A.J. Walker


Angry Hourglass

Flash Memories and Lost Memories

I found a document in my Dropbox yesterday called 'Snow' and I really quite enjoyed the story. The thing is that I don't remember writing it or why it is in my Dropbox. I searched my Hard Drive for the story and can't find it on my computer. So did I write it? Or did someone send it to me for some reason? But if so why would it be in my Dropbox and not emailed to me? I've checked my emails both sent and received and there's no sign of it. Currently I am running out of ideas about where it has come from. I'm fairly sure it is mine, but normally it would be on my computer if that was the case. All very odd.

Whilst I've been searching my computer I've found so many flash stories of up to 500 words. I used to write so much more of these as I regularly took part in
Flash Friday Fiction and Angry Hourglass and a range of other writing opportunities that don't seem to be there anymore. I've got a single document that I've inserted over 250 stories I wrote for a range of challenges and competitions. I can barely remember some of these.

The 250 stories were written for all these:

  • Race the Date
  • Visdare
  • Mid Week Blues Buster
  • Finish That Thought
  • Thursday Thoughts
  • Microbookends
  • Trifecta
  • Last Line First
  • Angry Hourglass
  • Flash Friday Fiction

Blasts from the past a lot of them. Which others do you remember doing? Or not…

A lot of my stories have good titles that make me want to read them. It is amazing how much you (or at least, I) don't recall. I'm thinking of dipping into that document and putting up some of them up here in the
Fictions section. Would be a shame to just leave them sat there (though most were put on websites for the above challenges at the time. Not sure how many still exist). So keep an eye out for such stories as;

  • Dogs and Lust
  • Cheesecake
  • Sometimes Only a Boo Will Do
  • The Sausage Lesson
  • Old Owl and the Arrogant Giant
  • The Ape Factory
  • Shooting Unicorns Is Bad Form
  • Widdle Finishes One Enterprise and Begins Another
  • Your Future in a Soup
  • A Meeting of Pasties
  • Christmas: Plausible Deniability
  • Mister Bunnykins Goes for a Spin
  • The Infamous Uncle Enzo

I mean, I'm intrigued and I apparently wrote 'em.

Anyway it makes me want to get back into writing at least a couple of flash stories a week (up to 500 words - or even beyond) and I can start a new document to put them into so that when I look at it in five years time I can marvel once again at what I've forgotten.

In the meantime I'm at a loss at what more I can do with the 'Snow' in the Dropbox as I can't be sure it's mine to do anything with. Crazy, I think you'd agree.

Revisting Angry Hourglass

It was Open Mic No.6 at the Sanctuary for me last night. There were a couple of guitar issues during the evening (starting with a complete lack of one for a while) but I managed to perform three songs. I didn't use the mic either - so I'm not sure what the event night should have been called.

Played three songs I've done before:

  • 'You Couldn't Get Arrested' - Green on Red
  • 'Somewhere Down the Road' - Chuck Prophet
  • 'Hotel California' - Eagles

Like last time there were two new (and very experienced) guitarists who came along and did their stuff; word seems to be spreading. Enjoyed it as ever.


Matt Holland started the night of reading some of his stories and when the second guitar issue occurred I went up to read a couple of my flash stories. Not having my Kindle with me I had to find something online so I headed to Angry Hourglass to look for some of my stories. It took me a while but I found a few and chose two of my 'winning' stories (although on the drop down for winners there is no A.J. Walker for some reason).

Not sure how many times I won on the challenge (think maybe it was four or five times), but I still remember the first time I did win - I'd had it as a writing goal that particular year to win AH at least once - I was so made up when it finally happened.

The two stories I read yesterday were the apt
'Taking Names' (April 2015) and the less apt but fun 'Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)' (December 2016).

I was intending to upload some old flash on this site under the new 'Writings' section so this seems an appropriate time to put some up. They are both 360 word stories which show what you could do with respect to flash if you are contemplating getting involved with the Seedling Challenge this - or any other - week.

Time and That Angry Hourglass

The news came out earlier this week that Angry Hourglass is no more - even if it is one day ripe for resuscitation - and it is a sad week because of it. POTUS tweeted that it was 'the biggest worsest and most scariest news and probably FAKE NEWS' and then confusing in subsequent tweets threatened 'to nuke the servers holding the AH website' And then blamed China. Like that would help.


Whilst I disagree with Trump on the nuke option (and blaming China) I do agree that it is bad news. My two favourite flash fiction challenges over the last few years have been Flash Fiction Friday (who couldn't love all those dragons) and Angry Hourglass. Both quite different but both had a great community of regular writerers producing some fab stories. Indeed it was the community that met through these two challenges that went on to form the bulk of the Flash Dog Kennels. Back in the day Friday's were for Flash Friday and Saturday or Sunday were for AH and now... well there's Microcosms on Friday if it fits with work and stuff. And of course that is the thing; it's even in the byline of AH 'Time is Short. So is our fiction.'

We struggle as individuals to put in an entry ever week or two and if we don't make it we may be disappointed with ourselves but so be it: our time is limited. Then there's the guys and gals that organise these challenges like LadyHazmat (aka Rebecca Allred). They have to spend time putting the things together each and every week: Putting together that challenge photos/phrases and ideas; Writing the blurb; Organising the judges; Uploading the results; Getting a new judge for next week; coming up with a new challenge; etc... And they have their life - and maybe even writing to do too.

Over previous years I set myself writing goals to 'win' Flash Fiction Friday and then Angry Hourglass. I think the first time I won AH was one of the sweetest moments because the quality was always so high and I had begun to think it was an impossible task. I can't remember who the judge was that week (I think once it may have been Sal?) but whoever it was thanks muchly.

I can only take my metaphoric hat off to each and every person who've been involved in producing and maintaining all these challenges over the months and years and I have nothing but happy thoughts and best wishes for all of you.

Many many thanks to all the Rebeccas (and any none Rebeccas). Angry Hourglass will be fondly remembered by many of us.


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.


Writing and Writing

Performance Monitoring - It's Not Good News

I'm behind, I am. Tick tock. The plan is there to motivate, surely. Tick tock. Or else it is
there to measure failure. Arghhhhhh!

I should be three or four stories into
Project 1 - and Project 2 should be properly started. Shouldn't it?

Well. Well...

Okay, I'm behind. But it's catch-up-able.
Blasted out a quick 500 words on Story 2 of Project 1 this morning. Will print out the thing and see how much work it needs (and if it's any good yet). Then hopefully complete by say... Monday? Then I can get onto Story 3. Again.

Still, 500 words is better than none. Right?
Hell yeah!

And I may get a few more done later on Story 2 and Story 3 as it stands (or at least some notes on where to go with it).

Dang! I just thought of a decent idea for a book - or at least the structure of one - maybe add that to the list for Project 4. My god, stop it already and finish one of the others first. And lord, look I'm talking to myself. Indeed shouting to myself (in a quiet inwardly no-one else would notice kind of way). Arghhhhhhh!

Of course there's the
Angry Hourglass challenge going live later. The decision will be whether to write 300 words or so on that today or tomorrow or use that time on one of these stories or Projects. Decisions. Maybe I'll just see what the prompt is before calling that one.

IMG_4884 2

Hope to do a little on
Project 2 later whilst on the move. That'll be a worthwhile investment of time.

My only other writing this week (other than a couple of blog updates) has been a
job application; now that is definitely a worthwhile investment of my time!

Come on AJ. Get with the Plan. Keep writing. And writing. And tick some of these little buggers off the list...


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!


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.

Photo: Ashwin Rao

Next writing will be something for Project 1. Or maybe 2...

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.


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.

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!


Reading and Writing Two Weeks In

Reading and Writing and Plans


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.


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.


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.


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.

Photo prompt for Angry Hourglass Week 120
by Ashwin Rao


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!


Day Twenty Seven: Angry Hours

Day Twenty Seven back into work, this time Llandudno Junction. Considering Black Friday has just gone it wasn't half bad and even with an hour delay at start of day I was back for a decent time allowing me to finish Chapter 9.

I ended up writing 2135 words today and almost 2000 of them were in Chapter 9 and the other 160 were for Chapter 10. Chapter 9 ended with another pub crawl. The final chapter will more primarily involve doctors and policemen.

Pleased as punch to get to within 1670 of the target now and if I continue an even half decent start to the last chapter tomorrow then I'll get to the 50,000 words then. So I'll finish the #NaNoWriMo challenge with a couple of days to spare. Huzzah!

And for a laugh I even went and wrote another 360 words with a silly entry for Angry Hourglass (Round #117). Me, a silly entry? I know. Hard to believe, but true.


WC: 2135
Total WC: 48,327