Head to the Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Child reading cr Julian Foxon Photography

© Julian Foxon Photography

Hungry for writing inspiration, or simply got young book-worms to entertain? Bath Children’s Literature Festival offers up a fantastic, imagination-stirring line-up of events chosen by artistic directors John and Gill McLay with the aim of “putting fun and laughter first.”

The festival runs from Friday 28 September – Sunday 7 October 2018, with events for all ages, including inspiring and entertaining conversations with Lauren Child, David Walliams, Marcia Williams, and Cressida Cowell, among others.

Meet author Laura James and Fabio the world’s greatest flamingo detective, take a masterclass with author and illustrator Peter Brown, sign up for a drawing lesson or a Matilda dance workshop, find out how to write picture books with Tessa Strickland, .

Find details and book tickets at bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature.

Find out more about Bath, including places to stay, at visitbath.co.uk.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh book festival gardensThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 11th-27th August, bringing writers and thinkers from across the globe to an avid lit-loving audience.

They say: “Take a journey of discovery through fact, fiction, poetry, personal stories and world affairs.”

Speakers include broadcaster and comedian Susan Calman on kindness, author Matt Haig on how to feel whole, plus discussions with graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg and Adele Patrick, the Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager at Glasgow Women’s Library. Look out for interactive theatrical experience The Hidden, and a celebration of Muriel Spark.
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Escape to Port Eliot

Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

All photographs used in this post are taken by Michael Bowles

Port Eliot Festival brings together some of the best creative talents around and plonks them in the midst of a magical sprawling garden party.

Enticingly, they say: “Our home is your playground for one magical weekend and nothing makes us happier than seeing you explore the Estate. Whether you’re swimming in the estuary, catching a literary star on the Bowling Green, rocking out at the Park Stage, canoeing on the river, catching an intimate gig in the church, watching a cooking demo on the Flower & Fodder Stage, a fashion show or dancing ‘till the wee hours in the Boogie Round – our home is yours for the weekend.”

It all kicks off on 26th July, running till 29th July, at St Germans, West Cornwall.

This year’s speakers, performers, mixologists and events include poet Hollie McNish, Helen Pankhurst, Robert Webb, Lucy Mangan, Tim Clare, Salena Godden, Geoff Dyer, Three Cane Whale, Salena Godden, Savannah Miller, Raleigh Rye, and so many others.

Look out for Travel Writing for Adventurers, the Great Diary Project, and Mindful Masculinity with Caspar Walsh.

There are also exhibitions to be inspired by: In The Round Room, you’ll find live play readings and poetry performances, a Virtual Reality installation, and late night screenings… There’s also the brand new Cinematheque celebrating women in film, Midnight Trapeze & Circus School, and Museum of Witchcraft Nightwalks.

Each of the stages have names that seem plucked straight from fairytales: Lark’s Haven, Walled Garden, Flower and Fodder, The Idler Academy and The Dead Man’s Fingers bar, being just a few.

Port Eliot woodland cr Michael Bowles

It helps, of course, that the surroundings are some of the finest SW England has to offer, with historical attractions including the oldest church in Cornwall – St Germans Priory Norman church. Natural delights range from the Grade 1 listed park and garden, to the estuary. Take a Bee Trail Workshop, go stargazing, try Canadian Canoing or enjoy a mid-summer wassail.Port Eliot estuary cr Michael Bowles

That’s not all though, not by a long short. As the organisers say: “we’ll celebrate words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world!”

Now, that’s my kind of party.Night at Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

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Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018

Ledbury cr John EagerSome British towns seem better suited to literary festivals than others, and Ledbury in Herefordshire is ideal – with reams of streets and architecture that the word ‘picturesque’ could have been invented for. From 29th June till 8th July 2018, Ledbury welcomes back its annual Poetry Festival, which promises ten days of written and spoken riches.

This year’s highlights include poetry and mediation day retreats with Maitreyabandhu, Fiona Sampson and Matthew Sweeney, plus workshops led by Sara-Jane Arbury, and salons featuring poet Yvonne Green, with short reading slots available.

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competition. The closing date is 5PM British Summertime on Thursday 12th July, 2018. Top prize is £1,000 plus the chance to attend a writing course at Ty Newydd (pictured below), the National Writers’ Centre for Wales.

All winners get to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival 2019 – if abroad there is the possibility of Skyping at the winners’ event.

Ty Newydd

The image at the very top of this post was supplied by John Eager of www.visitledbury.info. The other image was supplied by the Ledbury Poetry Festival team. Many thanks!

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Winchester Writers’ Festival competitions

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceWinchester Writers’ Festival returns from 15th-17th June 2018, offering the opportunity to mingle with writers, hungry agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

The Writing Competitions are now open for entries. Don’t miss the earlier than usual deadline of 11th April!

The Shortlist will be announced on the Festival website at noon on 11th May, with the Winners due to be announced on 18th May.

Founded in 1980, the conference now encompasses a festival, book fair and  in-depth workshop schedule, as well as masses of opportunities to network with other aspiring and established authors.

Promised highlights include the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts. There will also be masterclasses, talks and open-mic readings, all devised to inspire and inform you so you can take the literary world by storm!!

The Winchester Writers’ Festival takes place June 15th-17th 2018.

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

Micro-Fiction competition invites entries

Buttons cr Judy DarleyI’m a fan of flash fiction that packs an emotional wallop ­– such a challenge to achieve in only a handful of words!

National Flash-Fiction Day returns on 16th June 2018, and celebrates this short-short form in all its glory.

As part of the build up, their annual Micro-Fiction competition is open for entries of 100 words or fewer. There is no minimum word count.

The deadline is 23:59 (UK time) on 17th March 2018, so you just have time to string a few powerful, carefully selected words together. No problem, right?!

This year, entries are free. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme.

Find competition rules, terms and conditions, and the full list of prizes at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/comp.html

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Jaipur Literary Festival

Jaipur Literary Elephant

Image © Steppes Travel www.steppestravel.co.uk

What better way to begin 2017 than with a trip to one of the world’s hottest literary festivals?

Founded by William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale, Jaipur Literature Festival is celebrating eleven years old in 2018, and takes place from 25-28th January. From Nobel Laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, the annual event brings together over 250 authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists and popular culture icons from India and from around the globe.

Speakers and performers taking part include Amy Tan, Anthony Horowitz, Helen Fielding, Julia Donaldson, Kathy Reichs, musician Zakir Hussain, and countless others.

Keen to take part yourself next year? Contact the organisers through the website to find out more.

Bespoke holiday specialists Steppes Travel offer tailor-made visits to Jaipur Literature Festival. Find full details here: www.steppestravel.co.uk/india-group-tour-jaipur-literature-festival/overview

Find full details of Jaipur Literature Festival here. It could be a fabulous start to your literary year.

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Share your work at a live literary event

Squat pen by Judy Darley

If you live in the UK’s South West you may be interested to learn of a literary event in Swindon seeking writers. Taking place from 7.30pm till late on Friday 26th January 2018, it offers the chance to share 1,500-2,000 words of your finest fiction.

“We are looking for six (or more) fabulous writer/performers to come along to The Squat Pen, our very first live reading event at ‘The Place’ in the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon,” says the event’s organiser and competition judge Stephen Tuffin. “Write between 1500-2000 words on the subject of your choice, or you can use the prompt ‘new beginnings, then send us your stories for the chance to be selected to read your story on stage and maybe, just maybe, be crowned the very first ever Squat Pen Rests Writing Competition Champion of the World.”

The shortlisted entrants will be invited to come along to perform their piece in front of a friendly audience of short story fans. The outright winner, as voted for by the audience, will be presented with a £50.00 cash prize.

Every finalist will be awarded a limited edition, Squat Pen Rests Writing Competition Finalist mug, as well as having their stories posted on the competition website.

The serious stuff

It costs £3 per story to enter. You can enter up to three stories per event.

Before entering, please ensure you are available to come along and read on Friday 26th January 2018

Each of the entrants will receive free entry, plus one complementary ticket.

Closing date: 19th January 2018. Successful entrants will be notified no later than 22nd January.

Find full details here.

Hay Festival Winter Weekend

Hay Festival Winter Weekend montage1The folks at Hay Festival Winter Weekend have announced the line-up for their largest winter festival to date, giving you plenty to rev up your writing this frosty season. It all takes place in Hay-on-Wye from 23rd till 26th November 2017.

See how many participating writers and speakers you can spot in the montage above. Inspiring participants include novelists, storytellers, illustrators, journalists, comedians, chefs, sports tars, composers, musicians, poets, actors, broadcasters and more. Look out for Robert Macfarlane, Jeanette Winterson, Shazia Mirza, Matt Haig, Nikesh Shukla, Patrick Barkham; Matt Lucas, Catrin Stewart, Jeremy Vine, Monty Don, Jackie Morris, Gillian Clarke, Owen Sheers, Ed Vere, Catherine Barr, James Campbell, Anna Jones and Hay Community Choir, among others.

“Hay Festival Winter Weekend is now in its 18th year, blending literary conversation, immersive performances and interactive workshops, with the best of the town’s seasonal shopping and a chance to explore the famed natural surroundings in all their autumnal splendour,” says Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival.

A new venue will double the festival’s seated capacity, while events begin a day earlier than in previous years, with programmed talks and performances from Thursday 23 November.

“Come and join us in Hay for fireside storytelling and feasting,” Peter says. “The town is decked in Christmas lights and glistening with winter cheer for a celebration of scrumptious food, glorious vintage clothing and high times. Bring a story, bring a new idea, bring a friend. Everyone is welcome.”

Tickets are on sale now. Book online at hayfestival.org or call 01497 822 629.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socket creative(dot)com.

A literary outing in Hong Kong

Mussel shells cr Judy Darley

I’m happy to announce that my short story Preservation has been selected for the Liars’ League Hong Kong night of literary performances on 29th May.

In case you weren’t aware, Liars League is an event that matches short fiction to actors, celebrating the spoken word while giving it some thespian panache! Their tagline is Writers Write. Actors Read. Audience Listens. Everybody Wins.

The evening my story has been chosen for focuses on the themes Prophecy & History. Splendid!

Susan Lavender will be reading my story, which is great news as she previously read my tales Geese Among The Trees and Night Flights in Hong Kong.

The story was inspired by the fact various words about nature really have been excised from children’s dictionary to make room for more about technology. Sad but true. Mussel was just one of the words removed.

I can’t attend, but hope to catch up on the podcast or videos afterwards. It starts at 8pm on 29th of May at Social Room, a loft style multi functional Hong Kong event venue “ideally located next to the Central Escalator.” If by some chance you happen to be in that part of the world that night, do swing by. It should be a fabulous evening!