Posted in Reading, Writing

Celebrating National Flash Fiction Day 2015

Happy National Flash Fiction Day!

New cover for Quick Change

If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s the nutshell summary:

  • flash fiction is another term for the very short story (typically 500 words or fewer)
  • National Flash Fiction Day was founded by author Calum Kerr to celebrate this story format on or around the shortest night of the year (see what he did there?)
  • this year we’re marking it on Saturday 27th June with events in real life and online around the world

Here are four ways that I’ll be celebrating:

  • reducing the price of the ebook of my first flash fiction collection, Quick Change, to 99p for the weekend, on all the digital distribution platforms (it’s also available in paperback for £5.99, featuring two bonus stories)
  • publishing one of the stories in the book, The Comfort of Neighbours, in the online FlashFlood journal that pops up today like a rarely blooming exotic flower
  • reading the many excellent fiction stories that will appear every few minutes in FlashFlood 
  • writing some new stories for my next collection, Marry In Haste
Cover of the paperback showing blurb
The paperback includes two bonus stories set in public libraries

How will you be marking National Flash Fiction Day? I’d love to know!

Posted in Reading, Writing

Sharing My Stories About Public Libraries

Indie Author Fair banner ad

 

Yesterday I was pleased to give a public reading of two of my short stories at the Chorleywood Literary Festival. Both stories were written in celebration of public libraries.

I attended the Festival to represent the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) at an event called the Indie Author Fair. This was a pop-up bookshop organised by the author collective Triskele Books in association with ALLi. Around 40 indie authors were involved, so I was very lucky to be chosen as one of a dozen readers.

Originally I’d planned to read a story from my summer collection, Quick Change, but at the last minute I thought it more appropriate to select a story that celebrated books and reading.

I’ve had two stories about libraries published this year, one in Eating My Words, the official anthology of National Flash Fiction Day, and the other in Change The Ending, which used flash fiction to foster positive outcomes for local government – an unusual and inventive use of fiction!  When I asked the IAF’s compère, Perry Iles, which of the two I should read, he answered “Both!” So I did, and they went down very well with the audience. Good call, Perry!

I’d like to share those stories with those of you who weren’t at the Festival, so today I’m posting on my blog the story from Eating My Words – the one that had to be written on the theme of The Senses. This story was inspired by my husband’s Open University science degree course. By an extraordinary coincidence, he happened to be studying a module on The Senses, and kept sharing with me fascinating facts from his textbook. The narrator of the resulting story is an elderly gentleman, who is emphatically not based on my husband!

I’ll share the other story with you later this month, so if you don’t already receive my new posts by email,  pop your address in the “follow the blog” box form on the right of this page to make sure you don’t miss it.

Please Remain Silent for the Benefit of Other Library Users (In Hushed Tones)

Why, Miss Blossom, how lovely to see you back in the Reading Room, it’s been a while, has it not? I hope you’ve been keeping well. The Times? Yes, I’ve finished with The Times. Please be my guest. No, no, I’ve definitely finished.

I was just going to toddle along to the Science section until I saw you. Yes, Neuroscience, actually, it’s a new interest of mine. I’ve been spending a lot of time in that department lately. Fascinating stuff, absolutely fascinating.

Just yesterday I came across a fact I’d never known before. Tell me, have you ever noticed that although the smell of polish hits you the minute you enter the library, you cease to notice it after a while? Apparently, that’s nature’s way. We’re all programmed to stop noticing a smell, good or bad, within moments of first sensing it. Yes, unpleasant smells too. Yes, I suppose it is a blessing. That must be why that air freshener company has been advertising a device that alternates between two different perfume reservoirs – so that the user is constantly reminded that it’s working.

No, no, I don’t watch much commercial television either. I just happened to switch over by mistake.

But the same applies to all the other senses, according to the book I’ve been reading over in the Science section. If you hear a sound repeatedly, it fades into the background.  Yes, trains passing your flat at night, that’s an excellent example. You only notice them when they stop – when there’s a strike and they don’t run. I’ve noticed that too. You’re so right. Next time I’m kept awake by the cessation of striking trains, I shall – there, I shall say it! – I shall think of you.

And have you noticed how the same food or drink, day after day, ceases to be pleasurable? Yes, that first cup of proper English tea after a trip abroad is always the best, you’re quite right.

And as to touch, well, I never notice the cat curled up against my arm on the bed at night, once she and I have settled down. Your cat sleeps on your bed too? Sooty sleeps on your bed, curled up into the small of your back? Oh, Miss Blossom, I say! I wonder whether our cats would be friends if they met?

The other sense? The fifth one? Does it work for the sense of sight? Well, do you know, I am at odds with the book on that one. Because, Miss Blossom, because – and I don’t care if the librarian is looking daggers at me since you ask – no matter how often I spot you in this Reading Room, and no matter how long I gaze at you before you look up and notice me, I will never tire of the sight of you . Oh Miss Blossom, dare I ask? Would you care to join me for the afternoon in the Science Section?

To read more stories on the theme of the senses, and wonder at the amazing inventiveness of other writers featured in the anthology, you’ll find Eating My Words available as ebook and paperback available to buy on Amazon.

Quick Change is currently available as an ebook for Kindle, and a paperback will be available from all good bookshops from the end of November.

Posted in Writing

An Autumnal Story for a Misty Morning, via Wattpad

A seasonal short story from my new flash fiction collection Quick Change, and an introduction to Wattpad, the free reading site. 

Received wisdom in my village is that autumn starts the day after the Village Show is over. The morning mists this week bear witness to that myth’s veracity. So, feeling all autumnal, I thought I’d post up a link to a short story on an autumn theme (or fall, to my friends the other side of the pond). It’s taken from my new flash fiction collection, Quick Change, which is currently available as an ebook and due for launch as a paperback in November this autumn.

Autumn LeavesAutumn Leaves 

Click on the story title to read the story on a site called Wattpad. You can also find other free samples of my work there, not just from this book but from others too, both published (my diabetes book) and as yet unpublished (my memoir of moving from the city to the country).

All about Wattpad

If you haven’t already encountered Wattpad, it’s a social media site which helps authors share free samples of their work with readers by posting up their books in short bursts, either all at once or eking them out over a longer period. (The old adage “always leave them wanting more” doesn’t only apply to the performing arts, you know.) Some authors also use it to test out new stories and gain feedback, effectively acquiring beta readers (the book world’s equivalent to test drivers) prior to publication. And of course, they all hope that lots of readers will enjoy the free samples sufficiently to pay real money to buy their actual books, whether as ebooks or in print.

I joined Wattpad only recently, but I’m hoping it’ll help me reach new readers that otherwise wouldn’t know about me. The site is particularly popular with teenagers and new adults reading scifi and fantasy (not my core audience), but it’s becoming increasingly popular across other genres and with other audiences too.

More about Quick Change

Cover of Quck Change flash fiction collection
Emerged from its cocoon on National Flash Fiction Day 2014

The ebook edition of Quick Change is now available to buy exclusively on Amazon for £1.99 or the equivalent in your local currency. That’s just 10p a story, folks! Click the book cover image on the right to go straight to its page on Amazon. I’ll be adding the ebook to other distribution platforms such as Kobo and Smashwords shortly, but if you’d like to read it now and don’t have an ereader, simply download the free Kindle app to the electronic device of your choice (phone, tablet, PC, etc).

In the run-up to the launch of the paperback, if you’d like a free review copy of the ebook of Quick Change, in return for an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads, please let me know. 

Like to join my mailing list? There’s a free, new, previously unpublished short story with every issue of my enewsletter, despatched once a month. Click here to sign up now for free. You can unsubscribe at any time. 

Posted in Writing

Writing for Writers and Artists

Cover of 2014 Writers' & Artists' YearbookA post about my excitement at being asked to write for the website of the bestselling guide for authors, the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook

When I first encountered the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook in my teens, I regarded it as some kind of Holy Grail for aspiring authors. Within this vast tome lay an introduction to everyone who was anyone in the world of publishing, including agents and publishers who might in time be my stepping-stone to becoming a published author.

Like so many other aspiring authors, I religiously bought the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook year after year, reading it avidly and highlighting the most likely suspects in dayglo pens.

Ambitions Achieved

Despite a regular W&A habit, my first book was published not by someone listed in its pages, but by SilverWood Books, a publishing services company that had evolved to help writers take advantage of the new trend for self-publishing. Their service was made possible by technology that hadn’t even been dreamed of the day I first picked up the esteemed Yearbook. I’ve since gone on to co-author a book for the Alliance of Independent Authors and to self-publish books of my own.

Exciting Invitation

Cover of Quck Change flash fiction collection
Now emerged from its cocoon

Even so, it was with delight that I accepted an invitation to start writing guest posts for the modern face of the traditional Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, its website www.writersandartists.co.uk.

The first article I’ve written for them was an introduction to flash fiction, and it was published to coincide with National Flash Fiction Day on 21st June, when I also officially launched my new ebook collection of flash, Quick Change. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it – or just to share my joy at seeing my name as a byline for this esteemed publication:

https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/673/dedicated-genre-advice/writing-short-stories/

But now, it’s on to the next article: a piece I’m writing for them about the value of writers’ retreats. Watch this space…

Other posts about articles I’ve written recently for various publications:

 

Posted in Reading, Writing

Flash Fiction for Summer Lightning

Frank Shannon
Flash Gordon saves the universe, with a little help from his bearded friend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time last year, I chanced upon a phenomenon completely new to me: Flash Fiction, known simply as “Flash” to its fans.

Previously, if anyone had asked what I thought of “Flash”, I’d have assumed they were talking about classic sci-fi hero Flash Gordon (perhaps because he shares a name with my husband, Flash Young – no, only kidding, it’s Gordon, of course!) Still, there are worse associations that might have sprung to mind.

Little did I know on this first encounter that it was something I’d quickly come to love. (Again, just like my husband.)

Flash What?

Cover of Bart Van Goethem's book Life's too short for long stories
I love this tiny book! (Photo by me)

“So what is Flash Fiction?” I hear you cry. Well, it’s a very, VERY short story, usually under 1,000 words but often much shorter – 500, 100, 50. (For comparison, this article contains 285 words.) I even know of one writer, Bart van Goethem, who’s managed a story of no words, simply by using the title “Memoirs of An Uninteresting Man”, with nothing beneath it.

Flash is perfect for anyone who thinks they have no time to read. Just a few seconds on the page will nourish your imagination for hours. It’s a form of fiction that lends itself well to the modern age, being easy to download and read on a smartphone or tablet. But technophobes won’t miss out – there is plenty available in book form too. I hope to be publishing one of my own soon.

This month brings the perfect opportunity to find out more: the second National Flash Fiction Day on 22nd June.  Last year there were lots of free downloads available on the day. Free samples on my blog all year round, too.

(Fades to “Flash Gordon” theme music…)

This article was originally written for the June 2013 edition of Hawkesbury Parish News.