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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, 29 April 2013

South Downs interlude

LitPig is working on a post about Japenese poetry (well he is a literary pig) and so I've taken over for today. Saturday started with sunshine and the promise of a glorious day so Handsome Hubby and I set off for a short walk on the Downs. We found ourselves at this bench (below) before 8am and looking across
to this wonderfully hazy view of Steyning (Wendy - we did give you a wave!). On the walk up we were serenaded by this Yellow Hammer (bottom right) - it's the small yellow splodge in the centre. Even at this early hour we still met some dog walkers and cyclists, ending up at local tearooms in time for opening and a full veggie breakfast. Sometimes we take our local countryside for
granted and it was humbling for us to get up and out on the Downs so early in the day - we are truly blessed to live close to the new National Park. The whole adventure set us up for a terrific weekend.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Five favourite books for World Book Night

The lovely Edith recently tagged me to blog about my five favourite books. You can read Edith's top books here. I'm a little embarassed at how long this has taken, but I've been sunning myself in the mud (yes, we do have sun here in West Sussex!) and finally decided on the top five. This has been difficult because I've tried to choose my all-time FAVOURITE books and I believe a favourite book must be one you have read over and over again. And then you always find time to read it one more time because of all the memories it evokes when reading. Also my favourites have to be in the bookshelf right now and well-trottered copies (i.e. tatty). So in time for World Book Night and in no particular order...

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: expect this maybe on a few reader's top books, but if you haven't read this novel for sometime then do endulge yourself. I re-read in 2012 and the modern structure really surprised me, as the novel is large chunks of dialogue and little narrative description. Jane's wit never fails to make me smile.

P&P also contains my favourite literary quote of all time. Here Jane has summed up the meaning of life...
Mr Bennett to daughter Elizabeth:  "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I discovered Douglas Adams during my teen years (radio show first then the books) and this book got me through some tough times at uni and later in life. It is the original laugh-out-loud comedy novel and I never tire of reading it (or the subsequent books in the series).

Favourite quote: "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that ships don't."

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: I thought again of this wonderful children's novel after reading Michael Murpogo's War Horse. Mainly because I cried constantly throughout both. The scene where Black Beauty finds his beloved friend Ginger in the cart breaks my heart every time I read it. You don't have to be a horse lover, but Sewell captured the pitifully sad and tragic lives of horses at that period so poignantly. Would like to re-read this again but don't think I have the emotional stamina nor the stockpile of hankies...

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell: I had to read this for English Lit O'level and must have read it 5 times or more for revision. Thankfully I'd already read it 5 times before that as it was one of my favourite early teen reads. Borrowed anything by Durrell from local library as I loved his wonderful descriptions of animals, landscapes and people. Again full of laugh-out-loud prose as he describes moving to the idyllic Greek island of Corfu with his eccentric family. Another comfort read and got me through some difficult, dark days.

Then it got tough. Trawling the bookshelves I struggled to pick the final favourite. I have many favourite authors and collections of their works. Such as: Lindsey Davis, Terry Pratchett, Peter James, Bernard Cornwell, Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel and too many to list. But it was hard to pick out just ONE book from a particular author. I considered recent books which had lingered long after reading - those which made me sit up and go WOW this is good!!! And decided David Mitchell had to be on my list. Both Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas had awoken my literary taste buds, prompting me to seek out all of his other books. But I had to choose one...

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: Like Ghostwritten this is more a collection of interconnected short stories and yet it is so much more. I didn't want any of the stories to end and devoured this book in a couple of days. His imagination is inspiring and his narration sublime. (You can tell I'm a devotee can't you.) A film of the novel was released a few months ago, but I've not heard a good enough review to tempt me to see it - and worried I will be woefully disappointed. Anyone out there seen the film?

Phew. Glad I've got those books off my chest, now I can sunbathe in peace. 

What would go on your list of five favourite books?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Reader's Digest 100-Word-Story winners announced

At last I can reveal the Indoor Writer's secret good news (remember she kept going on about it but couldn't say anything...). The May issue of Reader's Digest has just come out and her story is a Runner-Up in the 100-word-story competition. All 3 winners of the adult category are printed in the May issue,
and possibly on the website too (not up as yet). She was asked to provide some blurb about herself and the inspiration behind the story, but all that appears is her age (why do they do that?) and 'Tracy from West Sussex'. Again perhaps more will appear on the web.

Apparently they received thousands of entries, so she's pretty chuffed on making the final three.

The next step is to decide what books to buy with the £100 worth of book tokens. I have plenty of suggestions. What would you buy? Any recommendations?

P.S. Thanks to Bernadette who gave me the link to the winning stories on the web here. No more blurb other than her age again!

Alfie Dog's Essence of Humour

Alfie Dog's first collection of humour is out today and the Indoor Writer has a story 'Twinkle, twinkle' in it. Along with Patsy Collins and Sarah England, so she's in pretty good company.

