Books, Books, Books!

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I suspect I’m preaching to the converted with the title for this post but never mind!

Books have been a vital part of my life since goodness knows when but I’ve only been writing since I turned 30…. X number of years ago!! Quite a considerable number of years in fact but not so many as when I first discovered the joys of reading and would spend many a happy hour in the local library.

Why did it take me so long to make the connection between “you really love books and stories” and “you really like writing your own stories” so you should become a writer? Goodness knows. Looking back on it, it is daft I didn’t start writing sooner but the main thing is I am writing now!

My advice to anyone pondering if they should write or not is to give it a go and have fun creating characters and stories. Whether you then try to get published is up to you. There’s nothing wrong with just writing for your own satisfaction. What matters is you’re writing and loving it.

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I loved watching the TV series of Black Beauty when I was a kid. That encouraged me to read the book by Anna Sewell. Southern TV, as it was back then, adapted some of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books and I loved those too. Pity they lost the franchise because that ended the series pronto!

So a good TV adaptation can encourage people to get back to the books, which is very much A Good Thing! This also happened with me with Oliver Twist. Alec Guinness and Oliver Reed were superb as Fagin and Bill Sykes. Had to read the book after watching the film.

With The Lord of the Rings, I had read the trilogy first. The magic of those films was bringing to life the images I had conjured up in my head of what Middle Earth looked like. (I still like the look of the hobbit holes. I’m about the right height to live in one too!).

I love it when creative media feeds off AND benefits other creativity like this.

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So terribly sad to see the news about Notre Dame. I hope the damage is as limited as possible. Also that restoration can take place as soon as possible too.

On to other things…

The only time I specifically write to a theme is when entering competitions. I’ve usually got a character in mind when I’m thinking about a new flash fiction story and work out, from their main characteristics, what theme would best suit them. I can’t say whether this is the right or wrong way to do things but I do know it works for me.

My other use of themes is to trigger ideas for a new story and then I spend some time working out which kind of character would best suit it. If I can’t work out a suitable character I don’t write the story.

For me it is all about the characters, always.

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I suppose my first introduction to short stories must have been the Reader’s Digest Collections of Fairytales, which I still have.

I was never conscious of this when reading these books (over and over and over and over again etc!) though I do recall being stunned at how long The Little Mermaid was and that it really didn’t have a happy ending. That was an eye opener for me. I didn’t know stories could be like that!

I also loved The Snow Queen with Gerda being the “action lead”. That was an eye opener too. Here was a girl off having all kinds of adventures to rescue her neighbour from said Snow Queen (and the splinter of the evil mirror in his heart). Loved that on first reading.

Here is where you meet ideas for future characters of your own – by reading widely and discovering them in other stories, then wondering what YOU could do with a character like that. You then wonder what setting YOU would put them in and what adventures/problems YOU set them. YOU wonder how your characters would sound and act and react and all of this comes together, creating a story that is uniquely yours. Writing and reading are truly wonderful things.

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The Book Depository UK has FLTDBA listed as available within 2-3 business days. Amazon currently has it available as one month plus! I don’t know why this happens but it does pay to check out online retailers for availability, whether it is in books or anything else!

And I will put in another word about reviews. They really do help authors. Amazon sit up and take notice if you have 50 reviews. If you’re not sure what to write, one line saying what you liked (or loathed) about the book is sufficient. It is a great irony that even a review where someone didn’t like s book still helps the author of that book when it comes to the “numbers game”.

My own policy for reviews, whether it is for groceries or books, is to have a good look through what people have said. Usually there is a consensus and I can then go with that or not as I see fit but I find reviews a useful guide when I’m on the other side of the fence. So please do review! Thanks!

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I sometimes use alliteration in my flash fiction titles (Pen Portrait, Telling The Time etc) but I haven’t deliberately done this. In each case the title has been the right one for the story and the alliteration is a nice side effect!

I also think it is better to have things that way round rather than try to think of a clever title and try to make the story fit it. I can never see how that would work. Something would feel artificial about it.

