J is for Janice

J is for Janice From the day she was born, Janice was given everything she wanted. She didn’t need to cry for too long before either her doting father or loving mother would be at her side, fussing over her with reassuring words of comfort and kisses on her forehead. From this moment on Janice knew that she was a very special person and because of that she could have Read more

I is for Impossible

I is for impossible. Having blown out her one hundred candles, with a slight relieve that her dentures didn’t come flying out covering the butter icing, Alice was quite exhausted and glad to be back in the solitary of her room, where she lit up a stogie and sat back in her chair. As much as everyone had made a great fuss over her centenary birthday, with just as many making Read more

H is for Hipster

H is for Hipster. The reason the new eatery stood out so much to Donald, was its choice of setting up shop in a part of town where the most exotic experience to be had was a mangey charity shop for a local cat charity. But that’s how these Hipster cafe’s start isn’t it, they move into a place with low rent and once they are established others move in. Read more

G is for Glenn

G is for Glenn. I’ve always loved horror stories. Skeletons have been at the forefront. I had a full size paper, glow in the dark skeleton and then a bit later the poster on the opposite side of my bed was of a skeleton on a motorbike, which I thought was great! I think i got it after seeing th esketon riding a motoabike in the Hammer Horror, Doctor, Terrors, Read more

F is for Fur

F is for Fur. Roger lay in bed, every time he opened his eyes the room span madly making him shut his eyes tight again. Downstairs he could hear the others getting on and knew that he too had to get up. Ever so gradually, Roger held both hands tight round his face as he lifted his head off the pillow. With his eyes still tightly shut he made the familiar Read more

Writing 101:Day 14: To Whom It May Concern

Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern
Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.
Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.
You have a number of options: you can write a letter to the word or an image, or an open letter to the world inspired by the word. You could pen a series of imaginary notes between you and a friend, or between two fictional characters, or between old you and young you.
Using a letter format can help you find new ways to build engaging scenes and stories. If your word was “Monday,” you could write:
I have a bad case of the Mondays.
But you could also write:
Dear Monday,
I admit it: I’m never happy to see you. I dread you in the morning, and on the drive to work, and from what I see on my Facebook feed, no one else likes you either.
Get it together, Monday.
Sincerely,
Me

For todays Challenge I picked up one of my favourite books of all time, The Turn of the Screw. On page 29 the word ‘morsel’ jumped out at me. Rather then write a letter to morsel, I am taking all the words my online thesaurus suggests for the word, ‘morsel’ and will incorporate them into a collection of letters from, Billy an ignored inner child. 

The words are:
Morsel
Mouthful
Bite
Nibble
Bit
Small piece
Soupçon
Taste
Sample
Spoonful
Forkful
Crumb
Grain
Particle
Fragment
Fraction
Scrap
Sliver
Shred
Pinch
Drop
Dollop
Whit
Atom
Granule
Segment

 

Letters from an ignored inner-child.

Dear William,

Just a morsel of recognition from you to let me know that you are aware of my very existence is all I ask, but you seem determined to keep me locked away deep inside of you. Why are you so stuffy all the time William? I know our father expects you to be a man already, but that is years away from now… Each morning when we wake up I long for us to get up and out of the house to run and laugh and be free. If I could, I would pinch you, to make you wake up, to feel alive. What is it you’re afraid off? Is it you’re scared you’ll fall over and father might catch you and give you a mouthful for shredding even a single tear, or that Nanny will try and mollycoddle you or worse, give you a spoonful of cod-liver oil and send you to bed early?
Please let me know you can hear me William, just a small piece of recognition is all I ask.

Love always

Billy, ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

Today we are fifteen, can’t you feel all of that excitement deep inside? Come on William, bite the bullet, let’s have a true taste of fun. Before we know it we’ll be all grown up, looking back on this small bit of our childhood and wonder why we didn’t sample more of the joys of being young.
Let’s run down to the lake and dare to skinny-dip for a bit, find a rope swing, let’s laugh, let’s scream, let’s live!!

Love always

Billy, ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

In a blink of an eye we’re eighteen! Don’t you ever think, “Crumbs, how time is passing by so quickly!”

Of course you don’t, you never have given a scrap of thought about how you’re wishing your youth away. But there’s still time to drop this serious persona you carry around like a dead weight. Don’t you know how horrible it has been to have your angst loaded down on me. Wasn’t it funny when our cousin, Robert jumped on you and gave you a blow back from his joint. For a fraction of a moment a fragment of joy slivered through both of us, I swear I even heard you giggle; but then you threw up and shouted at Robert to leave. You are nothing but a great big dollop of misery William, a great big dollop of misery.

Billy. Ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

I feel myself fading with each passing year, but there is still time to put a small segment aside for a forkful of fun. Just because our father was old before his time, does not mean we have to follow suit. A grain, a granule, no not even that! You didn’t even give a whit of hope for a chance of fun that could be had with Jessica Strand. She loves books, she’s bright, funny and intelligent. Every single atom of Jessica Strand shone when she smiled at you and asked if you were going to the end of year ball. So, what did you do? Take Jessica Strand in your arms and nibble her ear? No William, you didn’t even give her the merest soupçon of a kiss, instead you said you had to have an early night as you were going out shooting grouse with Father that day instead.

Regards

Billy, ignored inner child.

 

Dear William,

You win, I do not believe there is a single particle of joy left inside me. You have kept me in the shadows all our lives and without sunshine, a grain of fun, a glimmer of hope I admit defeat, you win.

Goodbye William.

Remember, I always loved you

Billy, ignored inner child.

 

Dear Billy,

This morning I woke up and felt like something buried deep inside of me had died.
For so long I ignored you and although I heard your voice I kept telling myself, tomorrow we’ll have fun, tomorrow we’ll go skinny-dipping in the lake, tomorrow we’ll ask Jessica Strand out on a date. But it’s all too late for any of that now, I just don’t feel the urge deep inside.

I heard that Jessica Strand married our cousin Robert. I meant to go to the wedding, but…well you know there was always something else to do.
Now, as I sit here all alone, I wish I could call you up, to feel just a morsel of the love you gave so freely.

Know this, Billy although it’s far too late. I miss you so much.

Love always

William.

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Writing 101, day 13: Found

Day Thirteen: Serially Found

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

You could pick up the action where you stopped, or jump backward or forward in time. You might write about the same topic, but use a different style, or use the same style to tackle a neighboring topic.

Not sure how to approach continuity? Here’s a time-tested tip: pick a favorite book or two. Read the last page of chapter one, then the first page of chapter two. How did the author choose to connect these two separate-but-connected narrative units?

We’d like to stress, though, that the idea behind today’s assignment isn’t necessarily to write “chapter two” of a neat, predetermined sequence — though you could do that, too, of course — but to think more intently about the idea of continuity and designing long-term writing projects.

 

Okay, so it is a bit of a cheat adding another Blanche Street Tale, but it fits the brief. I’ll get back to new writing tomorrow.

Somebodies Son.

