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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Vote for your February winner, and the March line-up

In February, WWBB ran a short story competition and I need help to decide on a winner! Click on the below link to read a story, and then leave a comment for your favourite.

That was February, and for March it's all about getting to know the author or a character from their book. I wrote questions for the author to answer as themselves and/or from a character's POV from their novel. The result was brilliant! The authors participating (in no order) are: 

Cindy McDonald
Haley Fisher
Helena Duggan
Jonathan Hill
Alison Morton
Kevin Moore
Lynne Stevie
Tory Richards

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

MOA Forum, indie authors and writing.

Might be foolish, might be worthwhile. Won't know until it's been given a go. Some are saying it'll flop and we'll ruin our repetition, others are keen to participate.

What the hell am I on about?

Well, Steve Roach has approached authors on the aforementioned MOA forum (Meet Our Authors) on Amazon UK with an idea to collaborate on a book. 

The thought is that authors will submit a short story each (approx. 1,000-10,000) until we have a good-sized book. No profit will be made (it'll all go into the production of the book) and copyright will remain the story's creator.

It will be a great advert for the indie market as a whole--or not.

There are good writers, but we all know there are bad (delusional) writers, as well. So only the good need apply (you will be vetted). If we succeed, you never know, there may be another book the following year with another selection of writers.

Check out the MOA forum and see if you want to join us. But whatever you do, please support us. It's an advert to ALL indies, after all.

I've dropped out. I stuck up my hand to help sort through the entries, and because I wanted EVERYONE to take part I, rightly or wrongly, offered to be the editor and I got carried away. Apparently, I destroyed 'voices' and hurt the feelings of authors. What can I say, I'm a tough editor and I hate sloppiness. 'Voice' or not, there is no excuse for over-wordiness, poor grammar, bad spelling or lack-lustre content. 

Still, good luck, Steve, and to the rest of the authors my best wishes also.

Btw, my rates for editing . . . no, I'm joking. Never again! 

John Hudspith comes fully recommended though. Happy editing!

The World at War - author spotlight

The second book in the exciting Four Horsemen Series.

by Pam Funke

Join General Alexander Ludlow as he continues on his mission to save the world. At least that is what he thinks that Operation Dark Angel is all about. He is however starting to suspect that this mission is not all that it's cracked up to be. The world is in complete chaos as major nations wage war on each other and the world is on the brink of World War III. 

The Group is secretly continuing Operation Dark Angel with much success. Unknown to the rest of the world they are the ones who are behind the strange and devastating attacks on Israel and around the world. What is it that they are really after when they are supposed to be bringing peace to an out of control world?

Italian President Nicolaitanes Balac is steadily gaining political power and recognition. The entire world is watching this one man and wondering if he will be the one to save them from the chaotic spiral that the world is headed towards. Is he really who he appears to be or is he something much more sinister? Can he save the world? Do we even want him to? Is this who mankind should rely on for help or will this be the worst mistake that mankind has ever made?

Pam Funke is the grand-daughter of a Pastor and was brought up in the church. Her love of reading led her to write. She lives in Hinesville, Georgia with her son and daughter.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

How flash fiction could help with writing a full novel

Christopher Savio

I have to admit that when given the theme of this blog I had to look up flash fiction.  Maybe I have my head so buried in the books I read, writing and marketing that it passed me by.  Perhaps I am just out of the loop?  Whatever the case, upon finding out I have quickly grown a deep respect for it.

As an author I know how hard it is to get just the right word on the page.  Many of us live by the notion that we should use one word where others may use two or three.  

When painting a picture within the reader's mind, we must be complete, yet concise.  Only a few authors can get away with overdrawn descriptions.  Not everyone is Steinbeck and able describe how brown the corn was in the 1930's setting of The Grapes of Wrath.  With all due respect to one of the all time greats, that doesn’t work for every author or every reader. That being said, enter flash fiction.  A genre where one has not only to tell the detail but develop the story in less than one thousand words or less.  Some people ask me how I can write a book of 90,000 words, and most authors can accomplish that with ease, What would be hard for me would be to write a short story.

