This is mostly a list of my recent writing credits and diary of related events.
Have you ever met the gaze of a stranger and held eye contact for fractionally longer than you feel you should? Have those few seconds lingered in your mind for years? All the stories you told yourself of what could have been….
NEW YEAR’S DAY 2021
I’m taking a break from short-story blogging to concentrate on finishing a longer story, which I hope will eventually be published as a novel. It was originally called ‘Polytechnic’, but as it evolved, it became clear that it needed a different working title. ‘No 3 Angel Yard’ is a more fitting name for this story.
You may have noticed that there are some gaps in the numbering of the short stories on this blog. For various reasons, I remove one or two from time to time. I feel that some of the earlier stories were more ‘essays’ and are no longer relevant. Some were published elsewhere and I have reworked some into other stories.
I don’t know when I’ll be back (possibly in January when I have another short story published in an anthology) but please stay subscribed. You never know, I may have some good news very soon.
Here’s a picture of my desk at home
Ever wondered what lockdown would be like living with a sociopath? What happens to ordinary people when law and order no longer exists? Just how long would you follow the Government’s instructions? My story, ‘Hide and Seek’ is included in the apocalyptic anthology, Annihilation Radiation, published today by Storgy.
Buy it here.
Life has been a lot slower this year and many things have paused, but the pace of change has also happened at breakneck speed. Nothing will ever be the same again. There will be no ‘back to normal’. This is it. This is how we live now. Physically socially distant from each other, yet feeling connections to people online who we will never meet.
I had good news this week from my publisher. A short story I wrote almost a year ago may be in print in as little as a fortnight. Appropriately enough, it’s a grim tale of life during the apocalypse. Watch this space…
First draft of my novel. There’s a long way to go yet before it sees the light of day.
This is a rejected submission for a 100-word story on the theme of ‘mango’. There is actually an Australian condition with this very name for when someone behaves irrationally due to excessive heat. Anything above 27 degrees and I want to be left well alone.
“ I can’t bear it in here. It’s oppressive,” he said.
“It’s easier for you. You get 10 hours of respite every day,” I said.
“You don’t know what you’re on about,” he said.
“I’m shattered all the time but I can’t sleep,” I said.
“I don’t want to be here anymore either,” I thought.
“You know when you get off the plane and the heat hits you and you can’t breathe? That’s what it’s like when I get home. Instant headache. Makes me feel sick,” he said.
“I wish I didn’t feel sick. I wish I would bleed,” I thought.
A peek at my Submittable submissions shows over 90 rejections so far to a handful of acceptances. I do not wish to dwell on the fails, as they will always be part of the process. Of those, I have felt the sting of disappointment only a couple of times. I’ve had ten times more praise for my work on this blog so the validation is a cushion. I want to celebrate the wins. Fail better, as they say. I can’t be a good fit for everyone. Just this week, I had some lovely, unexpected ego-boosting feedback from someone much bigger in the industry, saying my stories were witty, quirky and engaging. So, I’m going to keep doing what I keep doing.
My short stories of which I am most proud are those that took weeks, if not months to research, write and hone. I prefer writing to a specific brief as I have parameters to work within. However, my goals have shifted somewhat recently. I still have the ambition of my own novel (with a brilliant cover including incredible font) on the shelf, plus a separate collection of short stories, but I would love to hear one of my stories read out by a professional voice-over artist or actor. I think a couple of my stories would make great screenplays. There isn’t enough time to do everything I want, so I’m taking a break from social media to concentrate on reading and writing.
Click here for my Amazon Author page
I am delighted that my story, ‘Hide and Seek’ was shortlisted for the anthology ‘Annihilation Radiation’ soon to be published by Storgy.
Anyone who knows me knows I am OBSESSED with all things apocalyptic. Prepping, nuclear war, the end of the world etc. ‘Hide and Seek’ was written in November 2019 yet seems weirdly appropriate for the time we are living in now. Inclusion in this anthology is an absolute honour. It’s massive. But beware! It’s 6,500 words of brutality. Not for the squeamish.
My short-story, ‘Last Exit’ is released on 2nd June 2020 in the anthology entitled ‘Blood, Sweat and Fists. Stories From The Pits’. Published by Weasel Press
This is a sneak preview of the cover
Click here to buy
How exciting to be part of this nomination! You can vote here!
WE DIDN’T WIN, UNFORTUNATELY, BUT HOW COOL WAS IT TO BE EVEN NOMINATED?!
