Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Archive for the ‘OLWG’ Category

Project 10K – Giving Up

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The car broke down, a ceiling fell down, and an elderly relative fell over. The car is fixed, the ceiling should be fixed, the elderly relative can’t be fixed. And then there’s the colleague off sick for whom I’m covering. October was a month full of stress and other stuff; a month where writing went out the window and its importance, or not, was brought into focus.

Why do I write? Because someone a long time ago said I could. I do not have a burning passion. I do not have a natural talent. It’s always fun to weave Thom’s prompts into a story, but it’s hard work meeting the self-imposed deadlines of Friday Fictioneers and the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild. And that doesn’t touch on the other stuff I have on my to do list that I’ve been working on forever.

So I’m stopping. I’m taking a break. Currently working almost full time and travelling to visit the frail elderly relative we are desperate to get out of hospital leaves no time for writing, reading, and commenting on others’ work, so I’m off. There’s only so much a girl can do.


Goals for November

  1. Write nothing.
  2. Evaluate and assess whether I miss it.
  3. Take note of what else I do with my time.



Written by Sarah Ann

November 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

OLWG#71 – haiku and shadorma – #micropoetry

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Time has condensed, disappeared, filled up with lots of other stuff that has to come first, which is why I’m answering the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts for last week before the previous one’s, and I’m not going to look at this week’s in case they take me on another journey.

To make sure I get something posted, I’ve reverted to micropoetry and I’m hoping time and life return to normal soon.

Thank you Thom for another set of stimulating prompts. I am working on the monsters’ one – I have a setting and characters, but the plot’s a little thin right now.



snakes are everywhere

come rain or shine she carries

a knife in her boot



Trend expert

in must have items.

Art deco


wants fine and unique objects;

searches world markets.



start with baby steps

hop skip jump fall recover

stride with confidence


This week’s prompts are:

  1. a knife in her boot
  2. art deco
  3. start with baby steps


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun


Written by Sarah Ann

October 14, 2018 at 12:09 pm

OLWG#69 – Just Another Stag

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With last week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts, I thought and dithered, and thought a bit longer and then the prompts floated together into a story. For the first time with Thom’s prompts, I used them as a jumping off point rather than using them verbatim.


Just Another Stag

I wake naked and tied, cold and fuzzy. What the? How the? I pull against my bonds and pain lightenings across my shoulders. I’ve been in this slumped position too long. My mouth, now I think about it, tastes foul; cigarette smoke and stale beer, and as if I haven’t drunk anything for two-days. My lips are chapped and I swear I hear rasping as I pass my tongue over them. It must have been one helluva night. It will come back to me in time. I hope. I would like to know how I got here, what the plans are to extricate me from this tree, bush, whatever it is. At least that branch covers my modesty, although I couldn’t move if it didn’t. I am well and truly stuck and, as I come more alive, so do the aches. My feet have gone, frozen away by cold. Great, so now I’ll have chilblains to contend with as well as strained tendons and probably tennis elbow for a year. I don’t want you to think I’m moaning. This is my own fault after all, I agreed to come. As a rule I try to avoid stag nights – I hate the binge drinking, the strippers, the need to be a complete arse and behave as badly as possible thinking it’s okay because you’re getting married in the morning. Does the groom behave badly, or it just his mates trying to embarrass him as much as possible, letting out their sadistic sides because, ‘Hey, he ain’t gonna remember any of this in the morning so we can be as shitty as we like.’ Okay, so maybe I am moaning, but this isn’t my idea of fun. Thank God I only have to do this once.

Bloody hell my knees hurt.  There are sparkles and glitters of pain if I try to move, the gout crystals shifting position. If I try to stand straighter will that help?

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK.

When I get my hands on them I am going to thump someone, maybe everyone. I will be careful to smile as they approach to let me go, and then someone is going to get it. As soon as the blood has flowed, the pins and needles have passed, and I’ve had a fortifying cup of coffee, those bastards are going to feel some of my night.

I’m starting to remember now, how it started as the small affair Ned had promised. We were in his local, working our way across the ale festival board, sharing the odd bag of ready salted to clear our palates between pints. It was nice and civilised before Trevor, Chris and Charlie bowled in with ideas of a pub crawl, curry and clubbing. A crawl and an Indian would have been fine, but I hate dancing clubs and all that sex market stuff. And of course Chris had arranged a stripper. Nice enough she was, but it just isn’t my cup of tea. As Vegas (what sort of a name is that?) offered me her erotic dance, all of me shrivelled away. I can’t tell you why. Maybe finding my dad’s porn stash as a kid has irrevocably damaged me in that department. Not that I can’t perform, and I’ve never had any complaints, but that out-and-out, ‘I’m up for it’ from the club girls, and the lasciviousness of the escort trade, turns my stomach. Ned knows all this. Ned’s my best mate. Why couldn’t he have just stuck to our deal for a quiet ale night? It might be considered boring by some, and not out of the ordinary, but why do stags, and hen nights, have to be such outrageous debauched affairs? You’re only getting married, not moving to the moon, or emigrating half way round the world. In all cases of recent marriages my mates were already living with their wives-to-be and had a house together, so why the stupid expensive wedding, the dress and the food, and the late night drunken dancing? Why not a nice simple ceremony and a meal and the drunken dancing but call it something else on the booking form and be charged a third of the price?

