Category Archives: Stories

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

Playing to Win #Valentiny Contest Entry

Playing to Win #Valentiny Contest Entry

I have regularly joined in responding to the 99-word flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch for almost seven years. Today, I am joining in something a little different — a Valentiny Contest run by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. Although this is the sixth Valentiny Contest, this is the first I have entered.

The contest asks writers to write Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels brave! The maximum story length is to be 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day), but it can be less. For more details and to read other entries, pop over to Susanna’s blog. Entries must be posted by Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT. (Words in italics are from Susanna’s post.)

My story is not specifically to do with Valentines’ Day, but I was pleased to find that the name Valentina means brave. Fergal also means brave. I have been brave to have a go. The word count of my story is 214 words exactly. I hope you enjoy it.

Playing to Win

On one side of the arena, Prince Fergal raised his sword. “I am the bravest of the brave, the strongest of the strong. No one can defeat me.”

On the opposite side, Princess Valentina raised her sword. “I am the bravest of the brave, the strongest of the strong. No one can defeat me. I challenge you to a duel.”

“I am Fearless Fergal!”

“I am Valiant Valentina!”

“Charge!”

The riders kicked their hobby horses into action. Across the arena they galloped, swords drawn, ready for mortal combat.

As they neared the centre of the arena, Fearless Fergal’s horse stumbled, flinging him to the ground.

“Ouch!” he cried, clasping an elbow.

The spectators held their breath. What would Valentina do? Would she drive her sword home and declare herself the victor? Would she insist that Fergal be her faithful follower forever more? Was there any way Fergal could claim victory?

Fergal didn’t look so fearless clutching his arm and rocking from side to side.

Valentina released her sword and leapt from her steed. She knelt beside him.

“Are you okay, Fergal?” she asked.

The spectators swarmed.

Fergal nodded. “It’s just a little graze.”

“Shall we go again?” Valentina asked.

“Another day. Let’s play something else now.”

The contest done. The crowd dispersed. Friendship won.

Thank you blog post

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

meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales storytime podcast

Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to a new fun story time podcast I have just discovered. I’m sure you will love these fun, clever podcasts as much as I do. I gave this podcast a 5-star rating and recommend it for both classroom and home use.

Dorktales Storytime Podcast is great for the whole family to listen to together on family story night, on car trips or anytime. It is perfect in the classroom to promote discussion of stories, particularly when studying fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, stimulate imagination for writing story innovations and pure enjoyment.

Note: the information below was provided by Becky Flansburg as part of the Dorktales promotion, of which I’m delighted to be a part.

Anything that promotes a love of story, as this podcast does, gets my tick of approval. I have to tell you that I have listened to and thoroughly enjoyed all the episodes that are currently available and can’t wait for more.

About Jonathan Cormur

Continue reading: Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – readilearn

Kid Gloves flash fiction

Kid Gloves #flashfiction

When I was a little kid (of the human kind — I kid you not), one of the stories I most disliked was The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids.

In case you have forgotten, the story told of a wolf who came a-knocking when Mother Goat was out. He used a variety of cunning tricks to entice the kids to open the door and let him in.

The things I didn’t like about the story were many and include:

  • that the mother goat left the kids at home on their own
  • the tricks that the wolf used
  • that the kids were tricked into letting him in
  • that the wolf ate the kids
  • that the mother goat cut the wolf open
  • that when the mother goat cut the wolf open, the kids popped out alive and well (what an awful experience)
  • that the goats filled the wolf’s stomach with stones and he drowned in the well.

Overall, I found the story very distressing and mean. Even then I preferred themes of kindness in my stories as much as in the world.

According to the original Grimm’s story, food was all the wolf was after, but is it possible he had another scheme in mind?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves. A prop in the hands of a character should further the story. Why the gloves? Who is that in the photo, and did he steal Kids’ gloves (of the Kid and Pal duo)? Consider different uses of the phrase, too. Go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps you already know where I’m going with this.

Kid Gloves for Sale

Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.

When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”

Thank you blog post

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

review of The League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison

Double the fun with double l llamas — The League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison – #readilearn

Children will love this newly released series of books by Aleesah Darlison. Teachers and parents will take just as much delight in reading the books aloud as children will in reading them independently or listening to them.

The books are fun from beginning to end with The League of Llamas (LOL) — spies out to save the world from their arch-enemy General Bottomburp.

The series will appeal to those reading their first chapter books, whatever their age. Or, as  Aleesah writes,

“With high action, high adventure, and loads of side-splitting laughs, this series suits young readers aged seven and over. And anyone who likes llamas. Oh, and anyone who loves laughing!”

My review of Book 1 The Golden Llama

As if a story about spies and espionage wasn’t enough, Darlison has filled her stories with fun word plays that will amuse and entertain all readers. James Bond fans will not be disappointed in the escapades, close calls and derring-do of top spy Phillipe Llamar, otherwise known as 0011.

The names of the Llamas in the League are spelt with double ll. There’s Phillipe, Lloyd and Elloise. There’s Mama Llama who rhymes and General Bottomburp, the beaver, with his alliteration. Darlison has also dropped in many other double ll words; like llamaborghinis and prob-llama (as in ‘no prob-llama). There are place names like Chickenslovakia, Crowatia, Portugull, Leechenstein and Killamamaanjaro; characters like President Ollama; and artworks like Llama’s Mother and Venus de Llama in the Musée du Llama.

Double the fun with double l llamas — The League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison is a fun new series about llama spies. Their antics will make you LOL

Continue reading: Double the fun with double l llamas — The League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison – readilearn