Symptoms Of Unrest: Flash Fiction 99 Words

Brotherly Love - York Dungeon 1990s (c) Sherri Matthews

Brotherly Love – York Dungeon 1990s
(c) Sherri Matthews

Symptoms of Unrest

Muriel waddled into the doctor’s office.

“What can I do for you,” asked the doctor while staring at his computer screen.

Muriel sniffed. “Well, my nose feels blocked and according to my husband, I snore.”

“Have you tried nose strips?”

“Err…no. I think I might have a sinus infection actually.”

“Get some nose strips and see me in two weeks,” said the doctor, still tapping away.

“Oh, just one more thing,” said Muriel as she headed for the door. “I think my husband is trying to murder me.”

The room fell silent as the doctor, at last, faced his patient.


When I wrote Water Rat a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t plan to add to it.  But then Charli gave us this week’s Flash Fiction prompt to write a story revealing a character’s symptoms and I couldn’t resist having some fun.  ‘Symptoms of Unrest’ is part two, in 99 words, no more, no less.

Posted in Flash Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , | 81 Comments

Walls, True Confessions and Last of the B/W Challenge

The first house I lived in had a beautiful, brick wall running along one side of the back garden, and I have wanted a garden wall of my own ever since.

The story of Peter Rabbit’s narrow escape from Mr McGregor’s walled garden, barely avoiding being flattened with a sieve and forcing him to leave behind his little blue jacket, fascinated me.

Mr McGregor would have liked this garden as would Peter Rabbit, with plenty to nibble.  Barrington Court June 2014 (c) Sherri Matthews

Mr McGregor would have liked this garden as would Peter Rabbit, with plenty to nibble.
Barrington Court June 2014
(c) Sherri Matthews

I was also fascinated by the door in the wall to The Secret Garden,
another one of my favourite stories.

Whenever I visit historical places, walled gardens draw me the most.

Door to the Secret Garden?  Perhaps. Barrington Court Easter 2014 (c) Sherri Matthews

Door to the Secret Garden? Perhaps.
Barrington Court Easter 2014
(c) Sherri Matthews

Ancient walls beckon too, now crumbled and worn after centuries of erosion and damage, yet still clinging on to the last vestiges of their glory days long ago,
when they belonged to buildings, homes, palaces even.

Ruins of Spinalonga, overlooking the sea. Crete 2012 (c) Sherri Matthews

Ruins of Spinalonga, overlooking the sea.
Crete 2012
(c) Sherri Matthews

I wonder which part of the ancient palace at Knossos, in Crete,
these ruined walls once belonged to?

Ruined Walls of Knossos, Crete, 2012 (c) Sherri Matthews

Ruined Walls of Knossos, Crete, 2012
(c) Sherri Matthews

What secrets were revealed in countless letters pushed through this old, French post box affixed to the original wall of this still-working family farm,
handed down from generation to generation?

French Post Box (c) Sherri Matthews

French Post Box
(c) Sherri Matthews

But there is one wall that for me, holds a very different kind of memory:
one of a young girl’s rebellion.

The house next door to us in the small village in Surrey where I spent the first ten years of my life, was a corner shop, above which the owners lived.

By the time I was seven or eight, my mother often sent me over to buy a loaf of bread.  I enjoyed the independence this errand gave me; I also loved to look at all the sweets lined up on the shop counter.

Sometimes I raided my plastic money-box to buy a packet of Spangles or Rolos but I didn’t have a lot of spare change and I did like my sweets, so one day, I hatched a plan: I  would steal them.

The next time I went to the shop to buy bread,  I waited for the owner,  Mr Reed, to disappear out of the back of the shop to get the bread as he always did. As soon as he left the room, I grabbed as many packets of sweets as I could, cramming them into the little shoulder bag I had worn for the purposes of hiding my stolen goods.

As soon as I returned home, I handed my mother the bread and then scarpered upstairs as fast as I could to admire my loot.  I felt not a pang of conscience.

I knew it was very wrong to steal, but I did it anyway.  In fact, I had wanted to do it and not only that, I had got away with it.  So I did it again.

And again.

My walls were about to come crumbling down. West Bay, after the storms of February 2014 (c) Sherri Matthews

My walls were about to come crumbling down. West Bay, after the storms of February 2014
(c) Sherri Matthews

My crimes escalated to the point that I became brazen.

