Tag Archives: short stories

Two Hectic Months!

Just a little bit of my white board.

Sometimes I wonder if I get anything done, then I have a couple of months like the last two and I wonder how I’ve kept up. June and July have been totally hectic!

In the last two months I have written 4 short stories, completed 3 editing commissions, been part of 4 writing events and several committee meetings, made 3 agent submissions, created a new blog, post on 3 different blogs, figured out a new ending for a book, and been as active as I could be on social media.

I wrote all the four short stories for submissions to an anthology, the shortest one is 6k, longest 10k. To be honest, two of these may not make it to anthologies, and go instead to collections of my own, maybe even reader magnets for joining my newsletter. Honestly, I don’t know but I have until the end of September to decide.

I love editing and helping authors with their work, and what I really love about this is that I get to read books I might not otherwise see. I’m also really blessed this last two months as all three books, while very different, were well written and enjoyable to read.

The writing events I’ve attended have taken a huge range of formats. During the PWA Crime Writing Week, I picked up some great tips. I chaired the CWA/Diamond Crime online event for National Crime Reading Month in which I interviewed Jaqueline Harret, Gwyneth Steddy, and Thorne Moore. I attended the Waterstones author evening with Philip Gwynne Jones for “The Angels of Venice”, which was a fun evening. And I was at Harrogate Crime Festival which led to the agents, see my last blog.

Committee Meetings have been for the Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival which is shaping up nicely.

Agent Submissions are the three I secured at Harrogate, and I really hope that something comes of that.

I’ve started a new blog for steampunk, Shades of Aether, which I’ve already put nine blogs on, and schedule the next. Then there’s the Crime Blog, and of course this one.

The new ending is for the next Elaine Blake book. Because of the situation in Ukraine, I’ve been asked to move the action away from there, for obvious reasons. I selected the new location quickly. What’s taken a lot more brain power was how the characters and action will play out in that new location because it can’t be a simple case of changing the city name and leaving it as it. I’ve got the storyline sorted now, so it’s just a case of writing it now.

And of course, social media gets a mention because it’s something we all do. I admit I could be more active here, but there are only so many hours in a day. 

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Timing is everything in life, but what about in competition?

The last week I’ve been working on a short story for a competition for Honno Crime Anthology, see Honno for details.  I’ve written a whole 5,000 word new and original story.  I’ve had a friend look over it and give me notes. I’ve edited it and I’m happy with it.

It’s now 22nd of March and the competition doesn’t close until the 30th June.  So what do I do?  Do I send it off now or wait till June?

If I send it off now, that will mean it’s done and I can forget all about it and concentration on other projects.

If I wait, I can put it to the back of my mind for a couple of months, then read/edit again before I send off.  But I’ve got a memory like a sieve – what if I forget to send it? Well I guess that’s what diary reminders are for.  I’ve also got a dying laptop – what if I lose the file?  Well that’s what doing a backup is for.

What if in the intervening months, I think of a whole new short story worth putting in?  Well if I’ve not sent anything, then it won’t matter, I can write the new idea and compare the two, then decided. Or possibly send two – not sure if that’s allowed, doesn’t say one way or the other, but I’ll check later.

This is just one of those writer dilemmas that I’m never sure of.  What would you do?

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January Review

So what happened in January – it started well, but finished on something of a low.

Locked Down is out for review, and the ebook is up for pre-order, the paperback will be up shortly, but Amazon doesn’t allow books to be pre-ordered if they are print on demand, seems odd, but it’s their game, their rules.  So that will be joining the ebook shortly.  I have one review on Goodreads already, so that’s good, and I’ll have to start the promotional stuff soon.

I have been working on Speed of Aether, but to steal a friends comment, Spead of Aether isn’t warp speed.  I’m behind where I wanted to be with this novel at this point.   I’ve reached 46k words, but I should have finished the book by now.

This isn’t because of the book, it is all the distractions, self-publishing especially.

