Do you prefer to listen to books rather than read them?

Maybe you prefer to listen as you find it difficult to read because your eyesight is compromised. Or perhaps you like to knit, or paint, or bake at the same time. Audio books are for you.

The good news is that it’s easy to get access to a wide range of audio books, lockdown notwithstanding.

My novella In the Sweep of the Bay, published by Louise Walters Books and available directly from her as a paperback or e-book, is now also available as an audiobook.

The audiobook is narrated by Nicola F Delgado, and is a 2 hour 43 minute listen.

You’ll find it on Audible or itunes.

Flash fiction competition: THE WINNERS

Winner: Too Much Space to Dream by Isobel Copley

Runner-up: Nobody’s David by Katie Isham

Many congratulations to the winners and the other shortlisted writers, Emma Robertson and EE Rhodes. Isobel and Katie will each receive a book and all four writers will have their stories published here, starting tomorrow with Comfortable Discomfort by Emma Robertson and continuing daily until Sunday.

What made the winners stand out from the crowd were their original takes on the brief: they used the words I gave – ice, conservatory, roof and fish – in unobstrusive ways. Their stories were also those that have stayed most strongly in my mind.

I’ve offered to send short constructive feedback to any of the other entrants who request it. Most have, and I’ll be getting that feedback to them shortly. Here are a few general points. None of them are original and obviously these are just my opinions; a different judge in a different competition may see things differently.

  • In a competition that gives you a prompt, or words to include, it’s always good to put aside your first idea, as many other people are likely to come up with something similar. Even put aside your second idea and see what’s waiting in the wings – it may surprise you.
  • A short piece of 500 words or fewer does not give you space for many characters. I’d recommend using a maximum of 3. Of course if you’re Dickens… But you’re not. Stick to a few.
  • Use the fact that your title is additional to your 500 words to make it work for you and enhance your story.
  • Start late and finish early. In other words, plunge straight into your story, no preamble. And finish in such a way that your readers can see the scene continuing to spool in their minds. Life is continuing, in one way or another, at the end of every story.

Come back tomorrow and on the following days to read the stories I selected.

Icicles – photo copyright Cath Barton

A few thank yous

It’s been a hell of a year for everyone. In the midst of all the difficulties there has been a lot of kindness shared, and I hope none of us will forget the importance of that as we move forward.

In the writing world I want to give a shout out to some people who have shown much kindness and generosity to me and my writing this year:

In no particular order :

Simon Webster at The Cabinet of Heed, especially for the stream of consciousness challenges during the first lockdown, when otherwise I would have written nothing.

Laura Black at Fictive Dream, who always gives a personal and thoughtful response to those submitting work.

Serene Ng and Nikki Yeo at new Singapore-based litmag Ome, who, while wanting to give a platform to Singaporean writers, also extended a welcome to contributors around the world.

Louise Walters at Louise Walters Books, for seeing my second novella into the world. I cannot thank her enough for all the time and care she has given to it, and to me.

Gary Kaill and Han Clark at Lunate, especially for trusting me to join their review team.

Paul Dunn at Cranked Anvil, for the competitions and the anthology

John Lavin at The Lonely Crowd, for including a story of mine which means a lot to me in stellar company in the very special five year anniversary issue.

Jose Varghese of Strands, for such quick turnarounds and for giving me my first competition win in a long time.

Huge thanks to them all.

And here’s to 2021 being a better year for everyone.

Looking up to the Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny
photo copyright Cath Barton

Now We Are Two

I’m proud to say that I’m now a two-book author.

My second novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, was published on 23rd November by Louise Walters Books and is currently available in paperback and ebook. An audio book is in preparation.

We had a launch party on Zoom on the eve of publication and you can watch the recording of this on Louise’s YouTube channel here.

The book is selling so well that Louise had to order a reprint two days after publication!!

We are currently midway though a blog tour:

Louise are I are both very grateful to everyone who has bought the book and for all reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Keep them coming and support independent publishing.

Talking about writing

In this time promotional tours for books cannot happen. But fortunately technology gives us alternatives, and I’m taking every opportunity that comes my way to help put the word out about my new book.

For book bloggers this is #NovellaNovember, which is serendipitous rather than planned for my novella In the Sweep of the Bay. It was a pleasure to talk about novellas with writer and blogger Kathryn Eastman for Nut Press. Kath is also doing a generous giveaway of copies of both my books – leave a comment on her blog to be in with a chance.

Then there’s the world of podcasts. I talked with Wayne Kelly recently for The Joined-Up Writing Podcast. Or rather I talked, a lot, and he got a word in edgeways from time to time.

Just 6 days now till publication date…