short stories

All posts tagged short stories

Stephen King on the short story

Published December 17, 2013 by Laura Crean Author

I just found this interview on a fellow author’s Twitter thread this morning and it basically caught my eye; I love Stephen King’s work, although I probably have only read a tiny portion of his books. The books that I have read I did so in my teens and they blew me away with their imaginative and inventiveness. I know a lot of people that really don’t like to read his books (like my Mother who said she could never get into them) I guess books and authors are rather like Marmite – you either love em or hate em!

Anyway, I have often found Stephen’s writing to be so clever, not just the stories, but the actual construction of them – Dolores Claiborne – for me was one of those stories that I just got hooked on because of the way it was written rather than the story itself and I just found myself falling in love with its composition and form and enjoyed the book all the more for that reason. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was another book that fascinated me because of the way it was written.

In this video Stephen talks about writing short stories and I have to agree that a lot of authors seem to shy away from them because they get hooked into writing their great ‘novel’. I myself have several novels on the go, but never seem to finish them and I have been wondering for a while now if often an idea for a novel (and all writers have so many of them) might be better suited as a short story. After all what gets a writer all fired up for writing in the first place is the ‘story’ the idea – the point you are trying to make! So maybe more authors should try and get a few more short stories ‘out there’ first before trying (and often failing – like me) to craft that super amazing 150, 000 word novel.

I tell you one thing I have discovered about writing short stories – they’re actually not that easy to write – especially flash fiction – its hard to get everything you need to say to make the story work in a smaller amount of words. Now to me a short story is just that – short! I am talking a few thousand if not a few hundred words, but actually a short story can be pretty long, as much as 20,000 words! So it makes sense to me if you are just starting out with the ambition of writing a book to plan to start with a short story or two first and then see where that leads you. I have found in the last year that writing a short story is really useful to hone your ‘planning of a story’ skills – getting that beginning, middle and end all wrapped up in a tidy little plot that satisfies your writer’s need to construct an imagining to share with the world. I’m still only just learning, teaching myself as I go and you know what? That’s half the fun – I think I’ll see if I can find some more little interviews like this one and see what other useful advice from seasoned authors I can find.


Book Launch Date…

Published October 6, 2013 by Laura Crean Author

Hello everyone. I am tentatively setting my book launch day for “Vision – Space Between the Universes” for Friday 18th October. You can join my Facebook event here –

You don’t have to buy a book to join the event – I appreciate the creative and emotional support too – although if you buy a book later that would be nice too 😉

Please come and join in in my excitement at launching this book that is very close to my heart. It is a book of poetry, prose and short stories – set on the shoreline of my consciousness and asking the question “What is vision and how can we use it to see our place in the world more clearly?”

The secret kiss is a poem from the book and is basically sets the scene for The Space Between the Universes. I am hoping to create a new video for the launch day that will feature another poem taken from the book.

I will leave this post with a quote from the book…

“What is reality? What is the soul? What is God? What are the processes in our brains that ‘do’ all this experiencing? Are we just biological machines with the accidental side effect of ‘experiencing self-awareness’ that leads to us labelling such things as the soul, spirits, heaven, angels, aliens, God or gods or goddesses? Are the senses just mechanical? Or is there more to it than that? Are our sensations and perceptions linked to the ‘unseen’, not yet understood realms that I call ‘the space between the universes’?”

Bookish Banter – Featured Author – Norman Samuda-Smith

Published September 28, 2013 by Laura Crean Author

Saturday 28th September 2013

Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author.



Norman Samuda-Smith

Birmingham born writer Norman Samuda-Smith made history in 1982 for being the first Black British-born novelist to be published in the UK. He discovered his passion for writing at the age of 10-years-old and since has continued in writing and publishing more of his work; his first novel ‘Bad Friday’ was also shortlisted for the Young Observer Fiction Prize.


Please just give us a short intro all about you.

Ok, my full name is Norman Alexander Samuda Smith, born of Jamaican parents who came to England in the early 1950s. I am the younger of two children through my parents union, collectively; I am the youngest of twelve siblings. I am a father of two sons and two daughters and I have seven grandchildren; five girls, two boys. For 20 years I worked at Birmingham City University’s Art & Design Library. In 2010 I was released from the 9 to 5 grind and I decided to use the spare time that I now have to write and publish the stories that have been rolling around in my head for years.

What part of the planet do you call home?

I was born and raised in Birmingham, England; I’m still here so Birmingham is my home.

How long have you been writing?

It’s a long story so I’ll try to keep it short. My potential for writing kicked in when I was 10. In my English lessons, my teacher Miss Ward used to write five essay titles on the board and she’d say to the class, choose a title which inspires you the most and write a story based on the title. Most of the stories I handed in were never finished. Miss Ward always said if I concentrated on finishing my stories, I would get higher marks. Then when I was 12, I started to write a series of books about a football team called the Caribbean Stars. All the players and characters in those books were my friends. The Caribbean Stars won every domestic trophy; eventually they won the ultimate football club prize in Europe, The European Cup. I entertained my friends for a couple of years with the Caribbean Stars’ stories. When I grew out of writing those, I started to write other stories, but didn’t share them with anybody. I guess they were my development years.

Have you got a book to promote at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it please?

I have two books to promote Laura, Britannia’s Children and Freedom Street.


Britannia’s Children, is a collection of short stories that illustrate Black-British dialect and identity in their infancy. The stories take you inside the world and culture of a people from the Caribbean and their British-born offspring  They speak of the past, present and possible future. For some, they will be a history lesson; others, a trip down memory lane. You can buy a copy @


Freedom Street is a collection of Short Stories and Poems. They take you on a thought-provoking reading excursion of contemplation, love, hope, family and remembrance of departed ones. You can buy a copy @

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, I’m working on the third edition of my novel Bad Friday, in celebration of its 30th Anniversary, and the fact that I was the first Black British born novelist to be published in the UK. It was first published in 1982 when I was just 23 years of age. Bad Friday will be published in October 2013. Details of the novel are available on my website; I will reveal the link to that later in this interview.

 Where did the inspiration for your latest book come from?

Living and growing up in our close knit inner-city community of Small Heath Birmingham back in the day. My West Indian roots and culture, reggae music, sound systems, and my love of the game of basketball.

 Which genre do you write for or do you cross genres?

I’ve never really pinned myself down to a particular genre, I leave that to the experts. I just write about family, relationships and friendships, mainly what’s happening around me, or what inspires me.

Did you do a lot of research for the book and how did you tackle it?

Most of my research is observing, listening, my environment, everyday life, the news, talking to people and reading. I grab unconnected situations, throw them into what I call the melting pot and then I start playing. Subconsciously, I ask myself, what would my characters do in this given situation?

Do you think you have improved as a writer since beginning your book and what lessons have you learnt about the process?

I think I have improved. The more I write, the more confident I become, less doubt surfaces.

Any stumbling blocks in the writing process for your latest book?

The only stumbling block was trying to improve on what I had already written. The hardest thing was revisiting a novel written by a 23 years of age me, and questioning why I wrote it the way I did.

What is it that you love so much about writing?

I love the challenge. Grabbing bits and pieces of individual words, sentences, paragraphs and scenarios, then mix them up to create believable stories. I call it painting pictures with words.

Did you craft a carefully well thought out plan for the book or did it just flow naturally?

I recognised when I was younger stories just flow naturally. The plan comes after I write down what emerges organically. I’ve stayed loyal with that formula and it works for me.

Do you have a blog and do your fans encourage you?

Yes I do have a blog. It’s called Panther Newsletter, an on line cultural review, which spotlights news, articles, short-stories, history, local and international artists, writers, poets and community leaders etc. You can view it @ or – I’ve had 49,000 hits and counting since its launch in 2009. It could have been more, but I took a break from it to work on my projects, Britannia’s Children, Freedom Street and Bad Friday. So I guess 49,000 hits is encouragement enough. By the way, log on to Panther Newsletter and you’ll be able to read the synopsis of Bad Friday it will whet your appetite.

Self-published or traditional or both?

I’ve been down the traditional publishing route and I don’t plan to go back there again anytime soon. I prefer to self-publish. I affirmed it when I was a little boy at school in short trousers, I’m doing it now, let’s see where the journey takes me.

Is your book a part of a series?

Yes. There is going to be a sequel to Bad Friday. It already has a title, Inner-City Blues. I’m toying with the idea of it being a trilogy. Plus there could be a couple of spin-off novels another branch of the Bad Friday brand. I’m also considering a follow up to Britannia’s Children (The Next Generation); the experimental drafts look and feel very tasty so far.

What other passions do you have in love apart from writing?

I love basketball. I don’t play competitively any more, but I do take time out to shoot some hoops. I aim to meditate every day, exercise by doing Yoga, Chi-Kung, now and again I head to the gym; and of course I pray to the most high. All designed to keep me fit healthy and alert physically and mentally. I love chilling with my grandchildren, and watching my favourite selected programmes on TV. Plus I love following the fortunes of my two favourite teams in the world of sport, Manchester United and the L.A Lakers.

Do you have any inspirational heroes, literary or otherwise who have really influenced you?

Oh yeah, there are loads, but I’ll name a few. Inspirational heroes; My mom and dad, Marcus Garvey, Nanny of the Maroons, Haile Selassie, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Mohamed Ali, Magic Johnson, Pele. Literary heroes; Raymond Chandler, Jess Mowry, Albert French, they are just a few.

Do you have a book trailer?

Yeh I have two book trailers and one planned for Bad Friday. A friend of mine told me they are not book trailers, but you know, I like to play around, have fun and do things different from the norm; forget the ‘rules’ sometimes; experiment. So I’ll give y’all the links to them, so you can watch and make up your own minds.

Britannia’s Children

Freedom Street

How do you pace yourself with writing and do you have a special place to do it?

I live in a small flat so my ‘special place’ is in my living room and I usually write with classical music in the background. I’ve discovered that classical musical relaxes my mind and I can write for hours with the music playing and I don’t realise it. Sometimes I write all day until the early hours of the morning, other times I might just write for one or two hours. It depends on my mood or on what other things I have to do on a particular day.

Do you belong to any writers’ circles and does it help you to focus?

No not really, although on the Linkedin site I’m connected to three writers groups where you can get involved with or start an online discussion, promote and brag about your books etc. There’s no pressure if you don’t. On the other hand I follow podcast and writing advice sites hosted by Joanna Penn and Anne Wayman; and blogs like yours Laura, and LeTeisha Newton (who you interviewed earlier this year), to see what y’all are up to, and to be inspired.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding author – what would it be?

That’s easy; read other writers who are better than you. Study their style; find your own voice, your style. Trust your instincts, and be confident and believe in what you do. Oh yeah, keep the faith and never give up.

Where can we buy your book and like your fan pages?

Britannia’s Children:

Freedom Street:

My website/Blog:

A Review of Britannia’s Children:

Britannia’s Children on Facebook:

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Thank you for joining in the fun Norman – it was a real pleasure featuring you on ‘Bookish Banter’.


 Thank you Laura and nuff respect for the invitation and opportunity. 

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Spinning into Alfheim

Published June 26, 2013 by Laura Crean Author

(Don’t be fooled by the children in this picture – this story is not for little ones but for young adults, it is just that I loved the imagery of the fantasy world being spun by the tops – the theme for this story!)

This story can be viewed as a short story in its own right, but it is actually going to be the prologue for a book that is made up of lots of short stories that are woven into one larger story.  I will post some more chapter excerpts later.

I did submit it to be a part of a fantasy anthology to showcase authors on a fantasy group I follow on Facebook – but apparently it’s not good enough!  I would appreciate some feedback guys.

The House of Many Secrets

© 2013 Laura Crean


Spinning into Alfheim

 A subtle purple haze hovered imperceptibly in the air.  A young girl sat on a porch swing, gently rocking herself, the motion of the swing lulling her into a state of daydream.  She watched her baby brother playing in the garden with a spinning toy their father had made from an odd piece of wood from the log pile the family used as fuel.  The spinning top had a magical quality about it.  It hummed gently and seemed to spin on for the longest time; longer than she thought should be possible.  As it spun, the little boy giggled for a while at its unusual properties, but soon became bored with this game and jumped up; leaving the top spinning to run and play in the sand pit.  The girl continued to watch the spinning top, wondering how long it would take for it to lose its momentum and stop rotating.

Unsure of how much time had passed, she realised the top was still spinning and now the purple haze appeared to be gravitating around the toy.  She sat up, now alert and aware that this was not an everyday occurrence and slowly and curiously walked towards the toy, unable to take her eyes from it.  She wondered why it was still spinning and what was the purple mist that was now encircling the top?  She looked all around her to see if anybody else had noticed this odd happening but her brother was busy digging in his sand pit and her parents were engaged in their own gardening activities.

The purple mist around the top now began to glow, very gently, as if the dynamism of the spinning top was energising the very air around it.  The humming was louder now.  It was hypnotising and the frequency started to resonate inside the girl’s head.  The top span on and on and then it began to rise in the air.  She gasped and again looked around her to see if her family was watching this incredible occurrence.  They were completely unaware of what she was experiencing.  She wanted to call them to come and witness the event but for some reason the top was so hypnotising that she couldn’t look away or vocalise.  She looked towards her parents and opened her mouth to call them but instead turned back to the top, suddenly not wanting to share this moment with anyone.

Finally she felt the urge to touch the top and stop it from spinning, so she reached forward with the intention of plucking it from its place in the space in front of her.  As her fingers made contact with the purple glowing air around the top there was a bright flash of light and a portal opened up in the air above the toy.

