A Social Media Christmas – 100 Word Flash Fiction

Image courtesy of Dale Rogerson

 

It’s picture-perfect. Instagram ready.

The table set for twelve. Silver napkins. Crackers glittering gold.  Fairy lights twinkle from the tree in the corner.

I bubble Processco into glasses before straightening the place cards, each name written in cursive script.

With my phone I snap a selfie, chin tilted, eyes wide, mouth pouting. Santa hat balanced cutely upon my glossy hair.

Can’t wait for you guys to arrive!!! #YouKnowWhoYouAre

Immediately the ‘likes’ start rolling in but today I don’t care.

There’s nobody coming.

Again.

I weep as I pack everything away.

850k followers and I’m alone.

Always alone.

Merry Christmas.

 

This time of year can bring immense joy but it can also be the cause of unimaginable sadness. Let’s all look out for each other. Check on your friends, your neighbours, your family. Pick up the phone instead of commenting on a post. Social media can be distorted. Misleading. Above everything, Christmas should be a time for caring. Kindness is contagious, be a carrier.

 

‘A Social Media Christmas’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly challenge to write a 100-word piece of flash fiction, inspired by a photo prompt. Hosted by the fabulous Rochell Wisoff-Fields, you can read the other entries and/or join in yourself here.

 

Meeting via Twitter – #Writers

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It was strange to travel from Northampton to London yesterday, to have lunch with a bunch of people I’d never met before.

It wasn’t until I walked into the restaurant hoping I ‘d recognise someone, anyone from their Twitter photo, panic flooded through me. This could be a disaster. The temptation to run out the door and head to Oxford Street to do a bit of shopping instead was immense.

Instead I shrugged my coat off, summoned a smile, and wondered whether it was too early to start drinking.

Within seconds any tension I’d felt dissipated. Everyone was far lovelier than I’d hoped and understood, in a way my non-writer friends can’t, the joy of finishing a novel, the wrench of leaving characters behind, the fear of starting something new and the feeling of falling in love all over again when writing another book.

The hours flashed by without any awkward silences at all. I came away feeling super inspired and I can’t wait to do it again.

It was so lovely to meet you Karen Coles, Kerry Fisher, Lucille Grant, Jane Isaac, Tina Death, Ruby Speechley, and Jo Hogan.

And a big thanks to Debra Brown for arranging it all.

Curtis Brown Discovery Day

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Curtis Brown Literary Agency hosted a fabulous Discovery Day on Twitter last Friday. This was a great online event and they will be scheduling another one in the New Year so it’s well worth keeping an eye on @cbcreative to find out when.

In the morning there was an opportunity to pitch your book idea directly to the Curtis Brown team using the hashtag #PitchCB. If an agent liked the tweet that was an invitation to then submit directly to that agent.

In the afternoon there were opportunities to ask Antonia Honeywell (The Ship) and Kate Hamer (Girl in the Red Coat) about their writing process and get some writing tips. Some of the fabulous tips tweeted included: –

 

  • Make sure your first page asks a question which the reader wants answered. Every novel is a mystery story

 

  • Write your synopsis as though you’re recommending a book you’ve loved to a friend you think should read it – forget you wrote it

 

  • Scenes in novels rarely need to be longer than 1000-1500 words. If yours goes on pages & pages, do some cutting

 

  • To beat procrastination, glue self to desk with a promise you can stop after 20 mins. When the time is up, you won’t be able to

 

  • The stuff that you write that makes you go ‘uh oh, this is a bit unusual/strange/where did that come from?’ Go with that

 

  • Don’t be too SHOUTY. Less can be more. Lots of us write dramatic scenes in shouty ways – go back and calm them down in the edit

 

  • Don’t write to rules or what you think you *should* do, write what you want.

 

  • Keeping faith is important. Not always easy, but important

 

The last scheduled event was ‘ask the agent’ – some of the questions and answers were: –

 

I’m thrilled to have interest from several literary agents. How do I know which agent is right for me? Is there a key factor?



Check them out – twitter, online client lists, acknowledgements in books.

Meet up with them! It’s a long-term relationship & need to feel unambiguous trust, empathy, meeting-of-minds, inspiration…

 

If agents complement your MS, you’re targeting the right people, but you’ve yet to secure rep, what wld you look to resolve first?



Keep going – and make sure your pitch for the book is razor-sharp.

 

If an agent asks for the full ms, how long does it normally take to make a decision? Thank you

It really varies, but most agents aim for within a month. There are definitely busier periods though…

 

Does it help or hinder if an author has self-published before approaching an agent with a different novel

It does no harm (it used to be looked down on) and now can be very positive. However, publishers buy on the strength of book.

If you’ve proactively promoted it and used the process to develop your author ‘brand’ then it can definitely help

 

How does an author’s book become available to libraries?

The library has to buy them. Works well if borrowers ask for them!

 

 

 

To Tweet or not to Tweet (can you answer the question)?

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‘You should be on twitter, Mum, connect with other writers,’ said my son, nodding wisely.

‘I don’t have enough time as it is. I don’t think so.’

‘But it will only take 5 minutes, I’ll help you.’

‘Umm, ok.’ I agreed, glad of a chance to spend some time with my 16 year old technical whizz and learnt three things,

 

1) I only understand, on average, every fifth word my son says nowadays. I thought tweets were something birds did, and hashtags sound like they should be smoked.

2) I have reached an age where I am easily confused. I regret laughing at my Mum all those years ago trying to get to grips with setting the video to record. Technology is overwhelming.

3) Nothing takes 5 minutes.

 

It took 45 minutes to find a name. Seriously. Every and all variations of my first, second, maiden and married name needed to include a string of digits I would never remember. Fabricating Fiction was too many characters. Fabfiction was taken (although not being used – grrr). I eventually settled on @fab_fiction, even though I suspect it sounds a teensy bit pretentious.

So now what? Actually I’m not sure. Bored with the amount of time it took me to choose a name my son has wandered off leaving me alone with an empty feed and no idea how to find people to follow.

I think I’ll grab a can of Guiness out the fridge. Now that’s my kind of widget.

 

Is it worth it. Any advice gratefully received.