Now that Christmas is over and the New Year has well and truly started, it is really time to knuckle down and start writing again. The great plans I had for writing during the holiday season were gently but firmly crushed by the sofa, some old movies, good books and a warm fire.
I did jot down ideas, impressions and interesting snippets of information but these just form the skeleton. It is now time to start putting some flesh on the bones of these stories.
Having sold copies of my book in Australia, the US and Europe, I have to provide my readership with something new. Note, we are not talking about numbers here – just locations.
I have posted a new story on the short story page. Enjoy!
The Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal for Bliss is being launched on December 24th and will run through to the 31st. Anyone who was lucky enough to receive a Kindle this holiday will have the added bonus of being able to buy Bliss at a discount.
- ISBN-10: 1493728407
- ISBN-13: 978-1493728404
When setting up my new author pages yesterday, I applied to use my name for a global amazon author page. I just received confirmation from Amazon that this page has now been launched too. This makes life much easier.
My first collection of short stories – Bliss – has been published on Amazon. Bliss is available in paperback and as a Kindle e-book and is available now. Links to a couple of Amazon pages are here:
I published this myself using CreateSpace which is a self-publishing website linked to Amazon. This is easy-to-use and the review process is excellent.
The paperback version is available from Amazon and good bookshops.
I always expected to have stories rejected by publishers and literary agents. It’s part and parcel of being a writer. In fact, if you haven’t been rejected you could be most unwelcome in literary circles. Who wants to hear about the first attempt which became a best-seller and was made into a movie while your still slaving away on the first draft of a flash fiction masterpiece?
I set up a CreateSpace account to self-publish my first collection of short stories as they offer the option for print-on-demand and e-books. While completing their form, I decided to apply for a US ITIN number so that the millions I earn in the USA will only be subject to tax in my country of residence. I filled in the form after lengthy research on the internet and took my documentation to the US Consulate in Frankfurt. The staff were really helpful. Everything was checked, stamped and sent to the US for approval.
Ten weeks later post arrived – my application was rejected by the IRS!
Does this count as a rejection?
Mark Twain once wrote (having copied it from the French thinker Blaise Pascal) “I am sorry for the length of this letter, but I did not have the time to write a short one”.
This captures the essence of a good short story or piece of flash fiction.
Each word, every phrase and punctuation must be chosen with care to create exactly the right tone and image. It is easier to write long, descriptive passages than to convey an image, mood or emotion in a few well-selected words.
It is like standing in front of a French patisserie window and only having enough money for two delicious cakes. Which do you choose? Which flavours complement each other so as not to clash?
Choice, selection, decision. The essence of good short fiction.
Picture courtesy of www.lavenderandlovage.com
The National Flash-Fiction Anthology is available to buy now. The collection is aptly called “Scraps” and can be pre-ordered on their website. There will also be a Kindle edition. http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/anthology.html
Flash-fiction stories are the perfect length for holiday reading. This definitely belongs in everyone’s hand-luggage.
It is almost time for the annual National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology to be published.
Calum Kerr and Holly Howitt have invested an enormous amount of time and energy in promoting and organising events on and around the big day, June 22nd, and the culmination of their joint work is this varied and wonderful collection of stories.
There are familiar and unknown names and everyone has produced a terrific gem of flash-fiction just waiting to be enjoyed. I am thrilled to be a part of this as my story, “The Two Veronicas”, was selected to be among the stories published.
Keep your eyes peeled for information about how and where to buy the book.
The name and the stories will all be revealed soon.
The results of the www.bluethumbnail.com competition are out today and I was delighted to see that I was one of the runners up with a story called “The Crossroads”. The first prize was a coveted place on a writing retreat in Greece and as a runner up I will be entitled to 30% if I decide to book a week. Still thinking this over. My story can be read under the direct link http://www.bluethumbnail.com/Author/the-crossroads.html
This has been an exciting couple of weeks. First, a piece of flash fiction, “Fanlight” was published on the DoorDitch project website. Then a story called “Violetas” which had been accepted by The Island Review – http://www.theislandreview.com – earlier this year was published on their website. It is very encouraging to send defenceless stories out into the bold, bad world on their own and to then have these read and enjoyed by editors and readers. Tomorrow, April 19th sees the highpoint of this week with another flash fiction work “On Greystones Beach” being published on http://www.flashfloodjournal.blogspot.co.uk in honour of National Flash Fiction Day in the U.K. Plenty of incentive to put in a couple of hours converting notes into stories at the weekend.
The Island Review published my story “Violetas” today on their website. It was a strange feeling to click on the link and see my words in print. The editors selected a wonderful picture of these traditional Madrid sweets to accompany the story. I just hope that their readers enjoy my writing. I will be posting “Violetas” on this blog on the short stories page in a while.
