Flash fiction competition!

We’re through the dark days of January – hurrah!

Louise Walters is promoting my novella In the Sweep of the Bay as her Book of the Month in February – both paperback and ebook are available from her website at reduced prices and the ebook is 99p/99c everywhere for the whole of the month – paperbacks will be signed and each comes with a free flash fiction story, one of my Untold Stories of Ted and Rene.

To coincide with this I’m running a flash fiction competition. The winner will have their story published here on my website AND (courtesy of Louise Walters) will receive a copy of my book, or, if they already have it, can nominate a friend to receive a copy..

Here are the rules:

  • Write a flash fiction of no more than 500 words, not including the title (no minimum).
  • Include the words bay, gull, pot and bicycle in the story.
  • End the story with a sentence that is 4 words long.
  • Follow the usual rules about content – nothing defamatory please.
  • One story per entrant.
  • Send your story to me at cath.barton@talktalk.net by midnight (UK time) on Sunday 13th February.
  • Attach the story as a .doc or .docx document. No pdfs or other formats, please.
  • In the subject line of your email type the words Submission: Bay competition. Nothing else.
  • Do not put the title of your story anywhere in the email – all stories will be anonymised before judging.
  • Entries are welcome from writers anywhere in the world.
  • I will choose and publish an anonymous shortlist by Sunday 20th February, and a winner and one or two runners-up by Sunday 27th February.
  • I will contact shortlisted writers before publication of the shortlist, and the winner and runner(s)-up before I announce them.
  • The winner will be offered online publication of their story, plus a copy of In the Sweep of the Bay – paperback or ebook in the UK, but ebook only elsewhere.
  • I will acknowledge receipt of all entries.
  • Any entry that does not follow these rules will be disqualified.
  • Sorry, I cannot offer feedback on unsuccessful entries or enter into correspondence about them.
  • Sorry this all sounds so formal – the rules are to ensure fairness.

Photograph copyright Cath Barton

I encourage you to use the prompt words imaginatively – have fun with the challenge and I look forward to reading your stories.

Celebrating a book birthday

My novella In the Sweep of the Bay is a year old today. It’s alive and kicking and still available to buy from Louise Walters Books in paperback or ebook. It’s an ideal Christmas present, alone or in a bundle with other LWB books. Do your shopping here – https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/shop-1

I’m working on my long-promised circus novel: its working title is Thistles in the Cirrus. Intrigued?

I’m off for a mini writing retreat in a caravan.

More news soon…

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.

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.

In conversation with Charmaine Wilkerson

It’s wonderful to have support from other writers. In the run-up to publication of my new novella, I had the great pleasure of talking with the brilliant writer Charmaine Wilkerson, who I have got to know through the international flash fiction community.

CW: Cath, it was a pleasure to read through your lovely novella, In the Sweep of the Bay. Your story spans decades and generations within the life of the family at the centre of this story with such finely textured language and profound insights. How would you describe this novella in one line?

CB: It’s the story of a long marriage and the persistence of happiness, in spite of all obstacles.

CW: Where did the idea of the couple at the centre of the story, Ted and Rene, come from?

CB: I don’t know! Did I see a couple like them, in that café on the seafront in Morecambe that they visited on a day out? I wonder. Certainly I went to that café, and the scene was the first section of the book that I wrote, a snapshot of Ted and Rene in later life. It was a stand-alone flash originally and I called it Keeping the Magic Alive. Thinking about it, that could have been the title of the book – it’s what’s at the core of it.

CW: One of the things I appreciate about all of your writing, not only in this novella, is your use of small, telling details in a story. Often, those details evoke a sense of place, not the least of which is the English bay, Morecambe, which is referred to in the title of the story. Which element tends to come first in terms of inspiration for your story ideas- location, character, or event?

CB: Character, I think, always. Or rather, characters moving through their lives. I see the action scrolling out like a film. You know how in a film you can ‘read’ the characters’ emotions on their faces? That’s what I hope I can conjure up for reader in prose.

CW: In this novella, the sense of place includes the interior settings evoked through your storytelling. The buzz of comradeship at the ceramics factory, the coat shop, a hotel lobby, a marital bed. Do these details just come to you in the writing or do you find you take notes in your daily life which then lend themselves to story scenes?

CB: I do wish I was good at keeping notes, because we are surrounded by characters for stories as we walk down the street, any street, on any day. But I don’t carry a notebook. I do take photographs, though; I think I have a strong visual sense, and (I hope) good intuition.

CW: The end of the story is intriguing. I don’t want to give it away here but I do want to mention that it leaves the reader thinking, is this based on a true story?

CB: No, this is pure fiction.

CW: You frequently publish short stories, in particular, flash fiction? What about your longer projects? What can readers expect to see from you next?

CB: I like the shorter forms, novella, short story, flash fiction. I used to say I’d never write a novel. But I have a couple of longer projects. One is a novel I started in NaNoWriMo in 2018, set in Nepal in the aftermath of an earthquake. The other is what think will end up as a novel based on the life of my Auntie Phyllis, who was a famous circus artiste. I feel a responsibility to write her story. Though, unhelpfully, she left few words, only pictures, so what I write has to be fiction.

However, I may just write another novella – or even two! – first. I do seem to have an affinity with the novella form. I’ve tried writing novellas-in-flash without success, but I’m thinking of having a go at a novelette-in-flash, in which each separate story is under 500 words. I’m taking advantage of Nancy Stohlman’s prompts for FlashNano this month to help me with that.

In the Sweep of the Bay is available for order through independent publisher Louise Walters Books.

Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who lives in Italy. Her award-winning flash fiction can be found in Best Microfiction 2020 and numerous anthologies and magazines. Her story How to Make a Window Snake won the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award in 2017 and the Saboteur Award for Best Novella in 2018. Her debut novel Black Cake is due to be published in 2022.