Microstory challenge #2

Falling to earth’s a breeze; it’s the landing part that’s tricky.

Jane Dougherty Writes

Since the idea seems to please, I will make this a regular feature as long as there’s interest. This second challenge is to write a story in one, or if you want to be verbose, two sentences, inspired by the painting,’Falling Stars’ by Mihály Zichy.

Mihály_Zichy_Falling_StarsYou can post your story in the comments box below and leave a link to your blog so that other readers can visit. You can post your story on your blog and leave a link so we can all visit. Either way, it helps us all to get to know one another. I might pick a favourite, and insist that everybody visits the winner’s blog. Then again, I might chicken out, so don’t count on it.

Do pass the word along though. The more participants, the more interesting the challenge.

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In my experience these traits are all true characteristics of people on the spectrum. It’s quite a helpful explanation of why I sometimes misread other people, too. Food for thought.


More from Crooked Cat’s contemporary fiction week.

Jane Bwye

It is Contemporary Fiction Week at Crooked Cat Books Facebook Page – and I’m in the company of two awesome authors. We’re sharing titbits, and here’s my second one…


Flash forward thirty years, during which time I was lucky to remarry. We brought up our family, which grew to six children, in an idyllic life with horses, cows, dogs, chickens… within a twenty mile radius of Nairobi. I started writing BREATH OF AFRICA in the 1970’s, and became immersed in the story. But there were complaints; Mum was always late; she never answered questions; she even forgot to pick someone up from school. So I gave up.

When all but Dennis – our afterthought with no thought – had left the nest, I finally had time to take the Know Kenya Course at the Nairobi Museum. That was when I discovered that my brain still worked. I took the Museum Guides’…

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What the Reviews are saying about IGBOLAND

Beautifully written, poignant but full of life.

Jeff Gardiner's Blog

Igboland cover5

“Poignant, yet uplifting, this novel opens the mind to ourselves and the world beyond.” Andrea Jamieson

“This fascinating story highlights the triumph of human spirit in the face of adversity. I really do recommend this as an extremely enjoyable read.” Mrs J Grankin

“an engrossing, tense and truthful novel, gracefully told.” Cynthia Harrison (A Woman’s Wisdom)

“I really enjoyed this book, it is one I will remember for a long time.” Lucinda E Clarke

“This is an accomplished novel.” R. Nicholson-Morton

“Beautifully written, well developed characters, educational but also rather sexy and vibrant.”  Alana (Perth)

Igboland cover6

Puchase IGBOLAND here:


Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Jeff’s website

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A wonderful book from my fellow Crooked Cat author, Jane Bwye.

Jane Bwye

It is Contemporary Fiction Week at Crooked Cat Books Facebook Page – and I’m in the company of two awesome authors. We’ll be sharing titbits, and here’s one of mine…


Not The Whole Truth

People have often asked me how much of my own life is portrayed in BREATH OF AFRICA. I say that the story is fiction, but the book draws on my experiences. However, that’s not the whole truth.

My life started naturally enough. I grew up in the Rift Valley and went to school in the Kenya Highlands, then on to Nairobi.

I loved horses. While at boarding school I would just live for my Saturday riding lessons at the nearby racecourse. My best friend and I were a bit hare-brained; we used to break out of school at night at the height of the Mau Mau emergency.

Here is a piece from the first chapter of…

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The Calgary Chessman – your perfect excuse to visit this beautiful island.

TCC cover art front Yvonne Marjot

It’s been a glorious day here on the Isle of Mull (14 May 2015. I specify the date because it has rained pretty much non-stop ever since); the kind of day that reminds you to thank your lucky stars you ended up here, in this beautiful place. Most of you won’t get the chance to visit here, and some of those that do will be forced to endure the kind of chilly, rain-drenched, midge-infested holiday that makes you wish you’d just stayed in the office. But most of our visitors can count, at some point during their week, on at least one of those gorgeous, vista-filled, wall-to-wall-sunshine-coated days that remind you how much you want to leave your job, life and responsibilities, and fly away to a Scottish island to spend the rest of your life enjoying the peace and quiet.

