Micro-Fiction Challenges – Two

He swam towards pillars of white and the arch that stretched above the midnight sea. He left a trail of luminescence in his wake. Waves lapped gently against the ice as he climbed. Was she here? Was she waiting? With cautious steps, and outspread wings he peered into the darkness. I’m here. His voice echoed over the shelf. I’m here! He hurried forward.

I’m here.

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my second response. The prompt was Penguins & Romance. Although it’s a short piece, I think I’ve just about pulled it off! Tomorrow is going to be a tricky one!

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Snow and the genre of Fantasy. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Happy Writing,

Fibi

 

The Changing Road

Writing is a journey.

It’s a sunny Bank Holiday afternoon, and I’ve had a little time to reflect on what I’ve achieved and how far I am in my writing quest.

I started writing because I loved reading. It was my escape and nothing quite beats the thrill of being lost in another world when you don’t want to be in the real one. So, I realised early on that I wanted to share stories and help other people escape. I wanted people to join me in my own little world.

I wanted to be good at telling those stories, so I made big decisions based on that. I studied literature for my degree and learnt how to pull apart writing and strip it back. Literature for me, is being able to disassemble the pieces of a larger puzzle, and then see how it fits back together into a more beautiful whole. I travelled and pushed myself to live in other countries, so that I could learn what it was like to live in snow or to sleep out in a forest where a bear might wander past. I joined re-enactment groups, studied longsword as a martial art, learnt to shoot longbow, how to work in natural horsemanship and how to sew.  I’m so very grateful for all of the skills I’ve developed and the knowledge that I’ve scraped together. Most of all, I’m grateful for the journey and for the companions I’ve met along the way. Writing has continued to bring magic to my life and in a strange world today, it’s a necessary escape.

This is such a diverse group of authors, and we’re all at different stages of our own adventures.  But I was just wondering, what have you learnt in the name of research? What hobbies have you taken up? What friends have you collected?

This is a journey, and we’re nowhere near the end of it yet.

Longbow Archery – Part One

Hi there,

I’ve started sharing some bits and pieces I know about shooting a Longbow onto Facebook and thought I would collate the information here in case anyone would like it!

Here is part one:

I thought I would add a few extra details for those using medieval archery in their stories – I use a longbow, and it is very very different to using a modern recurve.

Hopefully this will be useful to someone!

Gloves – Your medieval archers are going to wear gloves. Probably thick leather gloves, because otherwise they’re going to lose the skin on their fingers and at the top of their hand.  It’s really painful. Speaking from experience…it’s really painful to have the skin ripped off the top of your hand.

Why gloves?

Draw string – the string is tough, it has to be. If you’re drawing back the string with your two fingers (medieval remember – only those pesky Victorians started using three fingers) That’s a lot of rubbing between a string and the inside of your fingers. If you just take some twine and pull it hard against your fingers it might not hurt the first time but after thirty goes it’s going to rub away skin.

An alternative to a glove on your draw hand would be a little leather tab that can hook between your fingers. These are still used today for modern archery and very useful.

Why gloves?  Part two: Your medieval longbow doesn’t have an arrow rest on the staff (or stave). So you’ve nocked your arrow on the string. If you pinch the arrow to hold it in place, it’s going to swing all over the place and it won’t shoot anywhere you want it to go. So you have to rest it against something to keep it beside the staff. In longbow, this is your hand.

The way I get into position, is to hold the staff at arms length in front of me, with a straight arm. Then you lift your thumb against the staff so that the line between your thumb and first finger knuckle are as level as possible. This is where the arrow will rest. If your grip isn’t level, then you’re aim is going to be all over the place. But if you’re not wearing gloves, this is again where you’re going to lose skin. And you’ll lose it after the first shot. It stings and then you don’t want to do it again. Yes, it’s possible to build up callouses (the same for the draw string) but that’s really going to hurt, and leather gloves will save the day!

I’ll be honest, after a lot of shooting, it’s still going to hurt. The leather is going to heat up from the arrow running over the top of it and that’s really where you’re going to build some resilience and start working on some callouses.

Hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Happy writing.

Little Ideas for Isolation and Distancing

Well. This is a very strange world in which to be writing. It feels like a bad dream, and we’re waiting to wake up. Unfortunately though the current pandemic is real. This is happening. 

