11/7/2018

I’m doing a super short blog this time not because loads hasn’t happened but because it has and time is short. There have been family thises and that’s this month that have mahoosively interfered with writing and I’m sooo behind. I’ve got to do my three pieces of workshop feedback today as its the deadline tomorrow at 12am and, as England are playing in the World Cup Semis tonight and a bbq is planned, I must get everything done by tea-time.

Headlines writing wise are: my highly commended story at InkTears is up this month with a readers biog and details about how the story came about. Here’s the link http://www.inktears.com/stories-b/2018/4/4/107-a-walk-in-the-park

meandripeningAlso, my copy of Ripening arrived. Here’s me hiding behind a photo of it. This anthology is packed full of excellent Flashes from a plethora of wonderful writers. I’m looking forward to reading my own teeny tale at the open mic event at The Flash Festival which is now only one weekend away. I’ve also had flashes accepted at Ellipses, Rhythm and Bones and Reflex.

Right off to read these extracts and feedback on them.

10/6/2018

Lying in bed in my hotel room in Edinburgh beavering away writing, submitting and editing. I’m here because yesterday I attended an OU event about publishing which was absolutely brilliant. All the speakers were informative, entertaining and relevant and best of all, I got to meet several of my peers who are doing the MA, which was wonderful.

Because I’ve been here, there and everywhere over the last couple of weeks with half-term traumas, house renovations and the like, I’m a bit behind with writing deadlines. That’s why I’m now in the Bath Flash Last Minute Club having submitted just now. Here’s the brilliant badge you get for submitting on the final day.

BFFFlastminclub

For my last ever Tutor Mark Assessed short story on my MA course, I got a distinction though my over-all mark was pulled down by getting a rubbish mark for my synopsis. I just couldn’t get into this exercise. Not one publisher I researched asks for synopses for short story collections, and when it came to writing one I couldn’t give my endings away. It felt sooo wrong to casually give away crafted endings that had taken weeks to create, so I didn’t and was marked down accordingly. However at the OU event yesterday, all the attendant authors and agents said they’re not that fussed with synopses even for novels. They’d rather have a great covering letter and three wonderful chapters, so I feel totally exonerated. Just glad to put it all behind me and crack on with my novella now. Got until October to get it done and polished.

Getting published wise, I had this in The Drabble

https://thedrabble.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/my-teenage-son-defining-words-just-before-i-challenge-his-use-of-possessive-pronouns/

I’ve also been short-listed for the Tacchi-Morris Spoken Word competition. I’m going to Taunton next Friday to read my entry which will be judged on the night from a short list of  12. No pressure then! Also the proof copies of The National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2018, in which I have a wee flash, were sent a couple of weeks ago and the cover is now finished and the title decided on. Here’s a picture. Cannot wait to get it in my hands.Ripening

 

 

26/5/2018

This shall be a quick post because as you can see I’ve had a delivery of @tiredpsych’s new novella-in-flash Three Sister’s of Stone and have a mostly free afternoon to start reading it.

College wise I’ve handed in Tutor Marked Assessment 4 which I struggled with. Not the short story, but the other bits – a synopsis of a shorts tory collection that will probs never get published, and a letter to a publisher introducing it. That will come in handy one day I’m sure, but the writing of it felt like pulling teeth.

But its gone now so that’s that. I haven’t submitted anything else other story-wise as I’ve been mostly trying to keep focussed on the pesky TMA. I did start a couple of sneaky short stories though and have had three goodish ideas for flash fictions. So in this week before I sink myself into my novella-in-progress, for TMA5, I will probably start writing those too.

Also, I’m also going to do more blogging. Following the excellent example of one of my fellow students, I’m going to, in the month of June, blog an A-z of literary mags and e-zines, posting almost every day. I’m doing this because it will be good research. Since I started tweeting a bit more, since the taught part of the MA finished, I’ve found out how little I know about this world and so intend to research it, blog about it and submit to the ones that look up my street. Right off to make myself a brew and settle into my comfy chair to read this absolute beauty.three sisters of stone

17/5/2018

Just reread my last blog, which seems like yonkers ago writing wise. I’ve now finished the taught bit of my MA and am moving towards only writing. I’m just finishing the last short story tutor marked assessment (deadline next Thursday). Though the short story is written, there are two other parts to this exercise: a letter to an agent or publishers, and a synopsis of a work in progress. I’m still working on the synopsis which feels a bit like a superfluity as my WIP is a collection of short stories and all the publishers/agents I’ve found who take such submissions, want a letter and three of the said stories. Hey ho – the synopsis skill will come in useful one day I know it, its just a very hard skill indeed.

