31 July 2011

Viewing figures

The View From Here is the first major solo show by Manchester-based artist Andy Broadey, someone I've had the pleasure of meeting recently. Three photographic installations make up the Blankspace show: Display, Shadow Box and Day Room.

Display in the downstairs gallery is a series of monochrome photographs of overlapping Perspex leaflet holders, the sort you get in estate agents and job agencies. It gives the feel of a kind of chaotic order, and, if you look closely, you can see what appears to be a face in the plastic of one of the sleeves. Shadow Box, a set of four photograms - photographs made by passing light through a Perspex cube onto light-sensitive paper - are displayed in four separate smaller rooms upstairs alongside the cubes and lights that produced the almost watery compositions. Continuing with the light theme, Day Room, a wall-length site-specific work with very precisely presented images, shows the changing light in the large upstairs gallery over one day. This is an interesting project and the resulting artwork is visually appealing, with lots of subtle but warm colours. Andy's previous installation Day Room Summer Solstice 2009, pictured here, is a similar time-lapse concept and illustrates how effective the Blankspace piece is. Go and see for yourself; you have a week...

The View From Here runs all this week until Sunday 7 August. See the Blankspace website for more.

27 July 2011

A moment of fiction #15

Gosh, it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that, kiddoes. Here's a round-up of current submissions, mainly short stories but some other stuff too.

First up, We Hate Words, under new management courtesy yours truly, is looking for contributions for publication every Wednesday. Anything up to 500 words (I lose concentration after a while); check out the website for submission details.

Paraxial Tales, run by the lovely Claire Massey and her mate Andy Hedgecock, is currently looking for up to 250 words on the subject of libraries. Deadline is 31 July.

FlashTag want submissions of filthy flash fiction (400 words max by 7 August). The successful contributions will go in an anthology - Quickies: Stories For Adults - alongside stories by Emma Jane Unsworth, David Gaffney, Nik Perring and others. Then on Wednesday 28 September, the collection will be launched at a special Smut Night as part of Didsbury Arts Festival with readings and guest slot by Mr Gaffney.

The bi-annual Manchester Fiction Prize is on the loose. Toby Litt won last time round, but it's open to new as well as established writers. Send in a short story of up to 3,000 words in length on any subject. It costs £15 to enter but there is £10,000 up for grabs for the winner plus the chance to read at a gala ceremony hosted as part of the 2011 Manchester Literature Festival. Deadline 12 August.

The Night Light are running a short story competition (up to 2,000 words on the theme of night) in conjunction with The Big Issue In The North. There is an entry fee of a fiver, but it all goes to charity, so no big deal. The closing date is 12 August.

The lovely ladies at For Books' Sake have joined up with Pulp Press to give gals a chance to put those dirty minds to good use. Enter their short story competition with a story of sexy heroines no more than 5,000 words. Closing date 15 August.

Submissions are being accepted until 15 August for the September issue of Salt Publishing's Horizon Review, the online review of literature and art: poems, stories, essays, articles and memoir, etc. See here for more.

The deadline for both the short story competition (up to two stories up to 2,000 words long each on the subject of maps) and Poetry Competition (one poem up to 40 lines also on the subject of maps) as part of Didsbury Arts Festival has been extended to 26 August.

The Real Story as part of Manchester Literature Festival is looking for creative non-fiction (personal essays or brief memoirs) of 2,000 words or less. Deadline 27 August.

Our mates Calum Kerr and Jo Bell's latest venture Gumbo Press are after flash fiction (500 words), short stories (2,000 words), poems (50 lines), script (2,000 words) and non-fiction (2,000 words) on the subject of light to put in their bi-monthly e-zine WordGumbo. Closing date for submissions 31 August.

Submissions are also currently open for the quarterly anthology of new short fiction published by The Fiction Desk (can't find a closing date, you'll have to do the legwork on that one). You don't have to pay them; they pay you! Not much, but a bit of beer money, like.