It really is as good as that. Of course, there are other aspects. Sometimes the weather is dire, ferries don’t run, the local supermarket runs out of food, tempers fray, everyone wishes they were somewhere else. In the winter, it can be dreich and dismal week in week out, and you’re hardly out of bed in the pre-dawn gloom than you’re walking home from work and it’s starting to get dark again.

But in the summer, when the days are so long that you have trouble getting to sleep, and on crisp, dry nights of winter when the stars are astonishing and the northern lights hang in the sky like nature’s own neon signs – then you remember why you came here. And why you stay.

Cas Longmore didn’t choose to come to Mull. When her marriage ended and she needed a place to stay, she managed to acquire a small, run-down cottage on the island, where she could take refuge; a place where she could re-examine her life and begin to plan for the future again. She walks, day after day, along the beach at Calgary Bay because it takes her out of herself and keeps her busy. She has no idea this habit will lead her to discover The Calgary Chessman, an object so mysterious and fascinating that it distracts her from loneliness for weeks on end.

The Calgary Chessman itself is, of course, akin to the famous Lewis Chessmen, and belongs to the same period of history. Writing about it gave me the opportunity to indulge my fascination with archaeology and early human history, and I hope you’ll also enjoy this aspect of my story. The period of history between the end of Viking raids and the establishment of a full mediaeval society in Scotland, with its kings, nobles, clan chieftains and chiels, resembling (but not identical to) feudal society south of the border, is fascinating. The Calgary Chessman touches on the Lords of the Isles, the Norse occupancy of parts of the Hebrides, and the tension between mainland Scotland and the islands. A work of fiction can only open a hazy window on history, but they were interesting times. It was fun to write about them.

Sometimes island life combines with a fascination for history to provide unique opportunities. I’ve had the chance to be involved with two archaeological digs on the Isle of Mull, and both have informed the story I tell in the sequel to The Calgary Chessman. The Book of Lismore takes Cas’s story forward another pace, it tells you more about the life of her son, Sam, and the friends and family who are becoming steadily more important in Cas’s new life. There’s a whole new archaeological mystery, this one set during the monastic period, several hundred years before the era of The Calgary Chessman. And, of course, the problems that Cas is trying to escape have followed her, to the place she thought was her refuge, and she’s forced to confront a situation she thought she’d left in the past.

The Calgary Chessman is available from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Calgary-Chessman-Yvonne-Marjot-ebook/dp/B00MLBQ6SG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1431623568&sr=1-1&keywords=the+calgary+chessman

and http://www.amazon.com/Calgary-Chessman-Yvonne-Marjot-ebook/dp/B00MLBQ6SG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1431623613

The Book of Lismore is released by Crooked Cat on 16 July 2015.

This week, https://crookedcatbooks.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/its-thriller-week-at-crooked-cat-books/ is featuring contemporary fiction.

CC cont fiction pic May 2015


My fellow Crooked Cat authors Jeff Gardiner and Jane Bwye chatting about what writers need to learn to survive the journey from writing to publication.

Jane Bwye

These are valuable tips indeed. Jeff Gardiner, editor and master of several genres, is well qualified to write a continuation to my “Author Countdown” which started by accident a couple of weeks ago, when my blog “TEN THINGS…” broke hit records last month.  We’ve shared a successful library talk, and a book signing. A quiet, self-effacing man with a lovely family, and we have Africa in common. Welcome back, Jeff.

1.  Cope with rejection. This one is important. You can’t afford to be overly sensitive or sentimental about your creativity. Very few writers get their stories or novels accepted immediately (follow this link to make yourself feel better – http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/). Rejection is part of the process. As one of my friends likes to say, “Cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it!” Have faith in yourself and your book and send off some more submissions…

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It’s Thriller week at Crooked Cat Books

Some great reads here – three very different thrillers.

Crooked Cats' Cradle

You could say it’s a killer week, with three fast-paced, yet very different killers showcased on our new Crooked Cat Books Facebook page! Nip over now and read excerpts, chat with the authors and find yourself a new addiction or three…


Here is the unholy trio:

Meet The Handshaker in David Robinson‘s dark, gripping novel. 

The Handshaker: to take his hand is to invite death.Handshaker

In the darkest corners of hypnotic trance, who is in control? The Handshaker has put eight women to death. When another woman commits suicide, hypnotist Felix Croft believes he has the answer. Then The Handshaker takes Croft’s girlfriend.

The game changes.

A puppet dancing to the killer’s tune, Croft is first the hunter. In a dramatic turn of events, he becomes the hunted, running from the law, desperate to find the madman before he can kill again, and brought face to face with his own mortality in…

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V E Day – two men, two very different stories.

196100700Lt Wm Marjot 1944

George Bearman in 1961, with my mother (she is wearing a wedding dress made by my grandmother from found materials).

Lt William Marjot, 1944.

This 70th anniversary of V.E. Day I’m remembering members of my family who lived through the Second World War. These are not attested facts – they are my recollection of stories I heard growing up, and I apologise in advance to other members of my family who may know different stories, or different versions. Each family has its own war stories, and these reflect only some aspects of the reality of world war.

William Marjot was my paternal grandfather. He actually served in both world wars, having joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman when WW1 broke out. He was on board a ship that was stationed off the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli action, and remembered the lower ranks in an uproar when the RN were not allowed to engage the Turkish guns as the Turks’ range was believed to be greater. He never forgave the British powers for the numbers of Anzacs lost while the ships stood by.

At the outbreak of WW2 he was based at Devonport Naval Base in NZ where my Dad was born. His highest formal rank was Chief Petty Officer, but he was given a field commission to Lieutenant during the Baltic convoys. He was happy to accept the Looie’s pension when he retired, but was very proud of the fact he’d risen through the ranks.

He was a fearsome Chief Petty Officer and the ratings all went in awe of him – although he was only around 5’6’’ tall he apparently had a ‘presence’. I remember him as being a gentle, quietly spoken man, so it just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving! When I was a child he always refused to tell me his war stories. He believed that children, particularly girls, should be sheltered from knowing about such things. I often wonder what he saw during those times, what he experienced, but now I’ll never know. I still miss you, Grandpa Marjot.

The wartime experience of my Mum’s Dad, George Bearman, was quite different. He was deemed ‘unfit to serve’, probably due to poor physical condition – as was frequently the case with men who had grown up in the East End and had experienced poverty and malnutrition. George spent the war fighting fires and performing search and rescue operations during the blitz in London. Proof that military service was not the only way in which a man may serve his country.

By the time that I remember him, more than twenty years after the end of the war in Europe, he was a sick man, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and my grandmother had been the main breadwinner for many years. The wartime experiences of the women in my family were in many ways even more harrowing than those of the men, but I’m not ready to tell those stories yet. Just to remember two men who were beloved figures in my life, both of whom served their fellow men in conditions of great hardship and thoroughly deserve to be called war heroes.

Ekphrasis in practice


Undercurrents: welcome to issue 7 of Spontaneity! We are all about ideas, about the interplay between short stories and photography, poetry and flash fiction, music and visual art. Everything here connects to something else, so click on a piece you like, then get beautifully lost – and if you want to be a part of it, get in touch.

My poem in this issue was originally inspired by an exhibition at An Tobar, arts centre of the Isle of Mull. It also links back to a photo by Dimitry Bulkin in Spontaneity issue 6. I love the way in which forms of art inspire and imbue one another.

And Ekphrasis? In its most general sense, it means art inspired by other art – as in a poem inspired by a painting, or vice versa, and that seems to me to be at the heart of what Spontaneity is trying to do.