Through the opening in Space and Time she glimpsed the view of an alien landscape.  A rich and vivid scene of lush green meadows, bright blankets of exotic flowers in all the colours of the rainbow and some of which she didn’t recognise and a waterfall tumbling from a crystalline cliff face into a pool of pink liquid that then flowed into a river that cut the valley in half.  Her eye was drawn to the sky where 3 suns of different sizes and colours could be seen – one red, one more orange than red and one a very bright yellow, almost white.  She could also see several moons.  The sky although mainly clear was blue, but had a very slight purple tinge to it and the clouds although your everyday white fluffy wisps, had a pinkish tint to them.

And then a figure walked across her line of vision.  A boy, a human looking boy about her age, but he was peculiarly tall and his skin was very pale and his ears were what she felt were elf-like.  His clothes were like nothing she had ever seen before; the material had a shimmering rainbow coloured sheen to it that seemed to reflect the light in an unusual way, making the surface of his tight fitting shirt appear to move almost in a liquid like manner and the leggings, also tight fitting were silky white like some sort of satiny lycra, the sort of costume ballet dancers might wear, she considered.

He was carrying what appeared to be a magical wand.  She knew it was a wand and not just a stick because as he walked he waved it creating a purple haze like the one surrounding the spinning top and glittering flashes of some sort of energetic power fizzed in the air around him and the wand.

Suddenly he turned and looked directly at her.  Her heart jumped and she froze as the most beautiful piercing blue eyes locked with hers and she wanted to jump into the scene and embrace him.  He was obviously as shocked as she was but he looked at the wand and then back at the rent in space/time and smiled gently and warmly at her.  He waved and mouthed something but there was no sound and she couldn’t lip read – not sure she would understand him anyway even if she could.  He winked in a very charming, cheeky sort of way and beckoned her to come to him.  She pointed to herself as if questioning he could really see her and he nodded, offering his hand to her.  She looked around at her family, apparently completely oblivious to what was going on and then reached forward into the strange hole in the atmosphere.  The elfish boy stepped forward, took her hand and she tumbled through the portal into the strange fantasy landscape.

They both sat up and looked at each other and then laughed pleasantly, which broke the awkward silence.  He reached out and carefully touched her face and then she tentatively touched his pointy ears.  She thought he was just so handsome.  His face, although a very pale complexion was human none the less and he looked to be about her age, sixteen or seventeen.

“Do you know where you are?”  He asked her in a pleasant voice.  She shook her head.  He smiled again and her heart fluttered again.  “I know where you are from,” he giggled, “Because I made the doorway.  My father was human.  He spoke so lovingly of his lost home that I wanted to see it for myself.”

She must have looked very shocked because he laughed again and said gently, “Don’t worry!  You won’t be trapped here I can send you home any time I choose, however I have broken a very strict law in opening the doorway and letting you come through, so you won’t be able to stay long.  I could get in serious trouble.”  He looked around him to make sure they were definitely alone.  “It was worth it though.  What is your name?”

“Emily.”  She said timidly.  “What’s yours?”

“My name is Eir.  It means Mercy in your language.  I am from the race of ljósálfar or Álfheimr, sometimes known as Alfr.  Your people call us Elves – and this is Alfheim.”  He made a large sweeping movement with his arm to show her his home.

“It is beautiful Eir.  But how did your father come to be here?”  She asked him.  Eir laughed quite pleasantly again, it was a beautiful and most honest laugh, she thought.

“My mother stumbled upon a natural portal to your realm, they occur more frequently than you might think, and she came into your world and saw my father fishing.  They instantly fell in love and she brought him back to Alfheim with her to be married.  He never wanted to return to your world but talked of it often and fondly.”

Emily looked around at the strange world she had suddenly found herself in and Eir took her hand and walked her towards a forest.  “You must come and meet my friends.  They are interested in your world too and we have been planning a secret trip.  That is what I was doing – experimenting opening a portal.  Come on Emily come and say hello.”

Eir led Emily into a wood where tall dark trees with a dark red bark and very dark green purple leaves grew close together, causing the forest to look extremely creepy to the human girl and she pulled back a little from the Elf, wondering if this was such a good idea after all.  She began to worry that this was part of a dark magic and may not be as fun as she had originally thought.  The elven boy stopped when Emily did and smiled in a knowing way, “It’s OK Emily, I know it looks a little scary but you’ll see that once in the centre of the wood it is a magical place – an enchanted clearing.  We hide it from the adults because we are defying the laws that allow interaction with humans.”

He convinced her to carry on and sure enough soon they were entering a bright clearing amidst the dark trees and here there were many more elves and some fairies and other magical creatures, all sitting about chatting like any group of teenage friends in her own world would.  They were laughing and joking and some were even showing off with their magic, casting spells that tricked their friends into falling off their rocks or giving them strange magical body parts or taking them away like magically removing a fairy’s wings!

When they saw their friend Eir approaching with Emily they all stopped what they were doing and stared at her.  They cast their spells to put each other right and just stood there staring at Emily, obviously quite shocked by her presence.

“This is Emily.”  Eir pronounced proudly to the group, “A human!”  He added, as if any hadn’t already noticed.  A fairy, the size of a small kitten flew up to Emily and hovered right in front of her face with a frown on her little face.  Then she turned to Eir and squealed,

“Are you crazy?  You can’t bring a human here – you have endangered us all!”

“It’s OK, she’s nice, and she won’t hurt us.  She’s as curious about us as we are of her.”

There was a moment when nobody spoke, then all of a sudden the little clearing erupted in an explosion of concerned voices all trying to be heard above the other, voicing their concern about Emily’s presence.  A young Elven girl spoke.  She was so angelically beautiful that Emily was transfixed by her perfect face and piercing eyes, that, although looked slightly too big for her face, were just so beautiful.

“Eir, what were you thinking?  Is the portal still open?  Anyone could come through!”

“Or go through!”  Another elf ventured.  “What if some mischievous imp stumbles across the open door, goes into the human world and wreaks havoc over there?  It could mean a war!”

Emily and Eir looked at each other in concern and Emily asked her new friend,

Did you leave the portal open?”   He shrugged and Emily said, “Well I don’t remember you closing it.”  There was a momentary pause and then Eir and Emily turned to run back to the portal, with all the other magical friends following close behind.

They could all see as soon as they had cleared the trees, that the portal was indeed still open and clearly visible.  As Emily and Eir ran towards it they suddenly saw another figure approaching the portal from the opposite direction.  “Oh that’s not good!”  The pretty Elven girl that had spoken before said quietly.

“Who is it?”  Emily asked, and she could see the worried look on all the teenage elves’ faces.  “Queen Margarita!”  They all said at once,

“And she does not like humans at all – especially men!”  The Elven girl added.

“Why not?”  Emily asked feeling more than a little bit nervous.

“Why do you think?  The usual – she had her heart broken by a human.  He wooed her, only to steal a magic axe that had the power to cut open the fabric of space/time and he returned to the human world, never to be seen again.”

Eir raised his wand and frantically cast a spell.  The purple magic shot out of the wand and zoomed off towards the Elven Queen who turned towards the group and the magic winging its way to her a moment too late.  She raised her own wand to counter the spell just as Eir’s magic hit her full on and she was immobilised – frozen in time.

“Quickly Emily you must return home and I will close the portal behind you.  The Queen will not be able to open it again.” Emily hesitated and turned to her new friend sadly

“but will I ever see you again?”  Eir kissed Emily on her cheek and whispered,

“of course you will, one day.  When the Queen has gotten over her anger I will open the portal again and we will learn more about each other.  For now though, it is not safe and my kind are not ready to be at peace with your people.”

Eir pulled his hand from Emily’s and she held on to his fingertips just a moment longer, not wanting to let go.  He raised her hand up to his mouth and kissed it gently then pushed her through the portal.  As she fell through into the garden she saw her father look up from his gardening at her and the shock on his face as he saw Alfheim behind her and the frozen Queen Margarita also behind her.  She saw him mouth the Queen’s name “Margarita” and then look towards the axe on the wood pile.  Emily ran towards the axe and grabbed it quickly, then turned and threw it through the portal just as it was closing.  Eir caught the axe and blew Emily a kiss.  Then he was gone and Alfheim was replaced by her garden once more.  She exchanged a knowing look with her father and a smile and then he carried on with his gardening.

Emily picked up the spinning top and took it into their huge rambling old house, climbed the staircase into the large attic and hid the spinning top in a box sitting on an old rocking chair.  The box contained an old camera, a gramophone, her great grandmother’s music box and a few old pieces of jewellery and ornaments.  She didn’t see as she left the attic how the spinning top was still radiating with elven power.  It seemed to leak its power over all the objects in the box and the rocking chair before the magic dissipated into the atmosphere of the attic.  Emily didn’t see the objects in the box for a moment glow with a curious purple aura and then return to their normal state, just random objects in an old attic in a very strange old house.

%d bloggers like this: