A.J. Walker

writerer

Seedling Challenge

Flashing

Recently the National Flash Fiction Day "Flash Flood" guys and gals were looking for flash fiction for their annual event. I submitted three stories over three days — none were selected (insert sad face). Not bothered, I've been up there several years and as everything sent was "off the shelf" it wasn't like I put any effort into it — also saw plenty of good writers who failed to get chosen this year. But it did show me something, as I looked on my hard drive for stories to submit: I have fewer flashes from this year than I have from few years ago.

Peak flashing was back in the hey day of Flash Fiction Friday and Angry Hourglass. With the demise of these I have certainly written for challenges less frequently, but the other reason I have fewer more recent stories is that I have got into a bad habit of not saving my work. I mean, I've submitted stories on Microcosms and other sites (including the Seedling Challenge) and then not saved the story to my computer. Seemingly, in my head, the stories are written and out there and I don't need to keep them myself. Not sure when, or why, I came up with that idea.

Anyway, in future I will be saving all my wee stories, be they little bits of nonsense or pure unadulterated brilliance. Who knows, maybe next year I'll get in Flash Flood with a piece I've written this year; one I've saved and not had to search for online.

It also highlights why I need to complete the Seedling Challenge each week (and not just because I put the idea out there). It's only half an hour a week and there's the chance that one, or more, goes from being a VSS365 to a Seedling Challenge story, then who knows maybe onwards and upwards to a fuller story.

#amwriting
#keepwriting
#amsaving

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This, That and The Other

Been making some edits to my story for the Don't Open the Door anthology, no spoilers but hell, of course they open the bloody door! Hoping to finish that off tomorrow and then give it a final brush on Sunday and get it to the editor. Should be a tighter story when I've finished it.

Had a bit of sad news that I didn't get selected for the Pulp Idol final. It was a bit of a shame, but, after the IT cock-up meant I never got the invite to the heats, I was expecting it anyway. I'd recorded a reading of the first three minutes of the first chapter and put that up on YouTube for a judgment to be made, not ideal but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Doesn't change anything about the novel, and once I've got the Door story sorted I will get back on to it and finish it. I want to know what happens in the end after all.

Considering some alterations to the website, with a new section or two. Should get at least one of the ideas up and running this week. Watch this space (or maybe the menu bar).

Talking of the website, of course tomorrow the weekend starts, so it's time for the Seedling Challenge. I've been religiously putting it up each week so that it's been there to be used by anyone who wants to, but I know I need to push it a bit more. So be prepared to be pushed - at least if you're exposed to Twitter in any way.

At some point I'm going to start writing some songs, now that I'm playing the guitar more regularly. I'm still surprised that the songs that I've been playing aren't known by the other guys at the open mic. But they are all of a type I suppose, and if I write in a similar style (or at least perform them that way) then there's every chance they won't know what's mine and what's someone else's. We'll see. If I start doing my own stuff then I can pop along to the Monday Night Club at the Cavern and play a tune or two (they only allow people playing their own stuff). Now that would be cool, wouldn't it?

Currently reading 'Crome Yellow' by Aldous Huxley, which I bought last week as part of a charity shop haul. I've only read Brave New World by Huxley before (which I loved), and this is so very different but enjoyable. It's my fifteenth read of the year, which puts me on track for the forty.

What with website updates, short stories and novel writing, reading, guitar practice and songwriting, it's a wonder there's time for anything else. Then there's football tomorrow night and Tuesday and then next Sunday (not to mention an important match on Monday night). Oh, God, and there's Line of Duty on Sunday. Clearly there's not enough hours in the day or days in the week. If any of the political parties yesterday could have promised to sort out the 'not enough hours' issue they'd have got my vote.

Anyways, ta-ra for now, I'm getting back to Crome.
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VSS365 vs Seedling Challenge

It's Easter Sunday and eventually on Saturday I found out I could take the day off. Now as a devout atheist (not sure who Athe was, but I follow him) the main thing is that the day is sunny, Liverpool are live on the telly box later and it gives me time to play some guitar, read AND write. So far I've only achieved 'Second Coffee' and sausage sandwich along with some reading (Peter Pan!).

First up in the writing thing though is the Seedling Challenge of course. So I've got to pick one of these to use as my starting point:

  • Our family had our own Easter tradition. As a thinly veiled threat dad would get his bagpipes out; he'd use them if we didn't let him watch 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines'. We'd seen the film so many times. But God, so preferable to the alternative.

  • On their first date Bob had told Lucy he was vegan. Now he looked forward to the hours they were apart when he'd stuff his face with myriad cheeses.
Lucy cursed herself for telling Bob she was vegan. She now had a twice weekly appointment with a KFC bargain bucket.

  • That Lisa is so full of venom and vitriol whenever I can I cross the street to avoid her. I wouldn't feel safe with a Hazmat suit on and a large barge pole. I suspect her tears are pure acid. Don't know how her husband puts up with her. Either he's deaf or on a penance.

  • The lie was a big one, covered at first by a thin veneer of truth. When the truth fell away the lie was laid bare, but it was too late the people who mattered had fallen for it. The lie was now truth and the truth the lie.

  • Dr. Nostrum looked like he'd gone ten rounds. He supped anxiously at a cold coffee.
  • The FBI guys hovered around him.
  • 'Do you know what's wrong with him?'
  • 'There's a void where his brain should be and just a damaged Russian computer board. You need IT not a doctor.'

  • 'Have you seen Amy? She's a real fox.'
'You mean a vixen. Don't they have fleas? Or is that hedgehogs?'
'She's not a real fox.'
'But you just said...'
'I mean she's a wow! A ten out out of ten. Hubba-hubba.'
'Does she even have a tail?'
'She's not a fox. Oh, forget it.'

  • 'I'm wanna be a villain when I grow up. Take what I want, when I want. If I get caught I get given bed & board and don't have to do the washing up. It's a win-win.'
'I'm gonna be a policeman and lock you up, motherfucker!'
The kids had been watching Law & Order again. #VSS365

Now which one will I go for?

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Seedling Challenge Seven

Tomorrow will be Week Seven of the Seedling Challenge. There's only one word left to be revealed for this week from the new prompter on the block: Monique (aka Starfish 72 on that there Twitter).

Many thanks to the Unkmaster for February's words and good luck to Monique for the month ahead. Keep writing folks and maybe see you over the weekend on the Seedling Challenge.

Not sure which VSS365 I'll be using from my week's VSSs, think I've missed a couple and will only have four or five to chose from:


Yesterday:

Between the major and the minor I picked the minor yesterday fitting my mood like a handmade suit. But today the sun and the light touch from a minor god gave me a spring in my step and led me away from the blue notes - for one short day.

Epiphany:

It came like an epiphany to Trumpette Bambini; the daily prompt was supposed to be incorporated into the teeny weeny VSS365 Her next mission was to discover what that toaster was for.

Celebration:

The council in their wisdom set up a 'festival of celebration' to highlight all that was good in the town. They'd come up with the idea over a coffee in Costa- and that was the extent of the planning. Four people turned up, said it was shite and went home. It rained too.

Escape:

Getting in the lift with smelly Sutton was a great mistake. When it broke down there was an air of inevitability and an air that stank like death. There was no escape until the fire brigade arrived swinging axes and air fresheners.


Keep an eye on here for when I update the Seedling Challenge page. And to keep bang up to the minute with this month's prompts follow Monique:
@starfish_72


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The VSS Six

Last week's words from Grand Master Unk were:

  • close
  • convict
  • deliberate
  • desert
  • object
  • bougie
  • rando

And I wrote for six of the seven (missing the rando one). The six VSSs are below.

It's time to close the door on my past. I poured my heart into this and you just kept handing it back. You're nothing to me now. Though you'll always be close. I know you like roses so maybe there's some poetic justice that I'll be using you as fertiliser.

Convict #00001 asked if he could wear a different coloured jumpsuit as the orange clashed with his skin. The board pointed out that after a couple of days his Good Genes spray tan would wear off.

Bob sat in his spare room he called The Office and deliberated his next moves. He hadn't been sure whether Carly had deliberately crashed into his car the other week. But now with overnight graffiti daubed across his front door it was clear: this was war.

'It's not nice to realise that you're just a missed heart beat away from death.'
'Don't you dare, Jimmy. You're not going to desert me in my hour of need. And be warned it will always be my hour of need.'
'Sorry. It's just been one of those days.'
'Well, get over it.


'I object to being objectified. You treat me like a blow up doll.'
'I hate to break it to you but you are a blow up doll. And you are the voice in my head.'
'Really, so why would I be moaning?'
'I'm after semi realism.'
'Fair enough. Well I'm after more than a semi.'

First there were the conversations; stocks, pensions, schools and Caribbean cruises. Then there were the cucamelons in the 'name that veg' salad and the ridiculous range of flavoured gins. I'd gone over to the dark side with my boogie nights replaced by bougie nights.



Now I've just got to pick the one to use for the seedling challenge.
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A Seedling Challenge

It's only Tuesday and there may be more to come, but even if not I'm happy with the interest in the fledgling 'Seedling Challenge'. In the first week we had six entries and this week so far there have been eight. From a standing start I'm satisfied with that. I think Angry Hourglass tended to get around 8-15 entries each week (give or take) and was always full of fab writing. If it gets anywhere as regular in terms of numbers and quality of AH then bloody hell I'd take that as a success!

Of course one of the good things about posting the page each weekend is that even if I'm late everyone knows what the prompts are going to be - they are their own VSS365 from the previous week after all. So writers can get on with it in advance of me getting the page up. Happy days all around.

I've also found that although I'm moderating the site I can make people 'Trusted Users' which means they can post without having to wait for me to moderate. So it may be that for the first few times you have to wait for me to moderate your story (or comments on other people's stories) for it to show on the site. But if after I trust you (?!) you may well find your comments going up straight away.

Anyways, onwards and upwards. Keep on writing you VSSers! If you want to get in on Week #2 then just
click here to put up your story or read the existing ones.

I Know Things copy
Thanks for getting involved, cheers!
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Revisting Angry Hourglass

It was Open Mic No.6 at the Sanctuary for me last night. There were a couple of guitar issues during the evening (starting with a complete lack of one for a while) but I managed to perform three songs. I didn't use the mic either - so I'm not sure what the event night should have been called.

Played three songs I've done before:

  • 'You Couldn't Get Arrested' - Green on Red
  • 'Somewhere Down the Road' - Chuck Prophet
  • 'Hotel California' - Eagles

Like last time there were two new (and very experienced) guitarists who came along and did their stuff; word seems to be spreading. Enjoyed it as ever.

OpenMic6

Matt Holland started the night of reading some of his stories and when the second guitar issue occurred I went up to read a couple of my flash stories. Not having my Kindle with me I had to find something online so I headed to Angry Hourglass to look for some of my stories. It took me a while but I found a few and chose two of my 'winning' stories (although on the drop down for winners there is no A.J. Walker for some reason).

Not sure how many times I won on the challenge (think maybe it was four or five times), but I still remember the first time I did win - I'd had it as a writing goal that particular year to win AH at least once - I was so made up when it finally happened.

The two stories I read yesterday were the apt
'Taking Names' (April 2015) and the less apt but fun 'Sanderson Filibuster’s Amazing Shopping Emporium (somewhere off the beaten track)' (December 2016).

I was intending to upload some old flash on this site under the new 'Writings' section so this seems an appropriate time to put some up. They are both 360 word stories which show what you could do with respect to flash if you are contemplating getting involved with the Seedling Challenge this - or any other - week.
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