Just over a week ago, I entered a story in the AlfieDog International Short Story Competition. The entry fee for this comp was the purchase of five stories off the site, so, for a total of about £2, I bought:
- ‘Home’ by Sheffield – Mary Driver-Thiel
- ‘It’s Duncan’ – Susan Wright
- 8 Sycamore Close – Susan Wright
- A Changed Woman – Patsy Collins
- A Christmas Carol – Lorraine Coverley
I picked Patsy’s story because I ‘know’ her well online and always enjoy her work, and Lorraine Coverley’s because I have been in correspondence with her too. I also read and reviewed Susan Wright’s ‘In the Kitchen with a Knife’ a few months ago.
The stories varied in length, ”Home’ by Sheffield’ the longest at 4700 words. Mary – an American writer, the only non-Brit – has only one story published on Alfie Dog (this one). Unpolished at times and with no distinct plot, ‘Home’ was about a dog who ran away because he was bored. The perfect rebuttal to the writing ‘rule’ that mcs should not be dogs. This one was and it worked well.
‘It’s Duncan’ was typical womag and aimed at older readers, as it was about a widow finding new love, but beset by old fashioned conventions about women asking men out. The main thrust of the story (but not all of it) was told through telephone conversations – an interesting device. My only slight reservation was that mc was supposed to be in her sixties, but her staid ideas seemed more like those of someone much older.
Still very rooted in womag, ‘8 Sycamore Close’, about a divorced woman looking for a house of her own, was more to my taste. A censorious mother and a well-meaning but interfering boss added colour to this story, even though mc knew her own mind all the way along, and just needed time to get herself into gear. A great twist at the end, which I didn’t see coming at all. I was surprised to see IVF mentioned in this story, not just in a few words but forming a central plank of the plot.
‘A Changed Woman’ was also in the womag genre, but featuring a younger, more feisty woman and a visitor called ‘Paul Newman’ who was definitely not the actor. No wonder her husband was jealous. And was the reader right to accept the explanation for Paul Newman’s presence, especially after those groans in the bedroom? Enigmatic endings, I love them.
We all think we know Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’, but I really enjoyed Lorraine’s take on it, especially a petulant Scrooge who came out with things like ‘I don’t like sweetcorn,’ and ‘Look what you’ve done to this goose… Look, it’s all squished.’ This piece broadly followed Dickens’ tale, but, just as we lesser writers produce unspeakable first drafts which we have to edit, re-edit and edit over and over again, so did the great man himself. (If you’re not following all this, read Lorraine’s piece for yourself!)
All very enjoyable stories. What a wonderful competition entry fee!
Well, Dear Reader, I’ve certainly cured the problem about not receiving email notifications on posts from Blogs I Follow. With a vengeance! DR, yesterday I received over 200 email notifications from WordPress, also today because I didn’t have time to adjust the settings again until this evening. You see, I’d just switched on everything, had all you Blogs I Follow on instant, and also checked the Default Jabber Instant Messenger Delivery (I thought of it as the Jabberwocky). I’m now gradually readjusting the settings; there are so many to adjust which basically do the same thing – instant, daily, weekly. WordPress would actually do well to review their tools, in my opinion. However, during the last two days, I have been truly amazed at how frequently you are all blogging and commenting. I have tried to join in… a little… but it must all be very time-consuming for you, Dear Readers.
Now I have another problem, in that OneDrive has suddenly stopped signing me in and, after a bit of research on the old internet, I eventually discovered that, over the last couple of days, a lot of other people have been having the same problem. Come on, Microsoft. It might be Friday (still) in Seattle, but do sort it out. I have to work weekends. A few weeks ago, I copied a whole load of family photos on to OneDrive (about 10gb) and OneDrive is still uploading it. What I didn’t realise (until my wonderful colleague, Masud, explained it to me) was that cloud storage applications (like OneDrive and Dropbox) make two copies of each file, one on your hard drive (which is saved very quickly) and the other on the internet – in the cloud – which takes very much longer, several weeks in my case, because we have such a poor, rural, connection. One bonus of not having OneDrive uploading in the background is that my laptop has suddenly speeded up, but I still won’t be able to see all my photos on my iPad.