The founders of DoorDitch.co.uk have come up with a great idea for saving the history an urban area before gentrification removes all unwanted signs of former times. Doors have always hidden secrets, good and bad, from everyone not admitted over the threshold. Taking pictures of doors with or without graffiti, posting them on the website and asking for stories of lives behind these doors is a concept guaranteed to challenge writers. The limit of 100 doors and 100 words per story is the icing on the cake.
Perhaps DoorDitch could hold an exhibition in a local gallery, showing both the pictures and the stories. It is almost guaranteed that people living in this area don’t even notice the doors and the artwork. Familiarity does breed contempt.
Jack Frost came in the night and breathed his deadly chill over my once-cheerful primroses edging them with an ice-crystal border which later in the morning reduced them to floppy heaps. However, despite the cold, grey, depressing depths of winter it is easy to find inspiration to write.
I have been fascinated by the flocks of blue tits feeding from the net sack of sunflower seeds which we have refilled many times this winter. Watching these birds scouting the area before flying in to feed looks like a classic example of a strategic and military offensive.
They carry out fly-bys as professional as the Red Devils, perch in the plum tree and hop nearer, branch by twig, monitoring all movement with the care of a secret police force.
Once feeding, these cute blue balls of fluff fiercely defend their position, flapping and pecking wildly at their hungry friends and relations, only giving up possession if a sudden noise or movement scares them. Then, they reassess the situation from the safety of the plum tree before swooping in to retake the net.
Nature – the best inspiration for a writer.
I submitted a short story to a website whose published stories appeal to me. They very kindly answered and while they did not decide to publish this story, they offered some very useful and supportive advice.
They attached a document which was first published in the Guardian & the Guardian online on the skill of “show, don’t tell”. The article is also available as a Kindle book and can be found under : http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/23/how-to-write-fiction-mj-hyland.
As this was helpful, I searched for some more detailed information on this writing skill and quickly found a book (also available on Kindle) which give some very concrete examples of how to show rather than tell. This book is called “Show and Tell in a Nutshell” and is by Jessica Bell.
I hope that these tips help other writers who may fall into the trap of too much “telling”.
In modern society brevity is required, desired. We communicate via shorthand, text messaging and emoticons. The short story should be more valued than most forms of fiction, hot on the heels of poetry and flash fiction . A commuter can enjoy one or two stories on the train and not have to remember the thread of their morning’s reading in order to have an enjoyable read on the journey home in the evening. At lunch, waiting for a friend or relaxing on a park bench, the short story can create a new world for the reader to enjoy and the complete experience can be fitted into a hectic, modern lifestyle.
There are no fora or message boards discussing the merits of miniatures over large paintings and it would never be expected that a pop star produce songs of more than 4 minutes.
Perhaps a collection of short stories should be seen as comparable to a cd album which is also a collection of short works from which individual songs are released for universal enjoyment.
As far back as I can remember, the 1st of February was always the first day of spring. For me anyway. Even now, living in Germany where the temperatures can be well below freezing at the beginning of February, I find it hard to restrain the urge to plant some primroses in the bed beside the front door. My neighbours may laugh and tease me but when they survived two years ago, I had the last laugh.
Today should be perfect planting weather – the snow has melted and the last couple of days were wild and windy but it has hardly stopped raining and the all enveloping greyness and damp in the air are enough to kill the enthusiasm of the most ardent gardener.
Just a few more days……
Congratulations to Avril Joy for winning the first Costa Short Story Award!
Now that Costa has seen how popular the competition was, hopefully they will open the 2013 competition to residents outside the UK and Ireland too.
After setting up this blog in August 2012, I let it lie dormant, neglected and unfed.
It is a sorry sight. Unloved, uncared for but always there, waiting for me.
This week the weather changed from freezing cold and snowy to blustery and warm. This exhilarating wind has also filled me with a new energy and the will to care for my blog.
Poor blog! From today, I promise to turn over a new leaf and care for you. I don’t want the OMBW (Organisation for Maintentance of Blog Welfare) to come knocking on my door.
This blog is now available on www.anapirana.com and occasional tweets will also be seen on twitter #anapirana.
Watch this blog bloom!
A reader should imagine this blog as being a large, old house. Each room has many stories to tell. In a room on the ground floor, with French doors opening into the sunny garden, there is an oak writing desk. This desk has innumberable drawers and compartments all containing the secrets and stories of everyone who passed though the house over the years. Their stories are varied and their secrets range from the mildly embarrassing, through sneaky to evil beyond compare. Hard to imagine when sitting at the desk looking out over a field of lavander.