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National Short Story Week

Posted on 18/11/2014 by  SueL  ( x Hide posts by SueL )

This week (17th-23rd November) is National Short Story Week

The aims of which include:

to get more people reading and listening to short stories


to get more people writing short stories

I recently enjoyed reading Zoe Gilbert’s post addressing the question ‘Are writers the only - or the best- readers of short stories?’

and loved this analogy:

'all really good short stories, even ascetic, simple, realist ones, should be treated like rich desserts, to be pondered over and definitely not followed by every other pudding on the menu. Otherwise, all those complex flavours are lost.'

Her conclusion was that:

'You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy great short stories. I think you just have to understand what they are. '

I will definitely read some short stories this week. Looking at my bookshelves, I only have a few contemporary short story collections. These can be seen on my Pinterest (pathstothepast) board ‘Short story collections - read’

So I just need to decide whether to go back to those stories I’m familiar with, or try some classic short stories instead. Maybe by F. Scott Fitzgerald (hence the image of the dustjacket for ‘Tales of the Jazz Age’ at the top of this post) or Anthony Trollope or Thomas Hardy….

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New TV series

Posted on 28/10/2014 by  jeffreynti  ( x Hide posts by jeffreynti )

I am currently writing a great TV series and am looking for new and experienced writers to get involved. I will soon upload a synopsis of the first season. If your you're looking for something brilliant to get your writing skills involved in, whether you're experiencing a writers' block or looking for a golden opportunity to show what you you've got then I believe I have the remedy...


Highlights of the HNS conference

Posted on 29/09/2014 by  SueL  ( x Hide posts by SueL )

This was my first HNS conference and I was unsure of what to expect and as a newbie was rather nervous about meeting people. I needn’t have worried.

Highlights included Conn Iggulden’s keynote address and Lindsey Davis in conversation with Jerome de Groot.

A key part of the Society’s remit is to encourage writers of historical fiction, and two awards were given during the conference.

Elizabeth Chadwick presented the inaugural HNS Indie Award to Linda Proud for
A Gift for the Magus.

The HNS Short Story Award for 2014 was presented by Ian Skillicorn (founder of Short Story Week) to Lorna Fergusson for Salt

I’m hoping that an ebook of the 2014 shortlisted stories will be published, like the 2012 entries were as The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories.

The panel sessions were in turn informative:
(Selling Historical Fiction: the challenges and triumphs with Matt Bates, Carole Blake (CHAIR), Katie Bond, Nick Sayers, Simon Taylor, Susan Watt) - how important the book cover is.

fun: (‘My Era is Better than Yours’ with Angus Donald (Medieval), Suzannah Dunn (Tudor), Antonia Hodgson (Georgian), Giles Kristian (Viking & Civil War), Harry Sidebottom (Ancient Rome), Philip Stevens (CHAIR)) - Vikings had big axes.

thought provoking: (Freedom, Independence & Equality: Tackling the big issues with Emma Darwin, Elizabeth Fremantle, Margaret George, Douglas Jackson (CHAIR), Andrew Taylor, Robyn Young) - Margaret George refers to her novels about famous women in history as ‘psycho biographies.’

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Literary Dementia: novels by Emma Healey, Fiona McFarlane, Julie Cohen and Michael Ignatieff

Posted on 27/09/2014 by  Annecdotist  ( x Hide posts by Annecdotist )

With Alzheimer’s research in the news again lately, I thought I’d better knuckle down to my much foreshadowed post on literary dementia. For readers and writers who are wary of fictional old age, the spectre of dementia might seem a definite no-no. Yet there’s so much potential in the condition for creative exploration and expression: the poignancy of loss; the enigma of memory and identity; the frustrations experienced by family and other carers; even, for those who can achieve the right tone without denigration, humour. So it’s heartening to discover young women writers who are addressing these themes in their debut novels: Emma Healey in the UK with Elizabeth Is Missing, and Fiona McFarlane in Australia with The Night Guest. I thought I’d draw on those novels, along with two less recent novels from more established writers, Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen and Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff, to explore fictional representations of dementia.

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Oh I Am a Mancunian

Posted on 27/09/2014 by  Jim Beard  ( x Hide posts by Jim Beard )

Before all Liverpool fans hit the delete button let me explain that I am from the blue three-quarters of Manchester and share your antipathy towards the club from Salford (hereinafter called the CFS).

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“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Posted on 27/09/2014 by  Jim Beard  ( x Hide posts by Jim Beard )

It is no coincidence that in Italy priorities for the good of the nation are undermined through a variety of local or collective identities.

