The Challenge Of Describing Scents In Your Writing

A helpful post.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Scents in writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book Image: Pixabay

Of all the human senses, I find smell the hardest to use in writing. And yet, it’s one of the most powerful, as a number of studies have shown it’s hard-wired into our brain, and a shortcut to all sorts of strong emotions. So why is it so hard to find the right word for a smell?

Turns out, I’m hardly the only one in this predicament. As a recent Economist article on scents recently explained, the human sense of smell itself is weak. Scientists suspect this is the result of an evolutionary trade-off in the primate brain in favor of visual procession power. In simple terms, we see great, but we couldn’t smell ourselves out of a perfume factory.

This is of particular interest to humans, as the relative weakness of smell compared with sight extends to language, too. Humans have no difficulty putting names to…

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Running in high heels

An entertaining story from Jim Webster.

Jim Webster


Not something I’ve ever tried to be honest. I’m tall enough as it is and my legs, decently clad in working trousers, are too utilitarian to warrant being exhibited to a dumbfounded world.

And at the moment it’s not the weather for high heels. As I sit on the quad in the rain, watching the sheep fish about for the nuts I’ve put down for them, I can hear Sal splashing towards me. When a small Border Collie bitch splashes when walking across what is supposed to be dry ground, you know it’s wet enough.

This morning the rain was coming across in great curtains. I had to slow down when driving into it because it was painful on my face if I went at any speed. Not only that but I think even Sal is losing it. She came up to jump a netting fence, totally mistimed everything jumping…

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Open-carry laws I’d like to see passed …

A great idea.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

What if politicians were to pass laws that “encourage” people to open-carry …


Books – both print and eReaders

And artwork

Food to share with those less fortunate

A library card

A voter registration card

Music, a song

A sense of homour

Compassion, mindfulness, joy, understanding, peace, and love

Tolerance and acceptance

Intellect and intelligence

Common sense

What if our pockets, arms, minds – and our hearts – were filled to overflowing with all of these, so there was no room left for anything negative?

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That’s telling him

That’s the way it is sometimes.

bluebird of bitterness

A wholesaler in Chicago sent a letter to the postmaster of a small town in Mississippi. He asked for the name of an honest lawyer who would take a collection case against a local debtor who had refused to pay for a shipment of the wholesaler’s goods. He received the following reply:

Dear Sir:

I am the postmaster of this town. I am also an honest lawyer and ordinarily would be pleased to accept a case against a local debtor. In this case, however, I also happen to be the person you sold those defective goods to. I received your demand to pay and refused to honor it. I am also the banker you sent the draft to draw on the merchant, and I sent that back with a note stating that the merchant refused to pay. If I were not currently substituting for the pastor of our local church…

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A Few Bits Of Good News On The Environment

This is good news.

Filosofa's Word

Yesterday the high temperature where I live was 76° (F), 24° (C).  Yesterday was 20 February 2018.  It is never 76° in my area in February, nor in March.  The average high temperature for this time of year is 43°. Perhaps by mid-April we see temps in the 70s on occasion, but never, ever in February.  Now, admittedly I enjoyed the warmth of the day — Miss Goose and I went for a nice walk … I only managed 3.2 miles, but she went 5.6, and we both felt good about our accomplishments after a winter of inactivity, but … You don’t believe in global warming or in climate change?  Well, I do.

bumblebee on flowerFor one thing, when nearly all of the world’s climate scientists confirm the same data and draw the same conclusion, I am convinced, for they are the experts, not me, not Donald Trump, Rick Perry or Scott…

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Wardrobe Malfunction

Another hilarious post by Russell Gayer.

What's So Funny?

Last night, Connie and I were talking about commercials targeting seniors (i.e. old people). In those thrillling days of yesteryear, each product had its own catch phrase or clever jingle that etched its way into your brain cells never to be forgotten. How many of you remember such clasics as, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” and “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.”

My mother was a soap opera addict. Their progression of ads went something like this; Denture adhesive (we all have to eat), followed by constipation or diarrhea (take your pick), and finishing up with toliet paper (the job is never over until the paperwork is done). What were some of your favorites from the 60s and 70s?

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, our advocate for fresh-wiped 100-word stories is Doris Whipple Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for…

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The Commode of Falan Birling–Guest Post by Tallis Steelyard

Photo Copyright: Jim Webster




Falan Birling was a man of very regular habits. Every morning his manservant Gorrak would light a fire in the grate in Birling’s bedroom and another in the separate privy which could only be accessed from the bedroom. So accustomed to Gorrak’s movements had Birling become over the years, that he slept peacefully through the whole process. He was awakened half an hour later when Gorrak returned bearing coffee (black, strong and bitter.) Gorrak would sit up, and listen to Gorrak’s account of the day so far whilst sipping the coffee with a hard lump of sugar clenched between his teeth.

His coffee finished he would hand the cup back to Gorrak, give his order for breakfast, and taking up that day’s copy of the Port Naain Intelligencer, would repair to his private privy. There, ensconced upon the commode, he would read the paper from cover to cover, occasionally taking notes.

Then suitably at ease and ready for the day, he would return to his bedroom. He’d dress himself in the clothes Gorrak had laid out for him and repair downstairs to his day-room where Gorrak would serve breakfast. Whilst he breakfasted one of the maids would service the commode and generally prepare it for the following morning.Unless you had seen it you could not credit what a triumph of the cabinetmaker’s art the commode was. Imagine, if you will, a high backed winged chair. The frame is Aruba wood, imported from the Perfected Empire in the distant east. It has the arms and legs carved to represent the legs of fabulous beasts, the claws are inlaid with ivory. The panels are porcelain, painted with rustic scenes. Finally, the commode pan was also porcelain, the outside decorated with complex patterns in blue and gold. Birling’s little eccentricity was that he has a selection of commode pans, all identical from the outside; but inside each had painted on the bottom of the pan the face of somebody who, over the years, had irritated him beyond reason.

It was Amado, one of the youngest of Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers who took on the project of acquiring the commode. A slight youth; some tended to dismiss him as too young to mix with the others. Those who did know him valued him for his charm, dexterity, and ability to accurately reproduce any handwriting given time to practice. He decided that his first task would be to locate the commode and then work out how to move it.

Even the most limited investigation threw up the first hurdle. There was only one key to the privy room, and it was held by either Birling himself, or Gorrak when Birling was not available to open the door. Also, it was widely held that the only people who ever went into that room were the maid who cleaned, Gorrak and of course Falan Birling himself. Amado thought about this for some time and realized that unless Gorrak or the maid swept the chimney, at some point a chimney sweep would have to go in. Thus through careful inquiries, he discovered who swept the chimneys for the Birling household and managed to get a job with them. Here his slim figure and dexterity were an advantage. By and large, most chimney sweeps in Port Naain eschew the use of small children for cleaning chimneys. They’re unreliable, being given to finding snug corners to sleep in, and will cheerfully come down after a nap and claim they’ve swept everything.
So after cleaning chimneys for a month (whilst he continued his quest to learn more about both Falan Birling and his commode), Amado struck lucky and they were summoned to clean the chimneys of the Birling mansion. With Gorrak in attendance, he was admitted to the Privy and even helped throw a dust sheet over the commode. He then climbed up the chimney, sweeping as he went. Finally, he came out of the top and found himself looking down along a ridge. If he followed the lee side of the ridge it would be entirely possible to climb down some ivy and into the back garden. He returned down the chimney, taking great care to sweep it as clean as possible.

A week later Falan Birling, taking Gorrak with him, traveled into Partann on business. Birling had made his money as a skinner, tanner, glover and breeches maker. Whilst he rarely made a pair of gloves now, having people to do that for him, he did travel widely to buy the quality of hides he wanted to tan. Indeed he wasn’t averse to picking up well-tanned leather as well. Such trips could take him away from Port Naain for two or three weeks. Amado decided to strike.
His plan was founded on the fact that the Privy would remain locked and inaccessible to anybody within the house. The master bedroom where Falan slept would also be locked, and it was unlikely anybody would enter it, other than to air it before their master arrived home. For three nights he worked harder than he’d ever thought possible. He would make up a bundle of sawn timber. With it over this shoulder, he would climb up onto the Birling mansion roof and then proceed to ferry it down the chimney. This had to be done a few pieces at a time, with immense care taken to ensure that the wood stayed clean and he didn’t bring soot down with him.

I confess that I marvel at his achievement. He had to manage a long and almost vertical climb, up a chimney not much wider than his shoulders. Obviously when on the roof he could show no light. Then within the chimney itself, he had to work in almost total darkness, save for two small lanterns planted carefully on ledges left for that purpose so that chimney sweeps could work. All the while he had to transport his planks, wrapped to protect them from soot, in such a way as they didn’t knock on the walls. This tapping would be audible around the house as it was carried in the stonework.Once the wood was in place, he started phase two of his plan. There was no way he could carry the commode out up the chimney. His chances of smuggling it out down the stairs on his own were limited. It would take at least four men to carry it safely through the house. So he built a crate round it, padding it well with old bed linen, and with each commode pan boxed separately within the main crate. Again the problems were immense. First, he hung a curtain over the privy door to stop light leaking out around the edges and into the master bedroom. Then he had to do something to muffle the sound of hammering. The last thing he wanted was for the staff to become suspicious. Finally, when the crate was assembled and everything was solidly packed and wouldn’t move, he set to work on the privy door lock.

Actually, this was comparatively easy to deal with. Because he was already on the inside, he merely had to unscrew the lock mechanism from the door and then open the door. Using to lengths of round rod as rollers, Amado dragged the crate into the bedroom. Given his obsession with silence, this took up a good part of the night. Finally, that done, he went back into the privy, fastening the lock back onto the door. He then climbed out via the chimney for what he hoped would be the last time.

It was now his other skills came into play. Whilst in the bedroom he’d acquired an old volume of Falan Birling’s journal from some years previously. Using this as his guide he mastered Falan’s handwriting style. That done he wrote two letters from Falan. The first was to his Major Domo, explaining that he wanted the crate in his bedroom sent south into Partann. He also explained that he was going to ask Mythop Brothers, Carters, to collect it. He also wrote to Mythop Brothers to inform them that he had a crate he wanted taking from his house to a barge waiting on Stonecutter Wharf.

From that point on Amado was almost unnerved at how smoothly things went. He watched from a pavement café as the cart arrived to collect the crate. It was obviously expected and the cart was taken round to the back of the house. It reappeared an hour later with the crate sitting on it. At this point, Amado made his own way to Stonecutter Wharf to get there before the cart. When it arrived he watched the carters load it onto the barge Vilan’s Hulk. The Hulk took it across the river to Roskadil. Herhor who paid over a considerable quantity of cash. Whilst Madam Jeen was investing it for her hospital, the collector celebrated his acquisition by purchasing another commode pan. This was identical to the others, save that on the bottom of it one could see the face of Falan Birling.












The Picture of Unter Judd – Tallis Steelyard Sedan Chair Caper Book Tour

Another interesting and amusing tale by Tallis Steelyard and penned by Jim Webster.

Annette Rochelle Aben

The Picture of Unter Judd
Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers set themselves high standards. They understood that any wandering thug with a big stick could steal something. For them, the mark of a gentleman adventurer was that nobody could pin the crime on them. One of them, Bagwis, decided he would raise his game and would try to steal the picture of Unter Judd, the first chair of the Council of Sinecurists, without anybody realising the painting had gone.
The painting hang hung on the back wall of the Grand Sinecurists Dining Room. Indeed old Unter Judd had, metaphorically at least, stared down upon the acquisition of Lady Edan’s fan. Given that in his time Unter had been a pirate and condottieri it is even possible he approved of the whole episode.
Bagwis always posed as an artist. Although not really burly enough to be a sculptor, he was a…

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Snow Job

Wise and hilarious words by Russell. He has a new book out, “One Idiot Short of a Village” available on Amazon.

What's So Funny?

Recently, I’ve started humming a lot. Connie says I didn’t do that before my hearing loss accident. She did some research on the intranet and evidently there’s a name for my condition; Musical Ear Syndrome.

Some people hear Symphonies, Rock & Roll, Country, or Gospel. So far, there are no reports of people hearing Rap (that would be a living hell). While my condition may be a little annoying to others, they can always change the channel just by giving my ear a twist.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the little keyboard tap dancer who hosts our 100-word ditties is Curly Templestein Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the ensemble of practicing fic-titioners in the writers in FFF Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright – Dale Rogerson

One advantage of…

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