Publication with Postcard Shorts

http://www.postcardshorts.com/read-2097.html

The story I submitted, The Red Shoe, was culled from a longer short story which was an exercise in playing around with description – trying to use expressive, lyrical language to describe a rather depressing scene.

If you’re in the mood for a bit of micro fiction, you’ve come to the right place. Postcard Shorts has several hundred diverse and diverting short stories, for you to read, share and enjoy.

The inspiration for this site comes from a challenge made by George Hay, a science fiction magazine editor in the 1970s, to Arthur C. Clarke (and others). The challenge was to write a short story to put on a postcard. One result was Arthur C. Clarke’s story “Quarantine”, which you can read here.

postcards

All stories must be around 250 words long – enough to fit comfortably on the back of a postcard.

I know this is only a small publication and a lot of people would probably hardly register it, but these things are what keeps me typing away at my desk night after night. When you have a busy life, work, study and a slight social life, then it really takes some motivation to sit up late and write.

Small accomplishments like this are what does it for me. Start small and aim big, my new motto. Today, a postcard, tomorrow a fantasy trilogy! 🙂

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PiBoIdMo

What is PiBoIdMo you ask? It’s the cool shorthand for Picture Book Idea Month, a fabulous initiative begun by children’s author Tara Lazar.

Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo, I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

The challenge is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas and your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass.

Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories.

PiBoIdMo was first held in 2008 by a party of one—me! Then I hosted it on my blog for the first time in 2009. Each year the number of participants has doubled. In 2012 we had over 750 writers following PiBoIdMo.

I’m having a go at this for the first time, as well as trying my hand at NaNoWriMo. So far, this is getting most of my attention.

I flushed out a small, thick, blank notebook from my hoard and have been using a double spread of two pages for each idea. Some days the ideas flow easily, other times I stare at the blank page for what seems like hours. It’s a lot like novel writing really.

Below are a few of my pages so far, just to get the gist of what my approach is all about.

Zebra Horse2 The Red Balloon2 Rainbow Shoes2

If anyone has any wonderful ideas for The Horse that wanted to be a Zebra, feel free to share. At the moment I’m thinking he may somehow paint big stripes on himself before running away to the jungle? Hmmm.

Most of these ideas may not see the light of day but I’m certainly feeling creative & motivated to continue, which makes all the page-staring worth it in the end.

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The perfect writing space.

Question of the day:

writing retreat

I’m so torn when it comes to this question because three settings instantly leap to mind:

  1. A beach hut on an isolated, wind swept peninsula. My desk sits before a giant picture window which looks out across the white sands to the sea.
  2. An isolated mountain cabin, snowed in. There’s a huge fireplace and I sit before it with a small folding table and my laptop with a glass of red wine. When I need a break I stretch out on the bearskin rug and stare into the flames.
  3. A huge, rambling garden that’s attached to a house miles away from civilisation. Okay, it’s isolated too. There’s a back verandah where I can stretch out in the sun, listening to birds call in the trees and watching the lazy flight of bumble bees as they move from flower to flower.

You’ll notice the common theme here is isolation. I’m the type of writer who writes best with total silence; no music, no tv, no conversation. Ideally I have no interruptions whatsoever except for when I get up to boil the kettle or make another cup of tea.

Unfortunately my reality is a bit different. I have a cramped desk in a two bedroom unit. Piles of work and uni papers are stacked haphazardly around the shelves and my pen always seems to dry out just when I need it most. I’m usually able to get in a few solid hours without interruption though and my five dollar chair from the second hand store is immensely comfortable.

Here’s where I write at the moment:

My writing space New tools

It’s a little cramped but I like to tell myself it’s cosy, and one advantage is that everything is within reach. In the meantime I’ll keep dreaming of that beach shack, or that snowy cabin, or that peaceful garden; one day I’ll get there!

Where would be your ideal place to write?

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First ‘Publication’!

After a pretty rough few months, I was thrilled to receive my first acceptance email last week. It’s just a very short piece on a non-paying book review website but it’s a start!

