Thursday, 24 February 2011

Friday Flash: Party Politics



I remember when I was a kid, birthday parties were the talk of the school yard. We’d stand still when someone had small envelopes in their hand, hoping to be one of the chosen ones.

We’d be forced to wear our smartest, scratchiest clothes and we’d turn up at a hall or someone’s house. We’d eat too much, run around a lot and we’d have a brilliant time. Someone would inevitably end up eating too many cakes and throw up.  If we were really lucky, when we left we’d be handed a bag holding a mashed up bit of cake, and occasionally a balloon. Parties were fun because it was about spending time with our friends.


Since I've had children of my own, things seem to have changed. I was clueless about this until my eldest child was three and started being invited to these things. We’d go, and my son would cling to my leg while some lunatic of a parent would attempt to herd three year olds into playing a civilised game of pass-the-parcel or musical statues.

I have four children now, so I’ve seen it all. Parents want their precious child’s party to be bigger and better than that-kid-from-down-the-road’s. The fear of being shown up is foremost in every mind when a birthday approaches.

For years now I have observed these social events with an open mind, and tried to learn from everybody else’s mistakes. I’ve seen it all; from the children fighting over prizes, to the tensed-up mothers having screaming matches.

I stand in the corner of yet another hall. There are sandwiches and cake trodden into the flooring, tables and chairs everywhere and the remaining adults and birthday child look as if they have run a marathon. I wave goodbye and exit rapidly.

Climbing into the front seat of my car, I reflect on yet another party; one in a series of many, yet they get easier to cope with as time goes on. I slip the folded cheque into my pocket and turn the ignition. Jumping Janie does it again.

It's Only A Number: Flash Fiction Competition

The Good Old Days: Me at 20
This is the year that I turn 40, and I had so much fun when my writing pal Alison Wells turned 40 and had a competition on her blog, that I've decided to have one myself.

Over the past couple of years, I have developed a love for flash fiction, so as a result I'd like to see flash fiction of 200 words or less, which must include one of the following phrases: 'It's only a number' or 'It's just another number'.

First prize will be £10 (or equivalent) plus a copy of one of the anthologies I've been involved with. (The winner can chose.)

Second prize will be a copy of one of the anthologies (as above).

Third prize will be a choice of a copy of either 'Yesterday' or 'Shambelurkling and Other Stories.' 


Here's the obligatory list of rules:
1. E-mail your entry to justanumber40@yahoo.co.uk Your entry should be in word format. Please do not include your name on the word document itself. 
2. Wordcount is 200 maximum including the title but not your name. There is no minimum wordcount.
3. Please only submit your own work. Previously blogged/published/adapted works are allowed, and copyright remains with the author at all times.
4.If you enter this competition, you agree that your entry may be published on my blog after the competition closes.
5. The competition is open to anyone, until the last timezone passes midnight on 20 April 2011.
6. Your entry will be disregarded if it does not include one of the following phrases: 'It's only a number' or 'It's just another number'.
7. Any genre is allowed.
8. Only one entry per person please.
9. Judging will be by a carefully selected panel of readers. Their decision will be final, whether I agree with them or  not ;o)
10. I will acknowledge receipt of every entry. If you do not hear from me within 3 days of submission, please feel free to query.

You can find an update on the competition here.

Have fun!

I have today, set up a Facebook 'page'.  I am going to use it as a place to record my publication news and also link to any stories that are out there on the internet.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Submitting Writing: The Rollercoaster


Isn't submitting writing similar to riding a rollercoaster?

Sending it off is like paying to ride. You commit yourself and you don't know what to expect. Then there's that moment of 'what I have done' shortly afterwards which is much the same as when you climb into your seat. You strap yourself in, know this is going to feel like it's lasting forever, and wait...

As the rollercoaster ascends, you sit and wait some more. It takes a while but as time passes you're waiting for a deadline so there's no sense of urgency. Just expectancy.

The coaster reaches the top. It's freewheeling now. The deadline has passed and the judging or reading is in process and you know you have absolutely no control.

After that, you know there'll be downward swoops or ecstatic loop-the-loops. But there is nothing you can do by this point, you've committed yourself. It's all in the hands of other people.

By the end you will have had a fantastic time, or you'll feel the jarring of the brake, and think you'll never ever ride that beast again...

...but then, I've always loved roller coasters.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Friday Flash: Interplanetary Domination

‘Survival of the fastest’ isn’t taught, but passed down in our genetic code.  When we invade, we are instantly looking forward, planning the next relocation, waiting for the next random moment when two planets move close enough for transfer.

During these glorious seconds, we scramble and race. Tiny links between old and new worlds create pathways for our scrambling feet. New territories are always there for the taking. We spread our young far and wide, and we mine for food. Our food supplies are plentiful, but we always meet with some resistance eventually.

We have no control of the metal and chemical weapons that are unleashed towards our kind. We live in contentment; when the time comes for us to perish, others will have succeeded during the last interplanetary collision.

We are invincible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you would like to know what 'inspired' this story, it's the delightful species that is head lice. Although they are incredibly annoying, especially to parents of children who hug their friends a lot, the species is so well adapted for survival, they gained enough respect for me to write a story from their point of view.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Stories, Stories, Everywhere

Hello!

This is another summary post, mainly because my head is spinning and I'm finding it hard to remember everything that is going on at the moment so it's for my benefit as much as anyone elses. Here's my latest writing news in brief:

As I mentioned yesterday, Nothing But Flowers is going to be released on Valentine's Day, so please see my blog post about it for information all about that.

I am pleased to have had a poem and story published in The Pages Magazine, Issue 10, which was finalised yesterday. You can read this online magazine for free here. You can also vist The Pages website and join up (for free) if you fancy submitting something for a future issue.

This morning I discovered that two of my stories on the Ether App have risen up to numbers 6 and 7 in the bestseller list. I am delighted about this. If you'd like to have a look yourself, you can download the App to your iPhone or iPod and check them out along with stories by many of my writer friends.

I have recently set up a second blog which is for my stories and news for children and teens. You are very welcome to have a look at it. I wanted to have an online place that I can point children to, whilst feeling secure that none of the characters there will be getting up to anything that isn't appropriate for them to read.

With Nothing But Flowers being released on Monday, and 100 Stories for Queensland on 8th March, it's a very exciting time for me at the moment. I am also going to have a story published in a small anthology as a result of entering a competition on The Pages website, so I will share news about that when I have more details.

Please don't forget to vote for my February Authortrek Story, which includes characters from my second novel; When Dreams Come True: The School Trip.

Thanks to anyone who has managed to work their way down this list! I do appreciate it. xx

Friday, 11 February 2011

Nothing But Flowers - A Literary Treat for Valentines Day

So it's that time of year. The shops are full of posters, cards and red sparkly things and the florists are rubbing their little hands together. All around the world, people are feeling the pressure of trying to keep their loved one happy, or the dread of being proven to be The Unloved, that rolls around every February 14th.

No matter what you think of Valentines Day, this year there is a special treat in store in book-shaped form.

Nothing But Flowers is a collection of stories about love after an apocalypse. You may have guessed by now but one of those stories is by me and it's the first time ever that I have been included in a publication and seen blog posts about it (with my name on) before I have written a single word, so as well as being incredibly excited, I am more than a little nervous.

The stories are going to be available to read on the internet for free (for 48 hours only), and they will be published hourly on Monday. If you click 'like' on the Facebook Page you won't miss any of them. After that the book will be available to buy as a paperback and ebook and it's all in aid of charity so everyone's a winner.


Here is the official blurb:
Nothing But Flowers: tales of post apocalyptic love" is the second offering from Literary Mix Tapes (a quarterly crowd-sourced short fiction anthology inspired by music).

Inspired by the Talking Heads song of the same name, Nothing But Flowers explores the complexities and challenges of love in a post apocalyptic landscape. From plague to fundamentalist governments, comets and war, from terra firma to outer space the people on these pages face up to what it means to love and be loved when you’ve lost everything.


Please do visit again and let me know what you think of 'On The Corner of Clerk Street'.
  

Thursday, 3 February 2011

When Dreams Come True

'When Dreams Come True' is the working title of my second novel. It is aimed at 10-14 year olds, and is about a girl who finds that some of her dreams start to come true. (You'd never have guessed that from the title would you?) With family secrets, teenage angst and school issues, this is a contemporary story which blends mystery, adventure and romance.

I like my new characters so much that I wanted to let them out into the real world for a sneak preview. As a result, I have taken some of the main characters and created a short story with them in, for Authortrek.

I'd love to know what people think of it, and would appreciate your vote if you like it.

The story is here: When Dreams Come True: The School Trip.

Thank you very much!