New Joke Book Free for Teachers and Students   Leave a comment

This is just a quick post to announce the arrival of my new book on Amazon. It’s an age-appropriate joke book designed for teachers and students and it’s FREE to download on Kindle Unlimited as of yesterday. There is a print version available also but it may have to be re-edited first as I won’t get the first proof for a few days. The image of the cover is below and I hope everyone enjoys it and are generous with the reviews!

If you are a teacher, this is a very safe book to dip into. Humour is the best social glue in a classroom that I know of and all of these jokes have been ‘road-tested’ in my own classes and went down a bomb. Feel free to download it today and I wish you the best of success using the wisecracks, quips and one-liners that are guaranteed to make them smile! The new cover is below and I’m posting the Table of Contents and the first three pages of the book for those who love a giggle. Will be back very soon with a new post on ‘How to Describe a Beautiful Black Woman’. Thanks for supporting my blog! Liamo.


There’s a link to your FREE Kindle copy on Kindle Unlimited by clicking the image below. Any of the book images below can be clicked on to bring you to the Amazon books site.

Cracked as a Cricket

Table of Contents                              Pages


11-13-year-old short jokes                  2-36

11-13-year-old medium jokes             37-43

11-13-year-old long jokes                  44-56

14-16-year-old short jokes                 57-78

14-16-year-old medium jokes             79-91

14-16-year-old long                            92-112

17 plus short                                      113-128

17 plus medium                                  129-145

17 plus long                                        146-184

Write in your favourite jokes               184-189

11-13-year-old short jokes


Always give everything 100%- except when you’re donating blood.

Don’t let your worries get the better of you. Just remember that Moses started out as a basket case and he did alright for himself.

Life is how you look at things. For example, spell stressed backwards. There you go.

I got a really great compliment when I steered my car into a tight space this morning. I came back and someone had left a lovely little note. It said: ‘Parking Fine’.

If you’re just after flatulating, it is always polite to ask: “Can anyone else smell popcorn?”

The strangest thing happened to me this morning. I was walking past a tree when I saw a Justin Bieber concert ticket nailed to it. I was delighted and took it home. You never know when you might need a nail.

Here’s a very important piece of life advice. When someone’s annoying you and you feel stressed, just eat another cookie. They’re delicious and you won’t be able to hear anything over the crunching.

There are 2 golden rules for success. The first is to never reveal all you know…

Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is realising the other person was born an idiot.

Never argue with an idiot. He has the benefit of experience.

If you’re going to pick an argument with someone, wait until they have the hiccups. It’s so much funnier.

If you’re ever attacked by a gang of clowns, always go for the juggler first.

Life is all about perspective. For example, turtles think frogs are homeless.

Life is all about perspective. If you were a lobster in the kitchen of the Titanic, you’d have done all right out of it, wouldn’t you?

If you ever become a doctor, change your last name to Acula. Then you’re Dr. acula.

When people go underwater in scary situations, I like to hold my breath and see if I would have survived that situation.

I almost died in ‘Finding Nemo’.

A mushroom, a sausage and a fried egg walk into a bar. The barman says:

“Get out. We don’t serve breakfast in here.”

This mushroom walks into a bar with a pained expression. The barman says:

“Get out. You’re too serious.”

As he’s walking out crying, the mushroom turns his head around and says:

“I’m actually a fungi.”

If an English teacher is discussing the importance of English, he/she should always explain how precise the language is. For example, in America you use the words ‘woof-woof’ for a dog. In England, it’s ‘bow-wow’. In North Korea, it’s ‘sizzle’.

Some say that if you can’t beat them, join them. I say if you can’t beat them, beat them. That way you’ll have the element of surprise and a greater sense of satisfaction.

I used to be the top house alarm salesman in the country. If people weren’t

home, I just left the brochure on their kitchen table.

My toughest ever job, though, was selling doors door-to-door.

Velcro. What a rip-off.

What does a Kerry man call his pet zebra? Spot

They say ‘icy’ is the easiest word to spell. I see why.

What’s green and goes at 100 miles an hour? – A frog in a blender.

What’s red and white and goes at 100 miles an hour? – A train driver’s tomato


What’s blue and green and goes 99 miles an hour? – A smurf chasing a frog in a


What’s red and smells of blue paint?  Red paint, silly.

Why do scuba divers fall backwards off the boat?

Because if they fell forwards they’d still be in the boat.

And the Lord said unto Moses: “Go forth and I shall grant you eternal life.”

But he only came fifth and won a toaster.

Another great piece of life advice is that when someone talks behind your back, let off an SBD (silent but deadly fart). Your problem disappears. If they object, call it a love bomb.

Life advice: Never marry a tennis player. Its obvious love means nothing to them.

What’s green, fuzzy and would kill you if it fell out of a tree? A pool table.

I don’t think you’re stupid. You just have a lot of bad luck when you’re thinking.

Wasn’t that lousy yesterday? Someone stole from a circus midget’s pocket. The police still can’t figure out how anyone could stoop so low.

I’m afraid of speed bumps. But I’m getting over it.

Someone stole my Microsoft Office. Someone’s gonna pay. You have my word.

I used to be an addict. I was addicted to soap but I’m clean now.

I was walking in the park yesterday and I wondered why the Frisbee was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Never forget that you’re unique- just like everyone else.

Yesterday my psychiatrist told me I was crazy. I said I wanted a second opinion. “No problem,” he said. You’re ugly too.”

You mightn’t realise this but I used to be in a boy band many moons ago. We were very famous. You can still see our posters everywhere. We were called Lost Dog.

As you grow older, you will realize that there are only 3 types of people in this world, my friend- those who can count and those who can’t.



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Describing a Beautiful Black Woman   3 comments

Describing a beautiful black woman- For Russell Wilson and Ciara

This is a post I’ve been meaning to put up for a while. Especially because, back in the day, Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, got busted plagiarising my site for his then-girlfriend Ciara, the American R&B singer. The phrases he used were actually from my book ‘Writing with Stardust’ and there are links to it on Amazon after this post.

Two examples are given in the links are below in case you missed the story that went viral around the world:

There are plenty more links if you type in ‘Russell Wilson busted’.

I often wonder if Rustle was named after a word-rustler or a website-rustler. Anyway, congrats to Russell for since marrying her and having two children together. All is forgiven, Russell, and I wish you the best of luck plundering phrases from websites around the world. There’s a short love letter for you to give to Ciara at the end of this post. I hope it keeps the flame burning for you and prevents you being the future ex-husband!

Describing A Beautiful Black Woman



1 Her skin was copper-brown, like a windfall autumn leaf.

2 Her skin was autumn brown and as smooth as a moonstone.

3 Her skin was starshadow-black and she had eyes of galaxy-blue.



1 Her eyes were bliss-blue and she had an electrifying smile.

2 Her eyes were lake-green, like two pools of liquid fire.

3 Her eyes were paradise-green with lips of berry-red.



1 She had smouldering, doe-brown eyes and a queenly figure.

2 She had walnut-brown eyes and a film star smile.

3 She had dazzling, champagne-brown eyes and half-moon cheekbones.



1 Her hair was coral-black and it crashed over her shoulders.

2 Her hair was velvet-black and it caressed her pinched-in cheekbones.

3 Her hair was velour-black and it offset her oxblood-red lips.



1 Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in tumbles of cinnamon-brown.

2 Her hair plunged over her shoulders in waves of midnight-black.

3 Her hair swooped in coils over her swan’s neck.


puffyoxbowtrout poutbee-stung
poutingCupid’s bowheart shapedkiss-inspiring

1 She had puffy, pouting lips and they were blossom soft.

2 She had trout pout lips that were suede soft.

3 She had kiss-inspiring lips that were pillow soft.


angel-whiteoyster-whiteunicorn-whitepiano key teeth

1 She had spellbinding, angel-white teeth.

2 She had sparkling, wizard-white teeth and an angelic smile.

3 She had dazzling, piano key teeth and a star-radiant smile.



1 She had a room-grabbing smile and her eyes danced with delight.

2 She had a megawatt smile and it lit up the room.

3 She had a terawatt smile that electrified everyone around her.


shapelycomelywasp-waistedan hour glass figure
sculptedcurvaceousbumblebee waistGlamazonian  

1 She had a sculpted figure and an acorn cup chin.

2 She had a bumblebee waist and orchid-pink lips.

3 She was curvaceous with a goblet shaped waist.


arched eyebrowseclipse-blackspider’s-leg eyelashesCleopatran
quarter-moon eyebrowssliver-of-moon eyebrowssilk-brush eyelashesMerovingian

1 She had quarter-moon eyebrows and seashell shaped ears.

2 She had spider’s-leg eyelashes and orbit-shaped eyes.

3 She had Cleopatran eyelashes and blushing, pilgrim-pink lips.



1 She had a button nose and hair that curtained her oval face.

2 She had a pert nose and bewitching, Eden-green eyes.

3 She had a refined nose and syrup-sweet lips.


petal-pinkacorn cup fingernailslong and lacqueredVenus-red
sunrise-pinkfilm starpendant-shapedAphrodite-red

1 She had petal-pink fingernails and dainty fingers.

2 Her nails were long and lacquered perched on nimble fingers.

3 Her nails were Venus-red and as rosy as a glow-worm.

Letter to Ciara for Russell to steal:

Dear Ciara:

                I can still remember the first time we met at the NBC’s I Can Do That wrap party on March 26, 2015. You electrified everyone with your megawatt smile and your charisma was infectious. When you smiled at me with your piano key teeth, I was bewitched.

                As I approached, your doe-brown eyes melted my heart. I noticed the clarity of your copper-brown skin and how it was offset by your velvet-black hair. Though you had a Glamazonian figure, it was your songbird-sweet voice and pure soul that I fell in love with. The more I get to know you, the more I cherish the flame of love that burns bright for us.

                 May we forever be together in this life and the next and may that guy Liam O’ Flynn in Clonmel, Tipperary keep putting up posts like this that I can steal for you.

                                                        Yours sincerely,


My books available on Amazon:

Posted February 13, 2021 by liamo in Uncategorized

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Describing a lake video   9 comments

This is a link to a new video created on YouTube. It describes 20 lakes with the words from ‘Writing with Stardust’. The link is below and I hope you enjoy it. I will be putting up a lot more blog posts and videos over the summer so thanks for your patience. It’s meant as a learning aid for teachers but others, hopefully, will enjoy the imagery of 20 beautiful lakes in a slideshow.


Blue-Sky Thinking 1- Free Book   8 comments

Hello all. School is back and my break is over. I’ve been working on a new book that’s not as advanced as ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. It’s the prequel, so to speak. Tonight, I’m uploading the solutions to the book for teachers to use.

Over the next week, I will upload the ‘fill-in-the blanks’ workbook. This is a book I would use in class myself and might be useful for Ist years in secondary school (i.e. 11-12-year-olds).

I hope it may give some ideas on descriptive writing as a ‘platform’ book for students.

Hopefully, you may find some of the ideas in it interesting. Apologies in advance if pages or words are thrown out in any way. I find the new Windows will put in errors where they shouldn’t be.

Thanks to all those who follow my blog and I will also put up an extract from a fantasy novel I am working on in the next few days. I hope to have it finished by Christmas.

Just click on the link below to access the book.

Cheers for now. Liam.


Blue-Sky Thinking 1














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Posted August 26, 2016 by liamo in Uncategorized

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Ireland in 8,000 B.C.   2 comments

Describing Ireland in 8,000 B.C. has proven a difficult task. The information is scattered and it takes many websites to compile an accurate picture. There is a short descriptive essay at the end of this assignment. Questions can then be posed on whatever topic you decide. This is a post for teachers, mainly, so bear that in mind please. It should suit students aged 11-15. I hope you enjoy the post and any of my books can be viewed by just clicking on the images at the end of this blog post.


Ice Age mammals Introduced since Now extinct
bat bank vole wild boar
red deer sika deer giant deer/elk
Irish hare brown hare brown bear-1,000 B.C.
red fox fallow deer reindeer
pine marten sika deer roe deer
otter rabbit wolf-1786
Irish stoat American mink wild cat
red squirrel grey squirrel wild pig (greyhound pig)
field mouse black rat muskrat
house mouse brown rat woolly mammoth
pygmy shrew muntjac deer spotted hyena
hedgehog wild boar? (rewilding) lemmings
badger black panther? (escapes) lynx
white-toothed shrew Siberian chipmunks lake monsters


bat-                       squeaking bank vole-                 rustling wild boar-               snorting


There are 26 land mammals in Ireland. A land mammal is taken to be any animal that has existed in the country since 1500 A.D. The animals on the left MAY have been in Ireland during or before the Ice Age. Write in true or false on the right if you think they were.

polar bears (bred with Irish brown bears)
wild horses
Arctic foxes
Aurochs (huge wild bulls)
Saiga antelopes
woolly rhinoceroses
cave lions
great auks


Timeline for the First People to inhabit Britain and Ireland

2 million years ago: The first humans appeared in Africa.

800,000 years ago: Humans entered Europe, probably from Africa. England is connected to Europe by a land bridge and a footprint dating to this time is found in Norfolk.

700,000 years ago: 32 flints are found in Suffolk. Early man is successfully living in Britain.

480,000 years ago: The earliest bone found in Britain, a shinbone, is found in Suffolk.

250,000 years ago: The Neanderthals leave evidence of their migration into Jersey island. They are the most successful species in Europe at this time. They go extinct circa 30,000 B.C.

40,000 years ago: The first modern man, Cro-Magnon, arrive in Europe. They are one of the reasons the Neanderthals go extinct. There was probably inter-breeding between the two races at some stage. Cro-Magnon man came from the region of Lebanon/Palestine/Israel originally, spread to Siberia and made their way to France. They followed mammoth and reindeer herds in order to survive. They played music (with bone flutes), drew cave art and made tools and weapons from bones, flint and antlers.

33,000 years ago: Cro-Magnon man arrives in Britain.

26,000- 19,000 B.C: An Ice Age hits Britain and Ireland, Northern Europe and as far south as Northern France. All these areas become no-go zones for humans. They may have ventured in to hunt for mammoths and reindeer but the snow and ice are too hostile to live there.

15,000-14,500 B.C: Humans return to Britain and Ireland. There may have been as few as 3,000 people hunting in Britain at this time but 80% of the DNA of British people comes from these hardy few. Ireland may have had as little as 500 people in the same period. Ireland is still connected to Britain by a ‘land bridge’ from Cornwall to Waterford.

11,000 B.C: The juniper tree is the first tree to colonise Ireland after the Ice Age. Giant deer and Aurochs may have crossed into Ireland at this time. Look at the last grid to see the list of animals who may have crossed over at this time. Ireland at this time is a land of open meadows, lakes and sparkling chalk rivers.

10,000 B.C: The land bridge disappears with rising sea levels. Ireland is cut off from Britain forever. Britain today has 43 land mammals. Ireland has 26, as the south of England was always much warmer, enabling animals to survive. Agriculture reaches Europe from the Middle East. There are no wild cattle in Ireland or England and no-one is able to farm.

9,000 B.C: The climate warms rapidly. Birch, willow, pine, hazel, elm, oak, beech, alder and lime trees colonize Ireland. It becomes a land of vast forests. These forests are now bogs.

8,100 B.C: Evidence of the 1st humans in Ireland is found at Fermoy, Co. Cork. They are hunter-gatherers and they burn forests to clear the way for small, temporary shelters. Their huts were made of sticks and clay (i.e. wattle and daub) and covered with animal skins. These people may have brought animals like the brown bear with them. They kept dogs for hunting and protection. They tended to hug the coasts and fished for salmon, trout and eels in the rivers. They ate lots of shellfish and crabs and hunted flounder and bass from the sea. They ate wild boar and deer and set fish traps in every location. A full list is provided below.

hazelnuts honey crabs salmon
beechnuts seaweed lobster trout
acorns capercaillie clams fish eggs
mushrooms pigeons barnacles animal fat cakes
blackberries ducks periwinkles crab apples
blueberries herons wild horse nettle soup
watercress bear razor fish beaver
wild garlic wild boar flounder Irish hare
hen eggs wild pig bass great auk
goose eggs muskrat mackerel red squirrel
elderberries fox and otter stew white carrot wild cherries
cormorant sloe berries rose hips cabbage
poppy seeds fennel badger wild strawberries
black mustard turnip wild celery wild peas


These foods are the best guess from researching more than 30 websites on prehistoric Ireland. One example is the nettle. Who knows if it existed in Ireland back then? The Ice Age wiped away a lot of evidence and information is hard to come by. If it did, it is a certainty that they made soup from it in February or March when the leaves were green and without the barbs. These would have been extremely resourceful people, probably a lot cleverer than us. The ancestors of these people were making bone flutes 10,000 years before this and drawing magnificent cave art in France and the Czech Republic. It is very likely that this wave came from France and Spain, in particular the Basque country. To this day, people in the fishing village of Bermeo in the Basque country look very like the Irish themselves. Some have red hair and freckles.

6000 B.C: The first pike colonize Irish rivers.

5600 B.C: Britain gets separated from mainland Europe due to rising sea levels.

4300 B.C: The first cattle arrive in Ireland. The new wave of immigrants are farmers. They are very religious and seem to worship the sun, the moon and the stars.

4000 B.C: The first dolmen is built in Ireland.

3100 B.C: Newgrange is built 1,000 years before the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Newgrange may have been built as an exact replica of the galaxy as it was back then. It may have been strictly for religious festivals. It was probably a form of communication and social control with other counties also.

  1. Make a list of the foods you would and would not eat from the grid above. Is there any food you would not eat under any circumstances? Explain your reasons for this.
  2. How would early man have brought bears over to Ireland?
  3. Describe Ireland as you imagine it in this time. Would you like to have lived back then? What do you think the average age and height of males and females would have been?
  4. How many areas of the world are still unexplored? Can Google provide the answer?         Type In: ‘5 of the most crucial skills for surviving the Stone Age’. Take a look at the foods and skills they needed to survive and make a mini-project on it.



Describing Ireland 8000 B.C: The First Humans Arrive

When we first arrived, the first thing we noticed was the clean air. It smelled of peppermint and fresh herbs. Vast forests of jade-green covered the land yet there were plenty of lush meadows too. The trees were tall and rod-straight and cast a lake of crab-claw shadows onto the ground. In the dark depths of these lonely forests, wolves howled and pigs grunted and snuffled. They were places of great danger if you ventured in too far so we always brought our hunting dogs with us.

The most dangerous creatures were not what you would expect. Only the largest hunting parties could go in search of the Giant Deer. Not being used to humans, it would attack us on sight. I have seen six dogs and many spears hanging from its flesh and yet it would not go down. I have seen men flee to the trees in fright when it charged and see the same men getting impaled on its antlers as the deer butted them from their perches. And yet it was not our greatest enemy.

We realised soon enough that we were on an island of sorts. We had crossed the small land bridge during a drought and saw it close behind us with the first of the heavy rains. We could not see a single footprint or trace of a fire, and after the first few years, we knew that we were alone. It was both a blessing and a curse. There were only 48 of us and we longed to see others join us so that our tribe could multiply and prosper. There was so much food available that, in those first few years, we never felt the hunger cramps in our stomach. We were happy and content except for our two greatest foes: the weather and the bears.

It was a damp climate and many times we were forced to seek shelter in caves. Imagine the night closing in with clouds of tar-black boiling in the sky above. Sheets of lightning flashed in the sky and the noise was like a dragon’s cough repeating over and over again. We would send the dogs into the cave and wait outside with our heavy bear-spears and heavier hearts. Never have any of us felt closer to death than at that moment. Time and again, the most dreadful howls and roars would come from the cave and a blur of brown would attack us with fang and claw. We would always kill it, thanks to the dogs distracting it, but some of us would never hunt again after. I tell you now that if ever a demon-creature of the forest was created, it is the brown bear. May the curse of disease and starvation lay on its head forever.

You may ask, reader, why we felt the need to rest up in caves when we could have built shelters and settled in one place. We tried it more than once but found that if we stayed, all the big game left soon afterwards. The wild horses would roam far away, the deer would retreat to the high ground and the boar would flee during the night while we slept. Trying to feed a group as large as we were on a diet of nuts and fish proved impossible. We also took care of our elderly as best we could and they needed to be out of the dampness. It may surprise you, but you can’t light a fire in a shelter. The sparks can take hold and burn it down.

And so it was that we could rest up in summer and autumn, when the salmon and sea trout filled the rivers in great shoals of silver. We made fishing nets from strips of bark, built great fish traps with boulders and wooden stakes and the women and children used harpoons for the fish that escaped us. We would even hang quartz rocks from the trees so that the fish would think it was the moon and gather around it. By day and by night, we hunted them down. Those nights were the happiest, when we sang around the campfire with a steaming fish stew packed with herbs. The stars would flash like water-fire and we would wonder if they were the souls of our ancestors. We had no Gods but ourselves, we would laugh, and think no more on it.

When we came at first, some of the herbs confused us as we had not seen them before. We had a simple system for testing if they were poisonous. First we would place them under our armpits and walk a while with them there. If there was a red rash, we threw them away. If there was not, we would then place them on our lips for a short time. If our lips tingled, we tossed them aside. Finally, we would chew them for about five minutes. If nothing else happened, then they were safe to eat. Because of this, we discovered varieties of cabbage, fennel and black mustard that we had not seen before.

When late autumn came, we would find ourselves once more patrolling the shores for razor fish, edible seaweed, crabs, mussels and barnacles. The bravest of us would wade out into the rocky parts and try to dig out the lobsters and octopus. The women and children would go into the forests with the dogs and collect crab apples, hazelnuts, beechnuts and mushrooms. The men built light rafts in case the mackerel decided to come into shore. When they did, they broke the surface chasing small fish, and I have never seen such armies of fish. They stretched to the line where the sea met the sky and made us feel good about being alive. They were such a greedy fish, sometimes they jumped onto the rocks in their excitement and we could scoop them up with our hands.

Winter was our most important time for hunting. It snowed nearly every year and turned the ground into a carpet of snowcloud-white. The prints of the animals were easily followed and we split into many parties to hunt the smaller game. This was the season of the fox and the badger, the beaver and the stoat. We also pursued the hare, the otter, the pine marten and the squirrel. We set game traps everywhere and waited for the arrival of the huge flocks of birds: ducks, geese, swans, golden plovers, oystercatchers and the cormorants who would return to the lakes and rivers. We hunted everything, we ate everything, but we always gave thanks for what we received. When the dark nights closed in, we would sit in the caves, making weapons from bone and flint. The women would scrape the blood and muscle from the animal hides and the children would play at being great hunters.

I can’t remember any of us living past 40 winters. We picked up disease from the earth, infections from animal bites, the lung-rot from caves and smoke and the laughing-cough from the screeching winds. Our children died young from eating poisonous mushrooms and sometimes they were born dead. We fought against the weather and the wolves, the boar and the bears. We fought the rain, the snow, the lightning and the sun. The one thing we never did, however, was fight each other. No matter what the problem, the tribe came first. No-one would betray the tribe.

It was a tough life, but it was also an earthly paradise. The world was young and fresh and many more beasts roamed the earth. We climbed snow-wreathed mountains, crossed Jurassic meadows and heard the piano-key tinkle of a thousand rivers on our quest for food. We saw blood moons and pale suns. We saw fire-rocks blazing across the sky and even saw days where the whole world was plunged into darkness and we were afraid. We saw many things when the world was young that can no longer be seen now. And though I am long gone, I urge you to enjoy the world for what it is. For one day, this world too will be gone. Someday you shall look back and wonder at the innocence of it, this world of problems and conflict, but a healthy and exciting world full of promise for its youth and peace for its elderly.













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The passenger pigeon: a comprehension worksheet   Leave a comment

This is a blog post aimed at 11-12-year-olds. It is a 3-class comprehension exercise that explores the most shocking extinction of an animal in recent times. By the end of the exercises, it may lead into higher order  debates about whether we should bring back the passenger pigeon through genetic coding and the risks that entails.

It is from my new book, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking 1’, the prequel to ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. I will be uploading the full book free on my blog sometime around February or March. It is a fill-in-the-blank workbook with a heavy emphasis on descriptive writing exercises. The solution workbook will be posted separately on the same site on the same day.

I hope you enjoy the post and that it inspires the disbelief and wonder in your students that it did for me. It really is a sad tale in many ways. I also hope the grid at the end of the exercises comes out properly. Forgive me if it doesn’t.


                              Exercise number 1

“Children screamed and ran for home. Women gathered their long skirts and hurried for the shelter of stores. Horses bolted. A few people mumbled frightened words about the approach of the millennium, and several people dropped on their knees and prayed”.

This quote is based on a true story. The full story will be revealed later in the book. In the meantime, answer these questions. They will require imagination and creativity, and perhaps some of the key words in the text will give you clues. Do not be afraid to be wrong. Not in your wildest dreams could you imagine what took place on that strange, strange day…………

  1. What do you suspect might have caused such panic that day? Think about it for 5-10 minutes and write down 10 possibilities. The best, imaginative answers, as agreed by the class, should get homework off.
  2. What country did this event take place in?
  3. What year and century did this event take place in?
  4. Write a story based on this event starting with the passage at the top of the place. Include some of the vocabulary you have learned from the book already. Make sure to use paragraphs in order to give your story structure.
  5. Can you quickly write a paragraph on the strangest story you’ve ever heard? Then be able to relate the story to the class tomorrow as the narrator. A narrator is a storyteller.


Maybe you could use ideas from this template to help you structure your essay:

Introduction: Describe the scene in the town or village. What are the buildings made of? How many people are there? What century is it? What type of clothes are people wearing? Can you describe some of the activities in the town or village?

Paragraph 1: Add a splash of colour and the clang of sound. What is the colour of the fields surrounding the town? Is there a meadow or mountains in the distance? Can you picture a forest in your mind’s eye?

Paragraph 2: Describe what you think made all these people run for their lives. Your imagination is limitless so any answer you come up with is bound to be great. Make sure you take your time planning the best answer and writing down ideas about how your story will unfold. Was it a man or a group of men? Did it come from the sky or was it some type of unknown monster? Was it a weather event? Whatever it was, describe it well and in detail.

