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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.

Jerome and His Women by Joan O’Hagan

Joan O’Hagan was born in Australia, studied Latin, Greek and ancient history at university in New Zealand, and lived and worked overseas for the best part of her life – including 30 years in Rome, where she worked at the Australian Department of Immigration.

Vu Tran’s debut novel, Dragonfish, opens with a letter from a mother to her daughter, with whom she has lost contact. She recounts the first night of their escape from communist Vietnam, in a small, overcrowded boat, soon to be wracked by ‘thirst and hunger, sickness [and] death’.

Jet joined our family on the 8th March 2014. It had been two-and-half years since we'd lost our dear old Lab, Harry, and Jet was just on two-and-half years old at the time. It seemed a good omen.

I had borne guilt and despair on the fate of our over-populated and polluted planet for many years. Then in a waking moment, I saw how I, a lowly middle-aged nobody, could save the Earth, her people and all her precious life.

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Fiction

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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-toasted 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?

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

The bench outside the headmaster's office was hard. It was designed to make you squirm. But once you'd sat down, you daren't wriggle to relieve the creeping pins and needles. Because if you did, Old Heavy-handed Hamilton, would look up through the glass of his office door and note your fidgeting.

It's a warm, sunny day and I'm strolling along Brighton Promenade during my lunch break. The seagulls are circling and squawking and the sun's shimmering on the flat blue-green English Channel.

My class had a lesson on "conservation" at school the other day. Miss said that this was where people reused old things or used new things more carefully. She said conservation was important to stop the world from getting more dirty and to help make it healthy again.

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Nonfiction

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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.

Slept soundly, only waking whenever our train ground to halt and there was no comforting clickety-clack. Guard woke us at 7 AM, leaving the compartment door open. Music blaring from corridor ensured we didn't fall back to sleep. As did serving of hot, sweet tea, in glass tumblers with pewter handles.

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

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".

Dahab sits on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh on the bottom tip, 148 km south of Israel and Jordan, and across the Gulf of Aqaba from Saudi Arabia, whose desert hills are visible from the beachfront on sunrise and sunset.

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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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