Head to the ‘Reading Is Magic’ online literature festival

Child reading cr Julian Foxon Photography

© Julian Foxon Photography

Hungry for writing inspiration, or simply got young book-worms to entertain? With Bath Children’s Literature Festival off limits this year, the Reading is Magic Festival is stepping into the void this autumn with six days of free, fantastic, imagination-stirring digital events.

The festival runs from 27th September until 2nd October 2020, with events for all ages. Look out for inspiring and entertaining conversations, workshops and adventures in the company of Cressida Cowell, Karim Zeroual, Chris Riddell, Dapo Adeola, Nathan Bryon, Jason Reynolds, Sue Hendra, Paul Linnet, Jasbinder Bilan, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Sophy Henn, Steven Lenton, Steven Butler, Joseph Coelho, Pamela Butchart, Alex Wheatle, Robin Stevens, Elle McNicoll, Anthony McGowan, Serena Patel, Sharna Jackson, Anna Wilson, Dara McAnulty, Adam Murphy, Andy Stewart, Bookshop Band, Steven Camden, Phil Earle, Kristina Stephenson, Jessica Love, Eunice Olumide, Malizah, David A. Robertson, Eloise Williams Ardo Omar, Caitlyn Bannatyne, Katie Yamaski, Mya-Rose Craig, Katherine Woodfine, Rakaya Fetuga, Letters to the Earth and Kay Michael.

The name for the festival comes from Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019-2022 Cressida Cowell’s comment that “reading is magic, and magic is for everyone.’ The award-winning children’s author and creator of How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book will play a key role in the festival.

Image supplied by Bath Festivals. Photo by Julian-Foxon-Photography.

Find details at www.readingismagicfestival.com.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers online

Edinburgh book festival gardensThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 15th-31st August, with more than 100 free online events bringing writers and thinkers to an avid lit-loving audience. Topics will include everything from the climate crisis and race to the best fresh poetry from across the globe.

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

The festival attracts 900 authors from over 60 countries, including novelists, poets, scientists, philosophers, sportsmen, illustrators, comic creators, historians, musicians, biographers, environmentalists, economists, Nobel and Booker prize-winners and more.  Continue reading

Ledbury Poetry Festival 2020

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. This year, Ledbury’s annual Poetry Festival is relocating online for 4th-5th July 2020, promising two days of written and spoken riches.

All events are FREE, but do remember to register beforehand, and please consider a donation to LPF and support the Festival in this uncertain and challenging time. Each event will be recorded and posted on the Festival’s YouTube channel

This year’s highlights include the Festival Launch, during which UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will introduce and read poems written during Lockdown, readings from Ledbury Poetry Festival International Poetry Competition 2019 winners, including Sarah Wimbush (read my review of Sarah’s award-winning pamphlet Bloodlines), Elisabeth Murawski and Denise Bundred, hosted by Daljit Nagra, plus a Spanish Poetry Translation Duel, and much much more!

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competition. Entries will be judged by Liz Berry. The closing date is Thursday 16th July 2020.

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

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.

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The Writers’ Weekend 2020 goes virtual

Stripe Image provided by The WInchester Writers' ConferenceThe Writers’ Weekend 2020, formerly Winchester Writers’ Festival, launches from 9th-12th July 2020, and is your virtual opportunity to mingle with writers, peckish agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Sara Gangai, Director of the Writers’ Weekend and former Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival, says: “Faced with uncertainty around social distancing and travel, we have decided to stream the event live across the weekend of 9-12 July. Easy-to-use virtual meeting room technology will ensure every workshop, panel and one-to-one appointment is fully accessible to our attendees, streamed to your computer, tablet or phone, and as engaging as an in-person event.”

Authors Eoin Colfer and Lissa Evans have been announced as keynote speakers.

You can sign up as a viewer or attendee, depending on how immersed you’d prefer to be. As well as talks, workshops, author readings and open mic events, promised highlights include the festival’s renowned One-to-One Appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors, authors, poets and industry experts.

They say: “One-to-ones are 15-minute appointments with specialists who will offer constructive criticism to work-in-progress, discuss publishing/marketing possibilities and give advice on writing difficulties. Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective. This is a golden opportunity to meet with an agent or editor for commercial feedback on your work. Who knows? They might want to see the full manuscript!”

The Writers’ Weekend takes place from 9th-12th July 2020. Book your package.

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.

Live online – Culture Unconfined Festival

Red Fox Theatre

Seeking some drama, music, poetry and film to see you through the week ahead? Culture Unconfined festival launches online on 11th May.

Masterminded by the University of Liverpool, Culture Unconfined offers five days of drama, documentary, poetry, film and music to help people engage and stave off isolation during these lockdown times.

The online festival opens on Monday May 11th with A Museum for Me!, a chance to imagine and create your own perfect museum, tell your own stories and curate your own exhibition. There is even a special lockdown version to experiment with.

This is followed by renowned Irish composer, Gerald Barry’s dispatch from Los Angeles, where he is composing an opera based on Oscar Wilde’s Salome for the Los Angeles Opera, before former Royal Liverpool Philharmonic violinist Roisin Walters delivers a 30-minute concert connecting Irish songs and Bach dance movements from the Partitas.

The first day concludes with an exclusive radio documentary from Red Fox Theatre, around the making of their Dingle based performance piece, Catch of the Day.

Professor Peter Shirlow is Director of the University’s Institute of Irish Studies and co-organiser of Culture Unconfined. “One of the first casualties of Covid-19 was culture with the closure of venues, rehearsals and programming,” he says. “However, one of the first responses to the lockdown were performances on balconies and people using their creative talents to deal with the trauma of crisis. As much as crisis defined culture, it was clear culture was going to define crisis.”

Shirlow adds: “Culture Unconfined is the University of Liverpool’s response.’ “Culture Unconfined is the University of Liverpool’s response. It drives creative ambition with digital and live performances, it galvanizes hope and history and plays upon mirth and more thoughtful moments.”

Deidre,Ni,Chonghail

Deidre,Ni,Chonghail

Look out for musician, broadcaster, and writer Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile mapping the music of the Irish diaspora. This live talk is one of only two you need to rebook for.

Other highlights in the line-up include Alternative Bedtime Stories – definitely not one for the kids – by the Makey-Uppers, and poetry from Rita Ann Higgins.

Each day of the festival follows a schedule, with specific timings for each event. You can access each performance – and view the entire programme – through the Culture Unconfined website.

Festival Director and the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement, Professor Dinah Birch says: “As the novelty of working from home begins to settle into a routine, it’s important that our online lives should continue to be refreshing and rewarding. Engaging with a variety of cultural resources is one of the best ways of staying connected, and expanding our sense of the new experiences that a virtual world makes possible.”

To access the performances, see the full schedule and find out more about Culture Unconfined, visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/culture-unconfined

Book your Flash Festival tickets now!

Trinity College Bristol***Cancelled for 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic***

Celebrating its fourth year, Flash Fiction Festival 2020 spreads out over three intensely creative days in June. The festival unfurls on Friday 19th, Sat 20th and Sun 21st June, welcoming fabulous flashers including Kathy Fish, Nuala 0’Connor, Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Tania Hershman.

`the weekend takes place at Trinity College, Bristol, and is packed with inspiring workshops tackling every aspect of flash fiction, from Climate Writing with Deb Tompkins, Creative Visualisation with Karen Jones, Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Creating Emotion & Yearning on the Page: with Kathy Fish, Going Further With the Novella-in-Flash: With Michael Loveday, Writing the Prose Poetry Sequence. With Carrie Etter, I Didn’t Sign Up for This! How to Get on Stage and Read Your Work with Confidence: with Nancy Stohlman, Hybrid flash with Tania Hershman, and Foraging For Inspiration with me!

These are just a few of the wonderful offerings tempting you to sign up. See the website to find out what else is happening.

I helped out at the festival in 2019 and came away with a notebook full of ideas, and a hunger to power up my laptop. The festival team, headed by directors Jude Higgins and Diane Simmons, plus festival curator Meg Pokrass, make this a weekend of imaginative adventures, attracting some of the loveliest writers ever to dip a toe into the art of flash writing. Join the throng before all spaces fill up!

Book your flash festival admission here.

Liars’ League NYC seeks stories to perform

Kalamazoo railway tracks by Judy Darley

The folks at Liars’ League NYC have announced a new set of submissions themes and deadlines for 2020. they say: “In a nutshell, we’re looking for fresh, character-driven fiction up to 3,000 words, except in the case of our Flash Fiction event in May, where the word limit is 1000.”

Liars’ League offers creative opportunities across the globe, with regular literary nights in London, Hong Kong and New York, matching up writers’ tales with actors and audiences.

Submission themes

Success & Failure – Deadline: Wednesday, 4th March 2020

Short & Sweet Flash Fiction – Deadline: Wednesday, 6th May 2020

Before & After – Deadline: Wednesday, 9th September 2020

Weird & Wonderful – Deadline: Wednesday, 4th November 2020

Simply send your story by email to info@liarsleaguenyc.com by midnight PST of the deadline day in either doc., docx., or rtf. format. Not sure what to send? It’s worth taking a look at the stories in their Archive to get a sense of the type of work they love.

Find full details of how and what to submit here.

Meanwhile, Liars’ League London are currently inviting submissions on the theme of Young & Old, with a submission deadline of Sunday March 1st 2020. Find full details on their website. 

Liars’ League Hong Kong are seeking submissions on the theme Terms & Conditions, with a submission deadline of Friday 24th April 2020. Find full details on their website. 

 

Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s micro fiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word micro fiction competition 2020 is open for submissions.  This year’s judges are Rob Walton, FJ Morris, Anne Summerfield and Susmita Bhattacharya. Send something funny that resonates, is fresh and exciting, and leaves the judges lost for words.

The deadline is Saturday 15th February 2020, 23:59pm GMT. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme.

Titles aren’t included in the word count.

  • First prize is £100
  • Second prize is £50
  • Third prize is £25

The winning and shortlisted authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2020 anthology. Winning and shortlisted authors will also receive a free print copy of this anthology.

Find full details here.

This year, National Flash Fiction Day is on Saturday 6th June. How will you be celebrating?

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.

An evening of flash fiction

Rose chafer by Judy DarleyI’m excited to be sharing some of my tiniest tales at Flash Fiction, an event on Tuesday 3rd December.

Hosted by author and Flash Fiction Festival queen Jude Higgins, the event at Bishopston Library in Bristol features KM Elkes, Alison Woodhouse, John Wheway and me.

You can find out more and buy tickets (a bargain at just £3 each!) here.

Jude has invited me to read a handful of fairytales, so I plan to open with Invertebrates, my follow-up to the Hansel and Gretel story, from my short story collection Sky Light Rain. It focuses on an unusual dinner party where the guests include an assortment of creepy crawlies, hence the picture at the top of this post.

As far as I’m aware, no beetles will be in attendance at Bishopston Library…

Sky Light Rain – collection launch and literary night

Sky Liight Rain launch picI’m excited to share the news that my short story collection Sky Light Rain will be published by Valley Press on 2nd November. To celebrate, I’m hosting an atmospheric evening of readings and music on the themes of sky, light, and rain.

The collection draws on my enduring fascination with the fallibility of the human mind, and 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. I’ll be joined by writers Paul Deaton, Kevlin Henney and Grace Palmer, and indie art-pop musician Hidden Tide.

This is a Bristol Festival of Literature 2019 fringe event.

Tickets are free but limited, so don’t forget to book yours.

Date And Time: Saturday 2nd November 2019, 7pm-9pm.

Location: Waterstones, 11A, Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3XD

Book your free tickets here.