|Posted by Morgan Bell on May 27, 2015 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
American short story writer Nathan Englander has said that aspiring authors can be paralysed by a misunderstanding of the advice “write what you know”.
Many people equate this oft quoted expression as an instruction to make all your stories thinly veiled autobiographies. Englander said “If you’re a drunken, brawling adventurer, like Hemingway, no problem.” Similarly, if you were the kid of a slave owner in confederate Missouri, in a Mississippi River steamboat port town, you will be well-positioned to pen the next Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. This was Mark Twain’s real experience, and the “write what you know” quote is attributed to him.
Those of us who live hum-drum lives of suburban normalcy - straight, white, middle-class, middle-aged, middle of the road, average joes – may feel they are restricted to writing about laundry powder and grocery shopping and the perils of designing meals that are all at once tasty, healthy, and affordable.
I put to you that authors using an extended metaphor to explain their existence in this world does come under the banner of “writing what you know”. Genre fiction, such as fantasy, romance, or horror, is often dismissed as unrealistic escapism. But I think there is more.
Many people, including myself, believe the function of fiction is not merely to document a plot, but to express an attitude towards the events of the plot, and to use plot as a catalyst for conveying emotion. Can your thinly veiled autobiography occur on the moons of Saturn, or in Victorian England, or the Spanish Inquisition? I say yes, of course it can. All narratives are just a way of interpreting reality. Even a memoir isn’t unfiltered reality, it is one angle, one perspective, with emphasis on a few key events. What we are really writing about is less about facts and more about feelings.
Facts have their place. Historical fiction writers need to be as good at research as they are at constructing a sentence. If a character exists in a place or time that is not your own then you do them a disservice by not investing in research. Even if you are writing about a future or another universe, you will need to build that world with factual continuity. The consequence of not researching, is having a reader distracted by factual anomalies and plot holes.
At a writing workshop in 2014 I had a brief exchange with Australian fantasy and historical fiction novelist Kate Forsyth on this very topic. She makes it well known at her speaking engagements that she dislikes the expression “write what you know” because it limits people’s imagination.
Kate used her novel The Wild Girl as an example of how a person could write about something they don’t know and still produce a highly successful novel. She said her character Dortchen Wild (a real historical person who passed on folk tales to the Grimm Brothers) lived in a little village in Germany during the Napoleonic Wars, circa 1805. That was not Kate’s own life experience, as a contemporary Australian. She had nothing in common with the real historical figure of Dortchen. Kate didn’t speak Dortchen’s language, didn’t know first-hand what it was like to be in that time, place, or situation. It was not until Kate researched every detail about the culture and customs that Dortchen was submerged in, that she was able to form her on the page. Therefore it is possible for one to write about a topic or universe that they are not personally familiar with.
Now I begin to wax philosophical. My contention is once you complete your research, the constraints of your subject became known to you. You didn’t know them at first, but you found out, and now you know. Given this new-found knowledge, you are able to fill in the detail of how your character would have reacted in a given situation with how you would have reacted were you in her exact same shoes.
Here Kate and I come to an agreement. Yes technically my hypothesis is true. However it is also true that most people do not interpret the saying “write what you know” in the way I described. The majority of people take the idea of knowledge as literal and static. Pig farmer equals pig stories. Tyre shop owner equals car stories.
I also think that no matter your subject matter your real life will permeate your fiction. I work as a traffic engineer in local government, and my writing is littered with engineering terms. They are woven seamlessly into my descriptions and dialogue because they are an active part of my vernacular. My story Strings & Ribbons from my collection Sniggerless Boundulations shows the tugs of war between my artistic and practical sides, one always distracted by the other.
My story Garsdale is about a haughty abseiler on a rescue mission. In real life I am afraid of heights. But maybe I am the one being rescued. Or maybe they are both me, the high achiever and the recluse. It is often asked of authors, “How much of your characters are really you?” I think they are all me. The heros and the villains, the talkers and the mutes, they are all little slivers of the complexity that makes up who I am.
During a recent fan Q&A for Indie Author Appreciation Week I was ask if I thought writing was always self-reflective. I said yes, even if the author doesn’t know they are doing it, every word chosen over another reads like a confessional.
