About jcmoore

Freelance writer and children's author.

‘Twas (almost) the Night Before Christmas…

…and time for a festive poem

Zebra's Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the zoo

A heavy snow fell and the winter wind blew.

Lions and tigers were curled up like kittens

While shivering apes dreamed of blankets and mittens.

 

The littlest monkeys were cuddled together,

Huddled up safe from the cold winter weather.

Old giant tortoises snored in their shells,

And none of them heard the faint tinkle of bells.

 

None of them saw the bright sleigh in the sky

That raced through the dark in the blink of an eye –

An old-fashioned sleigh pulled by nine flying deer

And a man dressed in red, bringing warm Christmas cheer.

 

None of them saw, save for one little chap,

A stripy young foal woken up from his nap.

 

The zebra foal yawned as he shook out his mane –

Were those bells he just heard?  Was he dreaming again?

And what was that thing he could see in the sky,

Pulled by small antlered horses (if horses could fly)?

 

He stood in the snow, gazing upwards in wonder,

His little legs shaking, heart drumming like thunder,

But the zebra foal smiled as he watched them descend

Because somehow he knew that the man was a friend.

 

With a jingle of sleigh bells they came into land,

“Whoah-ho!” cried the man with a wave of his hand,

Then the laden sleigh drew to a halt by the foal

And a warmth filled his head and his heart and his soul.

 

The gate in his paddock fence melted away

And he trotted across to the magical sleigh.

 

“Hello little friend,” said the old man in red,

“I thought you’d be tucked up all warm in your bed,

But now that you’re here you can help me, perhaps:

My lead reindeer’s poorly and ready to collapse,

With a cold in his nose and a cough in his chest

Poor Rudolph could do with a bit of a rest.

I wonder, my friend, could you lead us instead?”

The zebra foal nodded his black and white head.

 

Soon he was harnessed, all eager, all ready,

The man took the reigns and he held the sleigh steady

As up, up, up they soared into the night,

And the zebra’s heart sang as his body took flight.

 

They soared over paddocks and snowy white grass,

Over cages with icicles gleaming like glass,

The snow stung his face and the winter wind blew

But the foal barely noticed and battled on through.

 

Then swooping down low over each nest and bed

The man left a gift next to each dreaming head –

Wonderful presents for all birds and beasts,

From woolly trunk warmers to monkey nut feasts.

 

There were cosy new slippers for sleepy sloth claws

And brushes and toothpaste for crocodile jaws,

With knitted hump hats for the cold camel calf

And an extra wide scarf for the long necked giraffe.

 

Soon every last creature throughout the whole zoo

Had a special gift waiting, all shiny and new,

Then the proud little foal brought the sleigh into land

And the man stroked his mane with a warm, loving hand.

 

“Well done there, my brave zebra friend,” the man said,

Ruffling the fur on his black and white head,

“Poor Rudolph seems better for resting a while

And it’s all thanks to you,” he announced with a smile.

 

“But there’s still one last gift that we mustn’t forget

And I hope you’ll agree it’s the best present yet,”

Then he reached up his hands and he pulled from his head

His own velvet hat, all cosy and red.

 

“If ever you’re lonely, or teary, or scared

Remember tonight and the magic we shared.”

Then the man tucked his hat over each zebra ear

And the little foal’s heart filled with fresh festive cheer.

 

“Merry Christmas, my friend, and farewell!” the man said,

As he led the foal back to his warm waiting bed,

Then he re-harnessed Rudolph and took to the skies

And the young zebra foal shut his tired little eyes.

 

 

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The Answer To Everything

Hey you!  Yes, you with the sad / worried / bored face. 

Who Me

Politics getting you down? 

Rain getting you down?

Work / love life / clearing up after your incontinent dog getting you down? 

Thought so.

And let me guess, you’re still putting off that trim to avoid awkward small talk with the hairdresser? 

How could you tell

 

Just a hunch.

But all that’s about to change.  I know just the thing…

I'm all ears

 

Yes, my friend. What you need is the all new REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD.

Okay, so I lied about the new bit, but trust me, the REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD is the answer to ALL your problems. 

Simply engage the built-in reality deflector system and the real word vanishes in an instant.  No more political scrapping.  No more puddles (rain puddles I mean, but it works just as well with the incontinent pooch variety).  No more heartbreak or tedium or gloom. 

I like the sound of that

And best of all, you can take your Reality Deflecto Shield to the hairdresser’s and avoid conversation ALTOGETHER. You won’t even have to look at yourself in the mirror! 

Tell me more

Well, they come in a choice of colours.  A choice of settings.  A choice of moods.  More choice than you could ever imagine.  All you need to do is get yourself down to your nearest Reality Deflecto Shield stockist and get choosing…

Reality Deflector Shield

 

 

This One Goes Out to all the Lost Words

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Newsflash: Writers love words.

