Category Archives: Short stories

CAST OFF – Collection out on Friday.

On Friday 14th July, my new collection of short stories, Cast Off, is published by Solstice Publishing. Below I answer a few questions about the stories that you probably hadn’t thought to ask.

Cast OffWhat are the stories in Cast Off about? Each story is based on a female character in a Shakespeare play. The story takes place whilst the cast is off stage, and speculates what the character might be thinking or doing, sometimes in relation to the playwright himself (Taming of the Shrew), or in relation to other characters (Lear), or even if they are going to go back on stage for the last act (The Winter’s Tale). Some are in the first person, some in the third. A couple are also related by one of the other characters (Twelfth Night), or by a more contemporary figure. None are intended to be taken too seriously!

Why did I choose this as the theme for my collection? I was inspired to write one of the stories by a poem I heard on the radio a few years ago (Hamlet). Another was written following an invitation to write a short story for an anthology based round a recipe (Othello), and a third to tie in with an anthology to be published on midsummer’s day (no prizes for guessing which play that was based on!) Before I knew it, a collection was building up and, with 2016 being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, I decided to read several more of his plays, write some more stories, and put together a collection. This has taken me a bit longer than originally planned, but I finally felt I had enough by March this year, when I completed my thirteenth story.

How did I choose which plays to base each story on? I ruled out the historical plays as some readers might have wanted historical accuracy, and my stories are more whimsical. I wanted strong female characters to base the story around, though they didn’t necessarily have to be the lead character – Portia’s maid, for example, rather than Portia herself from The Merchant of Venice; the nurse not Juliet from Romeo and Juliet. Most stories almost wrote themselves after I’d read the play, but some plays that are known for their strong female leads (Much Ado About Nothing springs to mind) didn’t immediately throw up an angle for me to work on. Another time perhaps!

What was my writing process? First I read the play straight through. Then I decided on a character to ‘play’ with, and a possible story line. I would re-read the play, making a few notes, and perhaps noting down a couple of quotations. Then I would write the story without further reference to the play. Finally I would read the play again to check that the story line I’d followed could be justified, or that any deviations in characterisation etc. were intentional and consistent. I would also check the accuracy of any quotations used. Then it was time for the usual spell checking and editing, as with any story.

Do I have any taster stories available, preferably for free?  There are no Shakespeare themed stories available until this collection is published on Friday. However I have a short story, Mary’s Christmas, in an anthology called Festive Treats, which is permanently free on Amazon Books. Solstice Publishing has also issued two of my other short stories as stand-alone e-books for about £/$1.00 each. These are called Sleeping Beauty, and Love in Waiting.  All three stories can be found following the links below to my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

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A short story for a summer day.

Today for my #SundayBlogShare I am sharing my short, unpublished, story for young readers, and knowing adults, called When God Came Calling.  

Blurb: A little girl starts praying for enough money to buy a pony. Only to be sadly disappointed.

When God Came Calling.

       I’ve done with praying. Mummy said God knows where she’d find the money for the rent, let alone buy me a pony, so I prayed every night for three months. Pony

‘Please God … (I said ‘Our Father’ too because Granny said he was a father to me as my own daddy went back up north when I was a baby.) ‘Our Father’ makes him sound more part of my family; someone who’d really want to help me and Mummy. Does that make him Mummy’s father too?

Every night after Mummy put me to bed and closed the door I’d jump out and kneel by the side of the bed, just like I’d seen in a picture at Granny’s house. I’d put my hands together and squeeze my eyes tight shut and pray really, really hard.

‘Please God, Our Father, give Mummy a house of her own with a field and a stable.’ I thought God would like it if I asked for something for Mummy, and didn’t ask for anything for myself, which Granny says is rude. But if he got Mummy sorted, and I saved my pocket-money all year, then I’d be able to buy the pony myself.

I saved for weeks and weeks. Granny gave me a £10.00 note to give to Mummy to help buy new shoes for me when I started in Year 6, and I put it in the box under my side of the bed along with the other money. I told Mummy I’d lost it after Granny had gone home. Mummy was really cross and I couldn’t go out to play for a whole week. But that made it easier to save my pocket-money. So it wasn’t much of a punishment really.

In three months I had nearly £30, including Granny’s shoe money. I didn’t know how much a pony would cost but I thought it couldn’t be more than £100.00. Of course, you have to buy tack and food as well, but I’ve got a birthday coming soon, and then it will be Christmas. I thought I could persuade Granny to give me money instead of knitting me something, so I kept telling her I’d got plenty of jumpers from last year that still fitted.

I saved hard and prayed hard and tried hard to be really good and not answer Mummy back so she wouldn’t stop my pocket-money, and I really, REALLY thought it was all going to work out.

But then God knocked the door one evening just after we’d had our tea. There was a loud ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ on the front door and Mummy stopped in the middle of washing up and her hand flew to her face as if a really hot splash had hit her in the mouth. Usually she tells me to answer the door but this time she said: ‘Stay where you are Anna,’ quite sternly and went to answer it herself. Mummy opened the door and I heard her say ‘Dear God, it’s you.’ Then she came back with God behind her, and she said ‘Anna, this is your father.’

He was tall and had a big beard and he said ‘How is my little angel?’ But he didn’t look at me when he said it; he only looked at Mummy in a cross sort of way. I cried and ran out of the room. I hadn’t expected God to look so scruffy and to smell like he’d traveled all the way from Heaven without his wash bag.

I heard Mummy and God talking downstairs. They talked quietly at first, but then they started shouting. I didn’t think it was a very holy way to carry on, but grown – ups often behave strangely – Mummy says ‘bugger’ a lot when she’s mad at someone – so I suppose gods can be funny too.

I crept into the bedroom and got out my secret box as I liked counting the money when I felt upset. I was wondering if I should go down and show it to God. Perhaps he’d be impressed and stop shouting at Mummy and answer my prayers even sooner than I’d hoped. But suddenly Mummy rushed into the room and grabbed her handbag.

‘I’m just popping out to the cash point with your father. Don’t answer the door while I’m out, and if Granny phones – tell her I’m in the bath.’ Then her eyes landed on all the money in my box.

‘Where the Hell did you get that?’

‘It’s mine,’ I tried to hide the box back under the bed but she was too quick for me.

‘Thank Heavens!’ she said. ‘Perhaps he’ll go back where he’s come from and leave us in peace for a bit if I give him this.’ (She used the ‘B’ word too, but I pretended not to notice). She scooped up the money and ran straight back out and gave it all to God. I heard him grunt as he let himself out of the house without even saying thank you to Mummy, though he did say over his shoulder ‘Kiss my little angel for me.’

So God has gone off with all my savings, and Mummy is crying on the sofa downstairs, and somehow I don’t think we’ll be moving to a house with a field and a stable any time soon.

If you have enjoyed this story, and would like to read more of my work, please go to one of my Amazon Book pages: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

Want to win a book?

Announcement posterToday I am passing my blog to Solstice Publishing who are running a give-away competition to promote one of their latest anthologies  I don’t have a story in it myself as I have been busy on my own collection of Shakespeare themed stories, Cast Off, which Solstice will be publishing later in the summer. But I know many of the authors through the Solstice ‘family.’

ENTER TO WIN! That’s all you have to do. We at Solstice Publishing are celebrating Plots & Schemes Vol. 1 becoming a best seller in Germany during its release by giving away three autographed copies of the print edition of this fabulous anthology.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/237966-plots-schemes-vol-1

All you have to do is click on the Goodreads link between May 26 and June 9 and enter. It’s that simple. Once the contest ends, Goodreads will notify us of the winners names and you will receive your copy.

Her child vanishes in a puff of smoke …

When Murder is on the Itinerary …

An eavesdropped comment leads to an impossible scheme …

Mysterious events pull Dana into danger …

A rock star’s murder leaves Emlyn Goode questioning everything she knows about herself …

Murder most foul puts this cop to the test …

One murder, one plan, two possible outcomes …

Losing your mind is scary …

If you’re not at the beach, the Tough Luck stories will take you there …

Trail Town Texas leans heavily on their sheriff …

Murder, kidnapping, mysterious events, and more are our treat to you in this wonderfulFacebook and Twitter post 11 (1) anthology from Solstice Publishing. Discover the talents of K.C. Sprayberry, Debbie De Louise, Donna Alice Patton, E.B. Sullivan, Susan Lynn Solomon, Johnny Gunn, K.A. Meng, Leah Hamrick, Lois Crockett, and Stephy Smith.

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B072L7KZ6K

Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find inside this intriguing book!

A smile was on his face. Despite the fact that he was supposed to connect with the egg donor of this lovely child, he had no thoughts of doing that or returning the kid at the appointed time. His timing was perfect. The child—Lanie is such an idiotic name; I’ll have to come up with another one—would be five in a few days. In time, she would forget there had been his loser ex in her life. She—Sheila will regret divorcing me—had battered through his training, all he’d gone through to make her a compliant and complacent wife. She’d run away after he ordered her to get an abortion.

Good thing the bitch ignored me. I wouldn’t have this gorgeous child to raise to be like me.

Granted the child was weak now, but he would fix that, as soon as he made sure they vanished forever. No one would stop him from raising his daughter as he saw fit, and that meant keeping her away from her weakling of a mother.

Quietly, Mark Jannson, scion of the globally famous Jannson family, whose assets numbered in the billions, removed anything he considered important from his lavishly furnished thirty room mansion located in the mountains above Denver. His mother’s jewels were carefully packed into a leather satchel, to be given to his daughter, if she remained true to the Jannson name. The woman who called herself his mother had been consigned to a hovel in the southeast somewhere, once she showed her true colors by attempting to take him from his father.

“Let the bitch live in poverty the rest of her life,” he whispered.

https://youtu.be/3xUn1SZZrF8

Starting May 26, 2017, simply click on the link provided and enter. If you aren’t a member of Goodreads, you can join easily. This is a great place to discover books by new and exciting authors and be in on the fun of all sorts of entertainment!

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Thirteen Tales From Shakespeare.

Today, for my #SundayBlogShare, I am delighted to reveal the news that Solstice Publishing has accepted my collection of short stories based on plays by Shakespeare. Iwilliam_shakespeares_first_folio_1623 had intended to get the collection ready for publication in 2016, the 400th anniversary of his death. But ‘stuff happens’ and I hadn’t written enough till earlier this year. So I’m celebrating the 401st anniversary instead!

The collection is called Cast Off. Each story is between 1,000 and 5,000 words long. Each has, as the central figure, one of the bard’s female characters. The story is built around what they might have been doing, or thinking about, during the times they were not on stage – writing their diary, arguing about what lines they’ve been given, wondering whether to go back on stage for the final act …

Mostly they are light-hearted. Although they make use of the plots in the plays, they are meant to engage the general reader who does not go to the theatre often,  let alone to Shakespeare; people who enjoy the occasional trip out to see a play by Shakespeare; and even people who know his work well (so may recognise the odd quotation or reference). But they shouldn’t upset the scholars either – there is nothing too iconoclastic!

Some people may have already read one or more of the stories, as four have appeared in different anthologies, published by Solstice, in recent years: lets have fun 3-001

Chains of Magic – The Food of Love

Journey to the Fair Mountain – A Winter Holiday Anthology

The Ghost Queen – Realms of Fantastic Stories, Volume 1.

A Midsummer Day’s Dream – Let’s Have Fun, Volume Three

All these anthologies are available from the Solstice website: http://www.solsticepublishing.com

Or via my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO