White Rabbits White Rabbits White rabbits 1st May

That’s what we used to say up north on the first day of a new month. When I moved darn sarf I learned the pinch punch thing but oop north it was always about white rabbits. I expect both go back millennia and are something to do with pre-Christian beliefs. Maybe white rabbits were lucky and maybe pinching and punching stopped devils from getting in. Either way traditions are funny things – we do them without thinking very often, without really knowing their origins, like scoffing choccie at Easter or hanging lights up at Christmas, and when we don’t exactly know the reasons why, often we just enjoy the moment instead of asking questions. That’s why on this May Day of new beginnings, I’m going to repurpose this blog. It started when I started doing creative writing five years ago as a sort of personal record of my progress doing courses at the OU and learning how to write (I didn’t actually make it visible until 2016). Now that I’ve been published hither and yon and won some comps and got me masters I think tis maybe time to do something a little less self-centred, so starting this month I’m going to change emphasis a wee bit and blog about things like submissions, applications (for both PhDs and literary jobs) competition entries, courses, talks and giving writerly feedback to other people, in the hope it may provide information, insight and support for others thinking of walking the same path.

But first here is a link to a story that was shortlisted and then published by Writers HQ this month as part of their first ever quarterly competition. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. . https://writershq.co.uk/how-to-keep-the-hunger-at-bay-jan-Kaneen/

VOTES

This month I’ve mostly entered comps that are voted for, either by participants, or by readers and participants. The first is Ad Hoc Fiction – my old fave.  I won this bi-weekly comp ages ago then sort of fell off the wagon of doing it, well yesterday I fell back on again. Its a really fab free comp that gets you entry into Bath Flash comp if you win. Here’s the link if you fancy it. You get a prompt and 150 words and readers who chance that way (as well as participants) vote for their faves and the winner is the one with the most votes. Writer’s aren’t allowed to identify their entries online so its voted for ‘blind.’ It really is great fun. Here’s the link to the submission pages https://adhocfiction.com/submit/

This month I’ve also entered, for the first time, another free comp for drabbles (100 word flash fictions) @writingwriters_  This is also voted for rather than judged by a judge though writers can identify their stories on social media and the like to up their chances of winning. I’m not going to though as I just watch the process play out.  Here’s the link to entering next month’s comp if you fancy giving it a whirl. There’s a cash prize of £35 https://www.writingwriters.net/p/drabble.html

I’ve also entered one paid-for comp, ‘Sixfold’ with a short story this time. Sixfold is a quarterly comp that works like this: you enter agreeing to stick to the three-part voting/feedback process, if at any time you don’t get the feedback done by the given deadline your own entry is withdrawn and you can’t win the prize. This is what they say:

In round 1, 6 writer-voters compare your manuscript (and everyone else’s) to 5 other manuscripts, rank-voting them as Best, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th. (Each manuscript is compared to 30 others by 6 different readers.) Each manuscript’s voting score average is averaged and compared to all others, and then the highest-voted one-third of manuscripts advances to the next round. Round 2 manuscripts go on to receive 18 readers and 90 comparisons, and the highest-voted one-third advances to round 3. Round 3 manuscripts receive 54 readers and 270 comparisons. Each manuscript completing round 3 is read and rank-voted by 78 different writer-voters, with a grand total of 390 comparisons to other manuscripts. So much reading and comparing is the most thorough consideration of your manuscript available.

It costs $5 to enter and I thought this would be a really interesting comp to be part of, vis a vis, getting feedback will be useful (hopefully) to improve the submission for future comps, and also it feels inclusive and different. The deadline is gone for now fiction wise, but here’s the link to the site should you fancy it next quarter. They also do a separate poetry competition. https://www.sixfold.org/howitworks.html#deadlines I’ll feedback in future blogs what it was like being part of each of these.

 

Happy New Year!

Its been quite a while since I blogged – last year in fact – so to anyone reading this – happy happy new year. To anyone wondering why I’ve been so quiet – its been because of general busy-ness, and life and stuff and shit: vis-à-vis

