42 The Meaning of Life…Flash Fiction Writing Competition!

Just 42 words, can you do it?
Just 42 words, can you do it?

To celebrate the e-book launch of Housewife with a Half-Life on May 8th (paperback to follow) and my love of flash fiction I’m running a flash fiction writing competition. Since my space comedy book is a sort of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in Suburbia and because by amazing coincidence(!) my current age is the answer to Douglas Adams’ meaning of life, the universe and everything, the challenge will be as follows:

42 Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything Flash Fiction Competition

Write a flash (short) fiction loosely based around the theme The Meaning of Life (Or the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything)
Write the flash in EXACTLY 42 words.
Enter your entries in the comments below
Deadline: Entries will be accepted until midnight GMT on Sunday 6th May.


First prize: A signed paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life, the fab new Jawbreakers collection of flash fictions for National Flash Fiction day, (I have a story in!) plus a £10 sterling Amazon voucher
Second prize: A signed paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life plus a signed paperback of Rebecca Emin’s New Beginnings
Third Prize: (Yes!) A signed paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life

Edited on Tues: May 1st: If you add a title to your piece the title will not be included in the wordcount. Anyone who has already entered and wants to add a title please retype your entry with the title. Thanks! For those who aren’t very familiar with flash fiction, here are some links to articles I’ve written or been quoted in on the subject of flash fiction.

Intense, Urgent and a Little Bit Explosive‘.

Why flash fiction will last

The wonders of flash fiction

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you come up with! I love flash fiction and know that 42 words will be a (fun) challenge! Please let your friends know about the competition and Good Luck! The winner and runners up will be announced here on the blog at 8.00pm on May 8th at the end of my launch party for Housewife with a Half-Life!

Housewife with a Half-Life: E-book Launch & Blog Splash May 8th!

I’m delighted to announce that I’m going to launch the e-book of my first novel (as A.B.Wells) Housewife with a Half-Life on May 8th!

The cover of Housewife with a Half-Life will soon be revealed. Till then you can look at A.B.Wells in a Star Wars t-shirt.


Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When, Fairly Dave, a kilt sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious 4 year twins Pluto and Rufus get sucked through the supermarket chilled cabinets into another universe it gets even messier.

In a world where household appliances are more alive and dangerous than they seem, where the Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could tear the world apart, Susan Strong is the only thing holding the world together.

Through this madcap, funny and feel-good adventure, Susan Strong and Fairly Dave travel the alternate universes where Susan has to find her many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat the evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to the surreal world of Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

I’m really hoping that you will enjoy this book. It’s fun and a bit of a rollercoaster adventure and I’m pretty sure it will put a smile on your face and an ‘aw’ in your heart!

This will be my first launch and it’s been an adventure learning everything required. The paperback will launch in late May or early June and I hope to have a blog tour then, but for the moment I’d really appreciate any help you could give me in spreading the word about my new book on it’s launch date of May 8th. If you could give the book a brief mention on your blog, forward on details of the blog splash and launch to anyone you think would be interested and tweet out blog splash details and the book using the hashtag #hwhl that would be great!

On the day I’ll be having a blog and Facebook launch with a writing competition and giveaways. To keep up to date please visit here, like A.B.Wells on Facebook or visit A.B.Wells.com. The cover will be revealed in a few days time and I’ll soon be posting a first chapter taster!

If you would like to spread the word about Housewife with a Half-Life on May 8th on your blog, please click the Linky Tools link below and add your blog to the list or if there’s any problem add a comment below. Also if you’re a book blogger interested in receiving a review copy let me know in my comments or through Contact. Thank you so much. I really appreciate any help you can give me in making the launch of my first book a success!

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The Alliance of Independent Authors: Inaugural Dublin Meeting 24th April

The publishing world is changing with increasing challenges for publishers and authors alike. The traditional model faces the many challenges of sustainability, digital rights management, and in the case of smaller publishers survival itself.

Some would argue that publishers, particularly among the Big 6 are risk averse, giving rise to homogeneity within the industry and giving rise to a space where artistic originality is not nurtured.

There are many fine writers who are frustrated through not being able to break into the traditional mode of publishing, there are those that have come from the traditional route but found that it did not live up to their expectations, there are those who philosophically prefer to have the artistic freedom mentioned to follow their own creative path and push their work to the limits of form, genre and language.

