Anthologies… are such wonderful books!

Aurora in the Dawn
There are many good things about Anthologies. They are created for all sorts of reasons and can be a good way to discover new writers, because that’s often how new writers first get published. There’s nothing like the thrill of getting your very first story accepted to be part of a book – it’s almost as big a rush as getting your first novel / novella published.

My very first anthology wasn’t for a story, it was a poem that I wrote when I was a teenager. Having that print book in my hands made me feel very grown up and gave me the bug to continue. I ended up having my poetry in another two poetry anthologies, but sadly all three are now out of print and I only have the ISBN to confirm that two of them ever existed.

Novus Creatura

My first entry into Story Anthologies was actually through Horror and A.E. Churchyard.
House of Horror was a fairly popular webzine that also put out anthologies, so as well as getting my work published on the webzine, I made it into several anthologies. Sadly the ‘zine closed, so all I have of that part of my writing career is a print copy of each of the five anthologies I appeared in.

Flash!

The next part of my writing career actually ran concurrently with the Horror section… I began experimenting with Flash stories…

Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature of extreme brevity.There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as fifty-three words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.
– Wikipedia

So it was inevitable that I ended up getting some of them published. Flash Stories can be addictive as there is a certain satisfaction around getting a whole story done in less than a thousand words…

For a long while after that, I concentrated on writing novels and novellas. I still wrote short stories for fun, but I kept them to myself – they ended up going into my first short story collections “The Necklace of Harmony”  and “Darkness in Mind“.

words to music

Then I got involved in a charity anthology through Authonomy.  I actually almost ended up with two stories in it, but at the last minute the Editor dropped one of them – which was a good job because that story then went on to become a novella… which is currently on the rewrite list.

 

By this time, Facebook and it’s myriad of Procrastination Stations had entered my life and I met a whole load of new people – the majority of them authors. Also by this time, self publishing had become a massive thing in my life. It also meant that the world was suddenly bursting out with anthologies and the next one I slipped into was a fun one – full of murder and mayhem.

bump off your enemies

And that brings us up to the present and the latest anthology to include my work. The story was a swift scribble down based on a conversation with my fiancé and I’m very proud to have been asked to submit it for such a worthy cause.

51ddLlBwdIL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

The best thing about anthologies is that they are books that you can pick up and put down, perfect for holiday / beach reading or for those days when you can’t read for more than a few minutes at a time.

I realised this morning,  that I didn’t have a page for displaying the wonderful Anthologies I have been a part of. So that’s the whole point of this post… to point you in the direction of some truly wonderful books that you can find under the heading of – OTHER BOOKS TO PERUSE… – in my menu system.

I’ll update it whenever I manage to get a story into an anthology, so keep an eye out!

Autumn is on its way… and so is NaNoWriMo!

I don’t know about you, but September is one of those months where everything is a little confused. The weather can’t decide if it’s summer or autumn, there’s new flowers blooming and trees dropping their leaves. There are Bees and Butterflies, but also Craneflies and giant Spiders…

It’s the start of education for many children (and adults) as the schools, colleges and universities start back after the summer holidays, so there’s uniform, new shoes, stationary to buy… in fact it almost feels like it should be the start of the year, instead of the year being almost over.

I get quite sad at this time of year because of the confusion all around me. Then I hit the anniversary of meeting TOH (we count this our anniversary because we’re not married yet) and I’m reminded that this time of year was the start of our partnership and that that partnership brought me the three lovely children that we have together

TOH

Then things get better. We have several birthdays in October (including mine) and then Hallowe’en appears and NaNoWriMo… and before you know it we’re counting down towards Christmas.

So while September can be quite sad at it’s beginning, by the end of it, I’m cheery and moderately excited.

Hmm… Yes, all things considered, I like autumn and it starts with September.

* * *

Now I have to consider something really important.

What on Earth do I do for NaNoWriMo this year? Do I continue on with “The Secret of Arking Down” Project or do I do something completely different?

For those of you who don’t know what “The Secret of Arking Down” is, I’ll give you a quick recap.

