Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Some Funnies

Here's a bunch of jokes a friend sent me today. They made me smile and I thought you might enjoy them.


An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.

The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."

The gentleman replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my will three times!"


Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says: "Slim, I'm 83 years old now and I'm just full of aches and pains. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?"

Slim says, "I feel just like a newborn baby."

"Really!? Like a newborn baby!?"

“Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.”


An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen. The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, "Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great I would recommend it very highly."

The other man said, "What is the name of the restaurant?"

The first man thought and thought and finally said, "What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know...the one that's red and has thorns."

"Do you mean a rose?"

"Yes, that's the one," replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, "Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?


Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet, who insisted he didn't need my help to leave the hospital. After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator.

On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him.

"I don't know," he said. "She's still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown."

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.

Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. "Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?" he asks.

"Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?"


"Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks.

"No, I can remember it."

"Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so's not to forget it?"

He says, "I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries."

“I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?" she asks.

Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!"

Then he toddles into the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes, the o ld man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.

She stares at the plate for a moment. "Where's my toast?"


A senior citizen said to his eighty-year old buddy: "So I hear you're getting married?"


"Do I know her?"


"This woman, is she good looking?"

"Not really."

"Is she a good cook?"

"Naw, she can't cook too well."

"Does she have lots of money?"

"Nope! Poor as a church mouse."

"Well, then, is she good in bed?"

"I don't know."

"Why in the world do you want to marry her then?"

"Because she can still drive!"


Three old guys are out walking. First one says, "Windy, isn't it?"

Second one says, "No, it's Thursday!"

Third one says, "So am I. Let's go get a beer.”


A man was telling his neighbor, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect."

"Really," answered the neighbor. "What kind is it?"

"Twelve thirty."

Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical.

A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.

A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?"

Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.'"

The doctor said, "I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.”


A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlor and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split.

The waitress asked kindly, "Crushed nuts?"

"No," he replied, "Arthritis."

Divine Interview

Part one of Divine Interview, the story I wrote last year with the divine Cassie Exline (cassieraye at SOL), has been submitted to the posting queue at StoriesOnline following its six month stint at Ruthie’s. It should appear on the site later today. (I’ll post the link here when it does)

Divine Interview tells the story of Dana Rubeck’s interview with celebrity erotic author, ‘Randy’ Andy Withers.

The second part of the story will be released before the weekend.

(Here's the story link)

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Little Miss movie Star Extract

For today’s blog, I thought I’d post an extract of the story I’m currently working on. It’s got a piss poor working title of “Little Miss Movie Star” and is about a young actress who takes time off from making movies to study at university. It’s coming along quite nicely, although it’s 13000 words and I’ve got more story still to tell than I know what to do with. I’m guessing that when it’s finished, I’m going to have to be ruthless with the clipping shears.

If you do notice any silly errors, please forgive me, this is ‘hot off the press’ so to speak. I’m not even thinking of any kind of edit until I’ve reached a climax of some description.

In this scene Chloe (our movie star) and Alan (the guy we all know she’ll end up in bed with) have just been to see a movie and have decided to eat at Burger King afterwards.


There was a short queue in the restaurant which gave Chloe time to examine the menu while they waited in line. But she still hadn’t made her mind up by the time they got to the counter.

“Can I take you’re order please?” said the baseball cap-wearing teenager behind the bar. He clearly wished he was somewhere else—even if it was just the other side of the counter.

Alan ordered then turned to Chloe. “Well? Decided?”

“I don’t know. It all looks so... Look, I know this sounds weird, but I’ve never been in a Burger King before. I want to try everything.”

“You’ve never...? God, being a star is all well and good, but it sounds like you’ve never lived.” He turned to the teenager and said, “She’ll have an XL bacon double cheeseburger meal, with Coke.”

“Is Pepsi okay?” His monotone was annoying.

“Pepsi’s fine. Can we get a couple of chocolate doughnuts too.”

“Anything else?”

“No, that’s it,” said Chloe. She held out a twenty for the boy. He took it and looked at her for the first time. His mouth fell open and he froze, his hand still outstretched holding the money. Alan waved a hand in front of his face.

“’Ere, you’re Chloe Goodman! Boss! Boss! Come look. It’s Chloe Goodman!”

Every eye in the restaurant turned to look at them and silence descended. Then the whispering started. Incessant whispering, so quiet it was deafening.

“And could we get that to take away, please?” said Alan.

By now, the all the customers were buzzing and most of the staff were standing behind the teenager and staring. Chloe took her money back from his still outstretched hand. “Forget it—We’ll go to McD’s. They stare less.” She grabbed Alan’s hand and they ran out of the restaurant, giggling.

“I still fancy that burger,” she said.

“There’s a drive through on the way back to the campus. We could take the food back to your place.”

“Okay. Good idea.”

Monday, 29 January 2007

Bus Stop

With a new flash story at Ruthie’s this week, and Divine Interview due for release on SOL this Wednesday, I though I could talk a little about some of my other stories that have a home at Storieonline. I’m hoping over the next few week/months, I can discuss all of them. And I’ll be adding my thoughts on the stories to my website too.

So, let’s do them in the order they were posted shall we?


Bus Stop was posted to SOL in November 2004, although it was originally written in something like 1998. It was the third piece I submitted to the ‘Fishtank’ (in June 2004) and it’s benefited hugely from it’s time there. At a little under two and half thousand words, it’s by no means a long story—but it’s done quite well at SOL, with a score of 9.05 (Qscore 7.19)

It’s told in 1st person and in the story our narrator, Paddy, finds himself having to ride the bus to work everyday because his car has broken down. One afternoon, on his return jorney, the bus is full of shoppers and he has to stand. Unfortunately (or fortunately as the story turns out) for him, the person standing in front of him is a very attractive young lady with some heavy bags. As you can imagine, being forced up close to a sexy young woman has an effect on Paddy—an effect that she notices. When they eventually get off the bus at the same stop, Paddy offers to help her with her bags and she offers to help him with something else.

The story is essentially stroke. There isn’t as much plot or character development as I’d like although there is a strong sense of Brit humor running through it. It was inspired by my own travels on the bus to work back in the days when I didn’t have a car. I’d often fantasised about some of the women on the bus and wanted to explore the possiblities—what can I say, I’m a perv.

Bus Stop is one of the stories that makes up “Two Ks and No Space”, my anthology of stories available in hard copy via

Pie Shop at Ruthie's

I have a new flash story running at Ruthie's Club this week. "Pie Shop" will, I hope, make you giggle. If you already have a ruthie's membership, click here. If you don't, why not get one.

This week is the "Sex and Food" issue – they're two of my favourite things, go figure.

Ruthie's Club

Friday, 26 January 2007

Divine Interview

Divine Interview, the story that Cassie Exline (cassieraye on SOL) and I wrote together last year is coming to the end of its six month exclusive period at Ruthie’s and is set to be released at StoriesOnline at the end of the month. It’s a two parter and tells the story of Dana Rubeck’s interview with ‘Randy’ Andy Withers, a professional writer of erotic fiction. It has a long, slow build-up of sexual tension throughout the first part of the story, but once these two get going, it’s so hot it’ll burn the pixels right off your screen. This is mainly down to Cassie, who handles hot sex like no-one else I know. It was a pleasure and a privilege to write with her, and I’ll be proud to see this story on SOL.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Hate Mail Follow-up

Following yesterday’s entry about ‘Hate Mail’ or more accurately, one particular reaction to one story, I’ve had some interesting replies. Some of them agreeing with me, having received similar messages themselves, some sympathising with the correspondent.

Now, let’s be clear about this, I don’t begrudge the correspondent his opinion, and I make no judgments about him. I merely found his reaction interesting and was trying to explain it to myself. The common theme running through the e-mails I received since yesterday’s post is that the correspondent clearly had issues with ‘cheating’, probably because he’d been cheated on himself. Now, yesterday I said he’d made assumptions about my characters but I’ve just made one hell of an assumption about him too. I could well be wrong.

A question this issue has raised for me is ‘do we as writers have a responsibility to the varying sensibilities and feelings of the people who read our work. Should, for example, I have made Roy in “Reunion” more of a pantomime villain in order to excuse Matt and Kelly’s affair? Or should I have made Matt stick to his original ethical assessment of the situation and steered well clear until Roy was out of the way. Of course, the problem with the second one is that Roy would never have been out of the way because it was only meeting Matt again that gave Kelly the strength to leave him.
Should we, as writers, recognize that our stories are read by real people, and that those people will ultimately form some kind of bond with our characters (assuming we’re doing our job well that is) and may be hurt by their actions? But if we do that, and tone down the stories as a result, aren’t we compromising ourselves? Doesn’t it make our plots and characters weaker? And isn’t that hurting the readers even more?

Good fiction is challenging fiction and good characters are challenging characters. Villains shouldn't be totally bad—they need some sympathetic characteristics to make them human. And as I said yesterday, the best heroes are flawed heroes because it’s not much of a story if you know they are going to win—it’s much better if there’s a chance they may fail or give in to temptation.

I think that the four best stories I have written have been the ones which have challenged the reader. “Reunion” challenges the reader to understand the motives of the two main characters even though their behavior is not always appropriate. “Claire” has a challenging ending that I know from correspondence has left many people in tears. “Charlotte’s Secret” has four main characters who all have major faults, and who’s actions are all questionable—but they are all trying to do the best for their ‘family’. (And on a side note, the ending to this always makes me cry, but for different reasons to ‘Claire’.)

As for ‘Lost and Found’ (which I don’t yet have a publication date for at Ruthie’s), well—who’d want to be one of the characters in that story? There’s only one person who’s read this story the whole way through, and she’s told me that the reason she thinks it’s the best thing I’ve done is “it’s like being on a roller-coaster. It makes you feel all sorts of emotions and leaves you drained.” (not her exact words, I paraphrased).

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Thoughts on 'Hate Mail'

A fellow writer is setting about writing a story about hate mail. Okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s what it boils down to. (I won’t say who or give anymore details yet – but I will closer to the stories release, if it’s okay with him) Well, this got me thinking about the sort of correspondence I've received over the past couple of years. I’ve never really had anything I’d class as hate mail. I’ve had a few messages along the lines of “you suck” or “this story is shit”, but nothing particularly venomous and hate-filled.

I guess the closest I’ve come is a message I got at the tail-end of 2005 regarding “Reunion”. I’ve thought long and hard about whether I should post that message as part of this blog, so that you can see what I’m talking about, but I’ve decided not to do so in it’s entirety. I’ll use short quotes to make the points I want to make instead.

The message starts of quite pleasantly.

“Let me apologize up front for writing this critique. I enjoyed your writing style, but the story should have been much better.”

Now, bear in mind that Reunion is my highest rated story according to the old scores (2nd highest on Qscores) and has generated more positive feedback than any other story I’ve written, so this was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

The first few paragraphs talked about a glaring error that I was aware of to do with the age of one of the characters. It’s something I’ve fixed in the Lulu version of the story, but every time I’ve tried to ‘update’ a story on SOL, the text has always remained the same. (Not just with this story, but with others too). A few people had mentioned this error, and as I said, I was aware of it. But this correspondent was quite strong in his criticism of this. In the rest of his message, he attacked the motives of the ‘heroes’ and defended the ‘villain’ of the piece. Roy is the villain, and these are the correspondents thoughts.

“Roy’s behavior was very understandable after having lost a child to an accident where alcohol may have played a role...... In other words, you did not make Roy enough of a villain to absolve Matt the misdeed of being an adulterer. As a result, Roy was a much more sympathetic character than intended.”

What bothers me about this is that the correspondent has made an incorrect assumption about my intentions and then chastised me for not doing what he assumed. I don’t believe in characters that are wholly good or wholly bad because real people aren’t like that. Real people have real motivations and do what they believe is right—even if the rest of the world thinks they are wrong. I think characters doing the wrong things for the right (or at the very least, understandable) reasons are much more interesting. He’s also made an assumption about my intentions for Matt (the ‘hero’). Like I don’t want Roy to be completely unsympathetic, I don’t want to absolve Matt of his crimes. Isn’t a flawed hero much more interesting than a perfect one? Would “Lord of the Rings” be as good if Frodo hadn’t been tempted by The Ring?

The message goes on to tell me how I should have written Matt. He tells me he would never hire an attorney with so little regard to ethics as to have an affair with a client’s wife (er... isn’t that the major conflict point of the story? It wouldn’t be much of a story without it).

He said that Matt... “played the coward and thus reduced the empathy I as a reader needed to have in his character for the story to be satisfying and for their reconciliation to be validated.”

I’d argue that Matt played the coward. I don’t believe he did. In the story’s conclusion I believe he made a difficult decision and chose the most difficult path available to him at that moment. He makes a sacrifice for his heart—that’s far from cowardice. But if this reader loses empathy and doesn’t find the story satisfying because it doesn't do what he wants it to, then I’m sorry, but it’s this readers look out.

What the correspondent is doing is looking for a story that does what he wants, in a way he wants, and he hasn’t found it in “Reunion” As he says in his final comments...

“This should have been a ‘true love conquers all story’. Instead, you wrote about two cheaters whom I as the reader did not care about by stories end. You blew it.”

Well, fair enough then. However, this is the only negative e-mail I received about this story. As I said to the correspondent in my reply, that doesn’t make him wrong and everyone else right, but it does justify the way I wrote the story. A story that pleases everyone on every level is an impossible thing to write. The best most of us can hope for is a story that pleases some people on some levels and motivates them enough to tell you about it. (Or pay you for it) If you haven’t read Reunion for yourself, I’d encourage you to do so and then let me know your thoughts both on the story and this blog.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Blogging is good for the soul

This blog is now being posted in sic different places (for reasons I know not). I’ve also spotted two more places I can post it. I guess it’s all about exposure. I just have to be careful what I expose because that sort of thing is illegal in most places (but not in Wales apparently).

I suspect I shall have to change the blog link on my website so that it diverts to a page giving the user the choice of which blog to read. That’s on top of all the other things I have to do with it.

The current blog locations are

MySpace (everyone can view, members can comment)

Blogger (everyone can view, members can comment)

StoriesOnline (members only)

Soulcast (everyone can view, members can comment)

Zooweekly (everyone can view, members can comment)

Lulu(everyone can view, members can comment)

I suspect that yahoo360 and windows live spaces will be the next conquests in my plan for world domination. I need to check if lulu allow blogs too. I think they do.

But why bother? Why blog at all? Well, I’m a writer—or at least I try to be—and writers need to practice. Blogging about crap is good practice. It forces one to think as one writes, to read what one writes and to learn from one’s mistakes. For example, I vary rarely if ever take the care and attention over a blog that I would with a story. I check to see if there are any red squigglies but that’s about it. I make up words too, like squigglies.

I know that I should spend the time I spend blogging actually working on stories, but I actually believe that one can get so bogged down with a story that blogging about shit is a good way to clear the blockage. Have you noticed I’m using ‘one’ instead of ‘you’? I have know idea why, perhaps I’ve suddenly become a bit posh (Not bloody likely).

As you can tell, I don’t really have anything to say today. But I still said it anyway. I need to make a list of things to do. A To Do list if you like. I’ll do that today if I get a chance. I hope it’ll be a better way of working that doing things at random. Who knows, it might even work.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Reflections on the new Scores at SOL

Three in a bed” is the first story I’ve sent to SOL since the changes were implemented to the voting system on the site. It’s into it’s third day now and has dropped off the first page of the ‘new stories’ section but currently still shows up in the RSS feed. It’s had nearly 700 downloads in the past two days and shouldn’t think it will get too many more now. That makes it my 19th most downloaded story on the site, and really isn’t too bad for a flash story at a site who’s readers tend to shun flash in favour of much longer stories. It’s also my most downloaded flash. But right now, I’m interested in how the voting on this story is going. I think it’s worth thinking about if the scoring changes have had an effect.
Let’s recap the changes first. They were implemented because the webmaster was concerned about the upward ‘creep’ of voting results on the site. His initial intention was to remodulate the median of votes cast around the value of 6 (out of 10) instead of where it was at almost 9. To this end he devised a complicated algorithm to ‘correct’ the value of votes cast based on the median of votes at the time they were cast. At the same time, he re-worded the voting form to ‘encourage’ the casting of lower votes. The overall effect has been a lowering of scores on the site, but this has been compensated for by the introduction the ‘Q Score’ or ‘Qualified Score’ which is the one based of when the stories were posted, and which is supposedly a fairer reflection of the real score.
On to of this, is the introduction of ‘TPA’ voting. ‘TPA’ stands for Technical merit, Plot, and personal Appeal. Users of the site can choose which type of vote they prefer to cast. Authors can choose to receive only ‘Qscores’, only ‘TPA’ scores, both or neither. I prefer to leave my stories open to both types of votes.
First thing of interest to note is that the ‘Qscore’ is doing its intended job. The ‘order’ of my stories on the site is different if you order them by ‘Qscore’ instead of ‘Score’. You can’t as yet order them by ‘TPA’ score.
Second thing to note is that the new voting form is also doing it’s job. “Three in a bed” has the lowest score I’ve ever received on the site – currently around 6.5. (it’s not got the worst “Qscore” though – another indication that the ‘qscore’ ‘works’) Now, it may be scoring low because it’s shit, but it’s a former Ruthie’s Club story, and the mail I’ve had because of it has all been positive. Flash stories always score low on Sol (a topic for another time perhaps), but this one seems to be doing particularly badly. This seems strange because the current TPA score is 8,7,8. This isn’t bad considering how poorly flashes normally do on SOL. So, is this difference between the “qscore” and the “TPA” score to do with the types of readers who will make the effort to switch to ‘TPA’? Are they ‘better’ readers? More knowledgeable? Or perhaps they just appreciate Flash more. It has been suggested that TPA appeals more to writers than readers, and it has also been said that flash is the same in its appeal to writers rather than readers – so maybe that explains it.
Honestly, I don’t know. And frankly, it’s all a bit academic.

One thing that occurred to me while I was thinking about this blog, was that does the new “qscore” which remember adjusts votes cast based on the median of all votes cast, take account of the possibility that during a given period of time the stories being posted might actually be better than those posted at other times, and that’s why they are getting higher scores? Let me explain.
Lets say that in January, the median of votes is 7.5 but in February the median rises to 8. The “Qscore” will adjust the scores in February downwards by more than the same score cast in January. Eg, I vote a story in January at 8 and this is changed to (I’m guessing here) 6.2, but a story I vote 8 in February will come down to 6. (I’m making these numbers up – it’s just an example). That’s how the system is designed to work as I understand it (I may be wrong). But what if, in February there have been posted a number of truly exceptional stories that actually warrant the higher votes?
This is a totally hypothetical situation, and really, I don’t know if what I’m saying is correct or not, but if I am correct, what can be done about it? Again, I don’t know and it’s academic. But it is interesting.


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