Monday, 23 November 2009

Finished my Collection of Short Stories

Sent my collection of fast fiction to my editor on Friday. Twenty four stories with each on a different theme from Worcester Writers' Circle - 25,000 words in all. I should have it back by the end of this week so I can get it printed before Christmas and put it on Amazon in the New Year.

Had lots of fun writing them and I think the result was worth all the effort.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

An exercise from a workshop on Writing Effective Dialogue

I attended a workshop on Writing Effective Dialogue at the Birmingham Book Festival last weekend. For the the first exercise the tutor played a recording of a normal conversation and asked us to write our own interpretation. This is what I wrote.


Sarah pushed open the heavy door, reached in and pulled at the light cord. The room gradually filled with a dull glow.

“It's big,” said Stephen. “Am I the only one using it?”

“Yes, it's all yours.”


“It used to be the morgue.”

“Ah, that would explain the strange smell.”

Sarah walked almost 30 feet to the end of the room and pressed a couple of buttons on the control panel that was fixed on the wall. Stephen heard the slow hum of the air conditioning as it started up.

“That should clear it in a few minutes,” Sarah said when she got back.


“You can rearrange the tables any way you like.”


“When you've finished just make sure you get them to complete those forms,” she said pointing to a pile of papers by the water dispenser in the corner.


“We've put your stuff is in that cabinet and I'll bring your people up in half an hour or so. Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Yes please, milk no sugar.”

“OK, I'll leave you to it and get one send down.”

“Great,” said Stephen as he walked to the cabinet in the corner and struggled to remove a large black leather bag.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A People-Watching Story

My inspiration for this piece of flash fiction came from half an hour of people-watching in a bar near Matlock in Derbyshire.

The Woman in the Black Dress

Neil was fed up. He’d been in the bar for 20 minutes and already finished half his pint. He had to drive back to the office so he couldn’t really have another. He just hoped that Jen wouldn’t be too long. He glanced across the room at the group of women eating their sandwiches in the corner. They looked like they were friends from work, although one stood out from all the rest.

She had a Roman nose and a sculptured face extenuated by her hair that was put up and fixed with a large black clip. Her only concession to colour was the deep blue nail varnish that matched her eyes. Otherwise she was dressed completely in black. An ankle-length black dress with a low cut neckline and short sleeves. Her almost Gothic appearance was polished off with a pair of black leather flip-flops and gold earrings the size of curtain-rings.

She ate her prawn sandwich without saying a word, although occasionally she looked up and listened to the buzz of everyone else’s conversation. Whenever she bit into her sandwich the mayonnaise dripped onto the chips on her plate. Every now and then she put the sandwich down, stretched her long slender fingers and wiped them on the red napkin which was on the table beside her. She’d then pick up a chip and eat it seductively. Neil was captivated and watched her unashamedly. He wondered what on earth she was doing with all the other women. She seemed so out of place.

‘Sorry, the traffic was a nightmare,’ announced Jen as she scraped the chair over the floor and sat down.

Neil looked up slightly annoyed at the interruption and said, ‘That’s OK, what would you like to drink?’

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Help me end a piece of fast fiction.

I'm writing a piece of fast fiction for Worcester Writers' Circle on the theme of a “domestic dilemma”. My inspiration has come from a 140 character story posted on Twitter by @veryshortstory. I have used it as the first sentence. As you can see from the title, I have already come up with a possible ending. But I wondered if you might have some ideas which you could leave as a comment.

The Dinner Party

Brian held her pretty hand, intertwining his fingers with hers. Enjoying the moment, then putting it with the rest, in the freezer.

He gently closed the lid and heard the seal sigh when he turned the key to lock it. Even though the garage was attached to the house he didn't want to take a chance with nosy kids or a sneak thief. He went though the connecting door to the kitchen and sat down at the table to get his breath back.

It wasn't as though she was heavy, he just didn't realise how awkward a dead body could be. But it was done. He looked at the kettle for a moment, then got up and took a bottle of wine from the cupboard in the corner. He frowned when he stared at the label and selected another instead. On the way to the living room he grabbed the notepad and pencil that Emily always kept by the phone in the hall.

He carefully placed the bottle and the notepad on the coffee table and went to the sideboard to get the corkscrew and a red wine glass. Before he sat down on the sofa he withdrew the cork and sniffed it out of habit. He then poured a large glass and admired it's deep colour, like damson jam. Now he sat down to think.