In the grip of my strange, dark plottings, I got the bizarre idea to walk over to elderly Mrs Curtley’s house which was opposite the shop on the other side of the lane, whereupon I would sit on her wall in front of her house, eat my sweets one after the other, and toss the wrappers into her front garden, throwing them, and all caution, into the wind.

Again, I knew littering was wrong, but I did it anyway.  What possessed me to do these things? I wish I knew.

I also thought nobody was watching, but of course, they were.  Hidden eyes, from behind net curtains, twitching, quietly observing my every move.

And then, one day, I went too far.  As usual, I waited for Mr Reed to get the bread and as I reached for a packet of sweets, to my horror, he reappeared.

“Are you going to pay for those?” he boomed.  I almost dropped the sweets in shock.

“Oh, yes, of course…here…” I shook as I frantically reached into my little bag but of course I didn’t have any money.   I left the shop without any sweets that day and after that, my life of crime came to an abrupt end.

The most I could hope for, was that Mr Reed wouldn’t tell my mother.

But it wasn’t Mr Reed I had to worry about.

Sitting on this wall, happily eating an ice cream with Eldest Son last summer at West Bay in Dorset, I had no intentions of throwing any wrappers anywhere.  Be sure that I am fully reformed and abhor littering.  Stealing too, naturally.  Keeping this photo colour to end on a cheerful note. (c) Sherri Matthews

Sitting on this wall, happily eating an ice cream with Eldest Son last summer at West Bay in Dorset, I had no intentions of throwing any wrappers anywhere. Be sure that I am fully reformed and abhor littering. Stealing too, naturally. Keeping this photo in colour to end on a cheerful note, in the hopes that you don’t think too badly of me!
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Not long after my humiliation, the dreaded knock announcing Mrs Curtley’s arrival at our front door arrived.  When Mum returned to the living room clutching a handful of screwed up sweet wrappers in her hands, I didn’t need to look up at her face to know she was steaming.

At the time, my dad was between jobs and worked temporarily on the night shift at, of all things, an Opal Sweet factory (now called Starburst, one of my favourites, wouldn’t you know) in the nearby town of ‘Leatherhead’.

He was upstairs asleep at the time of Mrs Curtley’s arrival,  but it was the only time I ever heard my mother say she was going to tell Dad what I had done as soon as he woke up later that day.  Gulp.

So yes, I took my punishment and we’ll leave it at that.  Made to apologise face to face to Mrs Curtley and Mr & Mrs Reed (oh the burning shame of it!), I never stole or littered again.  I hope they forgave me.

I still don’t understand why I did it.   Perhaps I just wanted some attention.  And I certainly got that.

Strangely though, when I think of that time in my life, I remember being obsessed with this place called ‘Leatherhead’, imagining that everyone who lived there literally had heads of leather, sort of football shaped.

My daughter thinks this is hilarious, reminding her as it does of one certain ‘Leatherface’, the nasty character from the movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

To this day, I have never been to Leatherhead,  but I seriously doubt that the people who live there wear boiler suits and leather masks while welding massive chainsaws.

Then again, in today’s world, nothing would surprise me.


This then sees the end of my challenge posts, and also includes my entry for ‘Wall’, the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt.

I would like to tag blogging friend lbeth at Nutsrok who is writing her memoir, to tell some delicious secrets for the Tell 5 Secrets Blog Hop and my friend Ste J at Book to the Future for the Black & White 5 Day Photo Challenge, because I just know he will come up with some great photos and stories in his uniquely creative fashion.

Many thanks once more to the lovely Lilka, Jude and Sarah for tagging me for these two challenges, I’ve really enjoyed it and thanks to the push of these challenges, I finally learnt how to use the special effects of the photo editing programme that came with my new laptop.

And last, but not at all least, thank you again so much to all of you for your loyal visits throughout these challenges. More than anything, I’m thrilled that you’ve enjoyed them.

After all, that’s what it’s all about!


Posted in Blog Hops, Childhood Memories, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 98 Comments

A Mother’s Love: Day 4 Black And White Photo Challenge

This Sunday in the UK, families everywhere will be honouring Mum on what we call Mothering Sunday.  When I lived in America, I lost track of when this special day occurred, since Mother’s Day, as it is called there, is observed in May.

For many years, my mother had two special days, receiving a card and flowers in March from my brother in England and the same again from me from California, in May.

Today, she has a blog post made especially for her.

She will smile at these photos because of the many, wonderful memories we share of our holidays spent together on the Norfolk Broads.

Family life is evident everywhere on the meres and rivers of the Norfolk Broads; Mum loves to watch mother ducks with their sweet babies paddle by…

Mother Duck & Ducklings, Norfolk Broads (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Mother Duck & Ducklings, Norfolk Broads
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

She remembers with great fondness happy family holidays sailing on the Broads as far back as the 1940s as a little girl with her parents and brother, and then, in the 60s and 70s, with her own children, me and my brother.

The sight of a windmill never fails to delight her.

Windmill & Yacht Nofolk Broads (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Windmill & Yacht Nofolk Broads
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

What I think of is all the fun we’ve had these many years and all we can now laugh about, including her frustration when trying to teach me, as a leftie, to tie shoe laces.

Me & Mum, Norfolk Broads, 1970s (c) Sherri Matthews

Me & Mum, Norfolk Broads, 1970s.  Love those hats!
(c) Sherri Matthews

Mum reads my blog, even comments from time to time, but more often she will send me a text or an email saying how much she enjoyed a particular post and encouraging me to keep writing, all the time.

She has always been there for both her children no matter what, and she is dearly loved by both me and my brother and her six grandsons and one and only granddaughter.

For almost 20 years, we lived on different sides of the world, she in England, me in California.  I cried every time we said goodbye after our visits, but we always had such wonderful times together when we did visit.  And of course, I had my own precious children to love and cherish, heaven-sent gifts, one and all.

Thank you Mum, you’re the best!


Today I am tagging Marty at mvschulze for the B&W 5 Day Photo Challenge.  His blog is packed full of reminiscent American road trips and cruises, wonderful photos illustrating them all.

For the Tell 5 Secrets Blog Hop, I’m tagging Sarah of Sarah Potter Writes.  Maybe she could write her secrets into one of her brilliant short flash fiction stories?   I know she will entertain us in her wonderfully unique and creative fashion however she decides to take up this challenge!

Thank you so much for joining me for these challenges this week, I really appreciate all your wonderful comments.  I won’t lie, it’s been a challenge for me to keep these posts up everyday, but it’s a lot of fun.  The last post in this series will be next week.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a wonderful weekend and to all you mums,
I wish you a very happy Mothering Sunday!

Posted in Blog Hops, Mothers & Daughters, My California, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 95 Comments

Ancient Mariner: Day 3 Black And White Photo Challenge

On the Bristol Channel in Somerset, England, lies the small harbour town of Watchet.  Not only does it boast a beautiful view of the Channel as you walk around the harbor (and a wonderful little fish & chip shop), it is also home to a magnificent lighthouse.

I have a vague memory from long ago of climbing up some winding, metal stairs to the top of a lighthouse, but I have no idea where or when.

Perhaps it was a dream.

Lighthouse At Watchett Harbour, Somerset (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Lighthouse At Watchet Harbour, Somerset
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

But Watchet also holds a secret.  At least, it did for me the day I first visited a few years ago.

When I lived in California, so far as I knew, that is where I would stay, with my children, indefinitely.  I didn’t expect to return to England and I certainly didn’t expect that one day I would live in Somerset, visiting this little harbour town.

Who would have thought that all those years ago, when Eldest Son was studying English Literature at high school in California, specifically the poetry of a certain Samuel Taylor Coleridge, that one day I would be standing in front of a sculpture of The Ancient Mariner, complete with the Albatross around his neck, erected in honour of the famous poet.

Statue of the Ancient Mariner, commissioned in 2002 Watchet Market House Musuem Society, sculpted by Alan B. Herriot of Penicuick, Scotland and erected in 2003 as a tribute to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (c) Sherri Matthews

Statue of the Ancient Mariner, commissioned in 2002 by Watchet Market House museum Society, sculpted by Alan B. Herriot of Penicuik, Scotland, erected in 2003 as a tribute to Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(c) Sherri Matthews

This is because the famous poet once lived in the nearby village of Nether Stowey.  In 1797,  while walking around Watchet, he stopped to look out at the water across from the harbour. It was here, at this very spot, that inspiration moved Coleridge to write The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one of the best known poems in English literature.

‘Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.’

(Read the poem in full here.)

I couldn’t wait to tell my son.  We had no idea that the origins of such a famous poem had begun so close to our new home.

Today for the B&W Photo Challenge , I’m tagging Steve at iChristian whose beautiful photography never fails to astound me.  He has probably been tagged already for this challenge, but I’m going to tag him anyway. So there!

I’m tagging Maria of brickhousechick for the Tell 5 Secrets Blop Hop.  Maria’s wonderful posts will make you laugh, cry and think about what is most important in life.  I can’t wait to see which secrets she will reveal.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with Day 4 of the challenges, the last one for this week.
See you then!

Posted in Blog Hops, Family Life, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Secrets At Sea: Day 2 Black And White Photo Challenge

Next week, Hubby and I will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary.  Bitterly cold on our wedding day, we didn’t mind because one week later, we climbed onboard the cruise ship Arcadia, and with full steam ahead,  sailed out of Barbados for our ‘Taster Tour’ of six Caribbean islands.

Amongst the many photographs I took during our travels, succeeding in getting the view in this particular photo took some patience, and (not a secret to some, I know) I am not the most patient person in the world.

View of Starboard Deck onboard the Arcadia Cruise Ship somewhere in the Caribbean (c) Sherri Matthews

View of Starboard Deck onboard the Arcadia Cruise Ship somewhere in the Caribbean March 2006
(c) Sherri Matthews

It was darn near impossible to get any shots without somebody appearing at just the wrong moment. So annoying when that happens isn’t it? But on this particular day, my patience paid off as I managed to capture just the angle I wanted.

Something about this deck with the deep brown of the mahogany benches intrigued me, reminding me of the Titanic, the story of which both horrifies and enthralls me to this day.  In fact, I would say that it is a secret obsession of mine.

So much so, that as we crossed the Bay of Biscay on the way home, the ship creaking and groaning as it lurched through the rough seas, Hubby and I were about the only ones seen out of our cabins.

Of course, that might have been thanks to my secret cure for seasickness, discovered by pure chance: a pint of Stella and a greasy burger.  It works a treat, no kidding.

Even so, I nurtured secret fears: I grew ever concerned as the ship listed from side to side on that wild, grey ocean, that we would end up if not like those poor folk onboard the Titanic, then upside down like those others in  The Poseidon Adventure.

Maybe I watch too many films.

Today I’m tagging friends:

Tom at Beyond the Sphere for the Tell 5 Secrets Blog Hop.  Tom’s stories are out of this world, in more ways than one.  Can’t wait to see what secrets he has lurking back at the mansion.

Marie at for the B&W 5 Day Photo Challenge.  Marie shares beautiful photos on her blog as she takes us along on her walks through English town and country.

Perfect timing this challenge, as it means I can also enter this photo for Jude’s fun and easy Bench Photo Challenge, details here.  This month’s theme is wooden benches and she invites one and all to take part.

And I’ll be here again tomorrow with Day 3 of the B&W Challenge & Secrets Blog Hop.
See you then!

Posted in Blog Hops, Family Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 82 Comments

Flight Of The Tiger Moth: Black And White, Secrets And Flash Fiction

Meanwhile, back at the Summerhouse…

Yesterday, my plan was to kick-start day one of the Black & White 5 day Photo Challenge for which I was tagged by Lilka  at BBlessed! and then by Jude at Travel Worlds. It’s a fun challenge and there are only 2 simple rules:

  1. On 5 consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in B&W.
  2. Each day invite another blog friend to join in the fun.

Obviously, this didn’t happen (apologies to Lilka and Jude) but I do have a good excuse, since it was Hubby’s birthday yesterday (and I so hoped to surprise him with this post on his actual birthday, darn.  You’ll see why shortly).

Then Sarah at Lemon Shark also recently tagged me for a Tell 5 Secrets Blog Hop for which I have to spill the beans reveal 5 secrets and then tag 5 other bloggers to do the same.

So here’s the thing.  I thought it would be fun to merge both challenges by posting a B&W photo for the next 4 days (the fifth next week since I’m now off schedule) with a sort-of-a-secret to go with it.

I should say now though, my secrets are far from juicy (in fact, I had trouble thinking of any). Sorry to disappoint, but there’ll be fifty shades of big fat nothing going on in my Summerhouse.

Each day, I will tag two people, one for each challenge and the first two are:

Pat at Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom for the Tell 5 Secrets Blog Hop and for the B&W 5 day Photo Challenge, I am tagging  Atreyee and Jesse who are Bespoke Traveller.

One more thing – still with me, I hope! It being Tuesday already, it’s also time for the Flash Fiction challenge. Charli’s prompt this week is to ‘colour your story turquoise’. I had no idea how I was going to do this at first, but then that’s the beauty of writing flash fiction: you never know what you’re gonna get.  And trust me, your guess is as good as mine.

Onto the challenges, but first I want to thank Lilka, Jude and Sarah so much for thinking of me (how could I say no?). All lovely friends and gifted writers and photographers, whose wonderful blogs are well worth a visit, as well the lovely friends I’ve tagged.

I’ve posted three photos here for the B&W challenge as a present for Hubby.

Five year’s ago, Hubby fulfilled a life-long dream: a flight on a Tiger Moth.  I planned secretly with the family so that we could all chip in for his birthday present to make his dream a reality.

On the very last day of the season that October, a small group of family and close friends gathered to watch Hubby take flight out of Compton Abbas Airfield in Wiltshire.

Hubby preparing for take off, thrilled at the prospect of the amazing flight he was about to 'pilot'  (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Hubby preparing for take off, thrilled at the prospect of the flight he was about to ‘pilot’
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

I was so happy for him, but secretly, I was very nervous as I watched him take off into the foreboding looking sky.  A storm was brewing: he was cutting it fine and had a small window of opportunity to complete his flight.

Airborne at last.  Hubby said the views of the surrounding Wiltshire contryside were spectacular.  Places he knew his whole life now viewed from the cockpit of a Tiger Moth. (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Airborne at last. Hubby said the views of the surrounding Wiltshire countryside were spectacular. Places he knew his whole life now viewed from the cockpit of a Tiger Moth.
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Our little group watched with bated breath as Hubby flew out of sight and after what seemed an age, I finally breathed again as he came into land.

Safe landing for Hubby! (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Safe landing for Hubby!
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

He had the time of his life and even today, he lights up at the memory of this flight.   I managed to keep his surprise secret until I presented him with his gift certificate at his birthday party.  Which is amazing really, as he is a terror for finding things out when he shouldn’t.

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Thinking of his Tiger Moth flight gave me the idea at last for this week’s Flash Fiction, 99 words, no more, no less.  Hope you enjoy it:

Something in the Air

Jack checked the instrument panel and flicked the fuel gauge. Zero. Still no engine. Yet he was gliding smooth as butter through the clouds.

A blinding flash suddenly filled the skies and Jack stared, mesmerised, as a turquoise glow flooded the cockpit.

He didn’t remember landing. “Are you alright love?” his wife asked. “You look pale.”

“I saw something,” he muttered. “So beautiful…”

“The sunset,” she laughed.

Breaking news that night reported sightings of an unidentified object crashing near Stonehenge. A reporter told of a brilliant turquoise light witnessed by thousands.

Now it was Jack’s wife who turned ashen.

Posted in Blog Hops, Family Life, Flash Fiction, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

An Early Spring Blog Hop

Spring is a little slower to arrive than this time last year, but that is no bad thing for all those creatures who need a while longer to hibernate.

Here, in Somerset, daffodils have already appeared and what a joy to see the glorious yellow heads of the Narcissus Tête-à-Têtes I planted last October, waving hello in the sunshine of my garden.

Early Spring March 2015 (12)

Somerset Spring on its way (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Early Spring Tete-A-Tetes in Somerset (c)  Sherri Matthews 2015

Early Spring Tete-A-Tetes in Somerset
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Not too long ago…catching up at last!…wonderful friend Luanne of Writer Site tagged me for The Work-In-Progress Blog Tour Stop.

High praise indeed, for  Luanne is an accomplished, published author of both poetry and prose in many journals. Her current work in progress is  writing her memoir called Scrap, which looks to be a fascinating read about a family defined by its secrets.

She is very excited about her recent publication of her first poetry collection Doll God to rave reviews over at Goodreads.

unnamed‘The gripping poems in Doll God take the reader on a journey through what is found, lost, or destroyed. The speaker in one poem insists, “I am still looking for angels.” She has failed to find them yet keeps searching on. She knows that what is lost can be found.’

In addition to Luanne’s blog, you can connect with her at her website, Luanne Castle and on Twitter. I guarantee a warm welcome by this lovely woman.

Thank you so much Luanne for tagging me and showing so much interest in and support of my memoir and I wish you every success with yours!

Some English primroses for you:

Somerset Primroses (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Somerset Primroses
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

The work-in-progress blog tour rules:

  1.  Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.
  2.  Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress.
  3.  Nominate some other writers to do the same.

This is the last work-in-progress blog tour I’ll do for a while as I concentrate on my writing, and I certainly don’t want to bore you, but for anyone who might want to know more and didn’t catch last week’s 777 Writing Challenge Post, you can read an excerpt here, and my short Memoir Book Blurb here.

Having recently merged the first three chapters into one, I’m left with a nice fat muddle.  Here goes anyway:


How are we to recognise those moments when a casual exchange of words, a simple action or spur-of-the-moment decision changes our lives instantly and profoundly, when nothing will ever be the same again?

Chapter One: Freedom

Failed. I waited, frozen, for the passing of my sentence. For the blade to drop. I had known it the minute my back tyre had hit the curb during my three-point-turn and the terse look on my driving instructor’s face when we returned to the Test Centre.

Chapter Two: Wishing On a Star

My family’s attachment to Americans began before I was even born, harking back to the dark days during World War II, when my grandparents befriended and took in lonely American servicemen, giving them tea and cake in exchange for stockings and cigars and ‘candy’ for the kids – my mother and uncle.


The two amazing, talented memoir writers and wonderful friends
I’m tagging for this Blog Tour Stop are:

Irene who blogs at Reflections and Nightmares where she shares her beautiful photos, thought-provoking, challenging and often delightfully humourous musings, memoir bites and flash fiction.  I look forward very much to reading some excerpts from her packed-full-of-adventure memoir, which I can’t wait to read.

Elizabeth who blogs at Breaking the Cycle, which is also the title of her unpublished memoir and which she describes as referring to: ‘my book’s focus: chronicling dysfunctional aspects to my childhood and connecting them to difficulties I overcame as a parent.‘  I hope that this brave and kind-hearted woman will share a few lines of her memoir.


So then, as spring yawns and raises its sleepy head from its long slumber, I wish you all a wonderful weekend of sunshine and laughter.

And watch out, you never know who might cross your path…

Bunny Crossing (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Bunny Crossing
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Posted in Blog Hops, Garden Snippets, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 93 Comments

Flash Fiction: Water Rat

River Stour at Flatford Mill, Dedham Vale, Essex, England Oct 2012 (c) Sherri Matthews

River Stour at Flatford Mill, Dedham, Essex, England Oct 2012
(c) Sherri Matthews

The small, wooden boats lined the riverbank in a neat row exactly as Ken remembered, waiting for hire by visitors suddenly overcome with the urge to take to the water.


Ken ambled along the path, keeping one eye on the river. Then he saw it and stopped short: the very spot where he and Muriel had picnicked before she had asked him to take her boating.

Of course darling he had said, knowing she couldn’t swim. Faking an accident on the river would be easy.

Ken jolted awake, his hopes dashed as Muriel snored peacefully by his side.

This post is in response to Charli’s ‘river’ prompt for her weekly Flash Fiction challenge, 99 words, no more, no less.

Posted in Flash Fiction | Tagged , , , | 87 Comments

Memoir Excerpt: 777 Writing Challenge

Way back in November, dear friend Sarah of Sarah Potter Writes tagged me for the 777 Challenge.  Thanks so much Sarah, and for your patience!  Sarah writes speculative fiction, sci-fi & fantasy and is also a wonderful Haiku & tanka poet, all of which she shares on her blog, together with her lovely photographs.  She is the loveliest person you could ever meet.

I haven’t heard of this challenge before, but am excited to take part:

‘The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.’

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, my WIP is my – as yet untitled – memoir, short blurb here.   It is the story of me and my American G.I. told over the course of three years, 1979 – 1981. A fractured love story that begins in Suffolk, England and ends in Los Angeles, it is one blighted by drugs, paranoia, break-ups and make-ups.  And then, just as the battle seems won, disaster stikes from which there is no recovery.

I have shared my struggles and frustrations as I go along (and thank you so much for listening), but now that I have at last settled back into my Summerhouse, I am hopeful -and dare I say, confident? –  that the first draft will be written by Easter.

Or, as The Little Engine That Could once said:  I think I can; I think I can; I think I can…

61h3iuxAWuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I’m borrowing this book title and cover until I get my own.
Hope Watty Piper doesn’t mind.

I cheated a bit with my excerpt; it is from page 7 but I added a few more lines. This challenge forced me to revist the first three chapters (which I wrote a year ago) earlier than planned, but I am really glad I did, as I ended up cutting three chapters into one.