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2013/11/kbr-short-story-yellow-brick-road.html

The story is called Yellow Brick Road and will feature in November on the Kid’s Book Review website.

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

Kids’ Book Review is a 100% voluntary children’s literature and book review site that supports and features authors, illustrators and publishers Australia-wide and internationally. It is run by a small team of women who have decades of experience in the children’s book industry, with roles such as author, publisher, editor, bookseller, blogger, book designer and typesetter, speech pathologist, librarian, early childhood educator, mother and book lover.

We cover news, reviews, interviews, articles, guest posts, events, specialist literacy articles and much more, attracting readers from all over the world including teachers, librarians, industry professionals, and of course – parents and kids.

It’s the story of Mindy, Dorothy’s little sister, and her own experience on the Yellow Brick Road. It was workshopped on Facebook after I asked for ideas for the site prompt: YELLOW. So I can’t really claim all the credit. I have some very creative, and weird, friends!

Here are their responses on fb:

Me: Right, I need to write a 500 word kid’s short story for a competition. The prompt is ‘YELLOW’ and my mind is blank. Any ideas?

  • maybe about a little girl who’s life has just turned yellow
  • As a mum, I see kids and yellow in the same sentence and I think diarrhoea
  • i think she just means yellow… any maybe it can be about her not wanting to be yellow but coming to accept it, only to realise that she could wash it off at any time (or maybe not realising… last scene can be just as it starts to rain and the yellow starts to wash away)
  • I think the yellow should come from a girl staring into a sunflower and being lost in the colour yellow
  • Shark infested custard!
  • Yellow coward turning it around and being bright?
  • Needs a submarine!
  • she embraces the light of the sun and sees the world anew through an intensified spectrum of colours.
  • Personification – the dirty yellow shoes (the shoes are walking around trying new things to get rid of the brown dirt! Tries stepping in water… Becomes stinky n cranky, rolling in yellow flowers smelling lovely n pretty, but still brown 😕etc.. Then finally finds a yellow paint tin n jumps in it, splashing it EVERYWHERE… smears it all over himself!!! One happy little fella!!) then the owner comes home….
  • There once was a race of custard people who lived on a custard planet…..
  • The yellow flower that wanted to be pink
  • could it be someone other than Dorothy following the ‘yellow’ brick road!!!!!!
  • and what about every time she sees a yellow flower, something good happens to her journey …..like it becomes a sign of good luck …
Alice laying it out to Dorothy.

Alice laying it out to Dorothy.

I’ve sent out several other stories – mostly flash fiction (1000 words or under) but also one short story (2500 words). Fingers crossed that one, or more, of them is just as successful. Onwards and upwards!

It’s rather harrowing, sending out stories that you’ve quite often spent many hours poring over. Sometimes the story just seems to flow but at other times, you have to work incredibly hard to get those words down on the paper.

I’ve always been shy about sharing my work with people, either my writing or my art, but for the next 12 months I’m going to force myself to share everything I do. I can bear it if I know there’s an end date. If I detest it and decide to never share a single thing again then so be it, but I’m not allowing myself to make that choice until the end of 2014.

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Trees Please

Find the original here: www.permaculturevisions.com/beauty-of-a-tree/#commentsThis is a fantastic permaculture website & very inspirational to just potter around in.  Doing a Permaculture Course is high on my to-do list.Trees are so incredibly underestimated, a bit like bees really. They’re lovely, we know they’re important but perhaps we don’t quite appreciate that we’ll be totally sunk if they all disappear.  If you’re reading this make a promise to yourself, and the planet, to plant at least one tree this week.  I will if you will.
 Give me a land of boughs in leaf,
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.
– A.E. Housman
This is one the trees in my backyard. The original tree was slowly strangled by a fig until both the host tree & the parasite eventually died. Rather inefficient but they thrived together for quite a few years. Though it’s dead, this tree is a haven for birds, flying foxes, possums and seasonal vines. At the moment it’s covered in tiny fruiting Chinese Gooseberries, which is what this sulphur-crested cockatoo spent the afternoon feasting on.

