Category Archives: adventure

On tenterhooks

Scottish Book Trust produce a delightful anthology of stories each autumn, selected from submissions from across Scotland. Its theme this year is Secrets and Confessions and the book will be launched during Book Week Scotland, 21-27 November. The little anthology is usually packed with stories and poems of all shapes and genres.
age-cannot-wither-her-smallMany of us are on tenterhooks because Scottish Book Trust is announcing the stories that have been selected in early September.

Rosalind Newton has submitted a poignant romance about her grandmother and a special portrait of her (pictured left) during the First World War.

boy_and_girl_in_car

Another writer friend of mine, Lucy Taylor, has  chosen her father as the topic in an emotional roller-coaster of a story. By coincidence I myself have put in a piece about my own father during his war service in Italy in 1944.

The Secrets and Confessions theme this year has certainly drawn out some heart-rending pieces.

Whether our stories are selected for publication or not they remain on the Scottish Book Trust web site for everyone to enjoy. Fingers crossed!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, Book Week Scotland, confessions, emotional, father, Scotland, Scottish Book Trust, secrets, short stories, short story, submissions, Uncategorized, writing

Writing Buddies, a guest post by Linda Tyler

My sincere thanks to my two-year writing buddy, Linda Tyler, for this insight into how she got her short fiction writing career off the ground. This is my first guest post on this blog and I am grateful to Linda, whose work I admire.

linda tyler with sherlock holmes

Linda Tyler in conversation with Sherlock Holmes

Early Writing Buddies Success Already friends, Shirley and I started to write seriously a couple of years ago (2014), bouncing ideas off each other and providing an honest critique of each other’s stories. We were delighted when our first success was joint second prize in a regional short story competition in Scotland.

Since then, like Shirley, I have had a few successes.   I’ve self-published on Kindle an historical romance (Summer Intrigue), have a poignant story in an anthology (Last Call and Other Stories, published by Ouen Press), been highly commended for the opening page of a crime novel, short-listed for a piece of mystery flash fiction, had a family tale published in The People’s Friend and have stories, one bizarre and the other comedy, in two anthologies to be published this year (2016).

Write the story You want to write As each of these works of fiction is different, I feel I’ve yet to find my ‘voice’.  On the other hand, this means I’ve written the story I wanted to write and the style followed naturally.

Rejections go with the territory Despite these little successes, I’ve had many rejections.  Between the summer of 2014 and the end of 2015, I submitted 58 stories; six of these were successful.  Interestingly, two of the stories had been rejected previously by other competitions/publishers, another had been rejected elsewhere twice and yet another had been to three different places before finding a home.

Don’t Look Back Writing really is a case of perseverance.   Shirley’s motto is Onwards and Upwards; mine is One Story Back, Another One Out.  Both are good maxims.   Send off a piece of work, forget about it and get on with the next one.

My ideas usually come from comments made by friends or something I’ve read (I read widely, both fact and fiction).  We are often told ‘write what you know’.

For whatever reason, I find it difficult to base a story on an aspect of my life; and the one story where I’ve attempted this has been out seven times with no success.

What I do find helpful, though, is to set a story in a place I know – for example a coastal town, a relative’s sitting-room, a church and a preserved steam railway.  The characters may be imaginary, but the setting is one I can easily visualise. Image result for pound money

Don’t waste your money With the exception of the flash fiction piece, my successes have been with free submissions.  It is too easy to spend £5 here, £7 there, and find at the end of year how these sums have mounted up. This year I intend to submit only to those competitions, magazines and anthologies with free submission.

And I cannot over-emphasise the importance of a writing buddy.

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, Buddy, cash, competitions, fiction, flash fiction, perseverance, rejections, short stories, short story, submissions, success, Uncategorized, winning, work, write what you know, writing, Writing Buddy, Writing problem, writing resources

An Infectious Success

My story published in The Opening Line Literary ezine and my name on the front cover.

Thank you, editor Frances Button for selecting my story. I am thrilled.

Pages from Winter 2016 - Infection

 

4 Comments

Filed under adventure, ezine, fiction, Free writing, Infection, new year resolution, short stories, short story, success, The Opening Line, Uncategorized, winning, work, writing

Robert Louis Stevenson might have sat here

As I always carry a notebook and pen with me I often capture my thoughts when they amount to something. Yesterday I sat at the harbour in North Berwick and looked across the Firth of Forth to the massive slab of rock that is the Bass Rock. It’s an uninhabited volcanic island that is home to thousands of seabirds and was an inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson. It featured in his 1893 novel, Catriona, which he wrote as a sequel to the more famous Kidnapped.

word in-notebookYesterday, this sombre edifice three miles away inspired me, too.

The sun shone on the green-swathed headland to the east, it bathed the northern coastline of the Firth of Forth in golden light. Even the harbour wall at North Berwick gleamed on this bright February afternoon.

But Bass Rock was brooding. Solemn and grey against the blue of the winter sky it lay in the shadow of a single blanket of darkness, the only cloud in sight. It was as if the rock was sulking, waiting for someone to switch the light on.

And then a shaft of light trickled over the top of the tiny island, sneaked down the vertical cliffs to the sea and the rock smiled. Warm at last. Gloom dissipating.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, Bass Rock, deadlines, fiction, flash fiction, Kidnapped, North Berwick, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sci-fi, Science fiction, short stories, short story, Uncategorized, work, writing, Writing problem, writing resources

The Queue-jumper – a microadventure

queueAs soon as the man walked in the door I had him down as a queue-jumper. Our branch of the bank gets really busy and as we sit with our tickets waiting for our number to appear above the tellers’ desks, queue-jumpers can be very frustrating and delay our own transactions. You can spend an hour sitting in a bank waiting to deposit some £ sterling or transfer some funds from your savings account.

We all looked on as he headed straight for the nearest teller, who was taking a deposit of a great pile of banknotes from a customer. Probably the weekend’s takings from a small business. It was Monday after all. The teller stopped as he was loading the notes into the counting machine, hand poised mid-air and clutching a wad of money.

The man, in blue Polo shirt and grubby grey trousers, said something to the teller and showed him a laminated card that had the Turkish flag on it. I don’t know what it was. Re-directing him to a teller position at the far end of the bank the teller then carried on loading his banknotes.  The counting machine chuntered on.

The man walked to the end of the office and spoke to a woman through the final teller window. She inspected the laminated card he offered her and then raised her voice and spoke to the other tellers in the office as they were serving their customers. Her question to them contained the word ‘calismak’, which is Turkish for ‘work’.

Each teller in turn shook their head and said no. The woman relayed that to the man and he turned slowly and headed for the door. His body language indicated humility and acceptance of the decision.

He wasn’t a queue-jumper. He was a middle-aged man with no work and therefore no money coming in. Today he was probably asking everywhere for work in this busy town. He was prepared to walk into a bank and be publicly humiliated in front of a dozen or so people, just so he could try to find a job. Any little job. Empty the bins, polish the floor, tidy someone’s garden, paint the front door.

I cursed myself for my snap judgement. I was wrong. I admired the man’s courage and my heart went out to him. I wished him success. He wasn’t after charity, just honest work.

Today’s microadventure taught me to think before passing judgement on another.

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, bank, exploits, fiction, judgement, microadventure, queue, queue-jumper, short stories, short story, suspense, Turkey, Turkish, Uncategorized, work, writing

I want some Microadventures

bike on the beach

Alastair Humphreys, adventurer, author and motivational speaker has written a book about microadventures. I haven’t read it but I love the concept.

I don’t need big adventures but I do like excitement. I don’t like being in a rut or having no opportunity for spontaneity. I like exploration and quests.

I don’t think I can timetable a whole year of adventures as Alastair suggests, but I am going to write about some of my past and future journeys. And encourage my friends to come along with me. This blog is proving to be a bit of an adventure in that I don’t know which direction it’ll take me, but it’s both challenging and fun. And everyone needs that.

So I am going to plan some microadventures. Some of them will be writing exploits, that’s for sure.

And I am going to remember some past escapades that can be classified as microadventures and write about them, relive them. I’ve had loads of exciting, challenging, surprising experiences – not all of which I’m prepared to share – but Alastair’s enthusiasm and nudging has got me going.

2 Comments

Filed under adventure, exploits, fiction, short stories, writing