Dare to Dumb Down Dahl, the Writing Darling?

(You can never have too much alliteration*)

Puffin publishers are bringing out dulled-down versions of Dahl’s classics to avoid words like fat, ugly and black (as in the colour of a tractor). This is an attempt to protect kids, apparently, but do kids not use these words ever? Will the words disappear and be replaced by others that mean exactly the same? Will they be outlawed too? Puffin, the fat, ugly publishers that they are, have deigned to also publish the original versions after a heartfelt and deserving public outcry.

I have a flash published on Fictive Dream’s website as part of their Flash Fiction February* that you can read here.

Book Recommendation – What You Can See From Here, Mariana Leky. ‘The international bestseller about finding your place in the world: even if that place is right where you started.’ A brilliant book that made me laugh and cry and that’s saying a lot for someone who is pursed-lipped and po-faced most of the time.



Eagerly beaverly working on my YA novel and I thought, what about resurrecting my MG one and writing them in tandem? Terrible idea. Both remain half-baked efforts. Then I gave up and read books, by authors who probably write novels as individual projects.

Piransi – Susannah Clarke recommend

The Wee Free Men – Terry Prachett half recommend, bit wordy

This is the Sea – Matt Stanley recommend

Hare House – Sally Hinchliffe recommend

the current Bath Flash anthology definitely recommend*

So, I have a story out in the current Bath Flash anthology*. My first time featuring in it. My OH read the story and was puzzled by a couple of points (and he’s an intelligent man). The main one being the pftt noise made by the dad. He thought it mimicked the lift-off sound of the rocket (pretty feeble rocket) instead of a sound ‘to express a contemptuous or dismissive attitude’ as defined in the dictionary. I hope you’re less intelligent and read it perfectly.

Twitter Quitter? Not Me.

After joining Twitter in 2018 – a grudging act to show myself I was networking – I grew to appreciate the platform. I wasn’t a prolific tweeter but I did interact with writerly folk, find a huge amount of info, and loved the laughs – the lawyer conducting a zoom through a kitten filter was a highlight.

Many folk are claiming Twitter is in its death throes, many eagerly hoping it is because Elon Musk is now in charge. But I hope it survives and knuckles back down to being the hobnob hot-bed it’s always been. I’m still on as @SharonBoyle50 and will be there for as long as possible because setting up a new social platform is pure buggeration.

Came third in Reflex Fiction’s quarterly with a flash called, My Sister, the Lamp, that can be read here.

Reflex Fiction has upped my pubbed stats by including quite a few of my flashes on their site and in their anthologies. So it’s another buggeration they’re doing just one more competition before they stop flashing the world.

RF also gave me my one and only taste of judging, by asking me to read during the first stages of last year’s winter comp. I learned a lot from that (thanks, RF Dave).

I’ve also been LL in the latest Bath flash comp with a story called Aunt Susie’s Never-ending Adventures. It will feature in their forthcoming anthology.

The Summer of 99s * #

I was run over by an ice-cream van yesterday. I suffered serious Mr Whippylash.

A joke that someone has yet to laugh at, but it could be the way I tell them++. Another unfunny thing is the summer heat. Lawns are straw yellow and my face is busting red. As I write this, I’m wearing one of those neck fans that look like off-the-shoulder earphones, and I’m still melting like an ice cube.

Everything feels sluggish, including the progress of the WIP. Some characters need culled and there’s a chunk of about four chapters that needs defibrillated back to life. However I do have another couple of stories out in the wilds that I’d love you to read:

I won the inaugural 250-word flash comp from NAWG with Wee Fish, and here it is: https://www.nawg.co.uk/nawg-250-competition

Also had a flash LL and published on-line via Reflex Fiction, In Stitches, which can be read here: https://www.reflexfiction.com/author/sharon-boyle/

*an ice-cream cone with a chocolate flake pranging out of it, for those who hail from other parts.

# the song Bryan Adams should have gone with.

++ For example, when I told OH the joke it went like this:

Me: I was run over by a van yesterday. I suffered serious Mr Whippylash.

OH: pause Do you mean you were run over by an ice-cream van?

Me: knowing joke has been ruined. Yes. Obviously.

A Drop in the Ocean

I had a flash published during the Flash Flood (National Flash Fiction) that happened on-line yesterday. It was a bounty of flash stories every 5 minutes for 24 hours. My story is an homage to all the awful girls out there who deserve to be unpopular but still deserve to wear ruby red slippers. You can read the story here http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com/2022/06/why-do-some-gals-get-all-breaks-by.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

or I’ve posted it here:

Why Do Some Gals Get All the Breaks?

Apart from wanting to boss around little people, I’ve a hankering for ruby red slippers. I mean, is it too much to ask for some Technicolor in my grey-scale life? But Dorothy Gale, she who brings kaleidoscopic hues to all she touches, has the goddamn slippers. After house-splatting my sister too. The unfairness of her justice-dodging sits awful sore. Me: one dead sibling; Dorothy G: a dance and a prance along a yellow brick road, and some dazzling footwear.

I fashion my own slippers using scarlet glitter, glue, some spit and a helluva lot of spite. After a morning’s work I slide them on and check the mirror. My pretties.

Devil-dust flitters in my wake as I totter about town. I am punch-the-air bright and top-of-the-world awesome till…I stop…my mouth hanging salt-pig slack at the sight above me.

A rainbow.

A rainbow filling the sky with its oily iridescence. I swallow down bile, my mind vomiting up images of Dorothy skipping about with that raggedy dog, shabby lion, tinpot man and Mr Arsonist’s Dream.

I kick off the slippers and schlep home, melting with misery, wishing rainbows were black and white, knowing it was never about the slippers.

A Mystery is Announced

31st May 2022

Went to the theatre with a couple of friends to see a murder mystery play, Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced, promising myself to pay attention to the way the story unfolds and the mechanics of the plot. The three of us, courtesy of a boozy lunch I like to think, and not old age, fell asleep during the first half. Sorry, Agatha. I hadn’t a clue what was happening, even when the culprit was revealed.

This is a recognisable feeling when it comes to my current WIP. I am writing the thing; I know the characters; I kind of know the plot; I have a reasonable idea what will happen at the end, and yet what is actually occurring on the page is something else completely. And that is a mystery too.

Anyway, I’ve had three more stories published which I’d love you to read:

The Day I Began a Bold New Life https://www.reflexfiction.com/the-day-i-began-a-bold-new-life-flash-fiction-by-sharon-boyle/#comments

Look at This Photohttps://www.reflexfiction.com/look-at-this-photo-flash-fiction-by-sharon-boyle/#comment-2442

Haywire House https://fictivedream.com/2022/04/10/haywire-house/

1984 v 2022

Working on 3rd novel after agent, Jo, said the 2nd novel was a no-go with publishers. Too dark apparently. Mmm. Try reading 1984 in the actual year 1984 for your English O’Grade, in a class full of naturally miserable 15-year olds during the Thatcher years. That’s dark. I don’t know who in the Scottish Education Board thought of that one.

We also read Consider the Lilies at school – think Scottish historical misery fest. Basically if it would depress the bejesus out of hormonal teens it was in the curriculum. But then we didn’t have the pandemic to deal with, nor the horror of the Ukraine invasion by Russia. Can understand the need for a wee bit of lightness, right enough.

I’ve had a couple of stories published. I came runner-up in Retreat West’s ‘After’ themed flash comp which can be read here https://www.retreatwest.co.uk/onset-winter-proposal-sharon-boyle/ And below is a micro flash kindly published by 100 Word Story:

Betty’s Begonia

They buried Betty between bomb raids in a no-fuss, grassy grave. Overnight the sod erupted with vagina-pink begonias. It was agreed by several snippy-tongued relatives that this was typical. Betty had to be different, and flashy with it. It wasn’t right to be blowsy in such times.

Edith visited the grave and whispered Sorry. Betty’s relatives had talked of appearance’s sake and secateurs, so here she was, trying to tame the flowers into straight-laced conformity.

Back home, Edith withdrew a begonia from her pocket and shoved her nose into it, licking out the pollen. She smiled. It tasted of Betty.

Does Tenerife Have Tea Shops?

Summer holiday has been booked – to skin-scorching Tenerife. I’m not keen on sunshiney holidays but the family loves them. I much prefer the cooler climes of say, the Faroe Islands, photo below, where OH and I went a few years ago (direct flight from Edinburgh to Faroe btw). I’ve also visited Iceland, an egg-reeking, lovely place with bleak, black landscapes; Norway; Sweden; Denmark and, of course, the dreichest country of all and the place I call home – Scotland. Every one cold and the better for it. In fact, give me a coach tour to some wee Scottish or English town full of tea shops and I’m happy. This is not a recent conversion; I’ve been grannified since the age of nine when my nana took me to Blackpool. Apart from the demonic, laughing clown in the glass cage, being forced to visit an empty and depressing Winter Gardens, and Nana refusing point-black to accompany me on any funfair rides in case she had a heart attack (she died aged 96), I had a great time, mainly because of those tea shops.

Today, a flash of mine was published on-line at Fictive Dream as part of their Flash February bonanza. It’s called Terra Firmly and can be read https://fictivedream.com/2022/02/16/terra-firmly/ here.

And below is a 100-word flash, A Man Walks Into a Bar With a Cracked Heart, for which I won the Retreat West’s People Prize. It basically means the punter readers loved it, but not the judges:

A Man With a Cracked Heart Walks into a Bar

Concealed words riddle his body: fractured across his heart; overworked – liver; underused – penis.

He taps the pint glass, glancing at her on the bar stool opposite. Lonely scrawled on her forehead. And round her heart, a wavering impaired.

She too must have a trail of regrets clattering at her heels.

He chances a smile. She looks away. He dips his head, sips his pint, his eyes flicking up.

And he catches it, the sign: her lips softening, just for a second.

Soon he’ll go over and talk, hesitantly. She’ll remain guarded till, relaxing, her heart shivers and settles on paired.

Brilliant Bath and Amazing Astronauts

Five days in Bath: Jane Austin museum; open-top bus tours; afternoon tea in the Pump Rooms; the abbey and, of course, the gorgeous city centre itself (and I thought Edinburgh was wee). Up and down in the train with no hassles. It was great to travel and socialise big-time. It almost felt back to normal.

And the socialising didn’t end there. Last week, I attended a Tim Peake show, astronaut extraordinaire, at the Usher Hall. Place was packed and it was strange but exciting to be at a large, busy venue again. Another strange thing was that masks were worn when walking about – to the toilets or the one measly bar they opened – but not when sitting.

Tim entertained us with a whole heap of life experiences, including what happens to your body in space. A fab place for dieters, apparently. You swallow food and peristalsis forces it down to the stomach where gravity keeps it floating at the top. Hey presto, your belly thinks you’re full. I can see a market for this.

The getting-along exercises the astronauts undertook before missions were also an ear-opener. Potholing in a group, not seeing the sun or outside world for seven days. Everyone goes to sleep and is woken a couple of hours later with, Get up, you’ve had your seven hours. This slog is repeated so that on the fourth day they’re knackered but buoyed by the thought they’re going home. Apparently, when informed they have to endure another three days, there is a rich range of fierce emotions. I bet. But kudos to Tim who has the can-do/will-do attitude that served him well for six months on the space station.

He also has a book for sale, which is more than can be said for me, but I do have another couple of stories published on-line. Came third in a comp with this one, Sunny Defiance and also had another story published at Fictive Dream with Fiery Jamie.