Short story wise I changed again. The blog-page story became much too long so I wrote a disturbing metafictional sci-fi about a future-world that’s maybe a version of our own, where sisters are set against sisters.

Getting published wise, I had a couple of rejections (very lovely rejections from places I’ll try again) and a flash accepted in this year’s National Flash Fiction Anthology (as yet unnamed). I’m very pleased with this, as it was my first attempt to get into it, and the story I wrote was one I did on the Kathy Fish flash course in January. It is the result of an exercise where we were tasked with writing something down all in one go – just letting it all pour out.

I was also astonished (and very gratified indeed) to have both my entries into the National Flash Day drabble comp, shortlisted. So delighted was I,shortlist I photographed the page with my name on it twice. Here it is which I’m posting for posterity. I didn’t win anything but being listed with this collection of wonderful writers is more than enough for me. I’m particularly pleased to be listed with my feedback buddy Gaynor Jones who is a wonderful writer of flash. I read the winning entries and the skill exhibited is both daunting and inspirational. This was my first attempt at drabble writing and I feel flushed full of enthusiasm to do more. So-much-so that I wrote, submitted and had one accepted at Drabbledark which will be an anthology in October. The link is at the bottom of the page. I’ve also been longlisted for the Retreat West rolling flash comp which will be short-listed next week. Which brings me to my other bit of news. I joined Retreat West as an author member.

Finishing the taught part of my MA felt a bit like the beginning of the end of something, so I though I’d try something new. If you sign up to be an author member of Retreat West, you get entry to comps for free, books and anthologies gratis (in print and electrically) access to a Facebook page full of other aspiring writers, and discounts off courses and retreats. This seemed a very good deal to me at £10 a month, so I’m giving it a go. I think that having (sort of) prepaid to enter comps, gives you an added incentive to make the deadline, and the book I’ve been sent so far, Nothing is as it Was, is brilliant. A wonderful anthology of climate-fiction stories the profits of which go to The Earth Day Network. Because I like weird and dark stuff, I particularly enjoyed Wiebo Grobler’s  disturbing and touching  portrayal of the last day on a burning earth, entitled Sun and FE Clark’s Warrior which you’ll just have to read for yourself. I can’t wait to get the next one which is Mandy Huggins’s Separated from the Sea. I’ve seen the cover and it is truly gorgeous. Better get back to writing that synopsis then. Here’s the link I was on about.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1348257622/drabbledark-an-anthology-of-dark-drabbles-0

 

 

 

25/4/2018

IBreaking Windows - Jan Kaneents been a bit weird finishing the last taught exercises on my MA in Creative Writing. Its been all about the future of fiction,  and doing synopses of works in progress including our Examiner Marker Components (EMAs) which are due in in October. Most of us are writing the first 15 000 words of novels or novella though we can do short story collections. I’ve spent all morning trying to condense the essence of my novella into three sentences. This and struggling with writing a 2000 word short story,  has made me think about this blog which I began for my own entertainment really, when I first started writing. I didn’t even make it visible to anyone else for the first year and a half, using it as a sort of digital diary to chart my experiences.

Now four years later, I feel like I’ve come a long way and maybe its time to develop it a bit more. My next college deadline is 17/5/2018 when I have to submit a 2000 word short story, and for the first time ever, my heart isn’t in it. I’ve been polishing the first 2500 words of my novella (which I must submit in June for tutorly feedback) and I’ve fallen right inside that. Dragging myself into something else has been really difficult. I’ve started three stories trying to fulfil the brief (including  a metafictional aspect or experimental writing) but the stories won’t behave themselves. The first, which I’ve finished and do like, is 1500 words. Any longer (and I’ve tried really hard to make it longer) and its pants; the second is going to be 5000 words. I will finish it next year because its one of my favourites that I’ve ever hatched, but there’s no way it’s ever going to be less that 5000 words – the first person voice wont let it. The third is written as a blog, and I can’t get into character for it, which is one of the things that’s brought me here. I reckon if I blog as my own blog voice, it might help me get inside the head of my fictional blog-voice. The problem is that my fictional blogging persona (though he’s just written 2,000 words) doesn’t know who he is yet, where he lives, what he’s trying to achieve, what he’s trying to hide, so his writing doesn’t feel authentic.

