13. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (100 book challenge)

great gatsby

Invite me to your parties, Jay!

It’s the characters that make this story. The narrator, Nick, is fairly plain and uninteresting, but the people around him are such complex, intriguing and entertaining characters that I loved this book from beginning to end.

The story follows the life of the rich on Long Island in the 1920s. They invite themselves to parties, they complain about the heat and are utterly unhappy in their marriages. It’s the perfect recipe for an engaging story where the characters drive the plot, not the other way round.

After a few recent disappointments in my 100 book challenge, this was a refreshing change.

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The last 4 months of ABC Open 500 words (February – May 2015)

Each month for the last 4 months, I’ve written an ABC Open 500 words story.

Here are the links to the stories and short blurbs about how I connected my own life with the theme for the month.

February 2015 – Lost in Music

My story, Looking for ‘the one’ on the dancefloor, talks about how I thought I met the man of my dreams on the dancefloor. At 3am. After way too many $1 vodkas.

March 2015 – Testing the friendship

This story called Our budding friendship goes back to when I was about 7 years old and teamed up with a girl who was quite a bit naughtier than I was. She showed me how to have fun without getting caught.

April 2015 – Grandparents

An emotional topic this month, and my most heartfelt piece so far for ABC Open. This is forever talks about my relationship with my grandparents – my grandfather who died last year and my grandmother who is now in a nursing home. Memories of their relationship with my own son warms my heart.

May 2015 – I quit

Mountain-top quitting talks about a snowboarding trip my husband and I took to New Zealand 10 years ago… and how sore I was after falling over 567 times on the hard, icy snow.

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Empty (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT -© Marie Gail Stratford

Image by Marie Gail Stratford at https://mariegailstratford.wordpress.com

There’s a silo in the field just over that hill. It’s empty. It’s been empty for years.

The farmer built it thirty years ago. It was meant to hold grain from the surrounding fields. It just never worked out that way. Not enough rain. Too much rain. Not enough rain again. The crop was never successful. The silo was never filled.

The farmer’s wife tried to console him. ‘It’s too late now.’

She sighed deeply before suggesting, ‘Maybe we should accept the fact and just stop trying.’

He looked across at the empty fields. His empty arms. His empty house.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle each week where writers from around the world post 100 word stories based on a common photo prompt. For more information, and to read other stories, visit Rochelle’s page here.


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12. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom (100 book challenge)

Five people heaven

Number 12 on the 100 book challenge

Coming off the back of Pride and Prejudice, I needed something that was short, easy to read and straight to the point. This book promised all of these things. It delivered… but I was left with an uneasy feeling that the story could have been so much better. That it was almost a very good book.

The positives are many. For one, it’s a brilliant concept: that, at the moment of your death, you meet five integral people from your life to help you realise things about your life. Two, the characters are interesting. Three, the story is revealed slowly throughout without pages of info-dump.

But I didn’t love it.

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Turn it on (Friday Fictioneers)


Image by Madison Woods

He wasn’t your ordinary secret agent, fitting in with the others. Copper hair, watery eyes, smoked a pipe. Got his job via a plug from Sarah Mick who worked in cold calling.

He didn’t force it. But there was a sinking feeling he couldn’t ignore. A pressure in the back of his mind telling him to focus.

He suddenly felt very hot.

Something about the database in his computer. Something about that poor Sue-Lynn from admin who would drip info through every second day.

The colour drained from his face when he realised.

His phone: it had been tapped.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle each week where writers from around the world post 100 word stories based on a common photo prompt. For more information, and to read other stories, visit Rochelle’s page here.

PS if you have discovered the meaning of this story and would like to challenge yourself, the magic number is 16.


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Dinosaurs and Noah’s Ark (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Image by Roger Bultot

Our street used to be so quiet before Old Man Ted moved in next door.

‘Dinosaurs! Let me tell you about dinosaurs!’

Not in an interesting way though.

‘God had no need for dinosaurs!’

Okay, we didn’t go to church regularly, but we weren’t exactly arguing survival of the fittest and all that.

But he just wouldn’t stop.

‘Meteorites killed them? Never! Weren’t no dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark.’

When the meteorite did hit Old Man Ted’s house no one bothered to question it further. It could have been God, or it could have been evolution. I guess we’ll never know.


A couple of weeks ago my writers group presented at the Newcastle Writers Festival on how to take your writing from hobby to publication. What an experience! We enjoyed every moment. Of course we took the opportunity to promote Friday Fictioneers as a brilliant way to improve your writing and instantly get an international audience. So here’s a shout out to anyone who has joined FF for the first time this week… WELCOME!

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly online challenge where writers from around the world post 100 word stories inspired by the one photo. To read more, click here.


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11. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (100 book challenge)

‘What book are you up to now in that challenge of yours?’ asks a lady from work.

‘Pride and Prejudice.’

‘Oh, I absolutely adored that book! Isn’t Jane Austen simply wonderful?’

I stop to consider my answer. I wish I could agree.

I really do.

It's almost embarrassing to admit how furious this book made me

It’s almost embarrassing to admit how furious this book made me

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