Sunday, 24 March 2013

This Was My Alice in Wonderland Story With It's 'Eat Me' And 'Drink' Me

I don't think there is an answer on how long it can take for a story to be considered ready to be released from the hard drive. A couple of days? A couple of hours? Weeks? Months? Eeek, years?

It all depends on the story and with being honest with yourself. It's easy to think that a story doesn't need any more edits and rush it off to a magazine or a competition - I know because I have done it.

Last week, when I was meant to be using my writing time to continue with my novel, I wrote a story for a flash fiction competition - it took me a couple of hours to write, redraft and to feel happy with my story. I did leave it to the last minute to enter - the day before the closing date. But I left it until the final moments with the next story.

I have struggled with a particular short story for over a year. This was my Alice in Wonderland story with it's 'eat me' and 'drink' me - first it was a piece of flash fiction, then it grew and then it shrunk and then it enlarged. I sent it to magazines and got a few 'close but no cigar' responses and so I dumped it in my 'retired' folder. The other month I started to think about it. Why is it that when you're meant to be concentrating on one project that another retired project pops into your head?

I decided I wanted to enter it into a competition - I worked on it the day before the closing date. Went to bed, woke up and decided that the ending needed more work. But there was work, gym, food shopping and cinema in the way of me sitting down and finishing off the story. I had until midnight. I ended up frantically editing my story after my gym session and making the changes with 15 minutes of the deadline.

The one thing that I need to work on is deciding if I am going to enter a competition and then commit to getting my entry ready rather than spending weeks/months talking myself into and then out of sending an entry.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Book Review: The Palace of Curiosities

The Palace of Curiosities
By Rosie Garland
Published by Harpercollins
Available: Hardback and ebook

When the chance came up on Twitter to read the winning entry for the Mslexia Novel competition I was there waving my hand for a proof copy. I wanted to see what sort of book won the competition as I had also entered with my now defunct novel. I can see why The Palace of Curiosities because it is a brilliant and electrifying book.

The Palace of Curiosities tells the story of Eve, 'The Lion Faced Girl' and the mysterious Abel 'The Flayed Man' who are both estranged from normal society and perform for a Victorian sideshow called 'The Palace of Curiosities.'

The Palace of Curiosities is full of rich prose that grips and guides the reader through Eve's and Abel's struggle for self discovery, escape and finding out what it means to be human and accepted in society. The reader follows the curious journeys of both characters on how they end up performing. Eve is born covered in fur - her mother wants her to shave away the shame. Until a gentleman, Josiah Arroner arrives, asking for Eve's hand in marriage. Love isn't Arroner's first thought. He wants a star attraction for his Victorian sideshow.

Abel is pulled from the murky waters of the river Thames. Every morning he wakes up from his vivid dreams but can not remember the previous day's events. He stumbles from working in a slaughterhouse to mending watches to becoming the biggest attraction at Arroner's sideshow. The lives of both of the characters intertwine in a touching love story.

Garland weaves together magic realism with gritty realism. The descriptions are beautiful and strange.
She is able evoke the dirty streets of London along with the glamour of performing. At times the descriptions of a slaughter house and of self mutilation are very realist. You have been warned!

Readers of twisted fairy tales and fans of Angela Carter will enjoy The Palace of Curiosities. Be prepared to not be able to put the book down once you have started reading!

The Palace of Curiosities is now available from your favourite online or offline book retailer. 

This book was kindly sent to me by the Publisher.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day! 

It's very curious that we call it 'world' book day because the UK celebrate it from a different time to other countries and there is also a separate world book night. But who would complain that there are too many celebrations about books? Personally, it should a national bank holiday.

I talk alot about books on this blog so for a change I thought we would get some other opinions. So here are some of my favourite bookish quotes... 

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.”  Louisa May Alcott

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot

What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.”  Alan Bennett

"You don't have anything if you don't have the stories." - Leslie Marmon Silko

"He never went out without a book under his arm, and he often came back with two." Victor Hugo

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lichtenstein's 'pregnant moment'

I think the best way to celebrate your birthday is to spend it doing something special and give yourself a bank holiday from work. That's what I did with my Husband the other week to celebrate my birthday.

We headed into London for the opening day of the Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at the Tate Modern. I have always loved his style and his satire on the art and advertising world.

In the little booklet that we were given to explain each room, I came across an interest section that clicked with me - Yes, I thought, short stories MUST do that too. I am going to make sure I remember this when writing short stories and flash fiction:

"Such choices reveal Lichtenstein's interest in the 'pregnant moment' - the crux from which one can imagine the whole story."

We went away for a few days and we stayed in a tower! While there, I finished writing the first draft of chapter three of my novel. Exciting! Now it's chapter four's turn to be written. After that, I'm not sure what's going to happen....

Pay day this week = pay day treat. My treat is a ticket for the Get Writing 2013 at the University of Hertfordshire in April. There will be talks on writing, with editors and agents. I have been promising to go for a few years but in the past it has normally fallen on my birthday or the weekend that we plan to do something for my birthday but this year date has been moved. It should be a great day out!