I have to have a title to work to when writing a story (of any length) but I will change it if something better pops into my head as I’m working on the first draft. I use my titles to help me set the mood for a story. I sometimes use titles which can have a secondary meaning that the story makes clear.

The important thing is that the title suits the story.

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Once I’ve got a flash fiction collection written and edited, I spend some time working out what would be the best “running order” for the stories. This can take some time but it’s worth it.

From Light to Dark and Back Again lives up to its name (!) but the big plus with that was it helped me group stories beautifully!

The reason for all of this? I don’t just want my individual stories to make an impact on a reader. I want the book as a whole to do so too so taking a step back and planning what stories goes where helps enormously with that.

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What is the worst aspect of writing flash fiction?

For me, it’s coming up with a character with a strong enough voice. Once I’ve got that (after some outlining), I can set that character wherever I want and away they go!

It’s not enough for a character to be pushy or what have you. There has got be strong enough reason for them to be like that. Give them this and you will take the reader with you even though the reading journey for flash fiction is necessarily a short one!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Playing with Genre

With my flash fiction, I like to play with genre a lot. As flash fiction has to be character led due to the strict word count, I can have great fun putting that character wherever and whenever I want. I’ve written fantasy flash fiction, historical flash fiction, crime flash fiction etc as a result.

I’ve read excellent collections by other authors too. Some focus on one genre. The Great War by Dawn Kentish Knox is a great example of a themed historical flash fiction collection. Do check it out. The characterisation is very moving.

But it is not just in the flash and short story form that genre can be played with, far from it.

I love the crossover novel. It blends the best of the two (usually) genres it is mixing and gives something unique to the reader as a result. A good example to check out here is Jennifer C Wilson’s Kindred Spirits series which crosses ghost stories with historical fiction. Great mix!

I think readers are much more flexible over this than writers/publishers realise at times. I know what I like when I read it even if I can’t categorise it! And while categories ARE important, I don’t think they’re meant to be straitjackets either.

Have fun with your reading/writing and mix those genres!

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Fairytales and “Planned” Writing

Have had a lot of fun with slideshows on my Facebook author page this week!

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Loved the Royal Wedding. Loved the music and the sermon especially. A modern fairytale? Absolutely fine by me.

Ironically, I think one thing that can be overlooked about fairytales by some is the fact that they are based on a sound knowledge of human nature. The classic fairytales call a spade a spade when it comes to jealousy, cruelty etc. There is no pretence about the fate Snow White faced at the hands of the Wicked Queen, or that Cinderella really loved being treated the way she was by her stepmother and stepsisters.

Fairytales, I think, can be amongst some of the most honest fiction there is when it comes to holding a mirror up and reflecting what humanity can be like.

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Looking forward to taking part in the Hursley Park Book Fair next month. I’ll also be giving a talk on flash fiction as part of this. Will be posting more details a little nearer the time (here and via Chandler’s Ford Today).

Pleased I’ve sent off two flash fiction stories for the Bridport Prize. (Nothing ventured, nothing gained). Getting quite a few stories together now for a future third collection, which is great. I also hope to spend some time on non-fiction later this year too. Always good to have plenty to be getting on with writing wise!

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I like a mixture of planned writing to a topic and “free” writing. These posts are always in the latter category as, with the exception of flagging up my CFT posts, I never know quite what I’ll be writing until a few minutes before I get started. It keeps it fresh!

For CFT and other blogs, I do have to think well ahead for topics. How far ahead depends on how much research I need to do and things like the date the post will go out. For example, I know when the Fryern Funtasia will be each year so that tells me what my post for that week will be.

I like the mixture of planning and NOT planning – it keeps me on my toes! As for my flash fiction, I brainstorm opening lines every so often but deliberately don’t write the stories up until later. I want to give myself some thinking time here. I then set aside time (often on a train journey!) to get on and write those stories down. I know the theme, how I’m starting and likely possibilities of where that opening line can take me but that’s all. And away I go!