This is my line 7 excerpt:

‘But as the sultry tones of Rose Royce singing ‘Wishing on a Star’  drifted through the smoke-filled haze and couples smooched on the dance floor, I made my escape. Winding my way through the throng of a sweaty, boozy crowd, I headed for the entrance, squeezing past a pair of grim-looking bouncers standing guard either side of the doors. “I’ll be going back in, just need some fresh air…” I said as one of them nodded in acknowledgement. The cool, night air melted the stifling heat away in an instant and I lit up a cigarette. Enjoying the solitude, my thoughts were only mildly interrupted by a few raised voices coming from the small group of guys gathered on the pavement opposite.  One of them suddenly broke away and walked towards the club. His crew-cut hair, Levi jeans and suede shoes had American G. I. written all over them.  Cute American G.I., I smiled to myself.  Must be looking for his girlfriend. Taking a last puff of my cigarette, I tossed it in the bin and turned to go back inside. “Excuse me Miss!” I heard in a soft American accent. Miss? Nobody had ever called me ‘Miss’ before. I turned around, surprised, only to stare into the smiling, brown eyes of the cute G.I.

The bloggers I’ve tagged are all amazing and talented writers and lovely people. No obligation, it’s a bit of fun and you’ll be pleased to know that rule-breaking is actively encouraged (shhhh…you didn’t hear that from me…):

Geoff  Le Pard of  TanGental, a lovely pal and wonderful writer with a fantastic sense of humour, he also just happens to be the published author of Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, of which I have a signed copy, woo hoo!  He is working on the sequel. Can’t wait to read a few words!

Christy Birmingham of Poetic Parfait has recently published her first poetry collection, Pathways to Illumination to wonderful reviews and she is working on a new poetry book.  As a lovely new blogging friend, I look forward to reading more of her work and I hope she will share a few words for this challenge!

Evelyne of Evelyne Holingue is an accomplished, published author of two YA books, her first, Trapped in Paris published in September 2012, and her most recent in October lat year, Chronicles From Chateau Moines.  I look forward to reading more of my friend’s latest WIP.

Ali of Alien Aura’s Blog, a lovely new blogging friend met through Hugh has published two novels, Come Laughing and Long-Leggety Beasties.  Her latest novel which is about the Bloomsbury Group is out in March, sounds fascinating. I hope she will share a few lines ahead of time.

Mike of  Eye-Dancers, wonderful writer and super friend from my very early days of blogging, he is the published author of same-named YA novel, The Eye Dancers, and is working on his sequel.  Although busy with that at the moment, I hope he will be able to share some excerpts with us, and soon!

Charli of Carrot Ranch Communications is a talented, accomplished writer and a great encourager and wonderful friend to me and many others.  I look forward to her weekly Flash Fiction prompts and she doesn’t mind a bit when I ride rough-shod and fancy free over to the Ranch, galloping in at the last minute.  She also writes honestly and elequently about her journey to publication and I look forward to reading a few lines of her latest novel in progress for this challenge.

Teagan of Teagan’s Books is a published author of Atonement, Tennessee and is busily scribbing away on its sequel, Atonement in Bloom.  As a relatively new blogging friend, I am looking forward to reading more of her wonderful blog and news of her latest novel!

Next week, I will be tagging three talented and wonderful memoir writers as part of another blog writing challenge.   Meanwhile, I hope you all have a great weekend!

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Feeling Good

 A second chance. A new dawn. A new day.

Bee & Lavendar, Summer Time in Somerset (c) Sherri Matthews

Bee & lavender, Summer Time in Somerset
(c) Sherri Matthews

This is the prompt for Charli’s flash fiction challenge in 99 words, no  more, no less (with the accompanying photograph in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, ‘Rule of Thirds’):

Feeling Good

He reached across the dining table, taking her hands tenderly in his.

“I know you have a lot of healing to do, but if you want to meet again, I’ll be waiting.”

Her heart raced even as the warmth of his gentle touch gave calm.

Then she panicked.

“I…I think I better go now…the kids will be waiting…”

He waved her off from the car park as she tore away into the night, leaving him in dust.

I’ll never see her again

Two years later, he held her hands once more as she beamed and he said, “I do”.

 Based on a true story?  Perhaps…


Posted in Flash Fiction, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 81 Comments