Monday 21 November 2016

A Cache of Flashes
Published by Black Pear Press

It's that time of year again when Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe launches its annual flash fiction anthology. The anthology, A Cache of Flashes, contains a selection of flash fictions that were submitted to the competition earlier in the year. In the opinion of the judges, the best flashes have to invite one into another world, intrigue us, make us wonder...we want to understand the characters, learn about their lives and feel their emotions. They commented that every word must count, and what is not said is as important as what is.

This is the third year I've attended to read out my flashes and it was good to see familiar faces and meet new writers, too. As it did last year, the launch took place in Drummonds Bar in The Swan with Two Nicks pub. In this anthology, both my stories involve ghosts but the ghosts are very different. In The Empty Chair, the spirit of a much loved drinking partner is more of a reassuring presence rather than a frightening spectre. In The House Viewing, on the other hand, a young couple are completely spooked by a menacing crone who is haunting the house they go to view. 

I find that reading in front of fellow writers is always daunting but I'm sure I was not alone in appreciating the applause at the end of each reading. Hearing each story read aloud made them come alive in a different way from reading them on the page. Again, I was impressed with the wide range of subject matter and the variety of the writing styles of the authors. Whereas I try to intersperse writing short pieces in amongst longer stories and, currently, my novel, some writers told me that they write flash fiction exclusively. I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit to Worcester and I look forward to writing more flash fiction over the coming months. 

Do you write Flash Fiction? Do you need different skills from those you need to write a short story? A novel? How easy is it to transfer those skills? I'd love to hear what you think.

My short story I Want Gets Nothing was one of the new stories published on Alfie Dog Fiction yesterday. If you'd like to read it, you may download it HERE
Tracey lives in the shadow of her outgoing sister who can do no wrong in her mother;'s eyes. When Sharon buys a beautiful gold leather designer handbag on payday, Tracey becomes obsessed with owning one for herself. But how can she? She's just a school girl.

Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Monday 14 November 2016

Heroes, Heroines and Happy Endings
Last Thursday, along with my writing buddy, Helen, I attended a library event to celebrate the re-opening of Ystrad Mynach Library after recent refurbishment. It was presented by three Choc Lit authors, Chris Stovell, Evonne Wareham and Christina Courtenay who also writes her YA fiction as Pia Fenton. They introduced themselves and talked about their novels.

Chris writes contemporary fiction. She often sets her stories in sleepy villages, places on the edge of things. Her novels involve involve family secrets, exploring relationships and generally making sense of the world through fiction. 
Evonne writes romantic thrillers and romance with a darker edge. She noticed early on in her writing career that her stories always contained a crime. Not wanting to write police procedural novels, she enjoys mixing crime and romance where things are going to be alright in the end for both the hero and the heroine.
Pia writes historical romance and time slip (dual time) fiction, writing under her pseudonym of Christina Courtenay. Her novels have a trace of the Far East. She has always loved reading romantic stories and fairy stories where there was always a happy ending. Sometimes she likes to break away from all the research that historical writing involves and writes some contemporary YA stories. The New England series is the result. 

Interesting discussion was interspersed with questions and answers and covered various topics - irresistible Choc Lit heroes, what makes a good heroine and that vital ingredient in a Choc Lit novel, a satisfying and happy ending. We learned whether the writers were 'pantsters' or 'plotters'. As a lover of time-slip novels, I was particularly interested in the way Pia talked about colour-coding her characters' points of view. She was able to to check that she'd achieved the right balance and whether each story carried equal weight. 

All three authors talked about their research. Chris showed us how she had to dress for the weather whilst sailing and feeling decidedly sea-sick  - all good research for a novel.

Although Evonne couldn't bring props in the forms of weapons and guns to the talk (!!), she told us how she researches the crimes in her novels by visiting exhibitions, art galleries and museums to get her details right. She has also attended folk lore, forensic and crime courses.

Pia lived in Japan at one time and had brought along a selection of props for us to see. By knowing what it felt like to wear the beautiful red and gold silk wedding kimono and shoes, use the fan and parasol gave added credibility to the heroines in her Japanese trilogy. One of the librarians modelled the kimono and confirmed that it was very heavy.
Note the chocolate flavoured pencils, too!
We were given the opportunity to browse the wide range of the authors' books on display.

A big thank you to Chris, Evonne and Pia for giving up your time to share your tips and advice...and your chocolates! It was a very enjoyable afternoon. 

Thank you, too, to the library staff for making us all so welcome. 

Does your local library put on literary events like this? Perhaps you've given a talk on your books. I'd love it if you left a comment. 
Thank you for reading.
You may also follow me on @JanBayLit and on  Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Sunday 13 November 2016

A Story for Remembrance Day
This weekend has been one of poignant tales of sacrifice and remembering men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom. Many of those who survived still bear horrific scars both physically and mentally. Here is a short story I wrote a few years ago that was published on Cafe Lit. It's a tribute to all those who came back from World War II but had seen and experienced things that they'd never forget, about a young soldier coming home to the girl he left behind.