It’s my pleasure to reblog Ella Allbright’s publication day blog. As well as sharing a paperback publication day for The Last Charm for her and Christmas Wishes for me, we are niece and aunt. (For avoidance of doubt, I’m the aunt.)
Monthly Archives: November 2020
Hannah’s lost her shop in Stockholm and her fink of an ex-boyfriend is trying to swindle her. She returns to Middledip village to look after Nan Heather while she decides what happens next in her life and becomes embroiled with the family of her teen-years buddy Nico. He’s trying to work out what happens next in his life, too. Wishes are easy to make but it’s harder to make them come true…
The paperback should be available in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s, W H Smith, Waterstones and many independent bookshops. It’s a special treat for me to see one of my books on the shelves.
You might know that there’s now an online presence for independent bookshops called Bookshop.org and you can buy Christmas Wishes there, too, thereby supporting bricks and mortar stores.
The audiobook has been narrated by Julia Winwood and I love this pic of her beginning the recording. She was one of the narrator’s for the recent adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman so I feel cool by association.
Have a wonderful day, everyone. Publication day is always a red letter day for me.
To add to the excitement today, for the first time I’m sharing a publication day with my talented niece, Ella Allbright, who you might already know as Nikki Moore. The Last Charm has awesome reviews and if you love deeply emotional fiction it might be for you! It’s been out in ebook for a while but today is the paperback release. Congratulations, Ella!
I’ve written a lot of short stories. I’d sold 87 and a serial before I ever sold a novel and I stopped counting sales when I passed 150. I edited two short story anthologies for the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I’ve led many short story workshops. During that process I’ve distilled my short story ‘recipe’.
- In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a short story is defined as concerning a single episode. The simplest way of observing the single-episode structure is to write about one conflict or puzzle.
- I decide on the conflict or puzzle I’m going to write about
- and decide whose conflict/puzzle it is.
- That person will be my central character, ie I’m writing their story.
- I give the central character the viewpoint
- begin at a point of change or significance and plunge into the story.
- I make the central character work out how to solve the conflict/puzzle herself or himself
- via a pivotal moment (which you might prefer to think of as a turning point or the key)
- to trigger the resolution.
- Rather than ‘ending’, I think ‘conclusion’. NB For some reason I don’t think too much about themes or messages in short stories, although I do when writing a novel. I have no idea why not … maybe they just arise out of somebody solving a conflict.
Getting structure into my short story
Before I begin I express my idea in three points. Either:
- pivotal moment
I think carefully in commercial terms. Is the conflict correct for the genre and the magazine or anthology I’m writing for? Are the characters? The ending? If I’m writing a short story as a promotional tool for my novels, is it in the same vein and voice?
Now I write only a few short stories each year but that’s more about lack of time than lack of inclination. Short stories have a lovely pure-story feel to writing them.
Writing short stories for writing competitions
This isn’t something I did much, to be honest, but I know a lot of people met success and reward via competitions. However, I was the head fiction judge at Writers’ Forum for five years and when asked for my tips for entrants would say:
- Follow the rules. This sounds obvious but it’s amazing how often I’d receive 5000 words when there was a 3000-word maximum.
- Write the type of story the judges are looking for. At Writers’ Forum it was all about story (probably because I was the judge) but I also judged competitions for Writing Magazine and for various other organisations. In that time I received what amounted to essays on a subject or theme or the first chapter of a novel and stories that were nothing to do with the stated subject or title.
- Make your story stand out. I once had to read about 200 stories concerning Emily visiting the Falkland Islands. You’ve no idea how I appreciated those with an original approach. In about 160 of them poor Emily was visiting in memory of her lost love or family member. Whilst I had every sympathy for her it became hard to feel enthused.
- Submit in time for the deadline, if there is one.
- Send the correct fee, if there is one.
- Don’t attach a discourteous note to the judge. (Yes, seriously, this happens.)
- Don’t attach a discourteous note to the magazine. (Ditto.)
- Write a fantastic first page, the best you possibly can. When you’re up against maybe a hundred other stories you don’t want to make it easy for the judge to put your story down.
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