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Thank you!!!!!!! Shock Then I kind of danced around the house in a state of crazed agitation.

Disbelief I checked the email again. And then I checked it again, but on my computer this time.

How to Link Up a Short Story Collection: A Fairy Tale

And then I read them again. And again. But also, Eeeeeeeppp! I wrote the story while undertaking the inaugural Creative Hub residency at Earthskin Retreat in Muriwai. Thanks so much, John! Oh my God!!!!!!! Read the full announcement on Stuff. Read Fiona's winning story, Mad Men. Litcrawl event photo by Rhys Muir. A writer's life is filled with ups and downs, as my spreadsheet of writing acceptances and rejections attests to.

News that the short story collection I'm working on has been rejected, in part because someone thought it was a grab-bag of stories for both adults and children it's not, and that's not even a thing! If you like, you can check it out here. While I've had some bruising rejections lately, overall has been a pretty amazing year for me on the writing front. One of my pieces of flash fiction was published in the Bonsai book, and another appeared on the North and South website.

Just writing this paragraph makes me feel incredibly lucky! Another wonderful experience I had this year was also courtesy of the Headland team. I was invited to read my story Frangipani at Wellington's Litcrawl event as part of the Best Stories: Headland session. It was my first time at Litcrawl, which is an incredible mini literary festival that you should definitely try to get along to next year if you can. From being greeted at the airport by a lovely volunteer holding a sign with my name on it, to being put up in a sweet hotel, to being driven back to the airport by celebrated author and cool dude Brannavan Gnanalingam whose thought-provoking novel, Sodden Downstream , I had just read So, what next?

Well, I'm still working on the collection of stories for grown-ups! I'm also working on the next Bruce the Cat picture book for children. I changed the pencils I'm using for the illustrations, and we're having a bit of trouble scanning the images, but I'm sure we'll get it resolved one way or another.

And I have another project or two simmering away, which I should be able to tell you more about next year. But in the meantime I'm looking forward to finishing work for the year in a couple of weeks, and to spending long afternoons reading beneath the Pohutukawa tree. I hope you have a relaxing holiday planned too. Thank you so much for your support this year - it means the world to me.

Short Story Collections - Six Picks

A short story unfolds I find that short stories hit me in all sorts of different ways, but I'm going through an unusual process with one at the moment. Before arriving here I worked up a list of very brief short story ideas for development into a collection. One of them was called 'We want to set things on fire', and it was about two people in office jobs who felt caged and tried to reconnect with their wild sides by having an office affair.

A bit flat, but I figured I'd be able to flesh it out. As I was thinking about this story, I heard about a rural school fundraiser that involves a dead possum dress-up competition , and I decided to set the story in a small town and make my sexually frustrated protagonists parents who were helping set up for the school fair. Hmm, maybe slightly better. Then I attended the National Writers Forum, where there was a lot of discussion about why we tell the stories we tell, and who can be lifted up or brought down by our stories. And I thought that although it would be funny to write about a couple of hicks who dress up dead possums because they don't have anything better to do, it would make for a pretty one-dimensional story.

At around the same time I posted quite innocently, I thought! I'm a vegetarian but I'm also from a family of farmers, and I don't consider myself a "farmer basher". This made me think about Brene Brown's book Rising Strong , which I listened to on audio book during my first week on this residency. I didn't think much of the book at the time, but one of her key messages is that everyone's doing the best they can.

And that's actually a pretty good message to try to remember. To what degree can a person really know another person? This philosophical question struck him, and in the months that followed, became his passion. Every morning from then on, he talked to her, endeavoring to know everything about her. That really affected me.

Looking back on it, I think it was more the example he set than anything else. But what I really remember is that the doctor told him he could live for four more years if he gave up smoking, and eating red meat, and took it easy. He spent a year traveling. He did some of the things he always wanted to do. And he died with this really satisfied look on his face. Rebecca looked wistfully out the window, recalling the lessons of the memory.

She looked at Evan. Evan shook his head.

10 Outstanding Short Stories to Read in

She paused. My dad was an athlete and my mom was a princess. They were the kind of classic prom king and queen. The days kept going. The waves kept crashing. The sun kept shining. The breeze kept flowing. For a day to be trapped inside of for eternity, it was a nice day, overall. She laughed. Sometimes after lunch at work I go by the frozen yogurt place and get a pint of yogurt topped with fresh cherries. So I went and got it dry cleaned, and lost a few pounds. You were in a rush. For a moment she seemed hesitant to continue, but she did.

She looked away shyly while she finished, like she was telling an embarrassing personal secret. So I went to the frozen yogurt place. Then later that day Mary complimented it. You know Mary? She thought for a moment, then looked at his face and studied it few a while, figuring out if he really wanted to know, honestly.

“Writing Teacher”

Rebecca smiled and put her hand on his cheek. She looked him in the eyes. Rebecca kissed his head. Evan thought about what she said the rest of the day.

Nightingale - A Short Story Collection

He thought about it until he thought he understood it. When the evening came around, the police showed up like usual, the siren lights coloring the unlit walls of the house. They explained to him, as they often had, that Rebecca had passed. Evan wondered if she had frozen yogurt that day. The next morning, Evan watched Rebecca as she began to wake up. She turned her head and yawned. When she caught him looking at her, she smiled. Then, she smiled. Really smiled. She squeezed him and cuddled up against his side and plunged her nose into his neck. This went on for months.

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Evan kept learning more and more about her. That one summer she set a goal to go swimming every single day and she did it. This trickster could be my Olive Kitteridge , threading the stories together like jewels on a necklace. The golden-eyed trickster would work as a scaffolding that allowed me to begin to build the connections between stories.

It would be disrespectful to compare Alison Lurie to a duck, especially one I rode across a lake, but in some versions of Hansel and Gretel, the duck is a swan. Search out the swans. You will know them by their golden eyes. After I put a golden-eyed trickster in every story, I decided to set them in the same place, Olive Kitteridge- style. All but three of the stories take place near the central coast of California anyway.

After I made the Chilean men into one man, an activist named Mateo, that meant that his love interest had to be the same person, his child had to be the same child… In working to combine characters, I realized that I could change the genders of some of them, creating people with more surprise and complexity: the single father cries himself to sleep at night, then paints his nails blue to cheer himself up, and the toxic woman runs off with the karate teacher, who is now a woman. When I had linked most of the stories by character and setting and all by golden-eyed trickster I triumphantly sent my now mostly-linked collection to my editor.

But I started again. I combined more characters, varied endings, made clear from the first sentence of each story which character it was about. I arranged them in chronological order. One of the last changes I made was to take out all the golden eyes—overkill—but those eyes had done their catalyzing work. During this revision, the theme clearly emerged for me: the conflict between the desire to find love and the desire to escape it at the same time.

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And in some of them, true love was the escape.