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Welcome to The Literary Pig's blog - a safe haven for all those afflicted with
the unbearable urge to write.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Rattle Tales storytelling evening

Couple of weeks ago I wrote about Rattle Tales (click here for website) and the Indoor Writer's first storytelling gig. Well she survived the event to tell the tale and with all the wonderful advice that came in following this post actually rather enjoyed the experience. In fact she's thinking of submitting for the next event in May (as part of Brighton Fringe). A brief write-up of the evening is now available here. She's having a little sulk because her story 'Gretel and the chocolate wolf', although a dark adult fairy story (think Angela Carter and The Bloody Chamber), it had nothing to do with Little Red Riding Hood (as the write up describes) and was all about sex and chocolate (favourite topics perhaps?).

If you ever have to read your work to an audience then here are some top tips she noted down:

  • Check out stage arrangement and reading area. A sort of music stand was available to readers at Rattle Tales, which was ideal to prop pages (avoiding horrible hand shake). I had my pages in slippery fish and when I tried out the stand found the lights glared off the plastic. The pages were also in danger of slipping off the stand. Having found this out I took the pages out and just stacked them loose, which worked fine.
  • If using a mic then make sure you know the arrangement before reading and test out if you can. If no mic then when you introduce yourself check the audience can actually hear you.
  • Carefully assess what's around you on the stage. I move back and forth when I read and you don't want to fall flat on your face because your wandering feet snagged a trailing lead.
  • To make my story easy to read aloud I increased font size and exaggerated all the breaks with lots of spaces. This made me slow down as I read. I know some people annotate with notes or hints, but I was terrified I would accidentally read these out, so I didn't have any notes on the text.
  • When you get to the stage or mic first thing you need to do is look out and SMILE! If you force a really big grin then it makes you feel better, and gives the illusion that you may be enjoying yourself (you never know this may actually be true).
  • If the reading area is lit up then this can be a bonus. I couldn't see a thing as I looked out into the audience, all the lights were on me and the rest was blackness. Bliss.
  • Take along a support crew. Handsome Hubby and the Tame Teenager came along (OK I had to bribe them with dinner) to cheer me on. And I have to thank the lovely West Sussex Writers Rose, Liz and Derek who all braved the bitterly cold evening to cheer, clap and whistle as I fumbled up to the stage. It did feel like I had my own fan club in the audience and helped stir that first smile.
  • Be prepared for questions on your story. Rattle Tales leave out rattles (see photo above) on every table. These are so the audience can ask a question. I had about 3 questions on mine concerning inspiration and 'did I write a lot of fairy stories?' Be prepared to talk about your inspiration for the story, any influences on your writing (other writers etc) and anything on the plot or characters.
  • I drank only soft drinks all evening. Changing my mind about Dutch courage because I wanted to keep a clear head and not to wobble onto the stage. After reading I didn't even crave a drink because of the natural high - an amazing feeling and possibly an addictive one...
  • Signpost the ending of the story. When I finished reading a deathly hush descended, thankfully followed by applause, but for it moment it did seem the audience weren't sure I'd finished. Later Handsome hubby said this was because everyone was so enthralled in the story they didn't want it to end (sweet). The next day he gently suggested that I hadn't really signposted that the story was coming to an end i.e. didn't change the pace of reading, or change anything in my voice. And he was right, as always. (And after reading the write-up for my piece on Rattle Tales website I now suspect they didn't understand a word of it.)
I hope this inspires you to take up an opportunity to read aloud your work to an audience. And if there are any story reading events being held locally to you then do check them out. Go cheer on those writers, they will really appreciate it!

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Yellow Room Magazine and Competition

LitPig chats with writer Jo Derrick (photo left)  about The Yellow Room Magazine and Short Story Competition.

Q: How long has The Yellow Room Magazine been running? Initially what were your aims for setting up the magazine? Do you think these have been achieved?
I started The Yellow Room in 2008, simply because I was missing editing a short fiction magazine since QWF was sold in 2006. My aim was to bring new female writing talent to light and to support burgeoning female writers. Yes, I do think I have achieved my original aims.

Q: What has been the most satisfying aspect of publishing your own magazine?
When a writer emails or writes to say how delighted they are to see their story in print and when I receive positive feedback from the readers.

Q: What sort of problems have you encountered in publishing The Yellow Room? What plans for the future do you have?
The main problems are financial ones. It is so difficult to keep a small press print magazine afloat these days, for several reasons. Print costs continue to increase as does the price of postage. It is getting more difficult to compete with e-zines. If only every writer who sent in a story for consideration would buy just one copy of the magazine first! As far as the future is concerned, I'd love to continue to publish The Yellow Room and keep it as a print magazine, but, if I'm being realistic, I  will have to resign myself to the fact that an electronic version is the only way to go. I still have plenty of copies of Issue 8 to sell at £5.75 each (they can be purchased online at: www.theyellowroom-magazine.co.uk) and until these have all been sold, I won't have the funds to publish Issue 9.

Q: Can you also tell us about the latest Yellow Room competition?
The competition is for stories up to 1,000 words and closes on 31st March. I'm hoping to publish the winning entries either in the magazine or on the website. Prizes are £100/£30 and £20. The entry fee is £4, but subscribers can enter more stories for their money. I'm looking for original stories with unusual settings and characters. The word limit is tight, so there's no room for flabby writing! Every word must count.

Details of the latest competition can be found here.

Q: I was impressed to see Man-Booker shortlistee, Alison Moore, win the Autumn Yellow Room short story competition. How did you feel about attracting such a writer to enter your competition?
I was delighted and surprised. I judge the entries anonymously and didn't realise it was Alison at first, as she had entered under a pseudonym. We exchanged several emails following the announcement of the results and I'm pleased to report that she purchased a subscription to The Yellow Room.

You can read Alison Moore’s winning story and other winners here.

If you can then please support this excellent magazine, it is always packed with terrific writing. And why not enter the competition...

Monday, 11 February 2013

Projecting your work

How do you feel about performing your writing in public? Up for it? Or would you rather lock yourself in the loo? Well, the Indoor Writer falls between the stools on this one, but some how feels compelled to volunteer for reading events.

Firstly, she's going to put her name in the hat for the West Sussex Writers' Annual Poetry and Prose Slam (read more here). If you live near Worthing then why not come along to Heene Gallery, Heene Road. The evening kicks-off promptly at 7.30pm, 14 February, and the door fee is £5 for non-members. And the theme is LOVE (what else on Valentine's Day!), but can be love in all its forms. You can read in either category, but all names are picked at random and the piece MUST be read in under 5 minutes (the adjudicator is pretty tough and overrunning pieces are disqualified). All attendees get to vote for their favourite poem or prose at the end of the evening. Winners of each category get £20 in cash and bottles of wines for the runners-up. She's entering a flash piece so keep your trotters crossed.

And then she went and submitted a story for the next Rattle Tales story telling evening. The event takes place 20 February at Brunswick Hotel, Hove (£4 door entry fee) and is an opportunity for writers to read aloud a story. Apparently there then follows a Q&A session with the audience discussing the story with the writer. Let's hope they actually have something to ask because she's going to be reading an adult fairy tale. The chosen story won the Steyning Festival Short Story Prize in 2012 and was read at the prize giving by author Elly Griffiths. Well, you can guess what the Indoor Writer is going to be doing all this week - lots and lots of reading aloud practice! There will be an update on this blog post 20th Feb, so keep reading...

Have you ever read your writing to an audience? How did it go? Please share your experiences - though please don't put her off!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Dancing on the edge

Tonight the 5 part TV drama 'Dancing on the edge' starts on BBC2 at 9pm. Why am I telling you this? Because this drama has been written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff. I love everything he's ever written for TV and start salivating when something new is aired. His writing and dramas are, quite simply, sublime. One of my favourites films is Poliakoff's 'Forty Nine', starring Bill Nighy (also my favourite actor), which is a beautiful example of sinister, brooding suspense - unnerving and eerie, yet doused in period details.

If you've never watched a Poliakoff drama then give this new series a try - you may get hooked. And let me know what you think...

Friday, 1 February 2013

January round-up

At the beginning of January the Indoor Writer set out her writing goals for 2013, you can read them here. So now it's February already (eek) and how have those good writerly intentions faired...

The stats for Jan:

Write 1 Sub : 2 new short stories written, 2 new flash pieces written, 12 submissions (including poetry!) 
Publish e-collection: have selected 8 short stories and 8 flash pieces all award winning or shortlisted pieces. Next step is to collate and assess format.
Re-start the novel: no progress
Crack the Weekly News: sent polite (very very polite) chasing email to Fiction Editor, as nothing heard on story submitted back in September. Waiting on a response....
Crack Woman's Weekly: story submitted...
Write and sell a serial: initial pitch received a positive response, now finalising synopsis. Next week to write first few pages of part 1 and SUBMIT...
Application for MA in Creative Writing: POSTED. 

OK, not a bad start.
Other submissions: 1 feature commissioned and delivered, 1 feature pitched.

Successes: Longlisted in Flash 500 (waiting for shortlist to be released), confirmed final 10 for Hysteria competition (story to be published in anthology due out April 2013), Runner-up in Chamber's Best Word competition (won a Chambers mini dictionary) and winner of West Sussex Writers Short Play competition (won a Hilary Mantell novel).

And now for the bad news... Income = zilch.
Payment for the feature will most likely arrive on publication (est March). So it's a good job we don't rely on this writing malarkey to pay the bills or feed us... This is sometimes the tough part of writing, putting a lot of work up front without any guarantee of success, but oh what joy when that success starts trickling in. I'm ready for the trickles!

Keep writing...