Tag Archives: #shortstories

FREE E-Books all this week.

On my last blog I posted the blurb and excerpts from my two YA novels that are currently free to download from Amazon books. And many thanks to those of you who downloaded a copy – you’ve put me back into the best seller rankings again!

Today I am posting the blurb and an excerpt from my collection of short stories, CAST OFF, which is also free to download until the 22nd September.

Blurb: Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be thinking or doing when she’s not on stage? Does she like the role that’s been created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? In this light-hearted collection of short stories, the author suggests a few answers to these and other questions.

Excerpt from – Is Not this Well? (based on The Taming of the Shrew):

Cast OffI felt I had to put a stop to it. Making people laugh is all very well; but not at my expense it isn’t. Besides, his proposed plot was bound to spoil his reputation one day, when people became more sensitive about such matters. I felt he should be more careful, even though, seeing as this was early days in his career, he didn’t have much of a reputation to spoil. However, it was my character he was slagging off, and I had a right to look out for my own reputation, never mind his.

His study door was open and I marched straight in without knocking, which I knew he hated, and put both hands on the back of his chair.

“Why do you want to write a play that will make you look like a mis… a mis…” I started.

“Misogynist?” he filled in, slapping down his quill impatiently.

He was always like that. Good with words, even ones that were not yet in common use. And if he couldn’t find the right word—well, he just made one up!

I nodded. Misogynist sounded like just the word I was looking for. Having given me the word, he shrugged dismissively and, picking up his quill again, turned back to his writing. I poked him sharply. So what if he hated being interrupted when he was working, he still hadn’t answered my question.

“Why do you want to look like a misogynist, and why do you have to portray me as such a cow in the process? You know me well enough by now; I don’t mind playing a feisty character if that’s what you want – give as good as I get and all that jazz. But you’re making me out to be a monster.”

He shook his head crossly, and a small spray of dead skin floated from his scalp. He really ought to do something about that bald patch, I thought, as I brushed the dandruff from the front of my dress with theatrical sweeps. Also I noted, but only to myself, by letting his hair grow all long and wispy around the sides he was only drawing attention to it.

“You’ve got to be larger than life and frighten all the men away, or the rest of the play won’t work,” he said, without stopping writing.

“I’m okay with that,” I conceded grudgingly, but I wasn’t letting him off the hook yet. “But why do I have to be such a shrew as well?”

He paused again and turned towards me. This time his face lit up. He really is quite good-looking when he smiles, even with a flaky pate.

“Thanks Kate,” he said, and I’d have sworn he was about to reach round and pat my bum till he remembered what happened last time. “You’ve given me a great idea for the title.”

He turned his back again, shuffled through his papers till he came to the first page, and re-inked his quill. He scratched out the title at the top and wrote instead in big bold letters. The Taming of the Shrew. I don’t think I’ve ever actually thumped him before, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.

 

Links to free downloads (to 22nd September).

TIP: Try right clicking on the links  if left clicking doesn’t work.

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

myBook.to/AndAlexStillHasAcne  http://www.bookgoodies.com/a/B00RU1Y0G

  myBook.to/GirlFriends http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01EX9DPMS

Links to all my books

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

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

fb.me/margaretegrot.writer

https://twitter.com/meegrot

 solstice logo (1)

 

 

 

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Planning a launch.

When my writers’ group put together an anthology recently we planned a launch for the beginning of March. We:

  • Ordered extra copies
  • Booked a table in a local bookshop (who put the date in their Facebook calendar)
  • Talked about it on our own blogs, Facebook Twitter etc.
  • Mentioned it (more than once) to friends
  • Organised a press release
  • Had a slot on local radio
  • Put the date in our own diaries to make sure we turned up to do our stint on the sales.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the weather could! On the Friday it snowed. And snowed …

By Saturday morning roads were impassable so the bookshop owner couldn’t get in to open his shop, and most of us couldn’t get there anyway for the same reason. All that could be done was to ask the radio to mention the event was cancelled.

At the next meeting, we decided to hold another launch at the end of May. After all we still had the stock of books, and boxes of sweets, we had ordered for the original date. We dutifully put the date in our personal diaries. Job done.

Except it wasn’t of course – we didn’t double check it was in the bookshop diary until the last minute (it wasn’t, but as the date was free we could still go ahead, minus their advance publicity). No one thought to notify the local press and radio, and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t do any promotion via Twitter, blog and Facebook.

As a result we spent a pleasant hour chatting to each other, eating all the promotional chocolates, and selling one anthology to a friend of mine who’d wandered in for a slice of the truly delicious home-made cake sold at the bookshop, and felt sorry for us.

Maybe we wouldn’t have sold out if the event had gone ahead in March as planned and promoted. But we’ve learnt a few things about the consequences of not doing the preparation properly from our May effort.

anthcov2However, better late than never. If you’re tempted to buy a copy of this gently humorous anthology, Stories to Make You Smile, here is my link. It is an enjoyable read, ideal for lazy summer days on the garden lounger – and I’m not just saying that because mine is the first story you come to.

myBook.to/StoriesSmile

http://amzn.eu/5i4b5mh

 

 

PS: If you have any good ideas for making a launch go with a bang (and some good sales), please share.

 

 

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.

Blog 21 Feb 18 2

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

solstice logo (1)

 

 

 

A Story for Christmas.

This will be my last blog for 2017 so I am signing off with a short story.

Not many people know that there were supposed to be four Magi, but one was sceptical about his friends’ plan, and decided to pull out. Anyway, here is a monologue, as recounted by –

Kevin, the fourth wise man.

 

Phone rings, Kevin picks it up

“Hello? Oh, hi Gaspar, How’s tricks? You planning one of our little adventures? Don’t tellTHREE-WISE-MEN-CYCLE-Preview me – another cruise? No? What did you say? A trek? On camels? All the way to Bethlehem? That sounds more like hard work than a holiday. What’s brought this on?

We’re going to see a baby? Whatever for? Don’t we see enough of our own grandchildren? Not just any baby you say – sorry, the line’s very bad – did you say it’s the son of a Goth? Oh, the son of a God. THE God! 

 Right! You’re not having me on, are you? So this son of God has a palace in Bethlehem we can stay at? Not a palace. A what? A stable – as in a home for a horse?

 I see. Tell me, honestly now, Gaspar, what kind of god gives birth in a stable? What did you say?  God won’t actually be there, just his wife. Someone else’s wife? Not even his wife, his fiancée? And she’s giving birth to the son of God? In a stable?

Gaspar – have you been drinking? You mean you’re telling me all this and you’re stone cold sober? And you’ve already persuaded Balthazar and Melchior to go along? Jeez, are you all mad? But how will you know which way to go? Sat navs don’t work on camels. You’re going to follow a car? Not a car, a star?

No, don’t say anymore. There’s nothing you can possibly add to persuade me to come along this time. No, no. No offence intended or taken. You run along and enjoy yourselves. You can tell me all about it when you get back.

Kevin puts the phone down.

What in Heaven’s name will the old fool come up with next!”

For more of my stories, including at least one free download, go to:

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and that 2018 is as happy and prosperous as you deserve – or better!

Christmas wreath

 

 

Was Shakespeare a team player?

There is general agreement that Shakespeare collaborated with another dramatist william_shakespeares_first_folio_1623occasionally – The Two Noble Kinsmen, for example, was written with John Fletcher. He was influenced by other playwrights too – Marlowe’s Jew of Malta / Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He also wrote parts to suit particular actors, and audiences (especially Royal ones), and most of his heroines find a reason to dress up as boys early in the play because female parts were taken by young boys. All this goes to show that he was a jobbing writer (as well as actor), and needed to make sure his work was finished on time and was performed in front of a paying audience. But few people have regarded the bulk of his oeuvre as a collaborative effort.

Now there is something of a battle between scholars going on because one, Gary Taylor, has suggested he has proof that up to 38% of Shakespeare’s works are collaborations with Marlowe or others. His method of proving this is controversial – he has employed mathematicians to use algorithms to detect patterns in the use of words or phrases that were also used by contemporary dramatists. Other scholars have pointed out that computer programmes that pick out similar patterns in the use of common words such as ‘of,’ ‘from’ and ‘to’ don’t really prove anything more than the research has been done by someone with a greater knowledge of maths than of Shakespeare and theatre.

However, as algorithms are used more and more in our daily lives – think Google, Facebook – this story could run for quite some time. A bit like the one about whether Shakespeare actually wrote any of his plays – some say they were written by the Earl of Oxford, or Francis Bacon. The author James Barrie, when asked if he thought Bacon was the real playwright, replied: “I know nor sir, whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life.”

If you have enjoyed this post, you may like to read my own take on Shakespeare. CAST Cast OffOFF is a collection of short stories imagining what some of his female characters were up to off stage. The collection is published by Solstice (www.solsticepublishing.com) and is available in selected bookshops or on Amazon via the link below.

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

REVIEW: One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a collection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favourite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

solstice logo (1)

 

Ever fancied a spot of polysemy?

Despite it sounding a bit like polygamy, there is nothing naughty or illegal about it. Polysemy is derived from the Greek polusemos – having many meanings. Its opposite is monosemy – having one meaning / unambiguous. Writers practice polysemy pen to paperevery time they put pen to paper, without thinking about it. (See? How many meanings are there to the word pen? Or practice?)

The English language is awash with words that mean more than one thing. It’s one of its glories and, when trying to select words that will avoid all ambiguity, or expressly pinning them down to one meaning, the language can end up turgid and dull. Few people read a law report for fun.

If so inclined, you can have fun with polysemy at your reader’s expense: For example, if I offer you a ‘fulsome apology for any offence given.’ Am I truly sorry and offering a sincere apology? Am I being a little bit over the top because I can’t really see what you’ve got to be offended about? Or am I being offensively insincere? The word fulsome embraces all those meanings.

Ambiguity is usually easily avoided by the context in which a word is used.

Putting pen to paper. / Putting sheep in a pen.

The two of them were rowing [across the lake] [about the cost of hiring a boat]

And, despite the number of words with more than one meaning, we rarely are confused. What is ambiguous, for example, about wanting to get all your ducks in a row? (Oh, my fulsome apologies if that leaves you a bit puzzled).

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to read more of my work, please go to Cast Offone of my Amazon author pages. Where you can find stories, anthologies, or novels from £/$0.00 to £/$15.00

Stories from my collection, Cast Off, are being read at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry on Thursday 23rd November at 7.30pm. The event is FREE.

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

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

 

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

 

 

That Dreaded Radio Interview – follow up!

radio_studio_3.fw

And so, on Sunday afternoon I found myself standing  nervously in the cold in Stratford-upon-Avon, waiting to be let into the radio studio. It helped that the presenter was also waiting to be let in, and could assure me that I was expected. Yes, I had the right time and the right place. He was also confident that somebody, soon, would hear the bell and come to the door.

My own confidence increased as it was obvious the presenter, (Nick Le Mesurier – see his comment and links at the foot of my last post), was fully prepared for the programme, was very re-assuring, and had a range of plan Bs in case anything went wrong. This included a plan to cover the fact that a co-interviewee,  Andrea Mbarushimana, was lost somewhere in Stratford and might not arrive before it was our turn to go into the studio. Fortunately she arrived in the nick of time.

Both of us stayed in the studio for the duration of the programme, Stratford Words, which had the theme of hidden voices. After general introductions, a poem to mark armistice day and a quiz, it was straight over to me to chat briefly about my collection of short stories, Cast Off. Each story is the ‘hidden voice’ of a female character in a Shakespeare play, so the book fitted well with the theme.  I talked a bit about how I came to write the collection, then read an extract from one of the stories. Nick prompted me to tell listeners how they could get hold of my book, and I was able to advertise my launch event at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry, on 23rd November, where local actors will be reading from selected stories. In short, I covered all the points I wanted to, without too many ‘ers,’ ‘umms,’ or embarrassed pauses. Result!

The next part of the programme, a pre-recorded interview and short story from an Armenian lady now living in Warwickshire, went smoothly. Then Andrea was introduced, talked a  little about her life, and read a story inspired by her time as a VSO in Rwanda.

A monologue then, with an elderly ex-prisoner’s perspective, from Nick, who is an established local writer as well as radio presenter. This was followed by the answers to the quiz and, finally, a short poem from Andrea.

The hour flew by. It was great to be involved. But a great privilege too, to witness how the whole show came together and, with impeccable timing, finished bang on 5pm. I hope the listeners enjoyed it as much as I did.

Link to my story, Cast Off:

Cast Off

 

 

myBook.to/CastOff

 

 

 

 

Link to Stratford Words: www.welcomberadio.co.uk/stratford-words