I’m not bad at sitting quietly in my “writing office”, on my lonesome, transferring the content of the world-in-my-head onto my laptop. When I’m in the right mood, I’m not bad at typesetting what I’ve written into a format that will successfully upload to Amazon KDP. I’ve even been enough of a grown up to find a professional to do my cover designs so my short story collections have a fighting chance of looking the part when they’re shoulder to shoulder with all the other eBooks out there. But I’m willing to concede that I’m pretty rubbish at the marketing and promotion side.
From articles I’ve read, and podcasts I listen to, I know I’m not alone. The kind of person who likes spending lots of time alone creating stuff quietly in their own space is not predisposed to then shout about it from the rooftops. Plus I’m British. We don’t like to blow our own trumpets. It’s hard to tell the world about something you’ve created without sounding like you’re bragging. To be honest, I’ve probably got friends and colleagues who don’t even know I write, so Blackadder was onto something when he said, “You might at least have told us you had a trumpet!”
So, consider this a polite cough to get your attention. I’ve got a new short story collection coming out soon. If you’d like to know when it’s available, and if you’d like a sneak preview of the cover, please sign up for my mailing list (and I promise you won’t be inundated with emails – I’ll only contact you when I want to let you know about something, or if I’d like to ask your opinion – and I won’t share your data with anyone else). And if you’re not sure if my stories are for you, then please download my mini collection The Camel in the Garden which is FREE this weekend.
*carefully puts trumpet away* 😉
Whether or not you’re a fan of Goodreads, you might have decided that 2020 is the year you’ll set yourself a reading challenge. Maybe (much like me) you’re usually an avid reader but recently you’ve found other demands on your time. If you chart your reading progress on Goodreads (or simply via a reading diary or journal), perhaps you’ve discovered that in 2019 you only managed to read a handful of books, and that discovery has shocked you. (It certainly shocked me!) So you’ve set yourself a challenge to read X number of books in 2020.
Lifestyle gurus who insist on “SMART” objectives will be happy with this because it’s a measurable outcome. Of course, you’ve not said what kind of books, so it might mean you steer clear of weighty tomes in favour of some nice short, easy to read novels. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. In any case, you need to get hold of some books and relatively quickly.
If you have a local bookshop, this is your opportunity to support them, or alternatively your local library (the latter is excellent if you want to move out of your reading comfort zone but would like to try before you buy). If you have to resort to Amazon (and many of us do), then you often have the choice of print, audio or Kindle editions. (I’m not going to get into the debate about whether or not listening to the audio version of a book counts as having read it!)
I love a print edition book – the feel of it, and the way you can more obviously tell when you are on the last few pages (the percentage figure on the Kindle often includes umpteen pages of backmatter or the first chapter of the next book which skews the measurement), and I love to keep my favourite books on my bookshelves. But I only have a finite amount of storage space, and since we are trying to operate a ‘less is more approach’ in our household, I love my Kindle because I can keep so many books in one small place. And, since the Kindle edition of a book is usually cheaper than the print copy, I’m much more inclined to take a chance on a book/author I’m not sure about. There are also some books which are only available as an e-book so arguably you have more choice with an e-reader.
If you fancy test driving the Kindle experience, without actually having a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for either android or iPhone, or indeed for your PC or tablet. If you already have an Amazon account, it takes seconds. And if you’re the sort of person who usually has their phone with them at all times, now you have access to a whole library of books too.
No excuse to fail your 2020 reading challenge now! 😉
A year ago, I posted here about having lost my beautiful mare, Cracker, how hard I was finding adjusting to life without her – and how difficult it was to focus on anything, even writing.
Since then, a lot has happened (including a house move), and while I’ve been horse-less, I’ve definitely had more time for writing-related activities. On the non-fiction front, I’ve had my first full-length article published in a national magazine (equine-related, of course). And on the fiction front, most excitingly, I achieved my aim to release an eBook short story collection on Amazon. (Two, in fact!)
I’m quietly proud of “Beyond Words” (the second of the two collections) as it brings together some of my favourite short stories, all of which have achieved competition success. There’s so much to be gained from entering competitions – the discipline of meeting deadlines, word counts and themes can only help improve your writing, especially when it takes you away from your comfort-zone, and being short-listed, placed or commended can only increase your writing confidence. If you’ve never entered a writing competition before but would be interested in having a go, there’s a reference list at the back of “Beyond Words” which gives each of the competitions in which the stories were entered.
And a year on… Well, I finally decided it was time to take on a new equine partner. This is Deemon Whirlwind, my new part-Arab gelding:
After 15 educational years with Cracker, I’m looking forward to an equally long and inspirational partnership with this handsome chap. And of course, I’ll keep you posted!
Who doesn’t love hearing a story told to them? Whether you’re a child listening with rapt attention to a bedtime story made up for you by your parents, or you’re an adult listening to an audio book in the car on the daily commute, there’s something magical about being told a story. As someone who reads quite quickly, and not always very carefully (in fact, sometimes I skim read – a terrible admission for a writer!), listening to a story sometimes helps me pick up nuances and details I’d otherwise have missed.
Well, this great oral tradition is celebrated during National Storytelling Week which this year runs from 28th January to 4th February. You can find out all about it here:
I’m afraid I don’t yet have any audio versions of my stories, though there are lots of other out there, such as Patsy Collins’ story “Uncle Mick” available to listen to here:
Not to be outdone though, in honour of all things short-story related, my collection The Camel in the Garden is free to download from Amazon Kindle this weekend.
If you take the opportunity to download it, you could always read it to someone else! And if you like the stories, and had time to leave a brief Amazon review, I’d be ever so grateful.
Thank you – and happy reading!
This year, National Short Story Week runs from 14th to 20th November celebrating all things short story-related. The aim is to raise awareness of short stories themselves and those who write and publish them.
As someone who loves the medium of the short story, as both a reader and writer, I’m looking forward to seeing what the week brings. Patron Katie Fforde says, “Let’s get everyone reading, writing and listening to short stories in this designated week.” My tiny contribution to this aim is two special offers I’m running on my own short story collections.
The Camel in the Garden, a collection of three short about loss, love and family, is free from 14th to 18th November. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Camel-Garden-Three-stories-family-ebook/dp/B01EPBTO92/ref=pd_sim_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5A7PRP33X1R38X5PQXR9
Beyond Words, 12 short stories about love, death, and deception, is half-price from 14th to 20th November. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Words-short-stories-deception-ebook/dp/B01JWLPKW0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
If you don’t usually read short stories, this week is a great opportunity to try some. If you’re interested in writing short stories, and perhaps having a go at entering a few competitions, you may find Beyond Words useful to read, as each of the stories has either been short-listed, long-listed, placed or highly commended in a variety of competitions.
I hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to get involved with short fiction – reading it, writing it, and reviewing it. And if you pick up, or download, a short story this week, I hope you love it and want to talk about it.
For more information on National Short Story Week, visit the website: http://www.nationalshortstoryweek.org.uk/