IMG_1818

The moment I walk into the chemist and see her I know she is my mother. I wait and watch her in the security mirror. When she turns the corner I bump into her, knocking her handbag and its contents to the floor. Dropping to my knees I apologise, “I’m really sorry. Are you okay? Here’s your purse.”
She’s so grateful she doesn’t notice me slipping her notebook into my coat pocket. As she wanders off she leaves behind a scent that is unmistakably Mum.
Only when I’m safely back in the side street do I allow myself to look at her little notebook. The cover is black, crinkled like crocodile skin. I run my thumb over the gold lettering, M.a.r.g.a.r.e.t. A tingle ripples up my hand. Over the years I have thought of many names for my mother, but it makes perfect sense that she’s called Margaret. Margaret’s are strong, honest, and reliable… just like that Mrs Thatcher.
On the first page mum has written her name, Margaret J. Lawrence, 11 Blanche Street. Her handwriting is so neat, I wish she had been around to teach me.
She’ll be home soon, if I’m quick I can surprise her. How pleased she’ll be to see me waiting. I catch sight of my scruffy face in a shop window, I can’t remember when I last shaved or washed. Mum will help transform me back into her son. Perhaps we’ll even make it on the front page of the Ipswich Star, “Long Lost Son, Home at Last.”
When I eventually get to Blanche Street my heart sinks. Opposite the row of tatty run down terrace houses is a dirt track where a couple of burnt-out cars and a white van is parked. This was not what I had been expecting. In dreams I saw us together living in a country cottage with roses around the door or perhaps a detached house with a long gravelled driveway. I’m puzzled. What could have happened to my mother for her to end up living in this hellhole of a street.
The front door is locked and the curtains pulled tightly shut, a good sign, you never know who might be skulking around in an area like this.
I think of mum, she looks so much different to what I had imagined. She’s aged more than I expected, but that doesn’t matter as greying hair can easily be dyed back to blonde. When we are together I will help her with her makeup. Her lips will be rose pink for daywear and poppy red for when we go out on the town.
***
Down the road a door flies open and out storms one of those skinhead types. I try not to watch as he bad mouths someone inside his house, then he stomps over to the white van. I hear a woman crying and think I should help, but the last thing I need is a fight, so I scurry towards the side alley.
A high brick wall guards the back of the houses. I get to mum’s backyard only to find the gate locked. With no time to waste I scramble up the wall. My legs flail about as I scrape my gut before falling flat on the bare concrete below.
I lay still, but no one comes out, nobody cares. Picking myself up I nip to the backdoor and cup my hands to the window, inside is a tiny kitchen. The door handle clicks as I push it down, I scold my mum for not keeping it locked. When we’re together I’ll make sure she will always be protected.
Safely inside the kitchen the first thing I spot is her little cup on the draining-board. I carefully lift the rim to my lips and imagine mum’s lips on mine…giving me a good night kiss.
The cupboards are jam packed with loads of outdated tinned stuff and not much else. The fridge is empty, apart from a half bottle of milk and some mouldy cheese. I make a promise on the spot that I will learn to cook. My mum will have tasty meals every day. I’ll give her shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole, liver, bacon and creamy mashed potatoes with really thick onion gravy. On Sundays we’ll always have a roast and none of the vegetables will come from a tin.
I turn to face the door leading to the rest of the house. My stomach tightens. This must be how proper kids feel on Christmas morning. I throw open the door only to be faced with the same old disappointment. The room is dark and drab. Flicking on the light only makes things worse. The room is bare except for an empty birdcage hanging from a stand in the far corner. There is a thick layer of bird shit around the floorboards; for once something smells worse than me.
The front room isn’t much better. There’s a single chair, Mum’s throne and a little side table next to it. I run my hand over the grease spot at the top of her chair and pocket the few hairs I find. The ticking clock on the wall reminds me I have little time to explore. In the table’s side drawer there’s only money off coupons and a stash of useless Green Shield Stamps.
The clock on the wall begins to strike, pushing me on. Back in the middle room I notice the staircase; I take the steps two at a time. I reach the small landing and step into the front bedroom to find It’s empty: ready for me to move in. I quickly step into the back bedroom and admire mum’s single bed. Throwing back the blankets I grab her pillow close to my face, filling my nostrils with her distinctive smell.
Outside I can hear the world outside, reminding me to move on. There will be plenty of time soon to be close to my mum.
The only other furniture in the room is a chest of drawers. I’m about to pull open the top drawer when I hear the front door open; Mum’s back! I frantically empty each drawer on to the bed. The first has nothing but slips, knickers and bras. The second is jammed full of the same grey coloured tights, there must be fifty shades of grey all bundled up. The third is full of neatly folded cardigans. I rummage through her belongings, then stop. I can hear her moving around downstairs.
I tug at the bottom drawer. A stack of used wrapping paper, all ironed, spring out. Under that is a mound of yellowing documents. A quick scan shows they are of little interest to me. Then at the very bottom, I find the treasure I’ve been looking for: our photographs.
I tip the photos out on the floor and spread them out. All the faces seem to follow me, making my head really ache.
I cock my head and listen. I think mum is in the kitchen, my head throbs so much it’s hard to tell. I look down at the photos and just like a puzzle everything falls into place. In front of me is her life. There’s mum on a beach with friends, laughing. Other photos show’s mum in the park, a woman by her side. Another shows mum out for dinner, dressed up to the nines with the same woman. I look closer, trying to see my features. I know for sure that I definitely take after mum. I can’t see any pictures of my dad. I wonder what happened to him: I hope he is dead.
Now as I look down at the photos all I can see is the same two grinning, taunting faces, but what has she done with the pictures of me? I dig deeper into the pile and wonder where all the baby pictures are; what had I done that she would want to get rid of all memories of me? That woman is going to have to work really hard for me to forgive her. I pick up a picture frame with her silly grinning face looking back. I’m beginning to feel differently about my mum, I’m starting to feel really angry and throw the frame down. The glass smashes. I hear a creak on the stairs. I try and clear up the mess before she gets to the top of the stairs. I cut my hand, blood spills all over the pictures. Shit! It wasn’t meant to be like this. I stumble to my feet, smooth down my shirt, now it’s covered in blood. I try and slick my hair into place as I hear her pause on the stair. This at least gives me a moment to pull on my best smile. The top stair creaks, I reach my arms out to welcome my…..shit…a miserable policeman steps into the doorway, slowly shaking his head.
He slaps on some handcuffs, they dig tight around my wrist. He pushes me down the stairs, out of the house and into the back of the police car.
Most of the street has come out to gawp. A policewoman has her arm around Margaret. Now that I look at her properly, I can see she could never have been my mum. My mum is strong, upstanding, reliable…not some sad lonely lesbian.
Eventually everyone goes back indoors, the police get back in the car, the driver looks at me in his rear view mirror and sneers, but I don’t react. We drive away in silence. We turn onto Cemetery Road, I let out a heavy sigh of relief. There! I see my mum, a fine upstanding blonde haired woman, dressed in a red coat, matching shoes and handbag… I wonder where she lives?

