Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moments of joy

You never know when they will come - sometimes it's that miraculous email or tweet from a stranger saying "I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed your ....". Today it's this blog post on the Arvon blog by one of the fantastic and delightful participants on the Starting to Write Short Stories course I co-tutored 2 weeks ago with Rob Shearman. When you run a workshop, you cross your fingers that, well, someone might get something, anything, out of it. You hope - you try things you've done before, you try new things. But you never really and truly know.

Until someone writes something like this, and it pretty much makes you cry:
" ... By Penrith I’m convinced that after such an intense week I’ll never settle to everyday life again. By Carlisle I start to worry how to break this awful news to my husband. I want to leave everything, turn my back on our previous life and write on an island retreat somewhere. By Motherwell I’m seriously nervous. The week has been truly intense and something in me feels forever altered.

Between Motherwell and Glasgow Central I take out my notebook and work on some of the pieces begun during my Arvon week.  I jot down a few thoughts and as I do I realise what the change has been. Two weeks ago I’d never have scribbled away on a train like this. I might daydream out of the window, passing the time, losing all those thoughts to the air. But now they’ve become a source of stories. Stories everywhere that only I can capture, only I can tell.

As we pull into Glasgow Central I am relieved to find that after all my marriage is safe, my lovely husband need never hear how deliciously unsettling my week turned out to be. But I also acknowledge this new need to make time and space in my day to write.

Because that’s who I am. I’m a writer.

Thank you Arvon.

by Colette Watson, a writer on the Starting to Write Short Stories week at Lumb Bank 4-9 August 2014" (Read the full post here)
 

Oh, thank you, Colette, for being so amazing and so open to everything, so ready. And thank you Arvon - who did this for me, years ago, and then did it again, and again. And now give me the immense pleasure to be able to attempt to pass some of that on. A joyous moment. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bare Fiction prizes


So, I am one of the short story judges for this fine slew of prizes from the very fine lit mag Bare Fiction. The fabulous Rachel Trezise and I will be reading your short stories, and the wonderful Adam Horovitz is all over the poetry, while the excellent Angela Readman wants your tiny wordthings. Do check out the guidelines here. Really refreshing to see the same amount of money to be won in all categories - nothing privilieged above everything else due to form or word count. Nice.

And lest you think I spend my time only on the judgemental side of the fence, tis not true, because I'm fortunate enough to have had two poems longlisted for a poetry comp, and they will be included in the competition anthology - regardless of what happens next with shortlists and so on, so yippee! I have said it before, will say it again - longlists are not to be sniffed at. As a judge, I know that it's often the greatest leap from large pile to longlist, and the tiniest of steps from that onwards, so I am delighted! Good luck to everything you bravely send out into the world! I would be delighted to read some of it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

That Dark Remembered Day


I am delighted to welcome Tom Vowler back to the blog today, to talk about his brand new novel - his third book - That Dark Remembered Day. Tom was here last year talking about his first novel, What Lies Within, and two years before that to chat about his short story collection, The Method. He's not been sitting still much! Below, we play Word Association, with Tom answering in the voice of his main character. But first...


 Alison Moore, author of The Lighthouse, called That Dark Remembered Day "a compelling story about damage done, a touching exploration of the possibility of forgiveness and recovery" and Anthony McGowan, author of Mortal Coil, said: "Almost every page has the sort of perfect sentence or paragraph that makes you want to elbow the stranger next to you on the train, point with a stubby finger, and say: ‘Read that. Just read it.'"

Here's a quick synopsis: 

A son returns to where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day's tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?

Tom is giving away a copy to one lucky blog reader - just leave a comment below! Here's a little bit about Tom: " Tom Vowler is a novelist and short story writer living in south west England. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010, and his novel What Lies Within received critical acclaim. He is co-editor of the literary journal Short Fiction and an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he’s completing a PhD looking at the role of the editor in fiction. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel. More at www.tomvowler.co.uk"

To whet your appetite further, here are me and Tom playing Word Association, with Tom answering as Stephen from That Dark Remembered Day:

HOME


Sanctuary by the sea.



FRIEND

Betrayed in childhood. Forgiveness sought.



BIOLOGY


Work, the sea, escape.



MOTHER


Eccentric, avoided.



VICTIM


Thirteen.



WAR


Father remained there.



FAMILY

Broken forever. New one found.



MEMORY

Buried. Unwelcome.



STORY

Cover. Truth hidden.



DEATH

Seen.



LOVE


Daughter. Wife. Hope.



Intrigued? You should be! To find about more about Tom's amazing novel, visit his website. Don't forget - to be in with a chance of winning a copy, leave a comment below. Thanks for playing, Tom!

 

Friday, July 04, 2014

New story and some poetry news

I'm really thrilled to have a brand new story, "War Games" in the Summer Fiction issue of the Wales Arts Review, published today. It's a story I started in Nov 2012 and finished a few months ago, and I'm so happy it's found such a great home, alongside an amazing line-up: Anna Metcalfe, Jon Gower, Gee Williams, Orflaith Foyle, Lauren Oyler, Joel Smith, Noah Cicero, Mark Blayney, Ric Bower, Craig Austin, John Lavin and Gary Raymond. Check out the magazine here.

I was also recently longlisted for the Short Fiction journal competition for another new story, congrats to the 4 shortlisted writers: Elizabeth Baines, Catherine McNamara, Geoffrey Miller and Graham Mort!

And the past month has been a great boost for a fledgling poet - I had two poems longlisted and one shortlisted for the Wirral Festival of Firsts poetry competition, and my pamphlet longlisted for the Flarestack poetry pamphlet prize. Have been grapping with the poetry "no simultaneous submissions" rules for many comps - someone needs to come up with an algorithm for this! - and sending the poems back out, and out again. For, as I said recently on Twitter, this much I know: if you don't send anything out, magic can't happen. Go on, give the magic a chance!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

National Flash Fiction Day 2014

Great excitement here in Bristol over National Flash Fiction Day 2014, this Saturday, June 21st! Here's what's happening, organised by Bristol Flash, do join if you can:


And the official NFFD anthology, Eat My Words, in which I am honoured to have a very short piece, is now out, the print version is available here, and get your copy of the ebook here. 

Happy National Flash Fiction Day!