Newsletter from afar

Show me a person who doesn't like the smell of money and I'll show them to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist. And that still holds for American money. So, without further ado, here's a newsletter from a writing community that I frequent on the other side of the Atlantic. I've mentioned them before and I present again, the latest adventure from

News letter

Subject Line $100

We’ve come up with another contest and another chance for you to win a wallet-sized portrait of Ben Franklin.
The chance discovery of a 1929 edition of Literary Digest in the insulation of an old clap-board house inspires our current contest “Ain’t that Quaint.” An advertisement within the faded covers lists twenty truisms of the day, including such gems as “All bootleggers own high-powered cars” (well, don’t they?) or “Eating ice cream after eating lobster is fatal”. These and other words of wisdom are the prompts for the competition. Write about three of them and win a hundred bucks. Details here:

Congratulations to Juan Vandendorp, $100 winner of our previous contest The Coffee Shop Chronicles for his extraordinary piece, which beat out a hundred and fifty other entries. Read his prize winner here:

In other news, starting on June 27th, we will have two new features, The Artist Alcove edited by the talented and lovely Kristy Webster, which will expand our services to do for visual artists what we currently do for writers—contests, blogs, interviews, and an on-line gallery with a chance to show, sell, and buy original works of art. Sneak preview of what it’s all about? Check out Kristy’s greeting to you here:
(did I mention talented and lovely?)

This Sunday also marks the debut of Wuss n’ Boots, two felines currently residing in the UK who will appear as a weekly cartoon feature courtesy of their personal assistant, Ruth Joyce. The boys will dispense their wisdom to all you cat fanciers who just don’t understand kitty-hood. Read the strip, and send in your comments and questions and personal complaints about your kitties, and let Wuss n’ Boots resolve your issues and dissolve your worries. The cat is let out of the bag the 27th of June.

And our final bit of news, for those of you who are San Diego centric, A Word with You Press will host its first open mic night on Saturday, the 26th, the event a triple header-not only open mic but also a bar-b-que and surprise birthday party for the editor-in-chief (that would be me). Details here:

We’ve got tons of stuff going on, new features and a growing staff. Check out our new calendar of events, and our team bios when you come for a visit at
Next newsletter we’ll tell you about our non-profit program KidXpress that pairs at-risk kids with a writing mentor. We’ll crank up their abilities with the written word, and we’ll turn a dozen kids a month who hide in the back of English class hoping they are not called upon into published authors, in an anthology of their own. We’ll have a book signing, press alert and…but that in the next newsletter, along with an invitation for a roof top party at the 1010 Building on July 17th to watch the sun go down over the pier in Oceanside, California

Bye for now!

Thorn Sully

England 1 USA 1

When it comes to writing short fiction, there are two narrative voices in my head.

One is British and varies in tone and class; the other is American, either East Coat or West Coast. It's a combination of past history and the fiction that seems to grab me.

Several times, I'll just hear a voice and an opening line. Then I turn detective and identify its source and what the room is like. Sometimes I see faces but not always. The voice, though, is key because it reveals character and influences behaviour.

Not so long ago, I read a Raymond Carver anthology and his voices leapt off the page. They reverberated inside my head until, once I'd finished the book, I could still hear echoes.

One of those echoes became Saturday Night and is featured in the latest edition of Molotov Cocktail magazine:

Stranger than fiction

It’s said that one of the main appeals of murder mysteries is the sense of order that’s uncovered, thanks to the brilliant detective work. It’s also said – although I haven’t seen any hard evidence – that in times of economic recession and war, murder mysteries are more popular than ever.

But sometimes, life’s little incidents can be every bit as mysterious, if a lot less orderly

Picture the scene.

I’ve just come out of the temping agency where I’ve learned two things:
a) I know far less about Microsoft Word than I ever realised – it’s like a whole software package and not just for writing!
b) As a touch-typist, I can do sixty words a minute, as long as the word is ‘a’. Failing that, I can hammer out forty-five words a minute, using three fingers (no idea why), hampered by a four percent error rate.

Neither fact is relevant to what happens next, but I wanted to paint you a picture of my mental processes. Also, on my mind, is the possible find of a Neolithic or Medieval arrowhead, which I’m taking to the museum for verification.

Anyway, as I amble along, juggling thoughts of history with my inability to successfully merge documents, I hear a woman calling out to someone. I stop and turn towards her; she’s standing across the high street, holding a child’s hand, at the bus stop.

She waves and starts a one-sided conversation, of sorts. I naturally assume she’s talking to someone behind me because I’ve never seen her before. But gradually it dawns on me that she’s talking to me. She beckons me over, through the traffic, and immediately starts up like we’re old pals.
“How are you? What have you been up to – it’s been ages.”

Strangely, the kid beside her doesn’t make a sound. And no eye contact either. So now my cynicism comes to the fore and I’m waiting for the inevitable, ‘can you spare me a quid for bus fare,’ followed by a lengthy explanation of the dire emergency that necessitated coming out in a rush.

But no; she opens her purse, pulls out a mangled fiver and says, “Could you go to the chemist and buy me some Chesteze? I have to wait here for the bus.”

So, being a good if slightly bemused citizen, off I trot, fiver in hand. The chemist, three doors up, doesn’t have any, so I hurry back to return the fiver. The woman thanks me anyway, adding, “Would you like to buy a lucky charm?” I decline, she says ‘God Bless You,’ or something similar, and I go on my way.

Later, after the museum (who will let me know in four to six weeks), I’m having a belated birthday lunch with some friends I used to work with, and out the window I see the same woman and child. They evidently had second thoughts about that bus they needed to catch. And they’re still peddling lucky charms.

So what has gone on here?

My first thought was that Chesteze could be mildly addictive and the woman had bought there recently. My second thought, and one more plot driven, is that the fiver was counterfeit – and she wanted some Chesteze as well.

If it were fiction, the Good Samaritan (me, temporarily) could have been caught with the fake fiver and obliged to pay for the Chesteze himself, only to have the woman protest innocence afterwards. Or maybe the Chesteze had some calming effect on the child?

Anyway, it will have to remain one of life’s little mysteries. Except… except, the trusty internet tells me that Chesteze has been abused by partygoers and bodybuilders, so there are now restrictions on purchase and supply.

Finally, perhaps strangest of all, Chesteze is made by Do-Do. Whichever way you pronounce it, it’s a little odd, don’t you think?