A viral post! Those friendly people over at The Museum of Ordinary People asked me if they could use my post (about keeping a journal for the #TheseTimes project) on their own blog.
November/December was spent writing and editing my longest short-story to date. Almost 6,500 words to a very specific brief, the topic of which has subsequently become more prominent in the world. Fingers crossed it makes it into the anthology. If not, then I will expand it into a novella. UPDATE – it did make it into the book. ‘Annihilation Radiation’ will be published by Storgy later in 2020.
I had a small operation, then recovered over Christmas and New Year. It’s true that time spent getting better from illness takes longer as you get older. I’m so grateful to have the NHS and people around me who care.
My Editor (how I love saying that phrase) has been in touch with a few grammatical amendments to a story to be published later in the year, and I’m working on a couple more subs. I’ve started to keep a book of thanks, so when I come to write my own acknowledgement page in my own novel, I won’t forget to thank anyone who helped me.
The novel-in-progress is ticking along nicely. 35,000 words so far. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t need to edit it as I go along. I just need to write it first.
I AM A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!
Three of my original short stories were included in three anthologies in 2019. Read about the book launches here.
My First Interview
I had read other women’s stories of their menopause symptoms, and as mine were mostly emotional, I jumped at the chance to share my own experiences with Laura at Marvellous Midlife
I strongly believe that perimenopause was the springboard that kickstarted this entire blog….
Attack of the giant business cards…
My story, ‘Minted’ has been selected for publication on the Dime Show Review website and possibly for print publication too.
‘Stand Down Soldier’ has been chosen for inclusion in the ‘Indivisible’ anthology, to be published by Commonword. The latest update is that it is due for publication in September 2020.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
Ever wondered how or where writers get their inspiration?
My mum has told me many spooky stories of her childhood. I remembered a version of one of them and entered it into a twitter competition. I won! I later developed the anecdote into the ghost story ‘My Little Poppet’.
In a druggy, post-operative haze, I wrote a fairytale called ‘IV’
Thank you to The Drabble for reblogging it.
The original can be read here 85. IV
Once a goth…
A non-fiction account of my life as the girlfriend of someone who loved the mosh pit will shortly be published by Weasel Press
‘Last Exit’ tells the tale of one summer in the late-80s of my experience watching ‘Fields of The Nephilim’ at various venues around England.
The anthology, ‘Blood, Sweat and Fists’ is out in June 2020. Click here to buy.
One of my darker, more intense stories called Say When, was accepted by a literary magazine in the USA, for publication on New Year’s Eve 2019. Then I had to withdraw it…
The publication is early November, and the book launch will be at Nomad Books in London, which is very exciting!
Buy it here
Amanda Saint – Publisher at Retreat West Books said of ‘Say When’
“Very clever twist we didn’t see coming and great distortion of time.”
9th August 2019
It arrived! My story, ‘May Settle In Transit’ is on pages 62-9.
(‘An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Leicester’ is available on Amazon and from the Tourist Information Centre, Leicester, UK)
There’s plenty of Yorkshire dialect in my story in the anthology, so here’s a crash course, in case you’re not familiar with the lingo. Leicester is a bit further south than Yorkshire, so the accent is quite different. My story is about feeling out of place…
21st June 2019
I get a mention in this new book! Creatures Give Advice Again
(I’m on page 50)
First peek at the anthology…
Proof stage so I won’t get a look for a couple of months yet.
6th June 2019
My post ‘I ♥️ My Dad’ gets a little mention on twitter and on this blog. lifewithcharli
I’m keeping busy, entering competitions to win fabulous cash prizes or inclusion in anthologies. Some of my posts have found a second life on the following websites – WhoSaidSheSaid and Writers and Artists
so please head over there and give them the thumbs up!
One of my three pieces reblogged over on ‘WhoSaidSheSaid”, entitled “Invisibility Cloak” was declined by another publisher, but their lovely feedback included the incredible praise that the piece was “a blistering response to being ignored.”
24th March 2019
I was quite emotional at this awesome picture, drawn just for little ‘ol me over on Roppotcha
21st March 2019
The anthology is on hold…
1st March 2019
One of my short stories called “May Settle in Transit” has been chosen for inclusion in the upcoming anthology, “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Leicester”. Out October 2019.
These things I cannot remember.
19th October 2018
I write, therefore I am, a writer.
The next step of my journey is towards a real, physical novel on our shared shelf.
My first paid experiences of ‘publication’ were in the early 80s, as a pre-teen. I discovered that comics such as ‘Bunty’ would send me a £2 postal order for every one of my letters that they printed.
I had a joke printed in ‘The Aero Book of Jokes’ in the mid-80s, but later realised that quite possibly everyone who sent in a joke, ended up in print. By rights, when I am published in a book, I can claim that “it is my second book!”
The late 80s and early 90s saw me writing terrible poetry and lyrics and performing them on stage to paying audiences. (See my All About Me page for a photo)
It never occurred to me that so many people would read my letter in ‘Empire’ magazine about the film ‘Trainspotting’, in the mid-90s, and I’d temporarily acquire a new nickname because of it. The only reason I even knew the letter had been published was when a colleague read the magazine aloud at the bedside of her comatose daughter, and came across my name.
The first website that I built was so well-received that it was proudly referenced on a well-known career networking site, under a colleague’s name as their sole work! Sigh. Note to self. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher.
5B46 on BBC 6 Music
A “5b46” dj slot for the Chris Hawkins show on BBC6 Music brought some of my writing (on the theme of female desire, with accompanying indie tracks) to an audience of tens of thousands, every morning, for a week last summer. It was for the #hearher project, so every track was by a female artist, or female-fronted band.
The tracks I picked were:
‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani
‘Stutter’ by Elastica
‘This is Love’ by PJ Harvey
‘You Know I’m No Good’ by Amy Winehouse
‘The Sensual World’ by Kate Bush
Somewhere in an attic of a house I used to live in, languishes my box of teenage diaries, letters, gig tickets, set lists, newspaper cuttings, home-made fanzines and old music magazines. I like to believe that they got lost in transit along the way, rather than thinking that someone burnt them or they got dumped into landfill. Very little, if any, of my writing has survived. Again, that is entirely my own fault, as it will be (I kept meaning to back up my work onto a memory stick) when there is a firestorm and the clouds are emptied.
Do books die? I don’t even have copies of the demo tapes of me singing in any of my teenage bands, ‘The Valentines’ or ‘Cherubim.’ Where they went to, I can guess, but I don’t want it to be true. That voice has long gone.
Me at the Reading Festival UK, probably around 1988. (Reading Rock in Reading, Berkshire UK not a reading books festival!)
This is me at a book festival, ahem… 30, yes, 30 years later. At Cheltenham Literature festival in Gloucestershire UK 2018. I’m standing next to the fabulous VW camper van that’s promoting Scarlett Curtis’ book, ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies’.
Somewhere in the mid-90s came along the Internet and I began writing online every day.
My hundreds and thousands of words, and more hours than I care to remember of my free daily content on forums, (remember Hole.com?) review sites, message boards, online newspapers and magazines comments sections, then later on, social media sites.
Online words just don’t seem to have the same longevity or validation as a book in a shop or library. Ironically, there are more than enough of my words online to fill several books. The intent was there, but the format was wrong.
So, this section of my blog is to highlight any of my writing that is chosen to be published by another company, either online or on paper. Hopefully, one day, there will be an actual physical book, that I did not have to pay to be printed, in my sweaty, chubby mitts, with an awesome cover and a marketing budget. Until then, I will continue plodding away, building a ‘brand’ (not out of vanity but because that’s what those in the business say I should do) and slowly improving. I have a long way to go and I am grateful for the feedback I have received from readers so far.
My characters keep me awake, they make me cry, I don’t want to leave them, yet they’re flawed and I wouldn’t want to meet some of them in real life. If they’re on the page, they can be free to live on in other people’s heads, and not just trapped in mine.
(Updated July 2020) To the FAQ, “am I in your book?” Well, you won’t know until you’ve read it, and by then, I’ll have had your time and got the royalties… Again, if you have to ask, then you probably haven’t read it, and so you don’t deserve to know. BTW, I don’t usually get free copies of the book, so why should you?
(Updated July 2020) I get asked why I called this blog ‘a rambling collective’ instead of my own name. Well, I wanted to write as if my mother wouldn’t read it, or anyone else who knew me. When I started it, I needed the validation of success to give me confidence in my own abilities. Don’t forget, I got an E at English Literature A Level (so no University for me) and my crippling anxiety/hypersensitivity to criticism plus a horribly cruel Art teacher at Bretton Hall College (which has an incredible alumni of writers, so go figure what I could have won) left me deflated. I couldn’t have this blog as another failure or what could have been…….
I feel contented with where I’m going and grateful for the success I’ve already had.
Watch this space…
Nicola Humphreys. Writer.