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My CFT post later this week will be the last in my series 101 Things to Put Into Room 101. I’ve had no trouble whatsoever coming up with 101 things… that DOES say a lot about me/human nature in general I think.

Will be talking about flash fiction at the Hursley Park Book Fair in June. Hursley Park is the home of IBM and is a well known landmark between Hursley and Winchester. Looking forward to this a lot. A number of local writers will be taking part – and the event is free and there is parking! More details a bit nearer the time. (Will be the biggest event I’ve taken part in to date).

Writing wise, do you find it easiest to have a good opening line to “peg” your story to or have a cracking ending that you work backwards from to get to the start point? I use both methods and like them both, though numerically I’ve written more from the starting point of a good opening line. I suppose it does feel more natural to write a story that way.

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Busy preparing a couple of flash fiction pieces for a competition. Been a while since I submitted competition entries (not deliberately, you know how it is. You become engrossed with other writing work etc). Want to do better on this front so am starting to make diary notes to remind me to do it.

Really pleased that my last competition entry, for the Waterloo Festival anthology, did well and will be included in that ebook when it comes out. Naturally I shall post about it nearer the time!

I’ve been making greater use of my writing diary since earlier this year for sending in work to Cafelit and that has worked well. Why is it that almost making an appointment with yourself to do something like this can and does make all the difference to whether you actually do it or not?

I suppose it is because seeing it in the diary makes me block out time to actually get the job done. I need to block out more time!

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What do you like most about flash fiction? I love being able to suggest a whole world in a few words and leave readers to fill in the gaps. I really enjoy having the boot on the other foot as well and filling in the gaps my fellow flash authors leave in their stories. I don’t want the writer doing all the work for me and so I try in my writing to make sure I’m not doing that.

Having the reader fill in the gaps keeps them hooked and reading your stories! The main thing to remember is to make sure they have the crucial points they will need to know to able to fill in those gaps.

Use what you know of our natural world and blend it with some imagination to create your own fictional one - image via Pixabay

Use what you know of our world and your imagination to create something really special. Image via Pixabay

Humans are immensely creative - image via Pixabay

Let those ideas flow! Image via Pixabay,

The fantastic world of books must include non-fiction too - image via Pixabay

The wonderful world of writing should include non-fiction, which benefits from creative techniques too. Image via Pixabay.

A wonderful palette of colours - image via Pixabay

A wonderful palette of colours. Image via Pixabay.

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Grow as a writer? Grow your reading! Image via Pixabay

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What impact do your stories have on your readers? Image via Pixabay

Themes pour out of good books - image via Pixabay

Let the writing flow and if music can help it along even better! Image via Pixabay

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There can be reality behind fairytales. Image via Pixabay (and image used as part of book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again)

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Flash fiction for impact. Image via Pixabay

 

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Need to send more material off for flash fiction competitions. Have just sent off two new stories for the Bridport Prize. Would love to have a shortlisting there. I know, who wouldn’t?!😀

Am pleased with the stage I’m at for a potential third flash fiction book. Going on all those train journeys has helped no end! Alas, I’m not due on a train again for a while…

I find when I’m writing the stories, I tend to write a “batch”, then have to switch back to non-fiction for while, before getting on with the next “batch”. Not sure why that is but I have found switching like this keeps me alert to the challenges of both forms of writing. The other advantage, of course, is there is zero chance of becoming bored!

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What is your favourite way of opening a flash fiction story? I am very fond of using the first person and taking you straight into the character’s head. In the space of a few words, you will know what that character is like and what dilemma they’re facing. I like efficiency (and you have to be spot on here when writing flash).

The other major way I use to start a story is to set the scene quickly. For example, from Pressing the Flesh, I start with “It was 3 am. The neighbours were sleeping”. (I would hope they were incidentally but this tells you that the character has somehow made sure of this point. That should immediately make you want to know why they would do that and what on earth they’re up to!).

