Thursday, 28 May 2009

Review of the Flax Books Picnic 9th May

In his Guide to the Lakes, Wordsworth said of the ever-present Cumbrian rainclouds, “How glorious they are in Nature! How pregnant with imagination for the poet!” All very well if you’re warm and cosy in Dove Cottage with your quill and your notebook, but peering through a steamed up windscreen and trying not skid off the A591 in the pounding rain takes the romance out of it somewhat.

And so the second Flax picnic was forced to take refuge in the Tithebarn, opposite St. Oswald’s and round the corner from Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shack. It wasn’t quite as picturesque as the gardens of Dove Cottage, but, despite what I said earlier, there’s something about rainy afternoons, damp coats drying on cast iron radiators, cups of tea, and books that go together nicely.

If you’ve not come across the name before, Flax is the publishing arm of the Lancaster Litfest and since 2006 has put out a number of quality prose and poetry anthologies and commissioned various multi-media projects. To celebrate, many of the writers involved over the last few years turned up eager and dripping wet to read their work.

Editor and picnic-planner, Sarah Hymas, said that what she looked for in putting together the anthologies was quality first, closely followed by diversity - something that was echoed in the mix of poetry and prose, from Hendryk Korzeniowski’s Frakenstein’s Match Dot Com – a monologue spoken by the monster as an angst-ridden teenager – to Brindley Hallam-Dennis’ fable of treachery and trust, The Ratcatcher Stratagem, to Ian Seed’s mysterious prose poems.

I chose to read a number of very short two-hundred word stories – Black Eye, Zoo and Fruit, which was meant to be the more serious of the three but strangely got the most laughs. Ah well.

Some of the highlights of the day included Polly Atkin’s poems from the forthcoming Flax anthology and John Siddique – reading from both his new collection of poetry Recital - An Almanac (Salt) and from his book of children’s poems.

After giving the audience the instructions to ‘sit up straight’ and ‘focus’, Mark Carson read two poems inspired by his work as an engineer about the difficulties of talking fish-cage moorings with Greeks and a frantic dash to an early morning meeting in Bergen told in what he called a ‘stream of hyper-consciousness’.

Poets, in fact, were there in abundance and, by request, read work published in the Flax anthologies. Pauline Keith read the fantastic Flaying Knife, which, like all good poems, fills the ordinary with meaning and, perhaps most importantly, stays with you long after you’ve heard it. Ribchester-based writer, David Borrot, chose Wolf Fell, as well as a number of poems about the strangeness of Mancunian streets. South-Cumbria’s 2005 ‘Poet Laureate’, Jennifer Copley, read the poem to be included in the forthcoming Flax anthology, as well as The Island, which concerns a simple boat trip but has subtle hints at a much darker story. Elizabeth Burns chose Held and Creature from Watermarks, the second Flax anthology.

Lastly, Marita Over gave us a number of poems inspired by her childhood in Ethiopia, where her parents were missionaries. Last time I met Marita, she said that she was giving up writing poetry in favour of prose, which seems a shame, but her short story, Bread, featured in Flax 017, is infused with all the economy, sharpness and truth of her poems, so perhaps she’s onto something...

However, the best thing about these Flax get-togethers, whether they are to launch a new anthology or to celebrate the work already published, is the enthusiasm of the audience coupled with the sense of writers simply enjoying what they do. Egos are left at home, seasoned writers rub shoulders with those at the start of their careers and there is a genuine feeling that you are part of something new.

The anthologies can be downloaded for free and there are frequent live events, the next one being the launch of Flax 018 on the 17th June at the Storey, Lancaster.

Click on the links or get on the bus, but make sure you discover Flax.

Andrew Michael Hurley

For details about how to get involved with Flax Books, visit
Flax 017, Unsaid Undone, is available to download now.

Monday, 25 May 2009

PrestonWN on the web

Here's a link to an interview I did a week or so ago with Willow Hewitt, who was particularly interested in what we're getting up to with the Preston Writing Network. If you've come here from that interview, hello and welcome. :)

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sally Quilford on Making the Short Story Pay

Sally Quilford started writing in 1995, but (in her own words) 'has only really been trying since 2002.' Since then, she has had work published in magazines and anthologies, and has placed in over two dozen competitions. She is also a monthly columnist for Writers Forum magazine. Born in South Wales, Sally now lives in The Peak District, with her husband and four Westies.

