Friday Flash Fiction Competition – Still Open!

Remember, the Friday Flash Fiction Christmas writing competition is still open for entries. All you need to do is come up with an original 100-word story, enter it and bingo – you could win $50 USD (or local currency equivalent) or receive a highly commended award (no money, but hey…). The closing date is 20 December.

To enter, see the website fridayflashfiction.com and meanwhile, if you’re stuck for what a 100-word story looks like, here’s an example for you…

The Disappearance

Eddie frowned: his stories seemed to have vanished from the library. He’d checked the day before and all the stories had been there. The librarian had said they were among the most requested stories in the library.

He scratched his head, puzzled. Where were they?

Behind the romance section, a huddled figure smirked as she watched his search. Oh, Eddie, I know where your stories are! I can’t bear the comparison so I’ve wiped them off the face of this earth! Now, 50 Poses of Topless Regency Rake could claim its rightful spot at top of the most borrowed list.

Flash Fiction Christmas Competition

writing comp 2The good folks at the Friday Flash Fiction website are running a Christmas competition. Unlike many other so-called writing competitions, this one won’t cost you a single penny to enter (that’s right, nada) and you are free to publish elsewhere too.

To enter, you need to come up with a story of 100 words or fewer, not including the title. You can enter as often as you like. The suggested theme is “World In Union”, but you’re free to write on other topics, too. Entries should be in the English language and the closing date is 23.59 GMT on Sunday 20 December 2015. The winner will receive a $50 USD prize, which is sponsored by Comely Bank Publishing
How to enter
  1. Email your story tocompetitions@fridayflashfiction.com OR
  2. Use the online entry form on the Friday Flash Fiction website.

Let The Right One In

halloween-468026_640As it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow, this week’s Friday Flash Fiction effort is of course a tale for Hallowe’en.

If you think you can do better, why not submit a Hallowe’en-themed story to the Friday Flash Fiction website (rules – it must be original and 100 words or less). Here’s the submission information, or you can just submit your story submissions@fridayflashfiction.com

Let me know what you think…

Let the Right One In

“I’m dreading this evening so I am.”

Matthew had been the more gregarious of the two. It was the ultimate compliment to his hosting skills that so many people often dropped by, unannounced.

When he died ten years ago, she shut her front door and gradually those unannounced visitors stopped coming.

Hallowe’en, however, every year brought the neighbourhood’s children, craving comments on cute costumes and greedily demanding sweets.

The doorbell sounded at 6pm. She sighed and heaved herself up.

“Jenny – you’ve been hiding away too long. It isn’t good for a person.”

She stuck out a tentative hand.

Oh Matthew…

 

Originally posted on the Friday Flash Fiction website.

Atypical – Friday Flash Fiction

“It was not your typical start to a Friday…”

I love the first line of a story, don’t you? It offers up such potential, but I fear my first lines often promise far more than they deliver.

Take this morning for example. I awoke with the first line in mind.

BAM – what could that mean? But as I thought about it, I realised I’d made assumptions about the word “typical”, that there was some kind of universal Friday morning experience.

Were people commuting? Were they firing up their laptops at home? Were they, gulp, golfing?

Another false start…

 

If you would like to read more Friday Flash Fiction, check out the wordpress blog, Friday Flash Fiction and the website

Friday Flash Fiction – Cheese and Taxes

Dig in - it's good for you...

Dig in – it’s good for you…

It’s great discipline trying to write a story in 100 words – all those horrible fillers we are guilty of using (in order to etc.) have to be removed, which is the opposite of my other writing life where people ask for set numbers of words and I resort to fillers…

(Yup, when desperate I start writing out contractions in full.)

Anyway, on a Friday I practise “less is more” with a weekly 100-word story.

 

Nothing as Certain as Cheese and Taxes

Three things had changed Terry’s life that week.

First up was the discovery that cheese is really good for people’s longevity. He celebrated with a cheese omelette for breakfast, macaroni cheese and salad for lunch and ended his day with a huge pile of cheese and biscuits.

Secondly, a letter from the IRS announced the news that he’d overpaid his taxes for the last 10 years. Amazing!

Thirdly – and this was the killer – he decided to do a little cleaning up of his shop, Captive Born Reptiles.

