Category Archives: 30 Writing Challenges

Fairboss and Prizes

Nearly Christmas day… are you ready? No? Well, panic not. Before you know it, it’ll all be over and you’ll be worrying about what to wear for the New Year’s party, and what resolutions to make.

Soon be Easter.

And so… on with the 30 Writing Challenges. Challenge 23 states: Write the story of one of your childhood memories. 

Simple enough, you would’ve thought. But no, not really. You see, talking about myself isn’t something I generally do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived a very varied and interesting life, which is worthy of many a tale. I just don’t enjoy telling those tales, unless I’m in a conversation. Ask me, and I shall tell, but to just sit and write something down? Nope.

I do, however, weave a lot of my personal memories, emotions and feelings into the majority of the stories I write, and so I have decided that for today’s challenge I will post an extract from my soon to be released book – The Negative Bind. 

This book tells the story of Paul, a teenage boy whose perfectly ordinary existence is shattered after an accident. Paul sees his life spiral out of control, with unexpected and possibly tragic consequences. Paul is not me at a younger age, by the way. That really would be a tragic story. But there’s no denying a lot of me is in the story, in one shape or form.

The following is from chapter 10: Fairboss and Prizes. I hope you enjoy.

Extract from Chpt 10: Fairboss and Prizes.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s A Tiger In My Kitchen

Apart from Ruby Tuesday, name a song with Tuesday in the title. Ready? Go!

Got one? No? I’ve got one, something by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think. But, I digress.

Challenge 22 of the 30 Writing Challenges states: Write a story about making something to eat. Yes, I know. WTF?

At first I thought I’d just do a blow by blow account of how I make a ham and cheese sandwich, but that would’ve just been a childish tantrum over such a lousy theme. Then I thought I’d do a piece about a farmer planting his crops, because that is also making food, is it not?

That idea went out the window for being too schmaltzy and artsy.

A silly first line kept running through my head, and so I decided to go with it. I sat down, opened up Open Office (fuck you, Microsoft) and as so often happens, wrote something completely different from what I had originally intended.

So, um… enjoy.

There’s A Tiger In My Kitchen

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, and I want something to eat.

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, it has big elephant feet.

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, whatever am I to do?

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, and now it’s starting to moo!


The tiger that’s in my kitchen, he really doesn’t like me.

The tiger that’s in my kitchen, won’t make me a cup of tea.

The tiger that’s in my kitchen, is now talking on the ‘phone.

The tiger that’s in my kitchen, says I shouldn’t be alone.


There’s a tiger in my kitchen, and he’s dressed up like a nurse.

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, but I suppose it could be worse.

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, but now I’m not so sure.

There’s a tiger in my kitchen, maybe he has the cure.


Now there’s no tiger in my kitchen, but he really wasn’t bad.

Now there’s no tiger in my kitchen, and now I’m kinda sad.

Now there’s no tiger in my kitchen, my insanity has been beat.

Now there’s no tiger in my kitchen, I really don’t want to eat.

The End. 

I’m really not sure what to make of that, but there you go. Not sure it’s really got anything to do with actually making something to eat, either. But still, it was a silly theme.

That shallot…




Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Apologies… Not Really

Happy Monday everybody! Anyone remember the Happy Mondays? No? Well then, moving on…

Another day, another writing challenge. Challenge 21 of the 30 Writing Challenges states: Take a character from a well known book/movie. Place them in another well known book/movie from a different genre. Write what happens. 

Interesting. Except, not really. It could, if you’re not careful, turn into another fan-fiction. Nothing wrong with that if you’re into that kind of thing, which I’m not. I prefer to use my own characters in their own settings.

Added to that, I’m feeling really crap today. Plus it’s been raining heavily and steadily for the past 36 hours or so, and the chance of further floods is high. So, with the greatest of apologies, I will graciously decline to complete Challenge 21. I may come back to it at some point. I may not.

In case you’re interested, I did briefly think about the challenge. The best I could come up with was placing Rocky Balboa into Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Unfortunately for Rocky, because of the boxing gloves, he was unable to swim, and so drowned very early on in the story.

So yes, best I give this one a pass.

