Gazette n° 2 out tomorrow!


The second issue of The Gazette has two stories in it. The first, A Typographical Error (1837 words) was simply inspired by an inversion of letters in a word, which gave rise to a completely different perspective on it and led me imagine a story around the two. Though it dates from a few years back I never sent it anywhere because I felt it was bit flippant for the seriousness of the topic it deals with. When I came back to it, though, it struck me that a lot more could be made of it, and that resulted in the second text Four Sisters: Susan (9182 words). This is in fact the start of a novel about, you guessed it, four sisters whose lives span much of the last century. A project I’ll come back to later, but writing up this first part enabled me to start giving it some substance. To subscribe to these free stories, click on the link on the right.


Meanwhile, the first instalment of the weekly series What a Life! What a Day! is now available on Channillo, with the Muse Calliope telling us what makes her tick. If you want to know what she thinks of Tracy Emin’s bed, check it out! Or else, just spread the word – all proceeds go to the Against Malaria Foundation. Many thanks!

Pic’n’Post event n° 6


 Just one guess so far for last week’s Where was this picture (below) taken?


Well, it’s a difficult one indeed. Not as difficult as this, though: 🙂

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But considerably more difficult than this:


Still a week to go, so here’s another picture to help you, taken in the same place as the picture of the train station at the top of this post:


Many thanks to Izzy for her contribution for the Pic’n’Post picture and text combination, with a nice picture and a couple of poetic texts about riding a roller coaster. I love this account of fear overcome – the key, I guess, is in knowing the danger isn’t real, even if it feels that way: I heard myself scream in a way that I’d never screamed before, with unadulterated fear. Lol. It was scary — but I ended up riding that roller coaster five more times.


A reminder of the new flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

Channillo on my Plate

It’s funny, but I seem to have managed to get rather a lot on my plate. ‘Here in Mayotte? Doesn’t he get bored?’ people ask my wife when she says I’m retired. To which she replies an emphatic ‘No, not at all!’ Apart from the novel, already on the go, the blog eats up a variable portion of the day, and then a few weeks ago I decided to launch the Gazette (see subscribe link on sidebar – first issue going out tomorrow!). As if that wasn’t enough, I received a tweet from Kara Monterey, founder of Channillo, asking me to submit an idea for a column, which I duly did. So for a year, starting 1st June, What a Life! What a Day! will be a weekly column for her recently founded serialised writing website. Many thanks for the opportunity, Kara!

I guess that’s called workaholic. On the other hand, if you’re doing what you enjoy, I find it hard to think of it as work. I was a bit the same when I really did work, taking on responsibilities that left me with very little time simply because I enjoyed it. As my wife still has to go out and deal with traffic jams, meetings and reports, I really ought to do all the housework. Strangely enough, though, I somehow never seem to get round to it.

PS Currently travelling, so please excuse me if I’m less reactive to comments, or less able to visit other sites myself. It’s not that internet access is difficult, just that this activity called ‘sightseeing’, which appears to be part of the deal, takes up a fair part of the day.

Flash Fiction Philosophy


I have mixed feelings about flash fiction – more about the writing of it than the reading, which can be wonderful with a well-written piece. But I tend to think long, both in time (ideas take a while to form and develop) and in word count. Nonetheless, writing a story in a given number of words, fewer than 250 say, can be rewarding for several reasons.

  • It forces you to be ruthless. Cutting out unnecessary words is possibly the most vital aspect of editing a text, whatever the length. So writing flash fiction is excellent training for that (as long as you remember to carry over the ruthlessness and don’t think ‘OK, I’ve got no limits now, I can let rip all I want’).
  • It forces you to write. Stuck for an idea? Many flash fiction events or contests give you a prompt (word, picture, sentence). This has the effect of focusing your mind, and once you’ve committed yourself to doing it, you have no option but to buckle down and be creative.
  • At the end, you’ve got something which may one day become a decent story. I say ‘one day’ because that’s the time aspect – I’m rarely happy with a short piece that hasn’t sat in my mind for days, even weeks, and gone through multiple revisions.

Unfortunately, The Book Blogger’s Flash Fiction Foray, in which the prompt is the title of a song, is in temporary abeyance while he revises for exams (good luck!). I like that one, partly because of the nature of the prompt, but also because you can take all week to do it. In its absence, I’ve turned to Micro Bookends. Here the prompt is a picture and two words, the first word at the beginning, the second one at the end, with a maximum of 110 words in between. But you only have 24 hours, which is kind of stressful. Not as stressful, though, as the challenge at Crevoke, where you’re given three words (e.g. spine, young, disarm) and have just 15 minutes to write a story (the counter’s running down on the screen in front of you). The Flash Fiction equivalent of speed dating. Hmm… I’m pretty sure I’d end up tongue-tied.

Pic’n’Post event n° 5


Just one contribution this time, but a very nice one from Sandeep of twenty7zero3, with a picture of London at night during Earth Hour, when the lights are switched off to raise awareness of climate change. It wasn’t quite the case in Trafalgar Square, where the picture was taken, but the reflections produced are beautiful and the picture’s accompanied by a chilling story that could belong in a book like Hunger Games.


A reminder of the new flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

Pic’n’Post event n° 4

p'n'p results

Two participants for Pic’n’Post this time – thanks go to Tiny Expats, whose evocative picture taken outside a Czech castle, Kuneticka Hora, is accompanied by a text, Defenders, about preparing for a siege. At the end there’s a link to another post about the castle – looks like a great place to visit!


Thanks also to Izzy, who artfully combined this event with Jennifer Nichole Well’s One Word Photo Challenge (Copper) and the Daily Prompt (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) to produce A Hearty Haiku inspired by her family’s traditional New Year soup.


The new, flexible Pic’n’Post rules can be found here. Contributions welcome any time!

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Pic’n’Post Event – Easier than ever before!


Flexibility’s the word: as long as there’s a picture to accompany it, one or more of all the following types of text are welcome – the more variety, the better!

  • The true story behind the picture. Why did you take it? What attracted you to that particular subject? What does it show?
  • A short piece of fiction inspired by the picture.
  • The technical specifications, either at the time of shooting or of editing
  • A caption
  • A poem

Contributions are welcome any time (just post your link in the comments), and will be rounded up every other Monday, with links back to the original post. Have fun!


Pic’n’Post event n° 3

p'n'p results

Just one participant for Pic’n’Post this time – thanks, Izzy, for keeping the event alive (just!).

Her story, which you can check out here, features a signpost, a dream, and a voice.


Next deadline: Monday 13th April. A reminder of the rules is here. That’s if you want to abide by them, but rules being made to be broken, we’ll say from now on that (more or less) anything goes. Well, there has to be a picture and a text, but that’s it! The text can be fiction or truth – even the technical specifications behind the photo (I’m always up for a lesson in photography). As you can guess, this wonderful flexibility is an attempt to breathe some life into the Pic’n’Post event – all contributions are welcome at any time! (Even of pictures transformed beyond recognition).


Pic’n’Post event n° 2

p'n'p results

The second Pic’n’Post was a bit disorganised as I was travelling and unable to remind or respond as I would have liked. But two wonderful participants braved these conditions – many thanks to both!

Izzy had a typically thrilling story based on a walk in the woods, where some rather nasty gnomes lurked.


And a very cute picture of Lewis provided inspiration for JoHanna – anyone up for a game of poker?


Next deadline: Monday 30th March. And I’ll make sure to be blogging this time! A reminder of the rules is here.

Pic’n’Post event n° 1

p'n'p event

I round up here the contributions for the first Pic’n’Post event  – many thanks to these pioneering participants!

This one from Chris di Petro captures the essence of Venice Beach nicely: a coming together of dreams and reality in a buzzing, endless performance.


And from Doncaster in the UK, a sunset over Marshgate provided inspiration for twenty7zero3, chilling and beautiful at once.


Izzy’s stories of the hair barrette revisited childhood, with a real ouch moment in the true one!


From anniewhere she goes, an intriguing picture in the park in Islamabad reminded me of my visit there, though I never got to see the park in question.


Next deadline: Monday 9th March. I’ll post a reminder next week, but you don’t hesitate to dig out those inspiring pics straightaway!