In 2009 I wrote a story based on two things; a house in the village I live in that I would love to live in and the wish to win the biggest prize on the lottery and not have anymore money worries…

…yes, I know, it’s a recurring wish for me…

The story I wrote was about a set of twins who were split apart by divorce. One sister stayed with their Mother in Wales and the other went with their Father to live in England. The story followed the twin who moved away and the life she ended up living…

The Angel's Crown - cover (1)

…but as I was writing it, the world opened up in front of me and stories began appearing in front of my eyes. I scribbled down the premises and carried on with the one I was writing.

Once NaNo was over and done with, I reread what I had written… I’d managed to write 50,000 words but not finished the story, so it took me the rest of the year to finish that particular story. I decided in the run up to NaNo 2010 that I would try one of the premises I had come up with and write a complete story this time.

It worked. 

I wrote “The Dragon’s Pendant” in 30 days.

02 - The Dragon's Pendant - cover

I finished editing “The Angel’s Crown” and asked a editor friend to take a look at it. She was wonderful and pretty soon it was ready to publish. So publish it I did.

In 2011, I took another premise from my notebook and wrote “The Second Door” about the sister who didn’t go to Wales.

The Second door - cover - 03

 

I hit the 50k mark with it, but again, the story wasn’t finished and I was so involved with “The Tower and The Eye”…

The Tower and The Eye Series

… that I didn’t have enough time to finish it. So NaNo 2012 crept up on me!

I again managed to hit 50k on “Daemon’s Will” but I didn’t finish the story again and once again, TTATE swallowed up the rest of my year, so it remained unfinished.

The Daemon's Will - cover - 03
Last year, I wrote the required 50k on “The Cat’s Bell” – book #5 in the series. And yet again I didn’t manage to finish the story.

The Cat's Bell - cover

I started looking at “The Dragon’s Pendant” again this year. I decided it needed a thorough re-read and edit… there are so many plot holes and things that it’s now in the re-writing queue!

I’ve finished the TTATE series now, so there’s nothing to distract me from NaNo and I need to decide if I’m going to continue writing the series or take a break and do something else.

The book that is in line for creation this year is “The Tree of Fate”:

The Tree of Fate - cover

 

The novel is based on a novella I wrote called “The Bog Boy. This one is going to be almost pure Fantasy (Science Fiction crept into most of the previous books) with a touch of romance.

The story of  “The Bog Boy” is set after “The Dragon’s Pendant” and involves a very yucky sounding British sport called Bog Snorkelling and some rather interesting historical people!

Here’s an excerpt –

The Healer watched the little boy crawl around her herb garden. “He’s a fine, healthy boy, Annwr.”

“But that foot means he’ll never be a warrior. The Druid wouldn’t let my husband expose him the way the Gods approve of.” Annwr rocked the tiny girl feeding at her breast, almost absently.

“Tylo said the little one had a greater destiny waiting for him, Annwr. Stop worrying.” The Healer handed the other woman a steaming cup, then poured herself one from the jug beside her.

“He never makes a sound, Carys. Even when he falls and hurts himself; his mouth opens, but nothing comes out.” Annwr cast a scared look at the child.

Carys bit back a groan. I’ll have to have words with Hafwen at this rate. The changeling rumours have got to stop before poor Annwr goes moon-shy. “Iluead!“ she called to the investigating child

The little boy carried on exploring the texture of the herb leaf he had in his hands, his back to the adults. He rubbed it against his face and sniffed the fragrance.

The Healer rose and touched the child’s shoulder. He looked up, then held the leaf out to her, smiling.

“That’s Thyme.” Carys told him softly.

Iluead opened his mouth and nothing came out. He smiled.

I could have sworn he tried to copy me; but nothing came out. Is he deaf and mute?

Carys frowned and tried a few more of the tests her Mentor had taught her. She talked to him, naming objects. Each time, Iluead would open his mouth and no sound would come out, but he would grin as if he’d got it right.

She whispered into each ear and he’d turn towards her, but when she moved back and clapped behind him, Iluead ignored her until he was touched in some way.

Then Carys examined Iluead’s ears and throat carefully.

Annwr watched Carys test her son, the worried expression on her face growing with each failure.

Finally, Carys returned to her seat. “He is responding to me and trying to repeat the words I am saying, it’s just that nothing is coming from his throat.”

Annwr bit her lip.

