To write a novel, don’t write a short story instead!

 

This month, I have mostly been side-tracked by the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, which is a huge international competition that I’ve entered for the past couple of years.

Normally, I’ve had a story that I can refresh for this, and send off without too much fuss. But this year I had nothing. At the beginning of the month, I decided to write a new story for the 1 November deadline.

I sat with my pen in my hand, and an 82 year old woman who lives in a caravan, and who’s been in my head for a few months (I thought she might be a novel, at first), fought herself onto the page. And then a 16 year old boy walked past her van and they started talking.

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Celebrating the first draft…

I’m now editing. I have little notes, as I always do, littering the page that say More Here, and I’m trying really hard to describe the sound of helicopter rotor blades.

Scarily, it doesn’t have a title, yet. On the whole, the title comes first for me, and the story wraps itself into it. Because my octogenarian came first, the title was overlooked. And now I’m floundering a little. What if it never comes? What if I have to send it off with the title ‘Story’?

Deep breath, eat chocolate… ahh, that’s better.

By November, I’ll be back on my novel, which will at that point be officially not a novel in a year, because it began life during last year’s National Novel Writing Month… Where’s that chocolate?


 

Congratulations to George Saunders who has won this year’s Man Booker Prize, with his first full length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. See, short story writers are awesome!

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The nature of short stories

Some bloggers excel at sharing with guests who bring their extensive knowledge with them, while others dive into the deep and meaningful, with carefully researched quotes to back up their argument. When I decided to start a blog, I had no contacts, no author friends at all – I was a complete writing loner – so I didn’t anticipate anyone reading it at all. I basically use my blog as a diary.

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My new book stand!

So, when I have a deep and meaningful thought, and decide to write a blog post about it, I fall short – my entire deep and meaningful thought took a single sentence… which is not a blog post, it’s a tweet!

Hence, I’m writing a long and rambling intro, in the hope that it will distract from the shallowness of my thought.

The nature of short stories (starting here properly)

Short stories written for collections are written in a completely different style to short stories written for competitions.

Recently, I’ve been writing stories to submit to online journals and competitions, while reading a short story collection.

My own work has been geared to jumping off the page, attracting the editor/judge’s attention from the off, and holding it until the very last sentence. And, preferably, having it linger in their mind while they move on to the next submission.

The collection, however, has been more placid, like a warm chocolate brownie rolling around in your mouth, slow and precise and a little bit meandering until it hits the crescendo, the crux.

21151201_1860500257298687_4500366284704478189_nThis might, of course, be completely obvious to you. Probably very obvious to authors who write commissioned pieces – looking at the market before the consider the execution of their story – but I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the difference. When I write a story, the idea comes, then the title, then the first line – usually in that order, and usually pretty quickly. Bam, bam, bam! The story is on the page before I consider what I’m going to do with it.

I intend to use this revelation wisely!

 

What have you discovered about writing, recently?

As a reader, have you considered the differences in the stories you read?

Am I really the last person to have figured this out?


 

You can read my 1st placed story The Fear of Ghosts on the Dark Tales website for another couple of weeks, until next month’s winner is announced. I’d love to know what you think of it, if you haven’t told me already! And if you loved it, you can always tell me again 😉

 

Just a quick update, while I wait…

It’s been almost four weeks since I finished my novel and sent it to my beta readers. I’ve had one come back, and one giving intriguing updates. As hard as it is, I haven’t looked at those first comments, and I haven’t opened the ms at all in that time. I’m quite proud of myself for giving it so much space… and a little terrified at what I might find when I look at it again.

In the meantime, #1 son did this…

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… and, to be honest, I found it a bit of a struggle on the day. But I’m over it now, and looking forward to watching the next stage of his life unfold.

I planned to write some brand new short stories this summer, but in fact I refreshed a couple and sent them off to competitions, and I have another couple to work through to do the same with. Every time I tried to write something new, nothing happened – my pen froze above the page and refused to make contact.

On Saturday morning, however, very early and after my second mug of tea, I managed to write a new character. I have no idea where the story is going, but I’ve been doing some pretty interesting research into premonitions and Count St Germain, neither of which may go anywhere, but it’s been really interesting and a little chilling.

I haven’t managed as much cake or chocolate as I planned, but there’s still a few more weeks of August left!

M.B. Feeney: an interview

2uglwsxWelcome to another interview with one of the authors featured in the Where Words Fail Music Speaks anthology.

You can find the anthology on Amazon, on Kindle and in paperback.

I hope you’re enjoying the series so far. I’m meeting lots of new writers, which is really cool.

Today, please welcome M.B. Feeney to my blog!

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m too close to 40, I live in Birmingham (UK) with my partner of 16 years (get less for murder these days), 2 kids, 1 mad dog, and 2 chinchillas. I’m not working (other than writing) at the moment as my youngest is still in Primary school, but that may change when he starts Secondary – unless I sell the movie rights to one of my books hahaha.

