Saturday, 10 November 2012

Gareth P. Jones - Constable & Toop - Book Review

This is the fourth book that I've read by Gareth P. Jones, but yet again, he has produced something different. He appears to have the great ability to experiment with different genres and develop the style of writing to fit the concept of the storyline, and that is what I particularly love about this author. Each book is written with outstanding imaginative qualities - great plot driven stories and a host of interesting characters that you will love. The big question is . . . . . . what can we expect from this book?

Constable & Toop is the story of Sam Toop, who lives in a funeral parlour and has the ability to see and hear every ghost in London, but trouble is afoot on the ‘other side’ when a ghost clerk called Lapsewood discovers a horrible disease mysteriously imprisoning ghosts inside empty houses.

In a nutshell, this is a ghost story set in Victorian London (1884) - one of my all time favourite settings. Constable & Toop is the name of the funeral parlour and features as one element of this unusual story. The first sentence in the book sets the tone very well . . . .  In her last few moments of life, as the blood gushed from the knife in her neck, Emily Wilkins found her thoughts drifting to her mother's death.  After such an appetiser you will definitely want to find out more.

The book follows two sets of interlocking adventures; Sam in the here and now world and Lapsewood on the "other side". Both will have you captivated as both worlds collide and produce one brilliant story. Each world features poignant moments involving death as Sam encounters ghosts through his ability to see and speak to themHowever, there are also many moments that will leave you chuckling as some of the characters will really make you laugh. Lapsewood's Sidekick, The Marquis, was my favourite character in the book as he was absolutely brilliantly. In fact he should really should have his own book.  

Mr Jones does not patronise his readers; they have to cope with some really harrowing and gruesome moments, which makes him one of the best writers in my opinion. This is a rapid ghost adventure peppered with many interesting events that will have you wanting more. The attention to detail makes this story stand out from amongst the book crowd. 

This is a great book that will set your imagination on fire. It is one that you will definitely remember for time.

Published by Hot Key Books - 4 October 2012 

Friday, 9 November 2012

RHCBA blog tour: Sophie McKenzie

It's really brilliant to see The Medusa Project; Hit Squad has been shortlisted in the Older Readers category  for the Red House Children's Book Award 2013. I have enjoyed all of the books within this fantastic series so it's great to see it nominated here.  The Red House Children's Book Award is the only national children’s award that is voted entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House. For more details click here:

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books warmly welcomes Sophie McKenzie to the blog. Here is her post.

Sophie McKenzie on The inspiration behind Hit Squad - and The Medusa Project series

When I was planning The Medusa Project series, I had three aims in mind. Firstly, I wanted to write about teenagers in our own, contemporary world developing a variety of abilities, starting with mind-reading, telekinesis, predicting the future and being able to protect yourself from physical harm. I knew that the big challenge would be to make this feel convincing to the reader - to make something extraordinary feel like it had really happened to four quite ordinary teenagers. To that end I was determined that all the main characters should respond differently to their power and that the type of ability each person developed should grown out of their character and personality.

Secondly, I wanted to write a series of books where all four main characters appear in every book, but where a different person narrates each novel in turn.  And thirdly, and most importantly, I wanted to create characters that readers would care about and stories that would make them eager to turn every page.

The Set-Up, the first book in the series, follows Nico’s attempts to control and use his emerging telekinesis – and the attempts made by others to control and use him. By the end of the story Nico and the other three main characters have been brought together (reluctantly) to form crime-fighting force, the Medusa Project, using their psychic powers and run by a government agent. At this point the four are far from friends, though Nico clearly likes Ketty very much.

The next book in the series, The Hostage, is narrated by Ketty herself. Now we finally find out exactly what Ketty thinks of Nico, as she struggles both with her ability to see into the future, horrified at the prospect of her brother getting mixed up with master-criminal Damian Foster. Ed, the mind-reader of the group, actively resents his psychic power. He tells the story of The Rescue, in which the main characters are sent to a boot camp in Spain to learn some discipline. Back in the UK for Hunted, Dylan takes up the tale. This was my favourite book to write of the six in the series, mostly because of the main character herself. Dylan is prickly and rude, yet extremely vulnerable under the surface. 

I enjoyed writing these first four books so much that I couldn’t stop! After I finished Hunted, I decided to write two more novels. In Double Cross the story is told by Nico but in Hit Squad, all four main characters take a turn at the narration. For these two new books I wanted to introduce a couple of fresh psychic abilities so, during the planning stages I asked the young people at my author talks which additional powers they would like to see. I picked the most popular - shape shifting and flying - and gave these to new characters Amy and Cal.

With Hit Squad I knew that I was writing the last of the series – at least for the time being – and was determined to make the story as dramatic as I could. I’d wanted for ages to write about the threat posed by unscrupulous scientists trying to mimic the effects of the Medusa gene in drug form and this plot line gives the main characters lots of risks to take and plenty of danger to overcome.

book cover of 

Hit Squad 

 (Medusa Project, book 6)


Sophie McKenzie
Thanks for reading - feel free to leave any comments. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Four Great Picture Books To Read and Enjoy!

book cover of 

The Tobermory Cat 


Debi Gliori
Debi Gilori - The Tobermory Cat - Published By Birlinn Ltd (12 Oct 2012)
Once upon a time, in Tobermory on the beautiful isle of Mull, there lived a cat. Now, all around Mull were cats - some were wonderfully soft and woolly, some were great singers, others were experts in fishing and some were superbly sulky. Tourists flocked to see them and hear them, but in Tobermory the cats were just cats. One cat decided, though, he was going to be special to help the people of Tobermory but he found it was harder than he thought. That was until he got some very good advice from some special friends.
book cover of 

Tips for Tiny Tyrants 

 (Alienography, book 2)


Chris Riddell
Chris Riddell - Alienography 2: Tips for Tiny Tyrants - Published By Macmillan Children's Books (13 Sep 2012)
Join Chris Riddell and Colin the alien as they explain their tips for intergalactic domination. Learn how to select a simpering sidekick, how to choose an evil outfit (a good vest is a must!) and how to buy the best battlecruiser . . . you'll be a butt-kicking baddy before you can blink! Magnificently illustrated and hugely funny, with novelty elements including a mini comic, a fold-out cross-section of the 'Centennial Turkey' spaceship, and a 'Top Chumps' card game.

book cover of 

This Is Not My Hat 

 (I Want My Hat Back, book 0)


Jon Klassen
Jon Klassen - This Is Not My Hat - Published By Walker (9 Oct 2012)
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.
Take a look at the YouTube Book Trailer.

William Joyce - The Man In The Moon - Published By Atheneum Books for Young Readers (13 Sep 2012)
Of course you know the Guardians of Childhood. You've known them since before you can remember: Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny and the others. But ...where did they come from? How did they became beloved, and worthy of holidays? Embark on the first of seven very different journeys, starting with the Man in the Moon's, the very first of the Guardians. Join William Joyce on his latest adventure-to the Moon and discover the legends of The Guardian of Childhood.
Check out the website:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Mr Ripley's Book Preview: Lord R. Benson - iPlot


When an older married couple inadvertently claim the iPad of a stranger at airport security, its shadowy contents thrusts them into a dizzying world of political corruption, suicide and the attempted assassination of the Australian Prime Minister.

For Londoners Derek and Beth Rosengold, an escape to the beauty of Australia to visit their extended family was to be a well- deserved break. But while passing through security at London Heathrow Airport, their iPad is confused with that of a stranger, altering the course of their trip in an unimaginable way. When they realise they have the wrong iPad, Derek spends the flight trying to access it, discovering that the cryptic device reveals a sinister plot to kill the Australian Prime Minister. Upon arriving in Sydney, their son, with his tech-savvy knowledge, tracks their lost iPad to the political capital of Canberra. After sending a slew of unanswered messages to the other iPad, in a bid to trace its owner, Derek and Beth change their travel plans and embark on a dangerous and intriguing journey that takes them to Canberra.

Meanwhile, Coco Martinez also discovers the device she has is not hers and fears that the compromising information on it could fall into the wrong hands. To her surprise however, she is reunited with her iPad when Derek and Beth arrive. Shortly after the exchange the Rosengold’s discover that the Aussie PM has mysteriously been taken ill, and begin to fear that their efforts have come too late. Unable to trust anyone, they soon find themselves trapped in a landscape of lethal political corruption far removed from their everyday lives.
iPlot is the debut novel by the author Lord R. Benson, an electrifying depiction of two average people thrown headlong into a murder plot exacted on Australia’s first female leader, set largely around the nation’s foremost city of Canberra.

iPlot begins with the pair’s guarded intrigue and quickly displaces them into a well realised and tension-wrought world of murderous political backstabbing, all punctuated by Benson’s creative use of technology and science. Its political backdrop reflects current real-world tensions and disillusionment toward the maligned current Prime Minister, demonstrating an eerily plausible near future. These poignancies run deeper still, as iPlot raises the question of modern society’s dependence on social networking and our complacency with information flow, ultimately leaving us vulnerable.

