Love Nudge Competition Winner


Image: Pixabay


The judging is over and what a tough week it’s been for me here at Shamble Towers.

I received so many submissions of such high quality and in such a wide range of styles, it felt almost impossible to choose between them. If I could afford to send you all a prize I would.

I was impressed by what an emotional lot you are – you covered everything from pure joy and passion to twisted loathing, blackmail andstalking finally nudging towards jealousy-fuelled homicide. The full gamut of the love experience.

Poetry was a big hitter in the competition and I’ve been introduced to forms I’d never heard of previously – haibun, senryus, shadorma, rondelet, gogyohka – and each one a sparkling gem of brevity and beauty.

Before we go to the result – and because this was about reading people’s work and discovering new blogging pals as much as a finding a winner – I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments from each entrant.

All writing below is the author’s own and merely reproduced to show how clever they all are.



Kittykat-bits and bobs

The dressing room door stood open, revealing rows of designer clothes. Her perfectly manicured fingernails caught the sunlight in the mirror as she applied foundation to cover the bruises. The price of security.


In Medias Res

From to love to loathing
a step down a twisted path
thorns prick, bleed insults


Making it Write

when you try to leave he’s filled with remorse
and you don’t realise that it’s par for the course.
his claims of regret bring you back to his arms
but once you are there he drops the charm.


Life Lessons

New love blogs extreme attraction.
Experience posts a retraction.



Why are women jealous when I talk to their men, thinking I’ll steal them away. When really it’s the men who should worry, when I talk to the girls.


What the Woman Wrote

stay away
from this broken heart
nothing else
makes me sick
more than watching you pretend
that you give a damn


F Dot Leonora

it was like a fire at first, but she put it out. the warm remnants ignited again, and she could not help but savor the wamth, the feeling, the draw…it reminded her she was alive…


Only 100 Words

The collection of Max and Olive’s drawings has you stumped for hours. He gets the children, he’ll get more drawings. So you should keep these. Then you think of the children – they might miss their masterpieces.


Merlot Bookbinder

Instant attraction.
Love at first sight.
Jaw dropping beauty,
Feel as high
As a kite.



The bell rang, but he waited as she collected her notes, her book, and zipped her backpack. It was how he said goodbye each day. But he couldn’t let her leave him again. This time, he chose to follow her.


Olivier Fiction

Observing obscure overtures optimistically. 


Obnoxious?  Obtuse? Oafish?  Officious? Obliterated outright. 


Jibing, jeering, JERK!  Just you judge your jugular, junior, for jagged joints.


A Word Adventure

Sure she was no longer young or beautiful but was it reason enough to cheat on her, to leave her and the kids for a Barbie doll?


And now to the prize giving. 

I wish I could give you all a gold star just for finding this competition and for being here.

Honourable Mentions

I send a big, electronic hug to my blogging pals Kat and Sonya and to all those who spread the competition on social media – they know how rubbish I am at Twittering and without their help no one new to this blog would have heard of Love Nudge at all.

More Honourable Mentions

To those who submitted every day – thank you, you’re amazing. And for those very clever souls – Jane at Making it Write, Walt at Waltbox and Sonya at Only 100 Words – who not only posted for each prompt, but also made each a chapter in the same story: a nod of admiration to you talented group. Also special nods go to Annie at What the Woman Wrote for being so proficient at so many beautiful poetic forms and to Jonathan at Olivier Fiction for torturing himself by using only alliteration in his submissions.

And now to the Winner!

Firstly, let me explain the reasons behind my decision. Not only did the winner post every day, they used a poetic form – the haibun – which combines prose with a haiku ending. They also weaved all seven segments together, making one story, beginning at the height of a passionate affair, passing through its souring by jealousy, stalking, attempted blackmail, separation and a high profile trial. I was by turns gripped, saddened and angered by the way the plot developed, the writer making me care for a protagonist that was foolish, selfish, but strong and witty – someone who was manipulated and could have become a victim but emerged a survivor.

And all this written in the rather tricky second person POV.

