Friday, 31 May 2013

New Writing North newsletter

Just been emailed the latest newsletter from New Writing North so I thought I would post the information for my followers:

Poetry Slam
The Bar, Ustinov College, Durham University: Wednesday 5 June, 7pm
Twelve poets will get three minutes each in three rounds to compete to be the slam champion and win the cash prize of £75. Hosted by Poetry Jack. Everyone welcome, free admission and no booking required.
NCLA First Thursdays: creative writing showcase
Room 2.98, Armstrong Building, Newcastle University: Thursday 6 June, 1pm
Join students from across Newcastle University’s creative writing programme in a celebration of new work from this year. Free event. For more details, see
True North: literature and the region
Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University: Thursday 6 June, 7pm
An evening of discussion and celebration of the region’s literature and how the region is represented in literature with three of our most celebrated writers: Lee Hall, Val McDermid and Sean O’Brien. The evening will also include the screening of a short film, Proof, by Tara Bergin, Kate Sweeney and Anna Woodford about the Bloodaxe Archive, which was recently acquired by Newcastle University. Free event. For more details and to book, contact
Bea Davenport: In Too Deep
Blackwell’s, Newcastle: Thursday 6 June, 6.30pm
Alnwick Library: Tuesday 18 June 7pm
Bea Davenport’s debut novel is inspired by the author’s former life as a journalist. Bea currently teaches creative writing at Northumbria University and lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Free event. For more details, email
Hartlepool Libraries present their spring programme
Hartlepool libraries: Saturday 1-Friday 7 June
Hartlepool Libraries kick off their event programme with a fortnight of talks, storytelling, and workshops. There are 12 events with something for all ages and interests, including crime, fantasy, and family sagas, with authors including Niel Bushnell, Steve Skidmore, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Valerie Laws, Nick Quantrill and Nick Triplow. Tickets: £3/£5, with a 3 for 2 saver available. For more details, see or call 01429 272 905.
Mark Robinson: How I Learned to Sing
Green Room, Green Dragon Studios, Trinity St, Stockton-on-Tees: Monday 10 June, 7pm
Lit & Phil, Newcastle: Wednesday 12 June, 6pm
Middlesbrough Literature Festival, Black Light Engine Room Cabaret, Python Gallery, Middlesbrough: Saturday 29 June, 7pm
Mark will launch his first book in 15 years, How I Learned To Sing: New & Selected Poems, published by Smokestack Books, with a number of readings in June. How I Learned to Sing is, among other things, a book about the industrial and cultural transformation of the north of England, from the miners’ strikes to the Big Society – a series of bewildered elegies for people, times and places, variously tender, angry, surreal and grave. There’ll be poems read, chance to buy the book and catch up and maybe even a demonstration of how he learned to sing. Free events. For more details, see
Luke Wright: Your New Favorite Poet
ARC, Stockton: Wednesday 12 June, 7pm
Expect thigh-slapping acerbic wordplay and bawdy bar room ballads as Wright introduces you to a cast of greedy politicians and boozy ne’er-do-wells. Meet Jeremy, the public schoolboy who draws penises on everything; kung fu fighting French copper Jean-Claude Gendarme; and witness the world’s first b-movie set in Brentwood. Support comes from Amanda Baker. Tickets: £5/£4. For more details, see
Pink Lane Poetry and Performance
The Jazz Café, Pink Lane, Newcastle: Thursday 13 June
Open-mic poetry event. Tickets: £3. For more details visit
Wordquake presents the Bridlington Poetry Festival 2013
Sewerby Hall, Bridlington: Friday 14-Sunday 16 June
Three packed days of poetry performances, workshops, talks and film screenings in the beautiful cliff-top setting of Sewerby Hall, two miles north of Bridlington. Now in its fourth year, Bridlington Poetry Festival welcomes poets from the East Riding of Yorkshire, from across the UK and around the world. This year’s 30 performers include Jackie Kay, Jo Shapcott, Don Paterson and Festival Patron Ian McMillan, and a Read regional event with Anna Woodford. Tickets from £10-£50. For more details, see
An Invitation to Celebrate Mystery, History & Murder
Hexham Library, Queen’s Hall: Saturday 15 June, 1pm
A trio of northern writers come together to lead you through the labyrinth of murder mystery making: Jane Finis, Rebecca Jenkins, and Dolores Gordon Smith. Tickets £5/£3 (including free entry to a prize draw for a trio of books). For more details and to book, call 01434 652477 or visit
Middlesbrough Literary Festival
Middlesbrough Central Library: 15-29 June
The fifth Middlesbrough Literary Festival returns with a variety of events for the entire family taking place at Middlesbrough Central Library throughout the day and a spectacular spoken word, music and comedy cabaret on the evening. Festival highlights include bestselling author Kathy Lette, radio and television legend Andy Kershaw and Middlesbrough-born playwright and Teesside University’s Master of Literature Wally K Daly. Get the full programme and booking details at
Mari Hannah & Rebecca Muddiman
Central Library, Hartlepool: Wednesday 19 June, 7pm
Join northern crime writers Mari Hannah and Rebecca Muddiman for a night of murder and mayhem as they discuss their latest novels Deadly Deceit and Stolen. Tickets: £1. For more information and to book, call 01429 272905.
Graham Hancock: War God
Waterstones, Durham: Friday 21 June, 6.30pm
As an exciting complement to his new novel War God, writer Graham Hancock will be sharing compelling new evidence of a long-lost civilisation destroyed at the end of the Ice Age, which will feature in a soon to be released sequel to his classic Fingerprints of the Gods. Free event. For more details, see
Middlesbrough Literary Festival presents Moth Publishing
Middlesbrough Central Reference Library: Friday 21 June, 7pm
An evening of readings and career insights from Moth Publishing’s debut crime novelists: Rebecca Muddiman will be reading from her new novel, Stolen; Alfie Crow from Rant; and Helen Cadbury from To Catch a Rabbit. The authors’ panel will be followed by a live Q&A and book signing. For more details and ticketing information, visit
Daniel Bye: Story Hunt
ARC, Stockton: Wednesday 26 June
Story Hunt is a treasure hunt-meets-walking-tour of Stockton’s many presents, those that have been and those that are yet to come. Stroll through sights that can no longer be seen. Marvel at monuments that are yet to be raised. Tickets: Free. For more details, see
ARCADE Scratch Night
ARC, Stockton: Wednesday 26 June, 7.30pm
ARCADE scratch nights promise to show the best in North East talent, as artists share their work in progress for your feedback. Each event features an eclectic mix of dance, drama and spoken word. Tickets: £3/Free to Arcade members. For more details, see

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Munchtime 2013 competition deadline 31 May 2013/The Moth Diaries preview review

Munchtime competition for children's short story with deadline closing tomorrow:

Free with a £1000 cash prize.

Go to link below and if you enter as I am - good luck.

Went to see The Moth Diaries preview at Showcase Leeds today with my daughter G.  The film is billed as a horror and there is a section with a scene not unlike the Carrie blood scene, but I thought most of the film was suggestion rather than out and out gore, so I am not sure I would go so far as to call it a true horror.

The premise is: Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa, the new arrival at her boarding school.  But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa's bond with Lucie, or does the new girl truly possess a dark secret?

Sarah Bolger (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Alex Rider: Stormbreaker) stars as Rebecca, a young girl who is sent to a new boarding school following her fathers suicide.  Her only friend there Lucy, (Sarah Gadon of Cosmopolis, Antiviral) develops an unhealthy obsession with new girl Ernessa (Lily Cole, St. Trinian's, Snowwhite and the Huntsman) and Rebecca begins to suspect that there is something very wrong with Ernessa.  She tries to tell her teacher Mr Davies (Scott Speedman of The Strangers, Underworld) but even when people start to die in mysterious circumstances, no-one will believe that it is anything but jealousy.

The score is very haunting and there are a few jumps to be had, but I personally didn't think the storyline or the horror was strong enough to make a good horror movie.                 4/10

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Cleckheaton Writer's Group meeting 28 May 2013 and Judy Woods

There were only three members at Cleckheaton Writer's Group (CWG) last night due to the date being moved to Tuesday on account of the Bank Holiday, but D, P and I still managed to get quite a bit done.  We discussed the Mandasue Heller author talk and some writing competitions we had seen in recent writing magazines.  We discussed what stage we were at with our pieces at the moment and D revealed that she is about 80% done with her third edit of TSC and I am about a third into my second edit of Thorde.  This lead us on to discuss agents and publishers.

I then shared a short story with a 'crime' theme for feedback and suggestions for a better title as I am unhappy with the current one.  Both D and P enjoyed the story and said it dragged them straight into the action and it was very evocative.

We then discussed P setting a writing task for the next CWG meeting and it was agreed that she would email all members with the details.

After the meeting, one of the other CWG members emailed me to suggest a title that I am now mulling over.

On Bank Holiday Monday my husband, son and I took advantage of the nice weather and went for a lovely walk in Judy Woods, a local beauty spot that we have never visited before.  We couldn't believe something so pretty was right on our doorstep and we had not taken advantage of it before.  We will definitely be going for more relaxing walks in the woods again.  I thought I would share some of the snaps I took whilst we meandered with my followers:

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Big Wedding movie review

My husband and I went to see this at a preview screening in the Huddersfield Odeon yesterday morning and we weren't really sure what to expect.  We knew it had some big names in it and that it was a comedy, but we went into it pretty open minded.

The premise to the movie is that a long-divorced couple fake being married as their family unites for a wedding.  Robert De Niro (The Godfather, Goodfellas) plays Don, the ex-husband and Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, The Godfather) plays Ellie his ex-wife and Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise, Dead Man Walking) plays Bebe his wife's ex-best friend, who he had the affair with that ended his marriage and with whom he now lives.  Ellie and Don's children also come back home for the wedding of their adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes of Dorian Gray and Prince Caspian) to Missy (Amanda Seyfried of Les Miserables, Mamma Mia).

Lawyer daughter Lyla played by Katherine Heigl (The Ugly Truth, Grey's Anatomy) has problems of her own with an estranged husband following failed attempts to conceive and paediatrician son Jared (Topher Grace of Spider-Man 3, Predators) has just decided to stop saving himself for true love.  Alejandro's birth mother Madonna, played by Patricia Rae (Detachment, Swimfan) and his biological sister Nuria (Ana Ayora of Marley and Me, Meddling Mom) come over for the wedding and he realises that rather than risk upsetting his strict catholic mother, he must continue with his lie that Don and Ellie are still married.  This scenario sets up a whole heap of fiascos with hilarious consequences.

For me, the film is stolen by the priest Father Moinighan, played by the inimitable Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting, Dead Poet's Society) and his deadpan interjections whilst all around him go to pot, makes the movie.

The plot is more than predictable, but the journey to the enivitable open ending (for future movies, I suspect) is well worth it for the laughs.

'Father of the Bride meets Meet the Fockers'                                                     7/10

Sunday, 26 May 2013

80s Strike Back Concert, Odsal Provident Stadium, Saturday 25 May 2013

My husband and I attended this concert last night at Odsal Stadium and what a wonderfully sunny day for it (shame once the sun went down, it felt like October - I only mention this because of some of the outfits people were wearing, there must have been some seriously frozen people by the time the concert finished at 11pm).  At one point the host said that there were over 8,000 people there and it certainly felt like it as I searched the crowds for the different costumes.  There were a myriad of girls in neon tutu's, legwarmers and wigs and boys in white with 'choose life' t-shirts or bright tracksuits.  There were also plenty of 'Boy George's' and 'Madonna's' (one even had the pointy cones).  I spotted some leopard-skin print suits, 'Adam Ant's' and 'MJ's' along with 'Tina Turner's' and 'Richie Sambora's.'  There were plenty of mullets and deely boppers and the most bizarre, a Thunderbird and an Oompah Loompah!

The concert kicked off half an hour later than scheduled (7.30pm instead of 7pm) with Sonia who looked amazing considering she is the same age as me and she really set the party going with her well-known songs, as well as a medley of others. 

Altered Images followed with Claire Grogan (of Gregory's Girl) who has a decade on Sonia, but she was still giving it her all in her beautiful white dress.  Her daughter accompanied her on guitar and I have to say the house band were amazing, particularly the main backing singer who was also playing the bongo's (as referenced by headline act Rick). 

Go West followed, who went down a storm when they played 'We Close our Eyes,' 'King of Wishful Thinking' and 'Call Me' amongst others. 

Roland Gift of the Fine Young Cannibals was next, who seemed to have a couple too many songs compared to the others as his set seemed to go on too long (I think once he'd sung 'Good Thing' and 'She Drives Me Crazy' he brought the mood down a little with a couple of more depressing numbers, which was a shame as those prior had worked so hard to keep the party atmosphere). 

The Real Thing were next, who went all out to get the party back with hits including 'Can You Feel The Force' and 'Whenever You Want My Love' and then it was Belinda Carlisle's turn.  For a woman of 54 she looked amazing in her gorgeous outfit and kept the crowd uplifted with her hits 'Circle In The Sand,' 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth' and others, including her new single 'Sun.'

Then it was time for the main act, Rick Astley and I have never seen so many women get so excited when he came on stage (except for maybe a Michael Buble concert) and he sure seemed pleased at the reaction, asking the women several times to 'shake it for him' and 'give him some sugar.'  He sang quite a few of his hits, 'She Wants To Dance With Me,' 'Cry For Help', 'Together Forever' and of course, he finished with 'Never Gonna Give You Up.'

Yes it was cheesy, but it was also great fun and I hope more concerts will be held at this venue in the future.  If any of my followers fancy going back in time and attending the forthcoming 80s Strike Back Concert in Lytham Green on 2 August 2013, the line-up will include Jason Donovan, Heaven 17, Claire Grogan, Sonia and Marc Almond, tickets are available now on TicketMaster.  If it's as good as the Bradford one, it is well worth the price.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Spread the Word Writing Prize 2013 deadline 15 July 2013

This competition is just for writers in London, but I thought I would post the details from their website in case any of my followers live there:

The Spread the Word Writing Prize 2013
We are delighted to announce the Spread the Word Writing Prize 2013. Short Fiction is a form we are excited about - we feel it has growing appeal and an audience that’s ripe for development. You’ll have up to 8000 words to move, excite, enthrall and inspire us on the theme of ‘ Ritual’. We’re ready to see the best of what London writers have to offer. So get writing! Download Full Prize Rules here.

Download the Entry Form and a Cultural Diversity Monitoring Form

Closing Date for entries is midday, Monday 15 July 2013.

Bidisha is a writer, critic and BBC TV and radio broadcaster. She writes for a wide range of international publications and has judged numerous prizes. She specializes in the arts and culture, social justice issues and international affairs; and is the author of two novels. Her fifth book is out next year.

Tania Hershman is the author of two story collections: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), a collection of 56 very short fictions, and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008; commended, 2009 Orange Award for New Writers.) She is Writer the ditor of the online journal The Short Review. Her website is

Sue Lawther is the Director of Spread the Word. She has worked in arts and education for over 20 years. As a Creative Director at Creative Partnerships Sue worked with hundreds of artists and schools to develop creative programmes and was executive producer of The Container by Clare Bayley, which won a Fringe First at the 2007 Edinburgh festival and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

Courttia Newland Novelist, short story writer, playwright and editor. His latest novel The Gospel According to Cane, was published by Telegram in early 2013. Short story collections include Music for the Off-Key and A Book of Blues. He has edited many anthologies, most recently co-editing Tell Tales 4: The Global Village (2009).

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mandasue Heller Author Talk Review 21/5/13

I had a fantastic evening along with my fellow CWG members D, L and P at the Mandasue Heller author talk last night at Cleckheaton Library.

Mandasue's interviewer began by explaining that Mandasue was born in Warrington and moved to Manchester's notorious Hulme Crescents where she became a singer.  The interviewer also referred to her as 'the Mancurian Martina Cole.'

Mandasue's background informs her writing as she feels she knows what it is like to feel fear and be a victim.  She explained that she had been attacked in her own home in the night and that she had been hit by a claw hammer whilst holding her 10 week old baby.  This caused her to suffer years of paranoia and then she had a tumour misdiagnosed.  When it was finally found behind her eye, she had to stop singing to have the operation to remove it.  She could no longer sing during her recovery, so she decided to write about the attack by making it fiction, but still using Manchester as the backdrop as it has such a strong environment.

She never writes about real things as it is too personal, that way your character can do anything without you worrying what the 'real' person would think.  When she wrote 'Forget me not' she used her assualt when she was nine to give her the seed and then grew fictitious characters from the 'victimisation.'

Names are really important to Mandasue as they become real when she is writing her characters, but she does not tend to research very often.  She admitted she did with her current book as it deals with divorce, but she just rang up a solicitor and asked some pretty basic questions.  She did research for 'The Club' in that she rang inquiring about how to get a licence to open up a Casino if you were a U.S. immigrant without a legitimate bank account - she feels she would have made an excellent gangsters moll.

When asked how easy her road to publication was she admitted that it was difficult for most, but her first book being published felt fated; it was accepted by the first person she sent it to and she is still with them on book thirteen.

Mandasue had tried to write a Mills & Boon and attempted to follow their guidelines (e.g. two leads meet within the first six pages, he can be divorced but not both etc.) but found it too prescriptive and felt like killing them both off!  She saw a documentary on writers and Jake Arnott had been one of the writers on it that had been published, so she decided to send her manuscript to his.

She finds people fascinating and believes this helps with characterisation.  She had attended a Red Scriptwriting event and produced a half hour script that eventually became 'Forget me not' but the script woman said that no Mum would ever talk to their child the way she had written.  But she knows the type because of observing people.  She also loves to read crime and anything she writes turns dark and dirty.

When asked if she felt crime was getting worse, Mandasue felt that communities are becoming more disparate and crime is more rife when people are strangers to each other.  She admitted that it takes a while for her to get rolling with a book as she constantly edits (e.g. write one day, edit the next) and she likes to have Jeremy Kyle in the background, but she can't hear it when she's writing because she becomes so involved in the characters.

She writes from the criminals' point of view rather than the police and she would advise any would-be writers to write true to themselves and this way you will find your voice. 

Mandasue used to write poetry and has turned them into songs, so she believes she would have become a writer no matter what.  Her Mum read Catherine Cookson when Mandasue was a child and she was into her writing when she was 13/14 as she enjoyed reading about real people, suffering and their battles to get through it.

She feels each book gets harder as she panics each time that her publisher will hate it but she feels that if she didn't feel that way, she would be arrogant and would not be putting her heart and soul into her work.  She takes a year to write each book and she writes songs whilst waiting for the book to get back.  She writes most of the book in the last three months, as once she gets rolling she doesn't stop.

Asked whether she had any influence on the book covers, Mandasue said that the Art Department produce the covers after the editor has read some of the book to get an idea of the main character, the Art Department do a mock-up and then they email it to her for her approval.  She does not do a massive amount of publicity for her books, but she does Hodder stockists signings for the paperbacks and the occasional library (thank goodness).

She advised the writers in the audience to not think about who is going to read it, but to write it how you want to and allow the characters to veer off.  She feels an agent is quite necessary for publication.

Mandasue admitted that she has stopped when writing a book and not been happy with how it was going.  She did this with 'The Charmer' when the main characters family situation was too depressing - she wiped out three quarters of the book and started again.  Also she changed the ending to 'Tainted Lives' as her partner felt Harry deserved to 'get the girl.'  She advised that writers should not struggle on if it is not working, but admitted that she can get too close to the novel to see things in it herself, so feels it is very important to have other people's opinions.

Her readership has a female majority, but the only male in the audience felt connected to her characters as his previous employment history in the probation service made them seem very real.  Mandasue does set boundaries for herself when she is writing, e.g. no racism and feels that although she is constantly compared to Martina Cole, she thinks they write nothing alike in that Martina can go way back with her characters, but Mandasue writes hers in the present.

The evening ended with a book signing and I came away with a copy of  'Two-faced' which I have started reading - review to follow, once I am finished.

For more information on Mandasue Heller visit her official website at

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Freedom With Writing Authors Publish Magazine

I will be attending the Mandasue Heller author talk this evening with some of my fellow Cleckheaton Writer's Group (CWG) members. 

Mandasue is a crime writer (according to her website, 'Lost Angel' and 'Broke' established her as Hodders Queen of Gritty Crime) and a singer/songwriter.  The author talk takes place from 7.30pm-9pm at Cleckheaton Library and tickets are £2 each.  Don't worry if you can't make it, I will be posting a review of this event on my blog.

Talking of CWG, my fellow blogger/Cleckheaton Writer's Group member N has passed on the following information:

Freedom With Writing have just launched a brand new magazine that will help you get published.

It's called Authors Publish Magazine, and it's available now, completely free.

If you have creative writing that you want to get published, then this is for you.

Check it out:

Authors Publish Magazine: Subscribe Free
(Get your creative writing published.)


Jacob Jans
Freedom With Writing

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bradt Travel Guide/Independent on Sunday Writing Competition deadline 2 June 2013

This competition is for any of you budding travel writers out there:

IoS logo

Bradt/Independent on Sunday

Travel-Writing Competition 2013

Travel writing icon
Once again Bradt has teamed up with The Independent on Sunday for our annual Travel Writing Competition, with the support of Stanfords travel bookshop and with prizes donated by the Croatian National Tourist Office, the Istria Tourist Board and Travellers' Tales.
This is the 14th year of our competition, and whether you enjoy writing for pleasure or hope to forge a career as a travel writer, it offers a wonderful opportunity. In previous years, unpublished writers have frequently scooped the main prize, and both winners and shortlisted entrants have often used their success as a springboard into the world of travel writing. Indeed, Catriona Rainsford, winner of the prize for the best unpublished writer in 2010, has just had her first book - The Urban Circus - published in the Bradt literary series to great acclaim. Click here to read about the experiences of another of our previous winners.

The prizes: a holiday to Istria and a commission from The Independent on Sunday

The prizes are very special indeed. In addition to having their winning entry published in the Travel section of The Independent on Sunday, this year's overall winner will fly off on a holiday for two to the region of Istria in Croatia. And that's not all. The winner will also earn a paid commission from the newspaper to write a travel feature about their prize holiday. This prize can be won by either a previously published or unpublished writer.

A prize will also be awarded to an unpublished writer. This is a place on a travel-writing weekend run by Travellers' Tales, the UK's leading training agency for travel writing. Every entry to the competition will be entered for the first prize; only unpublished writers will eligible for the special prize.

How to enter

The competition is open to all writers resident in the UK. The theme this year is 'A Narrow Escape' and entries must be based on personal experience relating to the theme. Minimum length is 600 words, maximum length is 800 words. The closing date for entries to reach us is midnight on Sunday 2nd June 2013.

For the full terms and conditions please click here.

To register for entry into the competition, click here. If you have already registered, log in here. You can log in and work on your entry anytime until the closing date, but once your entry has been submitted it can no longer be amended.

