And the first winner of 2014 is………

wiinners cup

Congratulations to Jane Dougherty who, at over 45% of the vote,  won January’s mini writing competition with ‘It Could Have Been Different’.

As winner, Jane is now entitled to set the writing prompt for February’s competition and I will notify you all once I have more information on this.

Thank you again to all who took part this month and as usual I was impressed by the quality and variety of the submissions. 🙂

(Also, apologies for the slight delay in announcing the result, but I have been battling the cold and generally feeling sorry for myself.  I can’t afford to be ill this week though as I am heading down to London for a one day conference on How to Write for Children and Young Adults and Get Published at Bloomsbury Publishing, and am starting to get very excited!  It should be an amazing day…  🙂 )

The first vote of 2014 is now open!

voting donkey

I hope that you enjoyed this month’s entries and the voting poll for January’s competition is now open.   Please cast your vote for your favourite entry from now until the end of this month and the winner will then get to set the writing prompt for February.  Good luck to all who entered and thank you for taking part 🙂

Who will you vote for?  Remember, voting is open to all whether you have contributed an entry or not so make sure that your vote counts.

Entry from chichlee

I am pleased to share an entry in to this month’s competition from chichlee, a previous contributor to the mini monthly competitions. Welcome back chichlee and thank you for giving us another interesting piece.

This month’s topic has been a good illustration of the diverse styles and interpretations different people can apply to the same writing prompt so thank you again to Tom for sparking the imagination of all the contributors. 🙂

chichlee says:

January 22, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I’m old now. I had two sisters. My mom died young. A stepmother with step-sibs followed, younger than my sisters and me.

My family looked down on me. I’d gotten pregnant by a good-for-nothing, but I thought I loved him. Truth to tell, I got pregnant so’s he’d marry me. But he didn’t.

My daughter ran all over me, I felt so guilty. She followed in my footsteps, although she was more courageous. She finally moved out and got married and I was still lonely.

Always lonely. I just needed someone to care for – someone who needed me. That’s not so much to ask, is it?

I found someone. But he was peculiar. Frank didn’t eat nothing but beef and potatoes. I really love to cook, but I couldn’t go too far because he wouldn’t eat it. As we built our life, turned out that Frank said who I could be friends with, who we went to see and for how long. I can count on one hand how many times anyone came to our house.

I knitted. Aside from working, that is. He was disabled and couldn’t work, so I worked, and when I wasn’t working I knitted.

By the time my dad got sick, I wasn’t really very close to my family any more. Frank had good reasons not to visit my family. His legs pained him. He knew he wouldn’t like what they were serving for dinner. He had to see the game on TV. It was too far to drive.

But they never came here, neither.

I got a good letter from my stepsister, though. It was weird – she said that I had a place to come if I ever wanted to leave Frank. She told me of her cousin who had left her husband because he’d been controlling her every movement for years. I didn’t understand any of that part. I asked my sisters, “Is she telling me to leave Frank?” They just shrugged.

But the good part of the letter was that she encouraged me to speak my mind and clear the air – between me and my dad, I mean – because she said he didn’t have much time left.

And I told him, too. Him and his wife, both. Years ago, a big wedding for my sister in their home, but nothing for me. Always overlooked. Always looked down on. Never calling unless they wanted something from us. From me.

Of course, he did die, and I didn’t even go the to memorial.

I wish I’d gone. Sure, I’d cleared the air, but I never got an “I’m sorry.” Nor either, a chance to forgive him. Now he’s gone and so’s Frank. I hear from my sisters rarely. Never from the step-family.

Turns out they loved my dad for who he was. Who did I love?

So now I knit, and visit down the hall, and wonder how my life could have been if things had been different.

(c) chichlee

And now for something a little bit silly……..

So here is my (admittedly somewhat light hearted) take on the theme for this month 🙂

ladder of success

By elizfrat

In my mind’s eye I am lovely and slim
I keep nice and lithe without trips to the gym
I socialise lots and don’t watch what I eat
When I look down I can still see my feet

In my mind’s eye I have riches galore
I have all that I need and can’t ask for more
I live in a mansion and vacation each year
To somewhere exotic, prestigious and dear

In my mind’s eye things just fall in my lap
My children come running with just a small clap
I’ve reached dizzying heights in my chosen career
And can welcome each day without doubt or fear

In my mind’s eye my life is just right
My loved ones are happy, their outlooks are bright
Life can throw nothing but good things our way
In my mind’s eye I imagine all day

‘If Things Had Been Different’ by lassfromlancashire

Another warm welcome back in 2014 for lassfromlancashire with her entry for this month’s mini competition. (Although, as she reminds us, we probably shouldn’t go with strangers in this day and age 🙂 )

missing bus

lassfromlancashire says:

January 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Here’s a link to my entry. Hope I’ve got it right this time!