I also took a week out of writing Speed to do a 5,000-word short story for an open competition I heard about. Now the bones of that were down quickly, but it took a fair amount of polish.  The problem was, I didn’t submit it because the feedback I got included the fact that I’d misrepresented a certain fetish.  And after looking into that fetish a bit more, I got the point.  I had.  And though the story was still a good read if you knew nothing about the fetish, I didn’t think it was the right thing to do to put it out there.  So more research needed.  Then I’ll re-write it, ignore the 5k limit and I suspect at some point it will be coming out as a novella.

I’m also down on wordcount, because I have barely been able to work on anything this last week.  I’m picked up a lung infection from somewhere and it’s laid me very low.  I can’t take a deep breath without it making me cough, movement or any form or exertion leaves me breathless – now I admit I’ve not been fit for a while, but I could walk up a flight of stairs without it making me call for oxygen, can’t do that right now. It’s seriously affected my ability to concentrate too.  You wouldn’t believe how long it’s taken to write this blog. Still, it’s an infection, I have been prescribed antibiotics and it will pass.  I just wish it would pass faster.

This year I promised myself that I would read and listen to more.  At least one audiobook and one paperback a month.  It doesn’t sound like much, but both are things that have suffered due to my full schedule.

This month I listened to “The Invisible Library” by Genevieve Cogman. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, Irene and Kai are such fun and the story had plenty of interest points to keep me listening.  The only downside was the narrator, her breathy voice worked well in some places and in others (which was, unfortunately, most places) it annoyed me.  It was like listening to a vicious argument spoken like an M&S Foood advert – This isn’t, an, argument, this, is, an M&S argument.  Really there are times when you want the action to feel active and that narrator lost that impact for me a few times.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great book, I’d recommend reading it, I wouldn’t want to put you off listening to the audio either, but it was only a 4* for me.

This month I’ve mostly read an unpublished manuscript – which was brilliant!  It needs polish but if the author does what they need to do to get it published, I’m sure it will go down a storm. I’ve also read about half of “A Time for Silence” by Thorne Moore, very good Welsh-centric book. and part of “Dawn’s Early Light” by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, one of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels.  These are very different genres and very different storytellers.  But that’s been a good thing because I’ve been able to match what to read to how I was feeling.  Both have their good points, have to admit I’m enjoying the steampunk more as it a joyous adventure story, but there’s a more of an emotional connection with Thorne’s characters.  To be honest, there’s a character in there that I really don’t like, mostly because he reminds me of people I know. But isn’t that what the writers set out to do, entertain and evoke an emotional response?

Anyway, that’s me done for now. I’m going to listen to some “Mortal Engines” now, as that’s about all I have the energy for. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I can.

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No, No, NaNo, No


Well, we’re halfway through the month and if you are NaNoWriMo-ing then you should be around 25k into your work.  Where am I?  About eleven thousand words.

I have pretty much given up on NaNo this year, not because I’m not writing, quite the opposite in fact. So do I feel like I’m failing?  Actually, yeah a little bit, but there’s absolutely no reason for me to feel that way, it’s not like I’m not working.

The reason I’m not NaNo-ing is that I’m working through my collection of short stories “Last Cut Case Book” as I need to get that finalised asap; I’m editing on my steampunk novel which I’ve had back from my editor and now want to polish, and I am still working on the novel I had finally settled on for NaNo, just not concentrating on that alone and therefore not writing it as fast as NaNo requires.

I know I’m not the only one who has given up, I’ve seen similar posts on Facebook and Twitter, and in blogs. Not just this year either.  This is the fourth year I’ve started Nano, but it’s the first year that I haven’t been a winner.  So why do people not complete the challenge?

I’ve heard some people complain that it’s one of the shorter months, which I honestly don’t get.  It’s not February  there are still 30 days, plenty of time if you devote yourself, one more day won’t make that much difference.

I’ve heard that a number of my American friends say it’s difficult because they are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas – that I get, but then it was all started in America so I’m sure that was taken into consideration.

My own issues are that it’s my birthday this month, right at the end admittedly and I don’t have to do much for that.  But this year I’m also off to Iceland Noir and that’s basically a week away from home and I don’t even know if I can take my laptop yet.  However, at a minimum, I will be taking my tab, so I can write on that.

Anyway, my point in writing this is to say that, just because we might not be NaNoWriMo winners, that doesn’t make any of us losers.

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How To Write

Where I work 151001There are lots of ways to get that story out of your head and onto the pages, different things work for different people.  So where do you start?

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

First time I was asked this I had to ask what a pantser was, it’s someone who just who just sits down to write and lets the story tell itself.   I’ve heard Enid Blyton wrote many of her stories that way, don’t know how true that is but I remember hearing it.

Of course, the other alternative is to plot out the story from start to finish. Not necessarily in minute detail, but know where you’re going, at least the general direction.

On that criteria when it comes to novels I’m definitely a plotter.  For a short story, I might just write, but novels definitely get plotted, but rarely so tightly that I can’t use something new that comes to mind in the writing.  For example in the steampunk novel I just finished the first draft of, I pdoorsomething in the background of chapter three that I hardly took any notice of, it was literally only there to give more of a steampunk flavour to a character building chapter.  However,  by the time I got to a crucial twist at the end of the book, that background got brought very much to the foreground, in fact without it, my characters might have failed to do what they needed to do. The plot didn’t change but it left me enough room to get creative, and after all as writers, creative is what we’re meant to be.

I believe that even when I plan a book, and I can do in great detail often specifying where characters are even if they are off page, being open to changes along the way is important.

Once you’ve decided to plot or just go for it, will you write from start to finish ordot about to write scenes as inspiration takes you?

Have to say I’ve done both.  The steampunk I mentioned earlier, that was done in individual scenes as I figured what I wanted to happen in that scene, but I was jumping back and forth through the timeline of the book.   That worked for two reasons.  Firstly, because I had plotted the story out (loosely) so as I found a scene that worked in my head, I wrote it.  Secondly, because I’ve had a lot of other stuff going on the last few months, snippets of time is all I’ve had. However, since I had just finished, I now think that thisis going to be one of the most difficult edits I’ve ever faced.

I have tried to just write scenes as I’ve seen them then string them together but that’s tended to be stories about Mc and Mac, two specific characters – a cop and a pathologist -who usually end up working best as a series of short stories, they don’t seem to want to do a whole book together yet.  Which is kind odd since the end of the first story has one asking the other out. And the last story I have written so far in their chronology has them married.  But hey, sometimes you can’t control what charters will agree to do.

In thinking about this blog I stopped to think which way I prefer to write, and I think my preference is for writing a book start to finish.  That’s probably quite boring but it’s what works for me and I suspect most writers.   I find that the most effective way to ensure that any new threads that appear are best woven into the fabric of the story.

So turns out I’m a plotter who works from start to finish.  How about you?


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Blocked for Blogging

Hey who stole the last six weeks?  I meant to blog again in Feb and March, but things kind of got away from me.  I even started a blog, but never had time to finish it.

February was rather busy, being my husband’s birth month we had a great long weekend away in North Wales, just us, as an actual couple – bliss.  Then there was all the editing, I was booked through from the 15th of Feb and I haven’t had a day off from it since.  Well that’s not entirely true, had one day free of it because I needed a rest, and I needed to get a short written.   So here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to.

I’ve re-read a manuscript I wrote last year and have sent it to my editor – was not hopeful for what will come back, thought it was okay when I wrote it, but lost confidence in it.  Figured I may end up having to scrap it and starting all over again, and that’s exactly where I am now.  I kind of knew that there were some problems with it, but wasn’t sure which were the flaws and which weren’t.  Turns out there were a lot of flaws – including the leading man being to ‘beige’.  So complete re-write it is.

I’ve also been working to polish the steampunk story that’s been accepted for publication.  Fingers cross that it’s better, but the problem with making changes is you’re (or at least I’m) never sure if they are improvements or not.

I’ve been busy writing reviews For Warped Factor, mostly comic reviews, but had one  article I’m particularly proud of is Six Degrees of Separation to Lwaxana Troi.  It was a fun piece that actually got enough hits to get on the sites top ten for a week or so. To be honest the comic reviews have kind of taken over a bit, there are some great new titles out and so I have been reading them.  The biggest problem I’ve found is that I’ve started reading them with the excuse that I’m going to write about them and doing that instead of doing the things I should be getting on with, like writing another book.

Procrastination has been a problem, but I think it’s actually a symptom, a symptom that I may have to recognise the fact that I’m never going to get published – okay as above, I am getting published, but it’s all likely to also be a symptom of my depression, but I do have a reason for this one.  In January I was very upbeat about some prospects, not least of which was a publisher requesting a full manuscript, which I sent back to them that very day.  The email said they would get back to me in six weeks.  It’s now been eleven weeks and I haven’t heard a thing.  Okay people get behind and until I get the thanks-but-no-thanks there’s hope.  But to be frank, if it they’d read it and thought it was worth picking up, they’d have done so by now.  So yes, there’s hope, just not much of it.

I went with the family to Cardiff ComicCon.  That was a good day out, spent far too much money on comics – but what else was I supposed to do?  Got some good ones this time round.  Lou Scannon and Moon, and Bearlands (Zombie Teddy Bears).  Just have to get round to reading them instead of manuscripts at some point.

I even got round to booking tickets for London Film and Comic Con in July, in hopes of meeting another author who publishes through Xchyler Publishing, also by that time, the anthology I’ve got a story in should be out and I’ll have a product to push.

You might have picked up on the note of being depressed above, and that’s  been a bit of an issue this last few weeks.  I had zero concentration and was crying over absolutely nothing, really annoying, especially when I have so much to do.  Seem to be coming out of it these last few days, not completely as I write this, but getting there.  Did have a bit of good news today.  I entered a short story competition last month in with the Swansea Writers Circle, and I got third place, so yeh me!  Especially in a genre I don’t usually write, children’s fiction, rather happy with that.

The one thing I haven’t managed to keep up with is the MOOC on Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation which I really want to do.  Must get my butt in gear and catch up.

Anyway, I’ve got three edits to get done so I’d best get back to it.  Thanks for listening.

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New Year Off To A New Start

Well January went unexpectedly well.

On the 5th I got a letter from a publisher asking to see the full manuscript of one of my crime novels, Dead Happy, book one of the Murder Tydfil series, so fingers cross for that, I should hear something by the end of this month (February 2015).

Then on the 17th, I got an email from Xchlyer publishing, telling me that one of my short stories has been accepted into an anthology to be published in May.  This is a steampunk piece, the first steampunk piece I have ever written, and I’m dead proud of it, thoroughly enjoyed writing it.  When I sent it off, I was rather hopeful that it would be accepted. Mind you, who’s not hopeful when making a submission?  But there again, I had passed it under the eyes of several friends, so I’d had a fair bit of reader feedback before I submitted and knocked the worst of the rough edges off.  Have been working with the editors to polish the story, so fingers crossed it’ll be as perfect as a story can be when printed.

On the 16th I’d had a quiet text chat with the guy I do the freelance editing for, about one of the websites he writes for, asked for an intro, got it and on the 18th agreed some submissions with the guy who runs the site.  I made my first submission on the 19th and since then I’ve had two articles published:

Both of these and future articles will be available on www.warpedfactor.com, a site for the geeks amongst us. I have a further three articles accepted for publication in February.

It’s all unpaid, but it’s interesting and looks good on my writer’s resume. I’ve also managed to get a great website up and running, well okay, a mate of mine managed to get it up and running, but it’s mine to maintain and keep up to date.  So if you want more info on me and what I’m up to, find the links to anything I’ve written, take a look at www.gailbwilliams.com.

Then, in a rather surprise turn of events, I had an email on the 25th January.  Now the email itself wasn’t the surprise, I was expecting it as it was the results of a recent poetry competition run by the Swansea and District Writers’ Circle, results to be announced on the 4th, the surprise was that I won!  Poetry is not my thing and I only made the submission to ensure that there were a decent number of entries to judge from.  I would have been happy not to have ranked at all, so winning was a welcome surprise and a huge bonus.

So I’ve had a great start to the year and I hope it continues.  Who knows; maybe 2015 will be the year my writing really takes off.

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The Long and The Short of It

The month has rolled on again then.  Can’t believe how quickly the first half of December has disappeared beneath my feet.  Time is running way too short these days.

November was interesting, naturally I did the whole NaNoWriMo thing, which didn’t go at all to plan.  In fact, it was so bad I pulled the plug on the story I created for the month – it was too weak to bother with, so I went back to one I had been working on prior to the start of the games.  I did have to cut back the word count, to match what I’d already typed up, and to make it easier to keep track for word count through the last few days, but I didn’t have a problem with that.  Besides, it seemed fitting that this year’s NaNoWriMo be the second in the trilogy which I started at last year’s NaNoWriMo.  Theoretically I’d like to finish the trilogy next November, but the story lines I keep thinking up are just hopeless, not one worth the effort, so not sure I’ll be able to do that, there again, I have ten months to come up with something, so fingers crossed inspiration will strike.

I will admit I had written the novel out long hand in 59 days from the end of August, and it turned out not to be half so long as I thought.  I’d thought I’d made 60k, but in the end it was only 42k, so I edited it up to 50k, mostly by adding the details I’d deliberately omitted so I could get on with the story when writing long hand.  To be honest, I don’t remember a time I was more relieved to finish a book.  Not relieved as in happy achievement, but relieved as in “got that monkey off my back”.  So much so, in fact, that I haven’t bothered to pick it up again since.  I know I need to, there’s loads of edits required.

Talking of edits, I’ve done a mass of freebies in the last couple of weeks, everything from, “this is really good” to “oh my God no!”  Still, it keeps the brain firing. And I have a science fiction novel coming in for a full edit in January which should be interesting.

Have decided that 2015 will be a year of short stories, I’m going to leave the long novels for a bit and concentrate on getting more shorts together, might even get enough sorted to put a collection together.  Fingers crossed.

So the long and the short of it is that I’ve been busy, busy, busy – just how I like it.

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An Unforgettable Six Weeks

Well didn’t the last six weeks just whizz past?

After attending Bloody Scotland in September, I was utterly enthused about the writing, and have been over busy ever since.

Met some great people up in Stirling and will definately be going again next year, I even managed to get a publisher to agree to read my latest book.  I sent her ‘Locked Up’, and she came back saying that “I enjoyed reading this. It’s well written and engaging, and you write very convincingly about the prison setting and structure.”  Unfortunately she didn’t take the book, because she didn’t think it had the mass appeal that she and every other publisher are looking for.  Which might have made me feel dreadful, if she hadn’t actually been so gracious with the compliments above.  So the manuscript is with another publisher and I still have my fingers crossed for that, but I’m also planning for a crowd funding project to see if I can get the book published independently if the traditional route gets closed off to me.

Had to spend the swap over between September and October doing a week’s intensive course for work; that was tough – though I am now a register PRINCE2® practitioner.

However, as intense as that was, I still managed to write the second instalment of the Locked Trilogy, which I finished the first draft of on 19th October, only 59 days after starting it, I’m quite proud of that. I wrote it long hand, and boy did it ever make my hand ache, so I have no idea how many words it is, I just have to type it up.

Still I’m happy with the story, of course it needs a lot of revision, but it’s a first draft and it did what I wanted it to do, so I have to consider that a success.

Also in October the writers club had Meg Kingston in to give a talk, on crowd funding at it happens, have to say that this was one of my favourite talks this year, yes, because I’m interested in the topic, but also because she was a lovely woman and a really good speaker.  Very inspirational.

On the success front, I also have two short stories being published in a World War One anthology.  ‘Unforgotten’ is a collection of short stories and poems to be launched on 24 November at Swansea Library.  The two stories take quite difference paths, both are about soldiers from the war, but one finds his worth, the other losses his.  Not the most cheery stuff ever, but hopefully the readers will at least feel something.

Well NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, interestingly last year’s NaNo is when I wrote the first draft of ‘Locked Up’.  I’ve been vacillating between what story to write for this November, that’s included writing the third part of the Locked Trilogy, and a couple of other stories.  I thought I had decided to write a romance story, and I mentioned this to my husband, who then came up with this really brilliant idea for an unusually switch around.  In fact it’s so unusual that I need to really think about how to achieve it, but that rather throws the whole story line up in the air, and I’m unsure what to write now, so tomorrow in front of the empty Word file might be interesting.  Just have to wait and see what ends up on the page.

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