Millions of people worldwide are facing social distancing or self-isolation. I’ve got a few ideas of how to make this easier, they’re nothing groundbreaking but at times like these it’s the little things which are adding up.

Little Ideas 

1, Turn on the radio. Especially if you’re someone who lives alone. Even if it’s not in the same room that you’re occupying, it’s comforting to just have some background noise and chatter. Better still, tune into local radio. After a few days listening to national broadcasts, I returned to my local stations this week and immediately felt more connected to the community I live in. It’s wonderful, so tune in and turn it up. Maybe even have a boogie around the kitchen.

2, Schedule online social events. Let’s be honest here; between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve – does anyone know what day it is?! The days start blending together and they get a bit fuzzy. For mental health and general wellbeing, it’s important to try and build some structure into days and weeks, so they don’t start bleeding together. So start scheduling a regular social with friends, family, or both. Start doing this now, so you can build it into part of a routine. 

Staying at home with a toddler, I’ve started doing a daily facetime call with family who are at home. It’s not at a set time, just usually around lunchtime when the Beast is contained/entertained. 

I’m also trying to set up social events twice a week with friends. Some ideas for these are:

Virtual Pub – Drink your own beer! (So much cheaper)

Intelli-gathering – Setting discussion topics for debate

Share a recipe – put your cooking skills on display

Online gaming groups – there are hundreds of apps and websites for this.

Etc etc etc, they don’t need to be fancy – just fun! But do try and put something in for a regular time slot. I’d recommend doing this kind of thing now, because it looks like more and more, Coronavirus is going to cause moderate to long term changes in lifestyle. Also, why wait? I’m really looking forward to catching up with my friends next week and having a proper giggle.

3, Regular Exercise and Water!

I know, I know – it’s not the most inspired idea but I’m a person who needs regular reminding to do this! Working from home or just staying in – it’s important to move around and get some exercise. It’s important to stay hydrated too, and if you need the toilet more regularly – then at least it’s close! And from the looks of it, everyone should have plenty of toilet roll.

5, Fri-Yay! 

Working from home, and then not being able to go out for the weekend means that we could loose that Friday feeling. I’m going to try and really make a distinction between the ‘working’ week and a weekend. Usually we watch a Tv series during the evenings. But Friday is going to be Movie night. We’re keeping the alarm on to work regular hours during the week, but for the weekend I’m going to relish the moment of turning it off. With our food delivery this week, I’ve also managed to get us something in that’s a bit fancy for Saturday. 

5,  What’s already available?

This might be a cop-out but have a look at what is available already. There are hundreds of websites releasing teaching material. Maybe this is the perfect time to learn a new language or other skill? Maybe I might just get some writing/editing done after all! But what about physical skills? If you go to a local yoga group, will they be having an online group during your usual slot? Can you join in with other things?

These are, of course, substitutes for face to face communication, but we’re so lucky to have all of this technology available. Let’s make the most of it! 

Just a short post for today, but I’ll try and collate some resources to share with you all.

What are your little ideas to help with those in isolation? What is your go to web page for resources and groups?

Stay safe and well,

Fibi

And other confessions

Happy Friday!

I’ve been working on a few short stories, just to keep my mind in writing as I tackle longer projects. I’ve sent one off to a competition so fingers crossed!

On facebook I had a request to write a story for a friend, and here is the result. I keep being very tempted to write about my University years and fictionalise them. It would be a very different genre of novel and voice than I usually use, so I’m still thinking. The working title for the project would be: University and other confessions.

So, here is the beginning;

First things first about moving into University. Despite being ridiculously excited for years, the night before I decided that I didn’t want to go. I was going to stay at home, see the friends I already had, maybe I’d get a job in the local shop. I don’t think I slept.

The next day, I decided to give it a shot. We carried the boxes and the bags up the winding stairs and dropped them on the single bed, ready to be unpacked later. I was itchy with excitement. My heavy, black computer was carefully placed beside the desk. My Mum managed to get trapped in the communal bathroom. She was shouting for help, banging on the heavy wooden door as I smiled a nervous hello to my new flatmates; Rob and Rob, and Rod. At least their names would be easy to remember.