Full details of the Istria prize

The main prize of a one-week holiday for two to Istria is provided courtesy of the Croatia National Tourist Office and the Istria Tourist Board. This peninsula in the northern Adriatic rivals Tuscany and Provence for picturesque towns and sleepy villages. Its hilly interior contains medieval villages, unique agro-tourism initiatives and plenty of olive groves and vineyeards; the coastline is never far away, offering pretty coves and hidden bays to explore. You'll take time to discover the Venetian town of Rovinj and the magnificent Roman amphitheatre at Pula, as well as enjoy the region's wonderful gastronomy - including truffles and just-caught fish. The prize features return flights, transfers and four-star accommodation, as well as guided tours and wine and olive oil tastings. The tourist boards will prepare a bespoke itinerary, but you'll also have time to explore the area yourself. There will be lots to write about in your article.

Examples of previous winners

In the 2012 Competition, the winners were Julia Bohanna and Jo Forel. A Wolf in the Mountains was voted best entry overall, and Julia won a trip to Abruzzo courtesy of Railbookers (and a commission from The Independent on Sunday). Unpublished entrant Jo wrote The Whale, for which she won a place on an overseas travel-writing course through Travellers' Tales.

A few tips from the judges – and the Bradt travel-writing seminar

For some advice from our judges and some examples of good writing from last year's competition, click here. And don't forget to book yourself on the next Bradt travel-writing seminar, being held in September and featuring a panel including Ben Ross, travel editor at The Independent; for full details of the seminar programme, click here.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Win a Kindle Fire Writing Competition deadline 31 May 2013

You could bag yourself a Kindle Fire if you are successful in the following competition:



Short Story & Poetry Writing Competition


To celebrate the centenary of Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence Heritage is hosting a writing competition. The competition’s theme is ‘My Background’ and entrants can write a short story, poem or prose piece using their own background or locality as inspiration. There are two categories, under 18s and over 18s and entries should be no longer than 500 words. The judging panel will include representatives from D.H. Lawrence Heritage and the D.H. Lawrence Society, with the final short list judged by the University of Nottingham’s English Department. Please send your entry via email, in person or by post to the addresses below.

The deadline for entries is 31st May 2013.

Winners will be notified by the end of August.
Prizes will be awarded at the official opening of the 2013 D.H. Lawrence Festival on the 5th September 2013.

First Prize for each category is a Kindle Fire, so good luck!

This event is kindly supported by the University of Nottingham
Submit your entries to: D.H. Lawrence Heritage, Mansfield Road, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, NG16 3DZ or email:     

D.H. Lawrence Heritage Centre

Mansfield Road, Eastwood
Nottingham, NG16 3DZ
Telephone: 01773 717 353

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Nicola Morgan Blame My Brain events, 28 and 30 May 2013

There are two Nicola Morgan events coming up in May in Scotland.  As my followers know, I am a huge fan of Nicola Morgan's Crabbit Old Bat blog and her no-nonsense books on writing, so I thought I would put this information on my blog in case any of you will be in Scotland at this time:

Two free (re)launch events for Blame My Brain

I'm delighted to give you details of two FREE events to celebrate the new edition of Blame My Brain. One in Glasgow (28 May) and one in Edinburgh (30 May). Each will consist of me talking about the most fascinating aspects of the teenage brain and adolescence, then a chance to ask me questions, followed by book-buying and social chat. The talks are aimed at adults but teenagers will be very welcome.

Free prize draw at each event - fabulous Blame My Brain bags to win! For both events, places are free but you must book in advance to avoid disappointment (limited spaces) and so we know how many seats to put out and how many books to order. PLEASE BOOK - it helps hugely!

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GLASGOW - Tuesday, 28 May 2013, 7pm-8.30pm - Waterstones, Newton Mearns

VENUE: Primavera Bistro, The Avenue, Newton Mearns

Tickets are FREE and available from Primavera and Waterstones

More details or to reserve a ticket: 0141 616 3933 or click this link. (Scroll down to my event.)

Waterstones' blurb: "Award winning author, mother and former teacher Nicola Morgan talks about her new book which tackles the mystifying teenage brain! A question and answer session, book signing and a sociable chin wag follows. Refreshments can be purchased from Primavera."

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EDINBURGH - Thursday, 30 May 2013, 6.30-8pm - Blackwells

VENUE: Blackwells bookshop, South Bridge, upstairs

Reserve your free ticket by either emailing or phoning 0131 622 8218, or popping into the shop.
Talk, plus Q&A, plus time to

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness review

I went to see this at the weekend with my friends C and M, my husband and my son.  We are all fans of Star Trek (and anything fantasy/sci-fi) and we adults are self-confessed geeks for this kind of thing.  We were not disappointed.

The plot premise is that the crew of the Starship Enterprise find themselves hunting down a terrorist from within their own organisation in the no-man's land of the Klingon home planet.  Can Captain Kirk lead the manhunt to capture a one-man weapon of war without starting one with the Klingons?

Chris Pine (This Means War, Unstoppable) reprises his role as Captain Kirk with his second in command Spock, the excellent Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Margin Call) and the 'friendship' dynamic between them is played out with fascinating nuances and emotions not often seen from a Vulcan - as does the relationship between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana of Avatar, Columbiana) with comedic consequences. Karl Urban (Dredd, Bourne Supremacy) as Bones and Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation, Fright Night) as Chekov, capture the originals well and John Cho (American Beauty, Harold & Kumar) shows a tougher side when he is given the chair as Acting Captain.  The inside jokes/nods to the Trekkies are many and well placed, but the best comedy moments are left to Simon Pegg (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty with his apt one-liners.  For me though, the film is stolen by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, War Horse) as the strongest villian we have seen in the Star Trek franchise.  His steely conviction gave me shivers.

One of the film's taglines is 'Earth will fall,' but on the strength of this film, I doubt the Star Trek franchise will.

9/10   #StarTrek

Monday, 13 May 2013

Cleckheaton Writer's Group 13 May 2013

Productive meeting of the Cleckheaton Writer's Group this evening where L, P and I were in attendance.  We started off by reading P's new short story with the working title 'Meet Joe' to give feedback and constructive criticism.  We agreed that her use of a repetitive phrase worked really well and that more should be added.  We even suggested that it might also be renamed with the repetitive phrase as the title.  P thinks that she may edit the tale down to a wordcount to fit a supernatural competition with a deadline later this year.

I then shared my 'ballad' that I will be adding to the beginning of my YA work in progress and the members agreed that it was a good way to foreshadow and help the reader to guess which of the three main characters will be the ones referred to.  They also believed that my idea to add a 'faerie tale' to the end of the manuscript was a good one, as this will foreshadow the second book and hopefully help to intrigue the reader.

L then outlined her final plot arc for her work in progress novel.  She has completed a comprehensive 23 point plot-line to work to, with some excellent twists.  As the book will be based in a real historic place in Scotland, her characters and locations will be enhanced by her research and grounded in an historic reality which can really draw the reader in.  We are looking forward to hearing the novel as it progresses.

Members will be attending the Mandasue Heller author talk at Cleckheaton Library on the evening of Tuesday 21 May 2013.

The next meeting of the Cleckheaton Writer's Group will take place on Tuesday 28 May 6-7.30pm due to the Bank Holiday.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Bridport Prize 2013 deadline 31 May 2013

Not long now before this competition deadline, so thought I would post the information for my followers should they wish to enter:

the Bridport Prize - poems short stories flash fiction

April 2013 Newsletter

The latest news from the Bridport Prize

If you haven’t already entered, there are not many days left to submit your winning poems, short stories and flash fictions!
Judged by Wendy Cope for poetry, Michèle Roberts for short stories and David Swann for flash fiction, there is a prize fund of £15,925 to be won.
For full details, please see our competition rules and entry instructions
Have you re-registered?
If you haven’t yet registered on the new site you will need to do so before you can enter the competition. We were unable to transfer the accounts from the old website, so even if you were registered there, you will need to start again, setting up a new username and password.

If you have any difficulties with the website, please contact our web manager, Graham Shackleton:

Should you have any queries about the competition, check our frequently asked questions, or contact the competition administrator, Frances Everitt:

Time is running out - don't miss your chance to enter!
Closing date - 31st May 2013

Saturday, 11 May 2013

New Writing North news

Been given the following information via the New Writing North newsletter that I thought may be of interest to my followers:
New Writing North news
Festival of the North East launches programme
The programme for the inaugural Festival of the North East was launched on Monday with a grand tour across the North East on the official FoNE bus. The brainchild of folk musician Kathryn Tickell, FoNE is a month-long celebration of North East creativity and innovation throughout June, to herald the arrival of the Lindisfarne Gospels which are returning to Durham from July to September 2013. You can see the full programme (as well as photos of the bus!) at but here are details of the two projects we’re helping to produce as part of the festival:

Dear Angel: Write a letter to the Angel of the North

People of the North East are being asked to write, record, tweet or film how they feel about this region as part of Dear Angel, an engaging new literary artwork created by writer and digital artist Stevie Ronnie. The final artwork will be showcased later this year at the Globe Gallery in Newcastle, on Holy Island, and in Durham as part of both the region-wide Festival of the North East and the Lindisfarne Gospels Cultural Programme. Your letter can be sent by postcard, paper, email, tweet, audio or video. Visit for full details.

A Wondrous Place

In Northern Spirit’s new theatre production A Wondrous Place, four outstanding young writers challenge the ‘It’s grim up North’ clichés and offer four fresh and vibrant perspectives on four amazing contemporary Northern cities: Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester. It’s about celebrating all that’s unique about these north of England cities. It’s about discovering what they share.

Cuckoo Review takes off
This week we launched Cuckoo Review, the new online arts and culture magazine written by young people, where writers aged 15-23 can cut their journalistic teeth and offer their opinions on the latest cultural offerings in the region and beyond. The site is officially launched at the end of this month at Hexham Book Festival, but since 22 April we’ve been updating it daily with reviews, features and interviews. The site includes an interview with Mercury Prize winners Alt-J, as well as reviews of the latest plays, exhibitions and gigs from venues across the region. Read all about it at and follow all our Cuckoo activity on Twitter @CuckooWriters.

Call for submissions: Voicewalks
The Durham Book Festival team at New Writing North is working with the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University on a special series of events which will take place during this year’s festival. (In our 28 March newsletter, we introduced post-doctoral research associate Will Viney, who’s working on the collaboration.) As part of the project, we’d like to invite writers of all levels to contribute to a pamphlet of poetry, prose and non-fiction in English about hearing voices when walking in the city. In addition to a specially-commissioned piece by Iain Sinclair, StepAway magazine will publish a special issue of a collection of walking narratives by both voice-hearers and writers who creatively imagine hearing voices.

Submissions can be as long as a 1,000-word essay or story, or as short as a 17-syllable haiku. Submissions can be named or anonymous, as the writers wish. Deadline: 1 August 2013. For full details and to apply, see
In the North East
Darlington Arts Festival 2013
Various venues across Darlington: throughout May
Darlington Arts Festival is a new initiative by the Darlington for Culture organisation, which came together after Darlington Arts Centre was forced to close due to funding cuts from the council. You can see the full programme, which features events for all the family and all tastes, at

Gaslight on Grey Street
Studio, Theatre Royal, Newcastle: Tuesday 30 April-Saturday 4 May
Set in 1854, actresses Emily and Fanny await the homecoming of Julia St George to the Theatre Royal. Written by Janet Plater and directed by Lee Proud. Post-show talk on Wednesday 1 May. Tickets: £12 / £10 (concs) from
Royal Exchange Theatre Hodgkiss Award
The only scheme of its kind in the North that celebrates the unique collaboration between a director and writer, the Hodgkiss Award offers a theatre-maker of outstanding promise the chance to direct a new piece of work – by a writer of their choice – in a production fully supported by the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in 2014. Actor Christopher Eccleston and award-winning playwright Rona Munro will be joined by Bush Theatre artistic director Madani Younis and artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre Sarah Frankcom on the judging panel. Deadline: 18 May. For details and to apply, see

Alfred Fagon Award
The Alfred Fagon Award was established in 1996 in memory of late Jamaican playwright and actor Alfred Fagon. The £5,000 prize is awarded to the writer who has, in the opinion of the judges, written the best stage play of the year. New as well as established writers are encouraged to enter. Deadline: 9 August. For full details and to submit, see

VS Pritchett Memorial Prize for best unpublished short story 2013
The Royal Society of Literature has opened up to submissions for this annual prize. The winning author will be awarded a prize of £1,000, and the short story will be published in Prospect online and in RSL Review. This year’s judges are award-winning short story writers Adam Foulds, Jackie Kay and Helen Simpson. Deadline: 13 June. For more information and to submit, see
November Club: communications and administration officer
Part-time (18 hrs/2.5 days a week): £22,000 pro rata. From June 2013-May 2014
Performing arts company November Club is seeking an experienced professional on a self-employed basis to lead and develop its communications, audiences and digital presence. The role will be responsible for the development of communications and marketing opportunities for November Club across digital, online and media channels in order to engage and grow audiences in the work of the company. In addition, the role will support the creative producer and work alongside project assistants in an administrative capacity to support the work of the company and its projects. Deadline for applications: 6pm, Tuesday 7 May. For more information, see
Writing groups and workshops
Writing a pantoum with Sky Hawkins
NeST gallery, Barnard Castle: Sunday 12 May, 4pm
Participants will be invited to share their work alongside Sky’s performance from 5pm-6pm. Places cost £5 and can be booked via

TLC conference 2013: Writing in a Digital Age
Free Word Centre, London: 7-8 June
The Literary Consultancy (TLC) has announced the return of its cutting-edge conference for writers working at all levels. In association with the Times Literary Supplement, the line-up features more than 30 speakers, including best-selling author of The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger, The Observer’s Robert McCrum, literary agent Gordon Wise (Curtis Brown), and publisher Andrew Franklin (Profile Books). The theme of this year’s conference is ‘quality in a digital age’ – and how authors can make the latest tools, platforms and opportunities available work for them. Tickets: £359 (2 days)/£234 (1 day). Concession rates available. For more information and to book, see