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The Gem of Old

Do you remember the children’s story I had promised to write for my friend’s godson? (No? Read here.) I have actually been struggling with it for that long. Seriously. My friend was being super nice and said I could finish it for Christmas but I was worried I’d avoid it until December and be in the same situation I am now. So I was determined to finish it. As I was tearing my hair out, a friend on Twitter mentioned witches and all of a sudden, I had the missing part of my story! Don’t you just love it when that happens? That was last night and I finished the story today. Woo hoo!

Now I need you. I need new eyes to make sure I haven’t missed any errors or typos and to make sure the story reads okay. It’s for  five year old boy (who is also the main character). In the actual story, it includes his full name, his brother’s full name and the name of their school. I took those out for the online version ’cause, well, they’re kids.

Be brutal! (But not too brutal, I’m printing and mailing this on Thursday so I only have tomorrow night to make alterations.)

This link should work and bring up a .pdf document:

Paul and the Gem of Old

Anything you notice, just put in the comments below. I’m going to take the link down after 24 hours or so (sometime tomorrow night) so I don’t continue to get feedback after I’ve printed and mailed it ’cause I’d feel awful if I knew there was an error and it was too late to do anything about it!

You guys are awesome! I love you already.

The Kitten That Survived

I’m learning. Apparently going home for the weekend involves me spending as little time on the Internet as possible in this day and age (which is a surprisingly small amount!) which is why I haven’t blogged in a week. I do apologise! I’m going to try and blog three times this week to make up for it.

As promised, way back when, whilst I was visiting my family, I dug out the first story I ever wrote. (I did, however, manage to completely forget to take a photograph of it… I spent a lot of time with my parents and friends and little time in my room, other than to sleep. That’s my excuse.) I typed it up, fixing spelling errors and adding it a few bits of missed punctuation. But, otherwise, this is the story as it was written back in 1996.

And, no. I have no idea why my characters sound so poncy. Back then I was reading Enid Blyton and Goosebumps. I don’t think either had dialogue like this…


The Kitten That Survived

One Christmas Eve, a family of cats were let out to play. While they were outside it began to snow. Whilst they sat there wondering what the snow was, it came down thicker and faster. Then the mother cat who was called Pippa told her kittens who were called Sooty and Snowball that they must run away from all this white stuff. So they ran far away from their home but everywhere they went there was snow.

Then Snowball said, “everywhere we go there is this white stuff. I want to go home.”

“So do we all,” said Pippa, “but I’m afraid we are lost.”

“Lost! We can’t be lost,” cried Sooty almost in despair. “Surely you know the way back, mother?”

“I’m sorry Sooty,” said Pippa, “but I don’t.”

“I’m cold, mother,” said Sooty.

“I’m starving,” wept Snowball.

“We are starving too, Snowball,” said Pippa in distress, “but we won’t find any food at this time of winter.”

Very soon a man saw the cats walking past and he went outside and gave them some food.

“Well, my beauties, what are you doing out here in the cold snow?” said the man, kindly. “Would you like to live with me?”

Well, as you can imagine, all the cats purred as if to say ‘yes please’. So they lived with the man. But, after a couple of days, they found out that the man had other cats, so next time the man opened the door they fled out of the house.

One week later they came to a busy road. And Pippa said, “just follow me across this road because it’s very busy.” So Sooty and Snowball followed their mother across the road. But a lorry came down the road just as they were crossing and it struck Pippa’s tail. She fell down in pain but she managed to get across to the other side safely. When they were all across Sooty said, “are you hurt mother? I saw that lorry hit your tail and I wondered if you were all right.”

“I’m fine, thank you Sooty,” said Pippa, but when she stood up she fell down again. “I don’t think I can go on,” whimpered Pippa.

So the kittens had to face the biggest and busiest roads, tramping feet and snowballs alone. So they said goodbye to their mother and scampered off down the path.

In a few weeks time the kittens came to a big hill. On the hill were some children sledging. The kittens started to walk across the hill but half way across a sledge suddenly came whizzing down.

“Run!” cried Sooty but before Snowball could even begin to run, the sledge bumped into her and carried on whizzing down the hill. Sooty burst into tears when he saw what had happened to his sister.

Sooty trudged on alone then as he passed a house, Sooty looked in the window and saw his family looking very upset. It had begun to snow again and Sooty was so tired that he could hardly walk up to the front door. When he did he gave a tiny meow. The family sat up at the noise and the girl ran and opened the door.

“Sooty!” she cried in amazement. “Sooty oh Sooty you’re alright! Oh I’m so glad but where’s Pippa and Snowball?”

Sooty ran down the path and the girl followed him. He led her to the hill and at the bottom they found Snowball’s body, tatty and dirty. Then he led her to where Pippa had been hit and they found her body limp and bruised. They took the two bodies back and buried them in the back garden.

Sooty, as soon as they were in the house, curled up in his basket and fell fast asleep.

The End

Short Stories and Competitions

A lovely member of the NaNoWriMo Manchester group brought the Costa Short Story Award to the group’s attention recently. I have to confess, I’ve only ever entered one short story competition ever. To my credit, I was shortlisted. Which, for my first competition, was kinda awesome! This was a good couple of years ago.

I’ve not written a short story in a while. My mind is full of The Trilogy right now. Luckily, the deadline isn’t for the competition isn’t until September 7th (and I already have a fortnight’s warning written in my diary) so I have time. But, if I can’t come up with a new idea, I have a whole bunch of short stories I’ve written over the years. I know I can pick one to edit/re-write. I may even go with the story which has been shortlisted once before. It must’ve had some sort of potential, right? It could do with a bit of work on it though. I glanced through it recently and some of the punctuation made me cringe. (“I put a comma there?” and other such thoughts.)

It’s strange how your writing mind changes. I used to write tons of short stories. Since I left university, I haven’t written any. (Of course, I used to have to write short stories for my Creative Writing portfolio for my degree…) And I graduated 4 years ago. The fact that I know I haven’t written a short story since then without even looking through my files says everything. I think it takes a different mentality to write a short story than it does to write a novel. You have to set up background, characters and a plot in a much smaller space than when writing a novel. I feel it’s a whole different talent.

Aside from my shortlisted story, I remember being proud of one other short story that I wrote in university. I wrote a quick horror which I set on campus. It involved a power cut and murders. A couple of members of my creative writing seminar expressed their horror at it, announcing I made them nervous when walking across campus at night. (I admit, it was awesome to know I had that sort of power. Mwahahaha! *cough*) My tutor didn’t like it, though. She actually suggested to end it with “it was all a dream.” I nearly threw a book at her.

Writing competitions (I believe the term in the business is “comps”) are something I’d like to go for more often. They tend to be aimed at short stories, though. But if you have the text, go for it! There’s plenty out there. I used to follow a website which listed writing competitions and e-zines and magazines which were looking for submissions. It was awesome! Unfortunately, it seems to have shut down. Well, it’s website says “temporarily unavailable” and I haven’t been on in a while, so they could be doing something technical with it. It’s here if you’re interested in keeping an eye on it.

If you do hit the competition scene, make sure you read the terms and conditions for each individual competition carefully (make note of any submission requirements such as font and spacing) and be aware that some competitions charge an entry fee. Set yourself a limit of what you’re willing to pay to enter and stick to it. Be wary of any which charge an excessive entry fee for a little or no prize.

Click here for the official website for the Costa Short Story Award:

Good luck!

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