Sharing friends with my friends

I thought, today, instead of an author interview, I would share the sites of some of my blogging friends:

For all of you who might be thinking of taking the challenge of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), wantoncreation has some advice for you.

If you prefer a site where you can read an interesting story, Diane Dickson has written many short stories and serials, so pop over here. Soon she will be offering one of her novels for free, too!

C.B. Wentworth has a lovely variety of posts; lovely poetry, gorgeous photography, fantastic travel tales, and her beautiful knitted creations. You can find her latest poetry and photo of a Roman bridge here.

On the site, Speculating Canada, Derek Newman-Stille discusses Canadian speculative fiction, interviews writers of the genre and writes reviews. Considering the month, I recommend you head over there and read his list of ‘Canadian Must-reads-For-Halloween‘.

I enjoy reading what Elizabeth Creith has to say on her website. She discusses her writing and gives pointers to upcoming authors. For example, in her latest post, she discusses writing style.

If you want to read a charming Halloween-themed story, pop over to roughwighting and immerse yourself in ‘Witchy Woman’.

Jenny Keller Ford is a lovely woman who is working hard to get her first YA novel published. In the meantime, she has had several short stories published in anthologies put out by J. Taylor Publishers. She interviews other writers, like Terri Rochenski in her latest guest post ‘Balancing Family With Writing, and she reviews books as well as giving tips on writing.

Another writerly blogger is Jennifer M. Eaton. She’s been advising her readers with ‘… Simple Rules To Writing The Best Novel Ever‘, based on the article, ‘Hunting Down the Pleonasm’ by Allen Guthrie. She also has been providing us with book reviews and author interviews. She began the multi-author story ‘Write A Story With Me’, which has a new episode each Monday.

I think that’s enough sharing, for today, although there are many more exciting bloggers out there, writing wonderful blog posts, which I hope to share another time. I hope you will take the time, on this leisurely Sunday, to peruse the links provided.

Happy Sunday, Everyone! 🙂

Scary October – #23

Here’s a brief excerpt and link to a truly scary short story by Diane Dickson that I wanted to share with you. She’s a member of the Shortbread Stories group that publishes short stories for those who are members, but you don’t need to be a member to read her story. She is currently sharing installments of her latest serial story, The Grave on her website, so you might want to stop by here and see what that’s all about, too.

As for this one, she says it “was originally included in a collection of Halloween stories last year and I thought it might be good to put it on here for this year’s season of fright and freakiness.” Sounds like it will be perfect for today’s post so, here it is:

One Last Look

The dark was viscous, she believed her eyes were open but blinked them to make sure. The flashlight was a good one, huge and heavy and now in her hand about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

She tried to visualize the last thing she had seen…

Read more: Short Story: One Last Look | Shortbread

Please follow the link. It’s well worth it, if you like spine-tingling tales. Oh, and I’m still looking for spooky stuff, if you’re willing to share. 🙂

Scary October – Day 2

Hi, Everyone!

I’ve had a great response to my call for scary stories and have some links to share with you.

Diane Dickson has a story called Cry of the Owl that can be found on her blog, Diane Dickson’s Story Site . If you want to read more of her scary stories, wander through her site. She recently posted her serial, The Grave and has other stories published that qualify as scary – Who Follows and Making Angels which can be found on Amazon.

Lindsey Leggitt has posted an excerpt from her story Slate that can be found on her blog, Burning Tree

In the meantime, here is a warm-up to the month – an excerpt from one of my ghost stories for kids called Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer, but first a little background.

The Jacksons have just moved into an older home. Thirteen-year old Kirsten resents the fact that they had to move away from her old neighbourhood and it doesn’t help that the cute boy from across the street tells her that the previous family had all been murdered. While exploring the new home, her younger sister Amy finds an old video camera hidden in the wall and that’s where we pick up with the family saga:

Notice the drops of blood on the camera case – Mwaa haa haa!

Next morning, when the real estate agent arrived on their doorstep, her father handed over the camera case, explaining how they had discovered it.

“Thought you could get this to the owners,” he said.

“Actually, that’s going to be a little impossible,” the woman said, shifting uncomfortably.

“What do you mean?” their father asked.

“Well . . . you see . . .” The woman cleared her voice.  “The previous owners are . . . how shall I put this?  Way out of town.”

“You mean dead!” Kirsten blurted out.

The woman flashed frightened eyes at her.

“Well . . . yes,” she admitted.

“Why didn’t you tell us before!” their father demanded.

“It’s just that . . . I’ve been having so much trouble getting rid of the property.  Whenever people found out about the murders, they got scared and were no longer interested.”

“Didn’t you think we’d find out sooner or later?” their father asked.

“I hoped, by that time, you’d have fallen in love with the house and wouldn’t care about what happened.  As for the camera, you might as well keep it.”

“I don’t feel right about that,” their mother said.

“Call it a bonus for buying the house,” the agent replied.  “After all, the family doesn’t need it anymore.”