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Writing 101: Day 12. Dark Clouds on the (virtual) Horizon

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction.

Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

At its most basic, foreshadowing gives readers a roadmap to what will happen later in your post — a subtle detail planted in the back of a reader’s mind, like a telling piece of dialogue or a strategic mention of an object that hints at what’s to come. When an author tells us there are dark clouds on the horizon, we know something negative will happen soon.

This doesn’t mean your post has to have a Shocking! Twist! à la The Usual Suspects or Shirley Jackson’s classic short story, “The Lottery.” It just means you’ll give readers some clues as you go — a sense of what will happen next, information that might be important later, or a detail that you’ll explain in your conclusion.

We’re ready to go wherever you want to lead us.

Okay, so this a bit of a cheat, using a story from my Blanche Street Tales, but it fits in with the theme and went down a storm at The Brighton Festival last year as part of Tin Can Stories. So here it is:

Sugar Almonds: Based on true events.

“Come on”, said Juliet, tugging at Robert’s arm, “this looks fun!”
The pair grinned with delight at the sight in front of them. Unlike the modern funfairs that ran on the outskirts of town the rides here were more traditional: a carousel, ghost-train and ferris-wheel reaching up high above the trees.
Wandering around the various ‘try your luck stalls,’ Juliet thought that the evening could not get any better, even though Robert had failed to win her a goldfish.
After having a wonderful ride on the carousel the two walked to the far end of the funfair and saw a tent standing all on its own. On closer inspection they saw the tent belonged to, “Romany Rose Lee: Fortune-Teller to the Stars.”
Juliet peered through the beaded curtains covering the doorway and saw an old woman sitting behind a large round table, covered with a green cloth.
Juliet grabbed hold of Robert’s hand as the old woman gestured for them to enter her tent.
With her red headscarf tied tightly across her head, four inch, gold loop earrings and a face full of tramlines, ‘The old woman was really getting into her role,’ thought Robert.
“Cross my palm with silver,” said the old woman, her bony hand reaching across the table. Robert in turn dug into his pocket for change only for the old woman to cough and add, “Or a five pound note will do.”
Tucking the money in her bra-strap the old woman handed Juliet a set of tarot cards to shuffle. She then stroked Juliet’s hand as she took the cards back from her, smiled, then began to place them out in front of her and said, “You’re in love, you’ll have children, one, two, three, four!”
Juliet smiled at Robert, but then turned to see a look of true gravity on the old woman’s face as she continued, “Alas my dear before the night is finished you will experience a horror like never before.”
Juliet fled the tent with the old woman’s cackling laugh sharp in her ears.
Robert ran after his true love and whispered, “I love you.”
As they made their way back through the fair, Juliet saw just how rusty and unstable the ferris-wheel seats looked. The yells from the ghost-train made her quicken her step until they were back in the safety of the brightly lit food stalls.
Still a little shaken, Juliet turned to Robert and said, “What did she mean, I’ll experience a horror like never before?”
Looking at the rolling hot dogs, Robert smiled, “It’s all part of her act, they all say that.” Squeezing her hand, Robert added, “Come on, let’s get something to eat.”
Robert ordered a hotdog with onions, while Juliet settled for a candy-floss. Still a little shaken, Juliet asked if they could go home. Robert smiled, “Of course we can”
Not wanting the night to end too soon, Robert led Juliet through a tunnel of trees that gradually blocked out the moonlight. A shiver ran down Juliet’s spine, as the words of the old gypsy ran through her head, “Alas my dear before the night is finished you’ll experience a horror like never before.”
Her mind then added a long cackling laugh, “hahahahhaha” for extra effect.
Glancing up at the branches, Juliet saw claws ready to pull her up into their clutches away from her love, never to be seen again. She wanted to tell Robert, but deep down she knew she was just being silly. Robert was right, it was just part of the old woman’s act.
Taking a bite of her candy-floss, Juliet even allowed herself to giggle at how childish she had been to believe such nonsense. Rolling the sugar clump around her mouth, she bit down hard and mumbled, “That’s odd.”
Robert was too busy munching on his hotdog to hear what she’d said, and so she carried on. Juliet bit down on the crispy shells entwined within the sugar strands and savoured the bitter almond taste that squirted across her lips and tongue.
Having finished his snack, Robert stuck his mustard slicked tongue in Juliet’s ear and whispered, “I fancy something sweet.”
Pulling away, Juliet squealed, “This is far too nice, I’m keeping it all for myself.”
With that she scooped up a huge wad of floss and pressed it into her mouth, biting down on the crispy shell, savouring the bitter almond taste.
As she did so the branches of the trees parted and the glimmers of moonlight shone down.
Powerless to move, Juliet opened her mouth and released a long, silent, scream.
Unable to help himself, Robert let out a roar of laughter as he stared at what Juliet had thought had been crispy almond shells. For there cocooned amongst the sugary strands where bugs of all sizes, desperately wiggling but unable to get free. Tears rolled down Robert’s face when he spotted a half bitten carcass, its bitter yellow innards dribbling through the pink sugar strands.
As for Juliet? Her screams echoed into the night as the words of the old gypsy woman’s rang in her ears, “Alas my dear before the night is finished you’ll experience a horror like never before.”

