MOLP – The Literary Prize That Changes Lives

MOLP 3The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize (MOLP as it’s more familiarly known) opened for the third time on the 1st September 2016. Previously attracting entries from over 20 countries, it offers a generous prize fund for each of its two categories, poems of up to 50 lines and short stories of up to 4,000 words. Winning and shortlisted entries are published in an anthology. It’s always exciting for a writer to see their work in print – but these are not the only lives that have been changed by this competition.

Since its inception, MOLP has planted a tree for EVERY entry received in the competition, creating the Word Forest which is now 11 times the size of Wembley Stadium.  This has been planted in Bore, Kenya, an area that had previously been massively deforested; the project has been led by international forestry expert Ru Hartwell. Not only does this benefit the planet in terms of long term CO2 capture but it helps the community of Bore, as the trees will also provide them with food, medicines, shelter and protection from the elements and reintroduce biodiversity. In time, it could generate an income for them too.

Children at Kundeni Primary SchoolMOLP has also funded a second classroom at Kundeni Primary School in Bore, which was completed this year. Previously, the 300 students had only had one classroom and so many had had to study outside in the heat.

Magic Oxygen Publishing remain committed to supporting the Word Forest and the community of Bore. The literary prize AND the Word Forest continue to grow. Be a part of it – pick up your pen and start writing your entry now. You’ve got until midnight on the 31st December to get your story or poem in and become a part of something truly life changing.

For more details, please visit http://www.magicoxygen.co.uk/molp/

Earth Pathways

Earth Pathways Diary

Cover image by Ruth Gray

I am very proud to say that I have had a poem accepted and published in the 2017 Earth Pathways Diary. If you haven’t come across this wonderful diary, produced by a small cooperative of friends in the most sustainable and earth friendly way possible, please go and have a look at their website.

https://www.earthpathwaysdiary.uk/

It’s a beautiful thing and a joy to open each day, with gorgeous artwork and uplifting thoughts. Treat yourself and enjoy!

 

Beauty

In the very near future Nixa, the story teller that you met here last Halloween, will have her own page of stories. In the meantime, here’s a poem.

mandala

Image by elena-botoeva

BEAUTY

Sculpt me in marble, carve me in wood

Play me on strings and drums

Sing me aloud

I am all around

Let me catch you by surprise

Unveil your eyes

Show you wonders in the everyday

I am anywhere, everywhere

In swaying corn and storm clouds

City streets and kindness

The centre of a flower

The edge of the world

I am in moonlight and

The warm touch of the sun

Or one hand in another

Beauty

You will find me when you learn to see

A Fairy Tale

drawing of cottageOnce upon a time, in a land far away, there was an old lady who lived in a little cottage in the woods. One day, when she was out collecting sticks for her fire, she noticed a baby, wrapped up and left under a shelter of leaves by the stream. The woman looked around but could see no one, so she went over and picked the baby up. He was a strange looking child with a wide face, big teeth and wild hair. His right eye was blue and his left eye was green and she realised that he was a troll. But he smiled happily up at her and waved his chubby arms and she thought that he was lovely. She waited with him for a long time but nobody came, so she took him home with her and looked after him from then on.

Continue reading

Dandelion Clocks

dandelion clockI like to mark time with dandelion clocks. They have no need for cogs and wheels, springs and tension. They require no winding up; there are no numbered faces around which hands are driven, ticking and tocking the minutes away with relentless inevitability. No hands even, especially not the straight, black, rigid sort, the ones that chase us through the day, constantly reminding us of all the things that we still haven’t done.

Mechanical clocks; a pulse without a heart, beating away our lives.

No.

Give me the soft sway of the dandelion clocks, soft filigree glimmering in the sun, ethereal filaments floating and dancing on the whim of the breeze. Let me measure my day by sunshine and shadows, the opening of flowers and the rising of the stars. Let me enjoy the moments instead of counting the minutes and let my eyes always be open to wonders everywhere.

Corvidae

Late spring and the crows are stark against the pale sky. They skim the church and oak, chasing each other with harsh throated cries and stealing morsels from the ground. I am glad to see them. I thought they had forsaken us, the bell tower and me.

 

crows flying

 

Every year they build their nests up there above the bells and compose a discordant summer symphony as their hatchlings grow. Calls, old to young, young to old, a different peal, corvid campanology. The cycle completes as the fledglings fly, still babies but with ancient knowing in their eyes.

 

 

 

 

A Birthday

picture of moon over seaIt is a year today that my first book Dreaming the Moon was officially released in paperback. It was launched with titles from six other authors at a fantastic event in Lyme Regis organised by Magic Oxygen Publishing, which also incorporated the announcement of the winners of the first Magic Oxygen Literary Prize. It was a wonderful day, both an honour and very humbling to be surrounded by so much creativity and talent.

 

So Happy Birthday to my book and here’s a little excerpt from it:

There was a sharp stinging sensation on her left calf. Instinctively she reached down and rubbed it, thinking that she had been stung. Several seconds later, there was another on her hip, more of a blow this time, and then again on her shoulder. Robyn began to walk but the strikes continued and she noticed that small pebbles were falling all around her. There was a chittering in the scrubby grass and gorse either side of the path, high pitched spiteful laughter, leaves rustling and twigs snapping despite the stillness of the air. Robyn broke into a jog then a run as the stones became a hailstorm. She could just make out creatures in the grass, small twiggy limbed figures with long noses and angry eyes. There seemed to be a lot of them. And then the first one leapt onto her back, its gnarly fingers yanking at her hair.

“Get off me,” she shrieked, grabbing frantically behind her and flinging it away by its spindly arm. Another one had attached itself to her leg. Stones were still raining down on her, dust rising around her as she ran. Panic was nearly choking her now as she felt more of them grabbing at her, leaping in front of her, trying to trip her and bring her down. She stumbled, twisting her ankle but managing to keep her footing, slowing under the onslaught of pinching and scratching and stones. Just as she felt that she couldn’t go on, she heard Fiona’s voice, a memory in her head. “There are charms that will protect you from the fey, should you need it. Salt’s one, iron’s another, they’re the strongest. But red thread, bells and chimes, even turning your clothes inside out will work.”

Robyn grabbed the bottom of her T-shirt and wrenched it over her head, dislodging several of the little demons and sending them flying. Slowing momentarily, she flung it back on inside out, immediately relieved to find that the rest of them fell away. The storm of pebbles continued however and she accelerated back up to a run despite the pain in her ankle, not slowing until she reached the garden at the back of the shop. She fumbled desperately for her key, struggling to get it into the lock with her shaking hands, and flung herself through the kitchen door, collapsing onto one of the chairs as her knees gave way.

Jim was standing by the counter waiting for the kettle to boil.

You can check out my titles and those of the other Magic Oxygen authors using the link at the top of the page.

 

 

January

January – it’s not the easiest month and sometimes it seems to go on far longer than it should. But it’s a beginning, one of many, and they should always be celebrated. So here’s a little poem and may we meet ourselves and each other along the road.

 

In his deepest winternessdeserted road

When the dark was no longer

Velvet snug

But a black yawning void

He realised that he

Had lost himself somewhere

And being too tired to search

And too listless to care

He went out

Into the dank mist

And the sad rain

Walking

Wishing that he could just

Go away

Or perhaps meet himself

On the road, coming back.

Happy New Year – How Time Passes

Happy New Year. May love, light and magic surround you always.

And now… a little thought about time…

multiple pocket watches

Photo by Guilherme Nicholas

You have been prescribed TIME. Please read these instructions carefully.

What TIME is for:

TIME works by progressing a life. This facilitates a multitude of possibilities for EXPERIENCE, and the related benefits of GROWTH, HAPPINESS and KNOWLEDGE.

How to take TIME:

TIME is administered as a single dose, its slow release mechanism ensuring continued cover until death.

What you need to know:

There are no rules. Time affects everyone differently. Make the most of it and try not to worry.

Warnings and precautions:

Apply common sense to situations that require it. Whimsy will take care of the rest.

Possible side effects:

Beauty, books, dreams, family, friends, good health, hugs, illness, laughter, learning, loss, love, opportunities, sadness, stress, silliness, wrinkles.

Some side effects are more common than others and some are more pleasant than others. There are many more (unlisted) that may occur depending on your personal reaction to TIME. Please do not be alarmed when you are affected; they are all transient.

Final note:

TIME is a precious resource. Please do not waste it.

A Story

It’s Halloween again, the day when walking between worlds is easiest. Traditionally it is a day for remembering those who have gone before, as spirits of all kinds are that much closer. Speaking of which…

drawing of tree

Tree of Life
Carl Glover

Look over there. The tall figure in the red cloak who’s just settling herself on the seat at the fork in the road. That is Nixa – she’s the storyteller. We’re lucky; she travels far and wide collecting and sowing tales; to catch her is like catching the wind. She looks so young, barely more than a child and yet I have heard that she’s as old as the trees that grace the ancient land. Some say she was a tree once, a birch in the forest where the trees hear stories whispered by the breeze and sung by the birds, stories that fall with the rain and rise with new growth. The birch had a spirit which absorbed so many that it could no longer be contained in bark and sap. And so Nixa emerged, to wander the world recounting all the stories that the trees tell, and more besides.

Study her carefully. The air shimmers slightly around her like the liquid movement of leaves under the sun. Now the bubbles start to rise, iridescent as they catch the light. People gather as she begins to speak, draws the words from her core and gives them life once again. The bubbles float on the still air, lifted by the soft lilt of her voice. Inside each you may catch a fragment of the tale, a glimpse of a place, a character, a dream. But they cannot be held. Just like the words, they drift away and disappear, leaving everything as before and yet inexplicably altered, each person subtly changed by their own connection with the tale.

You may think that a story is a simple thing, to be taken or left at will. But Nixa would tell you that stories are vital. They are the threads that connect us to everyone and everything, celebrate our similarities and our differences, remind us of our shared experiences and our common ground. Some stories resonate more than others, some hold an element of recognition and familiarity, some move us beyond words. In the end, we are all stories. That is why they need to be told.