Saturday, 28 February 2015

News from New Writing North newsletter

Here is the latest News from New Writing North newsletter, including workshops, jobs, opportunities and a last call for entries to the Verb New Voices, for my followers:

February 2015
News from New Writing North
New Writing North news
Last call for entries
This is our final call for entries to the Verb New Voices. We are looking for artists and/or writers who can create exciting new work for BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. The deadline for proposals is this Sunday, 1 March. For details, see
We are also approaching the deadline for the Gordon Burn Prize, which will award one work of fiction or non-fiction that captures the spirit of Gordon Burn’s work: innovative and fearless. The prize closes for entries on Monday 2 March. To submit, see
New group leaders required for Cuckoo Young Writers
We are seeking two leaders for young writers groups in Cramlington and Amble. We’re looking for creative people with experience in working with young people. Working alongside a professional writer, the candidate would run weekly sessions supporting young writers with creative projects. Sessions take place on Saturday mornings from 11am-1pm and are paid at a rate of £25p/h. Trained Arts Award Advisor preferred. A driving licence is an advantage due to the location of groups in Cramlington and Amble. For more details download the job description here.   To express an interest in this opportunity please write to Amy Mitchell explaining why your experience, creative interests and ambition would make you a good candidate for this post. Email Amy at or for an informal discussion, call 0191 204 8852. 
Northern Crime Competition update
Thank you to everyone who entered the Northern Crime Competition 2014. We had a great range of entries from writers across the North of England and a great variety of work was considered, from historical crime to gritty contemporary stories. We are now in contact with the novelists whose work we will be reading in full to consider for publication and will be making contact with the short story writers soon. The final winners will be announced on the Moth Publishing website later this spring.
In the meantime you might like to catch up with two of our previous competition winners who have both gone on to publish further books. Rebecca Muddiman, whose novel, Stolen, was a huge hit in 2013/14, has just published her second novel in the DI Michael Gardner series, Gone, with Mulholland Books, who snapped her up after she won our competition. Helen Cadbury's To Catch a Rabbit was also bought by Allison & Busby, who offered Helen a book deal following our publication of the book. It has just been re-published as part of a multiple book deal that Helen has secured. 
Read Regional 2015
We are delighted to return with a fresh selection of ten new books by authors from the North of England for Read Regional 2015. Author events run from March to June in libraries and at literary festivals in Yorkshire and North East England. The first event will be with Stephanie Butland at Kirkbymoorside Library in North Yorkshire on Monday 2 March. You can find out about all of the Read Regional events, read introductions to their books written by the authors, and download reading guides to each title at
Look out for Gavin Extence’s new book, The Mirror World of Melody Black, which looks like it will be as much of a hit as his debut, The Universe versus Alex Woods. You can hear Gavin speaking about the book on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club at
Congratulations to Northumberland author Laura Salters, whose debut YA novel Run Away has been snapped up by HarperCollins. The e-book is due out on 5 May, with the paperback to follow. Find out more at!about/c24vq.
Canny Creatives in Ukraine and Georgia
The British Council is looking for senior or mid-career arts professionals based in Newcastle or Gateshead to spend a month-long secondment in Ukraine; and for senior or mid-career marketing and communications professionals at cultural organisations in the North West for a month-long secondment in Georgia. The deadline for submissions to both opportunities is Sunday 1 March.
Volunteering opportunities at Hexham Book Festival
Hexham Book Festival is looking for volunteers to help out at this year’s festival, which runs from 20 April to 4 May. If you would like to be involved please contact Susie Troup on
Comma Press needs your help
Comma Press is building a new self-publishing platform, which will exist as a website and an app, hosting short stories and poetry in both text and audio form. Anyone will be able to publish their work on MacGuffin, so long as they upload an audio recording along with their text. MacGuffin will launch in June 2015 and they are beta-testing the site in April. Writers who would like to help them try it out are invited to email with a written text of a story or poem and an audio file.
Women’s Short Story Competition
Mslexia’s Women’s Short Story Competition is for stories of up to 2,200 words on any theme or subject. The first prize is £2,000, plus a week's writing retreat at Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre and a day with a Virago editor. The judge this year is acclaimed novelist Alison MacLeod and the closing date is 16 March 2015. For full details, see To help inspire your writing, Mslexia has commissioned three new writing workshops, which you can download from
The National Coal Mining Museum for England, in Wakefield, has a vacancy for a storyteller/storywriter to deliver a series of learning activities linked to a new exhibition about pit ponies. Deadline Monday 9 March. For full details, see
Beam, the arts, architecture and learning company in Wakefield, seeks a part-time project manager for a maternity cover. Deadline Tuesday 10 March. For full details, see
West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds has a vacancy for a literary associate, who is passionate about plays and cultivating new talent. Deadline Monday 9 March. For full details, see
Kate Fox poetry workshop
Billingham Library, Stockton on Tees: Wednesday 18 March, 6.30pm-8.30pm
The workshop will include a variety of fun, interactive exercises for new and intermediate writers to get creativity flowing. Kate is an award winning poet and BBC Radio 4 regular. For further information or to book a ticket contact the Visitor Information Centre on 01642 528130. Tickets: £4. Booking essential.
Deadline for the next newsletter
If you have news that you would like to submit for inclusion in the newsletter please contact The deadline for receipt of information for the next newsletter is 9 March. The next edition of The Listening Post covering April's events will be published in late March so if there are any events that you would like to submit for inclusion you will need to send information to Laura by 20 March.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is correct at the time of going to press, things do change, frequently at the last minute and very often without our knowledge.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

