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 23rd September – Sunday 2nd October 2022, with events for all ages.

Don’t miss History and Mystery with Lindsay Galvin and A. M. Howell on Tuesday 27th September 2022.

There’s a focus on happiness, diversity and nature, with storytelling, draw-alongs and events from poet Rachel Piercey, Jenny Pearson, Benjamin Dean, Tessa Yates, Sarah Surgey, Maudie Smith, Rachel Morrisroe, Emma Carroll, Hannah Gold and Simon James Green, plus a great workshop for grown ups on finding the heart of your story with Tanya Byrne.

Plus there are the usual assortment of events with comedians turned children’s authors including David Baddiel, Rosie Jones and Richard Ayoade.

Not able to travel to Bath? In 2020 and 2021, Bath Festival hosted the online Reading is Magic Festival instead. with writers, illustrators and poets from across the globe taking part. You can watch online events recorded during both festivals for a small one-off fee of £5.

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 13th-29th August 2022, with more than 550 world-class performers, musicians and thinkers from 50 countries contributing to over 600 events touching on the theme ‘All Together Now.’

The programme builds on the 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  Brian Cox about a life on the Scottish stage and his role in television hit series Succession. There are also events with some of the world’s most beloved children’s authors, including Jason Reynolds, Cressida Cowell, Julia Donaldson, Michael Morpurgo and 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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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.

Enter National Flash Fiction Day’s microfiction competition

Sweets by Judy DarleyNational Flash Fiction Day’s 100-word microfiction competition 2022 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 2022. 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.

This year’s judges are Christopher Allen, Joanna Campbell, Tracy Fells and Damhnait Monaghan.

The microfiction competition prizes are:

  • £150 for first place
  • £100 for second place
  • £50 for third place
  • seven awards of £20 for highly commended pieces.

The winning and shortlisted authors will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day 2022 anthology. Winning and shortlisted authors will also receive a free print copy of this anthology.

Please only submit work that is not and will not be under consideration elsewhere before 15 March 2022.  By submitting work to the NFFD Microfiction Competition, you are agreeing to publication online and in the 2022 NFFD Anthology if your work is selected as a prizewinner or highly commended flash.

Find full details here.

This year, National Flash Fiction Day is on Saturday 18th 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.

Jaipur Literary Festival

Jaipur Literary Elephant

Image © Steppes Travel www.steppestravel.co.uk

Dreaming of far-off places? Founded by William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale, Jaipur Literature Festival takes place from 5th-14th March 2022, with a hybrid version that makes the most of Jaipur’s magnificence as well as allowing global attendees to join in from home via virtual events. From Nobel Laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, the annual event brings together authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists and popular culture icons from India and from around the globe.

Events to look forward to include talks and author insights from Anuradha Roy, Colm Tóibín, Monica Ali and Rupert Everett. Learn about mythological retellings with Charlotte Higgins and dive into David Mitchell’s novel Utopia Avenue with the author. There will also be yoga sessions and music to 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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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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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.