Once security freed her, I ushered my family out of the flat and waved them away from the kitchen window. Goodbyeeee. Dear God, please don’t come back.

The bed was made, pictures stuck to the wall. Computer plugged in and speakers rattling with the sound of Panic! At the Disco. I heard the flat door opening, then slamming shut. I peered out from my bedroom. The corridor carpet had once been blue. It still was blue beside the skirting boards. The centre was grey and worn out with age. Oh, well imagine, As I’m pacing the pews in a church corridor, And I can’t help but to hear.

She said goodbye to her Mother and went to wave goodbye from the kitchen window.

Hi!

Hi there!

Did you want some help setting up your computer?

Yes!

It didn’t take long. I crawled under the desk, kettle-lead in hand. I threaded the mouse and keyboard wires down the back, against the faded green wall. Somewhere in the background, the Killers broke into song. Coming out of my cage, And I’ve been doing just fine.

I had an emo fringe and she had Avril Lavigne hair. I wore a black t-shirt and my nails were painted blue. She stacked UB40 and Offpsring CD’s on the desk and I offered Green Day as a swap. Her TV started tuning, the slow line inching across the screen. We had tea. Milky, but not too milky and two sugars in mugs that still wore price stickers.

We took a walk to explore the campus. It was an end of summer day, bright and warm with stretched-out clouds and golden light. I don’t remember who started skipping first. But we were flying across the manicured lawn.

There was a statue, half hidden behind flowers and long grass. A man, upright in bronze with his hands resting lightly in his lap. I don’t remember who asked, and who answered.

Who’s that?

Geoff!

But they were right. It was Geoff, and we laughed at the incredible coincidence. We laughed and laughed until we couldn’t stand. That was the moment I knew. No matter what happened, we would always be stuck together. There would always be me and you.

Tap, tap, tapping away!

These updates are getting embarrassingly few and far between! But I do have some exciting news.

Firstly, my book baby has sold over 100 copies, and I’m really thrilled by this. It’s still selling and I’m still getting lovely lovely reviews coming in which just make my day.

Secondly, Poisoned Well is finished! It’s been done for a while and I have a printed hard-copy ready for the second round of editing. So although I’ve not posted here for a while, things are happening behind the scenes.

Third and final, I’ve started working on a new book. So far it’s just one chapter but a start is a start and I can’t wait to get this project kick-started and off the ground. I currently feeling a little torn as to which direction the story-arc is going to go, so will have to resolve that before it gets much further on. So I’m spending a lot of time daydreaming!

Wish me luck and good luck to you all with your writing endeavors.

Fibi xx

Life Changing

Update

Well this is ridiculous, I was going to say happy {insert correct month here} to you guys, but I just got seriously confused about which month it is! This may say something about how tired I am! I’d like to say I’m Astonished but I’m not surprised.

As the title suggests there have been some life changing events as I’ve welcomed a baby into the world. It’s been a little busy, but the tiny beast is currently asleep so I’ve snuck away to take care of some typing!

I’m still working on the final three chapters of the Poisoned Well, and I’m so proud that this project is continuing, even if it is slowly! Line by line, paragraph by paragraph it will be finished!

Free Short Story

In the meantime a brand new release is available for download!

HopeCover

Hope is a second short-story from Arenith. It also takes place during the events of Burning Embers and has some characters you might recognize…

Burning Embers

I’ve also reached my second target of sales with Burning Embers! 50 copies sold! I know it’s a rather modest target, but I’m so excited to have so many people read my book. They seem to be enjoying it to! There are some new reviews popping up!

**** This story was gripping throughout, and you want to see Feia through her whole journey. Probably my favourite character was Vesta, Feia’s friend who winds up travelling with her. I couldn’t help but be swept up by her. There is a depth there that made me so vested in knowing more about her.

What I loved about this book was that it brought in so many strong women, but they were all strong in very different ways, and not all of them in a way that helped others. Feia herself developed far more strength as a result of being around these women, though she still found her own way of expressing and using it. – Pysgrad April 2018

*** I enjoyed Burning Embers. It certainly starts out with a bang… I wanted more. More of everything. But I think that will make me enjoy reading book 2 to satiate that craving. – March 2018

**** This was a really good book!! It was hard to put down! There is magic and a little romance and friendship all mixed in! – Dec 2018

Friends of Fibi

Finally, in my connection without writers and artists I’ve come across this author whose box-set is releasing this week!

The Isolde Saga

The Complete Story has just been released on amazon! A fresh box-set release this week it’s receiving excellent reviews and is a real gem of a find.

The Dead Walk. Magic Has Returned. The Netherworld Awaits.

Death plagues Isolde’s village and everyone thinks that the demon, Orlog, has returned from the northern wastes. Isolde knows it is true because she hears the demon’s voice whispering for her. But as the pox spreads, no one has time to listen to Isolde or her warnings.

The wanderer, Skaldi, hears Isolde though. He believes that she is telling the truth, because he knows that her future is tied up with the fate of the north lands. For Isolde is a netherwalker – one who can pass the veil of death unscathed, one who is a dancer between worlds! But Orlog knows the truth too and Isolde realizes that the demon never wanted her village… but only her soul!

While the land is torn apart by war, demons and the undead rise to rip apart the world. Isolde is forced onto an epic quest to end the evil that threatens her world. But it is not just her soul on the line, but the fate of all humanity.

The Isolde Saga is an epic fantasy series. If you like fast-paced adventure, heroic deeds against impossible odds, and magic darker than the abyss, then you will love this fantasy adventure.

Finally

I’ve updated my instagram and can now be found #bookstagram(ing) like a pro at greypixi.

I also just wanted to say a huge thank you for all of your support so far! Have a lovely May and happy reading.

Fibi xx

Recommendations and Reviews

Responding to today’s daily prompt: Conversant

On this crazy journey of self-publishing I’ve found myself opening up a dialogue to my readers. So far, I have to admit that I love it. Probably because all of the feedback has been really positive and sent me running around the house going Sqeeeeeeeee.

After all, what is a story without reviews? I’ve been left totally humbled by the feedback I’ve received so far and am delighted to share these with you. 😊 *happy dancing* Besides, the ebook is currently available at 99c, or free on Amazon’s kindle unlimited. If I can tempt you into a copy I would love to have your feedback.

5starsOne of the best books I’ve read this year! I loved this fantasy tale of magic, romance and a girl trying to figure out the truth about her past and herself. The writing is fluid with vivid descriptions that bring the world to life. -Alison Dec 2017

starsOMG THAT ENDING. I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the next book. I found it highly engaging and almost impossible to put down. I enjoyed the originality of the story line, and I found Feia very relatable.  – Kelsay Nov 2017

5starsSo all I can say is WOW! This book had me from the start. From the beginning it pulls you in and keeps you there. Even during some “slow” parts, I found myself wanted to read more just to find out what happens next. From open to close, I wanted to keep reading.- Kira Feb 2018

starsThis was a really good book!! It was hard to put down! There is magic and a little romance and friendship all mixed in! – Denise Dec 2017

5starsThis book honestly captured my imagination and I was up until the early hours as I just couldn’t put it down! Can’t wait for the next instalment and hope I don’t have to wait too long! I really recommend this book for all those fantasy lovers out there 🙂 – Lydia Dec 2017

starsI really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to other readers of Fantasy – Miss A. Jan 2018

If you’ve read Burning Embers, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads (or both!) because they make such a huge difference to new readers being able to find the story.

Adobe Spark (3)

Burning Embers is available in Paperback and Ebook in the following places:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

You can also download a short story that ties in for free: The Last Charter is in another bundle of other short stories! Short Month: Short Stories

Happy Reading! I would love to hear your feedback on Burning Embers!

Fibi xx

Take it from the top

I’m going to try and catch you up with my year behind the scenes. Something that has gone in the space of a Blink. However realising how enormous this subject is, I’m going to split it into a few sections and post over a few days.

This is my long promised post of the decisions I’ve made with self-publishing and how it’s all going so far…

The journey so far –

Last January I made the decision that Burning Embers was finally ready. It was a polished as a shiny squeaky thing and in the best shape that I could make it. With my dream of following a traditional publishing route I started to send BE out to agents.