So, first prize and a copy of Still Me by All Write Then goes to Sonya at Only 100 Words for her exceptional work. My email is on my profile – if you’d be happy to send me your address, I’ll wing a copy to you in the post as soon as the Royal Mail will allow.

Thank you, again, to all of those who took part. It’s been a joy to meet many of you for the first time and to be introduced to your writing – a pleasure to know such a talented bunch of people all across the world.





Why ‘Romance’ can die screaming with a flaming cupid’s arrow to the heart


Image: Pixabay

Well, that’s it. Valentine’s Day is gone for another year and there will be many folk who have given a sigh of relief that the pressure to be ROMANTIC is off for another twelve months.

Everything red or heart-shaped will soon be on sale in the shops – two hearts for the price of one! – though I know from my own experience in retail, that they’ll still be a fair number of sales made today, mainly to naive young men looking exhausted and vaguely shell-shocked because they spent last night on the couch and the the whole of yesterday as the recipient of cutting stares and icy silences and didn’t realise until they popped out late in the day for a pint of milk and a Mars bar that it was Valentine’s Day, by which time all of the large retailers were closed and the only gift options at the corner shop were a box of mint Matchmakers and a packet of tampons – super-plus.

Hence the night on the couch.

These are the chaps who look grateful to spend a not-insubstantial amount of money on a dozen red roses – the ones who think said blooms will get them out of trouble. They’re wrong, of course, because any woman who won’t speak to her partner because he forgot Valentine’s Day is also the kind of woman who will never forget that he forgot – if you know what I mean.

Being romantic is hard work. Valentine’s is not like Christmas – then we all expect to watch the same films, see the same people, play the same games and eat the same food as we have every single year for decades and if we don’t then a tiny part of us is missing.

Where Christmas is about tradition, being romantic is about innovation. It’s about surprises and not the kind that will leave the surprisee with a morbid fear of spiders / mirrors / cupboards or custard and unable to sleep without a light on.

To be seen as a real Romantic by some idealistic young souls, you have to be able to come up with something akin to a weekend in Paris / Michelin star dinner for two / beds showered with scarlet rose petals/kittens/puppies for every Valentine’s, anniversary, birthday …  Think of the pressure involved, the planning, the cost, the logistical nightmare of shipping a kennel’s worth of puppies across town … The cleaning bills.

In our grandparents’ day, if men were good earners, saved getting blind drunk for weekends and didn’t blow all the housekeeping on dog racing or floozies, that was enough – if not for a happy marriage, then at least a long one.

I’m sure this is why so many couples break up these days. It’s not a failure of the relationship, just the sheer terror of having to think of something wonderful and original three times a year for forty years. Easier to end it before you run out of ideas.

I don’t think many people are naturally romantic – we’ve all just watched too many romcoms, read too much Barbara Cartland, have been coached into having too-high expectations of long term relationships.

If you want to be really romantic, put your wallet away.

Do the washing up more often. Actually listen when your partner moans about their day / fallen arches / growing paunch or greying hair. Give them a sneaky cuddle while they’re standing at the kitchen counter making pack-ups for the kids. Just be thoughtful.

And if that’s not enough for your partner? If they still want to have the full bells and whistles, to be the centre of attention, to made to feel like a fairy princess or prince … Maybe you should look for another partner.


Thanks to all who took part in the Love Nudge Competition. I’ve read every entry so far and was overwhelmed by the quality – and by your stamina, as a good handful of you contributed every day!

More reading and thinking has to be done yet, but I hope to publish a roll of honour and winner by the end of the week.

Thanks for making the week so special.




Love Nudge Competition final day. Sunday: Loathing


Image: Pixabay


Well, this is it – we face the final Love Curtain, err Love Nudge.

Our couple have gone from love’s young dream to hatred on a supernatural level. He’s working out who’s going to have custody of the Fridgemaster and the La – Z – Boys. She’s wondering how she can make her walking out look like his fault.

Today’s Love Nudge word is


So, for the final time, pop your poetry, prose, elegy, epitaphs and obituaries in the comments box.