‘I Wonder’ by Jan Strickland

A very warm welcome to a regular contributor with a heartfelt poem, which I’m sure many a mother will relate to.


I Wonder

I sometimes lie awake at night and think of you
and I wonder if only, and why?
I think of where you are and what you do,
and I wonder if only, and why?

You have been shielded at home by love and strength,
but you wanted to go it alone.
You felt stifled; hemmed in and decided to go
the length of Britain to find a new home.

You’re enjoying your freedom, your new job and your friends,
but I worry you may be let down.
You’re too much ‘the giver’, and people just take,
so be wary, my son, in that town.

You’re our baby, our lad, our young man, our son.
We love you so much and time flies.
So I think of you often, where you are, what you do.
And I wonder if only, and why?

(c) Jan Strickland

‘It Could Have Been Different’ by Jane Dougherty

man and dog

Followers of this blog will be pleased to welcome back Jane, with a true to form excellent (if very sad and slightly harrowing) entry for this month’s writing prompt.

Jane Dougherty says:

January 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

Thanks for the prompt, Elizabeth. I’ve written a short piece about an unpleasant experience I had yesterday. On the spur of the moment I wrote a short poem about it. Here’s a piece of flash fiction.

‘If Things Had Been Different’ by Catherine Paterson


I am very pleased to welcome a new blogger, Catherine Paterson, to January’s mini competition with her refreshing interpretation of this month’s writing prompt. A big thank you to Catherine for entering and I hope you enjoy her poem as I did. I’m sure you’ll agree that she had no need to be nervous! 🙂

catherinepaterson says:

January 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Very first attempt. Don’t laugh.

Voyage from Famine to Adventure by Maryann Holloway

A warm welcome back to Maryann Holloway with another interesting historical piece for the writing prompt of ‘If Things Had Been Different‘. Click the link to her blog to see some wonderful accompanying illustrations (one of which I have borrowed below 🙂 )


Maryann Holloway says:

January 8, 2014

Great prompt for January. Here is my entry. I hope you enjoy it.

‘If Things Had Been Different’ by Tom F

To kick things off for this month’s writing competition we have a contribution from Tom F, the winner of last month.  Thank you to Tom for providing the prompt and getting things started and I’m sure you will enjoy his poem. 🙂

LA skyline

If Things Had Been Different…….

……..I wouldn’t be here like this,

Stood on the threshold thoughts of her kiss.

We grew up together full of our dreams,

Somehow not the same, as now it seems

She hit the big time, she made it good,

West End to Broadway, and now Hollywood.

I wanted HER, our kids and a semi,

Now she rubs shoulders with Angelina & Demi.


If things had been different, I could have gone too,

But I wouldn’t listen, too much to do.

Not one for dancing or learning my lines

I turned down the road of cautions and fines,

Too many pills, too much to drink.

If she saw me now what would she think?

A young man so worn, so broken, so bruised.

A body once vital, now so abused.


The water so swift and cold far below,

One small step, to oblivion I’ll go.

I’ve heard the impact will take me away,

If I close my eyes my body will sway.

I’m falling now, but I’ve gone the wrong way.

Flat on my back, in the road, in the dark,

I want to sit up but the pain is so stark.

I’ve done it again, made the wrong choice,

But back to normality I hear a voice.


“Get up Georgie, What the hell you been doing?

Get up from the dirt or that shirt you will ruin.

Jump in the car, here use my phone.

You ring your mam, I’ll take you home”.

Now who was this girl with the beautiful face?

And the soft chiding voice I just couldn’t place?

We stopped by my house “Will I see you again? “.

“Get some rest,” she replied “In the morning, at ten”


We sat in the Costa having muffins and coffee,

I had the chocolate, for her the sweet toffee.

“I watched you for years “she said eyes cast down.

“Please smile “I pointed, “It doesn’t suit you  …the frown “.

“I was the young one, you just didn’t see.

My sister the bright light, overshadowing me.

If things had been different……”

My finger to her lips, I stopped her right there.

The tears rolling slowly, I just couldn’t bear.

She took my hand gently, and walked me outside.

We held on so tightly, stood there and cried.


Now things are different, two years have flown past,

She put me together, a father at last.

A son for me, and his perfect mother.

Life is so good now, but what of the other?

Her star not so bright, bad choices she made,

Her friends all deserted, ‘cos she’s in the shade.

Now things are different, no Angelina or Demi.

See, I’ve got her, our kid, and our semi.


© Tom Frattaroli  07/01/2014