Aug 27th

Question: D'you like fantasy? (request for beta readers)

By bdcharles

Dear Cloudie,

I am currently seeking beta readers for my first novel, The Story Of Echo, a fantasy set in a realm not unlike a newly industrialising society. Currently around 152,000 words, it concerns the journey of Echo Morrow, a young woman whose homeland is attacked and who is driven to retaliate.

In this story, we see Echo's transformation from naïve rural apprentice to smart young urbanite, confidante of the king, fugitive, and, finally, nascent warlord. She encounters many obstacles as she fights to modernise and change her world in the face of this conflict, including the threat of unbridled power and the impact her own actions have upon those she loves. Allies and friends are dragged into a bloody war that leaves many dead and a kingdom shattered.

With this book, I would like to show dramatic unfold events in a fictional world that is quite different to ours in many ways, and yet entirely accessible; alongside magic, mythic beasts, and fabulous landscapes, we will encounter romance, city life, and episodes of personal loss. I want to cast a fantasy setting in a modern light, and ask questions like: what would it be like if the elves and knights of old took to smoking and carousing; what happens when we force great leaps forward onto an agrarian society; in the struggle between magic and technology, who would win; what happens when we drop bombs on fairyland.

As for the target audience, I characterise it as the mildly fantasy-oriented adults who might read occasional YA. But it's not YA because it has swearing ;) And while I cannot claim it as highbrow or "literary" in any way, I've tried to make an effort with the writing quality to see if I can give it just that little extra sheen. Some of you may have read snippets before; it's alot like those. Some of you have of course joined the group already; needless to say, this message is not for you ;) Some of you may have nil desire for it. That's okay - just pretend I'm not here and that this isn't happening. And if you start valiantly but decide you can't go on, that's all right; I do understand.

If you are interested, why not get yourself over to The Story Of Echo, join up, have a look-see, and then spend hours and hours helping me improve it. Or alternatively, if you like things the old fashioned way, I can mail it to you. And if that doesn't work, just let me know of your interest here or PM. Whatever you decide or don't, I look forward to hearing from you.


Love and hugs,





PS: Group link is at if the above doesn't work

PPS: I dunno, I can't get the link to work. Stupid ... computery stuff. Stupid ... interweb. :)

Aug 27th

Friday laugh...

By Old Fat Prop

Friday Laugh.


working in London tomorrow and Swansea all weekend. So here it is, four hours early:


1. A cowboy walks into a saloon. He removes his dusty hat, orders a whiskey, and sinks wearily onto a stool. He downs the whiskey, looks around, and notices that an attractive woman has joined him at the bar. She looks him over and asks, “Are you a real cowboy?” The cowboy pauses to consider the question. He orders another whiskey. “Well,” he says, “I wake at dawn, climb into a saddle, and herd cattle all day.  I eat by a campfire and pitch my bedroll under the stars. Yep, I reckon I am a cowboy.” He tosses back the second whiskey and reciprocates: “You a cowgirl?”


“Oh, no,” the woman replies, “I’m a lesbian.” The cowboy looks puzzled. “How d’ya reckon?” he asks. “Well, I wake up in the morning thinking about girls. I think about ‘em all day long. Then at night, I dream about girls.” The cowboy ponders this revelation in silence. The situation grows awkward. He pays for his drinks, mumbles a goodbye, and heads for the door. Unhitching his horse outside, the cowboy is approached by a tourist.

 “You really a cowboy?” the tourist asks. “I thought I was,” replies the cowboy, “But it turns out I’m a lesbian.”



A cowboy walked into a bar and ordered a whiskey. When the bartender delivered the drink, the cowboy asked, "Where is everybody?" The bartender replied, "They've gone to the hanging." "Hanging? Who are they hanging?" "Brown Paper Pete," the bartender replied.

"What kind of a name is that?" the cowboy asked. "Well," said the bartender, "he wears a brown paper hat, brown paper shirt, brown paper trousers and brown paper shoes."

"Weird guy," said the cowboy. "What are they hanging him for?"



"Rustling," said the bartender.



Jeremy Corbin is on record as supporting female-only train carriages to protect women from dangerous men on trains.


Using that same logic, I look forward to the day he declares his support for male-only motorways.


Aug 27th

Like pregnancy - every one is different ...

By Sandra

Back to front - strange and alien progress - this the title of a first blog on the process by which book 4 in what has become a series of DI Luke Darbyshere murder mysteries is coming to fruition, Written because, as the title says, it's very different to what has come before.

Aug 26th


By Kim


Today was Jeanette's funeral

Such an endearing service. The priest gathered a lot of information about Jeanette and it was as though he knew her personally. The priest from our school church also took part in the service, a very sincere gesture.

The service was solemn with a little bit of humour.The music captivating.

The church was almost full and lots of people sang the hymns beautifully.

I am not catholic in fact I am not really religious at all but I felt in awe and peaceful. I felt cleansed and would really have liked to have been blessed during communion.

