Holiday Excitement

I never tired of this sight. As a kid I used to get really excited when we came over the brow of the hill and I caught my first glimpse of the Universe stretching out as far as the eye could see. Another forty minutes and we would be at the ferry port, well ahead of time.

“You kids excited?” I called out.

James and Sammy ignored me. They were plugged into the latest movie and were oblivious to everything around them.

“Hey, you two!” I shouted, “I’m talking to you.”

Sammy unhooked her augmented reality visor.

“Sorry dad, did you say something?”

“I was asking you and your brother if you were excited. Look, we’re almost there.”

“Dad, you ask us the same thing every year. We’re going to spend a week in a caravan on Pluto, just like we do every year. What’s there to be excited about?

MikeJackson©2016

A 150 word story for this week’s VisDare prompt.

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A New Start

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“How’s it going Jones?”

“Last ship just finished loading sir. All passengers accounted for. Should be leaving port in the next twenty minutes.”

“Progress elsewhere?”

“All the other ports and airports in the country have now closed sir. All those who were chosen to be saved are now safely away.”

“And the rest of the population?”

“Going about their daily lives as usual sir.”

“Poor sods. Are you sure they’ve no idea of what’s going to happen to them?”

“Quite sure sir. Even the monarchy and the majority of the government are unaware of our plans.”

“Thank God for that. When do you begin?”

“Once this final ship is away from land sir.  Our warplanes will criss-cross the country spraying the poison as instructed. At the same time all drinking water will be contaminated and all communications disabled. By midnight there will not be a living soul left anywhere in the UK.”

“Excellent! Call me when when it’s all over Jones, I’ll be in my quarters. We can then start the business of re-building this God forsaken country.”

MikeJackson©2016

A story for this week’s prompt from Sunday Photo Fiction.

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The Stories Are True

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PHOTO PROMPT © Erin Leary

“Come on Freddy, don’t be a wimp, it’ll be fun.”

“I’m not sure Kermit. You know what mum said about us wandering off.”

“She’ll never know. We’ll be there and back in no time.”

“But what if the stories are true Kermit?”

“They’re not. You coming or not?”

Kermit took a great leap and, hesitantly, his brother followed him. Within minutes they’d left the safety of their home and were on the far edge of the watery field of lilies.

And, as all you frogs out there will have guessed by now, they didn’t come back.

The stories were true.

MikeJackson©2016

A 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers.

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A Classy Lady

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by pixabay.com (free to use images)

“What have we got sergeant?”

“Two bodies sir. Looks like the one under the car has been crushed and the other one’s had his head stoved in.”

“And the car?”

“Name’s Henrietta. A vintage. Quite a looker in her day apparently. Neighbours say she tends to keep herself to herself.”

“What does she say happens here?”

“Claims it was self defence sir. Says these two guys wouldn’t take no for an answer. Reckons when the older one slid underneath her and started tinkering she lost it and crushed him. Then the younger one tried to disconnect her battery and she hit him over the head with her bonnet.”

“Best call in the recovery truck sergeant and take her down to the station. And sergeant, make sure you play it by the book, a classy piece like her is going to have expensive lawyers.”

MikeJackson©2016             (Word Count 143)

A story for this week’s prompt at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

 

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The Adverb Is Not Your Friend

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The adverb is not your friend. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. – Stephen King

What a great quote. It is taken Stephen King’s wonderful book –‘On Writing – A Memoir of The Craft’. If you haven’t read it then I recommend that you do.

Unfortunately, if you look at the way we teach writing in our schools, you will see that the adverb is held in high esteem. Quite often a child’s writing ability is measure by the quantity and quality of the adverbs that they can cram into a story.

Don’t Dress Up Your Vocabulary

The most pleasurable thing about reading this book is that so many of the quotes hit home, or they did to me. I don’t know about you but I sometimes get concerned that my writing is not ‘flowery’ enough. I’ll often finish a piece and then grab the thesaurus to see how I might improve it. Stephen King would argue that I might be doing more harm than good.

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed. Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use ‘emolument’ when you mean ‘tip’. – Stephen King

What a great thought to take away, the idea that, as writers, we may be a little bit ashamed when we use short words. In the future, whenever I feel I need to change a short word for a longer one, I hope the image of my neighbour’s cat dressed in top hat and tails, stops me.

Use The First Word You Think Of

When you think about it it makes sense – when we talk to one another our purpose is to get some sort of message across, rarely are you trying to score points with the other person, trying to see who can come up with the most complicated words.

Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word – of course you will, there’s always another word – but it probably wont be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean. – Stephen King

A Tie & Lace-Up Shoes

One of the reasons that I keep going back to this book is because it makes me feel much more comfortable with my own writing. Whenever I write a story, however long or short (more recently they have mainly been short!) I feel that I am trying to tell a story. I try to use words that I would if I was actually telling the story. It would be quite easy to draft out a story then grab a thesaurus and change as many words as possible. The problem is that it would then cease to be my words. It would be a story written by a thesaurus!

I will leave you with this idea:

Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story … to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. – Stephen King

I think I’ll put back on the shelf the thesaurus that I have just dusted off. Instead I will stick with the words that I think best tell the story I have written down.

Mike Jackson

 

 

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Thirteen Little Ducklings

 

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Right children, I need to have a quick count, make sure we’re all here. Dorothy, keep still, there’s a good duckling and Robert, stop doing that to you brother you know he doesn’t like it. One… two… three… Roland dear, where are you going? What have I told you about wandering off by yourself? You have no idea what might be waiting to eat you around that corner. Don’t cry, Geraldine, there’s a dear. I didn’t mean to frighten you, I was just trying to get Roland to behave. Now, where was I? Four… five… six… What’s that Penelope? You’re hungry? Well just bob your head down in the water, like mummy showed you and have a little nibble. What’s that darling? You don’t like getting you face wet? Don’t worry sweetie pie, you’ll soon get used to it. Seven…eight… nine… ten… Jeremy, why are you floating backwards? What’s that you say? You’re having a rest. Well, you’ve had long enough now dear, best you start paddling again and keep up with the others. Eleven… twelve… thirteen. Oh dear we seem to have lost another two. Did anyone see what happened to Scarlet and William? What’s that Benjamin? You think it might have been that nasty heron? I think you might be right dear. Time we were moving on. Did any of you see where Roland went?

MikeJackson©2016

A story for this week’s prompt over at Sunday Photo Fiction

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What Gets You Writing?

 

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Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler

How often has that happened to you? You know that you want to write and last night you had some great ideas, but now they seem to have deserted you. When this happens to me I find myself turning to some of my favourite blogs for inspiration.

Ten Writing Prompts

There are many out there giving daily or weekly writing prompts. What I like most about them is that it also links you with fellow writers, all interpreting the prompts in different ways. Here are ten of my favourite.

1. The Sunday Whirl

Every Sunday Brenda takes a dozen words and puts them into a wordle (Incidentally, if you’ve never played around with wordle you should give it a try, it’s great fun.) The majority of people who respond to this weekly prompt are poets. You post your submission to your blog and then link it through the Linky List. The skill is getting all 12 words to fit neatly and inconspicuously  into your piece of writing. The words are always challenging.

2. Grammar Ghoul Press

Grammar Ghoul Press also hosts two weekly writing challenges: the Mutant 750, for flash fiction up to 750 words, and the Shapeshifting 13, for micro-fiction in multiples of 13 words. Each week, participants are encouraged to read and comment on each other’s submissions, then vote for their favourites.

3. Friday Fictioneers

A great weekly photo prompt from Rochelle. Every Friday authors from around the world gather here to share their 100-words and offer constructive criticism and encouragement to each other. The new photo prompt goes up on Rochelle’s site on a Wednesday.

4. Carpe Diem

 

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is the place to be if you like to write and share haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry forms such as choka and kikobun. It’s a warmhearted family of haiku poets created by Chèvrefeuille, a Dutch haiku poet.

5. d’Verse Poets

d’Verse Poets Pub is a place for poets and writers to gather to celebrate poetry. Lots going on all through the week and a great following. Every Tuesday they have a post called ‘Poetics’ this is all about inspiration. You will invited to write about a provided prompt, whether music, art, photography, quotes or other challenges. Again you are invited to post your poems to your blog and then link through the Mister Linky list.

6. Sunday Picture Fiction

The idea of Sunday Photo Fiction is to create a story / poem or something using around about 200 words with the photo as a guide. It doesn’t have to be centre stage in the story, I have seen some where the placement is so subtle, the writer states where it is.

Once you have written and posted your story to your blog, you add a link so that it is added to the collection and everyone can have a read.

7. Twitter Fiction

I love writing Twitter stories. It’s the challenge of having to create something with so few words to play with. At the moment two of my favourites are:

#haikuchallenge – a daily prompt where a word is given and you are invited to write a Haiku containing that word.

#microprompt – another daily word prompt. This time you are encouraged to write either a story or poetry.

8. Nailpolish Stories

Another great blog. You are asked to write a 25 word story with a nail polish colour as the title (Title doesn’t count in the 25 words.)  Until I tried this I didn’t realise how strange and varied nail polish colours were, with names like ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’, or ‘Trophy Wife’ or ‘I’m Not Really A Waitress – the list goes on. They make great story titles.

9. Visual Dare

Every Wednesday Angela posts a photographic challenge (sometimes called a “VisDare”) that writers can use to help kickstart their work-in-progress, or use as an individual exercise to get the creative juices flowing again. The challenge is to craft a story based on that photo – in 150 words or less.

The photos are carefully selected black-and-white stills, with credit always given to original authorship.  The dare stays up for a week to give ample opportunity for participation. (Posting time is from midnight Tuesday EST to the following Tuesday midnight).

10. Three Word Wednesday

Three Word Wednesday gives writers, poets and those who journal a mid-week jolt of creativity. Each week, three words are selected; you create something with the words. Put your  story on your blog and then post a link to your contribution. Everyone  is encouraged to check back often to read and  comment on other contributions.
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I hope you find these links handy. Maybe I’ll bump in to you one day as we read one another’s stories on one of these prompts.
Mike Jackson
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Too Many Questions

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He kept asking, over and over. Told him he’d be fine. Anything to shut him up. Seems he panics if the water’s above his waist. I didn’t know. The divers say its so dark down there they might never find his body.

MikeJackson©2016

 

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Call Yourself A Writer

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He who would be useful, strong, and happy must cease to be a passive receptacle for the negative, beggarly, and impure streams of thought; and as a wise householder commands his servants and invites his guests, so must he learn to command his desires and to say, with authority, what thoughts he shall admit into the mansion of his soul. – James Allen

Self Talk

I love this quote. It is from James Allen, a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, has been mass-produced since its publication in 1903.

It is all about self talk, the conversation we all have with ourselves on a daily basis. When someone is talking to you you are speaking to yourself three times as fast. At other times this can increase to six times faster. It has been estimated that over 40,000 thoughts go through our mind every day.

Every thought we have about each and every experience we go through is recorded in our brain. Once that thought has been recorded it does not need to be repeated in reality. We all have this never ending internal monologue or running commentary about ourselves and the world around us. It determines who we are and how we act. It is that voice inside you telling you what you can do or can’t do. It is what has created within you, your perception of yourself and the world around you.

The key to our success is how we manage our self talk. If we don’t control our self talk it will control us.

Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.- James Allen

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Have you ever had one of those moments when the answer ‘No’ came from your lips when what you really wanted to say was ‘Yes’?

Let me explain myself.

It was a normal Friday morning in my local coffee shop. I’d been there for about an hour, was on my second latte and writing in my notebook, oblivious to the world around me. It was then that I noticed the lady on the table next to mine was smiling at me, I politely smiled back  and that’s when it happened.

It was such a traumatic and embarrassing moment that I’m almost tempted to abandon this post, but I need to go on, I feel an urge to purge my soul.

What, you must be wondering, had this lady done that was so disconcerting? It was not what she did but rather what she said, she asked me a question, which, with hindsight, was both simple and obvious. If only hindsight had been my companion that morning.

She simply asked, “I couldn’t help but notice your notepad … are you a writer?” She caught me unawares and without thinking I said, “No, not really.” Despite her disappointment she carried on and actually gave me a chance to redeem myself by saying, “Oh, so what are you writing?” Did I grab the life belt that she had thrown me, did I heck! “Nothing much. Just a few scribbles.” I replied, almost apologetically. “Lovely.” she said, obviously wishing she had never asked. I, ashamedly, went back to my ‘scribbling’.

Why did I find it so difficult to admit to being a writer? I suppose the problem is that I don’t yet have the confidence to call myself a writer. I’ve not written any books, or poems, not had any short stories published or been successful in any writing competitions. Aren’t these the sorts of things that ‘real writers’ do?

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As A Man Thinketh

A man is literally what he thinks… – James Allen

What I forgot on that Friday morning, in my favourite coffee shop, was that I was writing. That’s why the lady spoke to me. So, what I need to keep telling myself, to make part of my daily self talk is that I write, so therefore I am a writer.

Two quotes to leave you with, for you to internalise and make part of you inner monologue.The first is from E.L.Doctorow.

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.

The second is from Robin McKinley.

For anyone who is: just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.

Next time a lady in a coffee shop smiles at me I will be ready.

 

Mike Jackson 2016

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Anybody There?

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Photo © Jan W. Fields

“Good news Billy. Found someone to play at your Sally’s wedding reception.”

“How did you manage that Jimmy. I’ve been trying for weeks but everyone’s booked up. Who is it? Someone we know?”

“You won’t of heard of him mate. He’s new round here.”

“Is he any good?”

“Tells me he used to be really popular back in his day. His speciality is some of the older stuff and he’s got his own equipment. Goes by the name of Handel.”

“How did you find him Jimmy?”

“His name popped up at a seance I went to last night.”

MikeJackson©2016

A 100 word story for Friday Fictioneeers.

Posted in 100 Word Stories, Micro Fiction, Short Stories | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments