Tag Archives: novella

Don’t Quit the Day Job: Matt Potter

Lots of people don’t realise that although you may see work by a certain author on the bookshelves in your favourite shop, many writers still hold down a day job in addition to penning their next novel. In this series, we talk to writers about how their current – or previous – day jobs have inspired and informed their writing.

Today I’m chuffed to bits to have Matt Potter on the blog to talk about how his work experience gave him plenty of material for his writing. My thanks to Matt for sharing his time and his stories with us today.

Vic x

2 pic for book

Sometimes, it takes someone else reflecting back to you, about your writing – a blurb or review of your work – for you to realise what you write about.

It took me years to pinpoint just what it is I write about. As for genre, I would think domestic or intimate comedy (whatever that really is, I kind of just made that up).

But what I really write about, the constant theme, is compromise. What are the deals we do with ourselves to get through life. What are we willing to put up with to get what we want? When does not enough become really not enough? When do we decide to walk away, and when do we decide to return or start anew?

Many of the day jobs I have held have been in community services, because I am a qualified social worker. Disclaimer: I have never been a very good one, certainly not in the traditional mould.

Many of these jobs involved advocacy – supporting others by being their mouthpiece, or assisting them to do so; or planning (future health or care issues); or training and information provision (hundreds of public sessions); or in communication roles: web content, newsletters (when newsletters were really a thing), media releases, leaflet and brochure text, poster and flyer design.

Many of these jobs also involved talking to people about their lives – really talking with them and listening – and of all the things I did in my social work career, chatting to people about their lives has always been the best, most fun, most interesting thing for me.

Setting the scene or environment so people can talk about themselves – despite me also being a great talker – has always been really easy for me. Getting to know people intimately, and quickly, so they unburden themselves, give me what they need to, sometimes when they don’t really want to or initially feel uncomfortable doing so. It’s about being open and receptive and the other person recognising this instantly.

I also taught English as a Second Language for a number of years, and ultimately, found that more rewarding than social work, but that’s another story.

Have I ever directly written about the stories people told about their lives? Only once – a man in his late 20s told me he had finally dealt with his father issues, which meant he wasn’t gay anymore! – and another story has played around in my head for 11 years or more … again about personal deal-making.

1 - On the Bitch cover for back pages

A reviewer of my new novella On the Bitch wrote that I have “the ability to put the reader into whatever scene is playing out at the moment” and I think that is true. So it’s about instantly being there, in the situation, and not somewhere else. YOU ARE THERE! And that’s what listening to the hundreds of people who spoke about their lives and their troubles and their issues and their plans taught me. BE IN THE MOMENT. You can read it, see it and experience that on the page through my writing.

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Review of 2017: Emma Whitehall

Today, we have another member of Elementary Writers on the blog to review her 2017. Emma Whitehall is not just a member of my writing group but a real friend.

If you get the opportunity to read her work, or see her perform it, I recommend you do so! I’ve had the privilege of working with her while she developed her collection ‘Clockwork Magpies’ which I am convinced will be insanely popular when it’s released. 

Vic x

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
It’s a tie. I went to Ireland for a literary festival in July, and I started a 3-month volunteer position at Mslexia in September. One of my stories was shortlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction award this year, and I was invited to read at the launch in Bantry, just outside of Cork. I went alone, and it was such an amazing adventure! Not only did I get to spend some time in a phenomenally beautiful setting, I started every day by hiking up a huge hill to take a short story course with Alissa Nutting, who wrote Tampa. I’ll never forget it!

Working with the Mslexia team has been amazing, too. All the girls on the team are brilliant, and I’ve learned so much about working for a magazine. I’ve even written one or two pieces! 

And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
My gym-nut brother bought me a Fitbit a few months ago, and it has literally changed my life. I try about walk about 5-6 miles a day (including moving about at work), and I’ve lost 10lb in about 2 months! It’s become a stress antidote; there are days when I really can’t wait to put my trainers on, find a good podcast (I’m nearing the end of The Adventure Zone right now), and go for a nice long walk…

Favourite book in 2017?
Oh, this is a tricky one! I’d probably have to say T.E. Grau’s They Don’t Come Home Anymore, which is a brilliant novella about toxic friendships, obsession, and vampires. Through reviewing for Unnerving magazine, I’ve read a lot of really amazing indie horror this year.

Favourite film in 2017?
Stranger Things. I know I’m being contrary with that answer, but it’s structured more like an 8-hour film than a TV show, and the characters have stayed with me much more than any that I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Winona Ryder is incredible, and Millie Bobby Brown should get any role she wants for the rest of her career. 

Favourite song of the year?
My Tyrant”, by Felix Hagan and the Family. On the one hand, it’s a song about a turbulent, possibly unhealthy relationship…but it’s also about being totally, joyfully in love (or lust) with someone. It’s a raucous song that’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to – much to my partner’s chagrin…

Any downsides for you in 2017?
Sadly, I lost my Leopard Gecko, Ace, just before I went to Ireland. It was old age, and he went as quietly as you can hope, but I was devastated. He was my constant companion – even if we were doing our own thing, on opposite sides of the room, we were always doing it together. I never knew reptiles could be so funny, so sweet, and so full of personality before we got him. I miss him a lot. He won’t be my last pet, but, for now, I’m still getting over the loss.

Are you making resolutions for 2018?
To keep going! I feel like, with a lot of things, I’m on the precipice; I’m about 3lb off my weight goal, I’ve had a few promising interactions with writing jobs (though I am still looking at the moment), I’ve been longlisted and shortlisted for a few awards, and my collection of short stories is very nearly done. I think I just need to keep pushing forward and not lose my nerve!

What are you hoping for from 2018?
I hope that, this time next year, I can hold a published copy of my collection in my hands.

*Chasing the Traveller Blog Tour* Review.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to take part in the cover reveal for ‘Chasing the Traveller’ by Alex Kane.

Today I’m honoured to take part in the blog tour for ‘Chasing the Traveller‘. 

As a traveller, Kat has always felt out of place, especially since the death of her parents in a fire. Having fallen in love with tearaway Jimmy Denton, Kat ends up married to a controlling and violent thug. After sixteen years of violence, she decides enough is enough and begins plotting her escape.

On finding an unlikely ally in her sister-in-law Ellie, Kat discovers that she isn’t alone. Kat’s quest to find out who she really is continues once she and Ellie have found their feet away from the camp but a discovery leads her back to the place she’d been desperate to escape.

Will she find the answers she is looking for, or will she fall prey to the violent Jimmy Denton once more?

I found the depiction of Jimmy Denton terrifyingly believable. The manipulation, threats and his insidious degradation of Kat’s confidence seem totally realistic in the most horrible way. I had a very strong sense of who Jimmy Denton was as well as the way in which his actions impacted on those around him. 

I read this novella in one sitting because I found that I couldn’t bear to wait to see what happened. I found myself holding my breath through a lot of this story due to the tension. I feel like this was because I cared about Kat and particularly Ellie. I would have actually liked to spend more time with Ellie and hearing her story and experiences. 

Chasing the Traveller‘ is an engaging portrayal of  a woman’s desperation to free herself from domestic abuse and find her own way in the world. It’s by no means an easy read in terms of the content but it is certainly worth the heartache. 

Vic x

Review: ‘The Last Plantagenet?’ by Jennifer C Wilson

 

The Last Plantagenet?‘ begins with a reenactment at Nottingham Castle in 2011. Kate is enjoying the jousting when she is mysteriously transported to 1485 just prior to the Battle of Bosworth.

She quickly catches the eye of a certain Richard III so she not only has to traverse the intricacies of romance in the 15th Century but Kate must navigate this unexpected adventure without giving her peers reason to suspect her of witchcraft. 

The Last Plantagenet?‘ is an interesting take on the time-slip genre merged with historical fiction and romance. Combined with Jennifer C Wilson’s intricate historical knowledge and her passion for Richard III, ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘ is a fascinating romp in many senses of the word. 

The descriptions in the novella are thorough and ensure the reader can imagine a very vivid picture of the action. ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘ certainly gives an alternative depiction of Richard III to the one presented in popular culture, making him an unlikely sex symbol. 

Although not a history buff myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Jennifer C Wilson provides enough information to ensure that the story is accessible to those of us without her level of knowledge. ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘ is a fun and informative read.

Vic x

Guest Post: Jennifer C Wilson on ‘The Last Plantagenet?’

Today, my friend Jennifer C Wilson joins us on the blog to talk about her first foray into self-publishing with her upcoming novella ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘ which is available to pre-order now. 

Having the opportunity to edit this novella, I’ve had a sneak peak and I recommend that you seek it out immediately. 

Vic x

Hi Victoria, thanks for kindly asking me to visit your blog again today, for the launch of ‘The Last Plantagenet?‘, my new time-slip romance novella. As well as being my first foray into time-slip (and romance, for that matter), it’s also the first time I have self-published anything.

It’s been a nerve-racking experience, getting everything ready in time for my self-imposed publication date of 2nd October, to tie in with the birthday of my leading man, Richard III (obviously…). I’m really lucky to have had beautiful artwork, from Soqoqo Design, and of course your good self to review and edit the content, but I’ve still been having nightmarish visions of people opening the ebook on the morning, and finding blank pages, every other word missing: the usual frets!

But it’s still been fun, and definitely an experience I’m not afraid to repeat, if another idea strikes me.

The Last Plantagenet?‘ follows Kate, as she goes out for a relaxing day at a joust re-enactment at Nottingham Castle. All is well, until the rain starts. Here’s the opening scene, to whet your appetite…

2nd July 2011, Nottingham Castle

The fireplace hadn’t looked like a time-portal. Of all the things flying through Kate’s mind as she gazed around the chaos that was the medieval kitchen, that was the one that stood out.

It was meant to be just an ordinary Saturday. A blissful day, enjoying the pounding of hooves cantering around the grounds of Nottingham Castle. Kate had relaxed for once, watching a re-enactment of the Wars of the Roses, celebrating the town’s part in King Richard III’s fateful final few weeks, as he travelled to Leicester to meet Henry Tudor, and his fate at Bosworth. As an avid fan of the period, it was Kate’s perfect Saturday, watching the actors in their armour or fine costumes. She meandered between the stalls, ate her fill of food from the time, and absorbed the atmosphere, enjoying a break from the drudgery of real life. Now, full of roasted chicken and mulled wine, even in the middle of summer, Kate was casually forgetting the accounts she knew she had to settle when she returned to the office on Monday morning. So few of the re-enactments Kate had watched featured Richard III as the hero of their piece, and yet, here he was, taking centre stage, just where he belonged in Kate’s opinion. Too many documentaries, plays and other works cast him as an evil, power-grabbing, child-murdering maniac; today, he was just as she had always pictured him – a man doing his best, no worse than any other medieval monarch, who fell foul of Tudor propaganda. Kate had always supported the underdog, she thought as she wandered around the tents, and Richard was certainly that.

But then the rain started. A summer storm, Kate decided, ignoring the gathering clouds for as long as she could, but once the heavens opened, they refused to close, drenching everyone to the skin as they ran for cover. Ducking inside, Kate found herself standing in front of the former kitchen’s grand fireplace, flickering away with fake, LED flames, fake meat roasting on fake spits. A clap of thunder made Kate jump, causing her bag to slide off her shoulder and in amongst the ‘burning’ logs; she leant in to retrieve it, just at the moment the first bolt of lightning struck.

In a heartbeat, the world went black.

*

It’s been fun spending time with a version of Richard III who’s actually alive for a change, rather than a ghost. I’ll be having an online launch party on the evening of 2nd October to celebrate the release – visit my Facebook page for more details, and to get involved.

And now, it’s back to my ghosts, as I’m working on what I hope will at some point become the third Kindred Spirits novel, exploring the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey. With over three thousand people buried or commemorated in there, there’s a pretty large cast of characters to choose from!

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who spent much of her childhood stalking Mary, Queen of Scots (initially accidentally, but then with intention). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consulting since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to develop her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. She is also part of The Next Page, running workshops and other literary events in North Tyneside.

Jennifer’s debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, was released by Crooked Cat Books in October 2015, with Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile following in June 2017. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as at The Next Page’s website. Her time-slip historical romance, The Last Plantagenet? is available for pre-order, and on sale from 2nd October 2017.

Review of 2015: Aidan Thorn

Aidan Thorn is reviewing his 2015 today. Aidan is getting a lot of kudos in the writing community at the moment so it’s great that he has taken the time to review his year.

Thanks for being involved, Aidan! 

