Category Archives: Anthologies

Still in the Mood for Love?

Today my blog has been taken over by writers from Solstice Publishing, whose anthology, Cupid’s Arrow, Vol 2, was published last week.

blog 21 Feb 18

Valentine’s Day encompasses romance for all ages. People go out of their way to show their affection for the one they love with flowers, candy, perhaps a special meal. Just how did this day come to be?

Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the third century, when Emperor Claudius III of Rom decided young men made better soldiers than those with wives and families to care for. Valentine, a young man who preached the word, felt this was injustice at its worst. He defied the emperor and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Once his actions were discovered, the emperor ordered he be put to death.

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https://bookgoodies.com/a/B079SKVC45

Today, we honor his memory by celebrating romance with the one we love. To honor St. Valentine, Solstice Publishing presents Cupid’s Arrow Vol. 2, a collection of tales of love.

https://youtu.be/5mm2bYgv_VU

An essence of bliss makes everything delicious.

Her last word before kissing him was, “Hush.”

Never say never…

She’s not your grandmother’s matchmaker.

Separated by the winds of war

They meet time after time…

Can love possibly come again?

Real life isn’t a fairy tale… or is it?

Love is a wonderful spell.

Love is a special feeling between couples. The sweetness of caring deeply for each other. A waterfall of romance is brought to you E.B. Sullivan, Jeffery Martin Botzenhart, A.A. Schenna, Adam Zorzi, K.C. Sprayberry, A.J. Kohler, Veronica Peters, Noelle Myers, and Palvi Sharma

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Free download of CAST OFF this weekend.

In a bid to beat the mid winter blues – mine and yours – I am offering some of my books for free on Amazon over the next few weeks.

Cast OffThis weekend it is CAST OFF –  a collection of 13 short stories based on female characters in plays by Shakespeare.

Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be doing or thinking when she is not on stage? Does she like the role that has been created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? Will she actually go back on stage when it’s her cue?

If you download my book on Saturday 13th or Sunday 14th January you can find some answers to all these questions, and more, for FREE. Money back if you don’t find at least one story to your liking!

Amazon link:

myBook.to/CastOff

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Sent to Coventry

Coventry

Coventry UK has just won the bid to be City of Culture for 2021. The official announcement was made just as the audience was settling down to a play in my local theatre. The production was delayed slightly for the artistic director to tell everyone the news, which was greeted by a huge roar of approval and clapping – a good way to get the actors geed up for their performances too!

I have lived in Coventry, with its world famous new cathedral, for over twenty years – longer than I have lived anywhere elseCoventry 2 in England or Wales. What surprised me most when I first moved to the city was how down beat everyone was about the place. “Why made you move to live here?” was a regular question, not uttered in an unfriendly way, people were simply amazed that someone would choose to live in Coventry. But there has been a lot of excitement about the city of culture bid, and genuine pleasure, not just among arty types, in winning.

Where once the talk was about how good the roads around Coventry were for getting out of the city quickly, now these same roads are seen as a huge plus for getting people in for events etc. in 2021. This is a far cry from the old consensus (not actually based on fact) that you were either born in Coventry, or you were sent there – so didn’t have any choice in the matter.

The phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ is known far outside the city. It now means to become a social outcast, one who should be ignored socially. The phrase arose because during the English Civil War, in the mid 1600s, Coventry sided with the Parliamentarians. Captured supporters of the King (Royalists) were sent to Coventry. They were not actually imprisoned in the city, but were dumped there and left to wander around, ignored by the locals who would refuse them food and opportunities to work. Maybe worst of all, they were refused entry to any of the local inns!

The city’s hostile reputation among Royalists was such that any of their soldiers who were deemed to be rather apathetic in their duties would be threatened with being posted to Coventry as an incentive to show more commitment to the King’s cause.

If you have enjoyed this post, and would like to read more of my work, please go to my Amazon author page. As we are rapidly approaching the Festive season, you may wish to consider one of the anthologies, the Winter Holiday Anthology, published by Solstice, and Festive Treats, published by the Pigeon Park Press, are both available from my page or via the following links. 

AWinter Holiday Anthology:

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http://bookgoodies.com/a/B017T6UJ8K

 

 

 

Festive Treats:

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myBook.to/FestiveTreats

 

 

Why go to a writers’ group?

Aspiring writers are always encouraged to attend a writers’ group. It certainly helped me make the shift from writing factual reports and practice manuals for work, to fiction. I still go to my local group for the camaraderie, and the tips. Sometimes I even have one to offer myself.

The Coventry Writers’ Group includes a writer who has many successful publications under her belt. Others have won prizes for their work, or contribute regularly to magazines, or are gaining a reputation as performance poets. Some are just starting out and looking for advice. One member recently self-published a novel and was willing to use his experience to help the group publish something together. We were keen to take up his offer and decided to compile an anthology. Once this was agreed, the idea was to get it out before Christmas.

We had published a couple of anthologies some years ago, but that was when we had a member who ran a small publishing house, guided us through the whole process, and sorted the printing and publishing. This time it was totally in-house – though it would have been impossible without the hard work of our volunteer publisher to co-ordinate it all.  Also his patience, as some people were late getting their work to him, asked for changes to the font, disagreed over the cover … you can imagine the scene!

Apart from a vague rule about the length of a poem or story, the only other stricture was that the entry should, if not make readers laugh out loud, at least make them smile. As for what the authors would get out of the anthology – if you have never been published before it is a thrill to see your work in print. Or if, like me, you already have a modest portfolio, it is recommended marketing practice to be able to offer something shorter (and cheaper) than your novels so potential readers can check you out before making a more expensive commitment.

So here we are. Within the time scale we had set ourselves, the group has produced its anthcov2new anthology, Stories to Make You Smile. The content reflects the make-up of the group, with contributions from the full-time writers, the never before been published members, and the majority of us who are somewhere in between.

The anthology is an eclectic mix. Not every story or poem will appeal to everyone, but it is bound to contain something to make you smile. It is now on Amazon both as a print book (£4.00) and e-book (£0.99). Just in time for a real or virtual Christmas stocking. A good enough reason – for me anyway – to be part of a writers’ group!

Links: 

Stories to Make You Smile: myBook.to/StoriesSmile

http://amzn.eu/5i4b5mh

Anthology or collection?

Tom Hanks, the movie star sometimes dubbed the ‘all round nicest guy in Hollywood,’ has just published a collection of short stories, called Uncommon Type – some stories. And – really quite annoyingly for those who like popular figures to have feet of clay – it’s been well received by the critics. Not content with being a household name as an actor, the man is now going to be hailed as a writer of considerable talent too.

Short stories have increased in popularity recently and his new publication won’t have set back this resurgence. But why is Mr Hanks book of short stories called a collection and not an anthology?

My Collins dictionary describes an anthology as ‘any printed collection of literary pieces, songs, works of art etc.’ This sounds pretty much like calling an anthology an, er, collection by another name. However the crucial difference, as the dictionary also states, is that in an anthology the stories and poems are written by various authors and a collection only solstice logo (1)includes the work of one author. This is the distinction used by my publisher. Hence, a number of my Shakespeare character stories have appeared in anthologies, alongside the work of other authors, that Solstice Publishing have produced in the last couple of years. But this year, when they published these stories in the same volume as several more that I alone had written, the ensuing publication was called a collection – CAST OFF.

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A new review of the Cast Off collection

Paperback copies of my latest collection of short stories, Cast Off, took several weeks stonefest 17more than expected to arrive in the UK. It seems that once one thing goes wrong, other problems pile in. Unblocking the problem with the printers took a lot of ineffective emails from me, and some targeted (but effective) work from my publisher, Solstice Publishing. However, I now have a pile of shiny copies in my possession and must start some serious promotion. To start I am giving, verbatim, a review of Cast Off that was posted last week, as it tells you from a reader’s perspective what you can expect if you purchase a copy.

Cast OffCast Off by novelist and playwright Margaret Egrot is an ingenious concept for a short story collection. The thirteen stories are all inspired by female characters from Shakespeare’s plays, offering new perspectives and twists on characters often overshadowed by their male counterparts.

Some of the stories are set with the world of the play themselves. These develop female characters who barely feature in the original work. One such example is the witch Sycorax, an offscreen presence in The Tempest, who Egrot brings to life in Ban! Ban! Caliban! by narrating her backstory.

Other stories depict a more prominent Shakespearian character, such as Othello’s Desdemona or Measure for Measure’s Isabella, yet offer their version of the events in the play. a midsummer day's dream

Further range is found in A Midsummer’s Day’s Dream which is a contemporary story with four students in place of the traditional leads; The Tangled Knot presents Twelfth Night’s Olivia from the comical voice of the Clown; whilst Is Not This Well? features an actress criticising the Bard himself for his misogynistic treatment of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew.

As you can see, no two stories are the same, despite the intrinsic Shakespeare theme. The diversity of the collection is testament to Egrot’s vast talent and a guarantee that you will never get bored as you turn the pages.

Be assured, as Egrot writes in her foreword, there is no pressure to be familiar with Shakespeare’s work to enjoy these stories. However, any fans of the Bard will gain an extra kick of enjoyment from spotting direct quotes from Shakespeare’s work, hidden within the stories like a DVD Easter Egg.

Cast Off is proof that Shakespeare’s legacy is alive and well. Egrot reinvents the source material with a fresh feminist perspective and injects plenty of original ideas into her homage to Shakespeare’s overlooked heroines.

Links: myBook.to/CastOff

http://www.simonfairbanks.com/blog/review-cast-off-by-margaret-egrot
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Meet author Simon Fairbanks

I first met Simon when he and fellow authors from Birmingham, UK, came to give readings from their latest works at The Big Comfy Bookshop in my home city, Coventry. I had gone along to check out the shop as a potential venue for my own writers’ group and this seemed as good an opportunity as any. It was a very successful evening. Simon and his colleagues proved to be a great bunch, and the bookshop is a truly welcoming and atmospheric place in which to hold a writers’ group meeting. Simon 145kb

Simon is a fantasy author living in Birmingham. His first novel, The Sheriff, was released in March 2014. The following month, it was chosen to participate in the One Big Book Launch. The next book in the series, The Curse of Besti Bori, was released in October 2015.

His debut short story collection, Breadcrumbs, contains twenty-one short stories, including a new adventure starring the characters of The Sheriff.

Simon was also one of ten writers selected for the Ten To One project. Their collaborative efforts resulted in the novel Circ.

What is the title of your latest book? 

Simon 2 My most recent novel is The Curse Of Besti Bori. The jungle cloud of Besti Bori is in quarantine. An infection has consumed the cloud, turning its peaceful people into monstrous splicers. Now a team of archers watch over its borders, ensuring nothing enters and nothing leaves.
That is until Sheriff Baran visits for a routine inspection. His sky-horse is mysteriously drugged and he plummets into the darkness of the cursed jungle.
Now, Sheriff Shaula must return from her self-inflicted exile to lead a rescue mission into the most dangerous place in Nephos. Armed only  with  a team  of  warrior fairies,  Shaula  must  battle  her  way  through hordes of splicers to retrieve the stranded Baran. However, Shaula soon learns that splicers are not the only danger lurking in Besti Bori.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 The biggest challenge is finding the time and motivation to write, alongside family commitments, a full-time job and the temptation of Netflix!

The most rewarding moment is holding your printed novel in your hands, knowing that all those months of grafting, writing and editing are now contained in a neat little package adorned with your name. I love sliding my finished novels onto my bookshelf in between famous authors!

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Simon 3

 I strongly recommend joining a writers’ group. I joined the Birmingham Writers’ Group in Autumn 2011. They helped me progress from a complete novice to a self-published novelist in less than three years – The Sheriff.

Writing is a solitary activity but you need camaraderie, accountability and feedback to stay motivated. An organised and supportive writers’ group is worth its weight in gold.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 I am currently editing my second short story collection, provisionally titled Breadcrumbs 2. I just need to write one more novella and the collection will be complete.

 What do you like to read?

 My three writing heroes are Terry Pratchett, Stephen King and Agatha Christie, thankfully three of the most prolific writers you can find! My favourite books of all time are His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I am very excited about his follow-up trilogy, The Book of Dust, which begins in October of this year. Generally, I read two books a month: one traditionally published and one self-published.

 Where can readers find you ?

NB: You can also find a short story by Simon in the Christmas anthology, Festive Treats, along with my short story, Mary’s Christmas. This is available as a free download from my Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO