Category Archives: Stories

Something Squeaky #99WordStories

Last week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!

I didn’t have time to write a story in time to be included in the collection, but I wanted to write one anyway. I’ve stayed with Lucy and Amy and their little red convertible as they play with their toys. I hope you enjoy it.

The Squeaky Wheel

“Shh! What’s that noise,” said Lucy.

Amy stopped the car. Everyone was quiet.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Amy.

The others agreed. Nothing.

They continued on their way.

“There it is again,” said Lucy.

Amy didn’t stop the car, but they all listened.

“I hear it,” said Monkey. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.”

“Eek!” screamed Ellie. “There’s a mouse in the car!”

“No, silly,” said Bunny. “It’s a squeaky wheel.”

“Just needs some grease,” said Amy. “Everybody out!”

They all piled out. Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to grease the wheel, then they were on their way again.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Wheels Keep on Turning, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Wheels Keep Turning #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about how the wheels keep turning. Are the wheels tangible or metaphorical? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thoughts went to the Rawhide theme song with its ‘Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’’ refrain.

Of course, they’re not wheels that are rollin’, so that song wouldn’t do. But how wonderful to see these actors, who looked so old when I was a child, look not much more than children to me now.

My next thought was of Proud Mary and her big wheel that kept turning.

But that wouldn’t do either.

I wanted to return to my girls Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from previous stories but couldn’t decide how. You could say the wheels were turning but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Fortunately, I thought of a third song about wheels.

That was more my style and this is my story. I hope you enjoy it.

The Wheels of the Limo

“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”

“Why’d ya stop?”

“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”

“But the wheels are turning.”

“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”

Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.

“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.

“All aboard!” she called.

The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Bones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Bones #99Word Stories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

All I could think of at first was the children’s song, ‘The head bone’s connected to the neck bone …’ and it took me a while to come up with an idea. Once I got an idea, the ending eluded me. I finally decided to go all-out horror, which is unusual for me, to follow up my entry Beware or Be Scared in the Halloweensie Contest run by Susanna Leonard Hill. That entry was meant to be as Halloween humorous as it was scary. I hope it succeeded. On its own, this one may lack the humour. I hope you ‘enjoy’ it anyway.

Make No Bones About It

“Go and get changed.”

 “But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.

The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Beware or Be Scared — a Halloweensie story

Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting the 12th Halloweensie Contest and entries close on Monday 31 October. You may still have time to enter. All you have to do is write a 100-word Halloween-themed story for children up to 12 and include the words slither, treat and scare. Easy right? Pop over to Susanna’s amazing blog for all the rules, and join in if you dare. There are some pretty amazing prizes.

You will be able to read all the entries in the comments section of the Official Contest Post after the weekend. By next weekend, Susanna hopes to have narrowed the field down to about twelve stories for readers to vote on. What a mammoth task.

Since I’ve been practising writing brief stories in the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenges, I thought I’d have a go at this one too and, I guess not surprisingly, I’ve done it in 99 words (you’re allowed to go under, but not over, 100 words). While my flash fiction stories often feature children, this one had to be for children. I hope I didn’t make it too scary, but I aimed it at the older, rather than younger, age group, who I hope may ‘get’ some of the nuances with word choice and punctuation. I hope you enjoy it. You are forewarned.

Beware or be Scared

Nathara expected her ginormous jelly Poisonous Pythons, individually sealed for hygiene safety, to make the children’s eyes POP! And they did. Laced, through the fence the treats were irresistible. Children ignored the “BEWARE” sign. They failed to read the small print “Open only after midnight.” They didn’t flinch when Nathara laughed, “Mwahahaha!” and found no reason to be scared when she hissed, “Enjoy eating children!” They couldn’t wait to tuck into the squishy, sweet, stickiness of the enormous Poisonous Pythons and ripped the seals apart. Nathara’s slippery servants slithered free and wrapped the trick-or-treaters in their squishy sweet stickiness.

For a follow up to this story, check out my response to this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt ‘bones’, Make No Bones About It.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Swimmingly #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word, “swimmingly.” which means “smoothly or satisfactorily.” What is the situation? Who is involved? Let the word take you into a story. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Fun in the Pool

A perfect summer’s day: azure sky with not a hint of cloud, a whispering breeze to kiss away humidity, children’s laughter sparkling like glitter; it was all going swimmingly, until …

Kevin kicked furiously, and …

the tube crashed. Tina tipped heels over head, chipping Chelsea’s chin, as she smacked into the water.

Chelsea fell against Liam, who yelled, “Get off me!” as they splashed down.

The three resurfaced together, and grabbed the tube, catapulting Kevin overhead, arms and legs flailing, into the water.

“Wow!” “That’s fun!” “Do it to me!” “I’m first!”

It was all going swimmingly …

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt the red convertible, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

It’s a Kind of Magic — Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open! – #readilearn

Today I’m excited to tell you that this year’s Anthology Angels’ anthology It’s a Kind of Magic is available for pre-order and will be available for sale on 30th of October at the conclusion of Children’s Week (and dare I say, just in time for Halloween too!).

The anthology will be published in a dyslexic friendly font and large print for visually impaired readers. How magical is that!

Pre-order now

You can pre-order now on Amazon with a Pre-order Price Guarantee, or on the Book Depository which has free international shipping.

The blurb

I want to be a wizard,

But my mind is like a blizzard!

I don’t know if I can keep doing spells,

I might just have to say farewell.

People jeer and people laugh, 

Which splits my confidence in half.

Join our second-rate sorcerers as they try and fail at magic spells, terrible tricks and bewildering bewitchments. This is a collection of stories and poems for children of all ages about resilience, friendship and finding out that the most enchanting things are often hidden in plain sight.

My story

I am delighted to say that I also have a story included in the anthology. My story is called Not Too Little. It is about the youngest member of a family of sorcerers who is tired of always being told he is too little. One night when his brothers are out, he sneaks into their room to create a little magic for himself and prove once and for all that he is big enough. Of course, it doesn’t all go the way he hopes, and he must solve a series of problems before he, and the rest of the family, realises that he isn’t too little, he’s just the right size.

Proceeds of sales — Children’s Rights Queensland

Authors donate their stories and poems for the anthology and all profits from the book will go to Children’s Rights Queensland.The book will also be distributed to disadvantaged and at risk children via that organisation.

Children’s Rights Queensland, founded in 1971, is focused on raising awareness of the needs, rights and achievements of children under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Continue reading: It’s a Kind of Magic — Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open! – readilearn

The Swarm #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about swarms. What could swarm? How does the swarm impact the people or place in your story? Is there something unusual about the swarm? Go where the prompt leads!

I was pleased to have an extra week to respond to this one as I was unable to get it done during the first week due to family (holiday) commitments.

This is my response. I hope you like it and that it makes sense.

The Swarm

People swarmed like ants to a plate of jelly. Jodie stretched on tiptoes but saw nothing. She peered first left, then right, but heads blocked any view. There was nothing to hear — no singing, no instrument, no announcement. The crowd was silent and still. Jodie might have left but was trapped by others who’d filled the space behind. “What is it, Mummy?” her child whispered. Frowning faces pressed fingers to tight lips. “I can’t see anything,” the child declared. “Shhhhh!” the crowd admonished, breaking the spell. The swarm dispersed. “What was it, Mummy?” Jodie shrugged. “Nothing. It was nothing.”

So, what do you think? Did it make sense to you?

There were two things that influenced my story.

1. I was in the city recently and saw a long trail of people snaking through the mall. I wondered what they were queueing for, and whether they even knew.

Have you ever noticed that people like to crowd or queue when they see others doing so? I think it may be caused by a fear of missing out (FOMO) or perhaps a need to follow blindly. I’ve sometimes wondered how long it might take for a crowd to form if just one or two of us stood and stared at something (nothing) for a while.

I didn’t join the queue, but of course I was curious about what had attracted them. When I got near to the front of the queue, I could see a large wheel, what we call a ‘chocolate wheel’, that is spun for a prize to be won. Everyone was getting a turn to spin the wheel and win a prize. I don’t know what the prizes were but I’m fairly confident that they were probably nothing that anyone really wanted or needed, and quite likely required spending something to be of any benefit. Whether my assumption was correct, I’ll never know, but I find the whole queueing/crowding thing interesting.