Take one last look here for the rules and happy writing.


A huge thank you to all who have taken part in the competition. It’s been a joy to read your work and meet some amazing writers.

Now I need to ask your patience whilst I pick a winner.

As this post goes out, I’ll still be welded to a bench in a florist shop, wishing I could see anything other than red roses and self-conscious men. I’ll start reading tomorrow and announce the winner asap.

Thanks again and – if at all possible – do enjoy your Valentine’s Day.

Love Nudge Competition. Saturday: Ennui


Image: Pixabay


Day Six of the Love Nudge Competition and what a sorry sight our lovers are. If, indeed, they are lovers anymore.

He picks his toenails in front of the news. She can’t even be bothered to tell him off about it anymore. She stopped talking three years ago, but he didn’t notice because he hasn’t listened for four.

Today’s Love Nudge word is


If you can be bothered, compose something – poetry, prose, ekphrasis describing the state of this couple’s living room, whatever you fancy – and if you can muster the energy, pop it in the comments box.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.

Love Nudge Competition. Friday: Regret


Image: Pixabay


Day Five of the Love Nudge Competition, and things are going slowly downhill in what was once our little love idyll. 

Maybe the kids shouldn’t have come along so soon. Maybe he should have kept his drinkiing pals. Maybe she shouldn’t work so late, so hard, with a co-worker with such great cheekbones and cornflower blue eyes …

Today’s Love Nudge word is


Poetry, prose, elegy, book jacket blurb, whatever you fancy- pop it in the comments box.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.


With apologies, from now until some time late on Sunday, I’ll be up to my eyes in roses, cellophane and shifty looking men. No, I won’t be spending a few days of illicit passion in my own love dungeon – I’ll be working in a flower shop. The rest of my competition posts are already scheduled, but please don’t be offended if I don’t comment now until next week. I will be reading every single entry, so do keep them coming.

Love Nudge Competition. Thursday: Security


Image: Pixabay


Welcome to Thurday’s Love Nudge Competition, Day Four. So, still enthusiastic about this love affair, or wishing you’d stayed single?

We’ve moved on from passion and left jealousy far behind. We’re in our comfort zone now. We’re settling down, getting mortgages, picking out shower curtains … buying ovulation kits. Who needs a social life when you have an Ikea catalogue? What could possibly go wrong?

Today’s Love Nudge word is


Poetry, prose, elegy, elevator pitch, whatever you fancy- pop it in the comments box or leave a link to your post.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.

Love Nudge Competition. Wednesday: Jealousy


Image: Pixabay

Welcome, wordsmiths to Wednesday’s Love Nudge

Today’s Love Nudge word is


And what a dark, corrosive little word it is. More dangerous than acid for a relationship, jealousy inspires lovers to check pockets, to search mobile phone histories and that’s the least of it. Think Othello, poor doomed Desdemona and that blessed hanky: think Medea‘s jealousy of Jason’s new Corinthian love and the awful price their children pay for their mother’s envy.

Jealousy can be deadly.

Poetry, prose, elegy, ranty email, whatever you fancy- pop it in the comments box.

Take a look here for the rules and happy writing.


And in honour of the day, today’s Wednesday Word Tangle word is also


According to Online Etymology Dictionary, jealousy derives from the Greek zelos, which could mean jealousy but in a good sense – sort of competitive and enthusiastic rather than Green Eyed Monster.

The Swedish word for the feeling is svartsjuka literally ‘black-sick’, whilst the Danish is skinsyg, meaning ‘skin-sick’. Marvellous, eh?

And the phrase Green Eyed Monster? No, it’s not some cheap, rubbery 1950s sci-fi alien. It’s from Othello, spoken by that king of the double crossers, Iago.

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves! (3.3.163-168)

Thanks to Kat for W4W – and for everything else.


Love Nudge Competition. Tuesday: Obsession


Image: Pixabay


Welcome to the second day of Love Nudge, and what a cracking start we’ve had. There’s already been several submissions on the theme of Attractionsome beautiful, sparky, exciting work that gets the pulse racing just to read it.

Do take a look at other people’s writing and visit their blogs – there’s much to inspire.

So, what happens when that initial shiver of attraction tips over into something a bit more needy, something a bit more … addictive?

Today’s Love Nudge word is


Does your protagonist collect the cards their lover gives them, their hair – or are we thinking something a little more … Perfume?

Poetry, prose, elegy, advertising copy, whatever you fancy – pop the finished gorgeousness or a link to your post in the comments box.

Take a look here for the full rules and happy writing.

Love Nudge Competition. Monday: Attraction


Image: Pixabay

Good morning lovely people and welcome to the first day of the Love Nudge competition.

Each day up until and including Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting a story prompt – a Love Nudge – to inspire you to write.

Today’s Love Nudge word is


So why not pop something in the comments box: poetry, prose, elegy, blurb for a cereal packet. Do as you feel.

Judging will start the week commencing 15/2/16 and I’ll announce the winner sometime after.

Take a look here for the full rules and happy writing.


Much love to all who have already shared and taken part in this prompt – you’re all wonderful people.


Love Nudge Competition


Image: Pixabay

You know what today is, don’t you? 

Yes, my darlings, it’s the 7th of February and you know what that means, don’t you?

No, it doesn’t mean it’s the 619th anniversary of the Bonfire of the Vanities, where the good people of Florence had a headfit and decided to purge the city of sin by burning books, paintings and make-up. It also doesn’t mean it’s the 112th anniversary of the Great Baltimore Fire, which left 35,000 people unemployed and caused $3.84 billion of damage in today’s money.

Well, it is these things, but of course you already knew that.

No, my sweet puddings of delight, what today is is exactly a week until – de-de-de-de-de-de-derrrrr!

St Valentine’s Day!

Now, apart from having a mob-related massacre named after him, being the patron of beekeepers, epileptics, fainting, travellers and plague victims, Saint Valentine is of course the mastermind behind the greetings card, floral and choc-tastic sell-athon that is next Sunday. Who would have thought that a 3rd century Roman priest and martyr would inspire such a commercialised grab-fest? Not him for one.

Anyhoo, in honour of the day, I thought I’d run a little competion. I have a series of


key words, which if read in order could chart the beginning, middle and end of a doomed relationship (and let’s face it, the doomed ones are the most interesting, aren’t they?) Everyday next week, I’ll post a ‘nudge’ a day and all you have to do is write a little something relating to it and pop it in my comments box.

Your writing can take any form – poem (tanka, haiku, ode, blank verse, limeric – whatever you fancy, knock your poetic socks off): prose (up to three sentences), song lyric, ditty, advertising blurb … Really, whatever you fancy as long as it’s short-ish.

And don’t feel you have to be all Mills and Boon – I’ll be pleased to see romantic/horror, romantic/surrealism, romantic/magic-realism, romantic/sci-fi/zombie/Hemmingway fanfic. As long as it refers in some way to the day’s word and has some reference to a romantic relationship (straight, gay, bi, vegetal) that’s fine by me.

But nothing explicit in content, please – don’t make me blush, now.

If you’re an eager beaver and want to do some swotting up for the week ahead, here’s the schedule of events –

Monday: Attraction

Tuesday: Obsession

Wednesday: Jealousy

Thursday: Security

Friday: Regret

Saturday: Ennui

Sunday: Loathing

Yes, we end a week of romance with Loathing, and what a better way to finish. It’s what Val would’ve wanted.

Well, I said it was a competition and competitions have prizes, so the sweet soul who inspires me most over the week will either have my undying respect, admiration and pixel-licks, or (if they live inside the UK), will receive a copy of Still Me an anthology by my writing group All Write Then, and my first foray into print.

Final judging won’t start until the week commencing 15/2/16 as I’ll be in thorny-rosy-floristy hell until then.

Brownie points, extra love and virtual hugs and kisses got to all those who spread the word on any social media outlet, so Twitter and Facebook your little hearts out.

So, let the Love Nudge commence!