Until tomorrow, that shallot.




Tags: , , , , ,

Queueing is SO British.

Sunday. Which is still the weekend, so I shouldn’t be here. I don’t write at weekends. Usually. As I believe I said yesterday. And yet, here I am. Writing.

As yesterday, I’m going to keep this next challenge – number 20, I believe – as short as possible. In fact, it might end up only consisting of a few lines. Well, so be it.

Challenge 20 states – Use these words in a story: grandfather, photo album, post office, and folder. Using those words, I, or anyone else, could write any story they liked, about anything at all they liked. And if it wasn’t Sunday, I’d spend a bit of time trying to come up with something that might be at least half good.

As it is, you have the following to weep over.

Note: I may, or may not have, written this yesterday and scheduled it to post today. Who knows? More to the point, who cares?

Queueing is SO British.

I waited patiently in line at the post office. At the counter, an old lady wanted to send a parcel to her dear friend in Australia. The young lady behind the counter was trying her best to explain that yes, she understood madam was willing to pay whatever it cost, but sending a kitten through the mail, air mail no less, just wasn’t the done thing.

Next in line was a fat man – sorry, a man of exceptionally large stature – with hairy ears and dandruff. Clutched in his great paws was a carrier bag full of loose change. Whispering under his breath, he kept repeating to himself “£23.67. The total is £23.67. Don’t forget. £23.67. The total is £23.67.”

And then there was me. Under my arm I held a red folder. It was, in fact, a makeshift photo album, full of old photographs of the town through various different ages. My friend’s grandfather was due to celebrate his 80th birthday next week, and he – my friend, not his grandfather – wanted the photos to put together some sort of This Is Your Life thing. Hence the red folder.

Happy birthday grandad, here’s a reminder of just how old you really are. Congrats.

I wasn’t in the post office for that though. I wanted to pay a bill. So I waited patiently in line for my turn.

Queueing is such a British thing, don’t you think?

The End 

And, as always, that shallot…




Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1666 And All That…

It’s Saturday. Saturday! Which means I shouldn’t be writing. Writing at weekends is not something I generally do. So why am I here? Why indeed.

The 30 Writing Challenges, that’s why. For some obscure reason I agreed to complete challenges 17 to 30 on a daily basis. Lunacy. But, also a good way to get back in the habit.

That being said, old habits die hard, and so I will keep this one as brief as possible (and I really mean it this time).

Challenge 19 states – Write a fictional story about a real event from any period of history. Plenty of scope there for many different stories, but I’m going to stick with an idea which occurred to me during a conversation last night. And, as previously stated, I’ll keep it as short as possible. Promise.

1666 And All That…

“Oi! Mate, watch where you’re bleedin’ goin’, will ye?”

Thomas looked bleary eyed at the source of the angry voice. “So shorry, pahdon me, sir.”

“Oh, hey,” angry voice continued. “I knows you, dun I? Yer that baker fella. Me missus gets her bread from ye.”

Thomas tried his best to stand up straight, but too much ale, followed by too many brandies, made the feat nigh on impossible. He settled instead for leaning against a nearby wall.

A deep breath. “I ham indeed him, sir. Thomash Farriner hat your service. A good even to you hall!” A drunken grin, chin shiny with drool.

Angry voice looked at him in disgust. “You’re a disgrace, man. Look at ye! Shameful. Almost one in the morning, a Sunday morning, I might add, and yer three sheets to the wind. And, yer goin’ the wrong way if yer headin’ home.” Angry voice stepped forward, seized the drunken man by the shoulders, and turned him around. “Puddin’ Lane is that way, first on the right.”

“Thank you, sir, ye be too kind,” Thomas stumbled onward, trying unsuccessfully to doff his cap at the stranger.

Five minutes later, a thoroughly intoxicated Thomas arrived back at his bakery, and eased as quietly as possibly through the door. Which is to say, with all the grace of an elephant on an icy pond. He had meant to be home hours ago, but his friend Samuel had produced a rather superior bottle of brandy, and time had somehow slipped away from him. That and his sobriety.

