Saturday, January 28, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Present Tense


From Chuck Wendig:

Write whatever you want. Whatever genre, whatever character, whatever story.

As long as it’s in the present tense.



Since I *love* writing in present tense and have to restrain myself from doing it all the time anyway, this was a treat:


Meltdown - SF - 200 words


Robbie's crying again. 'Hush,' I tell him. 'It's going to be okay.'

It's not, of course, but what else can I say?

We're down to this last half of the kitchen now, blankets on the floor. The walls are already losing their colour, becoming glutinous. It won't be long before my house is gone, become just another part of the slowly-swirling mass that used to be this street. This country. This world, for all I know.

If this is the end of days, maybe we're going somewhere finer. I would not call myself a God-fearing woman but I have done nobody any harm and I have loved my son. Doesn't that make me righteous?

Or maybe we're making way for a parallel universe, like they said on the TV before it stopped working. A new version of us will rise and take our place; a different version, a better version. Or was that just a science fiction show I used to watch?

Robbie's cries turn into coughs, bubbling thickly in his throat. I start to sing quietly, his favourite lullaby. It doesn't help.

I close my eyes and brush the hair back from his face. It's sticky.

Read: 'Heartstone,' by CJ Sansom

HeartstoneHeartstone by C.J. Sansom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Shardlake, and the 5th instalment in the series doesn't disappoint. Reading these is an immersive experience in the history and atmosphere of Tudor England, and this one is particularly compelling in its depiction of the feverish energies of war. The mysteries and machinations surrounding what was done to both Hugh Curteys and Ellen Fettiplace are well paced and presented, and Matthew investigates with his customary tenacity. A thoroghly enjoyable read.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Read: '14,' by JT Ellison

1414 by J.T. Ellison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am enjoying this series, even if the prose isn't the most sophisticated on offer (but then I have John Connolly for that). The Nashville setting is used to great effect, and Taylor is an engaging lead. The break-neck pace makes for a zippy read, and the premise is an interesting one. I also like the relationships and interactions between the characters -- the Taylor/Baldwin relationship is so unfeasibly perfect that I am waiting for the inevitable messy implosion with bated breath.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Publication News: EDF & Postcard Shorts

I have two new stories up today, There You Are, My Love (999 words) at Every Day Fiction, and Inside (200 words) at Postcard Shorts.

There You Are started life as a characterisation exercise from the Gothan Writers' Workshop Guide to Writing Fiction. Even though she doesn't actually 'appear' in the story, I loved writing Ros because she allowed me to indulge in one of my very favourite things: snarky dialogue. This story is also an example of the wonderful editing process that EDF provide -- I revised this to make Marcus's motiviations clearer at their suggestion, which made it a much better story. Yay for EDF!

Inside is a piece from my Daily Drabble Project, in which I write a drabble (stretching the technical definition into '100 words or a multiple thereof') using the dictionary.com Word of the Day as a prompt. For Inside it was 'perspicacious,' which gave me the line 'Most people don't pay attention the way I do,' and the rest of the story grew around that.

The Versatile Blogger Award

A big thank you to JC Piech of Things Which Burst Out Of My Brain , who was kind enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award, a cute way of spreading the love for other blogs. More about the VBA here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Publication News: 'From Today' at Eunoia Review

My 370 word story From Today is now up at the daily fiction/poetry zine Eunoia Review.  Comments and crit always welcome!

I often have film-style dreams where I am a non-participating observer, just watching the action unfold rather than taking any part in it.  This story was one of those dreams, so all I had to do was transcribe it and add Susie's commentary.  It's a glorious thing when it comes that easy :-)

This was a 2011 story so won't count towards my Write 1 Sub 1 stats, but it's always a fantastic boost when a story comes out.  Rejections may get the quantity, but acceptances will always triumph for quality.  Psychological research says it takes at least 5 good things to balance out one negative, but I find it works the other way round in writing -- the thrill of an acceptance easily wipes out the disappointment of all the previous rejections.  I guess that's what keeps us going. 

Yay for positive reinforcement!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Zombies Ahoy!

The awesome zombie anthology 'So Long and Thanks for All the Brains,' from Collaboration of the Dead, which features my story 'Behind Glass,' is now available on Amazon UK for kindle here

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Read: 'Seed,' by Ania Ahlborn

SeedSeed by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This has its strengths, the uncompromising ending being one of them. Personally, however, I found the pacing odd: it's structured like you'd expect a mystery to be, whereas we learn very early in the story what's really going on. I also found Jack an amazingly (and annoyingly) passive character, content to watch and wait and metaphorically wring his hands for large sections of the book. The backstory is interesting but rather clumsily handled, and some integral questions are left unsatisfyingly vague. It would also have benefited from a final edit to catch some remaining typos and repetitions (I lost count of how many times characters smirked, even -- especially -- when smirking wasn't an appropriate response).

I'm not sorry I read it and I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it, but I wouldn't rush to recommend it either.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: Song Shuffle Stories

From Chuck Wendig:

  • Go to Your Favorite Music Player. Dig out your digital music collection.
  • Maybe this is iTunes or Spotify, or use Pandora if you’d rather go that way.
  • Hit SHUFFLE, then “Play.”
  • Meaning, let a random song come bubbling up out of nothing.
  • The title to this song is the title to your story.

My iPod gave me 'Citizen Erased,' by Muse and my brain gave me a drabble (100 words):

Citzen Erased

'She's perfect,' I say.

'Yes,' he says, because she is.

'How can we afford it?' I ask.

He doesn't answer, because we can't.

So I can keep her, this incredible recreation of our daughter, and ruin us.  Or I can let her go, and we can have our lives back.

I fold her into my arms and lay a kiss on her synthetic hair. There's no smell.

'I don't love you,' I tell her.

I touch my finger first to the tear that runs down her cheek, then to my tongue. There's no taste.

It's an easy decision to make.


  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Here's to 2012

The best way to celebrate New Year's Eve is definitely at home in your new pink owl pyjamas, with a homemade Perfect Margarita, watching the fireworks on telly :-)

Today I have read a novel, read a short story, left feedback, submitted a story and written a couple of hundred words on a new one. I'm hoping this will act as a good luck charm: start as you mean to go on!

December Stats

New pieces written: 4
Total wordcount: 2,900
Submissions: 5
Acceptances: 4
Rejections: 2
Pending 3