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"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Maya Angelou

Share and showcase your untold story — fiction, nonfiction and reviews — on Tall And True, an online magazine, blog and forum for writers, readers and publishers.

Both Sides of the Story - Bosnia

The roar of the explosives devastated the peace of the valley. Tibor had covered his ears, but the thudding explosion set off the bells in his head again. He dropped his hands as dust and grit rained down on him and his men. When the dust cleared, it revealed the shattered shell of the old farmhouse.

Phil Collins released Both Sides of the Story in 1993. It was a catchy song, but I remember it more for the music video. Scenes of homelessness, domestic violence, military patrols on streets and a ghetto kid mugging a white man, juxtaposed with Collins crooning, We need to hear both sides of the story.

Winter 1993, Westminster, England: "Madam Speaker, I —" Baxter groaned and lifted his pen. He stuck the end in his mouth and sucked it, searching for a better opening line. He crossed out the first words and started again. "Madam Speaker, the —" His pen froze again. "Bugger, why won't the words flow?"

On the vexed question of the ideal frequency for posting to blogs, Problogger's Darren Rowse suggests it "varies considerably from blog to blog" (June 2008). I've been tardy with the frequency of my posts recently, not because I haven't been writing. But because I've been busy writing presentations.

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Fiction

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The roar of the explosives devastated the peace of the valley. Tibor had covered his ears, but the thudding explosion set off the bells in his head again. He dropped his hands as dust and grit rained down on him and his men. When the dust cleared, it revealed the shattered shell of the old farmhouse.

Winter 1993, Westminster, England: "Madam Speaker, I —" Baxter groaned and lifted his pen. He stuck the end in his mouth and sucked it, searching for a better opening line. He crossed out the first words and started again. "Madam Speaker, the —" His pen froze again. "Bugger, why won't the words flow?"

"Fiction writers, magicians, politicians and priests are the only people rewarded for entertaining us with their lies." ~ Bangambiki Habyarimana

The golden sand squeaks in soft protest as Megan presses her body into the beach towel. A gentle breeze carries the taste of the sea and cools the sweat tingling her sun-baked skin. Distant gulls crawk and nearby waves roll onto the shore in a relaxing rhythm. Megan sighs. And then the phone rings.

A faded photo of my dad from the 1970s inspired this microfiction. He had a faraway look in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile on his much younger face. As art lovers have done for centuries with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, I wondered what was on my dad's mind when the photo was taken?

To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280! The top ten stories to be published on the Meanjin Blog and the authors paid $1 a word.

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Nonfiction

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The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.

It was a flight of fancy, inspired by a newspaper ad: "Moscow and St. Petersburg, 7 nights with Jules Verne Travel". It sounded exotic, impossible. But this was 1993, Leningrad was St. Petersburg again, Boris Yeltsin was Russian President, Russia was opening up. Glasnost made all things seem possible.

"When you deal with nonfiction you deal with human characters." ~ Marya Hornbacher

I've kept daily diaries and travel journals since my backpacking mid-twenties. When the smoke from the New Year fireworks cleared on the TV this year, I put away my 2018 diary and opened a new one for 2019, my 33rd year of diaries. It got me wondering where and how I'd spent the New Year since 1987.

Unlike my son, born in the era of digital cameras and phones, there are few photos of me from my childhood years, and even less of me as a teenager. I do have one with my mother and two of my brothers, taken on Xmas Day 1976 when I was a surly sixteen-year-old. *Gulp*, my son is sixteen this Xmas!

When I was five-years-old, my parents separated, and my little brother and I moved in to live with our grandparents. While our Nan embraced her two young grandsons with warm grandmotherly arms, our Pop could be standoffish and a little scary, especially when angry with a couple of "naughty boys".

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Reviews

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Beneath the Willow opens with a prologue set in rural NSW in 1953. It is a dark scene of fear and domestic violence. The novel then steps back in time and place to the working class suburb of Balmain in 1915. Australia is at war in foreign lands and sons of families have answered her call to arms.

Kristel Thornell’s On the Blue Train is a novelisation of the eleven days in 1926 when, in a mystery worthy of Poirot, Agatha Christie disappeared. The novel opens with Agatha outside Harrods. She is confused and cannot enter the store, unable to "even recall what she needed to purchase".

"When you're tired of book reviews, you're tired of life." ~ Lev Grossman

It is Christmas Day 1994 at Bilgoa Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. A "pink shouldered" Charlie Bright is pacing up and down on the sand at the water's edge, "like a coach on the touchline", calling out to his children, mastering their sleek new Christmas present surfboards on the waves.

When Writing NSW asked if I would like to review On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell, a novel about the eleven days in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared, I thought it would be an interesting assignment and a chance to learn more about this famous author and to perhaps finally read one of her books.

Jennifer Mills sets Dyschronia in the run-down coastal town of Clapstone. Sam is twenty-five years old. The town views Sam as an oracle and depends upon her visions for their survival. And yet a great catastrophe has occurred: the sea has disappeared, seemingly taking with it Clapstone’s last hope.

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