Finland – mad music and powercuts for breakfast

A bit more Finland. It really is bonkers Source: Finland – mad music and powercuts for breakfast

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1

Come on everyone, do have a go. After all free entry and a cash prize. What’s not to like!

Look out for Thursday, too when I will host the second contest!!

Source: Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1

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Life In All Its Forms #covers

In 2016 I launched a book of 30 short stories based around a challenge I undertook to write 30 stories in November 2015. I called it Life, In A Grain Of Sand after one of the stories but also reflecting the fact the stories each came from a simple prompt and covered the whole range of genres, cases, tenses, POVs. Life, a grain at a tine; life in all its glorious muddle, really.

I have now decided to launch my second collection, this time utilising many of the Flash Fiction pieces I have written over the last 3 years, but with a few longer stories too. Since these are predominantly flash fiction or similar and wanting to have some consistency with my previous collection, this will be called Life In A Flash. The ‘flash’ might be the speed of creating, how quick they are to read, or the inspiration behind each one. You decide. This will be available next month.

So the reason for the post? The cover. Or rather, the covers.

As avid readers of this blog (really? Haven’t you something better to do?!) will know, I have recently been changing the covers of my books to ensure a consistency between them. This is the opportunity to do the same with my short stories. In addition to referencing my other works, however, I want there to be a link between each collection, specific to the collections. Soooo… my designer and I muttered and mumbled and thought, that, given there is no one story or indeed theme to the collections, we should look at the titles and use these as our inspiration.

For Life In A Flash we liked this

And for Life, In A Grain Of Sand, this

Or maybe this.

What do you, oh kind readers, think?

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A little bit of Finland – walking in among the fungi

Source: Finland – walking in among the fungi

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The Bloggers Bash 2018

I am prone, or so I’m told, to ramble, to obfuscate and dissemble and…

But not today. Today is too important for that. Today is when I tell you all about our venue for the Bloggers Bash 2018.

You all know it is happening.

You all know the date. May 19th 2018 in case that one slipped by you.

And now you know the Venue. Well you will when I tell you.

Once again we have decided to bring all you cuddly little Bashites to London, not because we are especially London-centric, even if I am, but because it is probably easiest for everyone to get here.

Last year we based ourselves very centrally, in Victoria and that was splendid in terms of location. But the Venue itself… not so much. It was expensive (we made a loss and the cost of the food and drink was, well, pretty eye-watering) and the room lacked a degree of flexibility.  We had a chat, as you do – Sacha called it a debrief but then she’s into doublespeak – and decided that what the Bash needed was a pub, better still a function room in a pub that was accessible to people arriving in the centre which gave us enough space and was in a price bracket that meant it gave decent value for money.

We believe we have secured just the business, the cat’s whiskers, the bees knees, the dog’s, erm, cough, what-have-yous in

The George VI Chiswick

As you can see this is a traditional pub set on lovely trendy Chiswick High Road, and is run by Fullers, the pub company with years of experience.

We have secured the Boston Room that has capacity for up to 160, with its own bar and stage for awards, presentations and the wonderful range of events that we will be hosting.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chiswick it lies to the west of the Centre and is 10 stops on the District Line from Victoria (takes about 25 minutes and occassionally you may have to change at Earls Court) and 9 stops on the Piccadilly Line from Green Park, with a change at Hammersmith to (or from, depending whether you are coming or going – this is because the Piccadilly trains only stop during rush hours on week days) the District Line. The nearest station is Turnham Green which sounds like one of my early seafood curry attempts.  If you are coming from Heathrow there is a link on the self same Piccadilly line (with said change at Hammersmith). It is a leafy suburb and a very pleasant place to while away a few hours in the company of other bloggers.

Nearer the time we will provide more information about food etc and a reminder of how to get there but for now here are a few video clips I took to get you in the mood….

Here’s me at Victoria as I go on a George IV hunt.

And here I am at Turnham Green station.

Here’s the pub…

And here’s the Boston Room.

Don’t mind the commentary; it was for the Bash Committee but it gives you some idea how I ramble. As I said at the the top, I do go on rather…

Posted in Annual Bloggers' Bash, miscellany | Tagged , , | 64 Comments

Help #flashprompt #hurricanerelief #flash4storms

Sarah Brentyn has created a super-short flash prompt and asked us to join in; by so doing she will commit to give money to the hurricane relief funds. 50 words using the prompt ‘Help’. Go on, pop over and have a go.

To Boris, his sister was useless, a financial drain, and magnet for dullard boyfriends. Until the fan-belt snapped on the old Merc on the way to his wedding. Gawping, he watched as she hitched her one-piece, unclipped a stocking and tied it in place. ‘Even useless boyfriends have their uses.’

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Deer, deer #writephoto #prompt

It’s been a while since I did one of Sue’s #writephoto prompts but here we go again….

The Misocrimbalist*

In a world of superheroes Vernon Ongar wasn’t your typical vigilante. He wore corduroy to begin with and parted his hair to the left which would usually disqualify anyone from a role as any sort of caped crusader. His parents, Dryden and Villy Ongar knew from his birth that he would disappoint – he entered the world arse first, curled into a tight ball with his hands protecting his head rather than in the approved manner: streamlined body, right arm straight ahead topped with a neatly clenched fist.

