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Morgen’s 500-word competition: Feb / March 2016 results

Hello everyone. There were just two entries to this competition from 16th February to 15th March (inclusive). This isn’t as popular as the 100-word competition, probably because most writers like writing rather than getting me to write but you can win free editing (perhaps daunting for some) and they’re both free to enter so definitely worth it… I think, anyway. Do it now… or better still, read these stories then enter.:) Everything you need to know is here.

So, with two entries, we have a first placed and second placed so I have written and published both here and on Smashwords. The first story is exactly 500 words but the second has gone over a little (542). Do let me know what you think.

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First placed: Jane Dutton (winning a free 5,000-word edit of her writing). The prompts Jane provided can be found after the story…

Wednesday’s child (500 words)

coverPeering over his John Lennon glasses, Byron Salisbury, of Salisbury, Peech and Talbot, studied the legal documents adorning his leather-topped mahogany desk, then re-read the birth certificate given to him by the young man sitting opposite. “Oh.”

George Foxbury edged forward on the Chesterfield visitors chair. “Oh, Mr Salisbury?”

“There is…” Salisbury scratched his right cheek. “There is a… er, bit of a hitch.”

“Hitch?”

“Just a small… very small…” Salisbury pinched together his right thumb and first finger then peeled them apart, leaving a miniscule gap. “Nothing that cannot be worked out, I am sure, Mr Foxbury. George.”

“Let me guess…” George sighed. “Grand pa pa Henry’s left all his money to a cat’s home?”

Salisbury shook his head.

“Most?”

Salisbury shook his head again.

“No, a dog’s home. It was Grand ma ma who loved cats.”

Salisbury coughed as he rubbed his hands.

George Foxbury looked from the solicitor, out through the window to the trees thrashing around thanks to Storm Katie, then back at the solicitor via the bland magnolia walls. “I don’t mind how much money he’s left to… whichever… but I’d really like the house.”

Salisbury frowned, pushing his glasses further down his nose. “I’m afraid it says here you inherit all of his wealth–”

“Yes!” George clapped his hands and leapt up, grabbing Salisbury’s right hand, shaking it vigorously.

Salisbury cleared his throat then watched George sit as the words “I’m afraid” sank in.

“Afraid of what?” the younger man asked.

“As his… legally proven next of kin, you are to inherit the estate of Henry Foxbury III, late of Foxbury Hall, Bumbington, Oxfordshire.”

“Yes, yes,” George chivvied.

“Yes indeed. You are to inherit the said estate on your eighteen birthday.”

“Right. The year after next.”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Why?”

“Because legally you are…”

George leaned further forward. “I am…”

“2000… 2016…”

“Sixteen, yes. I’ll be eighteen in two years.”

“No.”

“What do you mean ‘no’?”

“You were born at the end of February.”

“Yes.”

“The very end.”

“Yes.”

“The very very end.”

“Yes. 28th. So?”

“Have you ever looked at your birth certificate?”

“Not really. Grand ma ma kept it with all the other official paperwork after my parents die… her, Grand ma ma, and Grand pa pa Henry’s driving licence, shotgun licences, other guff, you know. She kept them all together, our three, in an envelope marked ‘Birth Certificates’. I just pulled out mine. Opened it to check.”

“And you know what year it is this year?”

“Of course. 2016. What’s that go to do with–”

“A leap year, George. What day do you think you were born on?”

“I’m not sure. I think Grand ma ma said it was a Wednesday. Far to go.”

“Wednesday is full of woe. Let me just check…”

George pursed his lips as the solicitor looked up something on his computer.

“It was a Tuesday, George. Full of grace, and I hope you will be as I explain how this is going to go.”

*

  • Character name/s: George Foxbury, Henry Foxbury, Mr Salisbury
  • Location: Solicitor’s office
  • Object: Henry’s will
  • Dilemma: George is expecting to inherit on the 18th anniversary of his birth. He was born on February 29th.
  • Character trait / emotion / quirk: Henry is dead. Mr Salisbury rubs his hands frequently and pronounces his words carefully.
  • Colour / shade of colour: Magnolia
  • Other comments: George is sole beneficiary.

**

Second placed: Ash Nazir (winning a free 3,000-word edit of his writing). The prompts Ash provided can be found after the story…

Number 18 (542 words)

Sébastien leaned into the microphone. “Hello. Good evening. My name is Sébastien Tellier. I am from France but I work here in London.” He waited for some kind of reaction from the small audience but none was forthcoming. He tried a wide smile as he announced, “I would like to start with one of my contemporaries. One of Shakepeare’s best known sonnets…” He ignored a groan from the back of the café’s audience. “Number 18.” Sébastien winced as someone nearby scraped back a chair, checking – louder than was necessary – their friends’ drinks orders.

Sébastien blew out a silent puff of air, coughed, rocked his neck around shoulders, then stepped closer to the mic. “I shall be playing one of my own melodies to this poem and in the key of C major… sorry, minor,” he blurted, then strumming his guitar, tilted it and himself further into the microphone. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temper–”

Someone giggled as something flashed on a screen behind him. Although he suspected he’d regret it, Sébastien turned round then blushed at a picture of a busty brunette inviting an oversized plumber into her kitchen.

“Sorry!” one of the café owners shouted then reverted the screen to the usual title of ‘Café Rouge Monday night Folk Fest’ accompanied by a dull logo of an orange sunset, an anaemic-looking cow, and an acoustic guitar.

Twiddling his handlebar moustache, Sébastien decided that Shakespeare was not the way to go. With most of the audience’s attention back on him, Sébastien announced, “This is a new song, with no help from Mr Shakespeare.” Sébastien’s upper lip twitched as a small cheer emitted from the region of the earlier groan. To a simple melody, he recited, “My girl she loved science-fiction…”

A louder cheer erupted.

“…but I could sense there was some friction.”

A boo replaced the cheer.

“And one day she said ‘enough’.”

Another boo emanated from the middle of the small crowd.

“To win her back, I knew would be tough. To win her love forever, I had to be clever. So I opened a love portal, for my love immortal. And while she went away, I vowed one day, to find another girl meant for me.”

As Sébastien took a deep breath to continue, a girl rushed forward, making him flinch.

“Oh, Sébastien, that was so romantic!”

Sébastien looked down at the girl, whose black t-shirt barely made contact with her tiny black and pink check pleated skirt. “Erm… thank you. I am very pleased you like it but I have not yet…” He squeaked as the girl jumped onto the stage.

“Eighteen’s my favourite number,” she sighed.

Sébastien frowned then remembered the sonnet. “D’accord.”

She held out a hand. “I’m Isobel.”

As he shook her hand, he looked closer at her t-shirt. It was black but with a small pool ball in the top right-hand corner, where a buttonhole flower would have been on a funeral suit jacket. The ball was pink, matching the skirt, with a white number eighteen. She had a beautiful smile and although she was much too young – about eighteen, Sébastien thought – he could see them as a couple. Sébastien and the eighteenth Mrs Tellier.

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  • Character name/s: Sébastien Tellier
  • Location: Folk singers’ café
  • Object: Guitar
  • Dilemma: Opening a love portal
  • Character trait / emotion / quirk: Eccentric, speaks poetry
  • Colour / shade of colour: Pink

***

 

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are just £1 or $1-2 each but just until April 3rd! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 

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Morgen’s story review no.171 – OxCrimes 27: Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Black Sky

Today’s book review of a single short story (the final story in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Black Sky

This is a relatively short story (23 standard book pages) so a relatively short review…

I love short hooks (opening sentences should be hooks) and the especially liked the fourth line: ‘The piteous voice sounded almost rusty, as if the radio waves had gathered dust on their long journey.’ There then followed a lot of background / set-up information which was so detailed it was more in keeping with a novel, so much so that it slowed the pace too much and distracted me from the excellent beginning hook.

Where we are is drip-fed but that adds to the mystery, and on page four there is ‘down on earth’ so we know we’re in space. On the next page we learn that the characters are on a space station, then on page six that they’re on the moon.