A light flickered through the doorway to the back room, and Thomas weaved his way towards it. “Fire’s shtill lit. I’ll warm me cockles on it before tryin’ to climb the stairs. Hehe, shhh!” he said, in an exaggerated whisper. The finger he meant to hold up to his lips lay against his right cheek.

Once in the back room, Thomas noted with dismay that the hearth was dark and cold. “Wheresh the fire?” His bloodshot eyes scanned the room, and came to rest on bright flames hungrily devouring the woodpile next to his stove. “Ah, the firesh there. Whydya move, shilly fire? Well, besht put you out afore I head to bed.”

Thomas shambled over to the blazing woodpile, took a nearby vase full of flowers, and poured the contents onto the flames. Most were extinguished, but a small log remained defiant, burning steadily. Unable to see any other source of water, Thomas unfastened his trousers, and relieved himself in the corner, aiming happily at the burning log, until no trace of the fire was left.

“Alwaysh wanted to be a fireman, me. Job well done.”

With that, Thomas hiccupped, giggled, and staggered towards the staircase and bed.

And so it turned out that the Fire of London wasn’t so Great after all.

The End 

And, that shallot…




Tags: , , , , , , ,

Furry Franklin – 30 Writing Challenges Pt. 5

Okay, so, finally back with challenge number 5 of the 30 writing challenges. Its been a while. Yes, I know. Hush.

Anyway, this challenge states – write a story revolving around an object in the room you are currently in. Well… lots of objects in here, where to begin? Two objects came to mind – both were already here when I moved in. One is a remote control of some sort. It’s not for a TV or DVD player or some such thing. It’s only got 9 buttons, to start with, and none of them are marked. It’s very intriguing, and the story it inspired… well, I think it’s going to be a good one, and it’s for a later date.

The second object is a teddy bear. Light brown, bright black eyes, red scarf. I wanted to do a lighter hearted story than my usual fare, and so I selected him to write a story about. I’ve christened him Franklin, after Franklin D. Roosevelt (Teddy’s 5th cousin). This is the story Franklin inspired. I suspect he may star in many more.

Challenge number 5: Write a story revolving around an object in the room you are currently in.

Furry Franklin

Bright black eyes watched the man as he ambled about the room, muttering to himself. The eyes didn’t move – they couldn’t, they were made of plastic – but they nevertheless took in everything in their line of sight. The man wandered from one side of the room to the other. He raised a hand to his head, palm sliding over his bald pate, fingers combing imaginary hair.

Now where the hell could they be? I swear, I must be going senile or something, how could I lose them? I’m sure I had them a few minutes ago.”

To the small ears listening, the man’s voice was deep and booming as he talked to himself. The eyes, being plastic, didn’t have any eyelids to blink with and so observed the action uninterrupted. The man lifted the cushions on the sofa and looked underneath them. He looked under a pile of papers strewn across the coffee table. Obviously not finding what he was looking for, he stood up straight, frowning.

I was reading in here last night before I went to bed, so stands to reason they must still be in this room, don’t you think?” The man walked over to the large fireplace as he spoke and fixed his eyes on the small, light brown teddy bear sitting on the old oak beam which formed the mantelpiece. “What about you Franklin, do you have any idea where my reading glasses might have got to?”

The bright black eyes gazed unblinking back at the man looming before them. The teddy bear didn’t know why the man called him Franklin, as his name was Furry. His previous owner, a small boy by the name of Lucas, had christened him Furious Fur Ball the Fourth. Or Furry for short. Furry didn’t mind being called Franklin though, it had a mature and grown up sound to it. For his part, Furry knew the man’s name was Alen, as he had heard visitors to the house call him that.

Alen stared at Furry, his brow creased in a frown. Furry stared back, his face looking the way it always looked – furry and cute. At last Alen let out a large sigh and turned away.

Nope, I can’t think where I’ve put them. Told you Franklin, I’m losing what little mind I have. Senile dementia, that’s my middle name! Christ, I’ll be needing a zimmer frame next.” Alen strode across the room and headed out through the door, speaking over his shoulder as he went. “I’ve got to go out, I’ll have to find them later. Be good while I’m gone Franklin. Ha! Talking to a damned teddy bear! Jesus, I really am los…” The door slammed behind the man as he left, cutting off the rest of his sentence.

