Folk Tales – Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt kindly provided by the host, Rochelle Wisoff Fields. To join in with the challenge, or find out more about it, just follow the link on the challenge title above.

Here is this week’s prompt, copyright Dawn Q. Landau . . .

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and this is my story . . .

Local folk claimed these woods were enchanted; magical creatures played in their midst. Faye smiled at that. She’d frolicked amongst these trees since she was a child, had playmates aplenty. But could they be considered magical …?

Occasionally, she’d emerge to wave at passing trains but the passengers never seemed to notice her. Perhaps the billowing smoke from the steam engines hid her from view. So she’d drift back amongst the trees … until the next tooting whistle.

The stray dog had become her newest friend. He’d follow her for hours, provided she didn’t flap her wings too hard.

Word Count: 98

If you’d like to read other entries, click on the little blue fellow below:

 

A Perfect Ace – Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers

This is the second week of Priceless Joy’s challenge, Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s photo, copyright Dawn Miller . . .

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and this is my story . . .

’Deuce.’

David Jameson was sweating now. Two more points to his opponent and he could kiss the Regional Cup goodbye. Already two sets down, David served to save the match …

The ball bounced hard: a perfect ace.

‘Advantage Jameson,’ the umpire droned above the spectators’ gasps.  David served again.

Another ace brought further gasps.

‘Game and third set, Jameson.’ The words were music to David’s ears. His smug-faced opponent was older, more experienced – had taken the Cup for as long as David could remember. This year it was his turn.  He just needed to stay focused …

After some long rallies, superb lobs and backhand smashes over the next two sets, David emerged victorious.

‘Game, set and match, David Jameson,’ the umpire intoned as David’s opponent leapt the net to congratulate him.

‘Cup’s yours, son,’ Mike Jameson said, pride evident in his eyes. ‘Until next year …’

Word Count: 148

If you’d like to view other entries, click here.

It’s All About The Chemistry

It’s time to have a go at Monday’s Finish the Story. This is a flash fiction challenge which asks that we write a story in 150 words from the picture and first line prompt provided by the host, Barbara W. Beacham.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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. . . and this is my story, including the first line prompt:

The old typewriter had a mind of its own.

Seventy-four-year-old Mavis Wetherton uncovered her cherished old Underwood typewriter, intent on writing the next chapter of her novel – a detective story, set in 1950s London. She switched on the old Zenith radio, another of her ’50s treasures, just as the Everleys rocked their way through ‘Bye Bye Love.’

The old Underwood worked perfectly, the letters sharply defined. The machine had been over forty years old when she’d acquired it in 1959 – the day her boss has been about to throw it out. She’d simply asked if she could keep it …

The romance had blossomed from there: their 55th wedding anniversary was later this year.

‘How you get that thing to work beats me,’ Frank said from the doorway. ‘Won’t do a thing for me.’

Mavis smiled. ‘It’s all about chemistry, Frank. Me, my Underwood and the music. Together we hit the right note. Just like you and me do.’

Word Count: 150

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To view other entries, click here.

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Word of the Week (WOW) – Duplicity

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Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link to as a comment on Heena’s WOW post.

Here is my WOW for this week:

duplicity

Word: Duplicity

Part of Speech:  Noun

Adjective: duplicitous

Plural: duplicities

Nearby Words:

duplicate, duplicating, duplication, duplicator,duplicature, duplicatus

 Pronunciation:

UK: due-plic-i-tee (dyu-plic-i-tee)

US: du-plic-i-ty (doo-plic-i-tee)

 Meaning:

1. Deliberate deceptiveness in behaviour or speech (especially by saying different things to two people).

2. An instance of deliberate deceptiveness; double dealing

3. The quality or state of being twofold or double

Synonyms:  

cunning, deceit, deceitfulness, deception, double-dealing, guile, shiftiness, dissimulation, fraud, hypocrisy

Antonyms:

candidness, directness, honesty, straightforwardness

Word Origin:  

1400-50 Late Middle English fron the Middle French duplicite. The roots of the word can be found in the Late Latin word, duplicatas and duplex.  The most common sense of duplicity today is deceitfulnessThe roots of this meaning can be found in the initial  ‘dupl’ – from the Latin duplex, meaning twofold, or double.

Use in a sentence: 

1. Martha was not a woman for compromise or duplicity.

2. The salesman was not averse to a little duplicity in his dealings with customers.

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I particularly like the adjective of this word: duplicitous. I have a few duplicitous characters in my books. I also use the word perfidious, which can also be a synonym of duplicitous (but has other meanings as well, including unfaithful and treasonous). To me, both duplicitous and perfidious sound so much more interesting than just saying deceitful.

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If you would like to check out more interesting words then visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

A Good Makeover – Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers

This is another new challenge for me and it certainly looks to be an interesting one. I think it’s a really brilliant idea of Priceless Joy’s to have a challenge for ‘aspiring’ writers. The challenge involves writing a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words. It encourages participants to comment (constructively, of course) on other entries, thereby supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link in the title of PJ’s, blog: Beautiful Words. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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Photo copyright: Dawn M. Miller

and this is my story . . .

From the opposite side of the road, Nora Wainwright massaged her aching back and surveyed the Bookstore: her destination, as always, at 10.30 a.m. on weekdays.  Her friends weren’t due for another hour and she had time to kill.

She considered the store’s new frontage; the façade it presented to the world.  At 72, Nora could do with one of those: a good makeover. Nothing too drastic, mind, no surgeon’s knife and complete image change.  She’d still look like Nora Wainwright – just as the Bookstore had kept its original, sash-style windows and ornate relief.  A new hairdo, some modern clothes and makeup would be nice.  She glanced at her well-rounded midriff.  She could lose a few pounds, too…  Her gaze drifted up to the Bookstore’s second floor, the mouth-watering confectionery in the coffee lounge.

Nora headed across the street, intent on considering makeovers whilst enjoying her first cream bun.

Word Count: 150

 

Shards – Friday Fictioneers

I seem to be getting later every week with my Friday Fictioneers contribution. I almost left it until tomorrow, but decided against the idea. So, here it is. The challenge is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields and is open to anyone who would like to join in. Just follow the link above for details. The challenge involves writing a story in no more than 100 words from the photo prompt provided by Rochelle.

Here is this week’s photo . . .

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Copyright: Marie Gail Stratford

And this is my story . . .

Sounds of shattering glass disturb my troubled sleep. Silvery-red shards shoot across the confined space, shimmering in the glow from the neon light in the street beyond. Sharp spikes strike my face and arms, piercing my exposed skin. I scream and cover my face as specks of blood pattern my arms.

Not my eyes! Leave me my eyes!

I struggle to understand why I suffer thus, and in the silence, I waken.

The hospital ward is peaceful now. I clutch at the dressings around my eyes and remember…

Shards of shimmering glass shoot out from my shattered windscreen…

Word Count: 100

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If you’d like to read other entries just click on the little blue frog below:

Book Reviews, Book Promotions And A Hint of Spring

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All writers know the value of reviews to the success of their books. Yet most readers don’t review- even if they’ve really enjoyed the book – for a variety of reasons. Time is always a factor in the hectic, modern world. There are some people, of course, who simply don’t like the idea, or aren’t comfortable expressing their thoughts for others to read. Perhaps they feel daunted when they see the long, detailed reviews done by Amazon top reviewers and professional editors. Yet even short, to the point reviews are greatly appreciated by authors. Every single one adds to that all-important number that shows up on Amazon or other online retailers.

That said, from today, Saturday 20th February, until Wednesday the 24th, the first book of my Sons of Kings Trilogy will be free on Amazon. It’s entitled, Shadow of the Raven. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m about to say that I would be very grateful for an honest review from anyone who might read it. I’ve set up a few advertising features for these five days, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. The trouble is, advertising opportunities seem few and far between in the UK – all of mine are in the US. If anyone knows of any good UK advertising site, I’d really appreciate the contact addresses.

Here are the front covers of the two books of my trilogy so far:

Pit of Vipers Final (Medium)Shadow of the Raven (Medium)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since Christmas I’ve had two reviews of Book 2, Pit of Vipers, posted on WordPress blogs. One is from the lovely, New York blogger, JF, on his blog Pursuit of Happiness. The link is to the actual review.

The other blogger was across the other side of the world, in Australia. ChristineR

These two bloggers have read and reviewed both of my books on their blogs now, for which I am incredibly grateful. Christine has also put both on Amazon, which is more than appreciated!

Well, over the last week or so we’ve been hearing a great deal about the Arctic weather conditions over in the north-eastern areas of the US and in Canada. Newsreels have given us glimpses of the frozen Niagara and snow-packed streets and highways. Travelling must be a nightmare. All we can do is sympathise – and hope similar conditions don’t visit us!

Here in Nottinghamshire, the weather has been dull in the most part, with just a few bursts of sunshine. But it’s quite mild, for February. Buds on spring flowers are swelling, a few even opening up fully. In our garden we have a few daffodils open and a handful of crocuses.

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Snowdrops will be coming to an end soon. Everything sings of the hint of spring, even the noisy little sparrows – and that’s how I intend to think of it. Look forward, not backward. Positive thoughts in all things . . .

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What Is Pancake Day All About?

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This evening I cooked enough pancakes to sink a battleship. Everyone in our family loves the things, and we had several of our offspring round to join us (and save themselves the hassle of making and cooking them!) Naturally, being just ‘Mum’, I’ve got hours of spare time to cater for everyone! I wish!

Well, now I’ve just decided to write about where and when this tradition of stuffing ourselves stupid with pancakes started. So here’s the gist of it:

Shrove Tuesday – or Pancake Day – is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday. It is called a moveable feast because it’s determined by the cycles of the moon. The date can be anywhere between February 3rd and March 9th and falls immediately before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

The word ‘shrove’ is derived from the English word, shrive – which means gaining absolution (forgiveness) for any sins. Christians attended Confession for this, followed by a penance (a type of forfeit or punishment). So on Shrove Tuesday, Christians were ‘shriven’ before the 40 days of fasting during Lent – the days leading up to Easter, the most important Christian festival.

The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday has led to the day generally being referred to as ‘Pancake Day’ in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and Canada. This name is derived from the tradition of eating up all the rich foods (or ‘fats’) in the house before Lent. It would also provide a day of merriment and feasting before the days of austerity ahead. Outside of those countries, Catholic and Protestant countries traditionally call the day ‘Fat Tuesday’ – or ‘Mardi Gras.’

Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans. Krewe of Kosmic Revelers on Frenchmam St. 2009. Author: Infrogmation of New Orleans
Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans. Krewe of Kosmic Revelers on Frenchmam St. 2009. Author: Infrogmation of New Orleans
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Margi Gras in Marseille. Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Say-Mars Say-Yeah

In England, many towns once held traditional Shrove Tuesday ‘mob’ football games as part of the community celebrations, some dating back to the 12th Century. Today, only a few towns continue this tradition, which mostly died out in the 19th Century after the 1835 Highways Act was passed, banning football on public highways.

The tradition of ‘pancake races’ is said to have originated in 1445, when a housewife was so busy making pancakes she forgot the time for the usual 11 o’ clock church service. Only the ringing of the church bells reminded her and she raced to the church, still carrying her frying pan – containing a pancake.

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Pancake Races at Olney in Buckinghamshire. Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Lestalorm

Pancake races are still quite common in the UK, especially in England. Contestants race through the streets with their frying pans, tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running. The most famous pancake race is at Olney in Buckinghamshire, and dates back to 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, race over a 415 yard course with their frying pans. Rules stipulate that they must must toss their pancakes at both the start and the finish, and wear an apron and scarf. Traditionally, when men want to take part, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service.

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Preparing for Pancake Day in Olney. Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Michael Trelove

Pancakes are simple to make and cook (unless you have a family the size of mine and they all want half a dozen each! Not small ones, either!) The recipe is a basic batter, which can be found on many websites and in recipe book, so I won’t elaborate here. In Britain, lemon juice and sugar is a favourite topping, but there are lots of different sweet fillings that people choose – golden syrup, maple syrup and various jams, to name just a few.  Naturally, I’m expected to provide every possible choice. My husband prefers orange juice  to lemon, for a start.

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Pancake with orange juice and sugar
Pancakes with raspberry filling
Pancakes with raspberry filling

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What Is Love In Four Words – Tag Post

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Well, this post is completely different to my usual thing! I was nominated by the delightful Rachael at rachaelsbooks and thought I’d give it a go.

Now, I must warn you that ‘Romance’ writing is not at all my thing. My books do have elements of ‘love’ in them because, after all, love is part of everyday life. But I write of love as a deep and powerful, often passionate, emotion, without what I would call the ‘twee’ aspects of it associated with Valentine’s Day and such like.

Yes, I know the sentiments behind the Day are admirable, and everyone likes tokens from their loved ones, so I’m not pooh-poohing the idea. But writing these short phrases was a bit of a challenge for me. (I’ve already told Rachael that mine will be boring. I can’t really say it’s an ‘age thing’. My husband of 45 years is an incurable romantic! Perhaps I should have asked him to write these! Haha.)

This is what Rachael said the challenge was about:

hashtaglovebooks decided to do something interesting this Valentine’s. A challenge or tag where you write ten “what is love in four words” sentences about what you love and what you believe is love. Then state one of your favorite love quotes from a book, a movie or a famous person and then tag ten other bloggers to do the challenge as well.

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 After all that, here are my ten, four word phrases about LOVE:

Love is . . .

. . . a blossom to nurture

. . . hearts beating in harmony

. . . when spring seems eternal

. . . a smouldering, relentless passion

. . . a sweet, insatiable desire

. . . an ocean of emotion

 . . . a plethora of passions

 . . . balmy nights, bodies intertwined

. . . sweet nothings, softly whispered

. . . summer’s soft, silken breath

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Now for my favourite love quote from a book. There are a few I like – some from Wuthering Heights, which I studied for ‘A’ level many years ago. But for this, I’ve picked a much simpler, less impassioned or brooding quote than any of Heathcliff’s. This is by Robert Browning, also studied for ‘A’ level:

‘So, fall asleep love, loved by me . . . for I know love, I am loved by thee.’

(Yes, it’s a bit dated – but then, so am I! I also love anything historical.)

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Now here are my ten nominations: 

  1. Tribalmystic
  2. Emily Livingstone
  3. meghdeb
  4. Priceless Joy
  5. Scribbley
  6. mira65
  7. Elsa Holland
  8. penshift
  9. draliman 
  10. John Yeo

Just Who Was Saint Valentine?

 471px-St-valentine-baptizing-st-lucilla-jacopo-bassanoValentine was a Roman priest during the reign of Emperor Claudius the Second in the third century AD. He is sometimes known as Claudius the Cruel – and is not the Emperor Claudius who was responsible for ordering the building of Hadrian’s Wall across the North of England in AD 122-130.

The story tells us that Claudius believed that married men did not make good soldiers. They worried too much about leaving wives and families behind if they were killed to be truly effective in battle. So Claudius issued an edict, prohibiting the marriage, or engagement, of young people.

Now, Roman society at this time was very permissive, and polygamy was popular. Yet some of the people were still attracted to the Christian faith. Unfortunately for them, since the Christian Church taught that marriage was sacred between one man and one woman, this posed a problem. It was obvious that something had to be done about it . . .

It was Valentine who set about encouraging people to be married within the Christian community, despite the emperor’s edict. Naturally, ceremonies were performed in secret.

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured. A man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind, was called to judge him. Valentine is said to have prayed with, and healed, the girl – which caused Asterius himself to become a Christian. Whatever the outcome of that, somewhere around the year AD 270 Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution: beating, stoning and eventual beheading. Whilst in prison, awaiting execution, Valentine is said to have written a note to Asterius’ daughter. He signed it . . .

From your Valentine

. . . thus inspiring today’s romantic cards.

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Some interesting points about Saint Valentine:

  • Like many stories set so long ago, this one is often questioned. The main problem stems from Valentine’s true identity. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, there were at least three different St. Valentines, all of them martyrs. A second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third, a martyr in the Roman province of Africa. It is possible that the first two are the same person. However, the confusion surrounding Valentine’s true identity caused the Catholic Church to discontinue liturgical veneration (public worship) of him in 1969, although his name remains on its list of officially recognised saints.
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St. Valentine of Terni oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni. Attribution: Public Domain Wikimedia Commons
  • Valentine’s flower-adorned skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Excavation of a catacomb near Rome in the 1800’s yielded the skeletal remains, and other relics, now associated with St. Valentine. As is customary, various bits of these remains have been distributed to reliquaries around the world: Czech Republic, Scotland, England, France and Ireland:
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Shrine of St’ Valentine at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. Attribution: blackfish
  • No record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem written by the medieval poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, in 1374.  It is called ‘Parliament of Foules’. In this, he links a tradition of love with the celebration of Valentine’s Feast Day. The poem refers to February 14th as the day on which birds (and humans) come together to find a mate:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day

Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate…’

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I won’t go on about the ways in which Valentine’s Day is celebrated today. There are lots of posts out there with little poems and stories. I’ll just finish off with a few pictures appropriate to a few of the things we associate with the celebration today.

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(Header image: 1600’s painting of St. Valentine baptising St. Lucilla.  From Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.)