Sugar Almonds

Sugar Almonds

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Writing 101: (Day 11) Size Matters (In Sentences)

Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences)
Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?
But first, consider this passage:
The man rode hard through the woods. The black horse’s effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from high overhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned. The land baked, and dust hung suspended.
Is this not the most boring paragraph you’ve read in a long time — perhaps ever? We’ve got portent, a racing rider, and a forbidding landscape. Together, these should offer excitement and intrigue, but the words lay on the page, limp and dead. Why? Sentence length. Each sentence contains exactly seven words. The repetitive, seven-word cadence lulls you to sleep instead of piquing your interest.
So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

– Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing
Mixing up the lengths of your sentences creates variety for the reader and makes for much more interesting reading.
Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

15 min free writing:

12.

You’re a kid experiencing the endless summer. You feel something is going to change forever, but you’re twelve, innocent of ‘the new’, as it impatiently waits in the wings.

Remember this calm before the storm,  teenage hormones will soon kick: puzzlement, excitement, fears and thrills; but before then, remember now.

This is the time you’re making homemade fudge and coconut ice with your sister. Sometimes it all turns out perfect, other times it’s brittle or a coconut mess.

Your cousin is more like your brother, has been all your life. You and he have experienced everything together. Both unaware, this time next summer you’ll be like strangers. You’ll stare at the denim clad rocker: all blackheads and Heavy Metal. And you? Well, you’re more disco, glitter and pop!

But for now, you’re laughing together so hard as you both yell at his sister to “Run”, causing that big dog to take chase. Round and round the park they run, Benny Hill style.

The lad up the road is your best mate: playing, rowing, crying, laughing, exploring, sharing, rivalry and friendship.

You’re twelve years old and although you don’t know it, this is the most magical year of your life…so far.

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Writing 101: (Day 10) Sanctuary in a Biscuit.

Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

The biggest thing that separates you from every other blogger in the world is your voice. Finding (and being confident in) our voices is one of the biggest challenges in writing, and it’s easy to lose our voices when we’re worried about being liked by everyone, or when we compare ourselves to others.

While it’s true that embracing your voice will mean that not everyone loves you, the people who do will love you a lot. Exhibit A: The Bloggess. Is she the only person who writes about parenting, mental health, and cats? Far from it. Is her style for everyone? Nope. Does she have a huge cadre of loyal readers who are drawn to her unique voice? Definitely.

Write today’s post as if you’re relaying the story to your best friend over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine — your call). Don’t worry if it feels like you ramble a bit, or a four-letter-word sneaks in, or it feels different from what you usually publish. Maybe you normally speak more formally — that’s fine, too. Take a deep breath, tell the story in your own words, and send it out the virtual door.