 

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Do you set out to write a collection of stories based on a specific theme or wait and see what emerges from the stories you have written? FLTDBA was really a case of the latter, though I did surprise myself a bit at how many of my stories involved rough/poetic justice of some kind!

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way here incidentally. It’s just I can’t see myself writing to a specific mood of story. You do have to write with conviction, whether you are writing funny tales or deeply serious ones. I suppose the answer if you prefer to write to a theme is to set one which is fairly broad and can be interpreted in different ways/moods/settings to give yourself as much flexibility as possible. I do know you’d need that! Writing can be hard enough without putting too narrow a restriction on yourself.

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Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

This post has been inspired by the Royal Wedding (which I loved). I suspect there will be a book about it before long! There was a lot of talk during the commentaries about modern fairytales, which is fine with me. I’m all for fairytales, ancient and modern. My first reading love was the classic fairytales.

Thinking about it further, maybe children are drawn to the classic fairytales because they know they are honestly written?

Your average fairytale does not pull any punches about exposing what is wrong. There is no pretence Snow White didn’t face an awful fate at the hands of the Wicked Queen. There is no “acceptance of her situation” by Cinderella! Change has to happen, injustices need to be righted, but in this world some magic is needed to make that happen.

Now if we could only make it happen in this one! Mind, if I could bring my fictional fairy godmothers and the like to life, they’d have a huge shopping list of things to put right, so it is probably just as well I can’t.

Back to the reading and writing of books then!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAIRYTALES, TRUTH, AND NETWORKING

Now there’s a combination!

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My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is called Networking Tips. Fellow Chapeltown Books author, Mandy Huggins, and I both share our thoughts on networking here and we hope you find the post useful. Many thanks to her for her pictures. Also a big thank you to Paula Readman for kind permission to use the picture of Dawn Knox, Paula and I which was taken at the Bridge House celebration event last December.

I remember being so scared of the thought of having to network when I was first starting out as a writer. It was really only when I realised networking meant talking about something I love – books, stories etc (generally, as well as my own) – that I relaxed. Can I talk about these things? Yes! The problem can be stopping me! (But that is how it should be. I don’t see how you can commit to writing as a long term love unless you are enthuasiastic about stories. Given the ups and downs of a writer’s life, writing has to be thought of as a series of hopefully achievable goals over a reasonable period of time. There are no shortcuts).

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Questions I like to ask of my characters from time to time include:-

What would you say was your best trait?
What would you say was your worst one?
What drives you and why?

I inevitably don’t use all of what I come up with here in the stories themselves but have found having a good working knowledge of what my characters are really like makes it so much easier to write convincingly about/for them.

It is worth taking the time out to flesh out your thoughts here before you write your story. (Scrivener is great here with its character and setting outlines in its short story “mode” but you can create your own template of things you should know about your “people” before you write their stories down).

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What are your writing “likes”? Some of mine include:-

Decent one-liners that make me laugh.

A story that shows me motivations or stresses characters are under that I might not have considered before. For example murders are committed for serious reasons and to what appears to others to be trivial ones. Yet a good story will take you into the mind of that murderer and show why the trivial reason isn’t trivial to them.

Good, sharp pace with quiet bits in between giving me good background on the setting and characters, knowing said quiet bits are gearing the reader up for the next big scene.

A satisfactory ending, which is not the same as a happy one necessarily. The ending has to be right for the story and the main character. It won’t feel right if the match isn’t there.

Characters I can rally behind (or metaphorically boo for) but either reaction has to be genuine. I don’t want to see the author’s hand making their characters act in a certain way. The characters’ acting has to be realistic for those characters.

I love getting to the end of a story or novel and in a sense wishing neither had ended. Always a sign of a well told tale! Going back over a story/novel and picking up the bits I missed first go around. This is particularly true for a detective novel. I always miss some of the clues on the first read!

I like a happy ending where the hero/heroine has “earned” it. I also like to see villains get their comeuppance but again in a realistic manner. Villains generally are not going to fall apart. They can be caught out.

