Monday, April 21, 2014

Why send your work to overseas lit mags?

I have an article up now on The Review Review - a fantastic resource of news, links and articles about literary magazines whose newsletter is really worth subscribing to. Becky asked me to write about setting up ShortStops and when i thought about how to make it appealing to non-UK writers and readers, I realised that the issue of submitting your work outside your own national borders was one that had played quite a major part in my own writing life. Here's a snippet:
When I was finally ready to send my short stories out, I thought first of all the American lit mags I'd been introduced to and loved. I was quite surprised to find (this was a while ago, remember) that many of them weren't set up for overseas submissions – there was much faffing around with postal subs and self-addressed envelopes/postal orders – and when I queried to ask if I might send stories by email, they seemed surprised to hear from a non-American. Surprised and yet delighted to help – some even changed their submissions guidelines to accommodate me and any other non-US-based writers.
Read the rest of the article here >> and check out ShortStops, of course!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The WoMentoring Project Launches!

I am so thrilled to be involved in Kerry Hudson's amazing initiative, The WoMentoring Project which launches today! Women writers offering free mentoring to other women writers - nothing brings me more joy than helping others with their writing in any way I can. What's it all about? Here's more...


The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.

The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project - from the project management to the website design to the PR support - is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project. 

Why do we need it?
© Sally Jane Thompson
Like many great ideas the WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers - largely writers, editors and agents - who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and all of our mentors are professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

© Sally Jane Thompson
In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn't possible so instead we've tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor's discretion. 

Find out more here:
and follow the project on twitter

Monday, April 07, 2014

And the winners are...

Yes, you are all very clever, I was in Reyjyavik, Iceland, - and it was COLD! So, picked by a random number generator, the winners of the 8 books and lit mags are:


Dear all, please email me your postal address, to taniah(at)gmail(dot)com and I will dispatch your goodies at random!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Guess Where I Was and Win Books & Lit Mags!

So, I had an idea to free up some of my bookshelf space while filling yours! I was on holiday last week and thought I'd run a little competition - guess where I was from the pictures below and win books! It seemed apt to give away a copy of my 1st collection, The White Road, and I thought I'd also send your way some of the contributors' copies of the wonderful anthologies, lit mags and books on creative writing that I've been honoured to appear in.

I will send all books except the heaviest one anywhere in the world - and will divide the books randomly up between all those with correct answers - and resort to hat-picking if there are more winners than books! Here's what you can win:

The books are: The White Road (by me, Salt Publishing), Writers & Artists Yearbook 2014 (very heavy so can only afford to post within UK), Short Circuit: A Guide To The Art of the Short Story (ed Vanessa Gebbie, Salt Publishing -1st edition), The Binnacle Ultra-short issue 2013, Exposure anthology (Cinnamon), The Lion and The Aardvark anthology of 21st century fables (Stone Skin Press), Winter 2012/2013 issue of The Stinging Fly, and the brand new issue #58 of Magma poetry journal. Loads of brilliant reading.

I was staying in the capital city of the country, so to be in the running for a free book, please leave a comment with the city and the country! Here are your picture clues, some of which are pictures from a day trip I did out of the city:

You have until Wed April 2nd to guess, leave a comment below. Come on, help me free shelf space...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dan Powell Tells Us About Writing & Place

I'm delighted to welcome Dan Powell to the blog today - he has just given birth to his first book, the short story collection Looking Out Of Broken Windows, published by Salt, who shortlisted the book for their Scott Prize - and you can win yourself a copy, more on that below. Congratulations, Dan. It is an enormously fine collection, for which I provided him with the following quote:

‘Short stories are portholes allowing us to peek – and, with great stories, step – into other worlds. Dan Powell’s broken windows are not themselves flawed or malfunctioning, rather doorways into the fraught and fractured lives of others. Powell’s mischievous imagination takes him wherever he pleases and where it lands he weaves story so tightly, so compellingly that you are held. Not constrained by the real, Powell uses surreality and magic – a wheeling-dealing cancer, unborn twins scanning their parents-to-be, a self-starting fire – to illuminate truths with poignancy and humour, paying subtle homage to the short story masters who inspired him, from Kafka to O’Connor and Carver.’

Dan is here today to give us a peek into his writing life by answering my writing&place questionnaire. First, here's a little about Dan:

Dan Powell is a prize winning author whose short fiction has appeared in the pages of Carve, Paraxis, Fleeting and The Best British Short Stories 2012. His debut collection of short fiction, Looking Out Of Broken Windows, was shortlisted for the Scott Prize in 2013 and is published by Salt. He procrastinates at and on Twitter as @danpowfiction.

Dan is giving away a signed copy of Looking Out of Broken Windows to one reader of the blog tour; he will post to anywhere in the world. To win just leave a comment on this post or any of the other LOoBW blog tour posts appearing across the internet during March 2014. The names of all commenters will be put in the hat for the draw which will take place on April 6th.

At the end of this blog post is a fabulous and unique video trailer of Dan reading an excerpt from one of his stories! Before we get to that, here's what Dan had to say on writing & place:

Tania: Where are you? 

Dan: I live in an old farmhouse in the midst of the Lincolnshire countryside. The nearest market town is Horncastle, the antiques capital of Lincolnshire. The stories in Jon McGregor's short fiction collection, This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, are all set in Lincolnshire, with one even set in Horncastle itself. I bought and read the collection just after we moved here. A great way to experience the stories, surrounded by the places that inspired them. Our village is really just a street and a small, disused church, surrounded by pastureland. It's a wonderfully quiet part of the world, perfect for writing.

I am very lucky to have a study in this new house, it’s only a box room, just big enough for a desk and a few book shelves, but it is wonderful to finally have a room in which I can shut myself away to write. It even has a window overlooking the surrounding fields and in the summer evenings I sit there watching the house martins that nest in the eaves darting back and forth outside.

There are loads of great countryside walks we can take just by stepping outside our front door, so when the weather’s good, we make the most of it and get out and about. We also have a massive garden here, which feels even bigger with the views of the surrounding fields. Great for the kids. Lots of space to play in. In the summer heritage aircraft fly overhead, and throughout the year we get the odd fighter jet from the RAF bases scattered around the county, all of which my boys love, obviously.

T: How long have you been there? 

D: We moved here last August, when we returned from spending seven years or so living in Germany. It was only on coming back that my wife and I realised quite how much we had missed being in the UK. Simple things like browsing English bookshops and being able to buy good old fashioned Fish and Chips still feel like a real treat. We had put off coming back for a year or two and now I wish we had come back sooner.

T: What do you write? 

D: Up until now I have mostly written short fiction. My stories tend to move between gritty realism and magical realism with most of my latest work landing somewhere in between, bridging the gap between these often opposing approaches to story telling. A fair few people have commented on how my writing seems to pull off what they thought of as two conflicting and incompatible styles of writing in the same piece. My debut collection, Looking Out of Broken Windows, is made up of the best of my last five years or so of short story writing and I am already knee deep into a follow-up collection, with about seven or eight stories done.

I am also writing a novel as part of my MA Creative Writing studies. The deadline is this coming September and I am currently on target to finish. Writing the novel has been a massive challenge and a very different writing experience to writing short stories. I have enjoyed the challenge of the novel but I my heart belongs to short fiction.

T: How do you think where you are affects what you write about and how you write? 

D: Places which resonate with me tend to end up in my writing but often long after I have left there. In 2008 and 2009 we spent some excellent holidays in Highcliffe, on the south coast of England. The coastline there is striking, half of it landscaped the other half scarred by cliff-slips and eroded shores. This setting features in a few of my stories; Third Party, Fire & Theft in the collection is set in part in the public car park outside The Cliffhanger cafe their, while Rip Rap, recently shortlisted for the Willesden Herald Short Story Prize, is set in a fictitious version of one of the holiday camps set along the eroding cliff faces that stretch of to the east. More recently we spent a few holidays visiting various parts of Denmark and it’s wide skies and lengthy coastlines struck a chord with me. The notes I made in our holidays there are just starting to find their way into becoming stories.

That said, moving to Lincolnshire has had a real impact on my writing though, and it is the first place I have lived in that I have consciously tried to write about. The landscape moves between the sweeping hills of the Wolds and the broad flat farmland of the south of the county. The last few months I have been working on completing a draft of my novel, the final third of which now features a section set in a Lincolnshire village not unlike the one I am living in. I feel like I am starting to really understand how setting can be an integral part of my fiction. It is starting to move more to the fore of what I write. Looking back at the stories in the collection I can see this process actually began a while back with stories like Third Party, Fire and Theft and Storm in a Teacup. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the local area and hope it continues to inspire me.

Thank you, Dan, we hope so too! And talking of Storm In A Teacup, Dan has kindly made this teaser for us, listen to him read an excerpt:

Don't forget to leave a comment here for a chance to win a copy of the excellent Looking Out Of Broken Windows, which you can read more about, as well as about Dan himself, at