I think I might be sounding bitter and stingy now. Blame the muscles in my arms, which I feel are just about to go twang. I need to change position but it was so painful last time. I don’t want to be stabbed again. In fact, being stabbed and slowly bleeding to death does strike me as a preferable position to be in at the moment. At least then I’d drop off again, instead of continuing to come round, feeling every stretched fibre. It’s taking all my effort not to scream blue murder. Where are the bastards to set me free? What’s the time? How much longer? For fuck’s sake. Thank God I’m only doing this once. Like I said, I’ve always avoided stags, but I couldn’t turn down being best man for my BFF. I wonder what state Ned’s in and, much as I love him, I hope it’s a worse one than mine.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. splitting up a bag of potato chips
  2. you can call me ‘Vegas’
  3. tied to the branch of a creosote bush


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun



Written by Sarah Ann

October 1, 2018 at 7:33 pm

OLWG#68 – Late Night Phone Call

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My creative brain is taking a holiday as practical matters take over my waking hours. I have struggled with all writing challenges this week. Thank you to Thom at the New Unofficial On-line Writer’s Guild for another great set of prompts, and apologies for such a contrived drabble in response.


Late Night Phone Call


‘Hello Mr. Charles?’

‘Who’s that?’

‘Billy Summers.’


‘We think you know someone who can help us?’


‘Mom told us to call you.’


‘Mary Summers.’

‘Oh. Why?’

‘Claire left.’

‘Right. I understand. So what do you need?’

‘Mom needs more sugar.’

‘Sugar? Sorry kid, you’ve lost me again.’

‘Mom said to call you. She needs more icing sugar.’

‘Icing sugar?’

‘The stuff you can’t get in the shops. The stuff that gives her energy; helps her sleep. The stuff she wipes around her gums. She ain’t moving, Mr. Charles.’

‘You sit tight kid. I’ll make the call.’


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Mom needs more sugar
  2. we think you know someone
  3. Claire left


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun



Written by Sarah Ann

September 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

OLWG#67 – Folding Syndrome

with 7 comments

Thom created a word cloud for last week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and I tried to include all of them in my fantasy that follows. I think I’ve only missed out one. Thank you Thom for another great challenge this week.



Folding Syndrome

It is hard to conceive of the silence that followed the Folding Syndrome epidemic. After all the voices that rang out, the choirs that formed and lifted the roofs off churches. After all the richness and resonance that united the world, the quiet was startling. The development of a collective activity where people worked and sang together instead of taking to war should probably have sounded alarm bells. It was the opposite of usual human behaviour after all. But the harmonies and spontaneous a cappella movements were soothing, enjoyable, and lulled all into a semi-conscious state. When it stopped no one could have imagined that singing would finish forever.

The end began with a singer on a television talent show. She faltered on stage, restarted, couldn’t find her voice, and stumbled crying into the wings. It was no great shakes, nothing to worry about; amateurs overstretch themselves. When the whole series’ cohort lost their crooning abilities questions were asked, investigations made. What could be causing the sickness? Initially throats swelled up and some thought it could be anaphylactic shock. Had someone poisoned the coffee? It had tasted off, a bit sour. When the symptoms spread to the church choirs, so too did the scope of enquiry.

In most cases the problems started with a change in pitch – a minor tonal variation up or down before the voice was all over the place. It was almost like being tone deaf, only the singer could hear they were going wrong, and no amount of repetition straightened them out. For those with newly acquired voices, it was easy come, easy go. For more established songbirds, and those whose voices were their careers, a dose of Folding Syndrome was an arrow to the heart. They began to avoid public appearances in case it was catching, but no regular activity was ever isolated as causal.

With other observed epidemics there was a recognised cycle, a flow followed by an ebb as infection peaks were reached and medicines introduced to alleviate symptoms. But not this time. Standard over the counter pills, herbal remedies, electric shock treatments direct to the vocal chords, all were tried. None could stop the folding of the chords, the minute rippling that gave the syndrome its name. Six months into the crisis the minsters of health of the world made a joint statement: ‘You will all know someone who has been touched by this. To date it is only singing that is affected. No one has lost their voice completely. That said, our scientists are at a loss. Research is ongoing but there are no grounds for optimism a cure will be found. We haven’t worked out the cause yet.’ It was a sad indictment albeit an honest one.

Years later there is no known cause and no cure, or at least none spoken of. And there is no singing. There may be people in the world who still sing, in the bath maybe, but no one attempts it in public. There’s a belief that if one is not heard singing then the sickness cannot fall upon them. There are conspiracy theories that it was an untraceable disease put about by AI because it is incapable of the human trait of singing. There are seeds of an idea that it was a superfast evolutionary process – after all what use is singing other than entertainment and who needs entertaining with so much work to be done. Folding Syndrome remains one of life’s inexplicables, left for great scientists of the future to solve.


OLWG#66 – Let’s Party

with 5 comments

Sometimes I look at the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and think they belong together. They could almost tell a story all by themselves. Hence my short and sweet offering of 100-words this week. Thank you Thom.


Let’s Party

‘I’m having a party and I’m inviting all my favourite people: You, of course, and Melissa and Josh and Pippa and Freddie and Lena and Charles and George and Dominque and Isabelle and Pete and –

‘When’s this party?’

‘Next Saturday. I’ve hired the bowling alley.’

‘You want us all to shoot pins all day?’

‘Well, that was the idea. Me and my bestest friends.’

‘You booked the venue already?’


‘You gonna phone or email everyone to invite them in time?’

‘Hell no, I’m posting to Facebook. Telling the whole world.’

‘Well, you won’t be able to tell anyone else.’



This week’s prompts are:

  1. you won’t be able to tell anyone else
  2. well, that was the idea
  3. all my favourite people


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun


Written by Sarah Ann

September 6, 2018 at 7:47 pm

OLWG#64&65 – Afternoon Stroll

with 4 comments

I struggled for a long time staring at last week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and got nowhere. Then I looked at this week’s and had a way in to the characters in the story below.

Thank you Thom for being patient with me again.


Afternoon Stroll

Brains and Darlene, lifelong friends and members of the local painting group, are chatting as they walk to class.

‘It’s true what they say, you never know who your friends are until it’s important.’

‘Brains, what are you muttering about?’

‘I don’t know who you are anymore, Darlene.’

‘Just because I confessed I don’t like the Beats.’

‘Just because – ’

‘It’s ancient history, Brains. They are ancient history. And weren’t they just a little bit over-rated; establishment boys with contacts?’

‘Over-rated? Establishment? I – I – ’

‘Oh stop being so melodramatic.’

‘But I’ve known you since high school and now it seems like I’ve never known you.’

‘Brains, with all your brains, I thought you would have known we are not set forever. Our brains are fluid and malleable until the age of 24. And hell, I never liked the beat poets when we were in school. I didn’t get poetry. And it isn’t something I’ve grown to love. Unlike blue cheese. I didn’t like that in school, but I can’t get enough of it now.’

‘You’re comparing Kerouac and Burroughs to cheese.’

‘Nope. But if that helps you understand, go for it.’

‘You know, Darlene, in the desert, no one can hear you scream?’

‘Who you quoting now? You know I don’t remember anything apart from telephone numbers and cake recipes. It’s the differences between us that make us interesting to each other. The differences are why we’re friends, and have been the last 30-years.’

‘Brains, will you stop staring at me like I’ve gone mad, or you have. We disagree on one thing, about some measly unimportant writing. We agree on a lot more, like Mrs. Hogan’s flapjacks are the best whatever Lavinia says. And we agree that the jumped-up director of last year’s Christmas show did nothing to promote the underdeveloped characters on the stage.’

‘Okay, I’ll give you that, but honestly, Darlene, you don’t like Ginsberg and Snyder and Corso?

‘Nope. But you and I both know Elizabeth Fratelli’s rendering of sunflowers looks like a bowl of custard, and Miriam Cole’s watercolour of the playground looks like it was done by a kid rather than being a picture of kids.’

‘She said, if she squinted, ‘just so’ you could make out every house in the village in that painting.’

‘Her ‘just so’s’ really get me down. I don’t believe a word that woman says anymore. She said if I added vanilla one drop at a time ‘just so’ to my scone mix, it would cook better than ever.’

‘Did it?’

‘Those were the biscuits you had last week, Brains.’


‘I think ‘oh’ about covers it. Damn I’ve just remembered, Mrs. Hogan is away this week.’

‘No flapjacks.’


‘Shall we delay our arrival and pop into Munchkins?’

‘Just what I was thinking. Which just goes to show.’


‘That we know each other really well. And that this beat thing is just something best forgotten.’

‘Go easy with that, Darlene.’

‘I don’t mean you need to forget your poetical heroes, or whatever they are. I just mean we don’t need to talk, or argue, about them again. It’s much more fun when we agree to bitch about Lavinia’s awful taste in smock-skirt combinations.’

‘That it is. That it is.’

‘So, what you planning on getting in Munchkins? Flapjack? Cupcake? Iced bun?’

‘Cinnamon whorl.’

‘Really, Brains? I mean really.’

‘It’s true what you said earlier, Brains. Sometimes you never really do know your friends.’


#64 prompts were:

  1. beat poets
  2. go easy with that, Darlene
  3. in the desert

#65 prompts are:

  1. you never know who your friends are
  2. if she squinted, just so,
  3. the underdeveloped characters


Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun


Written by Sarah Ann

August 30, 2018 at 7:42 pm

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