Sniggerless Boundulations is a collection of fifteen pieces of flash fiction, ranging between 150 and 2,000 words per story. After a year of positive reviews and feedback I now use the tagline “The horrors of life in fifteen slices”. Readers use the book like a mirror to see themselves, and their own fears and insecurities. Universal themes like jealousy, anxiety, time, and aging make Sniggerless Boundulations the perfect looking glass for introspection. And that is me writing what I know.
This article was originally published in the Jennifer Douglas Literary Publicist newsletter, which I recommend signing up to.
|Posted by Morgan Bell on March 23, 2015 at 8:55 PM||comments (0)|
Novascapes Volume 1 was launched at the 2015 Newcastle Writers Festival at Town Hall at 10am on Sunday 22 March 2015.
The panellists were Novascapes editor and story contributor Cassandra Page (introduction), and authors with stories in the anthology: Russell Blackford (host), Janeen Webb (reading except), Sheree Kable (reading excerpt), Danuta Raine (reading excerpt), and Samantha Fisher (reading whole story).
In the audience we had many of the other authors who contributed stories, including Catherine Moffat, Megan Buxton, Kim Ross, Jenny Blackford, Aiden Walsh, and Willie Southgate
I was the official photographer of the event. The full set of photos can be found on my Facebook here.
|Posted by Morgan Bell on March 10, 2015 at 2:35 PM||comments (0)|
Ladies and gentlemen, it's here!
Sniggerless Boundulations: the audiobook. Narrated by Jon Severity.
Currently retailing for $3.46 via Amazon Audio Edition: http://tinyurl.com/sniggerlessaudioed
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 58 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Publisher: Morgan Bell
Audible.com Release Date: February 26, 2015
FREE via Audible for new customers: http://tinyurl.com/sniggerlessaudible
Or $4.62 or 1 Credit for existing Audible members.
Home > Fiction > Short Stories & Anthologies
Sniggerless Boundulations | [Morgan Bell]
PLAY AUDIO SAMPLE
Written by: Morgan Bell
Narrated by: Jon Severity
Length: 58 mins
Publisher: Morgan Bell
|Posted by Morgan Bell on February 17, 2015 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
Edited by Morgan Bell, a Hunter Anthologies project
Submission Period: Sunday 15 February 2015 - Sunday 31 May 2015
Theme: Wicked plants
Type: Flash fiction (150 words to 2,000 words)
Ideas: Killer weeds, botanical atrocities, enchanted forests-woods, strangling vines, poison fruits-berries-darts, the tree of life-knowledge, carnivorous flora, cabbage patch kids, wise talking-walking trees, magical beans, primordial slime
Inspiration: Jack & The Beanstalk, The Day of the Triffids, Little Shop of Horrors, Alice in Wonderland
Deadline: 11:59pm (GMT +11) Sunday 31 May 2015
Entrants will be notified of the success of their submissions by Sunday 28 June 2015
Anticipated Publication Date: December 2015/January 2016
Payment: One copy of the print anthology per contributing author
Submit to: [email protected]
Submission information: Everyone is welcome to submit. Aspiring and emerging writers are encouraged. Sproutlings is looking for the most fresh, most original, most weird new talent and new ideas from established talent. Be wild, be wonderful, write things that have never been written before. New words, new phrases, new twists on old ideas. Stories are judged purely on merit, not author notoriety.
"Do you wonder if your vegetable patch really cares about your health? Are those tall pine trees giving shade, or looming menacingly?" Carolyn Cordon
"Teeth laden tomatoes" Mike Cullen
"Verdant with possibilities" Colleen Goth
1. Original works only. Multiple entries per person allowed. No simultaneous submissions to other publications please.
2. Formatting requirements (prose): Please use the Invisible Elephant Press House Style Guide. Margins at least 2.5cm, double spacing, Times New Roman size 12, Australian English spelling.
3. All works to be submitted in .doc or .docx or .rtf format.
4. Length: 150 - 2000 words
Email applications to: [email protected]
Subject: Sproutlings: Your Name – Title of Work
Body of Email:
Pen Name (How you want your name to appear in print):
Title of work:
Short author bio (max 100 words):
All questions about submissions or the anthology in general can be made by email to [email protected]
|Posted by Morgan Bell on January 11, 2015 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
I had the great pleasure of hosting an hour-long slot at the Indie Author Appreciation Week online event.
I was on 11:59pm Sunday to 1am Monday Sydney time, so I stayed up a bit past my bedtime.
Prior to the event I asked fans and friends to submit some questions, I have also posted them below because i made them into awesome slides (like a good little nerd) and i have to show them off for posterity.
Like I said during the event, the slides are conversation starters, so feel free to agree/disagree in the comments. Build upon the ideas of other, go off on tangents etc
Author Interview: Morgan Bell - by Roberta Capizzi (originally published 18-06-14 on the Roberta's Dreamworld blog)
|Posted by Morgan Bell on October 14, 2014 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
The following interview was conducted by Roberta Capizzi on the website Roberta's Dreamworld on 18 June 2014 (06:00EST). The site has been down for maintenance for a few months, so here is a reprint until it is back up and running. Be sure to check out Roberta's romance novels on Goodreads!
My next guest in the Indie Author Interview Corner is an author who writes short stories. Dear readers, please welcome Morgan Bell, author of the short story collection “Sniggerless Boundulations”.
Hello Morgan! Welcome to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time. First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.
Hi Roberta, thank you for having me here. As a writer I am concise and community-minded, and I almost exclusively write in third person. As a person I am something of an amazon woman, I am six foot tall, and I am a people-watcher, a listener, and audio-learner, and an auditor. I am a local government engineer and a technical writer by day, and a youtube addict by night.
How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
My family moved around a lot when I was a little kid, so my parents spent a lot of time teaching me and my sister how to read and write so we wouldn’t fall behind at school. Sometimes we did distance schooling on the road. I remember designing documents like little brochures and restaurant menus when I was in primary school. And I was a prolific letter writer, I had many penpals from previous schools and chain letters etc. Professionally my lean has been more towards technical writing, but around my 30th birthday in 2011 I joined a local writers group in Newcastle, Australia, and my creative writing really flourished being in a collaborative and diverse setting. I always thought I would write a novel when I retired, but now I think what am I waiting for?
Let’s speak about Sniggerless Boundulations. Can you tell us a little about what the book is about?
Sniggerless Boundulations is experimental contemporary literary fiction, and collection of fifteen short stories that range from vignettes to micro-fiction/flash-fiction, with story lengths varying between 150 to 2,000 words. The overarching themes are time, aging, jealousy, fear and anxiety. Some of the characters include killers, nosey office workers, seedy old men, competitive women, a galactic physician, and a haughty abseiler.
How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters?
Most of the stories were written either as flash fiction for my writers group, or as entries for short story competitions. I had been writing on scrap pieces of paper and saving word docs here there and everywhere with no system. Then I was retrenched from my job at the end of 2013 and in the process of packing up my work desk and copying my files to USB, and then packing up my house to move for a job in another city, I collected all my little stories together and begun to notice some recurring themes. Many of the characters are versions of myself, little iterations or refractions of my personality, and some that are composites of elements from family and friends and customers at work.
I usually have a hard time keeping the word count low, so I’m curious: how did you manage to write a complete story in only a few thousand words?
Many of my stories are only a few hundred words, as one reviewer said I have “the economy of a poet”, so the stories that get into the thousands are my long pieces. Basically the stories are not plot heavy, the characters are not in action sequence after action sequence, we just drop into their lives at a defining moment, so I am cutting all the backstory and letting the reader draw their own conclusions. If a traditional short story translates basically to a feature film in length, my stories are like one pinnacle scene from a movie, the scene where the character develops.
If you should describe your books in three words, what would you pick?
Tense, intellectual, awkward.
Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre?
I was given confidence to present my work in its current structure by collections like Jim Crace’s “The Devil’s Larder”, Tim Winton’s “The Turning”, and Deborah Levy’s “Black Vodka”. As for voice I am a huge fan of Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen and their subtle witticisms with cleverly placed choice of words in dialogue and description. I am probably even more influenced by screen-writers like Charlie Kaufman and Stephen Frears.
What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing?
I love watching movies and tv, and attending live events where people speak, such as writers festivals, comedy/drag shows and theatre, and the occasional contemporary dance performance or concert. I am big on dinner dates with my friends, especially if it is dinner and a movie, or dinner and some tv. I am currently doing a course in mosaic, and am attempting to care for some potted flowers in my window, and two eccentric goldfish: Carl (a black moor) and Kindra (a red comet), and studying post-grad Linguistics.
As a writer do you get support from your family and friends?
My dad read my book in thirty minutes flat and said I needed to work on my endings, he is not a fan of modern or post-modern art in general, but his favourites were the last three stories which veered more towards speculative fiction and a traditional plot arc. My writers group friends have been amazing, buying and spruiking my book, and giving me lots of positive feedback. I was asked to speak at the Newcastle Writers Festival, and my book was used as a working example with membership recruitment for the Hunter Writers Centre. Some people still deride self-publishing as pretend publishing but are still supportive of my content. It can be confusing to people when you wear both the author and publisher cap.
Why did you decide to self-publish and how did you find the experience?
I was going through a turbulent time in my day-job career and home life and I wanted something positive to focus on, I wanted to experiment with Kindle and Lulu to try something new, I had a bit of spare time because I took a semester off study, I wanted to use my technical writing skills for page layout/formatting etc, and I wanted my work to be on public record uncensored. Kindle was the easiest to use, it had great cover design tools and converted my document to Kindle format exactly as I wanted it the first go. Lulu was a bit more of a beast, I was struggling to embed common fonts and get the page numbering right. I did one dud proof with the pages out by one because an extra blank page was added after the contents page by their conversion tool (probably a page or section break or something, but it took many many many goes to get it right). Im really enjoying the marketing component of self-publishing, making my own leaflets, blurbs, bios, writing letters and emails and press releases, however I do acknowledge it probably does distract from working on my next creative writing project.
Indie authors don’t get to have a dedicated marketing team and professionals to look after the marketing of their books. How did you spread the news about your books and did it work?
I have probably done it all arse-up, but in this order i:
• published on Kindle and announced the e-book on Facebook
• published on Lulu and announced the paperback on Facebook
• did some online interviews and posted them on Facebook
• authorized Lulu to open my book to wide distribution so it would be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a paperback
• got a Goodreads author page and submitted my book
• got a website for the book up and running
• ran a free e-book promotion on Kindle for two days
• approached Maclean’s booksellers in Newcastle to have my book stocked at the festival bookstore for the 2014 Newcastle Writers Festival
• ordered a box of 60 of my books from Lulu so I had some hardcopies to give to people who don’t like the internet or don’t trust online purchasing
• create a Facebook fan page in addition to my personal page
• join some Facebook writers community groups
• ran a Goodreads giveaway promotion and sent five free copies of my book to places all over the world, including Libya, UK, USA, and India (which garnered a few additional reviews)
• posted hardcopies of my books to a few reviewers, including personalized letters and marketing leaflets
• posted a link my website everytime I get an article/interview/review published
• linked from my existing blogs and profiles back to my website to boost my search-engine ratings
• continue to contribute original short stories to anthologies and competitions to keep my name out there
I still have not done an official “launch”, and I did not get reviews on the manuscript before I published (to include on the back cover and forward-matter), I really have just been winging it, but im having fun!
What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?
I know I have a speculative fiction novel in me, I have the bare bones of a structure nutted out. I want to do two more skinny micro-fiction collections, the second one, which I have most of the content for now, will be called Laissez Faire and be released later in the year. The third one has no working title, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. But possibly in future I will amalgamate all three collections into one larger collection. Im just sticking to smaller achievable goals at the moment.
Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books?
Maybe I should amend my original three words with an additional four words: wry, droll, paranoid, and pithy, because the most stand-out element of my stories are my voice, my writing has a strong deliberate voice, and when you read it you will feel something, each story emotes, whether it be dread or inadequacy or defeat, you will have an emotional reaction and see some common elements of life from another perspective.
An excerpt from one of my favourite reviews by R. B. Fortune-Wood
“There is the authorial refusal to gratify the reader's expectations, a constant urge to transcend banality at the same time as studying it and the pathos of comedy and poignancy finding expression in identical and excruciating moments. Unaffected, without warning, Bell's narratives produce a discomforting aesthetic, taking hold of the awkward and suspending that tender unease for as long as the prose can cope.”
Finally: how can we get in touch with you?
Amazon amazon.com/Morgan-Bell/e/B00HXEIDA0 (Amazon author page)
She: True Stories shetruestories.org/midnight-daisy (short story Midnight Daisy by Morgan Bell)
Links to buy your books:
lulu.com/spotlight/morganbell (Lulu paperback)
|Posted by Morgan Bell on July 8, 2014 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
There are two current exciting promotions for Sniggerless Boundulations:
1. Paperback of Sniggerless Boundulations or $50 Amazon gift card
(ends 14 November 2014)
Open all ages and locations, unlimited entries
Promotion run through Rafflecopter
2. $50 Etsy gift card
(ends 27 September 2014)
Open all ages and locations, must have a Twitter account to enter
Promotion run through Giveaway Tab (Facebook)
How to enter?
Visit the Morgan Bell (author) Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/morganleighbell and click on the tabs [Amazon prize] and [Etsy prize] to enter into the raffle prize draws for these giveaways. A Twitter account is a requirement of the Etsy draw, and can earn extra entries in the Amazon draw, so get tweeting, and may the odds ever be in your favour.
|Posted by Morgan Bell on April 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Morgan Bell, 0407062595, [email protected]
Local Swansea woman publishes book of experimental super short literary fiction, not so redundant after all
Redundant Council worker, Belmont High graduate, and author, Morgan Bell, spoke at the YWCA She: True Stories session of the 2014 Newcastle Writers Festival. Her book SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS, a collection of very short stories, sold out at the Macleans festival bookshop.
Newcastle, NSW – SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS (68pp RRP$14.50) is available at Maclean's Booksellers, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The book is an examination of the horrors of life, including vignettes, micro fiction, and flash fiction. The author, Morgan Bell, is a native of Swansea, and classmate of NBN television’s Nat Wallace. Her family ran the local general store opposite the public pool for over a decade. Bell graduated from Belmont High and Swinburne University. She is a member of Hunter Writers Centre, Newcastle Writers Group, and Newcastle Speculative Fiction Group.
Bell first published her work in the Newcastle Writers Group Anthology 2012 with the piece, "It Had To Be Done", one of the fifteen stories in SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS. Bell’s story “The Switch” is due to be published in the Hunter Speculative Fiction Anthology in May 2014 alongside works by award winning authors Margo Lanagan and Kirstyn McDermott. Bell was shortlisted for the 2014 Hunter Writer's Centre Travel Writing Prize for her anti-travel piece "Don't Pay The Ferryman".
When The City of Newcastle decimated their work force in September 2013, Bell’s traffic engineering position was a casualty of the staff cuts. The job-loss coincided with the downturn in the Hunter coal mining industry and public servant recruiting freezes at the state and federal level. As engineering professionals scrambled for technical jobs in the Hunter region, Bell worked the front desk at Spinnakers Leisure Park in Belmont while unsuccessfully attending interviews for local engineering consultants who were themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. In December 2013 Bell sold her furniture, boarded her cats with her parents, and left her Mayfield home to work as an engineering contractor in Sydney. During this time of transition, Bell, a qualified technical writer, collated all the scraps of paper that she had scrawled on during her weekly writers groups since 2011, and was able to edit and format her own manuscript. In January 2014 this manuscript became the widely distributed SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS. The collection contains bizarre medical conditions, industrious creatures, conniving cops, killers, dead bodies, a rescue mission, homoeroticism, nonchalant students, a secret garden, and the road to hell. Stories range from 120 words to 1500 words.
- "Rarely is an author able to so clearly capture and convey emotions and small slices of life in so few words, with the economy of a poet." (Erica Lovett)
- "Similar in tone to Franny and Zooey, and other Salinger works. Very classic sensibility, with lots of quotable lines." (Maxine Renn)
- “Like a hybrid of unfiltered reality, humanist morality play and whimsical Bizzaro.” (R. B. Fortune-Wood)
Bell’s writing style has been described as clean, crisp, sharp, meticulous, minimalist, carefully executed, vivid, and arresting, and maintains a 5.0 star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.
Interested readers can find more information at http://sniggerlessboundulations.webs.com/ or by following Bell on twitter @queenboxi.
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