Friday, April 30, 2010

I can't write long

Nicola Morgan is running a Flash Fiction Competition over at her Wasted blog. This time the prize isn't chocolate, it's a copy of any of her books and she'll also publicise some of the best flash stories.

I thought I'd have a go at it. The challenge is to write a story in up to 50 words on the theme of Chance, Luck or Fate.

I managed twenty words and it's a complete story. Not a good one, but a whole one. What is it with me that I can't write long stories? What's worse is that usually when I edit I end up with something shorter, as I said the other day. Maybe I need to start again with a longer story and edit it down.

Will you be going in for the flash competition? You only need to write 50 words.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A story a day in May

Are you up for writing a story a day in May?

I found the Story a Day site through Inkygirl. The idea is to write one story every day in May although you're invited to make up your own rules, like having Sundays off if you want to. As long as you set the rules in advance!

Your stories can be any length so I thought I might have a go at writing a flash fiction story every weekday. If nothing else, I'll be getting some ideas to work on later.

I've signed up as fairyhedgehog. You can sign up too, here.

Can you let me know in the comments if you do?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free author website redesign

Do you have an author website? Would you like a professional redesign for free? Hop over to Kate In The Closet and see what she's offering.

It's not a competition; it's the chance for her to display her skills while you get a free web design.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've found the secret of writing a best seller!

According to an archived article on the BBC website, Agatha Christie's books were unputdownable because she cunningly employed words and phrases that invoked a chemical response in readers' brains, using a technique not unlike hypnotism. (Thanks to Charmaine Clancy for the original link.)

Clearly, we need to know these magical words so that we can slip them into our stories and have readers falling under our spell and clamouring for more. The BBC says
These phrases included "can you keep an eye on this", "more or less", "a day or two" and "something like that".
I can feel my eyelids drooping already.

Monday, April 26, 2010


If you visit this blog (not just use a reader) you might have noticed that I've added some pages and I've now worked out how to let you comment on them! It was a difficult process requiring me to tick a single box for each page but I managed to work it out.

So far only one person has found and commented on the FAQ page. If I don't get asked a few more questions then it's going to look a bit bare. If there's something you're dying to ask, why not do that now?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things my grandmother used to say

We've been having unseasonably sunny weather in my part of the UK and I've been going out without a coat on. It made me think of an old saying of my grandmother's
Ne'er cast a clout till may is out
which being translated means
I am a cantankerous old lady and I love saying things you don't understand
Other sayings of hers included
It's better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick
which never made much sense to me. If you're going to minimise a situation by comparing it with a worse one, why not a sharp stick for goodness sake?

The most obscure one was the injunction to
Keep your hand on your ha'penny
English half penny (ha'penny) coin

She'd say it if I spoke about going out with a boy. I was never sure if she was telling me to make sure I always had my bus fare handy so I wouldn't be stranded, or if she was telling me to keep hold of my virginity. Did she really mean me to keep my hand... you know... there... all the time? Surely not. (I was a bit literal when I was younger. Touch of Aspergers, maybe?)

Did any of your elderly relatives have sayings that confused you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Four years of evil: happy anniversary EE!

For Evil Editor today marks four years of taking the blue pencil to query letters, of providing amusement and fun for onlookers, of causing gnashing of teeth by writers whose work isn't quite ready yet, and of providing a community of wonderful minions.

EE is completely inclusive. All you have to do to be a minion is to come along and join in.

Some of his minions are throwing a party today over at The Fourth BlogEEversary. Maybe I'll see you there.

Book blog launches today

It's the official launch today of Nicola Morgan's blog about her Young Adult book Wasted, which comes out on 3rd May. You may already know Nicola as the Crabbit Old Bat who gives advice to hopeful authors on her blog Help! I Need A Publisher!

Nicola says about the Wasted blog that
During the next few weeks there will be many opportunities to win books - some of them requiring skill (writing competitions) and some pure luck. See, the book is all about luck, chance, randomness, fate, risk, causal determinism, and the odd spot of quantum physics.

If it's got quantum phyisics in it, it must be good. Why not pop over to the Wasted blog and have a look?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Ello!

Ello is running a competition for her birthday over at Hello Ello 2. It's an unusual contest because the prize is Asian food and even if you don't want to enter you might be interested to see and read about the dried squid and other goodies that are on offer.

Oh, and you might want to wish Ello a happy birthday, seeing that she's stuck in the house with the builders tearing it apart then has to go off and do a full day's work. On her birthday. Oh dear.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The long and the short of it

I've seen the quote
I'm sorry this letter is so long, I didn't have time to make it shorter.
attributed variously to GB Shaw, Pascal and others. Whoever first said it, it makes good sense to me and I know that my blog posts mostly get shorter as I edit them to make them clearer.

Apparently I've been wasting my time. According to an article in New Scientist, research into 75 Livejournal bloggers found that
the more words a blogger posted, the more friends they had and the higher their attractiveness rating.
I tend to write short posts because I avoid reading long ones unless they're unusually well written. It looks like this isn't very common. What about you?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Talking about sex

I can’t imagine understanding the characters without understanding what they do in bed. In fact, I would say this about real people too.
from The most erotic organ is not the brain by Russell Smith.