Writing 101 day 10. Sanctuary in a biscuit

thThe mere thought of a Viscount Biscuit brings back a glimmer of  a good memory buried in a time long gone where horror, uncertainty, and abuse also lived. After my dad remarried he took my sister and I to live in the infamous Blanche Street. Misery became part of my everyday life, I felt awkward and alone at my new school, while home life was unpredictable, while fear of violence ruled. So it was a great relieve to know that every Thursday my sister and I would visit my nana for tea; a break from the madness, a return to normality.

Our tea was a simple affair, sandwiches, cups of tea, homemade cakes and the treat: a Viscount chocolate biscuit. The image is clear, green jewelled, chocolate treat, a striking reminder of something good in my life, the love my nana had for my sister and I. A weekly treat, a Viscount Mint Chocolate biscuit, something special to look forward to and for a while take all memories of angry words and cramped conditions of Blanche Street away.
With many years passed, I had forgotten how such a simple gesture of kindness had been core to my childhood memory and evoked so strongly in a green and silver foil wrapper.

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Writing 101: (Day 8) Death to Adverbs

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs
Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.
Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.
Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.
The sin of telling often begins with adverbs*. Author Stephen King says that, for writers, the road to hell is paved with adverbs:
The adverb is not your friend.
Adverbs…are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They’re the ones that usually end in -ly. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind….With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.
Instead of using adverbs as a crutch, rely on strong verbs to convey emotional qualities that imbue your writing with nuance, allowing the reader to fire up their imagination. Consider, for example:
“She walked proudly out the door.”
Remove the adverb “proudly” and replace it with a strong verb to denote how she walked:
She strutted out the door.
She sashayed out the door.
She flounced out the door.
Each example connotes the emotion with which “she” moved, creating a more vivid picture than “proudly” ever could.
Note we’re not advocating the eradication of all adverbs all the time. The goal of this exercise is to place a constraint on adverb use to help you to focus on using strong, precise verbs in your writing.

15 min free writing.

I’m a day behind with my daily writing. Not sure about what I have written below, but as an exercise it will do!

From my feet to the top of my head, my breath rippled back and forth as the soothing voice of Judy, my mindfulness coach guided me to relax. my body light, flowed upwards towards the celling. My fingers slivered outwards as my whole body followed like fluid. I am no longer flesh, just particles, dust. I am expanding beyond the confines of the room, wall melt, allowing me to shimmer in the sunlight No longer bound by my physical self I dance high up in the air. A gust of wind whips me up and further up I flow and flourish.
A call from far away I swoosh down, making a splash in the sea, silver fish scoop me along their tide as I sparkle in the deep. Splurging downwards I hit the sandy bed, denting as gust of fragments fly. I drill and screw as fire engulfs. Fiery flames, lick, and tug me to the core. From far, far off a voice calls, I surge back to the earths surface, rushing to greet the sound that cries for my return, water flushes, sparks fly as I spin. Dizzy dancing dust solidifies to flesh, raging back towards my bed, a thudding thump I am back, the voice, Judy, wraps me whole. I am solid, back in the confines of my bed.

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Writing 101: (Day 7)

Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.

Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or…you get the idea.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

writing 101 day 7

Now she’s gone.

www.blingcheese.com
How they ever got together in the first place is beyond me, she’s from this really rough part of town while he was born with a whole canteen of silver cutlery in his mouth. I would have loved to have been there when he took her home to meet his mother. I’ve never met her, never seen her in person. Come to think of it I’ve never seen any of his side of the family in the flesh. Well that’s unsurprising, I’d never go to where they go and they probably don’t even know that this part of town even exist. It was a real shocker to see his mother in the news. At first I didn’t take much notice, well why should I? Just another toff, but then I saw a picture of her, our Claire. Sure it has been over fourty-five years, but as soon as I saw her on the front page, I knew it was her, all grown up and now dead. That day when she walked out came flooding back as if it was yesterday. The things she said, the accusations, terrible things. I don’t like to remember that day; she was all red faced with a mouth full of screams. I like to think of when she was our little princess.
Yeah, of course I wanted to speak out, to scream myself, but it would have bought up all that stuff from the past and at my age with so much time lost and gone, well it was best to watch from the side lines. I guess if her father was still alive he would have kicked up a fuss and made his voice heard.
They said neither of them suffered, but how does anyone really know, none of us were there. I wonder if she thought of me. I’m guessing not. I half expected someone from the press might have tracked me down for my side of the story, but not a peep. Just as well really, like I said, bringing up all that stuff from the past.
It would be nice to speak to his side of the family, but i’ve got nothing less then thirty years old to wear. I’ve kept the cuttings from the news paper, in the before photos she looked happy, they both did. I so wish I’d have made the move to get in touch with my Claire and now I never will….

