#Haiku: “Melancholy Autumn”

This week’s theme for Colleen’s poetry challenge is a haiku written by Sue Vincent:

clouds cover the moon,
beyond dawn's pale horizon
sun rises unseen  
©2020 Sue Vincent  

The idea is to use Sue’s haiku as inspiration for your own syllabic poetry. Remember, in this challenge we can use any of the following poetry forms: Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Renga, Solo-Renga, Haibun, Tanka Prose, Cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, Nonet, and Shadorma

The current standards for creating Haiku in English suggest a form with three lines and syllables of 3/5/3 (11 syllables). Even the more abbreviated haiku version with three lines and syllables of 2/3/2 (7 syllables) is now thought of more favorably than the traditional 5/7/5 format. Hybrid haiku are written with seventeen-syllables in one or more lines.

Most haiku are written about nature, the seasons, a beautiful moment in nature, an emotional experience while in nature, or change. A haiku should share a special moment of awareness with the reader.

mist meets earth
shrouding streets in gloom
foggy night

by Marsha Ingrao 2020

Revival of Colleen Chesebro’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writer’s Challenge

Colleen Chesebro invited me to reinstate the #WQWWC challenge she used to host with her blogger friend, Ronovan. They eventually chose to focus on poetry and so she opened it up to me to take up the challenge.

#WQWWC will start this Wednesday, December 2nd. Stay tuned for the first theme.

Blog Challenge Interview Series

Do you host or participate in blog challenges? It’s a lot of work. The enjoyment I get from blogging is to promote other hobby bloggers. So if you want to write a guest post or have an interview about the Challenge experience, please contact me. I’d love to feature you and your challenge on Always Write.

Story Chat

A BRAND NEW service to promote hobby bloggers is Story Chat. Your unpublished short story premieres on Always Write. My readers have a chance to chat about the story with you and their friends over a cup of coffee or glass of wine in front of a fire. Later, I will compile all of our thoughts into a summary post giving your story an encore.

Your comments and conversations are the best part of the day. I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

#Story Chat: Jenny’s Bumpy Start

Introducing Story Chat – a unique way to promote Hobby Bloggers who love to write.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I’m Marsha Ingrao from Always Write, a blog dedicated to promoting hobby bloggers.

Hugh Robert’s story, “The People Under the Stairs,” published on Always Write just before Halloween was a huge success.

I want to open up Story Chat to any writer who would like to submit a 750-1,000 word previously unpublished story. It might be a chapter of an unpublished book, like my sample below.

After publication on Always Write, reblog the story on your own site, and/or invite your friends to reblog to increase the dialogue. Anne Goodwin suggested using the story afterward as a newsletter enticement. Great idea Anne!

A few weeks after publication, I will summarize the commentary, interview you, the author, and publish a second post about the story.

Jenny’s Bumpy Start

By Marsha Ingrao 

Sandy Lassiter looked over at Jenny and mouthed the words, “Behind you,” then looked down at her paper as if her eyes were filled with iron filings, and her desk was a magnet.

Jenny looked around the room. The teacher had stepped out of the room.  Jenny Hatfield did not need to look around to know that Sandy meant Jeremy Crawford. He had been poking her in the back with his pencil all morning. All of the kids quickly looked away as she tried to make eye contact. 

Only one ally in this room, and Sandy was obviously not popular with the other kids. As usual, being the new kid at school was already off a bumpy start.

Jeremy stood and loomed over her staring down at her paper. “You think you are so smart, don’t you, Nerd?” He grabbed her paper, and stuck it in his math book.

“You’d better hope I’m smart, if you’re going to copy all my answers.” Jenny looked up but didn’t smile. 

“What’s wrong with your mouth? Did your dad punch you in the face?” Jeremy whispered loudly enough that other students around her looked up, then buried their noses right back into their books. He started laughing loudly enough that the teacher looked back in the room. 

“Jeremy, what are you doing out of your seat?” Mrs. Miller called from the door. “Sit down, and don’t let me see you get up until I tell you to.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” The thud when he sat down shook the floor.

“You’re ugly, new girl,” he whispered again leaning forward in his seat.

“That’s your opinion. You are a bully, Jeremy Crawford. Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to make friends?” she hissed without turning around.