25 July 2011

More words please

This morning I was disappointed to learn that my Ask Ben & Clare co-writer Benjamin Judge's latest fledging project We Hate Words had been shelved due to pressures on his time. I was disappointed as I think it's a great site with good ideas offering a sanctuary for writers to vent their anger about rubbish words. I was also disappointed because I had submitted a piece about a word that I hate, and it hadn't yet been published.

It will be published on Wednesday. I have taken possession of the website's log-in details and that for the accompanying Twitter account. I urge you to check out the site and send in wonderful words about not-so-wonderful words. I have changed the submission rules slightly, so you don't have to write as much. I've also introduced a spelling mistake and poor punctuation section, so you can name and shame horrors of the grammar variety. Show and tell. I'm relying on you. Don't let me down...

23 July 2011

Art and literature

Yesterday, the wonderful wizard behind 330 Words (hi Tom!) published a short story I rustled up the other day and which I will be reading at Bad Language on Wednesday (7.30pm, The Castle - be there; I'll also be treating the audience to a couple of my rather more smutty stories. They are each 69 words long. Don't ask me why; it's a totally arbitrary wordcount, obviously).

Anyway, the 330 word story is rather less smutty, although it is about women withholding sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers (I nicked that phraseology off Wikipedia; more on that in a moment). It's sort of a feminist dystopia. I call women "birds", so that's likely to offend some people. The feedback I've had so far, however, has been very positive and one interesting comment I just heard is that it's not dissimilar to the Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

I had no idea. I was dragged up on The Wirral, mostly, and know nothing of Greek literature, except that it exists and I hear was quite popular. So Bird Strike, which you can read here, was not my poor attempt to plagiarise a far greater work of fiction. Still, I guess Aristophanes is no longer with us, so he's not going to get me on copyright issues in any case.

Wikipedia tells me that Lysistrata "is notable for its exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society and for its use of both double entendre and explicit obscenities". Good old Aristo, I like him already. And he had a bloody top beard.

The black and white illustration of Lysistrata is by Aubrey Beardsley, chum of Oscar Wilde, one of the dudes behind the Art Nouveau movement and exponent of those fabulous posters by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec (Moulin Rouge - La Goulue pictured) and Mucha for which I have such a penchant. His work, I have learnt, is emphasised by the grotesque, the decadent and the erotic. Good oh.

22 July 2011

Perry good

Mother emailed to say how pleased she was to see me taking a break from erotic literature and talking about art on the blog again (she's an art teacher). So I thought I'd take the opportunity of having a spare lunchhour to nip to Manchester Art Gallery and check out the Grayson Perry aquisitions. Combine a snippet of sex with a bit of art. To my shame and chagrin, this mini show opened way back in February, but it's on until February 2012, so at least I still made it in the first half of its run.

Visual Dialogues
features the gallery's two recently purchased artworks by Grayson Perry: the large ceramic vase Jane Austen In E17 (2009) and the etching Print For A Politician (2003).

The long landscape (seen in the background in the photo), in the subtle red and cream hues of a French toile wallpaper, looks like one of those old city views or a battle scene, which is what it is. Various groups of mini figures are labelled, with the "tabloids" firing missiles across the sky, the "minimalists" crashing and burning in a plane, and "childless couples" threatening the rest of society in their helicopter gunship. There are "townies", "rockers" and "smokers", "animal rights activists" and "paranoid conspiracy theorists". It's good; I spent ages looking at the minute details. Great billowing clouds of smoke, lots of Goyaesque blood and gore.

Love that the "women" are just meandering around in bonnets and long Jane Austen-style frocks (I feel a common thread here) while the "men" are holding court at the top of a tower, which, as the tallest erection in the piece (even bigger than the mountains), presumably alludes to phalluses.

This is another running theme in the works on display: the companion vases Entrance To The Forest (2002) have pink flacid penises as trees and golden used prophylactics scattered about the woodland scenery. Perry says the pair of ceramics represent "the mythical gloomy wood, but also the seedy cruising grounds of urban parks". Ah, how romantic.

