Now, onto Grandad's Wild Ride, behind the scenes...
It all started with a small red go-cart being restored on the TV show, The Repair Shop. A sweet grandfather had brought in the small, red racing car he'd played in as a child. Beaten up and rough around the edges, it sparked just enough of something for me to write down little red racing car in my notebook. The grandfather wanted his cart restored for his grandchildren to enjoy, and the result was a candy-red racer fit for children to have a ball with!
My story didn't come easy though. My children have had colds, the children I look after have had the colds too, and to top it off, I got the cold, but still, I had a story to write for all of you! I had many false starts, not writing more than a few words. Finally I stepped back and decided to mull it over without the pressure of writing anything down. I thought about the grandfather's cart, and his hopes for his grandchildren. A memory came to me of my Mum's father, Grandad Lance, who passed away a decade ago, and his dare-devil, get-stuck-in attitude with us, his grandchildren. Many years ago now, my father made my sisters and I a go-cart out of a tip-trolley. It was narrow and a bit tricky to steer, but boy could it go! We only found just how fast after Grandad visited and couldn't resist having a turn himself!
I've also written about my father's father in the last couple of months. He passed away two years ago, and with my grandmother passing recently, my grandparents have been on my mind. Grandad Ray's story is Burning the Cow, and it felt as if Grandad Lance wanted a turn too.
The melding of all these fragments of ideas has resulted in Grandad's Wild Ride, a fast-paced flash fiction full of fun! Enjoy!
Now that I’ve freaked you out, let me explain…
As a first-time indie author, I was oblivious to this legislative obligation that applies to all New Zealand authors/publishers (and not just those of books or stories). It’s called Legal Deposit, and if you’re publishing almost any kind of publication in New Zealand (see below for a link to the list), you’re required to send your work to the National Library of New Zealand for preservation as part of New Zealand’s heritage. The potentially scary bit is, if you fail to comply, it’s a punishable offence. You may be liable to a fine not exceeding $5000 under section 39 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa) Act 2003 (here’s a link to the act if you want to read it).
So how do I make my Legal Deposit and not get fined?
It’s actually easier than you might think, and beyond the cost of a couple of author copies and postage (if you’re publishing in print), it won’t cost you a bomb either. Plus, there is an upside to this Legal Deposit business: your work will be preserved FOREVER within the National Library of New Zealand, and therefore become a permanent, physical part of the heritage of our country. Now that’s cool hey?
What you can access here:
I'm covering Legal Deposit (and a little on ISBN) here. If you'd like to find out more about the other items on this list, head to the Nat Lib website.
So, let's find out how to make your Legal Deposit…
Under legislation, all publishers in New Zealand are required to deposit their publications with the National Librarian. Yep, you read that right. I had no idea about this until I looked at requesting an ISBN for the paperback copy of my debut novel, plus, I nearly made the mistake of purchasing one through Amazon. On top of that, had I continued with digital copies only, I may have unwittingly failed to comply with the legislation and therefore been liable for a fine. Through my research, I was lucky, and by reading this, you will be too!
If you’re not sure if Legal Deposit applies to you, check out the list here, and if you’re still not sure, contact them via the phone number or email address at the above link.
So, you’ve found out you’re on the list. What now?
In short, you need to submit your publication/s, and it’s pretty straight forward.
First, There’s a PDF form to fill in asking for your details, your publisher’s details (if you’re self-publishing, you can create your own publishing name, for example, I use ‘Emily Larkins Publishing,’ but you could be more creative), and details of your publication. QUICK TIP: I keep a copy of this form saved on my computer with my details filled in and only have to add my publication details each time.
Second, if you’re publishing physical copies (e.g. paperback), you’re required to submit two copies of your publication (there are some exceptions to this that you might want to check out on the form or website) within 20 days of publication (or as soon as practicable thereafter. In my case, it took an absolute age for my first copies to arrive from Amazon in the US and I did get a reminder email from the Nat Lib that my deposit was overdue. If you keep them updated via email, they’re pretty good about it).
For more on Legal Deposit, and to download the most up-to-date forms, head on over here.
Should you have questions or require assistance to at any stage of the process, the contact details for each department are clearly shown on the above website. All my communications with National Library staff have been straightforward, professional, and informative, though there can be a delay between inquiries and replies depending on when you send your emails, so keep this in mind.