About the author: Lord R. Benson was a war baby born to parents from Vienna and Warsaw, and since 1981 has been the MD of Eureka Entertainment, a movie distributing company that releases classic films. His most notable achievement with Eureka came in 2004 with ‘The Masters of Cinema Series’, a curated DVD collection of movie greats including Shoah (Lanzmann, 1985), Onibaba (Shindo, 1964), Sunrise (Murnau, 1927), plus many more. This is his first novel.

iPlot by Lord R. Benson (published by Matador 2012) is available in Hardback (RRP £12.99) paperback (RRP £8.99) and ebook (RRP £3.99) online at retailers including and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Book Cover Wars is back again for the fourth year and is looking for another worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another exciting year or are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site, then this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (for the next 4 weeks) I am going to select four book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2012/13'.

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have an amazing collectable book which is a signed, lined and dated hardback copy of the new Joseph Delaney (Book Eleven) Spook's: Slither's Tale. This is a great read and a fantastic book for you to win.

If you are interested then all you need to do is:

  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top of the page)
  • Leave a comment through this post
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open Worldwide.
So here are the four book covers to vote for this week:

Book One - Andrew Smith - Passenger - Published by Feiwel & Friends - October 2, 2012 Cover By Gary Spector/Rich Deas


Book Two - Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - Published by Harper Collins -  March 28, 2012 Cover By Bose. Collins. London


Book Three - Roy Gill - The Daemon Parallel  - Published By Kelpies - April 1, 2012  Cover By  Paul Alexander Mudie

The Daemon Parallel - © Paul Mudie

Book Four - Che Golden - The Unicorn Hunter (The Feral Child) - Published By Quercus - January 31, 2013 - Cover  By James Fraser

book cover of 

The Unicorn Hunter 

 (Feral Child, book 2)


Che Golden
Happy voting and let the best "Book Cover" Win.  Don't forget to leave a comment to win the signed, lined and dated Joseph Delaney book. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Book Review: Daniela Sacerdoti - Really Weird - Published By Floris Books (Kelpies)

book cover of 

Really Weird Removals.Com 


Daniela Sacerdoti
Whatever your supernatural dilemma, call the Really Weird Removals company!

If you don't live in Scotland or anywhere near then there is a good chance that you may not have found or discovered this book yet. However, never fear, as I'm going to point you in the right direction once I've told you how good it is! This novel is a product of the annual Kelpies Prize and was shortlisted back in 2011. Some time on, it's now finally being published for all of us good beasties to read.

This is a great family read, both for the grown ups who want to be transported back to their childhood, or for the child having it read aloud on a dark winter's evening. It could even work as a book to share with a class - many children could be engaged and involved in this story.

The book is narrated by a brother and sister (Luca and Valtentina) who really do present themselves as real children rather than characters. When Uncle Alistair turns up out of the blue, the children soon find themselves on an adventure of a life time. Uncle Alistair has a strange line of business (pest control) but he doesn't really get rid of rats or other pests. Instead, the 'Really Weird Removals Company' catches supernatural creatures, and features a fantastic array of memorable creatures such as the Zeuglodon, stone fairies, Selkies and a singing troll! It's a full scale assault of the paranormal in a world full of danger and secrets.

The story is told amazing well - it will have your imagination stretched to the very fullest. Each chapter of the book has an entry from the Paranormal Database which leads very skillfully into the next section. The story is both funny and poignant. It is brimming with the full flavour of a  Scottish adventure. It has a host of likeable characters, all of whom are set in a fantastical back drop of Eilean, an Island off the West Coast of Scotland.

My favourite part of the story was when the children were attacked by malicious kelpies and hungry vampires. This made for great reading especially under-the-blankets reading when it's well past bedtime!

Family life and folklore all collide into one memorable story. I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed both aspects very much. The fast paced story and character driven plot will have you wanting much much more.  

Published by Floris Books of Edinburgh. Check out the brilliant book trailer.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mr Ripley's: Horror Book Reads - For A Great Halloween

Robert Westall - The Scarecrows - Published by Bodley Head Children's - March , 1981
There were three people, standing in the darkest place, watching him.
Simon is outraged that his Mum plans to remarry. He can't bear her new fiancé or the way his mother and sister seem to have forgotten his late father. Overwhelmed by hatred and anger he seeks solace in a nearby abandoned water mill. But another, powerful hatred lingers within its walls. And it is about to be unleashed...

Westall's immense talent is evident from the opening line - Simon's anger and unhappiness are tangible, and the Scarecrows' ill-intentions terrifying.

Clive Barker - The Thief Of Always - Published by HarperCollins 5,Nov 1992
Mr Hood’s Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childish whim may be satisfied.
There is a price to be paid, of course, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by Mr Hood’s wonders, does not stop to discover the consequences. It is only when the House shows its darker face – when Harvey discovers the pitiful creatures that dwell in its shadow – that he comes to doubt Mr Hood’s philanthropy.
The house and its mysterious architect are not about to release their captive without a battle, however. Mr Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey’s soul burns brighter than any soul he has encountered for a thousand years…
“A dashingly produced fantasy with powerful drawings by the author”

R.l. Stine - The Sitter - Published by Ballantine Books - 31 July, 2003
Ellie Saks is dying to escape the city. She’s sick of dead-end jobs, her mother’s disapproval, her loser ex-boyfriend, Clay, who won’t take a hint, and the memories of a terrible incident that occurred years ago. When her best friend suggests a summer in the Hamptons, full of glitzy parties, cool cocktails, and hot dates, Ellie’s on the first Jitney out. To fund all this glamour, Ellie takes a job as a nanny.
From the outside, the family’s beachfront home is perfect. But then Ellie meets four-year-old Brandon, who hasn’t spoken for months. The boy’s icy stare and demonic laughter make clear to Ellie that he is troubled, haunted by something too horrible for words. She begins to receive threatening messages and disturbing gifts. But it’s not until she barely escapes a harrowing experience that she realizes her life may depend on figuring out who’s behind it: Clay? Brandon? And why? And every once in a while, in a crowd, she sees a face she hasn’t seen in seven years—the face of a boy who died long ago. It would seem that Ellie’s summer of fun has turned into a summer of horror—one she’ll never forget . . . if she survives it at all.

book cover of 

Lord Loss 

 (Demonata, book 1)


Darren Shan

Darren Shan - Lord Loss (Book one of the Demonata) - Published by HarperCollins - 6 June , 2005
“The door feels red hot, as though a fire is burning behind it. I press an ear to the wood – but there's no crackle. No smoke. Just deep, heavy breathing… and a curious dripping sound. My hand's on the door knob. Inside the room, somebody giggles – low, throaty, sadistic. There's a ripping sound, followed by snaps and crunches.
My hand turns. The door opens. Hell is revealed.”
When Grubbs Grady first encounters Lord Loss and his evil minions, he learns three things:

Charlie Higson - The Enemy - Published by Puffin 3 Sep , 2009
They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?


Marcus Sedgwick - White Crow - Published by Orion Children's 7 April, 2011
It's summer. Rebecca is an unwilling visitor to Winterfold - taken from the buzz of London and her friends and what she thinks is the start of a promising romance. Ferelith already lives in Winterfold - it's a place that doesn't like to let you go, and she knows it inside out - the beach, the crumbling cliff paths, the village streets, the woods, the deserted churches and ruined graveyards, year by year being swallowed by the sea. Against her better judgement, Rebecca and Ferelith become friends, and during that long, hot, claustrophobic summer they discover more about each other and about Winterfold than either of them really want to, uncovering frightening secrets that would be best left long forgotten. Interwoven with Rebecca and Ferelith's stories is that of the seventeenth century Rector and Dr Barrieux, master of Winterfold Hall, whose bizarre and bloody experiments into the after-life might make angels weep, and the devil crow.

book cover of 

Mister Creecher 


Chris Priestley
Chris Priestley - Mister Creecher - Published by Bloomsbury - 2 Oct, 2011
Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mister Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target . . . Victor Frankenstein.

Darren Shan - Zom-B - Published By Simon & Schuster - 27 Sep 2012
Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, "It's a big, sprawling, vicious tale...a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!"

Sunday, 21 October 2012

S.A. Bodeen - The Raft - Book Review

book cover of 

The Raft 


S A Bodeen

After reading S.A. Bodeen's initial two books (The Compound and The Gardner), both of which I enjoyed immensely, I felt that it was time to read her third. As a result, I ordered this on the strength of thinking that this book would probably end up going in the same direction as the other books. Therefore I  never looked at the synopsis, but I did get an idea from the book cover and the title of what I may encounter. However it soon arrived and I got quickly around to reading it but with quite some surprise!

This is the synopsis that I never read.

Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.

I can definitely state that if I had read the synopsis first then I would never have entertained reading this book. After all, where are the guns, blood, action and the secret underground base full of spies? I hear you asking me as to whether I have taken leave of my senses but . . . . I really did enjoy it.  I know that as a result of this admission, I may find that a few of my followers may disappear. However don't leave ME . . .  I probably need you more than ever now!

The first thing that I really noticed in this story was the lack of characters. The main character is Robie and the story is told from her point of view. I'm sure that this would be particularly engaging and meaningful from a female teenage reader's perspective, as I feel they'll be able to perhaps relate to the character on so many more levels than I did.

I did follow the journey, from the beginning to the end, knowing that it was going to be predictable. However that's the only negative  thing that I can say about this book. This was a very gripping read which was told in a very fast and engaging way. It managed to pull off the realism of the situation; being able to portray the right mind set of a person who unfortunately found themselves in such circumstances. It felt like the story was written by a survivor.

The book was eaten up in no time at all - about three hours in total to travel through the 220 pages or so.  

Whilst this is a great little read, I'm still looking forward to more books along the lines and style of The Gardener!

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; 1 edition (21 Aug 2012) - Age: 12+

Friday, 19 October 2012

UNDER MY HAT edited by Jonathan Strahen - (Tips for writing short stories post) From Hot Key Books.

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
Publishing date: 4 October 2012 - Hot Key Books - Something for Halloween perhaps?

25% Spider Silk, 25% Eye of Newt, 25% SnakeVenom,25% BlackMoss

Eighteen spellbinding tales from top fantasy authors, brewed together for the witching hour
A stellar cast of acclaimed fantasy writers weave spellbinding tales that bring the world of witches to life. Boasting over 70 awards between them, including a Newbery Medal, five Hugo Awards and a Carnegie Medal, the authors delve into the realms of magic to explore all things witchy...
From familiars that talk, to covens that offer dark secrets to explore, these are tales to tickle the hair on the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine.

Be truly spooked by these stunning stories by Diana Peterfreund, Frances Hardinge, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Patricia A. McKillip, Tim Pratt, M. Rickert, Isobelle Carmody, Jane Yolen, Jim Butcher, Peter S. Beagle and Margo Lanagan.

By Jonathan Strahen

Five Writing Tips, or How to Write a Great Short Story by Someone Who Never Has.

So you want to write a short story? A great one? When I was first asked to provide a list of tips on how to write a terrific short story I drew a blank. I’ve not written a short story since high school, so I’m no expert. I’ve not even thought about writing a short story. But then I realised that, like you, I read. I read a lot. And what I mostly read is short fiction. So, it’s possible I might have picked up an idea or two.

  • Write
This might seem obvious, but no one has ever finished a short story without sitting down and actually writing.  I have a folder full of stops and starts on a handful of short stories and novels, but none of them are finished. So, do that. Write. Write every day and finish what you start. 

  • Re-write
I know you think you’re finished when you write “The End” at the end of your newly minted short story. You probably are. But it’s possible, just possible, that there’s still a little bit of work left to do. Put it in a drawer for a week, and come back to it fresh. Suddenly you’ll see, if you’re at all like me when I write anything, all sorts of problems with it. You might also let a trusted reader see it. Get their feedback, try to listen to it with an open mind, and be willing to re-write.

  • Read
The only way to learn how to write a great short story is to read great short stories. Read them a lot and think about them. Try to work out how they work and why. Pick a writer whose work you love and see how their stories work. If you love witch stories, try the work of Roald Dahl or Diana Wynne Jones, and see if you can unpick their stories. They knew what they were doing.  

  • Keep it short
We are talking about writing short stories after all, so keep it short. You probably only want a single plot line (the story) and a single point of view character (the person whose eyes we’re seeing the story though). Longer stories, novellas and short novels, can sometimes have subplots and more than one point of view character, but basically you only need one.

  • Make your story work
I don’t mean make it great. Of course you’re going to do that. What I mean is make your words count. Everything you write in a short story should do more than one thing. Setting builds character, voice advances plot, and so on. Look very carefully at each scene in your story. You won’t have many of them – this is short after all – so make sure each scene does more than one thing. Each scene should build setting, develop character and move the story forward.  Avoid scenes that only do one thing. You want to avoid your story being dull (which it was never going to be, but you know what I mean) and making sure your scenes are doing the heavy lifting helps.

If you’ve already written a great short story you probably know all of this stuff, and possibly far more. If you’re just starting out, though, it might help. And if you are starting out keep going. You’ll probably write some stinkers. You’ll possibly write some stories that are almost exactly like stories written by people whose work you love. That’s fine. That’s what you should be doing. You have to write through that so you can get to the stories that only you can tell, the ones that are definitely going to be great. And when you do, send them to me. I love great short stories.  – Jonathan Strahan

Thanks for Hot Key books for sending this over.