Furry sat on the mantelpiece, his legs dangling over the edge, as always. He liked it up here, he had a nice view of everything that went on in this room. And he wasn’t lonely any more; Alen was good, if somewhat eccentric company. Of course, being a teddy bear, Furry was unable to speak and hold a conversation, but he made a good listener, and listened to the man’s ramblings with amusement. Furry liked his new life.

His existence with Lucas had been fine for the most part, but not the best. Lucas was a boy prone to temper tantrums, and Furry inevitably became the release for his anger. The teddy had lost count of the times he had been thrown against a wall, stamped on, thumped, or hung by the red scarf that wound around his neck. Sometimes Lucas squeezed him so hard he feared his seams might split, spilling his stuffing across the bedroom floor. That said, there was still fun to be had. Lucas, and the man and woman who were his parents, made a nice family, and Furry was glad to be a part of it.

Then one day it all came to an end. Lucas and his parents moved away. Furry expected to go with them and was excited to be moving to a new home. But when removal day arrived, and all the furniture and boxes had been packed onto the wagon, Furry wasn’t among them. Lucas picked him up, carried him to the empty room which had been the boy’s bedroom, and placed him on the windowsill.

You can stay here,” Lucas said, “and guard the house. I’m moving to the city, kids don’t have teddy bears in the city, they’re too grown up for sissy stuff like that.” And with that he left the room, closing the door behind him, shutting the little teddy in all on his own.

Furry slumped forward with sadness, lost his balance and tumbled to the floor. He had no idea how long he stayed in that room with only himself for company. He knew it must have been a long time though, because when Alen first picked him up and set him on the mantelpiece in the lounge, he could see the once pristine house was now covered in a thick layer of dust. The walls and doors were neglected and dilapidated with age, paint peeled from the window frames, the panes grimy with dirt.

Now everything sparkled once more. Alen had worked hard renovating his new home and had managed to recapture a portion of its former glory, even if he did mislay things from time to time. The lost objects – keys, glasses, important letters from important people, whatever the object may be – never stayed lost for long. And today was going to be no exception.

Furry turned himself around and slithered over the side of the old beam. His small paws held him steady while his feet picked out footholds on the large stones which made up the fireplace. Little by little he clambered down from his perch and onto the floor. He was thankful the fire wasn’t lit – he had no wish for a stray spark to land on his fur as he climbed past and turn him into a little teddy fire.

Once he was standing on the hearth, Furry stretched his arms above his head and arched his back. Sitting in one position for so long on the mantelpiece didn’t make him stiff in any way – he was just a teddy bear after all – but he had seen Alen do it quite a few times. The action always seemed to make the man feel better, and so Furry saw no harm in copying.

The stretching over with, Furry scampered across the floor to the coffee table. He looked up and saw a pen jutting out over the edge. He jumped up, small paw reaching for the pen, and missed it. Another, mightier, jump and he managed to dislodge the pen. It dropped to the floor and the teddy bear scooped it up, looking around as he did so.

It wasn’t his intention to write a note – self defence was on his mind. On one of his many excursions down from the mantelpiece Furry had been set upon by a stray cat. Presumably the cat was looking for something to eat after sneaking into the house through a window the man, Alen, had forgotten to close. A teddy bear wouldn’t make much of a meal for a hungry feline, but no doubt it would make an interesting play thing for one. Furry had barely escaped with his fuzzy backside intact.

He took no chances while on his adventures now, and the pen would serve as a good weapon against any attacking stray cats. The pen swished through the air as he brandished it like a sword – Sir Furry the Feline Vanquisher! So armed, Furry made his way over to the large sofa and peered under it. In the dark shadows, near the back, light glinted off bright lenses. The missing reading glasses!

Furry crawled under the couch, batting dust bunnies out of the way with his sword pen. He snagged the spectacles’ frames and backed out slowly, dragging the glasses behind him. He was about to stand up when the sound of the front door opening sent him scurrying back into the shadows. If Furry could breathe he would have held his breath when Alen entered the lounge, his walking boots clomping across the wooden floor.

