Writing Out Loud: Incowrimo 2018

It’s almost the end of February, which means it’s almost the end of International Correspondence Writing Month. I signed up to do InCoWriMo on the spur of the moment – which is pretty much how I sign up to every challenge – and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete it, but I have … and a day early to boot. I’ve actually written and delivered 35 items of correspondence. Most have been to recipients in the UK. Some are winging their way across the world as I type. Most have been to people I’ve never met. Some have been to family and friends. Most have been letters. Some have been postcards, and a few have been little thank you notes left for the staff in cafes. All of them have been handmade and handwritten by me.

I’ve had a blast making, writing and sending everything. I started off not quite knowing what to write about, but I decided to just share the kinds of things I write about here and to share some of the quotes that I’ve found helpful over the course of my recovery from mental illness. I wanted to spark a little joy and hope in people’s lives if I could. As I said above, I didn’t know most of the people to whom I was writing – I got the names and addresses from the sign-up sheet in the Boho Berry Tribe Facebook Group – but I figured everyone can do with more joy and hope in their lives, so that would be a good place to start. I’ve had a few replies, which have been the icing on the cake. I shall reply to those replies in March. I’ve missed writing letters – I haven’t had a pen pal since I was a teenager 30 years ago – so I want to make it a habit and write one letter a week from now on. I think that’s doable, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know my new letter-writing chums a bit better.

There were a couple of extra-special letter that I wrote this month. These were to people who, unknown to them, have had a massive impact on my recovery. It’s through the things they’ve shared online that I’ve, in part, been able to discover wellness, resilience and purpose, particularly through artful journaling and bullet journaling. I figured it was about time I said a proper ‘thank you’ to them and gave them the encouragement they deserve.

All things being equal, I’ll definitely be doing InCoWriMo again next year. How about you? Do you write letters? What kinds of things do you write about in yours?

Thanks for reading! Catch you soon. xxx

Blinking In the Sunlight

WaterA year ago, almost to the day, I pretty much disappeared from the web. I hid my blog; I deleted my Twitter account, and I closed 1000words. The reason? One of my children became unwell, and I knew that I needed to have my head in the mum game. Some people can keep lots of plates spinning, even in a hurricane. I’m not one of them. I tend to stow my crockery below decks and batten down the hatches.

I won’t go into details – it’s not my story to tell – but a year has now passed, my little one’s health is turning a corner, and I can feel the urge to write returning.

I don’t expect the writing community to throw me a Welcome Back party; I’m just letting those who might be interested know that I am here, blinking in the sunlight, tentatively dipping my toe in the water again.

Love Natalie x

#AmWriting #AmReading News – February 2015

It’s almost the end of February and therefore time for another reading and writing round-up. This time of year seems to fly by, which is not a bad thing as I’m not a fan of Winter. I do like the cold-and-crisp blue-sky days, but you can keep the grey-and-drizzly ones!

As far as writing goes, I’ve not been doing much at all (Every winter it’s the same: my fiction-writing brain takes a vacation between January and March. I only wish it would take my body with it. It could do with some warm sunshine.). Two of my stories have, however, been published and are now available for public consumption.

I hope you like them!

On the reading front, I’ve worked my way through four books.

indexI finished FlashDogs: An Anthology. This is a super read. I do have two short stories of my own in it, but that’s not what makes it super. What makes it super is that it’s packed with great flash-fiction and short stories spanning every genre imaginable. Obviously, I enjoyed some tales more than others, but that’s to be expected from a book that contains 110 stories written by 34 different authors. At £1.99 for the ebook and £6.38 for the paperback, it’s an absolute bargain. Plus all profits go to The International Board on Books for Young People, a charity devoted to encouraging excellence in children’s books, to supporting literacy and reading projects across the world, and to developing international understanding through children’s books.

17336666After spending the whole of the autumn reading flash-fiction collections, I felt the need to start the year by devouring a novel or two. I bought Deadly Heat ages ago, but lent it to my mum who then lent it to a friend, and it only found its way back to me at Christmas. After reading it in January, I quickly ordered the latest book in the series, Raging Heat, as I knew I’d need a February fix too.

For those not in the know: Richard Castle (played by the ruggedly-handsome Nathon Fillion) is the titular character in the TV show Castle. Castle is a crime writer who rides along (initially for research purposes) with NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (played by the mesmerizing Stana Katic). A series of spin-off books have been released. This is where it gets complicated: these books are “written” by Richard Castle and “inspired by” his adventures with Beckett. In the books, the writer is a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist called Jameson Rook (See what they did there?) and the NYPD homicide detective is called Nikki Heat (hence the ‘Heat’ in every title).

20454547The plots in the books are loosely based on the plots in the show, but readers are meant to believe that the show is not a show but real life, and once you get stuck into the books, you really do start to believes that’s the case, and it becomes increasingly difficult to remember that both Castle and Rook are fictitious.

As far as I’m aware, the public doesn’t knows who ghostwrites these novels. Whoever they are, they do a pretty good job of capturing the show’s ethos – and bending my mind. The writing can be a little bumpy in places and both of these latest books could have done with another pass in front a proofreader, but when it comes to Fillion/Castle/Rook I can forgive anything!

428864Living Out Loud by Keri Smith is a cracking little book – although it’s not really a book; it’s more of a folder with lots of pull-out-able pages. As my fiction-writing-brain has been switched off since Christmas, I decided to give my creativity a boost with some new fodder. This book is packed full of inspiration to keep you dreaming and playing. There are games, projects, activities, crafts and ideas that open the eyes and mind to all manner of creative opportunities. If, like me, you’ve been feeling a bit stagnant on the creative front, this might be just the refresher you need. (Expect another post about the creative endeavours inspired by the book!)

Ether Books FlashFortnight Challenge: The Results

Slide10
My winning promotional poster. Click through for image credits.

I had a bit of good writing news today. The results of the Ether Books FlashFortnight Contest were announced and it turns out I was a winner! I won both parts: most downloads and best promotional poster.

To say I’m chuffed would be an understatement. My prize consists of two parts: options in Ether Books (Might come in handy one day!) and a $125 package of book promotion by BooksGoSocial. As I don’t have a book of my own to promote at the moment, I’ve decided to donate my prize to a good cause and use it to promote Flashdogs: An Anthology which is due for release on Saturday 13th December. All proceeds from its sale are being given to The International Board on Books for Young People which is a non-profit organization representing an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. I have two brand-new short stories in the anthology plus there are over 100 other stories from some brilliant flash-fiction writers. To stay up to date with its release, follow @FlashDogs on Twitter.

Thank you to everyone who downloaded my Outliers and Misfits stories. I had a blast writing them, and I hope you enjoyed reading them!

Poster
Artwork by Tamara Rogers. All Rights Reserved.

#WritingNews: Publication in Spelk

SpelkThis evening, I was dead chuffed to receive an email from Spelk, letting me know that the flash-fiction I sent them (The Last Mug) will appear on their site on the 19th of February 2015.

Spelk is a new flash-fiction presence on the web which aims to post a new story (~500 words) every week, written by both established and new writers from all over the world. They have ‘very eclectic tastes’ and they ‘don’t like labels’. They like ‘quirky stories with characters who have something to say. Stories that keep [them] thinking long after [they’ve] read them.’

I’ve read quite a few of Spelk’s stories now and have really enjoyed them, so if you’re a reader pop over and have a read, and if you’re a writer, pop over and have a read too, but while you’re there make sure you check out their submission guidelines.

Enjoy!

The #1000words #FlashFiction #Flashcomp: November 2014

1000wordsGreetings, flash-fictioneers! It’s been ages since we held a #flashcomp, so we thought it was high time we rectified the situation, and as Jack Frost has once again started nipping at our noses, we’ve picked a wintry picture to inspire you.

Find out more at 1000words …

Deadline: 10pm GMT Saturday 29th November.

Results announced: 9pm GMT Sunday 30th November.

Word limit: 200

Prizes: Publication on the website and a Writers’ Survival Kit

Entry fee: None

Outliers and Misfits: Image Credits

To promote my Ether Books #FlashFortnight stories, I have created promotional posters using pictures that have been released under Creative Commons licenses. Below you’ll find the images and the details required by the licenses. I’ll add each day’s as I publish each new poster. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 to crop and resize the images and Microsoft PowerPoint:mac 2011 to create the posters.

Slide1Background image (Books) by shutterhacks. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide2Background image (Blue Power) by flattop31. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide03Background image (December Magic) by Erich Ferdinand. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide04Background image (Do you believe in magic?) by Garrett Charles. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY-SA 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide06Background image (Blood) by Mate Marschalko. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I flipped the original image, added two extra small drops of blood and then added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide07Background image (Fireworks Composite) by Jeff Golden. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide08Background image (Elizabeth) by Varvara. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide09Background image (hand) by jakub. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

 

Slide10Background image (Universe in my hands) by Lauro Roger McAllister. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide11Background image (Compass) by Walt Stoneburner. Some Rights Reserved. CC BY 2.0. I have cropped the original image and added the text and Ether Books swirl. The owner of this image has not endorsed me or my use of the image.

Slide16This is a composite of some of the above images. All the above license information applies.

A #Flashfiction Contest at Paperswans

Brighton PierThis week, I have a flash-fiction up for public vote in the latest Paperswans contest. The requirements were to write a 160 words (max) story, inspired by the image to the left. The entries are displayed anonymously, so I’m guessing I’m not supposed to tell you which one’s mine, but I’d be grateful if you’d have a read anyway and vote for whichever story you like best. I’ll tell you which one you should have voted for after the voting has closed at 00:59 on the 30th of July!

This way for the stories …