You can buy a copy from Alfie Dog, or Smashwords, Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Shaggy Dogs and Chocolate

Helen over at Blogaboutwriting is running another of her fun short story competitions, and I do mean short as the maximum word count is 250 words. For full details then click here. If you plan to have a go then do read the rules carefully, as you must include several words chosen by Helen. Followers of Helen's blog know she is soon expecting a happy delivery, her new spaniel puppy - which explains the 'shaggy dog' theme of the competition.

Did you enter ChocLit's Winter Short Story Competition? (Rumoured to be their last.) The Indoor Writer subbed a story, but didn't make the shortlist. She shouldn't complain, as she was the lucky winner back in November for the Summer competition. The results are out and you can read Tracey Glasspool's winning story 'The Secret Ingredient' here. Have to confess it made me blink back a few tears. Tracey has also been doing well in the weekly Write-Invite competitions and clearly has a talent for capturing the voice of younger characters. The Summer story is still on the website too.

Friday, 5 April 2013

March round up

Oops sorry this is bit late, I'm blaming the weather. Well, you have too don't you? Here are the Indoor Writer's writing stats for March:

Write 1 Sub: 2 new short stories written, 2 new flash fiction pieces written, 15 submissions (including 1 non-fiction feature)
Publish e-collection: still collating the stories and have decided to enter The Scott Prize (Salt Publishing) which opens end July. So time to write a few more for the collection...
Re-start the novel: am planning to use some of the existing novel for a short story (or stories). Wrote 8,000 word story for BBC Short Story Competition using characters and plot from novel. I flew through the writing and it felt great to be back with these characters. This has to be a sign to pick this up again!
Crack the Weekly News: Waiting for GOOD NEWS (you have to stay positive) on the story I submitted last September. Well, haven't yet heard any bad news.
Crack Woman's Weekly: story submitted - still no response, but as above 'no news' etc etc.
Write and sell a serial: synopsis and first chapter submitted, but sadly was rejected. The lovely Shirley Blair at PF wrote a gentle email explaining why it wasn't right for them and I totally understood reasons. Now have to decide if I make some revisions and try to pitch to other womags which publish serials. 
Application for MA in Creative Writing: apparently interviews for bursary applications will be held on 26 April. Have not heard anything further, hoping to hear something positive in next few weeks.

Hmm, the √'s are static at present. Will need to push on with some of these goals.

Successes: Won Write-Invite weekly competition. Feature published in Writing Magazine (Prosetry in motion), Longlisted for The New Writer's prose competitions: Microfiction and Essay categories. Filler published in Writers' Forum newsFront section. Runner-up in another competition, but still can't say more until official letter turns up!

And now for some good news... Income = payment from Write-Invite and Writing Magazine (feature printed in April issue). The MA fund goes up a little bit more..

And to balance it out with the bad news: Two rejections from PF in one week: serial and short story. Disappointed not to make shortlist etc for several competitions: Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, Homestart (Margaret Drabble was judging), Willesden Herald, Sophie King Prize. And despite getting longlisted for The New Writer in 2 categories I was miserable for not being named in short story category. Sounds silly, doesn't it, but I had made the Finalist/longlist for last 2 years and then didn't make it this time.

There's only one solution for rejection blues...

Keep writing...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Hysteria anthology out now

The Hysterectomy Association ran their first annual Short Story and Poetry Competition towards the end of 2012 and the Indoor Writer was pleased to reach the final shortlist with her short story. Well the anthology of shortlisted entries has just been published as Hysteria 1 and includes her story 'Midsummer's Eve, 1347'.
Note: This is news, but not the news I hinted at here last week. Sorry, but you have to wait a little longer for that...

It is available in the following formats:

Paperback - direct from the publishers (The Hysterectomy Association)
PDF version to download and print out, perfect if you want to avoid postage costs
iTunes version
Kobo version
The anthology contains all ten of the winning stories and all ten of the winning poems and has been laid out so that they are each as readable as possible. It's available in both paperback and various eBook formats (for the Kindle, ePub and as a PDF to print out). At just £5.50 for the paperback and 99p for an ebook it's great value for a lovely read.
The stories and poems reflect the many different aspects of things that are important to women, we share in the ups and downs of events which span time and experience. We learn what it's like to lose a child of any age, the reaction of spurned lovers, good and bad marriages and the rivalries of school friends that have never quite made it out of the playground.
The poems are equally insightful, sharing the experiences of lost youth and looks; a sense of history in a children’s home and the call to action that asks us to live life to the full, waving our hands in the air.
Contributors and Winners in the anthology are:
Moya Poole
Lois Elaine Heckman
Jane Bean
Eleanor Smith
Penelope Lawrence
Hazel Gee
Olga Wojtas
Corrinna Toop
Margaret Clark
Joy Blake
Jayne Thickett
Margaret MacKenzie
Hayley Staniforth-Room
Anne Wilson
Alison Wassell
Jo Laidlaw
Tracy Fells
Abigail Wyatt
Gaynor Jones
Christine Djabarouti

You can see the story from Jayne Thickett - the overall winner of the Short Story Competition by clicking here. The story is called Banana Loaf: a recipe for solace.

Hysteria is an annual competition opening on 1st April and closing on 31st August. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/hysteruk