Monday 30 November 2009


The lovely Sally Zigmond has posted her analysis of the title story of 'Words from a Glass Bubble' on her brilliant blog, The Elephant in the Writing Room HERE
She calls it taking a microscope to the story, and it is done incredibly well. Sally says some nice things about my work which you have my permission to skip...but it was she and her colleague Jo Good who gave me my first breaks into print, in their magazine QWF. (QWF is, sadly, no more.) And not just me. Many writers have them to thank for their first 'real' publications!
Reading through her insightful analysis, I am so grateful to her for the time and effort she put into this. But also...what a wonderful resource Sally has created for the aspiring short story writer. To have a piece of work that has done OK out there analysed like this for free and gratis, is fab. So whether or not you 'like' the story, get thee over to Elephant in the Writing Room. Make a copy of the story (you have my permission!), and her analysis. Feel free to disagree, to dislike, to argue. And use her headings to analyse another story - maybe one of your own?
And the other thing it does, this exercise - it reminds me how much we gift our work to the readers when we put it 'out there'. And like a gift, we cannot control how the user will use it. One commenter sees a phallic symbol in my description of a statuette. Fair enough. I can't say I put that symbol there consciously, but if he sees that, then its fine by me! I'm only the writer. Not the reader. And I do not control the space between us, thank heavens. I am immensely moved that people read my work, and find it interesting enough to debate!

A word in your ear....

You know those little chats good friends have with you? Well, please take this as one of those, if what follows applies to you.

You attend a talk, a workshop, a reading event. You contact the speaker/writer later, and say how much you enjoyed the talk/reading/workshop. And how much you want to learn about writing. The speaker/writer replies, thanks you for your nice message, and gives you a link or two to places where you can learn interesting stuff about writing.

You write to her again, to say thanks. How interesting. But you also attach some of your work, two full length stories, and say, 'Be honest. Give me some feedback. What do you think of these?'

The word in your ear is Please please don't do this. Entrusting me with your work may be a lovely thing to do, but you don't know me from Adam, or Eve. First of all, you don't know that I will treat your words with respect. You don't know that I won't 'do a Bruton' and use your ideas and plots for myself. Your ideas are precious.

But also, you are making an assumption. You are assuming I have a couple of hours to spare, with nothing else to do to fill them. You are assuming that I do not have my own work to do, my main work - my writing. You are assuming I will do your critiques unpaid, instead of the critiques I might be doing on a paid basis for other writers.

All I am doing is asking you to think...

Thursday 26 November 2009


Fab news - I have been invited to tutor a creative writing course at Stockholm University next term. Using Short Circuit as one of the text books.

Wednesday 25 November 2009


Stephen Moran, on Facebook: Somebody send some classy stories to the Willesden short story competition. Pretty please. Otherwise I'll have to shoot myself.

I think Stephen is saying that a lot of the entries so far are dire. Not all... some are smashing - but not enough of them. SO GET YOUR STORY IN!!

Details HERE

Short Circuit shifts apace... Orbis says yes.

Short Circuit is selling well at Salt Publishing, every day new orders are coming in. Lovely. And on Amazon it is selling too... currently it is:

#31 in Books > Reference > Writing > Writing Skills!!

And I had a short story accepted at Orbis.

The New Writer Prose and Poetry prizes - deadline looms.

Lovely invitation, to be final judge of the short story section of THE NEW WRITER: Prose and Poetry Prizes
You've got a few days to get your story in!!!
From the website: GUIDELINES

Short stories up to 4,000 words and novellas/serials up to 20,000 words on any subject or theme, in any genre (not children's). Previously published material is not eligible for entry. Entry fees £5 per short story (TNW subscribers two entries at same fee). £15 per Serial/Novella.
Single poems must be previously unpublished with a limit of 40 lines. Entry fee: £5 for up to 2 single poems (TNW subscribers 4 poems for £5).
Collection of poems (6-10 poems) can be previously published. No line limit. Entry fee £12 per collection.
Essays, articles and interviews up to 2,000 words covering any writing-related or literary theme in its widest sense. Previously published material is not eligible. Single entry £5 (TNW subscribers two entries at same fee).
All work should be clearly typed, double-spaced (poetry should be single-spaced), on white A4 paper and paperclipped. Entrants may make as many submissions as they wish but please include your name, address, title of entry, word count and category on a separate cover sheet with every entry. Preliminary judging will be carried out by The New Writer editorial board with guest judges making the final selection so there should be no identifying marks - apart from the title - on the entries. Entries are non-returnable. A full list of winners will be sent provided SAE is enclosed.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

The Bridport Literary Festival and The Bridport Prize, 2009

What a wonderful few days- staying in Bridport, meeting up with old friends, meeting new ones, attending some but not enough wonderful readings and talks. Running a sold-out workshop on opening up creativity, going to the fab Bridport Prizewinners’ lunch at the Town Hall, and becoming a compere for a brand new event - introducing the winners of the short story section of the Bridport Prize after the lunch. Phew.
Chris and I then drove up through the Dorset and Somerset floods to a secret destination (ho ho) and had a couple of nights and superb dinners… and it is now back to normal.

Highlights then:
Supper with Frances, (organiser of the B Prize) followed by the most hilarious event with itinerant poet Elvis McGonagall. -Elvis McGonagall himself -Weak with laughter, I had giggly-stomach ache for hours. He is a regular fixture at the Festival. Worth going for him alone, I’d say!

The launch at Waterstones of Candy Neubert’s novel Foreign Bodies (Seren).
Candy is my co-compere and is also highly important, being chief poetry reader and poetry shortlister for the B Prize.

An astounding talk by Horatio Clare about tracing the migration route of the swallow from South Africa to his family barn in South Wales. He with backpack only…This from a great review of the resulting book, Just One Swallow, from The Guardian:
“Clare (is) brave, modern, multicultural and open-hearted approach to travel itself. If he is not an explorer cut from the mould of Redmond O'Hanlon, he is at least an adventurer of the metropolitan kind. He enjoys a fleeting sexual liaison with an Ivorian beauty in Brazzaville. He is fleeced by hash dealers in Casablanca. He loses all his belongings in Spain. In Marrakech - where else? - he falls head over heels for a British-Asian from Rochdale and vows to marry within hours of meeting her. When he gets back to England, one is barely surprised to hear that his family seeks to have him sectioned.”
Whole review HERE
The double act of Ali Smith and Jackie Kay, this year’s judges for short story and poetry. -Ali Smith- They read, they laughed, they discussed, they talked, read some more… the audience at the Bull Hotel wouldn’t let them leave. And it was after that talk that I queued up to have books signed, and gingerly offered Jackie Kay a copy of Words from a Glass Bubble. (Why? Because we are both adopted adults, and both found birth parents on Google!) She was lovely, and accepted. And she demanded that I sign my book for her at the same time as she signed one for me, so amidst giggles, we synchronised signatures and messages. Amazing!

The Workshop. Wow. “Where do stories come from?” I asked… and hopefully answered the question – EVERYWHERE!! (Except by nicking other people’s entire stories, naturally – we did cover plagiarism. I’m getting good at spreading the word on that one.) We had a great time, aided and abetted by lots of props like earrings gleaned from Bridport’s charity shops, photographic books, fossils (found by ME on Charmouth beach), copies of newspapers, Big Issues, maps, and other delectables.
The lunch. Yum. this is a pic of the lunch, from the Bridport website. All pics taken by Dee (sorry Dee, dont know your surname!) The person standing up is reader Jacky Wyatt, who chose my story as a potential winner in 2007.
And the highlight for me...
The story prizewinners: Meeting Anna Britten again (ex- Fiction Workhouse) who is a runner up! And Annemarie Neary (who I met in Bantry earlier this year at the Fish Prizegiving, where she came 3rd), also runner-up. And Teresa Stanton, recently met vis Nik Perring’s blog, also runner up. Sad not to see Nick Hogg, who was also runner up… its quite a party of writing friends this year. And the wonderful winners. First: Jenny Clarkson, with her very first ever subbed story. Quite perfect!! (Ahem – take note.) Natasha Soobramanien second, and all the way from Colorado, Nancy Nye, third. this is Jenny Clarkson, the winner of this year's bridport First prize, chatting to the shortlister, Jon Wyatt.
The Big Event was a hoot. For the first time there were all three top winners in both poetry and story. Plus half a dozen runners up. And they ALL got to read. And Candy and I talked from thrones high on a stage about what winning a prize had done for us.... look! My throne. Being inspected by Ali Smith and Jackie Kay. See, I'm not making it up!!

Lots of books sold. A box and a half of Short Circuits and Bubbles went to good homes...fab.
And this is the secret hideaway we went to… if anyone wants a quiet and very special top quality bed and breakfast with 5* cooking in the evening, look no further: The Parsonage at Muchelney, Somerset Website HERE

Monday 16 November 2009

Short Circuit Blog Tour, first stop!!

Well, we're off on a blog tour, and it is the gorgeous Nik Perring who hosts an interview on his blog today. (I've always had this thing for younger blokes. Sigh...)
Mrs Gebbie - behave!
Oh, OK then...
We will have some 20 stops, and true to form, I haven't got dates arranged. So if you've been kind enough to invite us to visit, please air the spare room a while longer while I get my act together!
Meanwhile, here's Nik and me, and we natter about Miracle-Gro among other things...

Sunday 15 November 2009


Har! Three pieces from my forthcoming micro-fiction collection, Ed's Wife and other Creatures are appearing on a literary placemat in the USA.
I follow in the hallowed footsteps of Nuala Ni Chonchuir, who had a very short story on the debut placemat at Loquacious Placemats, published by er... Twisted Thistle productions.

Loquacious Placemat. The only outlet for literature that you eat off. Deliberately!

NAWE Conference 13-15 November.

The National Association of Writers in Education conference was lovely. More than a hundred writers who also teach writing at universities and schools gathered in a hotel called Chilworth Manor, near Southampton. The marvellous, inspiring company of writers I knew, and the joy of meeting new ones.
Great to spend time with Alison MacLeod, Professor of Contemporary Writing at Chichester University - she of the amazing writing skills, amazing teaching skills, and the generosity to write for Short Circuit. Alison’s website HERE.
Great to catch up with Peggy Riley again from Kent Live Lit, who blogs HERE
Great to see Sarah Butler, erstwhile writer-in-residence for the Circle Line (!) who has a packed website HERE and who whizzed down from London to do a presentation on writing to a setting.
And NAWE leading light Graham Mort, who was winner of Bridport 2007, among a thousand other things including directing the PhD writing programme at Lancaster, website HERE who also contributed a chapter to Short Circuit.
And smashing to meet the dynamic and totally amazing Gilly Smith – pour yourself a large gin, sit down and read about her HERE on her website
Amazing lady. She also teaches CNF at the University of Brighton.

Sarah, Alison and I were all running presentations/workshops at the same time yesterday, which was very saaad as I’d have loved to go to both their sessions. But I did go to some extraordinary ones – I’ll pick out a couple. First, one run by two tutors over from Columbia College, Chicago, who gave such an intense workshop…intended to illustrate the way they conduct their four-and-a-half-hour student workshops… only this was in one-and-a half! Next, a session on the influence of the visual arts on fiction… a look at ‘reality’ as portrayed in art, film, and the use of drawing techniques in fiction workshops. And one on maps in fiction, the importance of knowing your setting well -and how you can map out a real setting, using GPS to introduce a web of sound, accessed by students with iPods as they explore… I tell you there are some amazing influences on the next generation of writers out there.
I ran a flash fiction workshop, for some 25 participants. Funny, so many people seemed to have sidelined their own writing, in order to teach it. (Warning... take note!) That seemed sad. So much of my planned workshop went out of the window as we focussed on super flashes, and I used Tania Hershman's work 'Plaits' as a prompt, which produced some extraordinary and very good pieces. Sold all but one of the Rose Metal text books I had left.
Two whole days of presentations, workshops, discussions and events. Keynote talks/interviews/readings from novelist Graham Swift and poet Wendy Cope. Quite fantastic really. (Actually… V retired to bed before the poetry… and went and wrote her own. I find it so hard to do that at home. Why do hotel bedrooms work?!)
And of course, the launch, for which Jen Hamilton-Emery battled through the high weekend winds to Southampton all the way from Cambridge. The launch of Short Circuit was lovely, in the huge mini-theatre of the hotel… complete with cinema screen, rows of chairs, vast lectern. We had a quality audience and offered them short readings from the book, generously introduced by endorser, the Director of NAWE, Paul Munden. Sales were brisk, orders filled in, and it gave Jen and I a warm feeling to know that our book was winging its way to the best of homes all over the country.

Thursday 12 November 2009


Susannah Rickards has posted on the thread below to say this:

V, I'm in serious talks with some web designers to see how much it would cost to set up a One Stop Shop website for Indie Publishers, where readers can browse the books and then buy direct from the publishers (maybe eventually buy from the site - but that's down the line.
It would be a place where medium and small publishers can publicise their new titles and existing stock. It can feature interviews, reviews. Much more magaziney and overtly shop-like than T's Short review but with a similar ethos. To support and foster the small presses.
With Facebook, Twitter and writer's forums it wouldn't take long for word of mouth to spread about it and I bet Guardian Review, LRB. TLS would all give page space to the launch of such a venture.
I think it's time for the tinies to fight the big boys in the playground. Strength in numbers....

Susannah would love to hear people's response to this idea, especially from Eyeores who think it can't work, so we can foresee and resolve problems before it's set up.

My response would be this. Fantastic idea. I want to know WHY the small publishers arent doing this themselves?


Thanks to Nicola Morgan’s wonderful helpful (and often funny) blog Help! I Need a Publisher, here are some facts and figures about Amazon and how their tactics are helping to close down small publishers. And while they line their own pockets, they keep funds from writers as well as publishers.
Lynne Mitchell of one of the newest and smallest of small publishers, Linen Press HERE, talks about the struggle to keep going, and says:

The financial challenge for a small publisher is formidable. Let me give you some figures:
- One book costs £4 to produce because I do small runs of 1000. I refuse to compromise on quality and I use environmentally friendly paper and ink.
- I charge £10 a copy
- Amazon takes 60% and I pay £1.75 to replace the book. If you do the sums, that's £6 for Amazon, plus £1.75 p&p, and the £4 production costs, so I am actually paying Amazon £1.75 for every book they sell. If readers ordered from my website I would make £6.
- The big book stores charge me 50% mark up get a book onto one of those tables where people stop and browse. If I sell a copy, I make £1.

Frightening, isn’t it? READ THE WHOLE POST HERE

I’d like to see all writers dropping their Amazon adverts and links, please. WHAT are we doing??? They aren’t helping anyone but themselves, they aren’t good employers, nor are they ‘green’ in their practices. For the sake of a penny or two, writers. DROP THE LINKS. And pass on this message, and the facts above to all the writer-types who blog.
Anyway, if you want a copy of Short Circuit or Words from a Glass Bubble please go straight to the publisher HERE. And get a 20% discount on the price, which for once is more than the dreaded monster chargeth.

Tuesday 10 November 2009


Did you know...when you die you go to Limbo, which is like Oxford Street, policed by an angel called Bob, who looks a bit like Bob Hoskins...?!
What was I reading last week to stop me biting my nails and worrying that Short Circuit would be lost by the printers, or the delivery lorry would burst into flames, or the books would self-combust on exposure to the air?
A chick-lit book. Heaven Can Wait, by Cally Taylor. (here, V. waits while the ghost of her late librarian mum, picks herself up of the floor)
I’m happy to admit I would probably not have picked it up in a bookshop, and bought it because I sort of ‘know’ Cally, as we were both ‘hedjicated’ about writing by the same tutor. And I much enjoyed her book, acherley. So there.
Received wisdom says we are completely different writers, Cally and I. But are we?? I don’t reckon so, at base. Working on different 'stuff' maybe, but we both love what we are doing, and get on with it. We create stories… characters with problems, and weave stories round those characters’ struggles to overcome them. We have both been taught ways of making characters live on the page, and here in Heaven Can Wait, I think it shows in spades.

Heaven Can Wait is a romping entertaining read. I was caught up in Lucy Brown’s problems far FAR more than I got caught up in the characters of that blockbuster Da Vinci Code. Why? because Cally convinced me, whereas DVC’s characters never became more than two-dimensional. As I was reading, Lucy Brown was ‘real’, and I wanted her to be OK…I ‘cared’. OK, I didn’t particularly 'like' the farty bits, but hey! She’s real, she’s flawed and she’s in trouble. What a good starting place for a novel. I turned the pages of DVC to skim for plot. Not because I wanted to know anything about characters...I read Heaven Can Wait because it was totally intriguing, and I wanted to know what happened to Lucy.
Nice one, Cally! I also want to know how on earth you dreamed this story up, and what you have on your cornflakes in the morning. ( Eg, as above...: When you die you go to Limbo, which is like Oxford Street, policed by an angel called Bob, who looks a bit like Bob Hoskins...)

Cally and I have something else in common. She went to Ellerslie School, in Malvern. And so, for a few weeks, two summers running, did I! A long time before Cally… my school in Brighton used to take over Ellerslie for the summer. I remember I was in a dormitory called Stow on the Wold, and the school had an unheated swimming pool, a concrete pit surrounded by rose bay willow herb…
Heaven can Wait by Cally Taylor is published by Orion. HERE it is on Amazon


Right. I'm going to call this aftershock. I've been so busy, caught-up in collating, persuading, organising and then editing Short Circuit, that my own writing has been squeezed. So I was really looking forward to getting back to it, to my town, my characters, my strange storyteller.
But even though I now have a second book on the shelf with my name on, albeit as an editor, and ought to feel high as the proverbial kite, I don't. I feel flat. Tired. Low.
Maybe that's just me. I used to feel seriously low after placing at a comp, and couldn't understand it. I remember talking it through with friends, who said, 'me, too, sometimes. I suffer from a sort of aftershock.'

But then this comes along. A seriously depressing article in the Guardian, sweeping the blogosphere. Publishers are getting rid of many many established writers whose work is broadly like mine. So why would they take on a me?

Some quotes from the article follow:

** there is no new generation of British literary talent to follow the likes of Martin Amis, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan.

**"There's been a slow bonfire of literary authors in the last 18 months," says Hamilton. "Publishers are sending out to pasture established literary novelists because they realise they aren't going to be sold by the chains. The complaint now from publishers is that most of their quality books hardly get a look in at all. In the past, sales for many literary novels were never very high, but now publishers are cutting down on their lists in desperation."

**"The emphasis given to the few is staggering," says Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors. "It's our mid-list authors, who may not write the most commercial books but who often write the best, who are suffering. The big corporate publishers dominate the shelves and squeeze out smaller publishers."

**Hilary Mantel's agent Bill Hamilton worries that books are being sold like shampoo. "In retail, if you are selling a new shampoo you would expect to pay Boots, for instance, for a promotion, to make sure your shampoo is more visible than other ones. That pattern has been copied by Smith's and Waterstone's to an extent that has never been seen before in bookselling: you pay for almost any presence in the stores, you pay a huge amount for special promotions in the front of the store, and you go on paying every week even if the books are selling strongly anyway.

**"There seems to be a frantic scramble in the book retail world to rush downmarket in order to compete with the challenges of Amazon, the supermarkets and next the ebook. Publishers have to fight their corner, year after year, against ever more aggressive demands for higher discounts from the chains, but seem at a loss to know how to cope with the underlying problems they face. They fear speaking out about how their books are being sold."

THE TURN OF THE SCREW courtesy of Faber

If you subscribe to Faber's email list, you can get some amazing offers. Last night was the second time we've been to a 5* performance at the English National Opera for relative peanuts (5* from reviews, not just me). We saved over £100 on our seats, and had the most brilliant evening.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James was made into an opera in the 1950s, music by Benjamin Britten, libretto by Myfanwy Piper, wife of John Piper the artist.
Here's the opening of the story - a novella, really, but it packs the punch of a short story still:
The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

Such a good story. And such a fascinating thing, not a single way to interpret what is going on, but Freudian analyses abound, religious significance is seen by those who will, and whatever - the story remains powerful and chilling.
The entire text is HERE, in various files for download, from the University of Virginia.
An aside. The original treble to sing 'Miles', the strange boy in the story, was David Hemmings, who went on to become an actor. We were told by the articles in the programme that during rehearsals, Hemmings shared Benjamin Britten's bed on occasion, but 'there was no sexual stuff'. Righto. Whatever - The Turn of the Screw is one of Britten's most powerful works.

Sunday 8 November 2009


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

My father is 94, and for the first time, he stumbled over these words at our village war memorial this morning. Then he straightened his shoulders and carried on.
Yesterday, he took out his medals and gave them a polish. One is a fairly simple silver cross, with a grubby ribbon. The Military Cross.
Not many people really know what that medal means. But I do, my sons do. And we all try to make him as proud of us as we are of him.

Short Circuit prices short circuit on Amazon

Short Circuit is doing incredibly well. So much so that there is already (apparently -) a second hand copy with shelf wear on sale on Amazon in the USA (No one's actually had theirs yet!! They only got back from the printers on Friday).
But this takes the ticket... are pbshopus hoping that someone will press the wrong button when they buy???

At pbshopus Short Circuit is selling at:$1,165.53
+ $3.99shipping

You'll be pleased to hear that they have it in stock when no one else on the planet has...: Shipping: In Stock. Ships from NJ, United States. International shipping available. See Shipping Rates. See return policy.
Comments: New book. Shipped within the US in 10-14 days.

Saturday 7 November 2009


Do you know who this is??
if you do, get on over to Salt publishing, answer two more questions, and you could win a copy of Short Circuit, 'the definitive guide to writing the short story', as said by Carole Buchan of The Asham Trust, the trust behind The Asham Award for New Women Writers.

HERE is the link to Salt's competition.

Friday 6 November 2009

And we're still off...

Er - it was number 79 in writing guides last time I looked. Now it Sales Rank: 18,198 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in this category:
#34 in Books > Reference > Writing > Writing Skills

STOP BUYING FROM AMAZON. Or the book will self-destruct in 180 days time....

And we're off...

And Short Circuit romps into the top 100 reference books, sub-section 'writing skills', on Amazon. On pre-orders! Amazon, HERE but, but....

If you want one, pleeeeeze buy it from the Publisher. See link in post below this one? It may cost a tiny squisdge more, but you will be doing the world of independent publishers a favour...Thank you sooooo much peeps.

Acherley... WAIT!!!
Look right, look left....
IRRESISTIBLE!!! I’ve been bundled already! For £35.00, for a limited period, you get FOUR of Salt’s best reference books: HERE

Short Circuit Edited by someone or other
101 Ways to Make Poems Sell by Chris Hamilton-Emery
Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh Edited by Rupert Loydell– a fantastic collection of poetry and prose-poetry, seeking to answer the question ‘what is poetry, and who is it for?’ (answer – everyone, sillies!)
Don’t Start me Talking . Edited by Tim Allen and Andrew Duncan. 20 poets nattering, and stuff.
Get over HERE before they run out of bundles…

It's TRUE!!!!! Everyone at Salt Publishing is MAD.

Finally, I can reveal the exclusive news that everyone at Salt Publishing is totally mad. I have sent the truck to pick them up, but check out THIS TOUCHY-FEELY EXPERIENCE before the truck gets there and carts them all off to the Asylum for the Utterly Bewildered. SEND IN THE NICE NEW UNIFORMS..
Short Circuit is back from the printers... YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!
And I bet you don't get THAT SORT OF THING from ordinary publishers. Oh no.
Bring back the waxed moustache, the corset and the hyper-gusset. And stop having FUN. This is a TEXT BOOK. It is NOT FUNNY. And certainly NOT TO BE ENJOYED. Writing short fiction is a dry, serious, painful passtime. You do NOT enjoy learning to write short stories. STOP NOW.

(If you insist on finding out more, you could click on THIS LINK to the publisher's SHORT CIRCUIT webpage, but you'll have to put up with a gigiantic and irrelevant photo of the Editor.)

GOOD FOR THE SOUL…apparently.

I am becoming quite an establishment figure –compiler of a text book endorsed by the Bridport prize, Asham, Fish, academics and writers… invitation to be a Welsh Academician (how do you spell that?), and an invitation to address the postgrad community at Sussex University, at the Department of Critical and Creative Writing. Previous speakers include Will Eaves, Arts Ed of The Times Lit Supp, Jane Rusbridge the novelist.
Now this is terrific stuff, I am hugely grateful and shall enjoy the challenges and opportunities thrown up by everything – (as is necessary in this writing life)
And just in case I begin to take myself seriously, my husband looks over his newspaper and says, “So how much real money have you got so far, for all this, then?”
Of course, the answer is, “….er. Coffee, darling?”
And THAT is good for the soul.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Well knock me down with a feather....

I have received an invitation into Full Membership of Yr Acadmi Gymraeg/The Welsh Academy,


"for contribution to the literatures of Wales"

Isn't that lovely, if bemusing. Did I do something right?!!

Wednesday 4 November 2009


Courtesy of Sally Zigmond and her blog, the marvellously-named Elephant in the Writing Room The entire text of Words from a Glass Bubble (the story, not the whole book!) is posted, pending her taking-apart of the story next week. This is part of a series of articles on the craft of the short story - a great thing to be doing.
Words from a Glass Bubble is the story of Irish postwoman Eva Duffy, a plastic statuette of the Virgin Mary (affectionately called the VM) and a reclusive farmer, Finn Piper.
HERE it is in three posts... too long for one.
Sally says summat about readers not saying if they hate the story. Nah - feel free. It's won a couple of decent awards and it's up there to illustrate craft. But you don't have to like it as well!

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Sparks, Brighton

Good event, Sparks. A flash fiction and photography event held in the tiniest theatre you've ever seen, at Upsatairs at Three and Ten, Steine Street, Brighton.
I had the great pleasure of finally meeting and reading alongside Jonathan Pinnock, who blogs HERE. His story was clever, funny, and original... terrific stuff about canine mathematical geniuses.
Lovely to see Jac Cattaneo, as well, who took us back to 1984, and a very poignant different era in South Africa. I can't find a blog for Jac, but HERE is a story of hers, Bringing The War Back Home on Bartleby Snopes.
Sparks is the brainchild of Jo Mortimer, and HERE is her story Contructing Birds, on Smokelong Quarterly.
It was great to see James Burt in the audience of Beat blog. and also photographer John Biggs. I know John from a previous existence, when I was doing marketing...
I read a couple of pieces. STITCHES begins thus:
Late at night, when Ann has finally gone to sleep, Frank thinks of sex and unpicks the quilt on their bed.

and PIPPY SPIT, which begins thus:
I was an apricot. So was Anna. And my Mum, she was a big squishy grapefruit, because sometimes she had pips on the spoon in your mouth, but with sugar, she was sweet enough. My Dad, he was a crunchy red apple, one that had thick skin, so that you had to bite down hard, and wait, wait as your teeth clamped, for the pop of the skin and the spurt of juice down your chin. My brother was a banana.

Hence the banana pic above...

Lovely message from a writer...

Isn't this lovely? Got this email from a writer clled Ola Awunubi- it makes this blogging lark worthwhile! I met Ola briefly at London Litcamp in 2008, and mentioned that HERE. I obviouly have an eye for a winner!

Hi Vanessa
Been following your blog - great source of info and inspiration. Also so your word anthology on Facebook. Thought I wld share my good news with fellow writers who have been a big inspiration and encouragment. Pls see below in bold :
All the best

The winners of Wasafiri's prize for new writing were announced by poet and prize judge, Mimi Khalvati, yesterday in front of packed audience at the Purcell Room, South Bank, London.
Our congratulations go to:
Ola Awonubi for 'The Go Slow Journey' (Fiction)
Rowyda Amin for 'Monkey Daughter' (Poetry)
Bart Moore-Gilbert for 'Prologue' (Life Writing)
The winning entries will be published in the Spring 2010 issue of Wasafiri.
Thank you for all who entered and to those who offered their supporting, making Wasairi's first ever writing prize such a success

many congrats to Ola, and to the other winners of the first Wasafiri competition.

Monday 2 November 2009

Calling Short Story Writers, new and old...

If you are a short story writer – old hand or new to the game, pop over to Sally Zigmond’s blog - The Elephant in the Writing Room HERE- for a fab series of articles and discussions. This is a fantastically generous and useful thing to be doing for writers.

Sally will be posting the whole manuscript of the title story of my collection, Words from a Glass Bubble, (prize-winner at Fish, runner up at Willesden Herald short story competitions), and deconstructing the story as part of the series. She is inviting questions and comments from anyone who is interested to participate – do pass on the invite –I will pop in and participate if I can be helpful.

For those who don’t know Sally, she is a very well published and prize-winning short story writer, a novelist, editor and judge of competitions. She finds time to write reviews, and also critiques fiction for reasonable rates. (I know… she has been very helpful to me). Her novella CHASING ANGELS was published in 2006 (HERE it is on the publisher's website)and her novel, HOPE AGAINST HOPE is on the chocks at Myrmidon Books scheduled for 2010.

Here's her page at Fantastic Fiction

Sunday 1 November 2009

Poem up at Ink, Sweat & Tears

Charles Christian has accepted three poems for Ink Sweat and Tears - the first, Blindsight, is up HERE