21 July 2011


Let's talk about art, baby. Yep, in a break to our usual scheduling, we're having a look at art, you know, like we always used to do before we got sidetracked by smut peddling.

So, you may have been aware that Manchester International Festival was on just recently, and last Thursday I finally got round to going to the 11 Rooms show at Manchester Art Gallery. Maybe it's just me, but a man in a soldier's uniform standing in the corner of a room staring at the wall isn't what I'd call art. Nor is a pre-teen girl reciting a very strange text and interacting with the audience. And what on earth was Marina Abramovic doing putting that poor woman up on a wall in the nid, seemingly pretending to be a clock. Her arms must've been killing her. Sorry. I was a little non-plussed, to be honest, although I will admit that I was rather intrigued by Xu Zen’s In Just A Blink Of An Eye with a guy mid backflip - real; not real? Also quite liked Lucy Raven’s out-of-tune pianola programmed with the worst Les Dawson duet ever. But is it art?

Player pianos seem to be de rigueur with the old artists at the moment. Constellations at Cornerhouse features a Yamaha Disklavier, although it didn't seem to be working when I went, and from what I saw, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was being played through a stereo. Still, it did mean that my friend could show off his own keyboard skills, which made curator Karen Gaskill laugh when I told her. I thought we were going to get slung out. The music is the result of Katie Paterson transmitting a Morse code message of the piece to the Moon, which, when reflected back to Earth, was turned into the score (like Raven's 11 Rooms work, imperfect) that you hear in the airy top-floor gallery. The punched pianola roll is also displayed as part of Earth-Moon-Earth, and, as a whole, it's an interesting project.

Image by WeAreTape, from the Cornerhouse website.

I was also partial to Takahiro Iwasaki's work in Gallery 2: miniature pylons and masts; structures we usually only consider large and imposing. I was particularly drawn to the composition with coloured towels, called Out Of Disorder, Towels (pictured). Maybe I like bathroom accessories.

Two other artists, Kitty Kraus and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, make up the remainder of the exhibition, which "explores impermanence, ephemerality and movement". The show continues until Sunday 11 September and is co-curated by Michelle Kasprzak. I only told you about Karen earlier because she is my friend. There we go: a bit of healthy name-dropping on a Thursday afternoon.

One for the ladies

Ladies, the fabulous gals at For Books' Sake have joined forces with Pulp Press to give y'all a chance to put those dirty minds to good use. Enter their short story competition (5,000 words max; closing date 15 August), why dontcha: all the details are here. Get cracking...

20 July 2011

More M&B action...

OMG, just look at this.

I have no idea who Oli + Alex are. I was shown this link through the magic of Twitter by @nerissact, and I just had to share, my darlings. You'd never forgive me if I didn't. I don't have the foggiest where Oli + Alex live, but as it's highly likely they're on this side of the Pond (given the media cuttings) and as they are creative partners at an ad agency, I'm guessing they're shithot on copyright stuff so I'm crediting them and hoping they don't mind me lifting their image: thanks for having such ace imaginations, Alex Holder and Oli Beale. Will you be my friends? (Original Dark Obsession book illustration by Len Goldberg, btw.)

One track mind

I'm afraid the Mills & Boon challenge hasn't been too hot so far - I've certainly not managed to read one a day as intended. I started with the rather quite good Charade Of The Heart by Cathy Williams, from the old Romance imprint, then went on to the disappointing A Passionate Protector by Maggie Cox, part of the more recent Modern Romance series. I was going to read one of the three pink books I have, which I believe are more soppy and with less sex, but I can't wait until chapter friggin 9 for the sex, so I'm moving straight onto Modern Romance Extra, and Featured Attraction by Julie Cohen...

"If Jack's dangerously sexy charm still has the power to set Kitty's pulse racing, the obvious solution is to avoid him... If only it were that easy!"

Woof! Well, while I get on with that, here's something for you to be reading: a magazine feature called 35 Sensational Literary Sex Scenes, which appears to range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Enjoy!

16 July 2011

Automatic writing for the people

Right. So the other day I did this thing called The Reading, as part of the Not Part Of festival. You may have read about it here. You have three hours to write, in a specified slot, in an art gallery and there are 72 writers in total; each one is given the last paragraph of the last person's story to use as "inspiration" to write a completely new story. A bit like a chain letter. (Bastard, I hated chain letters - they were all the fucking rage in the 70s. Not that I wish to divulge my age, or anything of that sort.)

Right, so, it's a sort of automatic writing - y'know like what the Beats did. Or Oulipo. And I took part in this artistic expression experience on Thursday. It was interesting, if a little difficult. Anyway, I thought I would share with you the culmination of my efforts; tell me what you think. If I were to give it a title, I think I'd call it The Plan.

The paragraph that I was left sprung forth from the genius mind of my mate L'il Dave; without further ado, here's David Hartley's final par and then, after the stars, a strange story by me...

She was faced with the end of the world but she wanted no part of it. If this was collective imagination, then the collective could keep it. Half a mile behind her, blades rotating through the past, Ollie's helicopter was waiting. She took one last look at the roaring future, shrugged her shoulders and walked away.


The past, the future: you can keep them. The present, that's where it's at; the here and now. Take each day at a time - you have no idea what it will throw at you. Just react as it happens. Live your life real time. Look at you now. You're live-streaming your thoughts out into the ether. You don't know why: as if anyone even cares, right?

But someone does, somewhere. They look at the words you spew forth every day on those modern-fangled fancypants networks you love so much. You tell them all about the most inane details of your meagre existence on this planet, God's green earth that is slowly suffocating in front of your very eyes. But you don't care, not really. Live in the moment. That's what you say, you think.

Keep plying your audience with the twaddle they seem to love so much. Look: I'm drinking a can of Coca-Cola. It's the full fat stuff: the taste is better, the packaging is a design classic. See: I'm smoking a Gauloise Blonde. Not a Gauloise Blonde Legere as they're not as strong, and I'm trying to portray an image of myself in a certain way. (Also, you can't have Legeres any more - European law, or something.) Watch: I'm eating a packet of Hula Hoops. I'm putting them on the end of my fingers then biting them off enticingly, one by one.

You're sending out messages. You're not all that sure why, but it's a way of connecting with them out there. Sometimes you even tap out stuff that only certain people will understand. It seems a bit pointless, but you want them to know you're thinking of them perhaps, even if you're only doing this by the power of describing your clothes, the contents of your bag, the book you've taken it upon yourself to try and read. What about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451? You like a bit of dystopia. Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, maybe? It has a good title.

People relate to that kind of stuff. Stuff. Like the coke, the cigarettes, the crisps. People understand, and those understanding people are the ones who are also living in the moment, like you. Who cares about the past? It's done and dusted, you can't change it, move on. Who cares about the future? You can plan and plan and plan, but it doesn't mean that everything is going to go according to that plan. There'll always be something: a spanner in the works, a fly in the ointment.

Take things as they present themselves. This could be an opportunity. It could be an adventure. It could be a disappointment, it could be a disaster. You can still be prepared - it helps to carry an umbrella in a rainy city, for example. And where would you be without that knife in your pocket, that condom in your wallet, that safety pin clipped to the hem of your trousers? Life-savers are handy when you have a life that needs saving.

And your life now - this life you're living one moment at a time, not making plans, going with the flow - is this life worth saving? Of course: it's fun, isn't it? Yes, but it's dangerous. Yes, but that's exciting. Yes. And people want to hear about it, remember? They're waiting to hear about it. You can't let them down now; you have a responsibility to Your Readers. They need you; perhaps they need to live through you.

Listen: I'm at the art gallery. I'm looking at art. I don't get the art that I'm looking at. Oh, I shouldn't admit that I don't get the art that I'm looking at. But I don't. It's dumb. Who the fuck funds this stuff, anyway? Why don't they give the money to me: I'm a living art experiment, aren't I? Living in the moment and all that. I could use the cash to keep up my body of work, extend my oeuvre, explore new forms of expressing these experiences everyone wants a piece of.

There's your application, right there. Copy and paste it into the online form, quick, before you forget, before something comes along to distract you: a phone call, an important email that Needs Answering Right Now, a meteor smashing into the polar icecaps and setting us all in a tailspin towards the sun, a gigantic spaceship hovering about Manchester Town Hall, demanding an audience with Richard Leese.

But that's not going to happen, is it? You, I and they all know that the aliens only ever put a humungous shadow over New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Johannesburg, Paris and London, at a push. Plus humungous isn't even a word. Probably gigantic isn't either; you can't remember and the dictionary has everything in it these days, colloquial, made up, everything.

You should know, you spend enough time flicking through the good book at work where you edit report after boring report and pretend to be looking up things like "data" (plural? Singular? Does anyone give a toss?) but actually what you're really doing is trying to find as many rude words as possible and testing your own encyclopaedic knowledge of swears against Roget. You usually win; the man has no sense of imagination. You couldn't if you came up with such a complicated cross-referencing system.

So, yeah, live in the moment. Get that funding bid off. Then get on with your next project idea: the one where you catalogue all your favourite naughty phrases using library coding parameters stored on microfiche and displayed on a light box in a darkened room that adds to the suggestive atmosphere. Or you could do a series of Venn diagrams: male bits intersecting with female bits, so to speak; the subset of shared bits including nipples, arses, hard, panting. And then there's the bedtime stories stroke of genius: two writers sat in a bed telling tales of titillation, like the Yoko and John of the literary world. The arts lot'd love that; they'd put on their special voices and extol the talents of the great minds who came up with such a brainwave.

But you're living in the moment, remember? These projects are plans. You don't have a plan. God, it's stressful, not having a plan. Why hadn't you noticed this before? You were trying so desperately to fly by the seat of your pants and cram in as many events and experiences and emotions and other things beginning with e that you've started to lose your way.

So let's make a plan, you and I. Maybe I'll make the plan and I won't let you in on it. Would that work? But then I'd be in control and wouldn't that be like playing God? That's twice now he's cropped up. But I don't believe in God, only extraterrestrials, because there's got to be something out there, right? Just not an old bloke with a beard sat on a cloud surrounded by cherubs playing lutes or lyres or whatever the damn things are.

If I make a plan, The Plan, would that be even more stressful? We're right back at the plans not going according to plan. That was the whole point of this discussion. Perhaps we shouldn't have these philosophical existential theological mental chats in our frame of mind. It's tricky, that's for sure. A proper dilemma. I can't make The Plan - surely that's for the Fates to decide. Leave it up to destiny, eh? But then you have to believe in the Fates and destiny to begin with, I suppose, and I don't believe in anything. Except extraterrestrials, of course. Remember?

But say we did have a plan. Just say. For argument's sake. Work with me here. What would The Plan involve? I can't see into the future, but I want one; the life worth saving, all that. You too, right? The life worth saving, I mean. Trouble is, my idea of the future would probably not be the same as your idea of the future, if you'd for just one minute think about the future and stop selfishly pretending you don't need a plan. Living in the moment, indeed. What kind of student anarchy thinking is that?

So we're getting nowhere with this. I want a plan, you don't want a plan. I don't want a plan, you want a plan. What, you've changed your mind now, have you? That complicates matters. Maybe that's the spanner in the works, the fly in the ointment: you've been pretending you don't want a plan, but actually secretly, all along, you've been squirrelling away thoughts of things that might happen in the future. I bet you've got tons of these thoughts hidden in the recesses of your great mind.

