ShortbreadStories: The Blog

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Archive for the category “What’s going on at ShortbreadStories”

Writing Challenge: Random Subjects

Brother and sister Shortbreaders, Tobias Haglund and Maria Burén, created a semi-competition amongst themeselves. They asked each other to write a story about a random subject chosen from the dictionary, then they uploaded the work to the site. The subject was ‘Cancellation’.

We thought this was such a great idea, and one we hope you might want to do for your first Writing Circle challenge. (Oh, and by the way, ShortbreadStories is starting Writing Circles, and you can read about it here.)

 Thanks to   for bringing such a great idea to ShortbreadStories.

Cancellation by Tobias

Cancellation by Mari

Re-blogged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Writing Challenge: Random Subjects | Shortbread 

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Introducing Writing Circles

/by Erica Brooks/

I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but I’m going to anyway. Recently a new member named Icarus Fell, a.k.a. Stewart Hobby, put out an enterprising request in the forums. He wanted more readers, more feedback on his stories, and he offered to give feedback on others’ stories in return.

It was a simple and effective notion that sparked a good deal of encouragement, mostly veterans encouraging comments in general. Because, as Stewart’s request demonstrates well, comments are at the heart of the ShortbreadStories experience. The encouragement and constructive criticism are what make people want to post here. And it gave me an idea that we’re going to try out.

There is a new Forum Thread dedicated to Writing Circles, un-ironically, titled ‘Untitled’ (the backstory to this is that we can’t, at the moment, change the Forum thread titles, so we’re having to use ‘Untitled’ to denote ‘Writing Circles’).

The idea of Writing Circles is very, very simple – find some other writers and make an agreement to read, and to comment on, each other’s stories. Think of it like a virtual writers’ group.

Here’s how it’ll work. We’ve set up the new ‘Untitled’ Thread along with a few new Forum posts to get you started:

– The Circle Market is a place to post if you are looking for a circle to join. You can specify how many people you’d like to partner with, what kind of feedback you’re looking for, and anything else you consider relevant. This is a self-organising space, so use it as you see fit.

– The Circle Lottery is for people who would like to be randomly assigned writing partners. I’ll periodically pull names out of a hat, aiming for groups of four to eight people.

– The Suggestions Box is for general feedback.

– Group Discussion is for general talk, although you can also feel free to post your own threads and start your own discussions.

– Circle Challenges is for writing prompts and challenges in which each writing circle can participate.

You may want to organise circles around particular needs or interests – genre, writing goals, or experience, for instance. It’s also a chance for people to ask for a specific kind of feedback. Do you just want a bit of accountability and encouragement? Or are you looking for intensive, critical editing with an eye toward publication?

This is, of course, an experiment. It’s very much member-driven, although I’ll be keeping an eye on the place, watching for suggestions and stepping in if needed. Expect tweaks.

Most of all, take care of each other, especially new people. But then, you do that already, which is why you’re here.

Happy writing!

Erica

PS-If you’re getting a bit tired of ShortbreadStories ‘work arounds’ like ‘Untitled’ Forum Threads, you can donate to the redevelopment of the website by going to http://www.mycharitypage.com/shortbreadstories.

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Re-blogged from: Introducing Writing Circles | Shortbread 

 

The Biggest Announcement Yet

/by Rachel Marsh/

For those of you who have been with ShortbreadStories for some time, you’ll be used to our ‘grand announcements’. In July 2012 we became a charity, and a month later we introduced Gavin Dobson as Trustee. Then, in September of last year, we said goodbye to our beloved and adored editor, Fiona Smith. All of these announcements have been for the benefit of the organisation and have helped us move forward, even if slowly, with our overall development plan.

So, as you will guess from the title, we are making another announcement; however, this statement is bitter sweet. I am saying good-bye to more team members and welcoming others into new roles.

It is with a heavy heart that I bit farewell to Robin Pilcher, bestselling author and ShortbreadStories founder. Robin started ShortbreadStories as a private business nearly ten years ago, but — despite the organisation legally acting as a company — he was insistent that the site was not littered with advertisements and it was open to all, thus it had no revenue streams. This led us to rethink the model, so we decided to become a charity. At that time Robin stepped down as an owner and became a Trustee. As a Trustee he remained active and continued to fund the organisation as a patron.

 After years of making ShortbreadStories a central part of his life, Robin has decided to retire. I am positive that Robin will remain an Advocate of the organisation, but sunny Spain, France and Longforgan are calling his name.

When Robin internally announced his plans to retire, Gavin made a decision to leave the organisation as well. This left me with a monumental task. Find their replacements. And, despite the weight of the decision, two obvious names came to mind:

Fiona Smith: We all know and love Fiona, and I am very happy to announce that she is returning as a Trustee. She was with ShortbreadStories from almost the beginning: reading, editing and running the organisaiton as Editor, Project Manager, and all around Jack-of-Shortbread-Trades.

Fiona’s new role with ShortbreadStories will be slightly different to her previous job with the organisation. As a Trustee she will be instrumental in planning and developing the future of ShortbreadStories, and she will be a lead in all external communications. However, for the moment, she will not be attending to the daily running of the site, but she will be behind the scenes helping us plan for the future.

Erica Brooks: Erica is an early member of the site and a part of the ShortbreadStories in Spain crew. I have the utmost respect for Erica. She has an egalitarian ethos to writing education and has been a part of writing programmes on two Continents. She is an advocate of the arts, of literature, and of being a damn fine person. Plus, she is already getting our new little team more organised than it has ever been.

So, we say farewell to Robin and Gavin, and hello (once again) to Fiona and Erica. But, rather than ending this little announcement myself, I would like leave you with the words of those who are coming and going. Below are links to Robin’s ‘goodbye statement’, and Fiona and Erica’s ‘hello’s.

Robin’s Retirement Message

Fiona’s Introduction as a Trustee

Erica says ‘Hello’ as Trustee

Re-bloged from: Rachel Marsh’s Blog › The Biggest Announcement Yet | Shortbread 

ShortbreadSpecials: Week of 23rd March

/by Rachel Marsh/

*Don’t forget to vote for your favourite piece in the International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change competition.

*We had more stories submitted for publication this week than usual, so instead of publishing everything on Sunday, I’ve decided to split this week’s pieces into two batches. This way everyone will have a chance to feature on the ‘Latest Short Stories’ list (scroll down on the front page and you’ll see it to the right). So, if you’ve submitted recently but don’t see your work on the site, please do not despair. I will be publishing the rest of the editing queue on Wednesday.

*There’s some really good chat happening over in our current ‘Critical Collective‘ forum. Just now everyone’s commenting on Chris Donaldson’s Albion’s Shore.

*ShortbreadStories is now on Pinterest, where the Social Media Elf is pinning each week’s Writing Prompt Wednesday photos.
*If you’re a bl
ogger, drop by our blog page at shortbreadstories.wordpress.com

*And, of course, check out this week’s ShortbreadSpotlight and then send over your Spotlight recommendations to Nik at spotlight@shortbreadstories.com

As always, if you’ve got anything you want to highlight on ShortbreadStories you can get in touch with me at rachel@shortbreadstories.com
Best,
Rachel

Re-blogged from: ShortbreadSpecials: Week of 23rd March | Shortbread

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Check out the ShortbreadSpecials

/by Rachel Marsh/

Special features on ShortbreadStories:

After a few glitches, we finally have the Valentine’s Day competition up for voting. You have until the 27th to read all the stories and cast your vote. Go to the competition by clicking here.

A few of our Shortbreaders have offered to financially help the site by donating profits from their ebooks to ShortbreadStories. Check it out here.

Read a great Shortbreader Interview between Chris Donaldson and Adam West.

We have a new Critical Collective; this time it’s Robert Kasch and he wants you to have a go at his story ‘No Big Deal‘.

Re-bloged from: Shortbread Stories’s Blog › Check out the ShortbreadSpecials | Shortbread

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ShortbreadStories On The Go

/by Fiona Smith/

It’s easy to forget that there’s a world out there away from our home computers and laptops. A world which involves everyday journeys to work, trips to the supermarket, cooking and cleaning, and putting the kids to bed. A world where life interrupts our everyday hobbies and interests. Many of our Shortbreaders are so committed they spend hours every day reading through all the new stories (it’s why we love you all so much); however, there’s a whole host of ways you can get your short story fix – and it doesn’t need to involve a computer screen.

All of our stories are available to download in pdf format, which means if you are lucky enough to own a tablet or a Kindle, you can read any story you like via iBooks or Kindle. Just click on the ‘Download’ link at the bottom of each story. Then select pdf format. Once you’ve downloaded the story, you can transfer it to your Kindle or iPad. Or if you’re old-school, our stories can be printed out on to paper using the pdf format. Which means our stories can be read on train, planes and automobiles, and at any time of the day.

Or for those of you who are constantly on the move, we have a selection of stories available in audio format. All of our audio stories can be listened online, or downloaded as an MP3 for an iPod (or any mp3 player for that matter) or even turned into a CD for the car. These stories are all professionally narrated and produced making them the perfect companion for any journey.

And don’t forget ShortbreadStories also comes in book format! Our first anthology of stories is still available, and contains a collection of brilliant tales in a very handy pocket sized book.

How do you use ShortbreadStories? Do you just listen to our audio stories? Do you print out our tales? Do you use your Kindle, or are you strictly a computer person? Let us know about any time you’ve used ShortbreadStories On the Go.

The 3,000th ShortbreadStory

/by Fiona Smith/

In August 2008, I sat on the floor in my living room surrounded by a few hundred manuscripts, all short stories, all from budding writers, and all unique and special in their own way. Some were romantic, others science-fiction, thrillers, horrors, dramas, comedies… and some refused to be pigeon-holed into a genre. However every story confirmed what I’d known all along – that each story deserved to be read, and that ShortbreadStories would make this happen. All those stories hidden in bottom drawers, in folders on computers, or pinging back from one magazine publisher to the next, would finally have a place where people could read them, and then be inspired to write their own.

I knew back then, while swamped in a pile of manuscripts, that ShortbreadStories would revolutionise the traditional short story magazine. We were waiting for the website to be designed, and I thought of the site in terms of stories; what we would achieve with fiction, how we would share stories, inspire tales, and breakdown particular genres. What I hadn’t accounted for was our achievement in terms of people.

By December 2008, the site had launched and from the beginning we had a community of dedicated and enthusiastic authors. Having worked on social networking sites in the past, I was astonished at just how friendly our members were. Practically overnight ShortbreadStories went from a few scribbled designs on A4 paper, a pile of manuscripts, and a team of naïve creatives to an actual community. A community who rallied around, who commented, and who most importantly wrote and read stories.

And from that moment on ShortbreadStories has continued to grow. Sure we’ve changed the design, we’ve introduced competitions, we’ve started features, we’ve re-designed the voting system about twenty times (and we still haven’t got it quite right), but there is something we’ve managed to cultivate, something we would never dream of changing and that is… YOU. We are here because of your stories – all 3,000 of them. We are here because of your community spirit, because of your comments, your encouragement, and your dedication.

The 3,000 story is another milestone in our ShortbreadStories journey together, and another reason to celebrate our site and the people who make it what it is today. Thank you for all the stories and all the inspiration, and here’s to the next 3,000. 

How to Use ShortbreadStories

/by Rachel Marsh/

ShortbreadStories’s mission statement states that we are ‘an online community of writers’, but despite our own definition, I think we are actually quite difficult to classify. ShortbreadStories, in my opinion, is a gloriously wonderful hodgepodge of writing, advice, publishing and inspiration. It’s a community; it’s a mentor; it’s our writing desk. And since we’re a little bit of everything, sometimes the site can be a bit confusing. So, today’s blog is going to take the topic: ‘How to Use ShortbreadStories’.

There are five ShortbreadStories elements of which you should be aware:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Community
  • Inspiration
  • Guidance

Within each of these elements, we have implemented tools to promote specific outcomes, and these outcomes are motivated by aspects of our mission statement. The second part of this mission statement reads, ‘Besides providing a worldwide showcase for their work, Shortbread Stories aims to build self-confidence in writing ability through the mentoring, advice and encouragement forthcoming from both its writing and reading community.’

Below you will find a break down of how to use the site:

Element: Writing
Outcome: Get you to write
Tools: The writing desk and submission of stories
Motivation: We hope that by giving authors a place to share their work it will facilitate writing. (It’s as simple as that.)
How to Use the Writing Tools: Write a story and put it up on the site. (Yes, it’s that simple)

Element: Reading
Outcome: Provide a space for readers and writers of short stories to come together
Tools: The plethora of short stories and audio stories on the site.
Motivation: The original premise of ShortbreadStories was to provide a space for the public to read all types of new creative writing, especially short stories. So far, I think we’ve done that.
How to Use the Writing Tools: On the ShortbreadStories website, go to the navigation bar at the top and roll over ‘Read and Listen’. This will give you options to browse by genre, recent stories, popular stories, or just have a scroll through our catalog in alphabetical order. You can read the stories online or download them as a pdf. You can read them on a train, on a plane, on a beach or at home. Just read and share.

Element: Inspiration
Objective: To inspire and motive authors to write.
Tools: The newsletter, competitions, audio stories and writing tips.
Motivation: All authors need that little push now and then. We hope that by providing inspirational tips and writing goals through competitions, we can help Shortbreaders become stronger and more prolific authors.
How to Use the Writing Tools: You don’t need to enter every competition, tackle every writing tip, or answer every rhetorical question posted in the newsletter. However, when you feel like you just can’t get those words on the page, then it may be time to have a go at a themed competition or writing tip.

Element: Community
Objective: Support and encouragement for writers.
Tools: The comments section, the forum, and ShortbreadStories the blog
Motivation: We’ve probably said it 100 times, but it is worth repeating…what makes ShortbreadStories so wonderful is the community. Shortbreader interaction has caused the site to grow, and it is the friendly, supportive and inclusive nature of the site that drives many of the story submissions.
How to Use the Writing Tools: If you read a story, leave a comment. Or if you have a thought, question or topic of discussion, begin a forum thread or join one that’s already in existence. If you’re a blogger, follow the ShortbreadStories blog (shortbreadstories.wordpress.com) and link to us. And remember, ShortbreadStories isn’t only about interacting with those in the community who we have known for years, we’re also about welcoming new members.

Element: Guidance
Objective: Provide useful information on writing and publishing.
Motivation: Writing can be such a lonely process, as well as a very confusing one. Between the mechanics of writing and changes in the publishing industry, no one writer can keep up with all the information out there. ShortbreadStories hopes to provide its members with information, so that they can hone their craft to the best of their ability.
Tools: Blog posts and articles, courses, forums and community interaction.
How to Use the Writing Tools: Once again, you don’t have to join in every forum, read every article, or strike up a conversation with everyone on the site. However, we encourage Shortbreaders to use the site as and when they need it. Not every article on our front page is going to pertain to every member, but hopefully we will – at some point — tackle something that interests you.

Essentially, the best thing to remember about ShortbreadStories is that it can be whatever you want it to be. If you need someone to discuss an idea with, pop into a forum. If you want feedback on a story, ask the community. If you need a little inspiration, tackle a competition. If you need some one-on-one guidance, take a course. Just remember, we’re here to support you, and if we’re able to host some really fantastic fiction along the way, then that’s even better.

Browse our catalogue

Browse our catalogue of short stories here.

Winter Message

I have a bit of a confession to make. Despite this article being posted on Christmas Day, I’m actually writing it three days prior. It’s December, and I can already see changes in the air. I work in a Tower Block and I have an amazing view out over the city, and today I’m noticing something I haven’t seen in months – sun. A peak of golden out over the Tay, and a hint of pink streaked across the sky. A few minutes before writing this post, I snuck out for a moment – just to get away from the florescent lights – and I swear the air smelled different: almost fresh, and wet, and – if you close your eyes and take in a huge smell – a bit like spring.

Spring, in December? Yes, I know I sound mad. I know you are thinking that these sensations are psychosomatic. Perhaps I just want winter to be over so very badly. But I disagree with your scepticism. I truly think spring is in the air, and the calendar will back me up. 21 December is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that from 22 December onwards the days will only get longer. Therefore, what I am smelling is optimism.

There is change a coming. Soon the snowdrops will come pushing through the earth. Then the daffodils and bluebells. Then before we know it the birds will return, as will nights in which the sun never sets properly and a pint of cider sitting outside at pub by the seaside. I can smell these things coming.

Over the next few months you may notice, that like the seasons, ShortbreadStories will change. You’ll be seeing more staff and more articles. We’ve already posted our schedule of courses for 2012, and you’ll find even more opportunities to interact with the ShortbreadTeam. ShortbreadStories is in the Spring of it’s life, and we hope that you’ll continue to take part.

So, we at ShortbreadStories have recently created our own blessing. Not only do we wish each and every Shortbreader a Merry Christmas, but also ‘may the long days of summer always be ahead of you’.

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