Collecting thoughts…

There’s never really been a pigeon-hole large enough to accommodate me and all my writing baggage. A pigeon loft might be better suited.

*sinks into fuzzy daydream*

~I could compartmentalise it and have a corner for children’s books, another for children’s poetry, one for short stories for adults, one for flash, one for… oh, I seem to have run out of corners. ‘Grown up’ poetry can sit in the middle~

*slaps own cheeks and returns to reality*

But even then I’d need sub-categories. Where does it stop?

So, that bit of introductory waffle brings me back to my point: putting together a short story collection; how should it be done?

Do readers like:

  • a true mix of stories?
  • a theme?
  • to be scared witless all the way through?
  • to laugh until they choke to death?

Many writers stick to one genre, so putting together a collection is easy. I don’t dip my toes into a huge range, but my short stories seem to roughly divide into light-hearted, humorous tales to tingle your taste buds (see Light Bites ) or darker stories where characters – living or dead – live on the periphery of society and their issues are not as simple as deciding whether or not to have another slice of chocolate cake (see Peace and Disquiet ).

I don’t seem to visit anything between – romance, for instance.

It’s a straightforward choice. As I write, I file under ‘Adult’ / ‘Short Stories’ / ‘Serious’ or ‘Humorous’.

It’s very tempting to grab a handful from each category and pop them into a short story collection, but I think readers need to ‘get into the zone’ when they sit down with a collection. They need to be prepared to an extent for what they are about to encounter. Having to adjust from funny to heart-wrenching in a matter of minutes can take its toll on the emotions.

And so it is that I have recently channelled all my energy into my latest collection, ‘Minor Discord’, which takes the reader to a variety of dark places through a range of characters and settings and does, incidentally, contain a soupcon of black humour. It’s quite a large collection with about forty entries, and I have included, too, pieces of flash fiction which have been written in the same vein. Some of these have been written in response to competition requirements, details of which follow those stories which were entered.

Here’s the blurb:

Dare to visit the dark places at the edges of the map, places where you will feel unsettled and from where characters will follow you, whether you want them to, or not.

This collection of stories and flash fiction will take you into the shadows.

 Don’t get left behind…

As yet, this collection is unseen by human eyes (apart from those of my proofreaders). Next, I shall turn my attention to completing another contrasting collection. I have quite a few completed already – and a title in mind.

If you ‘enjoy’ – is that the right word?- Minor Discord, I would be delighted to read a review. If you don’t, keep it to yourself, eh?

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Picking scabs

You know those people who just can’t leave things alone—constantly straightening the curtain, arranging the crudités with as much symmetry as four different vegetables will allow and repeatedly re-positioning the set of three china balls so that not only are they equidistant, but also in a line that points due south-east…

You don’t? Oh. It’s just me then.

Well, I do strive for perfection in the hope that one day I will be able to boot the Angel Gabriel out of his golden chair and wear his robes and wings with more panache than he ever dreamed possible. Maybe it’s a little on the OCD scale, but I like it that way.

Yes, I am getting to the point.

So, my point is… having written all my books and seeing them in all their glory on Amazon, you would think—would you not—that I could safely say Job Done. Oh no, not I (as Gloria Gaynor once sang).  Bit by bit, I am tearing them apart and re-publishing them.

A new line would be better there, I think.

I’ve found a better font!

I’ve got a better cover idea!

So, up to now, I have four books which are as perfect as I can achieve. It has not been without a struggle as I have previously mentioned. Having had an article published in the local press about my short stories collection, Peace and Disquiet,

Image

I promptly poked my big nose into the publishing process for tweaking and new-cover-idea purposes, only to find the whole production system disrupted and my book no longer available. I’ve managed to put it right and here is the final…FINAL book, never to be fiddled with again:

And here are the finished books of Salt and The Secret of Pooks Wood (whose old cover wasn’t exciting enough) for children… uh, never to be fiddled with again.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Salt-Helen-Laycock/dp/1499276257/ref=la_B006PGFVL6_1_9_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399998854&sr=1-9   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Pooks-Wood-Helen-Laycock/dp/1499525591/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399998892&sr=1-1&keywords=the+secret+of+pooks+wood

*spits on hand, twirls three times and sings the rest of I Will Survive*

The Return (long overdue, but a return nevertheless)

OK, blog, I have returned… and bearing gifts at that!

I have been a very busy bee of late – *shakes tail and wiggles wings* – because I have been in direct combat with technology. Yes, I grabbed it by the horns, had a bit of a scuffle where it rudely threw me around and left me disorientated, but I came out triumphant and victorious, wearing a laurel wreath emblazoned with the words ‘By Jove, she did it’.

Let me show you what I’ve been up to:

*rummages through Internet, comes up for breath and dives back in briefly*

 

I have been using what can only be described as magic to make what can only be described as paperbacks.

I’m still only two-thirds along the rocky path that lies ahead of me, complete with deviously camouflaged trapdoors and things with sharp teeth which are prone to nibbling a small writer’s ankles, but here’s the booty so far:

*shakes*

 

*takes a deep bow and skips off happily*