I first became aware of Sally's work through her wonderfully useful competition calendar. After I realised just how many short stories and articles she'd had published, I thought I'd invite her over here to talk about the secret of her success.

PWN: Thanks for coming, Sally. You've hundreds of links on your website to work you've had published or competition wings. What's the most rewarding thing about writing short stories for magazines and competitions?

SQ: There’s so many things, starting with creation, and ending, hopefully, in publication or a win. The feeling that someone else in the world thinks you’re a good writer is like a drug, especially for a feedback junkie like myself.But it’s not just about being published or winning. For me, becoming a writer was a chance, after bringing up a family, to do something that was mine alone. I love the feeling of being creative and all-powerful. In a story, I get to play God, moving my characters around like figures on a chess board, either giving them a much-deserved happy ending, or a more realistic ‘sad’ ending.

Of course getting published or being placed is rewarding too, as is any money that comes from it. But the most important thing for me is the enjoyment of writing. When I’m blocked, as happens from time to time, I write fan fiction, which no one but myself reads, and it’s just as rewarding for me as the stories I sell

PWN: Has your success in this area led onto professional opportunities in other, related areas?

SQ:I was invited to present two workshops at Wigan Lit Fest a few years ago, which was great fun, and I now have a monthly column in Writers Forum magazine. My name is also getting known among other writers and editors. When I did a workshop on marketing at Wigan, one of the things I said was that you must get to know other writers. Someone raised the issue that surely it’s the readers who you want to read your work, not other writers. That’s true, but other writers can tell you where the markets are, and help you avoid the pitfalls, such as vanity publishing.

SQ: We've already mentioned your website but you're also a blogger. How important has developing an internet presence been to your writing career?

SQ: When I used to read in the media about people getting publishing contracts because of their blogs, I always took it with a pinch of salt. I told myself that they probably had friends in high places to begin with. That was before the editor of Writers Forum magazine emailed me, saying he’d read my blog and seen my competition calendar, and asking me if I’d like to become a regular contributor to the magazine. Now I’m much less cynical about what the internet can do for a writer.

One thing I really wanted to do when I set up my website and blog was not just have pages that were all about me, me, me. I wanted to give something back for all the help I received early in my writing career. So I try and fill the pages with interesting articles, and information about competitions and markets. That way people (I hope) keep coming back, because they’re getting something useful from visiting. And as I stated in the last answer, getting to know other writers is an essential part of building up a writing career.

PWN: Is it possible to make a living out of writing for magazines and competitions?

SQ: I think it depends who you are, and how much you’re able or willing to put into it. I’m not yet in a position to make a living out of either, but I know other writers who do. For example, Della Galton sells many stories to magazines every year, but she also supplements that by presenting very good writing workshops. Della works blooming hard to get that success, and I sometimes wish I had half her drive. According to a recent report, the average writer earns around £4k per year. That left many of us feeling distinctly below average. Few of us can give up the day job (assuming we work) or rely on earnings from magazines and competitions to do anything other than buy a meal out or a new vacuum cleaner.

This is because in both magazines and competitions, there is an element of chance. A story might be turned down by a magazine editor because they’ve had one similar in the past few weeks or months. A story might fail in a competition simply because it doesn’t run to the judge’s tastes. In this instance, perseverance is the key. Just because one market or comp doesn’t like a story doesn’t mean another won’t. So you take the story back, dust it off (though it’s not always necessary to make changes) and send it out again.

PWN: Do you have any advice for short story writers?

SQ: Ray Bradbury (one of my heroes) gave better advice than I could ever offer. Ray says: If you write things you love, and do it with love, you can't go wrong. I read about a lot of writers who say they hate writing. My answer to that is ‘well stop doing it and leave it to those of us who love it’. I sometimes get criticised for my happy-go-lucky approach to it all. As if I’m somehow lying to myself and others and making it all seem to easy. The truth is I’m not like that all the time. I have days when the ideas won’t come and I feel miserable and fed up with it all. But I also know that I’m happier when I am writing than when I’m not writing.

But here’s some more pragmatic advice.

Never send out a first draft. If you can put your story away for a week or so, then take a look at it again, it will be better for it. It’s amazing what can be missed. I’m pretty good at making sure I edit, though that wasn’t always the case in the early days, but even recently I sent out a story where the MC’s name changed halfway through the story.

Look at the world around you. You may think you have nothing to write about, but the world is full of events that can lead to a story. I’ve written stories based on things I’ve overheard on trains or in cafes, or based on things that happened to family (though it’s important to disguise these quite heavily, for fear of being sued!)

Never waste ideas and never delete anything. If a story doesn’t work the first time you write it – I have a hard drive full of unused stories – let it sit for a few months, or even a couple of years. Last year I sent out a story I’d written ten years previously, after I took a fresh look at it and realised why it hadn’t been published first time round. The plot was okay, but the writing was terrible. I totally re-wrote it and sold it immediately.

If you do get ‘writers block’, then try writing some fanfiction, or stories just for yourself that no one else will ever read. When you’re not worried about form or content, it’s amazing how the words flow.

Write for yourself, but with one eye on whatever markets you want to be successful in. It’s no good hoping that your story will do just because you like it. Magazines in particular have specific aims and a specific readership.

Read! It’s amazing how many writers don’t actually read anything by anyone else. You should certainly be reading stories from the markets and comps that interest you. And if you don’t actually enjoy those stories, then ask yourself whether you should be writing for them.

It takes hard work and determination to make it as a writer, not just the wish to be one. I’d also add that it takes a willingness to listen to the good advice given to you by others. Some writers get really stroppy if an editor gives negative feedback on their work. I know of writers who can’t get arrested nowadays because they’ve been so churlish about feedback on their work.Don’t be like those writers.

Consider how busy that editor is. All they really have to do is say ‘thanks but no thanks’. Instead they’ve taken the time to give you advice. You don’t have to agree with it. A story of mine that one editor dismissed as ‘melodramatic tosh’ by one editor, went on to be shortlisted in a major science fiction competition. But you do have to respect that editor’s opinion and the time they’ve taken. If only because the next time you send something to them, they’ll remember you as someone they could work with.

Don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do it, because you choose to write for a particular market or genre. There’s a lot of snobbery out there, but we should all be cheering each other on, whatever markets we choose for our writing. I wasted too much time worrying that I wasn’t the ‘right’ sort of writer. Then I decided I’d be what I wanted to be, not what others imposed on me. But most of all, as Ray Bradbury says, love what you do. If you love your writing, then that enthusiasm will shine through in the prose.

PWN: Thanks for that Sally. Sally is also making her first foray into 'twitterature' with a serial novel in tweets you can read - and participate with here.

Literary Listening

News in from Terry Quinn, author of Terry's Column in the Broadgate news, as well as a broadcaster for Preston FM.

Sunday morning (24th) at 10.00am on Preston FM: an interview with Jane Brunning on how she got her Doctorate in English Literature.

Monday evening (25th)at 7.00pm: an interview with local poet Cynthia Kitchen (runner up in Bridport Prize )about her book and the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy - repeated next Sunday.

More about Cynthia Kitchen (via Poetry in the City)

Cynthia Kitchen is married with one son and has been writing and having poetry published since the 1980s. She is a primary school teacher by profession but now is semi-retired and draws her inspiration from Morecambe Bay, Cumbria. She has been published in a range of magazines and has been a prize-winner and runner-up in various competitions including Manchester, Chester, Lancaster, Ver. She has been featured and interviewed on Radio Merseyside. Her first collection – was published by Headland in 2008.

The following poem was shortlisted for the Bridport prize.

Deflations in Sad Weather

In a week of kestrel rain
and wind swooping on the smallest of us,
suffering the flung leaves.

We stepped across chaotic branches,
stumbled by rocks and salt marsh.
The heavens’ pourings’ fell

Portentous on our anoraks and hoods.
This might be a sign to save us
from something infinitely worse.

And then we saw them on the cliff path,
Punctured still with railing silver strings.
Their first brilliance now a mortal blue,
touched by mud and circumstance.

Cynthia Kitchen

Friday, 22 May 2009

Annie Clarkson on Word Soup # 2

But there was such tension in the room, as her story developed moment by moment, small movement by movement, it was as though the heat in the room prickled against our skin. Hmm. Yes. This is her skill I think in short story writing, creating this slow building beautiful tension and these tender moments between lonely people.

Read the whole review of the night on her blog.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Word Soup #2

The second Word Soup event was held last night at the New Continental and for those of you unfortunate enough to have been elsewhere, here's a roundup of the night...

Dave Hartley who blogs here and is currently attempting the mammoth feat of writing a short story a week for a year, read a new story especially for us on the theme of the night which was SKIN.

(Annie Clarkson reading from Winter Hands. Photo by James Brunton)

Special mention has to go to Preston Writing Network contributor and my personal highlight of the night, Richard Hirst, who read a post modern letter to an imaginary giant millipede. I could write that it was very funny (which obviously I just have) but it's a bit of a beige thing to write and doesn't do justice to Mr Hirst or his giant millipede. So why not have a look at it yourself right here.

Jenn (and her lovely skirt that I secretly want to steal) introducing the next reader. Photo by James Brunton)

After a break and music from Mr and Mrs (more of them later) Manchester writer, Annie Clarkson, read some powerful poetry from her collection, Winter Hands.

Andrew Hurley won the "most tenuous link to the theme" prize for the night with a passing reference to dinosaurs in his reading from his collection, The Unusual Death of Julie Christie. The passage described the dynamic between a couple at the start of their relationship and his new girlfriend's growing bond with his son. Andrew is a confident public reader and I think he made a great impression at the event.

And finally was Emma Lannie who came all the way from Derby and read Proxy, a slowly building, increasingly disturbing story that one member of the audience described as 'kind of erotic, creepy and depressing at the same time.'

(Mr and Mrs. Photo by James Brunton)

Then just before the drinking, socialising and general after show scandal which I can not possibly tell you about here there was more music from the rather talented and rather more intense, Mr and Mrs. Think Bright Eyes but with a small plastic keyboard that you play like a recorder or alternatively, make up your own mind and listen to them right here!

The next event is on the 23rd of June and is going to be a poetry slam.

Find more photos from the event here!

Find out about James Brunton who took all the great photos of the night here.

Lake District Poetry Workshop

info for you via Literature Training

George Wallace and Geraldine Green are tutors on a poetry workshop in the beautiful Lake District.

Location: Pendower, Portinscale, Keswick, Cumbria, UK
Start Date: 08 Jun 2009
End Date: 12 Jun 2009
Cost: £25 per person, per day, includes light lunch

When: Monday June 8th to Friday June 12th 2009
Time: 10am - 4pm
Book via:

Accommodation, if required, is available in Portinscale Village, Keswick and surrounding area, from camp-sites to hotels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses and homely inns info on accommodation can be found here.

There'll be a Poetry Reading mid week at the Bluebell Bookshop, Penrith, Cumbria - 20 minutes away. There'll be time for walks in the stunning surrounding area, including visits to Kurt Schwitters' MerzBarn at Chapel Stile, Coleridge's house, Greta Hall, Keswick, WH Auden's cottage, at Wescoe and poetry readings at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere

More info on tutors: New York/Cumbrian Poets and University Lecturers, George Wallace and Geraldine Green, can be found on Poetry Bay.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Word Soup #2

Last reminder for Word Soup - which is tuesday night, at The New Continental from 8pm.

£3 on the door or follow us from home #wordsoup

Click here to check out our fantastic line-up. Emma's already blogged about the event, as has our very own Richard Hirst. We're looking forward to hearing Dave Hartley, who was recently featured by our friends over at Manchester Writing, and we're ready to welcome Andrew Michael Hurley, our newest blog contributor.

UPDATE: I've had a few questions about Open Mike - we didn't have it at Word Soup #1, and we're not having at at Word Soup #2, but from our next outing onwards there'll be a chance for members of the audience to take a turn at reading their work.

With strict three minute slots, it's going to be a rapid-fire treat of the freshest local writing, and a chance for new writers to strut their stuff in front of an audience.

If you're interested in the open mike, remember we work to a theme, and you can check out dates and times here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Here are some pictures of the Bloggers' Meetup, for those of you who couldn't make it this time. Credit for images goes to James Brunton.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Spotlight: Tonight

Go here for news of the very first Lancaster Spotlight to be held in the New Storey Building. With appearances from Rosie Robinson and Mark Charlesworth, among others, its bound to be a treat.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Preston Bloggers' Meetup: The Aftermath

Just a little post, as I'm oh so weary after two nights on the trot away from my house, my little desk and my computer.

Preston Bloggers' Meetup #1 was fantastic - a lively workshop by Andy Dickinson, full of advice on what to write, what not to write, how to keep your public and private lives separate, deal with spam, generate traffic and even make money from your blog.
With tips on everything blog from typepad to technorati , the blogger beginners in the crowd left the Snug that night itching to get home to their keyboards...

After the questions were over, at least thirty of us stayed behind for a natter (networking, I believe, is the official name) and I got to meet a few people IRL whose blogs I'd read and enjoyed. Somehow, we managed to break twitter about half way through the evening, so even though there are a few updates on at #prestonbloggers, you're better off visiting Ed, Chris, Gemma and Rick, who've all blogged the event already.

Were you there? Are you starting a blog? Post your link in the comments, and we'll put you in the links and very probably feature you in the Blogging Round-up post by Mr Viv. Special thanks go to Ed, Andy, Robyn and Kerry who all played massive, massive parts in making the night as successful and enjoyable as it was.

Now I'm wondering what's next for Preston Blogging? One of the ideas I floated during the networking session, during a discussion about what exactly qualified as a 'good blog' was for an annual Preston Bloggers' Prize - recognising all the different kinds of community, arts, journalism, personal, family and technology blogs that we've got going on in Preston and the hundreds and hundreds of words that are written, read, commented on and discussed by our active blogging community. We're growing into a writing city, and we're certainly a blogging one. Getting some sponsorship and putting that together as an event is possible - what do you think? Any blogs that you'd nominate?

And if, by some small chance, you're not interested in Blogging - check this out. Someone's writing a sequel to Catcher in the Rye.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Preston Bloggers Reminder

Last chance to book a ticket. If you're a blogger, want to be a blogger, are interested in what blogging can offer your group, society, community or business, want to meet wother bloggers or are interested in taking part in discussions about future blogging events, awards and festivals, click here for info on how to get your ticket - they're FREE.

May 13th, 7.30pm The Snug, The New Continental, Broadgate.

Or follow us #prestonbloggers

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Litfest: Exploring Live Literature

Via Litfest

Exploring Live Literature
What might you create with five days access to our auditorium space, critical friendships with Litfest's Artistic Director Andy Darby and Flax editor Sarah Hymas, and a materials/expenses budget of up £500?

We're interested in receiving a written expression of interest that answers that question and inspires us to work with you on your project.

To find out more about this research and development opportunity visit Exploring Live Literature.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Workshops Booked and Bloggers Wanted


Taking place in Dormouse and the Teapot, Kitschen, W2/218, Woodend Mill 2, Mossley, Lancashire. This new workshop venue has beautiful views over the Tame River and the Huddersfield canal with good rail links to Manchester and Huddersfield. There is ample parking. See venue photos at the above link and here

The Kitschen Workshops 2009 (June - August) will be led by Helen Farrall, Gaia Holmes, Zoe Lambert, Andrew Oldham and Ian Parks. The workshops will include the sensory detail in poetry, re-writing, character based scene writing, narrative poetry, workshop for ongoing work, creating fictional characters and short stories. All workshops take place on a Saturday morning (10:00AM-1:00PM) and will include tea and refreshments.

The workshops take a maximum of 12 students in each and cost 30UKP each.
It's not paid work but check out the new Incwriters blog here. It's free to use and is taking Incwriters one step closer to working with members, promoters, publishers and readers on a grass roots level. If you are a blogger or just want to contribute to the blog (you must have a passion for reading or writing!), you can email us at We want to use this blog to stay in touch and create wider networks. This is a chance to promote your work or just tell us what you think of Literature.

Claire Summers
On Behalf Of

The International Network & Community of Writers Society (Incwriters)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Route call for submissions

From Route publishing:

A deadline has been set for the current open short story submission. All stories should be to us by 3 June 2009. Reading will take place through June and July and selections made. Also in this period final readings will take place for The Route Book at Bedtime, a process which is severely overdue and we apologise to all writers who submitted to that collection and are still awaiting a response.

This is the current story call. For details of how to submit click on

Route will be publishing another instalment in its series of contemporary stories in 2010, for which submissions are now invited. Stories should be sharp, fresh, relevant and, most of all, contemporary.

With our first publication in January 2000, Route is coming up to being a decade old. Throughout this turbulent first decade of the 21st Century, we have chronicled contemporary preoccupations in real life terms through people's stories. What's the next and final chapter in this decade's story?

Route always looks for the answer hidden in the depths of its submissions pile.

Stories should be no more than 5000 words long.

*** Deadline for submissions 3 June 2009 ***

To contact Route please use

Monday, 4 May 2009

May Creative Writing Classes

As well as the blog and our fine events programme, Preston Writing Network is also pleased to present a summer programme of creative writing classes held in The New Continental, Broadgate.

On Sunday 17th May we've a gentle taster session for absolute beginners or those who used to write, but haven't written in a while. There'll be a friendly atmosphere, no obligation to read aloud and a small class of no more than 15 people. Spend a sunny Sunday afternoon (okay - I can't promise you the sun) learning the very basics. £15 per person

Shortly afterwards, Wednesday 20th of May sees the first in a series of eight evening workshops. Meeting every Wednesday evening for eight weeks during the summer, the course will cover character, theme, plot, description, point of view, setting and dialogue. You'll practice in class with writing prompts, discussion and reading aloud and you'll give and get feedback to help you shape and edit your work. There'll also be a little bit of homework. Attending a longer course like this is a great way to develop a writing discipline, network and get the support you need when you're emerging as a writer. Attendees on this course will be supported and encouraged to read at Word Soup events (although this is not compulsory). £120 per person.

The tutor: Jenn Ashworth is a published novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, A Kind of Intimacy was selected for the Waterstones New Voices 2009 promotion. In 2008 she won a Manchester Literary Festival award for her blog. Currently working on various freelance writing and literature development projects, Jenn has experience teaching small groups and individuals, has acted as a reader for the Prison Reform Trust annual creative writing competition and as an editor for the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

For more information on the courses, or to book a place, contact Ruth or Robyn on 01772 499207.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Word Soup #2

The month has flown by and it's Word Soup time again. Hooray!

We've got a great line-up again and are pleased to present

Emma Lannie.

Coming to us from Derby, Emma is a writer, blogger and performer whose short work has been published widely on-line and in print. As well as that, she helps organise Hello Hubmarine, Derby's newest Live Lit night, and, along with her friends in the Time Travel Opportunists, publishes themed chapbooks. If we're really lucky, she may even bring some with her.

Annie Clarkson

Annie is the author of a collection of micro-fiction, Winter Hands and features in Flax Books' latest digital anthology, Unsaid Undone which you can read online here. or read an interview with the lady herself here. She's an experienced and talented reader, specialising in prose-poems and I've heard a whisper she's writing something special to read to us on the night.

David Hartley

In his own words, David is 'currently churning out stories at a high rate' on his blog. 'I am trying to write a short story a week for a year. It's going well - I've just passed the halfway mark - some of them are good, some are bad and some look like they've been written in half an hour to meet a deadline (which they probably have).' Can't wait to hear what David comes up with for SKIN.

Andrew Michael Hurley

Andrew is the author of two short story collections: Cages, and The Unusual Death of Julie Christie. He's a regular performer at Lancaster's Spotlight Club and the latest addition to the Preston Writing Network Volunteer Bloggers' Club (okay - I made it up. There isn't a club.)

Richard Hirst

A graduate of the Manchester's MA in Creative Writing, Richard writes a blog, is a regular contributor to Scunt and is a volunteer contributor here at PrestonWN blog. He's not telling us what he's planning, which scares me a bit...

