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Final Degree Show

On Wednesday 6th June, a lecture theatre at Newcastle University hosted our final degree show, an event celebrating the writing we’ve done during the programme.

Having helped organise the event, I was nervous in the build-up; I wanted everything to go well, and spent a lo time running back and forth making sure everyone was feeling okay and that preparations were running smoothly.

So when it came time for me to read an excerpt from my story The Body That Washed Ashore I didn’t have time to dwell on the nerves. This was my first time reading my work in front of an audience (around 40 people turned up for the event, a great achievement)

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This is me, mid-sentence. (That is not a giant bottle of Pepsi, it’s just closer to the camera than me.)

All in all, the night was incredible. It was such a buzz, and a massive learning experience. Part of being an author is doing these readings, and I have to get used to it. As long as I enjoy the rest as much as I enjoyed this, I am in for a very enjoyable career.

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Anthology Yearbook

Getting Started

Anthology front cover

Towards the end of March, all the students on my programme got an email asking if we’d like to get involved to help run our Final Degree Show. I had a couple friends who had a degree show a few years ago, and so I volunteered immediately, my head full of ideas.

When I went to our initial meeting, I was a little disappointed. It felt to me like the structure of the degree show had already been decided, and we were there to make it happen. (In hindsight, there’s no way I could have done even half of what I wanted in the time frame we had.)

But out of that, I decided to produce an Anthology Yearbook for people on my programme, thinking that: firstly, it would be a great memory of our time at University; and secondly, would be a fantastic way to showcase our work.

Since then, getting things prepared has been an awful lot of work, but as of today, I feel serious progress is being made.

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I have all but confirmed the venue for our Anthology Launch event – the stunning Waterstones bookshop in Newcastle – and I feel that I’m close to agreeing University funding for it.

I now have 23 confirmed contributors to the anthology, and I have confirmed my cover artist, the fantastic Oliver Hoffmeister.

Hopefully more information to follow, but I am already getting excited for the event – Wednesday 20th September, 7pm – 8:30pm.

If you’d like to attend, you can sign up for free tickets here.

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology, or contribute towards our project, you can do so here.

Submissions and Rejections Blog

Rejection – Bridge Eight

Bridge Eight

I’ll start by saying the honest thing – this rejection hurt.

It was at the end of a bad day, towards the end of a rough week. It was a magazine, Bridge Eight, that I admired, and that I felt my story – The Blue Rose, one of the strongest shot stories I’ve written in a long while – was very well suited to.

It knocked my confidence. Bad enough, but my story is also a submission for my MA, so it had me questioning that.

Honestly, my confidence is still a little less than it was this time last week, but it’ll get back there.

I just have to keep writing.

Keep persevering.

Keep trusting my talent, technique, and hard work to carry me where I want to go.

Submissions and Rejections Blog

Submission – A.M. Heath

A week or so ago I saw a tweet from Julia Churchill, children’s and YA agent at A.M. Heath, which said:

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These sorts of opportunities shouldn’t be missed. I’ve found that while many agents are always after new talent, most are (some would say rightly) prioritising their current authors ahead of finding new ones. That Julia was beyond what an agent would normally do, and go to Twitter, to invite new submissions, this was what made me decide to submit.

I touched up my story synopsis for The Travelling Circus of Babel, gave the first 3 chapters the once over for any spelling/grammar mistakes, and then completed the form to submit.

I should hopefully hear back within 6 weeks.

Submissions and Rejections Blog

Rejection: Lighthouse Journal

‘Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.’ – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Facing any kind of rejection in life is never easy and its never fun, but, like 12-year-old on the Internet who’ve slept with your mam, it’s an inevitability of life. It’s certainly an inevitability of a writer’s life.

Below is the email I got from Lighthouse Journal.

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As rejection letters go, it’s kind and optimistic. And, being as objective as I can be about my own work, I knew it wasn’t a smooth fit when submitting it.

I’m lucky that I’m early enough in the life of a writer to not take rejections too hard, especially when it’s a constructive (rather than dismissive) rejection like this one

Thank you to the team at Lighthouse for reading my story, and I’ll certainly be submitting again in the future.

Submissions and Rejections Blog

Submissions: Bridge Eight and Atlas & Alice

Websites

http://www.bridgeeight.com/ and https://atlasandalice.com/

Of all the short stories I’ve written for my MA, the one I’m most happy with is The Blue Rose, the story of a writer and his muse, and the often torturous power of the imagination. Inspired by (amongst others things) Ruby Sparks and Howl’s Moving Castle, it’s a story that slots into a number of genres – I wrote it as a magical realist piece, but when I workshopped the story, I got back responses of metafiction, supernatural, fantasy, and literary.

I was fortunate to find two literary magazines with current submission themes suited to my story. (I’ve found so many magazines asking for themes that I’d never dream of writing, it gets disheartening after a while).

I should have an answer regarding my submissions by mid-July, so keep an eye out for a accepted/rejected post around that time.

Projects · Unholy Island

Unholy Island – The Idea

High on the Northumberland coast is the holy island of Lindisfarne; it’s remote, historic, and for about ten hours a day the only road off the island floods. Where better to set a horror film?

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Me and Nic had talked about writing a film together for a while. I was a wannabe writer working the standard nine-to-five and he was a wannabe director making early steps in the film industry. If life is a road trip, we were both in the petrol station fuelling up for the long road ahead.

The day before Nic was due to leave to work on a film we went for a road trip. I don’t think we had a destination in mind, not when we started, but we ended settling quickly on Lindisfarne –  a place we both knew from school trips when we were younger. When we got there the island was deserted. It was, after all, late January, although we hadn’t given that much thought. The shops were shut but, like all good British towns, the island’s two pubs were open. And we went exploring.

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It’ll have been about two hours later when we got back to the car. My phone battery had dipped below twenty percent and Nic’s wasn’t doing much better.

We set off home.

The car turned the corner, dipped down the little hill that led to the causeway off the island, and instead of road there was water. Everywhere we looked, water. So we did what all good British people do in such a crisis – we went to the pub and waited for all this to blow over.

With seven hours to kill before the tide ebbed away and we could set off back home and our phones early dead, we quickly ran out of things to do. Sure, we could talk to each other, but we’re millennials – we want more! And that’s when the idea hit us.

We could write a screenplay!

About what?

About a group of people who get trapped on Holy Island (but we have boundless imaginations…)

And so, in front of a log fire in a pub, Unholy Island was born on scraps of papers from Nic’s boot, us spitballing ideas at each other while the barmaid and her dog tried not to look too concerned.