Guernsey Literary Festival 2024

Guernsey Literary FestivalFancy flitting over to the Channel islands for a long weekend? The Guernsey Literary Festival, which takes place from 23rd April until 5th May 2024, offers the perfect excuse for a retreat. There’ll be more than creative talks, workshops, music, food, family story sessions and more.

The line-up includes an array of expert speakers and writers, including best-selling novelists Louis de Bernières and John Boyne, celebrated chef Michel Roux and journalist Bryony Gordon, media personalities Louise Minchin and Sarah Beeny, plus sports stars and commentators Mike Brearley and Pat Nevin.

Each will talk about their recent books during the Festival, among a host of writers and speakers, mostly from the UK and Channel Islands, taking part in the 2024 Festival, which will be based at a number of local venues including St James, Les Cotils, the Guille Allès Library, The Old Government House Hotel and St Pierre Park Hotel.

On 5th May, Anna Mazzola will teach: Bringing the Past to Life – How to Write Historical Fiction and Paul Muldoon leads the workshop: How To Let the Poem Write Itself.

There will also be a Winnie the Pooh Tea Party.

Festival Director Claire Allen says “This year’s programme includes some of the most inspirational and creative thinkers from the worlds of literature, poetry, business, politics, stage and screen, food and drink, sport and history, amongst many others.”

Event tickets are bookable at www.guernseyliteraryfestival.com where you can also find the growing diary of events.

Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s microfiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word microfiction competition invites your submissions. Send something funny, something that resonates, is fresh and exciting, and leaves the judges lost for words.

The deadline is 15th February 2024. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme at no more than 100 words each. Titles aren’t included in the word count.

Last year’s winning micro was ‘All my lovers’ by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar. Read it and the other winning tales here.

In 2022, Jan Kaneen won with her beautiful mini-tale ‘Just a Word to the Snowblind.’ Read it and the other winners here.

The microfiction competition prizes are:

  • £150 for first place
  • £100 for second place
  • £50 for third place

There are also seven awards of £20 for highly commended pieces. The winning and highly commended authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2024 anthology, and will receive a free print copy of this anthology.

This year’s judges are Sara Chansarkar, Jan Kaneen, David Rhymes and Alison Wassell.

Read more about the judges here.

By submitting work to the NFFD Microfiction Competition, you are agreeing to publication online and in the 2024 NFFD Anthology if your work is selected as a prizewinner or highly commended flash.

The submission fees for this year’s anthology is:

  • £2.00 for one (1) entry.
  • £3.75 for two (2) entries.
  • £5.25 for three (3) entries.

Find full details here, including details of the free entry scheme.

This year, National Flash Fiction Day is on Saturday 15th June. How will you celebrate?

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.

Celebrate writing at Manchester Literature Festival

The-Royal-Exchange-Manchester-cr-Judy-Darley

This year’s Manchester Literature Festival promises a programme of buzzing, thought-provoking events celebrating writing in all its forms from 7th-22nd October.

Curated by Manchester Literature Festival Co-Directors Cathy Bolton & Sarah-Jane Roberts, this year’s programme aims to revel in imagination, creativity and ideas, offering new perspectives from which to view a fast-paced and shifting world. 

Taking place at an array of Manchester venues, from Manchester Art Gallery and International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Central Library to Contact, HOME and The Lowry, the line-up this year includes Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Simon Armitage, Natalie Haynes, Annie Macmanus, Afua Hirsch, George Monbiot, Gaia Vince, Lemn Sissay, Lisa Nandy and artist Jeremy Deller. 

Author and founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Kate Mosse will hold a special ‘How to Write Historical Fiction’ Masterclass for the festival,l sharing what drew her to the genre, the inspiration behind her bestselling novels like Labyrinth, Sepulchre and The Burning Chambers, how she evokes convincing historical details and how to balance factual research with compelling characters and storytelling. 

Kate will also discuss her new novel, The Ghost Ship, and the real 18th century female pirates that inspired her in an In Conversation hosted by novelist Beth Underdown (The Key in the Lock). 

Novelist and memoirist Deborah Levy (The Cost of Living, The Man Who Saw Everything, Hot Milk) will be in conversation about her forthcoming novel, August Blue. Presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing & Creative Manchester. 

Author Max Porter (Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Lanny) will perform a dramatic abridged reading from his new novel Shy with a live electronic score by musician Roly Porter. Presented in partnership with the Centre for New Writing & Creative Manchester. 

Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak (The Island of Missing Trees)will discuss some of the writers and poets that have influenced and inspired her, some of the books she returns to regularly for pleasure or guidance and her own life-long passion for reading, writing and storytelling. 

There will also be new commissions to experience.

To mark Manchester Art Gallery’s 200th anniversary, MLF and the gallery have co-commissioned award-winning poet Jason Allen-Paisant (Thinking with Trees, Self-Portrait as Othello) to create a new trio of playful and sensual poems inspired by paintings and garments in the gallery’s collection. 

Icelandic novelist, poet and lyricist Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (Animal Life, Hotel Silence, Miss Iceland) returns to the city to share new fiction inspired by her recent Writer’s Residency in Manchester. Presented in partnership with Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, John Rylands Research Institute and Library and Creative Manchester. 

Talented young writers from Manchester, Aalborg and Aarhus, Billie Meredith, SAF-S2E, Cassandra Marie Geyti, Silas Toft, Marie Laurberg Nielsen and Selina Rom Andersen, will present new poetry inspired by explorations of each other’s cities as part of the Cities Untold residency project. 

Find the full MLF line-up and download the brochure at manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk.

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.

Dive into 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 returns this autumn with ten days of fantastic, imagination-stirring events.

The festival runs from Friday 29 September – Sunday 8 October, with events for all ages.

Look out for workshops, talks and performances with exceptional authors and illustrators including Katherine Rundell, Sir Lenny Henry, Cressida Cowell, Robin Stevens, Rob Biddulph, Holly Jackson, Dapo Adeola and Nathan Bryon, Nikita Gill, Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, Holly Bourne, Chris Riddell, Tom Holland and Tracy Darnton.

Not sure what to book your spot at? The team at the Festival have created a trailer to whet your appetite. Click here to view it,

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

Find details at bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature.

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.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh Book Festival. Shows people in a park enjoying the literary festivalThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 12th-28th August 2023, celebrating the joy of words with more than 550 world-class luminaries from 50 countries contributing to over 500 events.

The programme builds on the ultra-accesible hybrid format developed over the past two years, with live, in-person events, many of which are also available to stream or watch at a later date. Expect a celebration of the imagination, ideas and issues at the heart of books and stories, offering new perspectives on the world around us.

Authors taking part this year include Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, Vietnamese American poet Ocean Vuong, Outlander writer Diana Gabaldon, plus Noam Chomsky, Jack Monroe, Alexander McCall Smith, Denise Mina, William Dalrymple and Armando Iannucci. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon steps up  for two events, interviewing novelist Louise Welsh about her new novel The Second Cut, and  Marjorie Lotfi and Claire Urquhart from the charity Open Book. There are also events with some of the world’s most beloved children’s authors, including author/illustrator and environmentalist Yuval Zimmer, Cressida Cowell, Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo, Skye McKenna, author of the HEDGEWITCH series, plus doctor turned writer and doctor-turned comedian and author Adam Kay.

The festival’s director Nick Barley says: “The world has changed immeasurably since 2019: we’re learning to live with the effects of the pandemic and war in Europe – but we’re also beginning to imagine what a better future should look like. Exploring these issues in inspiring conversations with scientists, historians, poets and novelists is exactly where the Book Festival comes into its own. I’m thrilled that thanks to Baillie Gifford, every young person coming to a Schools event gets a free ticket and a free book this year. With all online events and a selection of our in-person theatre tickets also available on a Pay What You Can basis, we’re doing everything we can to make the festival accessible to everyone.”

Find full details of the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme.

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

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Ledbury Poetry Festival

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 from 30th June – 9th Julyand boasts the tag-line ‘inclusive, international, inspiring.’

With online and weekend-only options, there’s a full schedule of readings, art, workshops, conversations, music, open mics, and even a wild swim, with luminaries including Michael Morpurgo, Alycia Pirmohamed and Nina Mingya Powles, Preti Taneja and Zaffar Kunia, Maya C. Popa and Matthew Hollis, as well as Nasser Hussain examining joy as a process for writing poetry. There will also be readings and celebrations of classic and lesser known historic poets with a ‘Dead Poets Society’ series.

I love the idea of the Poetry Passeggiata at  5.15pm on Friday 30th June (St Michael’s and All Angels Church Courtyard, free), which revels in the Italian tradition of stepping out to  enjoy people-watching in golden evening light, and adds the magic of poets sharing morsels of works in progress. The organisers say: “Ledbury may not have a piazza, but the stone of the church will be bathed in a rosy glow, and all are welcome to join us in the courtyard.”

Ledbury Poetry Competition 2023 is open for entries.

The closing date is 10th July 2023. Each entry costs £6.

This year’s judge is Philip Gross. Philip has published 27 collections for adults and for young people over 40 years of publication. He won the T.S. Eliot in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator, e.g. with Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018), with scientists on the young people’s collection Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018) and with artist Valerie Coffin Price and Welsh-language poet Cyril Jones on Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021). His latest, The Thirteenth Angel (Bloodaxe, 2022), a PBS Recommendation, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

When asked what he’s looking for from submissions, Philip Gross says: “Poems that aren’t whatever I might think I’m looking for. Poems intent on being wholly, intensely themselves, regardless of what a judge, the zeitgeist or even their author might want them to be. Poems that have to be poems because they couldn’t be expressed in any other way.”

The first prize for the competition is £1,000 cash and a week-long partnership Arvon poetry course. Second Prize is £500. Third Prize is £250.

Winners will be invited to perform their work at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2024.

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

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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Book your Flash Festival tickets now!

Trinity College BristolCelebrating its fourth year, Flash Fiction Festival 2023 spreads out over three intensely creative days in July. The in-person version of the festival unfurls ofrom 14th-16th July, welcoming fabulous flashers including Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Carrie Etter and Tania Hershman.

The weekend takes place at Trinity College, Bristol, and is packed with inspiring workshops tackling every aspect of flash fiction, from ‘Writing Climate Change’ with Deb Tompkins, to ‘How to Haibun’ (a form of prose poem) with Roberta Beary and Lew Watts.

I’ll be inviting writers to ‘Unlock your fairy tale toolkit’ in my workshop where fairy tale motifs offer the chance to shine new light on modern day darkness.

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

The festival team, headed by director Jude Higgins, 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.

Ahead of this weekend-long fiesta of flash, Jude is organising a night of readings in the Gallery room at St James Wine Vaults, Bath, from 7pm on Saturday 20th May.

I’ll be reading my story ‘The Finch in My Sister’s Hair’ from my 2022 short fiction collection The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain.

Jude promises cake and other nibbles. The event is free and un-ticketed, but there will be a raffle raising funds towards a reduced-cost place at the Flash Fiction Festival.
I hope to see you there!

Jaipur Literary Festival

Jaipur Literary Elephant

Image © Steppes Travel www.steppestravel.co.uk

Founded by William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale sixteen years ago, Jaipur Literature Festival takes place from 19th-23rd January 2023. From Nobel Laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, the annual event brings together more than 400 authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists and popular culture icons from India and from around the globe.

Events to look forward to include talks and insights from authors ranging from Abdulrazak Gurnah to Bernadine Evaristo, Katherine Rundell to David Olusoga and Shobhaa Dé to Edmund de Waal. Set alongside discussions on global issues including climate crisis, geopolitics, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Indo-China relations, agriculture, and energy, there will be plenty to fire up your synapses, whet your imaginative appetite and send your spirits soaring!

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

Find full details of Jaipur Literature Festival here.

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Foraging for Inspiration at the Flash Fiction Festival

Owl carving and baby shoe by Judy Darley
The Flash Fiction Festival takes place from Friday 8th until Sunday 10th July, with real world events happening at Trinity College, Bristol, and six hybrid workshops (online as well as face-to-face) workshops occurring over the weekend.

There are some amazing flash fiction writers teaching over the weekend, including Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Vanessa Gebbie, Eltra Rhodes, K.M. Elkes and Susmita Bhattacharya.

I’m delighted to be leading a workshop on ‘Foraging for Inspiration’ at 8.45am on Sunday 10th July. Expect random word prompts and other stimuli to get your imagination whirring!

One of the questions I’m asked most is where I get ideas from. The truth is that inspiration can come from anywhere, if you’re open and ready to gather the ideas as they come.

As someone who is, in all honesty, easily bored, I’m constantly on the lookout for entertaining distractions that can convert into story fuel, from overheard conversations to momentarily misunderstood glimpses (the weirder the better), to objects that could be important to a character in a tale.

I publish weekly writing prompts on my SkyLightRain blog,and collect small found objects and images that lead to piece of narrative prose. In this workshop you will be provided with a variety of writing prompts and investigate ways you can combine different sources with your own unique experiences to build up an original story.

Suitable for beginners and up. I intend to take participants on a short stroll of the grounds to forage for inspiration, returning to the workshop room for half an hour or so for the writing exercises.

I’ll also be reading my story ‘How to Hook a Heart’ from the Freedom-themed National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2022 on the Friday evening. Find the full festival programme here.

I hope to see you there!

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

Time to rev up for the I AM Writing Festival

Red ladybird on a red rosebud. Photo by Judy DarleyFormerly known as the Writers’ Weekend, (and before that Winchester Writers’ Festival), the I AM Writing Festival is a hybrid literary event with 65+ talks and workshops, some online and some in-person at the University of Winchester.

Aimed at budding writers keen to improve writing and editing skills, find inspiration, pitch to an agent or better understand the world of publishing, there are nine package prices available ranging from £37 for a single workshop to £597 for an Access All Areas pass.

The 11 live virtual talks take place 4th-8th June, with access to recordings available until midnight on 8th July 2022.

The in-person chapter of the festival is at the University of Winchester from 10th-12th June.

Speakers, workshop leaders and industry experts you can expect to encounter include:.

Keynote speakers: Philip Ardagh, Joanna Cannon, Lucy Diamond, Juliet Mushens and Adele Parks;

Workshop leaders: Rhoda Baxter, Helen Dennis, Karen Hamilton, Debbie Howells, Lauren James, David Litchfield, L.V Matthews, Nicola May, Jenny McLachlan, James Nicol, Neema Shah, Amy Sparkes, Bookouture, HarperCollins, Tracy Corderoy, Adrienne Dines, Simon Hall, Scott Pack and many, more.

Don’t miss the famous Agent121s!

The festival’s new organisers Elane and Sarah exclaim (presumably in unison):”Of course, we couldn’t have a festival without bringing #Agent121 to the fore – so we have a multitude of in-person literary agents/editors for you to seek feedback from and 20 to choose from online!”

Find full details here.

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.