Desperately seeking a final story

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo

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Apart from one day of panic, when I thought I might have sucked my brain dry of inspiration, I’ve done pretty well during this NaNo month.

30 short stories in 30 days is no mean feat.

Yesterday, it was time to come up with my final story and I turned to a wisp of an idea that’s been gentle wafting through my mind for some time.

It involved a woman searching for her tortoise. And finding love instead.

Anyway, that’s it. #30days30shorts over and done with. Now follows the most important part of any writing spree: the dreaded editing!


Illustrating the stories

Somebody asked me where I found the illustrations I used in this series of NaNo posts.

  1. I searched for Creative Commons Zero images (CC0) on sites such as Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels,
  2. opened them in my Corel PaintShop Pro programme,
  3. modified them with line drawings on my Wacom pad,
  4. and experimented with various photo manipulation tricks.

It’s been great fun finding suitable images and converting them for each piece. Almost as much fun as writing the stories themselves. Should have really called this project #30days30shorts30pics

Anyway, here’s a gallery of them all:


Are fortune-tellers really con artists?

Or simply excellent interpreters of psychological ‘tells’?

fortune-teller-gif-500 What if a fake fortune-teller suddenly discovered her fortune-telling wasn’t a trick after all? What if she discovered she really could see into the future?

That was the starting point for yesterday’s NaNoWriMo short story.

But… as usual, the story ran away from me and insisted on becoming something different. So, instead of my fortune-teller being in possession of a supernatural talent, she turns out to be just really, really good at sniffing out the truth.

Sigh. I do my best to write about magic and the paranormal. But I guess this proves you can take the woman away from the science, but you can never take the science away from the woman. Or something!

Anyway, only one more day of NaNo left and one more story to go in my #30days30shorts challenge.

Marrow wars – day 28

Bill and Alf are neighbours, but not friends.

bill-and-alf-gif-500Bill was convinced his marrow would win the prize for best vegetable, but Alf had pipped him to the post and then crowed – positively crowed – about his achievements in the Ruddy Duck.

So Bill decided it was time for a bit of sabotage.

(Yes, these things really do happen.)

That was the starting point for my 28th NaNoWriMo short story. It was one of those funny little plots that’s been worming through my mind for some time. Good to get it out at last.

Today’s story is also done. I’ll post a summary tomorrow. Only one more day to go… can’t believe I’ve nearly finished #30days30shorts


Word of the day: Hiraeth

The perfect word for a familiar feeling.

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What does hiraeth mean?

It’s a Welsh word which, according to one source, can be translated as follows:

“homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past.”

You can, of course, feel hiraeth for times and places that have nothing to do with Wales. Anyway, it seemed the perfect prompt for a short story, although the finished piece was more memoir than fiction.

[Thank you to my friend and talented writer, Abe, from Creative Blue Balls, for bringing my attention to this indispensable word via Twitter.]

So that’s story number 27 in the bag. Only 3 more days of NaNoWriMo to go! #30days30shorts

Day 26 and Castro is dead

Or. how inspiration can come from Radio 4

the-return-gif-500It was day 26 of NaNoWriMo and for the second day in a row I woke up with no ideas in my head for #30days30shorts.

Nothing.

Usually my subconscious brain mulls over various options during the night and pops an idea straight into the front of my conscious mind when I wake. But today, like yesterday, nothing.

As I lay there, desperately trawling my brain for ideas – any idea – the radio alarm came on. It was the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme. The lead headline was the death of Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary and dictator.

And I started thinking about revolutionaries and what they do when the war is over. And then I started thinking about their families and how they cope with returning warriors. Within a couple of hours, the first draft of the story, The Return, was finished.

Yes, short story ideas can come from anywhere, and that includes Radio 4 and the Today programme.

Day 24 and Day 25 of NaNo and I’m a winner!

NaNoWriMo 2016 is done and dusted. Or is it?

I’ve written 54,493 words and a few hours ago I pasted my text into the NaNoWriMo word count goblin, and he chewed it up, spat it out, and said ‘YES, you’re a winner!‘. Then the NaNo crew appeared, yelled their congratulations and gave me a round of applause.

This is my 6th NaNoWriMo win, and it’s still a great thrill to have finished.

But, wait, it isn’t over yet. As a NaNo rebel, my self-inflicted challenge was to write 30 short stories during the 30 days of November. One story per day. #30days30shorts

a short story by Ruth Livingstone, authorDay 24: Goodbye Cruel World

The prompt for this story was another Writing Magazine competition.

The theme?   “Goodbye.”

I got the idea for this story some time ago, but it didn’t turn out exactly as I planned. That’s been happening with many of my stories this month. They’ve been running feral and tearing off in new directions. Continue reading

5 year writing project, Nov update

do you have goalsI’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published.

The first part of this goal was completed long ago. Yes, my historical novel (The Reluctant Scribe) is done and dusted and, for the past 18 months, I’ve been trying to find an agent.

People tell me my central character is convincing and engaging, and the novel is set in an interesting time and place (northern China during the Tang Dynasty). But it isn’t ‘what we’re looking for’ or ‘I don’t feel passionate enough about it’.

On the plus side, I’ve had one request for a full manuscript, and one nice agent wrote a pretty detailed response, proving she’d actually read the first three chapters. Continue reading

Time for a fairy tale?

Catching up with NaNo Day 23

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Wrote a short story yesterday. 1,700 words.

A modern-day fairy tale about a little princess who lives in a palace with no mirrors, and is blissfully happy, until… one day… she discovers the monster in the garden.

Posting an update on my 5 year goal and November progress soon, and then must get on with day 25 of NaNoWriMo and my next short story. Continue reading

NaNo Day 22, and no sci-fi, I promise.

Ahem, sorry. I lied!

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Just couldn’t resist continuing with another ‘what if’ scenario based around cryogenics.

In my first story, a group of convicts were sent to the Cryonics Facility for indefinite storage.

More centuries have passed and The United Worlds is a blissfully peaceful place. And, so, when the miners in the Kuiper Belt mount a bloody revolution, the President and her Security Chief have no idea how to deal with it.

Then they hit on a bright idea. Why not talk to people who know all about bloody violence? Why not resurrect the criminals from their frozen sleep?

As I’m sure you have already predicted, this bright idea turns out to be not-so-bright, after all.


I wrote this story a couple of days ago, but was busy yesterday with a trip to the Amazon Academy event in London. It was a day full of interesting insights into how Amazon plans to rule the world, from a pick-and-mix store of technical applications, to the local delivery of fresh food. If cryonics does become widespread in the future, I’m sure Amazon will become involved in that too… unless, of course, they already are.

Frozen for revival

What if the thawing process goes horribly wrong?

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Today’s story is a continuation of yesterday’s theme, inspired by the sad case of the 14-year-old girl with terminal cancer (known as J.S.) who fought to have her body cryogenically stored.

In my imaginary Biocryonics Facility, they are running out of space. To make room for new clients, some of the old ones must be sacrificed.

The Science Officer argues the cryonics processes back in the early  21st Century was very rudimentary. There is no way that stored clients from that era could be successfully revived. Or could they? Continue reading