Tag Archives: short story

For the love of writing. Plans for 2015

thinking about writing

getting your thoughts focused

I have to get my love of writing head back on my shoulders. Christmas and new year celebrations are finished. The decorations come down this weekend. The house will look bare and I know I’ll have an urge to go round cleaning everything. The fridge needs sorting out – I’ve forgotten what’s in there. There’s a heap of washing and ironing left over from before Christmas and then we got French electricity tariff ‘red days’ and I couldn’t do it anyway without running up a huge bill.

So there’s plenty of housework type stuff to do. I’ll do it. Slowly. Don’t talk to me while I’m doing it because my head will be somewhere else and I won’t answer you.

I’ll be organising my love of writing thoughts. Making plans.

thinking about writing

getting thoughts organised

Because I must write. Without writing I’m not myself. Something’s missing. When I drift off into that thinking-land you might as well talk to the wall because I’m not in. Celia is in her head but she’s not in the room.

But why must I write? Oh, that’s a good question.

writing

that’s how I feel

love writing

the temptation of words

It’s more than that, though. It’s so much more than slotting into a comfortable routine. So much more than any other thing that you fit into your normal daily activities. Writing is not in the same category as sweeping the floor or making the beds – small jobs which, for me, do carry a trace element of a sense of satisfaction when the job’s done.

Writing is not even in the same category as eating or sleeping – bigger jobs that are absolutely vital to your well-being.

Think about the need to breathe and you’re getting close.

Writing is as much a part of me now as is the CRPS I was diagnosed with last year. CRPS is why everything I do is now done s-l-o-w-l-y. It hurts to move. It hurts more to stretch. Constant pain saps energy and leaves you feeling very low. There are times when I feel I’ve completely lost the creative spark to begin something new. But on good days?

desire to create

the greatest love story in the world?

I have that desire. Sometimes it feels more like an affliction. It’s an itch that must be scratched. A hunger that must be fed. It’s selfish and unreasonable and is not open to negotiation.

Sorry chaps, but it’s better than sex. Or chocolate.

It is an all-consuming passion that teases and tempts. Sometimes it abandons you or flatly rejects you. Slaps you in the face and makes you feel a fool.

Sometimes, though, it loves you back.

It’s for these moments you carry on. You make your plans. You do your research. You find things you never knew. You find things about yourself you never knew.

love of books

the love of books

I’m making plans for my writing in 2015. Books Two and Three of Trobairitz are in outline only. A second collection of short stories is further along the pipeline. ‘Queer as Folk’ should be ready in spring and features more ‘quirky’ short stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

I’d like to make more effort keeping in touch with online writing groups but if I can’t I won’t beat myself up. On good days I have to write.

Thank you for reading my Random Thoughts page. Feel free to message me with your own thoughts. I’m on Twitter @cmicklefield and have a FB author page.

May you love and be loved in 2015.

Which characters are real?

Characters for your fiction are everywhere

even here at the clinic. This is where I’m at 5 days a week, all day being bent and stretched, but that’s no excuse for not doing any writing.

 characters at the clinic

even clinics harbour characters

There’s no shortage of characters in this place. It’s called ré-éducation this teaching your limbs how to work properly. It’s a bit like re-hab except most patients are over 50. Make that 60.

There are bad legs and bad arms, slings and crutches enough to make you wonder if there are any uninjured people left in this part of France.

On the residents’ wing patients are recovering from operations, strokes, heart attacks and nasty falls. In the day clinic where I’m an outpatient there are some young people and they are mostly ski-ing accidents.

Stories just waiting to be written

The Queen of Andorra is here with her fabulous jewellery and stunning outfits. Not for her the yoga pants, trainers and sloppy tees. Her shoes are handmade pumps to match her numerous ensembles. I expect she wore high Jimmy Choos before she bust her leg ski-ing in the Pyrenees so now she’s had a bunch of flatties  made to fit her slim but extremely long feet. (Feet are the only thing I’ve got smaller than hers)

She drives to her physio sessions in her Porsche. On the front there’s a regal looking car badge.

Andorra character

I didn’t realise Andorra is a Principality!

It’s hard to tell where the guys are looking when she rolls up.

She’s got a fantastic figure (except for the feet) and is a natural beauty. Plus, she knows how much jewellery to wear.

