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Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March

/by Nik Eveleigh/

OK, it’s Spotlight time again. Rumour has it that on this day in history (March 23rd) in 1839 the letters ‘O.K.’ appeared in print for the first time. It’s hard to believe that it only took a mere hundred and seventy five years for me to start a blog post with the same letters.

If something is OK it’s generally considered to be fine, average, business as usual. To paraphrase a great line delivered by the character Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, this week’s picks are ‘pretty…umm…gosh darn far from ok.’

Diane Dickson features regularly in the Spotlight. This week her appearance is as nominator rather than nominee, and she asked that I highlight Educated Fishwives by another Spotlight stalwart Adam West.

Diane – your wish is my command. And, in fact, I will see your Educated Fishwife and raise you the rest of the Alphane Moon series. Adam will write-off these stories in his usual humble manner, as a Philip K Dick tribute act, but I’ve read all four and would urge you to do the same. Intelligent writing that focusses on an unusual love story.

The cycle begins with Do Eros Sevens Dream of Jupiter or Mars, continues with Love on an Alphane Moon and Sex, Life and Death on an Alphane Moon and concludes with the aforementioned Educated Fishwives.

Speak of the devil. The man himself has just appeared, so I’ll hand over to him for his picks of the week. If anyone needs me I’ll be in the green room sipping bubbly with the Shortbread illuminati.

Diversity reigns at ShortbreadStories, with many regulars continuing to publish some first-rate material. It is newcomers writing highly original and inventive fiction that I have, however, chosen to highlight. All three should dispel any peculiar notions that this site lacks talent.

For starters I give you I Love You, But… by Chris Crawshaw. Quality writing. Darkly funny metaphorical fare. No monkey business.

Then there’s Aimee Macaskill. Take your pick. The Wasp is good. So is Deep Breaths. Another writer with potential I have had the pleasure to read, and my last choice for Nik’s Spotlight feature (may I say thanks Nik for continuing to write and edit this worthy piece)…

(You may Adam – the agreed fee will be with you shortly.)

Beel Neale is less a newcomer than the aforementioned writers with eighteen stories on the site in just two months, but I am nevertheless still getting to know and appreciate thisemerging style.

In Butterflies At Dawn, Beel writes:

‘They’re waiting for the butterflies.

In the half-light they come, so numerous they fill the air — no, they seem almost to be the air. The sky is choked with a million fluttering autumn leaves.

Little Cathy spins around in a circle.

“Look,” she cries, in a soft whisper. “Look, they’re everywhere.”‘

Thanks Adam. I think I’d better send you into the green room – a few people are getting out of hand with those free Shortbread shooters…

Some great picks already. Chris Crawshaw’s story in particular is a cracker in my opinion, but I have a few more to add and strangely enough it also begins with a Chris – Christopher Donaldson and his story Crank

Crank is hilarious. It should be required reading for anyone who has ever ridden a bike, strapped on a pair of running shoes, or done something equally foolish in the early hours of a weekend morning. You are always guaranteed a top notch story with Chris but this is his first foray into comedy and hopefully won’t be the last.

The final burst of the Spotlight this week falls on someone who has just joined ShortbreadStories and has kicked off with a brave and unusual piece. In the comments placed on this story, James McEwan reckons it should be the story of the week – high praise indeed from someone who reads, comments and critiques as often and as well as James does – but well deserved. So, for those of you havent read it yet go and check out Meagan Wollaston and her story Sheltered and let her know what you think.

OK. I’ll see you all in a fortnight. Happy reading and please keep your picks coming to spotlight@shortbreadstories.com.

Cheers’

Nik

Re-blogged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23rd March | Shortbread

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Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March

/by Nick Eveleigh/

I do believe the Spotlight has hit a new record this week – fifteen separate stories for your viewing pleasure! It may even be sixteen if I can decide on my own pick between now and the end of the blog.

So, without further ado about much let’s launch into this week’s picks.

There’s been a lot of Oscar talk over the last week or two (I’m referring to the awards ceremony rather than the blade-running alleged murderer), and we begin this week with the recent recipient of the ‘Man most likely to write a piece of romantic comedy and then set about it with a buzzsaw, several zombies and enough buckets of blood to make the final scene in Carrie look like a paper-cut’ award. It is of course Mr Robert Kasch and his choices based on overall consistency and excellence’: Diane Dickson for A Darker MoonSuzanne Mays for her Prairie Girlfriend stories (Prairie Girlfriend and Prairie Girlfriend Meets Cowboy) and Patsy R Liles for Terror by Night or Day.

In Spotlight terms Diane Dickson and Suzanne Mays are clearly in the Gravity bracket when it comes to racking up the mentions. This time Diane is the nominator and Suzanne the recipient for her story Mandover Cottage, an older story from one of our regular contributors and the opportunity to bring it back to the fore for new readers was too good to miss.

Diane continues her look down memory lane with the Little Mr. Peterson series (part onepart two and part three) from Mark Patrick, who, in Diane’s words ‘seems to have left the site, at least he hasn’t been around but amongst his other stuff which was all good there are three of these weird little stories and they certainly left me wanting more.  I sort of hope he’s off somewhere expanding the strange world and that if he is he will come back and share it with us’.

Up next ladies and gentleman to present the award for ‘Best international story from people who may be foreign depending on where you live’ it’s the recent recipient of the ‘Outstanding achievement in the art of comma termination’ prize, Mr Adam West.

Once (last week to be precise) there was an Englishman, an Irishman, an Afro-Welshman, an American and a hmm – an Australian (woman), and all of them wrote brilliant stories that just happen to form my eclectic (stopping yawning Eveleigh, I know I used the ‘E’ word again) pick for this week’s Spotlight.

And the nominees are…

Dead Man Walking by Des Kelly – If effete males being dominated by strong sexy females (sisters) is your stick, then get a hold of this beauty by an English bloke. If on the other hand you prefer sublime Celtic poetry that defies description (that’s why I plumped for sublime) then Gus Glynn has to win with The Tower. If on another hand – you don’t actually have – you go in for some crazy Afro-Welsh combo send-up of all things irritatingly Orc-like then MISTER Nik Eveleigh writes very cleverly in A Shaggy Crow Story. Alternately read The Lady Red, where in an alternate (parallel) universe an American called Robert Kasch writes super cool steam-punk set in post WW1 ‘London’. They are all top-drawer stories and so isDenise Melville‘s Running On Empty. What more could you ask? It’s got Tim-Tams and a dunny, an old man, a young woman, and a landlord who is all heart. Not.

…and the Oscar goes to…

What? I’m not telling you. Go and read them and make your own mind up.

Last and by no means least we come to the “Most economical use of words in a short story title” award. And here to present it is the First Lady of Bunfettle herself, Kate Smart.

Walk by Bill Hutchinson

The Room by Gus Glynn

I respond to work on an emotional level and while I know that many writers look for this on Shortbread, I don’t like to analyse, criticise and take things apart myself, because thinking in that way disturbs my enjoyment as I read, and I also worry about disrespecting the efforts of the writer (if it is clear that efforts have been made, of course). Can I read it through smoothly without feeling blocked or interrupted, is what goes through my head, on some level? Bill’s story was excellent in that respect, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would have been more than happy to read on – which is high praise from me! I will definitely read more of his work. Gus’s story is a descriptive piece that really drew me in, and because I liked it so much it led me to read all four of his pieces on Shortbread. I think he is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading longer work by him.

That wraps it up for another week folks – enough quality on offer already without me adding a pick I’d say.

Thanks to everyone who contributed – both for nominating and for writing stories worthy of sharing. As always I’d love to hear from you next time around at spotlight@shortbreadstories.com and I hope you enjoy reading (and commenting) on this week’s picks.

Cheers

Nik

Read more: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: 1st week of March | Shortbread

Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February

/by Nick Eveleigh/

Shortbread has been a busy place over the last fortnight. Stories have been coming in at over fifty a week, and it’s been good to see newer members of the site getting involved in reading and commenting. Old debates have been rekindled (and now hopefully put to bed), Facebook and Twitter updates are coming thick and fast (thanks to our Social Media Elf) and articles and interviews appear (and disappear) so swiftly I can barely keep up. There’s even a Valentine’s Day competition to vote on. (You have until 28 February to cast your vote.) So, despite the technical glitches we hit on occasion, the community is very much alive and kicking.

Speaking of the technical glitches, the only way to fix them long term is through funding. Three members of the site – Kate SmartDiane Dickson and Robert Kasch – have all pledged proceeds from their work to the site so please support them here. Personally I work on an inverted funding model which involves me paying my friends to read my stories but as soon as I flip that around I will be sure to follow the example set.

And so, on to the picks for the week. We start with a man who is not only an excellent writer and an active reader and commentator, but also has extraordinary taste and wisdom when it comes to choosing stories. That man is Robert Kaschand he chose a great recent submission from Adam West…before losing the plot and choosing one from yours truly:

Being a junkie of Horror, science fiction and hard boiled murder mysteries and have over the years collected thousands of the now, mostly defunct, digests of said genres I was happy to see a fantastic future world story The Feast of Margaret by Adam West along with a dark and well painted tale The Water’s Edge by Nik EveleighGood job on both stories.

My slightly tedious self-deprecation aside, I’m thrilled to have this story chosen by Robert, and I’m equally thrilled to see Adam’s tale included. It’s well worth reading.

Next up this week is Kate Smart. Her choices this week reflect that there’s something for everyone on ShortbreadStories: three very different writers playing with different styles and genres, all well written and all worth a look:

Fools Rush In by Sheila Ireland – a frothy chic-lit-style story, perfect with a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate.

No Big Deal by Robert Kasch – I really liked the almost beat-style tone of this and could not find anything wrong with it at all, despite Robert having submitted it to the Critical Collective for a possible ‘mauling’.

Beside the Sea by Desmond Kelly – thoughtful and very well-written.

Over to Adam West to tell you about his choices for the week while I take a well-earned tea break. This stuff doesn’t just write itself y’know…

My three choices this week come from two writers – one well established on the site, the other a newcomer.

Toffee-Head-Tom by Hugh Cron – it’s a bit odd – it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty original, too. Read it and smile.

My other two picks come from Shortbread newcomer, Veronica Tan. Firstly, Regretful Sinner which reads a bit like a synopsis for a remake of the Brad Pitt shocker Se7en. It’s a very neat piece of writing.

In Unseen and Unknown, Veronica writes:

‘Tick, tock, tick, tock,

Tell me what you see not

Do you know what’s the most dangerous thing in life? It’s a corner. Not poison nor a knife or even a murderer, but a corner instead.’

Highly imaginative and innovative writing – superbly edited – a joy to read. More please.

I’ve read all of Adam’s picks this week and they really are excellent.

Right, I’ve lobbed a bag of commas in West’s general direction so while he’s distracted there’s just enough time for me to put forward a pick of my own.

My choice this week is Privatization In Mind by Kevin Thomson. At first glance the Doric dialect will seem impenetrable to many of you but take your time to get into it and you’ll uncover a clever, tragic and occasionally hilarious piece of satire. I can highly recommend reading it out loud as not only does it help to make sense of some of the phrases but it’s a liberating experience to sound like a bad extra from an Irvine Welsh novel in the comfort of your own home.

That’s it until next time…please keep all your picks coming to spotlight@shortbreadstories.com, but more importantly go and read the stories and tell the writers what you think of their work.

Cheers

Nik
Re-bloged from: Nik Eveleigh’s Blog › Shortbread Spotlight: Week of 23 February | Shortbread

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