Going into town to mail some letters, and I forget to take them with me. Today is not a very clever day for me at all!” Papers rustled as Alen sorted through the pile on the coffee table, looking for the letters he needed. “I tell you Franklin, I think I may just get an early night tonight and rest my brain. I… what the? Franklin? Now where the hell have you disappeared to?”

The man’s boots hurried over to the fireplace. Furry backed further into the dark under the sofa. As much as he liked Alen, he didn’t want to be found under the furniture. The man would never understand, and Furry, being just a teddy bear, would never be able to explain.

Now this is getting to be silly!” Alen sounded puzzled, and Furry couldn’t blame him. “You were here a minute ago, I know you were. So where are you now? And why am I talking to a teddy? A teddy that isn’t even here?”

The boots turned and took a step. As Furry peered out from under the sofa with his bright plastic eyes the boots hesitated and then continued on towards the door.

I’ll sort it out later. It’s all too weird right now. Maybe I’m overtired – I should try to get more sleep I suppose.” Alen did indeed sound tired, as well as confused. Furry felt sorry for the man, as he knew the confusion was entirely his fault. A cool draught blew across the floor and then the front door slammed shut once again. Furry squirmed out from his hiding place, the man’s reading glasses held in one hand, his sword pen in the other.

The need to hurry quickened Furry’s movements. He didn’t know when the man would return, and he wanted to be finished with his task and back up on the mantelpiece when he did. He looked up at the coffee table. The glasses and the pen belonged up there, but it was too high for him to reach. He scanned the room with his unblinking black eyes and spied a pile of books in one corner. Perfect!

Although the books were paperbacks, Furry struggled to carry them. For a teddy bear of his small stature they made quite a heavy load, and he had to make several trips to and fro before he was done. Half of the books were now stacked by the small table, and Furry was confident he would be able to clamber up onto its cluttered surface by standing on the pile. Only one way to find out.

The books bright and shiny covers were slippery under his fur covered feet, but after several attempts Furry managed to stand upright on the topmost paperback. The top of the table was now level with his scarf wrapped neck. Furry cheered silently, then scrambled down to retrieve first the glasses, and then again for the pen. With both items now laying on the table’s surface he boosted himself up to join them.

The little teddy bear still felt guilty over confusing Alen, and he’d had an idea while he worked at getting up onto the coffee table. He had spent plenty of time with Lucas while the young boy studied the alphabet and how to arrange the letters into words, and Furry had learned alongside him. He’d never used a pen to write with before, but he was determined to give it a good go. Hopefully his scheme would help Alen understand, otherwise the man was certain to be more confused than ever. In his teddy bear way, Furry decided it was worth the risk.

A while later, with the reading glasses and pen laying on top of the coffee table where they belonged, and the paperbacks returned to where he had borrowed them from, Furry climbed slowly up the stone fireplace. On reaching the oak mantelpiece he sat himself down and made himself comfortable. His legs dangled over the edge as usual as he patiently waited.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Bright black eyes watched the man as he entered the room. It was getting late and the room was gloomy as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. Alen flicked on the light switch and ambled over to the coffee table. He dropped his car keys onto the stack of papers already there, turned away in the act of taking off his coat, and stopped. The eyes watched as the man slowly turned around and looked down at the table. Teddy bear nervousness began to fill Furry with apprehension.

Alen stared at the coffee table. He couldn’t believe his eyes. There, right there, right on top of the pile of papers, the pile of papers he had moved who knew how many times this morning, were his glasses. His missing reading glasses. The reading glasses he had spent a good thirty minutes trying to find before he went out. The glasses that were, without a shadow of a doubt, not on the coffee table when he left.

Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.” Alen picked up his glasses and examined them closely, half expecting the metal and glass to vanish in a puff of white smoke. Apparently satisfied they were indeed real, and not an illusion, he put them on and squinted through the lenses. “Yes, definitely mine. No others would have quite so many scratches.”

Alen looked at the coffee table again. “I’m positive that pen wasn’t there earlier either, not on top of the papers like that anyway. And what’s this?” He brushed the pen to one side and picked up the piece of paper it and his glasses had been laying on. Scrawled on the white sheet in a rough, almost childlike script, was a name – Franklin.

Franklin? Why does it say Franklin? Who wrote…” Alen’s head snapped up, his eyes locking with Furry’s black plastic ones. “You’re back! You were gone… I mean, you were there and then you were gone… but you’re not gone, you’re there, you’re… ohh…” Alen took a few steps backwards. His legs collided with the sofa and he dropped onto the soft cushions. “I think I may have tumbled down the rabbit hole to join Alice in her Wonderland!”

Furry wanted so much to rush over to Alen and explain everything, tell him it was all okay. He stayed where he was though; being just a teddy bear he wouldn’t be able to explain anything. He also suspected if he moved, suddenly sprang to life and rushed towards the man, then that man may just have himself a heart attack. His small unblinking eyes watched, and deep inside he hoped he had done the right thing.

On the sofa Alen took off his glasses and ran a hand over his face. He leaned forward, head bowed, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache. His shoulders began to shake. At first Furry feared the man was sobbing, that he had been reduced to tears, but then he heard the soft chuckling, getting louder, turning into laughter. He watched as Alen sat back, laughing uncontrollably, one hand holding his aching stomach, the other wiping his streaming eyes. Furry laughed silently along with him.

Alen eventually got himself under control. He stood up, somewhat unsteadily, and used his sleeve to dry his eyes. With Furry’s signed piece of paper in hand he bounded over to the fireplace and smiled at the small, light brown teddy bear sat on the mantelpiece.

This is… Franklin, this is wonderful!” He waved the sheet of paper in front of Furry’s eyes. “If this means what I think it means then one of two things has happened. Either,” Alen tapped a finger against his forehead, “I’ve lost my tiny little mind. Or! And this is the good one! Or, you put the glasses on the table, and you wrote your name on this here bit of paper with my pen! Either way it’s wonderful and amazing!” He paused and looked solemn for a moment. “Of course, I much prefer the second option!” Alen’s face creased in a large smile and the laughter was back.

You and me, little buddy, we’ve got so much to discuss. Where, when, why, and most importantly, how? But first, I need a drink! Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back. Ha! Don’t go anywhere! Of course, if you want to, you can!” Alen left the lounge, heading for the kitchen, his laughter echoing throughout the house.

Furry wriggled in pleasure on the mantelpiece. Signing the piece of paper had been a huge risk on his part, and thankfully it had paid off. Now all he and his new friend Alen had to do was find a way of communicating, and then Furry could tell the man the whole story. It was going to be a long night, Furry knew, but it was definitely going to be worth it.


The End.

I hope you enjoyed my take on challenge number 5. Why not give the challenges a go? You never know where they might lead you. If you do, let me know, I love to see what others come up with!


Copyright ©

Alen B Curtiss 2013

Curtiss Creations 2013


Tags: , , , , , ,

‘Endless’ – A Poem

Well, here we are – poetry. Not my thing. Not my thing at all. But, the 30 Writing Challenges that I’m currently working my way through calls for a poem. Challenge number four states – write a poem using the words: blue, mistrust, half, twang.

What am I supposed to so with that? I asked myself. The answer, it seemed, was very little. The only ‘poetry’ I’d ever tried, years ago, usually began with lines like – ‘There was a young man called John Tuck, who couldn’t believe his bad luck…’

So I scribbled, and I scribbled some more, and this is what, eventually, I produced…

Challenge 4: write a poem using the words: blue, mistrust, half, twang.


marches on.
Happy, sad,
A lazy Sunday
quickly turning into
a blue Monday.
A country singer
once sang,
in her country twang,
about her lonely past,
and her mistrust
of the cowboy’s lust.
But the song finished well,
the second half ending
with a rebel yell.
Happy, not sad.
A blue Monday
stretching into
a lazy Sunday.
marches on.

So there you have it. Poetry (ish) by me. It’s not much, it’s certainly not great. But it is another challenge completed. My attempts at the previous challenges can be found here.

Why not give the 30 Writing Challenges a go? If you do, let me know, I’d love to see what you come up with!


Copyright ©
Alen B Curtiss 2013
Curtiss Creations 2013


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: