Wednesday, 10 February 2016


A podcast by the Australian Broadcast Corporation has several authors listing their influences. It's an interesting mix. "MiddleMarch" is mentioned, but so is the TV series "Skippy", the 70s band "Sweet" and the "BladeRunner" film. Here's my list.

  • "Thunderbirds" - I fear that many of my narrative templates derive from the original TV series.
  • "The Golden Cobbler" (Enid Blyton) - As a child I read some books repeatedly. This is the only title I recall. But though she wrote hundreds of books, there's no book of that name. I think I've mixed titles up.
  • Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here" mostly. I think my templates may have been affected by the end of "Echoes" or the arrival of the Sax in WYWH.
  • "Cinema Paradiso" (the original version - not the director's cut) - charming and sad - what more can one ask for?
  • "So many ways to begin" - a novel by Jon McGregor. On the ABC program someone said that they were scared to re-read certain books in case they weren't as good the second time around. I felt like that about this novel, but my fears were unfounded - I've read it twice

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A few successes

I've had a busy January, with current/forthcoming appearances in these publications -

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Short story DOs and DON'Ts

Bartleby Snopes’ guidelines include a list of "Things That Generally Turn Us Off" that's worth bearing in mind wherever you send your stories -

  • Stories written in present tense (especially third person present tense)
  • Stories with graphic dead baby scenes
  • Stories about writers
  • Stories about struggling marriages
  • Stories set in bars
  • Stories with more backstory than plot
  • Stories with undeveloped characters
  • Stories that are overly reflective
  • Stories that rely heavily on second person usage

Comma Press have so many dislikes that I can only list a few here -

  • Coming of age stories
  • Stories about ordinary, mundane days/existences in which suddenly something happens to change everything
  • Stories that aim for complete thematic unity (as though the writing of them was a jigsaw puzzle to be completed) above surprise or delight
  • Stories about a) student life; b) splitting up with a partner; c) taking drugs; d) unlikely travel/rave experiences
  • Stories whose justification in a workshop scenario might be 'this really happened'
  • If you're writing from a female perspective: writing about 'going mad for a bit and having lots of dangerous sex with unwholesome types'
  • If you're writing from a male perspective: writing about breaking out of humdrum, conventional existences/work; getting stoned; wild irresponsible nights with unhinged mates; meeting salt-of-the-earth old blokes in pubs who, while not having the education of the protagonist, have home-spun wisdom to impart and are prone to saying 'bloody heck'; feeling intellectually superior.

Jonathan Franzen wrote -

  • Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money
  • Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.

But before you start rewriting, consider the Guardian’s review of the “Best British Short Stories 2015” anthology where they write that “It would appear that – going by this collection and scrutinising the author biographies – your chances of appearing in Best British Stories 2016 will be given a boost by"

  • being a woman
  • having a connection with the north west
  • writing your story in the present tense
  • be a bit weird, or uncanny

Saturday, 9 January 2016

My 2015 write-ups - hits and misses

Here are the 6 most popular of my 2015 write-ups -

And here are the 6 least popular -

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A poetry submission schedule for early 2016

There are fewer critical dates for poetry submissions than for story submissions - more markets and fewer windows. I shall try to submit to most of these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Cambridge Writers

Congratulations to Ilse Pedler, who's won MsLexia's pamphlet prize. Seren will publish it in March 2016. Ilse attends the Cambridge Writers poetry group that I attend. Another member, Diana Brodie, had a book published by Salzburg Press in 2013. A previous member, Emma Danes, was published by Smith Doorstep in 2013. And my pamphlet came out in 2010. Not bad for a little group.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A prose submission schedule for early 2016

As more magazines introduce submission windows, and competitions increase their significance, it's worth planning ahead. I shall try to submit to these (mostly UK) competitions and submission windows -