Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Book Reviews 2014


     The Return by Joseph Conrad

March 4th

Alvan Hervey arrives home from work and discovers that his wife has written him a letter, even though she knew he'd be home for dinner.

He reads it and the ground opens up underneath his feet.

It seems Joseph Conrad gets a mention in every book on writing I've ever set my eyes on,
so I felt it was almost my duty as an aspiring writer to pick this up when I came across it at my local library. It's only a small book so I was able to read it in a couple of sittings and it's
about time I read another 'classic'.

I wouldn't say this was the most gripping thing I have ever read and it's not exactly a page turner in any sense. But it is a thoroughly intense affair and captivating in it's own way as we experience from all angles the horror and frustration of the main character as he deals with the discovery of his wife's unfaithfulness.

It was first published in 1898 in a magazine called 'Tales of Unrest' but it is surprisingly easy to read and accessible unlike a lot of books of that period. In fact it could well have been written in the modern era.

Alvan Hervey, the main character, lives in a world of straight lines and hastily folded evening papers, a world that lacks passion and spontaneity. This perhaps is his downfall and ultimately, I think the downfall of his marriage too. I like the overall message, the overall theme of this book.


2nd March 2014

Write a Novel and get it published

by Nigel Watts and Stephen May

I have read a few fantastic and very helpful books over the years on the subject of writing but this is the first one that I feel the need to stick to my desk and have it in full sight whenever I am writing! It is a must read for anybody wanting to progress as a fiction writer and contains more than just the nuts and bolts of what you need to know.

All the chapters are easy to read and extremely helpful and encouraging. I particularly liked the chapters on Plotting and the Eight-Point Arc but every chapter is full to bursting with useful and essential knowledge about writing.

I won't say much more about this book which receives a 10/10 from me because I need to go and fix it permanently to my writing desk, immediately, before I forget.



February 26th

I have been concentrating on my writing so far this year and it seems I have been neglecting my book reviews. So here, better late than never is my first review of 2014. As usual I will be perfectly honest about what I think but hopefully positive and charming in the process ;)

A pleasure cruise on his father's boat turns into a disaster for Kyle when his friend Brie is hit by a powerboat and disappears under the lake. Underwater and mortally injured she discovers a secret cave with a mysterious pool full of magical green water with miraculous properties.

This is a book that I got free on my kindle a while ago and being a short read I thought it was time to give it a go. This is my second Mike Wells book having previously read Lust, Money & Murder Book One. There are so many parallels between the two, notably their length but more strikingly their easy reading value but also their overall 'thinness'.

This is a very short book which can easily be read in one sitting but I preferred (as I usually do) to chew it over for a few days. It is a mildly entertaining piece of escapism. However the plot is as thin as the characters are and like 'Lust, Money & Murder' it very much felt like I was reading something in a short story magazine. Not a woman's magazine this time but perhaps a Young Adult Fiction one.

It was also a bit of a disappointment to find that the story didn't end (at the end) but was to be continued in Book Number 2, which is available I'm sure at Smashwords as well as other places like Amazon. Offering part one of a series FREE is a clever and useful sales technique but it's helpful to be warned before hand!

Overall fans of Young Adult Fiction would probably enjoy this more than a middle aged bald bloke like me but it was ok.

It just didn't blow me away in any shape or form. It was more like a gentle breeze than an incoming storm. Give this a go if you can get it free or relatively cheap like I did, I'd be interested to know what you think. Feel free as always to contact me, I don't bite. Not unless you ask me nicely.

 I may even do you a book review but I will be brutally honest if necessary ;)


My next book, a non fiction book on writing.

Monday, 24 February 2014


     At six I believed

     all my lies were written down and collected in a bag.

     To this day I always hear the sound of paper folding


     when you say you love me


     that wasn't what I meant.

                                                                        (C) Ally Atherton 2014

                                                                                 33 Words

This was written for the  Trifextra Challenge and this week the challenge

is to write a 33 word piece ending in the line

that wasn't what I meant

Why don't you pop around and see what it's all about?
Maybe take part and connect with some fab writers and lovely people.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


                        "Time is the longest distance between two places."

                                                           ~ Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

It's 12 35 and the clock has stopped and that's never happened before.

It was 12 35 when I was born and it has been ever since.

I have found myself knee deep in shit and it is dark, so dark I don't know where the ground starts and the sky begins. I am searching for the seam.

I am coughing and farting and vomiting at the same time. There should be a word for this phenomenon but at the moment I am happy for it to remain wordless.

I have other things on my mind and many questions.

Is this human shit or animal shit that I am sitting in? 

Where am I and who am I? And why has the clock stopped?

I can't begin to describe what it's like to live every 12 35 that has ever existed and to be every person that has lived and breathed for just 33 seconds.

33 Seconds.

That's all I have ever been given. It's not a lot of time at all, barely enough time to scratch my arse or brush my teeth.

I've been around the block.

