28 April 2011

Mind your Language

Right then, let's get back to more literary pursuits. Last night saw another splendid spoken word event hosted by the Bad Language writing collective at The Castle. Once again, I was scarily scheduled in the first open mic slot, after BL's very own Nici West did the intros and a couple of poems. I read, not The Luck Department, as previously threatened, but my new, slightly saucy, story about electromagnetics (such a geek!), I See Electric. I like this story and it seemed to attract some admiring comments, so let's hope someone somewhere picks it up and publishes it. Ever the optimist, I won't be holding my breath.

After me was my Ask Ben & Clare and Flash Mob colleague Benjamin Judge, himself with a sexy story plus a poem, about Bradford. Not sexy. Ben was followed by Calum Kerr, plugging his new book 31, which contains 31 stories, one written per day in January, and Word Gumbo, the new e-zine from Gumbo Press, which aims "to promote the very best in stories, poetry, flash fiction, scripts and non-fiction" and of which Jo Bell (who cameoed alongside Calum) is poetry editor. Submissions for the first issue close on Saturday; they should be on the theme, aptly, of "beginnings".

Next up was Fat Roland, who read a very serious story in five parts, employing his usual performing flair - this time screwing up each of the five pieces of paper to "represent" each of the five sections. This guy kills me. He also reminded everyone that tomorrow (Friday 29 April) is the closing date for the Flash Mob Writing Competition and introduced everyone to the Literary Salon we'll be running on Thursday 26 May as part of Chorlton Arts Festival.

Nija Dalal was next, with a very personal story about 24-hour diners and Walmarts and her mom back in the States. She has a nice delivery; it's like listening to someone chatting when she reads. And she was there with Stuart Maconie: him off the radio. Stuart Maconie heard us read! Yowzers. The first section was then rounded off with Bad Language's Dan Carpenter, reading some of the poetry he's been writing for NaPoWriMo, which has been running throughout April.

The middle third saw poet Rod Tame take up the mic with a proper rehearsed set of jokes and poems about being gay, coming out, being gay, and not being gay enough. After another break, there was more poetry. Obviously by this point, a certain amount of the Grolsch had been quaffed, so my notes are somewhat limited and I didn't catch some people's surnames and, even when I did, can't find some of them in the interwebs. Third Bad Language host Joe Daly introduced the final round, and was followed by Steve, Dominic Berry (with some material from his upcoming Wizard show, starring the aforementioned Rod, at the Contact Theatre on Wednesday 25 May; which, incidentally, is when the next Bad Language night is - fight!), Kieran King (whose Whatever Happened To The Heroes I quite enjoyed), Jane Birch (who was persuaded by a certain Jo Bell to read some rude words, to much acclaim!), then a short story interlude with Flash Mobber Dave Hartley and Garment Feud from Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf, then finally another poet, called Ben.

27 April 2011

My work is never done

Mum was complaining that I hadn't posted for, like, two whole days, and now it's been even longer. I think, therefore, I'll cheat and do a little round-up of things what I have wrote elsewhere in the last few weeks. (Sorry about that: I've been attending to the "part-time adventuress" bit of my profile; normal blogging service will be resumed shortly.)

First up, short stories... dystopian tale The Luck Department appeared on Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf on 12 March (and may appear in spoken form at tonight's Bad Language shindig at The Castle), while White Rabbits (a slightly abridged version of the original) found its way onto 330 Words a month later.

Next, features... I was commissioned to write about flash fiction for the magnificent Creative Times, and did so in no more than 500 words. It was fun! (Hint: more people should ask me to write features; especially if they want to pay me.) I've also spent the month of April residing as the featured blogger in issue 33 of Blankpages, which has been lovely.

Then, reviews... A review of Gaynor Arnold's short story collection, Lying Together, out on Tindal Street Press, was published by the fabulous Bookmunch, and I have also this weekend filed copy reviewing Salt's new anthology, The Best British Short Stories 2011, edited by Nicholas Royle. Keep your eyes peeled on Bookmunch for that over the next couple of days.

Finally, marketing material... I've been (and remain) busy working on various projects and for various clients, ranging from copywriting flyers and supplying web copy to editing brochures and proofreading posters. I've also been up to my eyes doing quite a bit of press and PR for Chorlton Arts Festival and the Flash Mob Writing Competition and Literary Salon. I'm just a slave to my art...

21 April 2011

Wider reading

Following on from that last missive, may I suggest some wider reading. I direct you to the blog of the wonderful Nik Perring, who is quoted in my Creative Times piece (now complete with at least one nice comment, which is most pleasing). As well as being very lovely about me and my feature, Nik has posted his full thoughts on flash fiction (he kindly sent me all this, but I was limited to a strict 500 wordcount so couldn't include anywhere near enough of his wiseness). I also asked David Gaffney to furnish me with sage words for my piece, and indeed you can read more about his take on flash fiction in an interview with the very same Nik and also by downloading a PDF of his Tindal Street Press Writing Masterclass, Be Short. This includes some rather fine tips for writing flash fiction; perhaps useful before entering a certain competition you may have heard of? Anyway, more on and from both Nik and David soon, so watch this space...

20 April 2011

Book it, book it real good

This is happening tomorrow. I am going. You should go too. It is free. All the other details are on the flyer. David Gaffney is a flash fiction writer and also a novelist, and he will be reading some short stories from his latest collection The Half-life Of Songs (up for this year's Edge Hill Short Story Prize) and maybe presenting some of his Destroy Powerpoint slides. I can't recommend this enough. James Davies is the organiser of experimental poetry night The Other Room and editor of If P Then Q. He will be performing some poems from his new anthology, Plants. The event will be compered by "the incredible" (apparently) Tony Trehy, text-poet and founder of Text Festival, currently on the go in Bury.

After that, I'm hotfooting it to the Kings Arms in Salford, where my friend and Flash Mob colleague Mr Dave Hartley is co-hosting a Flash Mob quiz with his brother Mr Rick Hartley. Some of the questions will be about books. Benjamin Judge has written a round. I expect that will be about cheese. Or books. It's a quid per person and there are prizes. See Dave's blog for more.

19 April 2011

Feeling flash

Now, you may remember a while back me mentioning the Flash Mob Writing Competition, which I'm helping run as part of this year's Chorlton Arts Festival. Well, you have ten days in which to enter, so snap to it. All the details you need to know are on our fabulous website, which now comes complete with some rather gruesome photographic evidence of what each of the five Flash Mob judges looks like. I've obviously been at the juice. Dave looks like one of his rabbits caught in the headlights. Tom, according to Ben, looks like "a sexy magician". Fats looks menacing. Ben looks slightly menacing too, come to think of it.

Any road, to help plug the contest, I've written a feature for none other than the fantabulous Creative Times. The feature is about flash fiction. It includes quotes from flash fiction authors and everything. In recognition of the genre, I was asked to submit less than 500 words and you can read the results here.

18 April 2011

Rehearsal of fortune

Theatre. Blogging. Just two of the things I like.

And, lo, if Library Theatre Company hasn't only gone and combined the two, offering the good bloggerati of Manchester the chance to go behind the scenes of the first of three site-specific productions the company will stage in the summers of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Paste 200 words about a recent thespian outing into the comments on the post here (where you'll also find all the details), and you could be one of four writers privy to a rehearsal of Charles Dickens' Hard Times at the company's temporary Zion Centre home in Hulme, with a further invitation to a dress rehearsal in June at the newly renovated Murray's Mills in uber-cool Ancoats. In return, you write about your experiences for the Library blog, yeah?

Murray's Mills, Ancoats, Manchester, 30 x 100cm © Glenn Clarke.

08 April 2011

...and another Ashworth

Now, here's another interesting event that's been flagged up to me by my pal Library Sue: Born, Not Made?, a discussion about whether or not creative writing can be taught. It takes place next Tuesday (12 April) at 6pm in City Library's fabulous Becker Room (where we had our recent Flash Mob photo-shoot, and, coincidentally, where the pic in my last blog post was also taken).

The event will see the lovely Sherry Ashworth (novelist, senior lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and co-founder of Hidden Gem Press) chairing a discussion, about whether writers are born or made, between Jane Rogers (MLF Is There A Novelist In The House? judge, creative writing lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University and author of eight novels including Island, The Voyage Home and Mr Wroe's Virgins) and her "protegee" Rachel Genn (whose debut novel The Cure is out on Constable & Robinson on 26 May). The debate will revolve around the student/teacher relationship, the ups and downs of taking a writing course, the shared enthusiasms and the issue of influence, and there will also be readings.

Please go because I can't!

06 April 2011

One Ashworth...

You know me, always hanging out with the literati, right? So today, I had coffee or lunch, I'm not sure (I had coffee; she had lunch), with Jenn Ashworth, pictured here at the Bugged launch at Manchester Literature Festival 2010. I wanted to find out about some of her current projects, of which you will be privy to more very shortly right here. Happens I'm also just in the middle of Jenn's debut novel, A Kind Of Intimacy. You don't need to say it; I'm a slow reader: Jenn's second offering, Cold Light, is out at the end of this month, and she's well on the way to a first draft of her third.

For a sneak preview of the second, and possibly the third, of Jenn's books, get yourself over to the Martin Harris Centre at the Manchester University, tomorrow (Thursday 7 April) at 6.30pm. As writing fellow for the University's Centre for New Writing, Jenn will be reading some of her work and answering questions from the floor, alongside poet Paul Batchelor. You should go: it'll be worth the trip!

01 April 2011

Living the highlight

I am a highlight. A highlight in this month's wonderful online zine Blank Pages. There's its cover below. It reminds my of an album by The The. I don't suppose many of you remember The The. Before your time probably. They were quite good; a bit weird, maybe, but quite good nonetheless.

Anyway, I am very much honoured to have been furnished with this "highlight" entitlement. Huzzah for me! But why?, you ask. Well, I've written a feature in the latest Blank Pages, out today, all about blogging and just how ace being a blogger in the rainy city can be and just how ace one of my fellow bloggers is. She's called Hayley Flynn; you should check out her stuff. Her Skyliner picture set is just getting going, but it promises to make hers a go-to blog. And her misplaced mail stories are fab; they're the letter equivalent of my list collection, which I'm aiming on doing more with soon. And which grew again this morning with "loaf / crumpets / Actimel / 3 meals / veg? / mixed salad / sweets / or fruit and cream". Lovely.