27 December 2010

That bit between Christmas and New Year...

Just so, as our memories fade with old age and alcohol abuse, we don't forget that in 2010 we had a white Christmas, here's a photo of some snowy cow parsley down on Chorlton Ees. If we're friends on Facebook, you can peruse further wintry scenes on my profile therein. If we're not friends on Facebook, you'll just have to use your imagination.

23 December 2010

Happy kitschmas

In my last post, the blog Follow The Yellow Brick Road was mentioned in passing; sticking to the theme, today I'm going to see The Wizard Of Oz on the big screen. (The Cornerhouse recently invited Twitterers to vote on their favourite festive films; if you were reading W&F last year, you'll already know this was my choice - and it just so happens to have been scheduled for my birthday!) The print has been digitally remastered and is apparently in all its full three-strip Technicolor glory; one of my favourite devices in the movie is the variation between the black and white dustbowl Kansas reality and the land of wonder and fantasy over the rainbow represented in full saturated colour (a fairly recent innovation in 1939 after the expensive process fell out of favour during the Great Depression which immediately followed its invention). I may leave the ruby slippers at home given the snow, but may all your White Christmas dreams come true, lovely readers... see you soon!

20 December 2010

Short but sweet

Tomorrow is 21 December, meaning it's the shortest day of the year. Some clever clogs has had the genius idea of setting aside this date for National Short Story Day "for a celebration of all things short but perfectly formed", and there's a proper good event lined up for Manchester. Hurrah! The main website has full details on all the fabulous short story-related events taking place the length and breadth of this snow-filled land, and if you're really modern there's also a Facebook page where you can make friends with Short Story Day. So forget frantic festive shopping, and get down to MadLab on Edge Street in the NQ at 6.30pm instead for some short story action. Who knows - perhaps you'll even be able to pick up some pressies while you're there.
I picked this picture for featuring The Complete Stories & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, with The Pit & The Pendulum, which I remember being read at school. The painting is by Jane Mount from her Ideal Bookshelf project, which I heard about through Katherine Woodfine's Manchester Blog Awards Best New Blog 2008, Follow The Yellow Brick Road. Jane paints people's favourite books as commissions (a lovely idea!), or you can buy a picture "off the shelf" (sorry...). There's lots about the project on her blog here and she sells her wares through the wonderful Etsy here.

15 December 2010

Dear diary

So you think I've been avoiding you, eh? That's what all this is about. This monumental grump. You think I'm ignoring you, or that I don't want to talk to you. That's not it at all, but it's not always about you, you know. Other people, other THINGS sometimes get a look-in too.

There have been non-existent quizzes, celebrity spots, farmers markets, freezing fog, trips to Grotto, pictures of geese, 40th birthday parties, disco dancing, jay watching, Christmas social diary planning, press release writing, list idea developing, #beatoff events organising (oh yes indeedy - see, there's something to look forward to in the new year!).

There's even a story in progress. Maybe I'll let you read it at some point. You just have to be patient. I promise to write soon...

08 December 2010

Three stories

Apologies if you've been waiting for a post from me. I know some of you are in high-security institutions and this blog is your only chink of light out into the real world. I've let you down. I've let myself down. It happens. Especially as the short dark days of December dribble on by. As recompense, I'm giving you three stories to read. And they're not by me, you'll be eternally glad to know.

I finally remembered to swing by the Didsbury Arts Festival website to check up on whether they'd posted, as promised, the winning entries to the summer's short story competition. It's nearly Christmas; I'd be more than underwhelmed if they hadn't. Of course they have, doubting Thomas, and you can link to the top three stories (and indeed poems) and download them here.

First prize statuette went to Heather Leach with So Much Time in a Life. Second place rosette was picked up by Juliet West's You and Your Beautiful Words. Tim Scott picked up the bronze medal with his Suicide Notes (well, not literally, hopefully). Also shortlisted were the talented Mr Socrates Adams-Florou (A Bus Ride) plus Max Dunbar (Anderson Visits the MRI), Elizabeth Stott (The Anniversary Oysters) and Veronica Turiano (Right There When You Need It).

Enjoy. And don't be expecting any proper gifts off me this festive season.

01 December 2010

A moment of fiction #9

Let's get this out there before the party season kicks in; give you a fighting chance of getting something other than random sherry-induced witterings down on paper...

Tomorrow from 6pm, I've just heard, you can talk to Sam Pritchard, New Writing Associate at the Royal Exchange, about The Bruntwood Playwriting Competition. The next Bruntwood Competition launches and opens for entries on 31 January 2011.

If your bag is more "amazing fiction, flash fiction, prose poetry and nonfiction", the third issue of creative writing quarterly Spilling Ink Review has just come out (featuring a piece by the brilliant Valerie O'Riordan). I imagine, therefore, that the Editorial Board (oh yes) will shortly be looking for contributions for the fourth. You can read the whats, whys and wherefores of the submissions process here - "but keep in mind (above all else) we want to read your very best work" (their words).

Lancaster Litfest's Flax imprint (as mentioned in A Moment Of Fiction #7) is looking for submissions of flash fiction from writers in the north west for the Flax026 issue. Deadline is 20 January; see here for more.

I've just heard that Unsung, as mentioned in A Moment Of Fiction #8, has extended its deadline to 20 December (well, it never published one in the first place that I saw). Matthew Unsung says: "The quality and amount of submissions that we've received after announcing the next issue has been very encouraging ... however, there is still plenty of room for whatever poetry, prose, literary articles, essays and reviews that you've been pondering over!" Email your work to unsung.manchester@gmail.com. The magazine launch will be towards the end of January - I'll try and let you know when I hear.

Let's hope it doesn't clash with Bad Language's new monthly slot at The Castle Hotel, which gets underway in the new year, starting on 26 January. "Mark your calendars," the merry band of three say, as do I: the Scattered Reds launch last week was vibrant, varied and a very good excuse to sink a few pints with my #beatoff chums. There will be an open mic slot: email events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk to get your name on the list. Visit the Bad Language Facebook event page, the website or the blog for more info.

At the birth of #beatoff was @samanthabail, who Tweeted me following publication of the November edition of Moment Of Fiction to let me know about the next issue of B&N Magazine, the bilingual (German/English) zine she edits. The topic is “tied to the 90s”, according to the B&N site, with "estimated time of arrival: early to mid December", and Sam assures me it will be out by 15 December at the latest, so keep your peelers peeled in NQ venues such as Common. You heard it here (or on Twitter) first.

Finally, please don't forget to quiz Ask Ben & Clare (via askbenandclare@gmail.com), submit stories and poems to Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf (via roykeanesluckyscarf@gmail.com), fling flash fiction at 330 Words (via 300words@gmail.com) or rustle up a review for Screen150 (via screen150@gmail.com). That is all.