RSS

Tag Archives: Northampton

FREEBIE ALERT! My chick-lit novel eBook ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ is FREE Sunday, 23 Oct!

TSDSL cover new eBook smallFREEBIE ALERT! Hello everyone. I’m delighted to share with you that my chick-lit novel eBook ‘The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’ is FREE this Sunday, 23rd October! http://mybook.to/SerialDater

31 dates in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong? Isobel MacFarlane is a recently-turned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong.

Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleague and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s non-too-healthy African Grey parrot.

If you enjoy this book, please do leave a review to encourage others to download it (for free or otherwise!).
I’m an independent author… your support means a lot to us indies!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 22, 2016 in ebooks, ideas, novels, writing

 

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

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.

*

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.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.169 – OxCrimes 25: Mark Billingham’s Under the Mistletoe Last Night

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-fifth 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 Mark Billingham’s Under the Mistletoe Last Night

This is a short short story (13 standard book pages) so a short review…

As with all good crime stories, we have a dead body in the opening scene. It is then left to Tom Thorne – Mark’s usual detective – to work out what happened and find the criminal, and I love his blasé attitude: ‘Christmas Day was as good or bad a day to die as any other.’

Tom is a very dry individual, and I enjoyed the banter between him and the pathologist.

And now for writers…

  • Stephen King is notorious for his hatred of adverbs and one that could have been chopped in this story was ‘crept slowly’ because creeping is slow.
  • The only other pick I had are that we have two surname starting with the same letter (Thorne and Turnbull) and there were two ‘well’s as dialogue pauses. Readers of my previous reviews will know these are two of my bugbears.
  • I guessed the ending to the story because there were few characters to choose from. If you are going to write a crime story where you don’t want the reader to guess the ending, add enough red herrings e.g. actions, plot points, or other characters who could be suspicious but turn out to be innocent.

Conclusion

A very entertaining story that got to the point very quickly, saw the action through, and concluded without any unnecessary faff in between. It only loses a point as I guessed the ending.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of John Connolly’s The Children of Dr Lyall, the twenty-sixth 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:

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 29, 2016 in critique, review, short stories, writing

 

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

Morgen’s story review no.168 – OxCrimes 24: Phil Rickman’s The House of Susan Lulham

Today’s book review of a single short story (the twenty-fourth 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 Phil Rickman’s The House of Susan Lulham

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

Back to a third person story, this story has the feel of Poltergeist about it. The description of the surroundings was very vivid but it took me a while to get into the story. I felt that some of the characters were not introduced properly (as if I should know who they were already) and I had to guess who they were until more information was revealed, which often works but not in this case.

There were other times when I was given facts but I had to reread them as they didn’t make sense and this spoiled the enjoyment of the story. I read on, hoping that they would all make sense by the end and it did but felt like a struggle.

In a story of any length there should be phrases we like, and in this one I liked: ‘Sophie worked for the sandstone bookend to Hereford’s city centre. The cathedral.’ Apart from the faulty punctuation – should have been a colon instead of full stop after ‘city centre’, I loved the term ‘sandstone bookend’.

And now for writers…

  • There is a fine line between providing the reader with so much information that there is nothing left to imagine or not enough so they struggled picture what’s going on. As mentioned above, I took a while to work out the start because the plot was so sketchy.
  • A big no-no in writing is to have a character stand in front of a mirror so we get to know what they look like and we had this in this story but it was only short and it did establish who the character was by what she was wearing, which at the time helped me work out who she was. We also have her later looking at herself in a computer screen. Sometimes, especially when the character is on their own, there’s no way round it but better to have another character remark on what they look like as a comparison, e.g. they look paler than normal, or “Ooh, I love your lipstick… a striking shade of red.” (especially poignant when it’s actually blood!).
  • Deadlines are always a useful tool for pacing, and here our mirror-looking character as a couple of days to get rid of an unwanted spirit.
  • I’ve mentioned before about character names starting with different first initials and here we have Susan and Sophie on neighbouring paragraphs. Although they look relatively different on the page, they are of similar length so if the characters were then split up it could be confusing to the reader as to which was which. There were also Merrily and Mahonie (I often find that M is the most popular beginning letter), Jonno and Jane, Watkins and Wells. Regardless of whether first or surnames, they should be distinguishable, and I couldn’t take the main character’s name, Merrily, seriously, which didn’t help.
  • And finally… speaking of Wells, in this story there were 3 well’s used as pauses in dialogue, e.g. ‘Well, you wouldn’t want them at home.’ Wells are justified on some occasions but generally – like ‘erm’s, if they can be left out and the passage is just as good (or better) then they can go… like anything we write.🙂

Conclusion

This was a story that I struggled to get into, struggled to continue, and struggled to finish. While it has not put me off reading Phil Rickman again, it is one of my least favourite stories in this collection.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Mark Billingham’s Under the Mistletoe Last Night, the twenty-fifth 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:

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2016 in critique, review, short stories, writing

 

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.

 
Leave a comment

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

 

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

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.

 
 

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