Technically it now relatively easy to self-publish. The tools are readily available and dissemination and distribution through internet channels relatively straightforward. There is a new buzz as writers are now able to take control of the publishing process. At the same time there needs to be a high level of professionalism displayed by writers taking this path. The products needs to be every bit as good as what is on offer already. Self-publishing should not be the poor relation of the traditional offering.There should be a consistency of quality. Know how needs to be shared on design, editing, proofing, marketing and everything else that goes with getting a book to market.

Enter Orna Ross, writer (previously published by Attic Press and Penguin.) She has envisaged an organisation where writers committed to bringing their quality work to market independently can share skills and expertise. Her brainchild the Alliance of Independent Authors is a a global, ‘nonprofit, collaborative collective of independent self-publishing writers. It”s mission statement states that ‘as well as encouraging ethics and excellence in writing, printing, publication and promotion, our aim is to promote, support, advocate for and advance the interests of independent, self-publishing authors. ‘ There is already an impressive team of advisers associated with the group.

To give you a flavour, here is some footage from the recent London launch and also some background to four authors who have joined the Alliance as to ‘How I went Indie and Why.’

The Dublin Chapter of the Alliance of Independent Authors will have it’s Inaugural Meeting on Tuesday 24th April at 6.30pm in the The Library Bar Central Hotel Exchequer St. So if you are interested in finding out more come along on Tuesday night.

In support of the Alliance, Words with JAM is offering a £10 National Book Token ($15 Amazon Voucher for non-UK citizens) to everyone who joins for full or partner membership of the alliance when joining via their newsletter or website links.

5 things I did to make my self-published book brilliant

The first thing I want to do is write. It’s essential, it’s non-negotiable. The next thing I want to do is share my writing with others. And that’s what I’ve been doing on this blog and through my submissions to anthologies and zines.

Like many I’m still in the process of figuring out what’s the best way of being published. Having grown up with a love of books and familiarity with the names of publishers of revered volumes, publishers such as Penguin in particular, I’ve always associated being published with, well, having a publisher.

This isn’t the post where I talk about how the publishing world is revolutionising.  I’ll leave that for another time. But a lot of the discussion and the key people involved in that discussion are to be found at the Alliance of Independent Authors. This group, founded by Orna Ross, approaches self-publishing from many different backgrounds, either as first time authors, those moving from traditional publishing, or those for whom self-publishing is a mechanism to enable innovation and artistic creativity in the world of words.  The group as a whole aim to help self-publishers, to join together to share knowledge and expertise  to create a great product and it’s a movement that will grow and influence not only self-publishing but the traditional industry itself.

Today, though I’m going to talk about what I’ve done so far to make my book Housewife with a Half-Life the best that I can make it.

1: I wrote the book & revised it to as high a standard as possible

Much of Housewife with a Half-Life was written as my Nanowrimo 2010 novel. Having finished Nanowrimo I worked on the book further, left it for a few months then took it out and revised it. Alongside I was writing many other stories, several of which were shortlisted in major prizes such as the Bridport. I participated in #fridayflash and joined a writer’s group. I did everything I could to improve my writing and feed those skills back into my book.

2: I got writers to critique and readers and writers to beta read my book

Through my online presence and my writer’s group in Dublin I have got to know many talented, published and award winning authors.  Throughout the process of writing my book I shared chapters of my book for  critique to see what was clear and what wasn’t. When I had a complete draft I asked some of my writing friends and also an avid reader who is not a writer to read my book and provide me with their thoughts. What I wanted them overall to do was to read as readers and to see if they could connect with the book or if certain areas jarred.

There are several points to mention here. First of all if I asked a writer to critique a book I was careful to ask them to be as honest as possible and I also explained what level of critique I wanted.  It might be worth mentioning that not everyone liked the book, one reader said it just wasn’t for them but others loved it. This is going to happen in the real world, one book cannot meet the requirements of all readers. Feedback from my writers group would have been at a more detailed level. Of course at any point I could accept or reject their feedback.

3: I got my book professionally edited

I engaged the services of a professional editor Sarah Franklin.  Sarah has a background in the publishing industry as well as being a writer herself. She gave me a comprehensive edit; both a high level edit for flow and content as well as copy editing. I will also give my book out for a final proofread by fellow readers before I hit the upload button.

4: I submitted my book to publishers

I submitted my book to several well-known publishers. The feedback on the writing quality was good but the main sticking point was genre. These particular publishers could not see how to fit it in with their existing catalogues. Admittedly I did not pursue the traditionally publishing route as rigourously as I could have: some of the places I was considering had placed a moratorium on submissions and as I waited for the submissions to open again I became interested in self-publishing. Submitting to publishers though did show me that my book had potential and quality. I had external acknowledgement that my book was of a good standard.

5: I’ve got a designer  to design my book cover.

Design is certainly not my strong point, hiring a cover designer (Andrew Brown of Design for Writers) was a far more sensible option. Andrew provided me with many excellent and comprehensive questions up front  in order to get to the heart of what my book was about and who it would be targeted towards.

5: I learned all I could about the self-publishing process

Through research online and with the help of the Catherine Ryan Howard’s excellent Self-Printed I’ve acquainted myself with the physical process of self-printing but also other aspects such as marketing, getting reviews, promotions and so on. Every day I find more information and I’m determined to do my best to get Housewife with a Half-Life out there because I’m proud of it and knowthat readers  will enjoy it.

For other posts on my self-publishing adventure click here

How about you? Are you considering self-publishing or have you gone through the process and have advice or tips for those wanting to create a quality product?

Book of Hope Competition Win!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve been chosen as the winner in the Fiction category of the Big Book of Hope Ebook  with my story Flashes of Entropy and Hope. This story was created out of a series of interrelated flashes I have written for a project in progress Flashes of Sadness and Light.

My fellow winners are for non-fiction: Orla Coffey with Flashlight and for poetry Fr. David Keating with Now is All I Have. Beginnings by David Fairclough is the highly commended fiction entry and will also be included in the book.

Congrats to fellow winners and also to the shortlistees. The ebook is in aid of The Hope Foundation’s work with the street children of Kolcatha (Calcutta) and will be launched by the end of April. It will include work from authors including Brian Keenan, Ivy Bannister, Kate Kerrigan, Monica McInerney, Sarah Webb, Sinead Moriarty, Noelle Harrison, Bill Cullen, Jim Power, Liz McManus, Senator Ivana Bacik, Dragon’s Den’s Norah Casey and many more.

Random Acts of Posting: April 15

Here are some of my writing.ie posts that you may have missed in the last while. Enjoy!

Historical Fiction: Hazel Gaynor’s Titanic Novel The Girl Who Came Home Hazel Gaynor explains the intricacies of writing historical fiction for her Titanic novel.

Love: Writer & Journalist Lucille Redmond on her short story collection Writer and journalist Lucille Redmond’s new ebook of short stories is striking and powerfully descriptive.

Guest post by Dr. Ailsa Cox, founder of the Edge Hill Prize for Short stories. Dr. Ailsa Cox, founder of the Edge Hill Prize on the origins and selection process of this prestigious prize for short story collections.

Emotional Energy and Novel Writing Novel writing requires emotional energy: How do we maintain and access it?

Why Flash Fiction will last What Flash Fiction is and why it’s here to stay

Lucky Seven: Seven lines from Housewife with a Half-Life

I’ve been tagged by Jane Rusbridge and by Martha Williams as one of her authors in the Lucky Seven meme. It gives established and new writers a chance to showcase what they are working on.

The instructions for Lucky 7 are:

  • · Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • · Go to line 7
  • · Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
  • · Tag 7 other authors to do the same

The lines I’m using come from page 7 of my soon to be self-published (as A.B. Wells) comedy space novel Housewife with a Half-Life. Housewife Susan Strong has received an unexpected visit from a spaceman, her Fairly God Father (who later is named Fairly Dave) who has come to warn her that she’s literally disintegrating and if she doesn’t find the pieces of herself that are scattered all over the universes then the world itself is in jeopardy. Fairly Dave says that he’s been sent to help and look out for her in her quest. Susan replies…

But that’s my job, looking after everyone else. Why do I need looking after?’

There’s been some trouble, an anomaly, you might not even be aware of it, said the Fairly God Father. You’re stuck in a relativity and you can’t get out of it.’

Susan nodded, she’d always had an inkling and now that he’d put his finger on it, it kind of made sense.

You’ve noticed then?’ he paused, ‘You’ve heard of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment?’

Of course,’ she said, ‘experimental physics is my hobby.’

Housewife with a Half-Life will be available in a few weeks. Check back for more updates.

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to check with the following folk if they are willing or able for the challenge to post lines from their works, or may have already completed the challenge, but they are worth checking out in any case and some have new books recently released. They are:

Hazel Gaynor @HazelGaynor

Rebecca Emin @RebeccaEmin

Derek Flynn @derekf03

R.F. Long @RFLong

Tania Hershman @taniahershman

Kate Boardman @coffeewithkate

Jane Prinsep @janeprinsep

Self-Publishing pen name:Introducing A.B.Wells & Housewife with a Half-Life

I’m becoming two people…





I’ve been writing consistently since my first son was born 11 years ago but even more seriously in the last number of years since the real baby days of my youngest child, now 4. From my early endeavours I have 1.75 novels in a drawer. In the last number of years I’ve written many short stories, several of them shortlisted, many many flashes, two complete novels and another one on the way.

