Monday 29 September 2008

Calls for submissions: Linchpin and Rose Metal Press

Linchpin Literature is a publishing house that, monthly, produces an impressive tabloid sized anthology of short stories. The anthology is named 'LINCHPIN'. It is free-of-charge, hopefully making it a lot more popular in this current economic climate, and thus aiding the distribution of great writing.
The publication is distributed within Underground Stations, bookshops, high-streets, newspapers, hospitals, caf├ęs, hotels, B&Bs, offices and parks.
You should expect to see Issue No.1 on Monday 8th September.
Prepare to be astonished by short writing: Issue No.1 features short work by Dylan Thomas, Clare Wigfall, Ivan Bunin, Roald Dahl, New Writing South’s associated writers and some of the best short writing from the British Library. (and moi)
I have to say, this one sounds great. LINCHPIN WEBSITE HERE (and submissions data)

Do you have enough flash work for a possible collection??
Rose Metal Press (WEBSITE HERE) are holding another flash fiction collection competition:

Our Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest submission period begins October 15 and ends December 1, 2008. Our 2008 judge will be Sherrie Flick. During the submission period, please email your 25¬–40 page double-spaced manuscript of short short stories under 1,000 words each to us at either as Word docs or rtf files. Individual stories may have appeared in journals or anthologies, but we ask that collections as a whole be previously unpublished. Please accompany your entry with the $10 reading fee, either via the payment button on our website or by check. We prefer the former, but the latter can be sent to us at PO Box 1956, Brookline, MA 02446.

Writers of both fiction and nonfiction are encouraged to enter, and we are open to short shorts on all subjects and in all styles. We hope you'll check out the books of our previous contest winners, including The Sky Is a Well and Other Shorts by Claudia Smith (winner of the first contest, judged by Ron Carlson), In the Land of the Free by Geoffrey Forsyth (winner of the second contest, judged by Robert Shapard), as well as A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness by Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, and Claudia Smith, which features the chapbooks by four of the finalists of the first contest.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Writing isn't only writing...

But I wish there was more time..

things I'm doing as well as writing:

1) Liaising with the publisher about contractual issues, marketing issues, design issues on behalf of the One World Anthology team. (easy... writing emails, carrying messages back and forth)

2) Revving up for the next round of reading for Cadenza short story competition, closing on 31st Sept. I have 'first-read' a lot, and sent my 'results' to Zoe King. Will read the remainder this week... looks like a lot, though as they are still coming in.

3) Visiting my agent on Wednesday in London, for a sweep up/catch up, general MOT.

4) I have been asked (very exciting this) to be contributing editor/project manager sort of person for a fab new book, which will be a godsend for short story writers all. Watch this space. I am drawing up ideas. As Baldric said, 'I have a cunning plan...'

5) I've been asked if I will consider a three day residency at a school, this term. A specific brief. Sounds lovely, and would be a godsend to pay for over half the first year of the MPhil.

6) Starting to re-panic about MPhil. But I am also really looking forward to working with the other writers and tutors. We meet up for the first time over the second weekend in October.

7) Planning the flash workshop I'm running in late October.

8) I'm going to BERLIN next weekend! Cant wait. Nothing to do directly with writing, apart from everything I do being related now.

9) Writing a poem

10) Hoping to complete John/Thaddeus section of 'thing like a novel' by mid week, first draft.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Paul Newman

I think it was the mouth...or the eyes? or both.

Friday 26 September 2008


There is so much going on in my life, that I haven't had time to write up the wonderful festival of last weekend.

So I will keep this post as one I add to, as and when I download photos, and as an when my brain returns to Planet Earth.

Meanwhile, Jen at Salt has posted a wonderful account of the event on the SALT PUBLISHING FRANK O'CONNOR BLOG HERE

(and the photo is hers, nicked from the Salt blog!)

And Tania Hershman has an account of her visit from Jerusalem including the festival, HERE


The other day, a man walked into a busy restaurant. He was greeted at the door, and said he was just staying for a few minutes, was meeting someone. No need for a table.

He walked through the restaurant, his gaze flicking over the faces of the diners. he caught my gaze, and came straight over.

There was no question, he said. It was so definite, he said. Hello, he said.

That was my step-brother.

It is impossible to describe what that feels like. To have someone know who you are in a crowd because of your resemblance to a family.


From a writer's perspective, it is marvellous. A remiinder that every time we see people, or things, events, we should be looking with fresh eyes. See things as new, even when they are recogniseable.

Thursday 25 September 2008

BT Nightmare Customer Services...again!!!

I have now heard from 'Vicky' at Customer Services.

Is it an agreement to supply my Dad with a replacement phone whilst the defective one they supplied is mended? Nope
Is it an offer of a new phone, as they shouldnt supply defective goods in the first place, and an apology? Nope.

Vicky wants to know when I bought the phone, as she has no proof I have bought it.
Sadly for Vicky, I sent all that info on 13th Sept. To Andy. Who authorised the return of the phone already.

is this surreal, incompetence, or a dastardly attempt to spin this out so that it's out of warranty anyway?

Who cares.

I've bought another phone. They made another sale!! Wheee. Vicky probably gets a bonus of 50p. The shareholders must be delighted.

Here are today's emails. I am trying to stay polite in my replies... it is getting hard.


In a message dated 25/09/2008 17:29:33 GMT Standard Time, writes:
Dear Vanessa,

Unfortunately we've not been able to trace your order with the details you've supplied. We need one of the following pieces of information: a delivery note number, an invoice number, or an account number.

Please send us the requested information and an estimated date of purchase.


Customer Services
BT Shop

Dear Vicky

The information you requested was supplied on 13th September to Andy, in your office.

here it is again taken from my account:

16/12/2007: 9652238 Order Complete £45.99

You have already authorised a return of the faulty phone. I believe this is incorrect practice, and that having sold me a defective item, BT ought to be replacing it.

This exchange is, like all the rest, being put on my blog, and the whole sorry story is causing much mirth, and not a little anger. it is also going to the local papers when it is resolved, positively or negatively. Do check me out. I am a writer and a journalist. BT picked the wrong customer to play silly games with.

I have had to buy a new phone for my father, as to send your defective one back would leave him without a lifeline. As already explained. Several times.

If you spin this out long enough, the phone will be out of warranty. Mind you, that might be the whole idea. Can I suggest you pass this to your supervisor?


Vanessa Gebbie


Last night saw Ride The Word III at Borders, Oxford Street, London.

Readings from five Salt writers, poets and short storytellers, naturally! I read a while back with Jay Merrill and I was looking forward to hearing her. She is a great performer, reading her stuff with a laconic grin in her voice.

Charles Lambert - short story
Isobel Dixon - poet
Simon Barraclough - poet (on Forward shortlist...)
Jay Merrill - short story
Vincent de Souza - poet

It was particularly lovely to meet Charles Lambert, whose life and times I follow on his blog, linked here. His book The Scent of Cinnamon is a terrific collection of stories. I took his novel (Little Monsters, pub Picador) for him to sign, and now have an inscription half in Italian half English. Super.

Jay was great... despite the threat of a sore throat... she made us laugh with her dry delivery and whizzy characters.

Vincent read his motorbike poems. I want to READ them. Or to hear them again. There seemed to be so much hidden in each line.

Isabel read poems about her father, among others. They were so engaging, and emotionally straight as a die. Lovely to hear, but again, I want to linger over them.

Simon B's work is shortlisted for the Forward prize. I am tempted to buy this collection too...oh dear. I need to make more money....

Charles Lambert read the final story from The Scent of Cinnamon, a fairy tale-like story, which had the audience spellbound. he too is a good reader.

We repaired to a nearby pub and spent a jolly hour or so chewing the cud or something.

I plucked up courage to ask if there was a chance of joining in any reading slots in this series of events... and yes, there was. I am joining them in December. Moral of the tale, dont be shy!

It was also lovely to see fellow Salt author Elizabeth Baines, and I was only sad that she couldn't stay longer... she had to rush for the train.


Prior to the event, I had supper with Tania Hershman (another Salty!) and Sarah Hilary, crime writer.

I'm afraid supper was slightly overshadowed by a short and wonderful meeting with a lovely guy called Jon.

Well, it's not every day you meet your step-brother for the first time. Or such a handsome one!

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Glimmertrain deadline approacheth


Deadline: September 30, 2008

* 1st place wins $2,000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies.
* 2nd-place: $1,000 and possible publication.
* 3rd-place: $600 and possible publication.

Reading fee: $20 per story.

To submit, go to, and click on the yellow submissions tab.

Results post on November 30, 2008. Winning story will be published in Issue 73.

Other considerations:

* Open to all writers, all themes.
* Word count range: 2,000 – 20,000.

We look forward to reading your work!

Editors of Glimmer Train Stories and Writers Ask

Monday 22 September 2008

I sold a poem...

Please notice the word 'sold'...egad. I am on the path to great riches.

I get a quid for a poem to be sent out by Every Day Poets. And I have to say - what helpful bunch. My poem went back and forth a few times with useful comments from the editorial panel (here) before it was accepted.

So I had a very generous lesson as well as everything else.

Poem is called 'A Stone for your Shoe'. Link to be posted when it goes live.

BT Customer Services...

Unless you REALLY need it....
Sometimes, things happen that make you realise just how totally out of touch are the great British companies.

Here's a lovely attempt by BT to take away my father's confidence for a while. Which at ninety three is a blow and a half.

I bought him a special phone from the BT Shop. He has poor eyesight and is hard of hearing - and BT supply a phone with large clear buttons and a special loudspeaker option.

Dad lives alone. His independence is very important to him, for as long as he can manage, and we are helping him as much as we can to stay independent.

Lovely phone. Arrived quickly. And developed a fault quickly within less than a year. It flashes to let him know there is a message, when there is none. A rather cruel fault; he answers the phone thinking there's one of us on the other end, and it is blank.

Just an imperious 'You have no messages'.

The loudspeaker doesnt work properly. Intermittently. So he doesn't know if it's his hearing aid at fault, or the phone. Another cruel fault.

I contacted BT to ask them if they can mend it. It is still under warranty.

'Yes, package it up and send it to us, and we will send it to the manufacturer, and they will mend it, and send it back to us, and we will send it back to your father."

"Oh. And how long will that take?"

"Oh about six to eight weeks."

"OK. Thanks. I will package it up... meanwhile, he is 93, hard of hearing...(etc etc) please may he borrow a spare while his is mended?"



(I rang customer services - was passed from pillar to post while they pretended to know what to do, or not - making money out of me holding the line for yonks.)

"No. Buy another one." (the gist of the final reply)

I have just had it in writing from the customer services people.

Makes you proud to be British, doesnt it??

Here's a suggested sales line for them: "Are you one of our customers? Are you elderly, need a specialised phone? ....Bugger off!"


here are the emails: the first one just received:

Dear Vanessa,

I regret we do not provide temporary replacements, sorry for the inconvenience this causes you and your father.



Customer Services
BT Shop

British Telecommunications plc (BT), Registered in England: 1800000. Registered Office: 81 Newgate Street, London, EC1A 7AJ. Contact the BT Shop at
-----Original Message-----
Sent: 17-Sep-2008 12:28:58
Subject: Re: Query (#8744-111231171-7099)

In a message dated 17/09/2008 12:24:14 GMT Standard Time, writes:

Dear Vanessa,

Your product return details i.e. your RMA 'returns number' will follow
shortly. If you've not received your RMA by the end of today, please let us know.
Please note the RMA is valid for 14 days only.

Note: If you purchased a bundle, then all items of this bundle would need
returning. (example of this would be if we advertised a router coming with a
network card).

Thank you and regards,

Dear Andy...

this will leave my elderly father (93) with no phone.. He lives alone.. do
you supply temporary replacements?

Wednesday 17 September 2008

IRELAND and the Frank O'Connor Festival

Here beginneth the first of two trips to Ireland this autumn.

I leave today for Cork where I am participating in the Frank o'Connor Festival, and will be staying until Monday.

Three days stay, flights etc were a gift from the Festival. I have extended it by a day as I wanted to hear Clare Wigfall read this evening. (Her story The Numbers won The National Short Story Prize recently)

So much to look forward to: I hope to hear Adam Marek, Tania Hershman and the Southword writers at their session, I hope to meet Nuala Ni Chonchuir at last. Jen my publisher will be there, talking on the short story. Salt Publishing have a platform - Carys Davies and I read on Saturday. I will meet up again with US writer Julia Van Middlesworth who won the Fish prize this year. (I wonder.... she's shortlisted for the Sean O'Faolain... watch this space) and hopefully meet many more.