What then follows is a mixture of interesting – albeit in places not overly relevant to the plot – description (which I skim read) before we learned the relevance of the piteous voices.

And now for writers…

  • When writing a past tense story, any time period in narration will be in the past so two examples from this story are ‘years ago’ and ‘three months ago’ whereas they should be ‘years before’ and ‘three months before’. Dialogue is different as it is present tense so had the characters said either phrase then it / they would have been correct.
  • I thought I had spotted a typo where the main character, Dixie, ‘swallows a small pile’ rather than ‘a small pill’. The confusion lies where the narrator has only mentioned ‘medication’, not ‘pills’ specifically. This is where beta (test) readers come in so useful to point out anything that could be misconstrued (and / or hiring me as their / your editor!).
  • There was just one dialogue pause ‘well’. If anyone wants to go back through these OxCrime reviews and let me know how many dialogue pause ‘well’s there are and which stories don’t have any, I’ll reward you with a free online course of your choice.:)
  • Another regular feature of these reviews is using names with different first letters (as it’s how we remember the characters best) and in this story the two main characters are Dixie and David. Although they look different on the page and are different genders, they are of similar lengths. I like the name Dixie, and David seemed a bit ordinary in comparison but then he is a rather bland character (no offence any David’s reading this!) so perhaps suited.
  • Be careful when using repetition. In this story there was ‘David ran his hand over the various switches. He tried two before he found the correct one and the two of them used their combined strength to nudge it into an open position.’ Because switches are objects, the ‘them’ could be easily construed as referring to the switches rather than David and Dixie, especially as the number in both cases is two.

Conclusion

This is the final story in the collection. Endings of any story, regardless of length, should provoke an emotion, e.g. “wow” or “oh, OK”. And while this one was somewhere in between, I’m not a science fiction fan (although I enjoyed watching The Martian, which this reminded me of), for me it was the wrong story to have last. That said, the way it ended was fitting and well described so I can see why it was chosen.

And the book as a whole…

While reading this collection has been overall a very enjoyable experience, the (dare I say ‘poor’?) editing of many stories has spoilt some of my enjoyment, to the point of frustration. Many readers wouldn’t notice or care, and I am, after all, reading this for review so I will be harsher than most, but with two people editing this collection, I would have thought that both of them would have gone over each story – as two of us are doing with a Crime and Publishment anthology we are putting together from over a dozen writers who have attended the four years it has been running – then they would be less room for error, most of which could have easily been picked up Buy one or other editor.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

That’s the end of my reviews of this collection but I will be back next Tuesday with my review of Cat Call, a short story by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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Morgen’s story review no.170 – OxCrimes 26: John Connolly’s The Children of Dr Lyall

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-sixth in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of John Connolly’s The Children of Dr Lyall

This is a relatively short story (25 standard book pages) so a relatively short review…

The beginnings of stories should either introduce us to the characters, set the time, or give us a sense of place. Here we have all three where we are in World War II, have a character Felder amid bombed streets, and soon learn that he is the criminal.

The next few pages are a lot of detail about his gang and a rival gang – the World War II version of the Krays but without any twins – and, for me, page six is where the story really starts and the rest – which I’m sure would have been enjoyed by fans of historical novels and detail – could have been done in a page.

One of the more violent stories – a collection to suit all tastes – and although I would have liked more dialogue, the description is really good and I especially liked the following phrases:

  • ‘which Felder discerned the breaking of fragile bones, like a quail being consumed behind closed lips.’
  • ‘even though the woman weighed little more than the clothing she wore…’
  • ‘Felder, Greaves and Knight: they sounded like a firm of solicitors, but they were just bottom-feeders.’
  • ‘fall to the floor and crumble slowly like the desiccated form of an insect sucked dry by a spider’ (wow!). The issue of crumble / crumple came up recently in one of my client’s novels (John uses crumble correctly) and I pointed my client to http://www.marksouza.com/2011/10/a-small-pet-peeve-crumble-vs-crumple.

