Posted in Literature

Writing: Grasmere

For National Storytelling Week, the library at my university held a flash fiction competition for entries that were 100 words or under and inspired by the painting ‘Grasmere’ by George Fennel Robson. Below is my entry.

I left a piece of myself in Grasmere, atop Helm Crag to watch the Lion play on cloudless nights. To remember flying higher than kites and flowing through the world like a stream beneath the peaks. To see the jigsaws in the land and the lambs as they mow. Most of all, I left a piece to remember you, to remember us, as we ascended through madness and broke petty illusions. To hold our hearts in mind and memorise the strength we forged. I left a piece of us in Grasmere. [91 WORDS]

This was given second place in the competition and I won the prizes of a bookish t-shirt and two books! The t-shirt was from Out of Print and is inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the two books are Thin Air by Michelle Paver and The Therapist by B.A. Paris. I’m very pleased to have won second with this dinky little microfiction piece and hoping it’s a good sign for future writing.

Image containing a green t-shirt with two books lain on top of it; one book is blue, called Thin Air and the other red, called The Therapist
Prizes: T-shirt and paperback books
Posted in Literature

Writing: NYCMMF250 2021 – Round 2

Following on from my post with Round 1’s story, here is Round 2’s entry and feedback! Sadly, I didn’t advance into Round 3 but nevertheless I’m quite impressed I got as far as I did for my first attempt at any of NYC Midnight’s challenges. I hope to revisit this story and maybe expand it, and correct a couple of parts. My Round 2 prompts were:

Genre: Sci-fi
Action: Opening a refrigerator
Word: Tail

Welcome Home
by Rai Furniss-Greasley, 2021

Rin and Char were throwing a party to celebrate their new home planetside after years of juggling their relationship between two different ships. Rin was buzzing with a nervous excitement; her crew had been happy for her when she’d left but this would be the first time they’d met Char in person. She knew they were accepting of inter-species couples nevertheless she wanted them to like Char too.

Only two of Char’s younger siblings were coming. Their family didn’t approve of a relationship with a human and it had been a secret from their last crew. Char was a quiet, private sort and while they had a few good friends no one was close enough to their new home to make it for the party. Char didn’t mind, as long as Rin was happy.

They were both in their new kitchen preparing far too much food for their guests, Rin with stacks of covered dishes tottering towards the refrigeration unit. Hands full, she nodded towards the door,

“Would you?”

Char grinned, they were busy chopping ingredients but an ambulatory tail came in handy sometimes. They opened up the fridge and Rin half-placed, half-dropped the food onto the shelves with a clatter.

“Thank you, darling.” Rin beamed and came over behind Char to give her a hug. It felt so good to be together finally. Char wrapped her tail around Rin to hold her close as they turned away from the food to steal a kiss.

Judge’s Feedback

What the judge’s liked:

Judge A:  The reader is drawn into the story by Rin and Char’s interspecies relationship. The closeness of the two characters is illustrated as the events unfold. Then that leads to the heartwarming ending.   

Judge B:  There are few things sweeter than two lovers cooking together in their new kitchen. I thought the simple gesture of opening the fridge door was a sweet, strong choice for a focal point in their interaction, really driving home their relationship’s kindness and mutual care. 

Judge C:  The acceptance of inter-species couples as a contested, complicated issue is a relatable parallel situation for any reader, which helps define a world otherwise different from reality in terms understandable to anyone. 


What the judge’s feel needs work:

Judge A:  To add to the overall impact of the story and clarity for the reader, consider being clear Rin is the human and indicating Char’s species early on. As an additional suggestion, consider adding another element of controversy with Char’s family. To find some additional word count for those things consider reviewing for low impact descriptive words/phrases to eliminate. Just as an example, the phrase “far too much” in the sentence that begins, “They were both in…”  

Judge B:  To me, the first half of the story took a little too long, compared to the party prep. I think that perhaps weaving the back story into the present moment would give readers an anchor point to move from right out the gate while still allowing for you to shine a light on the essential parts of their history. 