And here’s a bonus note on ISBN, ISSN, and ISMNs…
It takes three working days to supply your number/s. If you have an urgent request, you need to call the library directly. Make sure you tick ALL the boxes your publication will come out in as each requires its own specific number. You can apply for your number/s up to eight weeks prior to your proposed date of publication, though you may request your number/s early if you have a specific reason. You can fill in this form on the website.
As a problem shared is a problem halved, so is sharing those vital pieces of information that can save other authors from heartbreak or calamity in the writing world. So, share away, and I’ll add your tips either to this post or to fresh one if they’re biggies, with you as the source included!
Until next post, happy writing and publishing!
I am in no way associated with Pinterest beyond being an enthusiastic user. I’m have not been approached by Pinterest and am not being paid for any element in this post. I merely wish to share with you a tool that I find invaluable as a writer and believe you’ll find an asset to your writing.
If you haven't caught the other posts in this series, link to them from here: Part One: The writer's best friend, Part Two: Do it once, do it right, Part Three: Injecting your brand into your boards. Enjoy!
I find storyboards great for two main reasons: 1. They help me create a visual plan of my story before, or as I write, and 2. They’re great to share with readers or potential readers to give a sense of the story as I saw it during writing.
Pinterest is an exceptional place to create storyboards because you have access to the entire web. Being image-based, these storyboards become a visual representation of your story, and you can pin links to research keeping it all in one convenient place.
Before going public with this board, you might consider making a title image using Canva or similar. As I’ve posted about before, I have specific titles I use, and incorporate my logo and website into cover images to make them instantly recognisable.
Storyboards can be an effective source to lead readers to your website or book sales links by including your book cover in the storyboard, plus, you can use your cover image to lead to your books, blogs, or buy links too. Consider having them lead to different places, e.g. cover image leads to your website, book cover image leads directly to your amazon link for that book (or similar).
I find my storyboards an excellent source of motivation to write. Visiting them gives me a deep reminder of my characters, setting, and plot, and this drives me to write more. Having images I can return to as needed helps me write accurate descriptions of character and setting, my saved research can be accessed quickly and efficiently, and I get a real sense of what my story looks like from my storyboards.
If you’d like to give storyboarding on Pinterest a go, I suggest you visit my Write! boards (link to my account below) as a great starting point. You’ll find banks of character inspiration images (see below; thousands of faces choose from including celebrities, well-known people, athletes, and so on, with multiple images of each person); Setting Development includes sections on world building, architecture, and images for inspiration; Images for Inspiration has plenty of setting ideas, plus a more diverse section called Strength, Beauty, Diversity to find character inspiration; and Research for Stories has a wide selection of topics you might require information on from survival to medicine, law to ancient culture and so much more. Feel free to follow these boards as I’m adding to them all the time.
Click Character Image Bank images to access below...
Do have a look at my existing storyboards under Read! (link to all boards above). Some are better than others, but all will give you a good starting point for your own storyboarding adventure. Learn from my successes and mistakes, and take from them what you like.
So, why not give it a go? And if you come across any great storyboarding examples or ideas, please add them to the comments on this post for others to learn from. Who knows, it might just generate you some sales!
Home life: visitors, visiting, and school!
Well, New Zealand has apparently ‘crushed the curve.’ That big old ‘zero new cases’ milestone has happened for us, and we’re looking ahead toward a step down to level one. Another milestone was schools going back mid-month. Along with the excitement of children returning to school (aka, no more home teaching!!!!!!), there was the collywobbles of my girls being out of my care too. We tested out the social thing, first with the electrician coming back to finish off the last bits on our house on the very first day of Level 2. I got to hug my mum in the morning when she came to shift sheep (my children went bonkers having Nana around, even just for a few minutes!), and Dad when he came to help with electrics. I’m now the proud owner of a pantry light (this is momentous!), outside lights front and back, and garage lighting that works!
We also had family visitors out for a Saturday firewood-gathering adventure given we’ve had some proper cold days with the first real frosts. With our four, my husband’s sister and family (another four), and my husband’s Dad over, we pushed toward the maximum ten limit for the first time. The following week we ventured into town as a family for more visiting and birthday celebrating. Fair warning: for those who haven’t ‘done the social’ yet, prepare to be exhausted. I thoroughly recommend small doses of people to begin, especially if you’re an introvert like me.
