Category Archives: War

Singing Songs of Joy and Peace

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Singing Songs of Joy and Peace*

 

 

We know what strict is

In the counts of the missing

The missing found

Splatters of their former selves

Shatters of what memories we had

Pushing away the viewpoints of before

It has to be forgotten

Or drag us into the mud

Meaningful deaths, but not now

They graphically get pushed away.

 

The clarity of the season was here

Wintery chills drifting along open skin

Particles inappreciable in white shells

Ingesting the soot of the days and nights

The wet becomes us

Slogging through the cold

We’re nothing but walking icicles

Degradation in our feet

 

Mornings must start with songs of Joy

From barracks to fields

To lift any spirit that could be raised

Through enforced blockage of what’s to come

Songs of Peace enforced taking Joys place

Blaring out, amplified unjust

Home is dancing in the street

Yet no dance here; our patterns are strict,

As long as this weather held.

 

Mercurial temperaments of nature

Have no sense of staying put

Wished away, ignoring petty whines

Pleading prayers always unheard

Chilled or sweltering

We melted or froze

In the fullness of time,

The weather changed.

 

Of the frozen deaths

We revoked our hearts

Set to extra toils

Making up for the dead

Of our sweat drenched backs

We camouflaged our hearts

What was left of them, numb or dead.

 

As long as this weather holds

“This” becomes mythical

While we wait; We wait

Continuing to give up lives

Joining the unremembered in their weather passage.

The egregious screws are welded holdfast

As we sing songs of Joy and Peace

Nevertheless the vagaries of weather;

Nonetheless what clasps us to those songs.

 

March on.

Opposite actions enforced.

Strictly.

 

March on.

~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Author’s Note:

“Songs of joy and peace” come from Joni Mitchel’s beautiful song, River. I had listened to it only minutes before when I shut off my music app and tuned into that night’s writing group, River River Writer’s Circle. The prompt was “When the weather changes.” The above happened, was shared, and got the suggestion: “Think about expanding this out” (well, “stretching it out”). So, I let it sit, came back to it, and the above is the result.

Thank you, Ms. Mitchel. A sad, but integral song for many.  What I wrote is no reflection on her song. The fourth line of the first stanza stayed with me.

The opening stanza from Joni Mitchel’s River is: 

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Songwriters: Mitchell Joni
River lyrics © Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Obo Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp., Wb Music Corp Obo Jam N Bread Music

 

EDIT: Boy, am I dense!

Joni Mitchel’s River

RiverRiver Writer’s Circle. 

I just realized it. Not planned at all. Doh! Oy! :::palmface:::

 

 

 

HELEDAVAR WAS MIFFED

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Heledavar dropped off the branch, landing feet first on the moss. She’d had an uneventful night in the tree, no visit from the Mlkh of the Beautiful NightMare. It was not the first time Heledavar was left with a barren sleep. She was miffed, ready to take it out on her brother, Haladavar, Wood Elf style. Heledavar reached up, grabbed a low hanging branch, and pulled. It tore off the tree, no more effort than to step on a cadaverous bug.  Heledavar thought a prayer to the tree.

It was a Tarn’s bottom to be the only femwaif in a family of Tree Elf glutoffs.

She took to dashing behind and between trees, hoping that Hal was still was captive in the dream world. She reached his spot and stopped.  Heledavar’s miffed turned quickly into peeved. Instead of her brother laid out on his favorite bed of rubble stones, Hal left a “note” on the center stone.  It was spelled out with smaller rocks: “gone adven bi. “ An adventure? The glutoff! Heledavar stormed off.

As the action of Hal kept repeating inside her, Heledavar elevated her peeved to one of extreme vexation. She swore in High Wood Elf, her mixture of curses brimming to the surface. Her mismatched eyes bulged out. Vexation to fury, with ease.

She had lived through this five -no, six- times before. All of her siblings: “gone bi.” Until this last darkness, the dark became less dark. Then, only Haladavar and Heledavar remained. Now, Heledavar, alone. Hal left her to tend to their rotten, miserable, ungrateful parents. Their Her parents and their “haute couture” shrubbery and mulch mini-farm. Neither she nor any of her brothers had any intention to take over the family business: The Aralavaris Botanical and Breakfast Hut.

They all went “gone” the same way. They’d reach a specific tree span, and before anyone could say “Zarn Knows Little,” the darkness welcomed them. Each of them cringed once their parents went to bed. To a sibling, they learned where to sleep outside, reducing the horrible noise. The snoring was deafening. A Green Dragon could tear up all the trees outside, set fire to the shrubbery, roaring its terrible roar, and gnashing its terrible teeth. No matter. When they went to bed, they went to bed, snoring through the darkness.  She knew the Green Dragon’s frenzy because that scenario had happened. Three times. No. Four? Yes, four times.

She mumbled through gritted teeth: “those glutoffs! Moronic glutoffs! Feted glutoffs!”

Heledavar raised both hands, clenched in rock breaking fists. She boxed the air above her head, screaming to the puce heavens above. Heledavar stopped her tantrum as quickly as it started. The last time she let loose was the time the previous Green Dragon came forth.

Her ill feelings shifted, rising from peeved to quite vexed.

She approached the hut they had all shared. The snoring cut through the rotting wood paneling, shored up by their “best” shrubbery. Snoring. Near endless snoring. Momentous snoring! Apocalyptic noise that would be the end of her if she did not leave. As all the others did. She thought about patricide and matricide for an Ogre’s hair breath, but she just shook her massive head. Heledavar snuck inside, grabbing the clothing and few items that were hers, shoving them into a bag.  

Heledavar also helped herself to half the armory in the hut. Twelve throwing crescents, eleven Smoke Eaters, ten silver-rimmed stakes, enough knives to hide around her body, her bow with two quivers of arrows, and, finally, her mother’s Great Sword. Her pride, her treasure, the sword she named “Zweihänder, The Death That Comes.” When her mother, The Zoupah, took out her eight hand-sized, double-edged straight blade, her opponents knew it was already too late for them. Bladders were voided. Most ran. They still voided.

During those times, her father stayed at the hut, watching over his bushes.

It was Heledavar’s time.  Before she set out, Heledavar raided the kitchen. Food for the road. Satisfied with all the meats and treats she liked, Heledavar skulked out of the hut.  Heledavar went to Hal’s favorite conk-out spot. She added a smeared smattering of broken slab over Hal’s message: “H to bi.” It served its purpose. As she walked away, grease dripped down her chin from the roasted Shaitan she spirited away.

At High Not Dark, Heledavar stopped on the rocky path she strode along. The ground trembled from the aftershocks of the snoring. Rocks rolled. Saplings unrooted themselves. The oldest, largest trees felt their leaves tumble away. Even this far away, the snoring would not let her leave. Heledavar’s vexation catapulted to rage. Heledavar held up her left fist, the right trying not to lose the fatty shank. She steadied the shank by sinking her teeth into the next to last deep mass of meat. Heledavar was free to hold up her smallest finger.  Heledavar leaned her head back, a gargling noise spilling out of her mouth, and shot down. She spat out all that she had held back. Bile mixed with the saliva ejected seventeen times. Each one a burial for the last seventeen cycles that were her life.

Heledavar turned her back on the direction of the AB&BH, remaining in place. From stillness to a howling wind, Heledavar closed her right eye, whirled four times to the known winds, then four times back again. She repeated that dance three more times, at last planting her feet solid on the path. She said her name for the last time. “Heledavar.” Her past and the name that held roots were discarded. Hele, now, opened her eye, continuing on the pitted path before her.

She only looked back three times before the hut, at long last, fell away.

Or, was it Hele’s fourth time she looked back? Fifth?

She pondered that for a long while walking. The darkness and the less dark filled in the spaces to the next day.

Samhain

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Samhain

by Stuart Nager, 8/4/20 ©

Macha opened eyes that were not hers.

She found herself walking. Surrounded by a small grouping of Cailes, eight in number. All were of strange dress, some masked, others showing painted skin, akin to animals she had only heard of. They chattered, giggled, hugged one another, ran, and chased. Five were on the verge of womanhood; three already had crossed that threshold. The body she wore was one of those three.

Yelling far ahead startled her, but for a moment, for it quickly turned to wild laughter. Macha the Virago, a warrior woman of deed, wife of dead king Nemed, held tight. These were the young of this land. These were not the noise of battle, cries of the Formorians advancing on her people with slaughter on their lips. This was not the call of her people to fight. They were not the sounds of their death throes. Those sounds invaded the soul and heart of the Caile she rode. As was her death. Macha was on the last of three intonations when the Formor sent a spear through her breast. Her body lay on bloodied dirt as the last word touched her lips.

Macha stopped.

Her breath, her heart, her body; nothing overtly stirred as her insides tugged at the container that she had invaded. A soft hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking over, this was a raven-haired Caile, whose eyes took her in. She spoke, whispered a name-twice-as Macha realized that was this Calile’s name.

“Dana,” she paused. “Dana!” Their eyes met. “Are you ok? You just stopped. Dana. Hey. Knock knock. Hello? You were the one who wanted to go trick or treating. Hey, are you ok?”

Macha caught every speeding word that…Ali. Ali churned out. Dana/Macha nodded her head. Her answer-Dana’s answer-staggered out of their shared mouth.

“I am. I’m. I’m fine, Ali.” Macha added a smile to Dana’s face. Ali’s face relaxed at hearing this, and her bunched in shoulders opened.

Macha winced as Ali threw her arms around her torso, pinning her arms. Her hands clawed in response, an intonation traveled from mind to lips. It stopped there, claws became hands, and Dana accepted the hug. She returned it.

“Hey. Go find a room,” the tall redhead called out as she walked towards the two. Jill. “C’mon. Halloween is here, babe. Let’s get some of the goodies!”

The word meant nothing to Macha as Jill and Ali linked arms with her, dragging her along. The three caught up with the others. Halloween. Dana was no help here as she was eating something delightful.

Macha looked up at the darkening skies as Dana chewed. She continued to be swept along from door to door, filling up the bag Dana had brought with her. As night truly arrived, all the girls started singing, walking to Jill’s house for the night. Dana didn’t know the words to a monster mash, so she stayed back a few steps from the others. Ali remained at her side, singing.

Macha took another look up to the stars. Her eyes twinkled. The smile on Dana was Macha’s. Ali took Dana’s hands, dancing around in a circle. They both would up laughing on the lawn outside of Jill’s home. Dana, then Ali, laid prone, heads almost touching, and stared at the stars.

Dana pointed to a group of stars that were still on the rise.

“The Seven Sisters.”

“What?”

“There. There, Ali, look. At the highest point. The grouping of stars. The Seven Sisters!”

Ali looked to where her best friend pointed, but couldn’t tell one star from another. She was just glad that Dana sounded like Dana again. Ali rolled over onto her side so she could look at Dana.

Macha didn’t notice. The Seven Sisters held her in their embrace.

“Samhain. All hallows eve. The dead shall rise. Halloween.”

Ali was asleep beside her. Macha shed tears, finding herself at the center of her life, in a world she would have to learn.

What better time of year to awaken. Macha the Virago: warrior woman; attle fury; The Phantom Queen. Macha died but has returned.

Woe to the ancestors of the Formorians.

Macha has returned.

 

 

Screeching Fury

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(Credit: Pavelk/Shutterstock)

Screeching Fury

 

Everything is darkness.

Raging fires, flaring high above our heads

Distant light snuffed out by the night.

Wounds never heal; we ooze out of ourselves

Stuffing gauze pads, cover with bandages

Not closing, not lessening, never clotting

Infectious nature saturate places uncrossed

There is beauty in moments

When the glare inside is strong

But it fades, it fades

As more darkness surrounds.

 

For some, existence changes

Opening senses, letting them coexist

Abstract perceiving demands explanations

Or relief.

What should and what should not be

Or, hide from it all

Behind flickering words

On flickering screens

On flickering pen on paper

Being part, while apart

Everything is darkness.

Still, for some

Brightness endures.

 

 

 

What It Is

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Crumbled mass of memories

Beating to remain

Drift away in pieces

Day by week

Week by month

Our chorus has refrained.

 

Let the days go by

Time is translucent

Affixed by artificial means

Seconds are meaningless

Hours, years, what do they share?

Try to keep track of this dark despair.

 

Say: “It’ll be over soon. We’ll return to normal.”

Hope that’s true, but, it’s written in the wind

Carved deep by our wants

Fashioned by others invested greed

It’ll all be over soon.

Hah! Don’t hold your breath.

 

Don’t cross my boundaries

While I obliterate yours

My space is limitless

Go back to other shores

I am eternally right

You know you’re always wrong.

 

Don’t come closer

Don’t you fucking dare.

Hide behind a wall of hate

Imagine I don’t give a shit

This world is for the taking

One breath will never come.

 

History becomes what we think

Nothing learned; ours to repeat

Our earth creeks and shakes

As it senses and retaliates

In the beginning, one

So at the end. None.

 

Crumbled mass of what we were

Bleeding to remain

Feeling wasted, dried to dust

Yet we wait behind closed doors

Time isn’t after us

Nothing is holding us.

 

**Apologies and credit to The Talking Heads.

 

Two Bad: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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T2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

TWO BAD

In a vanilla life
Ain't got no wife
But there's two many
Causing me stress
So some rules got broken
Rules I never knew
And suddenly I'm the enemy
Not paranoid 'cause
I know it's a vendetta
And no, I won't bend down
Never will kiss that ass
I'd rather kick it hard
Just leave me the fuck alone.

All high and mighty
Gone to whatever mind you have
Grab others by their shorties
To do your bidding
Your lies are killing me.
You think you're a mastermind
You are so freaking blind
Ya Can't see the animosity
Seething inside of you
It's a call for something
But I ain't calling you
Go hide behind like you do
Just leave me the fuck alone.

What started out as two
Has turned to many
Get your shit together
I've reached my limit of
Your harassment & spittin'
Trying to break my cool
Not a fool. Not. A. Fool.
It's two bad for you
You just had to ignore me
Not sic your dogs upon me
Worrying at me like a bone
You'll be sorry for that
Just leave me
The fuck
Alone!

Take this any further
You won't like what I got
Standing in my corner
Time for any peace is gone
I'm not Mr Inconsiderate
Hell I know I'm not innocent
Of ignoring so called authority
You have done me wrong
I just have no time
Absolutely no time
No time at all
For your shit. 
Fuck off. 

******************************************************
Well, that was a pleasant little ditty. All warmth and sunshine. Ahhh. Hey, two days of sweet was good. Today’s anger comes for the letter T.

MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call
I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, and most will need some tweaking. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is Nightmare from an Unbleached Soul. 26 Lyrical Poems throughout April, using the letters of the alphabet as our daily jumping off point. If you want to find blogs that match your interests, check out the Master List.

Comments are always welcome. Why you like the work, or don’t, helps me in honing what I love to do.

Thanks for stopping by.

Hank’s Sorrow: Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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H2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

HANK’S SORROW

Hello Suzanne, I'm sure you already know,
The worst that could happen; a horrible blow.
Just wanted to tell you, he did love you so
Whenever he mentioned you, his words were aglow.

He was planning on returning, to take up his place
Right beside you, for always, writ on his face
Suzanne I'm sure you've cried, a thousand times or more
Losing him a bit each time he shipped out for war. 

I know he loved you, each and every way. 
He told us to a man; all I can say
He won't be forgotten; we take to heart
A brother beyond the end, he will never depart

Know that you'll have support, from afar or so near
His loving heart is with us, nothing left to fear.
He was brave and determined every damn day
And I'm sorry...I'm sorry, that it ended this way.

His grave is waiting for the topsoil to fill 
The empty six feet down, atop this old hill. 
He loved you, loved you, his forever bride,
He's at rest now, right by your side. 

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Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul is my theme for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. 26 posts during the month of April, with Sundays off for good behavior.

I gave myself the challenge of Lyrical Poetry. I’ve had different styles of music in my head as I wrote, and will write, each piece. Would love to collaborate with a musician. If you are one, or know one, who would like to talk about it, let me know. I think it would be a learning experience on both sides.

Click on The Master List so you can find the blogs of writers, poets, photographers, recipes, and more from all over the globe.

Please comment below. Constructive critique is always welcome.

They Ran

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Photograph by Shari Marshall ©

THEY RAN

Propped up by the blasted wall, seven faced their executioners.

Each of the seven different from the other, facing seven of one kind, their weapons raised.

“This is war,” echoed in seven languages, “and you ran. No excuses. No pleas. No last words, signs, or prayers. Nothing. You ran. Others of your kind died. It would have been the same if you aimed at them yourselves and fired.”

A nod. Of the runners: three fell; one cut in half; one shattered; another fused into the wall; one vaporized.

Seven colored fluids pooled; the only mix allowed beyond the Rim worlds.

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Author’s Note: The picture above, by Shari Marshall, was a prompt posted on her page, Writing is Communication. The prompt was to use her photo, created your tale on your own blog, then post a link to your story in her comments section.  We each see what we see in the photo. This was my take.

I also did this as a Drabble (100 words exact). Beyond posting a link, and using the photo prompt, you can go anywhere with the photo.

Give it a shot.

Pun intended.

KingCon: Haverstraw Library’s annual comic convention! Saturday, August 3

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I have been honored to be a panelist at a

Modern Speculative Writing Program!!!

Speculative Fiction is a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. It includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magic Realism, and so much more. Speculative fiction writing takes the imagination as far as it can go, and then some.

Located in beautiful Rockland County (less than an hour northwest of NYC), the Haverstraw King’s Daughter’s Public Library is holding their annual comic convention, KingCon. Yes, the pun fits.

Taylor Voght, author and MFA at Manhattanville College, will be our moderator as we delve into what makes Speculative Writing so attractive, contemplate the nature of sequential narration, and share what inspires us to write as we do.  Sitting beside me will be noted authors and editors Michelle Levy and Gerrit Overeem.

This is Haverstraw’s SDCC and NYCC, just without the mile-long lines!!

I hope you can make it. If so, stop by after the panel and say ‘Hi!’

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: KingCon!!

Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library
10 W. Ramapo Road
Garnerville, NY 10923

Modern Speculative Writing

1 pm – 1:30 pm, Community Room
For all ages. Speculative fiction requires using your imagination to create entirely new worlds, and it has never been more popular! In this panel, learn from science fiction and fantasy authors Taylor Vogt, Stuart Nager, Michelle Levy, and Gerrit Overeem on how to write your own speculative fiction novel. All attendees will leave with the tools to write their own story!

KingCon2019EventsFlyer

Three Ships, Aye

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THREE SHIPS, AYE

“Again!”

“Oh, Scotty. Really?”

“Please, Grandpa?”

Sighing, Grandpa begins…

The night brought a storm, unlike any other. The sailors of the three ships, every one of them, prayed to whatever they prayed to as they were tossed back and forth. Too many were tossed overboard by the heaving waves, men and women becoming one with the sea waters. The three captains could not spare the time to worry about any one person: they had hundreds to try to save, but it was the three ships that were their lives and it was the ships they cared for most of all.

They knew it was their fault, for setting onto the unsettled waters that night. Warned, the three ignored the then possible danger for the chances presented to them. A win is what they needed, badly, and so caution was forgotten for what could be. They paid for their single-mindedness, more than any of them thought was due.

“Grandpa?”

“Yes, Scotty?”

“Why?”

“You ask that question every single time, and the answer is always the same, kiddo. Greed, and ego, make people do some very stupid things.”

“My teacher says ‘stupid’ isn’t a good word to say.”

“That, in itself, is… sigh… never mind. People do stupid things. Ok?”

“Yup.”

“Now, the ships…”

The waves rocked up and dove down, pockets of watery walls that closed in on the three ships. Two were hit head-on, while the other crushed inwards. The screech of the metals mixed with the roar of the storm, drowning out the wails of the sailors. That it didn’t go under, then, was a miracle that no one noticed. The other ships were being battered senseless at the same time. The ocean rose and took control.

When dawn came, it was hidden by the still raging storm. There was no breaking in the skies, but only upon the roiling waters. Any left alive noticed nothing more than the buffeting, the pain, the need for it all to be over. One captain was already gone, not surviving the crushing, and one other had lost any cognizant capability. Others tied that captain to a chair on the bridge and left. That captain’s eyes glazed with dark waters.

“The third captain, Grandpa!”

“Why don’t YOU tell me? You know the story.”

“…”

“Scotty?”

“I. I like the way you tell it.”

…..

“Grandpa?”

“I love you, Scotty.”

“I love you, too.”

The third captain pushed on. There was no other way except to give up and accept what the sea and the storm demanded. This captain was seen in every part of the ship, urging, threatening, working alongside the crew. They threw themselves into a new fervor of working to save themselves and the captains’ ship. There was nothing to be done beyond their drenched space to keep going.

Finally, nature settled. From pure rage to utter stillness, the three ships were still afloat. Weak shouts went up across the bows. The sea moved the ships together, grouped in a battered trio of wounds. The sun blazed down, no clouds obscuring the burning heat.

From still day to night, the seas propelled the ships. Most on board were unable to process what was happening: none of the equipment worked, most of the crew injured, in one way or another. During the night, more died.

Come the morning, those left found themselves beached. The waters had receded, the sea water unseen, leaving all three ships sunk in sodden sand. The survivors went ship to ship, rescuing those they could, leaving those that were beyond help.

The lone captain stood, ankle deep in the wet shore, with the remaining sailors spread out. They looked at the tilted ships, renewed their prayers, and left. The captain was the last to look away but joined the others from behind as they made their ways to a life different than what they had hoped for.

“The end.”

“Grandpa…”

“Yeah, Scotty?”

“So?”

“You know, kiddo. You know. I’m getting tired. You should be, too. Time to turn off the light and get to sleep.”

“Grandpa. Please.”

——

“Please.”

“Fine.”

They followed without a thought. They went without care. Their goal was senseless, and their deaths even more so. The destruction they found were caused by being heedless of the signs, of ignoring anything but their wants. Not needs, their wants. And if they learned anything from any of this hubris-and I’ve already explained hubris to you, twice, tonight, so forget it-it did not show in any of their actions.

So, they were doomed. Doomed to do what they did, to do it again. Maybe in a different way, but still, in the end, they did it again. And again.

“Stupid.”

“Yes, stupid. Get some sleep, Scotty. Love you.”

“Love you too, Grandpa.

Grandpa?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t do anything stupid. Ok?”

“I’ll try not to.”

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Author’s Note:

The above comes from a photo prompt posted on Fiction Can Be Fun.

I have mentioned my association with Debs and David (who co-write their blog) before, having met them during the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. You’d do yourself a big favor if you followed them and have the pleasure of enjoying their writing. Their WIP is going through its final stages and I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on it.

If you want to join in on the writing prompt (and I strongly encourage it), here are the “rules”:

Any style, any genre, just nothing NSFW – otherwise the world is your oyster.
Tell us your tale …

Word count: 500 – 1,000 words
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 12th July 2019

Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

So, join in. Write. You’ll be glad you did.

PS: if anyone cares, I wrote this while listening to The Essential Leonard Cohen. Who do you listen to while you write?