“I can see that he hears me in some way, I just don’t know how.” The healer was perturbed by her failure to diagnose the problem.

“I see that you have discovered the gift the Gods have given our Moon Child.” The Druid’s voice preceded the man himself.

“He has no voice, he cannot hear and he has a deformed foot. How can you call those gifts!” Annwr’s voice rose. “He should have been exposed when the foot was discovered, yet you demanded that my husband let him live.”

“The Gods told me that your firstborn son would bring the Clan a great deal of power and save it from annihilation. I could not in conscience allow his death to happen.” He smiled down at the child who rocked over on his back and grinned toothlessly up at the white robed man, who hunkered down beside the boy

Annwr subsided as the Druid picked her son up. “But what will he do? I cannot look after him for the rest of his life if I can’t hear him and he cannot look after himself.”

Carys took Annwr’s hand as her distress disturbed the baby.

“I can hear him just fine. He has a lovely clear mind voice.” Tylo looked at the boy wriggling on his knee.

“That explains a lot. It would seem that he is destined to be a druid then.” Carys smiled and relaxed.

“For a while, yes.” Tylo let Iluead go again and laughed as he toddled off after a butterfly. The druid looked at Annwr “Is he weaned?”

She nodded. “He has been on solid food for several months now.”

“I will take him into my house as my Foster Son. May I ask for Alys to accompany him as well? Both will be well looked after.”

The child giggled silently as he fell over in his pursuit of the insect. A bumble bee caught his attention and the little boy scrambled up to watch it buzz from flower to flower; a small, serious expression on his round face.

Annwr sighed and rocked a little. “I don’t know what my husband will say.”

“He has already agreed to this. Your new daughter needs both her parents and there will be other children for you to love.” Tylo caught Iluead as the little one reached out to touch the bee. “Oh no you don’t.”

The toddler wriggled away from the Druid and wandered over to tug on his mother’s kirtle. She looked down into his guileless blue eyes and ruffled the white-blonde hair curling wildly around his cherubic face.

“I will always love him. He might be deformed, but he is my first born son and will always be so.” Handing the baby to Carys, she picked up the boy and held him close. Iluead snuggled into her arms. “I know you cannot hear me, Iluead, but I am your mother. If you need me, I am here for you.”

The little boy reached up with one hand and patted Annwr’s cheek, then he kissed her and wriggled down from her lap. She watched as he toddled over to Carys and planted a soft kiss on his sister’s head.

“It looks like he’s saying goodbye.” Carys said with wide eyes.

“He has more gifts than you think.” The druid said, holding his hand out to Iluead.

Iluead took the druid’s hand and without a backward glance followed him out of Carys’ garden.

Annwr watched her son leave, tears running down her cheeks.

The misery the little boy’s mother felt, swept over me in a wave. I could feel myself crying in my sleep, the lump in my throat making it difficult to breathe.

 

If you’ve made it to this end, maybe I can get an opinion? Should I continue with “The Secret of Arking Down” or do one of the many new ideas that have occurred to me in the last six months or so?

Thanks for reading!

 

 

100 Days to be Happy: Sunshine

I live in the UK. Yup, that’s right, I live in lovely, rainy Britain.  In fact I live in Wales and for some odd reason, the rain here is an awful lot wetter than it was when I lived in Plymouth or even when I lived in Suffolk. There always seems to be a lot more of it as well.

You remember that bit in MIB II? Where K is talking to Laura? This bit:

Agent K: When you get sad it, always seems to rain.

Laura: Lots of people get sad when it rains!

Agent K: It rains because you’re sad, baby.

Anyway, the amount of rain we get here during the autumn, winter and spring tends to knock my mood right down. So when it’s sunny, my mood picks up.

Right now, it’s cool and breezy but it’s also bright and sunny with a blue sky that seems to go on forever. It’s the sort of weather that I love, that I deliberately keep my computer next to the window for, that makes me want to just laugh and celebrate.

The colours of the world brighten and the music of nature is louder when the sun is out. I can write more; I have a longer anger fuse and a thicker skin and I eat less. Everything and everyone seems happier. There are more smiles and laughter on the breeze.

So #3 on my 100 days to be happy list? Sunshine.

Why? Because when it rains, sunshine brings out the Rainbow.