And the highlight .. seeing Jhumpa Lahiri being awarded the Frank O'Connor Award on Sunday. I hope I might get the chance to say hello. We have been in touch via a mutual friend talking about a multicultural short story project.

Who knows? Some of her talent might follow her around in the air. So I shall breathe deep.

The whole programme is detailed on Women Rule Writer's Blog HERE

Monday, I fly back and straight into leading a discussion on the short story for a very scary serious reading group. They have read Chekhov's The Bet and Lawrence Sargeant Hall's The Ledge.

Look forward to that immensely.

Sisters - a couple of days on

Lovely surprise... flowers from my sisters just now... when I stopped crying, I had this piccie taken by a friend.

THANKYOU all of you... and sorry Charlie - no time to stick makeup on. This is me, raw and red-eyed.


It’s now a couple of days after the excitement of Sunday, when I finally made contact with four lovely people.

It’s wonderful, but there are so many different feelings pulling me in different directions.

I have many many photographs, of everyone growing up, babies, little girls, teenagers, weddings, and my favourite- a line of bottoms and ‘family legs’ in cut off trousers.

I have many photos of my parents. My mother as a child, on a horse (She rode with Harvey Smith - well, there’s a turn up for the books!). She looks very gentle, with a mop of brown curls and beautiful eyes. My father’s face is strong, well defined.

I rang my ‘step mother’ last night to say thank you for passing on my letter. We talked for a while. It was a bit of a shock she said, but as soon as they saw my website, there was no doubt that I was who I said I was.

What now?

Well, I watched enough ghastly programmes over the last few years, in which reunions were made into entertainment. Long-lost siblings falling on each other’s necks and swearing to keep in touch. And then a ‘revisit’ clip at the end of the programme, with a few bemused people saying that nothing had happened since the programme.

Well of course it didn’t. A bit of fame and a studio hairdo glosses up the event, and then the people walked away and carried on with their lives. I think they are probably very lucky if anything grows.

I think having full sisters, as opposed to half sisters is unusual. And it is joyous.

Whatever happens, whether we all return to our lives and let this sink, I know who I am, genetically. And they know who the sibling is that they ‘knew’ about but couldn’t ask.

I am using a lesson learned from those dreadful programmes.

I am so delighted, and moved, to have talked to Susie and Phillippa, and I will visit Phillippa if, in a couple of months time, we both feel it is the right thing to do.

As I said when writing about this initially… if something grows, slowly, then great. If not, this has been the most brilliant conclusion to a long long journey.

I am proud of them all. Of us all. And wish us all much happiness. I know I feel happier and more settled than I ever have.

And now, this blog is returning to its normal transmissions.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Letters are so special -

There's something about letters.

I hope the internet and mobile phones and texting don't kill them off.

I got a letter today, from a lady I hope to meet some day. 'How does one write to a long-lost step-daughter?' she asked.

She has such great handwriting. Strong, open, even. I had a music teacher with similar handwriting, in North Wales.

How lovely...

(and I don't propose putting much more of this on here. It's MINE! But thank you to everyone for your messages.)

Monday 15 September 2008

Everyday Poets

Impressed by professional and speedy response to a submission from Everyday Poets, with a request to edit and resubmit a poem.

Even if it doesn't pass muster, thats a nice thing to be able to report.

Everyday poets HERE

Ola Awonubi

Back to work.

Here is one of the writers I met at Litcamp –Ola Awonubi.

Ola lives and works in London as a secretary.
She attended the Centreprise Literature Development Project in Hackney, London for three years joining the intermediate then Advanced writing classes. One of her tutors was the indomitable and charming Jacob Ross, who I was lucky enough to have as my tutor at an Arvon week last year, together with Maggie Gee.
Last December Ola came first in the Words of Colour writing competition with her short story The Pink House and has had articles and short stories published in and in the Secret Attic Nov 07 anthology.
Ola is currently working on a collection of short stories based on the African experience, and a novel – a cross cultural romance that explores the social, political, cultural and historical ties that bind and divide the cultures.

Her winning story THE PINK HOUSE is HERE

Five sisters.




<<<-the first one one is me...

I woke up this morning feeling lighter. I slept like a baby last night for the first time in ages.

People have often asked me what its like being adopted. Or they say I am lucky, had a good childhood... so what's the problem.

The problem has always been this feeling (expressed many many times) that I am a disembodied twitching limb, with a body 'somewhere'.

That feeling worsened (oh how it worsened) when I discovered five years ago that after I was given away my parents married, and had more children. All girls. So that somewhere there were sisters.

OK, birth sisters. Not sisters born out of childhood fights and cuddles, laughter and tears, shared escapades with Mummy's lipsticks and stealing her high heels to wear while making bonfires in the woods. But sisters all the same. Full blood relatives.

Apart from my two sons, I have never been able to look at a face and know I am related 100%, with that comfort that comes from recognition. Facial features.

I have now talked to two sisters on the phone, and met two more thanks to the internet... masses of emails, photos winging their way hither and thither.

Yesterday, I was bombarded with photos, from these lovely lovely people. Anyone who has met me knows what I'm like. Instantly friendly, most of the time. Open, enthusiastic, talkative. A giggler.

I was on the phone all afternoon to two smashing people who sound exactly - but exactly - like me. Our voices are the same. We have the same giggle -a two-note eclamation. The same rhythms of speech. And both were as open and bubbly, and full of it, and enthusiastic as I catch myself being so often then wonder how people take it sometimes.

But hey. It's me. Or it's us. Or something.

I have photos of all four sisters. Lovely photos. Beautiful photos. And yes, there are strong likenesses.

I have photos of my parents. First time I have seen them. I look like my father, I think, but have my mother's eyes.

And its such a silly thing, but the best question among all the questions flying over the ether yesterday. 'Your legs. Have you got our legs?' and laughing at having stocky legs.

You bet.

And no, I do not expect to suddenly have close and undying contact with these lovely people who were so welcoming yesterday. But who knows. Maybe something will grow, slowly. I hope so.

Sunday 14 September 2008

More squeaks

So I just spent hours talking to two voices that sounded like mine.

With the same giggle.

Only one was in Norfolk and called Phillippa, and one was in California. Susie! er..
(Susie, was that you being 'Doris'?)

And Susie and I look SO similar it is frightening.

and Charlie is in Manhattan. And Sally is in Boston. Suddenly, looks like I am part of an international sports team.

This is FUN.


I have just had emails, and photos from one of my sisters.

What does this feel like?

I dont know. Its never happened before so I have no reference [point.

Phillippa - if you are reading

hi. Thank you. I think we might have a wee bit of catching up to do, sometime. When we are ready.

Thought for the Day

I was thinking about self publishing. No - just randomly thinking.

And I decided that for a writer, publishing is like sex.

If no one will to do it with you, you either have to pay someone to do it, or get on and do it yourself.

Profound, innit.

Saturday 13 September 2008



London Metropolitan University

Litcamp happened yesterday – if you weren’t there you missed a very good day. If you were – wasn’t it great?

The day started frustratingly – I was meant to meet up with Sara Crowley from Fiction Workhouse at Hayward’s Heath station. I couldn’t find the car park, found one within sight of the train, which waits for at least five minutes at this stop…ran (I don’t DO running) got me ticket then rushed onto the platform as they locked the train doors, and had to watch the train pull out on its way to London. Hmph.

Nemmind. I was only 10 mins behind Sara and we met at the venue, near Holloway Tube station. Perfect. Easy.

The first session on self-publishing was under way, and had kicked off in the main hall, where the tea and coffee was on… so a growing band of us met in the corridor outside. Sara, Alison Woodhouse and Julia Bohanna also from Fiction Workhouse. Kelly who had flown down for the day from her home town of Edinburgh (and didn’t know my writing colleague Douglas…) Saw the other Kelly, who blogs at a window in Stokie, once we got into the hall, and fell on the coffee and croissants. I was not sorry to miss self-publishing. I am still old fashioned enough to think if your stuff is good it will get out there.

The first session I attended was a very interesting one indeed. Including disinformation from on high...

Getting inside the editor’s head
Rosalind Porter, senior editor with Granta Magazine, Laura Barber of Portobello Books, Tom Chalmers of Legend Press and agent Hannah Westland of Rogers Coleridge and White. A hugely informative session lasting an hour and a half - led by questions from a very interested audience…insights into every possible nook and cranny of the business. One sentence rang in my head all day:

“It’s the writing we love. If the writing is great, you can forgive glitches in structure…” (or words to that effect.) The message was that structure can be redone, edited. Great prose is great prose and no editor can do that only a writer.

Then. WOW!!! Someone in the audience asked about the short story, and the lady from Granta said there was “nowhere in the UK to publish short stories apart from her magazine and Prospect.” VERBATIM.

What a fib. What a disservice to writers, editors, publishers alike. Luckily there was a slight softening of the message when someone prompted a mention of… guess who - SALT PUBLISHING!!! I was still fuming, but felt I couldn’t say anything as I had my own session in the afternoon. BUT I scribbled a memo to self to let the writers know about London Magazine, Riptide, Transmission, Brand, Cadenza, Comma Press, Elastic press, Salt, Bluechrome, Honno… the list is endless. There's The Yellow Room, Random Acts of Writing, Stinging Fly Southword in Ireland... and those are just the ones I know about instantly, off the top of my head. And yea, some of them pay. And/or royalties.

There was then a buffet lunch

After lunch I went to a fab session that had been suggested by a writer … the very thing that makes Licamp so good. It explored in detail the possibilities for writers arising from the digital age. One brilliant panellist, Val Stephenson of nthposition. Seemed to me to be the sort of lady you want to listen to all day… funny, rude, ascerbic, clever. All that.

There was the usual blather about no £££ on the web, and when I chipped in about the net being a great stepping stone, a place to be read in some picky venues… then said the next step was a book… this bloke hopped up and down and said ‘SEE!! I said it was all about money!”. So I took great pleasure in saying I have made not a single bean out of my book. NOTHING. That shut him up.

Then I did my session, to a nicely full room, talking about my strategy for learning and moving on up the ladder. And I hope I got the message over that there is plenty you can do with short fiction. Told them to look at The Short Review to see how many collections are being published. The mags, online and print. About getting OUT of writing groups or courses if they were wrong for you. About NOT having to work f ace to face with writers who didn’t give you the right feedback. About sticking with hard work, recognising where you were getting good teaching from, choosing writers to teach you, either in reality or in your reading. Being bloody minded and stubborn. And not giving up without a fight. Competitions, publications, networking. Going to everything you can. Not being fooled into thinking it is not on to share, talk, broaden.

Lovely to meet so many people afterwards who wanted to natter, share and talk!!! Including one I am hoping to blog about next, but I’m waiting for her permission.

Lovely to meet Nick Hogg whose novel Show Me The Sky is out there, and go to his talk on the process, of getting the novel out, and how he works. He shared this platform with Farahad Zama, whose own novel is out very soon, based on a marriage bureau in India.

Saw the guys and gals from Willesden, including the indomitable Steve Moran, whose hair now looks like a halo – who read all short story submissions left for him during the day, giving careful and very straight feedback on every single piece of work. And Bilal Ghafoor, guiding light of the group and with whom I am threatening to have dinner v soon.

Bridget Whelan (also from our neck of the woods… another member of new Writing South)was doing a talk on making ££ as you write. Maggue Dutt (we had a natter in the loo) talked on how young poets can create a platform for their work.

So much.

And the day ended with an open mike session, poetry, story, memoir. Short snips, well choreographed by Katie. I read Wei Chi from Smokelong. Because I love that character.

I sold a few books, but that wasn’t the point… the point was to celebrate being a writer, and to meet other writers, learn, expand. (lunch helped, and so did the wine and crisps later…)

I have never BEEN so tired. And I had done very little. Lane Ashfeldt, the guru, muct be totally knackered.


Wednesday 10 September 2008

That's Quite Enough of Feeling Sad

Right. Onwards n upwards.

Today is reading day and planning my talk for tomorrow at Litcamp. I am looking forward to the day, meeting everyone, old mates and new.


So I wrote that letter and sent it to the undertaker to forward.

The least that happens is that they know I exist.

The worst that happens is I get no reply. But I still exist. And they have my website link.

Interesting rejection

Followed up a flash submission sent in May with a query.

Flash is about an agency nurse who kills elderly patients and takes their flowers. She kills for flowers... gettit?

Reply came back within a few hours. A rejection saying:

Well written story but I don't like reading about wasting diseases, so I am passing on this one.

Makes you wonder if they read the right submission!


More shocks to the system

I applied for my birth mother's death certificate. It arrived this morning. A very sad little document.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Eclectica accept two poems

Got an email from the Poetry Ed of Eclectica, accepting the two poems I sent a while back. I am writing a series of 'Merthyr Poems', and as I still have no idea why poems are poems, or why some lines make lines of poetry and other don't, I am pleased.

They will be published on Eclectica in October. Meanwhile, here is a sample of poetry from the current issue. Picked because I liked it.

Poem by Brent Fisk Here.

Sunday 7 September 2008


Followers of this blog will recall that I joined a group of international writers about nine months ago, working together on the internet to explore 'Third World' issues through short fiction.

We had nineteen stories from some very accomplished writers from many different countries, the majority African. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie contributed a story. (author of Orange Prizewinning novel Half of a Yellow Sun.

We started sending out the collection to publishers, and had some good feedback, then an acceptance, far faster that I'd ever imagined possible.

The project is fascinating. We have edited, critiqued hard, revised again, substituted one or two stories that the publisher felt weren't quite right. But the team of nineteen writers has stuck together through some amazingly rough waters... and are still together.

We have had contributions from some very well known writers. And started the process of obtaining permissions, then handed that job to the publisher.

We now know the running order of work, and are looking at titles subtitles and covers, before again handing that over. We all feel very proprietorial!

Contracts are almost ready for signing. We have all agreed to waive our royalties, and give them to a charity furthering international harmony.

When all is signed sealed and delivered, I will reveal our publisher, who is publishing/distributing in UK, Europe, North America. other negotiations are under way for African rights, and Asian.

No, I will not be rich from this. But to be the only Brit in the project has been amazing.


(Update on the bios: Molara Wood has relocated to Nigeria from London, where she is to edit the cultural section of a new publication. And Petina Gappah has signed a two book deal with Faber.

Friday 5 September 2008


(What have yellow-eyed penguins got to do with this competition? See end of post.)

Here's a comp to send all those hopeful stories from Sean O Faolain!

WILLESDEN HERALD, sponsored this year by PULP.NET and judged by RANA DASGUPTA
FREE entry.
All for the love of the short story.

The Rules are as follows, and the whole gen can be found on the WILLESDEN HERALD HERE


The competition is free and open to all aged 18 or over, regardless of nationality or country of residence.

Entries must be:
- in English
- double-spaced
- in a normal font size (12 point is fine)

Entries must be entirely your own work and never previously published or broadcast, online or offline.

One entry per person only. Subsequent entries, including revisions, will be omitted from the competition and will not be read.

Entries submitted on behalf of somebody else, e.g. posthumously, will not be eligible.

Manuscripts must show no name, address or identifying marks other than the title of the story. Those are for the entry form only.

Word limit this year: 8,000.

There is no set theme.

Entry is by completing the online entry form and uploading your manuscript in Microsoft Word (".doc") or RTF (".rtf") format.

To enter you must first register and confirm your email address. By so registering you agree that we may email you announcements about the competition and occasional newsletters. We will not pass your details to anyone outside of the Willesden Herald and Pretend Genius Press, unless required to do so by law.

Opening date for submissions: 1 September 2008
Closing date: 19 December 2008, Pretend Genius and Willesden Herald people and this year's judges are excluded from the competition, as are members of their immediate families.

We will not enter into any correspondence about the competition, including the rules, selections, formats, receipt of submissions or results.

We cannot provide any feedback on individual entries.

We will reduce the entries to a short list, from which the winners will be chosen anonymously by this year's judge.

The results will be announced early in 2009. The short list and winner will be announced simultaneously online. The prizewinners will be notified by email at the same time.

The prizes for 2009 are:

1st place: £150 plus a one-off Willesden Herald mug inscribed "The Willesden Short Story Prize 2009"

2nd: 2 x £100 (two runners up)

The three winning stories will be published in a special edition of

All short-listed stories, including the winners, will be eligible for publication in the New Short Stories anthology series (optional).

Author compensation for inclusion in New Short Stories is limited to 2 complimentary copies of the anthology.

Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author.

We reserve the right to withold the prizes and/or reduce the short list numbers if entries of a sufficient standard are not received.

This is a FREE competition, meaning free to enter. All for the love of the short story. As we said before, this is the first literary entity since Shakespeare to offer you both love and immortality.

By submitting an entry you agree to accept these rules in full.


(The yellow eyed penguin reminds me of the good short story. It's rather lovely, hard to find, and some people say its endangered.)


The Sean O Faolain short story award shortlist has now been announced, and two of the writers are friends!

Michelle works in the Fiction Workhouse, and Julia Van Middlesworth won this year's Fish Short Story Prize and we met in Bantry in July!

We will meet again in a fortnight, as she is coming over to Cork from the USA for the Frank O Connor Festival.

Lovely stuff!

(My two entries bombed... and there was me hoping to earn a wee bit towards the MPhil. Nothing for it. I will just have to go out and sell me body. Now, how many times does 10p go into £1,800???!)

Here's the whole shortlist:

Genine Lentine, San Francisco, USA

Anna May Mangan, Wembley, UK

Terese Svoboda, New York, USA

Elizabeth Costello, Dublin, Ireland

Cathy Sweeney, Bray, Ireland

Natalie Diaz, Surprise, AZ USA

Benjamin Arda Doty, Minneapolis, USA

Colm Keegan, Dublin, Ireland

Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau, Cotes C'Armor, France

Julia Van Middlesworth, New Jersey, USA

Thursday 4 September 2008


I was guest speaker at a lovely evening last night, a meeting of ladies from Hove Tangent Club... super food in informal surroundings, then I nattered about how I started writing, about working at the rehab and so on, and then about slowly getting more proficient, teaching, competitions, and ultimately ending up with the collection.

I'd taken a couple of copies, in case... sold those and ended up with several more orders!

Questions and discussion was wide-ranging - from imagination, image and publishing to colonic irrigation and adoption. Not necessarily in that order.

A great evening, much enjoyed.

Wednesday 3 September 2008



Public Places

Poets, writers, authors and lyricists are invited to submit work for public interventions in Portsmouth (South East, England, UK)
With permission from the local Council, short pieces of writing will be displayed in public places around Southsea Town Centre from the end of September and into October 2008.
Taking the form, for example of public notices such as those displayed on lamp posts to announce road closures or planning applications - writers should be aware that their work will be open not only to the elements, but to the public gaze...
The organisers would be keen to receive submissions of writing that reflect or respond in some way to the very public situation in which they will be encountered by their readers, however all work will be considered.
Submissions by email only to be received by Friday 19 September 2008.

Please include:
• Contact details (and whether or not these should be made public)
• References as to where someone could find out more about you and your work
• Any information about yourself that might help us to promote the project
There is no limit to the number of pieces that can be submitted per writer.

The work will feature as part of the Art Bus tour of Portsmouth and Southsea on Saturday 27 September 2008, celebrating Open Weekend, the launch of the UK Cultural Olympiad (26 - 28 September 2008).

Art Route Dream is a Portsmouth based, independent, not for profit, artist and designer led initiative. The Art Bus is supported by Cibas and ARC. The 'Poetry Posts' project has been organised in collaboration with Southsea Town Centre management. Open Weekend (26 - 28 September 2008) celebrates the launch of the UK Cultural Olympiad - four years of creative and cultural activities, building up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Great Article on the Short Story by Tania Hershman

Today on Vulpes Libris, Tania Hershman,(editor of The Short Review) is invited to contribute an article on the short story.

It makes wonderful reading, and from the point of view of a writer of shorts, I found I was reading with a bit of a lump in my throat.

Why should short fiction lumped with novels, and found wanting? Never thought of that before.

Thank you Tania. Acute, intelligent, thought-provoking.


Monday 1 September 2008

The Short Story on Vulpes Libris

This week, the booky blog Vulpes Libris is concentrating on the short story. Tania H has a feature on Wednesday... why read short stories... that will be interesting!

Today there is a selection of 'My favourite collection/my favourite short story by various.

I am a bit of various