  1. Why did you decide to be involved with the anthology?

My friend’s teenage son suffers with Cluster Migraines and I know how much he suffers with them. I suffer with migraine’s and can’t imagine anything worse, and hoped my short helps even just a little bit. I also used it as an excuse to push me out of my writing comfort zone.

  1. All the story/poem titles are 90s Brit Pop songs. How did you choose your song title?

I’d originally picked a different song. The story was similar, but I didn’t ‘feel’ it. Then, I heard taunts of ‘there she goes’ and the song and story idea were just chosen for me.

  1. How did your story/poem develop?

As mentioned above, I’d started the prologue, but once the first chapter was almost finished, it didn’t feel right, so I put it to one side for a few days. Eventually, the darker side of my story began to develop in my mind, and I just went with it. Not long after I finished it, I watched 13 reasons Why, and with all the discussion about the show, I’m glad I chose the direction I did, even if I don’t deal with suicide, the bullying is still the main thread of the plot. Due to word count limits, I’ve had to end on a slight cliffhanger, but I will write the second part and release the two as a complete story in the future.

  1. Does your submission in the anthology reflect your published work, or did you take the opportunity to experiment?

As I mentioned before, I used the anthology as an opportunity to move away from my comfort zone with my writing. Mostly, I’m a romance author, and while this story does have a little romance included, it’s not the main theme.

  1. As a novel writer, how did writing to a tighter word count feel?

The majority of my books are between 10-30k, so keeping it short wasn’t a problem, but it will be extended into a Part Two.

  1. Tell me about your last/next project.

My next release will be a ‘bromance’ set in 90s London. It’s an NA almost coming of age story – with a hint of romance of course. It’s currently going through self edits and beta reads, but I can’t wait for people to read it as I had so much fun writing it. Took me back to my teenage years!

  1. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Probably the creating side of it. I love thinking up new ideas – it’s so hard to find something completely original, so putting my own spin on a trope or plot is fun. Not always easy, but it’s my favourite part.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? (writing or non-writing answers allowed 😊)

Hopefully being able to pay bills with my earnings. I don’t necessarily want to be the next E. L. James fame and sales wise (although it’s nice to dream), but a steady and regular income would be amazing.

MB Feeney picAuthor bio:

M.B. Feeney is an army brat who finally settled down in Birmingham, UK with her other half, two kids and a dog. She often procrastinates by listening to music of all genres and trying to get ‘just one more paragraph’ written on whichever WIP is open; she is also a serious doodler and chocoholic. Writing has been her one true love ever since she could spell, and publishing is the final culmination of her hard work and ambition.

Her publishing career began with two novellas, and she currently has multiple projects under way, in the hopes that her portfolio of what have been described as “everyday love stories for everyday people” will continue to grow. Always having something on the go can often lead to block which eventually gets dissolved by good music and an even better book.

Her main reason for writing is to not only give her readers enjoyment, but also to create a story and characters that stay with readers long after the book is finished, and possibly make someone stop and think “what if . . . ”

You can find M. B. Feeney here:  Facebook // Twitter // Blog 


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Before you go, I just want to direct you to my guest post on The Bandwagon as part of Vikki Patis’s Cornish Reading Challenge.

I’m sharing my love for the Tamar Bridge!

Clare Dugmore: an interview

2uglwsxWelcome to another interview with one of the authors featured in the Where Words Fail Music Speaks anthology.

Have you bought your copy yet? How many of the authors have you read before?

You can find the anthology on Amazon, on Kindle and in paperback.

 

Today, I’d like to welcome Clare Dugmore to my blog… Hi Clare…

Thank you for having me on your blog, Annalisa. It’s great to be here to spread the word about The Where Words Fail, Music Speaks anthology, and why we chose to support ClusterBusters.

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hey, I’m Clare Dugmore. I’m a thirty-something romance writer from the West Midlands, of England. I’m a married of mother of two, and in my spare time I enjoy binge watching shows with Hubby, spending time with my two sons, and playing video games.

  1. Why did you decide to be involved with the anthology?

Originally, I agreed to take part because I’d do anything Kyra Lennon asks me (😝), and I like writing for anthologies.

As I learned more about the cause, and how terrible cluster headaches are, I wanted to do something to help those who suffer from them.

As Kyra said in her interview, clusters aren’t widely known about, and not enough treatments have been developed to combat them. I hope our contribution can spread awareness, and raise money for more research to be done.

  1. All the story/poem titles are 90s Brit Pop songs. How did you choose your song title?

I had a really hard time with the song, which is funny, because I was a teen at the height of 90s Brit Pop, and a HUGE fan of one of the most popular Brit Pop bands, Blur. Alas, I couldn’t find anything from the Brit Pop era that fit my story, and instead settled on Letters to Cleo’s cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me,” which is featured in the movie “Ten Things I Hate About You.” I love the song, I listen to it a lot, and it fit perfectly with my story. 

  1. How did your story/poem develop?

My story is an idea I’ve had rattling around in my head for a while now, ever since I read an article about a guy who realised he wasn’t as straight as he thought, when he started getting jealous seeing his roommate with another guy.

As soon as I read the article, I had a “What If?” moment, and everything else sort of fell into place.

What if you’ve repressed your true sexuality, and unknowingly fallen for your best friend/ roommate?

I mean, it happens often enough in heterosexual friendships, when one of them develops feelings for the other? But my story added the layer of my main character, Joss, having to work out that she’s bisexual, and then dealing with the fallout of coming out to her conservative parents.

  1. Does your submission in the anthology reflect your published work, or did you take the opportunity to experiment?

Yes and no. This is the first LGBT story I’ve written, and I hope I did it justice, especially with Joss grappling with her sexuality and coming out to her parents. In other ways, it was typical of what I usually write in that it was a romance, with some angst keeping the two characters apart.

  1. As a novel writer, how did writing to a tighter word count feel?

I think I’m getting better at it. At least, I hope I am. This story was great, because the plot felt perfect for a short. I don’t think it needed to be long and drawn out like a novel, so that made it easier for me.

  1. Tell me about your last/next project.

My most recent release, ALL IT TAKES, was on February 14. It’s a new-adult romance, about a uni student who gets pregnant from a one-night stand with an MMA fighter, and how they navigate having a child together, when they’re not actually a couple.

Right now, I’m working on an age-gap romance about a twenty-five-year-old makeup artist, who falls for a former rock-star twice her age. Trouble comes in the form of his ex-wife, and their attitude-filled fifteen-year-old daughter.

I hope to begin serializing it this summer.

  1. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The escape. I read and write to escape, to get away from life’s stresses for a few hours, and go into another world. I hope my stories offer that escape to other when they read them. 

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? (writing or non-writing answers allowed 😊)

EEK! I’ll be almost 40!! I hope not too much changes, because I’m happy where I am right now. I hope to be thinner (I’m currently doing the keto diet, and have lost two stone already.) I hope in five years, I’m at a healthy weight.

Writing wise, I hope I’ve made a bestsellers list, somewhere. New York Times and USA Today are the dream, but I’d settle for Amazon right now! Lol

 

Clare Dugmore bio PicAuthor Bio

Clare Dugmore is an author of all things romantic; be they contemporary, paranormal, fantasy. She loves a good love story!

Her novel, ALL IT TAKES, a dual-POV new-adult, contemporary-romance about responsibility, love and discovering who you are in life, released on February 14, 2017.
Clare is a thirty-something, married, mother of two from the West Midlands, of England. In her spare time, she enjoys binge watching shows with her hubby, spending time with her two sons, and playing video games.

You can connect with Clare at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

The anthology launches!

I’m excited to be taking part in the release blitz for the Where Words Fail, Music Speaks Anthology, which is out now!
Where Words Fail, Music Speaks is a collection of short stories and poetry by writers from all walks of life.
Each story is based on the titles of 90s Britpop songs, including Come Back To What You Know, Bittersweet Symphony, Animal Nitrate, Disco 2000, and more.
Our list of authors is: Kyra Lennon, Clare Dugmore, Annalisa Crawford, Ker Dukey, Wesley Copeland, Robb Turburville, D H Sidebottom, Audrina Lane, M.B. Feeney, Karen Frances, S.J Warner, Scout Dawson, Kimberly Morgan, Maddie Wade, Rebeccalou Heronpontin, Andrea Coventry.
All proceeds from the sales of this anthology will go to Clusterbusters.
 

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks – Cover Reveal

Yes, I know, I’m late to this particular party – a cover reveal for an anthology I’m going to be included in! I had Tuesday’s post for Theresa Milstein scheduled weeks in advance, the only post currently scheduled for the rest of the year! It’s a bit like that story/urban myth/utter truth that the first two cars in Ohio managed to crash into each other.

However, there might be people who haven’t seen the cover yet, so without further ado here’s the cover for the Where Words Fail, Music Speaks Anthology, which is scheduled for release April 21, 2017.

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Where Words Fail, Music Speaks is a collection of short stories and poetry by writers from all walks of life.

Each story is based on the titles of 90s Britpop songs, including Come Back To What You Know, Bittersweet Symphony, Animal Nitrate, Disco 2000, and more.

Our list of authors is: Kyra Lennon, Clare Dugmore, Annalisa Crawford, Wesley Copeland, Robb Turburville, D H Sidebottom, Audrina Lane, M.B. Feeney, Karen Frances, S.J Warner, Scout Dawson, Kimberly Morgan, Maddie Wade, Rebeccalou Heronpontin, Andrea Coventry

All proceeds from the sales of this anthology will go to Clusterbusters.

Add to your Goodreads to-be-read list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34409894-where-words-fail-music-speaks

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