I was there when they knocked down the Berlin Wall, I was Queen Victoria's chamber maid, I witnessed the great funk of 2257 and I even fucked Marilyn Monroe once for 33 seconds. Couldn't really get into it.

But most of the time it wasn't like that. Most of the time I was insignificant. Doing mundane things for 33 seconds like fastening my cuff links or crocheting or barking. That last one wasn't because I was insane, I was a German sheep dog once.

But now it's 12 36 and I'm up to my knees in shit trying to think of a word for coughing, farting and vomiting at the same time. I think I found the sky.


I wrote this short piece for two challenges this week, Trifecta and Write On Edge.

For Trifecta the challenge was to write between 33 and 333 words using the word prompt, Funk. (The third definition of the word meaning a slump.) For Write on Edge the prompt was the Tennessee Williams quote that opened my piece. Take a look at both of these fantastic challenges, join in and connect.

Thursday, 13 February 2014


If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water's edge

                              ~Napoleon Hill

I had oatmeal for breakfast because I rolled a four.

It's the way I start every day, with a choice. I've had oatmeal three times this week, I don't know if that makes me lucky or healthy or both.

Every morning as the clock strikes eight I run to the water's edge and drop to my knees.

 I wash the die with my eyes
closed and say your name in my mind's eye.


I am only allowed to say it once so if I get it wrong there are no second chances. I have learned to say it one small syllable at a time.


Sometimes when I say it I feel your breath on the back of my neck and I can hear you laugh as you fly through the sky with the clouds and the seagulls. On some days I get nothing. I'm just cold and wet and sometimes it feels like your name is one step ahead of me and already spoken before I get the chance to catch up with it.

Then I open my eyes and write everything I should be thankful for in the sand or the name of everybody who has ever hurt me or every bad thing that I have done recently - depending on whether I roll a 1, 2 or a 3.

Today I rolled a 1. I am thankful for breathing, for gravity, for the oatmeal.

Then I rolled a 5 and made my way back, knowing that the sea would do it's job and receive my words in it's own time. Whenever I get a 6 I have to wait and make sure it happens. That happened on Monday and it was pissing down.


I wrote this as part of this week's writing prompt over at Write on Edge Take a look, take part. Connect.


It's not like going to the dentist and having a tooth out

I had to discuss this, I had to talk to my husband. You don't have

a family meeting about a tooth extraction. You bear and grin an extraction

and you go home with some painkillers. I don't think

there's any pain killer that can touch the loss of something that can break

up a marriage. It's that big.

It's devastating, I don't know if I can go through this but it's that or the highway

You can't just go back and grow two more. But I'm not ready to kiss

my daugther goodbye either.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Dog in a bath

Bailey needs a bath every so often and I think he secretly likes it even though he hides whenever we say the word. Even if we spell out the letters


he seems to know. He's not daft!

I posted this for Wordless Wednesday. Take a look and join the fun. Maybe I will add a linky soon so people can link to their pictures.

Looking Forward

Of course I'm grumpy, wouldn't you be if you had to sit here all day? Come rain or shine I'm here and nobody so much as batters an eyelid. Occasionally they rub my foot and make a wish like I'm Aladdin and his Pissing Lamp, like I'm suddenly going to jump down and nip to ARGOS for their new telly.

 Nobody bothers to ask what I want. You're selfish the lot of you, but if I could make one wish I'd ask for eyes in the back of my head.

That's where it happened, I heard you scream.

In 1985.


This 100 word piece was written for 100 words on Saturday, a great writing challenge over at Write Tribe. You can find more about the challenge by clicking the following picture

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Wurlds ( A blog Serial)


I can't remember the last time I stared into the moon's face and asked one of my questions, looking back I think it could well have been my own fault she left and took the ants with her. Ever since I was seven I used to ask the most ridiculous questions and I'd wait for an answer that always came. I think sometimes I imagined the answers but usually they came through the mouths of others, my mum, Lucy, people on the radio, even the pope answered one once.

      When I was eleven I asked 'How come God doesn't float down from heaven in a river boat and make mum better?'

      That night I had a dream where I was in a river boat and God was up front and he was trying to steer our way through a storm while half the whole world was screaming at him and the other half were praying. My prayer was in there somewhere but you couldn't really hear it because of all the others. Poor God, I don't know how he managed to concentrate but he managed to get us through the storm but I had my answer. God was busy and would get back to me as soon as possible.

      I kept my questions to myself until the Moon disappeared and then I had nobody to ask my questions to anymore. I can't explain how lost I felt but I guess it was like when Lucy lost her dolly in Blackpool and cried herself to sleep for months. Mum and Dad searched high and low but never got it back but somehow Lucy got through but never got a replacement. I wish I had another moon to replace the old one, it wouldn't have to be identical, just reasonably moony. It would have to be round of course, I couldn't cope with a square one or a triangular one and it would have to be bright but most importantly it would have to answer my questions. My first question would be, 

'Why the ants? What did they ever do to upset you?'

