Once more into the breach

Yet again, I’m going to go public with this. That way, I leave myself no way out, no way to wriggle away from doing what I have set out to do, no way of avoiding the challenge, the self-doubt and any other negative emotions that are sure to beset me.

Here goes.

For the sixth consecutive year, I shall write the first draft of a novel this November during NaNoWriMo.

There. I’ve said it. Now I have to do it. Thirty days, fifty thousand words.

Will this interfere with other stuff? Of course it will. But you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!

This year’s effort is currently in a state probably best termed pre-embryonic. The sperm of inspiration is swimming towards the egg of a concept but hasn’t yet made landfall and is being buffeted by contrary tides and currents.

Hopefully, I’ll have a better idea once I start writing, perhaps even before!

Noble, or nob?


“I say, Pater, this is a jolly good wheeze, what?”

“Learn well, boy. This is the life into which you were born.”

“I’m delighted to be accompanying you on this little jaunt, Pater. I do have one question, though.”

“What is it?”

“Must the peasants be allowed to watch us?”

“Remember, Primo, we are only where we are today because these people you dismiss as peasants give their labours, and sometimes their lives, to ensure we can live in the lap of luxury.”

“Shouldn’t they be doing that, then, and not standing there in squalor and filth gawping at us?”

“Shouldn’t they be doing what?”

“Working for us. What was it you said? Giving their labours and sometimes their lives?”

“Primogenitus Topdog, I am surprised at you. Surprised and disappointed. From where do such cruel and heartless thoughts spring, pray?”

“Nanny says we’re better than them. She says they’re not fit to untie my bootlaces. Nanny says that the lower classes can never aspire to the ranks of the upper-classes. And she should know.”

“Why should Nanny know about that?”

“Because she’s one of them. A low-born. She knows how fortunate she is to have the honour and privilege of being my Nanny. And she knows she has the job through my generosity and grace, not through any inherent value or quality of her own. Tell me I’m right, Pater.”

“We may have to agree to differ on that, Boy. All human beings have their own, intrinsic value.”

“Are you listening to yourself, Pater? Ewww. That horse has just defecated.”

“It happens. Get over it.”

“I appreciate and grant that every creature that eats must dispose of its waste. I’m not stupid, you know. What I don’t appreciate is the beast doing it right in front of my eyes. Who was supposed to have trained this animal? I’ll have him flogged. Teach him some manners then maybe he’ll teach the horse some.”

“Your training is going well, my boy. Before you know it, you’ll be reclining in the seat of power.”

This was written in response to Kreative Kue 229 published on this site.

Kreative Kue 229

Kreative Kue 228 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Big Sleep by John W. Howell © 2019


“Huh, what?”

“I hear a noise.”

“Come on, Blanch. You know I have to get up early and go chase those stupid chickens.”

“I’m serious. There is someone in the house.”

“Every time you do this. I get up and go searching, and it is always the same.”

“This time, it will be different. I thought I heard something in the other room.”

“I’m wide awake now, and I don’t hear anything.”

“Just a minute, and you will.”

“Still nothing.”

“If it is someone, what would you have me do?”

“Open that maw of yours and bite them on the butt.”

“What and then bring them to bed?”

“Oh, Harold. Just once I wish you could see my side of things.”

“Like your active imagination—Whoa, what was that?”

“See I told you. It is a burglar I’m sure of it.”

“Okay, Blanch. You stay here, and I’ll go investigate.”

“My hero. be careful.”

“I can’t hear you, Blanch, I’m almost out the door.”


“Yikes, I’m back, Blanch.”

“OMG, Harold, what happened?”

“There was someone in the other room, all right.”

“Why did he yell ‘bad dog?”‘

“Cause I bit him on the butt like you said to do.”


“So? It was the owner, that’s so.”

“He didn’t respect your watchdog efforts.”

“Yeah about as much as the chicken chasing efforts. Let’s try to get some sleep.”



“You’re the best.”

“Aw. Thank you, Blanch.”

Tien Skye, who blogs at From the Widow Seat offered this short tale. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Oh, I see you sneaking around again, with your camera. What are you up to? Taking photographs? An harmless activity? I see, I see. It’s harmless to you, I guess, since all the harm is left to me. You see, you have taken a photo of me in a compromising situation, laying with another of my kind. Then you put up the photo without any context. Naturally, you are not in the wrong. And because it is taken in public space, naturally, this is your right to free speech.

But you don’t care about what happens next, do you? After all, the money’s already in and you’re ready to move on to the next project.

Meanwhile, I’m left behind, after facing a barrage of verbal attacks and unfair criticisms. But no one knows the truth, you see. Even after the truth about this situation is revealed, the keyboard warriors and social fighters have moved on together with you to the next project, gleefully awaiting for their next target to correct into social norms.

If I let you take the photos, I’m left to deal with the aftermath. If I don’t let you take the photos, I’m also left to deal with the aftermath. I can’t even execute my classic move of biting your hand. What a lose-lose situation.

But you go ahead and enjoy taking this photograph. Please, go on.

The subject of this photo is known as “The Cursed Celebrity”. Many paparazzi who took his photo died of highly unnatural deaths, such as getting struck by lightning, killed in earthquakes, dying in plane crashes or even choking to death. Paparazzi have long given up stalking and snapping his photos, in fear of being next in line to die. This is the only surviving paparazzi photo left of the celebrity and is highly valued, although it was almost destroyed a few times when it was housed in the National Art Gallery, from almost getting burnt down together with the gallery to being destroyed in a great tsunami.

My effort was

Old friends

“Hobie, you awake?”


“You just answered me, so you must be.”



“Somniloquy. It’s a parasomnia. It means talking in your sleep.”

“Why not call it that instead of somni-whatever and para-thingumyjig?”

“Usual reason.”

“Just to make me think you’re smart?”

“No. To make you know that I’m smart. Now shaddap and get back to sleep.”

“It’s not just me. You’re awake, too.”

“Am not.”

“Are so. You’re talking to me.”

“We should both be fast asleep.”

“You? Fast asleep? Look at yourself, then look at me and tell me which of us should be fast asleep.”


“Hobie, you are fat and slow.”

“Big-boned, not fat.”

“What did you weigh last time we went to the vet?”




“And I was twenty-three kilos. Look at my lines: sleek, aerodynamic and powerful. Then look at yours: pure lard. Hardly built for speed. I should be fast asleep, you should be slow asleep.”

“I’ll grant you that I’m just a tiny bit heavy. I don’t hear you complaining these cold nights, though, when you want someone to snuggle up to for warmth.”

“True that.”

“So what did you want?”


“When you woke me up to ask me if I was awake.”

“Oh, that. I’ve forgotten.”

“Go back to sleep, then!”

“Okay. Goodnight, Hobie.”

“Goodnight, Flash.”

On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.