Monday, 30 April 2018

Its less than two weeks since I returned from the Iceland Writers Retreat and I think I left part of my heart in Iceland.

The Retreat is in its fifth year and is organised by Eliza Reid and Erica Green. The participants come from all over the world - US, Canada, Argentina, Denmark, Austria, Nigeria, UK and many more countries.

There is no doubt that its an expensive jaunt so I aimed to get as much out of it as possible and, working from the Retreat's reading list and my own explorations, I read a lot of Icelandic literature before I went. I even tracked down a subtitled Icelandic thriller, Jar City, which painted a bleak picture of the landscape and culinary delights ahead of me!

However, when I arrived at the conference base, Icelandair Natura, the food was superb, as were all events and meals that were part of the conference. Being looked after so well (breakfast, elevenses, lunch and supper on the 'workshop' days) plus breakfast and evening functions with sit down meals helped mitigate the cost of the trip.

A particular highlight was a visit to the President's residence Bessastadir where we were greeted by Gudni Th.Johannesson and his First Lady, our Retreat's very own Eliza Reid.

One day of the Conference comprised a Literary Tour - I selected Literary Borgarfjordur on which we visited the beautiful home of Nobel prizewinning writer Halldor Laxness and met the detective thriller writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Later on the tour, following a visit to a war museum and lots of amazing views, we spent time at one of Iceland's most important historical sites, Reykholt, where Geir Waage, the incumbent Lutheran priest, talked to us about Snorri Sturluson, the 13th Century writer and chieftain.

Spectacular waterfalls and Iceland's most powerful hot spring also featured on our tour.
On Workshop days back at the hotel we were treated to a range of intenational writers including Lina Wollf, Susan Shreve, Gwendoline Reilly and Hallgrimur Helgason. I was very pleased with the workshop selections I made and also enjoyed the panel events.

The joy of the itinerary was that in addition to schedule freetime, particularly on the Write and Relax extension days, one could head off on one's own or in small groups and I spent an amazing evening at a Bjork gig and also went on two boat trips. The whale watching trip was highly successful but the Northern Lights eluded us. I loved Reykjavik's old town and the tiny history of punk museuam.

I learnt new things almost every step of the way - including how frustrating it is to choose an overlong piece to read at an Open Mic event in probably the most beautiful environment that I will ever have the opportunity to read, the bistro at Floran Garden. Still, I hope I left my audience wanting more!

An urge to see the Northern Lights is just a small part of my decision to  return to the Retreat on a future occasion but my prime immediate aim is to type up the poetry and flash fiction that I scribbled in my precious notebook and add local detail to work in progress.  Yes, herring are involved - lots of them.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

For the love of flash fiction...


Since I last posted, flash fiction has dominated my writing. I entered three pieces into Mslexia's annual flash fiction competition and two of the three were short-listed. I have since submitted both of the short-listed pieces to Mslexia. One, 'Caution' was published in issue 75 labelled as Horror (not a label I would have chosen myself - I would have gone for Gothic or Fantasy.) The other, 'Fish' was published in issue 77 and is most definitely Romance.  
I also gained more experience of flash fiction recently when I was invited to join the judging panel for Hysteria's writing competition. This was a thoroughly enjoyable task to undertake and I hope the successful entrants enjoyed taking part. Hysteria Writing Competition is now taking a year off but I look forward to its return.
Also taking a year off is Norwich based 'Words and Women.' I have found this news quite a blow as I love this organisation and have often entered their competitions and attended their events in Cambridge and Norwich. I know how hard Lynne Bryan and Belona Greenwood have worked and how hard it is to sustain a project of this sort. The inclusion of my story 'Atacama' in their third anthology and the chance I had to read at an event in Cambridge with friends and family present, was one of my most exciting writing achievements. I am fervently hoping that this is not the last of Words and Women.
Only a few weeks now until I go on a very exciting Writer's Retreat. I am hoping it will further my interest in myth and legend and give me some exciting inspiration for a venture into travel writing.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Spring turned into summer...

Not sure where that time went.  One of my recent highlights was attending a Words and Women event at La Raza where I met up with others associated with Words and Women and read 'Atacama.' I enjoyed reading and trying a Jane Austen cocktail and send my thanks to family and friends who joined me and those who couldn't make it on the night but sent their good wishes.
Now my work commitments settle down a bit for summer and I need to get on with some writing.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Life seems to be getting in the way of writing lately although I did pull all the stops out to send some entries to mslexia's short story and flash fiction competition.

I was really pleased to see my dear friend Janet  Bingham has created a website to keep everyone up to date with news of her beautiful books for children. Here's the link:

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The stage is set...

Mother's Milk Books Anthology 2016

This morning was spent checking the proofs of my two winning entries in this anthology. A short story and a poem. The latter was written in response to a tragedy that affected much-loved friends and was moving to read again at the proof stage.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Getting back into the writing groove.

I don't know where the last few months have gone. It seems as if one minute I was working on a short story about the Essex coast, inspired by a trip there in May, and the next minute summer, and its whirlwind of festivals, holidays and birthdays, was behind me. Start of term work has taken up every minute of every day and I didn't even get round to blogging about my trip to Dublin, City of Literature. No time for writing at all! The only consolation is that my mslexia writers diary shows that a number of submissions I have made haven't reached their closing dates yet and last night I had that wonderful moment of realisation that an email from a competition was good news, not rejection!
A short story, in fact one could describe it as a short short story, has been awarded 3rd place in the UK Carer's writing competition and will be published in an anthology. This is a story I have a particular fondness for, having a written in Norwich, another City of Literature, so all the gadding about must pay off!