Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sarah Salway Says You Don't Need Another Self-Help Book

Sarah Salway is a kind of Renaissance Woman: she does so many different things, and does them well - from writing novels and short stories to circus skills, garden history and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - she's a true inspiration. I feel incredibly lucky not just to be her friend but to have co-tutored an Arvon Foundation short story course with her last year - I have no doubt I learnt as much from her as our students did. And she kept me sane with regular infusions of chocolate, and the odd drop of whisky...

Here's her official bio: 

Sarah Salway is Canterbury Laureate and Royal Literature Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics. You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book is her first poetry collection, and she is the author of three novels (Something Beginning With, Tell Me Everything and Getting the Picture) and a collection of short stories, Leading the Dance. Her poems have won significant prizes in competitions organised by Poetry London, the Essex Poetry Festival and The New Writer, and have appeared in publications including the Financial Times, The Virago Book of the Joy of Shopping, Mslexia, Pen International and Poetry London. Sarah is the Chair of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society.

So, this brings me to my joy at hosting Sarah here today to showcase her new book - her first collection of poetry, You Don't Need Another Self Help Book, published by Pindrop Press. Isn't the cover stunning?

Sarah is doing an audio blog tour - the first time I've hosted anything like this, and today she is reading us an excellent poem I heard her read live (at the same reading where I, with great terror, read out my first poem!)  called Love and Stationery. Listen and enjoy...

It's no wonder Philip Gross called her collection
[s]ubtly angled glimpses of love, sex, marriage, which reveal them as they really are: matters of life and death. There's a quiet sizzling underneath the surface of these poems, which can make you smile and wince at the same time.

You may not need another self-help book but you do need this one. Buy it here. You know you want to... You can find out more about Sarah on, and listen to her read another poem over at Danuta Kean's website. What fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story award longlist

The longlist for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story award has been announced - 10 women, 10 men, ranging in age from 31 to 94, apparently! Congratulations to all - especially my friend Alison MacLeod!

Diana Athill - 'A Hopeless Case'
Kevin Barry - 'Beer Trip to Llandudno'
Evgenia Citkowitz - 'Business Class'
Will Cohu - 'Two Bad Thumbs'
Emma Donoghue - 'The Hunt'
Jackie Kay - 'These Are Not My Clothes'
A L Kennedy - 'Late in Life'
Jean Kwok - 'Where the Gods Fly'
Barrie de Lara - 'Dinner at Benutti's'
Tom Lee - 'The Current'
Toby Litt - 'The Sandy'
Alison MacLeod - 'The Heart of Denis Noble'
Martin Malone - 'Valley of the Peacock Angel'
Robert Minhinnick - 'El Aziz: Some Pages From His Notebooks'
Linda Oatman High - 'Nickel Mines Hardware'
Alison Pimlott - 'Five Year Diary'
Tamara Pollock - 'Elsa'
Alex Preston - 'The Bridge Over Shuto Expressway No. 1'
Lionel Shriver - 'Prepositions'
Johanna Skibsrud - 'Fat Man and Little Boy'

It's wonderful to see Big Names rubbing shoulders with names I don't recognise, I'm eager to find out more about the stories... how about an anthology of all 20 longlisted stories, Sunday Times & EFG?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New story and some upcoming deadlines

I have a new story, The Tragedy of Tragic Men, (which was a finalist in PANK's 1001 Awesome Words Competition) published today in the February issue of the excellent PANK magazine, which just got a fabulous mention in the New York Times Style magazine's feature on literary magazines, one of the intello-chic, apparently! 

I am planning a blog post talking about the wonderful-so-far experience of working with my new publishers, Tangent Books, a small press based here in Bristol, on my new collection, but not quite ready yet - we're still choosing fonts and the illustrator is working on some ideas! (Wow, so exciting to be involved in the whole process!)

In the meantime, here are some upcoming deadlines for you...

BBC International Short Story Competition - closes Feb 27th

Open to international entrants for the first time this year, in honour of the London Olympics! Story: 8000 wds max. Prize: £15,000/£2500/8x£250. Rules: Strictly one entry per person. Open only to writers who have been previously published by an established UK publisher or an established UK magazine (no self-publishing or online publishing) Email entries allowed but must be accompanied by entry form from website. If posting entry you must send 8 copies of your work. No entry fee. Enter here.

The Binnacle Ultra Short Competition - closes March 15th

"We are looking for prose and poetry: all works should be 150 words or fewer; poetry should be sixteen lines or fewer and fewer; all works should have a narrative element." All submissions should be made via email to No entry fee, a minimum of $300 in cash prizes awarded. And all the finalists are published in a beautiful publication! Enter here.

Fish Flash Fiction Prize - closes March 20th

"This is an opportunity to attempt what is one of the most difficult and rewarding tasks - to create, in a tiny fragment, a completely resolved and compelling story in 300 words or less." 1st prize 1000 euros and publication in winners anthology. 9 runners-up. Entry fee 14.00 euros for first entry, 8 euros for each subsequent entry.  Enter here.

Fish Poetry Prize - closes March 30th, judged by Billy Collins!

Poems of up to 200 words. 1st prize 1000 euros, 2 prize a week at heavenly Irish writers retreat Anam Cara. Entry fee 14.00 euros for first entry, 8 euros for each subsequent entry.  Enter here.

The Bristol Short Story Prize - closes March 31st

One of the most prestigious short story comps around (yes, I am biased!) Stories up to 3000 words - can be much shorter (was won by a 300-word story a few years ago). Entry fee: £7. Prizes: £1000 + £150 Waterstones gift card/£700 + £100 Waterstones gift card/£400 + £100 Waterstones gift card. Winner and shortlisted published in the prize anthology. Enter here.

Short Fiction Short Story Competition - closes March 31st

Stories up to 5000 words. Entry fee: £10 for 2 stories and includes a copy of the next issue of the excellent SHORT Fiction lit mag. Prizes: £500 + publication, 2nd prize £100. Enter here.

Good luck to you all!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Black Market Tale Traders

I'm really excited about being involved in this very special event to mark both the Jewish festival of Purim and International Women's Day, on March 8th, in London. I wrote a story which will be performed by an actor... read on for more!

Coming up at the JCC...
Subtext: black Market tale traderS
Thursday 8th March

Purim as you’ve never experienced it before.

Set in a theatrical underground bar full of characters and music, Subtext is a clandestine economy fuelled by our passion for stories.

Armed with a fistful of our currency you’ll spend an evening unearthing narrative gems from amongst the stalls and cast of this black market world. Take the opportunity to interact or just sit and listen in the bar there will be chapters and verses – and even live music – to everyone’s tastes.

Many of the tales you’ll discover are inspired by the women in the story of Purim and have been specially commissioned by the JCC from a number of female writers.

This will be an exciting, immersive storytelling experience, with stories by Eleanor Greene, Tania Hershman, Irma Kurtz and Rachel Rose Reid. Live music will come from the Shtetl Superstars, a jumping, ska hip hop satire on Europe’s obsession with immigration written by Lemez Lovas and Yuriy Gurzhy.

Doors open at 7.00pm
Tales will be told from 7.45pm

83 Rivington Street,
London EC2A 3AY

£12 in advance, £15 on the door. This will provide you with enough Purim bills to have a pleasurable time. More bills will be available for those with an insatiable hunger for stories.

To book
Click here to book

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Visit our website...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Flash...and more flash!

So, it was a week of good flash fiction-related news for me last week - a win at the Light Reading comp, semifinalist in another comp which hasn't declared yet, and then a shortlisting for the 2012 Unbound Press/Spilling Ink Holiday flash fiction Prize. My shortlisted flash story, Into the Waiting Arms of God, will be published in the prize anthology.

Huge congratulations to the winners and other shortlistees, especially Gail Aldwin, who tweeted me and Vanessa Gebbie to thank us, because she had taken part in the flash fiction workshops we ran in November as part of the Bridport Open Book festival. Most of the participants had not written flash fiction before, so Gail's shortlisting is really heartening, congratulations! And congratulations also to another of the workshop participants, Juliet West, whose flash story, Deep Hum, a draft of which was written during the workshop, has just been published on Ink, Sweat and Tears!

This leads me on to say that Vanessa and I will be running another flash fiction workshop for New Writing South in April, more details soon. But in the meantime, you have a chance to win copies of Vanessa's fabulous novel, The Coward's Tale, by entering the flash fiction competition on the Writers and Artists website. Here are the details:
To coincide with our recent interview with Vanessa Gebbie, author of The Coward’s Tale, we’re hosting a competition for you to showcase your literary skill.
We’re asking you to write up to 300 words (as a reference, not much longer than this page!) of flash fiction to be judged by Vanessa Gebbie. The best entries will win some very exciting prizes:
  • First place winner will receive a signed copy of The Coward’s Tale in hardback, a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012, and also have their work featured on our website.
  • Second place winner will receive a signed copy of The Coward’s Tale in hardback and also have their work featured on our website.
  • Highly Commended- two highly commended entries will also have their work featured on the website.
If you think you are up to the challenge, read Vanessa Gebbie’s flash fiction article for inspiration and submit your entry to by the 22nd February 2012. Winners will be announced on the 7th March – good luck!

Happy flashing!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Synchrotron-inspired flash fiction comp

I had some lovely news waiting for me when we landed at Heathrow last night: I won the Light Reading flash fiction competition run by Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron. Don't know what a synchrotron is? Neither did I! It's a kind of particle accelerator, it whizzes subatomic particles around at very high speeds... and it's in Oxford. I'm thrilled...! You can read my 300 word story on the Light Reading web site along with the other entries. There was also a short story contest, for stories up to 3000 words. The results of that will be announced soon, and an anthology of the winning stories will be published, along with, I have been assured, other celebratory events! Thanks to everyone at the synchrotron, I learned a lot about what they do, it's absolutely fascinating. Maybe I'll get some high-speed electrons as part of my prize... (OK, that's a silly joke for someone with a physics degree, I apologise!).

Got some other nice news which I can't share yet, I've been shortlisted for another competition, which I had completely forgotten I entered! That's the way to do it, eh?