Category Archives: Fiction Writing

Mid-Week Blues-Buster #MWBB – “…”

Mid-Week Blues-Buster is a “music prompted flash fiction challenge.”

Here is my entry this week, if you don’t want to see the original submission:

Title: “…”
[500 words]

Eireann (Ireland) was the prima facie, but before The Silence there were reports from parts of Africa and France too. Wales went so quickly that only reports from the border confirmed that territory as being part of the initial wave of quiet that washed over the World. At first the rest of the planet assumed technical problems, or cyber terrorism, to be the cause.

When the phenomenon we now call The Silence took 99.9% of 7.2 billion souls, the few of us unaffected learned quickly to mask ourselves. The alternative for those not pawky enough to – how did they used to put it? – see the writing on the wall was quite horrific. Slavery at best. Mutilation or execution in the worst cases. It never ceases to amaze me how little communication a mob needs to become a mob.

We few (who can) call ourselves Muties. A bitter irony. The rest have no words for us, for they have no words. The Silence saw to that. At first it was like listening to a song from another land. People spoke, but the meaning had been stripped away, leaving just the melody. In all the confusion, it took a while to realise it wasn’t like a stroke depriving individuals of language. Hearing words as words was the first thing to go. The second symptom was loss of word formation. Other Muties I have contacted confirmed the same thing: loss of comprehension then composition. And it was not limited to vocal communication. People just stopped being able to write, then read, then for the majority to think.

Confusion spread like a plague, followed by conflict and combat. Maybe the World being so dependent on the Internet and its ubiquitous instant connection between nations was what rendered the lack of the concept of communication so horrific. Overnight entire cultures imploded. Dominant survivors emerged as the new leaders. The power of alpha males (and, in fact, females), seemed to not need the nuances of language. The fist and the foot quickly spread as the new punctuation in our lives.

Eventually, a form of physical gesturing began to emerge; Muties were particularly effective at this, but that was a two edged sword. Ownership of books, or any knowledge storage device, became dangerous to all but the most powerful. Yet the thuggery of the dark years of The Silence eventually passed. Without words to worry the weary fear became a useless tactic. The lack of difference in interpretation levelled the population in a single generation. A new peace descended on the scattered hamlets of the inhabitable continents. The Silence proved mightier than the pen and the sword.

That is when the true deliverers of our salvation made themselves known, coming wordlessly among us, signing a new dawn. Revelation. A becoming of beings worthy to be brothers in a shared future. They thought we would be grateful for this cosmic lesson in humility. Were we ready to begin again, they asked simultaneously across the Globe?

We said “No.”

#55wordchallenge – “From Trap to Pot” (UPDATE Honourable Mention)

Got an Honourable Mention for this.


In Lisa’s own words “the 55 Word Challenge is a contest to write a story in 55 words or less.” Each week writers pick one of three images as inspiration. Here’s mine if you would rather not see the original version:

“From Trap to Pot”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [55 words]

Elana Jane had a lot to answer for. We’d had fun as kids. Kids ended all that. Kids and bills.

Lobsters enter the pots willingly, then can’t escape. So it was with me and Elana Jane. Sure, we still had fun now and again, but I couldn’t help feeling I was in the boiling pan.

#TicckleTuesday a 30s audiovideo #flashfiction compo Tomorrow

I learned a lot from the relatively small start of #ticckletuesday (details at second #ticckletuesday will happen tomorrow. There are a number of ways that flash fiction writers might be involved. Firstly, Ticckle (the 30s video blogging service) is not required; it was what gave me the idea of doing something other than text, but is inspiration more than respiration. So, if you would like to write a really short story – about as much as someone could reasonably recite/perform in 30s (I’m keeping the physical limitation) – the prompt will be given, at 12am UK time, and you have a day to submit. Once you have written your story, you have a number of options:

1) Respond to the Ticckle video that provides the prompt over at (look out for #TicckleTuesday #2 in the title. This will be a 30 second video, and either needs an iPhone/iPad App or a flash enabled Mac/PC to record. You can review attempts until you are happy. Posting a link to the original text would be good.
2) Upload a video to the FaceBook Group (You will have to request to join first, so do that now if you can to help me avoid a rush). Try to keep this to the original 30s, but so long as the story itself is within those limits, you will be ok. Again, posting the actual text of the story as a comment would be useful
3) Use SoundCloud or AudioBoo to create a FaceBook sharable audio file (again remembering to fit your story into 30s), and then share the link with the FB Group. There are tutorials on how to do this, if you don’t know how. Remember to attach a link to the original text of the story.
4) Post your text either as a comment on the FaceBook Group or on the relevant blog page, on my blog

So long as there aren’t too many text only stories, and they aren’t too long for 30 seconds, I’ll record any that aren’t spoken. It’s all for fun. Hope you can come by.

#mondaymixer – “Piece Work”

#mondaymixer is an interesting flash fiction compo, requiring exactly 150 words and at least one thing, verb and adjective, chosen from three of each. Today’s list is:
Things: 1) zephyr 2) plonk 3) billhook
Verbs: 1) ruminate 2) sparge 3) blench
Adjectives: 1) pawky 2) somnolent 3) insular
Overachievers, those who use at least five can receive a special prize. Here is my entry:

by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [150 words, overachiever award]

The long untended wood rendered every wind into the lightest zephyr. Its thick canopy of foliage filtered every torrential downpour into a sparging of the forest floor. From sunrise the woodsman had single-handedly cleared a section of fern, bramble and hated honeysuckle. Then discarding all but shorts, he felled with axe, lopped with bill hook and laid the stripped trunks of ash and hazel. Not all, mind you, but the rotted, the crooked and the too numerous, leaving the straightest, aloof, insular, unfettered by competition. They would fetch the best price at market, but the profits of his labour would be his son’s reward.

The Sun could now penetrate a little into the wood. So, at 9 o’clock he plonked himself down against an oak to eat his lunch, then basked, naked and somnolent, in its burrowing warmth. Piece-work, the woodsman ruminated to himself, was Peace work also.

#satsuntails – “Killer App” (UPDATE Winner)


It appears I won. The official announcement is here.

In my never-ending search for more opportunities to write, I’ve discovered #satsuntails.

The stories were based on the idea of “sleeping giants” and the following image:

Here’s my first entry, but please check it out in its original location (to read other entries) too:

“Killer App”
Some wore them as earrings, or nose studs, or even spectacles. At one point there had been a ridiculous early fashion for pretentious earpieces, apparently named after a pirate, no less. Bluebeard? However, those early models were not able to Jack(R) nearly as well, being mere data visualisation conduits. Sylvi had her Giant(tm) in a simple hairpiece, easily overlooked when most preferred their attachments on the side or front of the skull, for easier neural integration. Sylvi just wanted hers out of the way for everyday people business. It annoyed her how few could resist tapping, touching or even stroking their Giants when they were clearly Jacking.

“Giant: the Jack ‘Killer’ App…” ran the slogan, its irony lost on most.

“…Without one you’re sleep walking.” warned the posters.

Lately, Sylvi had been wandering who was asleep and who awake. At least she took hers off at night. Mostly.

#flashfridayfic – “Warning: Only Industry Accredited Workers May Adjust The Special Machine”

Friday Fiction #35 entry here if you don’t want to look at the original entry.

This story was based upon the following image, and needed to be 100-200 words:

“Warning: Only Industry Accredited Workers May Adjust The Special Machine”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [111 words]

347891 is watching as I adjust the special machine.
I am not allowed to know what it does – I have only just been rated – but it is very important.

132678 is nervous. He should be. This is the Special Machine! 132678 is too ol…[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]. He should never have bee…[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]
132678 must have worked hard to be rated at his age.

The adjustment is proceeding well. 132678 was a necessary addition to correct 347891. It is fitting to see him supervise 132678 in adjusting the Special Machine. Once 132678 has completed the adjustment, 347891 will need to recyc…[UNERWÜNSCHTE-GEDANKEN]reassigned.


#fivesentencefiction – Bliss

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Lillie McFerrin hosts a Five Sentence Fiction competition on her blog. This week’s theme is Bliss.

Here is my entry:

“Look Out The Window”

‘Bliss’, the Internet search engine, Google, showed her, was a well cut lawn stretching towards the horizon, under a fluffy cloud peppered blue sky.

She spent far too much time staring at computer screens. Her compulsory ‘Health and Safety: Use of Visual Display’ training told her she should take an eyestrain break.

Like she had time to look out the window for ten to twenty minutes every hour? That was when she had the idea for, but (Damn it!) someone had beaten her to it again.

What have I learned from #TicckleTuesday?

The idea is great
Although it was the first Ticckle Tuesday, with only a handful of entries, so far, I’ve had good feedback; especially on the fact that hearing a story in the author’s own voice is something special. The rigour of having to record only 30 seconds – inspired by Ticckle’s own technical restrictions – is also a critical part of this Flash Fiction Compo that makes it unique and worth continuing. Well, I think so anyway, but there will need to be a few changes for the next one…

Tech issues are a problem
Ticckle itself is in “beta”, so can be forgiven a few quirks. However, the biggest problem encountered was audio playback failing for some of my Ticckle videos; the ones giving examples and instructions. These played fine on my phone (in App and Safari/Chrome browser) and fine on an iMac, but when accessed via FaceBook link on PCs participants reported low/no sound. 🙁

Ticckle’s web site having no Search function doesn’t help, with the only filtering being an imposed popularity/recency floating of Ticckles to the top; only saved by how few there are currently. A shame, as it reduces ‘discovery’ of story entries. The only way round this I can see is to ‘suggest’ compo submitters ‘ticckle’ (that is their term for Like/thumbs up/voting for videos) the main theme announcement in App or on the web site, as well as promoting the direct link by FB/Twitter/blog.

