Greetings from the virus bunker! As public events are being cancelled around the world, so has been the launch for our upcoming anthology, The Best Most Awful Job. No matter – the launch has moved on line… and you’re invited! Join us on Twitter, Thursday 19 March, 7:30 – 8:30 pm GMT. See you there – at a safe and appropriate distance!
I’m delighted to be a part of this new anthology, published 19 March 2020. The Best Most Awful Job features 20 brand new essays, covering the whole spectrum of mothering, including – in my case – being mothered, being unbothered, and being unable to mother. My essay is pretty brutal, according to editor Katherine May, but it’s a new way of working for me – and I’m proud to be in such great company at Elliot & Thompson Books. Here’s a little press about the writers, and here’s a link to an online shop. Three cheers for new anthologies – hip hip!
Here’s a link to the sound installation made by Thread and Word from my short story for them, called “Your Last”. Click to listen to me or any of the other lovely stories found there which were shared in Margate for The Listening Post at the Book Buoy. Many thanks to artists Elspeth Penfold and Sonia Overall: it’s always painful listening to yourself read anything, but they made it trouble free!
Do you want to hear a story? The Listening Post will have plenty of them, for you to listen to – and add to, if you wish. This aural collection of short stories, curated for Margate Bookie, are written by local writers (like me!) as well as some of our MA students at Canterbury Christ Church. Intrigued? Come down to the Book Buoy, put on a pair of headphones, and set sail…
There seems to be no agreement on which author first said a writer had to write their “first million words” before they were really ready to write. Some attribute it to Ray Bradbury, while others cite Elmore Leonard namechecking John D. McDonald. I was certain it was Kurt Vonnegut, because he gives so much good advice. Whoever said it, I’m happy to reach my own million-word milestone. While I might not count them, draft after draft, I have proof of them in the form of morning pages: a million words, typed over my first cup of tea. Want your own badge? Join in at 750words.com. As for me, I’ll see you in the morning – doing pages!
I got my start in MsLexia, as they are kind enough to remember. It’s not too late to get your story in for the next Short Fiction Competition Deadline – 30 September. Want more information? Check the blurb below.
Got a great little short almost ready? Get writing!
Recently, I ran a flash fiction workshop for WhitLit’s Write Mind, a new initiative linking the act of writing with wellbeing. For the workshop, we looked at dribbles and rabbles (50 word & 100 word stories – title not included) as well as their longer-worded cousins, as a way to get started with getting our work out into the world. (This is not to imply that flash fiction is somehow “easier” to write than longer pieces – far from it – but the form seems particularly suited to giving opportunities for new writers, as there are so many festivals and on-line sites that actively want submissions.) As I promised the workshop participants a round-up of upcoming deadlines for flash fiction – here it is!
My workshop took place during the Flash Fiction Festival, run by Bath Flash Fiction. Bath has upcoming deadlines for flash fiction (a 300 word limit, which is called a trabble) on 13 October 2019 and novellas-in-flash (a short novella, not more than 18K with each flash no more than 1K) on 12 January 2020. Of their work, Bath Flash Fiction Festival says: Our goal is promote flash fiction for both writers and readers and to bring the genre to a wider audience. Running a three-times-a-year rolling flash fiction award with substantial prizes and chance of publication gives writers a big incentive to create great flash. And our new novella-in-flash award provides the opportunity to have a longer work released in a quality publication.
They also run Ad Hoc Fiction, which offers a weekly (and free) micro fiction competition as well as novellas-in-flash publications. Why not send them something? Follow the links to learn more about deadlines, guidelines & entry fees – a thorny issue for writers. (But publishers are aware that entry fees are not doable for many writers – many competitions have subsidised or free spots – and Reflex Fiction below offers a “choose your own fee” – surely, this is the way of the future!)
New Flash Fiction Review is the portal for the Anton Chekhov Price for Very Short Fiction, judged by Angela Readman. Submissions 800 words or fewer. There’s a 15 July deadline – be quick!
Here’s a link to The MsLexia Flash Fiction Award: Submit your best trabbles (300 word stories) before 30 September 2019. Sorry/not sorry this is women only. Placing 3rd in a MsLexia short story contest gave me a real boost, when I was starting out, and there will always be acreage in my heart for MsLexia.
Reflex Fiction runs the quarterly Reflex Flash Fiction Competition which lets writers “choose their own fee” for submissions – a great idea! Reflex is ALWAYS accepting submissions with a rolling series of deadlines for their contests – and they publish a story every day! Still trying to figure out what flash fiction “is”? Check out this Reflex page.
Best Micro-Fiction is an anthology, looking for work with fewer than 400 words. Accepting submissions until 1 December 2019.
The on-line flash-fiction magazine SmokeLong Quarterly publishes stories weekly & quarterly. They accept submissions for work under 1000 words for publication – as well as for the prestigious Smokelong Quarterly Award – be sure to check early 2020 for details about that. Smokelong is a terrific resource of stories, demonstrating what flash fiction is & can do, as well as interviews with writers.
Can you write a story in fewer than 40 words using the prompt “milk moustache?” Then the One Sentence Story Contest is for you! Enter by 8 September.
National Flash Fiction Day may be over, but NFFD are already planning for 2020. There’s plenty of time to write your dribbles and drabbles – and submit!
Today we wrote about magic – through objects like some of the ones you see here: ordinary trinkets filled with mystical powers, talismans to guide protagonists through improbable, imaginary worlds. There were magic cats and rebel angels, split geodes that turned into cradles. We talked about how senses root a character in time and place, but also give them histories and memories, rich backstories that can be “held” in a magical object that they can draw on when things get tough. And they do, when you’re “what if-ing.” We made a list of unlikely scenarios of what would happen next. What if the ground becomes toxic and your characters have to take to the trees – with a silver walnut? What if a magic circle opens in a ruined world and offers you a way out? Today’s writers left with portals, ways in to new characters and stories.
We didn’t have enough time – there never is! – to cover every concern of every writer. And when we’re writing – or wanting to – we always have concerns: is this right, am I good, why can’t I finish, what am I doing? However, we did talk about where ideas come from – they are all around us, if we can stay open to them. We talked about how to build stamina (or, as some called it, discipline): for this, I always recommend “morning pages” – follow thishttps://peggyriley.com/2019/04/04/time-for-morning-pages/ follow the link to read more about their magic.
Next week, we’ll be working on the “short-short story” in my last workshop for Write Mind & Whitstable Lit. Why not join in?
I have two workshops left with the wonderful new Whitstable initiative Write Mind, developed with WhitLit, the Whitstable Literary Festival, and Canterbury Council. Follow the link to learn more about the programme, including other writing workshops with author Andrew McGuinness and plenty of book chats, and to book your space. Guess what? The workshops are only £5, giving new writers a real chance to have a go!
Saturday 22 June: 11 – 12:30 WHAT IF?
Writers thrive on the game of “what if” to make stories and characters move in unexpected directions. Using a series of prompts & magical objects, workshops writers will work to create improbable worlds where anything can happen!
Saturday 29 June: 11 – 12:30 DRIBBLES & DRABBLES
The final Write Mind workshop will focus on the short-short story: 50 – 100 words, to be exact. Through prompts and guided writing, writers will have the chance to write, edit & polish and short-short story.
Could you use some daily prompts for your morning pages? Following on from our recent morning pages workshops, let me introduce you to Dr. Julie: her site, Dr. Julie Journaling (for wellbeing and success) features daily prompts that you might use as inspiration for your own writing. You can subscribe to receive them in your inbox – or visit her whenever you need a new idea.
You can also work with her at Margate Bookie’s Write Up: Why not give her a try?