short stories

Short story hub and Strictly Critical

My youngest is six today and I became the mother of a teenager on Tuesday. I have a party to organise now so I’ll just leave you with a few links. In a recent post on writing.ie I talk about criticism and why tough judges like Craig Revel Horward on Strictly Come Dancing aren’t necessarily bad. We all need challenge and sometimes realistic and nit picky criticism CAN be a compliment and a sign you’ve reached a high standard. Read more and see if you agree or not on Strictly Come Writing: Why we need critics like Craig.

Great short story news. Máire T. Robinson is one of the founders of a new central resource for Irish short stories (including reviews, sub opportunities and more) Short Story Ireland. I interview her about the background to the venture and what’s on offer here.

Another site dedicated to getting excited about the short story in the UK and Ireland has been announced by Tania Hershman. It’s called Short stops and will feature links to lit mags, live readings and more.

Here Rachael Dunlop wonders if age makes a difference to publishers and agents.

I am very quietly (and somewhat casually) taking part in the 50,000 word challenge nanorimo this year (more on that anon). If any of you are involved and want to buddy other writers, I am writing as randomoptimism this year. Feel free to leave your nanowrimo username in the comments if you want some camaraderie, which is what it’s all about really!

Now off to organise musical whoopee cushions game :)

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Bulbs and Free Books for National Flash Fiction Day

Me at flash bulbs

At Arthur’s Pub Thomas Street. Photo by Big Smoke Writing

Flash Bulbs

I had a wonderful time last evening listening to the readings at Flash Bulbs, Dublin’s flash fiction event, organised by purveyor of writing courses and drop in writing meets the fabulous Big Smoke Writing Factory. I also read my story Holographic Dog there in my new fancy The Flash t-shirt  at the fabulous Arthur’s Pub venue where I chatted to some lovely folk I’d only spoken to virtually including Maria Kelly and Nuala Ni Chonchuir before as well as catching up with others.

As well as the general reading which was of a fabulous standard, Dave Lordan was also present to announce the 99 competition winner Dervilla McKeith who won with her story “The Galleon”. Big Smoke Writing Factory run a range of courses and directors Claire Hennessy and Nicole Rourke could not be nicer so keep them in mind if you’re near enough to get to one of their courses.

FREE BOOKS (including my Stories to Read on the Train)

This one is free on Sunday & Monday as well.

This one is free on Sunday & Monday as well.

In honour of National Flash Fiction Day there are several books on offer for download for FREE on the National Flash Fiction Day site, many of the offers finish today so hurry. The free books on offer including the fantastic Jawbreakers, last years National Flash Fiction Day anthology. That, with this year’s Scraps are fantastic books so don’t miss out on the free Jawbreakers. There are also books by National Flash Fiction Day organiser Calum Kerr. He has also run the flash365 site, writing a flash a day so well worth a download. This year he also has a book out with his wife Cath who took over the mantle of the 365 flashes. David Hartley and Valerie O’ Riordan are accomplished authors and this is a chance to get familiar with their work. Finally I have one of my mini flash collections Stories to Read on the Train for free this time. If you enjoy of the free downloads, it would be great if you could leave a short Amazon review for the authors as a token of your appreciation or purchase more of their work in the future.

For more stories that have been published for this great event. Check out the Flash Flood (including my new flash This One Mindful Life) and Flash Mob’s site where there are links to many of the tiny gems of stories that are flash.

Creative Prompts and Short Story Sub Opps

Creative Sparks

We spent a lot of lovely time on here in January exploring creativity through prompts. My philosophy holds that inspiration is everywhere and that if you provide yourself with structure and impetus you can forge that inspiration into a finished product. While we’ll continue to explore creativity here, I wanted to draw your attention to a fantastic blog by my Writing.ie colleague Elizabeth Murray. Her Wordspark blog is geared especially towards prompts and creative writing exercises, so she’ll regularly have something to get your mind working on something new.

Must read short story site

I’ve also recently discovered the fantastic short story focused site of Paul McVeigh. This site, with it’s very helpful at a glance layout gives details of submission opportunities, competitions and interviews with very interesting writers and champions of the short story form. It’s a really mine of information.

Sub opportunities

Both the new zine Number Eleven (no deadline given) and The South Circular (deadline April 26 so hurry!) are currently open for submissions.

Crannóg 32 – a new story in this great independent publisher’s new anthology

Crannóg is a well regarded and renowned literary magazine in Ireland that recently celebrated its 10th year. Established by writers Tony O’ Dwyer and Geraldine Burkes’ publishing house Words on the Street, Crannóg provides publication opportunities to International authors of short fiction and poetry.

Crannóg 32 launches tomorrow night March 1st upstairs at the Crane Bar in Galway at 6.30pm. There will be readings and quite probably music and if you are a writer or enjoy the written word you will be made very welcome at this enjoyable evening. I’m delighted to be included in Crannóg for the second time with a story ‘Letter’. The story tells the story of a lost relationship from the Letter’s point of view. I’m not able to go along to the launch this time but have enjoyed meeting Tony and Geraldine and the other writers included in their publications at these events. Many of the writers have gone on to great further success including A.J. Ashworth who later won Salt publishing’s Scott prize with her book ‘SOMEWHERE ELSE OR EVEN HERE’ and Niamh Boyce (I met Niamh at the WOW awards from the same publisher) who’s debut novel THE HERBALIST will be published by Penguin later this year.

Submissions

A publication credit from Crannóg is well recognised internationally. Crannóg have three submission periods. Submissions are open in the month of November for Feb issuem March for the June issue and July for October issue, so you can get ready now for the March submission opening and all the details are here.

Anthology

It’s a great idea before you submit to get a flavour for the anthology. Crannóg’s rates for their anthology are very reasonable – just six euros plus postage. As they put it themselves – just about 9 cent for each piece of writing. So if you’d like to read my story ‘Letter’ for 9 cent and also support the work of a fine independent press that is all about finding and giving opportunity to new talent, you can order a copy of Crannóg 32 here or make a subscription for a longer time. Crannóg is also available for the Kindle here.

Strange tales of love and desire

HeartPotato

Given the week that’s in it I thought I’d mention these tales of love and desire. It doesn’t come naturally to shout out about my stories but I’m proud of these and some of them have been published in reputable places and longlisted in major competitions and I’d be happy to have you read them. I’m working away on longer pieces and while I prepare to finish these long projects and send manuscripts away, it’s great to get encouragement and feedback on the way.

These mini story collections all have the theme of love and desire. The first is stranger than the second but they trace the desires and insecurities we all have. If you enjoy reading them please let others know.

STORIES TO MAKE YOU GO ‘OOH’

Then we would go to bed and I would lie against him, my skin cooling at the point where he touched me. On certain nights he would make love to me and I would feel the grit under my fingernails, the wash of my pleasure against his impenetrable skin.

‘My lover in a stone’

‘Sometimes when I came home from work and she was there before me with the telly on and her feet curled up and her thumb in her mouth and her twisting the guts out of her hair, I used to wonder why we were together. And were we together, or just taking slices out of each other as we slid past.’

‘Truth and Silence’

Such is the hypnotism of skin that I might have eaten you that day or absorbed you the way Venus Flytraps do and perhaps I did, you bit me on the lip when I stole that first kiss and your poison has been with me ever since.

(Originally published in THE VIEW FROM HERE)

‘The Singularity and the Octagonal House’

stories to make you go ooh-3‘Alison Wells’ short book of stories are wonderfully imagined glimpses into the lives of flawed, ordinary people, written with precise and clear prose. The language is imaginative and brings the reader to a place of wonder, with sentences like “Kicking, shouting, blowing bubbles up to the underside of the hard ice.” I was particularly taken with “The Singularity and the Octagonal House.” This story is resplendent. The inherent otherness of her writing is quite something and Wells’ knows her characters and how to engage the reader in their lives.’ 

Amazon UK   Amazon US/IRL

STORIES TO MAKE YOU GO ‘AH’

She knew what her lips would taste like; sherbet, bubblegum and sun.’

Life by the Lapels

Knives: that could cut out a piece of me or you, stupid teenage games where we nick each other and mix our blood. We could become blood lovers but it is too late for that. Forks: these are the directions we take when we open our mouths and words come out, clichés with no undoing, ‘I think we should…’, ‘I don’t know if I…’ ‘this isn’t what I…’ Spoons: upstairs in the blissful innocence of sleep, you make the shape of your wife; with your fingers on her back you feel her breathing.

