Back in the middle of September, the excellent Greg McQueen put out a call for stories to make up a new charity anthology, Refugees Welcome, in aid of Syrian refugees. The guidelines were for stories up to 3000 words:
Stories about hope, happiness, humour, stories that somehow shine a light in a dark situation.
I really wanted to submit to this one, for two reasons. Firstly, Greg’s charity anthologies are excellent (I’ve still not quite forgiven myself for failing to submit to the Haiti one, but I was proud to be part of the Pakistan earthquake book). But more importantly, the whole tone of the current debate about refugees sickens me, and the idea of being part of a project that would plaster the phrase ‘Refugees Welcome’ all over the internet appealed to me.
There were, however, a couple of problems. The first one was that the submission deadline was the day after the final deadline for my MA manuscript. The second, slightly trickier one, was that bit about hope, happiness and humour, and shining a light in a dark situation. This is not an area that I am comfortable with. I can do humour (I think) but it tends to be a bit on the dark side. My forte is more in the area of casting a shadow over a light and cheerful situation.
Anyway, in the end I did manage to come up with something that came close to ticking the right boxes and I just squeezed it in before the deadline. And last night I found out that “Pure Blood” was one of the twenty-one stories accepted. Watch out for me boring you about it a bit more when the anthology gets published.
A couple of months ago I was asked if I fancied submitting a 300-600 word short story on the theme of “Unisex” for the very elegant and stylish .Cent magazine‘s “Man: Explained” edition. Well, I had an idea, wrote it up, sent it in and didn’t hear another word. I assumed that it wasn’t quite what they were looking for and put it to the back of my mind.
Until, that is, it got published, along with a rather spiffy illustration.
(In case you’re wondering, Sammy did exist and he did used to tell me that my girlfriend wouldnae like me with one ear. He was a deeply scary man.)
In other news, I am delighted to be able to announce that my flash “Ultima Thule” will appear in this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology. OK, I got a free pass as one of the judges for the micro fiction competition, but I’m especially pleased to see it find a good home as it’s a piece I’ve always liked.
And speaking of the micro fiction competition, I really should be getting back to the judging. There were 300 entries this year and I need to read them all and pick and grade my favourites before the end of the month…
Didn’t have time to post about this before I went off on my hols (and very nice they were to, thanks for asking). Anyway, here’s my poem “Paradise Found Wanting” up at the ever-excellent Ink, Sweat and Tears. Don’t think it really needs much by way of explanation…
Not much else to report, apart from the fact that my frankly rather puerile flash “The Sixth Generation” is going to be included in the forthcoming National Flash Fiction Day anthology “Eating My Words”. There will be more details on how and where to purchase in due course. Having been one of the judges for the 100-word competition, I can say with hand on my heart that there will be some seriously good stuff in there. As well as my piece.
The first ever Salt Anthology of New Writing is now out, featuring – amongst other things – my story “Duo for Oboe and Violin, Op 27″. Loads of other good stuff in there, so I’d definitely rate it as a “buy”.
Also out today is a cheeky little flash of mine, “Wood”, at the splendid Cease, Cows magazine. They’ve picked a great illustration for it, too.
Time for a quick round-up on stuff I’ve had published recently.
First of all, there’s my poem “Pants Outside Trousers, Big Letter H On T Shirt, Here To Save The World”, which got its first online outing at Josephine Corcoran’s splendid And Other Poems… blog.
Next, my flash “contemplating rothko” was published in “Scraps”, this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology. I also did a post for the NFFD blog on “Telling Untold Stories” and took part in a reading to celebrate the day in Bristol.
And then my story “Oddly Enough, It Wasn’t About Larry Walters At All” appeared in the prestigious Israeli literary magazine, The Ilanot Review, alongside some really cool other writers including Sara Crowley, Sarah Hilary, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Valerie O’Riordan.
Finally, my dark little flash “Room 31″ was accepted for publication by the established Greek literary magazine Στάχτες – or, to be more precise, its new English Wednesdays feature. That should appear towards the end of the month, and I think it’s quite an interesting piece because it bears out a lot of what Calum was saying in his guest post about telling the story by implication instead of spelling out every detail. I’ll let you know when it’s published anyway.
Jawbreakers, the brilliant new collection produced especially for National Flash Fiction Day is now available for pre-order! This wonderful book features short fictions from LOADS of amazing people as well as a couple of REALLY FAMOUS ones (Ian Rankin and Ali Smith!). Oh, and I’m in there too, with a story called “Camembert”.
Well, what are you waiting for?
(And whilst you’re at it, make sure you like Jawbreakers on Facebook!)
Well, at least it’s less than a week since I last blogged…
I’m currently heavily stuck into Project Y, which has somehow made its way up to the remarkable total of 23500 words today. There are a few crucial things that have to fall into place (mainly because it’s a non-fiction project and certain real-life things have to either happen or not happen soon), but apart from that it’s all fitting together really well. Touching wood as I say it, it seems to be working, and it’s the best feeling ever when a project does that. I’m so looking forward to the time when I can tell everyone what it’s all about.
However, I haven’t been completely neglecting fiction. Last week I was really chuffed to receive a commission to write a piece for the forthcoming anthology to be published in association with National Flash Fiction Day (which – spot that logo in the bottom right-hand corner – is now supported by the Arts Council!) Check out the other names involved – there are several of my flash fiction heroes and heroines there
The good news is that you – yes, you! – can be involved too. As you can see, submissions are now open, so get cracking and send something in by close of play on Tuesday April 10th. Hmmm. Better get going on my own effort soon, I guess.
Right then. Got your Kindle handy? Good. Here’s a twitter anthology for you, from the splendid 7×20 magazine. I’m in there, with a twitter haiku, and there’s loads of other good stuff too from a wide variety of tweeters. If you’re in the UK, you can download it here, otherwise you’ll need to go here.
In other news, my good friend Oscar Windsor-Smith has come up with a Christmas present guide which for some reason includes Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, alongside such other gems as The Archangel and the White Hart. Do you need any more recommendation than that? (He’s also spot on about Vanessa Gebbie’s The Coward’s Tale, which I’ve only just finished and is absolutely wonderful. Make sure you buy that one as well.)
Finally, this year’s Christmas Special for Mrs Darcy has turned into a bit of an epic. The first of two parts may be found here. To make things even more complicated, it’s actually a sequel to last year’s special. Thinking about it, it’s only a matter of time before the word count in the specials outnumbers the original.
I’ve been subbing a few odd things here and there in between whatever it is I’m doing right now and yesterday I heard that one of them, a poem called “Perspective”, had been accepted by Every Day Poets. Unlike pretty much everything else I’ve had published by EDP, this one is quite serious – sad even. More about it nearer the time.
In other news, we’ve had a rash of mentions for the VWC anthology, “The Archangel and the White Hart“. Scott Pack picked out a couple of stories in it for his Me and My Short Stories blog (making a total of four so far!) : Katie Carr’s prizewinning entry from the 2010 Get Writing competition, “Beating the Blues” and Oscar Windsor-Smith’s splendidly peculiar and somewhat filthy “Camera Segreta“. We also got a nice review for the anthology as a whole on Amazon, from someone who isn’t in it as far as we know.
Finally, I was more than a little stunned to read (via the wonderful medium of Twitter) that John Harding (of “Florence and Giles” fame – you have read it, haven’t you? If not why on earth not – it’s utterly brilliant) had lunch with none other than PD James today and gave her a copy of “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens”. The bit that I’m struggling to get my head around is that apparently she was thrilled to bits. Sadly, I’m guessing this means that the challenge to a duel didn’t get any further than her agents, but this may actually be better still.
In the immortal words of Jimmy Jones, you need good timin’.
When I sent my entry in for the Scott Prize to Salt Publishing at the beginning of last October, I had no idea whatsoever that Salt were about to launch Proxima Books and even less idea that barely a month later I would be signing a contract for Proxima to publish Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens. By the time the Scott Prize announcement came around, the release date for Mrs Darcy was already set for September 1st which made things look a bit complicated, given that all three Scott Prize winners were due to be launched during National Short Story Week – November 7th to 13th.
Something had to give. So yesterday the decision was taken for publication of Dot Dash (my short story collection) to be put back to 2012. I’m obviously slightly disappointed about this, because my first love is short stories and I’m desperate to find out what the world thinks about this collection. But I can also see that from a marketing point of view, bringing two very different books from the same author out at almost the same time would be insane.
So 2011 is now going to be solely the year of Mrs Darcy, whilst 2012 is going to be the year of Dot Dash. Unless of course everyone suddenly starts clamouring for that sequel to Mrs Darcy, in which case life gets very complicated indeed. But in a good way.
Meanwhile, Scott Pack is reviewing stories from the 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize anthology, and today he’s given a four-star review to one of mine, “rZr and Napoleon”. Like the other story of mine that bagged a four-star review from him (he has such good taste), it will of course appear in Dot Dash in 2012. But if you want to read it in the meantime, I strongly recommend getting hold of a copy of that anthology – it really is very good indeed.