He had two simple problems, really just many other domestic dilemmas. The first was what to do with all the food that he'd had to remove so Emily would fit. And the second problem was how to dispose of the freezer. He couldn't very well ring up the council, nor could he take it down to the tip in his estate car. He took another slug of his wine and wrote a few things on the pad. Only one looked like it might work, but it would take a lot of courage. He leaned his head back against the sofa and closed his eyes. He'd just have to hope that the money came through soon.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Started Writing Fiction After a Five Week Break

I had a coffee in Birmingham yesterday and watched a young couple chatting a couple of tables away. I was fascinated by the fact that he only ever looked at her when she talked. So I wrote these 200 words this morning as writing practice.

Video Chat

Ami stared at the laptop with Harry’ s voice in her earphones. ‘Why didn’ t he ever look at her when he talked?’ At first she’ d thought he had another computer screen to one side. But sometimes he looked to the other way, so it couldn’ t be that. Maybe he just didn’ t like to chat face to face.

Her finger flicked over the touchpad and his face zoomed out to fill the screen. He looked sexy with a three-day stubble and short dark hair gelled all spiky. She could see his hairy chest in V neck of his red polo shirt and clearly saw the bluebird tattooed on the right side of his neck. Or was it his left? She was never sure with video chat. He was going on about the latest computer game and she was mesmerised by the sight of his lip stud flashing in the light. It was in the corner of his mouth and every now and then she got a glimpse of his tongue stud. They always turned her on.

He leaned back and scratched his chin. ‘The stubble must be itchy,’ she thought. Suddenly he stopped mid-sentence and froze. ‘Damn,’ she said. ‘Blood thing’ s locked again.’

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

What I Learnt from Writing my Marketing Book

Six weeks ago Harper Collins commissioned me to write a 24,000 word book on marketing. I delivered the manuscript last week and they accepted it without any changes, which was great news. It was a hard five weeks where I wrote something most days. But I did it, and I learnt a lot about writing non-fiction.
  • Non-fiction takes longer to write than fiction which comes from one's imagination without the need for much research.

  • Preparation seems to be the key to non-fiction. Unlike fiction where my characters and scenes have a life of their own and develop in real time as I write them.

  • I found it easier to prepare a structure with the titles of each chapter and the headings for each topic. I agreed these with the publisher before I put pen to paper.

  • It was great to have a professionally designed format that the publisher insisted I stick to. It was relatively easy to write the contents and it made sure that I didn't waffle.

  • I seem to work best in two-hour chunks. After that my brain hurt and I lost concentration and flow. I've discovered that I write best first thing in the morning after a walk and breakfast.

  • You should write it all the way through before you read anything you've written. When I read previous chapters I got distracted and fiddled with them. In the end I just wrote it until I'd finished.

  • It's easiest to skip over the bits that need more research or effort and back-fill when you reach the end. Otherwise you lose momentum.

  • My brain is always miles ahead of my fingers on the keyboard. I wrote it all by hand in a notebook and then edited as I typed it in. I think that added extra time so I will go on a touch-typing course at the local college in the Autumn.

  • When I write fiction I always read it out aloud. I did the same with this book after I'd back-filled it. That took four hours but it highlighted some poor grammar, typos and the odd bit of weak structure.
I reckon that it took me around 60 hours to completely write, redraft and tweak 24,000 words on a subject that I know a lot about. Whether that's par for the course, I have no idea. But I am pleased with the result and, more importantly, so is Harper Collins. They plan to publish my book as one of a series in January 2010.

Peter Spalton, soon to be a published author.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

If Only... - Entry for WAG 14

I have placed the instructions for this Writing Adventure Group challenge at the end of this post. But in essence it was about a time when you wished you could change something that happened.

If Only...

Emily’s mobile bleeped above the noisy crowd. She rummaged in the Gucci bag that Daryl had given her for Christmas. Her heart missed a beat when she saw it was a message from Steve. It had only been a week although it seemed like a month of sleepless nights when she couldn’t get him out of her head.

Nervously she pressed the OK key and winced when she saw the three-word message. Her thumb frantically worked the keys in response, ‘What brought that on?’ She pressed send, sat back and looked aimlessly around the departure lounge as she waited for his reply. It was buzzy with business people this time of the year with one or two couples jetting away for a short break. Emily was due to be called in ten minutes and then she’d be on her way to Dundee. Not long for her to make a final choice.

She looked blankly at the ceiling and frowned. Then, before he could reply she reached for her phone with determined look and sent another message, ‘I love you too, but you should have’s too late now.’

Instructions for “WAG #14: Do-Overs”

Thanks to Carol for the topic idea! (This one is more of a mental/emotional exercise than observational, but you get bonus points if you can somehow tie this to a person you can see and describe OR a physical object.) Think of a time where you’d like to change what happened - whether it’s to get that witty retort in or to say something you never got the chance to say. Write how it should have been and compare it to the reality.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Wonderful Memories – WAG 12

I had plenty of time for this week’s Adventure as I spent an hour and a half on the train to London. Loads of time to scribble. The Adventure, an idea from Lulu, was to describe something from memory and include as much detail as possible including impressions. My own personal challenge was to write it in the first person (a new one for me) and from a female point of view (which I had done before, but never in this context). I’ll leave you to decide which parts are memories and which are pure fantasy. I suppose I should warn you that it contains erotic images.

Wonderful Memories

My thinking spot was calm and restful. All I could hear was the brook bubbling and a pair of buzzards screeching as they flirted high in the sky. The rough bark of the giant chestnut tree pressed into my back and the cool damp earth penetrated my blanket. I closed my eyes and thought of Robert. My mind wandered and drifted back to our first night together almost a year ago.

He’d sent me a text when he got the hotel and said that he’d book in and wait in his car. I felt just like a teenager again as I drove slowly up the gravel drive to a small country hotel that looked like it had been build by a wealthy Victorian industrialist. I saw Robert sat in his car and the butterflies in my stomach added to the tension so I took two attempts to park. At last I switched off the engine and he came over. He looked so elegant, handsome and sexy.

Fumbling to get my handbag off the passenger’s seat I almost dropped it, but luckily I didn‘t. I got out and managed to straightened my dress before he reached me. I’d chosen a little strappy summer one the colour of ripe peaches with heels to match. He said ‘you look lovely’ and kissed me on the lips before he took my hand. I’m sure I must have smiled even though my stomach was churning. He took my bag and we nervously walked hand in hand through the front door and, with a nod to the girl behind the desk, upstairs.

The room was a giant bay window in the shape of a semi-circle. Against the straight wall was a king sized bed positioned so you could look out over the formal rose garden and manicured lawns. I thought it was perfect place for our first tryst.

‘Lovely, isn’t it?’ He said as he put my bag down in the corner, ‘would you like to freshen up before we have a drink?’

‘Yes if you don’t mind’, I replied as I moved closer to him. I could almost feel the warmth of his body and sensed his nervousness. It was like we were fifteen again. He put his arms around me and we kissed slowly and softly. He smelt lovely and I felt him gently nibble my bottom lip which conjured up scrumptious thoughts and made me feel squidgy. Unfortunately he broke off, took a deep breath and said ‘why don’t you go and wash so we can then have a drink in the garden.’

I walked slowly to the bathroom and looked around seductively as I opened the door. I kept him waiting for a few minutes before I came out with fresh lipstick and a sly smile. We walked downstairs onto the terrace and he picked a table for two overlooking the rose garden and the fields towards the church in the distance. The waiter came over with the menus and Robert asked what I’d like to drink. I suggested dry white wine as I didn’t want to fall asleep quite yet. He ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Drinks and dinner were leisurely and, even though I could see that Robert was eager, I took my time to savour the food and even ordered coffee to build the anticipation. So it was about 10 o’clock when we eventually walked upstairs hand in hand. He was obviously nervous as he fumbled with the key a few times before he managed to unlock the door.

Although it was still light outside and the curtains were open, he’d left on one of the bedside lamps. My heart was in my mouth as he moved slowly and purposefully towards me, leant down and kissed me on the mouth. His lips were soft, moist and tasted sweet in spite of the coffee. I felt his hands wander down my back and over my bottom. I pulled myself into him and he responded by sliding his hands up my sides until they were almost on my breasts. I knew that he could feel the curve of my left breast and I felt his hand move slowly until the palm pressed on my nipple. I knew he would feel it getting erect and that excited me.

He gently slipped the straps of my dress over my shoulders and I wiggled my hips so it slid down to the floor. I stepped backwards out of it and started to unbutton his shirt. ‘My turn now,’ I thought as I put my palms on his chest and pushed it off his shoulders. Then I pulled him close so I could feel his bare chest against my body. ‘I love skin,’ I whispered in a deep sexy voice.

‘Yes, so do I,’ he murmured.

I wanted him to undo my bra, but he didn’t. So I pulled his shirt out of his trousers and let it fall to the floor. Backing towards the bed I sat down, kicked off my heels and lay back with my hands behind my head to watch him take off his shoes, socks and chinos. He looked fit and I was glad that I’d bought some special underwear. I knew that I’d made the right choice when I saw the pleasure on his face as he feasted his eyes on my lacy balcony-bra and tiny panties. Peachy and almost see through with tiny light brown flowers embroidered in the silk. I closed my eyes as he knelt down beside me, smelt his aftershave and imagined him admiring my smooth body.

It seemed ages before I felt his breath on my tummy which was quickly followed by a kiss just before he ran his fingertips over the top of my leg. My stomach stirred with anticipation as he moved his kisses further up my body almost casually brushing each of my breasts through my bra. I heard myself moan and could feel my nipples pressing hard against the fabric. The sensation sent a tingle down my body and I desperately wanted him to take it off and suck them hard. Instead he kissed my neck and eased his finger under the top of my bra to rub it against my nipple. He lay down beside me and flicked his tongue into my ear which made me shiver. I turned towards him and smiled as he tweaked the clash of my bra between his thumb and fore finger. Oh what relief to feel my breasts set free at last.

I sensed rather than felt his lips brush lightly over my left nipple, but I felt myself quiver when the tip of his tongue circled the one on my right breast. Now I wanted him and I pulled his head down so he would suck them hard. The sensation was delicious. I felt his fingers moving between my legs and I knew that my wetness was seeping through my panties. The knot in my stomach tightened when he pulled them to one side. I reached down and grasped him, he felt good.

At that moment the urgency overwhelmed us both and with a flurry of limbs we were lying naked side by side. I turned him onto his back and sat astride his stomach with a wicked laugh. He responded by reaching up and rolling both my nipples between a finger and thumb. I leant back and he pulled hard. There was no pain, just exquisite pleasure.

I saw him watch as I bent down towards him and sensed his skin tingle as I swept my breasts over his tummy. I could now feel him hard between my cleavage and I knew that my hair brushed against his chest when I teased and kissed him. Suddenly he rolled me onto my back and, with a sense of urgency, I reached down to guide him. It wasn’t long before I was panting as I rode the wave and I felt myself squeeze him tighter and tighter as I got louder and louder until my legs shook and shook.

We lay there in each other’s arms with the breeze from the open window cooling the sweat off our bodies. As I started to doze I knew that I’d always cherish the pressure of his chest against my breasts and the comfort of our legs intertwined. I kissed him gently before I drifted into a blissful sleep.

I subconsciously felt Robert stir and vaguely heard the doves cooing outside the window. I thought that he reached out to check that I was still here before he kissed me gently on the cheek. I felt his hands wander over my back and I started to come alive. My skin tingled as he ran his fingers down my backbone and between my legs. I felt myself drift into another world as he started to work his magic on me. Almost automatically I pressed my hips towards him so I could feel him hard against my stomach.

Much later we sat in bed drinking tea and chatting about nothing in particular.

A blackbird suddenly rustled in the bushes and dragged me back to my thinking spot. I smiled wistfully as I remember the wonderful moments we’d had together, now just memories. We were married, it was just a shame it was not to each other.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

In a Jam – WAG 11 (Writing Adventure Group)

I was awash in a sea of stop lights. Grid lock is never fun and after ten minutes I was already fed up. I glanced to the guy in the car to my left and watched him frantically rub his nose. It must be an itch. What is it they say? A row or a surprise.

I looked to the front and stared at the line of stationary traffic. ‘God we’re going to be here ages,’ I muttered. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him prod the end of his nose with his right forefinger. Well it can’t be an itch, it must be something else. I was intrigued and turned my head slightly so I could watch him without appearing to stare. But he didn’t care, he was totally immersed in his nose. I turned so I could see him properly.

He leaned forward and adjusted his driving mirror. Then, tilting his head so he could see better, he pushed the tip of his nose upwards with his finger. Was it a spot or a growth? Or maybe it was something even more sinister like cancer. His face was now about an inch from the mirror and he wiggled the tip of his nose with his finger and peered into his nostrils. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.

Suddenly he sprung out of his seat and let out a silent scream. I saw a red spider slide out of his left nostril and fall onto his lap.


I wrote this after I watched a man playing with his nose in a traffic jam. He did everything I described, only the last two sentences above are actually fiction. OK, so maybe I didn’t follow the instructions completely.

Instructions for WAG #11: Scaredy-Cat

Another people-watching exercise! Choose a stranger and observe him/her for a little while. Now give them a phobia. A full-on, jump on the chair, scream like a little girl, unreasonable fear. (Or however you imagine them to respond.) Try to choose something that fits the person you’re watching, and let us know what it is about them that clued you in to their secret fear. The object is not just to describe the fear, but to make us understand why it fits with this particular person.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

A Polished Professional – WAG 10 Entry

I read the instructions for this Writing Adventure Group challenge when I picked up my email at a coffee shop on the motorway. I was driving back from visiting my parents by the seaside and my brain raced with ideas when I got back in the car. By the time I reached the next service station I had to stop and scribble down this piece. I have placed the instructions at the end of the post.

A Polished Professional

Darren loved to polish the glasses. It was so satisfying to see them shine in the light. That was the main reason that he worked in the bar although, of course, there was always Cheryl. Sparkling Cheryl in her white starched blouse with the top button almost popping under the strain and her black pencil skirt with the slit up her left thigh. It was enough to put any red-blooded male off his work.

He glanced towards her by the table in the corner as he carefully took a large wine glass from the dishwasher and checked it for chips against the light. Then with a flick of his wrist he tossed the corner of the cloth into the glass and twisted it in his right hand to polish it inside and out like a true professional. Finally holding it by the stem in his left hand he raised it to his eyes and turned it slowly to check for smears. At that moment his spied Cheryl wiggling back to the bar with her swinging hips and bouncing breasts.

His mouth dropped and his heart raced.
If only he had the courage to ask her.

Instructions for WAG #10: The Professional

As we go through our days, we’re surrounded by people doing everyday jobs: the guy that reads the gas meter, cashiers, bank tellers, security guards, doctors, circus clowns… This week, your assignment is to observe someone doing a job (their profession should be one you don’t know that much about). Describe him/her and also what they’re doing, why they’re doing it (as best you can tell), and how. Feel free to use your imagination, but don’t forget the concrete observation! Special thanks to Lulu for this week’s topic idea!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Entry for Writing Adventure Group - WAG 9

This is my second submission for the Writing Adventure Group and at first I thought it would be a real challenge. But I jotted down a few ‘what ifs’ and came up with this scenario. I spent about five minutes scribbling it down in pencil (which is how I write) and another ten or so typing and editing. I have put the instructions for the theme at the end of the post.

Forbidden Fruit

The sun bounced off its shiny reddish green skin and caught Emma’s eye as she drew back the bedroom curtains. She stared and squinted until she could just make out its vivid hues and the two dark green leaves jutting from its crown.

It was at that moment that she knew she just had to have it.

She struggled to get the ladder out of the garage. Why did Jim always insist on putting things up so high and out of reach. Eventually she managed to prop it up against the tree. Gingerly she reached up and stepped on the first rung. It twisted under her weight as the left leg sunk into the soft ground but she ignored it. Taking a deep breath she placed one foot over another and pulled herself cautiously up into the tree’s canopy.

She felt the morning sun on her back when she eventually reached the top and stretched up to grasp it in her right hand. It felt hard and cold, almost unappealing. As though it didn't want to be plucked. She slowly closed her fingers around its smooth skin and tugged. The branch bent and bounced back when the stalk suddenly snapped. She'd got it.

The prize in her hand she quickly clambered down and ran to the kitchen. It wobbled when she placed it on the kitchen work surface like one of those Russian dolls to finish upright on its tail. Then taking Jim’s eight inch kitchen knife she neatly split it from top to bottom so the two halves rolled in unison on the granite top to expose their hidden flesh. She felt a twinge of excitement just like Eve must have done in the Garden of Eden.

As she looked down at her prize she noticed that the right hand half had a small brown spot on its fleshy part. She bent down and then quickly jerked back in revulsion as a grub poked its head out of the otherwise unblemished apple.

Instructions for WAG #9 – Warning!

