Came as ‘Me’ Left as ‘We’

Came as me left as weCame as ‘Me’ Left as ‘We’ is aptly named considering this is the theme of most, but not all, of its 21 short stories, published by Alfie Dog Fiction. I found many within the collection to be evocative and moving, with a few bringing a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. Unfortunately, as is often the case in these situations, some didn’t quite match up to others in terms of pace and narrative ability. One or two seemed rambling, losing their point and my interest along the way. That said, there were others that stood out from their counterparts and were a joy to read. Continue reading

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Back to Basics — Mark II

Back to Basics . IIThere’s been a lot of talk lately on the blogs I visit regularly about poor stats and how these may be improved upon. In true bandwagon style, I thought I’d jump aboard and use this as an evaluation period for my own blog: examine my progress and development, if you will.

It’s said that one of the most basic and fundamental ways to increase the number of readers to your site, and keep them coming back for more, is to post engaging content, regularly — that’s right … REGULARLY! More frequently than every 2 – 3 weeks?

Yes!

Schucks!

Caught me bang to rights on that one, then. If my recent performance is anything to go by, I’m undeniably guilty of shirking the first golden rule. Continue reading

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Oh look, a bee!

BeeI have to admit to being remiss with my blog updates this year, which is, in part, due to feeling completely demoralised about my writing progress. With very little success to speak of and rejection after rejection eating away at any remaining confidence, I have found it even more difficult to stay focused on one project.

I’ll start with what I think is a great idea for a short story, only to be distracted by a better one for a flash fiction piece. I then move on to researching details for a novel, before deciding to develop characters for a sitcom script, only to stop and jot down thoughts for a non-fiction article. Alongside this, honing my proofreading skills and how best to advertise them is always at the forefront of my mind.  In the end, the wealth of ideas and simultaneous tasks clutter my reasoning like a hoarder’s den and, just like a hoarder, I feel overwhelmed and unable to sift through and decide which are worth keeping. My productivity is rendered almost inert because of the multitudinous choice. Have I developed attention deficit disorder, I wonder? It compares with Bill Bailey’s assumption that the ending of the Countdown theme tune is so uninspiring because the composer was distracted and lost his impetus: Oh look, a bee! Continue reading

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birth | music | sonnets

??????????????????????????????????An Anthology by ALPHA WRITERS GROUP

Alpha Writers is an online group of approximately 16 members from around the world. A selection of their work (first names only; no surnames given), over a period of five years, has been collated to produce birth | music | sonnets: An Anthology by ALPHA WRITERS GROUP, published by Alfie Dog Fiction. It comprises a collection of short stories, reflections, non-fiction and poetry — bound by a stylish and attractive cover design — and does exactly as it says on the tin

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Sadie

Sadie, our beloved cat, died today at the ripe old age of 16. Although we are incredibly sad, we were grateful to be around to comfort her during the last few moments of her life, which were relatively peaceful.Sadie 1

Arriving in this world on a chilly December day in 1998, she became an instant favourite with many (particularly the men) thanks to her charm, her pretty and petite demeanour, and her eternal kitten-like appearance, despite the advancing years. With a coat as soft and smooth as a baby’s blanket, and a splash of ginger fur to spice up her tabby heritage, she was a most appealing cat. Continue reading

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Blooming Lovely!

LavenderAs avid fans of Springwatch, and its counterparts Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, we have re-fashioned our garden this year to accommodate flowers that will attract bees, birds and other wildlife to its borders. There are many plants that fit into this category, but we decided to include lavender, foxgloves, Foxglovecampanula and delphiniums to sit alongside others whose names now escape my memory. As you can probably tell I’m no expert, but I do know there is much joy to be had watching a garden flourish.

We’ve even dedicated a small patch that will allow naturally occurring wildflowers, like buttercups, to spring up undisturbed and planted a whole host of seeds in another managed wildflower section to give the butterflies and bees something to sing and dance about. ButtercupThe seeds have already germinated, so we’re hoping they survive long enough to reach their full potential.

Watching a seedling or small shrub mature and burst into life is very rewarding, and I can see how this could become addictive, given the time. My peony has even sprouted buds this year; the first since it was planted about three years ago, so I’m looking forward to finally seeing it in bloom.Garden

Overall, we have had a few failures with our planting, but these are outnumbered by our successes to culminate in a garden exploding with colour and life, in preparation for the summer.

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O Brevity, Brevity, wherefore art thou, Brevity?

Bath F.F,This weekend, I submitted three short stories to various competitions, with two more prepared and ready to be entered next week. Before you get excited, they were stories that had been long or short-listed in previous competitions, so I decided to re-hash them. However, it wasn’t until I read the rules that I realised the word count was too large for two of them — one by 500 words. I set about resecting the unnecessary verbiage, and when I’d reduced it down to the required amount it read as a much tighter and less verbose piece of writing. Why didn’t I do that in the first place? No wonder it wasn’t placed. Continue reading

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The Day Death Wore Boots

cover-small-193x300Remember me telling you that I’d come runner-up in a competition organised by Alfie Dog Fiction and my prize was any book from their website? Well, here’s the review for that very book:

The Day Death Wore Boots is a mixed bag of stories by authors with varying degrees of writing abilities. The tone of the book ranges from winsome and funny to dark and brooding, whist some of the tales are, quite frankly, bizarre. There are ghosts who need closure, ghosts who demand justice, and others who require an expiry date as seen in the amusing story of a mass haunting in Borrowed Time, by Angela Pickering.

Unfortunately, not all of the stories are that well written with a few presenting weak plots, as well as a need for brevity. However, The Passing of Mrs Parker Woodburn — A Completely Unsurprising Story, by E. J. Lamprey, is not one of these. The narrative builds in pace and tension, maintaining the reader’s interest with more than a modicum of humour and ending in a surprising turn of events, quite unlike the original premise purported in the title. Continue reading

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My Shrunken Literary Muscle

Brain muscleI’ve often heard writers liken the act of writing to exercising a muscle and after a prolonged break from short story composition, I now understand exactly what they mean.

Exercising anything is a concept I struggle with, being inherently lazy. Within minutes of starting, I’m distracted and thinking of more pleasurable things I could be doing. However, I’ve tried to make more of an effort recently, indulging in more physical exercise by gardening and undertaking all those household chores that often get neglected. We’ve even hired a WaterRower — of the variety used by Kevin Spacey, in ‘House of Cards’ — which is great for a full body workout, toning arms and legs, as well as having cardiovascular benefits. Of course, this is good for my overall level of fitness and allowing time for musing various storylines but all these things combined means further time away from my laptop, deferring the task of producing any actual written work. Continue reading

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Sweet Talk

Sweet Talkby Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge is a writer who is well-known on the magazine circuit, particularly to those readers of ‘The People’s Friend’, and, more recently, has added the description of popular novelist to her list of credentials.

Sweet Talk is her collection of 21 short stories, which is eponymously named after one of the stories within the book, and is published by Alfie Dog Fiction. It contains a series of gentle and heart-warming tales featuring both men and women of all ages looking for love; a generous smattering of babies, animals and birds, and some of the most pleasant and unselfish prepubescent children in the western hemisphere, in my opinion. The occasional overuse of commas proved momentarily distracting, but nothing that some intensive proofreading couldn’t remedy. Although the overall effect is charming, I prefer something grittier and more contentious these days. However, I guarantee that if you enjoy this particular genre, you’ll love this book. Continue reading

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