Paragraph 3: Describe the panic in the town. What was the expression on people’s faces? Where did everyone run to? Did anyone save the town? Were you there? If so, you will be writing in the first person, which is you. If you take a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the story unfolding, it is in the third person.

Conclusion: Did someone or something save these people? Did they all die? Wrap up your story with an interesting twist for the reader if you can.

1st person storyteller: Uses the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ in a story.

2nd person storyteller: Uses the words ‘you’ in a story.

3rd person storyteller: Uses the words ‘he/she’ or ‘they’.



 Exercise number 2: part 1

“Children screamed and ran for home. Women gathered their long skirts and hurried for……”

This is an account of a flock of passenger pigeons who flew overhead. It happened in 1855 in Columbus, Ohio, in the United States of America. The flock was described as a “feathered tempest” and a “growing cloud” that blotted out the sun as it approached.

To fully understand the impact these huge flocks had on the people below, and the wonder and awe they inspired, let us look at some of their features. A French soldier who explored America in the 17th century said: “The Bishop has been forc’d to excommunicate them oftner than once, upon the account of the Damage they do to the Product of the Earth.”

This quote refers to the pigeons eating the crops of the early settlers in America. They even attacked the fields of one of the first English colonies in America 100 years later, nearly causing the colonisers to starve. This colony was called the Plymouth colony.

The American Indians had always hunted the passenger pigeons when they could. They would use the flesh as food and burn the squabs (young pigeons) for their oil. The oil was then used as butter. They could never depend on the pigeon arriving, however. Each year, they moved to a different part of America, depending on where the most food was.

The pigeon was a truly remarkable bird. It’s average flight speed over huge distances was 62 miles per hour if there was no wind. It could have flown from America to Europe in 3 days if it was a migratory bird. Putting it in simpler terms, the island of Ireland is 302 miles long. They could have overflown it in 5 hours. Today, only the great snipe, who migrates from Sweden to Central Africa, can match their speed and endurance.

These pigeons had huge roosts, or nesting sites. Their chief source of food were chestnuts, acorns from the oak tree and beech nuts (called beech mast). They had great eyesight, so they could spot if a forest was bountiful or not from the air. If it was, they would swoop down with a frightening sound, terrifying the wild boar and birds and animals that fed on them.

The pigeons could eat about 100 grams of acorns or nuts in a day. After eating their fill, they could store at least 17 acorns or 34 beech nuts in their crop, a sort of pouch in their throat. Much like the way cows have four stomachs to digest their food, the pigeon would let it digest in its crop over the next 12 hours. If they were nesting, they would feed it to their young. It came out as a sort of paste, like toothpaste, even though it is called ‘pigeon milk’.

A roosting tree averaged 80 nests in each. One tree was counted and held 317 nests. Tree branches cracked and entire trees crashed to the ground with the weight of the birds. One roosting site measured 850 square miles and held 136,000,00 nests. That’s bigger than the county of Kilkenny. It’s also bigger than any of the smallest 18 counties in Ireland.

In 1860, a flock estimated at 3,700,000,000 flew over Wisconsin. In 1866, a flock 300 miles long and 1-mile-wide, took 14 hours to pass. By 1878, only one large nesting site was left.

By 1890, they were rare. By 1900, the passenger pigeon was extinct in the wild.

Martha, the last one in the world, died in Cincinnati zoo in 1914. In her final days, she lived alone. Her wings drooped and she trembled. Visitors kept throwing sand at her to make her move. Her keepers had to rope off her cage to stop them.

The most plentiful bird in the world was gone forever and would never return.


Exercise number 2: part 2

  1. “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”             Benjamin Franklin

Based on that proverb, do you think all of this story is true? Why? Why not?

  1. What surprised you the most about the information in this passage? Explain why.
  2. What happened to eliminate the passenger pigeon so quickly? How long did it take?
  3. Are there any lessons for the future to be learned from the passenger pigeon?


John James Audobon, naturalist, autumn 1813:

“The air was literally filled with Pigeons. The light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of the wings had a tendency to lull my soul to repose.”

3 days later, the pigeons were still flying past John James Audobon.


Simon Pokagon, a tribal leader, May 1850 (writing in 1895)

“… an army of horses laden with sleigh bells was advancing through the forest towards me. As I listened more intently, I concluded that instead of the tramping of horses, it was distant thunder; and yet the morning was clear, calm and beautiful. It came nearer and nearer. While I gazed in wonder and astonishment, I beheld moving towards me, in an unbroken front, millions of pigeons, the first I had seen that season.”

He described how the flock would swoop and plummet to avoid hawks and “pour its living mass” hundreds of feet into a downward plunge.

“I have stood by the grandest waterfall in America, yet never have my astonishment, wonder and admiration been so stirred as when I have witnessed these birds drop from their course like meteors from heaven.”


The Commonwealth newspaper, reporting the experience of a group of hunters in Wisconsin in 1871. The hunters came upon the pigeons leaving their nests in the morning to seek food. The noise was so loud, most of them dropped their guns.

“Imagine a thousand threshing machines running under full headway, accompanied by as many steamboats groaning off steam, with an equal quota of trains passing through covered bridges- imagine these massed into a single flock, and you possibly have a faint conception of the terrific roar.”


Aldo Leopold, ‘On a Monument to the Pigeon’, 1945.

“Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons: trees still live, who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a few decades hence, only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know.”


Exercise number 3: part 1

Reasons for the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon

The history of slaughter doesn’t explain it: In 1771, 50,000 pigeons were shipped from a town in one day. They may have been used for human food or pig fodder. In 1822, one family killed 4,000 pigeons in one day. The feathers were valued for pillows and bedding. Big tunnel nets could take 3,500 at a time. Even gun clubs got in on the act. They were trapped and shipped live. Perhaps this is where the term ‘clay pigeon’ comes from. One competition for shooting released pigeons took 30,000 kills to win the 1st prize! Even still, there could have been as many as 10 billion left by the 1850’s. The pigeons could double their numbers even in a bad year.

The way they flied: Sometimes the passenger pigeons flew just 3 feet above the ground. This might be because they were flying over a river or because there was no wind above. People would use clubs, poles, rocks and nets to catch them. These ‘super flocks’ hardly noticed the people trying to kill them as they were all massed together.

The way they nested: The passenger pigeon nested in ‘super roosts’, as we have seen. In the 1878 roost, 50,000 birds were killed every day for 5 months. One shotgun blast into a tree killed 61 birds. The trees were burned down to make the young birds fall out of their nests. Burning sulphur was used to choke them and they would fall to the ground with a fizzling sound and crack open.

The population boom in America: For centuries, people from around the world had been emigrating to America. From Ireland alone, there could have been as many as 2 million in the time of the Great Famine and its aftermath, 1845-1855. People fled religious persecution, wars, overpopulated countries, and to live a better life. This meant that isolated areas the pigeons depended on for food were being cleared for farmland. The era of the ‘super roost’ was nearly over.

The railroad: The first railroad opened in America was in 1830, from Baltimore to Ohio. By 1861, there were very few parts of America that people couldn’t reach by rail. The amount of timber required to build the lines, melt the iron, house the workers and set up new towns was staggering. Whole forests were burned to feed the need for progress and civilisation.

The telegraph: The first commercial telegraph was established by 1845. It was called the Electric Telegraph Company. By 1861, a network stretching from the East coast to the West coast was complete. Professional hunters, as many as 3,000 of them, now followed the super flocks wherever they went. They would get a telegraph telling them where the pigeons were and descend on the roosts. In the last great roost, 50,000 pigeons were killed every day for 5 months. Technology was killing the pigeon. Combined with human greed, it was a lethal mix.

Other reasons: By the mid-90’s, a few small flocks remained. Maybe it was the stress of being constantly hunted and witnessing their chicks burned out every year that finally did it. There was still plenty of food. Perhaps a disease not known to us helped to kill them off also. No-one to this day can be certain how a breed of bird with one flock numbering 3.7 billion could be extinct in the wild within 40 years. Maybe mankind finally put paid to them. The passenger pigeon is a valuable metaphor for how we look after the planet and its species. Whether we like to think about it or not, we are the caretakers of this magnificent planet of ours. Nature will have its revenge on us if we keep destroying it. TI: ‘Why the Passenger Pigeon went Extinct’ to and look at the comments for more information.


Exercise number 3: part2

Description of a Passenger Pigeon Flock by an Eyewitness: 1st person narration

They say they are gone now, the flying ants of the air. They say there was a time when they could block out the sun and send men and women screaming for the Lord to save them. They say they killed them with pitchforks and potatoes and poisoned them with whiskey-soaked corn until none were left. I can’t comment on such things but I can, in the winter of my life, tell you about the day I saw it for myself.

I could never forget that day. Even now, with the brain fog swirling in me, and my loved ones long passed away, I can never forget. It is burned in my mind’s eye the same way the autumn sun shone that day. I remember it so well for I have never seen a sun like it, since or before. It hung like a pale globe in the sky, giving off ore-gold lines of light. The very air shone like earthlight and I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a fairytale.

The forest was full of sound when I entered it. Far away, I could hear wild boar munching and champing on the seasonal feast of acorns and beech mast. There was an opera of birdsong coming from the tree’s canopy. It was an old, old forest, a sleeping soul long before man had first stepped onto its soil. The trees were rust-brown and spread their arms high into the Babylon-blue sky. The once-green leaves had all burned into hot-oranges and bonfire-reds. There was a carpet of mulch on the floor and it smelled organic and musty. When fingers of light poked through the trees and hit it, it sent a phantom-grey mist up in the air.

I inhaled deeply, enjoying the earthy cologne of the forest. My lungs were young and mint fresh back then. I could sniff out a crop of acorns or a blueberry bush from quite a way out. The forest was full of such scents, even though the first thumbs of frost hung in the lightless shadows. Sitting on a log by the river bank, I let the tutti-fruity smalls wash over me. The river chattered in its ancient tongue, the voice of bells and water. Scooping a handful of its bounty, my teeth tingled with its tundra-cold taste. I lay back, enjoying the melody of the river.

I must have fallen asleep, for when I awoke, the forest was womb-silent. Nothing stirred, nothing sang, nothing sounded. Then I heard a trembling in the air. The last of the leaves fluttered and flapped to the ground, as if an unseen hand had pushed them there. A whirring sound came to my ears and the droning of a million bees’ nests filled the forest. Deer, boar and bears ran past me, in fear of their lives. I heard a flapping sound then. If I was asked later, I described it as the sound of a winter wind chasing a bird down a chimney, but loud enough to make me cover my ears. It came in a mighty rush and I thought it must be either a forest fire or the End of days.

Then the fingers of light disappeared and a mighty cloud plunged the forest into darkness. I heard a pok-pok-pok sound and my head was hit twice by unknown objects. When I reached up and felt for it, I thought I was indeed injured. There was a mercury-red stain, but it was white also. When the first pigeon came into my sight, he was followed by a hundred of his fellows, then a thousand. They filled my vision, more of them than the stars in the night sky, blotting out the world as I knew it. The sound was worse than the greatest hurricane I have ever walked through and my eardrums were ready to burst. They cooed and flapped, purred and pooped, gorging on the acorns and beech nuts.

Never considered a wise man, this day I believe I was. I ran. Like the boar and the bears, I ran through a blizzard of poop and the world’s greatest legion of pigeons.

They didn’t even move while I dashed through them. I couldn’t hear the sound of their wings snapping or their necks cracking. I felt it through my moccasins, though, and the feeling sickens me to this day. Feathers flew in front of my face and I lost all sense of direction as the sky was no longer a compass for me. There was no sky! The only sensations I had were the splatter of poop on my face and how it burned my skin. I know not for how long I ran, but it was the longest race of my life.

Finally, I made it to the fringe of the forest and burst into a clearing. I could see the foreheads of the mountains in the distance and how they were creased with snow. My lungs were still heaving like a bellows and my face felt like there was a layer of lava on it. I rubbed off the grime with water from my canteen and kept moving. The noise from the forest was still a crescendo and it was not until I had raced a mile away that I felt comfortable.

Looking back, I saw that they had taken their fill from the forest. Rising into the air like the breath of a dragon, they wheeled and looped in the sky. Then they straightened and flew over my head at an astonishing pace. I could see that they had slate-blue bodies and a coppery underside, for many dropped to my feet if I but lifted my arms. I stood there for hours, marvelling at their numbers. Never have I felt so alive as in that moment, with the thrumming of wings washing over me like the rumbling of thunder.

A thought came to me then that if the End of Days really did arrive, these would be the last creatures left alive on God’s great earth. Such were their numbers. Such was their power.

  1. Looking back at the full module on the passenger pigeon, what are your thoughts on it?
  2. Did you think this was an accurate recreation of what it might have been like to see them? What do you think the passage might have missed in its description?
  3. Write down your favourite 5 sentences from the passage and say why you liked them.
  4. There are attempts to bring back the passenger pigeon through genetics. Would you support such attempts or do you think it is ‘playing God’ like Jurassic Park?
  5. In the 1st column below, write in the rarest birds, animals or amphibians in your country. Did you know that 13% of birds, 25% of mammals and 41% of amphibians are under threat of extinction worldwide? If they are under threat, put them down as human failures.
  6. Write out a list of ideas (with your partner) that might help save endangered species.
  7. Are there any success stories about saving or re-introducing animals in your country? Write them into the 2nd column. The 3rd column is for alien species that destroy the environment. The 4th is for a list of animals you would like to see re-introduced (re-wilding).


I hope you enjoyed the post.


Describing Autumn Worksheets (11-15-year olds)   Leave a comment

This is a describing autumn worksheet to help teachers and parents. I hope you enjoy the post and can get value from it.



Many people have a dislike for autumn. They see it as a gateway to a darker world. The hour goes back, the shadows close in and stories of hobgoblins and spooks are told around fires again. September can be the most beautiful month of the year, however. Although the schools are back, the weekends still see lines of cars heading for the beach.

God’s daystar still burns bright, dancing on the ocean like faerie-fire. The sea sighs and sleeps in its blue robe before the late, autumn winds lashes it in anger. Barbecues sizzle and the smell of charcoal and burnt meat is mouth-watering. The days unfold slowly before the night throws up a galaxy of stars. They glitter and gleam like diamond dust in the velvet-black sky.


The September mornings are bright and airy. Horses and cattle still munch and graze the fields. The horses snort and toss their heads, glad to be alive. Then they break into a gallop, their hooves thrumming across the soft, turfy ground. Some of the dawns are beautiful and you can see the mist rising like a dragon’s breath. It drifts up, circling the trees with its ghostly tentacles.

In the forest, the leaves are still spring-green and lush. The first dark spots appear on some of them as a warning that the summer is fading. Winter buds poke through the hazel and walnut trees. There is an opera of birdsong tumbling through the air and the world is a happy place. In the distance, you might hear the witch-wail of a jay, a type of coloured magpie. Because of the jay and the screech-owl, people in olden times believed that the souls of the dead returned on October 31st. We will come back to that later.

For now, the rivers run joyfully. They are neon-blue and bounce over the rocks, throwing up spray that looks like lemonade. The rivers are the highways of the forests and fishermen stand in them, hoping to pick up a plump trout. The trout can be seen in the gin-clear water, their speckled bellies heaving up and down. Their spots are the colours of the rainbow: yolk-yellow, bilberry-blue and plum-purple. Sometimes they break the surface, leaping into the air and landing again with a watery splash.

The mountains in the distance are not yet snow-cloaked. They are old and tired and punch the sky wearily. In a few weeks, a ring of snow will appear on the highest peak. An Alaskan-cold wind shall sweep in from the north and the first frosts shall crisp and shrink the juicy grass. Every animal that can harvest, hide or hibernate shall disappear for the year. They will escape the sharp fangs of Jack Frost and re-emerge in the cold, ancient light of spring.

Winter is coming and there will be a Reckoning.

  1. Which of the six paragraphs did you enjoy the most? Say why you thought it was the best.
  2. Give an example of five metaphors in the passage. Then try to replace them with 5 different metaphors.
  3. Write out your own story about why September is special to you.
  4. Replace all the underlined words with a different word or phrase. This exercise should be done in pairs.


October is the month of fire. The leaves turn to magma-reds, hot-oranges and fever-yellows. The forest becomes a riot of colour and hard nuts thunk-thunk-thunk to the ground. Squirrels scrabble and claw through the crackly leaves, hoping to get one last bounty.

The sun is cold and pale, throwing down weak lances of light. The sun-spears do not reach the sooty heart of the forest, which is rayless and eerie. The moon comes out and creates a dome of soft light over the trees. It is a moth-moon and it hangs in the sky, as bloodless as a glowing pearl. Behind it, the sky is inky and the stars flash silver like ice-sparks.

When the squirrels go to their mossy beds, there is no sound in the forest. There is no insect-hum, no leaf-rustle, no wind-music. Instead, strange shapes appear, dancing in and out of focus. The sound of human voices breaks through the quiet glade. They carry torches which look like a row of fireflies. Bulls bellow, sheep bleat and dogs bark. It is October 31st, 500 B.C. in a forest in Wicklow.

The men are wearing the heads of deer, wolves and bear. Their voices are low and hushed and are grit-and-gravel deep. They do not shout as the souls of their ancestors are returning to the forest for this one night. Halloween is the night when the door to the Otherworld is open and evil spirits can be seen by the human eye. It is the only night where the Celts are afraid of the dark. A huge bonfire is lit and the struggling animals are sacrificed.

Three cups are passed around. One contains wine, one contains apple cider and one contains wheat beer with honey. Each Celt takes a mouthful and their voices rise higher and higher until the druid tells them to be quiet. He chants some spells and he banishes the fairies, the banshees and the shape shifters from the forest. Now they celebrate the end of the harvest and feast the night away. For in their calendar, tomorrow is the first day of winter, and tough times are ahead.


The leaf-stripping winds pass through the forest. They shriek and moan, making the branches creak and crack. The trees look like skeletons and the forest floor is covered in piles of mulch. The bitter winds are an omen for an even deadlier enemy coming to the forest.

Jack Frost’s glassy fingers are beginning to creep across the land. The first signs can be seen on the meadow grass. Dawn frost carpets the grass like frozen pixie-dust. It gleams like a million fallen stars. The trees are leaking orange blood and the scent of amber hangs in the air. Pine sap and wood gum ooze from the bark and the forest fills with its minty smell.

The lonely mountains are weighed down by a sky-bucket of snow. Smoke rises from sleepy villages and the sky turns a grim, ash-grey. Only the Jesus bird, the robin, wants to sing any more. He flies onto the highest branch and opens his beak, flooding the forest with his music. Although the winter will be tough, he knows that spring is only a short hop away. The forest goes to sleep for the winter, shrinking and tucking itself in. Only the robin is left to witness its cruelty.

  1. Which of the 3 monthly descriptions did you enjoy the most? Explain why.
  2. Try to replace the underlined words with a different word or phrase. Do this in pairs.
  3. Pick out the best three sentences and say why you liked them.
  4. Try to identify 5 metaphors and 5 similes in the passages.
  5. If you had to add 5 sentences, what would they be and where would you put them?


I hope you enjoyed the post.

You may decide to add more questions to the ones above. This is an extract from a new educational book. It is the prequel to ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and is designed for the first year of secondary school.

For more information on my books, just click on the book images below. It will take you into the book site.


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Describing Curraghmore Estate (Updated)   Leave a comment

This is a short post describing one of the oldest Irish estates. In a way, it is my first personal post, but I hope others will take the time to visit this serene and special place.

I recommend that everyone visit it once in their lifetime. At 2,500 acres, it is the largest private demesne in the country, I believe.

Waterford is a place of stunning beauty and Curraghmore is probably the jewel in its crown. Recently open to the public, I had the pleasure to walk around it and got the guided tour. I will be returning early next year to repeat the experience. I hope you enjoy the post.

Curraghmore Estate, Co. Waterford- Heaven’s Hideaway


If you ever want the sunshine to dance from your eyes, take a visit to Curraghmore Estate sometime. It’s not so much an estate as it is emotional blotting paper. All your worries and cares will drain away under the gaze its broadleaf trees and the brooding power of the ancient walls.

Like a sea sky, Curraghmore doesn’t just appear; it slowly unfolds, rolling out with a latent majesty designed to clobber your senses and stun-clap you into submission. The French called this mirage of the eye ‘delayed gratification’ when building their great estates. The De la Poers came from Normandy to Ireland in 1167. One can see why it took 18,000 men to build the Gardens of Versailles and wonder in awe at how many Curraghmore employed.

It is gatehouses that strike you first. Cockerels the size of ostriches graze freely around them, half hidden by the Jurassic grass and tangled undergrowth of the forest. The gatehouses are hobbit-like and quaint in their appearance. They speak of a time when people believed in the Other because they could not trust the self. As if to apologise for their homely size, vast fields flank you left and right as you drive in. They’re so big, you’re half expecting to see The Wild Bull of Cooley roaming in them. Instead you get the pheasants.

First comes one, then two, then a dozen until, finally, you understand that you’re in nature’s womb. Their raucous clucks, witch-croaks and cheese-grating caws freckle the air and the trees above them leak out with an uncommon greenery. A louche river ribbons through the world-weary fields and time-chiselled forests. It flows like a robe of constellation-blue between wide, stone-walled banks. From the mortar-crumbling bridge built in 1205, you can watch salmon wriggle upriver and dance through the river weed. The leaves of the overarching great oaks seep with such mellowness local legend has it the salmon pause to eat them on their final journey upriver.

Then you see something that makes you rub your eyes. Darting under the whiskers of whispering moss are white birds of great size. Are they egrets, you wonder? They are not. They are the famous white pheasants of Curraghmore, as bold as brass and as rare as iridium. Brought in centuries ago from the Caucuses, they can only be found in such numbers in Curraghmore and can’t be seen anywhere else in the wild. The Sitka Spruce that leans over the bridge is 160 feet of heaven-touching wildness but because it’s in a hollow, it’s not the tallest tree on the estate. It is a fitting guardian to these beautiful birds.

Finally you come to the house itself. On one side, it can be approached through a yawning courtyard lined on each side by neat stables. The gravel is courteous to car tyre and tread of paw and hoof. The house, though large, doesn’t loom over anything much. It lingers there like a trapped memory of something it itself can’t quite remember. It is inoffensive and gentle yet it remains the pulsing soul of this great estate. The rear of the house hosts a lake in the manner of the grandest abbey and its ivy-clung walls glint with richness in the riparian light. The lake is vow-silent and the house seems tattooed onto its gin-clear skin.

Inside its walls is magic; rare treasures, tales of derring-do and rooms seemingly untouched by the endless swirl of ancestors and industrial change. The portraits, a Reuben’s here, a you-know-who-there, are a living reminder of the people who lived and died under this broad roof. Basil, the genial host, will guide you around with a dulcet voice to crack the hushed silence the house inspires. The tick of a clock, the rustle of cloth, the sigh of a door; you feel that the house should not have to endure any more decibels than this. It has seen and heard too much already.

After the house tour, you are taken outside to a marvel of imagination. The Shell House was built in 1754 and took 261 days to complete. One can see why, as the opera of the sea is captured in snapshots inside this remarkable monument. It is shaped like an old, Irish round tower. Seashells from the most capacious seas and distant beaches speckle the walls, covering them entirely. Conches, cockles, clams and very rare shells jostle with the light spearing through the slits, making the room sparkle like Solomon’s mines.

A walk around this 2,500 acre estate shall give you a sense of peace and isolation rarely found in the modern world. Like the faint, dying call of a trumpet, it is the last echo of an Ireland that no longer exists. When the heaven-leaking light begins to fade, the stars can be seen scattered like diamond dust on black velvet. There is no light pollution in Curraghmore. In fact, there is no pollution of anything, including its spirit. Its Tolkien-esque dimensions ensure that.

When your day ends there, you are left with a sense that your footfalls are merely dust in the vast hall of history that is Curraghmore House. You ache for more of its grandeur, more of its spaciousness, more of its wildness. And then you find yourself silent on the journey home, reflecting on the memory house it has given you.

Such is its magic. Such is its sorcery.


If you wish to check out any of my books, just click on the images below. They will take you to the Amazon website. I hope you enjoyed the post.




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A descriptive writing comprehension for 11-15 year olds   6 comments

This post is to help teachers with a one-off comprehension exercise. It is designed to show how a splash of colour and a dash of sound can improve anyone’s writing. I hope you enjoy the post. It is taken from the prequel to ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’, available on Amazon. All my books can be viewed simply by clicking on the book images below. I hope you enjoy the post.



Summer is my favourite time of the year. I love to see the conker-brown trees grow a shaggy head of hair once again. The treetops explode into carnival-green for a short time and the birds sing their summer carols between the branches.

In the gardens, the snipping of shears and the hum of lawnmowers can be heard. Pollen drifts through the air like invisible stardust and the sweet taste of ripe fruit can be plucked from salad bowls. Lemon-yellow hay swishes and sways in the meadows. Plum-purple skies kiss the day away. It can be soul raising to sit down and watch the golden eye of dusk turn to rose-gold, blink and disappear.

The dawn chorus announces itself before the rising sun. A ballad of birdsong cuts through the cold, crystal air. The skies are diamond-pink and ring with the joy our feathered friends feel. Then Titan’s wheel peeps over the horizon, throwing down spears of nectar-gold. The dewy ground steams and the burned-earth perfume of the meadow ghosts upwards. Chemical-blue streams babble over rocks and lazy trout drift in moonshine-clear waters.

As the day goes on, clouds as fine as llamas’ wool sail in the sky. Under them, flocks of crows roll and loop like storm-tossed gunpowder, happy to be alive. Their caws echo as if they are in a dome of glass and the world is happy.

In a few short months, autumn will be upon us. Shadows will creep across the land and raindrops will drip from deep caves. The summer leaves will change their cloaks to lava-red and blazing-oranges. Bat-light replaces daylight and the first fires will crackle and splutter in cold grates.

