Friday Fictioneers – The Walker’s Tale

Photo Prompt © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

When the first pair of shoes turned up, well, I were delighted. I put them on and walked. Them ten league boots took me all the way from John O’Groats to Lands End. I walked clear out of them and settled on the promontory overlooking the bean green Atlantic. Waiting

Today, a second pair of boots on my moss-gnawed doorstep. Sinister derelict things. With a note tucked into the right shoe. I couldn’t pull it out, and anyway I can’t read. But I know what it says.

Pebbles crunching. I walk into the ocean. It’s so very cold.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields, who has given us boots before, to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

My story is a companion piece to Walker, written in response to the first pair of boots.


Friday Fictioneers – On the Run

Photo Prompt © Jill Wisoff

Something weird was happening. I just didn’t know what. Since we left Dad, life was odd. We moved three times in twelve years. And each time, Harold was there too.

Mum promised to explain, now I was old enough. She met me in a motorway services, with Harold in tow.

“We’re on the run from the Mafia,” she said. “Your father crossed them.”

Harold gave me a bracelet. A transmitter, so he and other agents could always locate me. He told me to be wary of doubles, people who looked like friends but were really bad guys.

I mean, what would you do? This was my mother.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

105. Magic realism vs fantasy vs surrealism

I am writing a magic realist novel. So I thought I’d better clarify for myself what the genre is. How does it differ from fantasy and surrealism, for example? Is it another name for fabulism? Where does science fiction fit?

MC Escher stairs
M.C. Escher

Magic Realist writing emerged in Latin America. An example is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The genre integrates, into the everyday world, elements whose logic and rules of causality are different. In magic realism, the fantastic has to be plausible, the impossible is reframed as real. Characters do extraordinary things without realising it or knowing why. Its magic is ordinary and very firmly located in reality.

In this sense it is different from fantasy, whose purpose is to create magical alternate worlds. An example is Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Perhaps more importantly, the purpose of the two groups of writers is different. Whereas fantasy authors are generally offering escapism, magic realist authors are often advancing a critique of the real world. In Latin America it has roots in the critique of neo-colonialism.

Marquez, one of the originators of the genre, expressed this in his speech on accepting the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982: “our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

In this, magic realism also differs from surrealism. Both genres explore illogical or non-realist aspects of existence, but surrealism invites us to look inwards to the subconscious machinery of imagination, while magic realism’s focus tends to be on society.

I have written several stories that I describe as fabulism. Some people see fabulism as a branch of magic realism. And that makes sense, if you consider the purpose. Like magic realism, fabulist writing tends to offer social commentary. But the technique is different, Fabulism need not be realist. It draws on tropes of myth and fable, often combining them in unusual ways to create a new, hybrid story.

Finally, all of these genres are different from science fiction, which requires a plausible extrapolation of existing scientific knowledge to explain the extraordinary. A goose that lays golden eggs is fairy tale. A goose, genetically engineered so that it metabolises gold and deposits the metal in its shell, is science fiction.

Do you think genre descriptions matter? Do you have different definitions? Leave a comment and join the debate.

Friday Fictioneers – Storage Solution

Photo Prompt © Karen Rawson

We call it The Event. The moment when everything changed, when we lost writing. Ink refused to lock onto paper, and just drifted in the air like dark fog. Neither quill nor printing press could force the binding. Every time we opened a book, the letters sprang from the page and roosted in the rafters. Servers were wiped clean

I believe I’ve found the solution. Listen.

“Once upon a midnight dreary

While I pondered weak and weary….”

We will remember and recite.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Taking dictation

Photo Prompt © Jan Wayne Fields

The old man is panting as he reaches the summit. The small of his back twists with ache, bending him forward as if into a wind. He stumbles, legs barely able to support him.

Hell of a place to choose for a meeting, he mutters.

An eagle soars effortless on thermals, and a breeze carries the scent of lemons. A bush bursts into flame. The prophet selects a chisel from his satchel and prepares to take dictation.

I know what you’re thinking, but you are mistaken. Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t make it untrue.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

I’m having major connectivty problems, so please forgive me if I’m not able to comment on your post

Friday Fictioneers – Upcycling

Photo Prompt © Yarnspinner

I found Christophe’s little repair shop tucked away under the railway arches. There was nothing he couldn’t fix. Springs and gears cluttered his bench, bits of old toasters and gizmos whose purpose I couldn’t imagine.

“I need these words repurposed,” I said, dropping the Gladstone bag on his counter. Some tarnished verbs slipped out.

He picked one. “Flense,” he said, turning it over and examining it with a jeweller’s loupe. “Tricky”

While I waited, I leafed through an antique volume, became lost in the tale.

“Where was I?”

“Working a story,” he said. “I’m afraid I involved your body in slaying some dragons.”


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here






104. Nothing is as it was

NIAIW Cover File

An anthology of 32 stories about climate change. One of them is mine. Profits go to the Earth Day network.

A schoolboy inspired by a conservation hero to do his bit.

A mother trying to save her family and her farm from drought.

A world that doesn’t get dark anymore.

And a city that lives in a tower slowly being taken over by the sea.

These stories and many more make up a poignant collection that is sometimes bleak, sometimes lighthearted, but always hopeful that we can make a change.

Published on 22 April, 2018 you can order from Amazon

Friday Fictioneers – The Visitation

Photo Prompt © Dale Rogerson

Yeah, I wasn’t surprised when they came. The truth is out there, you know. No, no. Don’t stand directly underneath – they can beam you up that way.

What do you mean they’re lamps? Don’t you get it? That’s what they want us to think. Well, if you’re so smart tell me what the message means.

The message for crissakes, the one they’re projecting on the window. Look, one bar, then two, then three. Arithmetic, right? But look at the first one. That, my friend, is their encyclopaedia, their gift, if you know how to read it.



Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

103. Two steps forward, one step back

step in sand

Last month I talked about some ways to drive more traffic to your site, and said I was going to experiment with some of the ideas.

  • Guest posts on other blogs
  • Building an e-mail list
  • Joining an online writing community

The guest post is still scheduled. I can now report on the other two.

Building an e-mail list

I used MailChimp to mail a newsletter to a list of 158 people who follow my blog and/or who have commented regularly and thoughtfully on my writing. The draft newsletter was pilot tested with nine people.

The mailing didn’t go hugely well.  Yes, on the one hand the response was well above industry benchmarks. On average, 22% of e-mails in the media and publishing industry are opened. My open-rate was 42.7%. Again, the industry benchmark for “click rate” (clicking on “subscribe”) is 4.66%, while in my case it was 14.6%.

But something went horribly wrong. I should have received 23 subscription notifications. But I only got three. Some people told me independently that they had signed up, bringing my e-mail list to eight. So, I’m missing 15 subscriptions. I guess I made some mistake with MailChimp.



The Scribophile writing community

Scribophile is a large members-only community of writers, and claims 858,776 critiques for 145,608 works, an average of just under six responses per work. Being a closed group, it has the advantage that it shouldn’t prevent you submitting your work elsewhere. I joined it last month, and I’m pretty impressed.

It runs, like any successful community, on the basis of reciprocity. You can’t post your own writing without first contributing, most particularly by critiquing others’ work. There are groups for people with particular interests, bulletin boards, competitions. And, of course, posting your writing for critique. I’ve used it to test out whether readers will tolerate breaking some pretty fundamental rules about first chapters.

I’m a newbie on the site – you start with the rank of “Scribbler” and can rise to “Scribomaster”; I have reached the dizzying heights of Typesetter. Despite that, I can track 16 visits to my blog originating from Scribophile. I also have 13 followers on the site.