Every word to count… Funnily enough that doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be short but that each word is appropriate for the story being told. In P.G. Wodehouse’s stories so often he uses very long sentences (he’d never get away with it now!) but not a word is out of place and indeed especially when Wooster’s narrating the long-windedness is part of (a) the character’s charm and (b) the character’s characteristics!

Positive developments in characters, especially a character that goes on to make something good out of themselves.

I like pinpointing moments of change in a story and watching the drama unfold.

Feeling a slight sense of envy I didn’t write the story/novel I’ve enjoyed is a good sign – and nothing but a compliment to the actual author!

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It is only in looking back at stories that make up a collection, you really get to see what influences came out. FLTDBA has a nice mixture of influences – fairytales, nods to films, Frankenstein, poetic justice, and Pride and Prejudice to name just some.

I guess this shows why you should read widely (in whatever format and including non-fiction) because you are feeding your imagination. What drives you to write the stories you do? Your own influences/thoughts. Why have you got those influences and thoughts? Almost certainly thanks to things you have read that rang true for something deep inside your creative self.

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The right ending for a story is the one that is most appropriate for it. It doesn’t need to be happy necessarily. Indeed, quite a few of mine in From Light to Dark and Back Again are definitely not of the traditional happy ever after variety!

I remember being stunned when I first read Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. You expect everything to work out okay (after all, isn’t that how fairytales are supposed to turn out?) and then it doesn’t! And I won’t say more than that. No spoilers here. It does pay to read the fairytales. They’re often darker than people think and have more layers. The Little Mermaid is a tale of sacrifice when all is said and done.

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What do I most like about writing? Well, here’s a few thoughts.

Coming up with characters who spring to life and develop in front of your “eyes”.

Coming up with world(s) that fascinate you.

Coming up with villain(s) that fascinate you!

Coming up with hero(ines) that also fascinate but show why they are the good guys. They’ve got to have a good cause, literally.

Being able to write short length stories from flash to standard length (up to 2000 words) to novels to plays… the only limit is your imagination.

You can explore ideas.

You can discover ideas from the characters you develop, not just in terms of new story ideas, but you get to learn how your “people” think and why. Could it change how you feel about issues? Can be fun finding out!

Receiving feedback which helps you improve your work (this is not necessarily complimentary, though nice responses are obviously nice, but so you can see how well you “got through” to your reader).

Winning or being shortlisted for competitions is a huge morale boost.

Getting to talk about your work at writing festivals and enjoying hearing about others’ work. I love both aspects here. I think it’s like a kind of celebration of the work of the imagination.

Fairytales with Bite – Fairytales and Truth

I’m sure you must have come across at some point someone saying something like “it’s just a fairytale”.  That phrase has always annoyed me.  There is nothing “just” about a fairytale.

When examined closely, the vast majority of fairytales contain at least one element of truth in them (and often much more).  Yes, fairytales do tend to follow character type but there is a lot of truth in those.  What does the wicked witch represent?  Those who are prepared to use the power they’ve got to control others or who are prepared to do anything to gain power.  Who does the good fairy represent?  Those who use their powers for the good of others.  And that’s just to name two examples. We can all think of real life people who can fit into those categories so fairytales do reflect humanity as we know it.

Hans Christen Andersen showed that fairytales do not always have happy ever after endings.  (While it surprised me the first time I read his The Little Mermaid here, I have a greater appreciation now of the truthfulness of his characterisation and the way the story does end).  Fairytales can sometimes get across a certain amount of social commentary (again see Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Match Girl here).

So I do wish some people would stop being dismissive of fairytales.  There is a lot more to them than may at first be apparent.

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This World and Others – Networking In Your Stories

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is all about networking.  Fellow Chapeltown Books author, Mandy Huggins, and I share our thoughts on this and I hope you find it useful. But it led me to wonder what kind of networking goes on inside the world of our stories.

How do our characters meet each other?  Have they known each other for years?  What are the social networks in the worlds you’ve created?  What happens to those who defy convention here?

Our stories won’t necessarily spell out all of that but readers should know why the characters are interacting the way they do.  If they hate each other, that is bound to be a major factor in how your story develops and the reason for the hate should be shown.  (I don’t think you can ignore the fact they hate each other, it must be what is driving your story.  I can’t see how it would be otherwise).

Is there such a thing as an old boys’ network in your world?  Who benefits or suffers because of it?  Is there a class system and can people/beings cross the divides?  If your world just has one major species, there should be some sort of hierarchy within it.  How does this work?

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My latest CFT post. Mandy Huggins and I discuss networking. Image via Pixabay

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My flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books!

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Mandy’s flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books. Image kindly supplied by her.

Amanda Huggins reading from the Ink Tears showcase anthology Death of a Superhero at the launch party in London December 2017

Mandy Huggins – reading is a great way to network with your readers. Image kindly supplied by Mandy Huggins.

It is always good to meet readers and even better when they read you - image via JW

Networking with readers at the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair in 2017. Image from Janet Williams, CFT’s amazing editor.

Setting the mood classically perhaps - image via Pixabay

Setting the mood with music. Image via Pixabay

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Humans are immensely creative - image via Pixabay

Let those ideas flow! Image via Pixabay,

A familiar desk scene for writers - image via Pixabay

The familiar sight of the writing desk, regardless of genre! Image via Pixabay.

The best advice for any writer - image via Pixabay

Sound advice. Image via Pixabay

From diving board to keyboard via Pixabay

The keyboard beckons…

 

 

 

 

“Honest” Writing and Historical Fiction

Fairytales with Bite – Dismissing Fairytales – Why?

I’ve never understood why some people dismiss fairytales.  I’ve often come across comments like “oh that is just a fairytale”, “you shouldn’t take that seriously, it is just a fairytale” etc etc.  For me there is no “just” to a fairytale.  There is a lot of truth behind many, if not most of them.

I strongly suspect Hans Christen Andersen had witnessed seeing poor girls selling matches on the street, leading him to write The Little Match Girl.  There is a truth behind that story which I think comes across powerfully.  Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince to me conveys what I think Wilde would have liked to have seen happen.  The statue Prince in the tale knew his gold leaf would only be of benefit to people if it was taken off and given to poor people to sell so they could make ends meet.

So fairytales should be taken seriously I think.  They’re not just for kids.  Indeed the original versions of so many of the tales are not suitable for the under-18s.  Disney could never have filmed The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen originally wrote it.  There is no happy ending in the original.  The classic fairytales are carefully crafted stories (and/or reworkings of even older tales) and should be appreciated as an art form in their own right.

 

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Fairytales are not just “pie in the sky”.  Image via Pixabay

 

This World and Others – Honest Writing

In my CFT post tonight, I interview Gill James about her historical fiction and the issue of truthful writing came up as part of our discussions.  Gill made the very good point that sometimes fiction can pull out truths that strict facts cannot and, for me, a great example of this is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, which has made many people think again about what they think they know about Richard III.

Gill’s own book, The House on Schellberg Street, examines just what ordinary young German people may have known during Hitler’s rise to power and throughout World War Two.  (Many really did not want to be at war with Britain incidentally.  As well as having friends here, well we Brits are often known as Anglo-Saxons and of course the Saxons were from Saxony which is in Germany.  Our history goes back a very long way).

So what then is “honest” writing?  Is it just strict non-fiction based on verifiable fact?  I don’t think so.  It is writing which comes from the heart of the author and which conveys an important message (and without preaching.  To Kill a Mockingbird does this superbly. The horror of racism is conveyed brilliantly).   It is the author writing true to their characters regardless of how horrible or nice they are.  It can be the author sticking to their guns at times when it comes to how they want “their people” to be portrayed.