CopyCat characters

When she first arrived she unwittingly started the ‘bling’ competition among the other women, yours truly excepted. I can’t get my hand round the back of my neck to fasten jewellery anyway. So, it was an experience for me to sit there with my notebook and watch and listen, and take my notes.

Another ski accident has recently arrived. Her eyes are sunken and dark-rimmed. She’s in a lot of pain. I haven’t seen the ghost of a smile on her face.

The other ski accidents are men. One is a leg; one is an arm; another is both legs and one arm. He is one of the most masculine types: square jaw, chiselled features, all that good stuff. He isn’t the best-looking though. That title goes to the 6ft 4″ proprietor of the local archery club who one day let fly an arrow with such velocity it pulled his shoulder out. He has a physique so tight you could play bongos on his buttocks. Actually, I’d like to.

bongo characters

beat the bongos

Then there’s Mister Bean. In the pool, where we have our Balneotherapy, he will not listen to our instructor’s advice. Mr Bean is a character who wants to do everything his own way. He’s all arms and legs going in every direction at once so I can’t tell which part of him was injured. He behaves like he’s fifteen. He’s 70 if he’s a day.

There’s a left shoulder who looks like Gaylord Focker and a right shoulder who looks like Spencer Tracy and then there’s two Spanish old boys who sound as if they’re speaking their mother tongue even when they’re speaking in French. I don’t understand a word so I nod and smile a lot at them.

The newest guy lives at the Naturist colony in Cap d’Agde and his name is Monsieur Le Coq.

The Lady in Black has left. Every item of clothing she wore, everyday was black: trousers, skirts, blouses, jackets, knitwear, socks, hairband, spectacle frames. Everything. But her shoes were white. Work that one out.

Mouse Lady and Bird Lady have also finished their treatments. They left on the same Friday and brought cakes and drinks and a whole feast of goodies to say goodbye to the rest of us. Then I felt mean for giving them such dismissive nicknames.

There’s Marie Louise who works for Air France. She’s always making coffee and asking if anybody wants one.

AirFrance character

Air France logo

There’s Giselle with teeth like piano keys and Corinne who has a different car with a different man in it come to pick her up at the end of each day. Maybe they’re her clients waiting for her hip to get better.

Plenty of characters, you see? I could base my fictional characters on any of these. Stories are coming out of my pores as I sweat out the pain of having my elbow pushed, my shoulder hoisted, my wrist twisted and my fingers pulled.

But which of these characters do you think are real? I’ve changed names and embroidered a bit as writers do, but, go on, which ones are real? Have a go.

You can leave your comment at the top of the page. I’d love to know what you think.

Arse(d) Ends. Great reviews on Amazon

Mick’s crowing about his latest reviews for Arse(d) Ends, his first collection of darkly comic stories. I have a soft spot for the old boy, so I thought it might be an idea to give him a little update on MY website.

Arse(d) Ends

I know it’s a weird title. I know some people don’t like it, but Mick does and he’s sticking with it. You can’t deny the title suits the mood of each story. Mick is Celia’s alter ego. Remember him? You can find out more about him here.

One reviewer, Juliet on Amazon.co.uk has said the stories in Arse(d) Ends are ‘ a cross between Alan Bennett and Tales of the Unexpected.’

Wow!

We like that. A lot.

Arse(d) Ends story collection

comedy with a twist

There aren’t many words in the English language ending with the letters a.r.s.e. Mick took six of them as inspiration: Parse, Sparse, Enhearse, Coarse, Unrehearse(d) and Hearse.

These are stories with a twist. Humour with a hidden dagger. (Metaphorically speaking)

Mick says,

Even good people have a dark side that comes out every so often.’

Of course, Mick is more highly tuned into the things that are likely to go wrong, so while Celia moves on with her women’s fiction, Mick gets free rein in his own favourite shadowland.

The Dark Side

We’re not talking horror or fantasy or sci-fi. No. It’s more fantastical sic-fic. (I just made that up. Do you like it?)

Real life settings with real life characters but with some very odd situations – just like real life where dark and light and funny and sad can happen all at the same time.

So there are some unusual combinations in Mick’s stories.

Feral cats,

Arse(d) Ends feral cat

watch out!

and deadbolts feature in one story in the collection.    According to Mick, it’s often these unusual combination of elements that make for the liveliest stories.

Arse(d) Ends deadbolt

In another of Mick’s stories, Ted is sick to death of his wife’s hobby – making Teddy Bears. Who knew Teddy Bears could be so offensive?

Arse(d) Ends teddy bears

dangerous?

A reviewer on Amazon France says there’s something Dahlesque about the tales in Arse(d) Ends. A wonderful compliment, but if you don’t believe me, the review is there for all to see on Amazon. fr. It’s a pity all the reviews don’t show across each platform so that whether a customer is buying from .com., .uk., or any other Amazon site, they’d be able to see all the reviews if they wished.

Here’s a link to the Amazon UK page where you can click to read a sample of the first story.

Alternatively, you can listen to a short reading here.

Should I mention Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler?

Oh, go on then.

Arse(d) Ends would make a lovely stocking filler.

Till next time,

Cheers!

Celia

Another baby on submission

I’ve been sitting on this baby since May. Out of the blue, as seems to be the way with most of my ideas for new stories, a set of characters presented themselves to me as I was waiting for a plane.

Conception of latest idea

baby story conceived here

baby of a story conceived here

Now, I’ve heard of the five mile high club and often thought what an uncomfortable proposition that would be on the kind of budget airlines servicing our local airports. Toilet spaces are minimal to say the least. And if a child was somehow conceived during such a short hop at 36,000 feet, would it have to be called Sky or Cloud or Cramp?

Why Montpellier?

So, writer in Languedoc, what were you doing in Montpellier airport when Béziers is closer to home?

Languedoc airports

my choice of airports

I have a good choice of airports. This map doesn’t show all of them. To the west of Béziers, I also have Carcassonne, Perpignan and, at a  desperate push, Toulouse at my disposal. It all depends on where I’m going.

Last May, I was going to Leeds/Bradford airport, back to my home county for a much longed-for family visit. You can’t fly to Leeds from Béziers, not yet anyway, so Montpellier was the next best choice for my journey.

I like the Leeds/Bradford flights. They’re full of people who sound like me. It does me so much good to hear a nay, lass spoken with feeling. I love those old Yorkshire sayings such as you make a better door than a window, when somebody’s blocking your view. Tha can allus tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell ‘im much and when somebody’s left the door open, were you born in a barn?

long lollikers

Yorkshire wit

Eee, lass, you can’t beat ’em. So, last May while I was waiting in Airport Departures, I noticed a little French girl with her Yorkshire father. Dad’s French came with very pronounced Yorkshire vowel sounds. We never lose them and, anyway, why would we want to? Mademoiselle’s French, on the other hand, was perfect. However, when she spoke in English, she spoke it like her father with his pronunciation. Mother was conspicuous by her absence.

I was fascinated. Out came my notebook.

Regular readers of my Random Thoughts blog will know I always carry my notebook and camera with me. I do a lot of people watching, and listening. You never know what you’re going to find that might be the inspiration for a new idea. This time, I didn’t need a photograph. It would have been too intrusive and you can get into a lot of trouble taking photographs of other people’s children. Fortunately for me the pair of them made such an impression on me the words flowed so fast my wrist ached.

Nobody could see what I was writing. Nobody would have been able to work out I was making detailed notes about this handsome father and his little French daughter. Before we boarded the plane, I had an outline.

But no ending.

This is unusual for me.

I always know what the ending is going to be before I begin to write in detail.

And that’s why I’d been sitting on the baby since May.

Ideas mulled in and mulled out again. I wasn’t satisfied with any of them. But, I make it a rule NOT to beat myself up about tricksy stories that won’t end themselves. I leave them alone. If it isn’t happening there’s a good reason for that. So, I wait. Something will happen. There’s always something else I can write instead.

This morning, I submitted the finished story. I hope the editor enjoys it. I hope the editor decides to pay me for it.

And if she does, and it goes into that very popular Fiction Special, I owe a plane load of thanks to the little Mademoiselle and her father on that flight to Leeds/Bradford last May.

I wonder if they would recognise themselves? I can’t tell you any more about the ending. That would be a spoiler.

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Edit: 5th September. Airport Departures sold today. Look out for it in Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special

First dark humour collection published on Kindle.

Mick Alec Idlelife. Writer of dark humour. MICK ALEC IDLELIFE. Who?

He’s just an anagram- that’s all he is. So what if he got a book published first? He couldn’t have done it without me.

Here’s the cover.

dark humour

dark humour for upgrowns

The title is as irreverent as his surname. That’s how he likes it. He doesn’t want to be categorised in a genre. The closest he will come to assigning a category of literature to this, his first collection, is to call it dark humour.

But, some of it is quite shocking. Endings can be quite a surprise. Other tales have an underlying sadness beneath the brash exterior. That’s life, according to Mick. There are no clear boundaries on feelings, he believes. It is quite possible to experience many conflicting emotions all at the same time, so why shouldn’t fiction reflect this?

There are six stories in this book, 48,000 words in total. As long as a novella. 140 pages or thereabouts depending on how large you like your font on Kindle. Mick would say it’s excellent value for money. He’s just paid £2 for something 12 pages long.

The title is wordplay in itself. There aren’t many words in the English language ending in a.r.s.e. Enough for this and a possible second collection. That’s going to depend upon the success of the first, of course.

So, it’s over to you now, people. One day I hope to be able to call you fans. Download fingers at the ready?

Here’s the page on

Amazon

-and here’s a link to my Amazon author page.

I hope you enjoy the characters and situations in Arse(d) Ends. I don’t think you’ll forget them!

Cheers!

Celia

 

 

Writing short stories. Success again.

Woman's Weekly

you can read some of my stories here

I sold another of my short stories. Naturally, I’m delighted. The fiction editor of the same magazine has another two of my short stories under consideration at the moment. Long may this relationship continue. It’s great to see my stories in print and available online in Woman’s Weekly Fiction Specials on Amazon.

Fiction Special ebook

Fiction Special available through Amazon

 

 

 

I love writing short stories. I really do. I have more ideas for short stories than I know what to do with. Some of them are ideal for women’s magazines because they are a match for the kinds of stories readers expect to find there.

Monthly Fiction Special

a happy home for some of my short stories

I think there have been changes in this market. At one time, short stories must feature married people happily finding happy solutions for a happy ending. Nowadays, women’s magazine fiction addresses more serious issues and is more realistic than it used to be. It isn’t always about a married couple. You can have divorced people. You can have people living together. You can have the problems of blended families so that stories in women’s magazines today are very different from, say, twenty years ago. You know there’s a but coming, don’t you?

Okay, but . . .

. . . You can’t have a story like Not Rodgers and Hammerstein which is my April short story of the month. (Read it here before I take it down) You can’t expect to read a story like my March short story of the month – My Turn to Speak- about a young stepmother struggling with a difficult stepson. The ending is too shocking.

I grieve for the pieces I haven’t sold.There’s a whole stack of them. Not meeting the women’s fiction criteria.

I write square peg stories more often than not. Stories about people who, for one reason or many more, don’t quite fit in. Sometimes the best these characters can hope for is resilience, acceptance of things being how they are. An it is what it is mentality. Dealing with life even if you can’t make it better.

But readers of women’s magazines don’t want to read about people like that. There has to be hope. There has to be an upbeat in the last few paragraphs. I can’t always give that.

Sometimes, then, my love of variety in the things I write causes me problems. To find the right places for these other short stories of mine would mean more time spent researching other magazine titles both in print and online. I’m spending so much time already with the social networking thing, there’s no time left for finding good homes for my poor, neglected misfits. I’m certain magazines exist for the off-the-wall-quirky-oddball, domestic horror and deeply dark comedy, but I don’t know any shortcuts.

Maybe, one day, there’ll be time to round my oddball stories up and bundle them together like mongrels in a stray dogs’ kennel.  Perhaps I could self -publish a collection and call it Mongrels and Misfits or something. We shall see.

Your comments are very welcome. I love to hear from readers of my Random Thoughts.

Not Rodgers and Hammerstein new short story of the month

There’s always a revival of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show going on somewhere.

In a former life, I was in a few. You might have seen me, in an end of the pier show, strutting my stuff.

Britannia Pier

the end of the pier show

Love of musical theatre runs in my family. My mother took me to the Hippodrome theatre in my childhood hometown. See this page. My love affair with the stage began then. When my little sister was born, she loved music, too, and her favourite song of all was Bali Ha’i from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

SouthPacific

one of my favourite shows

 

The best musical shows feature strong stories and strong characters, as well as memorable melodies, of course. One of the worst criticisms my mother might come out with would be you can’t come out of the theatre humming the tunes.

I’ve been humming Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes all my life. So has my sister. The year I played Bloody Mary at the end of the pier show, she couldn’t be there to see it. We both regret that. There’s a line in Bloody Mary’s big song that takes us both back to her baby days when she bobbed up and down to the rhythm of the music before she’d learned to say the words properly.

When I decided to write a romantic short story, I wanted to write about people who don’t quite fit into the usual parameters of what is considered the norm. We all have our own Bali Ha’i, a magical place where everything will work out just as we’d like it. In South Pacific, that place is an island, out of bounds to the marines. In my short story Not Rodgers and Hammerstein, that place is . . . you can find out here.

May we all find our own Bali Ha’i – wherever and whatever that may be.

Bali Hai

. . . most people long for another island

new Short Story of the Month

There’s a new short story for you today on the Short Story page.

Living in a house in the sun means you get a lot of visitors. Sometimes it isn’t all fun. When you’re part of a blended family, you might have to be careful what you say.

ants

ants get everywhere

Kindle singles and serials

It has to be done. I can’t keep ignoring these developments in publishing.

Kindlesingles

stories for people on the move?

This idea really appeals to me. It obviously appeals to many more. Millions sold? Writers like Lee Child, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult et al joining?

Why have I been holding back all this time?

I’ll tell you. I’m a big-head. I didn’t want lumping together with the thousands of wannabee writers out there self-publishing their masterpieces. Oh, dear. I read some of them. No, that’s not true. I read only parts of some of them. Yes. I’m a big-head. I didn’t want tarring with their brush.

Now, this Kindles Singles and Kindle Serials is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s opened up a whole new opportunity for those of us whose work doesn’t fit neatly into a genre or an ‘acceptable’ word-length.

So, I’ve been watching from the sidelines. It’s time to make a move. I’m going to dip my toe.

Kindle

I can’t ignore them any longer

Waiting for submissions feedback

waitingroom

an old British Rail waiting room

Waiting. Waiting. Drumming your fingers on the desk. Making another hot drink. Not being able to settle. Can’t read. Not even a newspaper.

I hate waiting. So, I don’t. I write instead. Actually, I blog and network and do some writing. Maybe a bit of editing, too. I go outside with a coffee and do A LOT of staring into space. Walking helps with the waiting thing as well. We have plenty of places to walk – mostly through the vineyards surrounding the village. I take my camera and see what’s new for the upcoming Wednesday Vine Report. The whites have begun sprouting leaves already.

vineyards

vineyards below the village near the river

So, my time is filled productively without too much waiting. And a very strange thing happens while I’m out walking along the lanes. Ideas arrive! They pop up from behind a bush or they streak across the sky with Ryanair on its way to Beziers airport. My feet crunch through gravel and here’s a tale of lost luggage and a mix-up at the car hire desk where a kind person offers the lost luggage person a lift home. Hmmm. Romantic interlude or Samaritan from Hell? I think that’s already been done. Left, right, swishing through the grass and here comes another idea. Fast on its heels there’s an answer to that question I had about a character in a short story. I meet a couple walking their dog and now I know exactly what my elderly male character ought to wear on his head. I climb towards home. There’s a young man sitting on a bench by the side of the road. He has his mobile phone to his ear. Hang on a minute, goes the old grey matter, that there is an old folks’ bench. What is a young man like him doing sitting on an old folks’ bench using his mobile phone?

And before you know it, another short story is bubbling like Evian, featuring the very handsome young man, a distraught, wronged lover and a victorious wife biding her time for the killing. I dash indoors for my notebook. Then, I come back to my garden for some more staring into space.

DCF compatable JPEG Img

Flowers and fruit at the same time

Outside on my baby lime tree there are mature fruits and fruits barely formed and flowers waiting for the bees. A bit like my writing really.

I have three completed novels. Let me rephrase that. I have one novel under consideration at the moment and I consider that one finished after two rewrites. The other two novels need complete, hefty editing. They’re all different genres. One’s a family saga and at 140,000 words needs the heftiest axe. Another’s a psychological drama and needs a restructure. The third’s a book club read and at 86,000 words is close to optimum. I think. I’m waiting to find out. I’m also waiting for feedback on two short stories submitted to Woman’s Weekly. And the serial. So, that’s four pieces of work I’m waiting to hear about.

Then there are the flowers waiting for the bees. Two half-written novels, umpteen short stories and a file called Ideas which keeps growing longer every time I go out for a walk and see handsome young men on their mobiles in the wrong place.

By the time my limes fizz at the top of a clinky drink of Gin and Tonic, I’m really going to need it. Make it a big one. Easy on the tonic!