2. These thoughts are similar to the theme of one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen stories, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, two fraudsters trick the emperor into believing they have designed his new clothes with a fabric that is visible only to clever people. Of course, word of this special fabric gets out to all his subjects who line the streets and ooh and aah when the emperor leads the parade in his ‘new clothes’. The only one who isn’t fooled (who didn’t get the memo) is a child who cries out that the emperor is naked and wearing nothing at all.

What do you think? Was I successful in linking these two ideas?

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Freedom, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The Disappearing Trick

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charlie Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about disappearance. It can be an event, act, or subtle theme. Who or what disappears? Does it fade or explode? Can it be explained or experienced? Go where the prompt leads!

My story includes the same characters that appeared in my previous story Change is Coming. I hope you enjoy it.

The Disappearing Trick

Jamie tore open his gifts—a book from Pauline, a soccer ball from Mum and, from Grandma and Grandpa, a magic set.

“Look, Rabbit,” said Jamie. “I can make things disappear.”

Everyone smiled.

Jamie prepared his performance.

“For my first trick, I will make Rabbit disappear. Everyone, close your eyes. Abba. Dabba. Caboo! Open your eyes. Look. Rabbit disappeared.”

The family clapped.

“Where’s Rabbit?” asked Pauline.

“For my next trick, I will pull Rabbit out of the hat. Abba. Dabba. Caboo!”

Everyone cheered.

“I wish it was that easy to disappear,” Mum whispered.

“We’ll help,” said Grandma and Grandpa.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Ready for a Change can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Big Black Horse

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a Big Black Horse. It can be a horse, a metaphor or an interpretation of KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. It is based on a picture book manuscript I am working on at the moment, hoping to submit to a publisher soon. Fingers crossed. That story is based upon another 214-word story I wrote earlier in the year, which you can read here. All three are the same but different. I hope you like it.

The Big Black Horse

The riders considered the available horses. Fergal chose the big black, Valentina the silver. They mounted their steeds and entered the arena. Fergal cantered to one end and Valentina the other. They steadied their mounts and faced each other.

“Let the contest begin! Charge!”

The contestants galloped towards each other.

Nearing the centre of the arena, Fergal’s black steed balked, tossing him off. Valentina wheeled her horse around, dismounted and raced to Fergal’s side.

“You okay, Fergal?”

“It’s only a scratch.”

“I’ll get a plaster from Miss.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go again. Can I have silver this time?”

“Okay.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Once Upon a Whoops! Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open – #readilearn

Today I am excited to announce that this year’s Share Your Story Anthology, Once Upon a Whoops! is available for pre-order now and will be available for sale on 1 September.

Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of twisted fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes with peculiar pictures, all by Australian authors and illustrators.

I am delighted to tell you that I have two fractured fairy tales included in the collection: Three Alpha Pigs and Silverlocks and the Three Bears.

Three Alpha Pigs twists the original Three Little Pigs with three pig brothers who are definitely of this century. In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t until I researched it for my story, Generation Alpha are those born since 2010. Like many of their generation, the brothers play video games and avoid chores whenever possible. They think that having built successfully in Minecraft, they’ll be able to build successfully in the ‘real’ world when they leave home and need somewhere to live. Mr Gruff, who lives next door, doesn’t think they’ll stay away from the comforts of home too long. His kids never do.

Silverlocks is an older Goldilocks. She’s done her time and wishes everyone would stop reminding her of her past. She uses an online booking service to secure holiday accommodation, but things don’t turn out as she hoped and flashbacks of the past intrude on her stay.

In addition to my two stories, there are more than forty stories and poems collected in the anthology, including some by authors I’ve previously interviewed: June Perkins, Karen Hendricks, M J Gibbs and anthology organiser Michelle Worthington. Many other stories and poems are also by already published authors with many books to their names, so I’m in good company.

Proceeds of Sales

As with each of the previous Share Your Story anthologies, sales of the book will raise funds for charity. This year’s charity is Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, an organisation that provides support for families of premature or sick babies. This includes items such as Precious Prem Packs and guide books for families in hospital.

Copies of the anthology will be sent to every children’s hospital in Australia as part of the Little Readers Readathon.

Continue reading: Once Upon a Whoops! Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open – readilearn