Thursday 31 July 2008


Writer Jo Horsman is organising a new series of monthly Flash Fiction and Photography evenings starting this October.

Guaranteed to be a sparkling event, the series, (yet to be named, it's that new!) will be held at the tiny, fab theatre called UPSTAIRS AT THREE AND TEN

Tis above a pub called Three and Ten, in Brighton...CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE

Details of submissions criteria will be appearing soon. Link then.

Tuesday 29 July 2008


12 September
London Metropolitan University WEBSITE HERE

I was asked if I’d like to do a session for Litcamp, and the answer was yes pleeeese!

The details are still being finalised, but my session will be a highly organised (ahem!) free for all, covering all the info I can throw out from my own experiences in this writing game. Including: learning to write (or not), working with other writers (or not), submissions, competitions, rejections, highs, lows, working with a great independent publisher, marketing, readings, talks… blah de blah. The participants will call the tune, and |I’ll answer everything as fast and as honestly as I can.


The whole thing will be an amazing day. Keep checking the website for details as they are finalised. Publishers, agents, writers, informal, sharing as much as they can as fast as they can.

As Kitsite says:

There are lots of literary festivals in the UK already, but they're mostly the author-talks-down-to-the-audience variety. Time for a fresher, more democratic approach.


So if you are a writer and are gagging to come to a buzzy, informal day covering all aspects of the writing experience….. now’s your chance.


I mention the review GUD so kindly did , in the post below.

Debbie says this:

None of the stories is too long, although it's easy to feel some are too short. The characters live on in our minds and we can't help wondering what will happen next. If they'll come out all right.

This collection is definitely one to savour. Read a story, put it down, think about it, come back--the whole can't be devoured in an afternoon.

And setting aside the generous comments (which are lovely... thank you Debbie!) -what impresses me most is the assertion that you have to read slowly and think about things. Thats how short fiction needs to be treated. Its so hard to get this message across.

My son suggested a sticker on all short story collections - read slooowly - but I don't think so, somehow! nanny state etc etc.

Monday 28 July 2008



I love this lot because they’ve been brilliant and have reviewed Glass Bubble. Editor Debbie read and makes some very interesting comments… a great review.


I was so pleased earlier this year to have one of my favourite stories in this terrific publication. It is beautifully produced, a complete paperback, and is packed with creativity, imaginations, not a single ploddy piece in there.

I also love this bunch because they are so ‘heart on sleeve’. Nothing is left to surmise or puff. Look: here’s their submissions statistics info, from their website. Cross check with Duotrope, taking into account that not everyone uses Duotrope, and you begin to get an idea of this magazine’s popularity. It is seriously not easy to get into!


now why don't more places do this? Huh?

I also love GUD because they have three of my writing friends in the upcoming Issue 3. Bev Jackson’s poetry, and Tania Hershman’s and Michelle Tandoc Pichereau’s fiction.

Issue 3 is on the chocks. They are having a little fun buzz contest, to get things zipping before the copies hit the readers…


Good for GUD!


There are some stunning photos of the West Cork Lit Fest up, hundreds of them, with a link from the website. All taken by Michael Thorsnes.

Including a few utterly ghastly ones of yours truly, not smiling, looking like Boadacea on a bad Tuesday.

But here's one, the reading of Michael Logan's winning story We Will Go Ahead And Wait For You at the launch of the Fish Anthology 2008.

Smashing backdrop!!

Sunday 27 July 2008


I have reviewed Jhumpa Lahiri's short story collection Unaccustomed Earth - recent runaway winner of The Frank O Connor Award, for


Saturday 26 July 2008


Finally! After what seems an age, this debut collection from a most intriguing writer has its own webpage, we can see the cover, read the blurb.

I was sitting with the author Tania Hershman in Anam Cara Writers' and Artist's Retreat in Ireland when the email came through to say that Salt wanted to publish this book... and I remember the joy of that moment. That was last year, June, I think...

Due out on September 1st 2008 now, (which will make this one eligible for the Frank O'Connor award next year) The White Road and Other Stories contains several stories I know well. And others I don't.

What makes Tania such an interesting writer is her 'take ' on things. We chimed straight away when we 'met' in cyberspace, she having taken First Prize in a flash fiction comp, and me trailing in second... I emailed her to say how much I loved her winning story. ('Plaits'... included in this collection)

So here you go. Here are the blurb, and Tania's bio from the web page. And a mug shot, for good measure!

Main description: What links a café in Antarctica, a factory for producing electronic tracking tags and a casino where gamblers can wager their shoes? They're among the multiple venues where award-winning writer Tania Hershman sets her unique tales in this spellbinding debut collection.

Fleeing from tragedy, a bereaved mother opens a cafe on the road to the South Pole. A town which has always suffered extreme cold enjoys sudden warmth. A stranger starts plaiting a young woman's hair. A rabbi comes face to face with an angel in a car park. An elderly woman explains to her young carer what pregnancy used to mean before science took over. A middle-aged housewife overcomes a fear of technology to save her best friend. A desperate childless woman resorts to extreme measures to adopt. A young man's potential is instantly snuffed out by Nature's whims. A lonely widow bakes cakes in the shape of test tubes and DNA.

A number of these stories are inspired by articles from science magazines, taking fact as their starting points and wondering what might happen if . . .? In these surreal, lyrical stories, many of which are only a few pages long, Tania Hershman allows her imagination free reign, as her characters navigate through love, death, friendship, spirituality, mental illness and the havoc wreaked by the weather.

Author Bio: Tania Hershman was born in London and in 1994 moved to Jerusalem, where she now lives with her partner. She is a former science journalist and her award-winning short stories combine her two loves: fiction and science. Many of Tania Hershman’s stories, which have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in print and online, are inspired by articles from popular science magazines. In November 2007, she founded The Short Review, a unique website dedicated to reviewing short story collections, which attracts several hundred visitors a week.


Concerned about the environmental impact of her book, Tania is partnering with Eco-Libris, who will plant a tree for every copy. For further information, visit Tania’s website:

Saturday 19 July 2008



There's me congratulating a Workhouse inmate on a fast acceptance by a decent publication, and commiserating with her that she now needs to 'withdraw' the same piece from a magazine that has held it since January, without replying to repeated requests for information as to its status. She sim subbed after six months. Seemed reasonable to us.

Its a Welsh mag.

Now as a Welsh writer and as someone who's delighted to be going back to Wales to study with more Welsh writers later this year, I am sad that it's a Welsh place that does this.

But it isn't an isolated incident.

I've had a few. All from Welsh mags/presses.... asking for submissions according to websites, then ignoring requests for information. Preventing writers re-submitting the work elsewhere with an easy heart. I'm not in the naming and shaming business here. But I don't think this is treating writers with respect. After all, if it wasn't for submissions there wouldn't BE magazines!

Would they have this on their guidelines? - Send us your best work. We might respond if we like it, but cannot tell you when this will be. Or we might not. Again, there's no telling how long you might have to wait. But if you want to be published by us, you'll just have to put up with it, won't you? Oh... and don't sim sub. That is a big no no. Editors talk, you know...

And if it is only work from well known writers they want, then why not say so! Its simple and easy to say something like: It is unlikely that your work will be of interest to us unless you are well published in nationally known literary outlets already.

And wouldn't it be so easy in their submissions guidelines to say: "if you haven't heard back within six weeks/ten weeks/four months, your submission has not been successful. We apologise for this lack of feedback but have to cope with many many submissions, and cannot respond to them all."

Simple. Takes a few seconds to put it up there. Think about it, please??

Diolch yn fawr.

Friday 18 July 2008


Had a lovely evening yesterday, a party in Lewes , then a quick flit to Brighton where I was reading at Short Fuse, Brighton's literary short story fun event held at the Komedia... bar, music, and short stories, read by the writers.