Vic x

Aidan Thorn

2015 was a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

2015 really was a great year for me. It was a breakthrough year that saw me have two books published by two small press publishers that I really admire. In June my second short story collection, Urban Decay, was published by the boys behind Near to the Knuckle. I was delighted to be approached by them about publishing my collection. I always send my work to Darren Sant at NTTK before I submit it anywhere or publish it. Darren’s a safe pair of eyes, a writer I really respect. He went quiet for a while when I sent him the collection and then after a while I got an email asking what I thought about the NTTK boys publishing it… I thought great! At the time NTTK had published one book, the Gloves Off anthology and were about to publish their second anthology, Rogue, I was going to be the first author with his name on the cover that they published – what an honour. NTTK is really important to me, I’ve had loads of stories published on their webzine and I’ve been in both of their anthologies, so being the first author off the blocks with them was fantastic. The collection has been really well received, picking up a bunch of great reviews.

The second book I saw published this year was my novella, When the Music’s Over, by Number 13 Press. I started reading Number 13 Press books almost as soon as they came out and really loved what they were producing. I’ve found I have less and less time to read these days what with the pressures of work and my own writing. What Number 13 Press are producing are great novella length books of real quality. I was inspired, so I dusted off a novel I wrote a few years ago, chopped a load out of it, sharpened it up and now it’s out there and getting a great reaction. It’s been a real spur for me to kick on with my writing, because when I first touted that book around (at novel length) it got roundly rejected. Number 13 Press gave me a reason to revisit it and get it sharp and now it’s sat on Amazon and on people’s bookshelves with a bunch of five star reviews attached. It’s proven to me that I can do this writing thing and to never give up on the dream.

UD_Cover

And how about a favourite moment from 2015 generally?

My favourite moment of 2015 has to be holding that paperback copy of When the Music’s Over in my hand. I’m man enough to admit I shed a tear or two when that happened. I’ve put that book on my shelves right next to my writing hero George Pelecanos, one day I hope to meet him in the real world, but until then at least our books have met, and that’s a great feeling.

When the Music's Over

Favourite book in 2015? 

I’ve read a lot of good books this year, mostly novella’s and short story collections. I know I’m biased because I’m in it but the second NTTK anthology Rogue is a belter. Gareth Spark’s short story collection, Snake Farm is incredible (I was lucky enough to be asked to read an advance copy and give a quote for the inside cover – it’s kind of intimidating as a writer reading something by Gareth, the man is unparalleled in his talent). Novellas: A Killing Kiss by B R Stateham, White Knight by Bracken MacLeod, Knuckleball by Tom Pitts and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Nick Quantrill… Sorry I know that’s more than one book – but they’re all short!

Favourite film of 2015?

Legend – Tom Hardy is incredible as both Kray brothers.

Favourite song of the year?

Just one, um… Summertime Boy by Seasick Steve, I think… I’ll probably change my mind if I think about it too much.

Any downsides in 2015?

I’d have liked to write more, but wouldn’t we all? I can’t complain really. I had two books published and a bunch of shorts published at some of my favourite eZines and anthologies… Downsides? It rained more than I’d have liked.

Are you making resolutions for 2016?

I don’t make resolutions based on years. I don’t like to think of time passing based on years. If I want something to happen I’ll get started, I’m not someone that says, I’ll do this next year or this year. Crack on with what you want now is the way I approach things.

What are you hoping for from 2016?

2016 will be another big year for me. I’m putting together a charity anthology in support of Henrietta Furchtenicht. A lot of the writing community that I write in, the so called ‘gritty’ scene will know Henri, she’s top writer Craig Furchtenicht’s wife and she’s battling Myeloma. I’ve got to know her through Facebook over the past year and she’s an incredible woman, inspirational, funny and interesting. I’ve wanted to put together a collection of stories from some of my favourite writers for a while and so I thought why not make it a charity thing in support of Henri. Originally I’d intended to make it 8 to 10 writers but such is the love for Henri that nearly everyone I approached said yes, and those that didn’t only said no because they have huge commitments elsewhere. So, we’ve now got a book with over 20 writers onboard – great writers too… There’s a lot of work to do, but I can’t wait for the world to see this book, it should be out in the first quarter of 2016.

Other projects for 2016… I’m currently 13,000 words into a new novel (I’ve taken a break to write this blog piece) called, Killing in the Name of (I like my song titles as book titles). I’m also collaborating with a friend on a couple of children’s book ideas that we’re aiming to get out as soon as possible, but you’re unlikely to know that they’re from me as I’m not putting my name on the cover.

Kevin Bufton reviews his 2013.

By the power of the mighty Facebook, I’ve been introduced to lots more lovely people this year. Kevin Bufton is one of those people. I’ve invited him to review his 2013. So, sit back, eat some leftover turkey and sweets (not together, obviously) and see how 2013 has been for Kevin.

Vic x

Kevin Bufton

2013 has been a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?

Without question, seeing the first reviews roll in for my debut novella ‘Cake‘, and my first short story collection, ‘Six of the Best: A Hellish Half-Dozen‘. It was great to have the books released, but to find out that people read them, and actually enjoyed them, well – it makes the long and lonely nights in front of the laptop worth it.

Cake

And how about a favourite moment from 2013 generally? 

I think it’s safe to say that the Royal baby was barely a blip on my personal radar. That meteor exploding over Chelyabinsk in Russia was certainly an impressive spectacle, mostly because it looked like something out of a science fiction movie. I feel bad calling it a favourite moment when so many people were injured as a result, but it was a remarkable thing to see.

Favourite book in 2013?

This may seem like nepotism, as I’ve been pimping this one a lot on my blog, and on Facebook, but ‘Spirit Houses‘ by my good buddy Die Booth is easily my favourite read of 2013. It’s so unlike anything I’ve read before – it’s part Gothic, part fantasy, part weird fiction and part something else. It’s almost like a novel of a bygone age, and I mean that in the best possible sense. There’s something refreshing, yet wonderfully familiar in Die’s telling of the tale and, while I may have read books that were technically better written, none of them excited me the way ‘Spirit Houses’ did.

Favourite film of 2013?

You’re kidding, right? I’ve got two small kids – I don’t get to see films anymore. That said, I did pick up ‘Mama’ on DVD, and that was 2013. It was really good. I like films that try to creep me out, rather than just go for the jump scare. Last year’s ‘The Woman in Black’ was another fine example of that.

Favourite song of the year?

‘Bang Bang’ by will.i.am – not my usual cup of tea, I must admit, but I just haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I love the video too.

Any downsides for you in 2013?

Reluctantly, I had to make the decision to close down my publishing house, Cruentus Libri Press, through whom I had released thirteen themed anthologies over the last eighteen months or so. The place will properly close its doors in February 2014, but the decision was made this year. Let anybody who thinks that publishing is an easy business to get into, in these days of ebooks and Print on Demand services take note, it’s not. It is hard. It takes over your whole life, and for very little financial return. There are perks, of course – I’ve made so many very good friends through the imprint that it more than makes up for the general drain of the work itself. In the end, I wasn’t put on this earth to be a publisher or an editor. I’m here to write – and the sacrifice had to be made.

Six of the best

Are you making resolutions for 2014?

No – I never do. Sure, I could stand to lose some weight, pack in smoking and get more reading done, but I know that if I make a resolution to do any of those things from January 1st, then I’d only end up giving them up again by two weeks into the New Year.

What are you hoping for from 2014?

That my writing career is a bit further along than it is at the end of 2013, just like this year I’m a bit further along than I was in 2012. My plan for the New Year is breathtaking in its simplicity. I am going to finish my first novel ‘Mr Twist’, I’m going to get it professionally proofread and edited, and then I’m going to submit it to an agent and, from there, to a publisher. No strings, no half measures and no fannying about – old school, baby.

If Santa was to bring you any one thing you wanted on Xmas morning, what would it be?

World peace… No, wait – a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and ‘Doctor Sleep’ by Stephen King.

Kevin G. Bufton is a father, husband and horror writer, in that approximate order, from Birkenhead on the Wirral. He has been writing short dark fiction since January 2009 and is currently working on his debut novel. He hopes, one day, to be able to scare people for a living. Check out his blog and Amazon Author Page.

Since Christmas is a time for giving, Kevin’s playing the role of Jolly Old St. Nick and giving away his debut novella ‘Cake’ and debut short fiction collection ‘Six of the Best: A Hellish-Half Dozen’ for free on Smashwords. Simply use the links below, copy-and-paste the relevant coupon code when you reach the checkout and BOOM – freebies for all. This offer is only good until New Year’s Day, when Kevin returns to his grumpy, curmudgeonly self (his words, not mine) but, in the meantime – Ho! Ho! Ho! ‘CAKE’ can be downloaded for free, with the following coupon code – ZH74Q https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/328255 ‘SIX OF THE BEST: A HELLISH HALF-DOZEN’ can be downloaded for free, with the following coupon code – TZ97Z https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3625