Delve into 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? The Reading is Magic Festival returns this autumn with five days of free, fantastic, imagination-stirring digital events.

The festival runs from 27th September until 1st October 2021, with events for all ages.

As with last year’s festival, Bath Children’s Literature Festival has teamed up with festival partners in different parts of the world, with events coming from Kingston in Jamaica, Toronto, Dublin, and more, with a collaborative partnership comprising Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Boswell Book Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Kingston Book Festival, the Irish Children’s Laureate, New Dutch Writing, Seven Stories, Toronto International Festival of Authors and Wigtown Book Festival.

Look out for inspiring and entertaining conversations, draw-alongs, concerts, workshops and ecological adventures in the company of authors, poets and illustrators including  Joseph Coelho, Michael Rosen, Harry Baker, David Litchfield, author Emma Shevah and writer Marc ter Horst, Laura Ellen Anderson, BB Alston, Holly Bourne, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Rob Biddulph, birdwatcher and author M.G. Leonard, Dr Shini Somara, Dean Atta and many more! Have a giggle while discovering self-belief with Helen Rutter and Benjamin Dean, uncover the power of friendship with Phil Earle, Bali Rai, Lesley Parr and Anna Woltz, and tell your own story with Alice Oseman, Rebecca Tantony and Gordon Shaw. Find out how changing your library could change your life with Cressida Cowell.

The 2020 festival is now available to access for a one-off fee of £5. Click here to sign up or to log in if you are an existing member.

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.’

As an added bonus, Bath Children’s Literature Festival is back in the real world too, running from 24th September till 3rd October. Find the full details here.

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

Find details at www.readingismagicfestival.com.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh Book Festival. Shows people in a park enjoying the literary festival
This year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 14th-30th August, with more than 300 writers, artists and thinkers taking part from around the world  Events will be hosted both in real life, and online. Topics will focus on a changing world dealing with and reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, climate crisis, poverty, inequality, technology – and how we can move forward.

Online events will be offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, with opportunities to connect with authors by asking questions in live Q&As or catch up on events at a time that suits.

The festival’s director Nick Barley says: “We are incredibly excited to produce our first ‘hybrid’ festival with authors and audiences joining us both in person and online.  We welcome a mix of Scottish and international voices to discuss their ideas, hopes and dreams and we aim to explore together how to move ‘Onwards and Upwards’ from this devastating pandemic. In our new home at Edinburgh College of Art we have created three broadcast studios, two of which can accommodate limited audiences. These facilities enable us to offer author conversations to worldwide audiences and to those closer to home who are unable to join us in person, as well as welcoming a limited In-Real-Life audience.”

Look out for events with Nobel Prize winners (including Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University Amartya Sen discussing the meaning of home and Kazuo Ishiguro talking about his new novel Klara and the Sun and what it is to be human) and Booker Prize winners including Salman Rushdie speaking to journalist Allan Little about the role of writing in shaping public debate, and Bernardine Evaristo interviewing three authors whose books published in the 1990s are now republished by Hamish Hamilton as part of a series entitled Black Britain: Writing Back, all selected by Evaristo.

Judith Bryan will discuss Bernard and the Cloth Monkey, while S I Martin presents his multiracial historical novel Incomparable World, and Nicola Williams, a barrister as well as a novelist, discusses her legal thriller Without Prejudice – the story of a young woman of working-class Caribbean background and her struggles to succeed as a lawyer in a predominantly white, male environment.

There are also 60 events in the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, with readings, draw-alongs, and dancing, plus a new series of pre-recorded, audio-only events and walking tours around Edinburgh for all ages.

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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Time to rev up for the Writers’ Weekend 2021

Butterfly cr Judy DarleyThe Writers’ Weekend 2021, formerly Winchester Writers’ Festival, runs from 24th-27th June 2021, and is your virtual opportunity to mingle with writers, agents and lots of other interesting literary types.

Authors Diana Gabaldon and Chris Riddell have been announced as keynote speakers.

Book for events with a wide array of novelists, including Robert Fabbri, Kate Mosse, Lissa Evans, Tracey Corderoy, MG Leonard, Derek Miller, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Helen Fields and Ness Wood, as well as talks from top literary agents on the craft of writing and how to get published. Learn, discuss, ask questions, be inspired and entertained, and meet other writers.

There are more than 600 opportunities to sign up for virtual one-to-one appointments and Group Chat rooms for topic-driven small-group discussion. This year look out for Writers’ Circles too. These virtual writing groups offer the chance for peer feedback.

The programme will close on Sunday evening with a panel discussion from international best-selling author Kate Mosse, novelist Abi Daré and literary agent Lucy Morris. Read all about it in the programme.

The Writers’ Weekend takes place from 24th-27th June 2021. Choose the package that suits you.

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.

Ledbury Poetry Festival 2021

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 2nd-11th July 2021 and invites you to the first ever hybrid Ledbury Poetry Festival with a mixture of online and in-person events. Digital events are happening across the ten days of the Festival, with the second weekend (10th-11th July) offering a full schedule of readings, workshops and open mics.

Online, you can look forward to events with Jorie Graham, Margaret Atwood, Kwame Dawes, Fred D’Aguiar, Chen Chen, Luke Kennard, Kim Addonizio, Phoebe Stuckes, Gillian Clarke, Zoë Brigley, Billy Collins, Martina Evans, Valzhyna Mort, Victoria Chang, Anthony Anaxagorou, Nikita Gill, Séan Hewitt, and John Challis, Versopolis, Ledbury Poetry Slam Online, Juliet Stevenson on Stevie Smith, readings from Ledbury Poetry Competition Winners and more events to be confirmed.

In-person events include readings, talks and performances from Julia Copus, Rosalind Hudis, Ruth Stacey, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Beth Calverley, plus community events including an interactive poetry trail.

There will also be a mixture of online and in-person workshops with Phoebe Stuckes, John Challis, Zoë Brigley, Martina Evans, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Ruth Stacey, and Rosalind Hudis.

Don’t forget to enter the LPF Poetry Competitions. Poems for the adult and under 18s (12-17 years) categories must be received on or before Thursday 15th July 2021 at 5pm British Summer Time.

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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Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s microfiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word microfiction competition 2021 invites your submissions. Send something funny, something that resonates, is fresh and exciting, and leaves the judges lost for words.

The deadline is Monday 15th February 2021. You’re invited to submit up to three flash fictions on any theme.

This year’s judges are Rachael Dunlop, K M Elkes, Sharon Telfer and Alison Woodhouse.

Titles aren’t included in the word count.

  • First prize is £150
  • Second prize is £100
  • Third prize is £50

The winning and shortlisted authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2021 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 26th 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.

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. 

 

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.