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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 22 December 2014

What are you reading for Christmas?

As you can see LitPig is all ready for Christmas. Most importantly he has the holiday reading list all sorted:
Lamentation by CJ Sansom - the latest adventure of Tudor lawyer & sleuth Shardlake

Smoked Meat by Rowena MacDonald - a collection of short stories set in Montreal

The Lie by Helen Dunmore - a WW1 novel

After the Storm by Jane Lythell - her second novel a thriller set in the Caribbean

Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths - book 5 in the Ruth Galloway (forensic archaeologist) series

The Indoor Writer is looking forward to settling down with these. She was planning a complete Christmas shutdown (from writing), but is so close to finishing first draft of the novel that she may keep going ... with bursts of reading, eating & drinking (not to mention cooking) thrown in for good measure.

So, what are you reading this Christmas?

Merry Christmas &
a Happy New Year!

Friday, 19 December 2014

2014: Remembering the best bits - 3 talented guests

It's that the time when we all think back over the year to re-live the good bits (more on this in another post) and block out the bad (rejection, rejection, rejection). Today, I've been thinking back to all the lovely guests we've welcomed to the blog in 2014. They were all so well behaved (even Wendy Clarke) and fun to spend time with.

You can read their interviews here:

Juliet West - click here to read about Juliet's marvellous debut 'Before
the Fall'. Recently listed in Kobo's top historical reads for 2014 alongside such greats as CJ Sansom, Philippa Gregory, Bernard Cornwell and Ken Follett (Congratulations, Juliet!)

Wendy Clarke - click here to read about Wendy's first collection of short stories 'Room in your heart' - an excellent romantic read for Christmas evenings by the fire (chocolates and hankies essential).

Jane Lythell - click here to read more on Jane's debut psychological novel 'The Lie of You'. Another great fireside read.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Bridge House Anthology 2014: Light in the dark

Another goal has been TICKED: to get a short story into a Bridge House anthology. The 2014
anthology 'Light in the dark' is out now. You can read daily extracts from each of the featured stories here.

You can buy 'Light in the dark' from Amazon here.
Edited by Gill James: We asked for stories that would make readers think. We certainly got them. Some edge towards the dark, though all have some closure and turn back towards the light. Just as Advent time rushes towards the darkest days so that we can return to the light, these twenty-four stories bring light into our dark..

My story is in good company along with some well known short story writers such as: Melanie Whipman, Ruby Cowling, Sarah Evans, Mark Owen Jones, Glynis Scrivens etc.

And you can watch the book trailer here:  http://youtu.be/AkoAqyKjYH8 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ticking the boxes

Do you have a list of writing goals or aspirations? The Indoor Writer is an obsessive list maker and of course she's got a specific list for writing goals. These range from:
nomination for the Man Booker Prize (well you have to aim high!)
50 short stories published (she's at 41 to date ...)

Somewhere in this list is getting a story in the CHRISTMAS issue of The People's Friend. And this one is now definitively TICKED! 

Her short story 'Once Upon a Christmas Time' (and they kept the original title) is published in issue 98 The People's Friend Christmas Special.

You're far more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. You don't have to do this at the start of a new year, otherwise they can turn into resolutions rather than goals - any time will do. And remember to celebrate when you get to TICK one off!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Short Story Week: Collections and Anthologies

To further celebrate National Short Story Week LitPig has rooted out some favourite short short collections and anthologies. If you regularly read short stories then why not try an author you haven't read before. If you usually prefer a long read then why not dip your trotters in a short story collection ... you could be surprised by what you find. If you don't have time to read then listen to a short story. Radio 4/Radio 4 Extra and Radio 3 have regular slots for short stories. You can also listen to some stories here.

There are far too many excellent collections/anthologies out there to list in full, so these are a sample recently discovered by LitPig.

Several of these collections are by well known novelists who also write short stories. These stories stretch across so many genres that it's easier to list them under literary. Your emotions will be pulled in so many directions - that's the beauty of the short story.

Evangelista's Fan - Rose Tremain
England and Other Stories - Graham Swift
Saltwater - Lane Ashfeldt
The War Tour - Zoe Lambert
The Love Object - Edna O'Brien
A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String - Joanne Harris

Quirky / Unusual:
All of these will surprise you in many ways. They include comedy, pathos, push the boundaries of short fiction and sometimes make you think.

Instruction Manual For Swallowing - Adam Marek
The Stone Thrower - Adam Marek
Tiny Deaths - Robert Shearman
Fugue - anthology from The Siren Press (includes 'White Sheets' by Tracy Fells)

Well it says what it does on the spine...

Room in Your Heart - Wendy Clarke

Please share your favourite short story collections or anthologies ...

Monday, 17 November 2014

Short Story Week: Competitions and opportunities

If you're a lover of short stories, either a reader or writer or both, then LitPig salutes you! Today marks the start of National Short Story WeeK - hear all about it from the horse's mouth or follow the week on Twitter @shortstoryweek. If you regularly write short stories then here are a selection of the best websites/blogs/Twitter feeds to follow. All of them are lovers of short fiction and many regularly list details of competitions, submission windows and other opportunities.