I’ve decided, therefore to blog here as myself, by way of putting my own voice away for a day or two, so  I can get into the headspace of my nasty protagonist and craft his voice and backstory a bit better.

I won the illustration at the start of this post in a flash comp. It illustrates a story I wrote for Zero Flash last summer. I’m posting it here because it captures a bit of the mood I want to evoke in the afore-mentioned story/blog that I’m struggling with, puts me in mind of the character I’m trying to create. Right feel a bit more in his headspace now. Better get cracking before the darkness deserts me. The pun was entirely deliberate.

 

 

11/4/2018

WIN_20180411_13_29_53_ProBack in the Hobbit House for one day only and have just embarked on Chapter 10 of Year 2 of my two-year MA in Creative Writing. So what? I hear you cry from the flatland wildernesses of cyberspace, and its a very good question. I’m glad you asked.

It’s the last taught chapter.

After 19 1/2 months of learning about character, plot, tense, time, narrative voices, psychic distance, rhetoric, euphonics and much, much more – this is the last taught week. No more exercises to do after that. No more discussions in various forums, dedicated to fiction, creative non-fiction and getting published in the world. After this week there will be only writing and Tutor Group Forums, and occasional workshops where we critique extracts of each other’s work.

It going to be very odd, indeed, just writing.

It feels a wee bit like the end of an era. I’ve just posted the first exercise of the End Chapter and there’s only one more exercise after that. That’s why I’m marking the event here, before I do it, to herald the beginning of the end.

Getting published wise, I’ve submitted to Molotov Cocktail and written a few flashes  that are nearly ready to send out, but I can’t decide on venues. I’ve been reading work posted on several on-line sites/journals and think I’ve whittled my first choices down to Fictive Dream, Spelk, and maybe the Jellyfish Review. I’ve never submitted to any of these but think I need to get a bit more work ‘out there’ even if its for free and as they say…nothing ventured… I’m also going to submit to Horror Scribes first anthology with a slightly reworked version of the flash that won their New Year comp.

Talking of comps, I entered the Retreat West flash comp, theme ‘forgetting’, and spring’s Reflex Fiction, which is a brilliant idea for a comp.  I came across it at Christmas when I had time to look.  They pick a short list from all the entries, then count backward, publishing one  each day (between May and June for this edition) until the winning three are published on the last three days. Here’s the link  https://www.reflexfiction.com/ They publish the stories with a picture that illustrates the text and (if you agree) you’re story is published in a print anthology at the end of the year.

They published the longlist on April 1st and I’m on it, which is good. I don’t know when my story will be published, it depends on how well it does I suppose, but I’ll post a link when it is.

Right then, back to the last exercise. No point in putting it off any longer. Endings are always beginnings. Best foot forward and all that

22/3/2018

Back in the blogges-sphere then now that my latest MA submission has left the building. This one has been the hardest so far. A critical reflection/literary essay on a piece of work that has impacted my own writing. Not creative writing at all, more academic discourse, and very brain wearing to boot. This is the piece of work that I’ve found the most challenging and the most eye opening. My work under discussion was a collection of short stories called Dinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin which, when I first read it in 2016, took my breath away. I’ve read and re-read it since, taken inspiration from it, borrowed techniques from it, such as telling stories in two narrative voices, and become cowed by it because its so flaming good it makes you wonder why you’re bothering…but it wasn’t until I wrote this essay that I actually ‘saw’ some of the techniques at work and really understood what was going on. I think its called deconstructing something and I would recommend it to aspiring writers. Its weird what’s hiding right under your nose until you really lean in and look.

Whist I was doing this essay, I researched McLaughlin and was very gratified to find out that she is both an instinctive writer who starts with an image or an idea and just starts writing and sees where the story takes her (like me), who then will do up to fifty drafts to sort of chip the story out of the stone until its fine and sharp and startling ( a bit like me though fifty drafts is more like 20 for me). She also has a band of writer friends who beta read for her, so she gets her disclosure just right. Researching her made me feel a writerly connection with her style and method, she too came to writing later on in life so I take great inspiration from her as a role model.

Very weirdly, when I was doing my research (which felt a bit like online stalking), I looked at her webpage and twitter profile etc., and I found another connection between us. In 2011, she was a prize winner in the  InkTears Short Story Competition where she got Highly commended. Just as I was doing all this research I won the very same award.

I’m so proper pleased with this, and my story, A Walk in the Park will be published by them in summer. Here’s the link to the announcement. http://www.inktears.com/contests-i/#winners-ss