I Challenge You To…

This week’s challenge is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:


Last week’s challenge was to write about lies. You sent in some strong pieces. Here are a few:

As always, Keith Channing gets in first with something witty:

The greatest of sins is mendacity,
Far better to stick to veracity.
But don’t feign surprise
If you catch me in lies;
I mean well, but lack the capacity.

I’m thrilled to see EDC Writing joining in this week:

To be sucked in
you cross a line
left best a fool
at worst ignored
let conscience air
not skewed desire
step back save face
no mirror lies.

Kevin is up next with a powerful poem:

A secret fire.
Their desire
In lust.

They can not shout
Their passion, for Pretty Eyes
Is another guy’s
Special one.

Truth has gone
And soon people will be talking
About Pretty Eyes
And her lies.

Please visit the super Steve Walsky‘s blog for a ‘lie’ poem:


And here’s another blog (byindiablue) that’s worth viewing for a moving poem on the subject of lies:



life and love

Photo credit: relatably.com


Posted in Challenges, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Markets For Writers

This week’s market is The Moth Magazine Short Story Competition. Here are some important details for you:


1st: €3000

2nd: writing retreat

3rd: €1000

Entry fee: €12

Word limit: 5000

Closing date: 30th June 2018

Visit the competition page for further details.



Photo credit: quotesgram.com

Posted in markets for writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Funny Of The Week/Hilarious Exam Answers Part Five

Here is the fifth instalment in my funny of the week series. Here are the other instalments – one, two, three and four. Now for part five:


Photo credit: heartofwisdom.com

Posted in humor, humour, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The A-Z Of Writing Ideas – P Is For…

Here is the sixteenth instalment in my weekly writing series. Each week, I give you an idea – whether it’s a magazine to write for, a theme for a short story and/or poem, an idea for an article…Here are the first , second , third , fourth , fifth , sixth , seventh, eighth, ninth,  tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth instalments in the series.

This week, it’s the letter P’s turn. And P is for playtime. What do you like to do in your spare time? Make your own cards? Play football? Go to the movies? Why not write about it? There are magazines on every type of hobby and activity you can think about. Click on the following link and a huge list of hobby and leisure magazines comes up:






Posted in inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Guest Writer Spot

This week, my Guest Writer is Jim Webster who is currently on a blog tour. As he says, “The theme for this one is ‘Pictures from an Exhibition’ where a friend of Tallis, who is an artist, has painted eleven pictures and to help out, Tallis is taking people round them and telling the story behind the picture“.

9) Catacombs-1


9) The Catacombs

I have mentioned Harl Bronnen before, he is a man with many business interests and he is an occasional patron of mine. Admittedly I will be given more work by his wife, but in all candour, Harl’s tasks tend to be more interesting.

I was summoned to attend upon him at his chambers, and when I arrived I was greeted with coffee and idle chitchat until the pleasant young clerk who poured the coffee had left us. It was then that Harl came to the point.

“Tallis, you have been in the cellars under the Council of Sinecurists building.”

“I have. I had research work to do and was granted access to the old records held down there.”

Harl glanced round the room; even through it was empty bar for the two of us. “I have reason to believe that there is a deeper cellar, a secret repository.”

“You do?” I tried to sound interested rather than nervous.

“Yes, I know of documents that appear only occasionally but can never be found in the cellars. But I’ve heard a whisper that there are deeper cellars.”

“There are?” I know, it’s a facile thing to say but I was still wondering how I as a poet came into this discussion.

“Do you know of the catacombs?”

“Port Naain is built on mud! How can we have catacombs?”

Harl proceeded to tell me a long story. There was a religious order in Port Naain, the Confirmed Ablutionists, who shunned water. Apparently the order still exists but has only small presence in the city in our time. In Port Naain there are plenty, not all of them small boys, who seem to avoid water at all costs. But in the case of the Confirmed Ablutionists, they take it to extremes. One problem they had was that on death, due to the shortage of land and the high water table, the vast majority of us make a last trip on the corpse boat and get dropped into the sea a fair way out wearing a well weighted shroud. As you can imagine this was anathema to the order. They purchased a plot on the hill below the Council of Sinecurists building and proceeded to tunnel into the hill to produce their own catacombs.  

As the order faded the last Grand Master sold the catacombs to a local entrepreneur for cash and a fast horse and disappeared. The entrepreneur intended to offer the catacombs to Port Naain people, so they could be buried on dry land, for a reasonable sum. Unfortunately for him his reasonable sum was considerably more than the one vintenar it costs to ride the corpse boat and his project failed. Finally the Council purchased the catacombs off him and he also faded from the story.

Now Harl wanted me and a colleague of my choice to enter these catacombs and work our way through them to see if we could find a hidden repository of records.

“Why me, Harl?”

“Simple, you’re competent and I can trust you.”

So it was agreed, I would find a colleague and Harl would show us the entrance to the catacombs.

When it came to choosing a colleague how could I go past Lancet Foredeck? Yes I know he’s self-opinionated, egotistical and vain. I also know he’s a performance poet, with all that entails. On the other hand I’ve known him quite literally all my life, and in spite of his failings he is loyal, courageous and a good man to have at your side when trouble threatens.

When he heard the amount of money Harl was offering he had no hesitation in joining me. So that very evening we made our way through the park on the slope below the Council of Sinecurists building and found Harl waiting for us in the shelter of a small fane. He produced a key and a lantern and led us to a metal door at the back of the fane. This he opened easily. I discovered later he’d been oiling the lock for over a month.

As Lancet stepped through the door I reached to take the lantern off Harl. He shook his head. “I’ve decided that I would think less of myself if I didn’t accompany you.”

It was his expedition and his money so we could hardly tell him he couldn’t come with us. So I nodded and followed Lancet through the door.

The catacombs were a maze of brick lined corridors. Built into the walls were brick alcoves and each was filled with stacked bones. It is obvious that cadavers hadn’t been kept together as skulls were in one place, shoulder blades in another, leg bones in another. In silence we pressed forward. I confess that I was glad of both the lantern and the company.

Lancet had thought to bring a bag of soot with him, and every time we came to a junction he left a sooty mark to show our route. At each junction we stopped to confer, but Harl kept us heading uphill. He felt that the repository would be close to the cellars, which seemed a reasonable suggestion.

Eventually Lancet stopped and beckoned to Harl to bring the lantern forward. There on the floor there were obvious footprints in the dust. It was evident that we’d found a track that was used at least occasionally. After a whispered debate we decided to follow the track away from where we assumed the cellars were. This we did and after five minutes came to an alcove that was a lot deeper than the others we’d seen. This had no bones in, but when we entered it we could see it was deeper than the light from our lantern could penetrate. Slowly we advanced and as we did we could see rack after rack of documents becoming visible in the gloom.

Harl immediately made his way to the documents and as I held the lantern he started reading them.  Here he was particularly cunning in that he picked the shelves that had the freshest looking footprints by them. His assumption was that these were the most recent documents to be ‘disappeared.’ Methodically he checked the various folios, some he put back, and some he slipped into a bag. We’d been there perhaps an hour when Lancet came back to join us.

 “Somebody is coming.”

“At this hour?” Harl asked.

“Perhaps they access these records at night when there isn’t the usual staff about?”

Well Lancet’s suggestion seemed reasonable to me. I pointed deeper into the alcove. “I’ll put out the lantern and we’ll hide at the back where nobody goes.”

Hidden we waited. We’d spread out a little to ensure that if we were found, we weren’t found together.

Frankly my place of hiding could be better. I put my hand down to discover I was squatting in a pool of remarkably cold water. Apparently there was a drainage system to keep the catacombs dry and I’d found it.

At the front of the alcove I could see a light, and there were at least two people talking quietly. I decided to get closer to see if I could hear what they were talking about. Unfortunately Lancet had the same idea and in the darkness we couldn’t see each other. Indeed I didn’t know he was there until my cold wet hand touched the back of his neck.

Lancet screamed, and what a scream. The two men gathering records fled, abandoning their lantern. We relit our lantern from theirs and also fled, Harl carrying his precious papers.

Obviously we waited for repercussions, but nothing seemed to happen although we heard a rumour that clerks in the building refused to go down into the cellars except in groups of three or four. Harl paid Lancet and I generously, and then proceeded to produce the documents in court to force the Council to release the rest of the archive. You’ll doubtless remember the case, which was decided by a full vote of the Council. This august body, realising that some small coterie had been conspiring against the rest of them, had the records in the secret repository brought up to the surface and put on display in the Hall of Records. Harl was publicly thanked by the Council although there was some talk that Lancet and I should be prosecuted for trespass. Eventually even the Council realised that they were unlikely to gain a conviction.

Oh and the painting. Yes, Harl commissioned it from Andreal, and normally it hangs in his place of business, but he has graciously allowed Andreal to display it at this exhibition.


Tallis Steelyard, the festival, and other stories.
Tallis Steelyard and Jim Webster proudly present:

Tallis Steelyard. The Festival, and other stories.

Available from

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. In here
Tallis touches upon child rearing, politics as a performance art, the joy of
dance and the advantages that come with good manners. Discover why Madam
Dolbart was forced to constantly hire new cooks, marvel at the downfall of
Dash Blont, lecher, libertine, and philanderer. Whatever happens, do not
pass through life without knowing of the advantages to be gained by an early
morning pick-me-up of horse dung spread fine on toast. You too can be
charming and elegant once you know how.

For a mere 99p all this and more can be yours.



Posted in Guest Writer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

I Challenge You To…

This week’s challenge is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:


Last week’s challenge was to write about cake. You sent in some great pieces. Here are a few:

First up is the brilliant Keith Channing:

When my daughter came home with her beau
He asked, “Have you any gâteau?”
I said, “We ain’t posh
And we don’t have much dosh.
You could even say we knead the dough.”

Here are two from the talented Kevin:

There was a young man called Blake
Who was extremely fond of cake.
He went out on a date
With a girl named Kate,
Who went and ate all the cake!

There was a young lady named Leigh
Who invited me round for tea.
We ate lots of cake
But when I tried to partake
She kicked me out at three!

Please visit byindiablue‘s website for their piece on cake:




Posted in Challenges, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Markets For Writers


My market for you this week is for lovers of flash fiction. The Bath Flash Fiction Award is now open for entries of up to 300 words. 


1st: £1000 

2nd: £300

3rd: £100

Two commendations: £30 each

Fifty longlisted entrants will be offered publication in an anthology. Those who accept will receive a free copy.

Entry Fee: £9

Closing date: June 10th 2018

For further details, including reductions on entry fees, visit the competition page.






Posted in markets for writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments