Fiction in 50 December Challenge: Venturing Forth…

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Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

Welcome to the last Fiction in 50 Challenge for 2015.  We’ve been pretty light on for challenge participants this year but it has been great fun to read everyone’s efforts nevertheless.  If you would like to play along for this final challenge of the year, simply create a piece of poetry or prose in fewer than 51 words, based on our prompt, and link it in the comments at the end of this post.

This month our prompt is…

venturing forth button

and I have titled my effort…

To Thine Own Self Be True

Today her life would change. 

Plain old Jenny Malone would be no more.  Her new name would reflect the power she knew was inside her, waiting to burst out.  She’d overheard the words in a stranger’s conversation, and was certain.

Exhaling, she inked the letters onto the form:

Chlamydia Rampant


I haven’t yet prepared the prompts for the first half of 2016, but will have them ready for you by the first week of January.

Thanks to all those who have played along (and read along!) this year.

Until next time,

Bruce

Fiction in 50 November Challenge: If At First You Don’t Succeed…

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Welcome to the November 2014 edition of Fiction in 50, where the brave and foolish are challenged to create a piece of fiction in a mere fifty words or less.  For more detailed instructions and to peruse future and past prompts, simply click on the image at the top of this post.  This month’s prompt is….

if at first you don't succeed

Participants, remember to pop a link to your post in the comments so that others can visit you and imbibe your literary genius.  I generally share all entries on Twitter using the hashtag #Fi50, so feel free to do the same.

Here’s my effort for this month. I have titled this story…

An Inch From Genius

“Off to the patent office again, love?”

“This idea’s a real bobby-dazzler, Gertie!”

“Oh yes?”

“This one will go down in history as indispensible, incomparable! It’ll live in the cultural memory as the best thing since…well, since ever!”

“Good for you love. What is it then?”

“Diced bread!”

Onward and upward then….next month’s prompt to round out the year will be…

into the great beyond

I look forward to reading everyone’s attempts!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Winners, Answers and an Fi50 Reminder…

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fiction in 50

It’s time again for Fiction in 50, the writing challenge that asks you to come up with a piece of amazing well-written thoughtful mediocre  readable fiction in 50 words or less! For more information about this challenge, simply click on that big button at the top of the post.  This month’s prompt is….

if at first you don't succeed

The challenge for November opens on Monday, so if you feel a tingle of narrative-based creativity starting in your fingertips, simply pop back on Monday to add your link to the comments of my Fi50 post.  And don’t forget to use the hashtag #Fi50 when sharing on Twitter.  Good luck!

Now for those who cannot bear to be without the answer to a previously-posed puzzle, I am happy to present to you the full list of books that were to be guessed in the Books I’m Grateful I Read Giveaway Hop that finished last week.

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The complete list of books and their associated blurbs etc, can be found here.  Congratulations to KitsuneNinko who won the giveaway with her correct guess of The True Meaning of Smekday.  Also, an honourable mention goes to Valentina B who was the ONLY person to correctly guess the last book (no easy task!) which was Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian.

And good fun was had by all! For those who missed out, I have another giveaway running right now that you can join in with here.

Until next time,

Bruce

Fiction in 50 October Challenge!

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Welcome to the very democratic October edition of Fiction in 50! To find out the skinny on the challenge just click on the image above.  Otherwise, we’d love it if you would join in with this month’s Fi50, which asks the stout of heart to respond to a prompt with a piece of fiction using 50 words or less.  This month’s prompt is….

the darker side of

You fill in the blank!

So it can be the darker side of whatever you like…cheese…beauty pageants…grain-fed triffids….anything!  Keen-eyed readers will notice I haven’t included a linky this month, but I encourage participants to leave a link to their contributions in the comments so others can hop around.  Also, if you want to share on twitter, you can use the hashtag #Fi50

Here’s my contribution – it’s a little bit spooky due to the proximity of All Hallow’s Eve. Enjoy! *Oh, and the (sing) is for singular and (pl) is for plural in case grammar is not your strong point.*

The Darker Side of Conjugations

I am hiding.

You (sing) are hiding.

We are hiding.

He, she or it is coming.

I am discovered.

You are discovered.

We are doomed.

He, she or it is biting.

We are bitten.

I am changing.

You are changing.

We are changed.

We are all coming.

You (pl) are doomed.

Don’t forget to add your link in the comments – I can’t wait to see what people have come up with! Oh, and new players are always welcome.

Next month’s prompt will be:

if at first you don't succeed

And if you are looking for other ways to kill some time in a literary manner, why not have a go at my Bookish Year in Review Survey ? It’s good for what ails ya! Good luck!

Until next time, may your hiding places remain undiscovered by shambling hordes,

Bruce

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MG Haiku Review: Fat and Bones and Other Stories…

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It’s Mad Martha with you today and I bring to you a special little tome of interconnected short stories featuring a range of delightfully wicked characters, topped off with some wonderfully atmospheric illustration.  Take my hand and let’s enter the world of Fat and Bones…

Fat & Bones and Other Stories by Larissa Theule is a collection of short, interconnected stories set on Bones’s mother’s farm.  Before we go much further, it should be pointed out that Bones is a grown up and Fat is a tricksy fairy – so named because of his paunch.  The first story opens with the death of Bones’s father and the somewhat accidental commencement of open hostility between Bones and Fat.  As we delve deeper into this bizarre little world, we discover that Bones is fond of Pig Foot Stew, and as a result, most of the porkers inhabiting the farm are missing a little something below at least one ankle.  Other occupants of the farm that we meet along the way include a tea-loving spider who wants to be brave and a pair of flowers whose friendship is about to be sorely tested.  But who is the narrator of these tales, the spinner of these odd and unsettling yarns? You’ll just have to read and see!

fat and bones

If fairies were real

would they be starlight and charm?

Or lardy and sly?

As you can probably guess from the cover this book has a feel of magical realism, with strange and unexpected twists emerging in every one of the interlaced stories.  The characters are at once likeable and a bit off-putting, their actions two parts self-serving and one part self-sacrificing.  In each of the stories there’s a little bit of humour to offset the overarching fog of bleakness and decay that seems to surround the farm and its residents.

The illustrations perfectly complement the tone of the stories and are masterfully completed, really adding to the overall reading experience.  Once again I would recommend getting this book in print, rather than in digital form, because it was hard to get the full impact of the illustrations having to flick back and forth through digital pages to see the whole image in most cases.

The stories are short and interspersed with interjections from the mysterious narrator and I easily managed the book in one sitting.  As the book is for younger readers though, it would be perfect for a read-aloud as the tales provide obvious stopping points during which readers may muse about folk of the farm.  I very much enjoyed this book for its original characters and the atmospheric setting and narrative style.  The illustrations are just a beautifully crafted bonus.

This might be a good pick in the lead up to Halloween if you are looking for something a bit unsettling and odd, but not actually scary, in the middle grade age bracket.

Yours in delightful oddity,

Mad Martha

* I received a digital copy of this title for review from the publisher via Netgalley *

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Fiction in 50 September Challenge: A Worthy Adversary…

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Welcome to the September edition of the Fiction in 50 Challenge! We invite you to join in and compose a piece of writing in 50 words or less on our current prompt and then link it up to the linky, or pop a link in the comments so all can appreciate your prodigious talent.  I’ve also started using #Fi50 when I share entries on Twitter, so feel free to do the same!  This month’s prompt is….

a worthy adversary button

For more information about the challenge, just click here.  The linky below will be open for a month so you’ve got plenty of time to craft your masterpiece and join in.  Here’s this month’s linky:

And here’s my effort.  I’ve decided this month to tip my hat to that legendary poet of war, Wilfred Owen.  My work today is inspired by his poem Dulce et Decorum est, which you can familiarise yourself with here…but of course you already know it 😉

I have titled my piece….

Dulce 2.0

Bent double, muscles slack, I take up stance on the battleground. I am ready.

Centuries ago, international conflict evolved past such crude problem-solving as violence, bombs, indiscriminate death. Instead, we trip the light fantastic.

I am a soldier of the shimmy and sway.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria saltandi

 

Your turn! For those preppers amongst us, October’s prompt will be super-democratic in that you get to fill in the blank:

the darker side of

You choose! We had a lot of fun with the last fill in the blank prompt a few months ago and you can check out some of those entries here if you need inspiration.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Fiction in 50 July Challenge: The Path to Enlightenment…

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fiction in 50

Welcome to the July session of Fiction in 50, where those with a passion for brevity pit their wits (and writing implements) against a prompt and a strict 50 word limit.  If you’d like to join in, the rules are simple:

1. Check out the prompt for the month

2. Create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less

3. Post it somewhere on the interwebs

4. Link it up to the linky in this post, or share the link in the comments

It’s that simple! But for a slightly more in-depth explanation of the challenge and to get the skinny on upcoming prompts, click on the large attractive button at the top of the post. New players are ALWAYS welcome! In fact, new players are encouraged because it gives us all some new blogs to stalk enjoy.