Jenny knew she had to be strong. She couldn’t ignore him, threaten him, insult him back, or even tell the teacher. Many others before Jeremy had asked her that question about her face before. Sometimes she answered, and sometimes she didn’t.

“Like I would want to be friends with you, Freak. Here’s two cents. Go buy yourself a new smile. You need one.”

Jeremy threw two pennies on her desk and laughed as they slid to the floor. Jenny leaned over to pull out her binder from under her desk, ignoring Jeremy as best she could. Her grandmother always told her to be friendly if she wanted to have friends, but she didn’t want this misfit as a friend.

Jeremy’s thick hair rested on his shoulders and looked and smelled like he had not washed it all week. Like a mangy stray dog, his smile, chocked full of crooked yellow teeth, looked more menacing than friendly, and Jenny didn’t want to get close enough to smell his breath. She certainly did not feel like giving him a smile, even a crooked one.

She put the two pennies in her pants pocket and wished for the millionth time that she was back with her friends in Portland rather than god-forsaken Latham School in the middle of nowhere. She quietly placed her binder on her desk, opened it, took out a new piece of paper, and began redoing her homework. Jeremy poked her again.

“I’m not afraid of you,.” Jenny mouthed. She already had three problems finished. Glancing behind her as she spoke, she could see that Jeremy hadn’t even copied one of her problems yet.

Other kids stole glances at Jenny, but quickly looked away, whispering among themselves.

“Oooh, I’m scared,” Jeremy’s voice must have carried beyond the classroom.

Mrs. Miller returned to the room and stood between Jenny and Jeremy. Jeremy pretended to work on his math homework. Mrs. Miller was so close Jenny could smell soap on her hands.

“You’d better be scared of me, young man, and your homework better be started. You’ve only got three weeks before Christmas break to bring up that F in math,” Mrs. Miller said as she hammered a ruler on his desk near his fingers. “Now get to work.”

Mrs. Miller clicked to the front of the room, her just-brightened red lips in a straight line. Jenny wasn’t sure which one of them was the bigger bully as she heard the rivets on Jeremy’s jeans scrape the wooden seat of his desk as he slumped down in his seat. Miss Magnolia at Grandview would never have told the entire class someone’s bad grade no matter how awful they were.

Jenny felt a slight breeze as she  heard Jereny’s book slap the formica top of the 1940s metal desk as he opened his book. Papers slid onto the floor and skittered towards her. Jeremy cursed. Mrs. Miller stood up as though she was going to come back over then turned and wrote Jeremy’s name on the board. 

Jenny picked up the papers, kept hers and gave the rest back to Jeremy. As he grabbed them and growled, she thought of an abused dog. Jenny wondered if Jeremy’s parents were as mean to him as Mrs. Miller was.

What are your thoughts?

To submit your story email me at marshaalwayswrite@tchistorygal.net or fill out the form below.

Blog Challenges

If you host or participate in blog challenges, and want to write a guest post or have an interview about the experience for my Blog Challenge Series, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Story Chat #1

AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s Third Event Winner Is:

Today, I am proud to announce the winners of the Carrot Ranch’s 2020 Writing Rodeo Event #3 which I had the honor of organizing. Ten brave cowpokes saddled up, rustled up six words from the song “Git Along Little Dogies,” and lassoed them little dogies into a unique 99-word story in the genre of their choice.

The judges struggled to pick one over another story they were so doggoned good and so different. Surprise endings, funny, murderous, you would be entertained. Each and every one of the contestants should feel proud. They flexed their writing muscles into fingers of steel.

Everyone who participated is welcomed to display this badge on their website. You earned it!

Now, for our Writing Rodeo 2020 honorable mentions:

“McCall” written by Bill Engleson

“Just a Numbers Game” written by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Walking the Canal Path” written by Susan Spitulnik

“Remarkable Ramblin’” written by Jules Paige

And the winner is:

“New Bride in Wyoming” written by Doug Jacquier

If you’d like to read these fine works, trot on over to https://carrotranch.com where Ranch Head Ms. Charli Mills is displaying and compiling the winners of all of the Writing Rodeo events.

Again, congratulations to the winners and to everyone who entered.

And thank you to the fabulous judges,

Norah Calvin and Irene Waters!

‘It was a pleasure to judge the entries in the Rodeo Competition hosted by Marsha. Each entrant had the same set of rules by which to work and what I loved was the creativity used by each entrant and each writer’s own interpretation of how best to work within these confines. The stories were varied and enjoyable to read. I worried that it would be difficult to find a winner among the wonderful array we had but two did stand out. The winning entry still has me laughing. Congratulations to each and every one of you who entered – being taken outside our comfort zone is a great way of taking your writing to the next level. Congratulations to the winner. Your story was not only funny, it was a complete story with an extremely creative use of the words. I can’t call you by name as I had to wait like everyone else to see who it is that has won.’

Irene Waters

Tanka Tuesday: Moving in a Week


SENRYU IN ENGLISH: Traditional 5/7/5, Current 3/5/3, and Current 2/3/2 syllable structure. A Senryu is written about love, a personal event, and should have irony present.  

Preparing to move
Operating by a list
Can’t find my pencil


Boxes stacked, labeled
Too heavy to carry out
Destructive to toes


Garage sale over
Priceless trinkets hauled away
Mom's bunny - no way!
Relaxing today
Fuzzy pajamas and rain
Somehow it gets done.

For more entries on Tanka Tuesday check out Colleen’s poetry world.

The People Under the Stairs

by Hugh Roberts

The countdown to Halloween is almost here. Hugh Roberts wrote this spooky story just for you, the readers of Always Write. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Thank goodness they had gone. She’d spent 30 years trying to get rid of them, and they choose to go now, a week before she moved to a new home?

Raising her hands in the air, Gloria celebrated, knowing she’d beaten them. It must have been the leftover stilton cheese from Christmas she’d placed under the stairs that had finally driven them out. 

Now, with only a week to go before she moved to the residential home that catered for people with the early onset of dementia, she could finally get started on sorting out 30-years of clutter. 

30-years of disturbed sleep, because of the people under the stairs, had taken its toll on Gloria. Rather than begin sorting out clutter, she could have comfortably sat in her favourite armchair and have taken a nap. The packing could wait until tomorrow, or somebody else could do it.


The following morning, Gloria awoke from the best night’s sleep she’d had since the night of her honeymoon. Throwing back the bedcovers, she made her way downstairs to make the first cuppa of the day.

Just as she walked past the door that led to under the stairs, Gloria came to a grinding halt. Was that a noise she’d heard coming from behind the door or was it her imagination?  

“Oh, I do hope you’re back,” sighed Gloria as she placed her hand on the door handle. “I’m going to countdown from three. If you’re not in there, they’ll be trouble. Three, four, two…Whoosh!”

Nothing but darkness and the faint smell of cheese met Gloria. She felt slightly disappointed that nobody was in there. A sudden noise from upstairs startled her, forcing her to close the door quickly.

‘Gloria? Is that you?” came a muffled, familiar voice from above her.

“You’re my little secret. My first job of the day after my morning cuppa will be to clear out this cupboard; your home,” Gloria told herself.


By the day of the move, Gloria had become a little depressed. How could the people from under the stairs have left her? They may have given her 30 years of disturbed sleep, but they were her best friends. She should never have made them go.

“Come on”, said a familiar voice of a man she didn’t recognise. “It’s time to go. Do you want to take a final look around the house before we go?”

Shaking her head, Gloria shed a few tears. Not only was she leaving behind 30 years of memories but leaving behind 30 years of living with the people from under the stairs. 


On the first night in her new home, Gloria woke to the sound of scratching coming from under her bed. Were they back? The people from under the stairs, were they back?

As she watched the duvet cover slowly disappearing down the bed, revealing the bodies of her and a man who looked familiar, Gloria knew they were back.

Hugh Roberts


Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years. 

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential.’

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019. 

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Hugh W. Roberts: Author, Blogger, & Writer
Blog: Hugh’s Views And News
Author of: More Glimpses and Glimpses

Books: Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @HughRoberts05
Flipboard: Hugh W. Roberts

Let me know in the comment section if you would enjoy more short stories from different authors in the future.