Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small Glimmers of Light

Although life is tough right now and nothing can help me through the loss of my beautiful Zac, there has been some nice news: I found out today that I am the winner of the Fiction Desk's first flash fiction contest, with my flash story, A Call to Arms. Now, it is no exaggeration to say that just this week I had decided to give up on finding a home for this story. I came to the conclusion that it's a story only its creator could love. Hmm. The universe had other ideas, and for that I am very grateful. Huge congratulations too to the finalists:
  • Gavin Cameron, with ‘A Big Leap’
  • James Collett, with ‘The Clever Skeleton’
  • Damon King, with ‘Simmo!’
  • Paul Lenehan, with ‘For Joy’
  • Matt Plass, with ‘Invisible Them’
  • Ian Shine, with ‘Love Stops at Ten Metres’
We will all be published in the Fiction Desk's next anthology, in the spring.

I also found a home for another story (a long one, almost 2000 words...) that I thought was perhaps too strange to get anywhere: The House of Meat was a finalist in the Words with Jam short story contest and will be published in their anthology. It takes place in a laboratory where they grow artificial meat. I said it was strange.

So, small glimmers at a time when I was having a few wobbly moments about writing in general. Wobbles are okay. Taking a break is okay (I spent a great deal of my recent writing retreat st. It's good to see if the yearning is still there. It's good to let the universe provide you with a few hints. Thank you, Universe. I think I'm getting the message.

Addendum: Another message
Today I found out I won 3rd prize in Salt's Flash Fiction contest, my story, A Song for Falling, will be published in their prize anthology. I hear you, Universe.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Zac 1997-2013

It's so hard for me to write this because on Friday night I said goodbye to my beautiful soul-companion for 16 years, Zachary.

It's almost unbearable for me. He was my familiar, the best friend a writer could have, a lap cat, an adventurer, a great talker, a champion sleeper. He was our Boy.

I had foolishly dreamed he might break all records for the longest-lived cat in history. You think that, you can't help it. But he couldn't, he was very ill, and we couldn't bear to see him in pain. At least that we could do for him.

Goodbye, my Zac. I imagine you watching us from a parallel universe, maybe one millisecond shifted from this one, where you are healed and whole, and you have all the chicken you could desire. Rest in peace, gorgeous boy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Short Story Event Ticket Giveaway!

I will no longer be chairing this event due to the loss of my beautiful cat, but please do go, she is a wonderful writer.

I am incredibly honoured to be "in conversation" at Jewish Book Week in London on Feb 27th with renowned American short story writer Edith Pearlman, whose 4th collection, Binocular Vision, was published in 2011 - and was reviewed by Sarah Hilary on The Short Review. I've just republished the review on the site as part of our From the Archive feature. Sarah says of the collection:
On the middle shelf of my bookcase I have two piles of books, side by side. One is two feet deep and represents twelve novels I’ve yet to read. The other pile is for short story collections, and has just one book at present: this one. I’ll have read more stories, met more characters, laughed and cried and sighed more often reading this one collection than all the novels put together. Such is the skill of the author.
I whole-heartedly agree. I love this book - all her stories, actually. Edith should be far far better known worldwide - but this is her first UK event, and frankly it is unmissable for anyone who loves great stories, of all lengths. I can't wait to ask her questions about her writing and chat about stories!

And for you, my dear blog readers, I have one FREE ticket to give away! All you need to do is express interest here in the comments section and I will pick a winner on Feb 20th, giving the lucky winner a week to make travel arrangements and the rest of you time to get your hands on a ticket. If you want to read one of Edith's stories, try Capers, published in Ascent. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Guest editor for the next issue of the Ilanot Review

I have just been asked to be guest fiction editor for  the next issue of the excellent Ilanot Review, an Israeli journal of creative writing in English that is calling for international submissions which are right up my street. Please do send me something to read! Here are the details: 
The theme of our Spring/Summer 2013 edition is:
Submission period: February 1, 2013 – April 30, 2013
We are looking for hybrid literary texts: flash fiction, prose poems, stories and memoirs in verse, lyrical essays, graphic poems, and mixtures of your own creation. This issue views genre as an affiliation, rather than a fixed point of identification. We are interested in works which, rather than replicate existing literary structures, take features from multiple literary genres and subvert them in order to create a new entity.
The malleable territory of improvisation, self-invention and disjunction of texts that are “neither this nor that,” or rather, “both this and that,” has long been used by writers whose identity cannot be defined by one single category alone. The term “hybridity” describes the dislocation of the subjective “I” in the world of the twenty-first century. Hybrid literature speaks to the increasingly heterogeneous nature of countries and societies. It invites a diversity that celebrates dialogue and exchange across checkpoints, national boundaries, languages and disciplines. We look forward to discovering the way this theme inspires you, and to reading your work.
We welcome submissions of the following:
(but only one submission (for poetry – this means up to six poems) per genre)
  • Poetry − up to six poems –Please submit all work + bio in a single Word file. Submit up to six poems, with one poem per page. Poets: Please include your name and contact information on each page.
  • Fiction – up to 5000 words
  • Creative non-fiction – up to 5000 words
We also welcome translations of original work, providing the translator has obtained permission from the author. Previously unpublished translations preferred. Be sure to include the original poem/story in Word format. 
Please Note:
  • Do include a short bio (50 -75 words) with your submission.
  • We will consider simultaneous submissions provided that you indicate this upon submission and retract your work immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
We are now using an online submissions manager.
To submit your work, click here: Submit to The Ilanot Review

Friday, February 01, 2013

Writers and Artists Yearbook Short Story Competition

I am honoured to be the final judge of this competition on the theme of "freedom" - closing date Feb 15th so get your skates on! You know what I like. Great stories. Of all shapes and stripes, voices, sizes. Surprise me. 2000 words is the MAXIMUM but short short is always sweet sweet. The comp is in association with the fabulous Liars League live lit night, and League actors will also be performing the shortlisted entries at the prizegiving in March.

                          For published and aspiring writers alike - enter the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2013 short story competition and you could win:
  • a cash prize of £500
  • a place on an Arvon Foundation residential writing course of your choice*
  • publication of your story on the Writers' & Artists' website
We're offering you the chance to win £500, plus a place on an Arvon writing course of your choice! All you have to do is enter a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words, on the theme of 'freedom' and email it to
with "WAYB13 competition" as the subject line.
The closing date is 15 February 2013.
The Arvon Foundation runs four historic writing houses in the UK, where published writers lead week-long residential courses. Covering a diverse range of genres, from poetry and fiction to screenwriting and comedy, Arvon courses have provided inspiration to thousands of people at all stages of their writing lives. Find out more and book a course online at Don't forget to read the full details, terms and conditions before you enter. Please remember to register on before submitting your entry. Good luck!