Tag Archives: writing

A Delicious Writing Prompt

The GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF has been an event to bring together some amazing WordPress users – both writers, poets, bakers, bloggers, readers and others who want to engage with other very lovely WordPress users. It has been an incredibly colourful, yummy and joyful event for the past three years, and Jeanne, Gary and I are delighted to be preparing for the 2022 BAKE OFF.

This year, we are inviting writers to respond to a special GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF Writing Prompt. However, your writing does not have to be strictly about baking (although we would be thrilled if there was a baking aspect).

Pixabay image – Credits: ArtsyBee / 3959 images

Many of you will have seen that this year’s BAKE OFF has the theme:

The Joy Of Baking

But we are focusing on three areas of baking that can bring joy despite the anxious worries many of us have due to tumultuous world events and personal concerns.

  • BUDGET BAKING
  • SUSTAINABLE BAKING
  • SHARING THE JOY OF BAKING WITH OTHERS

This year we are asking you to write in response to one of the following three themes (you can respond to as many as you like):

THE COST OF LIVING

OUR BEAUTIFUL HOME – PLANET EARTH

HOW TO FIND JOY IN LIFE AND SHARE JOY WITH OTHERS IN TROUBLESOME TIMES

Your piece can take any format you prefer. It can be short, it can be long. It can be comedy, mystery, or real-life drama. It can be a work of fiction, a story, or it can be your thoughts on any of these subjects. But we would love your work to be a reflection of you as a writer. Every year THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF introduces us to more and more fabulous bloggers so we would love you to put some of your personality and style into your writing so that new readers can get to know you.

Please publish your writing in response to the special bake off writing prompt ON YOUR SITE. During BAKE OFF weekend (15th & 16th October 2022) we will have a special post featuring links to your posts. But our writing prompt is open now, so please either pingback to this post or copy a link to your post in the comments below, so that we can find your post.

You are very welcome to advertise our SPECIAL BAKE OFF WRITING PROMPT. You are very welcome to use the Pixabay image used for our writing prompt logo. You are very welcome to send in any questions about the BAKE OFF (or indeed baking photographs) to:

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

Two Very Different Men And The Siren In That Gold Dress

I have found that pictures can provide huge inspiration. I remember seeing an image a few years ago and deciding that was Annabelle the night Robin met her…

In my mind, Robin is just one of the men who see the stunning siren walk into the venue where a PR event/cocktail party is being held by a New York media company. Robin is there with his flatmate, who works for the company. Seeing that Robin cannot keep his eyes off Annabelle, his flatmate (who knows that Annabelle is known as the blonde on the arm of one of the hottest musicians in the charts – Dean Mathers – until their recent split) tells Robin that he does not have a chance with Annabelle.

Determined not to be put off, Robin makes a beeline for Annabelle. He has no idea who she is and he has never heard of Dean Mathers.

Now although the picture above was the original inspiration for Annabelle’s breath-taking entrance at the party where Robin sees her for the first time, I knew there were a few details that I had to address. Annabelle has been very low and lost since her break up from Dean. The last place she wants to be is at a party, but in her new role for Sony, she is expected to be at these social events. There are signs of how troubled she is on her arms and legs and other parts of her body. So I realized that her stunning dress actually needed full length sleeves as well as being long and nowhere near as revealing as the dress above. Annabelle has deliberately chosen the dress because it hides her injuries, but the dazzling gold is eye-catching.

Then comes the worst start. Robin attempts to flirt with Annabelle by sidling up to her and remarking, “You do realize that your dress isn’t in fashion, don’t you? You the only woman in the room not showing off any cleavage.”

Annabelle is quite rightly unimpressed by Robin’s overly personal and direct comment. She gives him that look of “Go away please Creep!” Coldly she replies, “I don’t need any advice on how to dress,” and turns to move away.

Realizing immediately that Annabelle does not see any humour in his comment, Robin tries to keep her attention, “What about my tie? What do you think of my tie?”

Irritated by Robin’s persistence, Annabelle states, “It’s just a black tie.”

“Is that all you can see? There’s a lot more to this tie than that.”

Bewildered, Annabelle turns Robin’s tie over and reads the garment care label, “100% silk, delicate dry-clean only”.

Robin looks into Annabelle’s eyes, “Don’t judge too quickly on first impressions. There is a lot more to get to know.” When Annabelle is still hesitant, Robin holds out his hand and suggests, “Can I go back and start again? Hi, I’m Robin Grainger. It’s nice to meet you.”

Accepting his handshake, the beauty replies, “Annabelle. No, there is no going back, we can only go forwards.”

Gambling the progress he has made during an awkward conversation, Robin boldly asks, “Does going forwards mean you will consider coming back to my place?”

It is just one scene…but it included lots of references that tie into other conversations in the book. It is Dean who has always said to Annabelle, “No regrets. There is no going back, you can only go forwards.” The night she meets Robin, Dean is still at the centre of her thoughts. It is the care label on Annabelle’s dress that he uses to show her he is not going to let her down.

I am finding as I am imagining and writing, Annabelle is profoundly aware of the differences between Robin and Dean.

It is Robin’s direct confident manner that Annabelle is bowled over by and she soon find herself swept off her feet by the self-assured, strong-willed, decisive and dynamic man, who is a contrast to often disheveled and unkempt Dean, who suffered from stage-fright and turned to alcohol to settle his nerves and cope with pressure. Annabelle has spent years with Dean, her first boyfriend, who grew up like her in the Bronx, and talked about guitars, motorbikes and tattoos…and has habits that distress Annabelle, meaning she often has had to care for him when he made himself ill. She cannot help see the contrast in the clever, well-read English man who dresses well, eats well, and is thrilled to have met Annabelle.

It is so much fun to go back and think about these characters in more detail. I love Chris Ward as much as everyone else who has read Annabelle’s story. But for now, I am dwelling on Annabelle before she ever meets Chris. This is a stage in her life that fascinates me, and I am amazed at how much fun it is to work out the intricate detail.

You Guessed Right!!!

Well…some of you did…sort of…halfway there at least.

Yes…yes…the answer is New York, or more specifically Manhattan. But I am not physically there. Let me explain.

You may have detected over the past few months that I have had moments when the unfulfilling paid job I have, and the very fulfilling but also very very busy unpaid work I do has contributed to me feeling tired.

I have written about it at times. I also received some lovely suggestions from other bloggers and writers on how to switch off to all that has been on my mind. Paula Light made the suggestion at one stage “write another book”. I loved that suggestion, but realistically that is not in the pipeline right now. I am still editing my first three and polishing up the dialogue and descriptions, and eliminating every single grammatical error.

But I thought to myself…I can still write shorter fictional pieces. There is something I have wanted to write about for some time, and while Jack is away (he is South East Asia at the moment) I realized I allow myself the luxury of letting my mind wander.

So…I am finally letting myself work out Annabelle Riley’s time in New York….

Photo by Quintin Gellar on Pexels.com

….after Dean and her break up…how dark her thoughts turn for the few months she is alone, how she met Robin, why she fell for him so quickly and so completely, how Robin reacted to this gorgeous caramel blonde who is ten years younger than him, working for a major record label and living in a stunning apartment.

In my head…I am in Manhatten. I am having so much fun! The conversations between Annabelle and Robin, the places they go, the fun they have, the food they eat, the people they meet. I forgot how enjoyable it is to imagine your characters as they grow and adventure.

I Used To Dig Deep

When I first started writing and publishing my work on this site, I found myself digging deep, and digging deeper and deeper as I gained great satisfaction from expressing deep hidden gemstones and precious relics into words.

But I have felt as if over the past couple of years, I am not longer digging as deep. I think the major reason behind that is limited time. I think also when I started writing, a very turbulent traumatic stage in my life was still dominating everything, whereas several years later, I have such peace of mind and heart and the painful estrangement that tormented me is long forgotten (and has of course become an engagement!)

Then there is another factor. When I started writing, I kept my site a secret from friends for a long time. It was only during the Pandemic that people I know expressed an interest in blogging, and gradually they came to learn that I had been publishing for a long time. I do sort of think that because I know that what I share may be seen by my friends and some of my colleagues, I hold back a little now.

I do miss it. I was thinking about something I wanted to write about as I walked home from work. I wanted to get it out and put it out there. But remembering friends would see it and perhaps worry, I decided not to. I miss digging deep.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Blogging Interactions

How do you address those who read the posts you publish on your blog? Some of them may know you in real life, others may be complete strangers. Some of them perhaps randomly stumble across your blog and never return, others stick with you as you stick with them and friendly feelings grow as you share your thoughts/feelings, your creativity and all sorts of other interesting things.

I don’t think I start any of my posts with an adress of any kind. I just start writing, I have seen others start a post with expressions like “Good Morning Friends”…or “Dear Fellow Bloggers”…or “Hello World”. None of these bother me, and in a way they are quite sweet. But the other day, I was tired, and hot and sweaty, and a little grumpy because Jack had left for his flight….and I read a post from a blogger I was following who had started their post with the following:

“Hello Fans”

Photo by Vinu00edcius Caricatte on Pexels.com

…and it really irritated me. Perhaps that is because I have such a massive dislike of “celebrity culture”. Anyway…in my opinion, that is no way to start a blog post.

Not Naturally A Planner

Like many of you, I really enjoy the questions posed in the daily Cyranny’s Quickie posts. Recently, one question caused me quite a lot of reflection about how much I have changed:

Since I was a child I have heard the phrase “have a schedule”, and perhaps I heard it too much, because I came to hate it. For a long long time, I resisted this notion, wanting to be more of a free spirit perhaps.

Yet, I have learnt two things:

  • having some form of schedule is a very wise idea because it helps you to make better use of time (“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.” – BENJAMIN FRANKLIN)
  • be purposeful – which includes being flexible and reasonable as it is often difficult to keep to a rigid schedule when all sorts of things can crop up, but being purposeful means you can adjust to unexpected challenges (“The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.” – ROBERT BURNS)
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Which brings me to my point….I absolutely love the SCHEDULE feature that WordPress offers. It has been something I have depended on for the past few years. I don’t have time on a daily basis to write, so when I do have an hour to myself, I can write five or six posts and schedule them to be published. I also have plenty in my drafts folder than can be scheduled when I am really short on time.

But sometimes, things seem to go wrong with my WordPress SCHEDULE. I tend to publish my posts at the same time each day….only because experienced bloggers have recommended consistency. The time I have chosen is about 90 minutes before my alarm clock goes off. It means than when I turn my alarm clock off, I can have a quick peak at the BBC News headlines, and check on the post that was published on my WordPress site. Normally, 90 minutes after it goes live, there are a handful of “likes” which is always encouraging.

This morning, I had a SCHEDULE failure. The post I had scheduled for today was nowhere to be seen. It turned out to be my fault. There is a big difference between AM and PM – a whole twelve hours! So, I tweaked it and now it will be published tomorrow instead.

How Do They Find The Energy?

My morning commute was rather entertaining this week. Bizarrely, every morning a family with small children boarded the same train as I did and sat in the seats on the other side of the central aisle.

My goodness – children are hilarious aren’t they! I mean – you could not pay for that kind of comedy act. Mum looking harassed, reminding a laidback Dad of where he needed to be, at what time, and at which side of the building….all at the same time as she tried to read a story to her little ones – and she was such a great story reader, packing expression and drama into every sentence.

However, it was the children who stole the show. Their non-stop chatter, perfect comic timing, brutal observations – oh my – it was brilliant.


Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

When I reached the office after my first journey with them, I wrote down some of what I heard. So my delight at seeing them a second and a third time, and being able to listen to the family banter and note down some of the genius remarks from the children – oh it was a little treasure trove of inspiration and I am sure I will be using it in future writing.

But truly, I have no idea how those parents find the energy to accompany those children. I was shattered after a half-hour journey with them.

Could I Have That In Writing Please?

Is it just me – or is it becoming more difficult to communicate through written means? I don’t have any issues with writing….but I seem to find others having difficulty understanding.

There could be so many reasons for that, and I appreciate that if somebody finds reading challenging, then a lengthy email might dismay them.

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

But recently, I have found repeated occasions when somebody has either misread, misunderstood or reacted badly. I sent a very polite and warm email to somebody who worked for a different company asking them to provide some information we needed. The reaction I received was slightly frightening. Maybe that person was just having a bad day.

Hmm…

I guess the challenge for me is that the reading and writing are my preferred method of communicating. I find it easier to make sure the information I convey is accurate. Likewise, I find it much easier to read as a means to learning. Sometimes, when people say something to me, it does not make any sense. If I can read it…I can compensate for any language difficulties.

Hmm…

Times have changed. Half of internal communications seem to be made up of emojis and gifs. I think there is a lot less effort put into written forms of communication – and although there may be some valid reasons for that change – I am actually finding it quite challenging.

The Dog Ate My Homework Sir

I woke up this morning and realized there was no post on my blog. The truth is I had forgotten. There were all sorts of reasons I forgot:

  • It has been another busy weekend
  • I was tired after three exhausting days at paid work
  • I typed out what was supposed to be a quick email but became a very long email last night
  • My period started last night and I started having tummy cramps
  • My sister called me just before I was about to go to sleep
  • Jack wanted to talk about something – something deep

Yes, I know it sounds like I am offering excuses as to why I did not turn in my homework on time. I feel like a rebel at school.

Photo by Almighty Shilref on Pexels.com

I didn’t mind there not being a post on my site, although I generally keep to a daily post nowadays. I was a little annoyed with myself because I have scores of drafts all ready to be published on days when I don’t have time or inspiration to write.

Still let’s relax – here in the UK, it is a Bank Holiday Monday – we are working. But I am happy about that – we are doing what we love. Now it is time for breakfast and coffee, and then we are heading out.

Enjoy your day!