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Writing 101: (Day 6) A Character-Building Experience

Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

 

I got carried away with a story, but the character study is within the piece…a bit.

Forgotten.

There is no shying away from it, Ronny is a Bastard, as was his father and his father before him. Not that Ronny would ever complain about anyone calling him this, in fact he revels in the fact that over the years he has made anyone who comes into contact with him feel utterly miserable.
There where those who blamed Ronny’s Mother’s, who from the very beginning would do anything an everything for her son. There was one constant rumour that she even carried on wiping his arse well into adult hood, but them you never can trust everything you hear…can you?
Ronny lived with his mum up until she died; on the day of the funeral, Ronny’s sister, Maggie had to step in and get him washed and dressed as he had no idea what to do now his constant servant was dead.
There were no other mourners at the simple funeral other than maggie, Ronnie and Mr. Partridge from the corner shop.
Maggie had popped her head round the doorway of Ronny’s bedsit afterwards but decided best not to step in. The thought of getting tangled in her brother’s life just sent a chill down her spine that stayed with her until she got home and felt her back against her recently polished front-door.
Within a week of his mother’s passing, Ronnie’s flat had quickly disintegrated in to a perfect version of hell on earth: not that Ronny gave a toss, his mother had been a hoarder, leaving Ronny with enough tinned food to keep him going for a good few years to come.
By the ned of the month the flat had become quite rancid, with the majority of the rot coming from Ronnie himself. Had anyone wished to pop in to see Ronnie, not that anyone would particularly know of his existence, then they would have realised that Ronny’s mum had in fact been his main source of cleaning and hygiene. Flies followed Ronny wherever he went, forever feasting on areas he never even contemplated as being of much importance.
With his flat on the very top of ‘Number 19’, no neighbours passed the front door to bear witnesses on the infesting odour that had began to seep from underneath the door.
There was the occasional pizza leaflet dropper but they never got further then pushing an over generous number of leaflets through the main front door. There had been an over zealous Jehovah Witness who had managed to get through the front door with a clutch of Watch Tower Magazine. Even though everyone had slammed the door in his face, something made him stop at the final set of stairs at the top of building, not only the smell but something else that made him realise it was best to just turn a round and go home

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Writing 101: (Day 5) Be Brief.

Day Five: Be Brief

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Glogster.com
“I can’t go on”, is all the note said
Over and over those few words I read
Where you so lonely, no one to reach out too
Or was it simply you could not make it to a date or interview.

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Writing 101: (Day 4) Loss, Part 2.

Loss (part 2)
15 min free writing.

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Things I have lost.

My mother at 18 months old through a divorce, my cat Sooty through either Sooty getting fed up of being dressed up in dolls cloths or he died. Loss of animals, budgies, rabbits, gold fish. Nearly losing the school tortoises who was penned in with the homemade rabbit run (chicken wire and canes, but found a hole and could move at some speed for at tortoise. Losing the fights against a group of bullies at school, which only came to an end when I left school, losing out to jobs and not knowing where to go next. Went back to College to stud catering. Lost my inhibitions on the dance floor when I move Norwich (to study at Norwich Hotel School). Lost my Ipswich accent when I moved to Brighton. Lost any longing to move back to my home town when I realised Brighton was the place I was meant to live. Lost the need to work at The Bedford Hotel when The Grand Hotel reopened after massive refit following the Brighton bombing, lost the need to work at The Grand when I got a job as a steward on the newly revitalised QE2. Lost more inhibitions when I teamed up with my mate Mark on the QE2 and formed a cabaret style show for the crew, which was so successful we were asked to perform regular shows for the passengers too. Lost in time and missed the QE2 in New York, stranded, but got home safely. Lost the number of times I have laughed till it hurts with my mates. Lost the urge to work in catering, started working and retrained with adults with severe learning difficulties. Lost the urge to work with adults with learning difficulties, retrained as a reflexologist. never really lost the urge to give help with reflexology, but moved on to retrain to be a writer.

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