We love reading other people’s words and we love writing our own.  We love choosing them, playing with them, arranging them on the page, rearranging them on the page, agonising over their precise order, and then deleting them again.  We also love counting them. Words may give us our voice, our music, but often it’s adding them up at the end of every day / session / minute that allows us to measure our progress through the creative process:

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Nothing beats the sense of smug satisfaction you get from setting out to write 500 words and ending up with 2,000.  True, they might not be the finest 2,000 words in the literary history of mankind, but who’s counting?  (Apart from you.)  On the flipside, spending an entire week squeezing out one measly sentence is probably going to leave you feeling a little deflated.  Even if they are the finest seventeen consecutive words ever to issue forth from a biscuit eater’s writer’s brain.   And what makes it even more frustrating is the fact that you had entire scenes churning round in your head before you sat down to write.  Entire chapters…

head and words Why, you could have penned an entire trilogy in the shower this morning, if there was a way to harness the brilliance bouncing round your brain while you lathered up your shampoo. But, as we all know, something happens to the words between your head and your hand.  Between the vivid film playing in your mind and the blank screen waiting on your desk.  The words disappear.  Trickle away to nothing.  Otherwise our word counts would be through the roof every day.

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But what if there was a gadget to count up all those unwritten words too?  The ones that never quite made it onto paper /screen?  Not a Fitbit, so much as a Writbit?  How much better would those biscuit-eating word-drought days seem then?  I might still be on Chapter One, paragraph one, sentence one, but I THOUGHT of loads of words today.  Exactly.  I spy a gap in the market for an enterprising young inventor… Anyone??  In fact, if you could invent one that automatically transferred those thought words onto the page for us (especially the brilliant ones that run for cover at the merest glimpse of a biro) that would be even better.  Thanks awfully.

Number of words in this post?  405

Number of custard creams eaten? 0

#HaTakeThatBiscuitSuckers

 

Putting the ‘No’ into ‘Notebook’

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At the recent SCBWI conference David Almond treated us to a peek inside his crowded notebooks: every page a fabulous cacophony of ink; of bubbled notes and looping arrows; of doodled diagrams and scribblings out.  That, I thought, is what a proper writer’s notebook should look like.

Now, I can scribble, doodle and cross things out with the best of them. Oh yes.  And I’m a black belt in the art of arrow drawing.  But only in ratty old exercise books rescued from the back of a 1970s office stationery cupboard.  Or on a spare page from last year’s diary.  Or a bunch of old envelopes.  Show me the back of a Christmas card and I’m off, scribbling for Britain. But heaven forbid I mess up my lovely notebook collection with a scruffy bunch of still-fermenting ideas. Oh no.  I’m saving them

Which is why I must have been feeling unusually reckless when I packed my writing bag this morning.  When I threw caution to the bitter North wind and slipped in one of my favourite too-nice-to-actually-use A5 beauties…

 

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These ones even have my name on them – if that’s not permission to scrawl I don’t know what is.

 

… It was all going so well. I settled into my train seat, pulled down the fold-out table, reached into my bag for my pencil and notebook… and instead pulled out a wodge of scrap paper (one side already printed on) that I’d brought along ‘just in case’. And then I got to work.  Sorry, notebook.  Maybe next time.

Brexit Night and a Hidden Pig Bring Czech & Slovak Writing Prizes

I was lucky enough to win the annual British Czech & Slovak Association writing competition at the end of last year and was invited to the annual dinner in London to collect my prize.  Delicious food, great company and a warm welcoming atmosphere made for a truly memorable night and a perfect way to round off an exciting writing year before sinking into a sea of wrapping paper and Christmas chaos!

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A Czech student’s evocative account of a party in London on the night of the EU referendum and what it might mean for her future has won the British Czech & Slovak Association’s most recent writing competition. The first prize of £300 was awarded for Ms Bernhardt’s Brexit, by Jennifer Moore.

Jennifer is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian and Mslexia. She read English Literature at Cambridge University and is a previous winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. She lives in Devon.

The second prize, worth £100, went to The Pig, the Cupboard and the Reichsprotektor, by Jack Mullin.  It’s a comic tale, based on a true incident that took place in Bohemia in 1942, in which an clever Czech householder goes to great lengths to prevent his pig being requisitioned by the occupying Germans.

Jack has lived most of his life…

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The Twelve Writing Days of Christmas

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On the first day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

A draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the second day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the third day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the fourth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the fifth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the sixth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the seventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the eighth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the ninth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the tenth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the eleventh day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Eleven types of typo

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a draft pitch for a trilogy

*

On the twelfth day of Christmas

My true love sent to me

Twelve bums a-numbing

Eleven types of typo

Ten chores a-leaving

Nine agents’ answers

Eight crates of biscuits

Seven bodged beginnings

Six clichéd sayings

Five Googled things

Four boring verbs

Three chewed pens

Two words all smudged

And a last pitch for a trilogy

 

TEN THINGS TO TRIGGER YOUR WRITERLY INSECURITIES (and how to cope with them)

A fabulous post by Non Pratt for writers everywhere

AUTHOR ALLSORTS

REJECTION

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Every writer in the world has heard about Harry Potter getting turned down. You’ve probably also read a book that received ZERO rejections, but you definitely haven’t read that unpublished book by that unpublished author who gave up after five.

What am I driving at? There is no correlation between the number of rejections you might receive and the possibility of success or failure.

One rejection is one rejection, nothing more, nothing less and with each one, you must ask yourself the same question: is this bringing me more pain than joy?

More pain? Then stop. Give yourself a break. You don’t have to keep doing this. There are better ways of making a living and you can enjoy writing without having to be published.

More joy? Then keep going. That might mean persevering with this one manuscript, or it might mean rethinking the story. It might also mean…

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