I can't really describe how I felt. It was just beautiful.

Maybe I was catholic in a former life.


Jeanette's family did her proud.

Aug 26th

White Van Chronicles .... coffee...

By Old Fat Prop

The White Van Chronicles...


A reminder today... of just how fragile we are.

 Chippenham. Finally a job where we can sleep past 04:15.. but of course the internal clocks in all of us still kicked us out of bed at stupid-thirty.


A quick thirty minute drive and still on site at seven today. 


The usual AJ crap ensued where he steals Goldfish's coffee and Scottish Carter honking while hopping on one foot looking for a missing boot under a pile of fittings in the back of the van. 


I find a comfort in these rituals despite their inevitable outcome. 


I despair that Goldfish hasn't pissed in a coffee cup and let AJ steal it, but he'll figure it out eventually.


My Site brief was ten minutes. Tell em what we're doing then make em tell you so you know that they know.


Me and Fish were in the plant room pissing around with the Chiller Pumps and Carter and AJ were checking flow rates at extremities. 


The pumps spun up, rattled a bit as they beat through an air pocket and settled in at 50 hertz.  The pressure drop was 2 bar so i figured we had a good flow rate. 


I squawked up on the radio to AJ and Carter to get their numbers. 


AJ had optimum but Carter replied:

"Fuckin sensor orifice is in fuckin backwards. What buncha fuckheads installed thi..."


I switched off in mid scream and headed off to see Carter.


I got ten steps before a loud bang and a blue flash rattled out of the plant room behind me and the site dropped to darkness.


... he was burned so badly that the paramedics blew off the air ambulance as his internal injuries were so sever that he couldn't take the pressure change from



It took ages to get the sparky's stretcher out of the plant room. The only sound was his cries and a guy retching in the corner from the smell. 


Before the sedation set in, he screamed at us to tell his wife that he was sorry and he loved her and his son.


We never found out of what he was sorry.


Site was closed by the csi over the protest of the senior site agent. He is now and forever, a cunt. And that will follow him for life.


We drove home in silence until Scottish Carter looked at AJ and said smiling and shaking his head;


'Tell me that flask your drinkin from ain't that burned up Sparky's ..


AJ grinned and handed a cup to Goldfish and Fish drank it. 


... And I smiled and nodded my head...


There is a certain brutal and inevitable protocol which is followed to set in motion the rituals we require to make sense of our existence and get past bad things....


It had been a long time for me.


I hope the young electrician pulls through... 



Aug 26th

primary source documents

By mike

  Some of you have mentioned that you do family research.   A cousin of mine found a mention of a court case which concerned a great grandmother. I had posted some of this in blogs some years ago

   I  had found a report of the trial in ‘The Times.‘  It was  ‘Breach of Promise‘ and was a Trial by jury’  Subsequently I found a report of  an earlier trial for ‘procurement of abortion.’ 

   In the first trial, a young girl had tried to assert her legal rights and  the male establishment had closed ranks on her. The case was dismissed.  Today, I suspect the trial would be for attempted murder - not of the aborted foetus - but of the mother,

    In the second trial, the girl had a lawyer.  It was ‘trial by Jury’ and she won.  The events are closer to Thomas Hardy than Gilbert and Sullivan and took place around 1858.

    The trials were recorded by the court reporter of the newspapers, and he can be used as a linking plot around the two trials. The theme the play is that of a young girl being  subjected to public humiliation and her private life trashed for public amusement  (But we can only assume this)  Also she had also lost a job, a child and become, in a way, soiled goods,

     I was discussing the events with a  90 year old friend yesterday who said all the names would have to be changed, if the story was made public,  but I don’t see why?   The trials are primary source documents.  This is not fiction.

    The subject is still topical and women are still reluctant to assert their rights in these situations, but the issues are complex.




Aug 26th

Mimi in Hawaii

By DaniKat



This holiday Mimi and her family are in Hawaii. Hawaii is a series of islands. Upon arrival at the airport, Mimi and her Mum and Dad receive a strand of flowers. They are at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. “What is this place?” asks Mimi.

“We are inside a lava tube. It’s a tunnel where lava used to flow,” answers Mum. The family walks through the tube and ends up at the volcanic crater. “Look, we are at the bowl-shaped large hole!” says Dad.


At the black sand beach, Mimi picks up some sand to get a closer look. “Why is the sand black?” asks Mimi. “Because of volcanic minerals and lava fragments,” answers Mum.


Lying on the sand, Mimi sees a green sea turtle. “Hello, little cat!” says the turtle. “Hello!” replies Mimi. “You can snorkel here,” says the turtle. “I must try!” replies Mimi. Mum and Dad let Mimi snorkel in the water. Once in the water, Mimi sees lots of colourful fish. (Illustrations with names: tangs, chubs, wrasses, butterflyfish, moorish idols, white spotted tobies, goatfish, and schools of sharp nose mullet). Mimi comes back to tell her Mum and Dad. “You had lots of fun there, Mimi!” says Mum. “Come on, now. We still have a Polynesian boat race to watch,” says Mum. “What is the race about?” asks Mimi. “It is a major sporting event. There are over one hundred traditional canoes competing for three days!” answers Mum. “I’m having a great holiday!” says Mimi.