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Historical fiction list

Posted on 03/09/2014 by  SueL  ( x Hide posts by SueL )

Historical fiction - a list of 50
Next week, between 5 and 7 September, I’ll be attending the Historical Novel Society’s conference in London.

So, for this post, I thought I’d take a look at a list of historical fiction books, from Abe Books.

In her introduction to 50 Essential Historical novels, Lily King admits that ‘The books listed below include examples of historical fiction by the strictest of definitions, as well as those that fudge the rules a bit - or a lot.’

Of the list of 50, I’ve only read three:

‘I Claudius’ by Robert Graves

‘The Name of the Rose’ by Umberto Eco

‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens

Although I haven’t read the following on the list ‘Waverley’, ‘The Night Watch’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, I have read other historical novels by their respective authors, Sir Walter Scott, Sarah Waters, Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel.

Those on the list which do appeal to me, and will be added to my ever expanding ‘to read’ list are:

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The tragedy of obedience: The Good Children by Roopa Farooki

Posted on 26/06/2014 by  Annecdotist  ( x Hide posts by Annecdotist )

What do you understand by the term “a good child”? Does it imply a particular proficiency in getting up to mischief and other childish things? Or does it mean, as for the Saddeq children growing up in Lahore in the new nation of Pakistan, suppressing their own inclinations and desires in favour of their mother’s strict demands. In a divide-a-rule regime reminiscent of the British Raj, the boys, Sully and Jakie, are destined to be doctors, their learning beaten into them by a tutor they nickname, appropriately, Basher, while the girls, Mae and little Lana, hug their mother’s shadow, dressed up like dolls in scratchy frilly dresses unsuitable for the suffocating heat. Until the day they can escape their manipulative mother through marriage for the girls and education abroad for the boys, they have no choice but to comply.

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My Writing Challenge

Posted on 30/05/2014 by  Inspiration  ( x Hide posts by Inspiration )


Create a plan to stick to.



Write a new short story collection AND a novella each month.
Publish them ‘as and when’ the following month - but have them ready.


For me, these will be my longer short stories - if I can bash out 10,000 words in a week for a first draft then great - but at this moment in time I am aiming to get into the routine of writing this way, more than a set amount of words each day. I feel I should be trying to write as many words as necessary to complete the short story first draft during the first full week of each month. I do not want to overcomplicate things by adding word count goals at this stage. Although, having said that, if I am writing for a call for submission, then I will know exactly what word count I need. But for now, I will keep it simple and break my one big monthly goal down into 4 or 5 week stages.


Week 1: The Planning and Research Stage (June 01 Only one day this month!)
First few days of the month until the next Sunday

Week 2: The Complete1st Draft Stage (June 02 – 08)
First full week of the month

Week 3: The Editing Stage (June 09 – 15)
Second full week of the month

Week 4: The Book Design and Final Edits Stage (June 16 – 22)
Third full week of the month

Week 5: The Publishing or Submission Stage (June 23 – 30)
Last few days of the month from Monday until the first of the next month,
This may run into the following month - but the bulk of the work is ready for submission or publishing.

Of course these are only guidelines, but the better I can stick to them at the beginning of the month, in the early stages, the more time I will have for the final edits and publishing stage.

Anyone want to join me? Sunday is June 1st, my first challenge day. I'm rather excited about it.


Let the CHALLENGE Begin...

Posted on 29/05/2014 by  Inspiration  ( x Hide posts by Inspiration )

I’m creating this blog to challenge myself to see if I can write a book a month, or even a week. I am not talking about full size novels here (it took me a good 8 months to get my 70,000 novel to my publisher). No, I’m talking more novellas and short stories. In some cases a collection of very short “flash fiction” stories.

My goal is to first work out if this is possible by trying out a few techniques and I will share my experiences along the way.

Apparently, if we put our minds to something we can achieve it and that’s exactly what I intend to do here. I know I have set goals before and succeeded, therefore I know I have the capability to do this. The main thing (and quite often the hardest to do) is to remain hungry enough want to reach the end of the goal; to keep up the momentum and let nothing else stand in your way until achieved.

If this challenge I’ve set myself works, I hope to have a super-duper long backlist and will be able to supplement my day job’s income. If not, the worse case scenario is not so bad. I will at least have a larger back list than when I first started this project.

Time to knuckle down and take the first baby step of this challenge.

1. To write a plan of action.

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