Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Tuesday, Some Prompts

A fat alarm clock
A fire is lit
A hedge
A hotel room in New York City
About to sit down with my half-pint of Guinness
And always tucked his daughter up at night
And the flesh of each other
Blue-backed, silver-bellied, half-imagined things
Brought back to me that September evening
Chanting, chanting
Drawn like a moth to the darkened black room
Dumb as a cloud
Her parents love her eyes, how hard she works
His donkey-jacket on the kitchen chair
I am sailing the world
I cannot speak to you.
I died first, I think
I thought we were sitting in the sky
I took myself on for the hell of it
I'm trying to remember as best as I can
Irish Daisies, Yorkshire Nightingales
It begins as a house
It's almost impossible to be here, you kneel
Later he moved quietly to deeper sleep
Light through trees
Like a dwarf on stilts
Men hurrying back across the river
My father decoded the world
My father, drawing the fire
My fellow inmates praise him
Nothing has turned the wood
Our baby's heart, fluttering
People stop me in the street
Right into the mountain
Rockall, Malin, Dogger, Finisterre
She moved him to the hospital
Sometimes in autumn
That other country? Where was it?
The boat chugged up to the little stone jetty
The doors between the days fall open
The past fades like newsprint in the sun
The Unit
The village gossiped
The voices carry from everywhere
Then dusk, and someone calls
Then I gave myself a fright
We were joined at the hip.
When all this is over, I mean to travel north
With ten minutes to kill and the whole place deserted
You do not scorch the sheets or wake your wife
You wonder if it's lovers

Monday, 29 October 2007

A BC Thread

Recently a Boot Camper asked, "Does anyone else get scared?"

He was asking about writing from the deepest parts, how scary it could be.

My first answer was: it's a straight choice. How honest do we want to be? How true? I am only happy when I feel my work is lifting a rug (5% of the time, tops)

Later said:

It ISN'T necessary to directly use your own experience, however painful, however true, or deep or "drama-worthy"

And if you DO directly use something, it's IRRELEVANT whether it's therapeutic, makes you happier or sadder

What matters is the TEXT and what it brings to others

It doesn't matter AT ALL whether 100% of Ballistics is factual, only that it's TRUE. It can be true even if it's 100% fiction.

When you use "your past", your own pain, your own memories, really, the THINGS aren't all that important. What's important is the feelings, and what the events whether directly or indirectly used, SAY, make us feel.

If I use a personal experience directly and try to stay "accurate" I will lose truth. The world and exact accuracy usually kills message.

And later:

Lots of these things are hard to prove, but think like this.

When "a little brown dog" starts glowing, some memory or link to memory, either some maturing part of you thinks it's ready to discover, or some older part of you maybe wants to relieve an internal pressure, BUT THAT IS JUST ONE THING (presume for simplicity)

I suppose it's possible that the conscious and unconscious brain between them choose one single item. one discrete memory, but is it likely?

My belief is that the more we right, the more we try to unfuzz our history, the more we "go there" (I mean in that drifting, available, state) the more things might start to emerge.

The idea that I might isolate ONE and one only (one that might "REFUSE" to ever come out) seems crazy.

When memories and ideas come make sure that at least the emerging tip is not lost. RECORD THEM ALL.

many things may happen her

Example you are imagining/believing that this memory of a squashed cat REALLY MEANS SOMETHING but last week you remembered a
snippet of a song, or an image of an old radio, or someone's shoes, or a car. I have no idea. MIGHT IT NOT BE THAT THE CAT WAS A WAY IN BUT NOT THE KEY? Might it not be that one of you "lesser" ideas/memories will, in the end be more important?


And later still:


Do NOT presume that all this "must be" an unearthing of your specific past.

It does not have to be YOU or something that happened to you.

Example. Imagine that once you saw, as a kid, a kid getting bullied. You vaguely noted it. It was "gone." Years later you also vaguely note that the kid committed a heinous crime or suicide, or became famous or rich (it doesn't matter). MAYBE you realised the two were the same. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you connected the two bits, connected the relationship, the cause-effect, maybe you didn't.


so a thing might be part of our personal history, first hand

a thing may be part of our history second-hand, ie seen and heard in others

a thing may be part of our psyche THIRD hand, a news report of the above, a book, a play

a thing may, arguably be part of us FOURTH hand, cultural, like "paedophilia" and peadophiles loom so much larger in consciousness these days than they did when I was a kid... or "save-the-planet" or back in the sixties-seventies the fact that most of us went round half expecting a nuclear holocaust.

So memories do not HAVE TO relate to bad or good things you did or had done to you

Now whether or not you have a Hannibal Lecter past or lived with Jesus and ate honey and ambrosia every morning and your shit came out in perfumed bags, you conscious and unconscious pick up EVERY DAY the subliminal links to millions, billions of incidents.

When you read Alex Keegan you read (somewhere in there) HIS past, some of his sensibilities. How much of Dickens' psyche lurks in the bowels of his books... so the more we read and write the more we slowly accumulate "pressures"

if you read a current-vogue book about someone being abused, read absorb, "forget" how do you know, even if your life has been perfect, that this little nugget won't be eating away at you colouring your view of possibly EVERYTHING until you die?

We have many lives now. We absorb from news, poetry, shorts, novels, plays, films, video, TV, the web, in a way people never dreamt of even fifty years ago

but note this... what tweaks you, what sticks with YOU, does so because you are particularly susceptible, receptive to that image or idea

THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT and that's why you have to take an instant snapshot of the "thing" put it on a whiteboard and keep it alive.

If not, if for example, your psychic guardians 'don't want you to know" it will be gone, probably forever in 24 hours.

Think of it as a little fall of mud outside a cave. Mark the spot before mud covers it up.

But remember that it is not "inevitable" that the event or memory or feeling energising this connection is SPECIFICALLY something that happened (physically to you). It might be a combination of things. You might never have been touched by the creepy paedophile from next-door who hung himself when you were thirteen, but maybe you heard his name once when you were out drinking with the office-girls and a childhood friend went white, you FELT.... but the group were playing X and now when you hear X you feel torn, twisted.

It could be anything (or nothing, just an accumulation of juxtapositions and pressures from images, words, ideas from your reading/watching.

If demons made someone write Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, Apocalypse Now and hundreds of others, what happens to US when we watch them (even if we laugh)? IF those writers were exorcising their demons (if) what do we absorb?


So... I access a feeling, a hurt. a memory and I write about something else.

Yes, that's one way. Often directly writing about something merely energises the defences and we get shut down, anyway. But if we can sense the ache-pressure-fear-disgust (or exquisite pleasure) and find some literary outlet that seems to reflect the feeling, it may well be that what we write will be suffused with the "power" of the partly-unearthed memory.

Say I had walked in on my mother fucking the neighbour and not only that but she looked horrible, told me to fuck off (and then extrapolate)

Yes it may be possible to one day unearth the actual memories and write about them as fictional or actual autobiography but often these writings fai because the memories are bitty and we obsess on the missing parts "wanting to tell the truth"

But if, from the feeling we write about a parent betraying a child, a FICTION, we then can use the pain we felt.

Later someone asked, about these recorded "cues", should they keep one warmed up, ticking over, or should they have many?

Of one I said:



I have many things on the go so the one that wants to can begin to fester and expand. Second two things or more may choose to interact.

Note the verbs. the thing wants to, the thing chooses

NOT the author

One BCer posted this:

It might be worth reading this article which Alex posted on the BC blog.

It came from the notes from a Kingfisher Barn course a couple of years ago, and talks about using half-memories:


and then


Note, I am not trying to write (or post) "perfect" articles. I believe that we don't learn so well from the perfectly-formed, but learn better from bits-and-pieces, spontaneous responses which generate questions and then, hopefully, answers.

Thursday, 25 October 2007


A rat crept softly through the vegetation
All day, all night, all weathers
April is the cruellest month
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Everyone suddenly burst out singing
Footworn and hollowed and thin
For I have known them all already, known them all
Groping along the tunnel, step by step
Had we been lovers
I believe there were no flowers then
I have come from the borders of sleep
I lay with my young bride in my arms
I lent upon a coppice gate
I love it as a child might love it
I see the image of a naked man
I thought we were sitting in the sky
I was much further out than you thought
It was after the war
Let us go and make our visit
Love without hope
Move him into the sun
No one is twisting her arm but there it is
Nothing but wild rain
Now it is autumn, falling fruit
Once we had toys, pretty toys
Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me
Ten minutes to kill
The darkness crumbles
The fascination of what's difficult
The flood subsides, and the body
The staggering girl
The trees are in their autumn beauty
The troubled midnight
The voices carry from everywhere
The whitewashed wall
The words we have for things that die
There is one story and one story only
There will be time, there will be time
They sing the dearest songs
This is my first time here, a stranger
Turning. And turning and turning
We are at the races now
We drank coffee, talked for an hour
We hired a private nurse
We shall pick his bones, whisper
When she rises in the morning
When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Why have you made this life so intolerable?
You did not walk with me
You would not know him now

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Wednesday Prompts

A broken flower-stem, a broken vase
A man riding horseback raises dust
A thousand mountains without a bird
At last his guilt became apparent
Autumn in California, mild, anonymous
Before the end they chatted with friends over a glass
Careless for an instant How we edge away
Clean, white, starched sheets
Flung across a room An old man, black face
Four or five years ago Romance never returns
From the scrotum of the Yak
He doesn't care he looks strange
He let tears fall and wandered off alone
He speaks from the corner of his eyes
Hours are a small thing A lighthouse
I am a man with few ambitions and no friends
I can stare at him, ashamed, shameless
I have a standing order called "surrender" in case of war
I have surrounded you, I was as cold as stone
I must go back to her, to her embrace
If only we could throw you away
It is impossible to see anything
It is your loneliness, not mine
My head, my shoulders, my arms
Night came and they became more anxious
Nobody knows what love is any more
Pedro has the shoes
She poured the tea. Vaguely I watched her hands
She's big, and big, and full of love
So whisk me off out of here and down some road
Sympathy comes between shit and syphilis
The day before he died Rising from the toilet seat
The ebb run and the flood flow
The isolation hospital Suicide isn't always easy
The morning changed grew chilly and transparent
The nervous hum of danger
Then stand, say nothing; nothing you believe
Then the lights went out Unpacking
This was once an innocent country
This was the end of a man who also died
Twice daily, maybe thrice. It depends on luck
Under a winter streetlamp near a bus-stop
We banged on the pipes, but no-one knew the code
We beat it shitless
We know what's funny and unfunny
We look for communion A wind is blowing
We slept naked, on top of the covers
When I grow up I want to be connected
When she was still alive, we often walked

Tuesday Prompts

Only the Lonely

Long, thick, creamy fingers

Bloodless coup a real letdown

Pressing the smoothness out of cushions

Leaving Birmingham behind

It pulses sometimes. It throbs.