Stories from Tara Gould, one of the organisers, fab stuff. Some lovely images, transparency, glass, birds, surrounding a moving story. Wonderfully read, too. Then a writer called Jak who turned out to be female, a great piece set on a beach in South Africa, and children defacing a sign. Though-provoking. Again, superbly read.

Then Jo Horsman, with 'Sparks', a story that's also caught the eye of Steve Finbow and he's published it on Red Peter.


Then me, with Dodie's Gift. And a great natter later on with the other writers, and a wee bit of book selling, which makes the world go round and keeps me in ink cartridges.

Thanks for the invite, Tara and Polly. I love this event. One of Brighton's best!

Thursday 17 July 2008


I'm interviewed by Tania Hershman on Eclectica this issue.


Also interviewed is a writer I admire, Jai Clare, interviewed by katherine Koromilas. Check that one out too.


Wednesday 16 July 2008


Now. Time I caught up on what else has been happening in my writing life.


I am delighted to be a contributor to an anthology of sex-themed stories, the second anthology in a series published by Better Non Sequitur in California.

See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming LINK HERE

As their own blurb says, See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming is the second compilation of 50 sex-riddled (first-published) short fictions that try to transcend perhaps the most universal subject in existence.
Writing from across the globe, each 1,000-word text promises to evoke and provoke the existential and thoughtful corners of your most erotic of organs (namely the one in your head).
(This is a writer who finds erotica screamingly funny. I can’t take it seriously at all, let alone write it. And I loved the idea of transcending the mechanics, moving on past the lubricants and plumbing-manuals. Can’t wait to see what the other stories are like. I will report back when I get my copy…)

I have two prose poems, Bone Magnet and Boys Will be Boys, online at Shadowtrain, alongside work by my poetry tutor David Grubb, among others.


I’ve also has a poem accepted by the fabulous Ink Sweat and Tears, an online mag that cuts right through the ponderous and time-wasting submissions processes of so many. The editor often gives a response within hours.


I was delighted to see that the current issue of Mslexia was carrying a beautifully produced postcard to all subscribers from the editor of Ink, Sweat...… so if you write poetry and want to get a fast response, try them.

This from the editor, Charles Christian, on the site:

Ink Sweat & Tears is a new webzine that explores the borderline between poetry and prose in the digital age. In other words that point in creative writing where prose poetry (or free verse) meets poetic prose.

Good examples include the works of Anne Michaels, Jim Crace, Michael Ondaatje and Ian Marchant (see his 2006 book The Longest Crawl). However IS&T's brief also includes modern haibun (and haiku sequences) - and by this we mean the American influenced approach to semi-autobiographical haibun pioneered by Gary Snyder and even non-traditional fiction, such as Jack Kerouac's Trip Trap.

and now a special bit:


The wonderful Short Review, edited by Tania Hershman, carries a review of Words from a Glass Bubble in the current issue :

Niki Aguirre says:

The author's prose is lyrical, poetic and appeals to the senses. Colours, sounds and descriptions are told in shades of light and dark. Sometimes bold, sometimes ethereal, the characters -- an Innuit family, a Serbian irrigation specialist, an Irish postal carrier, a young man who cleans shoes for a living, a kind-hearted priest who is not a priest -- all share a commonality of loss, dejection and hopelessness. What is comforting however is that in these tales the grave predicaments go hand in hand with introspection, love and the search for answers.


In the same issue, Niki Aguirre’s own collection, 29 Ways to Drown, also longlisted recently for the Frank O Connor Award, is reviewed by Sarah Salway:

29 Ways To Drown Review HERE

Niki Aguirre has a great voice for a short story writer.

Onwards n upwards. I am looking after my father this week, he’s had surgery on an eye, and needs caring for. He’s 93, and as sharp as mustard. But no writing is getting done!

Looking forward to reading in Brighton on Thursday evening, at Short Fuse…

Tuesday 15 July 2008


I have to admit to being stumped, here. How the hell do you write a concise blog post about such an extraordinary week?

It was extraordinary on lots of levels. What it did for me as a writer - exciting, inspiring, supporting – was fantastic.

This writing ‘thing’ is a journey, people always say that. We pick our way along whatever path we are on. And it is coming to something like this festival that provides sustenance, not just at the time but for ages to come.

You feel, when you’ve come out of a seminar with someone like Matthew Sweeney, for example, that you’ve got ‘food’ stored up for a while. Keep you going. Or listening to Paul Durcan and meeting briefly later. Or Paul Fallon, Bernard O’Donoghue, Eleann Ni Chuilleanain.

Funny isn’t it? It’s the poets that come up first in my mind. And is that because their words carry on singing for longer, in some subconscious place?

(piccies, from top:Matthew Sweeney, Paul Durcan, Bernard O'Donoghue)

On to short stories: The joy of hearing Kevin Barry read, then having a natter later. He’s hilarious and then cracks the whip of sadness in his work. Really appeals to me. His collection There are Little Kingdoms, published by Stinging Fly, accompanied me all week, and I dipped in to read whenever I had a break. Get it. Just…get it.

Hearing a reading by Joyce Russell at the bookshop was unforgettable. And seeing how the bookshop filled until it was standing room only, round the walls as well as at the back! And Selma Dabbagh, whose work I know as we met at the Arvon course last October. And this year’s winner of the Fish Prize, Julia with her Harlem River Blues.

On to novels, and a highlight was a reading by Carlo Gebler (although actually he read a short story!) and Selma, after which Carlo interviewed her about her novel. (It’s currently with her agent, watch this space.) Selma is half Palestinian. And her novel will cause ripples. Wonderful characters, engaging. And funny too. And therein will lie the controversy, I think.

I ran a flash competition, in which all comers were invited to write the next 100 words each day of a story… I chose the one that fitted best, and it was unveiled every evening at an open mike event. I also did a reading during the week. It seemed to go down fine, to a full bookshop. My books, a pretty large pile of twenty or so on the Monday… had all been sold by the week end.

Other highlights: Meeting the playwright Veronica Coburn, and skipping off for a great meal at O’Connors one evening. She was taking the playwriting workshops during the week, and we discovered we had a lot to talk about.

Going to the talk by Colin Dexter, and laughing until my sides ached. (Writer of ‘Inspector Morse’)

Hearing a story read by Mia Gallagher, who was taking the workshop of public performance of your work.

Hearing the Irish tenor Ciaran Nagle and the violinist Tara Novak.

Meeting fellow short story writer Sean Lusk, who by coincidence, lives about ten minutes away from us. He was leading the short story workshops during the week. He also introduces, comperes and interviews the writers seriously well. I think he should be on telly.

Hearing Mia Gallagher interviewing David Mitchell, (Cloud Atlas), and hearing him read from the novel he’s writing now. And using us, the audience, as guinea pigs. He’d stop, take out a pen, and say ‘Hmmph. Well THAT sentence didn’t work, did it?!”

Just being with writers. Having writer-type natters in spare moments. Encouraging those who wanted to share work. Writing myself, only not much. I’d taken the novel to work on, and ended up writing poetry. Aaaagh, what’s happening?!

Staying in a great B and B in their converted garage, dubbed The Chalet, a B and B with amazing paintings by the owner everywhere, and models of cats. And Laurel and Hardy. And Thai puppets.

But the last word I will save for US poet /photographer Michael Thorsnes. He judged this year’s poetry competition, and was in evidence all week, recording the events for posterity, showing his photos every evening. Many will appear on the website in due course, I’m sure.

Michael gave a talk towards the end of the week, Poetry on the Theme of War. Illustrated with photos, and accompanied by the wonderful voice of Irish tenor Ciaran Nagle, this was a journey through conflict. Poetry from Ireland. From the World Wars. From America. Vietnam. Iraq.

But he ended it with his own poetry, his own war. A war he cannot win, against Parkinsons.

A privilege to be there, all week, and thanks to Clem Cairns and Lorraine Bacchus, organisers, for inviting me to be part of it all.


A strange reading event last night at Stoke Newington Bookshop.

It was well attended, but I think a lot of people had come to hear Salt Publishing on the short story in the UK... and aaaaagh. Jen didn't show up, there was a problem at home. I only found out when I arrived, just after finding out that the bookshop hadn't ordered any books in...

A good start! And a perfect example of how you have to roll with the punches in this game.

There were two of us reading. First out of the gate was Jay Merrill, who read excerpts from several of the stories in her collection Astral Bodies.

Then me, and I decided to read an entre piece, and chose Irrigation, which was mentioned by Nuala Ni Chonchir on her blog recently as one in a list of stories she likes.

I ought to say, it was a delightful venue for a reading., very intimate. The readers knees almost touching the knees of those in the front row.

Which is great... except when a front row lady decides she is so switched off by what you are reading that she pulls a book at random from the bookshelf to her left, and proceeds to read that instead, turning the pages as ostentatiously as she can.

Off-putting? Intended to be, obviously. But she hasn't met me, and no, lady, it didn't work, did it?!! (But seriously... what planet was she on?)

After the readings, there was question time, and interesting discussion about how Jay and I saw the short story market in the UK. How we write. Character, voice, plotting. And of course, the inevitable question for me about whether I had done any 'research' for my story, which includes details of the mechanics of colonic irrigation.

I answered truthfully.

The bookshop was lovely. The owner was there, listening, and took orders for the book, and ordered some for the shop as well. So every cloud, and silver linings etc.

And afterwards, a crowd went to a local Indian restaurant. A taxi arrived at 10.45 to take me home, as I had to be back to look after my dad who has had a minor op, and is in bed at home.

Total cost to me of doing the reading: Taxi £125 (2 hrs, Stoke Newington to Ringmer) Why? Isn't that a huge madness? Yes. But I was exhausted from the Lit Fest last week, the last trains would have gone well before I could have got back to the right station, no way was I going to drive.. It was an obligation, having said I'd read, and it was the only way I could do so.

I do hope the lady in the front row enjoyed her book, and that she didn't crease the spine too much...



I was there, at BAFTA, at the award breakfast, to hear the announcement. It was the most extraordinary thing. I was expecting to see hundreds of people there, but the whole audience numbered about fifty, including organisers and judges. A very select crew we were. I knew no one, although recognised a few. Great to meet James from Booktrust, who looks after the Story website. Met one of the judges, Naomi Alderman, a seriously buzzy lady who I’d heard read and talk at Small Wonder a couple of years back. Nattered at length with Jeanette Harris, General Manager of the Scottish Booktrust. And after the event, up came Chrissie Gittins, fellow Salt author, and poet, and writer for radio… great to see her.

So, it went something like this:

After a mill-about and chatter over coffee, we were ushered into the presentation room.

Chair of the judging panel, broadcaster and writer Martha Kearney introduced the event, and after a few thank you speeches from organisers she announced the winners. I had already decided it just HAD to be Clare…and it was.

Martha Kearney said this:

"It's exciting that a relatively unknown voice, in fact the youngest writer on our shortlist, has distinguished herself amongst some very well known authors as a leading talent in the world of storytelling. Clare’s evocation of superstition and frustrated lives on a remote Scottish island is an act of historical ventriloquism. She shows just what the short story can achieve, conjuring up a whole world in microcosm. The strength of our shortlist ranging from the gothic to the comic demonstrates that the short story is alive and well, the perfect art form for a time hungry age."

We then celebrated with Buck’s fizz while Clare was interviewed in the corner for the Today programme on Radio 4. We all came away with a goodie bag…all the five shortlisted stories in this year’s National Short Story prize anthology.

What a fabulous invitation. I am quite bemused how I got on the list, but am eternally grateful. It felt like I was part of a powerful movement in writing, just being there.

And did it feel poignant, because of the Bridport mix-up? No, not at all, if I’m honest. It was just joyous. And it was lovely to be able to give Clare Wigfall a congratulatory hug as I left. A smashing lady and a smashing writer.

Chrissie Gittins and I repaired to Fortnum and Mason’s for a spot of brekkie and a writerly natter.


Saturday 5 July 2008


Here's one to buy... anyone who loves dead pan humour, writing that sparks with originality, stories that take off and float around just above your head so you feel like a kid at a birthday party jumping for balloons.

Endorsed by last year's Frank O'Connor winner, Miranda July (weird, all this synchronicity)Kuzhali Manickavel's debut collection comes from a new press called BLAFT. LINK HERE TO THEIR WEBSITE.

Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings
by Kuzhali Manickavel

A centipede in a shoe, revelations in a shoebox, nosebleeds, exploding women, and a dead mouse named Miraculous populate this collection of thirty-five short stories from one of India's most original young writers.

"Not merely lyrical and strange, but also deadpan funny. I can't shake the feeling that I know this woman, personally--like we hung out at a party or something. But I don't, and we didn't. She's just that good."
--Miranda July

I was lucky enough to work with Kuzhali on The Workhouse for a while, and found her writing some of the most exciting I'd read in a long long time. Tried unsuccessfully to interest a UK publisher... but actually, I'm delighted that her work is being brought to the world from this new press.

Many congrats, K! No surprises that you landed a deal. Look forward to the next.

National Short Story Award Ceremony

Delighted to get an invitation to the celebratory breakfast for the announcement of the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award.

At BAFTA, 14th July. Going out live on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

I'll be cheering for Clare Wigfall (see post below.)

At the same time, the event will be a bit poignant. Part of the Bridport Prize package is that all the eligible winners and runners up are automatically entered for the award.

And they missed the deadline. We all got letters of apology.

So I will never know if dear old Tommo Price (2nd in Bridport '07 and joint 1st in Daily Telegraph comp '07, ) might have made it. Probably not, but it would have been nice to see him try.

Friday 4 July 2008


First, the not surprising news that the winner of The Frank O'Connor International short story prize has been declared early. I am not surprised, as I've just read it for review. Many congratulations indeed to Jhumpa Lahiri. (golly that feels very very daft... a minnow waving its tail at a whale).

The judging panel decided that Unaccustomed Earth, which had already soared to the top of the ratings in the US, was so far above the other contenders that there was no point making shortlisted writers sweat it out.

We knew there were no Salt Publishing books in the running, but two of the Salt team (Carys Davies and I) have been invited over to the Frank O'Connor Festival for the whole three days, to read. A generous gesture from the organisers, and a much appreciated little 'consolation prize'.

But I am sad that there isn't a shortlist. No - not because Glass Bubble would have been on it... there were so many extraordinarily strong writers, and those were just the books I knew myself. But because it is hard enough for short stories to make an impression in today's world, and the little line 'shortlisted for the FOC' might have done wonders for some superb collections. I read all the Salt entries, and several others on the longlist including Ann Enright's and Clare Wigfall's. As both a writer and a reader. And I know how good they are.


In a strange synchronicity, one of the other Frank O'Connor longisted writers was announced yesterday as one of the five contenders for The National Short Story Prize. For a single story, The Numbers.... a possible £15,000.

The Loudest Sound and Nothing is a terrific collection.

Sending you loads of good luck, Clare!

Clare Wigfall interviewed HERE

The Loudest Sound and Nothing reviewed on The Short Story website, HERE

many many congratulations to all the finalists:

Richard Beard Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events

Jane Gardam The People on Privilege Hill

Erin Soros Surge

Adam Thorpe The Names

Clare Wigfall The Numbers


Timely, then.

Concentrating on reading the Cadenza shortlisted stories yesterday and again today. I will have my proposed 1/2/3 and a few commendeds sorted by this evening. Ready to discuss with Zoe, the editor.

The bliss...tomorrow packing, then:

A whole week in Bantry at the West Cork Literary Festival, where I'm beetling about all over the place, being useful. (I hope!)

I'm reading Michael Logan's wonderful One Page Story at the Fish Publishing Awards Ceremony. (He won e1000... it's terrific.)

I'm organising a flash competition which runs all week, in which writers submit the next 100 words each day to a story entitled Multi Storey.

Reading myself on Thursday 10th at Bantry Bookshop.


(Part of getting to know my own processes, and recording them, as necessary for the course later in the year).

It is both interesting (mildly), frustrating (very) and unexpectedly damaging (to me and my writing process) to have debate with and occasional feedback from a writer with little or no imagination. But also watching the onslaught on other writers, its taking its toll.

Everything I have written has elements that can only be described as gifts from somewhere I have no control over, a joyous well that bubbles up with images, connections... wacky, crazy, poignant, original. And it's those that have got my work noticed, in addition to the voices, the craft stuff.

In the end, we have to work with those who at least understand what we're doing, and who give straight feedback on the work itself. Too much of the opposite eats away after a while, like acid on a stone.

Of course, if the writer doesn't create a work that makes the reader 'believe' what is happening, that is another matter. If the character isn't solid, if the voice is out, the language not appropriate, that is one thing.

But if a reader, intelligent, well informed, well read, feeds back time after time that no person ever does this. Or feels this. Or could possibly do a, b, c... and does it in a way that is laden with sarcasm... it builds up and has an effect.

There is a Workhouse inmate like this. Great, articulate, clever, amusing... but also unwilling to exactly say where he is published. Playing games. Keeping team mates dangling. And in the end, it becomes all about the person, and not about the contribution they make to the team.

I feel crunch time approaching, and maybe it is a good thing. I need to work harder at the novel. Breakthrough of sorts in passing 50K last week.


I am finding that his voice has become a parrot on my shoulder. Instead of thinking 'Oh this is such FUN writing this...' I'm going through a patch of hearing his voice: 'This wouldn't happen. Rubbish. Oh wow, you can't write that. No person ever ever could do that. This is crap writing...don't even edit. Bin it...'

Yes, its weak. Yes, I shouldn't let it through. I know all that.

But it does have an unexpectedly deep effect on what I'm doing. In an interview for Eclectica, due up later this month, I was asked if the Glass Bubble in the title story of my collection is representative of my writing in any way. And of course, yes, it is. It's where everything comes from. And sadly, I am finding out how fragile it is. How easily shattered.

And there is no way on this planet I could put what I'm writing now on my own place for feedback. And that is just crazy!! So I'm putting up poetry, and I am happy knowing I'm just 'crawling' in the running race with that. I seem to have reversed the 'caring about negative feedback' processes here. Usually we tend to get stronger, don't we? Or maybe its just this a passing thing. We'll see.

But also, its happening at a time when I know I desperately need to take a back seat anyway.

Wednesday 2 July 2008


Issue 8 of my mag, Tom's Voice, has just gone up, thanks to the ministrations of Zoe King, webmeister. And we have an interview with the American novelist musician Rick Moody.


(Synchronicity... reading The Grauniad the other day, out fell the latest 'Great Lyricists' booklet. Patti Smith, with a foreword by Rick M. I felt as though I knew him... 'Hey. He's in MY mag, you know...'


Huge thanks to Rick Moody for allowing us to listen to some of his experiences...and I have to thank my co-editor J.Aaron Goolsby, for that really superb interview, and for securing the agreement of Sam Lipsyte (Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Columbia Universty) who allows us to republish one of his short stories.

This little mag is extraordinary. It started a few years back as a place where writing by recovering addicts could be read, because so often what they had to say was important - but rarely listened to, outside rehabs. Writing from their families. Those whose lives had been changed irrevocably by the addiction struggles of someone they love.

The first issue was full of pieces written by my students in a rehab in Brighton. Slowly - but thanks to the Internet - word spread until I was getting submissions from writers from all over.

People who wanted to be open about what they'd experienced. Supporting the guys who were struggling to kick their own addictions.

I turn the tables in my mag... so readers have to read the bios of the writers first. Why? because unlike a squillion lit zines, in mine, the WRITERS matter as much as their writing.

The lineup this issue:

Dennis Mahagin is a poet and musician whose work appears in magazines such as Exquisite Corpse, 3 A.M., FRiGG, Absinthe Literary Review, 42opus, Stirring, Thieves Jargon, Hiss Quarterly, Word Riot, Unlikely Stories, and Underground Voices. A first collection of his poetry, entitled Grand Mal, is forthcoming in '09 from Three Roads Press.

Sam'l IrwinThough 22 years sober, Sam'l attends AA meetings regularly. He turned to creative writing after a bad business turn nearly cost him his sobriety. He is a photojournalist for a Louisiana agriculture newspaper, and also freelances for several south Louisiana publications. His fiction has been published by Dead Mule, Spillway Review, Long Story Short, Gris Gris Rouge, Country Roads and Cape Fear Crime Festival.

Sam Lipsyte
Sam Lipsyte is Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Columbia Universty. He is the author of two novels, Home Land (Picador), and The Subject Steve (Broadway). Cremains appears in his collection of stories Venus Drive (Open City).

Bill Turner.
First and foremost, Bill Turner is an alcoholic in recovery, who has recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body and the incessant cravings to drink. He is also a founding editor of Per Contra, The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas.He began writing fiction and stage plays in 2004. His fiction has appeared extensively online, and he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a Consulting Editor for Electronic Media for Boulevard Magazine and Contributing Editor for Many Mountains Moving Press

J Aaron Goolsby
lives in Amarillo, Texas. His fiction most recently appeared in the Suisun Valley Review. He recently completed work on his first novel Girls Against Yoga.

He is Deputy Editor and General Good Guy on Tom's Voice, and interviews Rick Moody for us.

Kelly Spitzer
lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Binnacle, Redivider, Cream City Review, Hobart (web), elimae, 3:AM Magazine, Vestal Review, and other publications. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination, and an editor with the flash fiction publication SmokeLong Quarterly. Visit her at her website.

Matthew Licht found out the hard way that there's such a thing as too much marijuana. “Two years of being young and playing around the Detroit area in a washed-up jazz combo during the punk years are gone. Hardly any memories at all.”

His story collection The Moose Show is published by Salt and was nominated for the Frank O'Connor Prize 2007. He is the author of the detective trilogy World Without Cops. He also wrote The Crazy House Gag. “A novel about farts, basically.”

and my resident poet, Jo Waterworth.

Jo Waterworth spent most of the 1980's as a Peace Camper and New Age Traveller. During the late 80's and early 90's Class A drugs were infiltrating the Traveller culture.
Many of her close associates started using heroin to come down after partying on ecstasy. Jo spent most of a decade living in a council flat and coping with the realisation that her partner, father of her children, had become an addict.
Writing was her lifeline in a shipwrecked family. After his death, and her subsequent clinical depression, she has found a new role in life - supporting, encouraging and inspiring other people's creativity as well as her own.
She is now doing a Diploma in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes at Bristol University, and recently won first prize - for the second time - in Speak Up Somerset's annual poetry competition.'

Please pass the word about. I love submissions like this. But I also want more from rehabs. if the powers that be will let people write and submit....

Tuesday 1 July 2008

ALBA ...V's second published poem, only...

Interesting, Ive discovered this thing called found poetry. Where other people make the phrases, and the poet strings them together.

Alba Journal of Short Poetry liked this one, a necklace made from the last words of the famous.


and Jo Horsman has a Frog Poem in the same issue. Great stuff.