Judge C:  Though this is but a brief moment between Rin and Char as they prepare for their guests, drawing out their differences as two separate species, as they work together functionally, complementing each other to the increased benefit of their relationship as a whole, would help solidify the presented idea that love is love, and others’ opinions only tangentially matter. Char has a tail, and Rin is human, but how else are they different, and similar? More details could be expressed through the little actions they take while preparing for their guests.


Posted in Literature

Writing: NYCMMF250 2021 – Round 1

The NYC Midnight Micro-fiction 250 Challenge for 2021 is the third time it has been run and, in short, it’s a challenge to write flash fiction stories, in under 24 hours, to three specific prompts and no more than 250 words long. Each round you get a genre, action and word prompt that shapes what your piece looks like. If you’re in the top 10 of your group at the end of Round 1, you get to go through to Round 2. Then, if you’re in the top 5 after that, you go to Round 3 where you have a little more freedom as to what you write. Below I’ve included my Round 1 submission and the feedback I received on it from judges. The prompts for this round were:

Genre: Comedy
Action: Sneaking into someone’s house
Word: Wear

This story got me through to Round 2 and I’ll post that story & it’s feedback soon.

Couple’s Therapy
by Rai Furniss-Greasley, 2021

The first time I snuck into Dave’s house for a bit of extra food, it was easy. I could get in through the backdoor, no problem, and he didn’t even notice I’d been in. On my third trip, he had some chicken leftovers on the side cooling down before they went in the fridge and in my excitement I knocked the whole lot over. That tipped him off to my antics. On my next foraging foray to Dave’s kitchen, I crept through to the living room to find him snoring on the sofa. Poor sod, I thought, I’m doing him a favour, keeping him company.

I admit, we had a rough start but not everyone gets along straight away, do they? On one occasion he caught me mid-sneak – before I’d grabbed any tasty treats – and yelled,

“Bugger off! If I catch you in here again, I’ll wear you for a hat!”

I’ll have pissed on your biscuits before you caught me! I thought as I scarpered through the gap in the back fence.

I gave him a few days to cool off after that. Over my next few visits I noticed he would just hmph in my direction if he saw me. Then he surprised me by leaving a plate out for me. Finally! He’s repaying my charity, I thought.

“C’mere, you furry bastard.” he grumbles at me now, patting the sofa seat next to him. Humans are strange creatures but this one’s mine.

Judge’s Feedback

What the judges liked:

Judge A:  I love that you don’t reveal that the point of view is from an animal and you trust that your audience is smart enough to figure that out on their own. You’re very economical in your writing as well adn [sic] it serves the story nicely. Also a good mix of dialogue and exposition.  

Judge B:  I thought you set up your story well by not revealing that the protagonist is a cat until partway through. I actually thought the protagonist was a neighbour until Dave threatened to wear him for a hat. I also thought you did a good job showing the personality of your protagonist. Cats certainly behave as if they are doing their humans a favour, just by being there.

I also think you have a good balance between showing and telling. This can be difficult in the first person so well done. 

Judge C:  Wonderful writing, and amazingly bold POV. Smart choice for a protagonist. You really know how to write mischievous animals, and it made for a delightful read. You’re not afraid to be unconventional.  


What the judges feel needs work:

Judge A: One thing you might think about is how to reveal more of the animal’s personality. Are they always sneaking into people’s houses or do they do this with everyone. Are they mischievous or maybe picky about food? I think there are small and effective ways you can infuse some things like that.    

Judge B: I felt that you could have tightened up some of your sentences. For example, you wrote, “On my next foraging foray to Dave’s kitchen…”. In this phrase, all you really need to tell us is that it  is his next foray. That it is a foraging foray and that it is to Dave’s kitchen is understood. By tightening your sentences throughout, it would give you more room to include any other things that you may think are important. 

Judge C: The ending is usually the weak point, but yours was fantastic, and even touching. One of my favorites, not much room to improve.