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Honest Writing will create ripples.  Image via Pixabay

Facebook: General & From Light to Dark and Back Again & Chandler’s Ford Today –

Writing Historical Fiction

In Part 1 of my Chandler’s Ford Today interview with Gill James about her historical fiction (The House on Schellberg Street), we talk, amongst other things about why invent historical stories when history itself is full of real ones?  An interesting topic I think.  Comments very welcome here and on the Chandler’s Ford Today website.  Part 2 next week will share Gill’s excellent advice for writers new to the genre of historical fiction.  Gill’s book is based on factual letters written by (as round robins) young German girl friends living during Hitler’s rise to power and throughout World War Two.  I read the book and felt a palpable sense of menace especially for one of the characters given, of course, I read with the benefit of hindsight, something the characters could not have.

 

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Gill’s book’s front cover.  Image kindly supplied by Gill.

 

 

Old letters - image via Pixabay

So much history is found in letters and postcards.  Image via Pixabay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHORT AND SWEET – OR NOT AS THE CASE MAY BE…

My posts are all flash fiction theme based tonight.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Flash Fiction and Fairytales looks at why I think these make for an incredibly good mix.  One thing I love about fairytales is they are direct and flash fiction, of course, forces you to write “tight” to meet strict word count requirements.

I share one ofmy stories, Living the Lie, in this post.  (I hope this story will be in my next collection).  A lot ofmy flash stories are my take on fairytales and this one is my take on Beauty and the Beast.  Hope you like it.

And why not have a go at writing flash?  One thing I have found (and From Light to Dark and Back Again reflects this) is that it can cover all genres.  (My book has fairytales, crime and light horror stories in them amongst others).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Short and Sweet – or Not as the Case May Be looks at the advantages of flash fiction and I discuss one of the methods I use when it comes to writing these.  I also discuss one huge advantage of flash fiction for all writers, regardless of genre and including non-fiction as well, is that it does force you to write tight.  That skill of course can transfer across to whatever it is you write (and is bound to improve it.  My stories and posts always improve when I write tight and cut out all the unnecessary words.  There are always more of those than you think/would like on a first draft!  Still the good thing is that is true for all writers!).

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I share a little of what is around my writing desk tonight and talk about why I think border collies are great dogs.  (I know it’s a strange mix but writing and dogs are a major part of my life and both are phenomenally important to me).  I managed to catch up with some reading today after a hectic week (most of which was not writing related unfortunately).  I don’t know quite what it is about reading but I do know it is good for you!

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Open a book, open a gateway into another world. Image via Pixabay.

Open a book, open a gateway into another world. Image via Pixabay.

 

 

Images from the magical world... Image via Pixabay

THEMES

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

One thing I love about fairytales (and fantasy in general) is that the themes the stories tackle are themes I adore.  For example, justice will happen eventually and monsters will be defeated.  I list five themes in Themes that particularly appeal to me.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Keep on Keeping On was one of my late mother’s favourite phrases and it emphasizes the need for persistence and not to give up easily.  That is vital for us as writers if we are not to be knocked back by rejections.  It is also crucial for our characters to be able to show real grit and persistence.

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I discuss what I like most All You Need to Know about Classical Music and why it is important writers are thoroughly nosey!

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The ultimate book circle perhaps? Image via Pixabay.

The ultimate book circle perhaps?  Certainly enough stories to start with! Image via Pixabay.

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

BOOKS FOR THE MAGICAL WORLD

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Books for the Magical World, I suggest what volumes would be likely to appear on people’s bookshelves.  I’ve excluded standard spell and charm books and the classic fairytales but have included things like Wand Size – Does it Matter? (one for the more insecure wizard I think) to Voice Coaching – How to Perfect that Cackle for the beginner fairytale witch who wants to get her “sound” right.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

How Important is Reading is one of those questions that have inspired reports, essays, academic papers and so on, so how can I answer it in a blog post?  By focusing on answering it from your characters’ viewpoint.  Do they read and, if so, what?  Do they try to read the books their society bans and so on?

