Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Book Review: Somewhere Else, Or Even Here

Between Christmas and the New Year, I won a copy of A. J. Ashworth's debut short story collection. Here is my short review. 

Somewhere Else, Or Even Here
By A. J. Ashworth
Published by Salt
ISBN - 9781844718801

In A. J. Ashworth's brilliant, prize-winning short story collection, Somewhere Else, Or Even Here, there are stories about a couple facing up to life after the death of their child, couples facing life after infidelity, a girl on a beach lured away by a strange boy. Every story looks at the turning points of each character. Ashworth captures the loneliness, desire and hope of their shifting lives. These stories are witty and dark, tender and terrifying.

Some short story collections are hard to read from cover-to-cover because they are pimpled with 'fillers' but Somewhere Else, Or Even Here is a collection where each story sparkles. I read the collection from cover to cover and I'll be going back, dipping in and out, re-reading them again and again.

The images linger once the story is over and the book is back on the bookshelf.

Favourite stories: Sometimes Gulls Kill Other Gulls, Paper Lanterns, Zero Gravity, Tattoo, Offerings.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Marriage Scrappage Scheme

My short story, The Marriage Scrappage Scheme, is up at Untoward Magazine under the featured fiction section. Thank you, Matt and everyone at Untoward.

Here's the first paragraph to tempt you:

Brenda was darning her husband’s socks when the radio presenter interrupted a gardening segment to bring an announcement from the Iron Lady’s Government.

The government will be launching the Marriage Scrappage Scheme tomorrow,” the presenter said.

She slid from her stool and headed to the living room door. Jack, her husband, was slouched on the sofa, with the television on mute. She closed the door, shuffled back to her stool and turned up the volume.

The Government are offering the chance for women to trade in old, tired husbands for new ones.”

The Marriage Scrappage Scheme can read by clicking Here.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Forthcoming

Author Caroline Smailes is putting together an ebook anthology to raise money for 'one in Four,' a charity which provides support to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence. Caroline set the challenge last week for writers to send 100 word stories based on a song that could be accessed from YouTube. Over 350 people sent through stories and out of that 100 were picked for the project.

A short piece by me will be appearing in the ebook!

I decided two days before the deadline that I wanted to write something. At first, I tried to ignore the 'go on, enter' voice because I had not written anything 'new' for a while. But I caved in, listened to my favourite songs and started writing down ideas and phrases. My original story started off at 500 words and gradually I edited and redrafted until I was left with a 97 word story. 

My short piece is based on a White Lies song - Farewell to the Fairground.


All of the proceedings will go to One in Four.

More details will follow on where you can donate and/or buy a copy.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

Okay, the compulsory end of year / start of the year blog post. I’m about four days behind with this one! But there was no way I was going to start doing my ‘best books of 2011’ at the start of December – there were still four weeks to find new books. 2011 had its highs – moving house and some lows – being ill.

During 2011, I had a short story published at Static Movement called Batteries Not Included For The Apocalypse and my flash fiction piece, The Department of Extinct Objects, appeared at Referential Magazine. I talked about my writing desk over at Hazel Foster’s website and I took the Five Minute Friday challenge at For Books’ Sake and I talked about my favourite books.

I have redrafted my novel several times. I have now started to send it out to some agents so fingers crossed. I am also contemplating a title change.

There have been rejections too – lots of them. But it only makes my writing stronger. I have felt like giving up but that’s all lip service.

Books and Reading
This year I read forty-one books! That must be a record for me. I originally set myself the task of reading twenty over on the GoodReads website and thought that I wouldn’t hit that target because 2011 was going to be busy. But instead, I got more reading done than I expected. One of the main reasons is that I spent all of the summer tucked up in bed, being very ill. I’m still suffering six months later but definitely not the same scale as before.



My favourite five fiction books of 2011 were:
  • The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman (read all in one session, cuddled up in bed on Christmas Eve morning)
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
  • Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers by Mari Strachan (my review will be appearing at The View from Here soon)
  • Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
  • The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe.
  • Just my Type by Simon Garfield is my non-fiction pick for 2011.
TV 
I can’t decide between The West Wing or Battlestar Galactica being my favourite box set.  

Films 
My favourite films for 2011 were:
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Perfect Sense
  • Another Earth
  • Drive
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Take Shelter

Comfy Christmas present from Kieran
Hello 2012!! 

2012 is also going to be exciting writing wise – I have pieces forthcoming in Untoward Magazine, Little Fiction, a piece will be republished at Eunoia Review and a short story will be appearing in Kerouac’s Dog (I have seen the PDF and I’m looking forward to the print publication).

I am still hopeful that an agent will take a chance on my novel and represent me.

I have the twinkles of novel 2 in my head. Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

AND I am getting married and going on a plane for the first time – our honeymoon will be 14 day tour of the East Coast of America and Canada