Aug 25th

Insomniac Pen

By Mat

Insomniac Pen, d1



The author could not sleep. To his left side, his little author wife snoozed, and made those tiny rodent sounds that all women make during their sleeping time.

‘Heem, phneh, phneh, fetch twigs,’ she squeaked.

Obviously her otter fantasy was in full flood. He would not wake her. Imagine the breach in the otter dam, the consequence for the baby ottlets cocooned in their bale den.

He growled in a manly fashion. Quite naturally he growled. It was something exceedingly masculine about his nature, how he growled, even opening a fridge.

Already it was 2am. How would he sleep? He was far too excited about his return to the work-place environment the next morning. A great writer, however he moonlighted as a chicken farmer – as you all know already.

There was nothing for it. He would rise, check his many writer websites on-line, peruse wildlife photography, then perhaps discover, if there was such a thing, a special website to help him sleep.

Naked, he sat at his computer stool aside the bed. The incognito facility winked at him from the top right hand side. He would be quick, rapid browse and return to blanket. He flicked mouse, arrived at Enormous bosoms filled his eye-line.#

‘Ball-pond, ball-pond,’ he moaned.

Suddenly the bedroom door swung wide open. Ignatius, the guitar strapped to his back, staggered into the twilight.

‘Got a fag, Dad? I’m…OH MY GOD YOU’RE WANKING.’

‘What, what, grab the furs,’ said his wife.

‘Shut up, son. I am not wanking,’ the author whispered. ‘I am writing naked, of course. It is quite normal.’

‘What are those?’



‘Mmm…take the packet, go…go…leave us alone. How was the gig? Great, great, tell me tomorrow.’

The author returned to the family quilt, inheritance legacy, resumed his second or fourth favourite activity. How would he ever string those two hundred and twelve short stories into a single narrative Nobel prize-winning block-buster, and then sit by a swimming pool forever?



He needed to remember. An alternative universe, Charles Darwin strangled at birth, check, and also Captain Cook never did it, never went there, he joined the army. Good. Now, the protagonist – that chap Spencer he wrote about him – he, he discovers Australia. Yes, and the voyage, good..and also the pirates and the lady slaves he rescues, very good. Don’t forget any of this in the morning, this is brilliant stuff. But which slave? Does it matter? Of course it matters, think of your readership zzzzzz.

Aug 25th

Mimi in India

By DaniKat



Mimi and her Mum and Dad are touring India. They are at Jantar Mantar Observatory, an astronomical sculpture park. “These sculptures were used to tell time, watch the stars and predict the monsoon,” tells the guide. “Do they tell the phases of the moon and the twelve zodiacs?” asks Mimi. “That’s right!” answers the guide.


In Jaipur, the Pink City, the family is looking at the palaces, forts and temples. “Why is the city pink?” asks Mimi. “Because it was built with a pink stone, and painted pink,” answers the guide. At Elefun sanctuary, Mimi, Mum and Dad are feeding bananas to an elephant. Mimi pats his trunk. To thank Mimi, the elephant wraps his trunk around Mimi, lifts her up and puts her on his back. “Wee!” squeals Mimi. “The elephant likes you and is taking you for a ride, Mimi!” says Mum. “Wow! This is amazing!” screams Mimi.


The family is stopping by Taj Mahal. “Look at this white marble!” says Dad. At Taj Mahal, they are looking at flowers carved in marble, marble lattice and tiles. Someone’s phone is ringing. “Dad! No mobile phones are allowed here!” cries Mimi. “Oops, I should have checked,” says Dad. Mimi sees someone taking photos and a guide pointing towards the sign “No cameras or videos allowed!” Mimi hides her camera. “Oops,” says Mimi. The day ends. Mimi, Mum and Dad are watching the sunset cast an orange glow on the dome. 

Aug 24th

La Vie en Bleu - romance... with a lot of laughter!

By Jody Klaire (JK)

Hey guys! 


La Vie en Bleu is released, hurray! (Pippa, my MC blogs about it here) It's been a new experience working on a different genre and I have been lucky to have my editor working with me. She's got a lot of great experience, patience and her ideas for improving the book made it something I'm very excited about. I'm now sure how common having an editor who knows how to get the best out of you and your book without imposing themselves is. I can imagine it must be difficult not to tinker. Either way, her approach makes me feel that she has confidence and trust in my work and me. 

I will say though that romance is fun to work with. It has given me new insight into characterisation. I've loved learning how to work with the 'rules' and had fun bending them...

Whether or not it sells like... Well... chocolate or doesn't. When I pick up that book (or ecopy,) I smile because I am very fond of Pippa and her story.


Big smiles! 


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