Review: Behind the Wattles




Recommended for: Anyone – this book will cater for most reading styles
Read from November 09 to 12, 2014 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Synopsis: Fifty-six flash fiction and twenty-one microfiction stories feature in this anthology of cunningly clever, award-winning stories from the Stringybark Flash and Microfiction Awards. From murder mysteries to goldfish and World War to pavlova, well-known and emerging short story writers demonstrate their skill in weaving compelling tales in fewer than one thousand words.

Bookish Things: 153 pages. The cover is very Australian (with that golden wattle) and does suit the winning entry’s title.

Where to buy: Direct from Stringybark publishing in paperback for $14.95 or electronically from Smashwords for $3.99

My Review:

Bookshelves: aussie-authors, spring-challenge-2014, dead-tree-books, november-challenge, 4-star-review, aww2014, indie-author, made-me-think

Behind the wattles is a collection of mostly Australian writer’s flash and micro fiction. Each of the entries in the book either placed or was highly commended in Stringybark Publishing’s flash and micro fiction competitions in 2012.

Every entry is either under 1000 words (flash fiction) or under 100 words (micro fiction). It is a true gift, to be able to sucker punch your reader in the guts in less words than most of us would put in an email to someone.

The absolute highlight for me in this book was Getting by by Maggie Veness. The 869 words of this story were so emotionally charged they left me feeling bereft and broken upon finishing. Yet, it was a strangely comforting story too, one of love and surviving and doing anything for those you cherish.

Another great story, this time a micro fiction, was Slim Hope by Michael B Fletcher. Those 50 words tell of a great adventure. Yet, of the 12 people I showed this to, only four of us ‘got it’. It was an interesting result. For what I thought of instantly, others hadn’t the foggiest idea about. Isn’t imagination and creativity great!?

Interestingly, of the five stories I flagged as my favourites, only one of them actually placed in the competition and that one entry was not my favourite favourite – if you get what I mean. I found this interesting as I wondered how the judging occurred.

I really liked getting a little information about the authors after each on their stories. It made me feel as if I somehow understood their stories better for that.

Now, this 153 page book took me four days to read and it shouldn’t have. I mused over this last night with my husband and I think it may have been because of the font used in the printing. The pages seemed heavier and more densely filled than even the 400+ page book I read over the weekend.

I can’t say that feeling has happened to me before, but I think next time I might get a kindle copy so I can change spacing and fonts.

All up, some great stories by a wide variety of authors. Stringybark Publishing and David Vernon, as well as all the authors should be supremely proud of this little collection.

You can buy this book from Stringybark directly or you can also find it on Smashwords. I fear that by not being available on Amazon, these books by Stringybark might be missing a larger readership. So guys, if you want to give this one a try, please head over to Smashwords and pick up an electronic copy today! You won’t regret it.

8 thoughts on “Review: Behind the Wattles

  1. I’m about 50% of the way through this.

    Sizing and font are consistent in the Kindle version….but I do wish you’d added a TOC and a new ‘page’ for every story. I understand it was impractical for the paperback, but it’s a doddle for the Kindle.

    • They were also consistent in the paperback, just felt ‘dense’. How are you finding your reading pace?

    • There is a TOC in the ePub version. I’ll have to go and check on the MOBI one. The style guide recommends for e-readers that you DO NOT add page breaks and they change every time someone uses different fonts or font sizes on their Kindle. There are line breaks instead. Maybe what you are after are larger line breaks. Formatting for the myriad of e-readers does take a lot of time and is nearly impossible to get right on every one. You can seen this even from the very large publishers. We tend to spend more time on getting the ePub version right, as MOBI usually follows. Anyway, always happy to hear feedback. Thank you!

      • Strange formatting advice! I’ve tested my books on the virtual Kindle Amazon supply for the PC, and the page breaks work out fine across font sizes and different devices.

  2. Hi,

    You have made a most interesting point about the book layout. I shall ponder this further. It’s laid out in 12pt Times New Roman and so the font size isn’t an issue regarding readability — we’re always keen to make our books easy to read. In our more recent books every new story starts on a new page, hence there is a lot more white space than in this book. The old dilemma of cost came into the Wattles design simply because with 77 short stories being printed, to give each story a new page (and particularly the 100 word ones) would make the book far too thick and the cost of postage would go from $2.10 to $3.50, which we know is a great barrier to customer purchasing decisions. It may not seem much but it is. Reading on an e-reader of course takes away all the issues about postage. I’d love to hear what other people think about the internal design.

    Regarding judging and choice of winners I think some of the great fun of reading these anthologies comes from wondering why a story was given a particular rating by the judges. I do think by Stringybark using four judges for most of our competitions, a lot of single-judge subjectivity is reduced. For those who are interested, we publish all the judging criteria on our website.

    Best wishes,
    David Vernon

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for stopping by. I wasn’t sure if it was the layout or the font size or what, but it was a marked difference in reading speed. One of my friends (Tony Talbot) has talked about purchasing the electronic version to compare with readability, it should be interesting to hear his thoughts when he gets to reading it. I’ve also loaned the book to a friend, when I mentioned my lower than average speed at reading it, he said he’d let me know how he finds it. 🙂

      Fiction is an amazing thing – it can be so personal or completely foreign to the reader. I love that about it. It’s just one of those things with judging something as complex and subjective as writing fiction. Behind the wattles (the flash fiction entry) was one of my favourites. Considering it won your competition, I would have been surprised if it didn’t make my top 5. Thanks again for the book David.

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