Along with the shift to Level 2, adults are congregating for pickups again, strangely at the school gate, hand sanitiser and awkward conversation included. My first attempt at proper adult conversation felt like talking with my mouth full, words jumbling and competing for use, and to top it off, I forgot to wear my hearing aids and this only highlighted how my hearing has changed over the last couple of months. Eek! Long story short, if I could press delete on that conversation, I would.
We’re all a bit excited to see each other though. Social distancing on the drive at school hasn’t been the most accurate, but it’s hard with kids. Thankfully we’re a small school and pretty much know every other parent there.
Back to school, for me, means back to looking after my niece and nephew twice a week, though this will only be for a couple of weeks with the ‘big boy’ turning five! It’ll be just me and miss 2.5 from then on. It also means Board of Trustees meetings and getting back into the governing of the school. We were a chatty bunch on our first meeting back, sharing our experiences of lockdown, and particularly what we’ve all taken from the experience. My real sense is that for my household, we needed that enforced slowdown. Whilst it has been an uncertain time, we’ve had a government that has reinforced and explained the need to do what we’re doing clearly, briefing us each day on the telly, and setting out next steps with time to prepare. I can’t thank Jacinda and Ashley (Prime Minister, and Director General of Health) enough for being firm but kind, and reinforcing the fact that we’re a team of five million: all in this together, and we’re jolly lucky to be a tiny group of islands at the bottom of the world.
Writing life: hot, cold, and in between...
I’m proud to say I’ve written a lot this month. I’ve had a good go at The Weight of Expectation (though there’s still 95% of the marathon left to run), and whacked out a great new flash fiction to share free on Free Flash Fiction Fridays. I hit my time goal on 30/31 days (woohoo), really challenged myself with an attempt at a new genre – Western – and looked closely at my social media data to see where I can make changes and improvements to give viewers a better experience with me.
Joseph’s Gold is my June Free Flash Fiction Friday release, the Western(ish) tale of hardship and gold. You can read more about my writing process for this story in my behind-the-scenes blog, and keep an eye out for the story coming up free, which it will from time to time over the rest of the year.
I’ve made a slightly annoying discovery, though, with the ambitious goals I set for myself this year: I won’t be able to keep it all up next year if I hope to get The Weight of Expectation out anytime soon! Between weekly blogging, new flash fiction monthly, short stories every two months, and the demands of family, school, and other opportunities, my novel-writing time tends to be the sacrifice. Something’s got to give, but I’m not sure just what yet.
Whilst I’ve been refining my planning and journaling systems (I’m looking forward to my bright and beautiful new journal for next year), and have discovered a bunch of great ideas for keeping track of where I’m at. It’s a bit of a shame I haven’t managed to keep it all going as much in the last weeks of the month, but of course, the kids are back at school, I’ve got my little people keeping me busy, and social commitments are back underway. I’d better get my bum into gear and work it all out as this month has been productive and busy in a great way.
So what will this writer's life look like now?
And so, we’re back into ‘close to normal’ life and the time I had my husband and girls home was far more productive than I thought it’d be. The work/life balance felt nourishing, and while I thought I’d be driven spare by having so much going on at the same time as my writing time, it actually was good. How I’ll return to that balance is as yet unclear. As for deciding which of my projects gets culled next year, or, how I’ll modify my current workload to balance novel writing more effectively is another mystery. If you’ve got any ideas, please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for a solution!
I think my revelations for this month is that I’ve just got to go with it. Times have been hard, unsettled, scary, sad, fun, distracting, productive, frustrating, and everything else in the spectrum. Not meeting the mark or hitting my goals is an utter frustration, but why waste my energy and bring myself down grumbling over it? I’ve just got to acknowledge it, balance it with what’s happening in my non-writing life, and breathe it through. Like the rest of the world, I need to find my new normal. Let’s hope I find it sooner, not later!
Until next month,
Happy reading and writing!
I decided that the prompt itself demanded to be the opening of my story:
The boy’s plight caught me in the chest, however I didn’t feel that this story was his in the telling. Instead, the narrator is an observer, though no less part of the story. Both are caught in that hazy zone between boy and manhood, and both have weights on their shoulders that aren’t a boy’s to carry. They share desperation, drive, and more…
This story required research. I’m not a natural Western writer, but I have taken on historical fiction pieces in the past, and approached it from that direction. I wrote the guts of the story first, then went digging for information on the Western genre – particularly the identifiable features of Western – and swept back toward places I knew, lending them to the story. My experiences with gold come from the Central Otago region of New Zealand, particularly Cromwell, Arrowtown, and Queenstown. I panned for gold on school camp when I was eleven, but before that, family holidays to Bannockburn and Cromwell were spent out in the old diggings; dry, dusty places of shale, burning sun, and the evidence of the search for gold back in the late 1800s. I also borrowed from T.V. and movies, particularly scenes involving medicine and hospitals/infirmaries.
But how to get all that into 1500 words? Well, not easily! I had to balance what was important to the genre with the heart of the story, which essentially is the idea that a strike (yours or not!) could change a life. I found it addictive and used it to build the desperation within the story. If you want to find out how, I suggest you have a read when Joseph’s Gold comes up for FREE Flash Fiction Friday, or, if you can’t wait, Joseph’s Gold (and all other Flash Fiction Friday stories) is locked down to a tiny price throughout the month. If you’d like to check out the images I collected that helped inspire Joseph’s Gold, there’s a link just over here! I’d also love to hear what you think of the story, so feel free to pop a review on via the link. Plus, this prompt, and more, are available on my Prompts by Emily board on Pinterest, so go to it! Write your own version of the story!
First up, if you haven’t already checked out Part One (The Writer's Best Friend) and Part Two (Do it once, do it right) of this series, click the links! There are some fantastic tips there for new or existing Pinterest users.
I am also not being paid by anyone to write this post, I’m doing it purely because I value Pinterest as a tool for writers – they have not approached me for endorsement.
I make no secret of my love for Pinterest, and before I say anything more, I need to be clear that I have not been approached by anyone from Pinterest, and I’m not being paid for writing about it; I’m doing my bit to help other writers (or creatives), it’s as simple as that.
As an author or business person on Pinterest, the one thing you want above all else is to be recognisable – to STAND OUT. In my last Quick Tip post I discussed setting up your profile, specifically your bio, username, and image, and I briefly mentioned board cover images and descriptions. This post relates directly to them.
What learning is how to inject the ‘flavour’ of you and your writing (or business) into your account and become immediately recognisable as YOU. If you haven’t considered it yet, I strongly urge you to create a brand for your business (you can see mine all over this website AND my Pinterest account). I suggest you do this early, as this is one of the most striking ways to make yourself visible and identifiable – think colour, font, a logo, or consistent imaging. DO YOUR RESEARCH – there’s more to branding than simply popping your name on something – it’s a chance to create a striking, instantly appealing signature that is yours alone (for more on this, try my Promotion Board on Pinterest).
The basic anatomy of your Pinterest account is: your bio, your boards (very much like a folder), sections (like dividers in your folder), and pins (the items you place under each divided section). You can also make an image from each board the ‘board cover image,’ this is the highlighted image that stays at the front no matter how many pins you add to the board. You give each board a title, and you’re given a limited number of characters to describe each board.
So, how in this limited space, can you show your brand and personality? The key is to be consistent, concise, and clever.
As I discussed last Quick Tip, I group my boards by type: About me, Business boards, Reading boards, and Writing boards. My first strategy here is alphabetisation (Pinterest organises boards and sections alphabetically by default, and I’ve tried to safeguard my organisation by running with that (so it won’t matter too much if Pinterest, for whatever reason, lists differently on different devices). My second strategy is COVER IMAGE. This is potentially the bigger attention grabber because this is where you can showcase your brand on each image and employ colour to clearly define the group your boards belong to. You can add text to these images to further explain what they’re about without having to click to get board description.
When you’re entering the description for these boards, write a concise essence of what the board is about, then add hashtags that will lead potential viewers right to your boards (viewers can search hashtags and all the boards with those hashtags included will come up – you want your board to be on that list!). I always include my specific hashtags #emilylarkins and #emilylarkinsauthor, as well as #amwriting on writing boards #amreading on reading boards and #businesstools on my business boards. Do some research, and try to anticipate what your potential viewers might search for, like #shortstorytools on a board for short story writing. I aim for a 50:50 balance of description and hashtags in the allowed character limit.
Once your board is cleverly named and described, use your cover images to your advantage. Sticking with the default is fine, but risks your account looking generic. Board covers are a massive opportunity to make your account stand out. It’s where you can get clever: using Canva (this is the site I use) or a similar image creation site, design your own cover images that include: the name of the board, a one sentence description of what it’s about, always include your website address, and/or your name, AND use your brand colours and logo if you have one. I also include my profile image. Cover images can be a real asset to your Pinterest account, and you can set the pin address to redirect straight to that board so when a viewer clicks on the image, it takes them to that board. Viewers can then save your board cover image right to their own boards, and when they click on that image it takes them straight to your board! Alternately, whatever pin you create can link directly to any web address you like, so it can link to your website, book purchase pages, and so on, so lead your viewers to YOU.
Do you have more ideas on how to inject your brand into your Pinterest boards? If so, please share them in the comments!
Flash Fiction; fast and fabulous!
I started writing Flash Fiction for two main reasons: one, to feel that sense of accomplishment in finishing and publishing pieces more frequently; and two, to give back to my readers.
Many writers long for that ‘I’m done!’ feeling, that sense of accomplishment, completion, and having works out there in the world being read! I appreciate that feeling, and it helps me carry on with longer projects, providing little reminders of what finishing a full-blown novel feels like. Through writing Flash Fiction, I discovered benefits I hadn’t thought of: 1. Practicing and polishing my writing skills, 2. I can draft a piece in an hour or so, so I can write a whole story whilst my kids are occupied with a movie or drawing, 3. I can write, edit, and publish a piece in a week (a great and productive gap-filler between larger projects), 4. Readers get a taste of my writing in different genres, 5. I can push my boundaries by trying different genres, characters, and settings, therefore stretching my writing muscle. And boy does Flash stretch that muscle! You’ve got such a short window to get that story across, and every single word needs to count!
I’ve challenged myself to write at least one Flash Fiction piece for publishing each month in 2020 (this is my year for big goals, after all!). I felt the need to up my count of published pieces on Amazon, and to give back to readers. At the same time, I wanted to provide an incentive for my audience to read more of what I’ve written: the hope being that if a reader enjoys a historical fiction Flash I’ve written, they might then choose to read a historical fiction short, or if they liked my contemporary Flash, they may then go on to read my novel. Essentially, my Free Flash Fiction Friday pieces are a ‘lead magnet’ of sorts, but not the main reason I write them.
So, how do I do this Flash thing?
First of all, keep in mind that Flash Fiction is like a glimpse through a window; you’re not entering the whole house, just catching a view. In other words, Flash Fic is short and to the point; you just don’t have the word count to go into depth, so must convey your idea succinctly.
I tend to follow a formula that I’ve developed through reading short stories, blog posts, and articles on short stories and flash fiction, combining what works for me into my own formula. This process is ever-evolving, and I have a base document that I plan and write from that I regularly update with new (and often simplified) ideas. On occasion, I’ve been known to ‘pants’ Flash Fiction (writing without planning first), straight from a prompt if it grabs me strongly enough.
Most of my flash fic starts from writing prompts. A prompt that’s strong enough to capture my imagination will provide an image to start from, and often a character, setting, or problem. There are so many prompts available on the internet, and I’ve collated many of my favouites into a Pinterest board (see them here). I also write prompts and add to them every week which you can see and pin for yourself here.
The following are extended explanations of the steps included in the downloadable document I’ve included in this post for your use.
Hey all you readers and writers out there,
Do you have any tips or tricks to writing great Flash Fiction? Do you want to help other writers get the best out of their 1500 words? Please comment on this post!
Better yet, pop on over to my 'contact' page and drop me a line. I'd love to include a section on this post with tips and tricks from all of you! Please include your name so I can credit you in the post!
First up, if you haven’t already checked out Part One of this series, Why Pinterest is a MUST HAVE for Writers, click here to catch up, or pop on to post three here!
I make no secret of my love for Pinterest, and before I say anything more, I need to be clear that I have not been approached by anyone from Pinterest, and I’m not being paid for writing about it; I’m doing my bit to help other writers (or creatives), it’s as simple as that.
First of all, if you’re serious about using Pinterest for your writing (or any!) business, choose a business account. I urge you to do this for a simple reason: data. Through Pinterest Analytics, you’re able to see how your boards are tracking, how many impressions, saves, and engagements your pins and boards have made, and so much more. That won’t seem like a big deal to begin with, but I tell you, it’s one of my go-to places at least twice a week.
Now that’s out of the way, one of the first tasks on setting up your Pinterest account is creating your profile. You only get 160 characters here, so keep it to the point – who you are, what you do, what people will find in your boards. It’s tricky to inject personality here, but possible if you’re clever. You’ll also need a profile name and pic. My big tip here is be consistent across all platforms – if you’re @MaryLamb on Twitter, be Mary Lamb across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest – or whichever, just try your darndest to be consistent (start from scratch with new accounts if you have to). Same goes for your photo. When you use the same author pic across all platforms because it makes you instantly recognisable – don’t make your potential customers or followers guess if it’s you or not, IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS (you'll note on my accounts below that one doesn't fit as it should because I converted from a personal to business account instead of starting from scratch).
See examples from my accounts here:
The next step is to start building boards – what Pinterest is all about. My tip here is to start thinking of how you’re going to organise your boards from day one. Here’s how I did it: my main areas of pinning fall into four categories - about me/blog/links, business building stuff, my books and stories, and writing tools. I’ve tried to identify these clearly through title choice and cover pictures. Pinterest likes to alphabetise things by default, so my ‘About’ boards all start with A words (how to find me first), business boards are ‘Biz: category’, books and stories are ‘Read: title,’ and writing tools are Write: category.’ You’ll notice I use my branding wherever possible, my website and profile pic are on cover photos (click board examples below to explore further. That’s to be as consistent and visible as possible. My aim: I want to lead potential readers to my website and my stories wherever possible.
Final tip for today: when you create a board or a pin, you’re invited to give it a description. THESE ARE IMPORTANT, so please make sure you write one, but first, I urge you to research hashtags and find ones that relate to your work – a great place to start for writers is #amwriting #amreading #amediting and so on. I aim for fifty-fifty character allowance between a concise description and plenty of hashtags – hashtags are super useful in leading people to the kinds of boards they’re after – you want that to be your board!
Next Quick Tip you’ll find out how to showcase your brand and personality to your advantage through Pinterest. See you then!
Bubble Life bites, and hard...
Oh how lockdown has become an out of balance affair of teaching and working. Working for myself, I’m able to make that sacrifice and wear it, but for those employed by others, I feel for you! My kids have run out of enthusiasm for their daily Zoom classes, and getting my eldest to do any work without making it a drawn-out melodrama grows in challenge!
What tipped the scales mid-month, taking my extended family into unexpected and difficult territory, was my 95-year-old grandmother’s fall and subsequent hospitalisation. We hadn’t been able to visit her in her retirement home due to Covid restrictions, so none of us had seen her for a very long time. She had surgery, a touch-and-go thing due to her age and frailty, but post femur-fixing, they discovered broken ribs. My tiny, stubborn, straight-talking wee granny lasted three long weeks to be able to see her children. Nobody could have imagined after years of declining health, just how tough she could be. It was a difficult thing, not being there with her. Only once New Zealand dropped to Level Three Lockdown could her children, my father and his sister along with my mum, could visit and were shocked at the changes in her. Lucid to the end, we shared a messenger chat with her and she asked after everyone. Though short, just to be able to see her, hear her, and tell her we loved her was so important, and utterly heart breaking in that we knew it’d be the last. I really feel for those families who’ve been separated whilst loved ones slip away, and to be denied that chance is just awful. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it’d have been for us without at least someone of ours there at the end, especially when we’re usually all there. Our team approach has been foiled by Covid, an illness beyond our imagining. It’s touched us all, whether directly or indirectly, and it has changed life in ways we never could have predicted. It’s time to get our adaptability hats on and crush the curve!
Right, beyond the sad and difficult stuff, Level Three Lockdown has brought fun and a lightening of the mood too. My husband is back at work, and we’ve expanding our bubble to include my sister’s kids (the two I look after when she’s teaching). This has provided a bit of relief. Boy have those cuties grown, and boy did I forget how much energy it takes to keep up with them! Miss Coming Up Two, and Mr Nearly Five and my two were thrilled to see each other again, and exhausted afterward! We marched around the paddocks, played in the little house my husband built for them, kicked balls, played ‘golf’ (aka, don’t get hit with the golf club!), climbed, slid, rolled, and enjoyed the sun. We’ve also caught up for a farm walk, pushing the boundaries of our bubble out to the edges of the farm for some family time and a dose of fresh air.
Regular life, whilst far off in the vaccinated future, puzzles me a bit. Whilst I look forward to the level-two drop (predicted for mid-May), I also don’t mind the routine we’ve slipped into, and the distancing suits me fine (introvert alert much?), and it’s relaxed with little pressure. It does itch a bit from time to time, having to stay away from family during celebrations, not having takeaways (not so much for the food, but for not having to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day!), and those little interactions outside of home are missed. I struggle with being told ‘you can’t.’ I might not have wanted to in the first place, but as soon as someone forbids me to do something, I want to do it, don’t I? But then, what might the consequences be, and do I want to be responsible for them? Hell no!
Bite me, writing bug
I’m back on the writing front! I’m back! I’ve been up and down, but the push to get ‘The Invitation,’ done and out in record time kick started the process again. I’m reminded of the need to keep on keeping on, even a little each day, on big projects. They slip easily into another place if I leave a gap, and I come back to find I don’t recognise where I was at. Little bits at least keep the story fresh in my mind. ‘The Weight of Expectation,’ is a hard write for me though. I’m using a lot of personal experience in this one, exploring things from the outside and in retrospect. Whilst not a true story at all, I’ve used the feelings and dredging through them is hard work. I want the story done, but it’s draining, and hard, and it puts my mood off every time I get stuck in. I’d hoped to have it published by the end of last year, but the act of sitting down and putting my ‘past’ hat on is so difficult! I’m pushing on, though, and I’m determined to get there and move onto lighter things!
Writing shorts is an unintended relief to the hard stuff. I published a new short story, ‘Into the Mist,’ this month, straying into borderline magical realism, a genre I hadn’t intended to venture into, but the story went there, so I had to follow! It was an organic write and poured out, meaning to be a flash fic piece but drifted into the 4k+ zone on draft (way too far to drag back to 1500). It’s different, to, an imagining of a character so different from myself, but with a longing for change that I can understand. Check it out and see what I mean!
It's the bubble team life for me!
We’re looking ahead to Level Two Lockdown as I write – we’ll find out in a matter of days if the country is ready to move again. It’ll mean more change, more anxiety, but it feels like time. At the beginning, six weeks seemed enormous, and now I find it’s flown by, a bit like a second Summer Holidays, but without the birthdays, Christmas and New Year celebrations, outings, or extended family time. Instead we’ve weathered it as a small team, enjoying having parents and kids together, learning new skills like Zoom, and watching my children put on an extra centimetre in height! I’m thankful for the chance to slow down; I think the world needed that, though it would have been nice to do it without illness, job losses, and the pain that many on the planet have been landed with. Covid has truly shown that nothing in life is certain, that we need to be prepared for anything, and that working as a team, whether it be the four in my house, or the 4.8 million in my country, is key.
I hope you’ve all found some positives in the last month, however small they may be. I hope, too, that you’ve avoided illness, that you’ve found some quiet amongst the hustle, and that you can look ahead to something good even if times are hard right now.
Until next month, happy reading!
Anyway, to the story!
I wanted to escape my flash fiction genre comfort zone (had enough of contemporary fiction yet?) this month, and I needed something sweet, light, and, escapist. The Invitation takes us on a 1950s (historical fiction!) beach trip with Tallulah, her beau, Emory, and his older, more experienced friends. At just seventeen, and living away from home, Tallulah is out of her depth in just about every way possible. With help and encouragement from her elder sister, Tallulah embarks on this trip, worried about what people (Emory included) will think of her in everything from her image and actions, to her swimsuit!
It's a little longer than standard flash fiction (300-1500 words) - you're getting a generous 2000 this month, though I expect you won't mind! The Invitation takes inspiration from the movie Brooklyn, though the setting is distinctly New Zealand in flavour, and has a teen romance at heart.
So, be brave like Tallulah and give The Invitation a go. After all, on Free Flash Fiction Fridays, it won't cost you anything!
Hi, I'm Emily,