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I discuss book and story formats tonight.  This follows on from my recent Chandler’s Ford Today post about the Blood and Valour comic book/graphic novel.  I like this kind of thing as these are splendid artworks in their own right and I feel an invaluable aid to coaxing in the reluctant reader.  I also discuss audio books.

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Main Cover - Blood and Valour. Image supplied by Eastleigh Borough Council.

Main Cover – Blood and Valour. Image supplied by Eastleigh Borough Council.  Glorious artwork and a great way of bringing in reluctant readers.

 

 

The world of the imagination should play a role in your stories. I can't imagine any world without some form of the arts. Image via Pixabay.

FAIRYTALES IN A FLASH

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Fairytales in a Flash shares my love of flash fiction and fairytales.  One lovely thing about flash is it is very flexible when it comes to genre.  In my upcoming book, From Light to Dark and Back Again (Chapeltown Books), I have stories which are borderline horror, others are crime tales, while the majority are fairytales with bite.  So have fun with the form – I have (and am now working on another flash fiction collection so intend to keep on having fun with it!).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

What Not to Say to a Writer is one of those posts that could attract lots of additional points to the ones I’ve made (feel free!).  I’ve listed the “where do you get your ideas?” and the “I’d write if I had more time” line but what can you come up with here?  For novelists, I’d add in something like “you’ve written one novel – is that all?”.  For all writers, why are there misunderstandings about how long it can take to produce a good story (and a good novel takes even longer)?  Has film and TV made everyone expect stories instantly?  (False premise if so, it takes ages to produce something that’s ready for broadcast).

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Today (5th December) was my 29th wedding anniversary.  Had a lovely day out with better half and the dog.  None of us can believe where the time has gone!  (Okay Mabel has only been with  us for 4 years out of that 29 but she can’t believe where that time has gone!).  Managed to catch up with some reading tonight as well which was great.  And I put in a plug for flash fiction again – I won’t bother to pretend I’m not biased.  I am!

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Do your characters know in which direction they're going? (Border collie is optional!). Image via Pixabay.

Mabel. Image taken by me.

 

Images from the magical world... Image via Pixabay

WHO NOT TO TRUST…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Who Not to Trust lists five suggestions from me as to who to be very wary of in the fairytale/fantasy world.  Can you add to the list?

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

The Ways of the World – well I’ve always thought this to be an odd expression.  What world’s ways are we following if not this one?  It’s not as if we’re all commuting off to some alien planet somewhere and coming back with their ways and following them here, is it?!  Still, on the plus side, when creating your own fictional world, you do get to set the ways your characters follow. This post looks at and asks what ways have you chosen and why?  It also asks what happens to those who rebel against what is considered the norm and who enforces the “norm”?

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A short post tonight in which I share why I write fairytales and fantasy.  I love crime and historical fiction but other than the odd short story every now and then can’t write in them full time.  What genres do you write in and did you come to these by accident or have you always known what you would write?  Is there a genre you would like to write in but, like me, find you just can’t?  Comments welcome here or on my FB page.

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All books are gateways to other worlds, fantasy and science fiction especially I think. Image via Pixabay.

What fictional world have you created? What ways and rules have you set for your characters? Image via Pixabay.

 

 

Come sunrise the fairies must vanish. Image via Pixabay.

IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA BUT…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

My post Fairytale Hints and Tips shares advice on not judging others by their species or their size.  It also stresses the importance of knowing where your fruit comes from and what exactly has gone into your food and drink.  In a magical world, you really cannot be too careful!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

My post Ideas that seemed good at the time but… lives up to its title and shares examples from well known fairytales.  Why Little Red Riding Hood never thought to question the whole idea of a wolf talking to her remains a mystery…

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A little bit of advance notice for this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post which will be about what I look for in a good writing conference.  I also look forward to what will hopefully be a great day at the Association of Christian Writers Day in London on Saturday.

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The way into the magical realm perhaps? Image via Pixabay.

The way into the magical realm perhaps? Image via Pixabay.