It’s April review time

Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,
When the sun gives way to April showers,
Here is the point you should never miss.

Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain, you know, (It’s raining violets,)
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list’ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.

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So it’s time for the showers folks, showers of praise or a rainy squall.
Whichever it is, this is where your shower should fall,  preferably wrapped up neatly in a comment on our April Reviews page.

And for those who would like a little musical accompaniment while they ponder, here it is … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLoCQzzIo7Q

The September 2016 TCWG Creative Writing Competition: Where to find the stories and how to vote

 

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All tcwg site members (and any other interested parties) are invited to read and enjoy the stories entered in the September 2016 TCWG creative writing competition.

If, having read all the stories, you would like to register your vote for the winner and placings, then please follow the voting instructions set out below. This is not obligatory, but if you choose to join in, your participation will be very much appreciated.
JUST FOLLOW THE LINKS TO ALL THE STORIES (which are listed below), AND YOU WILL FIND EACH STORY IN TURN.
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The deadline for entries into the July 2016 Creative Writing Competition passed at Midnight on the 30th. September 2016.

The topic for the September stories was set by the winner of the July 2016 competition , Peter Barnett who graciously agreed that there should be an open topic with each writer choosing his or hers topic of choice.

11 members have entered a total of 13 stories, and thanks are due to them for their efforts. Advance thanks are also offered to all those group members who I hope will now support the competition by reading the stories and registering their vote in the form of a comment below on this post.

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VOTING PROCEDURE.

As in previous months, when voting it will help if voters will make sure to quote the name of the story when posting their vote, particularly in the case where an author has entered more than one story.

Voting can now commence and will continue until 11 p.m. on Monday the 10th of October 2016.
There are no restrictions as to who is allowed to vote, all that is asked is that the voter reads all the stories and votes according to their preference. A brief reason for the choice is welcome but not mandatory.
Voters are requested to vote 5 points for first place, 3 points for second, and 1 point for third place.
Please do not submit any other point combinations such as 3/3/3, 4/4/1, 5/2/2, etc.
Writers are requested not to vote for any of their own entries, and voters are asked not to comment at length about the stories or record any thoughts that you may have on them, until after voting closes.

There will be no detailed summaries posted as to how the voting is progressing throughout the voting period but as soon as possible after voting closes a tabulated list of results will be posted separately and the winner declared. If then you wish to describe in detail the reasons for your choices, or comment at length about some or all of the individual stories, a separate page will be set up at the end of the voting period and after the result has been posted.

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List of entries received. (If I have inadvertently missed an entry or entries, please advise.)

JAVA LAVA. Written by Peter Barnett

https://aasof.com/2016/09/23/java-lava/#more-20343

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THE ROAD TO HELL. Written by Charles Stuart.

https://furryfeatures.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/the-road-to-hell/

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TEEING OFF WITH A BOILED EGG. Written by Atiller.

https://atiller16.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/a-september-2016-ctwg-short-story-entry/

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BETHANY’S CHAIR. Written by Capucin.

https://davidgoodwin935.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/bethanys-chair/

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A FUNERAL. Written by Colmore.

https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/setember-2016-ctwg-story/

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THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY. Written by Araminta.

https://detectivemouse.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/the-persistence-of-memory/

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THE AUCHENSHUGGLE BIRD. Written by Lostinwords.

https://lostinwords2.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/september-2016-competition/

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THE FINAL MEETING. Written by tp_archie.

http://tparchie.deviantart.com/art/The-Final-Meeting-637202826

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THE RED SWEATER. Written by ExpatAngie.

https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/september-entry-short-stories/

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TWO SIDES OF A DIFFERENT COIN. Written by Danthemann.

https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/sep-comp-entry-two-sides-of-a-different-coin/

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BRIAN LARA LOVES BATTING. By Danthemann.

https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/sep-comp-entry-brian-lara-loves-batting/

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INVENTORY OF A BEACH BAG. Written by Seadam.

https://seadamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/inventory-of-a-beach-bag/

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Mme. ROSE. Written by ExpatAngie. (To find … Scroll down from The Red Sweater.)

https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/september-entry-short-stories/

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Pleasant reading and please  remember to vote.

 

 

The September 2016 CW Competition. Full details of how to enter.

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A FREE ENTRY WRITING COMPETITION OPEN TO ALL!
Details of the September 2016 Creative Writing Competition.
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The topic for September has been set by the winner of the July 2016 competition Peter Barnett who has graciously agreed that there should be an open topic with each writer choosing his or hers topic of choice.

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The length of the story in September has been set at between 250 and 750 words and competitors are reminded that multiple entries can be accepted on as many different topics as each individual competitor chooses
Closing date for entries will be Midnight on Friday the 3oth. of September 2016.
The period for receiving votes will be announced when the competition closes, and votes will not be accepted until after the competition closes.
The “prize” for winning this September competition will be to set the topic for November 2016.

Voting.
After the competition closes there will be a vote to decide the first three places.
Just after the closing date, details of how to vote and a vote collection point will be set up here on this competition blogpage.

How to enter.
Post your story on your personal WordPress blogs and post a link to your story in the form of a comment below.

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And a reminder to those still without their own WordPress site.

WordPress is not the most user friendly of sites but if I can manage it (admittedly not without some frustrations), then I am sure that we all can  … help in setting up your own blog is available, so please ask.

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For those unfamiliar with the workings of the monthly competition a list of detailed rules for the competition can be found here …
https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/competition-rules/

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Pleasant writing and good luck with your stories. After the encouraging increase in the number of entries last month it seems that we may at last be coming to terms with the new arrangements … please can we make September a bumper month.

 

The August 2016 TCWG Creative Writing Competition. Full details of how to enter.

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A FREE ENTRY WRITING COMPETITION OPEN TO ALL!
Details of the August 2016 Creative Writing Competition.

The topic for AUGUST has been set by the winner of the May/June 2016 competition  Seadams who chosen “ISLANDS” and has commented as follows …

ISLANDS.
“I’ve been thinking about islands and their connotations recently. I am quite fascinated by islands, and the idea of living on one permanently (but then, I suppose I already do.)

Island – isola – isolate…insula – insular…

I propose for August we write a story with an island setting – be it desert, tropical, luxurious; real or imaginary; legendary or metaphorical; Channel, Canary, Balearic, Pacific, Hebridean, Caribbean…stacks, reefs, atolls, archipelagos…but no cheating, please: no peninsulas.”

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The length of the story in August will be the regular “between 500 and 3000 words”, and competitors are reminded that multiple entries can be accepted, particularly of the shorter variety.
Closing date for entries will be Midnight on Wednesday the 31st. of August 2016.
The period for receiving votes will be announced when the competition closes, and votes will not be accepted until after the competition closes.
The “prize” for winning this July competition will be to set the topic for October 2016 when I am proposing that we will have a lower limit of 250 to 750 words, giving an opportunity for some writers to make multiple entries.

Voting.
After the competition closes there will be a vote to decide the first three places.
Just after the closing date, details of how to vote, and a vote collection point will be set up here in this competition section.

How to enter.
Post your story on your personal WordPress blogs and post a link to your story in the form of a comment below (“Leave a reply” panel.)

For those unfamiliar with the workings of the monthly competition a list of detailed rules for the competition can be found here …
https://tcwgshortstories.wordpress.com/competition-rules/

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Pleasant writing and good luck. There are still a few teething problems (some more aggravating than others), but please persevere, and with Autumn approaching let’s try to get back into double figure entries once again.

Remember … help with your problems is available so please ask.

Two clicks – June entry

The flat white had a crisper taste than I had expected. The spotty new barista was actually better with the machine than a lot of the regular ones.

The white dot whirred around in its circle on the computer’s start-up screen while I heard some of the parts straining into life. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Then blankness. I reached behind the screen and traced my fingers over the yellow Nirvana smiley-faced logo I’d had engraved onto the case of the computer just below the ‘hp’ lettering. It was the proudest feature of my machine – nothing like those stickers that students slap on that start peeling to leave a sticky blemish. This had been marked on professionally at a tattoo shop in Kentish Town.

I yawned and reached for my phone to kill the time before the login screen asked me for the password. I switched it on. No phone messages. I put it aside before my fingers automatically clicked on Facebook. The guys in the office had all signed up to an app that times your Facebook usage, and I’d been ashamed to clock up the second most usage time the previous week.

It’d be good to know how they’re getting on, but I could always write on WhatsApp in a bit. There was work to be done, and I couldn’t stand that Darren always ends up sending a torrent of distracting GIFs. Like the one he sent last night of Theresa May’s face superimposed onto a donkey being teased and chased around by some villagers in the tropics somewhere – sent while we were swapping messages about the football, for Christ’s sake.

These remote working days really were the pits. All the old farts with kids and everything loved them, somehow. Then you had the jammy gits like Patrick from accounts who said he just clicks to clock on at 9, goes to the pub and pops home to click and clock off at 6. No chance of that under Sharon, who would pepper us all with messages to keep us on our toes. There was serious work to be done, but first I had to flee the depression of my sandwich-sized rented bedroom – I’ve called it sandwich-sized ever since Ricky and I worked out in the office that it’s actually smaller in volume than the world’s largest sandwich.

I grabbed my paper cup in one hand. I typed my password with the other hand and pressed enter. My computer was getting seriously slow starting up, but I can’t say I minded too much – start-up time was one of the most peaceful times of the day.

I looked up.

Wow.

I smiled and thought of Paul. He had a serious thing about girls with Mac Books. His biggest turn on, he said. It looked like the new Mac Book Pro too – 13 inch screen, in the classic shiny silver colour. It was a nice machine, no doubt about it.

As for the girl who was using it a couple of tables in front of me, well, she was an owner to match the computer, if there ever was one. A short brunette with round black-rimmed glasses. She was sat sideways to me and I could see the top of her blouse, with her slim arms leading out of the silky sleeves to hands typing purposefully at the keyboard. Typing at a steady, confident pace. Under the table a pair of black tights hugged her gently undulating calves while her feet were supported by a pair of short stilettos.

My heart was racing. It was unusual to see such a beautiful lady in the café – normally at this time I only saw old folks reading the paper or the occasional homeless person.

I clicked my way into my computer, bringing up my work portal.

I imagined Paul pulling off his chat-up trick of going and asking ‘have you been able to get the WiFi in here?’ I’d never seen it get him any further than a little small talk, but he still considered the trick a victory every time he performed it – turning around to smile and give the lads the thumbs up when his target was clicking through his internet settings for him.

I looked at her again. She was focused on the screen with a steely concentration expressed with a slight pout. I bent my head a little to see what she was working on. It looked like she was switching between her web browser and Excel. The guys I knew from accounts always said they were afraid to use Excel in public, reckoning it marked them out as nerds. It could be such a valuable programme though. She stretched her hand up and reached to scratch the back of her neck, and I watched the buttons on the tight fabric tracing the outline of her chest rise.

A message popped up on my screen. ‘Welcome to EGL WorkRemote Master – You Have 17 New Messages from Sharon_83’. I took a gulp of my flat white, crossed my fingers in my left hand for luck and clicked with my right to open the messages.

I wanted to thump my table in frustration, and settled for a tap, after seeing the first message. Entitled ‘a couple of questions about your new workflow template for QRS’ I scrolled down through a mammoth email littered with question marks – far longer than the workflow template it was referring too.

Seeing the garish pink signature at the end of the message, saying ‘Sharon xx’ was like a slap in the face. I pictured my boss stood with her arms folded in front of me in the café, peering over the top of my computer and reeling off a torrent of instructions, questions and complaints.

I used the opportunity of my remote working to recline in my seat, close my eyes, groan and mutter “fuck!”

I grabbed my phone and went straight to WhatsApp. There were no new messages in the lads’ group, but I could see they had mostly been online already that morning.

‘You’re gonna be very jealous of me, Paul,’ I wrote.

‘I think I’d be jealous of just about anyone right now,’ he replied. ‘I’ve just finished eating breakfast with a housemate sobbing uncontrollably next to me. She tried to explain a couple of times why her boyfriend woke us all up shouting abuse and why there’s a slice of toast sliding down the wall, but every time she just starts crying again. Feels like someone’s died in here!’

I selected some laughing face icons and clicked send, even though I didn’t find it particularly funny.

‘Go on then’ Paul wrote. ‘Make me jealous’.

‘There’s an absolute stunner with the latest Mac Book Pro in front of me’, I wrote.

‘OK, that worked a treat – we’re all jealous’, wrote Gav, joining the conversation. ‘I’m in Starbucks and there’s some guy in a soggy anorak who’s been reading the bible out load non-stop for the past hour on the next table.’

Paul sent an angry-faced icon. ‘Are you going to share the joy then?’

I looked across to the girl, who was looking intently into her computer now, with a hint of puzzlement on her brow.

‘I’m in my local café if you want to come down and try your WiFi trick Paul? I’ll send you all a link with the coordinates on Google Maps.’

‘Tempted’, wrote Paul, ‘send us a preview though’.

‘Yeah, don’t be a pussy’ wrote Gav, ‘show us what we’re missing!’.

I scanned around the quiet café. The barista was thumping the tongue that holds the grounded coffee in the machine over the sink, and clearing out the soggy remains with his fingers. A couple of customers had their faces hidden behind newspapers, while an old lady by the entrance seemed to be staring at a scone.

It didn’t feel right, but I could do this.

I picked up my phone, and held it up vertically in front of my face. I pretended to need to squint to read the screen.

‘Ok’ I typed, with my heart racing.

I selected the camera, adjusted it so she was in the middle of the frame, and then pressed inside the grey circle to take a photo. I scanned around to see if anyone else had been alerted to the soft click, but there was no sign of any movement.

I attached the photo into the WhatsApp group. ‘Here you are. Little treat for you :)’ I typed.

I shook my head at the ease I had succumbed to the peer pressure from my workmates, and tried to focus on my computer. Sharon had sent another message asking if I’d seen her earlier messages and could I respond ASAP?

I started to read the epic first email. My concentration was soon shattered by a vibration on my phone.

Two new WhatsApp messages.

‘Is that it!?!’ Gav had wrote.

‘A blur in the distance? Close up, please, preferably with cleavage,’ Paul wrote.

‘Piss off, come here yourself you filthy pervs,’ I typed out, but before I could press on send, two more messages appeared.

‘Go on, I’ll buy you a pint on Friday night,’ Paul wrote.

‘Yeah I’ll get you one too. I’ve zoomed in and she is damn hot, but I need to see more…’ Gav wrote.

I sighed. The plan for Friday was to go to the Toddingham Arms, one of the trendiest bars in Shoreditch. It was £6 a pint there, and I wanted to go – not least because Mandy from HR would be there. Her with the biggest jugs in the company.

The barista had disappeared from behind the counter and was out at the front of the café, checking a phone.

The girl remained engrossed in her computer display.

‘You can pull this off. Easily,’ I thought.

I ambled over towards the counter and took my phone out, pretending to read my messages. I turned on the camera, swivelled to my left and right to check the coast was clear, then turned the phone towards the girl. I pinched at the screen to zoom in until I was satisfied the section of black lace from her bra that was poking out beneath the unbuttoned top of her blouse was showing. I pressed to take two photos and slid the phone back into the pocket of my jeans. Trembling, I turned around and walked to the toilet with the intention of checking my photo and sending it in a quiet spot.

I pushed opened the door separating the toilets from the café. It didn’t swing all the way back behind me though, and in no time I was grabbed by the back of the next and thrust up against the wall, with my feet dangling below.

I wheezed and croaked. I just about managed to turn my neck to look into the furious face of the bespectacled man with thinning grey hair who had me in the stranglehold. I was trying to say “let me down”.

When I started crying, he let go and I crumbled into a heap on the vinyl floor.

I took my head out of my hands and saw that a little of the redness had abated in his cheeks.

“You-?” I said.

“Yeah, I saw you taking that photo,” he answered. “Maybe I should introduce myself – Nigel Parker, Metropolitan Police.”

“You’re-?” I said, my lips trembling.

“Off duty at the moment, but still empowered to perform arrests when I deem necessary.”

“Arrests?” I said, pleadingly.

“You bet! You wouldn’t believe how many privacy laws you’ve just violated.”

“No, no, please! I only did it because my mates asked me too,” I said. I took the phone out of my pocket and dropped it straight away, with my fingers scrambling to pick it up again.

“I’ll delete them, I haven’t even sent them yet anyway.”

“You better!” he said, pointing a chunky index finger towards me. “And I don’t want to ever see you in here again, preying on innocent women or not, or you’ll be trouble. You understand?”

I nodded my head and went back to collect my computer and go.

The lamp flickered when I turned it on before going out.

‘Shit’ I thought, ‘the bulb’s gone again’.

I sighed and peered through my window to the dim overcast morning.

I tried to keep my eyes off the heaps of dirty clothes scattered around the bedroom floor, covering the majority of the faded red carpet.

I logged onto the work portal. Just the two messages from Sharon today.

I went straight onto Facebook.

‘Haha watch this, it’s hilarious!’ Gav had wrote. Under that was a video of a chimp on a Russian talent show impersonating its owner in various emotional states.

The sound on my computer was muted and I was afraid to turn it on as Wiktor, the Czech cook who rented the room next to mine, worked nights and didn’t take kindly to being woken. I rifled through a pile of unused receipts, train tickets and a couple of unused condoms on my desk to look for my earphones. No luck.

I checked Facebook again. One of the girls in sales had shared a post from Amanda Totter, the famous lingerie model. It was a viral post that had 89,000 likes and 22,000 shares already.

“A big THANK YOU to the man who pretended to be a policeman in order to frighten off a dirty young man with an HP laptop featuring a Nirvana sticker. This predator was taking pictures of me without me noticing at La Roma Coffee in Golders Green. I might be somewhat used to it, but every woman has a right to go about their life without having their privacy trampled on by obnoxious cowards. Anyway, I wanted to thank my hero, Dave, again, before I get the chance to do it in person when I take him out for a meal at my fav restaurant on Friday.”

I sighed. I’d been thinking about getting a new laptop anyway. Now could be the perfect time. I looked at the post again and clicked ‘like’.