The Daily Post writing challenge.

I found this challenge while rebuilding my website over the recent holidays. It sparked my interest, to try to write about a given topic. I must admit that the Keele creative writing society often does similar things. So here is my attempt at the Daily Post challenge.



Water, the stuff of life. It cleans us, it feeds us, it moves us. It has a power and grace that can hypnotise a person to the point of danger. It helps move the very planet we roam. Many take water for granted, it arrives at the turn of a tap, clear cool and refreshing. Yet, some people never see that sort of water, never taste the so-called pure drink. They struggle for just a simple mouthful as the land fights for every drop. It is untreated, a colour many would avoid given the foul elements interjected into its structure.

But H2O has many forms. It can change with dramatic effect, in three sources. It can fall from the clouds in droplets of liquid filling seas and rivers.  That same liquid at the polar caps, two bizarre continents, becomes lands of ice home for many. Yet it has another form, one that forced both by nature and man, steam. But H2O in all it’s forms, is deadly. On a majestic ship crossing a great ocean, ice took life as it cut open the metal skin. Between the two elements, ice and water, it claimed many.

They say the sea is a cruel mistress and it certainly can be, calm one moment and the next use a force deadly enough to destroy whole towns, let alone sink a single ship. Wave upon wave, crashing into man-made structures ripping everything apart. Then without a care in the world, calmness returns.

Yet, waters strength could be used for good. It was for centuries to turn mills long before steam. It helped move industry, it changed people’s lives, maybe for the better. When it was finally contained and goaded with fire, man had steam. That was another revolution, another step forward, huge engines of power cutting through the countryside. Changing things again, giving more power to people. Steam gave way to more complex machines, more power. All the time a change, but still water holds us. We hope it will never leave. We pray it will never destroy us.

H2O, a complex element, in simple forms.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Ice, Water, Steam.”


A writers tale

They say that everyone has a story to tell. Many may not know what story they have inside them or in fact they recognise it if they were faced with a pen and paper.

I decided, along with millions of others, to start this blog. It is a mixture of blogs, random writings, the odd story from time to time and my own reviews. We are all capable of being a critic, sometimes people make a living from it and others just do it for fun. Me, I do it for fun.

I did have an old blog site which ended up going, many links were lost. I may rebuild those in time or just let them fade away in the corners of the interweb.


500 words for 500 words

Hello Dear Reader,

How many of you have tried to write a short story in just 500 words? Well, over 90,000 children did just that for BBC Radio 2 and Chris Evans show. I listened to this last year and the depth and brilliance of the stories were amazing. What was the most remarkable was the response to a simple radio request. Send in your stories.

Again this year it was announced and again thousands of young adults wrote their story. I made sure I listened to the show, which was broadcast live from Hay-on-wye. Itself a famous book town which I have visited more than once. Basically, it’s just books. Shops and shops of books. Almost like heaven.

I was taken aback by the winners as I am sure many were. They had some great ideas, beautiful sentences and really did set the atmosphere in their own way. You have to give credit to Radio 2 and Chris Evans for going with something that a few would think impossible given todays digital age.

Yet 90,000 odd wrote 500 words. That is a staggering 45 million words and more. The top 50 stories are online to read and I did hear the top ones read out this morning by some very famous people. They admitted how nervous they were to read such work, to make sure they did justice to the words. You could tell the passion, inspiration and sheer joy each story held.

You really should go and read the top stories. Forget the ages at first, just read. The imagination that goes to create these stories is wonderful. Within 500 words each of them create a world, one that can be explored further. Now look at the ages. There is a certain ‘wow’ factor. How many others will be inspired for next year? How many parents will encourage their children to take part?

What I did wonder, was how many parents felt the pressure of being asked about a competition like this? Could they cope with trying to understand the complex world created before them? Have people lost the ability to use or see words anymore? I know how difficult it can be to just write 500 words for a blog. Most times I rattle on about a topic, which does have a start and end sometimes. But to build a short story that takes something else.

In this digital age where stories are pushed at people, it is pleasing to find that stories are still being written. This event makes young people seek out what is in their imagination and let others see what they feel.

500 words may not seem much but in the right hands those words can create a whole new world. The stories will encourage others I am sure. Chris Evans has made this his own and good for him. These stories will pluck at the heart-strings, will make you laugh and entertain.

Tagline – 500 word stories. Read and enjoy.

The Christmas Gift

The Christmas Gift

Imagine the scene, Christmas Eve, 5.15pm, in a small book shop on a busy university campus. A man is looking at the books, surrounded by people feeling the same strain of choice. He wishes he had more time, so he can please his friends.

“I can’t do this; too many people, too little time, too many books. They have to be right. If only, I could have the shop to myself.What I would give for that. ”

A desperate plea in the sea of people, but only one other hears. He nervously shuffles on the spot, looking around.

“Who is that man in the red coat? Concentrate. Books, that’s what I am here for. I have a ten pound note and three books to find. Look at this offer, two books for ten pounds and I need three books in fifteen minutes. I hate Christmas.”

The first bead of perspiration runs down his brow as he searches for inspiration.

“Let me think, what about the classics, how about Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. What’s wrong with that one? Too obvious? Too classic? It’s on TV every Christmas in one form or another. Not the best pick. Wait! The prefect one, The Hobbit. It’s classic, yet modern and there is a new film for Christmas. That’s one, two more to find.”

He clutches his first prize as if his life depends on it. He is irritated by the carefree attitude of the other shoppers.

“What about one of Ernest Hemingway’s great novels. No, that would just cause problems. Put that one back and that one. Why not buy three copies of the Hobbit who would know? Three copies under the ten pounds, it’s so tempting. No, keep looking; something will turn up.”

He needs more time, it’s a wish all of us make at some point, but at what cost? Sometimes the greatest wish is for the wrong gift. He has other worries now; the man in the red coat is looking at him.

“He is talking to the shop assistant now. Who’s he pointing at? Me? Why me? Is he a security guard?”

The pressure of time can make someone imagine details that are never there. Is the man following him?

“Forget him, concentrate on the books, the shop will close soon and that will be that. There is local garage. They might sell something tacky. Look at this, 50 Sheds of Grey. Wait is that a proper book. I thought it was something else? Another colour maybe? No. That’s no good either. Back to the classics. Oh joy five minutes left. I could just close my eyes, grab two and hope. I wish I had more time.”

For everyone, there is a fateful wish, that one last moment with a loved one, the need to find the greener grass and this man is about to experience his fateful wish. A flash of red catches his eye, is he being watched?

“Excuse me, I believe that you need this.”

Startled by the softly spoken words, the man in the red coat appears before him, in his right hand is the offer of a lifeline.

“Who are you? What do you want? ”

He is flustered by the image, the closeness of this stranger.

“I only wish to make your life a little less complicated. You appear to be struggling to find what you desire. Let me help. Take this voucher, it will ease your pain and last a lifetime.”

There is the offer. There is his wish all wrapped up in a beautifully coloured ticket. Would you accept such an offer?

“What do I need to do?”

“Why nothing, just accept the modest voucher, it has a few terms and conditions, nothing a man like you would fail to understand. Consider it my Christmas gift.”

The man in the red coat is smiling; he knows the gift will be accepted.

“Thank you, thank you. You have no idea how this will help me.”

The words glow a little as he takes the voucher, accepting the contract in good faith.

“It is my pleasure. Now you have all the time you need to find those last gifts. I am sure I will see you again and again.”

There is a puzzled look on the man’s face. He should have known better. It is too late now.

“What do you mean… Hello?”

In the turning of a page, the shop has emptied. Everyone has gone. The odd whisper of a ghostly figure drifts past the man or so it seems. He frantically tries to escape pulling at the door, but it won’t open, why? He examines the voucher again looking at the back.

“My God, what have I done!”

One line glows, deep blood red, ‘Thank you for your soul. You can browse all these books forever. L’

In a small bookshop, on a busy university campus, if you look closely sometimes you can see the ghostly outline of a man. He is trapped.

Mark O’Donnell


A challenge – 140 character poem

Dear Readers and maybe poets,

This morning I managed to write a short poem in 140 characters (actually less). Now I know that many haiku’s can be written in 140 characters but this was a quick 4 line poem. So I decided to post it here as a challenge. It’s just a bit of fun to try. Why did I write this? Well the washing machine we have makes a darn tune when it finishes and it does remind me of what the late great Douglas Adams might be thinking. Remember Marvin? This washing machine is just to cheerful to make sure you know it’s done. Hence the poem. So here it is enjoy and see;


Is this the shape of things to come

A washing machine that sings and hums

Douglas would be laughing now

As we are tortured by this row