‘Filch’

He grinned and raised the Burgundy. Miranda feared for the evening, for the passionate future. She didn’t like the way he fondled his fondue.

Longlisted in the Sean O’ Faolain competition.

‘Burgundy, Bolero and Chicken Supreme’

stories to make you go ahReading Alison Wells’ stories is a bit like climbing into the bathtub she describes in the first story of this fine collection, “Life by the Lapels,” and finding suds that resembled “floating icebergs.” The images are both comforting and jolting; for example, the way Wells describes two people in the story, “Filch,” who “traced each others faces and turned inside out.” Ah! Powerful writing, pleasurable reading.

Amazon UK  Amazon US/IRL

Deck the Halls: short story collection

Deck the Halls: Festive tales of fear and cheer is the latest offering from eMergent Publishing. These are speculative fiction tales with a festive theme. My story ‘Unfolding‘ is included which looks at what happens when a mother interferes in the pre-determined destiny of her child.

Buy a copy:
 Directly from eMergent Publishing here.
 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Touched Rowena Specht-Whyte
Drench the School Benjamin Solah
Coming Home Rebecca Dobbie
While You Were Out Sam Adamson
Twenty-Five Rebecca Emin
A Jolly Pair Christopher Chartrand
Gays and Commies Graham Storrs
A Better Fit Jen Brubacher
Salvation Nicole R Murphy
A Troll for Christmas Jo Hart
Modraniht Kate Sherrod
Bosch’s Book of Trolls Susan May James
‘Til Death Do Us Part Emma Kerry
High Holidays Dale Challener Roe
The Headless Shadow Jonathan Crossfield
End of a Tradition Paul Servini
Weatherboy Nik Perring
Not a Whisper Lily Mulholland
Lords of the Dance Janette Dalgliesh
Through Frosted Glass Laura Meyer
Midsummer’s Eve Stacey Larner Yuletide Treasure Rob Diaz II
Broken Angel Jodi Cleghorn
A Golden Treasure Chia Evers
Fast Away Jim Bronyaur
Apprentices to Time Icy Sedgwick
Unfolding Alison Wells
Egg-Ceptional PJ Kaiser
Hail the New Trevor Belshaw
Perfect Light Dan Powell
Softly Sing the Stars Steve Cameron
Through Wind and Weather David McDonald

Stories to read on the train for nothing

You know how I love writing short stories and flash fiction. Well what I have today for you is a free download of one of my mini collections STORIES TO READ ON THE TRAIN.

Old lives collide on a train commute; a woman travels to meet her long distance lover; a train trip brings Eleanor back to face an old tragedy; a cliff edge commute above the sea lifts a man from the realities of his wife’s condition; a woman flees a controlling relationship. These tiny, precious flash fiction stories from a prize winning author challenge you to pause, to look at life under a magnifying glass, examine its ordinary glories, the twin globe of beauty and darkness in human experience. Of the stories in this mini collection, Entropy Held was part of the flash fiction medley that won the fiction prize in the New Big Book of Hope collection. Some of the stories in this collection will merge in an interrelated flash fiction novella.

These are very short stories that can be read in a single sitting (on the train or not!) or savoured one at a time. I’d be delighted if you have a read, share the links or gift the book to a friend and let me know what you thought. The more people who downloadthe book the better. You can read it on Kindle or FREE Kindle App. THANK YOU!

This is how happy I’ll be if you download Stories to Read on the Train!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

If you enjoy it I have two mini collections out Stories to make you go ‘ooh’ and Stories to make you go ‘ah’ and another on the way. Details HERE.

#fridayflash Finding the bog body

This is a short incident from my novel in revision The Book of Remembered Possibilities. A driver finds what turns out to be a bog body. This piece is one of three juxtaposed ‘moments’.

The bulldozer judders, throwing sound across the bog’s wide valley back to the jagged hills.

In the broad sweep of a valley, the heron’s wings beat determined across the fretful sky, the crickets sing. Over the ground moves the breath of dragonflies and moths, ticks and red ants. Small birds scratch among the lichen, tracking beetles.  A hawk hangs in the ether.

The driver takes slices off the skin of the bog.  He peels back the carpet of woven sedge, heather, moss, the wings of insects, feathers of bog cotton, leaves of clover. The blade of the bucket cuts into it, making a scar through the tapestry of green. It opens up the seeping interior, accesses the bog’s bitter ale…

The driver sees something in the ground. He throws the machine into neutral. He powers down the roar.  He jumps out of the cab onto the springy turf, the mud going into the grooves in his soles. The spring adds a lightness to his mood. This is a man who gets up before his wife and teenage children, puts his sensible sandwich and a flask of tea in the car and drives to the site as the light fills in around the edges of the landscape’s developing photograph. He plays Springsteen and Cohen and the Blades and Thin Lizzy. He has a good voice. It attracted his wife’s attention before she was his wife when he was just one more rugby head watching the match with his lager aloft. Later someone gave him a guitar and he sang Sarah and it happened to be her name. He thinks of his wife, leaning against the breakfast bar that sly wry smile on her face. He bloody fancies her still, the curve of her in those black jeans, she keeps herself well, no messing.

It’s a bitch of a day, devious. It started out calm and then those monsoon showers hit. The lads legged it back to the vans for a bit of a warm sup. He was going to follow them. The rain machine-gunned the window. He bent his head against it before he figured he was in the cab. He said he might as well continue while it poured. Then he spotted whatever it was. He goes to investigate. The sun comes out to make a fool of him and the drips are speed-bombing off the door as he reaches the ground. The rain slides into the run of his wrist, his hair is splattered.

The bog still stretches for miles, blends into the hills, runs up the face of it until the crags split it, solid heather hewn hunks hurtling off the rock face, clinging to the crag underside.

He almost trips on it, this coagulation of leaves, this what, this shrivelled thing, rag and bones. Above his head a hawk cries, dips his wing. The roar of lorries on the arterial is silenced. The hawk halts at this present moment. Waits for what has been found.

The business of self-publishing: Bookshop launches

Self-publishing is becoming a viable and accepted method for writers to either bring out a book that is hard for publishers to define, for traditionally published writers to relaunch old out of print titles electronically or through print on demand, for writers to supplement their traditional titles or fund their writing on the path to traditional publication, to write and publish creative, experimental and artistic work that may have a more niche following. To be commended and recommended, self-published work needs to be of high quality and the self-publisher needs to apply the principles of professionalism and good business.

In this weeks article on writing.ie The Business of Self-Publishing, I talk about how to make self-publishing work, through strong products, marketing savvy, funding initatives and more. Take a look at the full article here.

I recently launched the paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life in a bookshop. There are pros and cons for the self-publisher in taking on a Bookshop launch but overall I feel that it’s benefits outweighed any drawbacks. I recently wrote an article exploring the merits of a bookshop launch.

To Launch or Not to Launch: A second opinion

When invited to hold a bookshop launch for my debut self-published book Housewife with a Half-Life in a local store, I thought about the pros and cons. I’m here to say why, on balance, that while there are many arguments against a bookshop launch for the self-publisher, I’m glad that I went ahead.

First, the facts in black and white:

Having a bookshop launch is exhausting.

These are some of the tasks that need to be done ahead of time:

Organise books: While CreateSpace, the POD company I used, have many distribution channels, the Irish ones are not included in this. So it was necessary to send off (and pay for) a consignment of books upfront and then organise to get them to the bookshop.

Arrange publicity: I created a press release and emailed as many of the local papers, radio stations etc as I could. I also sent a copy of the book out to selected media people. I invited people through text, email and social media. This was a big job. I also organised a speaker, some refreshments etc.

These activities were all done in tandem with an online launch and blog tour marketing and publicity were all encompassing.

This article is guest posted on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog. For the rest of the article, click here.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and experiences on your self-publishing journey and if you’ve done a ‘real-life’ book launch whether or not you found it useful.

In the meantime I’m bringing out several mini-collections of my short stories, some of which were shortlisted in prizes such as the Bridport, Fish and Hennessy New Irish Writing XO awards. Here’s what I’ve released so far. I’ll let you know how this venture goes.