This month’s prompt is…

path to enlightenment

And here’s this month’s linky, which will remain open until the week prior to the August challenge:

 

Here’s my entry for the month. I have titled this piece…

An Attack of Wisdom

“It’s a Chihuahua.”

“Not just any Chihuahua. It’s been specially bred to detect spiritual giftedness in humans!”

“This is ridiculous. You people … OUCH!..It BIT me!”

Turning as one, the crowd began to chant:

“Embightened one! Embightened one!”

With the blossoming pain came clarity: I was a latent guru, unleashed!

I’ll just take a moment to appreciate the unintentional pun that occured with the last word of my efforts.  Right, moving on, now it’s your turn!  Link up, hop around, and enjoy the brilliantly brief writings of your fellow blog-wranglers!

Next month’s prompt will be…

last place you look

Until next time,

Bruce

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Fiction in 50 May Challenge: What Comes After…

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fiction in 50

It’s that time again! This month’s Fiction in 50 prompt is…

what comes after button

…so create those mini-narratives in 50 words or less and link them up to the linky below, or leave the link or your finished work in the comments.  If you’d like a more detailed description of the task, just click on that attractive button at the start of this post. Here’s this month’s linky:

And here’s my contribution – I’ve titled it….

Unremembered

They brought her out here often enough, though they knew it made no difference to her where she was. Sitting under the tree her fingers played over deep cuts in the bark.

G. K + T. M

A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spark lit up her cloudy eyes.

And then it was gone.

 

Your turn! 

The prompt for June is…

 

upper hand button

This is the final prompt for this set of six months, so it’s your last chance to suggest a prompt for our next set of six monthly challenges.  Just pop your suggestions in the comments and I’ll do my best to squeeze them in.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

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Read-it-if Review: Blur … and a Fi50 reminder!

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Afternoon all! Today I have a murder-mystery-paranormal-YA new release for you and a reminder for all the dauntless creators of teeny-tiny narrative.  So without further faffing about, let me remind those who would like to participate in this month’s Fiction in 50 challenge that the prompt for May is…..

what comes after button

To join in, simply create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less and link it up to the linky in my post on Monday.  We always welcome new players (with a no hazing policy too – bonus!) and veteran challengees alike.  If you’d like to know more about the challenge just click on the attractive image at the top of the post.  Also, we’re coming up to the end of the prompts for this six-month period, so if anyone has suggestions for prompts for the second half of the year, let me know and I’ll try to include them.

Now on to the review!  I received a digital copy of this title from the publishers via Netgalley – thanks!

Today’s tome is Blur by Steven James, a paranormal murder mystery for the YA market.  In Blur, we are introduced to Daniel Byers as he and father are attending the funeral of a girl from Daniel’s school.  Daniel didn’t know Emily Jackson very well – nor, it seemed, did anybody from Beldon High School – but he and his father think it only right that they attend Emily’s funeral, after she was found dead following an accidental drowning in the local lake.  While viewing Emily’s casket, Daniel has a terrifying vision in which Emily’s corpse comes to life and instructs him to find her glasses.  When Emily’s ghost appears to Daniel again later on, during an important football game, Daniel thinks he may just be going crazy, but tries to comply with Emily’s wishes.  As Daniel delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding Emily’s death, he, his friends Kyle and Nicole and maybe-love-interest Stacey, uncover some clues that may point to Emily’s drowning being murder.  But who would want to murder a girl that nobody really took any notice of?  And are the visions that Daniel is having all just in his head?

blur

Read it if:

* you think murder just isn’t murder unless it produces a good old-fashioned haunting in its wake

* you know something about, or care about, or enjoy reading about, American football

* you like a murder mystery in which it is nigh on impossible to guess the murderer before s/he is revealed in the course of the story

So….you know how a week or two ago I was waxing lyrical on how there should be more murder mysteries written for this age group? Well…I’m kind of rethinking that pronouncement after reading this one.  Normally, as regular readers of my musings will know, I love a good paranormal and I love a good murder mystery, so all signs pointed to me thoroughly enjoying this book, but my overall impression is one of a narrative that was trying too hard to be all things to all people. Allow me to explain.

There’s not a lot to complain about regarding the actual story itself – it’s readable, the story flows reasonably well and there are a few good red herrings dotted about to lure the reader astray.  If this was just a plain murder mystery, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.  Where I feel it fell down was in the paranormal elements.  Now, I can’t say too much about certain bits of the paranormal stuff because it would lead to spoilers, but essentially I felt that Daniel’s visions (and his Rainman-esque ability to solve mathematical problems in a split-second) didn’t really fill any meaningful purpose in the story.  In all honesty, the same story could have been told using a different plot device to engage Daniel and his friends in Emily’s murder investigation, without having to resort to paranormal stuff that seemed tacked on.

Similarly, there is a bully character in the story who hangs out with a pair of cronies and generally appears to hassle Daniel at key points in the narrative.  Again, I couldn’t figure out why they were necessary.  Did James just put them in because every school needs a bully? I’m not sure.  But their appearances could easily have been dropped from the book with very little change occuring in the overall narrative flow.

Finally, I had a real problem with the ending of this story.  From my point of view, a GOOD murder mystery allows the reader to think that they’ve solved the mystery just before the reveal, before having the story turned on its head in a clever and unpredictable fashion, thereby offering a warm feeling of satisfaction in the author’s skill at wiley trickery.  Unfortunately, in Blur, this warm feeling of satisfaction is denied the reader (or at least it was for me) because there is no possible way that the killer could have been guessed beforehand.  You know why?

**And this is a tiny little SPOILER, so don’t read the next bit if you don’t want to know about it…just skip ahead to the next paragraph**  I’m glad you asked.  The killer could not have been guessed because s/he was barely mentioned in the preceding couple of hundred pages.  In fact, I had to read the reveal a few times to get it, because I was going, “Who? Where does s/he come into it??”  So instead of a warm feeling of satisfaction at the author’s wiley tricksiness, I was left scratching my head and thinking, “Well that was unexpected. And fairly stupid.”  So after the reveal I spent a bit of time pondering why James would have selected a killer that essentially had no motive for a crime that took an enormous amount of effort to engineer.  And I came up empty.  Disappointing really.

**SPOILERY BIT OVER**

I realise, after looking at reviews over at Goodreads that I’m fairly well in the minority here, given that most other readers seem to have loved this book, but I’m afraid it just didn’t cut it for me and I won’t be seeking out the next books in the trilogy.  To be perfectly honest, what tipped me right over the edge was an adult character’s use of the word “addicting” close to the end of the book.  I think, silly character, the word you are looking for is “addictive”.  I can tell you that as I was already slightly irritated by the shonky reveal, having a character unnecessarily verbing an adjective (as dictionary cat would say) was like being unexpectedly poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

Once again, plenty of others have greatly enjoyed this book, so don’t let my whinging put you off.  If you like murder mysteries with a ghostly twist, this could appeal to you.  Blur is due for release on May 27th.

OH! A favour please, my American readers: What on earth is a “Homecoming” game and why is it so important?  I have never bothered to question this event before, but now my curiosity has arisen.  Where are the students/teams/school supposed to have been, to warrant a homecoming? And why do you select monarchs of homecoming, when you are so staunchly proud of your independence?  Thank you in advance for this cultural education.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Fiction in 50 April Challenge: Only Joking…

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Welcome to the Fiction in 50 challenge for April.  This month’s prompt is…

only joking button

If you’d like to join in, simply create a piece of fiction or poetry or whatever in 50 words or less.  If you want more information, just click on the button at the top of this post.  We love to have new players joining in – the more the merrier (particularly given this month’s prompt!). You can link up your entries in this linky right here or just add your link in the comments:

Now I’m feeling a bit under the weather this time around, so I apologise if my submission is not up to its usual mediocre standard, but here we go…I have titled this piece

Watch Out!

“He’s gone too far this time. I’m going to say something.”

“Why? It’ll all be water under the bridge by now.”

‘She’s trying to help and he humiliates her!”

He grabs the remote.

“It’s fine love.   I’ve got a new rule for evenings in: no more bloody Jeremy Beadle repeats!”

For those lucky individuals who don’t get the pop culture reference of the 1980s and 1990s, you can get a small taste of the “comic genius” of Jeremy Beadle right here.  I’d love to hear from my British friends – was Beadle really as universally enjoyed as his youtube fans suggest? I have a faint feeling of dread that bubbles up every time I hear that theme song….*shudder*

For those who like to be ultra-prepared, next month’s prompt is…

what comes after button

I look forward to reading your efforts, you crazy jokers!

Until next time,

Bruce

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