Lack of audio presents accessibility issues as well. There is no means of subtitling ticckles 🙁 and I’ve noticed that FB style comments, while allowed, don’t seem to be getting counted properly. I left some explanatory text below a Ticckle video, leading to this blog and the FB group, but the no. of comments reported didn’t change from zero. Only clicking to comment revealed they were there at all.

Finally, Ticckle’s progress bar, which counts down the 30s, seems a bit laggy. As a matter of habit, I allow half a second after beig told “Go!” In recordings to make sure it has really started; more than this gets

uncomfortable for the listener. At two seconds most people will be assuming there’s something wrong, from my experience working in Radio, even with our most recent experience of “buffering” on the Internet. However, the bigger problem is the cut off at the end, which always seems harsh, and a little early (?) to me. So, I’m consciously finishing 1-2 seconds early now, to make sure Ticckle gets a clean fini…
Seriously, with a small curtesy delay in starting, and a necessary early finish, we really only have 28s to record our stories. So, I’d say don’t include the title in your recording!

Some authors need to submit text
Mostly, this is technically driven – audio drop outs, participants not being Ticckle-literate, etc – but accessibility us a problem generally. So, possibly stupidly, I’m offering to record submissions for those who cannot submit via Ticckle themselves. This could get out of hand, so I’ll need to keep reviewing the workload, but has several advantages:
1) it keeps 30s flash fiction open to as many writers as possible
2) it enables participation by those who don’t like (to hear) their own voice
3) it levels the playing field for Ticckle user votes, which were always intended to be part of the review process
4) it gives me a vocal challenge to interpret the texts
5) it renders the competition immune/separate from Ticckle itself, in case the service dies.

So, the competition lives on. Lessons have been learned. There’s still time to enter – here (leave a comment on the theme announcement post), the FB group, or directly via Ticckle

#finishthatthought #5 WINNER – “Here be dragon”

Alissa Leonard has created the Finish That Thought” Flash Fiction compo, which usually provides an opening line and some ‘special challenge’ words to include, and must be less than 500 words. This week’s compo opening line was “Hands trembling, [he] opened the door.” and the special challenge words were: hoard[s], mountain[s], scale[s].

Here is my story, if you don’t want to see it posted in its original place:

“Here be dragon” by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
266 words, special challenge accepted in one sentence!

Hands trembling, he opened the door. “I’m home… Dear.”

“Well, it took you long enough,” his wife snorted. “Gallivanting off while I have to clear up the mess left by that wyvern. You DID kill it? Tell me you got THAT right, at least!”

“Yes, I di…”

“Bad enough the Militia let the bloody thing raid the village. Stealing all our belongings. Smashing up our hovels!”

“Yes, D…”

“Call themselves yeomen? ‘NO men’ more like! Lazy useless good for nothings. And you’re just as bad”

“I did kill th…”

“Got our stuff back have you? Been down the Ale House, I suppose? The big hero triumphant.”

“I did stop off to retu…”

“Oh yes. ‘Have a drink, Wolfy! Thanks for saving us and retrieving our treasures, oh Dragon Slayer!’ I bet. And I’m here all alone and defenceless…”

“Hardly defenceless, Dear. You’ve got your tongue.”

“What’s that?”


“Don’t mumble. How are the villagers going to respect you if you mumble?”

“I’m sor…”

“My mother warned me. She said ‘You’ll need…”

“…a thick skin to survive marriage to a hero.’ Yes, I remember, Dear.”

“And don’t interrupt. It’s rude.”

“No, Dear… You’ve been busy. Everything back in its place.”

“Don’t change the subject. Is it dead? Did you get them? They’re needed for something I’m cooking up!”

“Yes. And yes.”

Of all his hoard from the mountain, the Dragon’s scales were the most valuable. He handed them to her.

“Finally. About time! Now hand me the flour. I need a pound for this loaf.”

“Yes, Dear.”

Some dragons, he thought, were harder to kill than others.

Getting ready for #TicckleTuesday

Less than a day to go. Putting out the RT requests on Twitter, etc, but I know it is going to be a slow start – unless Stephen Fry retweets of course 🙂 in which case we could get into double figures! – but I don’t mind a slow start. Writing for a 30 second story seems impossible, but if 50wordstories (search on FaceBook and Twitter) can succeed, so can we. It could be a joke, a poem, a “vertical slice” (effectively the pitch for what would really need to be something longer), or just a wonderfully compact narrative.

If nothing else *I* will be having a go. So, you will get at least one story on Tuesday. To give you an idea of what to expect, here (in text form) is a 50 word story I submitted to for the SUMMER STORIES competition, which has the theme “camping or picnic”; there is still time to enter BTW. This can be performed in 30 seconds:

Title: Weather Warning

“Aren’t you worried about the hurricane warning?”

“No. Are you?”

“We’re rather exposed, under canvas, and the storm is nearly here!”

“This tent is foolproof. Once erected properly it will withstand a hurricane. The material is Force Ten proof. The poles, carbon fibre. And the pegs, machined magnesium alloy.”