Even though, I would find it difficult to write a short, but complete, story, I truly feel that flash fiction can be an incredibly important tool for any author.   In the name of making one’s writing more concise, I feel that if each scene in a book were to be written as a series of flash fiction stories that linked together, the end result would be an incredibly fast paced and engaging book.  After all, we all know that some authors (not trying to be critical simply stating what we all know) can drone on and kill a scene because they lack sufficient brevity. 

I hesitate to use one of my favorites as an example, but Stephen King has been criticized for his most recent release of 11/22/63.  I  personally loved the book, but when his character falls in love with a fellow school teacher in Jodie Texas it seemed to be a never-ending two or three hundred page act.  If flash fiction had been employed here, the act would have been trimmed down (but then again who am I to judge? He’s sold millions of books and I haven’t. Yet!).

Looking at The Daguerreotypist  I feel that taking elements of my book and making a series of flash fiction could be interesting.  My favorite scenes were those that dealt with Isaiah Whitfield and The Devil.  I made The Devil less scary on a physical level and brought it to more of an emotional level. 

The Devil likes to play mind games with my antagonist  (I got a chuckle out of the scenes as I wrote). Taking these two characters, Isaiah Whitfield and The Devil, out of the book and creating a piece of fiction story with them could be a very interesting enterprise. 

Imagine the stories one can come up with involving a paranoid serial killer lamenting his choices in life and a character who has the power to mess with the other’s mind! They would make very dark and entertaining short-stories.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

So You Want an Author Platform?

You can buy an eBook made up of articles from WWBB at the very small price of 98p or $1.55 on Amazon. The articles are all by me (not guests writing for this blog) and are from this blog, rewritten, revamped and all published in one little eBook. 

A few of the things the book covers:

How NOT to build your author platform.
Identifying your brand: YOUR NAME!
What does RSS mean? 
How to back up your blog.
Typos in eBooks and on blogs.
How to Format your Book for Kindle (KDP) in Word.
Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP.
Reasons a reader will stop reading your book.
Should you use something other than said?
What does your rejection letter mean?
How NOT to submit a book proposal.
Stereotyping characters.
Simple factors when writing your query letter.
The synopsis.
Mistakes some new writers make.
The elevator pitch broken down into seconds.
Your blog content: tagging, links, your author profile, twitter and hashtags.

All that, plus more, condensed into 9,500 words.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Short story by Louise Wise

I'm not entering myself into my own competition, but I don't want to be left out either! So here's my effort.  It was runner up in the Writers' Magazine competition many moons ago - Louise Wise

The Alien

Was it human? It didn’t look human. Its eyes were a strange blue colour, but they weren’t looking at me. Just staring up at the Winnie-The-Poo spinney thing over its cot. Its face was red from crying – or anger, I couldn’t tell.
I ducked down and wriggled out of the nursery on my belly. Better the alien not see me go, it might laser me with its weird eyes. My dad’s legs stopped me from wriggling all the way to the top of the stairs.
‘I’m going to feed Ella, and see if that sends her to sleep,’ he said, sounding tired.
The alien began to make strange noises, which rose into an ear-splintering wail. Dad stepped over me and headed into its compound.
I wriggled back towards the nursery, and watched as my dad lifted the alien into his arms making soothing noises. He settled into the feeding chair and began to feed it alien protein.
‘Is Mum still in bed?’ I asked from the doorway (didn’t want to get too close).
The alien grunted, and sucked furiously. After a moment, Dad pulled the bottle out of the alien’s mouth, and sat it up. He began to rub its back. The alien began to wail, and Dad quickly laid it down and stuck the bottle back in its mouth. The crying stopped.
‘Sorry, son, what did you say?’ asked Dad.
‘Is Mummy still poorly?’
‘She isn’t ill,’ Dad said. ‘She’s tired. You must be a good and play quietly. OK?’
I wriggled away. The alien was boring. All it did was cry, sleep and poo. The poo was a yucky green, which was the only cool thing about it.
The alien had been growing in Mummy’s tummy for months. She’d been getting fatter and fatter and fatter. I thought she was going to pop. Good job she didn’t. What a mess! The doctor called Midwife (stupid name) took the alien out. Mummies have a special hole for babies to come out. I was glad to hear this. I thought they’d cut Mummy open and forget to sew her back up or something. Or sew her to the operating table! I tried to imagine Mummy cooking dinner with a large table stuck to her back.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Comment and judge on this short story: Snow

