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 April Challenge: The Trouble With…

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fiction in 50Welcome to Fiction in 50 for April!   If you’d like to join in, simply create a piece of fiction or poetry in 50 words or less using this month’s prompt and post a link to your work of genius in the comments. If you want to share on twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #Fi50.  To find out more about the challenge and future prompts, simply click on the large attractive button at the beginning of this post.  This month’s prompt is…

the trouble with Fi50 buttonYou fill in the blank!

I have gone for a bit of cheekiness as usual, and after much editing and word-slashing I give you my contribution.  I have titled it….

The Trouble with Modern Parents

Dear Editor,

Out shopping, I noticed a lad rudely refusing fruit offered by his mother. I loudly mentioned that those who shun healthy food are more likely to die young from vile diseases.

Rather than thanks, I then received some choice language from the mother.

Society’s gone mad.

B. Goodfellow

I’m excited to see what others come up with for this month – our “fill in the blank” prompts always inspire a wealth of creativity.

For those who like to be prepared, next month’s prompt will be…

may fi50 challenge

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Tomes from the Olden Times: Grandad’s Gifts…

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image Welcome, young and old to Tomes of the Olden Times, the feature in which I discuss books that I particularly remember from times long past.  Today’s gem is an exquisite short story/long picture book from that genius of Australian short-storytelling for children, Mr Paul Jennings.  If you have never read anything by Paul Jennings, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.  Go and correct this at once. No, actually, wait until you’ve read this post, THEN go and correct this in a timely fashion. Today I wish to discuss Grandad’s Gifts, written by Jennings, hauntingly illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe and first published in picture book form in 1990.  That’s 25 years ago folks. Yep, it makes me feel old too. The book tells the short but spook-laden tale of Shane, a young lad who moves with his family to live in the house of his late grandfather.  While there, Shane opens a forbidden cupboard, uncovers a long-hidden secret and sets about righting a wrong in his family history.  Here’s the (rather spoiler-filled) blurb from Goodreads: This is a chilling picture book with a twist in the tail, as Paul slowly brings a fox back to life by feeding its fur with lemons from the tree above its grave. But it’s the lemons above Paul’s grandfather’s grave that give the fox its final gift, sight… grandads gifts When Grandad’s Gifts suddenly popped back into my consciousness many moons after first encountering it, I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten about it for so long.  I immediately tried to hunt it down but had a great deal of trouble finding it in print.  Then, one glorious day, as I was rifling through some second-hand library books I spotted it.  Not the cover that I remembered, but still, that title and that author and I knew I had found it.  And pretty darn pleased about my little score I was too. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes this story so mystical and memory-worthy, but I can assure you that it is one of those special books that you really should endeavour to get your hands on.  Trust me on this. When first I was introduced to this story, in a classroom setting, I remember being stunned by the …well, stunning…illustrations.  So realistic, so engaging, so erring on the side of the magical in the realm of magical realism.  Here’s one:  image And here’s another: imageAnd one more, for luck:

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Boo! That one got you in, didn’t it?!

I think the realism of the artwork really gave this story its spook-factor.  There is something haunting about these pictures that embeds itself in the memory and brings the story right off the pages.  They are the perfect accompaniment to Jennings’ particular brand of quirky strangeness.  Any young Australian worth their salt (and any Australian teacher worth theirs) would be familiar with the hilarious and weird short stories of Paul Jennings.  Some of these, notably his Round the Twist stories,  were later turned into a television series, whose theme song will no doubt still be stuck in the heads of some.  *Mentally sings: Have you ever…ever felt like this? When strange things happen, are you goin’ round the twist?*

Apart from being deliciously creepy though, the book is also remarkably touching, as we get carried along with Shane’s mission to free his furry, cupboard-strewn friend.  This is one of those stories that proves the power of story-telling – it’s one I did actually forget about for a period of time, but once I remembered it, the experience of first hearing it came back in vivid detail from the depths of decades past.

I would highly, highly recommend hunting this book down if you can and reading it with any kids in your vicinity aged around seven or older.

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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Fiction in 50 June Challenge: The Upper Hand…

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Welcome once again to the Fiction in 50 monthly challenge.   To find out more about the challenge, click here.  To participate, all you have to do is create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less based around our monthly prompt.  This month, our prompt is…

upper hand button

Once you’ve written your piece, you can add it to the linky below, or add it in the comments.  And don’t forget to hop around and check out other entries! Here’s this month’s linky:

And here’s my contribution.  I have titled it….

Sleight of Hand

“And now, I will make the coin disappear!” Fumble, fumble. “Ta da! Good, hey?”

“Not really.  I saw it drop into your pocket.”

“Only because I’ve told you how it’s done! Besides, it won’t be a problem for this show.”

“Oh really! Where’s the performance?”

He winks.

“Chudley Hospital Radio.”

Your turn! New players are always welcome, as are old ones.  For regular punters, the list of prompts for the next six months can be found here.  But in the meantime, the prompt for next month is…

path to enlightenmentUntil 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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If it Rains Pancakes: A Lantern Review…and a Fi50 reminder…

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Cheerio my dears, it’s Mad Martha with you today for a brand new poetical review…and a reminder from Bruce about the Fiction in 50 challenge for this month.  April’s Fi50 challenge will open on Monday for your links and entries and the prompt for this month is:

only joking button

All you have to do is create a piece of fiction in any form in 50 words or less!  For more information on how to participate, click on the button at the top of the post.  New players are always warmly welcomed.

Today I am reviewing a poetry tome for the mini-fleshlings and to add to the excitement I have no doubt just generated with those tantalising words, the book focuses on my favourite type of poetry – Haiku!  It also has a second type of Japanese poetry that I will be trying out later in this post – the Lantern, or lanturne.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The book is authored by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated in alluring fashion by Andy Rowland, and bears the wishful title If It Rains Pancakes. I was very pleased to receive a digital copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley – thanks!

The book is split into two parts, each dealing with one style of poem.  The poem type is briefly explained and then a good number of examples is presented, each with it’s own quirky illustration.  The haiku form gets first billing in the book, and my favourite example from this section is the beautifully descriptive:

My pet pig, Betty

in her full karate stance

performs the “pork chop”

The poem is illustrated with Betty in full karate gi, energetically pork chopping the air. Perfect.

The second half of the book focuses on Lantern (sometimes called lanturne) poems, which are also based on syllables and follow the form of 5 lines with one, two, three, four and one syllables respectively.  I had not heard of this form of poetry before and couldn’t wait to give it a bash.  So without further ado, here is my review of If It Rains Pancakes…

rains pancakes

Rhyme:

it’s not

needed when

hatching haiku.

Word.

(I hope you appreciate my little attempt to be down with da hip crew of mini-fleshlings with my blatant display of their colloquial use of the word “word”.  Subtle, wasn’t it?)

This would be a fantastic addition to the shelf of any teacher who either (a) loves poetry of all kinds and can’t wait to engage students in the joy of creating Japanese poetry or (b) is terrified of teaching poetry and can’t wait to find a book that will make the job easy for them.  The funny examples and the quirky illustrations make this a very user-friendly tome and one that will also appeal greatly to kids who may be labouring under the misconception that poetry is boring, tricky, too hard or just not for them.  As I can personally attest, there is nothing funner…er, sorry, more fun…than attempting to squeeze syllables into a particular pattern for the glory of having produced a witty little haiku.  They can become quite addictive, and this book will help give a whole new generation a poetry habit.  That can only be a good thing, in my opinion.

If It Rains Pancakes will be released on May the 1st.

Adieu until we meet again,

Mad Martha

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