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Chekhov, Short Stories and Goals for 2013

This year has been a whirlwind of editing, marketing and publishing for me, a year where I started to build a platform and an internet presence as a writer – something which is a necessity for both traditionally published and self-published writers. It might sound familiar to many of you, but if I tell you that for the past five years I have been tucked away writing, with no sign of my name on Google and no contact with other readers and writers, you can imagine how much things have changed.

I winced at the thought of loading my photo and sharing ideas from my heart about my passions, and what I enjoy reading and writing. I shuddered at the idea of my thoughts being public, but what I have discovered is that the relationships you build online overtake any fears. The people I have met here, on facebook, twitter, and goodreads have been interesting, inspiring, and encouraging. These are all people who are passionate readers, a range or writers over all types of genres, and marketers with a vast experience of online communication.

So, now that we are nearing the end of 2012, I have been thinking about my goals for 2013. I haven’t had time to come up for air but my mind is always full of writing ideas and next steps, it is constantly wanting to create.

Having spent several years crafting ‘Take Me to the Castle,’ a novel which I am pleased to release, with the kindle version on special offer over Christmas and the New Year, I now want to spend next year reading and writing short stories and flash fiction. I wrote many of both types of story as I neared the end of the edits of my book, as I was craving some writing time. Editing and writing are two entirely different processes and I defy you to find any author who prefers editing to writing. The first draft goes through many many changes and morphs into a different form to the original version. This is a good thing – first drafts can sometimes miss essential ingredients, have too many unnecessary words, or just not be tight enough for a compelling story.

Short stories and flash fiction:

I found in these a style of writing which suits my writing. I love the condensing or framing of a story into 350 words or 3000 words. You can create so much suspense and exagerate themes in a way in which they would be lost in a longer piece of prose. I read many different stories, mainly short stories, and wrote many which I will be publishing next year.

I wanted to share with you two books which are on my table to read over Christmas and into the New Year:

Image I love Chekhov’s short stories, they are powerful, full of enticing detail, and captivating. His literary genius is timeless; he wrote in a way that makes his tales just as readable now as they were in the 1800s. Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short story author. As a doctor, also, who helped the poor, he was disturbed by the darker aspects of society. His father was a tyranical figure, and this has cast its shadows in his writing. I have already dipped in to ‘The Essential Tales of Chekhov,’ and am hugely enjoying the stories. There is a really interesting account of his life in the Guardian if you are interested in further reading…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/06/anton-chekhov-short-stories

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In time for this year’s National Short Story Week, ‘Overheard: stories to read aloud,’ was released. It is edited by Jonathan Taylor and, wrapped within it’s beautiful cover, are a collection of stories from over 30 of the UK’s most popular storytellers, including Louis De Bernières, Blake Morrison, Kate Pullinger, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Adele Parks and Hanif Kureishi.

I bought this as it was released in November of this year, as I really enjoy reading books by Louis De Bernières and Ian McEwan. It is now tucked it away for the cosy (post editing) winter evenings.

So my goals are to read and write many short stories in the coming year. What are your goals for books to read, or ideas to write?

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5 Ways to Optimise your Facebook Author Page

Today is the last post of my blog tour for ‘Take Me to the Castle.’ Join me over at 30 Day Books, hosted by Laura and Brandon, for a guest post on how to optimise your author Facebook page to interact with readers and share your news, reach more people to join your mailing list and add book giveaways. You’ll learn about the admin panel which gives you information on reader demographics…

http://www.30daybooks.com/optimize-facebook-author-page/


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Three Reasons Why You Need a Mailing List as an Author

Come and visit Ali Luke’s blog over at Aliventures where I have written a guest post on the need for a mailing list for writers and recommendations for which providers to use….

http://www.aliventures.com/3-reasons-author-mailing-list/


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Building a Sense of Place into Your Writing

Join me over at Elizabeth’s blog today for my guest post on looking at how you can use details to create atmosphere and a sense of place in your writing…

http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/building-sense-of-place-into-your.html?spref=tw


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Book Release: ‘Take Me to the Castle’ by F.C. Malby

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Today is the release of my debut novel, ‘Take Me to the Castle.’ You can buy it on Amazon in paperback and on kindle. It can also be ordered in bookstores from January 2013.

Thank you for following my blog so far and I am enjoying your comments and your own posts. I wanted to let you know that I will be guest posting on some other writing blogs over the next few days. It would be great see you over at:

http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.co.at/ hosted by Mystery writer, Elizabeth Span Craig. She blogs daily and her website was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010, 2011, and 2012 (19/12/12).

http://www.aliventures.com/ hosted by Ali Luke, author of ‘Publishing eBooks for Dummies’ and a writing coach. Ali is full of information on writing and publishing and is a well-respected blogger. (20/12/12)

http://www.30daybooks.com/blog/ hosted by Laura and Brandon, who post great articles on marketing and publishing. Laura has been featured on CNN and has just released ‘Fire Up Amazon.’ (21/12/12)

Do leave comments and join in with the discussions. I look forward to seeing you there.

 


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Living on the Edge of Confidence and Self-Doubt

I was at the Camp Mighty retreat a few weeks back, and one of the best talks was given by Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest.

He talked about a journey that I think would be extremely familiar to any novelist. He embarked on many false starts as after he quit his job at Google and built several semi-successful sites before finally arriving at one of the most influential designs in the last five years: Pinterest.

In his talk, he mentioned something that really felt familiar to me as a writer, which was that even after all the success he has had with Pinterest he lives at the intersection of terror and joy.

This struck a chord with me because it gets back to how you have to live as a writer. You have to be strong enough to put yourself out there, brave and confident as you share a part of yourself with the world. You do it because you love it so much you’re willing to risk everything negative that can possibly come your way.

But you also have to be self-critical enough to edit your work and fear failure and be worried that your best might not be good enough, which pushes you just that much further. You have to be scared of what will happen if you don’t do your best. You can’t ever get comfortable.

Terror and joy. Confidence and self-doubt. The best artists live right in that uncomfortable middle.

Reblogged from nathanbransford.com


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Writer’s Block: 5 Top Tips for Finding Inspiration

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There are those who say ‘Don’t look for inspiration, just write.’ What about the days when you are stuck with a scene that feels clunky or one of your characters doesn’t seem consistent or exciting enough. Maybe you are are about to embark on a new book, a first book, a short story, or a poem…and the list goes on. Finding ideas for blog posts can sometimes be difficult when many key topics have been covered from all angles.

Here are 5 top tips:

Go for a walk. Get out and stretch your legs. Writing can keep you pinned to a chair for longer than you realise and the exercise alone will get the blood circulating to your brain. Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity while riding a bike. Emerson said of Thoreau: ‘The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.’ Haruki Murukami runs 10K a day when in writing mode and says, ‘Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.’ The Neuroscience of Imagination is a really interesting article on this topic.

See a film. It is a good idea to see films which stretch your imagination, especially if it is a difference genre to your own writing. The visual stimulus and the way the characters are played out often spark ideas for characterisation or scene setting and plot momentum.

Read. Read as much as you can of as many different genres as you can get your hands on. Ian McEwan writes all morning and reads all afternoon. Some agents recommend reading at least as many words as you write each day! With the rise of ereaders it is quick and easy to access a vast range of books.

Pick up a paper if you want to find inspiration from non-fiction.

Dip into a short story if you want a short burst of inspiration. They are packed full of description and swift characterisation. See my recent post on short stories.

Head to a cafe. Go somewhere which is guaranteed to be full of people! You are most probably writing about people, so study them. Watch people’s body language, the way they dress, how they talk. Go and write or meet a friend and observe. You’ll be amazed by how much it helps. I was writing a difficult scene in my novel in a cafe. The scene involved a particular character and, by chance, a guy with similar features and mannerisms to my character sat down at a table nearby. Needless to say the scene was wrapped up by the time I had finished my coffee. It was a complete coincidence but you never know who will walk by or sit down and inspire a particular character in your writing.

Go to a gallery. Or a football match, or any thing that you enjoy and find inspiring. I love art galleries and there is something about art which, for me, crosses over into writing and ideas. I see a painting and think of a story behind the image or wonder about the life of the artist. The biographies on the wall often inspire ideas about a different time frame or issue.

So, go and be inspired then come back and tell us what it is that helps you to get around writer’s block. Do you have any tips for inspiration?