Has anyone ever played Consequences?  Years ago we used to play a game which went something like this…

A subject for a story would be chosen, and each participant would be given a guide as to which part of the story they would write.  The first person would start the story off and asked to fold the paper over in such a way that nobody could see what was written.  The next person would be asked to make something happen, the next to create conflict, and so on, until the end.  At this point someone was designated to read the story.  The result was often extremely funny and revealing.

I’m not of course, suggesting that a short story could be written in this way, but it did set me thinking.   Perhaps I could ask other writers if they could in turn read the start of a story, add to it and then pass it on.

The other day I was looking through a folder of articles, poems, parts of stories that I’d written over the years, when I came across a short story I’d started writing a few years ago and had never finished:  this snippet intrigued me.


“It was a gloriously warm, summer’s day and the sun was at its highest point in the heavens.  It was a wonderful day to be alive, and Maggie Browne rode her ancient bicycle along the narrow lane. She’d been to the local shop in the village to buy some bread and the basket directly in front of her was full of things she hadn’t intended to buy. The extra pint of milk, the fruit cake which she couldn’t resist and the juicy strawberries she knew her husband would enjoy.

Almost without warning, the sun was shrouded by dark threatening storm clouds, and the sky darkened as they scurried across the sky like soldiers preparing for battle. Maggie’s beautiful day was now a menacing, frightening thing: it was like a mad creature getting ready to jump.  She began to turn the pedals a little more quickly, but she soon became out of breath.   A little cry escaped from her lips when she heard the first rumble of thunder.

Maggie turned the corner and just after the lane crossed over an old wooden bridge she noticed a large branch had fallen from a tree and was blocking her path.  She alighted from her bicycle and placed it against the wooden struts of the bridge to see if she could the branch could be moved.  By this time, it had started raining heavily and she looked downwards at the rapidly flowing river beneath her.

Her heart began to thump.  Something glittered beneath the bridge, but she couldn’t quite make out what was lying there.   She stared into the blackness below and as the storm clouds passed over and the weak sun’s rays gradually began to filter through the trees, she saw something which sent shivers down her spine.

The thing that was glittering was the wrist-watch belonging to the man who was lying face down in the water.  Blood was seeping from a nasty wound in his back.  He was obviously very dead.

Maggie Browne screamed…” 


If anyone would like to contribute to this joint short-story venture, please let me know.    I would be grateful for any comments, especially if you would like to write the next instalment!

About phylburton

I live in south-west Surrey in England. I am an author of three published books, and I have another book of short stories due for publication in March 2018. I love singing, water-colour painting, walking, Cornwall and of course writing and reading good books. All three of my books - A PASSING STORM, PAPER DREAMS and WHEN THE ICE MELTS, were published by Matador (Troubador Publishing) Ltd. WHEN THE ICE MELTS was published in August 2016. My next book - THE POWER OF LOVE - is due to be published by Bridge House Publishing in March 2018. For more details about me and my writing, please go to my website:
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  1. Tom Winton says:

    Hi, Phyllis. As I said on our FB group page just now, I worked this up this morning. See if you want to add it to your story.

    At the very same time, on the other side of the rustic village, Laney Forsen checked the clock on her kitchen wall for the fourth time in an hour. 2 PM. It had been quite some time since she’d lowered the burner beneath the simmering pot of chili. With it’s delicious aroma wafting throughout the tidy cottage, and her two daughters in the adjoining living room laughing at something on TV, one would have thought everything was as tranquil as it always was. But Laney didn’t think so. She had a deep, unsettling suspicion. It had shrouded her psyche just as the low, seemingly evil gray clouds had shrouded the bright sky outside her kitchen window.

    Kip is never late, she thought as she again stirred the chili, not for anything.

    That’s the way her husband was, punctual, dependable, always a very meticulous man. When he had gone on his bicycle to the bakery at twelve-thirty he was just going to pick up a loaf of fresh bread. It was but ten minutes each way. It wasn’t like Kip to keep her waiting.

    As Laney stirred the chili yet another time she whispered to herself. , “He never loses track of time. Not only that, but he’s wearing the new watch I gave him for his birthday on Wednesday. I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all.”

    Minutes later the storm struck. A loud, lingering thunderclap shook the walls of the cottage. Laney, who’d by then been sitting at the table, debating whether or not to get in the car and retrace Kip’s short route to the bakery, jerked her head toward the window. A driving rain began to pelt the glass as if it were hell-bent on breaking it. As if it was angry at it. Then there was lightning.