He entered the python’s cage. Boy, it was mucky in there…

My inspiration was a couple of stories – one that cheese is good for you (excellent, excellent) and the other about a pet shop owner’s unfortunate cleaning experience.

If you enjoy writing flash fiction yourself, why not submit a story to the Friday flash fiction website or the Friday flash fiction WordPress account? This link will take you to the site and you’ll find the submission details there.

A Little Flash Fiction Fun At The Expense of David Cameron

After a long absence, I’ve decided to revive this blogging account. Well, it doesn’t really make sense for me not to have my very own personal blog. And I do need to sell books as I’ve discovered I’ve got this allergy to office work (symptoms – unrelieved boredom/borderline suicidal feelings on a Sunday or after returning from holiday and general lethargy most evenings) so I’m trying to find a way of keeping myself out of offices for ever and ever…

So hello there once more. Highheelsandpinkglitter tries to blog mostly about writing (having briefly entered the foray as a wedding blogger ahead of my own nuptials), but is easily distracted by food and skin care. As so many people write and produce much better content on the last two topics, I try to resist that distraction as much as I can.

To start off my new blogging life on highheels, here’s a little fiction effort. I’ve been chortling at Twitter’s response to pig-gate of late (more about that story here), so I thought I’d write a little back story for one of the memes:

phone-2319_640

Man* Enough to Make That Call

The phone on his desk seemed to mock him. In his imagination he heard the words, “Are you man enough for this…?”

He shook his head slightly, “Well I’m not, but –”

The voice cut him off. “Pathetic! Excuses, excuses… Just pick up the phone and call him!”

With a sigh, he decided to obey. The inner voice wasn’t always right, but on this occasion its veracity rang clear and true.

He listened as the number rang and a voice confirmed: “David Cameron.”

His mouth dry, he barked into the phone: “It’s Kermit. Do.You.Love.Her? Do you? Do you? DO YOU?”

As you might be able to deduce from the above, one of my other regular projects is flash fiction – writing an original 100-word story once a week, preferably on a Friday just because the alliteration works. If you’d like to see more examples of flash fiction, check out the Friday flash fiction website.

 

 

*A friend disputed the use of “man up” in this story and I do get her point – why do we use the phrase “man up'”to mean bravery and fortitude? I hope you will forgive me as I used the phrase in an ironic way because Kermit’s a frog.

How to Write Flash Fiction

Flash fiction, just like any kind of fiction, uses this process for narrative.

Flash fiction, just like any kind of fiction, uses this process for narrative.

I am a self-styled expert in many things… educating myself via the internet, for one thing and how to conduct endless research on different dieting and fitness methods without ever actually applying them consistently to self for another thing.

It seems that a lot of people type “how to” type queries into search engines (no kidding, Sherlock) and  therefore, from time to time, I decide to write a “how to” post in a bid for online popularity. How to make an art skill out of procrastination would be my real area of expertise, but seeing as you are currently (and very kindly)  reading my blog I’m going to label you an expert procrastinator without any need whatsoever of my help in that area so how to write flash fiction it is…

Flash fiction can be anything from 140 characters a la Twitter up to 1,000 words according to wikipedia, but there is no real prescribed limit. Aesop’s Fables can be thought of as flash fiction, according to the wonderful wiki, so very short stories are nothing new at all. If you want to write flash fiction (and there are many websites which welcome regular contributions, including this one and this one), here is how to start:

  1. A story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. Very obvious yes, but the beginning should scene set (exposition), the middle describe a mini climax (rising action and falling action) and the end bring it all together.
  2. The end does not need to tie up all loose ends; it could leave the reader thinking – and wanting more.
  3. Sometimes, the first line is enough to think up in the first place without a clear idea of where the story is going. Take for example – ‘Molly’s latest boyfriend hadn’t specified at the beginning that he was a volunteer traffic warden and it was beginning to become a problem.‘ There are a lot of places you could go with this one line – the problems of being a volunteer traffic warden, or how to get rid of a dull boyfriend in murderous ways, for example.
  4. Excess words don’t have a place in flash fiction – you will need to ensure you have plenty of words to use so you can contrast descriptions, adjectives and adverbs, and then discard what you don’t need.
  5. It’s easier to write flash fiction if you write it all out, then check the word count and then start to pare back the words. Visualise the overall length at the beginning to help guide you – I’ve been writing 100-word flash fiction for seven months now and I know it is roughly three short paragraphs (six or seven sentences), whereas 500 words is about a page and half of A4.

As an added bonus, once you hone your skills on flash fiction they translate to other areas of your life. Writing a CV/resume? Think of the ‘why you want this job’ bit as the opportunity of flash fiction starring you*. Writing a synopsis of your fictional masterpiece? Flash fiction skills give you the discipline of condensing words into small amounts. Writing a presentation – flash fiction helps you sum up your story in a dynamic way etc etc.

 

*I take no responsibility if you carry out this bit of advice and your employers subsequently decide you have played fast and loose with ‘fiction’. 

 

 

How To Deal With Rejection… Part 1

Chocolate is the best answer to how to cope with rejection.

Chocolate is the best answer to how to cope with rejection.

The astute amongst you may have noticed my absence from the blogosphere of late. I set myself up with a regular feature which was not that challenging to do – a regular 100-word flash fiction story published every Friday – and yet still I managed to skive off my (self-imposed) blogging duties…

Tsk. I suffered from something many people may identify with. When writing is the way you are earning your crust, anything that involves writing which doesn’t mean a payment at the end of it becomes a terrible chore.

The Christmas Card Fiasco

Witness, for example, dear friends the length of time it took me to write my Christmas cards this year. Despite the fact that I repeatedly vow that this will be the year those cards are completed on 1 December – or an announcement is made via Facebook that this year I am contributing a designated amount to charity and all Christmas greetings will be of the electronic, no-cost, no send variety – it took me until the last minute (today) to write actual cards and send them. Hey ho…

Part 2 of the writing aversion explanation – I naively thought myself immune from rejection. Years of job applications and many months of applying for freelancing jobs with middling success I foolishly thought to have created a rhino-like skin for myself. Rejection, I declared loudly and proudly, bring it on and I can scrunch up that little ball of ego dent, fling it behind me and emerge unscathed. I am writer, hear me ROAR…

Rejection? It’s To Be Expected

Yes indeedy, those were my thoughts. Three agent rejections of The Book later… Now, as all writers will know rejection is to be expected; indeed one might be a tad suspicious if the first novel writing attempt was welcomed with open arms. Dear lady, we at Dodgy Agents Ltd love your book – now just sign here, here and here and please do no expect to see any royalties ever or any kind of payback whatsoever. That kind of thing.

But, but, but. It still stings… I have taken to chanting myself a mantra of “One down, 26 to go. Two down, 25 to go, three down, 24 to go”*, etc etc. And then if that doesn’t work out, well the self-publishing route has worked out well for some. But it would indeed be foolish to think of the self-publishing route as the road to riches or even fame. Two or three marvellous exceptions (oh god, I’m going to have to name drop Ms 50 Shades of Grey here aren’t I? On a more positive note, there is Hugh Howey and the entirely fabulous Wool) do not prove the success of self-publishing, but it is still an option.

Sometimes, you need to go back and look at the original goals of your ambitions. I, like many people, said I wanted to write a book. I did not necessarily specify I wanted to publish a book – and for people to then buy said book, and indeed buy it in their thousands. No, no, the original goal was merely to write a book. Mission accomplished, hmm?

But Happily Publishing Still Does Happen…

On the plus side (and it is always good to cope with rejection by looking at other areas of your life), there has been a very welcome development in another project I got involved in. I started up a discussion on LinkedIn writers and editors group, encouraging people to contribute a regular flash fiction story of 100 words every Friday – the Friday flash fiction challenge.

The good people of the LinkedIn writers and editors group responded with gusto and this discussion thread has been running now since 27 September. Every Friday, there are new contributions. With almost 300 posts though, it was getting somewhat unwieldy so one contributor, Russell Conover, suggested a WordPress site for everyone to contribute to. That site is now up and running – feel free to take a look.

Content marketing is said to make publishers of everyone. The world wide web may well have its issues (loss of privacy, social media addiction, health and well-being problems associated with sitting in front of computers for too long, the ease in which our governments and large corporates can spy on us etc) but sometimes the loveliness of the internet just gives me a glow. Here is a group that started on LinkedIn, that grew and grew and that now publishes its stories on a regular basis. We are mini novelists one and all.

 

*Based on a rejection threshold of 27.

All I Have in My Life is Flash Fiction

A more accurate pic would of course be fingers on a keyboard...

A more accurate pic would of course be fingers on a keyboard…

It’s true dear reader. Some weeks ago I hit on the idea of a regular Friday Flash Fiction challenge to give me regular material – and I’ve now forgotten how to do all the irregular material.

What to write about on a Wednesday, I pondered to myself a couple of days ago. And Saturday scribblings, what might they involve? Monday meanderings too, it would be unfair to dismiss this day just because it doesn’t begin with an ‘F’ and therefore doesn’t meet the alliteration criteria.

In my defence, dear reader, life has been rather busy of late. Much scribbling on many subjects has been done, leaving me a little jittery at the end of the day and in serious need of time away from the laptop. “Urgh,” my poor fried brain sighs to itself, “no more blasted writing for goodness sakes! Reading only, and reading of the loveliest, lightest of topics* must ensue, perhaps adding the odd sprinkling of lovely Prosecco and a teensiest bit of reality TV via Strictly Come Dancing.”

This week’s offering needs some explanation. I started up a flash fiction discussion thread on LinkedIn several weeks ago and it is still running. This was my response to a 100-word piece someone contributed which used ‘thread’ in a different, but clever way…

The Trouble with Fridays

Aunty Em agreed with her niece; Fridays were indeed difficult and blasted bobbins running out were a pain in the neck.

Is it time to start a new thread, dearest Jane?” she asked, “you may be right you know. This one has run its course.”

The two of them nodded sagely. From outside the house, though a rustling was heard.

The FFC friends stood at the door. “We have more threads for you,” they told the twosome. “Can we carry on?”

*OK, I may have said I can only read the loveliest and lightest of topics these days, but one book I read recently which I absolutely loved was Gordon Lawrie’s Four Old Geezers and a Valkyrie. It’s gorgeous and I really recommend it.

The Many Adventures of Flash Fiction Writers

So, some weeks ago, I started writing flash fiction on a regular basis. Mainly, it gave me a regular topic to blog about it. Always a bonus, as when you start out on blogging you usually fire off blogs left, right and centre at the beginning of your online life. Two months down the line and you get to the stage where you can’t bear to switch on your computer, so racked with guilt are you over your failure to write, entertain or annoy the masses.

I hit on a regular topic idea and heaved a sigh of relief. Heaven, I thought to myself, I have at least one thing I can blog about once a week. Folks may read it, folks may not, fellow bloggers may like or comment… or they may not notice. But my conscience will be squared. Hey, I signed up to this blogging deal, which meant writing when there is theoretically nothing to write about, and doing something on a REGULAR BASIS.

LinkedIn Flash Fiction Challenge

Actually, those preceding two paragraphs friends? I wandered off on a tangent. My main point is – at the same time as starting a regular Friday flash fiction post, I also started a flash fiction challenge on LinkedIn, asking fellow writers and editors to contribute to a 100-word flash fiction piece on a Friday as a kind of relaxing way of switching off.

It proved to be incredibly popular – lots of people joined in, lots of people contributed on a regular basis and I really enjoyed everything that I read. It takes talent and skill to write a 100-word story, and people also made their contributions topical. One lady chose to plagarise existing stories in a really witty way, another person went for plays, whilst several people opted for seasonal themes such as Halloween.

Publish, Publish, Publish

Three weeks in and people on LinkedIn started suggesting I take it further. One person said a website, another dreamt up a book of flash fiction stories for charity, another individual gathered together most of the stories for me and in general people seemed willing to sign over their permission for stories to be published. (I thank you).

So watch this space. It looks as if a Friday Flash Fiction challenge website may well appear. Here is what I hope. We post up lots of stories, which people like and then hundreds, if not thousands, of people all over the world start to contribute…

And now for this week’s Friday Flash Fiction challenge:

The Glamour of Writing

In her youth, Jenny had imagined the life of a writer as glamorous.

As she scribbled out her endless short stories which detailed the adventures of a teenager not dissimilar to Jenny, she imagined a grown-up writer’s life to be more or less the same. She would wait for the muse to strike and she would write about whatever took her fancy.

And get paid for it.

Alas, reality had since bit. Writing jobs often involved creating thousands of words about display cabinets or toner cartridges. And getting paid more than a pittance was the exception and not the norm.