The autumn winds will appear and creaking trees become wailing banshees. The rivers will swell and burst, flooding the once-golden meadows. God’s nightstar, the moon, throws down splinters of weak light and phantom-eyed owls hoot and haunt the night. Doom-black clouds shall roll in, pregnant with rain. Great forks of lightning will fizzle and siss in the sky, flashing like a witches’ whip.

Then, when Hallowe’en and the horror is over, a great dread shall settle over the land. The white skies strangle all the light. Snow will fall. A tomb-like stillness will be broken only by the muffled grenade sound of boots crunching through snow. Ponds will freeze like silver dishes and whiskey-nosed children will break the silence with their laughter.

Christmas Day is here. Frost-fingers hang from the window sills. Turkeys sizzle on oven foil and crackers snap and burst. The pine sweet smell of the tree fills the house and ribbons of fire chases the burglar-black shadows away. The angel looks down on the house while the star-flash of tinsel glitters and reminds us of the past.

Enjoy summer while you can. It is a long way to Christmas.


  1. Did you like this passage? Explain why or why not. Pick your 5 favourite lines from the passage and explain why you liked them.
  2. Does this passage show how you can write better? Explain why or why not.
  3. Write out a passage using autumn and winter colours, sounds, images etc. Use your own words. Before attempting this, plan the passage with a spider map or by using word grids.



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Describing a Beautiful Woman worksheets   2 comments

These free worksheets describing a beautiful woman are taken from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. This book is for sale on Amazon but is also available below for free.

To access it, just click here:

Describing Females Worksheet

The solutions to the worksheets and some mild advice on lesson plans are also provided.

I hope you enjoy the challenge of filling them in and you can click the book covers below for more information on Liam’s books. It will take you into the Amazon bookstore.

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Describing a meadow   Leave a comment

Writing with Stardust- free on Kindle for 3 months only!


To celebrate ‘Writing with Stardust’ being put on Kindle for free, I’m putting up a post on ‘Describing a meadow’. It comes in 2 Levels- Beginners and Intermediate, both of which use the 5 senses.

I hope you enjoy the post. The Level 5 post on ‘Describing a meadow’ will be posted in a few days.

Clicking on the link below will take you to the Amazon Kindle store where you can get your copy for free!


Picture a meadow with a forest on either side of it. Running through the centre is a dreamy stream and the sky-punching mountains soar up in the background. An abundance of wild foods grow here as the climate is mild and the grass is lush and springy. Now that you have the scene, read on to decide which group of words you would pick to describe it. There are sample passages for the 2 Levels as you read on.


Level 1: The meadow in spring/summer: Beginners

Colours: Amazon-green: Eden-green: grape-green: peppermint-green: postcard-green

Sounds: the dawn chorus: the music of the meadow: babbling brook; buzzing midges: chirring grasshoppers: squeaking swallows: whirring dragonflies: murmuring winds

Sky colour/shape: The unending, brochure-blue sky.

A dome of cocktail-blue.

The endless, jewel-blue sky.

A shrine of crystal-blue.

A vault of neon-blue.

Stars of the night sky: flashing: flickering: gleaming: glinting: glittering

Other images: misty-eyed fox cubs: yolk-yellow ducklings: a lagoon-blue pool: flowers steaming in the morning mist: mountains as cruel as a hag’s teeth

The song of the river: ringing; sprinkling: plinking: tinkling: chinking

The rain: beads of rain: pearls of rain: teardrops of rain: dewdrops of rain: pregnant drops of rain:

Smells: the pollen rich smell of: the baked-apple smell of: the cherry blossom sweet smell of: the caramel soft smell of: the syrup fresh smell of

Tastes: the taste of zingy onions: peppy wild peas; zesty wild garlic

Sensations: goose bumps: skin tingling: heart thumping: jaw-dropping: eye-opening


SAMPLE PASSAGE: LEVEL 1: A Meadow in Spring/Summer



I came across a meadow once that looked as if it had stepped from the pages of a storybook. The grass was Eden-green and thigh-high to a thrush. The mountains in the distance had peaks that looked as cruel as a hag’s teeth. It was the only part of the meadow that looked off in some way. The rest of it was paradise.

It wasn’t just the sights that pleased the senses. The sounds, smells and tastes were out of this world also. The sky above the meadow was a feast for the eyes. It stretched as far as the eye could see in a dome of cocktail-blue, punched with fluffy clouds. Squeaking swallows chased whirring dragonflies in a dance of life and death.

A neon-blue ribbon of river ran through the centre of the meadow. A party of yolk-yellow ducklings scattered from under my feet as I approached it, crashing into the water. The song of the river was very gentle as it went plinking and tinkling over the gravel bed.

The music of the meadow came to my ears above the sound of the water: the dawn chorus, buzzing midges and the whispering of the wind. I could smell the sweetness of cherry blossoms and the caramel soft scent of flowers in the air. It was so soothing that I lay my head against a mossy rock and drifted into a deep sleep. When I awoke, I was very hungry so I dug up some wild onions. I put them into the beef sandwich I had brought and bit into them. They were so fresh their zingy taste felt like electric sherbet in my mouth. I could feel some dewdrops of rain on my head. The cloud soon passed, leaving the grass and earth to steam gently like druid- smoke.

As I made my way home, the first stars started to flicker in the night sky. They looked like someone had thrown fairy dust into the air and a black blanket had caught them. I swore I would return someday to this meadow, a piece of lost heaven.

Sadly, I have never been able to find it again.


Level 3: The Meadow in Autumn: Intermediate

Leaf colours:  burnt-orange: lava-orange: burning-orange: scorched-orange: volcano-orange

barbecue-red: ember-red; inferno-red; magma-red: hellhound-red

glowing-gold: glinting-gold: molten-gold: sunburst-gold: waxmelt-gold

Sounds: bumbling bees: the wind music of the trees: a winged symphony of birdsong: owl-hoots by night: the thunk-thunk-thunk of nuts; creaking trees:

Sky colours: bruised-blue: warlock-black: plum-purple: dawn-pink: sea-silver

The sun: a fiery ball: a golden globe: God’s daystar: God’s golden eye: an ore-gold coin

Other images: the straining light of autumn: fog-tinted fairy trees: moon-splashed trees: cobwebs like silver fishing nets: mackerel skies and mare’s-tail clouds

Background detail: sky-spearing mountains: a weeping waterfall: iron-grey clouds: lances of sunlight flood the valley: the hog-backed mountains

Smells: mulchy: oaken: gummy: seasoned: woody

Tastes: savoury: toothsome: wholesome: mouth-watering: ravishing

Sensations: the cold bite of the wind: ear-burn: freezing whiskey-noses: apple-frosted cheeks: eye-watering winds


SAMPLE PASSAGE: LEVEL 3: A Meadow in Autumn


If Gods do exist, this meadow is their hideaway. That might seem a bit ironic, as most of the autumn leaves are hellhound-red in colour. The rest are scorched-orange and a pure, molten-gold. One by one, they drop to the ground, leaving the trees bare and skeleton-thin.

How could this be paradise, you might ask, never mind the playground of the Gods? Ah, but reader, you have not visited this meadow at the start of autumn as I have done. There you might see a bruised-blue and sea-silver sky chasing the grass into shadow at the coming of the dusk. You may also have been lucky enough to see a mackerel sky, grape-green and salmon-silver, with lances of sunlight spearing the ground in places.

If you had gone there at night, you would have noticed the wind music of the trees. Their gentle creaking and whispering leaves can’t overcome the steady thunk-thunk-thunk of ripe nuts falling to the ground. The owls hoot as they ghost past moon-splashed trees and the scurrying of frightened rodents ruffles the leaves. The rodents are after the sweetest windfall apples you have ever tasted. They are wholesome and toothsome, a tasty morsel left out by the Gods.

Late autumn can seem eerie but it has an alien beauty all of its own. Fog-tinted fairy trees become noosed by the dragons’ breath of the dawn. In the afternoon, the straining light of the pale sun pokes into dark places. When the clouds have passed, Gods daystar burns like a golden coin. The cobwebs flash like the steel nets of a fisherman and the dewy air is mint-fresh to the lungs. The sky-spearing mountains come into focus and their monk-caps of snow glitter in the light. Weeping waterfalls, looking like looms of ice-silver, topple and crash to the deep pools beneath.

Late autumn also brings the cold bite of the wind, freezing whiskey noses and apple-frosted cheeks. All is not lost, however. Nature provides one last bounty in the meadow. Wild pears ripen and tumble, orchard-fresh fruit is ready to be plucked and plump salmon provide one half of a surf ‘n turf delight. The gummy and sappy smells of the trees shedding their lifeblood through the bark reminds you that winter is coming.

You must hurry along to your home now as the scavenging skies are pressing down on top of you. You are comforted by the fact that Heaven’s Hideaway will burn long into the memory banks. Just don’t tell anyone how to get there. It’s our secret for now.


I hope you enjoyed the post. Just click on any of the book covers to find out more about Liam’s books. It will take you into the Amazon bookstore.


I hope you enjoyed the post.








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2014 in review   Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 370,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 16 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted December 30, 2014 by liamo in Uncategorized

Best descriptive words for an essay   6 comments

This post gives you 200 magical words to use in an essay. It also tells you the word that Tolkien, Edgar Allen Poe and many others believe is the most beautiful in the English language. These grids are from my book ‘Writing with Stardust’, now on Amazon.

Just click on the Microsoft Word document below to access the words:


I hope you enjoy reading the words and that they can improve your essays.

Click on the book covers below to see all of Liam’s books on Amazon. It will take you into the Amazon book store. Thanks and I hope you enjoy the post.



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Describing a handsome man   Leave a comment

Describing a handsome man is made easy by looking at these two chapters from my book, ‘Writing with Stardust’, now on Amazon. There are 5 levels to choose from. Level 1 is beginners’ English and Level 5 is for advanced students. The end of the post gives sentences and paragraphs in all 5 levels. Just click on the Microsoft Word document below (in blue) to access the chapters.


I hope you enjoy the post and you can click on any of the book covers below to get further information on Liam’s books. It will take you into the Amazon bookstore.








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Free book for english teachers   11 comments

‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is a free book for English teachers and the digital version is uploaded here. It is also a valuable workbook for students to hone their descriptive writitng and critical thinking skills.

‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is the students’ workbook.

The Teachers’ Guide contains the solutions to all the fill-in-the-blanks and questions/riddles posed in the Workbook.

Unlike other books, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ gives suggestions on what might reasonably be covered by a teacher in any given week or month. It is divided into weekly, monthly and yearly plans.

To view the 2 books in Microsoft Word, just click underneath:


Teachers’ Guide

To view the two books in PDF, just click underneath:


Teachers’ Guide


The books take about 40-50 seconds to upload, so be patient!

I hope you enjoy them and they can also be purchased on and

For more information on Liam’s books, just click on the book covers below. This will take you into the website.


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Teaching life skills to teenagers   2 comments

This post is a 5-page guide on how to approach teaching diet, nutrition, lifestyle habits etc. for teenagers. It lets the students  find out for themselves how to evaluate the importance of a good night’s sleep and study patterns among others. It is taken from my new book, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’, which is uploaded free on the internet. Just type in ‘JCSA English books’ and look for my website. I hope you enjoy the post and be well.

Just click underneath for the 5-page guide in PDF:

Teaching life skills to teenagers

You can learn more about my books by just clicking on the book covers below. It will take you into the website.




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Describing a calm sea   33 comments

Describing a calm sea: 25 descriptive sentences using onomatopoeia and 5 paragraphs


Describing a calm sea: this post is taken from the ultimate descriptive book ‘Writing with Stardust’ by Liam O’ Flynn, now available on Amazon. I hope it provides the information you require or, at the very least, the inspiration to create your own sentences. I have also included Levels 1-5 taken from the book if you wish to describe the beach with the 5 senses.

If you wish for any more information on ‘Writing with Stardust’, or any of Liam’s other books, just click on the book images below. They will take you into the Amazon bookstore. I hope you enjoy the post.


                               DESCRIBING A CALM SEA


A dreamy sea has a rhythmic pulse to it unmatched by any other part of nature. It forges its own sounds and kindles its own symphony. The following 25 sentences are an attempt to capture the song of the sea and its steady, throbbing heartbeat. If you find yourself visualising its glorious vastness, its dreamy surface and straining to hear its metronomic wave music, you may understand why it’s called the fisherman’s friend.


  1. The sea was buzzing with its dormant strength.
  2. The waves were crawling gently to the shore.
  3. The waves were creeping steadily towards us.
  4. The dreamy sea was its own master.
  5. The waves were gently drenching the sand.
  6. The sea softly doused the beach.
  7. The waves were carelessly dribbling onto the sand.
  8. The ebbing tide was harmonious.
  9. The sea was vaporously exhaling its mist.
  10. The flowing of the tide was languorous.
  11. The ocean was forging its own sea-song.
  12. The gasping waves were waiting for full tide.
  13. The groaning sea was riparian-blue.
  14. The gurgling waves were metronomic.
  15. The gushing waves were comforting.
  16. The humming of the wave-song beguiled me.
  17. The sea was kindling its own symphony.
  18. The lapping waves entranced us.
  19. The murmuring of the waves was hypnotic.
  20. The waves were oozing onto the beach.
  21. The palpitating pulse of the sea was steady and peaceful.
  22. The plinking of the wave-music was enthralling.
  23. The pulsing sea was acetylene-blue.
  24. The quivering sea was hoarding its mighty power.
  25. The quavering sea harnessed its majesty.


                                                THE BEACH: LEVEL 1: BASIC SENTENCES

  1. The beach was flax-gold. COLOUR
  2. We heard the snoozy sea lap gently. SOUND
  3. We walked on a bow of beach. SHAPE
  4. Cylinders of light moved across the sea. METAPHORS
  5. The other tourists were leather-brown. TANS
  6. The neon-blue sky was threaded with silver. KNITTING TERMS FOR THE SKY
  7. Children were squealing on the beach. OTHER IMAGES
  8. The sun toasted our skin. SENSATION
  9. The sea air smelled of chlorine. SMELL
  10. The spicy sauces in the burger burned our tongues. TASTE


                                     LEVEL 2: A BASIC PARAGRAPH

The beach we walked on was moon glow-gold. The sea looked dozy as it rested in the afternoon glow. We were walking on a horseshoe of beach. Towers of radiant light soaked the sea with their beauty. The holiday makers we saw all had coconut-brown faces. Clown-hatted donkeys were braying loudly as children pulled their tails. The burning sun roasted us like nuts in an oven. The sea sky seemed threaded with silver. A warm, tangy odour came from the sea as we walked towards a hot dog stand. The sulfurous mustard burned us nearly as much as the sun.


                                       LEVEL 3: CREATIVE PARAGRAPHS

It’s not often you get to see a sunrise-gold beach. That was our privilege as we gazed out at the slothful sea. Ebbing ever so gently, it looked at peace in its jade-green gown. It felt like we were walking on a carpet of candy floss, such was its softness. The golden sand swept around in a scythe of beach, hemmed in by towering dunes. Far out to sea, rivers of pulsing light saturated the sea with gold. Only the occasional tourist walked past us. There was an absence of sun-blasted bodies in this Babylon of beaches.

The horizon seemed to be stitched with a silver line. The seagulls were squawking over our heads and squabbling for morsels from the hotel kitchen. As the sun scorched our bodies to a crisp, a funfair of barbecued aromas drifted towards us. The saline tang of the sea mingled with the cuisine, adding salt to its appeal. We decided to obey our rumbling stomachs and eat. Lobster on a bed of watercress was our fare that afternoon. It tasted tender and briny and the shell food sauce had a hint of bouquet to it.


                                       LEVEL 4: ADVANCED PARAGRAPHS

We stood on the cliff. By chance, we had found the Mecca of coves. We could see a fracture of white sand, a gash of zephyr-haunted cliffs and a wide slash of bay. It was a watery wonderland and the beach was drenched in a lightning-gold, dawn haze. The mighty heap of sea flowed in its astral-blue smoothness from the horizon in. The horizon itself was a thin seam where the canopy of sky and the plane of sea hemmed each other into a line of silver. It was as if they had been welded into an extended splinter of perfection. In the distance, streamers of tapered light splayed out, flowing through cracks in the cloud. We decided to clamber down to the beach.

Slumbering in its blue robe, the sea greeted us and the half-moon of beach softly. The sand was floury underfoot and a feathery, sugar-white of hue. A single yacht bobbed and lolled in the incoming tide, like a toy in a bath. Its lights winked saucily as the wave-crests rose gently. Looking around the secluded beach, we didn’t see any of the normal sights; tourists with Day-Glo tans, tacky stands or chattering hawkers. We realised that we were standing in the gateway of paradise. The siren call of the sea was soothing, the wave music welcome. It was like being wrapped in comforting cellophanes of warm sounds and soft light.

Our serenity was ruptured by the raucous cry of a gull. The rocky hollowness of the cliffs made it seem mournful and cavern loud. It echoed at first with a mournful sound, recoiling from the cliff-rock. It rebounded and its vibration was resonating in the spacious air. The bouncing and distortion of sound rang it out once more. Then it foundered and finally faded away into nothingness.

Our serenity had been interrupted. We decided to make our way home. The rising sun laminated us with its warmth and a theatre of pelagic smells wafted from the steaming seaweed. It took the edge off our hunger and we decided not to eat.

Our footprints in the sand followed us all the way home. Heavens hideaway had been a transcendental experience and we resolved to do it again someday.



The cliff we stood on seemed as old as Abraham. Far below, the hungry sea gnawed at its ankle.

Someone once said that paradise is where seagulls are flying beneath your feet. They were arcing and wheeling between the witchcraft of the morning light. An occasional scream would echo from the cliffs, eerie and resonating. The immense vista leading to the horizon was jaw dropping. The Prussian-blue vault of velvet above seemed to solder into the liquid blanket of silver beneath. Far out to sea, a solitary cormorant, sleek wings a-flurry, streaked out to the place where sea and sky melt into each other and was lost from sight.

The slurpy slapping of the sea was muted, a metronomic murmur. The waves were merely snoozing, sluggish and slumbering in their liquid robes. They dribbled up to the beach of the sheltered cove, then shuddered and drizzled their sea spray onto its surface, whisking the stones before releasing. A current of cold electricity passed through the air. We shivered. The wind whipped up. The sea simmered.

Sloshing, swollen to its confined depths, its cavernous bowels stirred, a growling from the fathoms. Suddenly, stone dashed sand teemed as the sea hissed, washed, polished, and lashed the pebbles before sloshing back. It hissed, slipped, dashed the sand and released; fizzed, spit, seethed the beach and released: sizzed, slapped, swished the stones and released.

The mesmeric beauty of its beat was heart-swelling. We realized then that the sea was its own master, kindling its own symphony. It hadn’t finished its song yet, however. The wind, the midwife of the seas, served a different master and whipped it into a frenzy.

The echo of a raspy rumbling from the enraged sea came to us, a tremulousness to fear. The waves were really sloshing, slurping and slobbering with their salty lips. They pounded into the cliff of the sheltered cove, then paused and pounced with malice onto its ankle, slamming the rock before releasing. A rumour of its malevolence passed through our legs. We shivered. The wind died down. The sea bubbled. Trembling, throbbing to its rotten beat, its malicious soul stirred, a warning from the ages. Suddenly, rip-tide rolls heaved as the sea foamed, crashed, pounded and bashed the cliff-foot before sloshing back. It foamed and frothed, plunged down hard and pummelled the hated cliffs; it lathered and lacerated, bucked waves and buckled itself; it smacked and smashed, surging waves and expunging its awful rage.

Its hissy fit over, it swelled once more, juddered and was still.










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I hope you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading it. Liam.










Describing life in the trenches   1 comment

This post describes life in the trenches from a soldier’s point of view. It is a Level 5 post so the language register may be difficult for some. Level 5 is for students who are at the end of the secondary school cycle and who are proficient at English.

I hope you enjoy the post and just click on the book titles below if you wish to know more about ‘Writing with Stardust’ or ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. It will take you to the Amazon bookstore.

‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is a descriptive writing workbook in digital form and is available FREE to teachers by clicking the link below. It also contains diary work, POV, advice on introducing a poetry module, the thirteen tenses and much, much more…………


The ‘Teachers’ Guide’ with the solutions is also available free by clicking underneath:

Teachers’ Guide



Describing life in the trenches: Level 5


The old man was trying to remember his wife’s epitaph as he clutched clumsily at his walking-stick. His memories were getting as cloudy as his eyes these days. The ebb and flow of time had chiselled away at his wizened face, ravaging it with careful patience. It was as crinkly as faded parchment now. The chapters of his life were written there to read; strength of character and memories of lost loves tinged with sadness because he was alone in the world now.

He had done nothing base or ignoble in a lifetime of happy mediocrity and he was proud of that. He appeared sluggardly and spiritless to the people who rushed past him in the street. Although he was ashamed of his threadbare, tatty clothes and their musty odour, it was a choice between dog food and washing-powder these days. His bones ached constantly and his soul was weary occasionally but the desire to live still flared as bright as star-flame. He was a product of his mother’s quote.

“You are a precious gift of the womb, Luke”, she had told him daily.

He had been the only child of a widowed mother. That was a long time ago. His neighbours weren’t sure now if he was as old as the village over the hill or older than the hill over the village. He had outlived everyone who could say. His knobbly and gout-swollen fingers found it difficult to grasp the stick in the rain. Once the cold got into his bones it was difficult to get it back out. Wracked with ague and gnarled with age, his thoughts drifted more and more to his wife lately.

When he had first met her, her electrifying smile had completely won him over. So too had her cupid-bow lips, her coral-black hair and her eyes of paradise-blue which glittered as clear as a mountain stream. Her memory would never leave him even though many others were becoming hazy. His stomach ached with pain and his left leg throbbed. Tap. A pause. Tap-tap. A longer pause. He thought of his dog at home, hungry and dreaming his doggy-dreams on the cold floor, probably shivering. The old man decided he would light a small fire tonight with the last few sticks. He could cope without it but the dog deserved. . . . . THWACK!

He felt an acute pain and a ringing sound filled his head. He tried to stay upright and summon strength and for a brief moment he did. Then his left leg betrayed him and he felt a hard rap above his ear. The only sense he had was of the cold concrete against his wet hair. . . .


“Man up, soldier!”

The sergeant was the first person he had ever known to use that phrase. He had Hercules shoulders and a hard stare. When he raised his voice, it was as loud as bottled thunder. He glared with contempt at the young recruit who was cowering in the trench.

A soldier called out to the sarge from the end of the trench. “Man down, sergeant!”

The sergeant cursed and leaned into the ear of the recruit. He said something to the novice and made his way down to the medics.

Luke could see that the young tyro had the thousand-yard stare common to most of the new soldiers. They always took time to adjust to the trenches and the whims of war. War was a harsh master, totally indiscriminate. It didn’t matter sometimes whether you were brave or craven, vigilant or lax. At any moment a stray shell or gas canister could send you on your way to the Maker. It was a lottery of lives and that single, salient fact seemed to unman even the best of soldiers.

Conditions in the trenches didn’t help either. Corpse-engorged rats, beady-eyed, ring-tailed and as big as cats, waddled past with their bounty, heedless of the men. The arachnid-cold defiance in their eyes made the men feel like potential prey in a reversal of nature’s laws.

It was forbidden to shoot them as bullets were scarce. You couldn’t bayonet them either as their swollen stomachs burst open, spreading disease. Some of the men, hunters and poachers from country villages, caught them with blankets and threw four or five into a barrel for weeks on end and sealed it up. Eventually, one would emerge, huge and vicious. ‘King rat’ had become a cannibal and would be set free to terrorise the other rats. Men grunted with satisfaction that nature’s laws had been restored; rats should eat rats, not men. It never fully solved the problem but it gave the soldiers peace of mind. To Luke, the real problems weren’t the rats.

Trench foot was a constant worry. Standing in a foot of mercury-red water every day made the skin doughy and inflamed, leading to amputation for the afflicted. Hair-lice, gum disease from a lack of vitamin c, hypothermia and cholera from infected water were all daily battles. The worst by far was what the experienced soldiers called ‘zombie sickness’. The constant whining of bullets and screaming of clod-thumping bombs made some of the soldiers owl-eyed from lack of sleep. That’s when a sly German sniper was only too happy to punish you for a simple mistake like not keeping your head down.

There weren’t too many left now from his original company three years ago, which was why he was a corporal, ranked just below the sergeant. Every day, the new recruits kept coming in, getting younger and more naive. It was up to old hands like him to try to keep them alive as long as possible. He edged over to the shell-shocked recruit.

“How long have you been on the front, private?” he asked.

It took a moment for those horror-filled eyes to register that someone was talking to him.

“Just five days, sir” and he gave what could only be described as a fatalistic smile.

There was a nervous tic under his left eye as he spoke. Some men became doppelgängers of what they once were in the terror-filled crucible of war, mere mannequins cast adrift from their souls. It could be the constant, mordant smell of death. It could be the sight of men being blown apart or their faces turning to jelly if they lost their gas masks, liquefied from the inside out. It could even be a lack of contact from family if the letters didn’t get through.

“Any secret loves back home then, private?” he inquired, anxious to break him out of his reverie. He got a faint smile, slightly dreamy, in return.

“A girlfriend who wants to have a child whe- if I get home. Didn’t have my mind on the job earlier. That’s why Sarge was giving out to me. Forgot to put the rifle back onto safety and it went off. ”

“What’s your name, soldier?”

“Billy Highcross, sir. All the men get a great kick out of it. Want to know was I at the crucifixion of our Lord, that kind of thing. ”

“Well you mind yourself, Billy Highcross. If I can, I’ll keep an eye out for you.” Luke moved on, talking to his men, accepting cigarettes even though he didn’t smoke himself. Comradeship was all that separated them from beasts.

Two nights later it happened. The Germans had a crack sniper with an unusual technique. He was brave and the soldiers who caught a glimpse of him swore that he was uncommonly large, a big, hulking figure who came into no-man’s land when the days fighting was over. He was also a sadist. He would crawl up to the wounded and torture them as they lay dying, daring his comrades to attempt a rescue. Many had tried and all were dead. In Luke’s company alone, nine soldiers had died. Eventually, the sarge had been issued orders from command that no one was to engage in rescue missions any more. It grated with the sarge, but orders were orders.

Night after night, the screams and heart-rending cries of their comrades could be heard, shaming them all to silence. That days head count listed six men dead but only one missing- Billy Highcross. Luke was sitting in a puddle of water, rifle resting on his knees, when the roll was called. He thought of Billy’s girlfriend back home but he also thought of the promise he gave his mother before he left.

“Promise me you’ll come back alive, Luke. You’re all I have in the world.”

“I promise.”

Those two words were ringing in his head and had kept him alive when most of his company had fallen like jerking puppets around him. He sat there for a long time. He heard a heart-rending scream coming from the German side.

He rose up, taking off his greatcoat, leaving it slide into the puddle. He put his rifle aside and took out the large skinning knife he had found on the battlefield months before. He rubbed some fire-ash on his face and, placing the knife between his teeth, climbed a few steps up the ladder and was gone. Not a soul saw him leave. The ground was cold and slick. It was a chilly December night, banks of clouds blotting out the moon and stars. Craters full of icy water littered the battlefield. Tortuously, cautiously, every sense honed, he crept like a phantom through blood-soaked puddles and quietly-misting pools. He stopped only once to cut off the bottom of his shirt. He placed the strip around his mouth to block off both the noise and smell of his breath. It took him twenty minutes to do this for fear of discovery.

The knife was in his right hand now, his elbows aching from the effort of crawling and his heart was hammering like a piston in his chest. His pupils dilated with the intensity of his gaze, trying desperately to locate his quarry. His nostrils flared. Even amongst all the ichor, his hair matted with congealed blood and rotting corpses all around him, he detected the faintest scent in the air. It was the odour, barely discernible, of body sweat. He froze. Somewhere out here, in the midst of all the death, was a living being. At the same time, a soul-harrowing howl rent the air, a dreadful imprecation that chilled him to the marrow. Evil was abroad this night. He moved towards it, not giving into his fear.

His next decision would determine whether he would live or die that night. The gentle breeze was in his favour but the sniper had the advantage of immobility. He could work his dark arts on Billy Highcross and move to another location to wait for his prey, gun at the ready, blending in amongst the corpses. Luke decided to lay stock-still also, hoping against hope that his adversary would reveal himself. A puff of breath, a stifled cough, a small movement- anything.

Time dragged on in a way he had never experienced. Occasionally, Billy would scream, not forty yards away but still an eternity. Luke prayed. He cursed inwardly and he waited. He was just about to break when the barest whisper of cloth fluttered not five yards from him, coming from a sunken bomb-crater. He moved his head what seemed like a millimetre a second and it finally came to rest on a monster. The German had Samson shoulders and a tree-trunk neck. Hugging the ground, he resembled a cunning gorilla, sliding over bodies even more carefully and slowly than Luke had done.

When Billy screamed again, the Germans mouth opened up in a goblin-grin, revealing canines like broken glass. Luke could swear he moved his head to watch Billy’s pain and chose that moment to act.

He pounced on the German, springing like a tiger but silent in his fury. Before the German had time to react, Luke had skewered him with his knife in the shoulder, just missing the jugular. The German hissed in shock but at the same time whipped his right hand around and caught Luke in the temple with the butt of his rifle. Luke fell back and immediately felt two boulder-hard hands around his neck, the nails burrowing into his flesh like shards of flint. He tried to groin him, tried to push him aside, tried to butt him. Every effort was repelled with ease. As he slipped into unconsciousness, his mind registered two things. He had never seen eyes as cruel as the barracuda-black coals of the German, two pitiless pools of death. The other was that the coming dawn above the German’s back was the most beautiful he had ever seen; clouds of dusky-pink drifting past a slash of molten-gold in the sky.

Little stars, conflagration-red, flashed on and off in his mind, through a murky haze of black. Then the pressure on his neck eased and he heard the disgusting sound of grunting and growling. He opened his eyes and saw two shadowy titans rolling and grappling on the ground. One was on top of the other with his hands around his neck, their two noses almost touching. The sounds of their rage, muffled but murderous, was terrifying. Both were bizarrely trying to avoid the morning guns homing in on their position. There was one final gurgling, a bloody, rattling throaty sound. Then there was a very eerie, very sad expulsion of death-breath from one of them. A pregnant pause followed and Luke tried to get his breathing back. His throat passage felt reduced to the size of a penny. Someone hissed in his ear:

“Can you make it back on your own, corporal?”

It was the sarge. He had Billy Highcross tucked in under one massive paw, one hand on the ground for balance. Luke nodded.

They made it back just before the dawn volley erupted. Billy had a ruptured lung and didn’t see any more of the war. One question nagged at Luke for months. He finally summoned up the courage to ask one night when the sarge was on his own.

“Why didn’t you just knife him, sarge? Why kill him with your hands?”

The sarge took a while to answer.

“For all of our lads who died suffering. I wanted him to see my eyes. It’s what men do, isn’t it?”

Two days before the war ended the sarge was killed trying to rescue a soldier pinned down by enemy fire. As far as Luke knew, he never got a medal. Luke was decorated twice afterwards for bravery as sergeant of his company

There was a crowd of young people around the old man. The same stars were flaring in and out of his consciousness, winking then disappearing. He could see the emblems on their trainers-Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. Snatches of conversation came to him, mostly boys and one girl. There seemed to be an argument.

“. . . . shouldn’t have done it,” said the girl.

“. . . . an accident”, said one of the boys.

“. . . . did the same yesterday. . . at least call an ambulance”.

“. . . . . got no phone credit, have I?”

A deep, male voice shouted in the distance and the trainers disappeared.

He remembered his dog was alone and sadness overcame him. The words on his wife’s epitaph came to him then:

“I loved you so

‘Twas heaven with you”

and he cried for the first time in over half a century. A couple of adult voices were getting closer and he could hear fragments of their conversation as he drifted in and out of consciousness.

“. . . . who were they?”

“. . . . that Billy Highcross and his gang”.

“. . . why would they do something stupid like that?”

The last words the old man heard before he slipped away was. . . . “It’s what they do around here, isn’t it? The saddest part about it is that his grandfather was a war hero. ”







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How to write a descriptive essay   Leave a comment

How to write a descriptive essay is made simple by following  the advice below. This post is from the book ‘Writing with Stardust’, now available on Amazon.  Just click on any of the book images below for further information. It will take you into the Amazon bookstore.



I am asked regularly by my students how to plan an essay.


The answer to that is that it takes time and practise. Da Vinci, for example, didn’t start his career by painting the roofs of chapels and masterpieces. He had to serve his apprenticeship and perfect his craft. The real question is how do you start to plan an essay? This book attempts to provide an answer.


Planning any level of an English assignment should involve some thought. That is why some writers like to be labelled as ‘wordsmiths’. It infers that the thought processes are a metaphorical lump of metal. How does that lump of metal become a silver pen? It needs to be heated (collecting images), smelted (forming sentences), cooled down (sequencing ideas) and forged into the shape of a pen (paragraph structure).


That doesn’t mean the process is finished. The pen may not work, even though it looks like the finished product. It may need to be re-heated and re-forged (a redraft). Finally, both the pen and the essay are ready.

‘Writing with Stardust’ provides a unique way to get the process started, to fire up the forge, so to speak. The best approach is to pick a chapter and take one word from each of the ten Level 1 grids. Then get the student to rearrange them in sequence. Once this is done, they may then put them into sentences. This is what it would look like for the MIST chapter.


                                               MIST                                         RAIN                 FLOODS

ghost-grey mist shreds of mist encircled spraying rain plump drops
voiceless and heartless crept over the ground smoky and steamy mist airy rain tea-brown, boiling river


They should then form five sentences using these words.

  1. The ghost-grey mist was voiceless and heartless.
  2. Shreds of mist crept over the ground.
  3. The smoky and steamy mist encircled the mountain.
  4. The airy, spraying rain banished the mist.
  5. Plump drops of rain fell then and the river became tea-brown and boiling.


This is the start of the process. If they are not capable of this, they should be encouraged to practise it until it becomes second nature to them. They will not be able to sequence paragraphs if they cannot sequence sentences so there is little point in moving ahead.

If they are capable of sequencing sentences, they are ready to move on to the next stage. You could then ask them to introduce a character from the FEMALES chapter. They should only use Level 1 again until they are comfortable with this process. The grid should look something like this;



an hour glass figure a bumblebee waist silky eyelashes shining, halo-white teeth dreamy, bliss-blue eyes
elf thin glowing skin a pointy nose sunrise-gold hair puffy lips


They can then repeat the process by putting the words into five sentences.

  1. She was elf thin with an hour glass figure.
  2. She had a bumblebee waist with glowing skin.
  3. Her silky eyelashes fluttered above a pointy nose.
  4. Her shining, halo-white teeth gleamed as much as her sunrise-gold hair.
  5. Her dreamy, bliss-blue eyes were as attractive as her puffy lips.


The materials are now there for the introduction to an essay. In this case, it may be the day the narrator fell in love with someone for the first time. By fusing both character description and the natural surroundings, it should provide a narrative that entertains the reader and keeps the plot flowing.


                             SAMPLE INTRODUCTION TO AN ESSAY

The day I fell in love was also the day I died. The weather forecast was for a bright day with mild weather. The girl’s name was Rebecca and I had arranged to meet her by a bench near the riverbank. She was elf thin with an hour glass figure and I was attracted to her. Her bumblebee waist and glowing skin appealed to me also. I had never even talked to her and it was her friends who had set up the blind date. Although I thought that it might be a practical joke, I decided to meet her anyway.

As always, the forecasters were wrong. The sky was clay-grey and I could see mist in the distance. It was voiceless and heartless as shreds of it moved over the ground. Rising up, the smoky and steamy mist encircled the mountains. Just then I heard a shout. It was Rebecca.


My heart leaped as I saw her sunrise-gold hair flash in the pale light. Her shining, halo-white teeth gleamed as she broke into a smile. She was walking towards me along the slippery river bank. An airy, spraying rain started to fall, but I barely noticed. As she came closer, I nearly melted into her dreamy, bliss-blue eyes. The sight of her puffy lips parting into a bigger smile felt like an electric current was running through my heart.


Then disaster struck.


With a cry of surprise, she suddenly disappeared from my view! She shouted again but this time it was one of distress. Running towards her, I could see her head bobbing up and down as the fast current swept her away. The river was tea-brown and boiling with anger. Plump drops of rain started to fall as if to add to its rage. I didn’t even think of the danger. I plunged into the foaming river. It was icy, dark and tasted like mud when I hit the bottom and took in a mouthful of water. Gasping and choking, I rose to the surface and swung my arms as much as I could. In between waves of water blocking my view, I could see Rebecca just in front of me. I thrashed my arms even harder.


Just as I was about to reach her, she hit a tree branch that was sticking out from the bank. I swept past her with a howl of shock. The river became wider, faster and deeper as I rounded a bend. I felt like a skittle as I was tossed up and down. At one point, my feet were facing up to the sky. I died inside then. I knew my time was up. I saw a bright light and faded away when my head hit a branch under the water. The doctors told me later that if Rebecca hadn’t let go of the tree to save me, I would have died. They said she was very brave. They never said that about me but they gave me many strange looks. When it got around the school that I had been saved by a girl I had jumped in to rescue, I had to put up with years of bad jokes.


I never talked to Rebecca after that day. She was removed from the school by her parents. I have never had a nightmare about my experience, but I dream every night of once more meeting the girl with the sunrise-gold hair.


The story above had some very clear objectives from the start. The objectives were that:

  1. It had a dramatic hook sentence.
  2. It had a clear paragraph structure.
  3. It used a character description with a theme of love.
  4. It had pathetic fallacy by using nature to reflect a characters mood.
  5. It gave the tastes and sensations of the cold river.
  6. It used human emotions of fear and stress.
  7. It had a plot with a twist.
  8. The diction would be easy to use and make the story flow.


By keeping the objectives simple, a student is ready to plan a full essay using paragraphs. Happy hunting with your writing!












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Describing the genesis gene in all of us.   1 comment

Many years ago, our ancestors lived in a completely different world to the one we do now. If they were alive today, they would make full use of the technology and homely comforts we now enjoy. Electricity, plumbing (i.e.  prevents diseases spreading), warm beds and access to a varied diet have all contributed to us living longer. If you want to see what life might have been like for them, just read the essay below.

It is from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and it is available to buy on Amazon. ‘Blue-Sky thinking’ is a workbook for 11-15-year-olds and will improve your critical thinking skills, descriptive powers, poetry insights and much, much more.

It is also available for teachers/students to avail of FREE by clicking the link below:


and the accompanying Teachers’ Guide with all the solutions:

Teachers’ Guide





Just click on the book images below if you want more information on Liam’s books. You will be brought straight to the Amazon bookstore.






Frost-spikes hang off the window sill like a phantom’s glassy fingers. The pine sweet smell of the tree ghosts through the room, mixing with the oaken oven scents.

The star-flash of tinsel glitters brightly and ribbons of flame dance in the hearth of the fire. They chase away the burglar-black wall shadows and you sink deeper into the couch. A sunrise warmth heats up the room and you are content. Your eyes drift up to the angel at the top of the tree. It reflects like river-light and you wonder why it stirs up memories you never knew you had.

Outside the window, the world is a moonscape of white. Jack Frost’s fangs have bitten deep into the flesh and blood of the earth, leaving it clay-cold and drained. The night before he was out, plunging his vampire-white teeth into what’s left of nature’s trembling, dying heart. There is no bird song, no grass whisper, no footfall. Jack hates every living thing. He seems to swoop down quietly from the iron sky and strangles the world into silence. His cold gleam and icy eye polish everything with glassy hatred. Then his undead fingers creep and crawl across the land, leaving it as pale and drawn as a zombie’s face.

You hear a sound, however, and you go to the window. The noise of feet on the powdery snow is like muffled grenades. It is your dog and he is rolling around the snow. There is a rabbit lifeless on the ground and he rolls on him too. The faint crackling of turkey juices dripping onto tinfoil can be heard from the kitchen. Its unique smell of McDonald’s paper mixed with a delicious, gamy scent swirls around the room. The exotic whisper of stuffing and parsley burning into the flesh makes your stomach rumble and your mouth water. The sweet, cedar fragrance of the Christmas tree wafts around the room and it conjures up a memory you never thought you had…….

There are between 30 and 40 of the Magdalenian tribe sitting around the fire and they are happy. It is Christmas Eve, 11,000 B.C. and they are at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in Northern Spain. They are the first humans to look and think exactly as we do today: homo sapiens sapiens (man wise wise). Their long hair is not the Rapunzel-gold of fairy tales. It is caramel-brown, long and glossy from a diet of eggs, nuts, fish and fruit. They hunt wild boar, reindeer, wild goats, horses, bison and aurochs. Aurochs are the biggest bulls that have ever lived and the only herbivore which will stalk and kill the hunters if given the chance.

The women wear animal skins which look exactly like the expensive fur coats we wear. They love the white fur of the Arctic wolf, fox and hare, but the Ice Age has just ended in Europe and these animals are getting hard to find. They make seashell necklaces and bracelets and their shoes are made from tough leather lined with fur. The men wear carnivore teeth from lions, bear and lynx. They punch holes through them with ivory pins to wear them around their neck. The more you wear, the higher your status as a hunter.

A few wild turkeys are roasting on the fire. They have already killed 3 wild boars and eaten them and the turkeys are for the eldest and the youngest in the tribe. There’s an assortment of other small animals ready to roast for dessert: hare, squirrels, snowy owl, hedgehog, badger, weasel, gopher and dormouse. In 11,000 years’ time, Julius Caesar will find that the only Spanish tribe he cannot conquer are the descendants of the Magdalenians. However, the Magdalenians and the Romans have one thing in common; a love of stuffed dormice served with honey, herbs and pine cone seeds.

The Magdalenians are ferocious, as Julius Caesar will find out. They also love their children, are very caring towards the elderly and are Europe’s first cave artists. The men wear beards for the winter and ignore the huge, dark shapes prowling around the campfire. These are the hunting wolves of the Magdalenians and they are strong and fierce also. The men can relax in this wooded glade while the wolves are patrolling. Watchful eyes, none of them friendly, lurk elsewhere in this forest. The human race in Europe numbers only 3 million souls, but most of the tribes are warlike and savage.

The dripping blood from the turkey makes the fire spit, hiss and cackle. It is a cold, starry night and it is as if dream dust has been sprinkled in the sky. The Bethlehem star shines above one cypress tree and the women point to it and call it a good omen. They do not believe in angels, but if they did, they would call it one. Tongues of flame dart up from the fires, banishing the bat-black shadows.

There is no light pollution here and the moons dazzling brilliance flings spears of light into the holly glade. Five juicy salmon, fished from the River Elbo, are skewered on sticks next to the boar. Their silver skin blisters and sizzles over the fire. A pot is on the boil next to them containing wild mushrooms, periwinkles, thyme and almonds. Dinner tonight is a surf ‘n turf delight. The mint-fresh lungs of the Magdalenians inhale deeply and take in the fragrances of the forest. A phantom of smells lingers in the air: grilled meat, charred cedar boughs and the sap-sweet smell of burning wood. The river glitters like jewels in the cat-light of the night.

The wolves roll over the cast away carcasses of the boar and reindeer. It will help them to disguise their musty smell when they are hunting game tomorrow. The Magdalenian men know this and laugh at their behaviour. They are happy, contented and proud of their tribe. The forests they live in are a real danger and challenge, but they are beginning to conquer those challenges. Little do they know it, but their genes will soon be travelling over to refresh the newly-thawed lands of England and Ireland.

Back in the present, you open your eyes and let the ghost of Christmas smells waft up your nostrils. The scene you had of a tribe in a forest came and went so quickly, you have forgotten it already. The glossy-green holly stirs up a memory again, but you can’t recall it: the smell of your new, leather shoes: the amber scent of the tree sap: the fresh, crisp smell of the pine needles. They all scream at you to remember your genesis gene. You don’t know it, but the Christmas tree is a gateway to the past, an anchor of the present and a bookmark for the future that family comes above all else. That is why the Magdalenian gene still exists.

You look out the window and you see the dog rolling around. “Now what’s gotten into him?” you mutter. Just then you hear the greatest sound in the world. The bell chimes for dinner. A boom of heat and a carnival of laughter greet you as you open the door to the kitchen…………..









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Making a personal statement   Leave a comment



A personal statement is a phrase or sentence that sums you up. It could be what you are, what you hope to be, or the person you are determined not to be. Everyone should have their own personal statement locked away in their mind for when life gets rough. Underneath is a list of possible statements to use in your life. You may decide to write one in your diary, your English portfolio, or your journal. If none suits you, then make one up and keep it locked away in your brain gym for future use.

  1. Better, smarter, nicer: Pick any two.
  2. Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me.
  3. Those that doubt me don’t know me.
  4. God don’t make no junk, baby.
  5. No one defines me except me.
  6. If I’m not learning, I’m not earning.
  7. Courage is never loud. It’s a soft voice saying: “I will try again tomorrow.”
  8. Let others doubt. I know the universe is big enough to contain all my dreams.
  9. I must be the change I wish to see in the world.
  10. If I treat others well, God will give me an alibi.
  11. Real people fail. I’m going to fail better than anyone else.
  12. Stupidity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result.
  13. I was sick, but I’m better now, and there’s work to be done.
  14. You can’t get to me. There’s ice in my hands, my friend.
  15. Effort comes from the muscles, not from nerves.
  16. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.
  17. Yesterday I did, today I do, and tomorrow I will.
  18. I belong where I choose to go.
  19. Pain is weakness leaving the body.
  20. If I can’t make them understand, I will make them marvel.

Pick your favourite 10 statements and write a detailed explanation of what you think they mean. You should also see what other schools/cultures/individuals adopt as their personal statement (or mission statement) and see if you have something in common.





You are going for a job interview. In the lobby of the company you are visiting, your eye drifts up to the poster on the wall. In big, bold lettering, it reads:


Perhaps you should get up and leave now. You know the quote is by Spencer Johnson. You and your class have adopted this as your mission statement since day 52 in first year English. You have lived by its motto and you turn to your friend. You say: “Should we go?” Instead, he says: “We’ll buy the company first.” Congratulations. You are a multimillionaire and you are conducting an interview to see if the company is suitable to add to your portfolio.

Many companies have recently added mission statements and vision statements to their company mottos. A mission statement is a statement of your goals and ambitions. It is based in the present. It is who you are today and what your class represents. It is also the statement that sums you up best and that you want the world to see. Here are some famous companies and their mission statements:

  1. Dell: Dell’s mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve.
  2. Facebook: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
  3. Google: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  4. Skype: Skype’s mission is to be the fabric of real-time communication on the web.
  5. Yahoo!: Yahoo!’s mission is to be the most essential global Internet service for consumers and businesses.

As you can see, the statements are short and to the point. You (and your class) should make out a list of ‘power’ words that you feel represent your mission as English students. Compile them in a grid and then choose the most important two or three to go into a statement. The grid below should help with this.

delivering the best customer experience …nurture and
give people the power to share …enrich and
organize the world’s information …harness and
fabric of real-time communication …empower and
essential global Internet service …educate and


The mission statement can now be printed off and put on the front of everyone’s English portfolio and journals. It should also be made into a banner to put on the wall of the classroom.



I hope this post helped you to understand the difference between a personal statement and a mission statement. This is just one lesson from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’, available now on Amazon. It is a workbook for secondary school students to practise their descriptive, thinking and life skills. It can also be viewed for free by clicking on the link underneath:


or the Teachers’ Guide with the solution to all the grids and fill-in-the-blanks in the workbook:

Teachers’ Guide




You can also click on any of the book images below to see more of Liam’s books. The images will take you to the bookstore.




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Describing a tree   1 comment

This post makes describing a tree with the five senses easy. It is a Level 1 post, which means it is easy to follow and rewarding for English beginners (i.e. upper primary school and beginners in secondary school).

Although it is not from my book ‘Writing with Stardust’, you can expect to see many of these word-menus in the book. Just click on any of the book images below for more information on my books.

I hope you enjoy the post. Just click the PDF document below for a variety of sample words and sentences.

Describing a tree












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Describing a cat   Leave a comment

Describing a cat

Describing a cat is made easy by reading these sentences and paragraphs. It comes in 3 Levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. This post deals with cats as predators and hunters, not as the cuddly moggies we pet on our lap.

The reason for this is that it is easier to describe cats as hunters rather than companions.

Just click on the document below for the post on cats. Because WordPress 2014 does not like grids (i.e. word-menus), I have to post it in this way.

Describing a cat    (PDF Document)


I hope you enjoy the post. Just click on any of the book images below if you want further information on Liam’s books.













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Posted August 20, 2014 by liamo in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Best horror sentences: monsters, mist, deserts, dark forests and thunder and lightning.   4 comments

These are a random selection of sentences and paragraphs from the book ‘Writing with Stardust’. They are the for the light horror/fantasy genre in case you need to do an assignment on them. Whether student or teacher, I hope they help. At the least, I hope they give you some much-needed inspiration!

One piece of advice I will give is this; NEVER listen to people who tell you not to link dark, misty or gloomy weather to a battle scene. If you want to conjure up a dark world, turn down the light bulb and make your audience/readers fear the monsters who bring the dark light with them. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

The other piece of advice I will give to students is this: “Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.” (quote from Oscar Wilde)

I hope you enjoy the post.

Just click on the PDF document below for a selection of Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 sentences, paragraphs and essays.


Best horror sentences


If you want further information on ‘Writing with Stardust’ and Liam’s other books, just click on the book images below.










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Fish, frogs and cows falling from the sky?- from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’   Leave a comment

Fish, frogs, cows, gold coins and flocks of birds dropping dead from the sky; it appears that some dark force is at work, fulfilling the end-of-days prophecy many believe in. There is a perfectly rational explanation for a lot of these events, however. Some areas of the internet touch on it but I hope the explanations given here clear up some of the myths, mystique and murkiness surrounding EACH CASE ONE BY ONE.

Underneath is a PDF document listing some of the more unusual cases, starting with Pliny the Elder witnessing a storm of frogs and fish in the 1st century B.C.

Fish falling from the sky

This PDF document gives the possible solutions to each case and has a free lesson plan for teachers to fill in.

Cows falling

These type of innovative lessons are in the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teacher’s Guide’. For more information on these books, just click on any of the book images below. They will take you into Amazon’s book site. I hope you enjoyed the post.

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Best descriptive sentences: rivers, mountains, beaches, waterfalls, forests, lakes and the 4 seasons.   25 comments

Best descriptive sentences:

rivers, mountains, beaches, waterfalls, forests, lakes, spring, summer, autumn and winter.

This is a collection of sentences from the first 10 chapters of ‘Writing with Stardust’, the ultimate descriptive guide for students, teachers and writers. It contains 3 levels of ability, from the beginner to the more advanced. The book itself contains 5 levels of ability.

I hope you enjoy the post and that it benefits you in some way. You can get more information on my books by clicking on any of the book images at the end of this post. It will take you to the Amazon website where you can discover more about ‘Writing with Stardust’ for yourself.




1. I saw a jewel-blue stream in the forest. COLOUR

2. It was splashing as it moved through the trees. SOUND

3. It curved gently through the forest. SHAPE

4. It hopped over the rocks happily. ACTION

5. My friend told me that rivers are the roads of the forest. METAPHOR

6. This one was flickering like glitter on the surface. SIMILE

7. I could see a family of ducks paddling on the water. OTHER IMAGES

8. I took a drink. It was very refreshing. SENSATION

9. The aroma of the forest was great. SMELL

10. It drew me to a berry bush. I ate one and it tasted rich. TASTE




I spied a gem-blue stream in the forest. It was seeping and dribbling as it swerved through the trees. It jumped for joy over the timeworn rocks. I heard once that rivers are the arteries of the forest. This one was sparkling like tinsel. The fluttering butterflies drifted over it lazily. I bent my head down to drink from it. It was very stimulating. The aroma of the forest was very powerful. I plucked a few berries and they were lush and fruity to the tongue.



A turquoise-blue stream wound its merry way through the forest. Babbling and burbling, it sprung over the limestone rocks in its way. Pebbles whisked about in the under wash like pieces of glitter. Streams are the liquid soul of the forest, and this one was glowing.   Chords of soft light speared down from above, bathing its surface in gold. It was glinting with little sparkles, like a thousand diamonds blessed with an inner fire. A galaxy of dragonflies fizzed through the beams of light, wings a-glitter in the sun. The hedgerows were pregnant with berries and we tasted some. They energized us with their pleasant waft. The delicious taste stayed with us all the way home.




1. The mountains were bone-white. COLOUR

2. A wall of snow came crashing down. SOUND

3. The mountains were crinkled at the top. SHAPE

4. They were sky-piercing. ACTION

5. The foot of one mountain was covered in mist. PATHETIC FALLACY

6. The mountain peaks were like a row of arrow tips. SIMILE

7. We could see some deer clattering across a mountain. OTHER IMAGES

8. The air felt ice cold. SENSATION

9. We could smell stewed mutton coming from a camp. SMELL

10. We tasted some and it was astral. TASTE



The mountains were vampire-white. A wave of white snow went rumbling down the sides. They were all crumpled at the base. They were sky-stabbing at the top. The legs of the mountains were very wide. The peaks of the mountains were like harpoon tips. They were shrouded in ghost-grey mist. The air was chilling and numbing. We could smell a pot roast being cooked. We tasted some and it was stellar.



The serrated mountains loomed in the distance. We made our way towards them as we had to make base camp by nightfall. They were flour-white and brooded over the land. Just as we approached, a chute of snow detached itself and went trundling down one of the mountains. It slid over the knotted edge and then went crashing into the chasm below. The silence that followed was spine chilling. It froze our marrow to think that we would be climbing in those conditions tomorrow.

The heaven-touching apex of the mountain was drenched in brilliant light. Spikes of thin light impaled the snow in a bristling, moving line. We assumed that the heat had displaced the snow from the hip of the time chiselled mountain. All across our line of sight, the tips of the mountain range stuck up like a row of thorns. Swaddled around them were necklaces of powdery snow. The air became arctic cold as we came closer to base camp. The unmistakable whiff of chargrilled lamb wafted to our noses. Dinner that night was cosmic.




1. The beach was flax-gold. COLOUR

2. We heard the snoozy sea lap gently. SOUND

3. We walked on a bow of beach. SHAPE

4. Cylinders of light moved across the sea. METAPHORS

5. The other tourists were leather-brown. TANS

6. The neon-blue sky was threaded with silver. KNITTING TERMS FOR THE SKY

7. Children were squealing on the beach. OTHER IMAGES

8. The sun toasted our skin. SENSATION

9. The sea air smelled of chlorine. SMELL

10. The spicy sauces in the burger burned our tongues. TASTE



The beach we walked on was moon glow-gold. The sea looked dozy as it rested in the afternoon glow. We were walking on a horseshoe of beach. Towers of radiant light soaked the sea with their beauty. The holiday makers we saw all had coconut-brown faces. Clown-hatted donkeys were braying loudly as children pulled their tails. The burning sun roasted us like nuts in an oven. The sea sky seemed threaded with silver. A warm, tangy odour came from the sea as we walked towards a hot dog stand. The sulfurous mustard burned us nearly as much as the sun.



It’s not often you get to see a sunrise-gold beach. That was our privilege as we gazed out at the slothful sea. Ebbing ever so gently, it looked at peace in its jade-green gown. It felt like we were walking on a carpet of candy floss, such was its softness. The golden sand swept around in a scythe of beach, hemmed in by towering dunes. Far out to sea, rivers of pulsing light saturated the sea with gold. Only the occasional tourist walked past us. There was an absence of sun-blasted bodies in this Babylon of beaches.

The horizon seemed to be stitched with a silver line. The seagulls were squawking over our heads and squabbling for morsels from the hotel kitchen. As the sun scorched our bodies to a crisp, a funfair of barbecued aromas drifted towards us. The saline tang of the sea mingled with the cuisine, adding salt to its appeal. We decided to obey our rumbling stomachs and eat. Lobster on a bed of watercress was our fare that afternoon. It tasted tender and briny and the shell food sauce had a hint of bouquet to it.




1. The waterfall was aquarium-blue. COLOUR

2. It was drizzling onto the rocks. SOFT SOUNDS

3. The larger waterfall was pounding the rocks. LOUD SOUNDS

4. It tumbled down the mountain. ACTION

5. The bliss-pool at the bottom was varnish clear. A DIVINITY-POOL

6. It looked like a wall of blue satin threaded with silver. TEXTURE

7. The flowers next to it were nodding gently. OTHER IMAGES

8. It was freezing and we were shaking with the cold. SENSATION

9. The flowers growing nearby had a honey sweet smell. SMELL

10. We ate an ice cream cone on the bank and it was divine. TASTE



The waterfall was Atlantis-blue. It was gushing over the rocks. At its widest point, it was surging and plunging down the mountain. It had a beautiful serenity-pool at the bottom. It was veneer clear. The waterfall flowed as smoothly as syrup. The frogs croaking nearby added to the wonderful sounds. We threw ourselves under the waterfall. It was so cold that we started shuddering. We collapsed on the bank and let the nougat sweet smell of flowers wash over us. Later we had some ham sandwiches and they were Godly.


The waterfall was Mediterranean-blue and magical. It was swishing over the rocks joyfully. It was thundering down into the pool like a gigantic water spout. When it toppled into the ecstasy-pool, it foamed it at the bottom. The rest of the pool was as clear as cellophane, enabling us to see down into the rocky bottom. Fronds of forest-green plants waved gently in the depths. The waterfall looked like a sheet of blue velour as it swished down. Its edges were hemmed with whipped-white lines.

We could see a gaggle of geese grazing by the bank and the scene was picture perfect. A group of Amazonian ferns, edged with saw’s teeth and statue still, added a tropical flavour. We stood under the waterfall to cool down, but it was catacomb cold. It gave us goose bumps immediately. We ended up quivering and shivering on the bank. The nectar sweet smell of the spring flowers perked up our spirits. We had a cup of chocolate and it was Godlike after our moment of madness.





    1. The forest was nut-brown. COLOUR
    2. The twigs were crunching under my feet. SOUND
    3. The trees were the towers of the forest. METAPHOR
    4.  I heard a wildcat slinking away. ANIMAL SOUNDS
    5. The morning stars shone like silver petals. THE STARS
    6. Nuts were scattered on the floor of the forest. FOREST EDIBLES
    7. We took the leaf-carpeted path home. OTHER IMAGES
    8. The beauty of the forest comforted our hearts. SENSATION
    9. The smell of the forest was pulpy. SMELL
    10. We picked some berries and they tasted orchard sweet. TASTE






The forest was tannin-brown. The grass was crispy under our feet. We looked up and the trees were skyscraper tall. Hares were scampering away from us up ahead. The morning stars were shining like silver snowflakes. Wood sorrel flecked the blanket of grass. We walked in and out of shady glades. The peace of the morning was soul soothing. The forest’s smell was fresh and organic. We picked some wild pears and they were meadow sweet.



The forest we entered was oak-brown and primitive. The grasses we stepped on were crackly beneath our feet because of the recent dry spell. We were in awe of the size and majesty of the trees. Their knotted arms rose ever upwards, as far as my head could lift. They were hoary fortresses and stood proudly. The orchestra of birdsong we could hear from them suddenly stopped. A pair of jays was screeching high up in the canopy of the trees. Jays are the scavengers of the bird world. Their cruel, corvid eyes are always on the lookout for a feathered meal. In the winter, they raid squirrel stores for their nuts, often damning them to starvation. They drifted across our vision in a flash of flesh-pink and warlock-black, trying to size us up. That was the last we saw of them, as they are a furtive bird, full of suspicion.

The morning stars peeped down at us like silver asters, glinting and shimmering. They looked happy in their solar-silver isolation. We could see wild basil growing freely on the clumpy, mossy mattress of the floor. The simpering wind carried a fragrance with it. It was spirit refreshing to smell the mulchy mix of the forest’s perfume. We ate a few windfall apples and they were mead sweet with a bitter twist. It was only after we got the stomach cramps that we regretted it.



1. The lake was skyline-silver. COLOUR

2. It lay in the middle of a cave quiet valley. THE QUIET VALLEY

3. It was window clear. THE CLEAR LAKE

4. It was peaceful and statue still. THE STILL LAKE

5. Trout were dive bombing in the lake. SOUND

6. A mob of flies rose into the air. THE FLY ARMY

7. I had a ‘zap’ moment because it was so beautiful. A MOMENT OF CLARITY

8. The itching grass snapped me out of it. SENSATIONS OF PAIN

9. A sap sweet smell hung in the air. SMELL

10. The water I drank was sharp but pleasant. TASTE



The lake was as silver as diamond flame and the atmosphere was convent quiet. Even the depths were vodka clear. It was soothing and yogi still. Freckled trout were leaping for flies and thunking on its surface. The rising sun caused a division of armed flies to swarm into the air. The scene was so glorious that I had a lightning bolt moment. The thistles pricking my leg broke my train of thought. The damp grass smelled utopian. I took a sip of water from a stream. It tasted like a sweet medicine, a potion for the spirit.



The lake appeared as if by magic as we crested the ridge. It was in teardrop-silver in colour and it was shaped like a perfectly flat disc of metal. No sound rang out from the shimmering emptiness of space around it. Monastery quiet, it was lined with pine trees and the whiff of mint wafted up to us. We decided to make our way to its decanter clear shore. The idyllic scene took our breath away. Unruffled by wind or rain, it was vault still and restful. The only sounds were the bumbling of bees and the heavy echo of a raven crawking.

Out on the lake, flopping trout were slapping the surface. They were hoping to catch one of the squadron of flies that buzzed about. The heaven-leaking light added a golden tint to the face of the lake and it was paradise. A startling eureka moment came unbidden, which involved the beauty of the natural world. I kept it to myself. The nipping midges didn’t take away from the pleasure of that day. I can still see the rain-pearled grass in my mind’s eye. I remember the saccharine sweet smell of that grass. I remember that the water tasted like the nectar of the gods. Most of all, I remember how it felt to be young on that special day.




1. The fields were parsley-green. COLOUR

2. Lonely calves were lowing in the fields. SOUND

3. The moon was like a ghostly-silver disc in the sky. SIMILES FOR THE MOON

4. A carnival of scents blew in the air. THE MOVEMENT OF SCENTS

5. A host of daisies scattered the meadow. SPRING FLOWERS

6. Strands of thin light came from the sky. METAPHORS FOR LIGHT

7. The milk-splashed calves brayed for company. OTHER IMAGES

8. The scene was spirit-lifting. SENSATION

9. There was a cream fresh smell. SMELL

10. The spring foods had a candy floss sweet taste. TASTE



The fields were glade-green. The sound of chirping chicks filled the air. The moon was like a phantom-silver orb. A pageant of smells floated in the spring air and a horde of dandelions littered the meadow. Staffs of slim light spilled from the sky. Proud-breasted pigeons strutted across the meadow. The scene was spirit-refreshing and pastoral. The meadow smelled pear fresh. There was a blossom sweet taste to the food we ate.



The malachite-green fields seemed to be covered in a bright sheen under the dawn moon. We could hear yipping fox cubs breaking the quiet of the world. Clouds shaped like tufty pillows glided slowly across the sky. They carried an airy, warm, drizzling rain with them. It cleansed the land and banished the strangling coldness and stunned silence of winter. Plinking and pattering off the leaves, then fading into memory, the rain energized the flora. It left behind a world baptized and rebirthed by its liquid grace. Song thrushes trilled as the spectre-silver moon began to wane and the fog of flowers in the meadow slowly revealed itself. We could smell their aromas hovering in the air.

Versace-purple crocuses seemed to glow before our eyes. Jewel-green grasshoppers bounced atop the grass like leggy trampolines. In the stony verges, Rafael-red valerian sprouted from between coral-black cracks. Spears of dawn light suddenly drenched the farthest corners with their golden magic. A pair of misty-eyed cubs yelped as they saw us and darted to safety. A murmuration of starlings wheeled and banked overhead like wind-tossed gunpowder. The rustic scene was spirit-renewing and we let the menu of melon fresh scents wash over us. We ate our hamper of food under the leafy umbrella of a great oak and it tasted molasses sweet.




1. The night sky was heather-purple. COLOUR

2. Humming bees darted through the air. BEE MUSIC

3. The stars were glittering like scattered space dust. METAPHORS FOR THE SUN

4. The beaked chorus of birds filled the air. THE DAWN CHORUS

5. The edible ceps looked like shiny penny buns. EDIBLE FOODS

6. Clouds were latched to the unending sky. THE SWEEP OF SKY

7. The afternoon sky was cocktail-blue. THE BRIGHTEST BLUES

8. The grass was downy soft. SENSATION

9. A stew of smells filled the air. SMELL

10. The summer food was gelatin sweet. TASTE



The night sky was juniper-purple. The sound of intoning bees filled the air. The stars were glowing like beacons for the lost souls of the world. A feathered medley echoed through the trees. The garlic smell of ramsons drifted through the air. The clouds were bracketed to the eternal, summer sky. It was like a dome of solar blue. The grass was silk soft. A broth of smells swirled around me. The food we ate was honeysuckle sweet.



An amethyst-purple tint invades the late summer skies. The world is changing and autumn is approaching. Soon the land will be a-fire in the warm glow of tree-flame. Pagan rituals such as Hallowe’en will bring back long dead memories of trolls, spooks and hobgoblins.

For now, however, the fields are still Elysium-green. Bees are still murmuring in that strange cult hum exclusive to them. They flit from flower to flower, surfing the short spaces as they go. The stars are summer stars, flickering like pulsing lodestars. A sol-fa of song erupts as they fade away, the ancient alchemy of the dawn chorus.

Bilberries and chanterelles adorn the forest floor, questing for sunlight. The perpetual skies of summer are buckled with clouds and they flare up in a luminous, neon-blue when the mood takes them. Summer is nature’s treasure trove. The fields are laden with goldenrod-yellow flowers and silver-washed fritillaries carry their bushels of pollen carefully. A goulash of scents twirls above the satin soft petals and the pear sweet taste of the air is a blessed joy.

But summer brings with it a bitter twist. The nights are closing in on each other and the long days are faltering. Enjoy the beaches, the barbecues and the birds. In a few short months, all will be cold.




1. The ember-red leaves of autumn burn slowly. COLOUR

2. The huffing wind was too lazy to scatter the leaves. UNUSUAL WIND VERBS

3. Clouds form like puffy plates. METAPHORS FOR THE CLOUDS

4. The leaves are a-flame in a quilt of colour. ARCHAIC WORDS FOR AUTUMN

5. We enjoy chomping on blackcurrants. AN AUTUMN FEAST

6. The fiery-reds cast a rich hue on the forest. COLOURS USING HEAT

7. The ghost-grey skies of autumn change the mood. OTHER IMAGES FOR AUTUMN

8. Autumn is a time to be afraid. SENSATION

9. A larder of aromas drizzled from the trees. SMELL

10. The wild berries had a savoury taste. TASTE



The leaves were molten-red. The yawning wind made them shiver slightly. Fluffy fleeces of cloud passed over the forest. The trees were a-flicker like night lights. A group of children were gulping on wild gooseberries. The blazing-brown dome of leaves gave off a nice glow. Owls haunted and hunted through moon-splashed trees. We were spooked by their swivelling heads and lamp round eyes. A perfumery of scents hazed through the forest. The ravishing taste of freshly baked bread stayed in our memories.



The barbecue-red leaves hang silently on the trees. Muffling winds deaden all sound in the forest and slow the billowy bells of cloud. The oak leaves are still a-light, but barely. Dainty noses, sniffling and snuffling, glow the same mercury-red as the trees. They replace the sound of children slobbering over elderberries.

Fog-tinted fairy trees stand alone in fields, noosed by coils of dragon breath. A weak pitter-patter is heard, but it is not the sound of children’s feet. It is the centuries-old, hissing drip of raindrops in caves. Spiders flood the forest, clutching their snare strings tightly, their eyes a-glitter with hatred. Owl-light replaces daylight as autumn comes to a close. The seething energy of the forest becomes vow-silent as promises to nature are kept. The burnt-red leaves turn a smouldering-gold as the first of the heavy rains fall.

The rain drenches everyone. They are not the soft, sodden, swollen raindrops of summer. They are not the light, aerated mizzling of spring showers. They are plump, pregnant with moisture, ploppy and destructive. The long, straight streaks of cloud we call mare’s tails do not carry them. The skies are damnation-black and churning with anger. There is a cataclysm coming. It is time for daunting winter to display his wares.The hotchpotch of aromas that graced the air is gone. The delectable, marchpane taste of the autumn harvest has faded from the palate. When the first snowfall comes, the world will be mummified in a powdery silence. It is time to be afraid again.




1. The snow was whalebone-white. SNOW COLOUR

2. The battering gusts were awful. SOUND

3. The screeching winds were dreadful. STORMS

4. A gentle hush cloaked the land. SILENCE

5. The gravel-grey skies were bare. SKY COLOUR

6. The empty skies were silent. BARREN SKIES

7. Winter squeezes everything to death. CHOKING WINTER

8. Peppery scents filled the room. SMELL

9. Our quivering bodies were cold. SENSATION

10. The seasoned vegetables were delicious. TASTE



The snow was polar-white. The flogging squalls of winter blew loudly. Screeching winds occasionally rose up. When they died, a tomb-like silence haunted the land. Flint-grey skies oversaw the land. The bleak skies were depressing. Winter smothered the land with its vice-like grip. Malt liqueurs, taken to warm up chilled bodies, were a poor substitute for the sun. Sore joints creaked and groaned like rusty hinges. The scent of creamy, mushroom volau-vents floating through the house cheered us up.



The snow was zombie-white. Winter’s lacerating hurricanes and whining winds had come and gone, leaving a terrible calmness. The skies above were an unholy mixture of shale-grey clouds and pasty streaks. Callous winter was stifling the world with its icy breath.

I could see a group of kidults playing on a frozen pond. They stamped their frozen feet and thumped their chilly bodies to warm up. Their ears caught fire and turned an icy-blue where their scarves couldn’t reach. Nose-icicles dripped from their frozen faces. Their wheezy, wind-filled lungs were belching out steam as they itched and scratched at their raw skin. They started skating. They slipped, slid and slithered on the polished ice. Hissing and swishing with their skates, they swooped and whooped across the ice. Then they screamed as the ice broke. It must have felt like lances of fire lighting up their skin as they fell in to the perishing cold water.

Their teeth were chattering when they crawled back out. They followed the oaken oven smells home to warm up. I hoped that the yeasty beer would warm their hearts as their bodies were frozen.


Click on any of the book images below to find out more about ‘Writing with Stardust’ or any of Liam’s other books.











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Teaching different intelligence types: from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’.   Leave a comment

Teaching to different intelligence types can cause problems-but not any more! This post shall explain the various types of intelligence in simple terms. It will guide your students towards a career in their strongest intelligence and will confirm to them what they already know. Most of all, it’s fun and they will think you are a magician!

This is a lesson EVERY teacher needs to impart to their students.

Just click on the Microsoft document below and you can photocopy it for your classes.



If you want further information on ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ or the ‘Teachers’ Guide’, just click on the images below.




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This is a free creative writing book for all secondary school teachers to enjoy and share. I am uploading it in Microsoft Word and PDF so that your classes can benefit from it.

It is from my new book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and it comes with a ‘Teachers’ Guide’ which has the solutions to the grids, fill in the blanks exercises and answers to the riddles. The book is divided into daily and monthly modules so dip in to it and see what treats lie within.

It will take approx. 40 seconds to upload so be patient!


This is the Microsoft Word version, the students’ workbook: BLUE-SKY THINKING

This contains 2 months’ free lesson plans and the solutions: Teachers’ Guide


This is the PDF version of the students’ workbook: BLUE-SKY THINKING

This is the PDF version of the Teachers’ Guide: Teachers’ Guide


I hope you enjoy reading it and there should be something in there for everyone to enjoy. Just click on the book images if you wish further information on the books. It will take you into the Amazon website.




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Free poetry lesson plans for secondary students   Leave a comment

Believe it or not, there IS a formula for great poetry. It can be taught in a fun and dynamic way if approached in the right manner by the teacher. Just look at the documents below either in Microsoft Word or in PDF and you won’t be disappointed.

This post is from my new book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’. Just click on the book image covers for further information on them.

The first document below saying ‘FREE POETRY LESSON PLANS’ is the text in the book that the students will see.

The second document below saying ‘POETRY LESSON PLANS FOR TEACHERS’ gives advice to the teacher on how to approach the module.

Free poetry module for teachers in Microsoft Word: FREE POETRY LESSON PLANS

Free lesson plans relating to the poetry module in Word: POETRY LESSON PLANS FOR TEACHERS

Free poetry module for teachers in PDF: FREE POETRY LESSON PLANS

Free lesson plans relating to the poetry module in PDF: POETRY LESSON PLANS FOR TEACHERS

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JCSA free resources: from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’   Leave a comment

‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is a book written with the new JCSA course in Ireland in mind. It is a book designed to help teachers germinate ideas. I hope it will prove beneficial to all English teachers, however, as it encourages the students to think in terms of patterns of English and promotes the creative and critical thinking processes. I hope you enjoy the post.


The full book can be accessed in Microsoft Word by clicking here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

The Teachers’ Guide can be accessed in Microsoft Word here: Teachers’ Guide


The full book can be viewed in PDF by clicking here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

For the teachers’ guide in PDF, click here: Teachers’ Guide


For more information on the books, just click the book cover images and it will take you into the Amazon website.




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Teaching the five senses   Leave a comment

Teaching the five senses is made easy by opening up the file entitled ‘TEACHING THE FIVE SENSES’ here: TEACHING THE FIVE SENSES

It is a fun way for students to approach the topic. All they need is enthusiasm and a dictionary. You will find that the quality of their writing will improve immeasurably and if you bring in tactile and sensory objects (flowers, a caramel bar, perfume etc.) they will remember the words forever and use them in their essays.

If you can manifest the taste adjectives into something they can eat, they will remember YOU and your classes forever! Open up the PDF to see what foods and treats you can use to make them better writers. You won’t be disappointed.

The grids you shall see are used in both my books, ‘Writing with Stardust’ and ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. Just click on the book covers below for a sneak peek of them on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy the post.


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Describing the four seasons: from the book ‘Writing with Stardust’   Leave a comment

Describing the four seasons: from the book ‘WRITING WITH STARDUST’


Describing the four seasons using the five senses is made easy with my book ‘Writing with Stardust’. Just click the PDF document in blue writing here: Describing the four seasons

I hope you enjoy the post. Just click on the book images at the end of the post to get more information on them.



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Teaching descriptive writing   Leave a comment


Teaching descriptive writing is a craft and in this post I hope to show you how. The PDF document below entitled ‘Teaching descriptive writing’ has a number of grids and exercises for the students to accomplish.

The most important part of descriptive writing teaching is finding the pattern for each different scene. This makes it easy for the student to grasp it and actually engenders creativity. As Ernest Hemingway said: “Prose is architecture, not interior design”. By this he meant that all great writing should have a structure. Nature has a structure. It has colour, sound, sensation, smell and taste (or action/inaction if not). By using the grid system, in this case ‘Describing  a beach’, you are showing the students a pattern that will make it easier for them to remember. Because their creativity is rewarded with a points structure, they are also having fun!

There are free lesson plans with this PDF document also. It is from my new book, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and the solutions are from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking: Teachers’ Guide’. I hope you enjoy the post and just click on the blue writing below entitled ‘Teaching Descriptive Writing’ to view it:



Just click on any of the book cover images to see them on Amazon.






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Teaching animal sounds   Leave a comment

Teaching animal sounds is made easy by using this one-class lesson plan. It is from the brand-new book on Amazon, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’. Just click on the blue writing below to get into a short PDF file. It will be everything that you need!

Teaching animal sounds blog post


Click on any of the book covers below to see Liam’s books on the Amazon website.




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Sounds of the city: From the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’   Leave a comment

The sounds of the city and the classroom are in this post for teachers and students to use free. Just click the ‘Sounds of the city’ file and a PDF will flash up. If you are a teacher, it should prove invaluable as a lesson plan. If you are a student, I hope it helps with your homework!

It is an extract from the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’, now available on Amazon. Just click any of the book images below for a free peep inside them on Amazon.

Sounds of the city




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Junior Cycle Student Award English Books   1 comment

Underneath is a link with 30 free lesson plans for the JCSA English course. It is from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’ by Liam O’ Flynn. Just click the link below that says ‘September Lesson Plans’ and you will get a PDF document. If you click any of the book images, they will take you into the website where you can get further information on the books.

I hope you enjoy the post and get some ideas for the JCSA from the 2 books, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and the accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’. They are available to view (and photocopy pages if you wish) below in Microsoft Word and PDF.


September Lesson Plans


The full book in Microsoft Word can be accessed here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

The accompanying Teachers’ Guide with the solutions: Teachers’ Guide


The full book in PDF can be accessed here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

The Accompanying Teachers’ Guide in PDF: Teachers’ Guide





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Teaching Flash Fiction: From the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’   Leave a comment


can be done in one lesson. The students can get acquainted with its history and style and come out of the lesson gasping for more! The flash fiction genre is fun, it’s dynamic and it suits all ability ranges. To see the first 30 lesson plans from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’, just click the link below which says ‘September Lesson Plans’.


September Lesson Plans




Take a look below at how easy it is to give  a one-day lesson on Flash Fiction:



The term ‘flash fiction’ can be dated back to the 6th century B.C. This is when it is believed ‘Aesop’s Fables’ were collected. Flash fiction is when a story is cut down to the bare minimum of words. A lot of competitions on the internet want less than 1,000 words. Others want less than 500.

