Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sally-Anne Wilkinson: No Swimming!

Please have a gander at my new short story over at the Storgy Magazine website. If you’re a short story fan, there’s loads of fabulous fiction for every taste.

Aaron’s attention is caught by a gull rising from the surf out at sea, and I take the time to scrutinise him, grateful to have something to focus on apart from the water. His features aren’t entirely familiar to me, as I’ve only known him a few weeks. If I’m honest, I’ve kept him at arm’s length – but he’s different to the others, and finally, I’ve allowed myself to enjoy his company; accept the attention he gives me. It’s tough for me to admit it – but I like him. A lot. It’s the fact he’s interested in me; really interested. He encourages me, but doesn’t push. On top of all that, my mother’s not keen, which is another reason to keep him around.

My eyes follow the line of his jaw from his ear to his chin, which is unbelievably smooth.   He reminds me of one of the…

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A Language Called Water by Sally-Anne Wilkinson

Hi peeps. Here is my latest Storgy contribution.

A LANGUAGE CALLED WATER

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

typewriter

The water is where I belong. It’s where I always belonged: submerged and concealed from the world. I blink and examine my surroundings. I don’t remember my journey. One minute, I was on the ward and the door was open; the next, I was here. I don’t recall ever knowing this place existed. I am wet from the storm, and the wind shrieks, slapping my face. In front of me, a metal ladder leads into an abandoned pool built at the edge of the sea. My feet sink in a carpet of low-lying weeds around the rim. The water is almost opaque and thick with algae. Over the pool’s outer edge, facing the horizon, the ocean crashes against the boundary, fighting to enter. The constant impact of the sea has weakened the barrier, and salt water seeps through, disturbing the glassy surface. I…

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The Kiss by Sally-Anne Wilkinson

Here’s my latest Storgy short story. It’s only a two minute read.

THE KISS

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

typewriter love

In this moment, rising out of everything, it’s our first kiss I remember. To me, it’s far clearer than where we met or what we wore – though that’s something we argued about regularly. You said you wore green, but I’m certain you wore blue. And our first meeting? You were on the bench in the park, but you insisted it was a different bench – the one by the river. Your hair, an abundance of curls, was in a topknot that day, but you said no – you wore it down, freshly washed, the morning cold entwined in the damp spirals. I may have it wrong, I may not. It’s not something to worry about now. We have two minds, two sets of memories and emotions, two sets of eyes.

For the longest time, ensnared in rituals of work and family, we lost our…

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Flying by Sally-Anne Wilkinson

My new story on Storgy. Thanks for reading in advance 🙂

FLYING

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

typewriter love

Eva side-stepped the cowpat on the muddy path, feeling the warmth of the sun as it penetrated through the cold of the morning.  In the distance blackbirds trilled, but instead of watching them sweep by as she usually would, she kept her eyes firmly on the path in front of her.  She didn’t have long for her walk, but she needed this time to herself to clear her head.  The day would be full of people and full of chatter.  The sort she generally found long and exhausting anyway, but today, more so.  Today was Tom’s day.  Tom’s birthday.  In fact, soon she’d be rushing around, making ham sandwiches and putting cocktail sausages on sticks and laying out miniature cakes with fondant icing.  All the things he favoured.

In the past, Joe complained about her preoccupation with her son. He claimed it was what drove them…

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CLAPHAM COMMON

A bit of unrequited love in my latest short story on Storgy.

CLAPHAM COMMON

Clapham

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

From the first moment I see you, that’s it.

We’re on our lunch from work, taking advantage of the dry weather and kicking a ball around the Common, when Mac suddenly stops and nudges me.

‘Jones-y. Check her out.’

I look in the direction he’s indicating – towards you. I’d already seen you earlier, but knowing what he’s like, I purposely show little concern, as my interest will only increase his. He’s always been the competitive type.

He looks at me, raising his eyebrows. ‘Maybe I should go over? Say hello?’

‘Try it,’ I say, surprised by the warning in my voice. I can see Mac is, too.

‘Alright, alright, mate. Keep your shirt on.’

I still half expect him to amble over, but instead he shrugs, throws the ball in the air and boots it over to Pommy.  That’s strange. I’m not used…

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THE BABY by Sally-Anne Wilkinson

Here’s my latest contribution to the Storgy short story magazine.

THE BABY

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

typewriter love

If I had a previous life, it’s gone.  All I know is, the baby won’t stop crying.  His wails pierce through walls, as though they’re made of eggshell.  His lungs squall for hours, leeching the oxygen, and leave nothing for me.  Some days it’s hard to gather strength to get out of bed, climb downstairs, or even lift my arms to wash my hair.

Day and night, the baby feeds, sucking me dry.  With each feed, my skin hangs off my bones; bags deepen under my eyes.  There’s a vertical crease forming between my eyebrows, and a small blood vessel in the inner corner of each eye pollutes the whiteness.  Some days I see the dark hollows of my eye sockets and wonder if Halloween is a daily event.

When the baby arrived, Jonah abandoned me for the spare room. The baby is always latched…

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New Short Story – Je t’aime – by Sally-Anne Wilkinson

Teenagers in love with their French teacher? We’ve seen it all before…

JE T’AIME

by

Sally-Anne Wilkinson

typewriter love

Dear Andy,

Oh God, I can’t believe I’m writing this letter!  It’s soooo embarrassing.  I mean, you know I’ve fancied you for, like, ages, and I know it makes things a bit weird for you, you being a teacher and all that, and me just being fifteen.  But when two people love each other, rules and age and stuff like that, they just don’t matter, do they?

That day, when you first started at our school, was the best ever.  Let’s just say French classes got a whole lot better after that. I was in Year NIne, but at the time, you didn’t notice me because I was still pretty small and, really, I suppose I was just a kid.  I’ve changed a lot since then. Grown up. I think you’d only been teaching for a few years, because on your first day you looked…

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6 Reasons to Write a Short Story

Calling all novelists – here’s how penning short stories might help you as a writer.

Writers In The Storm Blog

Happy Friday to all our friends here at WITS! We’re doing some extra special posts this week as an advance thank you for helping us migrate to our new site next week. All will be unveiled on Monday!

Today our pal, Julie Glover, is here. *Jenny jumps up and down* Here’s an example of why she’s one of our favorite peeps. When we told her y’all love nice meaty posts, Julie responded with:

“I hope I delivered. I’m even hoping it’s bacon. All posts should be like bacon.”

Enjoy!

*  *  *  *  *  *

My Sister's Demon, paranormal fiction by Julie Glover, @julie_glover

As a novel reader, I always believed I was meant to write full-length books. Yet I find myself entering the self-published market with a collection of short stories instead.

I wrote the first one on a lark—merely a story premise I wanted to get out of my system. But I liked the result…

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Writing Reality: Using Synaesthetic Imagery

Great article about using the concept of synaesthesia in writing. It’s something I’d never considered, but now I’ve been introduced to it, I wonder how it managed to pass me by as a writer. It’s a very effective way of getting across complex images. Fantastic.

celenagaia

There’s nothing I love more than to watch for the signs in life. Subtext, subtweet, crossed-wires, imagery, symbolism. In particular, the metaphor can create a beautiful path of words, drawing comparison between one image and another, so that the audience might walk to find themselves at a new truth, a fresh abstract landscape, rather than the tired old concrete definition of some reality.

Synaesthesia – “the transfer of information from one sensory modality to another”, or mingling of the senses – is often used to enhance imagery in writing. We find examples of this every day – “a bitter wind,” “a blue sound”, “a black funk.” As sense-imagery can be a vital part of drawing the audience into a scene, allowing them to experience what the narrative POV does (directly or by proxy), it stands to reason that the use of synaesthesia – the mingling of senses, or connecting…

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I’m Not Hungry Thanks

What do you do when someone asks you to critique their work and you’re really not impressed?  Do you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  Or do you lie?

As you’re a writer, it’s likely, at some point, that you’ve been approached by another writer to critique their work, probably because they know that it’s not quite right and need a second opinion.  If you’re familiar with them and their writing style – it’s a relatively easy task.  You’ve developed a relationship because you admire each other’s work, you’ve a mutual trust, and an understanding of what to expect.  The whole thing is straightforward – you can be honest, direct, and not tie yourself in knots as to whether you’ll upset them or not. However, it’s an entirely different matter if it’s someone you don’t know that well, but particularly, if it’s the work of someone who’s inexperienced.  Especially if there’s a lot that needs improving.  I don’t know about you, but for me, critiquing the work of someone I’m only vaguely familiar with sets off those anxious little voices in my head (yes, I have voices).  They call out:

You can’t tell them the truth.  

You’ll hurt their feelings.  

And then they’ll be upset.  

And you know who’ll be to blame!

YOU! 

When you’re in this situation (surely I can’t be the only one?), the first thing you should do is turn down the volume on those voices. (You’d never do anything if you took any stock of what they have to say).  The next thing is to consider the critique from the writer’s perspective (especially if they’re a novice).

It’s true that, after a few years of writing, I welcome (fair) constructive criticism, but when I started out, passing my work over for someone else to read made me want to:

  1. throw up;
  2. hide under a blanket;
  3. run away

I knew I was over-reacting. My rational side thought, get a grip woman – it’s only a piece of fiction.  I wasn’t confessing to a life as a prostitute in the window of an Amsterdam brothel (that’s another story)

Image

She wished she’d got some net curtains. She was sick of every Tom, Dick and Harry looking in when they walked past.

or kidnapping a busload of grannies in Torremolenos and keeping them hostage (best not go there).

Image

She knew she shouldn’t have left that open invite on Facebook.

Yet, despite this, as a new writer, I felt exposed and vulnerable, consumed by a very real and powerful fear.  My writing felt so personal, and I’d invested so much in it, that the possibility of any negative comments felt like a personal assault on me.  I’d set my creative bar so high, that if I lost my balance, I was scared the fall would be fatal.

Image

This circus trick course wasn’t all it was made out to be.

It’s this I try to remember when I feedback on someone else’s work: the huge impact we have on someone’s confidence when we tell them our thoughts about their creative abilities. As a reviewer, I’m not simply commenting on a story, but something that is personal to them.  The other thing I try to remember is the lessons I learned from others when I received critiques on my stories:

  • Show consideration for their feelings, and don’t be too blunt.
  • Even if it’s very flawed, it’s really important to make a big deal about the good aspects (pointing out things such as interesting story idea, strong voice, easy narrative style, good characterisation, natural dialogue, striking imagery, etc).
  • Only then, when you’ve buffered them to the hilt, do you describe the weaknesses (in my case, the usual suspects: not moving the story forward, too much irrelevant detail, unnecessary description, explaining too much, being too obvious, overuse of adjectives, cliched characters and cliched writing, too much telling, not enough showing.  I could go on).
  • It’s good to have two positives to every negative.
  • Don’t list TOO many negatives – especially if it’s a new writer.  You can always leave a few out.  The future of the Earth doesn’t depend on it.  It’s likely they’re going to send the story to you again, so you can always point out other issues then – once the writing is stronger.

Hearing the faults in a story isn’t pleasant reading for any writer, but if the positives are emphasised strongly enough, the negatives won’t make you want to scurry away, to hide for eternity, covered in cobwebs and cat wee, never to write again.  Instead, you’ll realise, your writing may not be perfect, but what you have instead is something solid to work with.

So, as a critiquer, what you should be serving to the writer, whatever their experience, is the classic shit sandwich.

Image

Tell me what the pros of writing are again?

Those two positives I mentioned earlier?  Those are the bread.  And the negative? Yep, that’s the shit filling.  You’ve got that, right?  The bread is a shock absorber to soften the blow.  You’re distracting them with something cosy and comforting to chew on (Mmmm! Thick white Warburtons bread)

Image

Mmmm, Warburtons. My favourite. What did you say that brown stuff was? Marmite?

before they realise what the smell is and the bad taste in their mouth.  (Do you need some water?)

It’s easy to see many negatives in a lot of new writing, and yes, you should tell the truth, but don’t be overly harsh.  Over-emphasising the positives is not being deceitful.  What you’re actually doing is giving a new writer the honesty they deserve, whilst simultaneously building up their creative confidence and self-esteem. It’s the persistence and practise that’s applied to writing – after an initial boost of confidence – that helps with improvement; the ability to apply the good, and to identify (and remove) the bad.

So, if we return to the shit sandwich analogy (yes, we must)…  Over time, if writers act on feedback, they learn to eliminate the shit from their sandwich until it’s nothing more than an occasional skid mark on the bread.

And maybe one day, if we’re lucky, there’ll be no mark left at all.

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Not that I’ll be eating that bread after I know what’s been on it.

 

 

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