Curtis Brown Creative courses for aspiring writers

Notebook and pen cr Judy DarleyAs the new year gets underway, why not rev up your writing skills? Curtis Brown Creative, the creative-writing school run by Curtis Brown Literary Agency, is inviting applications for an array of writing courses aimed at aspiring novelists, with London-based and an online options to choose between.

There are also lower-priced online ‘taster’ courses to give you the chance to work out if this is the right approach for you, or if you’re not ready to take on the full time and financial commitment required for their longer courses.

Learn to edit and pitch your novel, or get to the end of that all-important first draft, get insights and hands-on help from successful authors and experienced editors. The creative writing school was launched in 2011 and remains the only one run by a literary agency.

Upcoming courses include the chance to learn to writing and edit short fiction with award-winning short story-writer Cynan Jones, starting on 30th January, and a six-month online novel writing course with authors Lisa O’Donnell and Andre Michael Hurley, starting on 17th February. Deadlines for applying for these particular courses are 27th January for the former and 26th January for the latter.

“I’m proud to say that over the past few years, many of our alumni have gained deals with major publishers,” says Curtis Brown Director Anna Davis. “Some of our former students have written international bestsellers, others have won prizes and several more have gained representation with literary agents and are working to edit their novels for publication. Yet more are still working away, often with the support of their former Curtis Brown Creative cohort. It’s great to see how many of our alumni stay closely in touch with their student groups long after their courses end.– have seen more than fifteen students secure book deals with major publishers and several others find representation.”

Find full details of upcoming courses here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2020 Short Story Competition

Beautiful skies, Victoria Park cr Judy DarleyThis annual competition is one of my favourites on the literary calendar. There’s no theme for you to base your story on – all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website www.writersandartists.co.uk, that the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2020‘ and that you send it to waybcompetitions@bloomsbury.com.

Your story must be no more than 2,000 words long. The closing date for entries is midnight on 13th February 2019.

The winner of the competition – along with two runners-up – will be announced on the W&A blog pages in March 2020.

Entry is free, but don’t forget to register before submitting your story. Continue reading

Enter the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2020

Bud. Photo by Judy DarleyThe Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2020 invites entries from women over the age of 21 who have written a novel “that marries literary merit with unputdownability.”

The closing date for the competition is 12 noon on Friday 17th January 2020.

The judges say they’re equally open to literary fiction and genre fiction, as well as to young adult fiction and children, providing they are primarily word-based.

Your submission must be previously unpublished, and you must not have had other full-length novels published. However, having short stories, poetry, non-fiction or picture books published previously does not exclude you.

To be considered, you need to submit the first 40-50 pages of the novel via the online form and a three to five-page synopsis of the remainder.

The entry fee is £12. Sponsored entries for low income writers are available.

All shortlisted entrants be offered a one-to-one consultation, editorial feedback and advice on the marketability of their work from PFD literary agency.

The 2020 winner will receive a cash prize of £1,500.

Shortlisted applicants will also be invited to the prize-giving drinks reception and awards ceremony where they will have the chance to meet. Industry representatives.

For full details, visit www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/fictionprize/how-to-enter, and make sure you follow the competition Terms and Conditions.

Before entering, read these tips.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Join a different kind of book club

NSCRC children with Book Aid boxI love giving books as Christmas gifts – there’s always that sense of offering up a whole world for your recipient to discover!

This year, why not go a little further and offer that gift to someone who can use it to improve their lives?

Book Aid does amazing work to get books to people who need them, and you can help, Your donation will cover the cost of sending books to people in the developing world, bringing all those page-bound possibilities, adventures and experiences to classrooms, libraries and minds hungry for them.

“As a writer and traveller, I think everyone should be able to open a window on the world through books,” says Michael Palin, CBE. “It’s incredible how lives can be transformed through access to books.”

How does it work?

You have the option of signing up for a monthly subscription of £6, £10 or £25, or donating the amount of your choice. You could also give in memory, or give in celebration. If you’re a publisher or other member of the book trade, you could even donate books.

Over the course of a year, a £6 monthly membership translates into 36 books to stock a community library, reaching children and adults who might otherwise not have the opportunity to enjoy reading for pleasure or learning.

A £10 monthly membership could result in a hospital receiving 60 books.

A £25 membership could provide a starter library for a school, equipped with around 150 books.

The Reverse Book Club is simple, practical and cost less per month than your Sunday newspaper. And each monthly gift of £6 means Book Aid International can send three more books!”

To find out how you can help Book Aid change lives for the better, visit www.bookaid.org.