Tim Woodall

We've poached Tim from his spot at No Point In Not Being Friends and got him on the train for Word Soup 2. Tim is a contributor to We Are Young and We Are Trying and here's a sample of the treats to come in the form of a short story of his at Dogmatika.

we're going for gold again with music and short films as well as the readings - details of these to be confirmed!

Meet us on Tuesday 19th May in the New Continental Events Space (entrance through the pub). £3 on the door or follow us from home on #wordsoup

CETH's Clan-u imprint 2009 launch

May 1st saw the launch of the latest crop of books published by Clan-u Press.

Clan-U is the publishing imprint of UCLAN's Centre for Employability in the Humanities. Students taking humanities degrees at UCLAN can opt to take one of their course modules in the Clan-u Press headquarters and work throughout the academic year in a realistic working environment.

The students apply for posts on the projects and during the year work on the commissioning, editing, production and promotion of books. The aim of this is to give them a chance to explore the way that their academic discipline can be applied to industry, and to increase their chances of finding employment in a field relating to their degree once they leave.

Friday's launch in the Media Factory was a lively, friendly affair. There was a real sense of celebration and achievement (and lots of balloons) not only on the part of the students who had put together the finished books, but also the writers, artists and community members who had partnered with the university.

The three books launched were Responses - a chapbook style collection of art produced by participating students at Beaumont College along with written reflections on the pieces by their tutors. The second was Michael Molyneux, Selected Poems and the third is Memories From Frenchwood - a collection of oral reminiscences transcribed and collated by student editors designed to celebrate the recent renewal of this area as well as capture something of its history. Each of the authors and contributors, as well as a representative for the students at Beaumont College, talked of how much they'd enjoyed the process and how pleased they'd been with the finished product.

Julian Millward, an English and Creative Writing Student who worked on the Frenchwood anthology, said the highlight of the experience for him had been the first time he'd seen the 'end product' after a year's hard work transcribing and editing.

Michael Molyneux, who is a graduate of UCLAN, a poet and the author of four other published works published by Littoral Press was very happy with the arrangement. He'd approached UCLAN with the idea for a collection and was pleased with the opportunity the project had given him to publish his collection of poetry.

The leader of the publishing element of CETH is Kay Boardman, who stressed that the students are always in need of new projects and that she'd be happy to hear from groups or individuals who had an idea for a publishing project. She can be contacted via the CETH email address here. She's also interested in expanding the Clan-U imprint into digital publishing.

It is worth noting that if you're considering approaching CETH with a project, authors and contributors are asked to cover their own printing costs and that the Clan-U imprint does not offer much in the way of sales and distribution. Seeing your book in Waterstones or recovering your initial outlay is unlikely unless you're willing to do most of the leg work yourself. As Kay says, 'sales and marketing are the weak point' of the project, but with the new MA in Publishing about to commence, including modules on Sales, Marketing, Digital and E-publishing, the imprint is sure to develop in these areas.

For more on the pros and cons of self publishing go here. To buy the books launched on the evening, contact CETH.

Preston Bloggers Meetup

We're all set for our first Bloggers Meetup to be held on the 13th May. It's going to be held in The New Continental Snug from 7.30pm.

Because it's a little venue, we can only take 40 and entry is by a ticket (FREE) that you can book here. They're disappearing fast, so get one quickly!

The meet-up is a joint venture between Preston Blog and Preston Writing Network with logo design by Kerry Sholicar, hosting and marketing support by The New Continental and a free blogging workshop by pro-blogger and online journalist Andy Dickinson.

Preston's got a growing blog scene and we're looking forward to meeting the faces behind some of our favourite blogs. If you don't have a blog yet but you're thinking about taking the plunge, this evening would be a great opportunity to meet other online writers and get tips and advice. If you want to bring your lap top you can but it isn't essential.

Book your tickets while there are still some left!

Friday, 1 May 2009


The blog seemed to go insane for a while there. I am sorry. You should know though, that if there's an opportunity for me to shame myself in public, I will take hold of it with both hands.

In case you missed it, here's our special interview with Emma Darwin to celebrate the paperback release of her second novel, out today (well, yesterday - I'm burning the midnight oil tonight). There's a chance to win a copy of A Secret Alchemy too. Ace!