‘He’ll be in admin too.’ Dryden, who worked in the civil service and had hoped his son might join the ranks of the applauded, couldn’t hide his disappointment.

Villy nodded, imagining what her father would say. He wouldn’t cut the little boy any slack.

At super-school, all children were given the chance to shine and, while Vernon did his best, his tendency to ‘do a foetus’ whenever threatened led to his being labelled ‘sub-super’ from an early stage.

But Vernon wasn’t lacking in ambition. He understood there was a lack of suitable candidates for all the posts and that super-couples were often too busy confronting villains or unblocking sewers to create the next generation of the super-strong. All he had to do was find a suitable need, a gap in the already saturated market of super-slayers and super-sayers and he would surprise his family and, maybe, gain a sliver of respect from his Grandpa.

Grandpa Thump Mightie was a super-human of dynastic proportions: odes were written about his thighs, artists competed to capture the exact hue that his in-flight buttocks exuded and musicians struggled to replicate the harmonics when he crashed through the sound barrier, fist pumping and beard flaying. He was a busy soul, though years of smashing through locked doors and solid walls had left him with a distinct list to the left and an arthritic elbow. All he wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet but all he got was sycophants and fawning and none more so than when he returned to his family. The one member of the Mightie clan who didn’t follow the herd was his daughter’s weedy boy, Vernon, whom Thump secretly admired for having the balls to ignore his baiting.

It was the worst time of year for Thump: Christmas, when he had five straight days with his family gathered around, when he had to pretend to be cheerful and full of good spirit. As he stood, ho-ho-hoing and regaling the sea of besotted upturned faces with tales of derring-do, Vernon sat by the fire, in a world of his own, paying the grandmaster no attention.

‘Hey, boy. Vivian. Why the long face?’

‘It’s Vernon and I hate Christmas.’

‘Really? All the presents and treats?’

‘I only ever get given stationary and post-its while the rest get swords and capes and superfast shoes.’

Thump eased his way across the room and bent to the young man’s ear. ‘Well, if you hate it so much – and you’re not the only one – do something about it.’

Vernon met his grandfather’s steady gaze and something undefinable passed between them. Could he? Should he? It was as if his grandfather understood what he was thinking. He nodded once and lolloped back to the waiting group, describing an arc as he fought his increasing tilt.

Given Christmas comes but once a year, Vernon had a lot of time to prepare his strategy. He knew he wouldn’t be universally popular and, indeed, some might consider him a super-villain. He also knew that his inclination to curl into a ball might inhibit his attempts to bring Christmas back under control. Attacking Santa directly, therefore could prove to be a step too far, at least until he obtained a sense of how much support he had. He would focus, not so much on the product as on the mode of delivery and, specifically the bloody reindeer. On the plus side they weren’t human so couldn’t undermine him with withering sarcasm. Against that, they had horns.

He would have to take careful and considered steps. Indeed, he realised, utilizing his skills as an administrator could be a help rather than an embarrassment. It proved surprisingly easy: no one paid attention when he called upon a little-known statute to demand an inspection of the reindeer stables; barely anyone noticed when it turned out that the (doctored) report showed the presence of significant traces of deer-foot; and it was too late for the outcry when the edict was issued to cull Santa’s whole flight three days before the Great Dispatch, giving the old boy no time to train up a replacement service.

The headlines were tendentious and full of vitriol. Who could be such a Grinch? Who was this Scrooge? Answers were demanded.

Thump Mightie has his suspicions. He began to spread stories about a hero who was trying to return Christmas to its true roots, to eradicate the consumerism and commercialism that had eradicated the joyous but simple original message. Some commentators began to echo Thump’s sentiments and the calls to find the perpetrator began to include an element of adoration.

It was Christmas morning. Everyone gathered around the tree. Presents were to be exchanged. Vernon held back and at the very end approached his grandfather with a neatly wrapped box. Once again, the Old Hero and Young Pretender exchanged a look as the paper was carefully removed.

‘What the heck?’ ‘Is that sick, or what?’

The chorus from the cousins and nephews and nieces was aimed at Vernon; the old man, however held the shield aloft, the three be-horned skulls proudly affixed to the front. In his best calming voice, he spoke over the others. ‘Are these Santa’s deer?’

Vernon nodded.

‘You are the Misocrimbalist?’

Vernon nodded again.

The family goggled. ‘He can’t be. He’s useless.’ ‘That is hateful.’ ‘He doesn’t have it in him.’

No one would believe Vernon could rise to such a place. His grandfather tilted his head, as much because he had to as to ask the obvious question. ‘How do we know these are those deer?’

Slowly and with due ceremony Vernon pulled his hand from his pocket held in the superhero’s signature, the clenched fist. He raised his arm and opened his hand. Nestling in the centre was a small nose, glowing red. Yes, Vernon had truly arrived.

*I made it up…

Posted in #writephoto, prompt | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments