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Sunday, 30 January 2011

No Fear Voting and Microfiction Monday 31 Jan 2011


Read the No Fear Blogfest finalists HERE


Welcome to another round of Microfiction Monday courtesy of Susan at Stony River. Each week Susan posts a new picture and invites us to write a story in 140 characters or less.

Today's picture:

On the assumption that the theme of "being washed up" would be well and truly explored this week, I decided to take a different tack:


"This," said Old Alfie to his suffering friend, "will cure your constipation in no time!"


"See, tol' you I cud get summat square in a roun' 'ole."


His wife had been on at him for years about wanting to watch the "soap dramas".
"Do you think she'll like it?" he asked his friend.



What a fantastic blogfest this has been! I have been bowled over by the amazing standard of every entry, and I can tell you that picking six finalists has been the hardest thing I have had to do in a very long time. In the end I had to resort to a complicated scoring scheme, assessing every story for bravery, smoothness of writing, characterisation, grip, and that indefinable wow factor!

Firstly, I want to thank everyone who posted their No Fear stories; I hope you enjoyed writing your pieces as much as I enjoyed reading them!

Secondly, I want to honourably mention a couple of entries that I was gutted to have to leave out of the running. These were really great stories and they deserve a standing ovation (Titles are my own creation!)

The Black Sands Gladiator by Tessa Conte
This gripping account of a gladiator duel was a superbly crafted piece.

The Biter Bit by Ellie Garratt
This slick turning the tables story was sizzling with tension, again very well written.

However, I have chosen the following finalists:

OK ... VOTING IS OPEN TO EVERYONE until Midnight GMT on Saturday 6th February.

Voting is up there in the top right corner!

Friday, 28 January 2011

No Fear Blogfest starts today!

At last, the moment you have all been waiting for is here!

The No Fear blogfest is underway!!!
$30 / £20 to be won!

Just post a passage in which your MC (or your favourite fictional character) shows their bravery. It might be in the face of physical danger, or peer pressure or personal sacrifice. It might be epic bravery or bravery that goes unnoticed by anyone but us, your devoted readers.

Your entry can be as long or as short as you want, although spare a thought for those who want to read all the thousands of entries!

These are the contributors who I know have written their pieces ... I will add more as I find them!

WriterzBlockNZ Margo Benson Tony Benson

Summer Ross Michael Di Gesu

There is still time to sign up if you would like to join in ...

I will post about voting later in the weekend.

Here is my story - not to be entered into the voting of course. Although this is a scene in my current WIP, I have written it slightly ahead of time, so will have some fun stitching it in when I get there!

I think you can pick up most things, but I ought to mention that Tomus is a follower of Anwe, and adept at certain forms of magic, like healing and producing light. The prophecy that has so blighted Mikel's life implied, amongst other things which had come true, that Mikel would kill his father.

The Forester, Chapter 4

As Mikel entered the village, he saw a large crowd gathered on the green at the base of Judgement Rock. Most were looking up at the Forester’s court on top of the rock, which was obscured from Mikel’s view by the huge Hanging Tree, but some were looking back at the Forester’s Hall. When they saw Mikel approaching, they nudged one another and stepped aside, opening a way through the crowd. As he reached them, Mikel looked at their faces, these strangers he had known all his life, and saw eyes wide with fear, or urgent with some unspoken warning. Those who had vilified him the most shuffled and looked at their feet. His aunt stepped forward, her eyes red rimmed and cheeks streaked with tears.
“What’s the matter, Aunt Jenna?” Mikel said when it was clear that she could not bring herself to speak.
She raised both hands to her face as fresh tears welled up and she looked up at the huge tree that loomed over them all. Mikel followed her gaze and froze. He felt the blood drain from his face and a fist clench his heart. There was his father, hanging from one of the lower branches; his hands limp at his sides and a rope cutting into his neck. Mikel’s senses reeled. His father had given him nothing but curses and beatings, had treated him with suspicion and contempt, yet Mikel felt as if an axe had swept his feet from under him. He stumbled and several hands reached out to support him. These were his people now.
His cousin grabbed his arm painfully and pointed up at the rock. “Mikel! They’ve taken father. Do something!”
Mikel’s mind snapped back into focus and he strode towards the rough hewn steps that led to the top of the rock. Two soldiers stood guard at the bottom but they let him pass and followed him up. The steps opened out into a natural hollow in the rock, with seating carved into the rock walls. The Hanging Tree spread its massive canopy overhead and his father’s body, suspended over the edge of the rock, drew Mikel’s eyes. The swollen, blood flecked face, tongue lolling from blue tinged lips, eyes wild and staring, transfixed Mikel where he stood.
“Well, well. The little whelp returns. Too late! Useless as ever.” The familiar voice tore Mikel’s attention from his dead father.
Lord Donard stood over his uncle, who cowered on his knees before him. Soldiers stood to either side. Mikel felt a fury welling up and he struggled to keep it in check.
“You are here a day early Donard. You are trespassing on Forester’s land.” Mikel said. He wondered if his hammering heart made his voice shake.
Donard sneered at him. “What difference does a day make? I warned your father that he was to deliver four thousand gold crowns in tax on pain of death. Are you going to collect it from the people of Woodbridge and the Forest by tomorrow? Or shall I just hang you now like I hanged your father?”
A soldier appeared at the top of the steps carrying a bundle. Mikel glanced in his direction and recognised Captain Bressan.
“I am now the Forester, Donard,” Mikel said, “and you stand in the Forester’s court. The Forest Verderer, Durrem son of Athan, acts as court clerk.” His uncle rose slowly, visibly shaking, and nodded. Donard and Captain Bressan were talking in low voices, but Mikel did not want to lose the initiative.
“Donard, you have confessed before the witnesses here gathered that you ordered the murder of Jerram son of Athan, Forester. The punishment for the murder of one of direct royal descent is death.”
Lord Donard looked up sharply. “What are you talking about whelp?” He turned back to Bressan. “You have your orders Captain.” Captain Bressan walked to the edge of the rock and held his sword aloft. Mikel looked over as Bressan’s men threw flaming torches onto the thatched roof of the Forester’s Hall and into the stables, while others broke jars of oil on the timber walls.
Mikel resisted the urge to run back to his home and instead turned to Donnard.
“Under the Forester’s Charter, I have the discretion to levy Weregild. The value on the life of a man of royal descent is five thousand gold crowns. In the interests of the people of Woodbridge and of the Forest, you may take the value of the taxes from the levy. The balance shall be delivered to the Clerk of the Court within one moon.”
Donard’s eyes blazed. “The Shades take you, and your dog-rotted family.” He advanced on Mikel and held up a large axe with a wide head and thin blade, more like a battle axe than a wood axe. “Do you recognise this, whelp? This is the axe your father kept hidden for years for fear of you. Well, you don’t scare me boy. The Lord Proctor wants you out of his way and he gets what he wants.”
Mikel stared at the axe. It was the first time he had ever seen it, but legend said the axe of the Foresters was made after the Battle of Kharvas, ten long centuries before. As Lord Donard reached Mikel, he raised the axe and brought it down with a wide sweep aimed at Mikel’s head. Before Mikel could react, Donard screamed in pain and let go of the axe, which hit the ground at Mikel’s feet. Everyone stared at Donard’s hand which was red and blistering. Mikel looked down at the Forester’s axe, his axe. Mikel reached out; surely his axe would not sear him as it had Donard. The handle felt cool to his touch. The balance of the weapon was perfect and although he knew nothing of fighting, he felt at home with it.
Donard backed away. “Kill him,” he ordered the soldiers. Captain Bressan advanced, as the other soldiers drew their swords.
Mikel looked at the professional killers facing him and knew his life was at an end. All the years of suffering and secret hope that one day he would escape the curse of the prophecy, had come to this moment of utter despair. He lowered his axe. He would die, what sense was there in hurting others, even those commanded to execute him?
“Leave him,” a new voice commanded from behind Mikel. The soldiers put up their hands to shield their eyes as a piercing white light flooded across the Forester’s Court. The light was so intense that colour was bleached form everything and shadows fled.
“Leave now,” the voice commanded. The soldiers stumbled back, blinded, and with Lord Donard retreated down the steps, leaving Mikel and his uncle with the great light. Mikel felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice whispered, “Tell me when they’ve gone; this is killing me.”
“Tomus?” Mikel whispered back. “Am I glad to see you., or hear you anyway!”
Mikel watched Donard and the soldiers mount up and set off at a gallop. “They’ve gone!” he said and turned as the light shut off.
Tomus smiled. “Oh good.” Then he collapsed.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Transitions - Haiku Wednesday

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Join the fun!
You know ... that Blog?

Today's topic is Transition

A delicate blush
Glowing anticipation
Night embraces day

Swollen gluttony
Retreat into sessile skin
Vibrantly reborn

The moon’s baleful glare
Subsumes all humanity
Frees the beast within

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Treasures of Carmelidrium Book Tour HERE today

Playing the What If Game.

Today, I am very pleased to welcome N R Williams to my blog

Nancy is here to talk about her exciting new high fantasy book "The Treasures of Carmelidrium." It really is a great read with a well judged blend of action, suspense, romance and humour.

Over to you Nancy ...

Thank you Dominic for allowing me to grace your post in my blog book tour for, “The Treasures of Carmelidrium.” I appreciate it.

Playing the What if Game. You’ve probably heard of this even if you’re not a writer. I’d like to say that a set of dice are involved, but unless you’ve created a board game called 'The What if Game', I’m afraid not.

The what if game is simply asking yourself, 'what if'. What if Harry Potter was a real person? A child raised by an aunt and uncle who should have taken parenting classes. Would he have really turned out as compassionate as he did in the books? Or maybe, Harry was raised by a wealthy family and lavished with gifts. Harry’s mother or father survived and lived to raise him as a single parent. No one in Harry’s family had any magical gifts including Harry. What world leader would Harry have to find and kill in order to save those he loved and himself? Why?

In your book, your character has a dilemma. What is the dilemma? What type of personality does the character have? What type of world does the character live in? Who is the character’s helper and who is the villain?

These are critical questions and the reason an author plays the what if game.

In “The Treasures of Carmelidrium,” I wanted a unique villain. That’s a tough challenge. Every possible villain has been created and re-created endlessly in countless books. I also didn’t want a “god.” There was a period recently in fantasy, where all the villains were “gods.” I hated those books. Mostly because the villain can’t help it. They were what they were. There weren’t any decisions that could have been different for them. To me, the creepiest villain is a man or woman who has chosen to go into a life that most of us would classify as evil. Their decisions are based on their code of right and wrong. Remember, the villain is the hero of his/her own story.

So what is Renwyk’s personality? He is domineering and wants world dominance. A tried and true villain type that we sometimes run into on the street, sad to say. You know, the boss who wants you to do fifty things at once with a smile on your face. Or the abusive partner. This personality is well defined. So now I must play the 'what if' game.

What if Renwyk is born with special abilities? What if Renwyk has an abusive childhood? How would these two things combine to shape him? Why does he want what he wants?
Renwyk is an abusive, dominating man who believes he is justified in his actions and that everyone owes him something. He is obsessed with, and jealous of, Prince Healden, (pronounced with a silent “a” like Hel-don), simply because Healden is the prince. Renwyk is born with the ability to communicate and control the symberveen, a monster. (See Creating Monsters at Nicole Zoltack’s blog, Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight).
Because of this talent and the use of black magic, Renwyk can control (literally) people’s minds and bend their wills to his own. (I had this idea before Harry Potter came out so any similarities are coincidental). Do you see how the 'what if' game helped me to craft the villain I wanted?

Another area where I played the what if game is the world of Gil-Lael, my alternate world. It is French. Why? All my life I have been told that the French do not understand us (Americans) because of our Christian morality. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. It is common knowledge that the French have a different set of moral values that govern their society. I wondered, what if I flip that? What if I have a crisis in their past that has caused them to be over the top in their morality. What would that crisis be and how would it affect their society and the laws that govern them. To find out, you’ll have to read, “The Treasures of Carmelidrium.”
The what if game is a critical tool for every writer.
I think I will get the patent on that game. LOL

N. R. Williams (Nancy)

Thank you Nancy for sharing the 'what if' game with us!

Don't forget to add a comment with your e-mail address so Nancy can enter you into her contest. Nancy is giving away 3 e-books to 3 winners. Drawing is Feb. 1, 2011 after the book tour ends. She will post the winners on her blog (N R Williams) and will email the lucky three people.

Don't forget to sign up to my blogfest and to post your No Fear stories this coming weekend


Monday, 24 January 2011

Microfiction Monday 24 Jan


Welcome to another round of Microfiction Monday courtesy of Susan at Stony River. Each week Susan posts a new picture and invites us to write a story in 140 characters or less.

Today's picture:

2050: Cloud computing took over the world ... until someone let the clouds out!

Testing the first time machine, Sam went back a hundred years. Well, what d'you know? he thought. Everything really was in black and white!

"Mist!" Joe said.
Hank rolled his eyes.
"Should've aimed better."

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Calling the First Disciples

As some of you know, I am a lay minister in the Church of England. Today I am preaching and the text for the day is the calling of the first disciples (Matthew 4:vs 12-21)

For those of you who may be interested, here is the text

When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, James and John, he didn’t tell them what they would be doing, or where or with whom. He didn’t give them an opportunity to decide whether they would like it. He simply said come and follow me. It’s really quite extraordinary that these fishermen simply left their nets, their livelihood, their security, and followed Jesus.
If I said that Jesus calls us to follow him today would you agree with me?
But I wonder how many would say – Yes Jesus calls us to follow him ... except for me... I’m too old .. I have a family to look after .. I have an important job .. I’m not qualified ... I’m not good enough? There are no exceptions. There is no such thing as “not good enough”. Jesus calls us exactly as we are. Jesus’ call is a non discriminatory equal opportunity.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Well, first let me tell you what it is not.
Following Jesus is not setting off and saying, “Jesus, I’m going. Are you coming with me?”  Even if what you are doing is in his name.
Following Jesus is not standing still. You can’t follow someone if you are going nowhere.
Following Jesus is not paying him an occasional visit – no matter how sincere you are.
Following Jesus is about listening to him. It’s about spending time with him. Let me give you an example. This morning the first thing I did was connect with God. Actually the first thing I did was to make a cup of tea – the second thing I did was to make time for Jesus. I started by offering the day to him. In my mind I gave him this service and my sermon. I thought about all the things I have to get done today. I remembered in his presence all the people and situations that are on my heart. I gave him time to bring to my mind anyone else that is need of prayer. I didn’t tell him what to do – I simply remembered them, knowing that he already knows what they need and certainly doesn’t need me to tell him what to do. If it had been a work day, I would have remembered my staff and business. I would have offered to him the work that I have to do, any meetings I might have, clients I need to speak to. I would ask for wisdom and guidance and lay out my day for him. Now you may be thinking isn’t that saying “I’m going Jesus, come with me.”
The answer is that I truly believe that God wants me to be a civil engineer. I don’t rule out the possibility that one day Jesus may say to me “it’s time to leave your nets – come, let’s go and do something else.” That’s why I need to keep listening to him. About 17 years ago, I was feeling restless. I felt Jesus was calling me to do something. I wrote to a friend asking whether he thought God was asking me to move church. My friend wrote a long letter back saying yes definitely. As soon as I read the letter, I knew that he was wrong and that God was calling me to train for ministry in this church.
But Jesus call to follow him is not usually for anything as significant as that. It might be to get in touch with an old friend or to pop in on an elderly neighbour. It might be to say something encouraging to a young person, or perhaps to put some money in a charity envelope. It might be nothing more than to spend time with him.
I want to tell you that I honestly believe that this is the meaning of life. The whole purpose of our existence on this planet is to learn to have a relationship with God. We are here for a blink of an eye compared to eternity and all the hardship we endure is nothing beside being reconciled with God for all time.
If you are sitting there thinking that all this talk about a relationship with God is a bit touchy feely and uncomfortable, please remember that Jesus suffered and died a horrific death on a cross for the purpose of making that relationship possible. There is nothing comfortable about the cross. Jesus gave everything and he asks for so little in return. He simply asks us to come to him for rest, to drink living waters, to receive his peace and joy, to have a fullness of life, to be set free from guilt, to be loved. Isn’t that worth a bit of touchy feeliness?
 Jesus calls every single person on the face of this planet to follow him. It just so happens that those of us who acknowledge him to be the Son of God, who believe that he was raised from the dead and that he reigns with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are in a better place to hear that call and to respond to it. It is our common response to this call to follow Jesus that unites all Christians, of whatever denomination. This is the week of prayer for Christian Unity. My prayer is we can celebrate our differences while following Him together.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

AWOL - sorry

What a week!


I went to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D. This was always my favourite book for some reason and I thought the film adaptation was extremely well done. There was a small amount of liberty taking with the book, but no more than was necessary to make a cinematic spectacle and to create a clearer narrative thread.
I think Georgie Henley who has played Lucy in the three films to date is a face to watch out for in the future - I am sure she will have a great career if she continues to pursue acting.
Another plaudit goes to Will Poulter who played Eustace - he absolutely captured the pompous arrogance of the boy.
I would give this five stars as a wholesome family film. (some hand holding during the scary scenes might be necessary. The children might appreciate it too!)


An evening with my Spiritual Director

oh! and I received word that my Haiku titled "Wormhole" is to be published by The Pedestal Magazine on 19th March.


Took my younger daughter to Nottingham Trent University for her interview. She wants to study Design for Film and Television there. It seemed to go well. She just has to wait for the University to offer her a place ... or not.


Final edits on a 8500 word short story for the ePocalypse competition being run by Pill HIll Press that I have been writing with Simon Kewin.


Choir Practice. I sing bass.


Writing my sermon for tomorrow. I might share it tomorrow if anyone is interested!

So there you go - why I have deserted you all and why I have missed doing Microfiction Monday and Haiku Wednesday. Back into the swing of it for next week.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Sir Gillyhen and the Princess Part Two

$30/£20 TO BE WON

Misty Waters at Writer's Block ~ Oh wait! I mean Blog... is hosting a great show and tell blogfest. Choose a picture and write two pieces about it - one telling and one showing.

I have chosen a picture of Sir Gillyhen and the Princess

If you want to read the telling version first it is HERE


Sir Gillyhen’s heart hammered in his chest as he gazed at the huge dragon in the meadow below. His mouth was dry and his insides writhed as he thought of the blistering fire these creatures produced. He took a deep breath, gritted his teeth and lowered his lance. He dug his heels into his charger’s sides and thundered down the slope towards the great beast.
For the princess. he thought. For honour. For glory.
A very small voice at the back of his mind added and to make up for the frog.
At the last moment the dragon raised its terrible claws and the lance shattered against the impenetrable hide of its foreleg. Sir Gillyhen felt the shock through his whole body, as if a giant fist had slammed the air from his lungs. Then the ground leapt up and the world spun around him. He rolled over, every part of him screaming in protest at the abuse. He lifted his visor and twisted around, searching for his attacker. A wave of relief swept through him as he saw the dragon loping awkwardly away from him, and he felt ashamed of his fear. The creature took to the skies and Sir Gillyhen watched it fly away over the trees. He would follow it for as long as it took to find and rescue the princess. This sacred quest had been laid upon him by the King, and pride and determination filled Sir Gillyhen’s breast.
He tied his horse to a tree and forced his way into the thick undergrowth beneath the trees. Brambles snatched at his armour and tripped him. Low branches whipped across his face and all the while his heavy armour sapped the strength from his limbs. The warmth of the summer afternoon became unbearable, encased as he was in steel. Sweat poured from his brow and into his eyes. The heavy cotton tunic he wore under his armour was soaked, but he pushed on, grimly determined to save the princess from her terrible fate. Perhaps his devotion would make her better disposed towards him. She had still not forgiven him for inadvertently ending her froggy friendship with a momentary misstep. Every time she passed him she glowered at him and whispered “murderer!”
Just when Sir Gillyhen felt he could go no further, his limbs trembling with fatigue, he stumbled across a deep pool, fed by a sparkling waterfall. He pulled off his helm, knelt down at the bank and drank deeply, the fresh water like nectar to his parched throat. He dipped his helm into the water and poured it over his head, allowing the coolness to cascade over and through and inside his armour. He longed to swim in the pool, but duty summoned him onwards. He clapped the helm on his head and thrust his way through the bindweed and nettles.
After another lifetime forcing his way through the clinging vegetation, Sir Gillyhen paused and listened. He thought he had heard a low moaning in the eerie silence of the forest. There it was again! He pushed forwards until he could see a sunlit glade ahead, dominated by the great bulk of the dragon. At the sound of the princess’s voice, he leapt forward.
“Don’t worry Princess, I will save you!”
As he burst out of the trees and saw the princess bandaging the dragon’s leg, his heart sank like a stone. A chill spread through him, despite the summer heat. The princess turned towards him, her eyes blazing beneath lowered brows.
She pointed a trembling finger at him. “You!” she shrieked.

So what have I learnt in this exercise?

  • I am a natural teller, not a shower.
  • I write better as a teller (not that it is better writing, I just don't write as well showing)
  • I should learn to write less if I want people not to get bored half way through!

Sir Gillyhen and the Princess

$30/£20 TO BE WON

Misty Waters at Writer's Block ~ Oh wait! I mean Blog... is hosting a great show and tell blogfest. Choose a picture and write two pieces about it - one telling and one showing.
(I know it's Show vs Tell but my kids had their fair share of show and tell, and it kinda sticks!)

I have chosen a picture of Sir Gillyhen and the Princess


Sir Gillyhen bravely faced the great dragon that loomed above him. He lowered his lance and charged the fearsome beast, knowing that, at any moment, a searing blast of fire might incinerate him. The creature raised its foreleg, with long, vicious claws stretched out, just as the knight closed the gap between them. His lance struck the leg and shattered against the steel-like hide. The force of the impact lifted Sir Gillyhen off his horse and dumped him unceremoniously on his vambrace. With a howl, the dragon lumbered three-legged across the meadow, taking ungainly to the air, while the knight struggled to his feet. Sir Gillyhen watched the great beast fly off over the forest until it descended into the trees a mile or so away. He sighed and looked at the thick undergrowth between the tree trunks. It would be hard work, but he was on a quest to rescue the princess and no mere undergrowth would stand in his way.
The king had entrusted this charge to him, and after the fiasco with the frog he was determined to prove his worth. He had apologised to the princess profusely for months, but really, it is very hard to see where one is putting one’s feet with the visor down, and how was he supposed to know it was a talking frog?
Leaving his steed tied to a tree, Sir Gillyhen pushed his way through the trees. The going was tough and soon he was feeling very hot. After half an hour of slow progress the knight heard the welcome sound of running water, and soon came to a clearing where a waterfall tumbled into a deep pool. He slaked his thirst and, feeling refreshed, he went on his way, but not without a wistful look at the inviting tarn. If he were a shepherd boy, he reflected, it would be so easy to slip off his tunic and sandals and plunge into the cool water.
After another half an hour of struggling through the trees, Sir Gillyhen heard a low moaning sound. He moved forward more cautiously. He could make out a sunlit clearing ahead and it seemed the dragon was occupying most of it. Then Sir Gillyhen heard the unmistakable voice of the princess. Without a moment’s hesitation, he leapt forwards calling out “Don’t worry Princess, I will save you!”
He should have been forewarned by the petrified look in the dragon’s eyes, but he was out of the trees before he saw the princess bending over its paw. A medical box lay open on the grass and the dragon’s leg was swathed in bandages. He skidded to a halt and a horrible feeling began to creep over him. The princess turned slowly, looking very angry.
“You!” she said, pointing her finger at him.

I will return tomorrow with my showing story.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Microfiction Monday 10 Jan


Welcome to another round of Microfiction Monday courtesy of Susan at Stony River. Each week Susan posts a new picture and invites us to write a story in 140 characters or less.

Today's picture:

I seem to be habitually running late these days, but here is my offering at last!

Emily is arrested by the fashion police (flying squad)

(Is anyone else old enough to remember The Sweeney on UK TV?)

Earth - check. Alien Creature - check. Strange clothing - check. So where's Doctor Who?

(OK I'm targeting the UK audience today!)

"Touch me again, buster," hissed Julie, "and I'll break your finger!"

Calling all writers - take a look at my Blogfest and plaese sign up!! Thanks :D
*hugs* to lovely writers