Back to the Land of the Living!

Junk yardJust a short post to let anyone that may be interested know that I’m still around and haven’t quite fallen from the face of the earth … yet. I have been forced to register at the local ‘Knacker’s Yard’ though, such is my propensity towards ill health these last couple of months and, in particular, the past two weeks: a chest infection rendered me so poorly it felt it might possibly be ‘Goodnight, Vienna’ for me. Continue reading

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Six Stupid Sheep and Other Yarns

Six Stupid SheepShort Stories by Susan Wright

Six Stupid Sheep and Other Yarns is a collection of 13 short stories, by Susan Wright, and published by Alfie Dog Fiction. Their themes are centred on common emotional issues such as loneliness, deceit, jealousy, desire, loss, and naivety, amongst others. The individual stories are easy to read and generally well presented.

However, some read as a little far-fetched and the narrative often repetitive. The author also has a tendency to rush the ending so her protagonist’s problem is resolved hurriedly, in a few lines, after pages of angst. Admittedly, brevity is good for the tying-up of loose ends but the denouement, in several examples seen here, is far too clean and romanticised for my liking. Alongside this, I struggled to resonate with many of the characters, such was their stereotypical and sentimental depiction.

Despite not being to my taste, there is obviously a market out there for this kind of material as the author in question already has a successful career in short story writing. So, if you’re seeking subject matter that isn’t too taxing, and along similar lines to that found in many popular women’s magazines, you could do worse than to consider giving this a go.

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What determines the popularity of a blog?

typewriterwriterpng_amazon_kindle_fire_hd_7_gen6Unfortunately, my writing projects, including this blog, have been shelved recently due to a bout of illness that left me feeling quite poorly. Despite not being fully recovered as yet, I am improving with each day that passes, and I did manage to submit my entry to the competition at Opening Lines BBC Radio 4 before falling foul of the worst of my affliction, but since then … zilch, I’m afraid.

Although I haven’t felt up to writing, I did spend some time catching up on my reading, along with visiting many of the blogs that I follow, and it got me thinking: What determines the popularity of a blog? Engaging content? Professional presentation? Resonance of subject matter? Continue reading

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Turns out, I’m no Jackie Collins! Who knew?

jackie-collins-370x200The results of the Ann Summers Erotic Fiction Writing Competition were announced yesterday, and my name wasn’t amongst them. Having read through the winning stories, I can see what lead the judges to make their final decision. They present as articulate, original and sexy and, although very different to each other, all serve this particular genre very well. It was my first attempt at erotic fiction and at least I gave it a go, even though I’ll probably never show the story to another living soul for the rest of my days. OK! That’s enough self-congratulatory back-patting for one day. Continue reading

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One Word Anthology

One Word AnthologyOne Word Anthology is the latest book I’ve selected to review for Alfie Dog Fiction, and it’s just as it says on the tin: stories and poems inspired by a one word theme. The collection has 38 stories (which I might class as flash fiction, owing to their brevity) and poems in all, expressing ideas connected to time, colour, movement, emotion, substance and nature, to name but a few.

The subject matter is diverse, and within this stockpile of jewels are to be found some glistening gems. Despite each only taking a couple of minutes to read — others much less — there is a wealth of experience, knowledge and maturity in the narrative. Continue reading

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Start As You Mean To Go On

Start As You Mean To Go OnRemember me telling you about the competition in which I was recently shortlisted? The results were announced this week, and guess what? I didn’t win. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m also gratified to have made it to the final few. My congratulations go to the winner and runners-up, nonetheless.

The competition in question was featured on the Retreat West writing website and was October’s theme of ‘Change’. Julie Cohen, whose novel Dear Thing was selected for the Richard and Judy Summer 2014 Book Club, was the final judge so I’m honoured to have had my work read by such a talented author. I’m even more flattered that she labelled my story, Granny Smith, as ‘powerfully emotional’. Continue reading

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Deluded or aspirational? You decide.

Reach for the starsNow that the decorations have been cleared away and the festive season is yet another memory in the catalogue of Christmases past, our thoughts turn to the coming year and what we hope to achieve.

As I’ve already said, I don’t intend to set any definitive goals that may hamper my motivation and enthusiasm — against the advice of many other writers out there, I might add. However, this last week, I have spent some time identifying short story competitions that may prove a suitable conduit for my writing style and followed this up by mapping out several ideas for submission. Continue reading

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Out with the old, in with the new!

2015My blog updates have been neglected of late, so may I apologise to those of you who take the trouble to visit my site on a regular basis. The only explanation I can offer is the festive season: the chaotic preparations, followed by the exhausted lull.

Now I know any self-respecting and conscientious writer would never use that as an excuse … a committed writer will always find time to write. But, I refused to add to my stress levels by setting myself writing deadlines as well. My blood pressure could not take it.

However, now that the big day is finally behind us — as far away as ever as my late grandma used to always say, even before the final mince pie was polished off on Christmas day — I can look forward to contemplating new writing projects in 2015. Continue reading

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A Wish for Christmas

A Wish for ChristmasThis unusual array of short stories, published by Alfie Dog Fiction, is brought together under the topical theme of Christmas. I say unusual, because some of the subject matter is not necessarily what you might expect to find in a tale about the festive season. Teenage terminal illness, sexual abuse, alcoholism and adoption are but a few of the topics touched upon in this collection. However, despite the dour issues, the reader is always left with a feeling of hope by the story’s end.

I found one or two of the pieces rambled and lacked a satisfying conclusion, making me question whether the time spent reading them had been wasted. Others left me with an inner glow, particularly Granddad’s Snowman, by Patsy Collins, with memories of a granddad now passed — something that will, no doubt, resonate with many of us at this poignant time of year.

Would I recommend it? If you’re looking for a light and traditional story to pass a few minutes over a coffee, this might not necessarily be for you. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking something to stretch your imagination and challenge your perceptions this Christmas, this could be the very thing you’ve been looking for.

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Jack of All Trades

Multi-tasking woman at ChristmasMy husband had two interviews for Project Manager jobs this week and although this is a complex and responsible area of work, it made me realise how many women are born to fit this role, because they live the life of a project manager everyday.

For example: Christmas is almost upon us, and women everywhere are organising present buying, selecting appropriate cards to send to family and friends, arranging the office party, stocking up on food and drink for the festive season, as well as planning events for the big day itself. All this, alongside holding down the day job and caring for a multi-generational family, and that’s without the usual cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing and ironing — those household chores that  refuse to be ignored. Continue reading

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