Month: February 2013

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.

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The Joy of Self-publishing and Creative Sparks

Today I’m talking to Diana Bletter on her blog about Putting Joy and Energy in Our Lives, specifically I wanted to share why self-publishing Housewife with a Half-Life – a heartwarming book I believe in –  was a joyful and optimistic step and how I hope to maintain this joy and energy in my work in the future.

I also noticed this realistic post on How to be creative when your brain doesn’t want to play. Covering many of the topics we’ve explored here and especially during the 31 days of creativity posts it offers practical tips for what to do when you’re stuck and these suggestions work, there’s no mystique about creativity, you just need to find ways to ignite the spark.

This post by Louise M. Phillips on What does being a novelist mean is uplifting and affirming for those of us who have chosen to make writing our way of life. What is wonderful is that Louise wrote this post a long time before her debut Red Ribbons was published.

Best of luck with all your endeavours today. I’ve been up early at the #5amwriteclub – something which I’ll talk more about next week. A regular application of work to my novel is certainly paying dividends. If you can make time each day even for a small amount of work, it seems that the awareness of and familiarity with the piece builds up and makes it easier to see the whole. This may not be a revelation to you but my writing opportunities or routine was sometimes sporadic in the past and I’m interested to see how even slow progression can build into something more than the sum of it’s parts.

 

Housewife saves the universe for free

aw-hwah-cover-front-amazon

I’m delighted to have received a mention on the RTE Tubridy radio show this morning by Vanessa O’ Loughlin of Writing.ie. As she explained my book HOUSEWIFE WITH A HALF-LIFE will be free for just today and tomorrow Feb 19th – 20th

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Eat Pray Love meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Susan Strong discovers she is literally disintegrating and has to find herself to save the universe. In this feel-good comedy adventure, Susan, her precocious four year old twins Pluto and Rufus and Fairly Dave, (a kilt- wearing spaceman with luminescent emotions) travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves. Along the way they must dodge the Geezers with their Entropy Hoovers, and defeat the evil memory bankers. Where the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together. From dystopian landscapes to chicken dinners, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

Amazon reviews:

‘Fantastic, funny and just pure genius’ 5*

‘an unforgettable world that will make you laugh, cry, whoop with joy and encourage you to re-evaluate the pathways of your own existence.’ 5*

Charming and enchanting with a dash of science 4*

Paperback available online or in Dubray Books Bray or Hughes and Hughes, Dundrum

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

Free e-book sample of 14 Middle Grade Books!

headermgI’m pleased to pass on news of a free book promotion and competition organised by Sally Harris,author of the fab Diary of a Penguin Napper.

WIN A KINDLE FIRE (Value of $159!) WIN A $10 AMAZON GIFTCARD! WIN GREAT MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS!

Download this e-book, find the secret phrase, and enter it into the contest link embedded in the e-book to be entered into the draw to win a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a great middle grade e-book from one of 14 fantastic authors!

Treat yourself and your kids with a special gift this Valentine’s Day! This is a sample of 14 exciting middle grade stories that you will love and with the chance to win an e-reader.

Competition opens 7 February 2013 and the winner will be announced on 14 February 2013. This e-book will be available to download for free for 5 days from the 711th of February and at 99c for the remaining days of the promotion. The winners will be drawn on 14 February 2013 and announced shortly thereafter.

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Whether you like fantasy, adventure, mystery or humor, “Love Middle Grade Actually” gives you a taste of it all!

This sampler includes:

Sally Harris – Diary of a Penguin-napper (3 weeks, 2 boys, 1 little penguin – what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by the urban myth that it is possible to steal a penguin from the zoo on a school visit using just a backpack!)

SW Lothian – The Golden Scarab (When JJ discovers the secret of time travel at his dad’s museum, he finds himself catapulted back to ancient Egypt with his best friend, smack-bang at the centre of an action-packed race against time and living statues to find the sacred Golden Scarab.)

Nikki Bennett – Four Fiends (Join Jinjing, Pietro, Saburo and Kate as they explore exotic lands, defeat evil demons, and discover the true meaning of friendship.)

Scott Clements – Gasparilla’s Treasure (A fast paced adventure novel following Trip Montgomery on his quest through historic St Augustine, Florida to find the treasure of famed pirate Jose Gaspar.)

Paul R. Hewlett – Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule (Meet Lionel, a lovable bully-magnet, as he arrives in Larrystown and discovers a magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot.)

Julie Anne Grasso – Escape from the Forbidden Planet (Caramel Cinnamon thought the worst day of her life was the day her grandparents, the King and Queen of the Elves of Cardamom went missing. She was wrong!)

Natalie Bahm – The Secret Underground (Anxious to forget the bank robbery she witnessed, twelve-year-old Ally joins her brother and the rest of the neighborhood boys (including the cutest boy in her class) in digging a secret tunnel to an abandoned steel mill.)

Jeff Bilman – Super Ninja Alien Robot Monsters (Ninja fighting, half-robot, half-monster aliens from Alpha Centauri have come to destroy the Earth. Are two bickering brothers the world’s only hope?)

Jemima Pett – The Princelings and the Pirates (A simple mission to solve a problem with the winery turns into a nightmare as our guinea pig heroes, Princelings Fred and George, are captured by pirates, rescue a damsel in distress, and get more than they bargained for in the battle of Dimerie)

Rebecca M Douglass – The Ninja Librarian (Skunk Corners is a dusty, tough, unfriendly town until the Ninja Librarian—a mild-mannered librarian who offers his wisdom with a little extra when folks don’t listen—gets off the train and moves into the library).

Adam C. Veile – The Dreamcatcher Adventures: Greedy Jack Wallace (When the ghost of his rowdy Wild West ancestor appears, seventh-grader Blake Monroe joins him in the search for a hidden treasure, but they soon discover a deadly outlaw is in pursuit and they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives!)

Krista Michelle Breen – Knockout: The Hermit’s Escape (When Phillip Brooks’ new horse leaves him face down in the mud, he soon discovers something very strange is going on inside the old hermit Bert Massey’s house.)

Stanley & Katrina – The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets (Cat and Dog. It is a love/hate relationship. Enter the inner psyche of these creatures as they try to peacefully coexist within the same house. Cleverly written. Hilarious antics.)

Anna Olswanger – Greenhorn (Greenhorn is a powerful story that gives human dimension to the Holocaust. It poignantly underscores our flawed humanity and speaks to the healing value of friendship. )

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY AND ENTER TO WIN!

Love Middle Grade Actually on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Middle-Grade-Actually-ebook/dp/B00B2KEI32 or permalink http://amzn.com/B00B2KEI32

Entry page for the promotion: http://lovemgactually.blogspot.com.au/

Heart Potato

Valentine's came early as I discovered this heart shaped rooster potato when making the dinner.

Valentine’s came early as I discovered this heart shaped rooster potato when making the dinner.

 

‘Oh yes,’ said Fairly Dave. ‘It’s commonly known that there’s too much obesity among tellies hanging round looking at couch potatoes – although they are very interesting. It’s not that often you find a potato in the shape of a couch – not since the supermarkets conspired in that ‘campaign for beautiful vegetables’. And in my opinion it is a shame because sometimes there is nothing more alluring than a two legged carrot.’

Extract from the adorable Housewife with a Half-Life 

Paperback.

 

10,000 ideas for a story

As many of you know I decided in January to write 31 posts (with the help of some brilliant guest posters) on creative and mental resilience. Well what has happened is that with the particular orientation and outlook that that endeavour gave me I have developed more of an eye and awareness for interesting articles, events and related ideas so I intend to keep posting on a regular basis. What I think will work best is blocks of posting and blocks of focused novel work so that I can remained focused on whichever I’m doing at the time. As you know a particular theme of this blog is how to keep creative energy and I’m still figuring out the answers. We need to follow through on our work and plough on when it is difficult but equally we can sometimes keep going through the tunnel of our panic and narrow vision and what we are writing becomes dead. We need to constantly feed the mind with experience, delight, wonder and awe in order to keep that wordfire burning.

Anyhow, enough of the impassioned speeches for today. I wanted to share with you a really interesting product I discovered recently. Aimed at kids, it’s called Rory’s Story Cubes. It consists of nine dice, each with a image on each side – so a total of 54 images.  The idea is for the child to throw the dice and see which combination of images arise. Images include an eye, a plane, a foot and a key. The children then use the images as elements within their story. Because of the possible permutations of the nine dice there are more that 10,000 possible combinations of image, thus 10,000 possible variants on the kinds of story!

We’ve had and will continue to have regular wordprompt and creativity ideas on this blog including the similar David Bowie creativity prompt but I think this is a really neat way of providing creative prompts for storytelling. While this product is aimed at children, it could be a good way for us all to kickstart our story writing and it’s possible of course for adults to create their own version of this game either physically or with some kind of random generation software. This whole dice thing resonates with me because when I was a kid I wrote a tune by using random notes assigned to numbers on the dice. It turned out to be quite a lovely tune and I still remember it today.

This dice technique is random so why might it work? There’s a wealth of information in your head and how it comes together is, in my opinion fairly random. Psychologists refer to information being stored roughly as schemata, an organisational device that groups similar things or things that are connected by the same internal personal story together. But these schemata must be constantly updating depending on time, location, mood, the prompts of the external environment. We are more likely to recall happy memories on a sunny day, or similar gloomy thoughts when we are tired, run down, upset or drenched wet on a grey day in November. What the story cubes and similar devices and wordprompt do is make a connection between your thoughts and associations. And more importantly makes a BRAND NEW AND NOVEL connection. When is an umbrella like a crow? When is it like a helicopter? Why does it call to mind a sheep? (think about it!)

What the world is looking for from writers, what publishers are looking for, what we are looking for from ourselves is to see and express this world, our history, our emotions, our psychology, our customs and interactions DIFFERENTLY. We want to talk about the age old things but say them new, with a new voice with a new viewpoint, making fabulous counterpoints, juxtapositions, clashes and harmonies as in the best classical music.

This novelty is not something we should sit and think about, tear our hair our over, bemoan. We shouldn’t get upset that publishers only want the next big thing or the breakout book or the extraordinary debut novel. The world is AMAZING! We’ve been in space! We’ve built gigantic monuments! People will soon be able to control prosthetic limbs with their thoughts! We’ll soon be able to print a 3d model of anything in our own home. We’ve built bridges and undergrounds and wiped out particular diseases. We made music and films and written books that have transported and transformed. We strive, constantly strive to progress and invent, we give birth, we love ferociously, we stand for good, we do difficult things, we do impossible things. And we do small, lovely, everyday things that need a torch shining on them. Find new ways of saying this. Find new ways of tell 10,000, 100,000, 100 million stories!

I’d like to extend my congratulations to E.K. Carmel and Henry who have both won a copy of Becoming Human. Arrangements will be made to send out your prizes. Well done!