**The winner of WWBB's short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**
Kathryn Hewitt

It was easy to see what everyone else saw in him. His charm, his Southern grace, his easy, free flowing spirit and that gorgeous smile he enjoyed flashing made her heart flutter with the same excitement as any other girl in the room. Coming from deep rooted Southern money, Luke bought his way through life, taking care to always be extravagant, but humble when it suited him best. The likes of him were new to the small town of Westbrook and immediately everyone was captivated by him.

 But why her? Sure Ruth had a pretty face with a great body, but she was a nobody. The kind of person that everyone was friends with, but no one remembered to talk to. Not to mention she was young, four years younger than him to be exact, and she was poor. He could have anyone he wanted, but for weeks his eyes had narrowed in only on her.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Comment and judge on this short story: Maureen goes to Oz

**The winner of WWBB's short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

by Jonathan Hill

Maureen Banks was standing in front of the raised stage, her back to the three or four rows of excited parents.  The children jostled each other for space on the stage, each wanting to outshine the rest. 
Maureen took a deep breath and counted to ten in her head.  She was already starting to become irritated by the titters and giggles of the parents behind her.  Yes, she was well aware that the yellow brick road she had been up all night painting was starting to peel away from the floor and, yes, she too could see the wet patch on the Scarecrow’s trousers.  (The ‘accident’ had happened two minutes before curtain-up and Maureen did not have a back-up pair of straw-stuffed trousers.)  Maureen felt like turning round and berating the parents.  What did they expect?  This wasn’t a bloody West End show.  But she wouldn’t make a show of herself.  She would face the front and direct her class professionally. 
As she reached ‘ten’ in her head, she opened her eyes and smiled to the children, who were mostly ready and waiting for their cue to sing.  Maureen nodded to Mrs Fisher at the piano, who started to tap out ‘Follow the yellow brick road...’  The tune was recognisable but the notes were not quite in the right order.  Maureen could see even from where she was standing that Mrs Fisher had been drinking the night before.  It was not unexpected though.  Mrs Fisher had threatened it after some last-minute cuts to the production which had caused her undue stress.  It was true that most of the first half had been axed after ‘Health and Safety’ had classified it a risk level bordering on amber.  (Maureen failed to see how the desk-top fan, which had been used to simulate the Kansas cyclone, posed a danger to the children’s lives, but the paperwork would be so cumbersome if something were to go awry that she duly complied.) 
As the children sang their hearts out, they proudly projected toothy grins to their parents.  Dorothy, about whom Maureen often worried (she was in the middle of a family break-up), craned her neck to try to spot her parent(s); the expression on her face after a minute’s searching indicated to Maureen that neither parent had showed.
The munchkin (for they were down from seven to one after six munchkins had been taken ill after a dubious batch of break-time milk) ushered Dorothy along the Yellow Peeling Road to where the Scarecrow was standing.  “Hands out of pockets,” Maureen hissed.  The Scarecrow obediently whipped his hands out and his trousers, unsupported, dropped to the floor.  The rest of the cast pointed hysterically at his white Y-fronts, out of which peeped clumps of paper straw like unkempt pubic hair. 
“Quiet,” Maureen called.  “You’re embarrassing yourselves!”  Just at that moment a man who, until now, had been snoozing on the front row, jerked awake and emitted a huge guffaw upon seeing the focus of the audience’s giggles at the start.  You see, from the front Maureen looked impeccably dressed.  But had she swivelled her hips and looked at her behind in the mirror beforehand, she would have seen the rather large tag hanging there, boasting layer upon layer of pricing discounts, the uppermost of which alerted the assembled parents that her mauve pleated skirt had been a snip at only £4.99.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Comment and judge on this short story: Vacation