  • Putting together a PhD application for the OU – deadline 11/1/2019 – which was sooooo much work
  • Writing/sequencing/editing a novella-in-flash for a deadline 31/1/2019. My PhD proposal includes the writing of a novel-in-flash and I thought I’d better practise by writing a novella-in-flash first ( having never done one). As luck would have it Ellipsis Litzine had a comp with a deadline coming up that was to be judged by someone I have huge admiration and respect for – the writer and clinical psychologist Stephanie Hutton. Ellipsis is fabuloso too, and the quality of writing there-in brill, fab and ace so off I went, writing like a fury. Having something to aim for was a brill incentive to get things finished and I made the deadline by the skin of my teeth. I’m pleased to say that my entry, The Naming of Bones came second – here’s the link to the results – https://www.ellipsiszine.com/ellipsis-flash-collection-competition/ Sooo many congrats to all the winners and listees. The feedback we all got was second to none and the competition was a real joy. If they do it again next year enter – the support, joy and fun were totally brill and having the second prize on my CV can only help further PhD applications.
  • Putting together three more bespoke PhD Applications as the OU didn’t have anyone they felt was right to supervise my admittedly niche and specialist  proposal. These applications are not yet sent and I’m going to change my supporting writing examples today to The Naming of Bones which I hope will help. I’m aiming to get the applications out into their appropriate worlds by the end of this week.
  • Helping my three sons respectively to a) emigrate to Poland b) move into first flat c) pass driving test & do UCAS application. The driving test thing is of mahoosive importance to me. On any other first day of the school holidays I would be driving youngest son to the gym, shops, rugby matches, mates houses, but not today. Today he has taken himself and I am writing in the hobbit hole which feels like real freedom.
  • Graduated at the Barbican where I got my MA in Creative Writing seated next to my friend and feedback buddy Judith. In a sea of graduates in all subjects  me and J were miraculously seated next to each other due to: same grading, being alphabetically consecutive, beneficence of the writing goddess. We talked for hours and it was totally brill meeting her and other course buddies who I’d never met before in the real world. Here’s a video my husband took of us getting our scrolls.

    Right, these PhD proposals wont write themselves, better crack on

18/12/2018 Prague and Back Again

Big development since I last posted. The MA results were announced a day early (on the prague2 10th December) and I am very proud (and relieved) to say I passed with distinction. All my classmates did really well too which is of course, in part, due to our wonderful tutor Kath Stansfield who was (is) so brilliant – helpful, insightful, expert, sensitive and inspiring. Thanks Kath. I count myself so lucky to have found myself under your tutelage.

I’m all action stations now writing my PhD proposal for 11th January. I want to anchor my PhD research inside flash fiction asking questions like what defines it? What effects play large parts in the writing of it? How far can the form can be stretched in using it to write long? As a result of this, I’m unsure if doing a PhD at the OU will be possible but I’m applying there first because, well better the devil you know, but if they don’t feel they can facilitate my area of interest, at least the proposal will be written for sending to other places.

prague1To celebrate/commiserate the results (we didn’t know what they were when we booked it) and by way of an early gift to each other, me and grumpy husband went to Prague on 11th for a couple of days shopping on the Christmas Markets and to drink mulled wine on street corners in the freezing cold, both of which I can highly recommend. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The food was divine, the architecture to die for and, as the cold never bother me anyway, it was just the right temperature for Christmas – and they had a Mahoosive Christmas tree that glowed and glittered and shimmered as you can see from the first picture.

On the writing front, I dashed out a quick and evil flash after one of Team Darkness, @allthosestrings tweeted about @weird_Christmas – a brill blog dedicated to everything strangely seasonal that was running a free flash comp. The results were out this morning. I didn’t win but my flash friend @Uksherka (and member of Team Darkness) came second with a moving and emotional flash about loss and coping with it at this festive time of year. My flash did make the cut though and is included on the podcast. Here’s the link https://weirdchristmas.com/2018/12/17/wc-14-weird-christmas-flash-fiction-contest-results-episode/

Probably wont have time to blog again this side of Chrimbo day so season’s greetings and happy holidays cyber friends. Hope you have the sort of Christmas you’re hoping for.

 

 

 

4/12/2018 Only one week left to go!

This time next week is a very important day in my world, not just because of the vote in the commons about the PM’s Brexit deal (or no deal) but because the MA results will be out.

I thought waiting for two months would be difficult but I’ve done a lot of reading and studying the form that is flash in the hiatus in prep for my PhD application, and have written a few flashes too. My shortlisted Flashback drabble didn’t make it off the shortlist but having read the winners I’m just grateful it made it onto the list at all to be honest. Talented writer buddy and all round good egg @jonzeywriter came second with this moving gorgeousness http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/10/ogdens/

Here’s the judges feedback on the whole thing which mentions mine anonymously so it can be re-entered for other comps http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/12/wwi-microfiction-competiton-judges-report/

Since I last blogged, I’ve also entered the LISP flash comp for the first time, Reflex again and Writers HQ LGBTQ comp about spreading the love.

In between now and the 11th I’m going to polish my unsubmitted MA stories and send them out into the world and also start the National Flash day advent calendar prompts which look amazing. I’ve not done any yet but if I do two a day for the next couple of days I’ll be up-to-date. Here’s the link is you fancy a go http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com/

I’m also hatching two stories for the Molotov Cocktail comp – prompt Phantoms – along with the rest of Team Darkness (a group of uber supportive writers of the teeny weird who gee each other up on Twitter). Here’s the link to the comp https://themolotovcocktail.com/phantom-flash/
chrimbopenguin

And finally here’s me in my Christmas sweater which I’m wearing to get festive whilst doing on-line Christmas shopping. We’re off to Prague next week for the Christmas markets and to do shopping in person, so I’ll be there when the results are posted. Here’s hoping me and Santa Pingu have something  to celebrate…gulp.

 

8/11/2018 PhD Propsals and Competition Shortlistings

I’m sitting here with a pile of books to read – recommendations from wonderful Twitter buddies from my call out for essays/academic writing/ forwards on flash fiction and novella-in-flash. I’m reading them because I’m putting together a PhD proposal which must be submitted by 11/1/2019. Everything in the proposal needs placing in the context of current knowledge/arguments and must be accompanied by a bibliography of primary and secondary texts that I intend to study, so there is much to do. I thought getting the proposal drafted ASAP a good way of using my spare time now the MA is done and dusted, and though the results aren’t out until 11th December, I also thought I might as well crack on and not assume the worst.

In between reading for the proposal, I’ve been writing flash fictions in earnest which I haven’t done since I started the MA when I was taken over by learning, writing short stories and my novella, so it has been lovely that my first two post-MA attempts have done quite well. The wee flash I wrote for the ‘The Story for Daniel’ Competition won highly commended and the one I submitted to the FlashBack micro-fiction competition for armistice day has been short-listed. The stories that won Daniel’s comp were just so gorgeous. Here’s a link to them so you can have read.  https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel

Re FlashBack, I’m not allowed to say which title is mine as the results aren’t all out yet (they’re revealing them one at a time with the winner being published on 11/11), but here’s a link to the shortlist with my teeny tale’s title on it. http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/06/ww1-microfiction-competition-shortlist/

If the rest of the winning stories are as emotionally charged and beautifully written as the first highly commended drabble was yesterday, we’re all in for a series of brilliantly brief reading experiences.  Here’s the link to the first, http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/07/life-after-death/

Right, back to Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Flash Fiction which I cannot recommend highly enough.

22/10/2018 Grapes and People and Marching

This week has been full of other things than writing. Now the MA is all done and dusted I decided to pick the grapes from the vine that grows in our back garden. As you can see from the pics below, this year has been a bumper crop. More than bumper really – this summer was perfect for grape growing and we might never see the like again. This and because it seemed like a terrible waste to leave them only to the wasps and birds made us decide to try wine-making. We picked thousands and thousands – me, Nick and Granny Dot (who’d come to visit for the weekend.) When we were sick of the sight of grapes and more grapes I washed me feet and trod them (mine were the only feet small enough to fit in the bucket). We now have litres of grape juice fermenting in a huge plastic vat in the inglenook which Nick reckons will make about 24 bottles of vino. That was one week ago so today it will need passing through muslin to sift out the silt.

This weekend, whislt the yeast was doing its thang, we went on the Peoples’ March in London and I can honestly say I have never seen so many people in all my life. Yesterday’s newspapers said it was around 700,000, and it really did feel like it. And yet there was no trouble, no sense of menace like there was at the poll tax demo all those years ago. It was full of families with their pets and picnics and groups of people with a common cause, NHS workers, the elderly, the young. And loads of musicians. We were next to a troupe of drummers who were excellent and a bloke intermittently playing Ode to Joy on a trombone. I hope the powers that be sit up and take notice because 700k is a lorra, lorra people to ignore. I hope more people get involved next time . I can recommend it. I felt honoured and uplifted to be part of something so well-intentioned, and it got me to thinking about the wine and picking the grapes. Each teeny weeny fruit wouldn’t justify a single swallow, but put them all together and each little dribble becomes a gulp, becomes a glassful, becomes a cellar. Someone cleverer than me once said that no raindrop ever thinks it caused the flood.

17/10/2018 That’s a Wrap

Its eleven days since the final deadline for my MA course in creative writing at the OU and its finally started to hit home that that is very much that. Its so strange how you go from full on super-active, full-throttle writing and feeding back to absolutely nothing. My headspace feels like stark white noise fading to the echo that ricochets around an empty cave after the scream’s stopped sounding. I have so many short stories ripe for final polishing and sending out but don’t feel like engaging with them yet as I have some original flashes to write first. I’m going to enter the Story for Daniel Competition (see following link if you fancy entering too). Its such a heart-warming and poignant competition – the theme is hope – and that is such an important quality/emotion that we could all do with channelling at the moment in this crazy screwed-up modern world. https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel

As the MA and life and stuff-and-shit got in the way of me blogging about the wonderful Flash Festival that I attended this summer, thought I’d say a few words now. I had the best time ever meeting flash friends and heroes; attended exceptional workshops and met flash-zine ghoulmates in the form of Molotov Cocktail editors and comp winners. Below are some photos of me reading my winning Molotov flash up close and far away and the whole group of us Molotov’s outside the venue of the festival. It’s on again next year with a whole new host of people giving talks and leading workshops and I  wouldn’t miss it for the world. You can’t bflashfestivaltinymereadingook tickets yet but here’s the link for when they go on mJan-Kaneen-498x1024sale. If you’re interested in flash even one iota it is so worth every penny and this year they had some subsidised tickets too. https://www.flashfictionfestival.com/
molotovcrew