Their mother hesitated a moment.

“Please, Mom,” Amy begged.  “Maybe we could come up with something to send to ‘Funniest Home Videos’.  Please can we keep it?”

“I suppose, as long as you’re sure no one will be looking for it.”

“Absolutely sure,” the agent said.  “Happy filming and enjoy the house.  Please don’t let the tragedy spoil your new life here.”

“All right, then,” their father said finally.

“In the meantime,” the agent said.  “There’s just a bit more paper work to finish.”

“While you’re busy, can I try the camera, Dad?” Amy asked.  “Please?”

“Okay.  Just be careful with it.”

“I will,” Amy promised as she skipped up the stairs.

Kirsten followed until she reached her room.  Closing the door on the ramblings of her sister with the video camera, she flopped on her bed with her journal and began to write.

Suddenly, her door burst open.  Kirsten’s heart nearly burst from her chest.

“Smile!” Amy grinned from behind the viewer of the video camera.

“Go away!” Kirsten shouted, throwing a pillow at her.  “And close the door behind you!”

For the rest of the day, Amy happily played movie director.  Kirsten could hear her up on the third floor, telling the twins what to do.  The boys were quite happy to goof around in front of the camera.  They’d always been show-offs.  Kirsten was thankful they were playing well away from her and not bugging her.

At supper, Amy chatted about all the great shots she’d got of the twins.

“Can we watch it after dinner?” she asked.

“Sure!” her mom said enthusiastically.  “Maybe you’ll turn out to be a famous film-maker one day!”

Amy beamed at the thought.  Kirsten just rolled her eyes.  After all, how good could a nine year-old really be?  The shots were probably all shaky and out of focus.

When they finished eating, Amy dragged Kirsten to the couch.

“You’ve gotta watch too!” Amy told her.

Kirsten slumped down into the soft cushions, folding her arms across her chest.  Pulling her eyebrows together in her best frown, Kirsten displayed her refusal to enjoy the show.  Their dad hooked up the cables and Amy pressed ‘play’ on the camera’s remote as the rest of the family settled themselves comfortably.

“When I gonna be on TV?” Jamie asked in his charming four year-old way.

“Soon,” Amy told him.

“Me too?” Jimmy asked.

“Yes, you too,” Amy laughed.  “First we’ll see grumpy old Kirsten.”

Kirsten shot her an ‘if-looks-could-kill’ glare and stared at the TV.

The static cleared and Amy’s voice was heard through the speakers.

“Here’s where the beast lives,” Amy’s voice whispered as the camera panned the hallway of the second floor.

A door opened and there was a shot of Kirsten lying on her bed.  Turning quickly, Kirsten growled at the camera.  A pillow flashed past the view screen.  As the camera kept rolling, a faint image appeared by the window.

“Hey!” Amy exclaimed.  “There wasn’t anyone else there when I took the shot.”

The whole family peered at the TV, as the image remained.  It was transparent, but they could make out the facial features of a boy about twelve years old.  With wide eyes, he stared into the camera, terror painted on his face.  Another shape appeared on the film, a tall imposing figure with pointed features and a thin black moustache.  In his hand, he held a long-bladed knife.

The family watched in horrified fascination as the man approached the boy and the knife came down again and again…

Sorry for the cliff-hanger – NOT! Hope you enjoyed the chill. 🙂

Interview Sunday #6

Image of Diane Dickson

Today, I’d like to introduce storywriter Diane Dickson from Diane’s Story Site. Diane has written and published both children’s and adult fiction as well as featuring serial stories on her blog. 

Welcome, Diane! I’m glad you could join us. Would you please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you so much for asking me, I have really enjoyed your interviews and was flattered that you thought of asking me. 

I was born in Yorkshire a long time ago! and grew up in Lancashire. I’ve been married for over forty years and have two wonderful children, a son and a daughter, a lovely son in law and daughter in law and two gorgeous grandsons.  I am very lucky.  
 
Ian and I spent over twenty years living and working in the Middle East and, although at times it was difficult, it was also wonderful and we don’t regret a moment of it, even though we had to make sacrifices with regard to family life and so on.  
 
We now spend much of the year in a house in the middle of a forest in South West France, which is beautiful, and the rest of the time in a flat near to my son’s house in UK and that’s about it.

Such an interesting life you’ve led! 🙂 
What prompted you to begin writing and how long have you been writing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  I was the only girl in my class at school who loved “composition”, which is what it was called in those days.  I still have a book of my poetry that I started when I was about seven and it has just always been there, part of life.

That poetry book sounds like a treasure! I think it’s great that you still have it.
With your children’s stories, do you have a moral in mind when you start?

3 Things That Might Have HappenedNot exactly a moral, I do believe that we need to uphold good values, honesty, fair play, kindness, all of that, but also I think that it is important that there is magic and wonder.  I think that introducing children to books and reading at the earliest possible opportunity is very important and so, especially with the books for very little ones, the main thing is that they can understand and enjoy the story.  A friend of mine had a little girl and the day that they came home from the hospital her husband sat down and started reading to this tiny baby.  She has grown into an outstanding scientist. I often think of that when I’m writing children’s stories.

How is your process different when you write for adults?

That is difficult to answer.  When I write my adult stories I like to think that I get inside the head of my characters. I do often find myself thinking and even behaving in the way that I think my book’s inhabitants would do, quite unconsciously I hasten to add, and it’s sometimes rather odd.  With the children’s stories it is simpler, just telling tales that I think would entertain young people.

You write mainly short stories and novellas. I usually have a problem keeping my stories contained within the shorter format. What techniques, if any, do you apply to contain your stories?

With the very short micro and flash fiction, I find it helps me to keep the length in mind all the time that I’m writing and so subconsciously I am winding down when I think I’m approaching the maximum word count.  With the novellas I don’t think about it much, they just seem to come with their length predetermined.  I write quite simple stories with very few characters and locations and so they are limited by that, to an extent.  Also, I’m not a very patient writer, I want to know how it’s all going to turn out.
 🙂

How do you edit your stories in preparation for publication? Do you make use of critique partners or beta readers?

Product DetailsI read them over and over and over. Once I have the story very clear in my mind, I read the chapters randomly. That seems to help me to pick up typos and so on, as I’m not reading the story as much as the words.  The Harper Collins site Authonomy is great for feedback.  With Who Follows, my daughter in law very kindly proof read it for me but I try not to inflict my work on the family too much.  I have never lived the sort of life that has allowed me to join writing groups or anything so, although I would love to share and discuss, I am pretty much on my own.  I am sure that there are nits in some of my published work but I have come to realise that all I can do is my best and hope it gets near to being good enough.

I’m sure there are many people out there who would love to help you in this regard, should you need their help at any time, so you don’t have to ‘inflict’ your work on your family. 🙂
Please tell us a little about the stories you’re most proud of.
Product Details
There are some stories on Shortbread that move me. Sometimes a story will make me cry, either with sadness or simply because of the emotion in the words. I love that.  I have had one or two that have won competitions but strangely they are often the ones that I hadn’t really been that happy with – I’m a terrible judge of my own writing.   

You have some interesting book covers. Please tell us about them.

These were all designed by my daughter
 www.studioanjou.co.uk

They are lovely! 🙂 
When did you start your blog and what were some of your reasons for starting it?

It was about two years ago.  I did have a website, which I used simply to advertise my books.  The host was changing and I was looking around for a new platform and my daughter was blogging at the time and so I decided to give it a go.  Once I realised what a great resource it was, how very easy it is to do and that it’s possible to have feedback from readers, I was totally hooked.

You mentioned Shortbread, earlier. Would you please tell us what they do there?

I had a computer glitch a couple of years ago and couldn’t access Authonomy and came upon Shortbread almost by chance.  
 
Shortbread Stories was set up by Robin Pilcher after he attended a writer’s workshop and thought it was a shame that there were so many great stories hidden in drawers and cupboards with no hope of publication.  
 
They publish every story that is submitted to them.  This does mean that there is a great range of skill and every genre and type of short story that you may imagine.  It is a very friendly site, the members are very supportive of each other.  They run competitions, most usually the prize is simply a teeny little medal next to the story on the site and it is circulated as “The Friday Story” to over 6,000 members, so it is a great place to get some exposure. Now and then, they offer the prize of a book or something but mostly it’s just for fun.   
 
They choose what they judge to be the most suitable and have them made into audio stories. I have one or two of mine in that process at the moment and am really looking forward to hearing my work read aloud. 
 
They have published an anthology of work and are working on the next one and they also run writing workshops with Robin Pilcher and other highly experienced creative writing lecturers in attendance.  They are residential courses usually one at a beautiful villa in Spain and one in the flat where Rosamund Pilcher wrote many of her best sellers, so there must be inspiration seeped into the walls there, I think.  I haven’t been able to attend one yet but hope to one day.  I was voted Shortbreader of the Year 2011 and am a total fan of the site.

Wow! Congratulations! That sounds like a marvelous site. If anyone wants to check out Shortbread Stories, you can find it
here.
When you’re not writing, are there any hobbies you like to indulge in?

Yes,when I’m not writing I love my garden. We have about three acres here in France, more than half is forest and I try to cultivate bits. It’s a struggle because the soil is very poor but I do usually manage some fruit and vegetables and a bit of colour.

Do you have any other social networks that you’d like to share, Diane?

I do have Twitter and Facebook accounts and my blog links with them automatically but I don’t seem to have enough time to get on there very often.  I could sit all day at my desk, I think, and still not get everything done that I would like to, so I have to try and be a little disciplined.

That sounds very familiar! lol

To visit Diane’s Story Site click here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Diane. 🙂

Please take the time to check out her stories. Some will send shivers down your spine, others will make you laugh or cry. 🙂