My Bizarro, Surreal Book Reading Events In 2017

Hello! I’ve got book writer author type events happening this year and, if possible, it would be wonderful to see you there. If you’re American I’ll be in Portland, Oregon, this November for an event that all weirdo writers should take part in. Have a look below at the fantastical things.

May 14th, Brighton, Made Cafe

As part of the Brighton Fringe I’ll be reading from my new novella (OUT NOW!) 4 Rooms In A Semi-Detached House (Strange House Books). Meet me downstairs in Made Cafe.

Readings And Revelry, July 4th, The Big Green Book Shop

American author Laura Lee Bahr is hosting an evening of interviews and readings at The Big Green Book Shop in London. It’s been on the BBC, don’t you know? We may be joined by writer Adam Lowe but, as yet, we’re not sure.

Bizarrocon, November 

And, finally, I shall be attending Bizarrocon mid November in Portland, Oregon, for a week of workshops and readings. If anyone is able to attend I shall see you there, but if not I’ll regale you with tales of the Lovecraft bar and other wondrous things. To find out more nearer the time follow blog bizarrocentral, or the specially dedicated site Bizarrocon.

Advertisements

Getting Started: How to get your short stories published

Word Crushes, a blog for young adult writers, has posted an entry I wrote for them featuring advice for others just starting out. I love how I sound like I know what I’m talking about! This is an amalgamation of shortened blog entries in which I learned valuable lessons, just like a Hollywood film.

I’m a fairly new writer. I’ve had some articles and short stories published but I’ve still got a long way to go and I appreciate how hard it is to get started. Perhaps this sounds as though I should live in a commune but I really think it’s important for writers, especially other new and confused ones, to share what they’ve learned, so this is for you. Join my wild ride!

When I send off short stories I can spend a very long time looking through endless lists of magazines and websites that publish them, and one place I go to is The Short Story . A few of the publications are no longer with us but enough are, and there are sections full of advice and competitions as well. Some people may disagree with this but I’m quite dubious of anything asking for entry money so I tend to avoid those. Plus I have no money. Don’t forget of course to purchase The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook, it’s invaluable.

Set up a website and join social networking. Most people already have, but if you haven’t I can’t tell you how useful I’ve found it. Through Facebook I started talking to a comic publisher, and now I’ve got a horror story coming out with them at the end of the year. If you have a website it can make you look so much more professional (or alternative, whichever your preferred aesthetic). I made a couple of comedy adverts for my site and put them on youtube, mostly to amuse myself but also to let people see my personality, which is hugely important. Just remember, if you put a photo of yourself on your homepage make sure you don’t look insane, unless that’s your intention.

I’ve heard this so many times I need to say it just to be sure you all know too: conflict needs to be set up for your character fairly early on. Beautiful description is great but readers appreciate it more when they’re dying to find out what happens. I always try to make sure the opening line of everything I write has a huge impact, even in a small way; people decide whether to continue reading at all based on those first few words.

I’m not a fan of how-to books at all but I found How NOT to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark very useful and very funny. At first I was embarrassed at reading all my mistakes laid bare, but once you get over the initial cringe it’s full of great tips, and the principals mostly work for short stories too. I tend to get a coke in a pub to do research because I need noise to think – I know, weirdo – and I was laughing out loud. People were looking.

I always think getting involved with local things is a great idea. We have an arts festival in Essex and I’m doing three different performances. Sometimes you might have to be pushy and I know it doesn’t suit everyone, but you really never know who’ll see you or who you’ll get talking to. If you make a fool of yourself, it’ll at least be a memory you and your friends can laugh about.

Lastly, have other people read your stuff. Maybe even read it aloud to people – people who won’t just say ‘that’s good.’ You need to grit your teeth and let it be read by someone you know is honest. There are tons of online workshops, so join a free one. I personally use Critique Circle.

So here we are; my thoughts on getting started in writing. Hopefully you’ve found it dizzyingly informative, but if you have any helpful suggestions for me I’d really like to hear them because sharing is the way of caring. Or something.

Wait… There’s more: a few useful links:

http://newpages.com/literary-magazines/
http://www.pw.org/literary_magazines?apage=*
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/pbonline.html
http://www.duotrope.com/
http://litlist.net/online_journals
http://www.litmags.org/list.php

How NOT to write a novel, apparently

I’m not one for how-to books but something compelled me to get this How NOT to write a novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. Perhaps it was their claim that learning what not to do was more useful than being told what to do, or the amusingly aimed gun at the kitten’s head on the front cover, I’m not sure.

However after a couple of chapters I denounced it as obnoxious and hid it in the back of the cupboard. Then, after I finished my second novel (which hopefully will become my first, if you see what I mean) I reluctantly picked it up again and was amazed.

You will cringe slightly when they make a reference to something you know you’ve done, but once you recover from the initial embarrassment you’ll really appreciate the insider tips.

Before each helpful hint is a piece of humorous creative writing demonstrating their point. I’ve always found it hard to concentrate in libraries so I often get a coke and do research in the pub because I need noise – I know, freak – and I was actually laughing to myself. Loudly. People were looking; it’s lucky I don’t worry about that sort of thing. A man I’d had a bad date with recently came in and found me alone and laughing to myself. That is absolutely true.

Seriously, though, I really like this book, and I think you might like it too as many of its principals can be used for short stories as well. Enjoy!

Lodestar Festival in Cambridge

Last weekend I went to Lodestar Festival in Cambridge. It’s quite a cheap one which is great, £55 for camping at the weekend and £22 for the day. I have to admit a lot of the music wasn’t really to my taste (quite a lot of it was indie) but most of them were local and it was a good platform for that sort of thing.

Cambridge Community Circus
Tea, shisha and Braintree Ways advertising
Cambridge Community Circus

The stall traders were local, the shops sold hippie/alternative stuff (I’m not a hippie, I just like the clothes) and Cambridge Community Circus provided workshops and entertainment. On Saturday night they and a few others going by the name ‘Wildfire Productions‘ performed a fire show with staff, poi, fans etc and it was lots of fun, they brought a lot of personality to it. I learned I’m a terrible juggler with, as my friend Angie said, the coordination of a bee. With my fetish for circus performers, however, I was delirious with joy.

When camping stay warm - you too can look like a fabulous monk

We spent most of our time in the tea and shisha tent The Cloud Lounge, where we smoked fruit pipes and drank a variety of tea. It felt so much like sitting in a front room I got a surprise every time I turned around and saw a festival. The tables and part of the wall were there for people to write on using felt pens, and I felt a regression to nursery as I scribbled ‘braintreeways.com‘ on every available surface.

The Cloud Lounge

Parts of it were extremely middle class and/or hippie (someone was giving away free packs of Jordan’s country crisp cereal, and the off-key recorder playing from the spiritual tent provided moments of unintentional humour) but it’s a really nice small, local festival and I definately recommend giving it a try. I’m not sure I’d camp over again but the circus, stalls and friendly Cloud Lounge staff mean we’ll definately go back for a day next year.

Edinburgh Fringe Frolics

In the middle of August we three travelled all the way to Scotland to the Edinburgh Festival. We were lucky enough to stay with a friend, but I have previously stayed in a hostel with a few friends and found it to be a good option. If there’s enough of you an entire room can be overtaken, but remember – weeing around the perimeter as a form of territorialism is a bad idea.

Ooh, it's the Jeckyll and Hyde...
Cockburn Street's lovely shops
Ooh aren't we wacky?

Edinburgh’s looks are enough to make you fall in love with it. I lived for four years in Bath and it has the same Georgian style buildings and hills framing the distance, but there’s so much more to it than lovely but sleepy Bath it feels almost like a graduation.

 You go out with a plan to see three shows and end up seeing twice as many, sometimes only from sitting in a pub and hearing about a free play/comedy act in that very venue.
Cockburn Street's art cafe - Steve was a very happy boy
The Assembly Rooms

There are things happening in the street every few feet; authors signing copies of their books at the book festival this year included Richard Wiseman and Neil Gaiman; there was a spooky comedy stand up show with John Robertson in the gothic Assembly Rooms; Simon Munnery and Stewart Lee; burlesque and a mentalist called Oliver Meech who pulled us up on stage; the Jeckyll and Hyde pub has fake blood all over the bathroom and is featured in the online ‘eerie pubs guide‘; the Forest Art cafe; Grassmarket and Cockburn Street with their bookshops, art cafes and gothic, vintage and alternative clothes shops – honestly it’s just beyond great.

Go next year, and watch Braintree Ways in our own show!

Genre submissions and a community blog for YA writers

I was whiling away the day finding publications to send my comedy/fantasy short story to when I came across this. It seems like a great idea and is described thus far:

Word Crushes is a place where young adult authors, editors, and publishers of all ages can promote their short fiction, discover a new market, or simply find a good read.

Leave me a comment if you have market news, a publication you’d like to promote, or just about anything to do with teen short fiction.

I’m Erin Fanning, a writer and researcher but most of all a reader. For more on me, visit erinfanning.com .’

I found it while looking up a company called Sam’s Dot Publishing,  who specialise in publications for sci fi, horror and fantasy. Each magazine does a different thing and for different ages so you need to read it all carefully, and their submission recommendations are very specific. If anyone has been caught drink driving by the police they may already have experienced something similar with the rigorous sobriety test.

Looks good though, but as I am going through an anti-story phase (ever since I read short story compilation ‘Love of Fat Men‘ by Helen Dunmore I’ve been obsessed with stories that are a snapshot of characters and events rather than a long haul of story, except I often do it humerously and probably not as well) I’m not sure if I’ll get in.The link is above though, for anyone who wants to try.

The Big Book of Bizarro  is on sale on Amazon! Much cheaper, which is obviously better. It contains my short story ‘The Gathering.’ I only get published in things with the word ‘bizarre’ in the title, what does this mean?

I found the place to submit the story to on a website specialising in erotica publications, the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. Not only does it have submission calls but it offers advice too! Surely you are being spoilt.