The Writing Life – and Publication News

Image Credit:  As ever, all images, unless stated, are from Pixabay

 

Facebook – General

I thought I would look at what reading non-fiction has done for me.

I was a huge fan of the Simon Schama History of Britain TV series so got the books too. They are a fascinating read both in terms of content and how they are structured. Lots of useful pointers there for a writer.

I love guide books. Whenever I visit a historical place, I always get the guide book (and usually a nice pen too!). I learn so much from the contents but also from the human interest stories that often form part of these and how they fit into the factual narrative. Again, things to learn about blending material there.

I sometimes read specific books around a subject but I also love dipping into encyclopedias and other reference books (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is a favourite) and seeing what I find out! It is a lot of fun exploring avenues here and makes you think along ways you wouldn’t have planned. Ideas for stories and blog posts do spark from doing things like this. Give it a go. If nothing else, you expand your reading!

Pleased to bits to have my first review for From Light to Dark and Back Again on Amazon.com – the simplest thing people can do to support authors is to review their books. Reviews don’t have to be long either. Honesty about what you liked (or didn’t) is key.

So please, please review!

Also pleased to say that the Kindle version of The Best of Cafelit 8 is now available. There will be a paperback later in the year. My flash stories Dignity and Injustice and The Art Critic are here. The book is now on my Author Central page.

Last but not least, I’ve finally sent off a pitch for an idea I’ve been working on. Got to have the old hat in the ring after all to be a contender!

Do I still get nervous about submitting new work? Oh yes. Do rejections still leave me feeling flat? Oh yes. But, over time, you do get used to this being a normal part of a writer’s life. You do dust yourself down, look at your idea again, think about reworking it and so on.

Sometimes when an answer is no, the real answer is not yet or not here. What you can’t know when you submit material is whether similiar ideas have been received by whoever it is you’re submitting work to and so, of course, they can’t have something that is too like work they’ve already accepted. Park the idea, revisit it later, and if you can think of a suitable alternative market, go for it. The worst that can happen is they say no but, even after all the years I’ve been writing, you still have to fight the nerves and get that work out there!

Of course, you can’t beat the feeling when you receive acceptances! I only wish I could bottle it.

Open Prose Mic Night Swanwick 2019 - image by Penny Blackburn

I read The Art Critic at Swanwick earlier this year. Many thanks to Penny Blackburn for the picture.

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Love having my creations around me! Image by Adrian Symes

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My flash fiction collection. Image taken by Allison Symes.

that lightbulb moment is a wonderful one for writers - pixabay

The lightbulb moment of inspiration for writers is wonderful. Pixabay image.

much easier to cut and paste and edit on one of these - pixabay

Write to screen but edit on paper. Pixabay image.

Glad to report The Best of Cafelit 8 is now up on my Amazon Author Page (see link above). Looks good on there! (Am also looking forward to the paperback coming out later in the year and the Bridge House Publishing event in December. Always good fun).

How do you find writing works for you when you’re tired? I find that shorter pieces of writing perk me up and I save the marathon sprints for when I have more energy. I do get ratty if I can’t write at all as those nearest to me would testify.

I have got to write something creative even if it is just the outline for a flash fiction story. Having said that, once I get started, I find the creative instinct takes over and often I’ll get to the end of a session having written more than I thought I would. So that cheers me up no end. Mondays ARE the worst day of the week for me for this. Do you have any bugbear writing days? How do you manage them?

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My favourite part of writing is when I’m drafting a character’s thoughts. Why? Because I can get the character to show something of themselves without them being aware of it! It is the reader who will make judgements about the character based on what they read of their thoughts and actions.

I also like writing thoughts because they can be a great way of a character revealing what they think of themselves and what they feel other characters think about them. They don’t have to be right on either of these! (There’s potential for comedy or tragedy there).

Also characters will think things they would never say out loud to anyone else (just as we do) and there can be fun to had there as a reader “watches” a character struggle to keep their real feelings for another character hidden.

If you think someone is a dingbat but they’re your boss, you’re going to think twice about saying so AND know you’ll have to suppress how you really feel to make sure nothing embarrassing unwittingly is “let out”.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do the seasons affect what you write? I can’t say I’ve noticed anything here but I can imagine it may be easier to write a darker tale when all is dark and gloomy outside. (You’ve at least got the atmospheric setting for it!).

Having said that, I often write cheerier stories during the darker months because I like something to cheer me up and I figure readers would like that too!

From a practical viewpoint, when the weather is awful, the lure of being at my desk in the warm with hot drinks on the go is too tempting to resist so I don’t! There is much to be said for bad weather increasing productivity!

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Managed to do some writing while I was away in glorious Northumberland for a week. As well as my blog posts, I’ve drafted two new flash fiction stories (of the circa 500 words variety. I know, that’s going on a bit by my standards! Good fun to write though).

Pleased to say The Best of Cafelit 8 is now out on Kindle. It is now on my Amazon Author Central page (see links shared earlier). My flash tales Dignity and Injustice and The Art Critic are in there. Very different moods too just on those two stories. What I love about the Cafelit collections is the range of styles and moods of tales they have. (Paperback will be out later in the year).

I’m a great advocate of short story and flash fiction collections for the obvious reason I am sometimes in them (!) but also because they are a fabulous way to get a feel for a writer’s work. Give them a go!

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I was away last week in gorgeous Northumberland and the scenery was amazing. The dog loved the stunning coastline and we all did plenty of walking.

I don’t usually go in for a lot of descriptions in my stories. There isn’t the room for them in flash fiction but if I ever set a story on a windswept beach with stunning views, then you can take it I was referring to either Dunnet in Scotland (right on the top edge of the country) or Duridge Bay in Northumberland! Would love to revisit both places next year.

Where setting is invaluable for a writer is where it is almost a character in its own right. Check out the crime writing series for great examples of these (Morse = Oxford is probably the best known). Mordor hangs over Frodo Baggins long before he gets anywhere near it. The latter is a great example as the very name Mordor implies dread and darkness. Well it does for me anyway.

(Oh and for Part 3 of my What Books Mean to Me series on Chandler’s Ford Today this week I will be featuring, amongst others, two Scottish crime writers who very much use their settings as a vital part of their stories. More later in the week).

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What is your favourite kind of character?

I like characters that can surprise me even though I created them.

I like characters who might seem a bit dodgy but really do have good hearts. (It may be a cliche but it’s one I love. I also think we need far more good hearted people in this world – can we ever have enough of them? I think not).

I love characters who can make me laugh. The character who is good at one-liners will always go down well with me, even if they’re a villain. (‘And cancel Christmas’ – Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a great example of that kind of character).

I love the underdog who becomes the hero/heroine. I like supporting characters who understand their role is to support the lead and don’t resent that. (Sam Gamgee of The Lord of the Rings and Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series are great examples there).

So what kind of characters do you really love to read about and, better still, write for?

 

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Goodreads Author Blog – Holiday Reading

I drafted this just as I was packing up to come home from a fabulous week in Northumberland. Lots of walking and wonderful scenery.

As ever, I took lots to read, read some of it, and fell asleep far too quickly.

My best opportunities for reading came before an evening meal and even then I had to fight the urge to nod off. I blame the gloriously fresh northern air!

I mixed up the reading I did do. Naturally I took the Kindle, magazines, and paperbacks.

Do you find you read more or less when away?

I don’t usually buy specific holiday reading as I see holiday time as a chance to reduce my To Be Read pile a bit. It’s another matter whether I’m successful or not!

What matters though is whether you can read for five minutes a day or five hours a day, you ARE reading!

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