‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ by lassfromlancashire

I am very pleased to share with you the first entry for this month’s mini competition, which I think has addressed the writing prompt perfectly!  Thank you and welcome back to lassfromlancashire.

winter tree

lassfromlancashire says:

In the bleak midwinter
Friends are apt to moan
“My fingertips are frozen
My feet feel like a stone
Snow and hail are falling fast
Snow piles up on snow
If only it would melt away
If only it would go!”

“Come now, Winter’s not so bad
And if you wrap up warm,
A good thick coat and woolly scarf
Will shield you from the storm.
Come out and see the lovely trees
All decked out in snow
The skaters and the sledges
See how swift they go.”

Winter can be beautiful
Don’t sit at home and sigh
A Winter Wonderland awaits
Come out, you’ll soon see why!

(c) Esme

 

New Writing Prompt For January….

birds flying from tree

I hope, like me, you are eager to continue writing in 2015?  If so why not join in with this month’s mini writing competition to get those literary muscles working again, after what may well have been a somewhat saggy festive season?

Thank you to Jane Dougherty who has provided this month’s writing prompt of ‘In the bleak midwinter’, after taking inspiration from the Christina Rossetti poem.

As such I welcome you to submit a piece of flash fiction (under 500 words) or poetry on ‘In the bleak midwinter’ and I look forward to reading any entries which may come in over the course of the month.

The closing date for submissions will be the 24th of the month as usual, and you will be able to vote for your favourite between then and the end of the month, with the winner setting the writing prompt for February.

As always, good luck to all who enter :).

Happy New Writing Year!

new year

After a frenetic December, which all but disappeared in a blur, I am happy to be back and to wish you all the very best for 2015.  I hope you had a lovely festive season and have lots of plans for the new year.

What are your writing / reading ambitions?  Mine are to try to get a bit more structure in my writing life (and to that end it is fantastic that I can now finally see my desk again having just cleared it of wrapping paper, sellotape, cards, pens, lists, labels, and other festive remains – yesterday was my twins’ 7th birthday so we go right through!!)  I also aim to submit more work to magazines and to enter writing competitions, particularly in the writing for children field, where I feel I have a bit of momentum behind me at present.  Fingers crossed 2015 turns out to be a good one!…..

As far as reading is concerned, my only problem seems to be that there are so many great books out there that I would love to read that I am spoilt for choice!  One book that I received as a Christmas present was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, which I had asked for after hearing good things about it.  If you haven’t already read it, then I would recommend it as a no-nonsense, straight-talking insight into how a successful writer approaches the craft, with a bit of biography thrown in for good measure.

In regards to this blog, if you recall Jane Dougherty won the last mini writing competition of 2014 and so I will be asking her to set the first writing prompt for 2015, and will get back to you shortly.

Hope you have a fruitful coming year and look forward to catching up! 🙂

 

new year clock

And November’s winner is………………

wiinners cup

I’m very pleased to say that the winner of November’s mini writing competition is Jane Dougherty with ‘In the fields of the flat lands’.  Well done Jane and thank you for submitting such a moving and evocative piece of writing.  I will get back to you in the New Year for the next writing prompt if that is agreeable to you, and in the meantime I hope you have a lovely festive season.

Voting for November is now open!

voting slip

Thank you again to those who took part in this month’s mini writing competition with the writing prompt of ‘Memories’.  Voting is now open so please vote and ensure that your favourite wins.  As usual, voting will remain open until the end of the month and the winner will then get to set the next writing prompt.

As December is shaping up to be a bit of a busy month and, given that most people will have more than enough to keep them occupied over the festive season, I would propose that the mini competitions take a break until the new year.  Therefore the winner of this month will be setting the first writing prompt of 2015, and good luck to all.

Who will you vote for?

‘Miniatures’ by Bill Engleson

I’m very pleased to bring you another entry for this month’s mini writing competition before tonight’s deadline and I’d like to welcome Bill Engleson with his atmospheric poem, ‘Miniatures’.  Hear, hear to the ‘smaller moments’, that tend to get lost in the mix.

music notes

denmaniacs4 says:

Miniatures

I have loved the smaller moments,
the times so quick in their passing,
that memory seems to barely recall;
Yet there is a sense of importance,
a taste in the mind of sweet seconds,
like slightly tilted miniatures
resting peacefully, half asleep,
on a dusty mantle of the mind’s heart.

On this evening, naked in my room,
awaiting a lover who may not arrive,
the miniatures twirl in drowsy dance,
with a little help from the radio’s Strauss.
The taste of chocolate
and salt-sour yogurt and strawberries
supply the flavours of this night.
I covet, like a jealous child his toys,
the smaller moments I have loved.

(c) Bill Engleson

‘Home’ & Book Week Scotland

I thought I would make the effort and sneak in a last minute entry for this month’s theme of ‘memories’.  It’s a bit simplistic, granted, but I wanted to have a play with shapes and structure, and it hopefully still manages to get the (again simple) message across…..

By the way, happy Book Week Scotland 2014, which starts today.  Lots of exciting things happening, not least a trip through to Edinburgh with some writing group friends to pitch to an agent and publisher.  What a fantastic opportunity (if a slightly scary one!)  Pitch is prepared, so fingers crossed!

home

HOME

Home

A house

A dwelling place

Filled with children’s laughter

Warmth and safety

With love

Home

Home

Quieter now

Family all grown

With their own lives

But memories linger

And love

Home

 

(c) elizfrat

‘The Skylark’ by Tom F

This is not a competition entry, but something that Tom asked me if I would post on his behalf.  It is also another very fitting piece of writing given the 100 year anniversary of WW1 and it has special meaning to him, as detailed in his email to me at the time:

It is dedicated to my uncle, Pte Thomas Frattaroli, Gordon Highlanders, who was killed in action 18th August 1944, in Normandy, at the age of 21. Liseux is a beautiful place, we have visited on quite a few occasions, took my dad there before he passed away (he also fought his way through to Germany and Poland, and survived, obviously). I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time I went, and saw my name on the gravestone.

Thank you for sharing this Tom and for your touching story.
Skylark-in-flight

THE SKYLARK

It was Lisieux, Normandy, 1944. Paris had been liberated and the Axis forces were retreating.

“Have a cup of tea, lad, then move over to the left to be recorded with the rest of your pals”. The British corporal was receiving German prisoners of war, listing name, rank and number, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

The German soldiers were defeated and afraid, their slumped shoulders and shuffling feet reflected the fear in their eyes. They were thinking “What will happen to us? Will we ever see our families again? “

This one thought ran through all their minds. Only a few short years ago they were children, but the war had ravaged them, now they were battle–hardened men, but they still had their fears.

“Don’t worry, Fritz, we will look after you, and you are safe here, we will feed you as well as we can” added the corporal.

“Lucky sods, imagine the boot on the other foot,” interrupted one young Tommy, “they wouldn’t……….”

“Shut up, soldier!” the corporal barked “we are the British Army, the war is over for us and they are no longer a threat. Move on to the left.” he motioned to the German POW who was now slurping on his boiling, welcoming brew.

“How many now, corporal? “enquired the RSM.

“About three thousand, sergeant major. We are running short of space to keep them here, but I don’t think they are a threat, they have seen enough, just like us, and they welcome their peace”

“We will have to hope so, corporal”, the RSM muttered quietly.

“Sir?…….”

“We are on our own now son, they have moved on and left us in charge, ‘Awaiting Further Orders’. The local French officials will be coming soon to help with the organising of who goes where, but we shouldn’t be too long here.”

RSM John Kirk was a huge man, a Scot from the Gordon Highlanders, straight-talking and to the point. He was revered by the men serving under him, and respected by his superior officers. With him they believed they were invincible. As a career soldier, he should have gone further up the ranks, but he was content to stay close to his men. He had trained them for three years for this victory, and he wanted to be with them when they achieved it.

“Won’t be long now sarge. We’ll be off back to Blighty, and not like it was at Dunkirk. This time it’ll be on the ferry, china tea cups and a plate of cakes. ‘All aboard The Skylark‘ hey?” It was the young Tommy chirping in again. He was twenty one years old and hadn’t been at Dunkirk, too young. This was his first taste of action, but like all Britons he had learned of the horrors of retreat and the bravery of all those involved.

“First Saturday I get, it’ll be down to ‘Hat and Feathers‘ for a couple of pints with the boys, then up to see the ‘Spurs’. Up The Lillywhites!” he enthused.

John Kirk frowned as he looked the cocky lad up and down, obviously not one of his boys.

“Listen son,” he whispered threateningly “that’s a way off yet and you are still in the army,” the whisper increasing in volume “and while you wear the King’s uniform…. you call me SERGEANT MAJOR!”

The private snapped to attention, stretching his five feet six inch frame as far as it would reach.

“Sorry, SERGEANT MAJOR !“ his reaction direct from the parade ground.

“Stand easy, lad, I’m not going to eat you, just remember where we are. AND, if I’m ever in The Hat and Feathers, I’ll share a wee dram with you.” There was almost a smile on Kirk’s face, knowing he would NEVER take a drink in a London Pub.

“Now get amongst the prisoners, bring back the mugs and help out with the washing up. Good Lad!“

“SERGEANT MAJOR!” another perfect response.

It was at this point that the Commanding Officer, approached the RSM, he was a Lt. Colonel also from The Gordon Highlanders, and, at twenty four, ten years younger than RSM Kirk.

“I have spoken to the local councillors about the problem of overcrowding, and they have requisitioned the field directly adjacent to ours. We can have the prisoners moved into it as there is more room for them, albeit quite cramped, but it relieves our space a little. I’ve also spoken to the German C.O. Can you believe, he was educated at Oxford? He is quite happy to move too. They will not give us any trouble, they have nowhere to go, and if the locals got hold of them, heaven knows what would happen. We have about two hours of daylight to get that organised Sarn’t Major, they can have an armed guard overnight, you know the procedure.“

“Yes Sir!” barked Kirk.

“Thanks, but try and take things a little easier, John. It’s all over for us now, we have a lot to be proud of. We did our job. We ‘Stood Fast’.” The words were softly delivered, causing RSM Kirk to realize that for them, it was all over.

As the sun began to set to the West, a lone skylark rose from this corner of France, ascending slowly, singing his beautiful song of summer, whilst the ghostly shadows of the soldiers disappeared into the cool evening mist. Below him, the two fields, in St. Desir grew smaller as he climbed. In the British field, there were rows of white marble, akin to soldiers on parade. Next to them, divided by a low hedgerow and pathway, lay the German field, filled with smaller, darker stones, three times the number of those in the adjacent field.

At the entrance to each field stood a monument to many brave men, and resting by each, lay a wreath of poppies, with the words

“BROTHERS IN PEACE”

(c) Tom Frattaroli

‘In the blink of an eye’ by Jan Strickland

gran

I am happy to share another entry for this month’s mini writing competition on the theme of ‘Memories’ from regular contributor, Jan Strickland, with a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  Thanks Jan and don’t forget that if you would like to join in, there are still 6 days left to contribute an entry for November.

MEMORIES

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

I sit, saddened by the passing of time

but strangely not alone, not lonely

My life’s been a wonderful kaleidoscope of rhyme –

a positive life, not a question of ‘if only’

 

School days

Nativity plays

Pet hates

First dates

Holidays, jolly days of fun and laughter by the sea

Intimate meals with special people

All these are happy memories for me

 

I sit content in my special chair

and count my blessings, for I see

a lot of people within whose care

I am so very lucky to be

 

My family all grown up now

with lives and loves of their own to see

My clock ticks on, the grandchildren gather

“Tell us a story Nana”, they jump on my knee

 

So forget rheumatics, the odd aches and pains

The brain shutter clicks open to shower the wains

with memories of long ago, the funnier the better

Of their Mum or Dad, they want to know

Of the naughty deeds so long ago

 

And so I remember every small detail

to pass on to the children for this is their history

Part of their being is wrapped in my memory

Its life I am telling and not just a fairy tale.

 

(c) Jan Strickland

 

 

 

‘In the fields of the flat lands’ by Jane Dougherty

poppies

On this special day I am very pleased to be able to share with you Jane’s beautiful and very poignant poem.  Such a tragic waste of human life – we will never forget and thank you for making the biggest sacrifice of all.