It's probably like one of those books you used to order off the back of cereal packets in the 80s, the ones where you get to the end of a chapter and are faced with a number of options, each one leading to a new set of circumstances. Like a tax return, only with princesses and monsters and pirates and monkeys. There were probably monkeys. So you got to the end of a chapter and had to decide your own fate.

a) Rescue the princess from the monsters and pirates and gallop off on a white monkey into the sunset where you'll get married and live happily ever after. Go to Chapter 2.
b) Don't rescue the princess from the monsters and pirates and save yourself from a loveless marriage and a lifetime of nagging. No one finds out what happens to the monkeys. Go to Chapter 3.
c) Rescue the monsters and pirates; leave the princess to set up a monkey sanctuary and die an old maid but she's content because at least she's put something back into society and you're content because you've got a whole gang of monsters and pirates to hang out with; ain't nobody gonna mess with you now, dawg. Go to Chapter 4.

So we need to think of the options in your head. I guess they're: carry on as is; don't carry on as is; carry on but this time with a plan. Oh, we're back here; I think this is a sticking point. If only we had some monkeys. They'd distract us if nothing else. We'd get caught up in training them to do party tricks; fetch and carry; make cups of tea. We'd be the talk of the town with our troupe of dancing simians throwing down rose petals for us to walk over. Now, that's a plan. (Note to self: look into monkey adoption.)

But let's not lose sight of the important details. The important details are The Readers. We'd kind of forgotten about them, but we'd be nothing if it weren't for The Readers. We need to keep them in new material, you know what they're like. So demanding. If we don't keep feeding them the snippets of information on the minutiae of our life, they'll get all sluggish and slow and eventually stop, like a Furby or a Tamagotchi. Discarded in the corner of the room, staring at the point where the two white walls meet, staring with dead eyes and no purpose in life.

We're the life-savers, after all. We thought it was our lives we were supposed to be saving, but really it's theirs. So let's get on with it; give them what they want, what they need. Words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, libraries. That's why we're here. What else did you think?

15 July 2011

Festival season

Right, there's a lot of festival stuff going on at the mo, so here's a quick rundown of literary odds and sods you might be interested in.

First up, as part of Not Part Of, the Manchester International Festival fringe, might I suggest you swing by the Mad Hatter's Tea Party being run by the lovely ladies at For Books' Sake. It's tonight at 8pm at Nexus Art Cafe in the NQ. Emma Jane Unsworth, Claire Massey and other fab gals will be reading and there's other stuff going on to. I think it's a fiver in.

On Sunday, for Oxfam Bookfest, you can catch me reading a story about a well-to-do lady who turns to a life of crime and sauce. Also reading are the rest of the FlashTag bunch (formerly Flash Mob - we like to keep you on your toes), plus Bad Language. The event starts at 7.30pm and is taking place in Apotheka, also in the Northern Quarter. Info here and here.

Our new project, FlashTag, launched this week. Look: that's our picture above. Benjamin made that. Isn't he clever? (I think he's the brains of the operation.) We want submissions of short stories (400 words max by Sunday 7 August) on the subject of smut. You know what we're like. We're going to put the successful ones in an anthology alongside stories by our good selves, and some of our writer mates, including Miss Unsworth mentioned above, David Gaffney, Nik Perring... Then on Wednesday 28 September, we'll be holding a Smut Night as part of Didsbury Arts Festival. We'll launch the tome and have readings of some of the stories, along with a special appearance by Mr Gaffney.

Also happening for Didsbury Arts Festival and also involving David, as one of the two judges, is the annual short story competition (there's also a poetry comp). All the details are on the DAF website, but the closing date has changed: it's now Friday 26 August (not Friday 5 August), so you have a bit of extra time.

Next week it's Lassfest - literary events at the Lass O'Gowrie. Tom Fletcher and Nicholas Royle of Station Stories fame will be reading and signing Wednesday and Thursday respectively, both at 6.30pm, both £2 in.

Finally, Manchester Literature Festival will be running 10-23 October this year. If you want to get involved, check out the website. If you fancy blogging for the MLF blog, give me a shout here or via Twitter @wordsnfixtures.

13 July 2011


OK, I don't have much time, but check out me and my crew's latest project, innit? FlashTag here and here.

And submit. Submit. Submit. Submit. (Sorry, that's the dominatrix in me.)

12 July 2011

Audio boo!

Oh dear. Having been recently ensconced in an Alpine sanitorium* as a direct result of the ongoing mid-life crisis and its side effect of burning the candle at both ends (as your mother would say), I had totally and entirely forgotten about the Lavinia Greenlaw literary installation Audio Obscura which is on at Piccadilly Station throughout Manchester International Festival (11am-7pm, until 17 July). Thankfully, I was reminded by lovely Laura through the power of Twitter and yesterday we hooked up and got hooked up with a giant pair of headphones and an MP3 player for the "listening experience".

It's an interesting concept: you listen to the various stories written by Greenlaw and interwoven over half an hour, each separate twine voiced by a different person and resting against a backdrop of ambient music and station sounds. You're encouraged to wander the concourse while you listen, but I'm a lazy old coot so I sat on a bench and watched people instead. This, I'm happy to say, worked a treat: the voices mix in and out of each other, so I think wandering would have made me lose the thread, but my people-watching also helped me visualise the various characters telling the stories. The stories themselves are all serious, mostly sad, and sometimes depressing, but don't let that put you off: they are pretty good.

Audio Obscura - trailer from Artangel on Vimeo.

Each voice tells a different tale, and they come and go so you're sucked out of one story into another then dropped back in to the first, and so on. It's quite clever; it's a bit like zoning in on the people around you when you're waiting for a train, zoning out, then zoning in again. As Greenlaw says in the accompanying brochure: "In a station, we are forced into proximity. We tend to assume that we are neither overheard nor overlooked even as we notice those around us. Things catch our attention because they raise a question and fail to answer it. We are left in suspense ... The experience is not of being told something but of becoming conscious of what we do with what we overhear."

It's worth the trip, but don't expect Station Stories. Nothing could beat that for stories in a station.

*This might not be true.

11 July 2011

Any sauce with that?

Me and my Flash Mob boys are currently working on a new project, Smut Night, which will take place on Wednesday 28 September at Didsbury Lawn Tennis Club (la-di-da) as part of Didsbury Arts Festival (more on DAF later this week). Details are currently under wraps, but we're going to be opening submissions for an anthology very soon, so keep checking back here and follow @FMWComp on Twitter for more.

To get me in the mood (so to speak), I've spent the last week reading pulp fiction and flash fiction, and writing a number of saucy short stories. I'm going to read one of my racy new creations this Sunday, when the Flash Mob gang will be reading at an evening of spoken word organised by our good friends from the Bad Language writing collective as part of this year's Oxfam Bookfest. Here's the event's Facebook page. It starts at 7.30pm at Apotheca in the Northern Quarter.

This week, to keep up the racy vibe, I've set myself the challenge of reading a Mills & Boon a day. I've started with Charade Of The Heart by Cathy Williams, from the old Romance imprint. My favourite line so far has been: "Can you really try and convince me that you love another man when I can feel you opening up under my fingers like a flower?" Just brilliant! It's my aim to get to grips (oo-er) with the writing style and see if I can come up with my own first three chapters and a synopsis, and take it from there. I'll keep you posted on the titles I get through in On My Bookshelf Right Now... (see left).

05 July 2011

Lit chick

OK, so you know how I'm constantly apologising for not keeping in touch as much as I'd like because I'm up to my eyes in Very Exciting Writing Projects? Well, I've got a new very exciting writing project I'll be working on over the next few months. I've been asked to do the digital marketing for Manchester Literature Festival, which is a total honour and something I really can't wait to get going with. Squee!

As regular readers will know, MLF runs a blog every year, with reviews and interviews to keep folk up to date with all the goings-on over the frantic fortnight. I'm therefore going to be sniffing out bloggers to contribute words of wisdom, and there's no reason why it can't be you. We're holding a volunteers meeting on Wednesday 13 July at 6pm, in the Becker Room of the City Library on Deansgate. Swing by and say hello and get your name in my little black book. I'm going to wear a posh frock and everything, so you'd be a fool not to come. (However, if you really can't make it down, just get in touch with me or email mcrlitfestblog@gmail.com. Simples.)