Last week the topic was to make something ugly sound beautiful, so this time let’s do the opposite! Choose an unfamiliar object (in other words, one you have no history with) that strikes you as beautiful, appealing, or somehow desirable etc… some ideas might be: a child, a sunset, an attractive shop window, a scenic view, a piece of art, an appetising meal in a restaurant… and write about it in such as way as to make it unappealing or even disgusting, frightening or repulsive to your reader. If you did last week’s topic as well (Rose Coloured Glasses) I’d be very interested to know which of these was harder for you!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Woman on the Phone

I watched this woman as she made a difficult phone call on the train back from London. If I used her as a character, her favourite food would be fish and chips eaten out of newspaper and she would probably drive an small elderly Peugeot.

The Phone Call

She was in a deep and intense conversation on her mobile. She held the phone tight to her left ear and was nervously chewing at the nail on her right forefinger. Things really didn’t look good. She looked serious as though something was very very wrong. Now and then she rubbed her face with the flat of her right hand and bit her nail again. She fought back the tears because she didn’t want to be upset in front of all the other passengers.

It was hard to guess what she was like or why she was travelling. Her handbag was on the seat beside her. But there were no carrier bags, no brief case and no laptop. Unusual for a late afternoon train from London. Her white blouse was slightly stained and she wore grey slacks and brown suede boots with chunky two-inch heels. Not exactly a snappy dresser. On top she had a thin coat in a chequered pattern of cream and chocolate brown. The cuffs were slightly frayed. A bleached blonde with three inch roots, she sat with her long legs outstretched so they almost reached the seat opposite.

Her phone conversation hotted up as she got very heated and intense. Her head hung down. She scratched her forehead and ran her fingers back though her hair, almost in despair. Suddenly in anger she took the phone from her ear and stared at it in disbelief. A black hole - bloody trains!

She watched the screen intently waiting for a bar or two. Impatiently she hit redial, put the phone to her ear and then down again. No connection. Leaning back in her seat with a big sign she stared at the phone again and rubbed the little screen with her left thumb. Suddenly she breathed a sigh of relief and hit redial again. Still nothing. She mouthed a word, ‘Shit.’

She stared in space for ten seconds deep in thought, looked at her watch and poked the key in anger. Fixing her eyes on the screen, shook her head in disbelief and tried once more. It connected and she relaxed and studied the nails on her right hand as she waited for him to answer. After all it had to be a ‘him’.

Eventually he did and she fiddled with one of the buttons on her coat as she nervously continued the conversation where they’d left off. She was oblivious to the countryside flashing by the window and the sun painting its orange and purple hues as it sunk behind the hills. She became more relaxed and moved her handbag slightly on the seat beside her before she wiped off an imaginary mark with her right hand. Almost as though she was stroking it in consolation.

After another minute of intense conversation she smiled and the little dimples in her cheeks lit up like beacons of hope. She flicked out her tongue and licked her lips in anticipation.

Two minutes later she blew a kiss into the phone and said ‘love you.’ She hit the red button put the phone on her lap and relaxed back into her seat. Putting her head back she closed her eyes and smiled in relief.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Entry for WAG 8. Writing Adventure Group

This is my first submission for the Writing Adventure Group. I have put the instructions for the challenge at the end of the post.

Beautiful Brock

Edward was almost sick when he first saw it. The sight unnerved him and squashed the thought of breakfast after his daily walk through the woods. Brock was dead. How could anything so beautiful now look so disgusting? He must have been caught by a speeding car as he tried to cross the road. What a waste!

The next day it was even worse, but Edward was captivated. The crows had taken the eyes and magpies had torn at the innards. At least poor Brock had given a few feathered friends a hearty feast.

On the third day he was covered in flies and bluebottles. The noise and smell of death hung in the breeze as they crawled on the rotting flesh and buzzed in the air around him. He almost seemed alive again.

A week later poor Brock was empty. He’d fed a few birds, and been recycled into maggots and worms. They in turn had fed more badgers and would help the set survive the winter. Now what remained would put a smile on the faces of the children at the local school.

Edward picked up what was left of poor Brock – some bleached bones and a dried and wizen pelt in almost perfect condition. He popped him into the canvas bag that he’d brought especially from home. Later that day he would go into town and take it to the taxidermist who would resurrect him as he once was. Handsome Brock, a proud teenage badger.

Instructions for WAG #8 – Rose Coloured Glasses

Go out and choose an unfamiliar object (in other words, one you have no history with) that strikes you as ugly, repulsive, annoying, etc. Some ideas might be: a wad of squashed gum on the pavement, a dead squirrel on the side of the road, an ugly sign, a loud construction site, a tacky sculpture in a charity shop. Write about it in such as way as to make it appealing to your reader. Really sell it! Use whatever words you want and cheat as much as you want, but do your best!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Nixy's Writing Adventure Group. Looks like fun!!

Just signed up to Nixy Valentine's Writing Adventure Group. This week's task is called "Rose Colored Glasses" and I shall have a stab at it.

Have a look at Nixy's Blog for the rules.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Rose's Story

I wrote this monologue last week and it will be performed tomorrow night as part of a series of pieces by a local drama group. The other monologues are from playwrights like Chekhov, so I’m in good company.

ROSE: I blame cook, you know. If she’d not told me about the ink cap mushroom I’d never be in this place. It must have been about ten years ago, you must remember that very long hot summer? [pause] I’d have been about fifteen and just started work in the kitchen at the café. And as the weather got hotter and hotter, father’s temper got worse and worse. It got to the point where we all dreaded him coming off shift from the station. For Mum and us kids he was like a living nightmare.

Well it just happened that I was walking home one Friday evening when I saw them. The dark ink dripping from their gills in the early evening light. They were by the hedge in the field where the brewery kept the shire horses. Now I couldn’t just walk past. They seemed to beckon me. I stooped down and took them along with a few field mushroom that were growing near the old oak. Well what did you expect me to? Walk on by. [pause] We all really enjoyed the mushroom soup on Saturday evening. Afterwards father had a large brandy as usual while the rest of us washed up. Now cook was right, they are completely harmless unless you have alcohol.

The doctor didn’t know what to do. First came the flushes, then the tingling fingers, the headaches and the violent vomiting. He died in agony a week later. [pause] Life never felt so good. Now we were free from his tyranny and abuse. Until then I never realised that death could bring such happiness. And do you know what happened next? No you don’t. This is your first visit. Well you’ll never believe my luck – come Christmas they moved me to wait on. That’s when I knew that I’d been chosen.

Some of the old men who came to the café for tea were just like him – coarse and aggressive. I really felt for their kids and I knew what I had to do. A couple of weeks later I started baking on Sunday morning. Rocks cakes in two batches, one for us and one for them with a special ingredient that I got from the rat catcher. I chose them one at a time and gave them my special treats over a few weeks. It felt good to see them get weaker and weaker until they never came back for tea again. [pause] Each death made the world a happier place and I would have kept going if they hadn’t caught up with me. [pause] I never had a trial. The café hushed it up as it would be bad for business. I ended up locked in this place with all the men in white coats. And do you know what they said about me? [pause] They said, that I couldn’t live without the smell of death.

(500 words)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Outdoor Inspiration

The other day I walked a mile or two of the North Worcestershire Way in the sunshine. As I meandered along I came across a cottage set back from the lane and up a unkempt path. It inspired me to write this piece. Maybe I'll use it as the beginning of a story.

Yew Tree Cottage

Janice frowned. Yew tree cottage wasn’t anything like she’d imagined. The yew was small and dwarfed by a large monkey puzzle tree, which was the centre-piece of the front garden. As she walked slowly up the path in trepidation she stared at the dilapidated cottage and wondered if she’d got the right place.

The blue paint had almost completely peeled off the wooden window frames and the once white-washed walls were green with mildew. The garden looked no better. A windowless wooden framed greenhouse surrounded by brambles and stinging nettles. And it looked as though the silver birch in the corner was the only thing holding it up.

She stopped in front of the wooden panelled door and looked for the bell. There was none, nor even a knocker. She banged on the door timidly with the side of her right hand and watched the flecks of blue paint fall onto the stone flags. Taking two steps back she waited. The door opened slowly and she glimpsed a withered old man in the dim light. She heard him croak, ‘Come in my dear, let me put the kettle on.’

(200 words)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Writers' Circle

In the late summer of 2008 I decided to develop my skills as a fictional writer and thought about joining a Writers’ Circle. I Googled for one and found it in Worcester Writers' Circle, which is in Worcester almost where I live.

On the 7th October I went along to my first meeting. It was a small group with ages from 22 to 80, I enjoyed it so I decided to join.

Every December the steering group would set a theme for each meeting and suggest that we write a small piece, but it was not compulsory. Although there was no pressure I decided to write a fictional story for each meeting. As it turned out I was the only one who regularly did that. Occasionally one or two other members also wrote something, usually non-fiction. Others read from the book or a article that they were working on.

I suppose this is the story of my journey.