What stops you from publishing your work?

There are many reasons an author doesn’t get around to publishing their work. I know from my own experience how scary it is to actually get your stories/novels into the real world. The dread of waiting for that first review, the agonising over the cover, blurb, and oh, the list goes on. I wonder sometimes how any of us manage to do it at all.

I have been wanting to publish my second anthology of short stories for nearly a year now. They have been sitting  in Scrivener for ten months. I have edited, re-edited, edited again, tweaked, cut, added and edited the stories until I hate the very sight of them. Then I wake up and realise there is a plot flaw, or a character’s reaction to something isn’t quite right, and I go back to the story and re-write it. Then when I’m satisfied – ish – I start looking at the contents order, change it around, change it back and when I’m sick of that,  I go onto another project.

Why?

Because I want my work to be perfect. Until I think it is, I know that I will never publish.

Then a friend told me to stop being so precious and ‘anal and just publish the thing!’ She was right, of course. My writing is never going to be perfect. Even if I think the stories are as near perfect as I can get them, I guarantee that I will want to change something at some point.

So I have decided to go ahead and finally publish my second anthology of short stories.

Crow Bones.

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Due for release 5th November 2016 via my new publishing company – Oddly Books.

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Now that it’s official, I will have to do the deed.

Are there any authors out there who share my dithering when it comes to publishing? If so, what are the reasons you don’t do it? I’d love to hear from you, just so I know that I’m not alone.

My first collection of short stories – Glimmer – is on offer at the moment. Only $0.99 £0.99 on a variety of sites. Just click on this link to take you to where you can purchase your copy:  https://books2read.com/u/4AgOLA

Or go to Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

 Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/
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Is it really okay to write in the present tense?

 

Tenses, past and present are a vital part of any narrative. Some say you should never write in the present tense as it is a sign of amateurishness. Say that to Hilary Mantel, Charles Dickens and Ian McEwan.

Still, there  are many who dislike the use of present tense. Philip Pullman is one such author who frowns upon it because of its limitations, in his opinion.

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‘I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses.’

You can read the full article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/global/2010/sep/18/philip-pullman-author-present-tense

I have to say that on the whole I agree with him. Personally, I’m not a fan of novels in the present tense, without some past tense in the form of flashbacks or memories. That being said, I believe the present tense can be used well for short story writing. I then thought, oh no, present tense!

A horrible memory came back to me. A creative writing tutor once shamed me in front of the entire class when I submitted a present tense short story, written in the first person, by saying, ‘Never write in the present tense. Only amateurs and bad writers do that. Don’t write in the first person either, that shows a lack of imagination and arrogance. Let’s face it, no-one wants to listen to your voice, you are nobody.’ His words hurt and I vowed to never write in the first person or the present tense again.

 

Until a year later after gaining a Creative Writing Diploma and winning a short story completion with a piece written in the first person present tense.

Glimmer

 ‘The world will not end because I close my eyes. The sun will still shine, so too the stars. Yet the darkness behind my drooped lids tells me otherwise. I see a macrocosm made up of swirling silhouettes and geometric shapes that aren’t strange to me at all. This is where I live now, in x-ray blackness. There is peace in this non-colour. A stillness that demands quiet.’

This story is now part of my anthology – Glimmer and other stories – and is getting some brilliant 5* reviews.

‘A stunning collection of highly original short stories, written with verve and style. They do not glimmer they sparkle!’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

 http://amzn.to/239YbRG

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With Mr. Pullman’s article fresh in my mind, I decided to write another short story in the present tense, with past tense mixed in. Then I thought, oh, does it work? Why not write the whole thing in the past tense and be done with it? No one will criticise me and…well, I did and I didn’t like it as much. The tone and narrative voice works better in the present tense, for me, anyway.

What do you think?

Below are two short extracts from the beginning of the story The Shivering Oak. Inspiration for the story came from a painting by Marc Chagall.marc-chagall-autumn-in-the-village

Present tense:

Coward.

To conceal yourself up a tree like a rat.

I do not hide. I am here for all to see. Lounging larger than the low roof I recline upon.

At least, that’s how it seems to me as I raise my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it. Yes, even the heavens are on my side.

I will wait.

