Tag Archives: short story collections

Short Journeys

I have talked about short stories before and how important they have been to me on this journey to become ‘real writer’… that makes me think of Pinocchio I want to be a real boy… 

I think, all too often, we tend to overlook the short story form, assuming that the real success and I guess therefore the real creativity and even the real money is to be made from the novel that becomes the bestseller that becomes the Hollywood blockbuster… and so on. But short stories have also been made into movies you know. And besides, not all short stories want to grow up to be movies, do they?

I always talk about how I ‘cut my teeth’ as a writer working on the short form, and how important this was for me in terms of developing my style and honing my craft and I have spurts now of still writing short stories and sending them out. When I did that earlier this year I had three successes and two of those placements has resulted in a publication; one of which is now available to pre-order, I was runner-up! So I thought I would share a short extract of that as a teaser with some links…

Thinking in Circles

In order to understand something, we must exist outside it.
We are all made of numbers.
Aged 13, Size 8 shoes, Form 5, the 14.35.
We are all on a journey to somewhere from somewhere else with
our eyes half-closed.
And sometimes we get stuck.

You are standing there. Head tucked down; reminds me of a
penguin. The strap of your big blue school bag cuts across your blazer
and it’s as if there’s a thread attaching your head to your shoes. Not
shiny new shoes. These are scuffed, end of term Clark’s one-size-too-small
shoes; they didn’t buy new shoes. Because of what happened
over the summer.
It’s the thing – the thing no one will want to talk about – but they
will talk about it. They’ll whisper. They’ll pretend they’re not talking
about it.
People say bad news is always better when it happens to
somebody else but even when it happens to somebody else,
sometimes it’s happening to you.
You shuffle last year’s shoes to the front; to the desk you used
last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Soon they’ll
all come in and sit where they always sit and nobody will ask. But
they’ll all know.

They’ll all know because it was in the Echo. It was in the Echo
over the summer. Shock had filled up the kitchen: a line of uttered
Oh Gods.
In the sound you were sure you heard something break.
Not like a snap. Not like an ornament shattering into a million
pieces. Not like that. And not like the jolt of something stopping
suddenly, because that happens all at once. This was like a slow
unpicking along the seams.
It happened because of what happened over the summer. It
happened to your dad when he went quietly mad and your nan had to
move in.
It was in the Echo. Everyone knows. About the thing – not your
dad going quietly mad, or your nan moving in. About the thing. The
thing that happened over the summer.

The train left London at 14.35. The name on the front said
Southend Victoria…

© Debz Hobbs-Wyatt 2017, With Our Eyes Open, Published by Bausse Books October 15 2017

The book is available now for pre-order as an eBook and a paper version will follow in tine for Christmas! I will share the link again!

With Our Eyes Open

Order me…


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On This Day …

Some of you might remember that not long after I wrote the original short story While No One Was Watching, the idea of something happening at the same time as a world stopping event became the focus of the 2011 Bridge House Short Story competition.

We were looking for stories that used the real event (and it did have to be something that stopped the world literally) as more than a back-drop — it had to be in some way integral to the plot of the story — while at the same time telling a whole other story.

I have always been fascinated by this idea of news eclipsing what’s going on in our own lives and with the royal birth dominating the headlines I was watching a couple on Daybreak this morning whose baby was born one minute before the new king and I started to think again about this idea.

When we put out the call for submissions for the World Stopping Events competition we had a huge amount of interest and I received emails from a number of writing groups and universities as a lot of people liked this idea. Well, more than that it seemed to inspire many writers. Often when we had calls for themed collections, the themes were quite general — horror, ghost, children’s etc — but the fact  that the submissions were a while before they started to come in, suggests this was different and people wrote new stories.

We had some wonderful subs and it was really exciting looking at how people used the idea and we had stories about Kennedy, Elvis, 911, Diana, Lennon’s death,  the Boxing Day Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina … etc.

I actually still use this device in a lot of my writing. It’s another way of showing and not telling because I like to use news headlines and events as a way of keeping time, rather than say it outright. What this also does is add an element of authenticity and one that readers will connect to because often they will remember where they were at the time.

I loved the stories and it was a tough call making the selection and choosing an overall winner.

The stories were published in a collection called On This Day and while like many of the Bridge House collections they never sell in great numbers I am very proud of this collection that I edited alongside Gill James.

It was also inspired me to make a book trailer, something I had only done once before. I ought to make one for the novel — that should be fun.

So I thought, given the historic days we’re living in, I would talk about this book.

That’s the thing about books — they can be written in one century, one moment in time and read in another and they still capture something of the time they were written in and the time they write about.

So in  case you never saw it here is that book trailer with music composed by another talented friend I went to school with!

And also here’s a link to the book and if you don’t have a copy please do get one.

And you never know — it might also inspire you.

 Quick update, my proofread MS has gone back to the publisher and I have spent the past couple of days having a writing week. I am still working on the rework of the novel but am also writing a new short story. I also received a publishing contract yesterday for my short story Lest We Forget, that will appear in a new Wildlife Anthology for the Plight of the Rhino (Save the Rhino) that will be published by Springbok Publications at the end of this year. More on that soon. I have also been asked to edit some of the stories and am really excited about the project!

So … put the sound up, put it on big screen and watch this …


Enjoy whatever you’re doing — on this day.

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The Best of CafeLit 2012

Yay — the book is now out.

I have talked about the Creative Café Project before and how I spent Christmas making my selection for the Best of from 2012 — the names released on January 1st of this year. Well it has then taken a while to edit and put the stories together and for them to then be typeset by our designer — but I am happy at last to announce that the Kindle and Paperback versions are now available from Amazon!

I guess selection of the Best of, as I say in my foreword is always going to be subjective, but what I tried to do was put together a selection that showed what I see Cafelit as being — and that’s something different — stories that make you think. But it’s a pretty broad thing as I like weird and wonderful, experimental, flash, longer pieces as well as the more traditional short story telling. So that’s what we have. At the end of the day it’s about good writing. And that’s what I look for — but I also work with the authors (if I need to) to polish anything almost there. But I rarely have to do a lot of editing I have to say!

So if you want something easy to read over the summer that you can dip in and out of like toes in the sea — buy this book.

And if you want to have a go at submitting look at what I accept — well almost anything that might not find a home in mainstream goes here.

Do have a look!

Well on a personal note looks like my new computer will arrive today instead — so I hope to be writing on that tomorrow! Fingers crossed!

Have a great day everyone. A friend launches an eBook this week — the talented Sarah England who I welcome to the spotlight in a couple of weeks so I might have some news about her book as well, something to whet the appetite … keep reading!


(sorry no cover — this laptop has issues uploading it — no idea why!)





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Going indie

I remember when I first started sending my work out into the world and adopting this great new hobby called collecting rejection slips, how I saw publishers as these massive big corporations and I was like a tiny helpless drowning fly… oh please look at my work… please Sir. Of course I was more pro than that and as we should all know a submission is a job application and should be treated with that professionalism.  Now of course the big publishers are these big machines like that but we can’t approach these without an agent anyway. What I didn’t know was just how little these small presses are and that actually when I joined one with Gill James and we started working as small indie press, that we were not so different.

I always imagined at least half a dozen people, more likely double that,  working for them. I imagined offices and press rooms… where a lot of the indie presses are people doing other jobs as well from home, just like Bridge House. Now I know some are a lot bigger but it’s amazing how many are not.  They’re just like us.

And know what else I learned? How hard it is to sell books when you have no marketing budget and tiny team of people busy having to do other things to survive. But we’re doing it and we’re making people happy… well we hope we are 🙂

But what I have really learned from working for a press and having to learn everything from the ground up was how the industry works, or doesn’t work, on a tiny scale of course as the big boys are doing the same process but they have big budgets and contacts and a lot of the things we don’t.  They can pay Waterstones several grand to have their book at the front of store with cardboard cut-out advertising material.

But hey…at least we’re there and at least we have a presence. If only small. Big things come from small seeds, right? Everyone likes the underdog (apparently!)

I’ve learned about selecting stories and what works and what doesn’t, I’ve learned to work with writers to edit stories into shape. I’ve learned to project manage and with Gentle Footprints this was amazing  (a personal triumph) as we got the book to Hay and on TV and there was a lot of team work with the small team and managing right down to what we ate at the meet n greet with Virginia McKenna.  I learned about working with artists and designing covers, about putting the book together for the graphic designer. I learned about how you register books for Nielsens and how the press works in terms of uploading files and proofs right down to ordering books for book shops and how Amazon works (kind of).

It’s been great doing some of everything.

Of course what I love the most is dealing with all our lovely talented authors. 🙂

On the marketing side, well that’s tough with no budgets and doing as much as we can via social networking which I have just learned and know I could do more but it’s all about having the time. Sadly that’s the way it is. We have some interns now helping where they can as well.

I guess we have all come to see at Bridge House that what counts is giving writers the chance to see their work out there. Getting published, being on Amazon etc is great for the CV. With short story collections it is really only friends and family of the authors that buy the books. With Gentle Footprints we did get more to the masses as it was on TV but that was our best seller and only sold just over 1000. When authors look at royalties or lack of them it can come as a shock to think we never sold enough for them to get anything. But when you think for a lot of the earlier books we offered a 50% profit share to authors then if they didn’t get anything… nor did we. And we never have. It all goes back into producing the next lovely book.

It’s a total labour of love that we hope will one day see a book walk off shelves… well if we can get it on the shelves first.

But that’s not really why we do it. We do it to give writers a voice, get their work out there and while we would love to sell hundreds… no thousands we know that may never happen.

But we’re here and we’re doing it and I hope that is reason enough.

I have Gill to thank for the opportunity of course as she knew so much more about the business and nurtured me along. And I think what small presses do at least is let us do. By that I mean how I was able to run with my own projects, something I never imagined. Like Gentle Footprints but now the Voices of Angels book. I selected, edited, decided on the cover, dealt with Gloria Hunniford and am now trying to market it. Of course Gill has done this with most of them 🙂 I am just grateful to have some that I have worked on exclusively like this (well more or less we all need a team and we so liaise of course and support – nothing is really a single effort and we couldn’t do it without each other). But this latest book is another project I am proud of and while I imagine it will not sell that many copies (will try!) at least it’s out there. It’s real and I hope it touches lives in some small way, just like the angels in the stories. And by its donation to the Caron Keating Foundation.

Here it is by the way:


Authors do gain from small presses even if books do not sell huge amounts by the experience and from being part of something. Getting published! Who knows where the book might end up and who might want to do something with one of the stories?

If  writers hoped for more they needed a bigger publisher, we are what we are.  We are limited and there are pitfalls but there are advantages too. I mean, with the BloodMining novel at least we let Laura work with the photographer on the cover and she had far more creative input than she would ever have got from a big publisher who choose the cover, that’s it. Or there might be a choice of 2 or 3 but it’s not their decision. So we can do this, at least. But then there are pitfalls as well as Laura has really then had to do a lot of her own promotion. But even the big houses expect this now anyway.

I guess my pet peeve is when things go wrong and authors in our collections feel the need to vent (not often but it happens) and I totally understand but I also don’t get paid for this and am donating all those hours for free for the love of books and writing. I know it’s a business, but not really a business with anything to show in terms of profits, it all goes into the next one, it’s more about time. Giving our time to make something special. So sometimes I have to remind people of that. I’m doing my best.

But that’s rare as the authors we work with are all lovely almost all the time and I am so pleased, it feels like a family and many are now Facebook friends and helped with my Paws Competition for example. This is what I always wanted, or should I say, we always wanted, my partner and I, Gill, for Bridge House; a friendly approach to publishing, professional sure,  but approachable, helpful- we hope anyway.

And as I keep saying, we are doing it. The books are great.

Would be nice to see a few more of course  🙂

But we are here. Who knows what the future holds but we are here now.

So in the spirit of thanksgiving… cheers Gill.

And thanks to all of you.

Over and out and have a fab weekend y’all!

Buy me please 🙂

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