Category Archives: Writing

A Lady Shadow #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a lady shadow. Who is this person and why do they lurk in the shadows. What is the tone and setting for your story? Go where the prompt leads!

I pondered how I could make a connection between children and a lady shadow without sinister overtones that seemed to crawl out from the dark with every beginning. I finally decided to write about the fun that children have playing chase with their shadows, knowing that they can never catch their own. I hope you enjoy it.

Chasing Shadows

Unable to catch their own shadows that stretched across the sand, they jumped on each other’s then dashed for safety in the tumbling waves. As they dived and splashed, the playful wind captured their laughter and carried it far.

Dragging their shadows up compacted wet sand, they compared footprints that waves would soon erase. Where it met dry, another’s shadow immobilised them as might a barbed-wire fence. They cast their eyes along the lady shadow’s length, then squinted upward at the face, obscure and unreadable, haloed by the setting sun.

“It’s time to go,” said mum.

“Coming,” they chorused.

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

Rabbits #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes rabbits. Is it a family? A strange planet? Some crazy bunny person’s pets? Who are they and what are they doing? Go where the prompt leads!

I immediately thought of the rabbit holes that many find themselves in when conducting an internet search. I wondered how the rabbits might feel with all those unwelcome intruders, so that’s where I went with my story. I’m not sure if it works or not.

In the Rabbit Hole

Edward completed every form, followed all protocols, even smiled sweetly at bully boss bunny; but his request for leave was denied.

“When numbers ease,” his supervisor promised.

“If ever,” muttered Edward. The monotony was as overwhelming as the numbers that increased exponentially. Who said rabbits multiplied quickly? If only they’d find another burrow to tumble into.

 “Next!”

Edward recorded the unremarkably similar responses without enthusiasm.

“What brought you here? Where did you begin? Did you find what you wanted? What do you want now?”

“Out of this rabbit hole.”

No more than I. Close all tabs. Start over. Next!”

And while on the subject of rabbits, I was pleased to see the prompt’s relevance to Chinese New Year celebrations which begin on January 22nd. In the Chinese Zodiac, this year is the Year of the Rabbit. My daughter and my granddaughter (son’s daughter) are Rabbits, having been born in previous Years of the Rabbit.

The Chinese Zodiac repeats in a cycle of twelve animal years. Unrelated to her Chinese animal year, when she was little, my daughter loved rabbits and had quite a collection of rabbit ornaments and toys. She would have loved a pet bunny, but they are not permitted in Queensland as rabbits are an imported species that has been quite destructive to native wildlife and agriculture.

When the suggestion was made to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby (to raise awareness of the bilby’s vulnerability), my daughter was adamant that it should remain the Bunny. She refused to acknowledge the bilby at all. Fortunately, her heart softened towards bilbies as she got older and became more concerned about the conservation of the species rather than its role at Easter.

Another interesting connection is that, in Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon and stories are told about the rabbit in the moon rather than the man in the moon as Westerners often tell. Having heard the story, I am always fascinated to see the rabbit in the moon and consider it more recognisable than the man. Have a look next time you’re out on a bright night and let me know what you think.

If you wish to know more about Chinese New Year, please check out a wonderful resource that fellow blogger Mabel Kwong wrote with me a few years ago. It’s on the readilearn website and is free to access. It’s called Let’s read about Chinese New Year.

If you haven’t already met Mabel, then I suggest you pop over to her eponymous blog Mabel Kwong and have a read. Mabel explores her experience of being Asian and living in multicultural Australia. I learn so much from her about how to treat others with respect. Her posts are always a delight to read and incredibly thought-provoking.

Now that’s a little rabbit hole I’ve drawn you into.

As you know, I’ve been having a bit of a break, a sabbatical, from blogging, as I try to get my head into gear for 2023. Last week, Charli’s prompt was to write about a sabbatical. I didn’t join in, but many others did. You can read their stories at the Carrot Ranch here.

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Not My Monkeys. Not My Circus. #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads!

This saying was unfamiliar to me, as it was for many of the other writers. It means that it’s not my business, not my responsibility.

For my response, I’ve drawn upon the mountains of lost property that are collected during the school year, items for which children didn’t take responsibility at the time and may not always recognise as theirs when it comes time to claim them.

At the last school I was at, we had one lovely mother who would collect all the items, take them home and wash them, bag those that were named and return them to the owners, and make the others available for collection. She was an angel, and many parents were indebted to her for this very generous and money-saving service. Unclaimed items may have been used as ‘spares’ or sold as second-hand in the uniform shop.

My story is entirely fiction. I hope you enjoy it.

Not My Monkeys. Not My Circus.

Students, instructed to reclaim missing items, trooped past tables overflowing with lost property. Anything not claimed would be discarded.

Henry couldn’t remember what he had to find.

“Not my hat. Not my jacket,” he said. “Not my shoe, not my sock. Not my undies. Pee-ew! Not my lunchbox. Not my water bottle. Not my monkeys. Not my circus.”

“Wait. Monkeys? Circus?”

Henry took the Barrel of Monkeys and the painting.

“Look,” said one helper, amused. “Henry’s mum told him to find three hats, two pairs of shoes and a jacket.”

“Not my monkey. Not my circus,” said the other.

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Oh My! including mine, will be available to read at the Carrot Ranch as soon as the WordPress Happiness Engineers work out a technical glitch for Charli. (Good luck, Charli!)

Oh My! #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “Oh, my.” It can be used in storytelling or dialog. What is the cause for such a response? Have fun with this one! Go where the prompt leads!

I’ve written another episode for Amy and Lucy. I hope you enjoy it.

Amy, Lucy and the Cookies

“I’m home!” Dad crouched at the door; arms outstretched ready to cuddle his girls.

“I’m ho-ome!”

“Shh, in here, Dad,” Lucy whisper-called from the kitchen.

“Oh my,” said Dad, surveying open doors, packets spilling contents on counter tops and floor, bowls, dishes and spoons fighting for space in the sink, and two bright-eyed floury girls.

“What are you making?” he asked aloud. “Other than a mess?” inside his head. “Where’s Mum?”

“Resting. She’s got a headache,” explained Amy. “Chocolate cookies.”

“To make her feel better,” said Lucy. “Wanna help?”

“Can I lick the spoon?”

“Okay,” the girls giggled.

“O-kay!”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt A Story with a Lie, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

A Story with a Lie #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills was talking about family histories not always telling the truth. There are parts of my family’s history that may not be totally accurate too. There are different versions of some tales, and not just of events from different perspectives.

Last year when I wrote a brief book about her female ancestors for my granddaughter on her tenth birthday, I included a version of a story that my father related. When his only remaining sister read the account, she informed me that it was wrong. Somehow, she said, all the males of the family told my father’s version, but my aunt was sure she had the correct version.

My father said that my great grandmother Hannah was born in England and met her future husband George in England before emigrating to Australia. He said that George came to Australia as a paying passenger and that Hannah masqueraded as a cabin boy and worked her passage out. He said that George called her Jim so as to not give her secret away. They arrived in Brisbane in1891 and married on 11th June that year. Hannah gave birth to six children, two of whom died in infancy. Fortunately for me, one of the survivors was my grandmother.

According to my aunt, it was Hannah who paid her way out and George who worked as a cabin boy. I think. Perhaps I’d better check while I can and before I spread too many other lies.

As well as untruths, many families have skeletons that they like to keep locked in the cupboard. My family has a few of those too. When my mother’s brother was researching the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had been transported to Australia for a minor misdemeanour, as many were, such as stealing a loaf of bread. I can’t be sure. Both my mother and uncle were horrified and didn’t want to tell anyone, but somehow the word got out. It’s not so bad really. We found out that there’s a similar ancestor on my father’s side. Nowadays, it’s more acceptable to have a convict way back in the family tree than it was for previous generations. Most are no longer fazed by it.

When Charli challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a lie. What is the lie? It can be subtle or blatant. Who tells the lie and why? Is it an unreliable narrator? Go where the prompt leads! how could I go past family lies and skeletons? I’m sticking with my two little girls again, sans their red car this time. I hope you enjoy it.

A Skeleton in the Cupboard

Lucy was opening and closing every cupboard in the house.

“What’re you doing?” Amy asked.

“Mum lied,” said Lucy.

“About what?”

“The skeleton.”

“What skeleton?”

The skeleton. Mum said Dad has a skeleton in the cupboard. I can’t find it.”

“You won’t find it.”

“Why not?”

“Cause it’s not a real skeleton.”

“Skeletons are so real. I’ve got one and you’ve got one. Everybody’s got one.”

“Not those sorts of skeletons.”

“Then what?”

“Secrets.”

“Secrets?”

“Things they don’t want nobody else to know.”

“So, Mum did lie.”

Amy sighed. “Mum didn’t lie, but there’s no skeleton in the cupboard.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Something Squeaky, excluding mine because I didn’t get it done in time, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

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.

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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 …”

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

Proper Pronouns at the Dawn of Humanity — Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray blog tour

Today it is my pleasure to introduce Jacqui Murray to the blog. Jacqui is a prolific writer and blogger and shares my passion for education. While my focus is the early years, Jacqui’s is tech. She’s my tech education guru.

Jacqui’s latest and eagerly awaited book, Natural Selection, is the third in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy. Having read others of Jacqui’s books in her prehistoric fiction saga, I was delighted to support the launch of this one, especially when she agreed to write a post with a connection to education, and even more so when it was as fascinating as this one. I hope you enjoy!

Over to Jacqui.

Why Early Man Didn’t Use Proper Nouns

When you read Natural Selection, you’ll notice quickly none of our earliest ancestors used proper nouns. Even their names come from sounds associated with them, not a relative or symbolic of something about the individual (like ‘Hope’). That’s because earliest man didn’t develop the capacity for symbolism until much later. That meant proper nouns–names–like “Lake Victoria” or “Mount Ngorongoro” (locations in East Africa where these early tribes lived) were meaningless labels. Instead, landmarks were identified by long hyphenated descriptions of where they are, what they look like, and how to find them. For example, the name of a tree that’s just fruited might be “leafy-tree-by boulder-bed-near-waterhole-by-Sun’s-sleeping-nest”.

More later on how early man remembered these long labels!

Consider this reasoning: A town near me is Mission Viejo. The name means nothing to those who haven’t visited. If I went in search of it, it wouldn’t be near a green mission. I’d have to find it on a map program. Early man didn’t have this so the label applied by those in the area would instead be directions on how to find it—“at-the-end-of-wide-animal-path”. Same with lakes, waterholes, fruit trees, hills, herds, or anything else in the area. You and I would have trouble remembering the long names, but primitive tribes had prodigious memories and easily remembered lots of details.  By providing such a thorough description, any tribe member could find the location even if they had never been there by simply following the designations provided.

This shocked early explorers, both that people considered dumb primitives had such good memories and that they could travel long distances without maps or compasses. The famous anthropologist Margaret Meade had the same epiphany when she lived with primitive tribes for extended periods of time to study them. Symbolic proper nouns were meaningless. In fact, they were confusing.

To put this in perspective: If you are hiking in the mountains or through the wilderness you have never visited before and want to guide someone to where you are, the proper noun name you made up (“Porter’s Creek”) does no good. Telling them to follow the waterway that cuts between the two hills and aims to the sun is much more helpful.

About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

About Natural Selection

In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book trailer

Jacqui has generously shared the first chapter of Natural Selection to tantalize your tastebuds for prehistoric fiction. Thank you, Jacqui.

Enjoy!

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

One Pack Ends, Another Begins

Africa  

The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.

He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.

To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.

And fell.

He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.

Or a cliff.

When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.

Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.

He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.

I live.

But no one else in his pack did.

Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.

Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.

All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.

Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.

Why did she go here?

He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.

Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.

But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.

Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.

Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.

His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.

While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.

Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.

He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.

He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.

Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.

Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.

Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.

Find out more about Jacqui or connect with her on Social Media

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                           https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                   https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

Pinterest:                    http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                       http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                     https://jacquimurray.net

Purchase information

Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital at: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B9KPM5BW

I hope you enjoyed finding out more about Jacqui and her latest book.

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

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.

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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.

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