**The winner of WWBB's short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**
Peter DeMarco

Henry tells the twin girls he almost got hit by a bike.
They’re all over the place, one says.
Like New York City taxis, says Henry.
We’ve never been to New York.
It’s being cleaned up now.
The girls are in Amsterdam on break from college in L.A.  Henry asks if they’ve ever been on the Universal Studios tour.  That’s for tourists, they say.  But what if you like movies, he asks.  They tell him that when you’re from a place that’s known for something, it doesn’t mean that much.
            I think I know what you mean, says Henry.  I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty.
            That’s crazy, one of them says.
            See, we’re all tourists, Henry tells them.
            Outside, they smoke hash alongside a canal. 
            I haven’t ridden a bike since I had an accident when I was a kid, says Henry.  He points to his a scar on his forehead.
Someone told us that there are a lot of bikes in the water.
Like a cemetery, Henry says.
They smoke in silence and stare at the water, as if the rippling current were a kind of lullaby.
            What do you do back home, they ask Henry.
            I go to the movies, he says.  So do you like movies, or am I asking another stupid question.
            We like the old ones. 
            Like Charlie Chaplin, Henry asks.
            Whose that?
            He was a silent movie star.
            Not that old.  You know, from the eighties.
            Henry shakes his head. 
            The other twin asks him if he travels a lot.  This is my first time abroad, he says.
            Really.  You’re brave going by yourself.
            Not brave, just bored.
            The girls tell him that their parents let them travel because it was their 21st birthday. 
            That’s sweet, Henry says.  Then he asks if they know how to say goodnight in Dutch.  The girls shake their heads.
            Henry waves goodbye and walks away.
            Henry visits a prostitute in the Red Light District.         
            Once, I came home from school, he tells her, and heard some weird chanting or something in the living room.  I peeked in and saw my mother and some friends with the Pastor from our parish and they were talking, but it wasn’t words, it was like mumbling.  My mother was sick and they were trying to heal her.  It scared me.
            I went back outside, Henry says, and got my bicycle.  I pedaled really fast and wasn’t paying attention, there were tears in my eyes, and I hit a tree.
            The prostitute strokes his hair as if he were a prize mare.
            Later, Henry rents a bike and pedals along the canals.  He thinks about the abandoned bicycles the girls mentioned, sturdy new chrome that once sparkled in the sun, now rusted and disfigured.  In school, a teacher once told the class about the Pearl Harbor memorial, how you could see the sunken ship just beneath the water.
            There is a resting place for everything.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Comment and judge on this short story: Lurking Demons

**The winner of WWBB's short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**
Robert Crompton

It was getting silly. It doesn’t matter when you’re a little kid and there are lots of people around who believe in fairies and ghosts and giants and things. But when you get to grammar school and nobody believes in fairies or Santa Claus or Gulliver’s Travels, that’s when it can be embarrassing to think of the sorts of things your family believe.
Okay, lots of grown-ups believe in God and Jesus and angels and maybe that was all right though Susan couldn’t think why it was any different from fairies, but her family believed in other stuff as well like the coming of the Lord and the Great Climax before next Tuesday and demons and eschewing things and how terribly wicked other people were, especially those who believed in God but in the wrong way. And they had these phrases they were always using that made them sound like they were reciting things from silly Gilead pamphlets, which they were, of course. Phrases like, ‘in these perilous times’ and ‘the machinations of the devil.’ If she heard her mother say either of those once more she would fling her bedroom window wide open and scream all the rudest swear words she could think of and hope they got picked up by the radio masts on Alvanley Hill so they could echo round and round the forest for ever and always. And afterwards, even when she was lots older, when she went walking in the forest on a windy day she thought they were doing just that.
The demons thing got to its absolute stupidest when she was thirteen. Some idiots started to put it around that things, objects, could be demon-possessed. The Wise Old Men of Gilead started it but there were plenty of others with the right sort of Gilead-mindedness to fill in the details. The most susceptible objects were things like antiques or any second-hand goods which could have been owned by people who dabbled in occult arts. And children were a special target for the demons so, naturally, toys were the obvious places for evil spirits to lurk.
She might have been able to cope with this if it had just been other people at Gilead Hall who took the hunt for hidden demons seriously. But one Friday afternoon when she got home from school Alan was in the back yard tending a bonfire. When she went up to her room she saw that Pookie, her teddy bear who always sat on her pillow, was missing. She went downstairs and into the kitchen where her mother was preparing vegetables.
‘Where is Pookie?’ she demanded.
Her mother carried on peeling carrots and replied in a wearied tone, ‘Susan, you are thirteen. You ought to have grown out of playing with dolls by now.’
‘Mother! I don’t play with dolls. I never did. Pookie isn’t a doll. He’s a teddy bear and he’s special. I’ve had him since before I can remember and I want to keep him.’
‘Well it’s too late. It’s gone on the bonfire. You know very well that these things attract the attention of demons.  We have to be as cautious as serpents in these perilous times.’
She went back up to her room and flung the window open and sent the swear words out. ‘Damn, bugger, piss, bloody hell.’ And in a whisper, she added, ‘fuck.’
She might have forgotten about the teddy bear ¨C well, eventually she might ¨C but what really needled her was the pressure to behave as if she was always on the look-out for lurking demons. They get everywhere in these perilous times.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Comment and judge on this short story: Monster Race

**The winner of WWBB's short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**
John Hudspith

Alice settled on the warm grass, sun behind her, breeze coming left to right; a strong breeze at that - just the thing for a monster race because the critters go faster with the wind at their tails.

Alice didn’t have long to wait. A skeletal dog came bounding into view in dreamy slow motion. The dragon behind had a funny jaw, sort of hooked like a parrot, and it was stretching wider and wider. Alice was certain the dog would be swallowed whole if it didn’t get a move on.

Too late. The bones in the dog’s neck separated and its skull went rolling forward. Alice gasped when she realised the rest of the dog had vanished. The dragon’s mouth was firmly shut, it looked fatter too and went sailing past without any clue that it might be feeling guilty at all. Dragons were sly things. Poor dog.

Alice smiled at the size and pure beauty of the boldest, whitest horse she’d ever seen. Shame it had six legs. It reared up, crashed down, up, down, then its hooves galloped into a roll, so fast they became a blur. It was plain to see what made the handsome horse so speedy. A trio of fat goblins were in pursuit, but that wasn’t the bad of the matter. No. Behind the goblins (which now dispersed so quickly Alice only blinked and they’d gone) came a fat grey snake, easily big enough to swallow the dragon, never mind the six-legged horse. Alice held her breath as it neared the speeding stallion. Its forked tongue curled out, stretched, then zapped at the horse’s hind legs which evaporated into fine mist. The horse tumbled and broke into bits, legs scattering like old bones thrown by a witch. Alice laughed. This was fun.

Then came a giant. Well, Alice presumed it was a giant. His legs and arms were normal sized but his head was definitely bigger than Alice’s house. He didn’t move very fast – due to the small legs, obviously. And he’d no hope of winning the race. Not unless he cheated. Alice watched as the giant lumbered. The others way in front had gone now. This giant was boring. He didn’t even look at her. Didn’t smile. Just rolled by with his ginormous head.

Alice sighed and wished the giant away and in seconds a new racer entered the game – a black rat – bigger than giant big head. Alice clapped her hands because the rat was fast and soon nipping at the giant’s ears. Its snout opened wide and began sucking giant big head inside. His little legs kicked for mercy.

“Eat him all up,” said Alice, just as the rat spread its black form upwards and outwards. Now it was a hooded figure, one long arm extended to the racers in front.

“Ha!” Alice laughed, then the dark figure vanished behind Ma’s bloomers.

“Watching the clouds again, sweetheart?”


“Think it’s going to rain?”

“No Ma, it’ll pass.”

“Who won today?”

“The man in the hood, Ma…” Alice got up and skipped down the yard. “…He always wins.”