Most people see it as an art that requires less than 100 words, or sometimes 55. Here is an example from Aesop’s Fables that fulfils this requirement:

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high up on the vine. He couldn’t do it, even though he leaped with all his might. Eventually, he gave up. As he walked away, he said: “I didn’t want you anyway. You aren’t even ripe and I don’t need sour grapes.”

Did you like this story? What is the moral of the story, in your opinion? Count the words and see how many there are.

The important thing to recognise is that the story has a beginning, middle and an end. It also has a setting, characterization and conflict. Just like any other short story, these features are important. Flash fiction is also known as micro fiction, postcard fiction and short shorts. In China, it is referred to as ‘smoke long’. They believe the story should be finished before your cigarette is!

In the 1920’s, the writer Ernest Hemingway was in Luchow’s restaurant in New York. The accepted story is that he challenged a group of writers that he could start, maintain and finish a story in six words. He put $10 on the table and said he would give them the same amount if they failed. Although they were reluctant at first, they discussed it and said it was impossible. They all put their $10 on the table. He wrote six words on a handkerchief and passed it around. They all paid up when they saw it.

That, apparently, is the start of flash fiction as we know it. It involves stripping away any unnecessary words. However, if you Google you may get a different perspective on this event. If you are wondering what Hemingway wrote down, he scribbled:

For sale, never used, baby boots.                                  Do you find this very sad? Others do.

Do you think you could write a story in either 6 words or less than 55? Try to do it and you will see how it requires a more distilled way of thinking and writing. Underneath are some ideas:

1) Life’s a dance. I never learned.

2) Distracted driving. Oak tree. Closed casket.

3) Wake, school, sleep. Resistance is futile.

4) Ship returns, empty slippers, waiting children.

5) She drove away, never to return.

6) Oh no! The parachute is jammed!


After reading this page, the teacher should then encourage the students to write a dramatic, 6-word story. The students can also try to ‘flesh out’ the plot for the 6 stories above and put in the colours, sounds and sensations that would apply to them.

Hey presto! You have just taught the basics of flash fiction in one lesson. Congrats!




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Liam O’ Flynn’s descriptive blog can be accessed by using the following link:











Posted June 24, 2014 by liamo in Uncategorized

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Free diary entry   Leave a comment

This is a free diary entry of the Irish Famine, a.k.a The Great Hunger. It is an extract from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’, my new book designed for the modern classroom. I hope you like the post.


Dear diary, 26th November, 1847
I am so afraid. My hands are trembling as I write this. I don’t know if I can go on any longer. Mary passed away yesterday and we had to leave her there and go on. We are trying to get to the workhouse in Clonmel but there are rumours it is closed down. If it is, we are surely doomed. I am terrified that we will be next to fall and that we won’t get up again.

My teeth are beginning to fall out and my stomach is bloated from hunger. It seems that every nettle and weed has been plucked from the ditches and the trees are bare of leaves too. We got by on watery soup until now and Sean caught the last, wild rabbit left in Tipperary two weeks ago. We were overjoyed with that and it gave us both nourishment and hope. Every time we try to catch a fish from the river armed men drive us off and claim that we don’t have the right to come onto their land. They are foul men and I hate them. Can they not see we are starving? They are worse than the packs of feral dogs that dig up the bones of the dead.

It is the brigands who are the worst, though. They gather in large groups and attack people like us who have been driven off the land. They take everything you have: pots, snares, rings and even your clothes. These are dark times. Through God’s mercy we have avoided them and I am grateful for that. The potato fields are black with decay and a foul smell hangs over the country. I am broken hearted at what Ireland has become.

As I write, a sour mist is forming, driven towards us by a thin wind. Up to now, the weather has been mild but I have heard stories from the West of men and women being killed by the cruel winds up there. They just don’t have the energy to fight off both man and nature. I have seen people who would make your soul bleed with pity. They are like scarecrows and their yellow faces are pinched, with sunken eyes. They stumble like they are drunk and cling to little children who look like a bundle of rags. I hope I don’t look like them. Do you think God is punishing us for something we did to him? If that is true, I will say a few extra prayers tonight and he may save us.

I have to go now, diary. I just don’t have the strength to write about this horror any more. If God is merciful, I will write again tomorrow. If not, you will know what has happened to me.
‘Till then

A diary should contain a lot of emotions. Write down the different emotions present in this one.

Do you think this is a sad diary entry? Why? Why not?

Do you think it is historically accurate or would it have been a lot worse back then than this diary entry?

Write the diary entry of a 12-year-old boy living through the famine using different emotions.

You can check out ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ on or It comes with a ‘Teachers’ Guide’ which does most of the work for the teacher! It has advice on mindfulness and nutrition, life maps, lots of descriptive grids, riddles, punctuation and grammar exercises, poetry modules and many more surprises! Just click the link below to see the first 8 pages for yourself.


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Junior Cycle Student Award English Resources   Leave a comment

This is an extract from my new book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking: Teachers’ Guide’. I hope it proves of benefit to teachers and clears up some of the issues surrounding intelligence types. If you wish to look at 30 free lesson plans for the J.C.S.A, just click the link that says ‘September Lesson Plans’ on the next line:

September Lesson Plans


The full book can be accessed in Microsoft  Word by clicking here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

The Teachers’ Guide with the solutions in Microsoft Word is here: Teachers’ Guide

The full book in its PDF version can be accessed here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

The Teachers’ Guide with the solutions in PDF can be accessed here: Teachers’ Guide

I hope you enjoy the post.




Up to now, education systems in the 19th and 20th centuries have focused mainly on the importance of crystallised intelligence. Crystallised intelligence (i.e. for educational purposes) is the store of knowledge accumulated over the term of a student’s education. Think of it as a treasure chest in a student’s mind. Into this treasure chest are put maths theorems, grammar rules, the history of countries, new languages, scientific data and the many rules surrounding the value of conformity in society.

The only problem is that it wasn’t married to the myriad problems modern life can throw at you. What would you do if someone tried to open your treasure chest without your approval? Even worse; what would you do if what you thought were jewels were valueless in the real world? Even worse again; what if you could put everything into the treasure chest like other people but they never stayed in there for long? That every time you tried to access them, the chest was empty? Unfortunately, this has been the experience of many students in the previous model of education. Can the reasons be explained? Perhaps a quick look at the human brain might tell us something.

In neuroscientific terms, the amygdala is a ‘switching station’, a portal through which all sensory input reaches the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is where long-term memory is constructed and retained. When a student’s stress level is high, the portal closes more and more until it is too narrow to let any information in not relevant to the fight/flight/freeze condition. This manifests in front of the teacher as an ‘act up’ or ‘zone out’ behaviour.

What causes this stress? It is undeniable that a large number of students in many countries leave school embittered by their experience of education. Stress in this case refers to the inability (or unwillingness, in some cases) of said students to sit down for long periods, ingest information, process it and regurgitate it. When such a conflict between rote-based, education paradigms and the student exist, the following manifests itself:

1. Goal-directed behaviour is replaced with inappropriate behaviour.
2. Clear judgement processes are replaced with frustration and pettiness.
3. Emotional self-awareness is replaced with resentment of others.
4. Deduction skills become destructive skills.
5. Reasoning skills are replaced with boredom.
6. Abstract skillsets, now rendered valueless, are replaced with allegations of ‘daydreaming’.

This is where the new wave of educational thinking comes in. Fluid intelligence is the ability to think logically and solve problems in new situations. It is your ability to solve abstract problems which do not depend on skill and knowledge you learned in the past. It is a mix of creative, critical and concept thinking. Basically, thinking knowledge is going to replace information knowledge. It can be argued that it is of more practical use in this age of technology where information retrieval is no longer an issue. It may also be good news for a large swathe of students who were left behind by the previous system.

In general terms, fluid intelligence can be broken down into three parts: creative, critical and concept thinking. Let us look at each on its own merits.

1) Creative thinking is a term everyone is familiar with. In essence, it is the generation of new ideas. It involves a process that may require the following: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, elaboration and communication. Creative thinking tries to fit existing ideas into new patterns, develop new properties for something that already exists, or discover something new.

2) Critical thinking skills are subtly different. Critical thinking is the gathering of information and evaluating it as a guide to future actions and beliefs. There is a very comprehensive treatment of it to be found at: Critical thinking may be paraphrased down to something like this:

1) To gather, research and prioritise information in order to make an argument based on logic.
2) To instil disciplined thinking that is open-minded and informed by evidence gained through observation.
3) To recognise problems and find ways to overcome them.
4) To seek out patterns (or not) where they exist.
5) To reconstruct your beliefs on the basis of this wider experience.

In short, it is a process which involves the following: problem solving, metacognitive skills, rational thinking and reasoning, decision making, linking knowledge to the intelligence of using it properly, reflective thinking and researching the types of mnemonics which favour one’s own thinking processes.
The most practical example of its use is Socratic questioning. Let us take Socrates’ method and apply it to teaching. The first sentence consists of an affirmative or reassuring statement in order to make the student comfortable. The question will follow the Socratic line of questioning.

1) I like what you are hinting at. Could you explain it further, as I don’t fully get it?
2) Excellent idea. Was this always the case or are there exceptions to your rule?
3) Interesting point. Can you show me the evidence you are basing it on?
4) I’m following you now but I have to ask; what is the inverse of what you are saying?
5) That’s great work. How would your theory function in a different environment?
6) That was very informative. What question that I asked was the most challenging for you?
7) I enjoyed your argument. Can you tell me how you it might be relevant to you in your everyday life or your future?
8) Let’s wrap this up and well done. Will you show me tomorrow how you can better remember all this information and your conclusions?

My own experience of teachers is that they are constantly evolving in line with the needs of students anyway. Many of the critical thinking techniques I have mentioned are being used as a matter of course. They won’t come as a surprise to the many committed and forward-thinking teachers out there. The big difference now is that these same techniques will have to be employed with far more regularity and will be embedded in the curriculum.

In deference to teachers, it would help if there were more structured supports in the form of textbooks specialising in these techniques. Unfortunately, they are as rare as hens’ teeth at the moment. If a teacher is supposed to gather the information and pedagogical skills needed to impart these techniques, a more centralised system of help may be needed. I know that in Ireland there is a teacher training course on ‘Instructional Intelligence’ being implemented at the moment. It is based on the work of Dr. Barrie Barrett and it is a welcome development. There is a very interesting document available on this and other matters if you type: Educational Innovators: Instructional Intelligence into Google. It includes articles on: What is Instructional Intelligence, Routines for Teaching Concepts and 20 Tips to Promote Positive Self-Esteem in students.


Conceptual intelligence is the understanding of concepts. We have seen how a heavy emphasis on crystallised intelligence in the last century is making way for fluid intelligence in this one. We have further seen how fluid intelligence is a mixture of creative, critical and concept thinking skills. The film ‘Rainman’ throws up an extreme version of the paradox between taking in information and using it effectively. Raymond, the ‘rainman’ in the film, knows the history of airplane crashes. He does not comprehend the statistical probability of a plane crash, however, leading to (in his case) an irrational fear of flying. Raymond has more empirical knowledge in that great, pulsing mind of his than anyone has a right to know. Unfortunately, Raymond struggles with concepts. He has little or no awareness of: social mores, ethics, philosophy, human interactions or the ‘street smarts’ needed to thrive. That, in essence, is the difference between crystallised intelligence and concept intelligence. One relies on ‘book smarts’ and the other relies on the ‘street smarts’ needed to apply it properly.

Included in concept intelligence is the use of mind mapping as a mnemonic technique. Tony Buzan wrote the definitive book on this, first published in 2006. It is well worth a read and it is called: ‘Mind Mapping: Kick-start your creativity and transform your life’. It is a short book with 89 pages of content. It has plenty of colours and will explain in concise terms everything you need to know to get started. Another recommended resource is available free at Type in: How to build a memory palace and it will give you a very impressive colour model. You can discover how to memorise Shakespeare’s 40 plays in 6 easy steps by typing in: Memory palace to You can also type in: Brain-based learning to for an excellent site on metacognitive thinking.

I would like to add a note of caution to these theories. It is now accepted that task knowledge has to be married to person knowledge and strategy knowledge in order to achieve optimal attainment from a student. What is left unsaid, however, is that you can’t teach willpower. Pedagogical techniques and critical thinking of themselves won’t help a child who is hungry, emotionally distressed or psychologically damaged. That child needs help and empathy. Our job as teachers is to take a step back sometimes and see what the child needs, not what we wish for them. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on Wikipedia should be the first port of call for teachers to remind us what these children need most from us; to be the one adult in their lives who cares.

There are 8 recognised forms of intelligence. Recently, existential intelligence has been added. This is the awareness of one’s place in the world. Wouldn’t it be great if a teacher was aware of the different types of intelligences his/her students had and what learning style suited them best? It’s actually quite easy to do with the grid system I constructed on the next page.

First of all, the teacher should ask the class what they would like to work at when they are adults. Most or some will have an idea, depending on the ability of the class. Some may not have been asked this question before in an educational environment. The trick is to link what they can do immediately to help them achieve their goals. The lesson with ‘My Success Map’ in ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ will help to reinforce that.

There is also a full lesson plan on making out a Life Map for 11-12-year-olds available by typing in: Life Map to I recommend it highly. It is a great way of focusing the students’ minds on the practical things they should be doing to improve as individuals and as students in the education system. It includes worksheets and simple diagrams. It might be wise to take an extra class to explore this Life Map.

Using the intelligence grids should be an invaluable experience for the student. I mentioned earlier that the crystallised intelligence that students build up may be seen as a treasure chest. I also made a reference to the treasure chest being opened up unwillingly sometimes by the teacher. If you look at ‘Intelligence C’, which is an intrapersonal learner, they may feel uncomfortable with the teacher asking questions of them in front of the class. To them, it is as if the question is invasive sometimes and they may prefer to write it down. On the other hand, ‘Intelligence A’ and ‘Intelligence B’ (Bodily-Kinaesthetic and Interpersonal respectively) would be very grateful for a direct question.

Similarly, those students who previously flourished under the crystallised intelligence system may feel isolated and undervalued under the new learning styles being adopted. I recommend reading a short article by teacher and qualified neurologist Judy Willis, MD. She makes the point that moving from “passive memorization to actively constructing, understanding and applying knowledge” may be a difficult transition for some students. It can result in the ‘act up’ or ‘zone out’ behaviour previously exhibited by students resistant to the crystallised intelligence structure. It’s a point I encountered frequently on other websites and so I have decided to include it here. Her article can be viewed by typing in: Student Responses to Common Core Instruction and Assessment to There are comments by other teachers on the point she makes so I will leave people make up their own minds on this.

I linked the 8 intelligences to learning styles in order to make teachers aware that the needs of all students may be accommodated with a small bit of ‘savvy’ and tweaking how you present your classes. You cannot suit every student all the time but you can certainly develop your pedagogical skills to suit a wider range of learner styles. Finally, I did not put headings on the grids for a simple reason. If you were to put up the compound noun ‘Bodily-Kinaesthetic’ as a header, you would lose them forever! Underneath are the terms which should be used:

Intelligence A: Bodily Intelligence E: Logical
Intelligence B: People Intelligence F: Musical
Intelligence C: Inner Self Intelligence G: Nature
Intelligence D: Language Intelligence H: Spatial

Unfortunately, I could not upload the grids as WordPress 2014 won’t allow me to post pages with graphs in it. The books ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and ‘Blue-Sky Thinking: Teachers’ Guide’ have all the information you need to get you through the pilot year of the Junior Cycle Student Award, however.

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Descriptive Writing Narrative Styles   5 comments

There are a range of narrative styles one could use in a descriptive writing passage. By far the most effective is the ‘fly-on-the-tree’ technique. This involves the narrator, the person telling the story, pretending that he can see everything from a height, just as the fly can.

The narrator should also share the experiences of taste, smell, sound and sensation with the reader, even if the fly can’t! It enables the storyteller to give a scope and a sweep to the imagery that might otherwise be too confined and too linear (one dimensional). This technique is also known as omniscient (all-seeing) narration. By using this narrative style, one may add variety and give a perspective that is both varied and detailed. It also prevents any monotony setting in for the reader.

The best advice a teacher or parent can give is to tell their budding scribes to look up first, then to look down and, finally, to look around when creating a scene. Try to describe the colour of the sky, the shape of the clouds or the movement of a bird. This creates a setting, just as a landscape painting should have a background. Then add in the smaller details that are under your eye level. Finally, describe the scene as you are walking and let it unfold in front of you.

Visualise a still painting of a forest in your mind, for example. Let’s assume the sky above it has been coloured in with a lush, peacock-blue colour. The clouds are scattered and puffball-white and an eagle is frozen on the canvas with his wings outstretched above you, ready to strike. This is a good start to a passage.

It sets the scene by establishing your location (the forest), the season (summer) and the possibility of a dangerous plot developing (i.e. is the eagle hunting you or something else?). Once the background features have been painted in, the plot (story) can begin to take any shape you want it to.

Similarly, if you have that priceless ability to imagine and paint in the smaller details which others might not include, it gives your story creativity and originality. This is what I call ‘laser-eyed attention to detail’.

Is it possible you were walking by a river bank in the forest?

Could the eagle be an osprey, a fish eagle, perhaps?

Can you describe the sound he makes as he swoops past you?

Does the silver belly of the fish glisten in his talons in the dawn light?

Are the eyes of the eagle nectar-gold and bright or scarecrow-black and lifeless?

By including minute details such as these, you are breathing life and imagination into your story. More importantly, these techniques can be developed by any parent or teacher.

The key is to have a questing and inquisitive mind when educating a child. Asking them high value questions on colours, images, sounds, smells, sensations and tastes will improve their writing beyond recognition. There is an old adage which states: “In simplicity lies genius”. Using the formulas contained in the book will guide students toward the pursuit of excellence.

There is another narrative technique which I call ‘zoom narration’. This can be very effective when you are describing a beach trip, a mountain climbing expedition or a thundery day, amongst others. It requires forward planning, but it is very enjoyable to read when it is completed. In the ‘Waterfall’ chapter, Level 5, this technique is employed. The idea is to develop your key sounds and images from a faraway perspective. As you get closer, the sounds become louder and the image of the waterfall becomes clearer. The words are sequenced throughout the text, so much so that they seem to appear randomly.
The sequence appears in this order:

Sounds- humming/buzzing/whirruping/growling/rumbling

Images- silver tear tracks/threads of watery fabric/loom of liquid silver/sleek robe of a water witch/airy sparkling of its spray

The key to ‘zoom narration’ is to plan it in advance. Build up a word bank based on the sounds and images needed and then employ them in your passage of writing.

First person narration occurs when a story is written from the point of view of a character in the story. A lot of the time, this would mean that you, as the narrator, intend to tell events in the first person using the personal pronouns I, my or me. If there are a lot of these pronouns, it is more than likely written in the first person.

Second person narration occurs when a story is directly addressed to the reader. The pronouns used to identify this style are you and your (singular). It can be compelling, but it is much rarer as it narrows the range of styles a writer can employ.

Third person narration occurs when the reader watches events unfold as an observer only. The characters in the story have their own world and you are the outsider looking in. The pronouns employed here are he, she, it, they, them and your (plural). It is probably the most common narrative device.

Alternating-persons narration occurs when the views of several characters are included. It employs a combination of two or more of the above styles. It is common when letters are exchanged between characters or diaries are revealed by the narrator, for example.

An ants-eye view is describing a scene from ground level. It is extremely difficult to write a passage of any length while employing this technique. It may be used for something like a summer day on the beach if necessary.



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Junior Cycle Student Award English books   3 comments

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‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is available to buy on Amazon from the 23rd May 2014. Just click on the book images to get a free look at the book content in the Amazon website.

I am uploading the full book free for English teachers to germinate ideas and get a flavour of what the JCSA might look like. As it is such a generic course, this is only one possible vision.


To download or view the full book free in Microsoft Word, click here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

To download or view the Teachers’ Guide with the solutions in Word: Teachers’ Guide


To view the full book in PDF, click here: BLUE-SKY THINKING

To view the Teachers’ Guide in PDF, click: Teachers’ Guide




‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is a workbook designed for the modern classroom. It places a heavy emphasis on critical thinking skills and the development of a creative mind.

Written for 11-16-year-olds, it enables students to enjoy the learning process while accelerating their development as students of life. It encourages the individual to compose life maps, personal mission statements, nutrition targets and mindfulness goals. It also features a lot of descriptive lessons, monthly revision exercises, composition work and quotes on living well.

The technical aspects of English are covered comprehensively with punctuation, grammar and tense work throughout. These are approached in a student-friendly way and use mnemonics to make it easier for both student and teacher.

One of the greatest assets of this book is that it has 8 monthly modules based around a theme and each module has individual lessons. This helps the student and teacher to look ahead and discuss what will be required in the short, medium and long-term.

The poetry module takes the ‘petry-fy’ out of poetry and has a unique formula for great poetry that the student will find invaluable. It encourages the student to look for patterns and turns him/her into a poetry detective for a day.

‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ throws down a challenge for the student while making the teacher’s life so much easier. All the answers to these workbook exercises are in the ‘Teachers’ Guide’. This enables the teacher to be one step ahead at all times while the students are active participants in their own progress.

‘Blue-Sky Thinking: Teachers’ Guide’ is available to buy on Amazon from May 23rd, 2014.

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‘Blue-Sky Thinking: Teachers’ Guide’ is a book for the modern teacher. It starts with 60 free lesson plans. This covers the months of September and October for the teacher, even if you are teaching 6 classes a week. The rest of the months have pre-prepared lesson plans. The teacher simply has to fill in the lesson plans in the book.

This is a book designed to make the teacher’s life as comfortable as possible. Nearly every lesson has a recommended internet site or audio-visual aid to augment each lesson. These were chosen with great care and will save you hundreds of hours looking for the best sites to visit.

It gives invaluable tips on current teaching philosophies and explores the key areas of fluid, critical and conceptual intelligences. It also shows how to adapt your teaching methodology to help the myriad intelligence groups in your class to flourish. It will show them how patterns are a crucial part of English and it will enable them to maximise their potential in a changing school and work environment.

All the solutions you require to the workbook are within and it will help you prepare for the school year with a minimum of fuss. There are blank Monthly and Yearly plans to fill in if you wish to cherry-pick the lessons you are prioritizing. All told, there are very few books as pro-teacher, generic and all-encompassing as this Teachers’ Guide is.

How to self-publish a novel   2 comments

22114535_Cover Proof.4766065-page1How to self-publish a novel is a post I have been asked to provide by other aspiring authors. Today, Muhammed Sokhna, a promising up-and-coming author, is contributing to this guest post. Muhammed has written a very spicy and wholesome novel called ‘The Worst Dilemma’. I gave him a 5-star rating on Smashwords because Muhammed fulfils the 5 core principles needed to self-publish a book. These are simple but all necessary to succeed:

1) Have a vision of what you are writing in which you project your talent into a picture of your eventual success.
2) The ability, despite tough external factors we all have to face, to go through the process and work harder than anyone else.
3) Have a short, a medium and a long-term plan as to how you are going to arrive at your destination of being a successful writer.
4) The ability to market your book positively and relentlessly.
5) The ability to accept early pitfalls, knockbacks and failures and use them as a spur to attaining eventual success.

Muhammed has impressed me because of his ability to work at all 5. Here is his post:

Life sure is an adventure and it should never be a bore. We, the people that nurture this verdant earth, are wayfarers, but we don’t limit our paths of greatness to just traveling by foot. We travel by land, air, and my favorite sea.
Imagine yourself going to a harbor. You watch the cerulean waters career toward the deck. The ebb of the sea leaves treasures that couldn’t be found on land. You stand on the deck waiting for you ship to come. In some cases, your ship comes early. Sometimes it’s on time. There are times when it’s late. But, one thing is for sure. Your ship will come if you just have faith. The ocean’s zephyr brushes through your face. A soft whisper of the wind can be heard as you marvel through the fog at a distance. You smile when you finally see your ship coming. Because this means you finally go to a place you always wanted to go, but this is a place you’ve never been.
My opening statement is tantamount to the book publishing world. To anyone that is reading this, my name is Muhammed Sokhna and I’m the author of The Worst Dilemma, an erotic romance trilogy. I want to share with you guys what it is like to be a new author in this booming industry.
Here are some tips I want you to know right off the bat.
1. When you start writing your novel, finish it no matter what your circumstances are. You owe it to yourself to see the project through to the end.
2. Decide whether if you want to self-publish or go with a traditional publishing house. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, you will still have to market the book yourself.
3. Save 10-25% of what you earn from your day job. Or, you can take out a loan up to $10,000 for self-publishing authors. If you have good credit, get a limit increase up to $10,000. It is not necessary to use the whole $10,000, but the money will give you a great financial boost toward your business. Use the money for business needs first before you even think about business wants.
4. Find a good editor. If you can’t find one locally, there are a few good websites that have editors on staff that will help you with your manuscript. (Ex:
5. Know your market. Nothing is worse than coming out with a book that nobody knows about or nobody in that market cares about. The author who knows their market will always appeal to that market.
6. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, Writing Club (Ex: Atlanta Writers Club), and Genre Specific Writing Club (Ex: RWA).
7. Create an author’s website or website for the book. (Warning! Never go the cheap route for a website unless you know the web designer is awesome at what they do. Always look for a legit company to build you a website for a fair price. Cheap websites create a bad rep for you and your business. Plus, Google hates cheap looking websites and if Google hates it, everybody will not see it.)
8. Think about having a book tour for your book. There are tons of companies that will organize a tour for you if you don’t have the patience to organize one yourself. Book Tours are a great way to get some exposure about your book and yourself.
9. Self-published authors should save all receipts that are business related for tax purposes. Make copies as well. When going to do business related activities, record how many miles it took you to get there as well. This is a business. Treat it as such.
10. Have a deadline for your novels. Make sure you fans know when sometime is coming out. Anticipation is great for readers who love your work.
11. Let everyone you know that you are coming out with a book with a professional business card. The key word is professional. That means you need to spend some money. There are quite a few companies that will help you create professional looking business cards for a reasonable price. Mines was $150, but that come along with my website package. Here is an example of how they look like (These cards were in their early stages so they don’t look like this now):
12. Invest in writing workbooks to increase your writing chops (I highly recommend Writing with Stardust by Liam O’Flynn).
13. Don’t be afraid to “go there” in your manuscript. Writers are daredevils. We say what others could say or express. Be proud and bold.
14. It’s ok to have a shitty first draft. At least the idea is on the paper. The hard part is over.
15. Do something outside your comfort zone. Meaning, volunteer, speak with people at networking events, and teach the youth writing techniques. These are just some of the few things you can do.
16. Engage with fans through social media about your book. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
17. Brainstorm about your book before writing your first draft.
18. Write every day ever if you are not writing your manuscript.
19. Don’t always look for the cheap route when you are investing into your book. Look for quality.

For me, the book publishing world presented some unique challenges for me. I never thought it was going to be tough getting my name out there, but I should have expected that. The industry of self-publishing is blossoming so much that it’s hard to get yourself noticed. But, it’s still a fun read to see yourself progress in the beautiful field of literature. But, the main thing I want everyone to remember is that there are resources out there to help you succeed. Never give up and press on so the world can know your name. Don’t strive to be the best writer in the world. Strive to be a better writer than you were yesterday.
If anyone has questions our wants to get in contact with me, you can find me on almost any social media outlet. But, the best way is to email me through my website,
Also, I want to share an exclusive Smashwords coupon for 1st part of my trilogy series. If you enter coupon code: HM48C you will receive a discount to get my book for .99 cents. This is only for a limited time however so take advantage of this steal.
Also, if you go to this link,, it will share with you some insightful looks into the publishing world.
Thank you for your time and reading my post. I wish everyone the best in their writing careers.

Remember, you will make a lot of mistakes in business. But, as long as you learn from your errors, your mistakes will really become lessons of improvement for yourself and your business.
















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Describing the seaside   47 comments

If you are having trouble describing the seaside, this is the post to read. It comes in five levels, from Basic English to Complex English. I am uploading Levels 1, 3 and 5.

The biggest mistake writers make is to describe the sea from the narrator out. What I mean by this is that most people try to describe a scene from what their eyes or imagination focus in on first. That is usually the beach, the waves and what is on the sea.

It’s only a suggestion but I find it easier to describe the sea/sky from its furthest point out first. In this case, that would be the dome of sky, what is in the sky (clouds, birds etc.) and the horizon. Then I gradually bring the detail closer and closer until I can describe what emotions I am feeling inside (joy, contentment etc.).

Think of it as an artist thinks of a painting. An artist will fill in the background first before attempting the smaller details. Point of View (POV) is very important for a writer. Give the broad sweep before attempting the difficult task of filling in the micro elements of a scene. Then you are looking at the world with an ‘artist’s eye’ and you will be a successful descriptive writer.

If you want more advice on this, check out my new book and workbook by clicking the link here:

Following this formula will ensure a well written paragraph or essay. Once this is mastered you can vary the narrative style any way you wish. Remember not to neglect the ‘other’ three senses of taste, smell and sensation also. Sound and colour will only get you so far in an exercise like this.

Colour of the sea: The sea was jewel-blue.
The sky: The sky was like a curtain of silk.
In the sky: Tufty clouds of wizard-white drifted past.
The horizon: The horizon was a line of nickel-silver.
Sea sounds: The sea song of the waves soothed me.
Metaphors: The heap of sea swelled silently.
Motion: The waves were rippling gently.
On the sea: Clumps of seaweed got washed up on the beach.
The beach: The beach was shaped like a shepherd’s hook of gold.
Waves: Rollers of gem-blue dashed the sand.
Salt smell: The air was pregnant with the smell of salt.
Taste: We ate some yummy hot dogs.
Sensations: It was a heart-warming experience.

The sea was like a rippling blanket of brochure-blue. Squabbling seagulls flew overhead, harassing the beachgoers in their endless hunger. Gannets were dive-bombing the stretched surface of the sea far out from shore. The horizon was edged with a silver tint and a cormorant was flying into that place where sun and water meet. His wings were a blur of motion and he soon faded from sight.

The opera of the sea washed over me and the wave-music was welcome. It was soothing and I was glad to get away from the hurly-burly and stresses of life. Davy Jones’s locker had swallowed up many a man over the centuries, but the beach I walked on was an enchanting paradise. It was half-moon shaped and there were no heaving waves to be seen, merely wave-grooves in the sand. I shaded my eyes from the glowing daystar and looked out to sea again. I could see dolphins flipping into the air like crackling popcorn. Their bodies flashed in steel-grey and I could almost touch their glee. It was a skin-tingling experience to witness their sea-dance.

The briny air carried a different smell also-spicy chicken. My stomach rumbled when I heard it sizzling on the barbecue. I bought a few wings and it was like tasting Greek fire with all the spices and sauces on it. I swore I would come back to this spellbinding place again someday. I looked behind for the last time and already my footprints were fading as if I had never been………….

Is there anything quite as blissful as an amble by the seashore? It’s like walking through an airy womb of sky and sound. The sea is a cerulean-blue gown and the beach seems dipped in earthshine-gold.

The mermaid’s call of the waves reaches out to you and you have to resist its siren call to enter the copper-bottomed depths. Titan’s fiery wheel seems to be buckled to the immensity of sky and the panorama of sights can overwhelm the other senses. When you cast your eyes out to sea, you observe that the horizon is hemmed in sardine-silver. The waves in the distance are like white creases on a vast bale of velvet and the lolling of the yachts is both rhythmic and mesmerising.

The pulsing heart of the sea causes a gentle swell and the waves cascading onto the shore have that ancient alchemy of purr-and-pound. When they uncoil, it is like an old, vellum parchment is unrolling in front of your eyes. If you could read the script, it would probably say just two words a hundred, hundred thousand times; never leave. Your eyes are drawn to the dot in the sky getting nearer. It is a gannet, plump from poaching fish from the larder of the sea. He is coming into frame and as he passes overhead, he leaves out a call that echoes the alien emptiness of this place. This is Poseidon’s realm, he seems to say, and you should not be here.

You look around and you admire the feng shui perfection of the beach. The palm trees are lined in serried rows and dip their heads in obedience to the sea. They have an Eden-green beauty that cannot be rivalled were you to travel to the far side of the world. Underneath them, a springy undergrowth of lush-green seems to beckon you in to the rainforest. You will let its sleeping soul rest today, however. You are here to savour the sea’s indefinable beauty and let its vastness seep into your mind. With luck, you will carry fragments of it home as memory.

The yachts lolling in the distance rock cradle-like and again you get the feeling that the sea wants to lull you. You know that the same picture-perfect scene you are devouring with your eyes has been a salty coffin for many an unwary mariner. The fool-strewn sea floor is not to be underestimated, however sensuous it may seem above the surface. The glassy air carries a faintly delicious perfume with it also. It is as if a vial is being slowly uncorked, revealing a galaxy of otherworldly scents. Your nostrils are tantalised by its richness. It is neither the pelagic smell of the salty waves nor the earthy cologne of the vegetation that you smell. It is much more immediate, much more familiar that that.

Suddenly, you have a light bulb moment. You are disappointed at first. You realise your cyan-blue paradise hosts other guests today. You are not alone. Then a mist of food scents drift towards you and you are glad. The illegally-good carnival of toothsome aromas makes your stomach sound like bottled thunder. You can detect flame-grilled tuna, exotic peppers and zingy onions. You realise you are famished and guide your nose towards the barbecue. Soon, you can hear people laughing. You take one last look at this utopia and absorb the jaw-dropping scenery with your eyes. Then you turn on your heel and make your way to where the cannibals are waiting for you………………

Check out my new book and workbook by clicking the title here


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Teaching Point of View to students   Leave a comment

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Explaining point of view to students is made easy by these versions of David v’s Goliath. Here we have the same event but two different accounts. It is up to the student to decide which of these two events is closer to the truth.
This post is an extract from my new book: ‘Blue -Sky Thinking’. It should be available to purchase on Amazon from May 23rd, 2014. It is a book designed for the new Junior Cycle Student Award course in Ireland but will help all 11-16-year-olds to improve their creativity and critical thinking skills.

If you wish to look at my descriptive guide and spelling workbook on Amazon, just click on this link:


David the little shepherd boy faced the mighty Goliath of Gath, but he was not afraid.

The whispering wind twirled a few grains of sand as he bent down to pick up a stone from the brook. The water felt like warm silk on his hand and he looked up to the heavens as he rose. The sky was cosmic-blue, but he could not see anyone up there who could help him. A few ragged clouds of oyster-white were all that he had for inspiration. The breathing of the wind was warm and the stillness was eerie.

Across from the stream, he could see Goliath sizing him up. Behind Goliath, a great army of men stood in silence looking at him. Their armour flashed with sardine-silver and bronze colours and only the plumes on their helmets moved limply in the breeze. Then Goliath laughed, a deep, booming sound like the rumbling of bottled thunder, and the silence was shattered.

The Philistine army laughed also and clashed their weapons off their shields. The sound of the clanking and clanging caused a few vultures to rise up in surprise and David watched them soar into the sky. Goliath stood in front of the men like a myth from an old book. He was 6 cubits and a span, 9’9’’ from toe to tip. He was an oak amongst a forest of holly trees and David’s mouth became dry and his palms sweated.

“Do not look for the sky to help you, boy. My Gods don’t like it!” Goliath bellowed. He slashed his huge sword twice through the air and David could hear it whistling from where he stood.

David summoned up the courage to defy him and it was as if someone else was answering.

“This day Jehovah will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Then David bent down to pick up four more stones, one for each of Goliath’s brothers. Goliath the Brute roared and charged at him. David could feel the vibrations of the giant through his sandals. Slowly and deliberately, he chose the most perfectly smoothed stone. He placed it carefully into his sling and the sling hummed as it swished around and around his head. His 5’3” frame needed all the energy he could muster.

He let fly as Goliath neared the brook. The stone hissed through the air and caught Goliath right in the centre of his forehead. Goliath stopped, stumbled, swayed on his feet, tottered, and crashed to the ground with a howl of outrage. He twitched twice and died.

Silence returned to the Valley of Elah. The murmur of the brook was the only sound that reached the ears of the stunned armies. Then a great cry rose up from the Israelites behind David and he had never felt so alive. He strode across the brook and chopped off the head of Goliath.

“David! David! David!” the Israelites roared as he held the bloody head up to the sky.

Did you like this story? Give your reasons why or why not.

Who do you think is the hero and who is the villain in this story? Is it very obvious?

Do you feel glad that David killed the giant Goliath? Do you have any sympathy for Goliath? Why? Why not?

Make a list of all the onomatopoeic words used in this passage. Do you think they helped the story? Write down as many ways as possible they added to the story.

What is the best image in this story, in your opinion? Did you notice any metaphors or similes? Make a list of those also.

Rewrite the story using the words and phrases below. Why not let Goliath win?

galaxy-blue sky voice rumbling like a volcano
sighing wind a sissing stone
like soft velvet swayed and collapsed
hushed silence jerked once
host of men a pregnant silence
salmon-silver lopped off his head
thunderclap raised it aloft
clattered “Victory!” he screamed.

Point of view in literature is the way the narrator allows you to hear and see the world described. Every narrator has a camera in descriptive writing. The narrator decides at what angle, what type of images and what scene is shown. The screen is what the reader sees, much like a cinema. You are the camera: think about what is going up on the screen.

In the ‘David and Goliath’ story, sympathy was suggested by the “little” shepherd boy versus the “mighty” figure of Goliath. David appears to be all alone at the start of the story. No one can help him and there is no mention of an army behind him. Goliath has the support of his army and they laugh at David’s size. This is one point of view, a hero against a cruel enemy.

A good story will always have a blend of colour, sound, dialogue and action. Point of view helps you to decide which person you want to write the story in: first, second or third. The ‘David and Goliath’ story was written in the third person. The key pronouns are: he, they and it in this story. A diary is normally written in the first person.

Did you know? A cubit is the length from elbow to middle finger tip and a span is the length from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky!

HEROES AND VILLAINS: David v’s Goliath from a different Point of View

David, the king’s weapons’ bearer, looked at the hulking figure of Goliath the Philistine and laughed. He wasn’t the little boy that Goliath thought he was. He was a veteran of many battles and all his enemies had fallen like skittles at his feet. True, he was only 5’3’’, but that was quite tall for 1,015 B.C. Goliath was only a head taller at four cubits and a span.

“This guy isn’t even worth a sword stroke,” he thought, as he bent down to pick up five stones from the brook. The cool water felt like satin on his hand and the puffing wind swirled a few dust grains as he picked the best stones. Goliath, his cousin from his mother’s side, had four brothers. If they felt like a blood feud after he butchered Goliath, he would cut off their heads too.

He looked up to the sky. Not because he was looking for help, but because he could see Goliath was favouring his right hand and was slow and clumsy. The sky was brochure-blue with a few wispy clouds and David thought he would take a holiday after today. The Lord above knew he needed it. His life up to now had been a never ending series of blood and battles. His mouth was dry but that was because they were in the middle of a heat wave.

“And to think none of the Israelites will fight this oaf,” David thought, as Goliath the Village Idiot boomed out some words in that alien accent of his. David couldn’t understand a word he said, but it must have been funny because the Philistine army laughed like braying donkeys. Then they smote their weapons against their armour and all the clunking and clonking nearly caused him a headache.

“Let’s get it over with!” he screamed because his patience was running out. Goliath pounded the ground with his feet and David could swear he could feel the vibrations through his sandals. He took a round, oval stone and placed it in his sling. He twirled the sling in neat circles around his head, waiting for the right moment. Goliath was nearly inside the kill zone and he didn’t want to have to fight him. The day was just too hot. The sling whirred and strummed with the violence of his hand. Then he released it and the stone fizzed through the air like a hummingbird’s wings.

A hit! It had struck him in the centre of his forehead. David couldn’t believe it. What happened next stunned him even more. Goliath groaned and staggered backwards. His huge legs buckled underneath him and he collapsed onto his knees. He tried to rise, but there were blood bubbles coming from his mouth. He fell forward. His face hit the sand. He twitched once and was still.

A pregnant silence descended on the battlefield. The only sound was the burbling of the brook and the scream of a happy vulture. Then a roar arose from the vast, Israelite army behind him and David felt proud of himself. He had never seen anyone dying from a slingshot before.

“Right. Let’s go get that head, I suppose,” he said out loud. “And if those brothers of his want it back, there’s another four stones where that one came from.”

I hope you enjoyed the post. Point of View is expanded on later in the book by using a Christmas scene.



How to Plan a Short Story   4 comments

This post is taken from my forthcoming book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. It should be on the market in May and is a creative writing workbook that comes with a Teachers’ Guide. It is designed for ages 11-16. I hope you enjoy the post and the short story.

For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new descriptive writing book ‘Writing with Stardust’ by clicking here:

The short story can be a very rewarding genre (i.e. style) to write in. Every novel is cut down to between an hour and half to three hours when it is put on the big screen. Think of the short story as being five minutes of action on You Tube. You need to get your story across in a short time. How do you do that? It is very simple. HAVE A PLAN! The plan is underneath:

1. Introduce your setting and the weather.
Will your story start in a dark forest, a city or inside a house? Give the details required to paint a scene for the reader. Is it raining or misty? Is the sunny or gloomy? Are the stars out or are they peeping from behind the clouds? Give the sort of detail that this book encourages but don’t waste time giving too much.

2. Introduce a character.
Will your central character be a hero, a villain or an anti-hero (i.e. a man who may do bad things but can is essentially a good person)? Is he young or old, strong or weak? Give some physical details if you think they are needed. You can also make yourself the hero or villain.

3. Start the action (i.e. rising action).
In a short story, something dramatic or life changing usually happens. Start the action flowing by introducing a problem. It could be a burglary you happen upon, an event like a tsunami or an accident you caused yourself.

4. Give the story a climax.
The high point of the story should be dramatic and unusual. This should be pre-planned and keep the reader guessing as to what will happen.

5. Falling action.
The action is still taking place but the crisis is over. If it was a burglary, the police could have arrested the burglar but are still taking statements, for example. For a tsunami, the land is flooded and you are describing the devastation it caused.

6. The resolution.
The effect of this unusual climax should be outlined. How did it affect you? How did it affect others in the story? Is there a moral to your story and was your central character a winner or a loser in all this?

The art of the short story takes time and practise in order to get it right. Look out for unusual things that happen in your school day or your life outside school. If anything dramatic, impactful or unique happens, put it in your notebook. Jot down how people responded to the crisis. Write out the exact words they used. That is your dialogue taken care of. All the great writers keep a notebook close at hand for ideas. If you are serious about writing, you will too.
“It is the tale. Not he who tells it.” Stephen King


Reading the newspaper today made me laugh out loud. It also brought back a memory that I thought had been buried forever. Let me paint the scene for you…

It was roughly fifteen years ago on Christmas Eve. The snow was falling in a cloud of Merlin-white and the air was beautifully cold. The sky was bleak and cinder-grey. It wasn’t the skin-seeping pinch of a windy day, more like the powdery cold of a crisp, Alaskan whiteout. I was standing outside the front entrance of a shopping mall in New York, enjoying the high spirits of the shoppers as they swarmed around me. My mother was inside getting some Christmas presents. I suppose I was about twelve at the time.

There was a homeless man in the middle of the street weaving his way through the traffic. I could only assume that he was homeless as his actions and clothes were bizarre. He held a brown paper bag in one hand and he would occasionally put it to his mouth to take a drink from the bottle within. The other hand was being used to make rude gestures and to thump the bonnets of the honking cars. All the while he let loose a string of swear words and vile curses. Not just your ordinary curses either. This guy was threatening the motorists that the milk would curdle in their fridges, their food would turn to sawdust and that he would make them infertile for eternity. He was like a one man comedy show with the outrageousness of his performance.

He had a strange appearance, almost as if it was made up. His hair was wizened and straw-like, nearly fossilized it was so dry. He had the sad eyes of a basset hound and a distinctive beard. It wasn’t a thick, captain Ahab beard but rather something a lunatic might have: bushy and spittle flecked. His face was toil worn and tanned from exposure to the elements and he walked with a weary, sad air until he would suddenly explode in a burst of rage. His fingers were gnarled and knobbly and the clothes he wore were musty and smelly judging by the reaction of the people he passed. Their noses would crinkle in disgust and they would peel away from his presence. I don’t want to sound pass remarkable, but he was a truly unpleasant character. What made it worse is that he made a beeline to where I was standing.

I shuffled uncomfortably as he approached. His eyes seemed to laser in on me as if I was his target for the day. His voice was surprising, a gravel-and-gravy mix of whiskey roughness and educated accent.

“Hey kid. Gotta buck to spare?”

He seemed very gentle, a complete contrast to the South Park character I had witnessed earlier. I normally didn’t entertain vagrants or weirdoes but I was so grateful he wasn’t shouting at me that I gave him the first note out of my pocket. It was twenty bucks. I felt a pang of regret then as it was part of my money to get Christmas presents. He looked at the note and I remember that he said: “You’re a nugget, kid. God bless all generous and good looking people.”

With that he was off. He zigzagged his way across the street, screaming at anyone who honked. I saw him going across to another shop front and some old lady gave him money. That was the last I ever saw of him.

Now my eyes drifted to an article in the Obituary column of the New York Times. The caption was ‘New York’s Unlikeliest Billionaire.’

Died Monday, aged 65: Lloyd ‘The Tramp’ Carson, heir to the Carson Steel Empire, and notorious practical joker. Lloyd, who was a dedicated actor and keen observer of human life, liked nothing better than to dress up as a vagrant and shout insults at his fellow New Yorkers. Although knocked down twice as a result of these escapades, he played out the role until his last day on this earth. His last words were known to be: “You’re a nugget, man. God bless all good looking people.” Indeed, these are the exact words which shall be on his epitaph as per his wishes.

It is believed that Mr. Carson has left an estate worth north of $1.7 bn. As he does not have any immediate family, speculation is mounting as to who shall be named in his will. Rumours are rife that he had a team of private detectives following him. Apparently, they would discover the identities of people who were particularly generous to Mr. Carson’s alter ego. It may be another urban myth, of which New Yorker’s are particularly fond of, but sources at the New York Times are adamant that Mr. Carson intended to pay back those who had a generous spirit.

I laughed out loud again as I finished the article. He was most definitely a character, this guy. I had to hand it to him. He knew how to get a kick out of life.

I thought nothing more of it until a letter arrived three months later. Then I didn’t laugh at all. I cried with happiness.

Did you like this story? Do you think it is better to give to those less fortunate than you or to ignore them? Can you think of any practical way you could help people in your community? Are there people in your community who are alone and who your class could help?

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Posted February 22, 2014 by liamo in Uncategorized

Best Creative Books For Teachers   Leave a comment

The best creative books for 11-16 year olds should have a mixture of the following: enabling their creativity to bubble up to the surface, to allow them to see the patterns in English, to provide a pedagogical approach which they will enjoy, to increase their fluid, critical and linguistic intelligences and, finally, to provide a platform for lifelong learning. This book, called ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ will have this and much more.

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It focuses in on punctuation in a student-friendly way. It also includes exercises on nutrition, personal and mission statements, Latin proverbs on living well, quotes from the most successful people who have ever lived and the metacognitive art of thinking how to think (appropriate to their age). It also has a poetry module that gives them a fool-proof method from which they can analyse all poems through the prism of technique.

Ostensibly, it is a book designed for the new Junior Cycle Student Award in Ireland. However, because of its unique structure, I am hoping English teachers in other countries can take something from it also. It has a Workbook and a Teachers’ Guide. The Teachers’ Guide shall include two months of lesson plans (September/October) and it may suit new teachers, as the plans are very comprehensive. The rest of the months contain lesson plans for teachers to fill in as they go, making it perfect as a book which dovetails with Inspectorate requirements.

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It is available to buy on Amazon from May 23rd, 2014 and I will price it as cheaply as I can, as I did with my descriptive book and workbook, ‘Writing with Stardust’ (available to see here:  Writing with Stardust ).


Here is just a snippet from it. It is just a story about The Battle of Stamford Bridge. From that, the students can decide what project they wish to do on the development of the English language and the cultures that shaped it: The Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Normans, etc.

I will upload other snippets from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ soon.



It is September 25th and the Battle of Stamford Bridge is underway. It is not Chelsea versus Arsenal. The screams and war cries of men fill the length of the meadow. The smoke is thick from fire arrows and they fizz and frizzle as they whine through the air. Steel rings, swords bite and men die.

The flowers are still fresh on the grave of Edward the Confessor, but the battle to be the next king of England has started. On one side of the river is the Anglo-Saxon army led by Harold Godwinson, the new English king. He has 7,000 men, but they are exhausted. They have just marched an incredible 185 miles in 4 days to get here. They were carrying heavy armour on this miracle march and it has taken its toll. The year is 1066.

On the other side of the river is the Viking army of Harald Hardrada, King of Norway. He has 10,000 men. Unfortunately, the other half of his army is a day’s march away, so only 5,000 are with him. They are resting up on their 300 ships as no one expected Godwinson to get here so soon. The bad news for Harald is that most of the armour is back with the ships as well. This September has been unnaturally hot and the men were happy to discard their armour. The sun beats down on their bare flesh as they lounge around, laughing and donkey calling each other.

Godwinson’s army streams up from the south and the Vikings are stunned. How did he manage to arrive so quickly? Although his men are bone tired, Godwinson launches into battle. The Vikings on the west side of the bridge are quickly overcome by the front of Godwinson’s army. The rest flee over the bridge and gather more forces. They stop to get weapons and what armour they can. Then they face Godwinson’s army again. This time they will fight on the bridge. The bridge has only enough room for 4 men across and that suits the big, bloodthirsty men of the North.

An hour later, Godwinson shouts out: “In the name of all that’s holy, what is happening up there?”

He knows the Vikings have sent word to the ships and that more men are on the way. It is vital that they get over the bridge and defeat this half of the Viking army before the reinforcements come. It is a lot easier to defeat 5,000 men in two separate battles than 10,000 in one. His horse is jittery but he reaches up on his stirrups and strains his neck to see. There must be a hundred of his men pressed together on the bridge. They are fighting in deadly hand-to-hand-combat and the sounds drifting back to him are sickening: bones cracking, shields splitting and flesh slicing. Then he sees what the holdup is.

There is one man on the bridge who is a head taller than the next tallest man. He is a titan of a man, a true giant, and he is causing havoc. This man would not have put on his armour even if he had it. He is a Viking berserker, a special breed of warrior who doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. His berserker name comes from two Norse words, ‘berr’ (bare) and ‘serkr’ (shirt). He is the lunatic on the bridge and, besides the battle axe he wields, he also has the fate of the English language gripped in those huge, clumpy paws of his….


His axe smoked with steam and blood. He was weary beyond measure but they kept coming. The Vikings around him had withdrawn from the bridge because he was swinging his weapon in such huge arcs. He was also blood-drunk and they knew better than to be around him.

The world had narrowed down to two slits in the helmet he wore. It was an old bear skull fitted with metal plates and his father’s father had worn it before him. He was proud of his ancestors. He wanted to meet them with pride in his heart when he walked to the gates of Valhalla. That would be today, he knew, but he did not mind. He was born for this life of fighting and he would die well today no matter what happened.

His great chest heaved like a bellows as he drew in horse-breaths of air. The English dogs were moving back from the bridge! Then he saw the size of the men who were replacing them. His heart sank as he realised they were sending all their champions at once to face him. He knew his time was short so he took one last look around.

The trees were a-fire in a patchwork of colour and the light-haze of the sun on the corn was spectacular. Then the sun dimmed behind the hills and the Technicolor faded.        COLOUR

The noise of battle turned down like a switch as the two armies waited to see what would happen. A Viking titan fighting against the best of the Saxon army. A pin drop silence descended. There was no insect-hum, no leaf-rustle, no wind-music.                           SOUND                    

He touched the cold, smooth steel of his axe head as he sharpened the edge of the blade with his whetstone. It felt like pond ice. He laughed at the memory of his father falling into the frozen pond when the snow dragon had come in May all those years ago.             TEXTURE

The memory released his tension and he inhaled the sweet, September air for the last time. Above the stench of horse bowels and blood, pollen drifted in the air. Air gold, the Viking women called it, but gold didn’t smell of red poppies and white lilies.                         SMELL     

The Saxon champions were ready. The last one was clomping up in his battle boots and they were forming in line to face him. He looked down and saw a sleek trout lazing in the river. Its spots were blue and red and white and he knew he would look like that tonight.         IMAGE

He only knew one Latin phrase. His son in Norway had it now. It was hundreds of years old and it was engraved on a Roman coin. It was a metaphor for how his family had lived its life. “Melium est nomen bonum quam divitae multae,” he whispered and charged up the bridge. “Will I be remembered?” he wondered, as he swung his axe in frenzy. Voices rang, swords sang and men died.                                                                                               METAPHOR         

Find out what happened next by typing it into Google. Then write the ending once you get all the facts. What is for certain is that the Battle of Stamford Bridge had the potential to change the direction of the English language. Less than 3 weeks later, the winner of this battle fought the king of France in the Battle of Hastings to see who would rule England for once and for all. You should consider doing a project on these battles and relating them to English class.


Describing a Dark Forest   18 comments

This post contains the first 5 levels from my descriptive writing book: ‘Writing with Stardust’. Most of my posts are about the beautiful and the alluring. This is a story from the ‘Dark Forest’ chapter.

1. The trees in the forest were bladder-brown. COLOUR
2. The trolls were chewing and chomping on red meat. A MONSTERS FEAST
3. They ate under the shadowy groves. DARK WOODS
4. The air was stuffy. BAD AIR
5. The forest was old and antiquated. YE OLDE FORESTE
6. The trees were staring at me like silent sentries. OTHER IMAGES
7. I crept around the poisonous wolfs bane. FOREST POISONS
8. There was a yucky pong in the forest. SMELL
9. It was a hair-raising place. SENSATION
10. I injured my mouth. The fishy taste of blood was disgusting.

The trees in the dark forest were nicotine-brown. Orcs were gobbling meat and grinding on bone. Gloomy scrubs hid dangerous creatures. The musty air was difficult to breathe. The forest was old and otherworldly. Oxblood-red toadstools littered the ground. Poisonous cowbane grew next to them. An acrid odour hung off everything. It was a teeth-gritting experience. I bit my tongue with nervousness and the metallic taste of blood filled my mouth.

The trees in the forest were malady-brown. Grains of poison begrimed the bark and gleamed like witch dust. Trolls haunted the sooty coppices, salivating over their prey and smearing the blood over their heavy faces. The decaying air and stifling atmosphere provided the perfect abode for those who worshipped the darkness rather than the light. In the dense shadows, spiders clutched their snare-strings. Their webs shimmered like meshed steel dipped in silver. Eyes a-flame with hunger, they were hoping to dine on bloated bodies and slurp on hot blood.
The forest was primordial. Centuries-old trees with sprawling limbs guarded the darkness, blotting out any sunlight. Their bark was mottled and splotched, as if bubbled soup had been frozen in time on its surface. Clumpy combs of wet moss dangled from their rotten boughs. Underneath the moss, lethal larkspur peppered the mulchy floor. A pungent tang oozed from every sentient being in the forest. Bewailing sounds ghosted through the trees. Whether it was from victim or victor, only the forest could tell. It was truly a place to make your veins freeze over. Everything considered edible in another forest was nauseating here. It left you with the same, sickening taste of your own blood. It was a forest to be avoided.

For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.

Transylvania- circa 1350

“Cannibals always feast under a blood-red moon.”

Every child in his village had laughed at the forest-lore passed down by the woodcutters all those years ago. Now the villagers themselves were gone, swept away as if by some invisible hand, and he knew the saying to be true. Looking at the Godless scene unfolding in front of him, the king’s monster hunter believed he would die here today. He was duty bound to help, but there were too many of the heathens to fight. Their spice-blue eyes and waxy skin pallor marked them out as flesh-eaters. He watched, spellbound and revolted in equal measure, as they danced a ghastly ritual around a huge fire, ululating to the beat of a rumbling drum. Their limbs were akimbo and their expressions frenzied as they dragged the first victim towards the pig-spit. Mounds of old, gnawed bone, a midden heap of gleaming ribs and grinning skulls, caught the fires blaze and sickened him. His flesh crept and the hair on his neck rose like the hackles of a dog. Fear, a feeling he was unused to, felt like melting tallow under the surface of his skin, feverish and hot. The sanguine-red moon flooded the holt, giving off an unearthly glow of flame and fire.

The vast, contorted tree he leaned against leaked its sticky sap like the poisoned back of a toad, burning his hand. He snatched it away. He was at the outermost edge of the fires glow, concealed in the murky shadow of the tree’s massive vines. They twisted up insanely, like the despairing limbs of the damned begging for forgiveness. Above him, ghostly horsetails of moss were hanging from barrel-thick boughs like a poltergeist’s entrails. A large pearl of rain gathered at the bottom of one of these spectre-strings. It alone had made its way through the labyrinthine canopy of hoary limbs and leafy bowers. It teetered there for an age. Then with a slimy pop it released itself. A solitary moonbeam speared through the trees at that moment. The globule glowed red, like the vile drop of a blood oath, before splashing onto the rotten humus. The wraithy horsetails shivered once with a swished whisper of hatred and settled back into their silent spite. The hoary tree knots glared at him like baleful eyes. He felt like the forest was infecting him with its alien pox.

Never had he encountered these emotions on his many hunts. He had quarried after dread vampyres in the fathomless bowels and dripping basins of the deepest caves. He had ascended sky-kissing mountains to seek out blood-besmeared trolls. He had even, as a favour to a foreign king, crossed a tyranny of distance to bring to bay the Black Golwroth of Karaganda in his lair. But this dark forest was different to anywhere he had been before. Hunting after base beasts into dens and burrows, down begrimed pits and through gloomy hollows, could not begin to compare to this gullet of madness. Just being here felt like partaking in an unholy parody of life. He tried to think of a word for the renders of human flesh he was gazing upon, but it eluded him. They had maggoted their way to this glade, burrowing like wood-weevils into the corrupted heart of the forest. He noted with contempt their filed-down fangs and brutish weapons; clunky clubs, brutal bull-axes and wicked sickles. It seemed fitting to him that they would inhabit this sacrilegious wood.

Two weeks of plunging through stunted coppices and hacking at misshapen thickets had gotten him here. It was a grotesque haunt, offensive to eye, ear and nostril. The air was hot and stale, burning his lungs like the fumes from brimstone. The floor of the forest belched up constant waves of foul and rancid odours that smelt like sickly excrement. All the freewheeling flotsam of the trees gathered there in blasted mounds of steaming mulch. The scorch of the sun didn’t cause this. Only an occasional, listless ligament of light would pin-prick through the dense foliage. It was like a constipated beam of hopelessness, limply flickering. It had all the cheerless comfort of a dying candle flame. Heat was provided by the thickness of the forests canopy. It compressed down upon the lucifugous heads of those below, creating a sunless curtain of chaos-black. Toxic-yellow fungi tossed their pestilent spores into this goulash of decay. Deformed trees pressed in from the sides, adding to the mood of stuffy claustrophobia.

Only one trickling streamlet gasped its way through the stomach-souring compost. Like the river of hell, it was Acheron-black and gleamed with a deadly lustre. At its swirling edges, bladder-brown leaves got sucked into the inky morass and added to the treacly pollution. On the trees, wet clumps of glistening Jews Ear hinged themselves slickly to the bark like clotted pus. Their glossy texture resembled the skin of slugs. Over the bitter water, great screens of milky mist were heaving with their own steaming malice. Stealthy scarves of the mist detached themselves, slowly glided in silence and coiled serpent-like around helpless limbs. Between the trees, wispy cobwebs threaded out like fibrous star-streak. They would be the sinewy tentacles of destruction for all those who would dare their tensile strength. Exhaling miasmas of rotting vapour rose up to meet the webs, while above, fevered eyes, glazed with hunger, waited among the endless damp. Cruel as those eyes were, they lacked the ferocity of the hunter’s eyes.

Those eyes were scanning the shroud of shadow at the other side of the fire. There appeared to be a crude, stone building made of poorly built, bulging stone. It was lichen-encrusted and a rotting roof lay upon it. From its interior came the most piteous moans and stomach-souring thumps. A caterwauling sound, somewhere between a tortured whine and a despairing screech, echoed in the night air. The tormented screams of the victims seared his soul. He was kinless and kith-less, with neither family nor friend, yet he had been smelted in the fiery forge of violence since he was a child. He was no longer afraid. The blood-lust was upon him, a familiar feeling. He kissed his crucifix and left it to hang in the tree. Wrapped around each forearm were cords of thin rope, edged with serrated, razor-steel. He unfolded these, letting them hang from each hand. He had a sword and three throwing knives, but he left them in their sheaths. It would be gory work tonight, silent and bloody. He eased away from the tree, a foe far more deadly than the hemlock and wolfs bane his moccasins stepped over.

Skirting the glade, he made his way to the stone building. He couldn’t see anyone guarding it, but could make out some horrible, stony voices from within. Their low harshness reminded him of lonely cemetery vaults and mildewed tombs. They were deep and seeped with malice. Creeping over to the wall, he searched for a gap between the stone to look through.

Four brutes with pop eyes and saucy beards stood over the villagers. They were wielding crude, bone-edged clubs. One of the bug-eyed heathens raised his club to continue his grisly work, but the monster-hunter had seen enough. “Abominations”, he whispered. He prepared himself to meet his Creator in this womb of pandemonium. He crept up to the entrance and stepped in…..

For much more of these types of posts, please check out my new book Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title.



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Best descriptive writing books   14 comments

This is a sample chapter from my new book ‘Writing with Stardust’. It is now available on and To see the book cover and read about it, just click the title:

Writing with Stardust


                                        DESCRIBING FEMALES

                                                     RED HAIR


LEVEL 1         LEVEL 2         LEVEL 3         LEVEL 4         LEVEL 5          OTHERS

mercury-red hair magma-red hair ruby-red hair solferino-red hair vermeil-red hair
molten-red hair lava-red hair rouge-red hair Titian-red hair vermilion-red hair

1. Her hair was mercury-red and it tumbled over her shoulders.

2. Her hair was magma-red and it crashed over her shoulders.

3. Her hair was rouge-red and it spiralled over her shoulders.

4. She had tresses of Titian-red and they plummeted over her shoulders.

5. She had swirls of vermilion-red and they cascaded over her shoulders.

                                                   BLACK HAIR

midnight-black hair kohl-black hair coral-black hair sable-black hair vulcanite-black hair
 ebony-black hair moon shadow-black hair cobalt-black hair maw-black hair obsidian-black hair

1. Her hair was midnight-black and it flowed over her shoulders.

2. Her hair was kohl-black and it plunged over her shoulders.

3. Her hair was coral-black and it toppled over her shoulders.

4. She had locks of sable-black and they surged over her shoulders.

5. She had tresses of obsidian-black and they swooped over her shoulders.


sunrise-gold hair moon gleam-gold hair star flame-gold hair ore-gold hair Arc-of-Covenant gold hair
sunset-gold moon glint-gold hair star beam-gold hair harp string-gold hair Valkyrie-gold hair

1. She had lush, sunrise-gold hair.

2. She had lavish, moon gleam-gold hair.

3. She had luscious, star flame-gold hair.

4. Her hair was ore-gold bright and luxurious.

5. Her hair was Arc-of-Covenant gold and luxuriant.


locks of chestnut-brown hair wisps of auburn-brown tumbles of russet-brown swirls of caramel-brown hair skeins of copper-brown hair
coils of leaf-brown hair ringlets of tawny-brown hair tresses of mousy-brown hair spools of nougat-brown hair Restoration curls of   cinnamon-brown hair

1. Locks of chestnut-brown hair curtained her oval face.

2. Ringlets of tawny-brown hair veiled her heart shaped face.

3. Tresses of russet-brown hair shrouded her Slavic face.

4. Swirls of caramel-brown hair wreathed her moon shaped face.

5. Restoration curls of cinnamon-brown hair garlanded her angular face.

                                            COLOUR OF EYES

dreamy, bliss-blue eyes alluring, galaxy-blue eyes lambent, jade-green eyes dewy, mist valley-green eyes effervescent, champagne-brown   eyes
languorous, rapture-blue eyes enticing, constellation-blue eyes fulgent, beryl-green eyes nebulous, Eden-green eyes vivacious, virility-brown eyes

1. She had dreamy, bliss-blue eyes. They were globe round.

2. She had alluring, galaxy-blue eyes. They were orbit round.

3. She had lambent, jade-green eyes. They were pond round.

4. She had dewy, mist valley-green eyes. They were duck-pond round.

5. She had effervescent, champagne-brown eyes. They were dew-pond round.


puffy lips bee stung lips oxbow lips trout pout lips silicone enhanced lips
pouting lips heart shaped lips Cupid’s bow lips botox boosted collagen enhanced lips

1. She had puffy lips. They were kiss-inspiring and satin soft.

2. She had bee-stung lips. They were sugar plum sweet and silk soft.

3. She had Cupid’s bow lips. They were plummy, plump and suede soft.

4. She had trout pout lips. They were succulent, sultry and velvet soft.

5. She had silicone enhanced lips. They were sumptuous, sensuous and velour soft.


                                                        SWEET LIPS

honey sweet lips strawberry sweet lips sugar sweet lips cherry sweet lips nectar sweet lips
syrup sweet lips saccharine sweet lips sugar candy sweet lips melon sweet lips sherbet sweet lips

1. She had honey sweet lips. They were lilac soft.

2. She had saccharine sweet lips. They were blossom soft.

3. She had sugar sweet lips. They were butter soft.

4. She had cherry sweet lips. They were beeswax soft.

5. She had sherbet sweet lips. They were pillow soft.



a cheerful personality a bubbly personality an elegant personality a demure personality a winning  personality
a joyous personality a bouncy personality a ladylike personality a genteel personality an infectious personality

1. She had a cheerful character.

2. She had a bubbly outlook.

3. She had a ladylike temperament.

4. She had a genteel persona.

5. She had a winning disposition.

                                                  A SWEET VOICE

a soothing voice a sugary voice a nectarine voice a dulcet voice a melodious voice
a songbird sweet voice a syrup sweet voice a saccharine voice a dulcimer sweet voice a mellifluous voice

1. She had a songbird sweet voice and her hair blazed in the sun.

2. She had a syrup sweet voice and her hair flashed in the sun.

3. She had a nectarine voice and her hair glinted in the sun.

4. She had a dulcimer sweet voice and her hair gleamed in the sun’s rays.

5. She had a melodious voice and her opulent hair glittered in the beams of the sun.


grungy vibrant chic voguish cosmopolitan
gothic kidult retro fluoro naff

1. She wore gothic clothes in a rebellious way.

2. She wore kidult clothes in an offbeat way.

3. She wore chic, shredded clothes in a mutinous way.

4. She wore fluoro clothes in a non-conforming way.

5. She wore bleached, naff clothes in an out of kilter fashion.


1. She had a shapely figure. FIGURE

2. It was imp-thin. BODY

3. She was wasp-waisted. WAIST

4. She had glossy skin. COMPLEXION

5. She had slender eyebrows. EYEBROWS

6. Her eyelashes were velvety. EYELASHES

7. She had sea-nymph ears. EARS

8. She had a dainty nose. NOSE

9. She had shiny, halo-white teeth. TEETH

10. Her fingernails were varnished. FINGERNAILS

11. Her hair was molten-red. RED HAIR

12. Her hair was ebony-black. BLACK HAIR

13. Her hair was sunrise-gold. GOLD HAIR

14. She had coils of leaf-brown hair. BROWN HAIR

15. She had rapture-blue eyes. BLUE EYES

16. She had pouting lips. SHAPE OF LIPS

17. She had syrup-sweet lips. SWEET LIPS

18. She had a joyous personality. PERSONALITY

19. She had a soothing voice. SWEET VOICE

20. She wore grungy clothes. CLOTHES


                                        LEVEL 2: A BASIC PARAGRAPH

She had a sculpted figure which was twine-thin. Her waist was tapered and she had a burnished complexion. A pair of arched eyebrows looked down on sweeping eyelashes. Her delicate ears framed a button nose. A set of dazzling, angel-white teeth gleamed as she blew gently on her carmine-red fingernails. It was a pleasure to see her flowing, moon shadow-black hair. Her enticing, constellation-blue eyes gazed at me over her puffy, heart shaped lips. Her lips tasted strawberry sweet when I kissed her. She had a bouncy personality and a sugary voice, which I adored. Not content to be just another drone, she wore vibrant clothes.


I first met her on a holiday to an exotic country. The moons delicate light had just turned the world a-flame with silver when I saw her. She had a comely figure which was stem-thin. Her curvilinear waist didn’t surprise me as much as the saffron tint to her complexion. She must be a native, I thought to myself. Her crescent shaped eyebrows inclined slightly as she saw me staring at her. I yelped at being caught. Her languid eyelashes of velvet-black blinked once slowly, as if to invite me over.

When I came closer, I noticed her scrolled ears and her elegant nose. She nuzzled me with her nose and I couldn’t believe it. It was the custom for her people, I reckoned. It was love at first light. Her luminous, heavenly-white teeth flashed as she pawed at me with her film star nails. Her hair was a glorious tumble of star beam-gold and her virility-brown eyes set my heart a-thump. Her oxbow lips positively drooled with goodness. Oh! Those sugar candy-sweet lips, her elegant personality, all mesmerized me. She may not have had a saccharine voice or retro clothes, but what do you expect when two Labrador pups meet in a dog pound?


                                        LEVEL 4: ADVANCED PARAGRAPHS

Her Amazonian figure sat well on her wafer-thin body. She had a decanter shaped waist and her complexion had an impeccable, ochrous hue. Her pencil-thin eyebrows eased down gently to her black, beetle’s-leg eyelashes. A sculptor could not have fashioned her seraph’s ears and pixie’s nose any better.

When she broke into a smile, her beguiling, oyster-white teeth lit up the room. It could jolt you like an electric current when that megawatt smile gave you her full attention. Filed to perfection, her Venus-red fingernails ran through her nougat-brown hair. Spools of it plunged around her photogenic face and hid a swan’s neck, elegant and smooth. I loved her nebulous, Eden-green eyes which were a-sparkle with the ‘joie de vivre’. They were like two beryl-green jewels melted onto snow.

Her calamine-pink lips tasted like rose petals. It surprised me that they were plump and botox-boosted as she had a demure, timorous personality. She whispered to me in a dulcet voice as sweet as any songbird. Her voguish clothes still kept captive an aroma redolent of cinnamon and meadow-fresh mint. It lingered in the room long after she had gone.







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Best Creative Writing Books   Leave a comment


The best creative writing books inspire ideas in a writer. I’m hoping that my descriptive writing book can do the same. I categorised ‘Writing with Stardust’ in 5 different Levels of ability and below there are sample sentences from all five Levels, starting with the most advanced. I hope you enjoy them and, hopefully, the sentences will make you think about the different ways of expressing ideas.

1. The mist gave us a hint that we were still in the nether world between night and day. It lingered over the river like a phantom’s veil. Soundless, voiceless and soulless, it slowly slid away.    LEVEL 5- RIVERS

2. Above it, the sky leered down at us with a manacle-grey hue, like an ashen face. It seemed to compress down upon our minds, such was its throttling effect. Our hearts became heavy as both sky and mountain entombed us with an alien emptiness.    LEVEL 5- MOUNTAINS

3. We realised that we were standing in the gateway of paradise. The siren call of the sea was soothing, the wave music welcome. It was like being wrapped in comforting cellophanes of warm sounds and soft light.    LEVEL 4- BEACHES

4. Wagtails were bobbing and dipping on a rock, foraging for juicy flies. The tip of the rock pierced the rhapsody-pool like the upturned nose of a dwarf. Run off water tingled the rock as it seeped away, distilled as pure and clear as an angel’s tears.    LEVEL 4-WATERFALLS

5. Out on the lake, flopping trout were slapping the surface. They were hoping to catch one of the squadron of flies that buzzed about. The heaven-leaking light added a golden tint to the face of the lake and it was paradise.    LEVEL 3-LAKES

6. Plinking and pattering off the leaves, then fading into memory, the rain energized the flora. It left behind a world baptized and rebirthed by its liquid grace. Song thrushes trilled as the spectre-silver moon began to wane and the fog of flowers in the meadow slowly revealed itself. We could smell their aromas hovering in the air.  SPRING-LEVEL 3

7. The night sky was juniper-purple. The sound of intoning bees filled the air. The stars were glowing like beacons for the lost souls of the world. A feathered medley echoed through the trees. The garlic smell of ramsons drifted through the air.    SUMMER-LEVEL 2

8. The blazing-brown dome of leaves gave off a nice glow. Owls haunted and hunted through moon-splashed trees. We were spooked by their swivelling heads and lamp round eyes. A perfumery of scents hazed through the forest. The ravishing taste of freshly baked bread stayed in our memories.    AUTUMN- LEVEL 2

9. The empty skies were silent. BARREN SKIES

Winter squeezes everything to death. CHOKING WINTER

Peppery scents filled the room. SMELL

Our quivering bodies were cold. SENSATION

The seasoned vegetables were delicious. TASTE          WINTER-LEVEL 1


10. He had serpentine eyes. ANIMAL EYES

2. They were flaming with hatred. EVIL EYES

3. He had wintry eyes. COLD EYES

4. His voice was as lonely as a tomb. HEARTLESS VOICE

5. He had a greasy voice. SNAKY VOICE                   MONSTERS-LEVEL 1

‘WRITING WITH STARDUST’ by Liam O’ Flynn is now available to buy on Amazon.

Please check out  Writing with Stardust by clicking the book title or images beneath..


The ‘WRITING WITH STARDUST WORKBOOK’ by Liam O’ Flynn is now available to buy on Amazon also.
















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Best Descriptive Sentences   55 comments


This post is a collection of some of the best sentences from 10 of my blog posts. They can also be found in my new book ‘Writing with Stardust’. To see the book and its accompanying workbook, just click the title: Writing with Stardust.

I hope you enjoy the post and I will upload another selection soon. With luck the sentences will inspire ideas for your writing. Take care for now. Liam.


1. It was womb quiet by the stream and even the moth-flutter had died down.

2. Pebbles whisked about in the underwash like little pieces of glitter.

3. A galaxy of dragonflies fizzed through the beams of light, wings a-glirr in the magical space between river and air.


1. The river was a fragile, universe-blue colour, like the subtle sweep of a painter’s brush.

2. The trout arced into the air, his body glistening, performing the ballet of the river. With a plunking sound, he darted back to the shadowed depths, his catch already safe in his spotted belly.

3. The mist faded, allowing the Technicolor of nature to be turned up like a light switch.


1. The autumn sky was as bright as Zeus’ eyes. Nary a cloud blemished its bliss-blue complexion and the sun was like a glowing medallion pinned to a sheet of white paper.

2. Branched lightning lit up the Stygian sky. It was like liquid, golden ore streaks were being forged into forks above my head.

3. Wriggling and writhing with the pain of its existence, it flashed once, glossy and polished, like the cold, gold prongs of the Apocalypse.


1. The fire’s lambent light stole away the velvet-black shadows dancing on the wall.

2. Thyme-filled turkeys sizzled on the oven foil.

3. An angel was perched on top of the tree, glittering with its flash-silver lustre.


1. The emptiness in my soul matches the spiritless sky and the featureless waterscape around me.

2. I am floundering in a sea of divine-blue quicklime and there’s no escape.

3. The moon casts down splinters of Solomon-gold, making the sea-crests sparkle like elf light.


1. Fog-tinted fairy trees stand alone in fields, noosed by coils of dragon breath.

2. Owl light replaces daylight as autumn comes to a close. The seething energy of the forest becomes vow silent as promises to nature are kept.

3. A weak pitter-patter is heard, but is not the sound of children’s feet. It is the centuries-old, hissing drip of raindrops in caves.


1. The horizon seemed to be stitched with a line of silver.

2. The seagulls wheeled and arced, their raucous cries ringing off the cliff. There was a strange glamour to their timeless call as they soared between the wands of God-goldened light.

3. A single yacht bobbed and lolled in the incoming tide, like a toy in a bath. Its lights winked saucily as the wave-crests rose gently.


1. A broad span of Tuscany-blue sky was slashed above the lake, making it appear like nature’s amphitheatre.

2. Tolkein-esque ferns swayed beside a brook that spiralled down from a turf moor.

3. At the bottom, smooth-edged stones glowed amber with a witchery uncommon to the modern world.


1. Spring is glee. It’s a fizzy tonic, like a slowly overflowing bottle of bubbling joy.

2. Thumb-plump bumblebees, wings a-thrum, loot from honeypots of mustard-yellow flowers.

3. Overhead, an exodus of banished birds appears as if out of a Celtic fairytale.


1. A sol-fa of song erupts as the stars fade away, the ancient alchemy of the dawn chorus.

2. The perpetual skies of summer are buckled with clouds and they flare up in a luminous, neon-blue when the mood takes them.

3. A goulash of scents twirls above the satin soft petals and the pear sweet taste in the air is a blessed joy.

Now here are 10 of my favourite words to use in an essay on nature. Some words just ‘do’ it for you. Having said that, they have a pleasing sound also. This is called a ‘phonoaesthetic’ quality. I had to put in ‘wood sorrel’. For some reason, it’s always fascinated me. Maybe it is because it’s an edible plant. Anyway, here are the words. You can also look up my hundred favourite words to use in an essay by clicking here:


1. languorous-

2. thaumaturgy

3. incarnadine

4. magnetism

5. sorbet

6. opaline

7. arcipluvian

8. phosphorescence

9. cosmic

10. wood sorrel

(……and my favourite word of all time is frazil-silver. Frazil is the old word for the ice crystals tumbling down a mountain stream.)  It’s difficult to beat that.

To get the most comprehensive descriptive book on the market, click here and all will be revealed: Writing with Stardust.

I hope you enjoyed the post.



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