Thresholds – home of the international short story forum (run by University of Chichester)
Competitions and Submissions deadlines / Events / Articles

Nudge nudge - they have a great article available to read online talking about ghostly short stories, read 'Possession, Obsession and Unfriendly Ghosts' by Tracy Fells.

Competitions and outlets/opportunities and interviews on his blog. Paul is a terrific supporter of the short story and writers. He's also involved in WordFactory, organiser of London Short Story Festival and is a jolly nice guy.

Setup and run by Tania Hershman (@taniahersman). Promotes short story opportunities and openings. Sign up for the e-newsletter.

Monthly short story salon (Waterstones Piccadilly, usually last Saturday of the month) and masterclasses. Also a short story club meets to discuss a single story before each monthly salon.

The following bloggers all regularly post about FREE short story competitions:
Patsy Collins @PatsyCollins
Helen Yendall @HelenYendall

Sally Jenkins often shares competition news and her guides to self-publishing on Kindle (Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners) comes highly recommended by Wendy Clarke (@WendyClarke99). Wendy recently guested here to talk about her new short story collection 'Room in Your Heart', read the post here.

If you use other websites/blogs/twitter feeds which share opportunities for Short Stories then please let me know!

 LitPig is always rooting about in short story collections, he'll share some recent favourites later in the week...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Room in Your Heart by Wendy Clarke

I'm afraid LitPig hasn't yet recovered from Wendy's launch party, read here for the full story ... but we
couldn't resist telling you all about Wendy Clarke's first collection of short stories Room in Your Heart. Why don't we let her introduce herself ...

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women's fiction. Since starting writing three years ago, she has sold nearly a hundred short stories and her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. Wendy has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles. Room in Your Heart is Wendy's first collection of short stories.

LitPig says:
When you read a Wendy Clarke story you instantly know you’re in safe hands. She knows how to weave a story, how to twist your emotions and is an expert in tweaking those heart strings. I love how she writes likeable characters and is able to get inside the heads of both her male and female leads. Some of my favourite stories are written from the male point-of-view, and particularly loved Robert in ‘Those things you never told me’.  I also wanted to thump Kevin in ‘Let’s start again’, but then ending up blinking away a few tears on that one. Loved the clever plot technique in ‘Every time you say goodbye', not seen that done before. Wendy also beautifully presents the angst of teenage life in ‘For your eyes only’ (an excellent homage to the Bond movies). This is a heart-warming collection that you can dip into or immerse yourself and read in one sitting, go on treat yourself.

Before the eventful launch party LitPig did manage to chat with Wendy ... see above photo
LitPig – How did you select the stories out of your huge number of published pieces?
Wendy - It was difficult! I knew I was going to be using published stories but I wanted to know whether people would prefer a collection of stories with one theme/genre or a mixed selection. The majority of people I asked said they would prefer the former. I grouped my stories into genre and found that I had more romances than anything else so that was the obvious choice. Most of them were stories that had previously been published by The People's Friend so I decided to use these. In the collection, I've tried to use a mix of stories: male and female viewpoints, past and present tenses and first and third person.
LitPig – When a story idea comes to you do you immediately know the best pov or does this come through the writing? I ask because you write both male and female pov so believably, a rare talent for romantic writer.
Wendy - The simple answer is yes. I always know straight away who is going to be telling the story. Strangely, I prefer writing in the male pov.
LitPig– How much of ‘real life’ do you put into your stories? Do any of these include genuine experiences or characters/places?
Wendy - It varies from story to story. Some have nothing from 'real life' while others will have quite a lot. The first story in the collection, Read These When I've Gone has the two characters reminiscing about a holiday on the Isle de Re - the conversation in the French bistro was based on a real one I had in my twenties!
LitPig – Are you planning more in the series? Will there be another collection and can you share the theme?
Wendy - If Room in Your Heart is well received, I am planning to publish at least one more romance collection. I would also like to put together a Christmas collection for next year.
LitPig– In the short time you’ve been writing, your success has been inspiring. Go on, don’t be shy, how many short stories have you now sold to national magazines?
Wendy - At the time of asking, I have sold ninety two stories - I'm hoping this might be more by the time this post goes live!
(LitPig - Blimey! 92!! I think the Indoor Writer will expect a pile of teacakes when she next gets together with Wendy.)
LitPig - A little piggy tells me I can read more about how you put the collection together ... can you tell us more?
Wendy - Yes, I have written an article on my own personal experience of putting  together the short story collection as an e-book using Kindle Direct Publishing. It is in this month's Writing Magazine and hopefully will be useful for anyone wanting to do the same.

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

LitPig - It was a pleasure to chat with you, Wendy. And thank you for keeping Bonnie the dog at trotter's length.

 Now for the important bit - where to buy your copy of
& do leave a review for Wendy too.

You can learn more about Wendy's writing at:
Twitter: @WendyClarke99

Paperback copies of Wendy's collection will soon be available, follow her on Twitter or FB for more information.