Flash Fiction Friday – The Duvet, The Thread And The Wardrobe

June 27, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about swarms. What could swarm? How does the swarm impact the people or place in your story? Is there something unusual about the swarm? Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.


The Duvet, The Thread And The Wardrobe – by Hugh W. Roberts

It was hardly a swarm, but they kept coming. A trickle at first, but the more Pauline pulled at the thread on the duvet cover she’d found in the attic, the more they swarmed.

Eventually, Pauline killed them with the hardcover book she grabbed from the bedside table before vacuuming them up with the battery-operated handheld hoover she’d found in the box hidden at the back of the old wardrobe the previous owner had left.

The following morning, there was no sign of Pauline or the swarm of whatever had eaten her. Not even the handheld hoover needed emptying.

***

Image of a swarm of insects over a field.
Image credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘Glimpses.’

***

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

Follow Hugh on his social media platforms by clicking the buttons below.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Did You Miss Any Of These? Monthly Round-Up – June 2022

These 13 blog posts got people talking. Were you one of them? If not, join the conversations and share your thoughts.

  • Happy Jubilee.

Jubilee #WordlessWednesday #Photography

June is Pride Month. Happy Pride. Is ‘coming out of the closet’ and telling family and friends that you are gay still as difficult as it was 40 years ago?

Throwback Thursday – True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT#PrideMonth

  • Who or what is to blame for almost destroying the world?

Flash Fiction Friday – Who Is To Blame?

  • Are you stressed out by dealing with too many spam comments on your blog? How to deal with spam comments and eliminate the stress without disappointing your readers.

How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts

  • Where do you keep your marmalade sandwich?

Perhaps you’d like a Ma’amalade sandwich, Your Majesty? Tea With Paddington Bear

  • How many numbers can you see?

How Many? #WordlessWednesday #Photography

  • What secret do the stacking stones hold?

Flash Fiction Friday – Secret Of The Stones

  • When did you first meet a gay person?

True Stories: Gay Memories – Meeting Another Gay Person For The First Time #LGBTQI #LGBT

  • What are the signs of the beginning of summer for you?

Waiting For Summer #WordlessWednesday #Photography

  • What danger and dilemma lurk on the other side of the door?

Flash Fiction Friday – Dilemma

  • Can you see the mountain range in the sky?

Mountains In The Sky #WordlessWednesday #Photography

  • Freedom comes in many forms. Are you thankful for your freedom?

Flash Fiction Friday – The Two Faces Of Freedom

  • Which way would you go? Right, left, up or down?

Where To Now? #WordlessWednesday #Photography

Comments are closed here. Please leave any new comments on the original posts.

***

Banner for the blog post Monthly Round-Up - June 2022
Monthly Round-Up May 2022

Follow Hugh On Social Media.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Where To Now? #WordlessWednesday #Photography

Wordless Wednesday – No words, just pictures. Allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Photo of a large gap in castle walls showing a tree and two figures deciding which route to take
Where To Now?

Not sure what Wordless Wednesday is or how to participate? Click here for full details.

Are you participating in Wordless Wednesday? Leave a link to your post in the comments section, and I will visit your post and leave you a comment.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Flash Fiction Friday – The Two Faces Of Freedom

June 20, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.


The Two Faces Of Freedom – by Hugh W. Roberts

Freedom had been escaping her prison cell.

Freedom was feeling the cool rain on her face having been shut away for nearly 25 years.

Freedom was feeling the grass on her bare feet.

Freedom led her to the safety of the light ahead in the darkness that closed in on her.

“HELP ME!”

***

She had enjoyed freedom for the last 25 years. She was free to do whatever she wanted, see whoever she wanted, and go wherever she wanted.

But for nearly an hour, freedom was no longer hers until she shot dead the running figure coming towards her.

***

Image of an open cage with feathers escaping it.
Image credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘Glimpses.’

***

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

Follow Hugh on his social media platforms by clicking the buttons below.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Mountains In The Sky #WordlessWednesday #Photography

Wordless Wednesday – No words, just pictures. Allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Photo of white clouds in a blue sky with tops of trees
Can you see the mountains in the sky?

Not sure what Wordless Wednesday is or how to participate? Click here for full details.

Are you participating in Wordless Wednesday? Leave a link to your post in the comments section, and I will visit your post and leave you a comment.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Flash Fiction Friday – Dilemma

June 13, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.


Dilemma – by Hugh W. Roberts

Red lights flashed before his eyes, yet he felt the need to enter the building. He had an idea of what he would find once inside, but the danger would still be lurking. He had to be careful and ensure nothing or nobody threatened his life.

The fact that he was over 25 miles away from home helped release some of his anxiety. As he pushed open the door, adrenalin pumped through his body before danger stared back at him.

“Dad! What? I can explain. Did you follow me? Or did you know this place is a gay bar?”

***

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘Glimpses.’

***

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

Follow Hugh on his social media platforms by clicking the buttons below.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Waiting For Summer #WordlessWednesday #Photography

Wordless Wednesday – No words, just pictures. Allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Photo of an outside colourful seating area on a sunny day
Waiting For Summer

Not sure what Wordless Wednesday is or how to participate? Click here for full details.

Are you participating in Wordless Wednesday? Leave a link to your post in the comments section, and I will visit your post and leave you a comment.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

True Stories: Gay Memories – Meeting Another Gay Person For The First Time #LGBTQI #LGBT

At 17-years-old, I had no idea if I’d ever encountered another gay person. I probably had, but I lived during times when being out and gay could put your life in danger.

Image for the blog post - True Stories: Gay Memories - Meeting Another Gay Person For The First Time
Gay Memories

I had my suspicions about who I thought was gay, such as the bus driver who lived on the next street. Even though his bus wasn’t going in the direction I wanted, I’d ride around on it so I could see him and hoped he’d notice me.

There was one way I thought would guarantee me meeting gay people, but it meant breaking the law – a law I thought was stupid. What was wrong with a 17-year-old lad answering an advert in Gay News?

South Wales area – a genuine, nice guy in his early 40s, looking to meet other guys who haven’t come out yet. Maybe we could help each other? Write to Richard at Box 223D, Gay News, London…

Richard remained on my mind for a few weeks after reading the advert. Like me, he hadn’t ‘come out’ as gay. But unlike me, he was over the age of consent, 21, when sleeping with someone of the same sex was not illegal.

The constant bragging about which girls he had slept with from Michael, my best friend, eventually persuaded me to put pen to paper and respond to Richard’s advert. While Michael could sleep with as many girls as he wanted, I thought it unfair that it was illegal for me to meet and sleep with other guys.

I can’t remember what I said in my letter to Richard, but I lied about my age. I had to; otherwise, he may not respond. Or he could have reported me to the police. Fortunately, his advert did not mention sending a photo, so I didn’t have to prove I was 21.

It took me a week to post my reply. Every time I approached the postbox at the bottom of the street, police sirens would sound in my head.

The thought of Richard having my home address and turning up unannounced also terrified me. But the more Michael bragged about who he had slept with and questioned why I was still a virgin, the more courage I got. Finally, I posted the letter after convincing myself that I’d run away to London if Richard turned up. I’d be safe with so many other gay people living there.

A month later, not only had I not had a reply from Richard, but I’d also placed an advert in the lonelyhearts column of Gay News.

21-year-old gay guy looking to make new friends and meet his first boyfriend. Currently living in South Wales, but looking to live and work in London. Age/looks unimportant, but please send a photo. Write to Rob at Box D867, Gay News, London…

Two weeks after my advert appeared, I came home from work to find my mother holding an envelope.

“It’s for you. Whose handwriting is this? I don’t recognise it,” she examined.

Terrified that she was about to tear the letter open, I snatched it off her and ran upstairs, shouting that I’d got a new pen-pal. Fortunately, my mother knew that I had pen-pals and liked to write letters, although she had failed to notice that the stamp on the envelope was British, not foreign.

I was trembling at the thought that my mother could have forced me to come out of the closet had she opened the letter. I’d convinced myself that if the family found out I was gay, I’d be homeless.

Studying the envelope closely, I was too scared to open it and placed it in the same place I’d hid my copies of Gay News – under the carpet under my bed.

Two weeks later, as I climbed into the passenger seat of a car, I was greeted with the words ‘Hi, I’m Richard. I’m a little nervous, but it’s finally good to meet you, Hugh.”

I was meeting who I thought was the first gay person in my life.

But the following day, I would be threatened again with coming out of the closet.

“Who’s car did I see you getting into yesterday?” asked Michael.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…

Who was the first gay person you met?

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Flash Fiction Friday – Secret Of The Stones

June 6, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.


Secret Of The Stones – by Hugh W. Roberts

“These stacked stones are where I buried Fluffy.

When I cried, Fluffy comforted me.

When I had nobody to talk to, Fluffy would always listen.

He was a big part of my life, but he shouldn’t have told me to keep our secret.

Things got a bit out of hand when I told my teacher, Mrs Price, the secret.

Fluffy got angry, so I had to kill him.

Now I come to the stacked stones and talk to him every day.

It’s a good job. Fluffy is only an imaginary friend; otherwise, we’d both be in lots of trouble.”

***

Image of a stack of stones on top of one another
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘Glimpses.’

***

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

Follow Hugh on his social media platforms by clicking the buttons below.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How Many? #WordlessWednesday #Photography

Wordless Wednesday – No words, just pictures. Allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Photo of the number 29 on a black door with an old lion door-knocker
Door 29
Photo of the number 109 in white on a purple background
Building Number 109
Photo of the number 184 on a beach hut
Beach hut 184

Not sure what Wordless Wednesday is or how to participate? Click here for full details.

Linking To Sunday Stills Photography Challenge hosted By Terri Webster-Schrandt – Theme: Numbers

Are you participating in Wordless Wednesday? Leave a link to your post in the comments section, and I will visit your post and leave you a comment.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Perhaps you’d like a Ma’amalade sandwich, Your Majesty? Tea With Paddington Bear

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here is what I consider one of the highlights (if not the highlight) of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrated around the world from 2nd – 5th July 2022.

