Posted by kirstyes
Happy Release Day to A Bowl of Cherries by F.E. Birch, a writer I have known for a number of years.
I am excited to delve into these tales when they arrive but in the meantime she has agreed to share an insight into her writing process.
About the Book
There’s nothing cosy about these crimes.
Succulent rich stories of the dark and unknown that might terrify, horrify, or deliciously delight. Thirty-two previously published and prize winning tales that contain themes of death, destruction, abuse and emotion, each one a veritable stride into a unique and different world.
From the psychologically disturbed, the raging mad, the vulnerability of victims, and desperately needy, there’s not much that isn’t covered in the dark genre for those that like their stories to be troubling, distressing and quirky. NOT for the faint of heart, this comes with a triple X warning!
“A delightfully dark rollercoaster, dipping into a selection of slickly written shorts.” — Robert Scragg, author of All That is Buried
“A patchwork quilt of daring fever dreams, stitched together with effortless, bewitching prose. Highly recommended.” — Rob Parker, author of Far from the Tree
About the Author
FE Birch is one writing pseudonym of a writer that first put pen to paper at the age of five but really took it seriously from 2004. She has had over 150 short stories published and/or placed in competitions, a ‘faction’ book published by Harper Collins and her first crime novel is currently out on submission. A Bowl of Cherries is a self-published collection of 32 shorts that will steal your breath and make sure you never look at cherries in the same way again.
Author Guest Post – Planning the perfect crime … short!
I’m not an expert on flash fiction, or short story writing, I only know what works for me.
I like the short story form as they are quick reads, often intense, emotional, and leave you with a taste that lingers. When you live a busy life like I do, and I read slowly, it takes ages to read a novel and sometimes I just want a satisfying fast read.
When I’m writing I often start with a prompt or series of prompts. It could be someone I’ve noticed, or something that’s happened that I store up for future use. An idea forms, and it could be a character, a feeling, a setting, or a plot. Something has to happen. I was always surprised when people talked of short stories that were thousands of words. To me they are mini novels, novellas, or short novels. A story can be told effectively in a paragraph, if it’s done right, or three hundred words, or three thousand. My longest short story is five thousand. I don’t know if I could keep the momentum of a short story for longer than that.
I wasn’t sure if I could write a novel, but I have, and that is a totally different process.
I think a story has a limit and as you start to write, the story flows and ends when it needs to. If I have to write to a word count, say two thousand words, I know I have space to add characters, add settings, scenes, sensory detail, that add to the story, but it mustn’t be seen as filler. If I only have 100 words then it has to clipped, tight, in and out, no messing about.
It’s easier when I don’t have word count to work with because as I type the story ends itself then I can edit the rubbish and mould the rest. I like that.
I sometimes write a couple of paragraphs that might be a set of ideas rather than stories and then I store them for future use to prolong, to make into something more. If I write a character I like, I can revisit them, give them more of a story, build up a ‘happening’ , take something very short and turn it into something darker, something more enticing, or sinister. Then others are just right as they are.
It’s as individual to the writer as it is to the reader. I like to be provoked as both, so for me anything goes, and the rules are your own to make. I know I’m not to everyone’s taste.
There aren’t too many avenues for the stories I like to write and read and there are no mainstream magazines to submit to that take stories like mine. Nothing I write would fit People’s Friend!
Competitions and anthologies have been kind to me over the years and given me an outlet, but again, it’s difficult to find them on the shelves of bookshops, unless they are written by famous authors.
Whilst I’m waiting for a publishing deal for my novel, I’ve pulled some of my best stories together for Bowl of Cherries. All different, all quick reads, all dark and twisty. All short.
Posted by kirstyes
Guest Post – Social Media Safety
by Kim McCabe, author of From Daughter to Woman, parenting girls safely through their teens
My daughter’s phone died. I braced myself for her panic at being disconnected. It didn’t come, she quite liked having a social media ‘holiday’… for a few weeks. Then she needed to get back in the loop, she was missing conversations, photos, gatherings. But after not having a phone for a while, she was a bit more aware of how easy it was to lose time on it and how it didn’t always make her feel too brilliant.
Teen depression. We all like to blame social media. We’re a bit afraid of it when we see the hold it has over our kids. We’re right to be cautious, it’s definitely having an impact on teen mental health. We don’t want our girls to be basing their opinion of themselves on how many ‘likes’ they can earn. Or ending up exhausted before the day has begun because they were messaging until 2am. Or doing things for the boys because that’s what they’ve all seen online.
Our children are growing up in a world that’s populated by digital delights that we never knew. We’re going to have to learn about how they work before we can teach our kids how to stay healthy in this new culture. This is nothing new, parents have always struggled with whatever’s the latest craze. Kids love it and we tend to see the downsides of it.
If you want to be able to influence your child’s social media habits you can’t be completely down on it. Think about it from your child’s point of view: if you don’t have control over your home, own a car, or have much money and here is a device which puts you in touch with your friends and a world that you don’t have easy access to any other way. What’s not to like?
Here’s the way forward:
• Ask her to teach you about the platforms that she likes.
• Sign up to some yourself so that you can see what’s going on.
• Find out what you need to teach her to stay safe (like turning off location functions, not giving personal details and not meeting people you’ve encountered online; there’s more, find out).
• Ask her what she sees online that bothers her and discuss it without being judgmental or she’ll clam up.
• Find out what happens to everything digital, so you can explain it to her.
• Give her the 1-second-check idea, suggesting she pause before pushing send to ask herself what would my granny or boss think of this?
• Show her videos of how photoshop changes what we’re shown.
• Reassure her that it’s normal to be curious but if ever she sees or hears anything she wishes she hadn’t, she can come to you, no blame.
• Have a night-time parking place downstairs for phones. No phones at bedtime; buy an alarm clock.
• Suggest a ‘mood check’ after time spent with social media so she’s aware of when it’s doing her good and when it’s not. Encourage her to notice what feels positive (the connection, the fun) and what doesn’t (comparing, mean comments).
• Set a good example yourself.
Our duty as parents is to take care of our children and gradually to hand that job over to them. So, when she’s little you install software safeguards and set rules. As she gets older, the safety filters are going to have to come from inside her, so your job turns into how to help her do that. First. She’s going to need to understand why she’d want to. Then, you’ll need to guide her how to use social media safely.
If you think she’s running into difficulties, you need to show that you’re on her side. If she’s not having a nice time online, chances are she’ll feel like it’s her fault and shame will make it harder for her to tell you. If she seems to be relying on ‘likes’ to feel good, and then feels low after the high, help her to notice that. If you think she’s got a bit hooked and you judge her, she’ll just get defensive. Telling anyone of any age that they’re addicted to something is the last way to get them to stop. Never make her wrong. If you want to get through to her, the two of you have to be able to talk to each other without accusing or criticizing. If you want an easy way to get these conversations going, go on a Mother-Daughter Date once a month.
It’s the way to get real-life ‘likes’ from her!
Wow. What a great post. Thanks Kim. Some useful pointers for social media using adults here too!
This book aims to make the adolescent’s journey just that bit safer, kinder, and better supported – so parents and teens can enjoy the teenage years more.
The teen years are tough – for teens and for parents. Many parents dread the moodiness, dishonesty, preference of friends over family, exam stress, and the push for greater independence. Mothers have a pivotal role to play; this is a guidebook for parents and mothers of girls in particular as they navigate the rocky teenage landscape with their daughters aged 8 to 18. It aims to help them embrace the potential of their child’s teenage years by marking this time of growing maturity for girls and celebrating it with them. We celebrate birth, marriage and death, but this important life-transition from child to young adult is nowadays rarely acknowledged within an appropriate community.
Kim McCabe is the founder of Rites for Girls. As the originator and facilitator of Girls Journeying Together groups, she offers guidance to preteen and teen girls and simultaneous support for their mothers. In training other women to facilitate these groups, her dream is that every girl grows up expecting to be supported and celebrated in adolescence. Kim was commissioned to write a section in Steve Biddulph’s latest best-selling book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free.
Kim is a home-educating mother of two boys, one girl, two cats and a colony of aloe vera plants; she is wife to a Kiwi, daughter to itinerant parents, friend to a cherished few, and lover of time alone, too. She lives in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex. She sometimes shouts at her children, accidentally steps on the cat’s tail and forgets to water the plants, but she loves her work, her family and her life. She has always had deep affinity with teenage girls, and by sharing her wisdom and compassion she infects the reader with her enthusiasm for this life stage.
From Daughter to Women is out July 18th published by Little Brown and is sure to be invaluable for those raising teenagers. It includes topics such as puberty, periods, relationships and wellbeing and I love the concept of Mother-Daughter dates.
Do check out the rest of the blog tour.
Thanks to Faye Rogers for also proving a PDF which I’m looking forward to reading.