TBR – The To Be Read Pile

I was chatting to another author earlier about the books that I want to read. I thought I would share with you what’s on my list, and maybe you can share your wish list. I like reading blog book reviews, sometimes feeling disappointed, on other occasions I am pleasantly surprised. As ever, books remain entirely subjective.

Some of these are more recently published than others. As much as I try not to judge a book by it’s cover – these are beautiful – it’s difficult for the aesthetics not to enter into the equation.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death

I have actually started O’Farrell’s, I Am I Am I Am, and it’s had quite an impact already, so I shall be blogging a review when I have finished. I suspect it won’t be long. Autobiographical in nature, it is an entirely different creature to her novels, delving into a string of near death experiences that will startle the reader and induce a sense of gratitude for what we have, and who we have in our lives. I have only delved into the first few chapters, but this book is promising.

Putney

This book came to my attention through an editor and an author on Twitter, both of whom I respect. In other words, if they liked the book, I think I may enjoy it. Set in the 1970s, the book tells the story of an up-and-coming composer, Ralph, who is visiting a composer at his home in Putney to discuss a collaboration. There, he meets nine year old Daphne and he becomes determined to be with her. Ralph, is an adult and their blooming relationship must be kept hidden. It is pitched as a ‘bold, thought-provoking novel about the moral lines we tread, the stories we tell ourselves and the memories that play themselves out again and again, like snatches of song.’

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati Roy’s writing is descriptive and lyrical. Having enjoyed The God of Small Things, I want to read this book, described by The Guardian as a, ‘sprawling kaleidoscopic fable.’ A follow-up to her previous book, this story explores the life of Old Delhi guesthouse owner, Anjum. She gathers the lost and the outcasts and crosses paths with an architect, Tilo, who claims an abandoned baby as hers. The tale covers the years and a continent. From the reviews, this looks to be as good as I would expect from a writer I really enjoy.

Imagine: How Creativity Works

I watched neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer’s, video on how new research is deepening our understanding of the human imagination and considers how this new science can make us happier. It piqued my interest and led me to his book about creativity. As a writer, I’m fascinated by the creative process. He talks about the ‘grit’ needed to keep going and succeed.

The book asks the did you know questions: ‘Did you know that the most creative companies have centralised bathrooms? That brainstorming meetings are a terrible idea? That the color blue can help you double your creative output?’ Here, Lehrer looks at the new science of creativity. He crushes the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” suggesting that creativity is learned, rather than a natural gift (although I’m not sure that I will entirely agree with his theory).

He endorses daydreaming and travel, and explains why criticism is essential, illustrating ways in which we can make neighbourhoods more vibrant, companies more productive, and schools more effective. The book discusses Bob Dylan’’s writing habits and the drug addictions of poets. It explores why Elizabethan England experienced a creative explosion, and how Pixar’’s office space is designed to boost creativity.

I look forward to reading this! Let me know in the comments what’s on your TBR pile. It’s good to hear what people are reading.

Trinket

I have another flash fiction piece published in the journal, 121 Words….

It was a trinket of sorts. I found the locket in the attic while looking for Papa’s photos. The clasp was broken and flung open as though wanting to be seen. The portrait on the left of the hinge looked like Mama, but the hair was shorter, neater. Mama had the air of a bohemian Parisian artist about her, a vague eccentricity, endearing her to some and infuriating others.

The man in the frame to the right also looked like Mama. The nose was larger, the eyes, piercing. I wondered if these were my grandparents. We had never gone through old photos. Maybe they thought we would have more time. We make the mistake of thinking there will be a tomorrow.

Friend

I have a flash fiction piece published in  Fiction  by F.C. Malby

You used to listen to my questions, your mind racing faster than life itself. Your thoughts were sharp and fast. You asked questions: Thoughts about life, and God, and justice. You cared and you worked to help others. I used to look into your green eyes and wonder how we became friends; I, almost three years your junior, and far less cool and together; you, slim, sophisticated and ‘on point’ when it came to fashion. It was the eighties, then. I remember talking to you about school buses and timetables at the Girls’ Grammar. You wore a pale pink shirt pulled out over a slim belt, and a white, flowing skirt. Your lips were glossed and you sparkled. You were beautiful…. read more

Want to be a writer? Discipline your mind

I watched this motivational message from Will Smith this morning and I believe his advice in this video applies to any art form, particularly to writing, and any eventual success story. I have heard so many people say “I want to write a book.”

Discipline is key to this process. I am editing book three and it takes hard work and determination and a huge level of discipline. Book two was easier because it was a selection of short stories. These in themselves still take discipline to write and edit. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint, or a long cold pint rather than a vodka shot.

Will Smith, successful actor, producer, rapper, comedian, and songwriter, has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards. He has stared in numerous blockbuster films and was ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes.

He says that people tell him they want to be an actor but that 99% of people who say that are not willing to do what it takes to make their dreams come true. At the centre of bringing any dream into fruition is self discipline.

So many people tell me that they want to write a book and I would ask if they think they have the discipline to sit down and write for hours

Short Stories

I have had a run of recent short story publications and wanted to share them with you and tell you a little about the literary journals where they have found a home. Five out of six of these were published in the space of a month! I can’t tell you what the magic formula is, but I did take more risks – I was bolder with my writing and some were more personal to me than many of my previous stories. Some are short flash fiction pieces, others are short stories. Follow the links to continue reading each story.

 

He had seen her the day before, drinking a late and typing on her laptop in a quiet corner of the cafe. She had worn a red beret and a black, high-necked top over blue jeans. Her legs had been crossed, her head turned away from the crowds…(continue reading)

Friday Flash Fiction first began in September 2013 when a LinkedIn member threw out a challenge to other group members to write a story of no more than 100 words. Within a year over 1000 stories were submitted; scores more visitors came to read. 

The first twin arrived screaming and scrunched, as expected. The doctors, though, were not yet smiling. There was tugging and frozen expressions from the midwife and the surgeon before the second appeared; no sound, no movement. It was whisked away. They had both gone and there hadn’t been time for explanations. Tense murmurings drifted through the air from a side room in the theatre. The air was thick with questions and disinfectant…(continue reading)

Ellipsis Zine is an online literary magazine for beautifully written fiction & creative nonfiction. 1,000 words or fewer, any genre. We love stories that make us forget where we are, stories that introduce us to people, places and things we’ve never seen before and stories that stick with us long after we leave them. Alongside the website we’ve produced a print and digital zine, entitled ‘One’. 

There was little more satisfying than finding a gem in the slush pile. The agent raised an eyebrow when I began looking. It said, you’ll be lucky if you can get past the first sentence. I found it, one morning after a rush to the office, a barking dog a spilt coffee on a pressed shirt…(continue reading)

The Drabble is dedicated to publishing original fiction, non-fiction, and poetic works of 100 words or less. They also publish a quarterly e-zine.

Don’t Let Her Out of Sight by FC Malby

He passes the bus stop. She is standing in the rain huddled over a shopping trolley, the wind buffeting her coat and blowing the hood away from the silver threads of her hair. She reminds him of his Grandma, although her frame is smaller and more frail. Her back is curved and her hands are gnarled, twisting at the joints enough that they might cause her pain. A pair of old leather gloves are resting on the top of her shopping trolley, and he wonders why she is not wearing them…(continue reading)

 

Spelk is a new platform for the very best flash fiction on the web. They publish stories from both new and established writers, from the UK and overseas, with a 500 word limit. Incidentally, here is where the name came from – a spelk, in northeast England, is a splinter of wood – a tiny little sliver or shard embedded under the skin. Without getting too pretentious, we think there’s probably some kind of analogy there – we like flash fiction that’s short and sharp, that gets under your skin and leaves an impression. That, and we just happen to like the word.

 

 

 

Seen It Before by FC Malby

The corner table is round and gently battered. The bar is quiet this evening. John listens while Mark talks about the new job, watches the froth resting on his pint, the dark nectar, tantalising against the glass. It is cold to the touch. It feels better in the summer when you need something sharp at your fingertips; not here in the middle of January. He clutches his scarf, almost for comfort, and remembers his wife telling him this morning to feed the cat, put the rubbish out, shut the front door….(continue reading)

 

Fictive Dream is an online magazine dedicated to the short story. The website has been named with more than just a backward glance to American writer and teacher, John Gardner, whose concept of the fictive dream remains a cornerstone of good writing. Powerful writing ensures that readers never slip out of the fictional world or dream that a writer creates. They are interested in stories with a distinctive voice, clarity of thought and precision of language. 

 

 

 

Balancing On My Suitcase by FC Malby

 

I sit and wait at the end of the path, balancing on my suitcase. It belonged to my Grandfather. The brown leather and double straps worn down by trips to London on the train and holidays to the coast to visit his grandparents. It lives on my wardrobe unless I go away. My little sister, Lottie, is swinging on the gate, her feet dangling freely…(continue reading)

 

Train Lit Mag  is a flash fiction & poetry magazine based in the USA and Europe.  They are in search of distinct voices, both emerging and established, stories that transport readers, leaving a lasting impression, in up to 300 words.