9 tips for new bloggers… from an old Cockney gangster…

Wizened old cockney man-crone: (huskily) ‘ere, son, come over ‘ere a minute…

Fresh-faced cherub: What is it grandad?

WOCMC: Grandad? Grandad? I’m only 27.
(a cough from the back of the room)
Fack off.

FFC: No offence meant… senior person-type thing… you look a bit like Brick Top from Snatch – did you know that?… so, what do you want? I was just about to publish my first blog post…

WOCMC: Yeah, it’s about that. ‘ardest game in the world, blogging.

FFC: Really?

WOCMC: No, not really. Unfortunately it’s a piece of piss. Getting started, anyhow. ‘ave you seen some of the royal shit on ‘ere?

FFC: No, I haven’t had the pleasure. Should I have?

WOCMC: (whispering) Don’t be too obvious now. (Louder) Oh, I could tell you some things about blogging, alright… stories that’d make your hair burn…

FFC: It’s okay, I think I’ve got a handle on it. I did find this post from Hugh very useful.

WOCMC: Oh, you did, did you? Yeah, I’ve ‘eard of him. He’s disappeared a few people over there in Wales in his time. Never ‘ad the pleasure meself. Anyway, the problem with that Hugh is he’s nice. Actually likes trying be all helpful, if you can imagine.

FFC: And that’s a problem because?…

WOCMC: (extra husky) I ain’t nice.

FFC: I beg your pardon?

WOCMC: I said I ain’t nice. You got treacle in your ears, sunshine? If you want me to read the shit you put on your blog, you’re gonna have to fackin’ work for it.

FFC: (pleading) But I’ve been reading some articles about how to make a million from my blog in the first week!

WOCMC: (laughs, pisses him/herself) Never mind that shit, you prize twerp! Here are my top 9 tips to get actual people to follow you

FFC: Shouldn’t it be a Top 10?

WOCMC: (shakes head) ‘ow little you know…


9 rules for ‘appy blogging

1. Don’t be BORING. You may not be a comedian, sunshine, but there ain’t no excuse for not being interesting.

2. Don’t APOLOGISE. Just say what you gotta say, treacle.

3. Pick a theme that don’t make me VOMIT

4. A FOLLOW for a Follow? You ‘avin’ a laugh?

5. Don’t BEG for me to come and look at yer blog. ‘ave a bit of respect for ye’self.

6. EXPERIMENT…slowly

7. Don’t EXPECT. Build your crew up slow, like.

8. Not TOO MUCH/ OFTEN. Ain’t got no time for blabbermouths…

9. Not too BROAD. This ain’t the London Palladium, and you ain’t Bruce Forsyth, god rest his soul.



Grabbing 2018 by the B&lls!

Let’s be honest, 2017 as a year was… a bit shit. Too much hate-filled terrorism, too much idiocy-filled Brexit, too much asshole-filled Trump… even the celebrity deaths looked a bit shit compared with the previous year (RIP David Bowie and Alan Rickman). Not to mention that The Last Jedi was also…a bit shit. (Sad, but true. Feel free to fail to convince me otherwise below…)

But this isn’t the “a bit shit” blog. (Quiet at the back.)

I’ve had a poem saved in drafts for over two years now. It’s about feeling low in the new year (“the calendar moves on/ I remain still”)… it’s not going to get published here this year either. It’s just not what I want to share. Life is “a bit shit” enough without me releasing my faintly whiffy poetry into the air. It would be as welcome as a fart at a funeral. (As I’m fairly sure Geoff Le Pard would/has put it!)

I’m also not one of those annoyingly cheerful positive types. I know some of my American readers lap that stuff up, but us Brits don’t really go in for that either.


Those are our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” equivalents.

I digress.

So… a middle way. A smidge of positivity, without the odour of negativity. A sustainable, splash-free course through the swirling turd-hills of terror, Brexit, Trump, #this-year’s-evil…

In terms of my poetry, things are starting to move along… I have joined a supportive poetry collective, DIY Poets… I will continue to attend open mics (am back to The Cave next week)… I have a brief slot supporting the brilliantly funny poet John Hegley in March… I got my first publishing credits last year (in a charity collection – Diverse Verse – and then in a wonderful local Christmas ‘zine through Mud Press)… I have collated poetry for at least three different collections I intend to self-publish (pending me arranging some cover art)… I hope to soon be sharing a few videos of my poems on youtube…

In terms of my other writing, I am currently developing an idea I have for a sitcom, and am trying to get to grips with screenwriting… I may even go back to a novel I started in 2016… plus some unfinished business with drafts of a handful of children’s picture books…

A few different options!

So… back to grabbing 2018 by the balls (or throat, if you prefer a more violent but less sexual image)…

I have volunteered to help organise the Nottingham Poetry Festival in April. I will be the official blogger in the build-up to and during the festival. What this means in reality, I can’t yet tell you (not because it’s secret, but because I don’t yet know either!), but when the call went out for people to help a month ago, I took an afternoon off work, got the tram into Nottingham, sucked in my gut, and said to a room-full of strangers “err…anything I can do?”

I am very excited about this one!

I hate “takeaways” (unless being used in the British sense of food delivered to your door, obviously), but if there is a takeaway from this, it’s just this:

When whatever-your-thing-in-2018 sends a call out for people to help (and it will)
– Get on the bus/ tram/ boat/ unicycle
– Suck in your gut
– Say “err… is there anything I can do to help?…”

To your success!



NaNo – Hell Yeah!

I mentioned on here last week that I’d committed to the NaNoWriMo challenge. For those who don’t know, this is the National Novel Writing Month, where a bunch of writers needing less caffeine in their lives commit to writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November.



My novel stalled at an early stage. I have written (what I think is) a great prologue, and I have (again, what I think is) an original and funny idea, but actually getting my butt in the chair and getting a draft down… a different matter. So, with reckless disregard for my previous lack of writing of any decent word count, I signed up to knuckle down, shape up, get grafting, and all those other metaphors that should grace a reasonable montage sequence at the end of all this.

My aims are twofold.

First, to develop a style of writing where I can turn off the inner editor. I have no ambitions to actually attain the word count target, but if I can stop editing as I go, allow myself the freedom to write in a more stream-of-consciousness style, and GET SOME WORDS DOWN FIRST! then this will be a huge step forward for me. At present, I am such a perfectionist that only poetry and short forms of fiction are reasonable goals. (Quiet at the back – if you think my writing’s bad now, just imagine how much worse it would be without that commitment!) I need to change my style to allow for this expansion into the longer form. Having just re-read this section a half-dozen times, the scale of this challenge is not to be under-estimated…

Second, to instill more discipline about when I write. I have agreed with my wife a timetable for when I’ll be writing. This will include a few hours BIC time every day (with extra time no doubt for planning and plotting… not that I’m much of a plotter), with an extra top-up session at the weekend. On top of a full time job and family commitments, this is not inconsiderable, and I need to get maximum return from that BIC time. This means, adios internet. Bye bye blogging. Piss off poetry… you get the idea. Focus. I’ll be a lean, mean writing machine. I’m just going to have to miss out on catching up on anyone else’s blog for a month, park my own, and hope that the latest cat videos and memes aren’t as cute as they used to be…

So, that’s me. Will it work? Who knows… but I have to try 🙂

See you in December!



Al! Al! Where are you going? I’ve just uploaded another video onto my youtube stream…

Checking in

Hi everyone!

I’ve not been around on WordPress much lately. My new job is going well, but doesn’t leave much room for blogging. In the evenings, I’ve been working on what I hope will become my first novel, and have been learning a whole new bunch of skills relating to plotting, planning (this is anathema to me!), character arcs, and all that jazz.

It’s a comedy, naturally, in my own particular style, although I should probably clarify that there are no zombies in this one. Well, not yet anyway. Who can tell where the muse/second draft will take you?

It’s at the fairly early stages, and I haven’t really worked out the plot yet (it’s character-driven)… but that’s what I’m spending my evenings on 🙂

I’ll keep posting the occasional thing on here, just to keep my hand in. A bit of nonsense, some haiku, some limericks, some more serious stuff… the usual range of rubbish from me!

Weirdly, yesterday was my best day ever for follows of my blog… and I haven’t posted anything for ages. Wonder what that tells me…

I had thought about writing some “milestone” posts on having reached a certain number of followers, and reaching my second anniversary on WP (on Sep 14th), but I’m not sure those things mean anything to anyone except me.

Besides, it’s not where you’ve been, but where you’re going, right?

Hope you’re all enjoying your onward journeys. Wherever those winds are taking you x




Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/marcovdz/5397827212

99-word story – Sound

I bathe in sound. I sample nibbles of pleasure from each vibration darting across my ear drums and diving into my cortex, translated into a sensuous internal orgy, savouring each soft contact. Conducting each stochastic orchestra, I stand proud and revel in the tempo and timpani of the beats of life, vibrant, swayful, playful. I zealously horde rictus rhythms, stockpiling them deep in psychological vaults, ready to access at a moment’s notice, always ready for me. Dextrous fingers tap out the beat, luxuriating in the lovers’ secret dance, beneath covers of shame…

It’s the silence that fills my nightmares.



Written for Charli Mills’ weekly 99-word prompt challenge, on the theme of “the sense of sound” – https://carrotranch.com/2016/08/04/august-3-flash-fiction-challenge/


Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/ninac52/16342600542

99-word story – The Story

Has anyone read this story before??


Once upon a time, there was a simple, self-aware Story. It went about its business in the town of Letters-on-the-Page, quietly sowing seeds that would be developed later. As inevitably happens, some chaotic words were introduced, disrupting the cosiness of Story’s existence. Things got steadily worse, despite Story’s best efforts.

In the middle, Story decided a different approach was needed. The experience had fundamentally changed it.

Nevertheless, those unsavoury words looked like they had the upper hand. Calamity! Then, just in the nick of time, everything was resolved in an obvious yet surprising way, paving way for… “The End”.



Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/rossyyume/7772794404

The Book of Love – flash fiction

This is my final contribution to my week of #SummerLovin… this may be the best thing I’ve ever written. Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

The Book of Love is a weighty tome, bound in exquisite green leather. Within its well-worn pages are all the stories you’ll ever need to hear, although they can be difficult to follow. Narrative is rarely linear. Happy endings are rare. Expected endings rarer still.

By a quirk of fate, in an opportune fold of the book by the celestial reader’s hand, two of the pages met one day.

Page 37 was a chapter midpoint, full of florid, overblown descriptions of clouds and silver linings, and ended on an unfortunate joke about bottoms. The page was marked by a smudgy, greasy thumbprint.

Page 294 was very different. Enigmatic and alluring, fiery and passionate, but with an undercurrent of disappointment, the last sentence of the page being cut off midway through. 294 had the air of someone who was certain their car keys were down the back of the sofa, but cannot find them, no matter how many times they’d look. Not a single bottom joke graced that page. Slightly strangely, the reader had circled one word in the centre of the page, seemingly at random. “Birthday

And although one was even, and one decidedly odd, a great friendship grew, there in the margins, where the binding just – just – connected them.

37 would opine for days in his pompous prose, and 294 received it in good humour, responding in kind. They were never quite on the same page, naturally enough, but they were somewhere close to it. Each challenged the other, in spite of their own shortcomings, and something deeper than friendship emerged.

Each longed for the other, and would dream of ways to make it so.

To be a pair of facing pages.

They fantasised about watching the sun set together, without one being in the closed darkness of the book. They imagined starting their own book, free of the set narrative. They wished a fairytale of their own.

But the binding of the book was fixed, and it was never to be, and they continued their love there in the margins, where the binding just – just – connected them.

And if you look back now, within the well-worn pages of The Book of Love, and take a glance at Page 37, and at Page 294, and at all the pages in between, you will find that the words written on those pages haven’t changed at all. But their meaning has changed completely.



Caress the Phrase…

Caress the phrase tenderly
Tease it from shyness

Test the words aloud
In breathy whispers

Lean in close to hear
Heat burning cheeks


Moisten lips for contact
Gentle adjective trail

Verbs explore all over
Seeking connection

Yielding to will
Aural serendipity

The right word in the right place…
Gasp of recognition

Familiar flush.
Make poetry for hours

What can I say? I frickin’ love making poetry… I’ve also recorded an audio version. I think this is another one for me to try and get Nigella Lawson to record… anyone have her number?? 

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/mpaulmd/12419814805

Taking a break…

I had the pleasure of attending my brother’s wedding at the weekend, and managed to go completely offline for (most of) two days. I returned to a mind-blowing 400 emails, mostly blog notifications. Even if I read and dealt with each one in a minute, that amounts to 10% of ALL my time over the weekend, waking and sleeping!

I need to scale back a bit.

Actually, a lot.

There is so much that I want to do with my writing, but trying to keep up with the endless treadmill on WordPress is exhausting. There are so many talented poets, writers and bloggers that I follow… so much is inspiring, or beautiful, or heart-felt, or just plain old-fashioned funny… but it’s a distraction from my own writing, and what I need to do.

I am off to the Isle of Wight Festival this weekend, and will be completely offline from Thursday to Monday, most likely caked in mud, and merrily light-headed/unconscious (it’s a binary thing – either one or the other) from my stash of Jack Daniels, my festival buddy.

This weekend is a good catalyst for me to take a bit more of a break and re-charge the batteries.

So … drum roll… I’m going to take a full fortnight off from anything WordPress-y. This will be a HUGE challenge for me, but it needs to be done! (Can you help me out by being a bit less interesting and awesome for this fortnight? Please? 🙂 )

While I’m away, I’m going to write my Blogifesto – my promises to you – and I’ll share that with you in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a couple of other things up my sleeve that I hope you’re gonna love too…

Have a great fortnight, whatever you’re going to be doing. I hope you’ll still be here when I come back! 🙂



Getting away from it all…

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/fumigraphik/15006192406

Coming Up!

I’ve settled into a regular-ish blogging routine now, based around a handful of challenges that I enjoy, and that tolerate my continued wibbling. So, in an attempt to manage my own time as much as your fervent expectations (honestly, it’s like Beatlemania meets Biebermania every time I step out of my own front door), this is what you can expect each day, between now and April (when the poem-a-day blogging challenge kicks in, and I cry myself to sleep every day for failing to prepare despite having no excuse this year).

The BIG NEWS is that I have secured an exciting guest blogger to come and join me every Monday until April… See Yi-Oh will be sharing the benefits of his business nous (in haiku form, obviously) in a new series “The Two-Minute Manager“. I hope you’ll give him a warm welcome when he joins me tomorrow!

MONDAY – Limerick Challenge / The Two-Minute Manager

TUESDAY – Haiku Challenges – Ronovan & haiku horizons

WEDNESDAY – Secret Keeper’s Challenge

THURSDAY – Pop-Culture Thursday… the name needs work, but it’ll be something rhyme-y whyme-y, about something pop-culture-y

FRIDAY – The Great Book of Lists

WEEKENDS – no planned posts, unless for a specific challenge. I’ll be spending Saturdays entirely offline. Go and have some outdoor fun, people!

Plus there will be other bouts of randomness as and when inspiration strikes.

If there are any burning topics, ignored by better poets, that you think need covering in rhyme, let me know below the line 🙂



The scene outside my front door every morning… makes the commute to work a challenge…

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/613445810