And now for writers…

  • As we have handful of the other stories, we have ‘any more’ (quantity) where there should have been ‘anymore’ (time). I think I also spotted an error when we have one character hearing himself (both names the same) elsewhere and although I’m not convinced due to the supernatural element, I think it is incorrect.
  • I’ve also previously remarked on the lack of section breaks, mostly where time has passed, but here they are correctly used for changing from one criminal’s point of view (still from the narrator but we switch main character from Felder to Knight).
  • Using distinctive names is also something that comes up from time to time in my reviews and here we have Billy Hill and Blackie Harper. I have a Microsoft Word table that I use with my client editing, and my own work, to ensure that repeated first initials are limited. If any of you reading this would like it, let me know. My email address is morgen@morgenbailey.com.
  • I’ve also mentioned before my bugbear for ‘started to’ / ‘began to’ when it’s used to indicate some action that isn’t then interrupted, and in this story we had, ‘The door began to open…’ It’s not interrupted so ‘The door opened’ would have been fine. There’s also ‘he began to tremble’, ‘the wall before him began to crack’ and ‘began to bleed’.
  • Speaking of bugbears, on the ‘well’ count-o-meter, there was just one in this story. (see previous reviews for an explanation).
  • I would have also chopped the firmly from ‘the knife still clutched firmly in his right hand’ where clutching indicates a firm hold.

Conclusion

A creepy story. Being the longest story in this collection, it was inevitable that they would be more detail (although in this case would have been suited more to a novel), but I would’ve liked the action – the meat of the story – to have come sooner. There was a lot to like though in the description and with a more thorough editing (especially chopping), it would have been all the more enjoyable.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Black Sky, the twenty-seventh story in this collection.

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Morgen’s story review no.167 – OxCrimes 23: Alexander McCall Smith’s Trouble at the Institute for the Study of Forgiveness

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-third in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Alexander McCall Smith’s Trouble at the Institute for the Study of Forgiveness

This is a short short story (15 standard book pages) so a short review…

This is a first-person narrated story from someone who, on the first line, isn’t sure how he (or she, we don’t know yet) was ‘considered to be the country’s foremost investigator of the crimes of academia’, which set the (highbrow) tone for the rest of the story.

There is quite a lot of set up before we get to the Institute – as we move from California to Seattle – but it’s entertaining nonetheless, and I especially loved the line ‘and the man who fixes your roof might be a bit hazy on the subjunctive’.

And now for writers…

  • Four pages in and we have our first (of four) ‘Well’s. I’ve mentioned this dialogue opening in many of my previous reviews so I won’t go into detail but like ‘er’ and ‘um’, they should be limited to one character… if at all.
  • We should use repetition cautiously. Here we have “there was something about the way in which he spoke that told me that he doubted my cover story. He looked at me in a bit amused, disbelieving way” with a Repps repetition of not only way but also that.
  • As with many of the previous stories, there are no section breaks (blank line with the new section non-indented first paragraph) for time passing. It is a rule we should know as writers although if you were to submit the manuscript without section breaks then no one will reject your work for that reason. If you know it, however, it will look more professional if you break in the correct places: for time passing and switching of main character point of view.
  • There aren’t many typos in this collection but I spotted: “at the instance of the Dean… ” which, I believe, should have been ‘insistence’.

Conclusion

A slow-paced story that fans of Alexander McCall Smith will enjoy, but it was too slow and uneventful me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Phil Rickman’s The House of Susan Lulham, the twenty-fourth story in this collection.

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2016 in critique, ebooks, short stories, writing

 

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Morgen’s story review no.166 – OxCrimes 22: Martyn Waites’ Diagnosis: Murder

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-second in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Martyn Waites’ Diagnosis: Murder

This is a short short story (11 standard book pages) so a short review…

As with all good stories, we are thrown into the action at the beginning as the main character learns he has cancer. We then follow what happens as he gets his affairs in order, as recommended by his doctor, and being a crime collection we know there’s going to be one and sure enough, he aims to get revenge on someone who has done him wrong.

And now for writers…

  • A clichéd ending in this kind of story can go one of two ways, the least enjoyable being the most obvious and unfortunately this did, and was, just that. When writing your ending, I’d recommend picking half a dozen (if you can get that many) and then go with the seventh; the one your reader won’t have thought of and wouldn’t expect, although it still has to work, i.e. you can’t include characters a to d then have the murderer as character e.
  • Speaking of clichés – or rather a phrase that seems to have been doing the rounds so long that is fast becoming a cliché, which I wish it wasn’t – we have a ‘to be honest’.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable story dampened only by the foreseeable ending.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Alexander McCall Smith’s Trouble at the Institute for the Study of Forgiveness, the twenty-third story in this collection.

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
 

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Morgen’s story review no.165 – OxCrimes 21: Ann Cleeves’ The Spinster

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-first in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Ann Cleeves’ The Spinster

This is a short short story (9 standard book pages) so a short review…

From the off, this has a Vera and Shetland feel to it with its ‘peaty soil’ and ‘croft land towards the sea’, and we are indeed based on the Scottish island of Shetland.

The story starts with our main character Joan struggling to concentrate when a neighbour is building a house nearby. We then switch to Joan reminiscing about the 1970s. We should always feel empathy with a nice characters and I certainly do with Joan.

And now for writers…

  • A regular feature of these reviews is talking about ensuring that the reader knows which character is being talked about when ‘he’ or ‘she’ is used. Here we have reference to an American woman and then ‘she had the curtains closed’ when it actually refers to Joan rather than her American customer, something that should have been picked up in the editing process.
  • As well as missing section breaks for time passing, there are also several missing commas. As crops up in these reviews, and those who know me – especially those who have been edited by me – will know that I’m a fan of commas. They have a very important role to play, and often nowhere more so than in dialogue. A perfect example from this story is, “Would you know anything about that Joan?” As it stands, Jimmy Perez – Ann’s detective in this and the Shetland stories – would be asking Joan whether she knows anything about herself or another Joan. Put a comma between ‘that’ and ‘Joan’ – which is what we should have – and he is asking whether she knows anything about the topic he has been talking about (a murder). As you see, a comma can change so much.
  • When writing in past tense, you should be careful when referring to previous times. Here we correctly have ‘two years before’ rather than ‘two years ago’ as I often see.
  • Regular readers to these reviews would know that I recommend avoiding characters’ names starting with the same letter, and the only thing I would have changed about this story is having Joan and James as well as the seasoned detective Jimmy. (There was also Annie, Edie and Mackie… all ending ‘ie’). The only odd one out being the neighbour, Stuart.

Conclusion

A very well-written story, as I would expect from Ann, with exquisite description, especially where the main character, Joan, is knitting, and I loved the comparison between men and seabirds jostling for position. We should learn something from the stories we are read and I certainly did here, and I love love loved the ending. This would certainly make a whole episode and perhaps it’ll be a new novel one day.:)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Martyn Waites’ Diagnosis: Murder, the twenty-second story in this collection.

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Morgen’s story review no.163 – OxCrimes 19: Peter Robinson’s People Just Don’t Listen

Today’s book review of a single short story (the nineteenth in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.

I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).

If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The OxCrimes Collection

OxCrimesFor 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).

This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.

Review of Peter Robinson’s People Just Don’t Listen

This is a tiny story (3 standard book pages) so a tiny review…

This story starts by looking at how someone’s eyes are the windows to the soul (my brother’s glasses are always filthy!), and I love Peter’s description of what eyes actually are. We then follow the character as he meets a beautiful woman with beautiful eyes and their brief liason.

And now for writers…

  • We often write about what is there but not about what isn’t there. Here we have a character saying what he isn’t and what he doesn’t do, and I can’t help but like him.

Conclusion

This story is only two full book pages long and although I guessed the ending, I enjoyed the whole piece very much.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Anne Zouroudi’s The Honey Trap, the twentieth story in this collection.

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!

Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

***

If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Related articles:

*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
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