What do you think about the Paddington and Queen having tea video? Did you celebrate or see any of the jubilee celebrations?

Let me know if you’re not able to play the video so I can find another one to add to this post.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts

SPAM! It’s something every blogger dislikes and something every blogger will have to deal with.

I’ve seen bloggers close comments off all their posts because of spam.

I’ve seen bloggers telling readers that they only accept email comments because of spam.

I’ve even witnessed bloggers telling readers only to leave comments on social media platforms because of spam.

In all these cases, spam triumphed.

Image for the blog post 'How To Deal With Spam Without Closing Comments On Your Blog Posts'
Don’t allow spam to stop your readers from leaving comments

When another blogger told me, ‘Closing comments off on your blog is like slamming the door in your readers’ faces,’ I had to rethink how to tackle handling spam.

What was I doing? I was closing comments off posts that attracted lots of spam but still attracted genuine comments.

It reminded me of another blogger who told her readers that she tackled spam by closing off comments on all her posts 14 days after publication because of spam. She told her readers that 14 days was enough time for them to read and comment on all her posts. I shook my head in disbelief.

Many bloggers close comments on blog posts that attract lots of spam. But there are ways of dealing with spam without closing comments off.

1. Reschedule the post

Rescheduling an existing blog post gives it a new lease of life, but it also provides the post with a new URL address, thus fooling the spammers.

How to reschedule a blog post on WordPress

  • Open the post you want to reschedule in ‘edit’ mode.
  • In the settings box of the post, click on the date and time link that the post was initially published.
Image highlighting when you reschedule a blog post on WordPress
Rescheduling a blog post
  • A calendar will open. Choose the new date and time you want the post to reschedule.
Image showing a rescheduling calendar on a blog post on WordPress
Choose a new date and time for rescheduling
  • Click the ‘Update’ button.
Image highlighting the Update button when rescheduling a blog post on WordPress
The Update Button
  • Your post will now republish on the date and time you chose.

Here are a few essential things to think about when rescheduling blog posts.

  • Your post will show up on the WordPress Reader list of your followers when it republishes.
  • WordPress does not send out a new email notification when a rescheduled post is published.
  • You won’t lose all the existing comments and ‘likes’ on a post that has been rescheduled.
  • Any links, pingbacks and trackbacks to the original post will become invalid, as will any previous shares of the post on social media. I recommend, therefore, that you only reschedule posts that are at least a year old.

Tip: Rescheduling a post is also an excellent chance to update it and fix any broken pingbacks before rescheduling it.

2. Rewrite the post and republish it as a new post.

If the post is over a year old and requires lots of updating, consider rewriting and publishing it as a new post.

You can do the same with posts that you have published on other blogging platforms but which you now want to publish on WordPress.

Here are a few essential things to consider.

  • All existing likes and comments will be lost.
  • All reblog links, pingbacks and links to the post will become invalid.
  • All links and shares on social media will become invalid.
  • Some readers may dislike reading duplicated content they have read on your blog before, so do consider how long ago the post was initially published.
  • Consider informing readers that it is a rewritten version of a previous post at the beginning of your post.
  • Remember to delete the post attracting too much spam once you’ve published the new post.
  • Give the new post a slightly different title. SEOs rank posts and blogs lower that contain too many duplicated blog post titles.

3. Delete the post

Every blogger should be excellent at keeping their blog up to date. Blog housekeeping is as important as writing and publishing new blog posts.

If you have blog posts attracting lots of spam, consider deleting them if the content is outdated and no longer worth keeping. That will put pay to the spambots attacking the post and causing you stress.

However, do remember that deleting a post will also mean that any likes, comments and shares will also be lost.

Final thoughts on spam

Don’t slam the door in the faces of visitors to your blog by allowing spam to stop them from leaving comments and joining discussions and conversations on any of your blog posts.

Remember that search engines will send visitors to your blog posts for as long as the post is live. If they find they can’t leave comments and join a discussion, they may not return.

Don’t ask visitors to leave comments they couldn’t leave on your other blog posts where comments remain open. That will only confuse visitors reading the comments sections.

Get into the habit of checking your WordPress spam folder every time you log into your blog.

Delete the spam, and mark any genuine comments as ‘Not Spam.’ You can do this by changing the view setting of the comments page of your blog’s dashboard to ‘Classic view.’ My blog post, ‘New: WordPress Screen Options Button – Where, Why And How To Use It,‘ gives more details.

Spam can also be ‘bulk’ deleted when in the ‘Default view’ setting.

Spam comments rarely have an image or photo in the gravatar area of the comment (see image below).

Images highlighting spam messages that contain no Gravatar images
Spam messages often contain no Gravatar image.

Bulk delete comments that do not contain an image or photo on the gravatar.

If you’re not sure a comment is spam, look at the web address of where the comment has come from. If it doesn’t look right, it’s spam.

Image highlighting the web address of a spam comment
If the website address of a comment doesn’t look right, it’s spam!

Don’t allow spam to win!

How do you deal with too many spam comments on your blog?

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.