I do not grow tired or hungry. I am nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroke my bare arms and lips, which are red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, now that I glance at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I think they resemble the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they are nearer the shade of the berries on the bush growing below your dangling feet. I notice the soles of your shoes are worn. Is that a toe, that pink protuberance sticking out from the emerging hole? The twitching thing is making Genghis yank at his leash.

I sit up to get a better look. You struggle to maintain position on the creaking branch. One hand wrapped around the frail wood, the other clutching onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at the Christmas concert.

The village hall was crammed that night with the young, old, and those in between. Forced to stand at the back, I peered over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind, though. It was good to be in the world again after all those years cooped up with dad.

Past Tense:

Coward

Concealing yourself up that tree like a rat.

I did not hide. I was there for all to see. Lounging larger than the roof I reclined upon.

At least, that’s how it seemed to me when I raised my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it.

Yes, even the heavens were on my side.

I waited

I did not grow tired or hungry. I was nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroked my bare arms and legs, which were red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, when I glanced at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I thought they resembled the hue of the roses on the dress I wore. Or perhaps, they were nearer the shade of the berries on the bush that grew below your dangling feet. I noticed that the soles of your shoes were worn. Was that a toe, that pink protuberance that stuck out from the hole? The thing that twitched and made Genghis yank at his lease.

I sat up to get a better look. You struggled to maintain your position on the creaking branch. You had one hand wrapped around the frail wood, whilst the other clutched onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me last Christmas at the village concert.

Thank you for reading. Any comments about which tense works better for you, would be very much appreciated.

Glimmer and other stories will be on a Kindle Countdown deal from 6th June. So, if you want a copy at a bargain price, just head over to Amazon.

 UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

 

 

Want Something Different To Read For Mother’s Day?

Firstly, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.

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I am all for celebrating the joy  and hard work of motherhood. I think it is a wonderful idea to have a special day to say thanks, but I do get a bit fed up with all the over-the-top sugary sentimentality that the event conjures up.

So, as an antidote, let me share my Sestina – Echo– with you all. It may be a little dark, but it does celebrate the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Sestina – Echo

b&W Tulip

Echo

In blackness, Mother reaches for the light

switch, but the bulb has blown. There’s a candle

under her pillow, ready for a time

like this – when the darkness grips. A cut

on her arm has festered and now the skin

appears red and taught; an angry mark.

She tries to rub it away, but the mark

won’t go. Mother cowers, whispers, ‘No light.’

Calls out, ‘Mary, quick.’ Then picks at the skin

around the wound. Mother lifts the candle

rubs it on the dirty scratch. Mary says, ‘Cut

again?’ Then sets the wick on fire. One time

she found Mother naked, another time

crouched in the corner making a mark,

a sign to her daughter. A broken nail cut

her arm, left a blood trail that soaked up light.

Mary saw it flow and seep into the candle

whose flame highlighted Mother’s aged skin

hanging in folds. Mary peers at her own skin.

But the dimness hides the truth; that at some time

gravity will win. Mary takes the candle.

Sees a rough carving of a heart-shaped mark.

Did Mother make this? A bird calls as light

shines through the window. It’s enough to cut

into the gloom they stand in, and to cut

away the chill. It shines upon the skin

they share, so similar in this half-light.

Mary shudders at the thought that in time

her fate will be to scratch out such a mark

and wear her body half melted like candle

wax. A strand of hair has stuck to the candle.

She pulls it off revealing a perfect scar, a cut

embedded. With her thumb she makes a mark

like Mother made, leaving some of her skin

behind. They smile at the symmetry; how time

has crept up behind them and how the light

transformed the candle wax into a fresh skin

to lay across the cut, giving it time

to heal the mark, slowly fading in the light.

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If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read more unusual and darkly inspiration stories to be found in my anthology – Glimmer and other stories.

On the Eighth Day:

“He wriggled and pushed the bedclothes down. It was the first time I had seen him in the flesh.  His skin was white, and smooth as the skin on warm milk.

Never knew a man could feel so soft. More used to rough hands grabbing, not knowing what they touched.

He knew.

At least, I hoped so. Hard to tell. Been a while since I was in the company of a male.”

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‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity – they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

On Offer at Amazon:

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

 

Editing – does it ever end?

I have been editing a short story for my next anthology. It is based on the painting ‘Autumn in the village’ by Marc Chagall.

marc-chagall-autumn-in-the-village

When I’d finished and felt pleased with the result, I thought I would post a few paragraphs on Facebook. Ah, I saw a repetition of words and a slightly clumsy sentence and…Yep, I took it down and spent another hour editing one paragraph. Was I happy with the result?

Yes and no.

So I tweaked it again.

And again.

And…well, you get the idea.

So, as a writer, do we ever think, ‘Okay, this is it. This is perfect.’

I suppose we just have to let go and allow the reader decide.

But, oh, how I twitch and itch to change it!

Anyway, here is the beginning of my story – The Shivering Oak:

Coward.

To conceal yourself up a tree like a rat.

I did not hide. I was there for all to see. Lounging larger than the low roof I reclined upon. At least that’s how it seemed to me as I raised my chin to the sky and let the sun kiss it. Yes, even the heavens were on my side.

So, I waited.

I did not grow tired or hungry. I was nourished by the warm May winds that gently stroked my bare arms and lips, which were red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, when I glanced at my reflection in the darkened window of the building opposite, I thought they resembled the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they were nearer the shade of the berries on the bush that grew below your dangling feet. I noticed how the soles of your shoes were worn. Was that a toe? That pink protuberance that stuck out from the emerging hole? The twitching thing that made Genghis yank at his leash.

I sat up to get a better look. You struggled to maintain position on the creaking branch. One hand wrapped around the frail wood, the other clutching onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at the Christmas concert.

The village hall was crammed that night with the young, old, and those in between. Forced to stand at the back, I peered over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind, though. It was good to be in the world again after all those years cooped up with dad.

I squinted when the lights came up and saw you standing stage right next to the accordion player. The drummer had far too much facial hair for my liking and for some reason I took an instant dislike to the piano player. I think it was because he kept winking at a young woman two seats down from where I sat.

You moved away from the clarinettist, who contorted his face and body so much when he began to tune his instrument, that I was forced to lower my gaze to avoid witnessing his grimaces. I’m glad I did, for when I looked up again, my eyes rested upon you. You were staring at the ceiling, instrument tucked under your arm, paying attention to something other than the music. Standing still all statue-like, I gazed at you and wondered if you had indeed turned to stone. If so, I’d place you in my garden by the dried up pond.

When it was your turn to play, you sparked into life as though switched on by an invisible flick. I may have drooled when your fingers slid right to the top of the neck of the violin. The shrill and lilting notes you played made my backbone dance involuntarily. You made me yours that evening, by the stroke of a bow on horsehair.

Hope you enjoyed this extract. Please feel free to comment. Thank you!

If you are interested in my short stories, I have a collection on amazon called – Glimmer and other stories.

Here is the link: http://bookShow.me/B00H89AN1M

Also my author website link: http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/

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Shakespeare Goes Punk – Meet the Author

Prior to the Facebook Extravaganza – Fantasy Sci-Fi Dystopian Steampunk Bargain Books Party.

I am spotlighting the authors taking part. And now it is time to say hello to Jeffrey Cook again, but this time he has joined up with other authors to create a wonderfully diverse short story collection all in aid of an animal and wildlife rescue centre.

So why not buy a copy and help our fellow creatures to have a better life.

Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk is a charity anthology.

Shakespeare Punk

 

Airships and sky pirates! Brain Modification chips! Technologically enhanced nymphs! Shakespeare goes punk in this first volume of stories from Writerpunk Press (www.punkwriters.com). Profits to go to PAWS Lynwood (www.paws.org), an animal shelter and wildlife rescue.

Ask a bunch of eclectic writers to write stories inspired by one of the greatest dramatists of all time. Cast the stories in various punk genres: Cyber, Tesla, Diesel, Steam, Clock. Result: an innovative collection of stories inspired by the Bard, with a twist! Punk stories show the path not taken or the path that shouldn’t be taken. Let us reshape your world.

You can purchase this book here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UIL0YP2

Writerpunk Press links:

www.punkwriters.com

@punkwriters

For this YA fantasy novel, Jeffrey has teamed up with Katherine Perkins.

Foul is Fair (Book I in the Fair Folk Chronicles) is a Young Adult contemporary fantasy novel.

FoulisFair

 

Lots of girls play Fairy Princess when they’re little. Megan O’Reilly had no idea the real thing was like playing chess, guitar, and hockey all at once.

Megan had known for a long time that she wasn’t an entirely typical girl. But living with ADHD—and her mother’s obsessions—was a very different thing from finding out she wasn’t entirely human. Somewhere out there, in a completely different world, her father needs help. There’s a conflict, revolving around Faerie seasonal rituals, that could have consequences for humanity—and if Megan’s getting the terminology straight, it sounds like her family aren’t even supposed to be the good guys. As she’s further and further swept up in trying to save her father, Megan may be getting too good at not being human.

You can purchase this book here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XDPIA7O/

Don’t forget – join Jeffrey and me on 18th July Fantasy Sci-Fi Dystopian Steampunk Bargain Books Party

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Just go to this link to download Free short Stories and watch book trailers:

https://www.facebook.com/events/577034945770324/

Meet the Authors of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Steampunk Bargain Books Facebook Event

I thought it would be a good idea to remind folk that on Saturday 18th July 5.00pm GMT and 12.00pm EDT – there is going to be an exclusive Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian/Steampunk Facebook Extravaganza!!  https://www.facebook.com/events/577034945770324/

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This will be a chance for readers to meet some writers, of whom I consider to be the best Indie authors in these genres. They will be part of a mass promotion to enable people to become familiar with their work. Books will be drastically reduced for one day only.

I can now officially reveal the authors taking part – in alphabetical order:

Jeffrey Cook

Jane Dougherty

Alesha Escobar

Devorah Fox

Samantha LaFantasie

Nicola McDonagh

Exciting stuff! So do not miss out on the chance of grabbing a bargain in your favourite genre, or best-selling, award winning author. At such low prices, you might even want to try out something new.

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There will be a chance to chat with the authors, ask questions, find out about new releases and future projects, as well as entering Giveaways, signing up for newsletters and much more!

I am promoting a New Release – Whisper Gatherers, the prequel to the Action Adventure Dystopian Sci-fi series, The Song of Forgetfulness. Not only will all three E-books in the series be $0.99 – but also – I am Giving Away A Signed Paperback Copy Of Whisper Gatherers to one lucky winner. Plus – you can download a FREE Song of Forgetfulness short story – Changeling Fog.

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So, if you love speculative fiction, then spread the word and join us on July 18th for a Fabulous Exclusive Celebration of all things Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

This week I will be posting information about each author participating so that you can get to know them and their work.

Don’t forget to join the event and pick up some Bargain Books!

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Here is the Link to the Facebook Event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/577034945770324/

FREE ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES

I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, been burying my head in a book promotion course in an attempt to prepare to self-publish my YA series, now that my publishers have gone out of business. So I decided to experiment with Glimmer and other stories. I re-edited my collection of short stories and changed the cover. Then I targeted Amazon’s key word section, looked at a few successful short story anthologies, and got some ideas to describe my work. After changing the sub categories in Kindle, I sold some books and gained an excellent ranking in two new sub categories. All part of my drive to become better at marketing my books. I hope it works.

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To celebrate the slightly altered Glimmer and other stories, it will be FREE to download on Amazon Kindle from 16th-20th April 2015. If you do decide to take advantage of this offer, there is another FREE story for you to download as my way of saying thank you.

A brief description and 5* review snippets to help you make up your mind:

From metaphysical speculation to sophisticated eroticism, these beautifully crafted tales explore human nature in all its diversity. Sometimes disturbing, sometimes inspirational, they all have a metaphorical richness that will take you into an uncanny world that straggles the line between the real and the imagined.

“Glimmer and other stories is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories….they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever.” Review by Lesley Hayes

“Ms. McDonagh has created a world that is like an out-of-body experience almost. The stories took me out of my confined world and took me into science fiction, a little horror, drama, and wonder.” Review by Oscar William Case

Don’t forget that Glimmer will go back to it’s normal price after 20th April, so please do take advantage of this limited offer.

Amazon links where you can download my FREE book:

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?

 http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-metaphysical-supernatural-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

 

 You can follow me on :

Twitter:                      @McDonaghNikki

Facebook:                   https://www.facebook.com/nicolamcdonaghauthor?ref=hl

Website:                     http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/