      But if the moon came back tomorrow, and I'm hoping she will one day, I will have a million questions to ask. Like 'What did you do with my sister?' and 'When will I stop travelling?' and finally


       'Please let it stop.'


Wurlds is my first Blog Serial and I hope to update it perhaps twice a week and share it at various places  including Wattpad. It is a work in progress and no doubt I will edit it as I go along. I'm not sure how long it will end up or how many weeks it will go on for. Please feel free to leave any feedback or ideas or to tell me about any grammatical errors etc. Although I have a general idea where the story is going I am pretty much writing it at the seat of my pants and God knows where it will take me but I hope it is fun to read as well as enjoyable and exciting to write. I am hoping to update it regularly as well as my other writing projects.

Ally :)


The first time it happened I was in school. I must have been around seven or eight because I was in assembly and Mr Carruthers was at the front talking about God. I wasn't listening, I never did in those days. I don't know if any of the other kids ever listened but God wasn't very entertaining in those days and Mr Carruthers rarely got the party started. I don't know what I was expecting. Vicar's in those days didn't exactly put on an extravaganza and still don't beat box as far as I know. I was probably playing with my shoelaces or trying not to fart. As I recall somebody always did fart and it was usually the loudest, wettest fart know to mankind. I just never wanted to be the one. Nobody did but somebody always was.

      It didn't last long when it happened. Maybe a minute or so. I think that's why I just presumed I was day dreaming, I mean how was I supposed to tell the difference? Even at that young age I was a serial day dreamer as well as being a serial nose picker and flicker.

       It came without warning. One minute I was sat with my legs crossed and my buttocks clenched and the next I was rolling down an orange hill in a bubble. Horns were honking somewhere in the distance and my legs were covered in fur. My bubble was getting faster and faster and the hill was getting steeper and steeper until the hill was gone and I was flying through the air and below me was a sea of silver.


      Somebody had farted and Mr Carruthers was going on about tadpoles. To this day I haven't for the life of me discovered what exactly tadpoles have got to do with The Bible. I'm sure he had his reasons and I've looked but there are no tadpoles in there.None that I can see.
      I spent the rest of the assembly trying to look as if I was listening at least and I didn't really think about the bubble and the orange hill or the silver sea but to this day I believe it actually happened. It was the first time I travelled. I just didn't know it at the time. And it wasn't the last time that I was to set foot on Gallywoot.




       Nothing changed after that first time.

      At least nothing that I can recall and I have recreated that day to the best of my ability on so many occasions, I am no longer sure how much of it actually happened or how much of it I have edited over the years. I just know that so much has disappeared since and most of it hasn't come back.

      It was my tenth birthday before it happened again. I am grateful now that I was spared a few years because it seems the older I get the less time I get between episodes. I call them episodes as if this is some kind of illness but the truth is I don't know what this is or what is going on. I started calling them episodes many years ago and somehow the term has stuck.

      It was the middle of the afternoon and a Saturday and my mum had driven me and Lisa to a playground near our home. I was sliding at the time and Lisa was waiting behind me for her turn. I don't know what it was about me and Lisa but we always seemed to want the same thing at the same time.

      As I got to the bottom I didn't end up at the bottom but instead found myself in what I now know is the longest queue in the universe.






Monday, 10 February 2014

As a Boy

As a boy I was always the last to be picked and quite often I wasn't chosen at all. Standing there, thin as a pencil, shivering, hands in my pockets, my face as stained and awkward as an ill fitting bed sheet. I used to shuffle my feet while I waited and had this thing where I'd chew the inside of my mouth but a passing cat had more chance of being picked for the kickabout at the end of my street.

I grew up and left those days behind me and now I find myself waiting for bigger but less inspiring things, like my wage on the last Thursday of the month or my dentist appointment or the lottery results. I am always waiting. I think we are all waiting for something or somebody to swoop down from the sky and rescue us.

But deep down I'm still standing with my hands in my pockets, chewing my mouth, while everybody else kicks the ball down the road.


At six you fell from the sky

and helped me conquer worlds. But at fourteen I hugged you too much

and your arm fell off,

you were bloody useless and Dad was drunk.

This week on Trifecta the challenge is to write a piece with only 33 words about 'Love Gone Wrong' without using the words Love, Sad, Tears, Heart and Pain. 33 words is tough but fun and 'Teddy' is my entry.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

How Do I Tell Her About You?

Gone to mum's for the weekend

I found the note on the fridge when I got up.

'We can't go on like this, it's not fair on Laura.' 

Balancing the phone, I took the note and read each word slowly, over and over again, as if by doing so I could stop her from getting there. Praying for a slow puncture or multiple car pile up.

'How do I tell her about you?'


'It will kill her,' I said.

'That's not possible,' said her mum, a hundred miles away in Connecticut.

'I've already done that. She's in the shed.'


This 100 word piece was written for 100 words on Saturday, a writing challenge that I have just discovered. I wrote this on Tuesday so I don't know if it still counts because the Linky is still open for a few days. Even if I'm too late, it was fun to write. You can find more about the challenge by clicking the following picture