    Laney had turned just in time to see the blinding white bolt strike the tree line beyond the back lawn Kip had mowed that morning. The impossibly bright flash lit up the kitchen that had become as gloomy as Laney’s mood when the clouds had rolled in.

    Jumping to her feet now, she rushed into the living room to get her purse.

    “Girls, I’m going to the bakery to see what’s been keeping Daddy,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”

    But she never left. That’s when the phone rang.

  2. phylburton says:

    I really like that one, Tom. Hope we get the next instalment!

  3. Jane Risdon says:

    So sorry that I forgot this Phyllis, apologies. I will put my thinking cap on and try to at to your wonderful piece and to tom’s which I am really enjoying. You know me and mysteries……..back soon.

  4. Jane Risdon says:

    Laney dropped the phone, staggering a little as she felt for the chair beside the table. She slumped into it, heart pounding and head thudding as her brain tried hard to digest the words she’d heard, her hand instinctively clutching her chest.
    “We’ve got your husband. We’ll kill him if you go to the police or tell anyone about this call. Don’t get help, listen to what I am going to tell you and don’t speak.” A rasping but somewhat muffled voice had whispered.
    She had tried to take in his words, opened her mouth to tell the caller to stop messing around. She thought one of Kip’s mates was pulling her leg, but before she could form the words, he spoke again.
    “This is serious and I warn you, deviate from my instructions and Kip will die.” The man then went on to tell Laney just what it was he wanted her to do. When he finished she muttered a yes in agreement and then he hung up.
    Her legs would not move and she felt violently sick, she tried hard to control her breathing. As her brain tried to process the man’s words, the doorbell rang. She staggered hopefully towards to door, convinced that Kip had returned and having forgotten his key. Two policemen stood on the threshold, their expressions grim. Laney hit the newly laid wooden floor with a resounding thud before either of them had chance to explain their visit.

  5. Jane Risdon says:

    Phyllis I have gone on from Tom’s contribution. Hope you like it. Do I reblog this to post on to my blog and to get more contributors? let me know. Jane x

  6. Jane Risdon says:

    Phyllis and Tom, any objections if I copy and paste to my blog so I can show it to others who might join in? Let me know. J x

    • Tom Winton says:

      That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, Jane. I’ve already posted it on my FB group page today. I THINK Phyllis would appreciate it.

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Phyllis I have added my piece and I have added the post to my author blog

        and my Facebook author  page

        and also one of my writing groups to see if anyone will join in. If you would like to join our group, Writers on the Same Page let me know and I will add you.

        Small closed group of 37 and friendly and help each other a lot.  So do say yes.

        Jane xx

          Telling Tales Anthology by Writers for Welfare available I Am Woman Anthology vol 1 available


      • phylburton says:

        I found the message, Jane, and I say yes to your group. What do I have to do?

        Phyllis x

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Phyllis, I will add you from Facebook, have a look and if it is not for you just cancel it. We have a couple of writing comps now and again – 200-600 words re a theme or photo which we all enter if we want, no pressure and poets also enter. We advertise each other so our followers can find you too and just generally chat about writing and so on…nothing heavy and no need to join in if not able or interested – sort of a pop in and out if and when you want sort of place. I will add you and then you see. Hope all OK, catch up when you have looked. Jane x

      • Jane Risdon says:

        I have emailed you Phyllis. No stress. 🙂

  7. Jane Risdon says:

    Or do I reblog? Never done that before, where does it show up?

  8. Jane Risdon says:

    I’ve added to my blog and it is on my author page on Facebook Phyllis and Tom, fingers crossed.

  9. Jane Risdon says:

    Shall we complete this story Tom and Phyllis since no one else seems inclined….? Let me know. J xx

    • Tom Winton says:

      Jane and Phyllis, I’m afraid now isn’t a good time for me. I’m very disillusioned with the whole writing deal right now. I don’t like to be negative, but I finished at #3 in the US after a two day free promo that ended on Friday and have only sold a paltry 61 books.

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Good grief Tom, I cannot believe that getting to #3 still only has sales of 61 books….whatever are the others selling then? So sorry to hear this and I really hope that by the time you read this (sorry i have been away), things will have improved for you. Please do not give up writing. Perhaps it is a slow starter (the book) and things will get moving soon. I hope so. I enjoyed what you have added to Consequences and hope you will pop back soon and we three can complete it – I do hope others will join us. Chin up and let’s hope things are better by now. Wishing you good things. Jane 🙂

  10. Tom Winton says:

    Jane, The Last American Martyr ended up with just 90 sales, but I blame it on reaching #3 free on a Thursday. Don’t ever run a freebie giveaway on that day. Shoot for earlier in the week. The upside is that I have been blown-away by the reviews it has gotten–eleven 5-stars in a row.I don’t mean to sound cocky, but this book deserves more. In due time it will get it. Thank you so much for empathizing. If you have a moment, just take a quick glance at the reviews it has received since that promo. Most are on the right side of its Amazon page. I can’t tell you how flattered I am.

    • Jane Risdon says:

      Tom, I popped over and read all your reviews and all I can say is WOW! I would wish for reviews like that! Sales will come, some people need to read reviews in order to decide what to buy. I worked with musicians/singers and released albums and singles for years and believe me you can get a massive push from a company (record label) and still only sell handfuls of albums etc, then someone does an ace review and others follow these and write their own and soon word travels and whoosh! Slow burners hang around longest in my experience and are still around years later. Many stars shine bright and are the briefest of all; gone and forgotten all too soon. Take heart. Good luck. 🙂

      • Tom Winton says:

        Thanks Jane! Before the Last American Martyr finished #3 free on the Amazon US Bestseller last a few weeks ago, it was ranked at about #120,000 paid and was the slowest seller of all my novels. This game, assuming one’s product is a good one, It is all about getting light on our books.
        And that light does not come easy. The upside for me is that I’ve earned far more in royalties each month since the first of this year than I ever did in the three and a half years I’ve been at this. Hopefully it will be an upward trend, but I certainly can’t count on that. You and Phyllis both know this can be a crazy, hot-and-cold business. Hopefully we’ll all do well. Cheers!

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Am glad things have picked up and they will again. Good luck and good luck to Phyllis too….it will all come well in the end. 🙂

  11. phylburton says:

    Jane and Tom, I’ve been very much ‘otherwise engaged’ over the past couple of weeks or so, for various family reasons and publishing my book of short stories: “Fifteen Brushes with LOVE!'” which is out today on Kindle. When I get back into the swing of things again, I will attempt to keep our story going: the characters are all in a state of limbo and don’t know which way to turn!! (She smiles!)

    Dear Tom, please don’t be disillusioned with your writing. Your books are wonderful – your writing is superb and I feel that you are not alone. It is easy to think and feel that it is just your problem with sales. But it most certainly isn’t and the problems I’ve had with both Trafford and Amazon would astound you: but I’m not giving up. Everyone is going through a period of ‘hard times’ both in monetary terms and sales of what ever! . I’ve put my new book on to Kindle with a very much ‘tongue in cheek attitude’. If it sells, good, if it doesn’t, I’ve tried. And that is all it comes down to in the end. Keep your chin up and be ‘PHYLosophical’ as I try to be – not always successfully but…
    I’ll probably be away next week, but a lot depends on Bailey-dog’s health, which as you know, is failing. Just one of the things that we as humans have no control over. Once he’s gone, we’ll have a very unhappy household!. all of us,.put a smile on your face and put your best foot forward and see what happens… Wishing both of you,all you wish for yourself.

    Phyllis xx

    • Tom Winton says:

      Thanks, Phyllis. I’m not down over the sales results of my promo anymore. Though they weren’t anywhere near where they should have been, things did pick up a week after the promo ended–which is odd. My WITHIN A MAN’S HEART finished its 2 day promo at four this morning (my time) and it got to #60 on the US bestseller list. I’m tickled with that since it is a novella and it didn’t have one big push. Who could complain about that. Give Bailey a chest rubby for me–Ginger loves them. And enjoy your trip, hon. Oh yeah, don’t forget to put a post, with the link to “Fifteen…”,
      on our FB site so we can share.

  12. phylburton says:

    Hi Tom, I’m so glad you’re not still disillusioned. Well done. Bailey enjoyed the chest rub! I’ve put the link on FB, about ‘Fifteen…’; the cover doesn’t show, but it is there on the amazon site. I designed a cover, but couldn’t download it. So I bought one!! Now I’m going through the whole process again with Smashwords.

    • Tom Winton says:

      I just shared it in the US, Phyllis. I cut and pasted the US Amazon link from its page and the cover came up fine on Facebook. Best of luck, hon. Lad you got through all that uploading aggravation.

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