Reasons to love trees, according to my students:

  1. They provide shade
  2. They provide homes for wildlife
  3. They provide oxygen
  4. They’re beautiful
  5. Those that flower attract pollinators
  6. They’re turned into books

I think our future is in good hands.

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Art & Craft: creating the Perfect Cover.

Even though I’m still working on the first draft of my MG novel, being a visual person I wanted to create a cover for the book. I pictured this cover printed out, pinned on the motivational board above my desk, urging me on (along with pots of Earl Grey) to get this draft written.

In a perfect world, I see my novel being published the traditional way, which means I get buckley’s chance of having any input into the cover (buckley’s = no chance for the non-Aussies amongst you). That’s fine, as this is just to inspire me – to see my name in print (kinda), to see the cover so that on those grim days, when motivation eludes me, I’m inspired to get that chapter written.

To that end, I decided to forgo my usual play around with photoshop & actually invest in a cover. That’s right, I mean pay somebody to do it for me. Being unwilling (and unable) to invest too much cash I wandered across to fiverr.com.

http://fiverr.com/

I did a search for ebook cover artists, found one that had some great samples up and engaged their services. Now, for those who have never visited fiverr, there are all sorts of options attached to these ‘transactions. A basic cover cost me five dollars, incorporating several different elements/images costs an additional five dollars and so on. I went for the basic, no frills, five dollar option.

My wish list for the artist went like this:

  1. It’s an MG novel – aimed at primary school students.
  2. It’s an environmental-themed story.
  3. The main protagonists are an 11 year old girl and a boy around the same age.
  4. The title & my name.

This is what I got:

Firstly, this doesn’t scream MG to me. Secondly, my name is larger than the title? What’s with that? Thirdly, pink? Where’s the environmental connection? Fourthly, no.

This is a nice cover (besides the disproportionate title/author name thing) but it’s not for my book.

It was a good thing in the end though, as it motivated me to get off my behind and create my own image. That way, I don’t have to worry about copyright or anything of that ilk, and I can use the image as much or as little as I like. So, being a teacher, I got out my crafting materials & went crazy!

Seeing my book has an environmental theme (and I’m a Sustainability Teacher), instead of buying anything I didn’t already have, I went the recycling route with my collage:

The ‘base’ is a page from a sketch pad I bought at a second-hand shop.

The sky/background is made up of the inside of envelopes.

The tree trunk is an old cereal box.

The leaves & flowers are made up of remnants left over from a previous crafting session.

The girl (Lyssa) is drawn on an old scrap of computer paper.

Finished product with title, my name & a brief blurb added with photoshop.
I know the finished product needs work, but I can take my time with that as it’s all done on my computer. Having the original picture on my pinboard inspires me more than just picturing it in my mind ever could.
Moral of the story? Best five dollars I ever spent!
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Writing Inspiration

As I work on my novel, there is lots of advice I try to keep in mind, as well as many quotes that inspire me & keep my fingers tap-tap-tapping away. None works quite so well as this though:

 


My current goal is to write one chapter per day – around 1000 words for an MG novel – come hell or high water. Some days those chapters flow like a raging torrent while other days it’s more akin to a leaky faucet. A couple of days I’ve written nothing only to have a sudden ‘unblocking’ where I’ll write several chapters in one sitting.

The ‘rules’ I’ve been following for the last week:

  1. Write every day. When in doubt refer to above picture (my desktop background).
  2. As above, aim for one chapter per day. Each chapter to be roughly 1000 words.
  3. Do not use the evil Backspace button. No editing. Add in footnotes if needed & keep going.
  4. Do not re-read before beginning the day’s chapter. Refer to glossary instead as needed.
  5. Update glossary at the end of each day’s writing session.
  6. Don’t forget to refer to rule one.

It’s now day eight and I’m about to begin work on chapter eight. I haven’t rigidly kept to this formula but thus far it seems to work pretty well and suit my pace. Perhaps this Work in Progress will, one day, be a little more than just the letters W, I and P. Fingers crossed.

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