Guest Writer Spot

My weekly Friday blog post offers writers the opportunity for their work to get out there and be read by others. I’m happy to accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. If you would like some of your writing to be featured on my blog, please contact me here or by e-mail:

This week’s guest writer is talented poet Gordon Simmonds. Here’s a little bit about him, in his own words:

“My name is Gordon Simmonds born and raised in Essex, England. I left school aged 15 and joined the British Army where I discovered early on that I was a good scholar but a bad soldier. I left the Army nine years later and became what I now call an industrial mercenary – in fact I’ve never had a proper job since, and have worked in, and travelled the Middle East as well as my adopted Lincolnshire.

“I would describe myself as a shy extrovert. If you see me on the street I’m likely to be wearing a cowboy hat and boots, or a Scottish kilt and playing the bagpipes. I love to race – either bikes or karts and I once had some talent as a fencer where my hard, aggressive style achieved some notable victories.

“As a writer and poet my work is severely limited by work and inclination. My first poem was broadcast on the BBC while I was still at school. My next poem wasn’t published until 34 years later.”

Everybody Dies

You ask me why?

Why my words are dark and dwell on the horror of man’s inhumanity.

Here, my friend is why.

Once I could see as poets do,

A host of golden daffodils, a sun drenched valley.

Flowers of spring, pure and beautiful on a wooded hillside

In a lake of green grass or yellow corn.

I could see trickling streams, fish rising to the fly,

And dazzling kingfishers darting ‘mongst the reeds.

I knew of birdsong, warm sun and times of quiet reflection.

I knew of a world that God planned and the poets could espouse.

Yes I knew it all; like a child looks through a telescope and sees so much,

So far away; and yet so little that is close.

But now I know of dark satanic mills beyond that pretty hill.

I see ragged, barefoot children condemned to work from dawn to dusk.

Work and sleep, work and sleep, work and survive.

Young boys, reckless, dodge among machines that clack and hiss.

Young girls feed the maws of industry as looms rush forward and back.

Forward and back in the relentless pursuit of someone else’s wealth.

The beauty of the sun so eloquently quoted in verse and prose

Is dampened through small windows stained with dirt and dust,

And my eyes see flecks of cotton in muted beams of light.

My ears hear the constant clack and clamour of the looms.

I breathe and my mouth tastes of cotton, my nose can smell cotton,

And oil, and that all-pervasive smoke that belches from coal fired chimneys.

Then home, a humble meal and always wanting more.

Until injury or sickness or age intrude upon the working man.

Then abandoned, lost, destitute, they die.



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My Weekly Writing Challenge

Sacha Black has kindly given her permission for me to pinch a couple of words from her blog ‘The Zen of Finding Lost Words’. So here is your new list for this week’s ten-word story challenge. Your story can be under ten words, but no more than ten and it must feature five words from the following list:

  • Tarantism
  • Orphic
  • Pettifoggery
  • Argle-bargle
  • Beckham
  • Qualified
  • Skirt
  • Turquoise
  • Bangle
  • Disney

Last week, your list was as follows:

  • Grizzle
  • Constellate
  • Swoosh
  • Tweet
  • Chortle
  • Chair
  • Doryphore
  • Cameron
  • Eucatastrophe
  • Furuncle

Here are the results:

Teachezwell was swift off the mark with two hilarious stories:

Cameron, always the doryphore, chortled as his furuncles constellated again.

Swoosh! Cameron’s tweet about his grizzled furuncles caused chortles online.

Sacha Black is always entertaining and witty:

Cameron grizzled, his eucatastrophe was unlikely with constellate, dorophoric furuncles!

Mellissa Barker-Simpson found herself laughing as she wrote her entry. I’d love to know what the tweet was!:

The tweet made Cameron chortle, and swoosh outta his chair!

Helen Jones is relishing these challenges and I love her entries: 

Doryphores constellate and tweet their furuncles. I chortle. Swoosh. Gone.

Les Moriarty shows us how it’s done with his brilliant story:

New tweet:chortle abounded as pus constellated around Cameron’s furuncle.

Helen Gaen always treats us to more than one fantastic story:

Counsel’s tweet about the furuncle constellate made the Chair chortle.

Cameron’s doryphore was a persistent furuncle of tweets and grizzle.

Swoosh, grizzle, chortle, tweet… at last, Cameron emerged  – grinning!

Swoosh! Grizzle. Swoosh! Chortle. Cameron’s doryphore received a spanking tweet.

The eucatastrophe of the doryphore’s furuncle constellate? A new Chair!

David Harrison joins us for the first time with two great stories:

Everybody constellate! Swoosh! Grizzle that doryphore’s furuncle,” cried the chair.

Cameron enjoyed the eucatastrophe of Jeremy’s itchy furuncle. Tweet, chortle.



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Markets For Writers

This week’s market is The Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competition. It’s a fantatsic opportunity to have your work looked at by  editors from independent genre publishers Crooked Cat.

They’re looking for the opening chapter of your novel, up to 3000 words and a one-page synopsis.

First prize is £500 and there’s a £200 prize for the runner-up.

Entries are invited up until 31st October 2015 and an entry fee of £10 is payable by Paypal or credit/debit card.

For rules and how to send your entry, visit the website.



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Funny Of The Week/How Times Have Changed Part Eight

This week’s look at an ad of old focuses on the enigma that is the “Housewife Headache”. I’m sure today’s housewife would have something to say about this!


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Monday Motivations

For those of you struggling to kick-start your writing week, here are a couple of prompts:

Short Story opening two lines:

He couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely not right there in the supermarket?

Poetry opening two lines:

She watches the morning unfold,

A beautiful woman with a head of gold.


Last week, I gave you the opening lines for the following:


Matty knew he shouldn’t have taken it.


She was always there for me

The poem was a popular choice. Please visit Jane Basil’s blog and read her brilliant poem:

Adhin Shamina wrote a powerful poem:

She was always there for me,
travelling in my empty pockets,
hiding behind my torn clothes,
pricking my feet
through holes in my slippers,
in my dirty hands,
in my eyes swollen with
sleepless nights of hunger,
in my aching stomach
without a morsels for days,
in eyes full of repulsion
as if I sinned when they saw me,
in words full of humiliation,
in back turning on me
when head bowed
I raised my hand
for not the moon and stars
but a little pity
of which even the richest were poor.
But now she will be sad.
Now I am no longer there for her.
Whom will she hold hostage?
Good bye POVERTY!
I got my liberty.
Go choose another slave.

Geoff Le Pard sent in an emotional one:

She was always there for me
when I took my first step
seen by no one

She was always there for me
when I walked to school
on my own

She was always there for me
when I opened my heart
and could tell no one

She was always there for me
when I said, ‘I do’
on my own

She was always there for me
when I held my new born
with no one to advise

And she will always be here for me
as draw my last breath
no longer alone

Bharul Chhatbar brings a smile to the face:


Wanted to snooze the morning alarm
But, she’s always there for me!
Lazily lay turning in bed
But, she’s always there for me!
Somehow managing to make coffee post workout
But, she’s always there for me!
Wanted lunch in the office canteen
But, she’s always there for me!
Returned thinking to feel cozy on sofa
But, she’s always there for me!
Took Tuffy at garden, staring beautiful
But, she’s always there for me!
Hearted a plate full of deserts
But, she’s always there for me!
Lay in bed,waiting for her to sleep
Soon can catch up my internet
But a hand hit like a hammer
Oh irresistible! SHE’S ALWAYS THERE FOR ME!



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Guest Writer Slot

My Friday blog post offers writers the opportunity for their  work to be seen and read by others. I’m happy to accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. If you would like some of your writing to be featured on my blog, please contact me here or by e-mail:

This week’s guest writer has appeared a few times in this slot. It’s a pleasure to welcome Donny Marchand back, with a something a little different:

                                                                                                                                                                   Squeaky and the Dullards

(A tale by Notail)

 “Tell us another story, uncle Notail, another story please,” squealed the pesky little kittens. To them he was the cat’s whiskers. A swashbuckling moggie full of life’s exiting adventures, and a magnificent raconteur of the escapades he had encountered in his travels across precarious thoroughfares to distant alleys.Not being able to resist their admiration, he quickly acquiesced, “Okay, but just one more, and then off to bed you go, promise.”

“We promise, we promise, uncle Notail,” the kittens all sang back in unison.

“Well as you all know, your uncle Notail spent some time hanging out in the music scene, and it was during that period that I happened to come across one of them bizarre stories that is particular to that there vocation.”

“What happened, what happened?” cried out little Inky in excitement.

“Keep your fur on and I’ll tell you okay. Can’t speak when you’re making all that noise, ” Notail retorted.

Sheepishly, they all squirmed closer together, buttoned their lips and Notail proceeded.

“Now it ain’t no secret that us feline critters are considered to be most peculiar, but a cat managing a pop group that was comprised of one mouse and three hamsters was far from normal, even to our curious way of thinking. Nevertheless, Felikz Pang, the group’s assertive overseer, found it all very stimulating, as well as rewarding. Besides, why should he worry he thought, show biz doesn’t do normal. And now that his crooners, Squeaky and the Dullards had made it to the semi-finals of the famous talent show “Have you got what it takes”, he could sniff the big time just around the corner.”

Did they win?” cried out Molasses.

“Shush up, and let me get on with it will you,” Notail snapped back.

Once again they all got quiet as a mouse, and Notail continued,

“Well you see, the ultimatum of signing a contract to Ryan Growl the show’s producer as a condition to even audition for the show, Feliks considered underhanded business practice. But at the time he felt he had no choice.”

“That Growl is a meany!” cried Snooky, then seeing the stern look he was getting from his uncle, quickly put his paw over his mouth.

“Now the problem was, that this here contract tied the winners of the show up to a recording and music publishing deal that was in Felikz’s opinion, not at all favourable to the artists. That both the record and publishing companies were owned by Growl didn’t appeal to Felikz either. But that fact really wasn’t a big surprise to Felikz, given Growl’s need for complete control. Still, the option to challenge it legally on grounds of duress, he decided was a matter for the future.”

“Down with Growl! Down with Growl!” The little squirts squeaked out in their enthusiasm.

“Please, kittens, let me continue with the story, will you,” commanded Notail, before moving on. “A favourite adage of Felikz was, when reaching for the stars you pull out all the stops, and he always went to great lengths to convince people that he meant that sincerely. Nothing’s too good for my boys, he bragged when employing the services of Razzel Roedant the renowned choreographer of the hit musical Rats. Spare the cost and spoil the show, was the paraphrase he bandied about when hiring Minnie Little the famous vocal coach, and costume designer. Even the name of his own business “The Sky is the Limit Management” was in keeping with his pushy, blustery style of bravado. So, no one was in a state of shock to see, that when these two opinionated super-ego personalities collided, sparks would fly.”

“I hope Felikz punches Growls lights out,” remarked Inky.

“All will become evident in time, Miss nosey. So just be patient,” Notail replied.

“Sorry,” responded Inky, “but that Growl makes my fur stand on end.”

“Just the sound of his name makes my whiskers curl up in knots,” added Snooky.

“To proceed to the battles I’ll move along now,” snapped Notail.

His stern remark resulted in complete silence from the kittens, and after a short pause Notail continued,

“Well the first conflict between the two was over the size of the dressing room that was designated to Squeaky and the Dullards. Felikz went into a rage saying, ‘“It’s an insult to expect my artists to squeeze into such a tiny space, and why do the other acts have more expansive ones, when ours is nothing more than a hole in the wall.”’

“Growl quickly snapped back, ‘“Your group are only diminutive creatures so the room is perfectly adequate for their needs.”’

“Their second battle was over the order of appearance they were expected to perform.

“A fuming Felikz protested, ‘“Making us the opening act, gives the impression that we’re nothing more than a support group.”’

“While Growl parried with, ‘“The order of appearance is set by picking names out of a hat, and your position is just the luck of the draw.”’

“Felikz retorted, ‘“Isn’t it peculiar then, that we’ve always been on first at every stage of the contest.”’

“Then a grinning Growl snidely answered, ‘“Your guys must be a very unlucky bunch indeed.”’

“Felikz responded by pointing out that Growl’s consistent moaning about the extra cost of the big screen projector needed so the audience could see the group, was a distraction his act could do without. Every day the two would fight over one thing or another, mostly about trivial matters. But the latest bone of contention was an issue Felikz felt he had to dig his heels in about. It was regarding the song Growl had chosen for Squeaky and the boys to perform in the semi-final.

“According to the rules,” continued Notail, “Growl as one of the show’s judges had the right to do this, but Felikz objected vehemently. First there was the song itself. “Three Blind Mice” was a ludicrous choice in Felikz’s opinion. Not only was this type casting he thought, but also it projected the group’s image as a novelty nursery rhyme act. Secondly, it didn’t escape Felikz’s attention that Growl was the publisher of the song, and therefore using the group for self-promotion. Felikz insisted that they be allowed to sing their own song, “I’m Caught in the Trap of Love” or otherwise they would quit right there and then. Growl realising the show could be a flop if they walked out acquiesced. This was the only argument that Felikz ever won.

“Before the semi-finals, Razzel Roedant spent hours tuning up the group’s routine. His staging included a large wheel, which the Dullards trod upon throughout the performance. Squeaky was placed just in front of it moving back and forth in a combination of Jagger and Jackson movements. Unfortunately during the show, Squeaky managed to get his tail run over by the wheel which resulted in him belting out a loud squeak. The audience thought it was part of his act, and responded with their own deluge of squeaks. And from then on they replaced clapping with, ‘“Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.”’

After taking a breather Notail then carried on, “And as for Minnie Little, she worked long and hard on their vocals, paying much attention to the harmonies. During the nights she filled her time creating and sewing together their outfits. For the Dullards she had made fifties style fuchsia drape jackets, and puffed up the hair on their heads to resemble a pompadour. Squeaky’s attire was a double-breasted turquoise blazer adorned with sequins that radiated various colours when the spotlights shone upon them. On his noggin she placed a shiny black top hat.”

“Real cool man, real cool!” exclaimed Molasses.

“Are you finished?” Notail asked harshly.

“Yes,” replied Molasses, seemingly unaware that he was being admonished.

“Good! Well, when the day of the semi-finals arrived, Squeaky and the Dullards took the honours, with a winning percentage higher than any other act had ever achieved in the show’s history. So now the stage was set for their grand finale.”

“Hurrah for Squeaky, hurrah for The Dullards!” the kittens yelled.

“I’m sure they appreciate your support,” Notail remarked, then proceeded, “Now besides Squeaky and the Dullards, there were two other acts competing in the finals. The first of these were The Wonder Bros. Triplets who performed their sword-swallowing act while tap dancing. Originally a quartet, they had to adjust their routine down to three, due to an unforeseen accident to one of the members. The other finalists were The Black Widows, a female heavy metal group who had met in their church choir, and formed as a rebellion against their parents.”

“But a strange thing happened the day before the final. Felikz gathered Squeaky and the boys together for a secret meeting. When he told them that he wanted them to mess up their performance so they would lose, they were shocked beyond belief. But after he explained to them, that if they won they would be tied to Ryan Growl and his companies for a long, long time, they came to understand his motives. And to quell any further apprehensions they might have, he told them that they were already famous, and there would be offers flying in from all over the world, even if they lost. However, if they won they would not be free to choose the best deal for themselves. So they all agreed to do as he had instructed and perform below par.”

“Well as fate would have it and in spite of their skulduggery, Squeaky and the Dullards won the final hands down. The accolades were pouring in fast and furious, and it was apparent that the people loved them even at their worst. Everyone in their camp was ecstatically overjoyed at their incredible achievement. Everyone that is except Felikz, who sat by himself in a corner, looking like the world was about to end. When a reporter sauntered over to him and asked him what was wrong, he put it down to just being overcome by the result. I’m telling you, that no truer words have ever been spoken. Early the next morning, faster than you can nick a fishbone, Felikz sped down to his lawyers, and instructed them to sue Growl and his companies for unfair business practices’. While on the sidelines, the Showbiz big shots sat nervously awaiting the outcome.”

“That’s it for today, boys and girls,” said Notail in closing, “are you all happy now?”

A resounding, “Squeak, squeak, squeak,” came back from the kittens.




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My Weekly Writing Challenge

My ten-word challenges seem to be going down a treat so here’s another one for you. This week, I’d like you to write a ten-word story using five of the words from the following list:

  • Grizzle
  • Constellate
  • Swoosh
  • Tweet
  • Chortle
  • Chair
  • Doryphore
  • Cameron
  • Eucatastrophe
  • Furuncle

Here are last week’s words:

  • Epiphany
  • Susurrous
  • Tintinnabulation
  • Scintillating
  • Umbrella
  • Unravel
  • Ratatouille
  • Corbyn

And now the results:

Adhin Shamina came up with one very quickly:

Susurrous tintinnabulation during epiphany serve as umbrella for any breakthrough!

And another:

Devotees unravel susurrous mind in the tintinnabulation of the epihpahy.

Richard Schulte did go over ten words, but as his story is so good, I’ll let him off:

Poe had a sudden epiphany. He unraveled the essence of bells. Tintinnabulation. The chimes ceased; the rain began. He opened his umbrella and moved on.

Helen Gaen, once again, found that once she started she couldn’t stop. Enjoy all her brilliant efforts:

The tintinnabulation was scintillating, contrasting the susurrous brook. An epiphany!

Tom’s umbrella stopped the tintinnabulation; alas not the scintillating Corbyn!

Ratatouille dripped from Corbyn’s plate: an umbrella caught the unravel!

The tintinnabulation was scintillating; the ratatouille an epiphany. Corbyn? Hmm…

Corbyn’s umbrella caught in Harriet’s jumper: the unravel was scintillating!

Bharul Chhatbar sent in two:

The epiphany: scintillating corbyn unravelled tintinnabulation to be of umbrella!

Amongst the tintinnabulation, Corbyn’s  epiphany was the magic of ratatouille.

Welcome to Les Moriarty who joined in for the first time with two very witty stories:

Susurrus and tintinnabulation in the lobbies. Corbin’s epiphany has begun.

His scintillating umbrella covered Corbyn’s epiphany. Rain again in England.




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