I think it went well. I had a spreadsheet to monitor who I had e-mailed my book baby too, their contact details and what they required in their submission package. I even had a column with an approximate date of response. Generally I had positive feedback from agents and publishing houses that would accept direct submissions. I even accidentally sent it to a few self-publishing companies and received some encouraging results.

In the end however, the answer was no. I was told that Burning Embers was well-written, engaging, had excellent descriptions…but just wasn’t quite right for anyone’s list or didn’t suit their personal tastes. It was discouraging, but important to remember that this is a subjective business. I know that the opening of Burning Embers is tailored more towards literary fiction than a straight YA Fantasy-Romp. I also know that the book really hits its stride after the first six chapters (maybe I shouldn’t be so honest!) However, I also had faith that in the hands of readers who love fantasy, strong-female protagonists and want to be pulled into another world –it could really work.

One of the self-publishing companies did have this to say after requesting opening chapters:

‘Blimey exciting start, its made me think of Game of Thrones, Divergent and a female Uhtred of Bebbanberg all at once, which is a good thing – great imagery and sense of place. I think this would be very popular right now, with the right cover and mega saturation on social media, you will get noticed. I’m sure of that. Keep me posted as to how you get on with other publishers, I would love to work with you on this’ – In the end, this enthusiasm translated into an offer of publication with them for a much discounted fee.

In monetary terms they were willing to remove £500 from their usual price.  I really liked this company and probably would have published with them, however it was at the start of the year and I was determined to exhaust more ‘traditional’ enquiries first.

I also received an evaluation of Burning Embers:

‘The book is very well written and the story is original, exciting and engaging.  

The author creates a rich fantasy world with its own history and mythology. Feia is a sympathetic character and I enjoyed following her story.

I think fans of the fantasy genre will really enjoy this. It combines all the best traits of the fantasy genre but with an original twist. 

 An exciting story set in a rich fantasy world that will really appeal to readers. I can imagine this making an excellent series and, once hooked, I think readers will keep coming back for more.’ 

So what to do next?

I carried on writing.

I started with pieces of flash-fiction for competitions, and I even won a few. As a result of flash-fiction I was published in two additional books last year.

Amongst all the sting of rejection, I started the Poisoned Well a simpler, more linear YA Fantasy which was always going to be shorter than the 120,000 word beast that was Burning Embers.

The plan was to finish Poisoned Well and publish it on Wattpad.

Now Wattpad is amazing. It allows you to post you story in serial. You’re encouraged to post on a regular slot at least once a week and to interact with the community. This in turns generates ‘reads’ for your story and you gain followers. Followers who get excited about your work and are eager for the next instalment. Theoretically this can translate into sales of a book. One ‘success’ story of Wattpad recommends you have  the full text published on Amazon and provide that link to Wattpad, so your impatient readers can skip along and buy your book instead of waiting 30-odd weeks for the next part.

However, as I was sending BE out to agents at the time, I was aware I shouldn’t be publishing it anywhere online! This is where Poisoned Well was dreamt up – something that was specifically geared towards a Wattpad posting schedule. Another hint is to keep chapters at approximately 2000 words each, just enough to keep the story moving, but short enough to keep the reader engaged and hungry for more.

Then summer came around – and life changed. I’ve mentioned it in the occasional post, but over the summer I realised I was expecting a baby. Now among all the preparation for new life and feeling like I had the flu for a few months, I realised that I wanted my book baby project to be done. Signed off, sealed, delivered – fin. Burning Embers had been such a huge part of my life and in order to move on completely I would need to let it go. But it deserved more than staying in my desk drawer and on the computer. Because I’d been feeling so poorly, I’d also stopped writing Poisoned Well – a mere two chapters from the end! SO CLOSE!

So I decided to self-publish. All of the queries that were going to have a response had received one, and I’d exhausted the pool of agents I could harass. I had twittered, blogged, researched and finally it was decision time.

So what to do first?

Well, initially panic. I’d spent years reading articles about self-publishing, marketing, social media…and I immediately lost all confidence that I knew what I was doing and had to go back and re-read everything again!

Self-publishing – there are some big decisions to make. – this is where the next part of the story will continue…

Let me know what you think so far!

Happy Reading Fibi

xxx