Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

The Benefits of Writing Flash Fiction — May 30, 2020

The Benefits of Writing Flash Fiction

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So, Flash Fiction. What does the term even mean, and why should writers consider writing the form?

In April 2020, I published my novel, Distorted Perceptions, which turned out to be almost 83k words.

Currently, I’m not working on another novel, but am becoming increasingly interested in short stories. Not all of my short fiction is Flash Fiction, but much of it is, or comes close – depending upon where we draw the lines, in terms of word count.

Flash Fiction is a term used to describe very short stories.

Precise word counts vary, according to different sources. Under 1k words is often quoted, although it isn’t unusual to hear that Flash Fiction should be under 800 words, or even lower.

I have also heard 1.5k words mentioned, as an upper limit, and must admit that I have often tended to write shorts that are in the 1k to 1.5k word count range.

Sometimes, it is stated that Flash Fiction must have a clear plot: a beginning, middle, and end.

The term Vignette is applied to many slice of life or moment glimpsed type works.

However, there are novels that don’t even have conventional plots, and it’s not easy to draw the line, in many specific instances.

Flash Fiction pieces will often conclude with plot twists, but this is not a requirement – simply one popular approach.

Flash Fiction – and indeed, short fiction, more generally – is often viewed merely in terms of practice for novel writing.

Certainly, short fiction is an ideal way in which to learn more about the craft of storytelling. Writing it will definitely benefit you as a novelist.

And yet, different forms of writing each have their own unique values. Flash Fiction is a fascinating form, in its own right, whether or not you write novels, or aspire to do so.

I initially began to write Flash by chance, in that I started to find many of my short stories becoming very short.

My natural tendency does seem to be to write either novels or Flash, although I’m developing the art of writing longer short stories. I might attempt to write novella length works in the future, as I sometimes appreciate reading novella length fiction myself.

Flash Fiction is definitely an area I’m interested in exploring, both as a writer and a reader.

If you would like to read my Flash Fiction and short stories, my brief collection, Alternative Landscapes, can be downloaded, free of charge, as can the stories Sports’ Day and Second Chance. Alternative Landscapes is available via Obooko, or through various additional outlets. There is also a paperback version of this collection.

Future book links will be added to the Paula’s Books page, here on the blog, so definitely check that out, if you’re interested.

Distorted Perceptions – Print Book Update — May 16, 2020

Distorted Perceptions – Print Book Update

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So, the position with the Distorted Perceptions print book is that my novel’s paperback edition was published on Lulu, and is technically available.

I was generally happy with it, except for an issue – Lulu’s end – involving words being meshed together, following instances of words I’d written in italics.

It doesn’t by any means happen right through the book, but does occur frequently, and needs to be fixed. The book isn’t unreadable, but the issue would definitely distract a reader.

However, Lulu are in the process of updating their website.

I can’t currently even access my account. My username, email, and passwords are all apparently invalid. Lulu’s Customer Services are currently inundated, and I haven’t received anything other than generated email replies to my queries.

KDP Print – I found simply overwhelming.

I just tried out Blurb, and my PDFs were apparently all the wrong sizes and dimensions.

I’m disappointed, as I had visions of creating hardback editions, along with the paperback. For now, however – I can only recommend the ebook versions. All are free to download. A recent post about the publication of the novel should clarify.

If you’re determined to own a Distorted Perceptions paperback, and are willing to overlook the minor technical issues described, the book is available to purchase via Lulu – if, that is, you have an account you can access. It isn’t available through Amazon and other sites, as I hadn’t got as far as setting up expanded distribution.

Bear with me on this. It’s incredibly frustrating, and disheartening. I’ve worked so hard on the project.

I Trusted The Open Office Word Counter! — April 20, 2020

I Trusted The Open Office Word Counter!

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Like, seriously? Trusting a facility on Open Office???

As for why I’ve been using Open Office – and am now back on WordPad – don’t ask.

Yes, I did pay money for Microsoft Word, the full package. It has been a nightmare, and the only advice I received was to download Open Office, and use that instead, as it apparently did everything that Word does and would suffice.

Anyway, it seems probable that Distorted Perceptions is nearer 82,934 words. And that’s fine, but it has caused confusion. See my last post about the release of my novel. I based that new statistic on information provided by Draft 2 Digital, but it’s also in line with data given by a free online word counter I used.

For more information on Distorted Perceptions, and other Paula Puddephatt publications, my Paula’s Books page is the best page to visit.

 

More from me soon, hopefully.

Distorted Perceptions Novel: Available Now — April 16, 2020

Distorted Perceptions Novel: Available Now

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So, Distorted Perceptions – where do I start?

Yes, Distorted Perceptions is finally published. It’s now available to download, free of charge, from various websites, in ebook formats. If you would like to know more about the origins of Distorted Perceptions, or read an extract, the check out the hyperlinked posts.

Details will be included later, in this post. Please do note, also, that there is a Paula’s Books page, and these links, along with others to Paula Puddephatt publications, can be found here.

The writing process for Distorted Perceptions has been long, and extremely challenging – often, overwhelming.

Software issues definitely did not help. Specifically, I refer to the failure of Microsoft to provide Word, even though this was paid for – and having to struggle instead with Open Office and WordPad.

The former ultimately caused so much stress that I’m actually back to using the latter, currently.

That said, I’m actually proud to have completed so many projects, making the best of what facilities I did have – including a novel of almost 85k words.

Ongoing health and personal issues have made the process still more difficult, and of course, 2020 happened, and we all know what that means. It’s beyond the scope of this particular post.

The publishing process has been stressful too, and almost too much.

I had to make some last minute continuity changes (minor but concerning enough to me). I would like to acknowledge the support of Tim from Obooko, in this area. He provided assistance via email, and implemented the needed changes efficiently. And they were changes I had previously failed to spot, and which I subsequently noticed, after having gone ahead and published.

I discovered today that one of the sites listing my ebook describes it as containing “82k words”, which is worrying. At the moment, I’m finding it all too difficult to cope with, so haven’t looked into it specifically, as yet.

Update: See my recent post about the word count of my novel.

But, for anyone who downloads my ebook, please know that it should contain the following: an IntroductionChapters One to Fifty-Four, and an Epilogue.

If your copy doesn’t contain all of these parts, please reach out to me through social media – preferably either Twitter or Instagram, because I tend to neglect the other sites. I will then rectify the situation, in any way I can manage. Alternatively, leave a comment, here on this blog.

In terms of where I’m at now, I feel burnt out, and unsure as to which direction to take, with my future writing. Hopefully, I will expand upon this soon, in another blog post.

I am working on the paperback edition of Distorted Perceptions, and will provide updates on this, when possible.

Links to Distorted Perceptions

Distorted Perceptions Ebook

Distorted Perceptions Ebook – Obooko

Caught in a Nightmare – But Still Publishing My Novel — April 12, 2020

Caught in a Nightmare – But Still Publishing My Novel

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If someone could have thought of the worst OCD, Depression, Anxiety, IBS, PCOS, and Endometriosis nightmare, and forced me to live through it…

I’m terrified. And overwhelmed. And there is always another cruel plot twist, apparently.

And still, working on getting my novel out there.

I need to make another change to my files, and then, maybe – stop reading through, for a while. We’ll see. Draft 2 Digital, and the various sites, need to be able to catch up.

But, anyway – I’m determined. More from me soon.

 

About Distorted Perceptions, my novel. Or read an extract from the book.

 

Link to download the ebook to follow. Working on the print book, too.

Sorry for such a chaotic blog post. Hope to produce something more coherent soon.

 

Update: Distorted Perceptions is published!!!

Books: Vibrant Carousel, and Alternative Landscapes — March 20, 2020

Books: Vibrant Carousel, and Alternative Landscapes

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As many followers of, and regular visitors to, the Paula Writes blog will be aware – I’m currently revising my novel, Distorted Perceptions.

If you’d like to know more about the novel or/and read an extract from Distorted Perceptions, two of my recent posts should be able to help you.

To say that the process of writing my novel has been exhausting and extremely challenging, in so many ways, doesn’t begin to describe the process I’ve been through, to get to the current stage – which is advanced.

The purpose of this short post is to mention two of my additional publications.

I’ve recently produced a poetry mini-collection called Vibrant Carousel.

It was really a bonus project, and the ebook didn’t end up happening, because of the frustration levels involved – technical issues.

However, the print book is available through Lulu. It will hopefully soon be available through expanded distribution, also: Amazon, and other channels. Watch this space.

I also, towards the end of 2019, did publish a short story collection, entitled Alternative Landscapes.

This is free to download, in ebook format, and can also be purchased in paperback edition.

As there are multiple options for this one, it’s easier for me to link to my Paula Writes book page.

 

Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to provide more specific news, regarding Distorted Perceptions.

From Chapter Thirty-Four – Distorted Perceptions (WIP) — February 4, 2020

From Chapter Thirty-Four – Distorted Perceptions (WIP)

paula-novelpaula-writerKeeping in mind that I’m veggie (although not vegan) myself…Made this fun to write. April 2020 Update: Distorted Perceptions has been published.

From Distorted Perceptions, Novel Extract

Background: Lucy and her younger sister, Sarah, have gone for a meal at Cynthia Jackson’s. Cynthia’s daughter, Hannah, is married to Lucy and Sarah’s brother, Danny. Hannah’s brother, Phil, is in town, and Danny and Hannah are trying to encourage a Lucy/Phil romance.  

 

   “I’ve made vegetable curry,” said Cynthia. “I hope that’s fine with you all. What with Hannah being vegetarian, and Phil vegan, I thought it best to make something we could all enjoy. I’m as sure as I can be that everything’s vegan.”

   Okay – so, as if his sister being veggie wasn’t enough, Phil Jackson had to take just bloody awkward to new heights, and insist upon being vegan.

   “I’d love to be vegetarian or vegan,” said Sarah. “I’ve often thought of it.”

   I rolled my eyes. “You have? You surprise me, Sarah. I can’t see you giving up your McDonald’s – hamburger or milkshake.”

   “I hardly ever have McDonald’s any more.” My sister was blushing. I had to be right about this: Sarah liked Phil.

   Well, he was an improvement on Farooq, at any rate.

   Trouble was, Phil wasn’t looking at Sarah. He couldn’t take his eyes off me. And Danny and Hannah, for their part, couldn’t stop looking hopefully, from one of us to the other. They clearly had their hearts set on a Phil and Lucy romance.

   “Veggie curry is fine, Cynthia,” I said.

More about the forthcoming novel

Details of recent short story and poetry publications

 

12 April 2020 – brief update about my novel’s publication, and general circumstances

about-distorted-perceptions-the-novel

Writing Romance and Women’s Fiction; Modern Historical and Contemporary — January 30, 2020

Writing Romance and Women’s Fiction; Modern Historical and Contemporary

 

paula-writerI’m currently revising my novel, Distorted Perceptions.

This story doesn’t exactly fit easily into any genre or category. It’s also a Modern Historical, set primarily in the 1980s.

I don’t always know where/how to “position” my work, which I can deal with, but it can also become frustrating.

I don’t feel that my fiction has a “literary” style, but will describe it as General/Literary, where this seems to be the most appropriate option. This doesn’t feel entirely accurate. More of a compromise, I suppose.

I’ve always resisted writing genre fiction.

My reading has fluctuated wildly, and I’ve not consistently read a favourite genre, or type of fiction.

But lately, I’ve found much of the Horror and darker Crime, that I used to love, as a reader, much too triggering. So, I’m focusing upon reading Romance, along with some Women’s Fiction and classics.

Even though I wrote a blog post called Writing Romance (Even When You Don’t), I’m currently experimenting. I’m hoping to develop the Romance and Women’s Fiction side of my writing.

I’m also open to writing Contemporary, as well as Modern Historical.

And I would like to explore different story lengths.

My current WIP is 84k, as it stands. I’ve written a very limited number of short stories, most of which I would describe as flash fiction, although some are over 1k, and that technically makes them shorter short stories, but not quite flash fiction. At any rate, not by some definitions.

I would actually like to work on slightly longer short stories, and possibly novellas. At this point, that appeals to me. I honestly don’t want to write another 84k novel in a hurry, once I’m done with Distorted Perceptions.

I definitely hope to blog more, once Distorted Perceptions is complete.

I’ve missed it. But I’ve not been able to do it all, especially taking into account various ongoing health and life issues. That’s just the reality of the situation.

 

Keep believing. More from the Paula Writes blog soon, I hope.

 

Physical and Mental Illness: Fiction Writing Perspective — November 28, 2019

Physical and Mental Illness: Fiction Writing Perspective

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I’m in the middle of creating a series of posts, relating to mental health, from a fiction writer’s perspective. See my previous post, in which I shared some thoughts regarding research. Now, I’m going to cover an area that’s particularly close to my heart.

As someone with both mental and physical health issues, I face many specific difficulties: one of which is feeling that I’m never quite represented, by organisations, awareness campaigns, and so on, which tend to focus upon one or the other.

And the fact is that, at this point, there is actually more of a tendency, within mental health communities, to be tactless and insensitive about physical disability, than occurs the other way around. Yes, I said that.

I’m not a wheelchair user myself, but do have multiple physical health issues, and am fed-up, to put it mildly, with seeing images of crossed out wheelchairs on social media images, relating to mental health awareness.

Yes, it’s true that many people out there do assume that terms such as “disability” refer exclusively to physical disabilities, and of course that is wrong. But, as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. In this case, that is certainly applicable.

Making people with physical health issues feel unwelcome within mental health communities is simply not acceptable.

It is also an unhelpful generalisation that all physical illness is visible, and that the opposite is true for mental health.

Can you see a migraine? Would you necessarily know, simply to look at me, that I have dyspraxia?

And are self-harm scars invisible? Or the extreme weight loss associated with anorexia nervosa? In fact, eating disorders, and many addictions, such as drug addiction and alcoholism, are, by definition, both physical and mental health conditions.

Cancer doesn’t avoid us because we have a mental illness. People who use wheelchairs may also be struggling with mental health issues. Assumptions are harmful.

And how does this relate to us specifically, as fiction writers?

Well, we should ensure that we take this into consideration. I myself feel that I probably neglect physical illness in my stories, certainly compared to mental illness, and hopefully, simply becoming aware of this, will plant a seed in my mind.

I would like to be able to say that I cover both, and that I represent the challenges faced by many of us, who struggle daily with mental and physical health issues. That matters to me.

 

Researching Mental Illness as a Fiction Writer —

Researching Mental Illness as a Fiction Writer

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Research is vital, when it comes to writing about mental health issues, in a fictional context.

I can’t place enough emphasis upon this point. We need to get the facts right, whether or not, as I mentioned previously, we have personal experience of struggling with mental illness – because each case is different.

In an area where there is already much stigma and misunderstanding, it’s of particular importance not to make matters worse, by spreading inaccurate information.

Research should not be limited to official sources.

It should definitely include them, but not exclusively.

Personal accounts, from a variety of sources, sufferers and also carers, are essential.

One of the many resources that can help with this is You Tube, where many people openly discuss their own mental health journeys.

Books, blogs, and talking to people you already know, who have “been there” – all of these are readily available, and can provide so much insight and inspiration.

Of course, you shouldn’t actually use any particular person’s actual story, in any way that is identifiable, but listening to various people, who are willing to open up about their struggles with mental illness, will help you to deepen your understanding of mental health issues in general.

The reality certainly cannot be reflected in dry academic accounts alone.

 

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