A literary winter solstice

Welsh beach by Judy Darley
This year’s Solstice Shorts Festival hosted by micro publisher Arachne Press sweeps us into the shivery themes of Time and Tide.

Now in its 6th year, Solstice Shorts Festival unfurls in seven port towns in four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Portugal. The festival is on Saturday 21st December 2019. There will be performances by actors, authors and musicians of original  short stories, poems and song, all historically tinged by coastlines and tidal rivers, with echoes of, as organiser Cheryl writes, “fishermen and pirates, wreckers and dockers – making a new life across the sea – escaping pogroms and wars, the shipwrecked and the endlessly travelling – to paddlers and wild swimmers.”

Find full details of what’s happening where and how you can get involved at arachnepress.com

Solstice Shorts Logo

How stories can change the world

Mackerel skies over Temple Meads cr Judy DarleyGot an idea for a project that aims to boost civic involvement in government decisions? The Commonwealth Foundation is seeking submissions for their grants programme. The Foundation in interested in supporting a pool of ideas for advancing societies and offers grants to help make these concepts a reality.

The Foundation believes in the power of stories and storytelling for social change and will award grants for creative approaches that have the potential to influence public discourse.

Foundation grants can add up to a maximum of £200,000 over four years in support of innovative projects and approaches that seek to strengthen the empower of civic voices to engage with governments, with the potential to improve governance and development outcomes through their active participation.

The selection process is highly competitive and rigorous; selected projects will have been designed to undertake work that has the potential to lead to one or more of the outcomes in the Foundation’s strategic logic model.

An internal review process, including long-listing by the Grants team followed by a short listing process involving all programme teams, prepares a final list of applications that is then submitted to the Grants Committee. Final decisions on which projects to support are made by the member states represented on the Foundation’s Grants Committee.

The Foundation is interested in supporting projects that strengthen civic voice so that it:

  • Is more effective in holding governance institutions to account
  • Enhances involvement in policy processes
  • Shapes public discourse

Your project should address one or both of the following, and may include the use of creative expression to achieve project aims:

1. Stronger civic voices engaging in policy processes to hold government to account

Your project will strengthen the capacity of civic voices in contributing to:

  • Monitoring government commitments and action
  • Supporting the implementation of the sustainable development goals or other international agreements, and related local and national policy agendas
  • Advocating policy priorities to government that address gender and other power imbalances, disparities and discrimination
  • Strengthening participatory methods of engaging in regional national and local governance processes
  • Raising awareness and advocating for specific policy issues

2. Public discourse that will support less-heard voices and enable the following:

  • contribution to public discourse on development issues
  • access to policy spaces and/or platforms with the potential to amplify voices and influence public discourse

Find further details.

A engineering-themed arts trail

Clifton Suspension Bridge cr JDarleyThe 19th Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail erupts from 15th till 17th November 2019 with an engineering theme – perfect for the city where Isambard Kingdom Brunel made his mark so exquisitely!

Arts Trail organiser Gaily Orr says: “Engineering is the art and science of nuts and bolts. So sign up now with wrench sets and sketch pads at the ready!”

Never been to an art trail? This is a great one to dip your toe (or jump head first) into. The first to appear in Bristol almost two decades ago, it offers a chance for artists to showcase their work within their own homes as well as shared spaces, and for us public to a) enjoy said art, and b) get away with being nosy about other people’s décor to our heart’s content.

Each year the Arts Trail attracts thousands of visitors coming from across the city and beyond.” It’s a fantastic opportunity for local artists to display their work to the public, and it’s also a great opportunity for the public to visit, view, discuss and buy original works of arts and crafts directly from the artist.”

There’s also potential for lots of inspiration gleaning, not to mention a golden opportunity to start the Christmas shopping with some one-off originals.

Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail is on from 15th-17th November 2019. Find full details at frontroom.org.uk.

Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail_cr Judy Darley

Liars’ League Hong Kong seeks entrance and exit stories

Azores pufferfish doorway by Judy Darley

Liars’ League Hong Kong is accepting submissions of short fiction between 800 and 1,200 words on the theme of Exits and Entrances. So if you wrote something for National Flash Fiction Day’s door-themed 2019 anthology, but found your story demanded more than 500-words to have its say, this could be the perfect potential home for your tale!

The deadline is 15th November 2019. 

They say. “Creative interpretations are most welcome. Writers can be anyone from anywhere. Liars’ League Hong Kong can be a platform for unsung local authors but we do also like diversity of fiction from all over the globe.”

However, they remind you that “Submitting your work to Liars’ League implies permission to upload the text and an audio and video recording of your story onto our website so that everyone can enjoy it. From time to time, we’re also booked for showcase performances, and your story may be read aloud in other venues and instances other than the regular Liars’ League events.”

A number of my stories have been performed and broadcast by Liars’ League Hong Kong, including Preservation and Geese Among The Trees (which features in my new short story collection Sky Light Rain), both read by the talented Susan Lavender.

Find full submission details.

On your marks… NaNoWriMo!

Painted desert, Colorado cr Judy DarleyTomorrow marks the start of NaNoWriMo 2019 on 1st November. Are you taking part? I love the concept of this word-packed month, with ardent writers across the world hunched over laptops sweating out every last drop of inspiration.

New to the concept? It’s pretty simple really. As they state on the NaNoWriMo website: “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”

I know plenty of writers this enforced period of productivity really suits. For some folks it seems to be the ideal way to stoke up ideas and get them to catch alight on the page.

For me, the beginning stages of novel-writing are all about thinking ahead, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do some speedy planning even as you begin to write. After all, what else are you going to do when waiting for buses, in post office queues and doing the washing up?

Here are my top five preparation tips to ensure you make the most of this exceptional month.

1. Form a vision of the story you’ll be aiming to tell, with the beginning already shaped in your mind. If possible, do the same for the ending. Having an idea of the finale you’re working towards will mean you’re far less likely to veer off track!

2. Spend some time considering your characters – working out who they are, how they think, what their goals are, how they might help or hinder each other.

3. Know your setting. This is one of my favourites, particularly if it offers a valid excuse to meander in a much loved wilderness or similar.

4. Pick out a few dramatic moments your plot will cover and brainstorm them, then set them aside. Whenever your enthusiasm wanes over the intensive NaNoWriMo period, treat yourself by delving into one of those to reinvigorate your writing energy.

5. Finally, make sure you have plenty of sustenance to hand. For me, the essentials are coffee and chocolate. What are yours?

In 2018,14, 527, 438 words were logged across the globe as part of National Novel Writing Month. If you’re signing up, I raise a glass (or rather, a mug of coffee) to you. Good luck!

Sky Light Rain book launch & literary night

Sky Light Rain by Judy DarleyMy short story collection Sky Light Rain is now out, and I’m celebrating with an atmospheric evening of readings and music on the themes of sky, light, and rain. Drawing on my enduring fascination with the fallibility of the human mind, Sky Light Rain examines aspects of human existence, including our relationship to nature and to each other.

The event will take place at Waterstones Bristol Galleries, from 7pm on Saturday 2nd November 2019, and you’re invited!

Alongside me, participants include writers Paul Deaton, Kevlin Henney and Grace Palmer, and indie art-pop musician Hidden Tide.

You can book your free tickets here.

Buy your copy of Sky Light Rain from Valley Press here.

Here are our bios:

Judy Darley’s short stories, flash fiction and poems have been widely published, and read by the author on BBC radio, in pubs, caves, and a disused church, as well as at literary festivals and charity events. She was co-judge of the National Flash Fiction Micro Competition 2019. Sky Light Rain is her second short story collection. Her debut collection Remember Me to the Bees was published in 2013. @JudyDarley

Kevlin HenneyKevlin Henney has been involved in the organisation of National Flash Fiction Day events, the Bristol Festival of Literature and the Flash in Hand open mic night at Alchemy 198 in Bristol. His stories have won, placed, and been shortlisted and longlisted in competitions. His stories appear on air, online and in print, included in over twenty anthologies. @KevlinHenney

 

Grace Palmer headshotGrace Palmer’s writing can be found in Flashback Fiction, Riggwelter Press, Magma, Flash Fiction One & Two and online at National Flash Fiction Day. She founded and runs Novel Nights and Flash in Hand, and teaches writing at Bristol Folk House. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa Uni. @wordpoppy and @novelnightsuk

 

Paul Deaton headshotPaul Deaton’s Seren collection A Watchful Astronomy was a Poetry Book Society Winter Recommended Book and was a National Poetry Day Book Group selected title. Work is included in the Forward Prize Anthology 2019. He is co-editor of smith / doorstop’s forthcoming Running Anthology, a freelance commissioning art editor and a counsellor in addictions in Bristol. @pauldeaton28

 

Hidden Tide HeadshotHidden Tide uses distorted guitar, programmed loops and thought-provoking lyrics to create ‘sweeping dark electronica’. Performing her own material, she is a regular on the Bristol music scene with gigs including sets at Mr Wolf’s and the Louisiana. @HiddenTideMusic