Bit of serendipity today. As a result of following some new people on Twitter (I think mainly because they’re also in the “50 Stories for Pakistan” anthology, although I could be wrong), I picked up on another charity anthology, this time being produced by the people behind The Pages Magazine. All royalties for this one are going to the National Autistic Society Early Bird Plus Programme, which seems like an excellent cause.

The tricky bit about this particular anthology is that it’s aimed at kids – specifically 8- to 12-year-old kids – and I don’t write stories for kids any more (I did once, but that was a long time ago). However, I did happen to have a dozen very silly poems for kids that were lying around not doing much, so I sent them in this afternoon. A couple of hours or so later, I received my acceptance for all twelve. Woo hoo!

It’s always nice finally to find a home for something (especially stuff that was written getting on for 20 years ago), but to find a nice home for it is even better. The anthology is coming out in time for Christmas, and I’ll let you know when it becomes available.

Almost forgot to mention this. Back in October I took part in a charity writeathon with other members of The Grail. Actually, I’m only really a semi-detached member of The Grail, as being active in the VWC, SlingInk, Café Doom and The Write Idea is probably more than enough to keep me occupied, but this seemed like fun. Anyway, it looks there are going to be not one but two anthologies being produced, under the working title of “Right to Read”, one for short stories and one for poetry. So I’ve got three pieces in the short story one (“The Librarian”, “The Colour of Criticism” and “Value for Money”) and – in keeping with my new-found career as a poet – one piece in the poetry one (“Love and Loss, Swedish Style”). I think that makes six poems either published or scheduled to be published now. Can the T.S.Eliot prize be far away?

First thing this morning I sent in my entry for the final round in the Whittaker competition. It’s been a lot of fun, this one, with some quite challenging prompts to work with. For the record, here are the ones that I went for (out of a choice of three for each round):

the phone rang at 4 a.m.

stained ground beside Forsbury Chapel

orange wellies

going down an angle so sharp it makes Pythagoras puke

the middle of nowhere sings

nicotine-stained walls and a broken air conditioner

Do you take American Express?

he was always such a quiet boy

on Friday, a duck fell from the sky

See what I mean? That’s the sort of stuff that’s guaranteed to send you off into all sorts of odd directions. Anyway, one piece (“Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions”) has already been published, and one other is currently in competition. The rest will be out there just as soon as I’ve hacked them around a bit. Oh, and I’m currently in fifth place. Can’t see much chance of getting any higher, as I had a couple of duff rounds. You can sit one round out, because only your best eight count, but two’s gonna bring you down. Still, like I said way back when this started (before this blog had even got going) the most important function of a comp like the Whittaker is to force you to generate stuff, and winning it is a secondary issue. (Of course, if I was leading the comp at this point, it is possible that I might have a different opinion.)

And speaking of comps like the Whittaker, its spritual parent, Eurofiction, has just started up again on the SlingInk site. The first prompts went up on Wednesday. So off we go again.

BTW, I spent the rest of today writing stuff for the Grail charity writeathon. Great fun, and lots of interesting ideas bubbling around. I eventually came up with eleven pieces altogether: 8 stories, 2 poems and 1 piece of non-fiction. I’m fairly happy with this, although one of the people there managed to do 35 pieces altogether. I suspect that she is actually an alien with more than one brain. And, of course, the donation page is still open here.

 Should have posted about this ages ago, but never mind. This Saturday I’m taking part in a charity writeathon, which will involve writing as many stories as I can to prompts between 11AM and 11PM. It’s being run by a writers’ group called The Grail and this year it’s in aid of Volunteer Reading Help, which is a cause that should be dear to anyone with a love of reading and writing. So (hands up who saw this coming) I’m asking for your hard-earned cash. I know, I know, times are hard, but it is a really good cause, isn’t it? And, trust me, you’ll feel so much better for it.

As for the event itself, I’ll be fascinated to see what happens. The pressure often disengages the left brain and throws up some interesting stuff, such as this one that emerged during last year’s Children in Need event. I’ll let you know how it goes …