For any of you familiar with my writing through my #FridayFlash posted here and links to stories, you will know that in the main my writing is slice of life, on the literary side. I’m also partial to writing what Tania Hershman denotes science inspired fiction: fiction which uses as it’s starting point a scientific fact or discovery and creates a story around it. At the moment in fact I’m writing a flash about a Faraday cage and I was excited to write a story for this Higgs Boson Anthology. The story Supersymmetric: Almost but not quite is one of my own favourites.

Science explains the marvels of human life and the natural world and it also through it’s theories, findings and ways of looking at the world provides marvellous metaphors that can be used in literature to present our experiences of being human. Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go presents and alternative or possible future reality where cloning has become commonplace yet it is a work of literature. Many authors such as Margaret Atwood write about alternate realities without calling it science fiction. My literary novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities depicts, as well as the world we live in, a perfect alternate world inhabited by the alternate self of the books main character.

But I’ve gone and written Housewife with a Half-Life. It’s a comedy, it’s got a sprinkle of sci-fi, it’s got slightly scary rotten apple faced creatures called Geezers. It’s got an arch enemy with a cataclysmic convertor called The Spinner. It’s got household appliances that talk and others that are downright dangerous. It’s got a housewife called Susan Strong and an endearing spacemen with luminescent emotions called Fairly Dave. It’s got precocious and cherubic twin boys, Pluto and Rufus, (they aren’t dogs!) with a temporal hopping bunk bed. It’s got downright evil, it’s got peace, love and understanding. It’s got ensuite showers and a woman who can save the world with a clothes peg. And while it’s set in suburbia, in a regular house, the action mostly takes place in other worlds through which the characters travel through all manner of portals, including the Frozen Peas section in the supermarket’s chilled cabinet.

So is it sci-fi? More or less, less of the space opera and more of the human heart. But it’s more on the space and sci-fi side than my literary offerings. In this changing publishing landscape it’s a book that publishers might want to take a risk on but can’t. Those that have read it enjoyed it but didn’t know quite where it would fit. I could, like Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help send it out 60 more times to publishers but I’m also curious to give self-publishing a go, to acquaint myself with all the processes and stages and to do it right. I also very much admire self-published authors such as Marc Nash, Dan Holloway and Catherine Ryan Howard, who for a variety of reasons have got down to the business of getting their work out to people directly and have done so in a professional manner with quality products. I also believe in my book. I’ll talk more in another post about what I’ve done to make it the best I can. But when I read it, I enjoy it, laugh, am moved by it and hope you will be too. I’ll be releasing Housewife with a Half-Life as an e-book and print-on-demand paperback this June available through Amazon, Smashwords and other online outlets.

There are many reasons why we might take on pen names. So why A.B.Wells? Well it’s still me, not far from Alison Wells. Of course it’s got connotations of H.G. Wells, a writer I admire.  It’s my space comedy more sci-fi self and for now it’s my self-publishing self. It’s my Fairly Dave and Susan Strong self and there may be more of those where they came from. It differentiates this material from the literary material that I’m submitting to traditional publishers. I’m hoping that I can take many readers with me who’ve enjoyed this blog and my writing as Alison Wells but that readers who find me as A.B.Wells will enjoy my more sci-fi offerings.

I’ll be blogging more about my self-publishing endeavours and looking specifically for your help in spreading the word about Housewife with a Half-Life. There’ll be a specific post where anyone interested in being involved with a blog tour or mention can sign up. If anyone has any further comments or suggestions please check contacts for my email.

Just over a year ago I was asked to be a resident blogger on the writing.ie website. My blog is called Random Acts of Optimism. A couple of days ago I was lucky enough to see a link on Twitter to this most inspiring and moving talk by Ray Bradbury on writing. In his summation he said that what we want most of all as humans and as writers is for someone to come and tell us that they love us, love what we do. He also said that his life was full of surprise. That he wrote just what came to him and then surprising things happened which resulted in the opportunity to share his work and publish his books. For me, becoming A.B.Wells and self-publishing Housewife with a Half-Life is an act of optimism in a book that is about what I love, what makes me laugh and what I want to share with others.