The Writing Life and Publication News

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, the images are from Pixabay.

Facebook – General

I drafted this post on my way to a Writers’ Day (19th October 2019) run by the Association of Christian Writers. (I’m their Membership Secretary). I do love a good train journey and Evernote! I adjusted to using a stylus quicker than I thought I would too.

The event itself will be good fun and it will be nice catching up with friends too. Am enjoying seeing the sun rise over the Hampshire countryside as I draft this. Will be seeing the sun set on my way home. (And I did. It was lovely).

Writing wise, I’ll have a story up on Cafelit tomorrow so look forward to sharing the link for that.

I’m also looking forward to seeing the next production by The Chameleon Theatre Group called My Husband’s Nuts next week. Should be fun. Review to follow in due course.

Am making progress on projects I’m working on but why is progress never as quick as.I’d like it to be?! Oh well says she, pressing onwards!

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Publication News

Delighted to say The Best of Cafelit 8 is now available in paperback as well as in ebook form. Reviews welcome, as always!

I have two flash stories in here – The Art Critic and Dignity and Injustice. Very different moods for those two as well! Great collection of stories so if you’re not sure what you fancy reading next, try this assortment! You’ll find something to suit…! Lovely eclectic mix of authors, styles, and moods. (Pleased to say Cafelit 8 is now up on my Amazon Author Page too!). Thanks to my recent CFT series on What Books Mean to Me I can share some of the images of the authors in Cafelit 8 but do check the book out and catch up on all the authors included here. There is a great mix of styles but you don’t just have to take my word for it!

Also thrilled to share my latest story on Cafelit called Takeover. The thrill of being published in print, online or both never dims!

 

Facebook – General

Favourite moment in editing? When you know the changes you’ve made have strengthened your story/book and your only regret is not having spotted the necessary changes when you were drafting the tale in the first place.

The one thought that has always cheered me up here is that nobody writes a perfect first draft. Shakespeare didn’t. Dickens didn’t. I’m not going to – so that’s okay then. What matters is the edit. And it does pay to take your time over it, leave the work for a while, before then re-reading the piece as a reader would.

Least favourite moment in editing? Checking for typos and then spotting one after you’ve gone through the document several times. The one comfort here is that this happens to us all at some point so you’re definitely not alone!

 

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S = Spellbinding characters make you have to find out what happens to them so you keep reading.
T = Tall tales, flash fiction stories – there’s something for every word count!
O = Originality. I find it fascinating how writers create unique characters and keep doing so and, of course that is a challenge to me too.
R = Reading – the other side of writing. Two wonderful creative arts in one in many ways. You have to read well to be able to write. Name a better way of working out how a book works, how characters come across on the page etc.
I = Inventiveness. I love inventing new people and situations to put them in. Exercising the imagination regularly like this has to be good for the brain – and your writing muscles.
E = Entertainment – stories cover the whole range. Some are entertained via tragedy, others via humour, crime, historical fiction. There are plenty of wonderful books out there. And don’t forget the anthologies – flash fiction and short stories. Perfect for quick reads.
S = Setting. Via a book, I can visit fantasy worlds, places on this planet I may or may not get to see for myself, places I’ve never heard of – does this give another meaning to losing yourself in a good book? You can lose yourself in an enthralling setting. The world of The Lord of the Rings is a good example (though I admit I’d never visit Mordor out of choice if that option was available).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I was listening to the gloriously peaceful music of Sailing By on Classic FM as my train left Basingstoke when I drafted this earlier today (on my way to the ACW Writers’ Day mentioned earlier). Quite a contrast in images there! Flowing water, sunny days, and a big town!

Contrasting images can work well in flash fiction but, due to the word count limits, contrasts are best shown sharply. You are flashing a brief light on the lives of your characters to your readers when all is said and done. So what is the contrast they must pick up on? Focus on that.

For the longer flash stories, there may be room for subtle contrasts to come in but again focus only on what your reader needs to pick up. You still won’t have room for more than that. Flash is all about focus (which is why it is a great discipline for any writer).

 

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Places I have drafted flash fiction stories:-

1. At home on laptop (very conventional!).
2. On the train on Evernote.
3. In a notebook using good old pen and paper while waiting for my phone to recharge! (There is much to still be said for pen and paper).
4. On a car journey.
5. Just the once – at the end of a church service, I had a very strong idea for a story which I knew I just had to write down a few notes about so I could write it up properly later. I usually hear my characters speaking, then visualise them. For this story, it was the other way round. Yes, it does have a faith based theme but I just had a very strong compulsion to get this story idea down quickly – so I did, using Evernote.
6. When I’ve got ten minutes before I have to go out anywhere… well it’s useful writing time and I flesh up the stories properly later on.
7. At writing conferences when I’ve been set a writing exercise. Nearly all of mine turn into a first draft af flash fiction.

I have NEVER followed the advice to keep a notebook by the bed to jot down thoughts that occur over night. This, I know, simply wouldn’t work for me. I sleep very heavily as a rule and don’t often dream so this is a no-go. I am never at my best first thing anyway so any notes jotted down would make no sense to me yet alone anyone else!

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Why do I like using the first person in flash fiction so much?

1. It’s immediate. I can take you right into the thoughts (and attitudes) of my characters.

2. It reads like a first-hand account (which from the character’s viewpoint is, of course, the case!).

3. I can get my character to refer to other characters and give a sense of a life being lead without actually bringing those other characters into the story itself. It saves on word count, obviously, but if I just need to show Character X hates Character Y, I can show you that by revealing X’s thoughts about them. I don’t need to bring in Y at all. It is more direct and, to me, comes across as more natural.

4. I find first person works really well in the sub-500 words stories so it does tend to be my “go to” when I specifically want to write to that limit or under.

5. There isn’t a lot of room for dialogue and character development in flash fiction. Flash is, as I mentioned the other day, all about focus and I’ve found it best to focus on one to two characters at most in a sub-500 words story. In sub-250 words, one character works very well (and therefore the means of showing their story is often best done via the mouth of the character concerned).

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Goodreads Author Blog – Travel Reading

I tend not to read much while travelling. I’m usually drafting blog posts and stories on my phone for one thing! But I like to take a good mix of good reads for when I get to my destination.

I prefer light reads when away. I am escaping from the usual routine so want to escape through books too. I’m currently enjoying Ben Macintyre’s The Last Word on Kindle which takes a light look at the use of language and is good fun. Highly recommend.

I also loved his Operation Mincemeat. Not a light read so to speak but a cracking and true story told at a great pace.

What do you look for in a good read?

I like to be entertained, escape my cares for a bit, and ideally learn something too.

When reading fiction, I learn something from how the characters are portrayed, how the dialogue is put together etc. I get so much from books and hope you do too.

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