If I need to know all about my friends' sex lives in order to understand them then I'm stuffed. I don't know about you, but I don't talk to my friends about what I do in bed and they don't tell me what they get up to either. (I was going to say, "they don't give me a blow by blow account" but I thought better of it.)

I wonder if it's true of our characters. I tend to let my characters shut the bedroom door on me before anything interesting happens mostly because it's so hard to write a good sex scene. In real life there comes a time when the words just fade away and it's all about experiencing. I suppose the mark of a good writer is being able to find words for wordless experiences. I am not that writer.

What do you think? Do you need to know what characters are like in bed to really understand them? And is that also true in real life or was Mr Smith using just a smidgen of hyperbole there to get us interested in reading his book?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volcanic dust threatens aircraft

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland has erupted again for the second time in a few weeks. I first heard of it as a news clip warning of flight cancellations in the UK. There is a huge cloud of volcanic ash heading our way and it is dangerous to aircraft. I hope sylvia wasn't planning on flying anywhere today.

The poor people living in the region of the volcano have huge floods to contend with and many have had to be evacuated.

We are so small and vulnerable on this huge planet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Artificial nature

My Beloved and I went to Painshill Park on Sunday. We'd never been there before and I was amazed to find that absolutely everything is artificial. That cave in the picture? It's built of brick. The stalactites are oak frames with plaster on top then quartz and other crystals stuck in.

There was a whole huge area where you could see the oak frames because they're renovating it. It's like an 18th century Disneyland.

The water wheel pumped water into the lake.  I tried to imagine what it must have been like digging out the lake without the use of bulldozers.

It must be spring because we saw two drakes fighting over a duck and a couple of ducks mating. Well my Beloved said that they were mating, either that or one of them was trying to drown the other by holding its head under the water. Not my idea of safe sex.

Edited to add: Scarlet Blue has provided a link to the official website. Now why didn't I think of that?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to make money from writing fiction

I got another Nigerian email today, this time from someone in Australia. A lovely lady had just got $1.5 million (USD) from a Nigerian bank and assured me that my email address was on the list for having contract money owed to me too.

I was obviously overjoyed that I'm going to get my contract money paid. Not that I have any recollection of any contracts but then I'm getting older and the Brain Fog is strong in me.

Only one paragraph puzzled me.
You really have to stop your dealings with those contacting you because they will dry you up until you have nothing to left with you.

For someone contacting me to ask me to have dealings with them, this struck me as a little odd.

I'm saving this email to use in a story. Such imaginative fiction shouldn't be allowed to go to waste.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Change of tone

Why do writers change the tone of their books half way through?

I've just read Deaf Sentence by David Lodge and it started out wonderfully funny and ended up rather sombre and thoughtful.

A hard-of-hearing professor can't make out what a student is saying to him and as a result finds himself drawn into a compromising situation with her. 

I can relate to the hearing problems as this is something I struggle with, although not to the same extent as Lodge's main character, and it made for a lot of laughs at the start of the book. But then there was a sudden change in the story nearer the end and the focus changed to themes of human tragedy and death with some genuinely sad moments.

It must be very difficult to maintain a tone throughout a whole book but I think this novel would have been better if Lodge had decided which way he was going to go: humour or pathos. Personally, I would have preferred a funny ending.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

Today I'm seeing a friend I've known for 24 years. We met at a toddler group when my older son was just nine months old and we were in and out of each others houses. I don't think you can survive being a stay at home Mum without very good support from other Mummy friends!

Since then our lives have changed beyond recognition. My friend was the first to take a counselling course and I followed suit. I moved house to a place an hour's drive away from her. We watched our kids grow up and mostly leave home. Somehow through all the changes we've managed to stay friends. She is one of the few people I feel I can say almost anything to. Now she's moved and is only half an hour away.

My Beloved is driving me to her new flat and her Beloved will also be with us as we go for a pub lunch. I hope we'll have fun.

I hope you have a happy Easter too.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tee shirt competition

Not the wet sort, although you may be forgiven for wondering after yesterday's post.

Disgruntled Bear is going the self publishing route which is both brave and difficult. As part of her publicity campaign, she is offering a tee shirt prize if you comment on her website, saying where you'll wear the shirt to get a picture taken. (You'll need to email her with a picture if you win a shirt.)

It could be fun seeing all the locations that people come up with.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Have you had sex?

Whether or not you've had sex depends on how you define it. And people have some pretty funny definitions according to Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

What struck me was the statistic that
95 percent of respondents would consider penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) having had sex
What on earth did the other 5% think they were doing?

I also found the first comment very funny; human rationalisation knows no bounds. You can read all about it here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy bloggiversary Whirl!

In case you don't already follow Whirlochre (and if not, why not?) it's his second blog anniversary today and he has another of his amazing posts up. His whimsical and surreal style may sometimes have me puzzled but it always leaves me amused and never, ever bored.

Today he is lamenting the small number of his followers. We are currently just a favoured few creating comment trails that are among the most interesting I've seen. If you want to be part of the fun, why not hop over to Abysswinksback now?
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