Bob Marley rises from grave

The bathroom on the bus is Out of Order

The boy with a sparrow in his hand

Friends Reunited

A difficult woman

Night at the end of the tunnel

Monday, 22 October 2007

Monday prompts

Sad stories of the dearth of kings

Moods of the Sea

In the footsteps of courage and catastrophe


He did not lift the sheet

Four Cows


The year shifted a little. The blossom fell.

Lit only by a sunbeam


The smell of the unburied dead

The peacock had gathered its courage


Warning my father


You are History. You are Legend


Sunday, 21 October 2007

Sunday prompts

Can you handle the angry?

The bustle of waitresses and the chink of silver on china

The second thing that killed my father off

Saturday morning film club with Angela Dawkins

A sweetness of powder and scented things

He stepped around the pie in the driveway

I wish you'd rub my legs and talk to me

Gospel truth

Everything was swept away


Killing sparrows was the most festive event


Friday, 19 October 2007

Prompts for 20:00

There's some of yesterdays here and some openings to novels.

If there's not something for you here, you're DEAD

At sunrise, the small expedition meets beneath a giant fig tree.
During the war years when I was still in school,
Fear presides over these memories, perpetual fear.
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream.
I am a white man and never forgot it, but I was brought up by the Cheyenne Indians from the age of ten.
In order to pay off an old debt that someone else had contracted, King said yes when he knew he should have said no.
It was in the summer of 1988 that my neighbour, 71, confided in me that he was having an affair with a 34-year old cleaning woman
Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
My name is William Warlick House, residing at Chokoloskee Island, in Lee County, Florida
On the went, singing "Eternal Memory", and whenever they stopped, the sound of their feet, the horses and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.
Sea birds are aloft again, a tattered few.
She was deeply embedded in my consciousness.
The day didn't begin well.

A stag, proud as a screaming penis
After all, he was Welsh
An itch
Between you and me
But you, of all people, should not
Cats are contradictions
Chestnuts, Chestnut hair
Cold marble
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda?
He was lost in thought as he steered his Sierra through the quiet streets
Hobson's Choice
Horses, snorting, sensing deaths in the field
Human ash is a fine fertiliser
I am considering becoming an astronaut
I count on you naturally I remember, I remember
I dream of gas chambers
I thought my youth would last forever
It's not my vault Let her finish as calmly as possible
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner
Moira was in the computer room
My astrologer told me Saturn has been flopped over me like a giant cosmic fried egg
My five senses
No financial disasters
On the whole toads are more interesting than frogs
Of those at the table in the café
Once upon a time there were three little foxes
One for sorrow She must not be anxious
Richmond was a good hour's drive
She could smell it!
Steam spitting from stainless steel pipes
Sybille is in the hands of monstrous crooks
That sweet, watch-baking angel
The air electric The tiny fish enjoy themselves
The buggy lurches in frost-stuck ruts
The first movement is singing
There was a small maiden named Maggie
They get her as little as possible as late as possible
This is a secret final letter This is glorious news
Trees grow like insults
Visiting the poet
Which must absolutely be kept from that angel
Who will honour the city now?
Why soffits are brown, black, white and never pink
You without beginning, you always in between
Your official membership is enclosed
Your sweetness and patience and kindness

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Three Flash Blasts Tonight!!

and the first is at 7PM

(then 9PM and 10:30)

Here's a list

A brief sickness, a need to get to Paris
A cruising milk-float, the clink of crates
A gap between money coming in and money going out
An itch
As I know with my whole heart
Between you and me
Cats are contradictions
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda?
Evelyn, dear
First there was silence
I always have plenty of month left at the end of the money
I am a nice, affable woman
I am bored now, with the condescension of my inferiors
I am sending you this little cheque
I cannot ever thank you enough for your generosity
I count on you naturally
I do not want to leave
I gloat and also mourn
I remember, I remember
I thought the Nile was blue, and sane bright yellow
I wanna be a star, I wanna go far
It dripped off though on Octover 22.
It's not my vault
Let her finish as calmly as possible
Let me know if anything grave happens
My astrologer told me Saturn has been flopped over me like a giant cosmic fried egg
No financial disasters
Oh to be in England
On the whole toads are more interesting than frogs
Once upon a time there were three little foxes
One for sorrow
Saris hang on the washing line
She must not be anxious
Sybille is in the hands of monstrous crooks
That sweet, watch-baking angel
The air electric
The small things can ruin one's nerves
The tiny fish enjoy themselves
There was a small maiden named Maggie
They get her as little as possible as late as possible
This is a secret final letter
This is glorious news
Unless I am sure you two are OK
Which must absolutely be kept from that angel
Your sweetness and patience and kindness

And More Good News

Not "Boot Camp" but great news for Joel in Finland who wins a top advertising First Place and cash. October is looking pretty good and the drinks are definitely on Joel.

Next up Matt has been awarded £3,000 to launch a magazine in Brighton. (Please note, should any Boot Campers place in Matt's Magazine they will NOT count as hits.)

Third, yours truly will be judging next year's City of Derby Short-Story Competition. This year's second and last year's second were Boot Campers! Boot Camp stories will not be eligible for the comp.

$500 Second Place for Joel etc

Congrats to Joel based in Finland for his $500 second place in City of Derby's Short-Story Competition

Following are the last few hits. That's a thousand bucks won this month!


142 Joel wins $500 Second, City of Derby

153 Lexie wins HISSAAC $500

154 Tom named shortlist in HISSAAC
155 Jenny Jackson shortlisted at Leaf (and in print anthology)
156 Jason Jackson shortlisted at Guildford
157 DMW's flash "Zombie Jesus: taken by Four Volts Print Magazine

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

DON'T CHEAT. Prompts for 22:00

I'm not feeling brilliant so may not last until 10PM

So here are the prompts

He sold the caravan to a melancholy priest
Kissing old women
A cruise missile passing, just below our balcony
I saw a poodle, crucified
Ten million rooms, all smelling of cigarettes
When you woke, you were more or less insane
The art of losing isn't hard to master
Driftwood blackened by old fires
A year ago I fell in love with a tailor's dummy
Listen to me. I know a lot about melons
We were going to drive to Wales
I inspect her room while she's away
Home is so sad
You passed me as if you hadn't seen, but then you stopped
I think you're an asteroid
Chinese Taxi
My husband and I
Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday
Answering Back
Zurka the pickpocket was sitting on a bench in a Budapest park
It all started the day of Frankie's accident
Lily once told me that…
Is there anything sadder than an empty station?
I met Eric when he was thirty-eight and I was turning forty.
"I'm here to see the owner."
"So, Franco…"
I served in France, you know.
Every morning she comes on deck early.
A Little Pussy
Honey, I saw your note and understand you're a little upset.
David Time's view of himself began at the station platform, his polished boots.
The Moon has eyes, a nose and a mouth
My greeting protocol is faultless
We live in a cabin next to the river
I am obscure, middle-aged, heterosexual and white.
I'm holding Mamoo's hand. I can't stop shaking
He lay in bed listening to the cat-flap clacking
Social Workers!
He was thinking about Michael Jackson again
She writes her name in ketchup
When I got to school this morning there was dogshit all over the grass.
I grew up like any other clown
On Jericho Beach
I'll tell you a story about two soldiers
They tell you a lot about a person, their stains.

Prompts for 20:00

All these years and I still don't understand
Black handprints
But let that wait.
Consider the escaped leopard
Dogs etc
Eggs, unfertilised
Fuck You
Great Britain
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me.
I marinated it in soy sauce and champagne
Jesus Smith, Traffic Warden
King Fred
Lose it before you use it.
May a good wind blow him to hell.
Names so silly they must be made up
Oh for a muse of fire!
Pissing on the flames
Queen Anne
Roasted Hedgehog
Someone tossed a condom into it
He used a lot of vowels
VERILY, verily
XXX Love Hilary
Here I am on the Brighton Line
He's an excellent cook, especially of people
I felt like a quartered chicken
A year ago, I stood at the window, crying
I remember him best with my skin
An unfortunate accident with a circular saw
If they piss you off, shoot the fuckers
I think this is psychologically acute advice
If music be the food of love, what's a boy band?
My suffering left me sad and gloomy
So, while the light fails
The children are exploring by the stream
The naming of cats is a difficult matter
The ship sank
The sorrow will pass but not the conviction
The voices of dead children singing
This book was born because I was hungry
We do not die
To the Indians who died in Africa
Travel is a contrary thing.
We are an old and wise organisation
Well, romance is not unknown here
What we call the beginning is often the end
When I tell you a cat must have three different names
You have proved nothing
You may think, at first, I'm as mad as a hatter
Now that the year has come full circle

Wednesday Flash prompts 1800

In my craft and sullen art
In the undergrowth, a woman's clothing
In which nothing need happen particularly
It can't be October already?
It is the road now, but I know not where it goes
It isn't just one of your holiday games
Later, bikes leaning against an old tree
Lay your head upon my pillow
Let's go, knock on a good woman's door
A deer, trapped, the dogs loose
A sherbert fizz
About suffering…
After that it was a little easier
Alone, the last legionnaire, afraid
Apples, rotten every one
As the door closes, as the dark envelopes
Before, before there were souls, what then?
Black handprints
Brass Band
Bright and early, fine in his intent
But let that wait.
Consider the escaped leopard
Cycling for bluebells near St Mellons
Duct Tape
He used a lot of vowels
Here I am on the Brighton Line
He's an excellent cook, especially of people
His was the first corpse I ever saw
I am not respectable or industrious
I felt like a quartered chicken
I had somewhere to get to
I had to move
I have been walking, walking
I have heard that freedom exists
I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by MFI
I'll come, no matter where you're going
In an effort to keep day and night together
May a good wind blow him to hell.
Midgets demand their cake.
Miss Beatty's Moustache
Mr Justice Gray
My dad just left it by the shed
My mother waits too long
My suffering left me sad and gloomy
Names so silly they must be made up
Not everybody's childhood sucks
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Passing strangers on underground escalators

Flash Tonight?

Boot Camp wil have two flash sessions tonight (Wednesday) at 8PM and 10PM

Prompts will be posted here. Why not try this? Give yourself around an hour and just freewheel, unplanned, driven by some response to one or more prompts.

You'd be amazed. Many BCers get their best work from flash sessions.

Post an answer here if you'd want to join us for the evening


Morning Prompts

A sherbert fizz
After that it was a little easier
Alone, the last legionnaire, afraid
Apples, rotten every one
Black handprints
But let that wait.
Consider the escaped leopard
Duct Tape
He used a lot of vowels
Here I am on the Brighton Line
He's an excellent cook, especially of people
His was the first corpse I ever saw
I felt like a quartered chicken
I had to move
I have been walking, walking
I marinated it in soy sauce and champagne
I remember him best with my skin
I think this is psychologically acute advice
If music be the food of love, what's a boy band?
In an effort to keep day and night together
It can't be October already?
It isn't just one of your holiday games
May a good wind blow him to hell.
Miss Beatty's Moustache
Mr Justice Gray
My suffering left me sad and gloomy
Names so silly they must be made up
Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Passing strangers on underground escalators
People die in fires, the unlucky ones live
She giggles and pulls the trigger
So, while the light fails
The children are exploring by the stream
The musky smell of urine
The naming of cats is a difficult matter
The ship sank
The sorrow will pass but not the conviction
The voices of dead children singing
This book was born because I was hungry
This story had a happy ending but it was going to be too long
To the Indians who died in Africa
Travel is a contrary thing.
We are an old and wise organisation
Well, romance is not unknown here
What we call the beginning is often the end
When I tell you a cat must have three different names
You have proved nothing
You may think, at first, I'm as mad as a hatter

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Too Good?

A question to more experienced writers...

Over the last X years I've experienced the black hole which (I think) is between good beginner/intermediate work and serious writing. You can improve the quality, depth and breadth of your short-stories until they become too good to pick up the previously-regular prizes and publications but you're either not-good-enough or not "in" enough to break into the seriously big places.

You start out a wannabee and sub, sub, sub, then begin to hit. Flushed with success you get a higher ratio of hits and in better outlets. You win a lot of prizes.

Then, suddenly, it dries up.

But you KNOW that this story blows away that winner, and that. You're experienced. You edit, judge, critique, teach. Frankly you can now "churn out" the kinds of stories you had to work hard to create (and then won prizes)...

One obvious answer (wrong, but obvious) is that you, as a writer have "disappeared up yer own arse". You fancy yourself, you've forgotten what story-telling is.

EXCEPT THAT YOU STILL DO PRODUCE PUBLICATIONS AND PRIZE-WINNERS It's just that they are casual, "throw-away" flashes or "games" or fun-stories. Easy stories which gratify very quickly and are soon forgotten.

MANY MOONS AGO I always entered three stories in every competition. In Boot Camp we grade stories and give a mark based on craft, the plot etc. I used to predict the following.

The top scorer (the "best" story) would place NOWHERE.

The intermediate story would make the longlist/shortlist/final.

The LIGHTEST, most trivial story would win a prize.

That must have happened for 75% of the competitions I entered.

One possible explanation is this. READERS for comps.

What level of writing and critiquing skill will most competition readers have? If they are "Joe Public" do they seek to choose absolute quality or "an easy read"? The bigger the comp and the larger the entry the more the problem (if it is a problem) is enlarged. Readers have to read fast and often and QUICKLY choose YES-NO... Do they therefore not have the time to savour the more subtle stories or stories that challenge?

Have YOU Blog-Reader sent more than one story in to a comp and found your makeweight winning while your classy pieces disappear without trace?

Second thought is this, especially where readers are beginning/intermediate writers. I bel;ieve that beg/Int WRITERS will choose writing which is close to what they believe they could write on a very good writing day, downhill with the wind behind them. That is they RELATE to this level of writing. It's currently SLIGHTLY beyond them (but not by much) and so they feel good about the work, identify-with/relate-to it.

But send them a serious work, a slightly heavier work or a very talented work that in the next writing year they could not DREAM of writing, what then? My belief is it scares them or makes them angry, or "pisses them off" or "makes them uncomfortable". The quick and easy solution is to reject.

I know in my own reading, when I was developing as a writer, I "rejected" the great writers as boring and pompous, and over-rated. I began to read stuff that was good general fiction (but not literary) because that felt "classy" but achievable.

That is, what I felt I liked and admired was what I could REALISTICALLY aspire to write. I believe now, looking back, that I rejected truly great work because it made me feel desperately inadequate. No way would i write like that (ever) so what better than to reject it out of hand?

I seriously worry that the UK market for short-stories is not a market for readers of shorts but a market for beginning amd intermediate writers. I read many of the magazines and though stories are often competent it is a very rare story indeed that stays with me for as long as an hour.

They are bland, safe, easy to read, quick to absorb.

I believe that if we modernised a Chekhov story or posted a Ray Carver story, or Alice Munro, or Saul Bellow, or William Trevor, or any one of twenty-thirty recognised top names THEY WOULD BOMB IN UK COMPETITONS.

If Boot Camp is having a flash session (usual max time 75 minutes but often shorter) and I join in, bang out a really fast story, sometimes using all the prompts as a challenge... if I remove typos but don't edit, if I send out that rough, there's a very good chance it will win something or place somewhere.

But if I WORK it. If I write, draft, build, sculpt. if I produce something that's ten times more satisfying, then it will take years to place.

And don't think it's lack of editorial skills. On countless occasions I've pointed out flaws in stories (in Boot Camp, in Seventh Quark submissions, in my work editing for payment and do on). I know what I'm doing.

I'll return to this, but would love to hear YOUR thoughts.


NOT Happy

Today has been TORTURE, not very typical of my writing emotions.

Since starting this blog I've become far too aware of process and now I feel it's stopping me writing fresh stuff

Day Seven (Day Three of Year)

001 001,350 Words Story OK
002 001,095 Words Story OK
003 001,025 Words Story OK
004 001,158 Words Story OK
005 000,900 Words Story (Subbed) <<<< GOOD!
006 001,480 Words Story OK
007 000,850 Words Story <<<<<< GOOD!
008 001,491 Words Story part-Done (Torturous Writing)

888 007,670 Words Other Writings

999 017,119 Words TOTAL
999 002,445 Words Daily Average

01 Submissions

Latest on Children in Need

01 Alex, Berkshire
02 Claire, Cumbria, England
03 TomC, Yorkshire
04 Joel, Finland
05 Dan, England
06 Caroline, England
07 Britbird, Brighton, England
08 The Secretary!
09 Colin, England
10 Missy, England
11 Ants, Leeds, England
12 Ralph New Zealand/London
13 Dave Prescott, Herefordshire, England

Tuesday Prompts at 08:00

An artificial tiger
And now look at the results
Dad had gone out in the rowing-boat
Darkness like tunnel walls
Each day we must reckon
Eggs in the cuckoo clock
God is writing a novel
He felt there wasn't enough guilt in the world
He sang the brightness of mornings and green rivers
He wakes, he calls her name
His staring glass eye
I have never visited him in his quarters
I try to imagine "poor"
I went into the bathroom to see
It happened much as he expected, but he was wrong about when.
It was a strange atmosphere on the plane.
Jumping barbed wire fences on an old German motor-bike
Life is a hospital ward, lovers in every bed
Love of art, not others
My mother's wedding ring
Next to her deathbed, a large white fish
Nine months and then you let me out
On top of a wardrobe, his old vest
She screamed for England but lost to a Pole from a dark forest
She was cleaning
Sun. And sky. And in the sky, white clouds
The ankles were tied
We should plan ahead for being dead
Yet you have come here to rescue her
You confront yourself
You had a fancy coffin, go fast stripes

Monday, 15 October 2007

Monday Morning 07:50

Big isn't it?
Blue and Green is not unusual
By the St Lawrence
Dark Blue Jeans, White T-Shirt
Does Your Mother Know?
Early Morning Coffee
Edward was explaining to Carl about levels
Even Better Than the Real Thing
Get Up, Get Up, Get Up
Goodbye Argentina
He always wore one glove, carried the other
He had a heart attack and crashed his bus
Here, have this loaf of bread
I AM communicating with you
I am Old Enough to leave, So I Will
I think it was St Mary's but I'm not going to argue
I'm not DENYING anything
It was in those days when I wandered about hungry.
It's a nice addiction to have
Keep On Running
Learning Kung Fu
Leaving the Yellow House
Looking for Mr Green
Marjorie and Emily Short-cutting to school
Miss Jones wants to make love to me
Potassium Permanganate
Reading Chekhov
Sensible Shoes
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Sign Here, and Here, and HERE
Sometimes, I think I can hear him
Standard jewel case
Tears Flowed at the Chapel Funeral
They live in cracks, under, behind
Today we have a fire drills
What Kind of day Did You Have?
Whose side, your father's or your mother's?
Whose turn for the shit
Without Poetry it just isn't the same
A Silver Dish
A theft
A very small bone, broken
Air on a G String
Angel of the Great White Way

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Sunday Morning prompts

Handkerchiefs from Auntie Maisie

Memories of Birthdays Past

Recycled cards


Mouth Like a Parrot's Cage

Daddy, I made this for you …


Why Josephine Can't Come to the Party

Annual Excuses

How many candles?

Cardigans and Slippers

The Skin I'm In

Conspicuous Consumption

Four Weddings and a Birthday

Not Old, Merely Mature

The Man Who Saved All His Wrapping Paper


Eleven Children in Needers So Far

One more this morning, 11 so far


One more, Ants Davies from Leeds

01 Alex, Berkshire
02 Claire, Cumbria, England
03 TomC, Yorkshire
04 Joel, Finland
05 Dan, England
06 Caroline, England
07 Britbird, Brighton, England
08 The Secretary!
09 Colin, England
10 Missy, England
11 Ants, Leeds, England

Saturday, 13 October 2007

prompts at a Ridiculous Time

A breakfast egg and Otis Redding
A particularly hard stool evacuated from an aeroplane
At gravesides priest will say, "I don't give a fuck."
Bad dreams of old cars
Cream Crackers
Fish and chips on winter nights
Girls in bikinis, moonbathing
How she sews.
I have, here, in my pocket…
I want to paint murdered kings
I was born in the village of Much Bickering
If I was ever faithful
It's not true, there ARE intelligent women
Jeffrey Archer, Poet Laureate
Kill the thing
Moths and Lamps
My father planting potatoes
Negro postmen, money, dreams
Old poetry books turn brown and make me remember sadnesses
On a tour of public lavatories
Pick yer Paris Tunnel
Please don't put out the light
Quickly, Press
Schoolgirls waiting at a crossing
Since there is no help, let us kiss and part
The dead will quietly bury the living
The first daffodils of autumn appear
There it is, word for word
This line of thinking brought me back to his letter
Tonight at noon
Truth limits man
Untamed Danish Pastries
We are waiting for the end of eternity when this guy turns up shouting
When the leaves fall upwards to the trees
When the room is emptied, heat remains
When vegetables retreat
X marks the blemish
Yesterday I believed

Friday, 12 October 2007

Friday Prompts 0800

Clarity is brief, the world is mostly dark confusion
Clothes not immediately in use etc.
Do not stand at my grave and laugh
First rehearse the easy things
Fish understand
He slept with his suitcase which didn't snore
he was knocked down by a rabid dog, bitten ten times
Hendre Hall
Hide behind trees, climb into wardrobes
His rapid growth has left him less rugged
I have been walking by the harbour
I have purchased Tom a low steamer trunk
I should like very much to have him keep it under his bed
IF they build a by-pass
My nephew was in Germany and had a terrible time.
Night reunites the house with silence, death walks
Not the memory but remembering
Now nothing is scattered, nothing divided.
Tell lies: I love you. I'll be back in half an hour. I'm fine
That was his favourite chair, that his book
The abdominal muscles are still weak
The dogs have stopped barking
The sky is deep but welcoming
Tom's sister died in just such a pool
Unless it is an infringement to the rules
We don't know why Brownlee left, only that he is gone
We have a prejudice against quarry ponds
We hope, in a few years, he will be completely normal
You wake up taller, the day presses you down

Thursday, 11 October 2007

CIN Update

We now have TEN. We'd like FIFTY

01 Alex, Berkshire

02 Claire, Cumbria, England

03 TomC, Yorkshire

04 Joel, Finland

05 Dan, England

06 Caroline, England

07 Britbird, Brighton, England

08 The Secretary!

09 Colin, England

10 Missy, England

Thursday Afternoon Prompts

We should have been gallopping on horses
Chocolate Eclairs
Their hooftprints splashes of light
Red Wine
Hauling up lobster pots in a wake of sparks
We should have been doing more with our lives
She ate monotonous food and thought the world was flat
If I knew, I'd SAY
A card game where a nose was broken
A wedding where the bride punched the groom
or a child's purse full of anything
A few peanuts, an orange
Stop all the clocks
A wristy buisness
They have dragged the river but my heart is still missing
A one-legged man always puts his best foot forward
Did you say gas?
Father, brother, husband, lover, friend
I smell his shirts, the toilet seat is always down
Since you died, I notice things
After the hospital rang we sent Dad's stuff to a jumble. It was a wrong number
Cars white with frost
I don't feel well
The vacuum-cleaner sulks in a corner cupboard
I expect him many minute now

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fresh Prompts

Billy Fucking Bremner
Dai K lives at the end of the valley
Eventually it feels like Ireland
Everyone hates the English (and so they should)
From Wales, the mostly English sector
He said I had a servant's soul and spat into the grate
He seemed like a hollow oak-trunk, covered in ivy
I had a coffee, one coffee, with Marilyn Munro
I live in a spelling error
I thought it made me look more working class
It was your lightness that drew me
My father and mother, my brother, my sister
My six year-old said "bomb". They sent an armoured car.
Old damp soaks through the wallpaper
Sewing machine
She makes a quiet breakfast for herself
She must be from another country
Some say love's a little boy
Three weeks of bad drugs, badass jazz, bad religion
Two fairies skittered behind the bar
We will know who they are by their absence
What are we waiting for, assembled in the form?
What manner of dying is this?
Where a gunshot scatters acres of birds
Yes, that is the door and behind it they live

Eight Signed Up So Far

01 Alex, Berkshire
02 Claire
03 TomC, Yorkshire
04 Joel, Finland
05 Dan, England
06 Caroline, England
07 Britbird, Brighton, England
08 The Secretary!

CIN Night Diary

TomC recorded his experiences of CIN night last year


CIN Night Sign-Ups

We already have:

01 Alex, Berkshire, England (Writing for Wales!)
02 Claire, ?? England
03 TomC, Yorkshire, England
04 Joel, Finland
05 Dan, ??? England

99 The Secretary!!!


For the last few years Boot Campers have joined with other flash-writers to write their hearts out and raise money for UK Charity "Children in Need". Last year I said "Never Again."

Never say Never!

CIN Night is Friday November 16th but we have a lot of practice nights!

The basic format is this. people sign up to write as much as they can (shorts, poems, articles, flashes) between the hours of 6PM Thursday and Midnight Friday (15-16 November)

They do so inspired by emailed prompts which also appear on a few sites.

The prompts will be posted on a one-hour cycle and a 90-minute cycle.

A number of members attempt the straight thirty hours, others 24 Hours, some do both evenings from 6-12,

What is important is that THE GROUP is active for the thirty hours.

We tie up with magazines who print the best stories and we also produce an anthology either in-house or via a publishing house. Two years ago LEAF produced the work in an amazingly short time.

Many of you reading this will know of "CIN NIGHT", how it works and the amazing work it produces. We are still getting "hits" from work written for CIN last year. For some reason the intensity and craziness produces a lot of very very good work!


Entry itself is £25 or $50.

This is broken down as follows.

£10/$20 for Children in Need
£10/$20 for a prize fund. 100% payed out.
£5/$10 for a single copy of the anthology (overseas post extra)

We also ask participants to raise sponsorship independently. Two years ago we raised over £10,000 and we would like to beat that this year.


It's a big challenge, very exciting and demanding.

It teaches you something, that stories WILL come and they will surprise you. More than a few participants have told us that they wrote their best work ever in the 30 Hours of "CIN"

You have a life-experience.

You raise money for Children.


We raise the troops. Nobody is registered without the payment as otherwise we get a lot of "time-wasters"

We open up some forums on line for practice nights

We practice (many practice stories are sold)

Some choose to meet up in Newbury at Kingfisher Barn for group-support on the night.

We post actual totals raised, and projected sponsorship amounts


You get prompts every thirty minutes. use them as you see fit.

You forward stories to the secretary so that they are anonymous, unnattributed.

You write write write.


The group works on line reading and rating flashes to shortlist them down to 50/100/150

The stories are rated "author-blind"

The magazines/publications read (say) the top 100 and select from these, award a prize.

Previously this was done by "Eclectica' a top ezine.

We also produce the paper anthology which will of course be for sale.

Last year we sold 500



To join us email Alex at

alex.keegan (at sign) btinternet.com

Payments can be made by bank transfer, UK cheque or PayPal

Please note the bulk of monies raised (the individual sponsorships) go direct to Children in Need as we have no desire to handle tens of thousands of pounds. We only deal with the entry fees.


Prompts 07:17 Wednesday 10th

A one-eyed troll in front of a joyless fire
As we fall into step I ask , "A penny for your thoughts?"
As we made love for the third day running, as it rained and rained
Because you didn't go. It's because you never left.
Deep, far off, in the strangest pits
Eeney Stannit!! Eeney Stannit!!
For this, and this reason only I will return your deposit,
He finds the public phone is vandalised
Her lightness drew me, after so many heavy, dark days with you
I feel extremely disappointed that you have to lie and hurl unfounded accusations.
I have put the dogs out, hosed away the shit
I trust we need have know further dealings from this point forward.
If, at your desk, you put aside your work
In front of the mirror in my parents' room
In the middle of the night, if we got up
it is my house, yet one room is locked.
It will be sent to you in the form of a cheque.
No sacred amulets, just a memory of fields in spring
Pity is for the moment of death and the moments after.
Prams, supermarket trolleys, mattresses
Sea-fog, gunsmoke
Since you left, since you left, why, better, better!
Suddenly, after the quarrel
The next day I am almost afraid
The point is how to find a use for anger, like in Monsters Inc. but that was fright.
They are at that stage where the desire that comes between them is obscene
They were queueing for their pensions. It came out of nowhere.
What do you think of my hat?
While the room's stillness deepened, deepened
You gave, and now you say you're poor.
You make a noise like a dog dreaming.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Tuesday 9th Prompts

Children, fresh as new candles

I am not making a fool of myself

I heard a man shout "Jimmy!" across the street

District & Circle

Escalators, ascending, descending

Corpus Christi

I first learned to swim in my father's study

Long fat summer

You saved me, you ought to remember me

I come from my childhood

At the lake's edge a young man whoops and throws his hat in the water

In the schoolyards, in the cloakrooms, children

The landscape flowed away

He knocked downy soot through the bars of the grate

A wooden turtle

My daughter and me, a manatee

His khaki tie was perfectly knotted

Spring has been postponed

In Kosbad, during the monsoons

In my dreams I have two legs, two arms, you love me

My granny read my future, then left the room in tears


Monday, 8 October 2007

Monday 0800

The machinery of grace is always simple

Snow on the roof

The effortless gadgetry of love

Even before I've left I long for this place

Only by moving do we balance

"Missing you already"

I walk with ladies who throw stones

He was walking where he knew it was safe

So much agility. desire and feverish care

Blown downward to the dark

Where the old man was run down

daisies, cowpats

The frost is touching everything before the sun

Like old photographs

by dusk, a clearing

Each shadow sticks

Like a freshly cleaned bathroom,

The whine of distant bandsaws, the creak of dying trees

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Prompts for Sunday Lunch

Food, Glorious Food

The greatest of these is pity

Boiled Beef and Carrots

Isidro's bouffant cock

This is a man

Macho does not prove mucho

Stumbling from one puddle to the next

The women in the woods

Jack wears trousers with an elasticated waist

It's a wrap

Dead souls driven before the wind

I know my parsnips

Down the sides of the sofa


The bitterness of pomegranate pith

A catechism for the 21st century

Friday, 5 October 2007

More Hits and News of Old Members

After Lexie won HISSAAC we've now heard that TomC was also on the named shortlist

Jenny Jackson is highly commended at Leaf and goes in the anthology.

Another member is shortlisted at Guildford (Results TBA)

And we've just heard that an ex Boot Camper who was with us for a long time and is going from strength to strength (cliche-warning!) has won a very nice $2,000 prize in a highly-prestigios competition. Result not yet formally announced.

Friday Prompts 0800

I wouldn't say my brother in law was fat


After seventeen pints of lager

I asked my wife to fill in a questionnaire

In his dreams his hair turns into snakes

There are spelling mistakes on the wall

I've been wondering about drowning

My mummy bought me an armadillo, I kept him under the bed


Who the fuck is Jimmy Greaves?


There's a monster in the cupboard

My killer's girdling me

How we fall

The machinery of grace is always simple

What country, friends, is this?

When I wake, the rain is falling.

The difference between a racing bike and an omelette

Death Duties

That Fucking Checkhov

After the fair I'd still a light heart

A sound like lifting an airtight lid

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Thursday 07:30 More Prompts

The safe is forgotten.

They'll courier it tomorrow.

I know what the Spanish lady means.

The guilt came in waves.

When they lock me up I will hit a guard.

The first time I saw Annie was at the Pacific end of the Eastbound Interstate 80, about midway between San Fransisco and Salt Lake City.

She was crying at the window.

There are more pigs than people.

When I am asked, I say I'm a quiet lad, I pick no fights.

The school sat among maples on a hillside that sloped down to a river.

No it's the same price as last time.

She passed a sun-dark field-worker

Ian had brought fresh crusty bread from the bakery

She dropped to her haunches, waited.

But adrenalin was there now, phtt-phtt; good old flight-fight-fuck juice.

Behind her was the sea, empty sea.

Red light rushed up through her.

The woman stared. Her mouth was slightly open.

After the efficient cleanliness and the painted lines.

A wire-meshed door in the side of a blob of cream concrete.

This was a quieter week.

The doctor has warmed the speculum in her latex-gloved hand.

The chief engineer was a big, self-indulged man, about forty.

inside the restaurant had been shuttered-gloomy.

The Mother Question.

The museum is quite busy, with tourists and school groups mostly.

My mother sleeps.

I wish, sometimes, I could get at my DNA.

I've made the final cut.

Cold. Grey dawn breaking in a silver line. Lobster pots, fishing nets.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Boot Camp's Tenth First Prize of the Year

Lexie wins HISSAAC $500

add on Jason Jackson's small hit

and newbie Matt Plass at Twisted Tongue takes us to 153 Hits for the year

$5, 714 earned

Friday, 28 September 2007

Prompts 07:50

Today, Tuesday, I decided to move on

There may be flaws in this whole, if examined too closely

Peejay & the Strange Seed

The mouth has slackened, and the chin

It lately happened that I found myself rambling about

We come in peace from the third planet


We brushed the dirt off, held it to the light

Mother Tongue

The two beautiful hawthorn-trees, the hedge, the turf

One Man, Five Days

an ugly, dark monster of a tunnel

and all those buttercups and daisies

When I had been let out at the platform door

We have paid you in the year

I left the place with a heavy heart for a walk all over the town


Of what use on earth is a single man?

A was an Archer and shot at a frog

Coming into Chatham


I can see back to my very earliest days

She was skilled in music, and the dance


The seven day war that put the world to sleep


Ice on the window. the dogs whimper

Thursday, 27 September 2007

150th Hit, $5,214

A few more hits for September takes BC earnings to $5,214 for the year

Some of these you will have seen, newest at the bottom


138 TomC Poem at Mythic Delirium
139 Alex makes final in Glimmer Train with "My Son, Going Under"
140 Jason Jackson story at Liars League
141 TomC gets a story at Liar's League
142 Joel 1/2/3 Results TBA in good Comp Individual Totals (??? $$$)
143 Matt at "Bound Off" with "In response to Your Presentation"
144 Lexie 5th place at Writers Bureau ($100)
145 DMW places paradise Lost at Black Ink ($10) Print
146 TomC places "Carnival of the Animals" at Clockwise Cat
147 "Rupert Merkin" places "Final Rest" at Paper mag Nossa Morte ($40)
148 "Louise Cypher" places "A Warm Touch" at web mag "Coven of Shadows"
149 Louise Cypher story into Coven of Darkness
150 Jason Jackson 2nd in National Writing Comp (Durham) $200

Prompts Thursday 07:40

The winter sun creeps into the cracks between stones

How would you have met me?

A Standard Life

Hearing shingle explode, seeing it skip


He knew he was the wrong listener

Three Kings, 2007

Blessed are, blessed are, blessed are


I saw three ships go sailing by

OK, Let's go, me and you

What could be hurting so much

Let's mock the great and good, stick pins in Mother Theresa

The northern sky rose high and black

There was this man and he was the strongest

And the day was plucked and tasted bitter

He gritted his teeth like a cliff

All the women in the world could not move him

Grandfather's Watch

Eyeless and mouthless

Her promises took the top off his skull

A dull axe chunking in a dark wood

He loved her and she loved him

despite everything, morning comes

Safe and sure for ever and ever

One man, a deserted platform

Waiting, while she brushed her hair


Love will pass, good will come

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

New Blood

Welcome Wayne (and thank-you to the recommending writer) our latest recruit, poor soul. Wayne joins Margot, with us just three weeks and says (to the bewer newbie: "Ive written more and learned more in this three weeks than in the previous three years."

if you're interested in Boot Camp this is a good time to join. We have two newbie BCers, two more who have nbeen with us just a couple of months. I promise blood, sweat and tears (etc)

Prompts Tuesday 07:55

The boy, fine in his desire, feeble in his grasp


You'll need your passport


He'll spend his life in the busy pit


They're sending in their regional inspector


The risky fleeing and the rope breaking

Jimmy Brown

Call our new number, shown here

Jack & Jill

There are worms in the dark recesses of my gut

Jennifer Eccles and Her Sisters

If undelivered return to

Jesus Smith

The thrill that runs through my head like a neon filament


Two tablets left


Two lips that would drink from love itself

Jelly & Blancmange

As simple as squeezing you between these two fingers

Jumping Jacks

Saving lives is against orders


The owl-faced schoolmaster behind his desk


How to drive a bayonet through the gut


The patented shit-mop

Jumper, Cardigan

How many times have you eaten here before?

Jones's Problem

All other taxes and duties are unchanged

Monday, 24 September 2007

Monday Prompts 07:40

Come on then, my sweet, let's be cruel tonight

telephone! Telphone for McTravers!

We close the door, shut out all sound

Various problems with the penis


You set the olives down beside the feta

I am the scent of a feather falling from the sky


The funeral empties every farmstead, every farm

Like water finding its level, like dying


She sucked the happiness from his life and left him flaccid


Ripped the heart to bloody gobbets

Love: Modern Theories and Criticism

She has child-bearing thighs and lungs full of dust


Her voice on the phone from a far country

Intelligence and Women: A Short Book

If I could run a mile

From Merseyside, I reckon

There's plenty of maintenance going on

Friday, 21 September 2007

Friday Prompts 0800

In the night each one of us is alone

That fucking armadillo

The book still rests in the palm of your hand

Is this acceptable?

The blind scraps are inter-weaving

Groaning, as though he was hauling the whole earth


Tea? Coffee? Knife in the back?

The hens scattering across the yard

A thorn in the side of our field

By whose ordinance?

The bitch's heart pounds in her black chest, a hammer in the ears


Until your sudden smile lingers and holds

Without the towers

A table with its shadows rises from the dust

My lover was a wonderer

Higher than the gull and the bite of the brine

Feeling the too-blue blaze of noon

They were fleeing from the bull of Bryncelyn

When the sun's on the mountain

If you ever sleep in a grave

Wheeling, and wheeling, and wheeling

Geese goose-stepping in terror, their hissing peevish from the sedges

Tugged on a tether, to the timid heifer

Thursday, 20 September 2007

prompts, Thursday 07:55

He strode young, into the landscape of old age

Waiting for the call

A miracle, waking every morning

I like pie. She likes pie. Do you like pie?

To Serve Them All My Days

And arriving with the light, there she is

The rickety footbridge

Nearby a girl sits on a tombstone

It might be Thursday

Words, words, words remain

It's not an Armadillo


Love's knotted under her apron now

Opening a tin of beans with a banana

Welcome to the service desk

The Special One

Six bundles, brown and vulnerable

She is able to leave her other self behind

and her hair balled tightly under her cap

Everything closes in

I think of how I lay here as a lad


The evening light falls


After a hammering of light

I am close to my people, the smell of wet wool


The cafe owner, an Italian

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Left but not sinister

Boot Camp Keegan was formerly on ezboard but has been migrated to YUKU

At the moment YUKU does not have a delete membership function that works.

This means, currently, that if a membership lapses or someone actually leaves, I have to BAN them!

So please if you've temporarily left and you return to find yourself "banned" it's just an admin thing


Prompts Wednesday 10:10

From the mists came sounds of moving

But is it an Armadillo?

The mansion claimed by clambering bramble

Martin Evans

Steamrollering over a life already extinguished

No one lives in Bettws now

A breath-taking whiteness of flowers, flowers

Sewage & Water

A green lad from the life-spring of his home


The whole of doghood I have seen in my time

The rejoicing of waters

Danger, Existentialists operate in this area

The dog ate the contract

Were you ever a stranger in these parts?

He said he was a poet

Extra for cash

He was sitting on a bench at the foot of Moel Cadwgan

Bethel is between the slagheap and the factory

Twisted, bitter, and long-living

This is the first time I've seen a song

I daresay death was no more than a gentle subduing

Sexually Explicit, and Broccolli

His great-great-grandfather came from Wales

In the restaurant at the sea's edge

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Sunday Promptsat 0900

Pick up a copy

There are things I cannot prove

I have to do this

One day Robert-Robert awoke with a cold.

The doctor has warmed the speculum in her latex-gloved hand

It is clear we are at a crossroads

I remember your fat, blubbery shoulders, the freckles, the way you swam slowly

Zulus boxed in their glass cases

When I am asked I say I'm a quiet lad. I pick no fights.

There are more pigs than people

The first time I saw Annie

Sure, there are minor inconveniences

New York City all the way

She's so close the air feels compressed

A lonely old mother died and left her sprawling house to her twin daughters, Chalk & Cheese.

A row of white crosses

Once upon a time, a single language

Picture me resplendent

The school sat among maples on a hillside

My mother is sleeping

I think I'm still pretty good-looking, considering, I mean.

Contrary to popular belief, people think during sex

I've made the final cut.

Cold. Grey dawn breaking in a thin, silver line

The first picture is of oak trees in spring.

So, apart from a couple of hitches, Plan A was working out fine.

I learned to write in school five years before they came.

We sized each other up and decided to be best friends.

Always be aware of your hair.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Saturday Prompts 07:20

She is perfectly acceptable. I am afraid of her

On Turds

There was a man who Sorrow made his friend

Seven Types

Some knives are beautiful


I passed along the water's edge

Love, Sex & Tragedy

How shit dissolves

We will moor our loney ship

Riding the Yellow Trolley Car

Big, black and very alpha-Dog

Come near, come near, come near

The Black Pick-Up

Owain was ill today, and tonight, delirious

Go there and light a fire

The mathematics of sunshine

We who are old and gay, old and gay

Pointing at us with a black stick

The brawling of martins in the rooftops

Listen, darkness is dripping

Pen, Pencil, ruler, divider

I am sitting in a strange room, listening

There was a girl riding a white pony

Service desk edition

You ask how it is. I will tell you

There was a black hill I knew. Known as Aber Mountain

Listening for the wrong baby

Friday, 14 September 2007

Stats Update

I think I mentioned we have a BCer 1/2/3 in a comp shortly to be announced, so more pennies won, and I may have mentioned newbie Matt Plas with his second hit since joining BC, at "Bound Off"

Need to add Dan who has a paying print pub in BLACK INK

and Lex who picks up $100 for 5th in a comp.

That takes hits for the year up to 145 and payments through the $5,000 barrier.

BCers have got lazy reporting their publications but from what HAS been reported we've crept up to 73 known this year, the latest, Tom and RVJ in print mag Parameter.

Friday Prompts 0845

The Bad Joke gene

This was your place of birth. This daytime place

Black was the without eye, black the within tongue

Rocks, Moss, stonecrop, iron

The clouds cast moving shadows on the land

Screaming for blood, crusts, anything

The woman in the kitchen making tea

Are you prepared for what the night may bring?

See the life stab through, a dream flash

The game is finished when he plays his ace.

He tried a step, then a step, then a step

Turn out the light and I'll explain

How strange it is to have a loveless heart

Herded mountains, steaming

The word inside the word, unspoken

Kick up the fire, let the flames break loose

The bullet oozes from the gun

To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk

After knowledge you expect forgiveness?

Don't talk to me of love, I've had an earful

Yellow smoke creeping to these windows

A soft October night

Full of high sentences but a bit obtuse

Have the memories rearrange to fit the mood

The Town Clock. Drunk in Residence, Creative Writing Class

It hurts

Laughter tinkles among the teacups

Strode across the hills and smote them

He was much possessed by death, but hearty for all that

It's something you say at your peril

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Thursday 0720

Christ, that my love were in my arms and I in my bed again.

Are you not afraid they will misunderstand?

The jurisdiction thing was borderline.

While we eat we think.

We approached our last house high up on the hill.

Busy old fool.

A sunrise does not last all morning.

BEEP!. …. …. …. … beep.

We sang at castle walls

She lay down, naked in the curtained bedroom, thinking.


One night I woke from a dream of peace.

Don't say shirt-lifter.

He had my heart. I have his in a jar.

A shoe hitting the table.

He was as suspicious as a rat near strange bread

She wondered what Tom would be up to, right now.


Dead friends like jewels in my hand.


She is, in fact, exquisite.

Some of the accidents really looked like an accident.

December, still, trees.

She might have been the love of his life. Might have been.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Tuesday Prompts 1655

I have eaten the plums

There is a garden at the heart of things

She walks in beauty, like the night

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore

Death did not come to my mother like an old friend

Will you walk a little faster?

So I took her to the river

Come lovely and soothing death

They arranged things so they never met.

Dirty little coaster

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

He always tucked his daughter up at night

Up! Up! And quit your books!

My lover has bad manners when in bed

He was a deaf-mute beggar with a black beetle body

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough

The bars are only available in a kit

Did you ever see a goat so big?

A clown and ragged dandy


We heard his musical gurgle approaching

Sacré Bleu!

This is a strange music

Dealing, administration and clearing, as appropriate

Tuesday Prompts 0730

And the last sound, your father arriving home late, late
We talked in spurts, in desperate whispers
You look at them flashing their indicators
I have fallen. I am somewhere between melancholia and frenzy
Every day is a fresh beginning
While the cars and the taxis and the lorries go by
I don't know when I'll get to London
The dogs are barking
It made me suicidal just remembering E.H.
The School-Run
The burnt-out ends of smoky days
I was set down from the carrier's cart at the age of three
And then the lighting of the lamps
A South Wales Argus came swirling, about my feet
A Royal Disaster
I cannot endure this hideous, wicked, stupidity
Lay your head upon my shoulder
A chocolate Brillo Pad, pink custard
Our president is a disaster. The next will be worse.
Cheap Cheep
Who cares what they say of you after your dead
Before me a wall, high, insurmountable
There are protests everywhere
Don't always be a thought ahead
She is so desperately frail and old, but still interested
Out of step
They build the world of love from sex, after-the-fact
I've finished a joke Mexican novel
The girls arrive in their belted mackintoshes
Reading Banville

Monday, 10 September 2007

Monday Prompts 15:42

It's going to be very terrible, Rabby.

Rear Window

I love you. That's the main thing.

If people turned to stare at me in streetcars.

I arrived yesterday afternoon on what turned out to be the last plane.

I have never been a monk,

Everything looked normal.

Unfurl the bed, vacuum the sheets, pretend nothing happened.


I saw a huge silver bomber, low and slow just wandering around.

I travelled penniless.

I have your little passport picture in my purse.

If this sounds like a poem.

She dreamt she was eating a giant marshmallow

Here, take my last black tulip


The Derby game against Wednesday is Nottingham on Thursday

I do not know who lied, but I lied.

I met my heart in the hospital museum

My father and all his tobacco

I almost love them; they are my children.

I have been dead already. It is dark.

The moving finger writes and having writ can always be tippexed out.

I shall persist.

Monday Prompts 7:16

When I stepped, at the hour of sunrise, out of doors

Why such harsh machinery?

It is l'heure bleu

Vanity keeps prodding us to lift ourselves skywards

I managed to mend the lawn-mower

Give me the lover who yanks open the door


Nothing teaches me not to miss my mother


The whole thing disgusts me. Fuck it.

In my opinion, which is very old-fashioned


You think of looks always in relation to sex

Chin up, duck! There are always people worse off


Tell me just how fucking good I look

A kind of brown. Sad.


But I was joyless, uncosy, the stern daughter

From the window I saw horses


Now there is nothing to think about except Vietnam

Because one feels, sees, and must speak


Please find enclose one registration certificate

I caught an amazing fish

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Sunday Prompts at 2111

Mother, may I?

An old man sits netting

From a train, boys in a field

This road holds no surprises

I remember thick cream, purloined from silver milk-churns

The president presumes all Americans are moral imbeciles

He chucked it all in, just left one day.


I have abandoned the dream kitchen for a low fire

Let me describe it

They are fourteen weeks on Tuesday

A woman drawing, light


Cowslip, Marsh Mangold, a boot

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes


Nobody in the lane and nothing, nothing but blackberries

Every year you said it wasn't worth the trouble

It is a recommended exercise, bitter homework.

They will try to silence the press.

It is perfectly all right to continue killing those gooks

Betsy, I am tired.

Here, one can see Oliver Reed's testicles impaled

Since it is absurd to weep, I can only laugh.

Prompts 1925 Sunday

and the stars and the angels

we were children, not lovers

Translated from the polish

Once in a room in Blackpool, we

My wife, combing her hair

idiots, feeling safe, holding nothing back

Uncertainty is more beautiful, still

For some reason, there is a camel in the dining-room

There would have been signs, signals

I look at lamplight through the leaves

A man eating soup

She lay on the carpet, plumped out

in this strange quiet

My mother bought a piglet, my father, a pig.

He has dangerous tools in bulging pockets

Remembering Gravity


I have had worse partings

Prompts 1716 Sunday

It was Union Square, I remember.

Perhaps you'll tire of me.

There is a kind of love called maintenance

That fucking Hemingway

Quiet, by the window of a train

If you were to read my work; all of it I mean.

I give the secret sign.

Of Onions.

You are the bread, the wine, the knife.

I would thank you not for a Valentine


Every time I play solitaire my partner beats me

I simply could not be a good army wife

Less than a pound in change

Seeing you make me want to lift up my top

I am breaking in the new maid for the master of the house

Quiet, drinking wine together, one smokes

I remember the nights and the sound of nights

I look at the mountains. Everything seems flat by comparison

By this axe

Thou shalt know my chosen by their ASBOs

Oh Allen, come and hold my hand.

As far as I know they were working in France.

Darling we've been out a little longer than Columbus

They eat sand eels

Prompts 1445 Sunday

Bloody men

Let me never be a father

Single, Ticket

Exactly what I am

He burst from the cake, naked

He was captured in the valley of the women

Jenkins, all too clearly it is time.


It was late September, wet

I had just poured a glass of wine

It was then that I started to scream.

In the park, daffodils

He put one hand on my manuscript, the other down my dress


When I was young I believed in intellectual conversation

A good-looking secretary, blonde


The groans men use


Smooth as a swan, and as vicious


Prompts 1300 Sunday

When I was twelve I used to lie on a church roof and look at curtains

Now let him go to sleep with history

He assumed he would, someday

I am NOT frantic, or doubting, or hysterical

Stinking of gasoline

There has been a lapse of two hours

Afternoon light slices down, and her in two

Silver-black cars

I could so easily terrify you and turn you away

Morris, dancing.

Let us compare our mythologies


The diary of a 42-year-old Norwegian salesman


He has been walking a long time

I hear a man climb our stairs and cough as he passes

You must be happy

Crumbling cities and galloping horses

I want a red dress. I want it flimsy and cheap.
I want it too tight, I want to wear it until someone tears it off me.

Define, "Maiden".

Her name I may or may not have, made up


It is very ordinary, and very moving


If your neighbour disappears


I will not hold my breath

Death by egg-whisk

Black Dog, Red Dog

You have lovers, many, nameless

I think everything seems harder than it really is

A man carries a bundle of firewood along a path

Prompts 0830 Sunday

There's an awful lot of God in the ordinary bloke

David, David, you couldn't have been named anything else, could you?

At noon, in the dead centre of a faith

It is so lovely and so right.

Plague victims catapulted over castle walls

I am in my workroom but there is no question of work.

A cow and her two calves.

I do not know how to think or what to think.

When I put my ear to the hole.

The unread mail, the patients.

Maud went to college.

First I worked for Hopkins, then there was that book.

The wind, turn your back and push.

I think Ernest was something I deserved.

You may write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies.

My mother said once: When you were young, you killed small things.

The Green Man on Hello Street.

And now I will finish this long story.

One night the tide went out, and didn't come in.

1,124 nights.

I must remember where I lay.

It was written on top of my slavery.

The brave do not have to be cruel. They can be gentle.

His name was Robbie Cox, a butcher's son

Light splashed this morning

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Prompts 0600 September 9th

There was once another country

Barrels of chains

Darling this letter is secret equals US Top Secret

Families, Tribes, Nations

Something unbelievable has happened. I have fallen in love.

Bracken, Gorse

The Radio station is filled with goats

It starts in the pub, in a back room

I know so little about all this, due to my failed and sheltered life.

Not even bishops

Bewildered, frightened, rather wobbly.

Severn drunks talking

Four days later I am able to sleep again (via Secconal)

The time of fools is coming

Tell me lies about Vietnam

I am elated and in despair

Take a length of steel

Could you kill a man? Eventually...

A bird, no song

I did not have to make any excuses or say anything

Not in the top ten

Near the fickle Post Office

From Israel, hoping.

I am irrevocably opposed to marrying anyone

Friday, 7 September 2007

Saturday Morning Prompts

The season turned like the page of a glossy magazine

Hell is a kitchen

Everything looks too beautiful for me

A man who wears corduroy

Man, dolphin

I never saw such a place anywhere

Oyster cocktail

All afternoon, through the tall heat


Night before last I went. by full moon, on a ship to Kotor.

The ache of marriage

Welcome to Cheese

The Copper IUD

First, are you our sort of person?

Thirty-six years to the day, after our wedding


Think of coming in, on an absolutely still, flat sea.

We should get a room, somewhere to iron

I did it. I did it. I did it.

Before I was a virgin, I...

If I was somebody else, I'd ring me.

How deep?

When I was in Bled.

Friday's Prompts, and Stuff

Boot Campers are playing catch-up after the school holidays so have set themselves daily writing targets and daily "writing-before-we-log-on" targets.

I have to log on to post prompts etc but once this is done I disappear until I have written 500 words or a complete flash.



About two nights ago I found myself with four or five of them


Now is poised above time

The Hell with the dogwood


Nothing whatever is by love disbarred.


All the trees (named flamboyante) are scarlet

Perfume, for a briefest moment

Climbing the style with the girls


Women in light summer dresses

If it was grey

And were we innocent then?

When I'm among a blaze of lights

After a while it seems too goddam silly to eat

With tawdry music and guitars

Ths social life here is limited but odd.

And women dawdling through delights

Pelota is the best ball game I ever saw.

And officers in cocktail bars

The Mood Watch

The Car hire office was closed.

Brown-orange, artificial


Thursday, 6 September 2007

NEW MEMBERS, Kingfisher Barn Course

We have one member now with us 6 months, two with us less than that many weeks, and a brand-new newbie shivering in the corner. This is a good time to join Boot Camp. Newbies bring energy and remind those here slightly longer that they really HAVE got better.

Incidentally six-month man has now had half a dozen hits and one very good prize and one of the 6-8 week guys has had two hits, one paying.

Contact alex.keegan at btinternet.com or answer here.

PS There is a face to face course at Kingfisher Barn, Newbury

01 November Thursday
02 November Friday
03 November Saturday
04 November Sunday

05 November (Monday available if anyone needs follow-up work)

The first two days do not expect any prior knowledge (of KB Courses) then we roll into a tough weekend. Newbies thus do 4 days. Monday is available


Thursday Prompts

You will be happy to know that in the Hausa language "Oho" means "Who cares?"


She is smaller than you and weighs about eighty pounds

This is not chick-lit

The airplane has rendered land travel extinct


Her husband, a brutal man, gave her syphillis as a wedding present when she was 18.


How can I escape from this boring, scrofulous layer of white civilisation?

Colander, sieve

How can I get a sense of country?

Razorbills, Shags, Guillemots.

We have tested and tasted too much, lover.


Her attitude to and about God somewhat chills me.

The dry black bread and the sugarless tea

Last night I finished "Out of Africa".

Ken is doing the levels.

The Happiness Self-Assessment Form

For the difference that sets an old phrase burning.


Mexico is almost totally corrupted now.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tuesday's prompts

Paparazzi people

Red - the colour of blood, not of roses


Becoming a ghost before he's gone

The first day of term

Cary Grant and spinach pasta

Return to Sender

Lady in Cement

Father Figure

Unmissed, Unmourned

I love you when you're sick

A padded silk headboard

Feeling at Home

Monday, 3 September 2007

Monday's Prompts

Why don't we say goodbye right now, pretending we are well

It was in those days when I wandered about hungry

Facts, stories. repeated rumours and gossip

Like in "On the Beach"

I hear a clock strike six downstairs

Marvellous, the rain pattering on the roof.

You wil be able to sort it out, of course

As soon as i opened my eyes I started wondering

I am not dispassionate

They have killed you over many a night, when they were younger

Good Friday, after consuming copious amounts of a port-type wine

I started reading the ads over the door

Please note carefully, the last sentence of their letter regarding unauthorised connections

There are American refugees

I opened the window and looked out

Once we had enormous moral credit

It had been going steadily downhill for me all along

There is no God who saves Americans

The air was filled with voices

Everything looks too beautiful to me

I am going to write bits of conversation as I remember them

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Critique Central!!

8 stories posted Friday night or Saturday morning

45 critiques already, 80 discussion posts


How Tight Do You Write?

I can often cut a BCer's story by 50% but my own stuff starts out much tighter (he said).

But two recent comps demanded specific word-counts. I reduced one "FINISHED" 35660-word stroy to 2,995 and a 2250 story to 1500. Both those stories I was happy with before the cut, but I now think they are improved.

It's a good exercise when a story has been tightened well enough to send out to look again and ask just how few words could this story be told in. Sometimes a much-tightened story still feels like the same story only tighter, but sometimes the new, slimmer piece feels like a fresh story.

Years ago, a raw writer I had a story "Postcards From Balloonland" which was a monster 5,800 words. I trimmed it to 4,999 and made the last 150 in The Ian St James Awards but then Cosmo had a comp and I reduced that 5K to 1,999 words (TOO stripped out IMO).

I then "let-out" the 1,999 words to 2,150, won $1,000 and published the story 4/5 more times.

More or less (but this isn't absolute) if you can say the same thing in less words, the short version will have more power and resonate more.


Three More Hits, Another Prize

September is another "Blast" month.

We've started with eight fresh stories (25 critiques already) and three hits

Jason & Tom have stories being performed by Liars League and Joel (on these boards as a BC virgin earlier this year) is first, second, or third in a larger competition, results TBA later in the year.

Our 142nd hit in 2007, our 51st prize in 2007


Friday, 31 August 2007

Shoot the Rhino

A new article of mine is up at The Internet Writers Journal


The analysis of Gladiator is an occassional element of the theme course at Kingisher Barn (Newbury, Berkshire)

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Almost Back

The last two months have been a bit sloppy, so September we'll be blasting. There's room for a few new BCers if you're interested.



Deadwood, Dead Wood

Merde Happens

You Drive Me Crazy

How Many Saucers Do You Need?

The virgin with the child; the birth

It is another country

Riding the Yellow Trolley-Car

So there was nothing?


I want you to know how it was.

She turns paint to flowers

Two Black Labradors

Three boatloads of Dublin's unemployed

The Credit Check

The meaning of everything

Middle, no middle

The scene you must imagine is a square, and inside, circles


Ich, Ni, San, Shi, Go

Friday, 24 August 2007

Prize Update 50 REACHED!!!


001 Fleur wins $2,000 Guardian/Virgin Trains Prize

002 TomC wins Mary Gornall ($150)

003 TomC wins Grace Die Writers ($400)

004 Caroline wins Blaenau Gwent ($170)

005 Cally Joint Winner BBC Sedbergh Prize (Broadcast)

006 Cally wins $400 Lancet Prize and publication.

007 TomC wins $200 Pier Pressure Short-Story Prize

008 RVJ wins $200 Pier Pressure Poetry Prize

009 DPJ wins Momya

SECONDS - Runner-Up

001 DaveP RUNNER-UP in Biscuit. WINS Digital Voice Recorder ($84)

002 Cally runner-up in Cotswold Prize ($50)

003 Jenny Jackson $100 second at JBWB


001 Lexie 3rd in Grace Dieu ($100)

002 Fleur 3rd in Charnwood Arts

003 Alex in Cadenza $100

004 RVJ 3rd in Liverpool Comp $20

005 RVJ 3rd in Yeovil Novel Comp $200


001 Colin named shortlist at Happenstance

002 Lexie Highly Commended at Cafe Writers

003 Cally HC at JBWB

004 Caroline HR runner-up at Flashquake

005 BCer shortlisted (results TBA) at Philip Good

006 Cally shortlisted in Biscuit

007 ColU shortlisted in Biscuit

008 Joel shortlisted at Tonto

009 RVJ shortlisted at Earlyworks (1)

010 RVJ shortlisted at Earlyworks (2)

011 RVJ HR'd at JBWB

012 Cally HR'd at Twisted Tongue

013 Caroline HR'd in Spring JBWB

014 TomC shortlisted at Earlyworks

015 Alex named shortlist Cadenza (Santiago)

016 Colin named shortlist Cadenza (Jared Williams)

017 Cally HR at Writelink Weekender

018 Joel longlisted at Cadenza

019 Joel shortlist at Writelink

020 TomC at Kings Lynn - 1

021 TomC at Kings Lynn - 2

022 TomC at Kings Lynn - 3

023 Lexie at Kings Lynn

024 MJH at Kings Lynn

025 JJ HR at Frome

026 MJH Rec at Leaf Books

027 Cally HR at Momaya

028 RVJ shortlisted in Liverpool comp

029 MJH shortlisted, Pier Pressure

030 TomC shortlisted Pier Pressure

031 Debbie shortlisted Pier Pressure

032 RVJ Finalist First Writer ($60)

033 Alex last 3% in Glimmer Train


August Hits, tidied up

03 First Places
01 Third Place
05 Finalists


15 Total Hits, seven paying $ 981 earned.


125 TomC wins Pier Pressure Short-Story Prize $200

126 RVJ wins Pier Pressure Poetry Prize $200

127 TomC (2nd story) shortlisted at Pier Pressure

128 DPJ shortlisted at Pier Pressure

129 MJH shortlisted at Pier Pressure

130 DPJ wins Momaya Short Story Prize $260

131 TomC story taken by "Behind the Wainscott"

132 Jason Jackson acceptance at 3 AM Magazine

133 TomC at Written Word Mag ($6)

134 MMW places "Rupert's Arms" at Afterburn SF ($30)

135 AK places at First Writer $60 Free Year

136 RVJ 3rd in Yeovil Novel Comp ($200)

137 Matt Plass into Flashquake $25

138 TomC Poem at Mythic Delirium

139 Alex makes final in Glimmer Train with "My Son, Going Under"

Back to Work!

Fifteen days, no posts. If I ever get the time I will try to fill readers in on everything that's gone on in the intervening fortnight, a strange and trying time personally (and a quiet time for Boot Camp.)


I think our last hit was number 133 for 2007

134 was DMW having an acceptance from Afterburn Scince Fiction Magazine and a payment of $30

135 was RVJ making the finals at First Writer and getting a years subscription ($60)

136 was yours truly $200 3rd at Yeovil for "The Bella Archipelago"

137 was Boot Camp NEWBIE Matt Plass getting his first-ever hit at Flashquake , and it pays! ($25)

138 was TomC's first-ever poetry hit at Mythic Delirium

139 was moi, a very near miss at Glimmer Train (see below)

Dear Writer, Although your work did not make it all the way to the top 25, it did make it a long, long, LONG way through the judging process (top 3%) and you are a finalist in our first Family Matters competition--nice work!
(If you log in and click on "My Submissions," you will see that designation.)

Be sure to mention your finalist status as you send your stories out into the world. We'll look forward to reading more of your work!

All best to you, Linda -- Linda Swanson-Davies, co-editor

That story was a strange one for me. A little while back my son had a nasty broken wrist requiring an operation and I wrote about the complex thoughts and emotions I experienced at the time.

The most difficult moment was that as my son went out, under the anaesthetic, he whispered, "I love you Dad" and at the moment it felt the same as seeing him die. I was hit for six, then endured 3-4 hours of agony while he was operated on and then waiting for him to come round.

A few days before that I had been witness at 3AM to a vet putting down a deer. That found its way into my consciousness also, and somehow to I flipped everything in my head and saw ME dying with my son standing and saying "I love you Dad."

A few other things "impinged" too, and though the piece meant a lot to me, I believed it was far too messy and difficult to place anywhere.

I was wrong, and the last 3% at Glimmer Train is a damn good hit.

Moral, submit, submit, submit.