much experience of reading Shakespeare but enjoyed it and more will be read this year I'm sure. Macbeth next I think.

Last read completed this month so far was Asimov '
Nightfall Two' a selection of short stories which even included a flash fiction piece he'd written live on a TV show. He's a story writer master and every story had great merit and often fab twists. What can you say about the guy. Genius.


Jerusalem


Currently reading '
Jerusalem: a Biography' by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It's a heft hardback which has been on my shelf for a few years now - it was published in 2011 but I'm not sure whether it's been on the shelf that long. I'm about a third of the way through and boy is it packed. Clearly a 2500+ year history crammed into 520 pages means the pace is packed and when it has had such a ridiculously packed and complicated history it feels like a head spinner. Many of the stories of the peoples involved could have been lifted straight off the pages of the Game of Thrones (or the other way around). Any of these sound familiar:

Incest' pouring molten gold onto an enemy to kill them; having a feast for adversaries - then the waiters and kitchen staff clubbing and knifing them into the stew; 'Greek Fire'; matricide; patricide; flip all types of 'cides. In fact other than the lack of dragons I could be reading the GoT. Awe inspiring 'Biography' of the city. Pretty much too much to take it all in!

Only just past the Second Crusade, so let's see how the next 900 years goes.


Writing:

I've listed a few things I want to write this year on previous blog entries - bigger pieces than flash. But so far I have not firmed up what to start with. So far this year - other than a little preparation for one of my projects - I've just done some
flash fiction.

Lucky enough to get runner up in
Angry Hourglass last week, which was a nice surprise. Later last week I did an entry for Thursday Threads for the first time in many months (okay probably over a year) and on Friday I wrote a quick entry for Microcosms and again did a piece for Angry Hourglass on Saturday. So a fair bit of flash there then!

I think I'm
judging Angry Hourglass next weekend. So less flash options next week. Maybe, just maybe I'll be putting together something for one of my projects.


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Sanderson Filibuster - AH

Yay I won my fave flash fiction competition last week, the wonderful Angry Hourglass. It was for a mad Christmassy story which was almost entirely dialogue. It was fast and fun to write; 'Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)'

Check it out here.


Store
Photo prompt for Angry Hourglass Week 120
by Ashwin Rao

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Pain and the Angry Hourglass

It was my turn to judge again for the always fabulous Angry Hourglass challenge run by the lovely Rebecca - aka Lady Hazmat. "Lady Hazmat" seems quite apt for some of the stories in this week's challenge a mix of nasty and nice: chocolate coated arsenic.

The AH

The photo prompt was from Ashwin Rao as usual and was of a lady doing yoga against a city skyline (of Seattle, I think?). It's always amazing how different the stories can be from the same photo and this one was no different from usual, but how do you get so much murder and mayhem from this photo? Well, you just do. We're a weird bunch us writers aren't we?

Ashwin Rao

I've been in quite a bit of pain due to a dodgy knee this week, breakfasts of Ibuprofen and lunches of Co-codamol so I was relieved to see fewer entries to go through this week, though I don't know why it was lower than usual. Just a coincidence when I needed it. Or perhaps the photo just inspired too much death and destruction for people to handle.

Anyway, I've done me judgy thing, sent off the results and I await the posting of them later.

Thanks to all who entered for the great reads. And thanks to those who didn't for leaving me with a little less to do than usual. In other news... my knee is getting better. Huzzah!

And if you ain't seen it before get on Angry Hourglass it's every weekend and you get a whole 36 hours to get your 360 words down. It's always a high quality of writing and so is a tough one to win, but anything difficult is all the better when you succeed. So... Keep writing folks!


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