Cover Reveal ~ Soaring ~ A Collection of Short Stories

Whilst work continues on books 3 and 4 I have been busy beavering away with my short story collection. For those of you that know me a short story collection will come as no surprise. I love the short form in all its gloriousness and have over the last few years built up an eclectic body of work. My shorts range from humorous and funny, to poignant and sad with everything in between. Each story ranges in length from 500 words up to 3,000. Many have been entered into competitions with the title piece ‘Soaring’ being shortlisted and featured in the Black Pear Press anthology for 2016.

I wrote my first short story in 2015. I had just finished reading fellow author Wayne Barton’s ghost story ‘Coal House’, which btw I would highly recommend. It stirred me to move out of my comfort zone. I did not want to write a ghost story, but I did want to try something new. I have always been a fan of short stories and toyed with the idea of giving it a go. I had just completed my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties and was thinking about writing Forbidden Colours. I put pen to paper and wrote my first piece of short fiction ‘6 months and 3 days’ over the course of an evening. It was 500 words long. The experience of using so few words to convey an entire story had made my mind do mental gymnastics but I loved it. I was unsure what I should do with it, so in typical fashion, I jumped in feet first and entered it into a flash fiction competition. I then forgot about it and got on with the task in hand – writing what would subsequently become Forbidden Colours.
A month or so later I heard I hadn’t won, I had not expected to, but I was shortlisted which was a big surprise. During a lull in proceedings with FC, I challenged myself a bit further and wrote ‘Come Tilly Come’, a 2,000-word tale of love and loss. I showed it to my sister and it made her cry, which was a good thing! CTC was longlisted in the Exeter Short Story Competition. It was another lovely surprise and gave me the confidence I needed to continue writing shorts as and when I could.
When I’m writing novels I like to step away from them to regroup and gather my thoughts. It’s what I need to do to maintain my sanity! Writing short stories to enable me to do that. They plug the void, making me think in different ways about everyday things and I love it. It’s a bit like therapy. What is it they say, a change is as good as a rest? Well, that’s certainly true in my case. I have to deliberate so hard over every single word it’s a real lesson in disciplined concentration! Once I’ve rewarded myself by writing a short story I returned energised to my larger pieces of work.

Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you short stories are easy to write – they are not. Every word needs to be needed, every word needs to count and every word needs to propel the story forward. So here I am, almost ready to release my first collection. It is scary and exciting.
‘Soaring’ is a story that features in the collection. It is a tale of marital abuse and the oppression of women. It is my favourite short story and it arrived quite by accident. One night whilst I was watching TV, I got up from the sofa, reached for my notepad and pen and started to write. By 2 am ‘Soaring’ had arrived.
There is something quite magical and edgy about crafting words to a defined number. Short stories stretch me in a way that screams ‘pay attention, it’s important’ and that’s what appeals. Whilst I have a little way to go before it’s release I wanted to show you its’ beautiful cover. Once again James at goonwrite.com has done me proud. He has designed all of my covers to date and they are all stunning. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you ‘Soaring’. I hope you love the cover as much as I do.

Do you or have you ever thought about writing short stories? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Pop a comment below.

 

Soaring - High Resolution

Wednesday Spotlight ~ U Got to Have U Some Fun by Andrew Harkless

Morning campers! How are you all today? Did your tent stay up overnight? Thinking of upgrading to a cruise? Well, whatever holiday floats your boat (apologises, apologises) you should definitely pack a copy of ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ by my guest author Andrew Harkless. Firstly, welcome Andrew.  So, to get the ball rolling please tell us a bit about yourself?

AH: I dropped out of Penn State University at the age of 20 with the deliberate, albeit unorthodox, intention to earn a more practical, street-smart degree studying the human condition through countless bartending positions and extensive travel. That path has been one of sparse means filled with challenging, often horrifying, periods of introspection and no holds barred character studies of everyone with whom I came in contact. From society’s upper echelon, to those whose resumes read like criminal rap sheets, no type of person was off limits. The ultimate goal: arm an innate imagination with enough real-life experiences to eventually be proficient in creating authentic, heartfelt, relatable characters to act out the scenes of my imagination through literary novels.

NF: Wow, that sounds hard work but rewarding. ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ is a great title for a book! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?

AH: I wanted to take an everyman character anyone could relate with on a sort of middle-aged, coming of age existential journey to discover his true potential.

NF: What a great premise for a book. I note that it’s set on a cruise ship, was this your first choice of setting?

AH: It was absolutely my first choice. While working a wide variety of bartending jobs over 25 years to research people so I could ultimately write novels like this one, I was a bartender for two different cruise lines—RCCL and Hawaiian. Setting this story up as a 7-day vacation aboard a cruise ship also allowed me to create a very interesting and realistic sub-plot pulling the curtain back on what really happens on cruise ships.

NF: I am sure there are many more stories to come from those times…. Can you share with us what inspires you to write?

AH: Everyone has a calling. I am an only child, never married nor had children. I am a natural observer who is quite analytical. I love working for myself. All these traits are conducive to creative writing. As a movie buff, my ultimate goal has always been to have something I write adapted for the big screen.

NF: I agree, I think writers are the best observers. I often think writers would make great spies for that very reason. When you write would you say you are a planner or a panster?

AH: A bit of both. I make a thin outline to start and then it grows and changes as I write

NF: Me too. I love watching a story unfold, there is something magical about uncovering a story for the first time.Which authors do you enjoy reading?

AH: All the classics; contemporary wise. I love John Irving, along with all the usual suspects like: Brown, Grisham, DeMille, Elmore Leonard.

NF: I’m with you on DeMille.Who would you say have been your biggest influences?

AH: I have the best parents. Without them, my dreams would have never had a chance. I used bartending for the past 27 years as my education and as a source of research to write great novels, so I would also say all the people I’ve met on that journey are content sources of influence. And last but not least, without my editor, publisher, business partner, and friend—Debra L Hartmann—this novel would probably never have come to life.

NF: Yes families are so important in shaping and supporting us. Where would we be without having someone fighting our corner? If you could time travel what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

AH: Work hard and buy real estate or stock at a young age so you have the means to afford the luxury of pursuing your dreams later.

NF: Good advice Andrew, I wish I’d have done that… the buying real estate bit! So, what are you currently working on?

AH: A sort of anti-materialistic themed novel. The main character takes a vacation each year to live on the streets with the homeless.

NF: That sounds intriguing. An actor I know is trying to raise money via crowd funding to make a movie about homlessness, it’s a very emotive subject. Thanks so much for joining me today Andrew and I wish you all the best with ‘U Got to Have U Some Fun’ and here’s to all of your future writing adventures.

Just before you go can you answer these quick fire questions? It must be the first thing that pops into your head… OK… Ready…Set…Go..

Favourite type of food?

Pizza

Favourite movie?

Cool Hand Luke, Casablanca, Caddie Shack

Favourite book?

I have two: Canery Row by Steinbeck and Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk

Favourite book character?

John Smith from U Got to Have U Some Fun

Red or yellow?

Yellow

Sweet or savoury?

Spicy

Beginning or End?

The present is a continual beginning.

Favourite city?

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Land or sea?

Land by the sea.

Fact or fiction?

All fiction is fact.

About the Author

Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

Andrew Harkless was born in Orange County, California in 1970, but raised in central Pennsylvania. He currently resides in coastal North Carolina. He has never married nor had children—life-lessons possibly still awaiting him down the road. Many typical luxuries were put on hold for devoting unbridled time to writing with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful literary author along the caliber of his idol, John Irving—inarguably one of the greatest contemporary American storytellers.

U Got to Have U Some Fun is available in both ebook & paperback  right here >>>                                   

To Connect with Andrew Harkless:

Author Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

What Are You Reading?

I blinked and seem to have missed most of the month of May. It proved to be a busy time in the Fitton household. In between having my head stuck in a book and writing, I hardly came up for air. Apart from going to work and walking the dog –  two things I have to do otherwise I’d get fired! Oh, and keeping the fridge full for exam stressed teens, that is ongoing! Who knew food shopping could be such a source of inspiration?  My birthday at the beginning of last month seems like a lifetime away. It can’t be June, can it?  During the month of May, I wrote and read my socks off. I managed to read 7 books, write over 7,000 words and entered 3 short story competitions. Not bad for someone whose day job involves a lot of travel eh?  Oh, and I made some mean meringues – more on those later. I’m really not looking for a pat on the back (well apart from the meringues, they were rather good). What surprised me was the number of books I read. Usually, I find myself at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve all been there, right? – End of the month and you are still trying to get beyond page 50 of book one? Thought so. Last month, however, marked a change for me. I added early mornings to my late night reading ritual and… ta da… more books read. Rocket science it was not. I even had time to make those stellar meringues everyone is talking about…. I confess… it’s me, just me talking about them. I’m sure others would have talked about them had they lasted long enough. Remember the crazed… sorry, stressed teens? Nuff said. Now, where was I?… Ah yes…books. The number of exciting new books around is staggering. I have been pleasantly surprised and found myself marveling at the beauty of the language, and the complexity of the plots. My taste is quite eclectic, I read pretty much any genre. Sadly, Not every book last month was a winner. They fell into three distinct categories – the good, the bad and the ugly. No, I’m not going to divulge which ones got the rotten tomato award. Suffice to say, more were good than bad! So, onwards I go, armed with a Kindle full of adventure. So what am I reading this month? Here’s what’s on my list so far:

Hear Me ~Julia North

Stillhouse Lake ~ Rachel Caine

Finding Miranda ~ Iris Chacon

If I am to match or even better last month I need some suggestions. Ahem… (clears throat loudly).. This is where you come in. What would you recommend adding to Junes list? What are you reading? As I said, eclectic taste, so please pop your suggestions in the comments below and I shall give them a go.

Oh, the meringues? Yes, I promised you more, brace yourselves….  Meringues