Monday, 9 November 2015

Old Stuff, New Stuff

When I first started to write, around six years ago, being published in anything at all seemed like an impossible dream.  I've been very lucky. Since then my work has appeared in various places, both online and in magazines and print anthologies.  If you type my name into Amazon it comes up with stuff that you can buy containing my work. Yes, I've looked, I really am that sad! I'm not delusional. I know nobody has ever heard of me, and hardly anyone has read anything I've written. But you can't argue with an Amazon listing!

No matter how many times it happens, it never stops being exciting. And I'm especially proud to have a story included in the Momaya Short Story Review 2015.  The theme this year was 'Treasure', and I entered a new version of a story I originally wrote some time ago, which seemed to fit the theme perfectly. I've received my copy of this lovely, beautifully produced anthology, and there is at least one story in it that I wish I'd written.

I was also thrilled when another older story, The Secret, was highly commended in the last Inktears Short Story Competition. This story was the first one to appear when the site was revamped recently. It got some lovely, interesting comments, for which I'm very grateful. You can read it here.

Relying on old stories is all very well, but you need to write new ones, and try out different things. In September I went, with some trepidation, to a Woman's Weekly Fiction Workshop in Manchester. I've been submitting stories to 'womags' for some time, although I fear that the optimistic tone they require doesn't come naturally to me. I am a natural pessimist who expects my toast to fall butter side down. Most of my stories have sad endings. This won't do, apparently, in the womag story. There must be a note of hope. So I have a lot to work on.

Having said that, I had a fantastic day at the workshop, which was tutored by the lovely Della Galton, and the very witty Gaynor Davies, Woman's Weekly Fiction Editor. I learned so much about what Woman's Weekly is looking for, and what they don't like. And I was actually brave enough to read something out loud. If you know me personally you'll understand what a massive thing that is. I hate the sound of my own voice. The best thing of all though was the opportunity to spend a whole day just thinking about writing, in a room full of other people who love it as much as I do.

Stepping outside my writing comfort zone again, I entered the People's Friend Serial Writing Competition, which closed at the end of last month. I grew up reading my Nana's weekly copies of People's Friend. I can see them now, piled up in the corner of her sofa.  I suspect that there are some very special skills required to write the kind of stories that People's Friend likes. I also suspect that I don't have them yet. But I had such fun writing an outline for my 3 part serial, and the first 6000 word installment. I don't think I've ever worked so hard on anything in my life, and that includes my university finals. There have apparently been 116 entries for this competition. I don't for one minute expect to be successful, but nothing is ever wasted. I'm sure I can develop what I've written into two or three shorter stories, if nothing comes of this.

In other news, I had a pleasing little win last week in the weekly flash competition recently started by  The Short Story Website . My winning story, Lambs, was originally part of a much longer story. Re-reading, I realised that all I really wanted to say was contained in this little episode. I'm glad it's finally found a home. And this newish site is a wonderful thing for readers and writers of short stories.

My cat Lily remains unimpressed by my writing. All she really cares about is where her next packet of Dreamies is coming from. Can't say I blame her. Onwards.......

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Patience Finally Pays Off....

Pieces of good writing news are, it would seem, like buses.  As the saying goes, you wait forever, then three come along at once.  I was thrilled, last week, to learn that I had been highly commended in the Inktears Short Story Competition 2014. Obviously, I'd have been even happier if I'd won, but to come in the top 7 of a competition with around 500 entries is something worth celebrating.

Then, after 12 weeks of almost always being in the top 10, but never shortlisted, and just before I gave up hope, I managed to win WriteInvite for the first time this year. To be honest, I wasn't that happy with my story when I wrote it. It was all a bit traumatic, and for a few seconds, minutes before the competition closed, I thought I had lost the whole thing. Somehow, I managed to get it back. And miraculously it won! My friend Jo came third. It's the first time we've ever been shortlisted together. You can read our stories here. I wish more people would enter this weekly competition. You have a really good chance of being shortlisted.  I was, the second time I entered. It's such a good exercise, writing for 30 minutes using one of 3 given prompts, with the chance of winning £50. What's not to love?

On Tuesday my story Eavesdropping was published by the online Flash Fiction Magazine. It's the second story I've had published by them,and it has received some lovely positive comments.  Interestingly, not everyone sided with the same character. This is what makes writing so interesting. So it's been a good writing week. Lily Cat continues to seek attention, and has developed a fondness for tapping at my keyboard. I'm thinking of letting her enter WriteInvite on my behalf on Saturday. She'd probably do a pretty good job. She certainly has a tale or two to tell!

On the reading front I have been enjoying the wonderful Millie And Bird by Avril Joy. This is the kind of short story collection I fantasize about writing, all set in the same close knit community. The title story won the Costa Short Story Award in 2012. I'm also currently reading, on my Kindle, From Writing With Love ,  Avril's book of sound advice about the craft of writing. I can recommend it for anyone in search of a little encouragement.  I've also been having a look at the latest Bath Short Story Anthology , in preparation for hopefully submitting a story to the 2015 competition. I have a story in mind, and just need to more or less rewrite it. Onward and upwards .....

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

I'm not quite sure how it's happened, but almost a quarter of 2015 has passed.  It's been a frustrating few months, without a single publication. I haven't even managed a WriteInvite shortlisting, even though I've been entering every week. I've definitely fallen out of favour there.

On the positive side, I've actually been writing more than ever. Thanks to writing sessions with my writing buddy Jo I have, since the beginning of January, completed around six brand new stories, and have at least 15 'works in progress'.  One of these new stories made the shortlist of the latest Word Hut short story competition, which is, I guess, better than nothing. At least I know I'm not writing complete rubbish.

The most exciting writerly thing that has happened this year is finding myself of the Inktears Short Story Competition Shortlist. I'm thrilled to be included in the final thirteen, especially since the longlist was VERY long.  The closing date for this competition was in 2014. In a way, I hate having to wait for results. But at least while you're waiting you still have hope.

Last year I blogged about how pleased I was to have my flash fiction, My Evil Twin, included in issue 2 of Firewords Quarterly. Rather belatedly, browsing on one of my favourite websites, Shortstops, I came across a lovely mention for my story in the Review section. You need to scroll down the page to find it, at the end of the Firewords review. I'm especially taken with the sentence 'Her short short is powerful enough to get her imagery stuck in your brain for several days after reading it.' It's a shame they spelled my name wrong, mind you, but I can live with that.

My writing goal this week is to complete a story to submit to The Short Fiction Prize. I suspect that none of my stories are really literary enough for this kind of competition. But you never know.........

Monday, 2 February 2015

Still Just Getting On With It.....

I haven't updated my blog for some time now. January has somehow slipped by with nothing interesting to report. No shortlistings, no wins, no acceptances. In fact, no acknowledgement at all of the fact that I am a writer. Longlists, shortlists and results for competitions I have entered keep popping up. I am never on them. I am like that five year old child that keeps tugging on the teacher's sleeve, needing to be told that she's doing okay.  But I have no sleeve to tug. The only thing I have ever really wanted to do is write. Unless you count my childhood ambition to be a hairdresser. That never happened. At the moment, the writing thing isn't happening either.
          Ironically, I've written more this month than I've done for a long, long time, thanks mostly to almost daily sessions with my writing buddy.  I've got a handful of brand new stories in first draft form. I'm quite excited about a couple of them. I'm sure I'm a better writer now than I was this time last year. All I need is a bit of encouragement. Please? Anyone???