Thursday, 26 April 2012

How I Devised a Short Story

For those of you who love Science Fiction and Fantasy I'd like to tell you about Happiness Guaranteed and how I devised this short story.

I woke one morning, determined to write something. While still in bed, stalling to get up, contemplating how one must  never open a story with the main character waking up, or with the weather, I did both.

First line: Bianca’s bed swayed in gentle rhythm with her floating condominium.

and, I let the sun stream in. Why is it we reinforce the don'ts we hear about rather than the do's?

'Write what you know' is a 'do' so I focused on that. The Formula 1 GP was an obsession of mine at the time. I knew about F1. This, coupled with a paragraph I'd picked up in a science article about an 'ancestral memory gene' excited my imagination.

Since my previous story had a young man as its main character, I wanted to write this story from a woman's pov, and I wanted her to have an idealic life. I can't remember, but someone's birthday must have been on my mind because I needed to give my heroine a birthday present and, to me, 'happiness' seemed like the best one at the time.  Of course, I had to figure out a conflict, give her a problem because 'problem' is the backbone of all stories, and the need to overcome that problem would provide her with a realistic goal.

This character directed the a point. She was a beautiful brunette and her husband was a handsome blond.  However, she was already content in her ideal world, so really didn't need 'happiness' for a gift. How could I switch things around to give the story some oomph?

Ah, simple!
Swap their appearances.

She became the blonde, Bianca, and he became Derek with the swarthy good looks. And, if Bianca was to receive the gift of happiness then she'd need to lack contentment.

Blonde v. Brunette, Innocence v. Experience.  Naiveté v. Worldliness. Happiness v. Discontentment. This  led me to think of other opposites -- Guilt and Suspicion v. Trust, Honesty V. Deceit. Old Ways v. New, Us and Them, Perfection v. Imperfection.

Bianca couldn't be perfect in her ideal world.  She needed a flaw.  In fact she'd need a life threatening flaw.

Then Bianca and Derek's sweet romance became quite scary and much more exciting to write. :)

In one way or another, I used all of those opposites as well as my passion for speed and F1 Ferraris. I reseached that memory gene and settled on a futuristic setting, mainly because I belonged to a science fiction critique group.

In that group, a critiquer told me my story broke all the rules of writing, but it had something he couldn't put his finger on and suggested I send it to a new print magazine he'd just come across, in Australia,
the  Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.  So I did.  I called it Bianca's Birthday Present.

My manuscript went through three stages of assessment and I was notified each time I reached the next level. Naturally I was thrilled when ASIM accepted  Bianca's Birthday Present, for their 5th issue.  I expected to be directed to fix those 'broken rules', but the editor asked me to change one phrase, only. 

Years later, when the magazine allowed me my rights back, I submitted the story to MuseItUp as Happiness Guaranteed. It was accepted on the proviso I should work with my editors Anne Duguid and Nancy Bell , to 'flesh it out'. This I did and had a lot of fun revising my much loved story. It has increased by 1,000 words and now has a more obviously ambiguous ending.  :)

I wish my grandfathers were here to read it.

cover designer: Tiger Matthews

Happiness Guaranteed  (5,325 words)  is available from the MuseItUp Bookstore ;  Amazon Kindle

 My website My Imagination - Here you can read the book blurb and an excerpt.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Proudly presenting Adriana Ryan

     Vivacious friend and fellow Muse Author, Adriana writes spunky, supernatural women’s fiction in beautiful Charleston, SC. She is currently at work on an urban fantasy series. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards. Her Paranormal Romance, Her Heart's Desire, was released on March 23rd.

      We'd all like to learn more about your writing life, Adriana. Tell us...

     Did something happen or someone say something to open your eyes to the fact that   you wanted to write fiction?

I can’t remember any single moment that precipitated my wanting to write. I do remember scribbling on the walls and cabinets in my house, and writing on my clothes until my parents introduced me to the concept of writing in a notebook! So as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. J

What keeps you motivated as a writer?

Ooh, good question! Motivations are so hard to dissect, unless you’re doing so for a book. J So many little things motivate me, but if I had to pick one big one, I’d say the need to unburden my mind. If I don’t write, I have all these scenes and bits of dialog and ideas for things running through my head all day. It’s enough to drive anyone batty!

     What is it about writing you truly like?

The idea that I can create entire existences and universes out of thin air. It’s a heady feeling. J

      Do you love a specific writing area or do you have several places you can write?

I have to sit at a table, because I write best when I’m upright. That’s not to say I haven’t written in bed before. ;) I usually write at my desk in my office.

     What three words best describe the real Adriana as you see her?

Happy, curious, and odd (or as Shakespeare called it, ‘passing strange.’ ;))

What three words  best describe your main character, Millie.

Vulnerable, strong, and intelligent.  
            How does your book differ from others in the same genre?

     It’s a novella, so apart from the fact that it’s a lot shorter than other works in the field, I’d say it’s different because it’s fresh and innocent. An early review calls it ‘a Cinderella story for adults.’ I really love that, because it’s exactly what it is: a fairy story, something happy, and optimistic, and ultimately victorious.

     Where did the idea of using a pendant rather than another key object come from?

You have the most awesome questions, Wendy! J It was just an image I had. I’m a total nut for pendants (hello, addiction!), and I had this vision of one that had magic in it. What would it do? Who would wear it? And thus, Her Heart’s Desire was born. J

Adriana, would you treat us to a short excerpt of this fascinating story that hasn’t appeared anywhere else, please?  

Millie looked up when she felt something being slipped around her neck.


“This is for you.” The woman gestured at Millie’s chest.

She looked down and saw a glass pendant shaped like a small bottle hanging on a black leather cord. The pendant was no bigger than an inch and intricately carved.

“It’s beautiful,” Millie said, fingering it. “But I don’t have any money…I left my purse back at the office—”

The woman held up a wrinkled old hand as the rain pelted down on them. “I do not want your money. This is for your pained heart.”

Before Millie could protest, the woman placed her palm over the pendant. She closed her eyes and half-sang, half-chanted, “Mashaha la. Mashaha la.”

Millie watched in disbelief as a purple glow lit up the crevices of the woman’s hand, and light spilled from the spaces between her fingers. She could feel the pendant getting warm, warmer, and almost hot. In a sudden mini-implosion, the light and the heat receded.

Millie squinted at the homeless woman in the rain, unable to speak. What just happened?

“This is the Night’s Hope necklace. By day you will be Millie, by night you will be transformed into your heart’s desire.” She flashed a crooked little smile at Millie. “Enjoy.”

Millie gazed down at the necklace, trying to remember if she had told the old woman her name. “This is amazing,” she said, stroking the pendant. “How did you make it light up?”

There was silence, and she looked up to see that the seat next to her was empty. Her only company was the thundering rain and gusting wind. #

Thank you for visiting here today Adriana and CONGRATULATIONS  on the recent release of you book on March 23rd. We wish you mega sales!

Thank you so much for having me participate, Wendy! :) This was a really fun interview to do. :)

Visit Adriana on her web and at the bookstore

Adriana's Website