New Writing North Read Regional

Here is the latest New Writing North Read Regional newsletter for my followers:

February 2015
We are delighted to finally share the list of titles for Read Regional 2015, which runs from March to June in libraries and book groups and at literary festivals in the North East and Yorkshire.
Read Regional aims to connect writers in the North of England with their readers, by putting their books into libraries and hosting intimate, book-group sized events where readers can meet the author and discuss their work. We partner with 19 local authorities in the North East and Yorkshire to reach readers across the region.
For event listings, see We hope you will join us!
Click on the links to go to the website and read each of the authors introducing their work.
Stephanie Butland
Stephanie Butland is a professional trainer specialising in creativity and thinking skills. A prominent blogger, she has written two books about her life with cancer. Letters to My Husband (Transworld) is Stephanie’s first novel, about marriage, loss and learning that life moves on whether you want it to or not. For fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes. Stephanie lives in Northumberland.
Alan Gibbons
Alan Gibbons is a full-time writer and a visiting speaker and lecturer at schools, colleges and literary events nationwide. He lives in Liverpool and travels globally. Alan is well-known for his high profile ‘Campaign for the Book’ and school visits. Hate (Indigo) is a young adult thriller, based on the true story of Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered in 2007 for the way she dressed.
Tim Leach
What does it mean to be happy? Tim Leach’s debut novel is inspired by the writing of Herodotus and follows the life and eventual downfall of Croesus, the king of Lydia who believes his unimaginable wealth should make him the happiest man alive. The Last King of Lydia (Atlantic Books) is a richly imagined journey into an ancient world, where many of the concerns remain pertinent today. Tim lives in Sheffield.
Lauren Owen
Lauren Owen grew up in the grounds of an old country house in Yorkshire. She is a graduate of St Hilda’s, Oxford, holds an MA in Victorian Literature, is completing a PhD on Gothic writing and fan culture at Durham University, and is the recipient of the Curtis Brown Prize for best writer on the UEA creative-writing programme. A feast of supernatural, gothic horror, The Quick (Vintage) is her first novel. Lauren lives in Durham and York.
Bryan and Mary Talbot
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (Jonathan Cape) is the new graphic novel from the Costa Award-winning authors of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Bryan and Mary Talbot. Telling the inside story of the campaign for votes for women, the book follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of Edwardian Britain. Bryan Talbot is a well-known graphic novelist and author of the Grandville series. Mary Talbot is an internationally acclaimed scholar of language, gender and power. The Talbots live in Sunderland.
Debbie Taylor
Debbie Taylor is the founder and editorial director of Mslexia. Her previous novels, including The Fourth Queen and Hungry Ghosts, have been critically acclaimed. Her evocative new novel, Herring Girl (OneWorld Publications), moves back and forth between the 19th century and the present, where an unsolved murder from the past is troubling a young boy. Debbie lives in North Tyneside.
Robert Williams
Robert Williams grew up in Clitheroe, Lancashire and currently lives in Manchester. His first novel, Luke and Jon, won a Betty Trask Award, and was translated into six languages. His second novel, How the Trouble Started, was shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Fiction. He has worked in a secondary school library, as a bookseller, and has written and released music under the name The Library Trust. Into the Trees (Faber and Faber) is a haunting, lyrical novel set in the Bleasdale forest, to which its characters are unexpectedly drawn.
Ellen Phethean
Ellen Phethean is a sound artist, poet, playwright and editor and, with Julia Darling, the founder of Diamond Twig Press. She spent 20004 as writer in residence at Seven Stories, where she wrote Wall, a teen novel in poems. Her poetry has been widely broadcast and anthologised and her first full poetry collection, Breath, was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award in 2010. Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman (Red Squirrel Press) is her latest collection. Ellen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Helen Tookey
Helen Tookey has worked in academic publishing, as a university teacher in creative writing at Edge Hill University and as a freelance editor. Helen also worked for The Reader literature outreach organisation (2004-2007), where she ran a poetry reading group in a hospital and other community reading groups. Her short collection, Telling the Fractures, a collaboration with photographer Alan Ward, was published by Axis Projects in 2008. Her verse was anthologised in New Poetries V (Carcanet, 2011). Missel-Child (Carcanet) is her first full poetry collection. Helen lives in Liverpool.
John Wedgwood Clarke
John Wedgwood Clarke has worked as an actor, a landscape painter, and university lecturer. After studying literature, he set up and directed the Beverley Literature and Bridlington Poetry Festivals, before leaving to become a Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the University of Hull in 2012. He is currently UK & Ireland editor for Arc Publications, and regularly collaborates with visual artists and curators on public-art projects and exhibitions. Ghost Pot (Valley Press) is John’s first full-length collection. John lives in Scarborough.
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© New Writing North 2015

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Jupiter Ascending film review

Went to see this film with my two children in the holidays as part of the Odeon £5 per person deal.

Still of Sean Bean in Jupiter Ascending (2015)

IMDB says: In a bright and colourful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by the ruthless son of a powerful family, who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

Still of Tim Pigott-Smith in Jupiter Ascending (2015)

In this Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) written and directed film, Mila Kunis (Oz The Great and Powerful, Black Swan) stars as Jupiter Jones whose job as a cleaner and never-ending run of bad luck means that she hates her life.  To try and raise enough money to bid on a telescope, she decides to take up her cousin's offer of selling her eggs to a clinic, but as she is being anaesthetised things suddenly take a turn for the worse.  Saved by a genetically-engineered ex-military hunter, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street, The Vow), she begins to realise that a worse fate than constantly cleaning other people's toilets awaits her: she is a genetic match for an inheritance that a leading warring 'alien' family would do anything to protect.

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Goldeneye) is wonderful as Stinger Apini, also ex-military and has a history with Caine, as are Kunis and Tatum, but for me 'man of the moment' Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Miserables) as Balem Abrasax, stole the film with his chilling portrayal of a man on the edge.  In trying to keep his most valued possession from his sister Kalique (Tuppence Middleton, The Imitation Game, Trance) and brother Titus (Douglas Booth, Noah, The Riot Club), he feels he must eliminate this threat.

The world-building visuals are what make this film though, creating a believable future in both planet relocation and genetics, and this is what I enjoyed most about the film.  It is quite long, but yet it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.  This could be to tantalise with a sequel, or because the characters lack true depth, but as sci-fi's go, it is a fun ride, though the elephant pilot was taking it a step too far.

Trivia: Natalie Portman and Rooney Mara were considered for the role of Jupiter Jones, the script was over 600 pages long and this film marks the first foray into 3D for the Wachowski's.

Tagline: Expand your universe.                            6/10

Still of Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending (2015)

#JupiterAscending  #MilaKunis  #ChanningTatum